Friday, March 23, 2012

Fashionably Fashionating Fridays – The Wonder of Rachel Zoe’s New Collection

Zoe Gown:Weird how all the models look like her!

You can imagine my surprise when I clicked the link to to check out the Look Book for Rachel Zoe’s new spring 2012 Natural Wonder collection.

 It was ingenious.

 The Look Book showcased nymph-esque models standing in a whimsical forest modeling pieces from the collection but, what was wondrous, is that the looks were animated.

A muse dips her hand in a stream and caresses the water while a soft breeze blows the ruffles on her blouse and tendrils of her hair.  Mist envelopes a model as she leans against a rock wall in a super chic off-the-should zebra print top and matching slouchy pants. Women in every frame of the story land depiction are in motion.

According to, Zoe’s collection Natural Wonder proves natural beauty is the most striking form of art.  Rachel Zoe’s creations paint a picture of true glamor.  The ├╝berstylists’s latest looks channel your inner goddess – celebrating your untamed femininity and passion for luxury – for an infusion of everyday brilliance.

 Ok, the description is a little over the top but I dig the collection.  As I have posted before, it is a bit of the same of what Zoe produced last year with her first year collections: tie blouses, maxi dresses and flair pants. However, there is certainly a fresh breeze blowing with some new flair for spring.

I am in love with Zoe’s poppy colored off-the-shoulder gown made of silk and rayon which retails for $795.  Also, the pairing of an asymmetric ruffle print dress, $395, with a sequined cardigan, $450, is aesthetically pleasing to my senses.  Vibrant hues like royal blue – including the aforementioned zebra print – and crimson lend the collection that little pop of color which it is desperately lacking. 

 Yet, being a monochromatic girl myself, I think the Natural Wonder collection is magnificently succinct and certainly represents a menagerie of colors and styles that are on trend for this spring.

 Isn’t it just wonderful?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Cultivated Childhood Friendship Grows Over Decades

Summer 2011
First, I want to thank you all for enduring my sporadic posts over the past few weeks.  A jaunt to the mountains – which resulted in a shoulder injury – and then international travel had set me back quite a bit. 

Try as I might, I am just not able to keep up with my posts when I am not sequestered in my writing lair at home.

But now I am back in action and feeling like I really wanted to lighten up the mood on my blog in more ways than one.

With all the traveling we have been doing and all the time that my little guy Shane – who is an only child – has been spending with all his buddies, I realize that he has matured by leaps and bounds.  He is growing up so fast and, when I look at him, I hardly recognize my boy.

At seven and a half, he is missing both front teeth and knows more about science (both celestial and earthen) than I do.  He loves space rocks and is inquisitive beyond my wildest comprehension. Shane's exuberance can overwhelm me at times.

Last night, Shane was on fire and there was no way to curb his enthusiasm for life; no stopping his questions (Can we look up a picture of a person with two noses?); and his energy level was out of this world.  I thought to myself, I wish I could bottle his high energy.  I was fantasizing about how much I could get done and how successful I would be in my life if I just had one ounce of Shane’s mojo.

But those thoughts took me back to my own youth.  I recalled a time in my younger years when I did indeed harbor that same gusto which allowed my imagination to carry me away. 

Being an only child just like Shane, I would create my own fantasy worlds to keep me from boredom, but it did not always suffice, so I was forced to go out and find real playmates.

The summer before I was to turn nine-years-old and not much older than Shane, I had a life-changing experience.
Tomboy Tracy and Glamazon Dina

While at Nagle’s Pharmacy and Soda Fountain – just like in the movie “Back to the Future” – in my little town called Ocean Grove, I ran into a girl that I knew from school. We shyly said hi and that was when her mother took charge.  She said, “See here is a little girl you can play with.”

This was the beginning of a friendship that has spanned more than three decades and is still going strong.

My best buddy and sister-friend Dina and I spent almost every waking moment together until we went to high school and my mom remarried and I moved to another town. 

As little kids, we would play dress up – sometimes as sisters named Bertha and Bertha (scary) – or Charlie’s Angels (Why was I always Kate?). 

In the summers of my youth, Dina and I would head out to the beach first thing in the morning.  Most likely, one of us would be at one or the others house but, if not, we would meet half way. (I lived on the first street to the west in Ocean Grove and she lived on the first street to the south.)  
On our way to Jazzercise - Circa 1984

On occasion, we would meet Dina’s mom, Diana, at Nagle’s and she would treat us lunch or we would head to whomevers home had the best food to nosh.  It was almost always Dina’s house since she had two older brothers and her mom wasn’t a vegetarian.  On occasion, we would pack our own lunch but not too often.  We lived in the moment.  (Another thing I wish I could do today is live vicariously like my younger, former self.)

If we were lucky, we would scrounge the $1 it cost to rent a raft at the beach for the day.  Sometimes, we were rich and could each afford our own raft.  Yet most of the time, we shared.

We would spend all day at the beach and would only head home when the sun was setting and our bellies were growling.  But it was a different world back then and an 8-year-old could be gone all day in our little town called “God’s Square Mile.”

As Dina and I got older, our interests changed.  Instead of heading down to the beach to ride the waves and lay our goose pimpled bodies directly in the hot sand, we started to look for the boys.  Functional once piece suits were traded in for bikinis covered with OP shorts and a comb peeking out the top of our back pockets.  It was a tragedy if nary a piece of sand got on our baby oil laden bodies as we spritzed Sun In on our orange locks.

In front of our guy crushes, we were too cool; but, in the privacy of our own bedrooms, we were still just little girls and as goofy as ever singing ONJ in front of the mirror.

Over time, we added to our little Ocean Grove posse: Nancy, Lori, Tracey, and Andrea could also be found around town with us.

When my mom remarried, I transferred to another high school.  Dina and I kept in touch, especially since she is a whole six months older than me, so she got her driver’s license first and would come and pick me up. However, after high school, new friends and boyfriends took us down different paths and we lost touch for a few years. 

But somewhere in our 20s, we reconnected. It was as though no time had passed and nothing about our friendship had changed.  I knew that when she sent me a CD Mix of our favorite songs growing up that she was still my BFF. 

Over the years, I make it a point to get together with Dina every time I’m back in the Motherland; and Dina even made it out here to visit me a few years ago.  Just like any relationship, our friendship has ebbed and flowed over the years but I am grateful to have had a pseudo-sister. 

And I am certain that Shane will find the same type of brotherly friendship as he is already growing a few best buds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reflections: One Year Later

One year ago today, I was back in New Jersey – with my immediate family – to be with my maternal grandmother as she went on hospice treatment. While there, the unthinkable happened; my paternal grandfather passed away suddenly. Two days later, my grandmother succumbed to her illness as well.

It was a double whammy for me.
Back then, I didn’t know how I would bounce back from losing two of the most important and influential people in my life. However, human beings are so resilient and time does heal.

Today, I miss them both dearly but I am able to remember them fondly and without too much heartache. I look at that period of my life as one of the single hardest circumstances that I had to endure, but I also see it as a gift.

I had the opportunity to say goodbye to my grandmother in person before she slipped away. Also, I was able to be with my aunts and uncles – who were always more like sisters and brothers to me – during that difficult time which helped me to gain closure on my grandfather’s death.

If their passings’ had been timed differently, I doubt I would have been able to make the journey back to say goodbye to both of them. So – in retrospect – I consider myself blessed despite the sad circumstances.

The love for both my Nana and Pop Pop lives on through the affection that I have for my family because their legacies continue to exist within us and our children and our children's children.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Crushing Hard: Spring Shoes

I have my eyes set on these Dolce Vita shoes!

All weekend long, I was wearing boots to brave the rain but, this morning, I woke up with hot spring shoe styles on the brain.

From bold prints (which I wrote about few weeks ago) to neon colors to chunky platforms to bedazzled flats, they are all out there for the taking.

We -- the consumers -- are seeing mah-jor color this spring with lots of mesh details and other hot new shapes.

With so many brazen trends out there, I'm keeping the Barneys and Saks Fifth Avenue cards in my wallet and looking toward Piperlime, Nine West and Zappos for my affordable shoe fix.

Today is the last day of Nine West's 25% for friends and family.

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Living Pura Vida...For Just One Week and Now Forever

For those of you who follow my blog, I took a little time off a few weeks back due to a ski injury.  Then – poof – I disappeared again.  I just want to clear up any misconceptions that it has been the pesky hurt shoulder which caused my posts to slow down but, rather, I have been busy experiencing the “Pure Life.”

My family and I were lucky enough to receive an invitation to join two other families on a week-long sojourn to Costa Rica.  The “Rich Coast” is nestled between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America and flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Our host family owns an amazing home in Punta Leona (near Jac├│) on the Pacific Coast.  The modern home boasts ocean views from the roof top pool deck (duh) all the way down to the bottom-bedroom level.  The slider doors opened up the living area and beautiful kitchen as if we were preparing meals while floating above the ocean (a true delight for the moms), the two pools and Jacuzzi were super fun for the kids, and the mucho cervezas were a big hit for the dads.

However – as if the company of amazing friends and a beautiful property weren’t enough –the unexpected positive aura and immense beauty of this country had me hooked from the moment I stepped off the plane.

Having never been to Costa Rica, I didn’t know what to expect.  Mostly, I have heard this is the place to go if you surf and, if you don’t surf, there isn’t much for you to do.  This could not have been further from the truth.

Stunning white and black sand beaches with water as warm as the bath are of course a big draw; yet the lush rain forest, which is home to a menagerie of species from insects to birds to primates, is framed by the most beautiful flora and fauna in the world.  From our temporary home, Macaws and Toucans flew by as if on cue.

We soared through the canopy of the jungle on zip lines along with our feathered friends; and explored it from the ground at a sloths pace at the Manual Ortega National Preserve.

We dined with white-face and squirrel monkeys and we all swam in the ocean during a monsoon down pour.  The children dove like dolphins and slept in big puppy piles. 

Our three families made so many memories that it is hard to recount them here on these pages: I only know that there were only smiles, laughter and happiness.

And how could we not in the presence of such a positive culture.  The locals were so friendly and gracious; there was not a lick of animosity that I have experienced in some other Central American countries.  So it is no surprise that Costa Rica ranks first on the Happy Planet Index (an index of human well-being and environmental impact) and is the “greenest” country in the world …and that has nothing to do with the trees.

The sheer respect Costa Ricans have for their Eco-Culture blew me away.  Not only is it about preserving the forests, wild life and keeping their people uplifted and empowered; it is about a pride for even the most basic aspects of day-to-day life. Recycling is broken down by glass, aluminum, organic, and paper.  Public restrooms were clean and spotless.  Everyone treated one another with an optimistic demeanor. 

To me, the Costa Rican culture embodied a spirituality that linked nature with the people.

So, it is no surprise that the Costa Rican have a saying “Pura Vida,” which literally means Pura = pure and Vida = life, but “Pure Life” in Spanish would be “Vida Pura.”  So, the real meaning is closer to “plenty of life,” “full of live,” “this is living,” “going great,” “real living,” “Awesome,” and even “cool.”  The Pura Vida saying can be used as both a greeting and a farewell and is universally known throughout Costa Rica.

I can honestly say that my family – as well as our friends – certainly experienced the pure life while in Costa Rica and the memory of it will live in us forever. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Tennis Career Is Over Before It Even Began

Sorry for my silence this week but, unfortunately, I had a little spill on the slopes last weekend.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my son’s school gives the whole week of President’s Day off for “Ski Week.” Jason and Shane drove up on Monday and enjoyed a week of skiing despite the lack of snow in the mountains. Mammoth Mountain is having a drought.

By the time they picked me up from the airport on Thursday evening, Jason had crashed while sledding at the new extreme sled park, which boasts a 420 foot long run. I held my breath every time Jason got up as he would moan, grimace and grab his back. He was the brave man for most of the weekend.

On Saturday, my second day on the slopes, the weather was nice despite the lack of snow. We spent most of the morning taking runs from mid-mountain and down.

About 1pm, we decided to break for lunch. On our way down to Canyon Lodge, the boys decided to cut through the “Art Park.” The new terrain park is a way to merge skiing and snowboarding with art. It features jumps, rails, bumps and boxes.

We had been through the Art Park several times since Shane loved to go over the bumps and I had avoided all extreme features the park had to offer until…

Somehow, my ski caught some ice and, due to the lack of snow, I face planted (quite violently I might add) into an embankment that was the side of some bumps created for the park. Since there wasn’t any fluffy snow for me, the hard ice did nothing to soften my fall.

First, I must say, thank you for my helmet. This is my first ski season wearing a helmet and I can’t believe I haven’t before now. But all that really matters is that I had one on last Saturday.

Once the stars dissipated, I tried to take inventory of what had happened. Another mom skied up to me and asked if I was OK. I answered her honestly and said I didn’t know.

My skis had come off, so she helped me to gather them. Once I tried to get up, I realized that I was unable to use my left arm. I had to use all my core strength in order to get up. Thank God for yoga.

In a daze, I skied down the mountain a bit and found that Jason and Shane were waiting for me. Jason said they could see that I was down; but I was too far up for them to do anything.
On skis, we made our way down the rest of the mountain and found a seat outside the lodge for lunch. Jason promptly handed me a glass of wine, good man! But, once I took off my helmet, it was apparent that I had bonked my head good as I was already bleeding.  Wine did not seem to be a good idea.
After a trip to the restroom, I realized my head looked a lot worse than it was but my arm was useless and beginning to throb.
I left Jason and Shane to ski with our neighbors and I made my way to the gondola which would start my journey to Mammoth Hospital. I arrived into the ER about 1:40pm on Saturday. I knew I was in for a long wait, but little did I know what lay ahead of me.
My time in the waiting room went pretty quick and I was reassured by the sign that read if you have been waiting for more than a half hour, let the receptionist know.
After filling out my paperwork, I looked around the waiting room. There were chicken wings as far as the eye could see. No, not the kind you eat but the human arms that were wrapped haphazardly by ski patrol.
Within the hour, I was moved into triage where a nurse took a look at me in order to be admitted. The first thing I realized is that they were more concerned about my head than I was. They asked me the usual questions: Did I pass out? Did I throw up? Was I nauseous? Do I know what day it is? No. No. Yes. Yes.

They asked if I had anyone out in the waiting room that I wanted to come in and be with me. I said no, I drove myself to the hospital and boy did they exchange looks. [Disclaimer: Jason felt terrible sending me on my own, but I wasn’t sure how long I would be and I couldn’t think of anything that would make me feel worse than to force Jason and Shane to sit with me in the hospital. I forcefully declined.]

They put me in a chair by the nurses’ station to wait for my turn to get x-rays. The nurses would periodically, ask me if I was alright and if I knew what day it was; I would keep saying that it was still Saturday the last time I checked.

Obviously, I appreciated their concern and they were just doing their jobs, but I was more worried that I didn’t have the use of my left arm and it seemed to be getting worse.

After another hour, a technician came to get me and she took some x-rays. She then escorted me back to my chair near the nurses’ station in triage. An older woman, who seemed to be a volunteer, brought me some pillows to prop my shoulder. By now, the pain was starting to intensify and the little bit of grandmotherly affection made me feel a bit emotional.

When they transferred her from the gurney to the hospital bed, she let out a blood curdling scream. Everyone sheltered behind their curtained triage rooms immediately stopped talking and hid from her pain. Except me, I had a ring side seat as my chair sat facing the poor injured girl's room.

They began trying to take off her snowboarding gear and that scream came again. She begged them to just cut it off, but the nurses said they could get it off her without ruining an expensive jacket.

Before they started to do so, I creatively visualized the big pink bubble that would deflect any of the other Tracy’s negative and painful energy that seemed to be oozing out of her little cubicle. I was correct in doing so as she screamed and then she got pissed and started yelling and cursing at the nurses. It was right about this time that the anesthesiologist arrived.

I was thinking that the clothing removal would have gone much smoother if he had arrived first but, hey, what do I know.
They got her hooked up and then rushed into surgery. Once she was wheeled away, it was as though everyone else who had a lesser injury could breathe again. We all thought, I hurt but at least it’s not that bad.

By now, it was about 5pm and I had been sitting in that chair for a long time. The unknown of the extent of my injury was starting to weigh on me. Finally, they moved me into my own room, tucked me into bed, and handed me the remote control to the TV on the wall.

Two hours later, the doctor finally made it in to see me. He was a very nice man and did a thorough exam of my head and arm injury. After looking at my x-rays and the exam, he asked me if I was a tennis player. I said no, a runner. The doc said that was good and let me know that he suspected a torn rotator cuff.

He suggested that I wait a few weeks and let it heal a bit.  Then he said I should follow up with an orthopedist once I know where the injury stands. Basically, he said it was a small tear and those usually just heal themselves. If the pain and poor range of motion continues, then surgery may be necessary but he said that may not be the case.

I was severely disappointed to be injured and tried to look at the bright side of my dilemma, at least I wasn’t the other Tracy. I can’t even imagine how her injury has impacted her life.

Well, when I drove myself home six hours after I had arrived, I thought it was a very good thing that I really wasn’t interested in a tennis career.

Up until this point, it had been mostly arm and shoulder injuries with a sprinkling of hurt knees and ankles but the other Tracy was about to arrive.

According to the nurses, who spoke in hushed voices around me -- but acted like I was a blood pressure machine because I had been sitting outside their office for so long -- the other Tracy had shattered her elbow.