Friday, June 29, 2012

Sick Summer Sales: Gucci, Chanel, Saks and more

Happy Birthday America.  What better excuse to be patriotic than by dropping the Benjamens on a gift for yourself in honor of our great country's birthday.

Particularly when the great Italian fashion house Gucci is having a sale.  Yes, that's read it here.  The top o' the line luxury line is parting with its beautiful bags, shoes and accessories. 

Visit for the specifics.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you have a chance to score some vintage Chanel.  The LA-based vintage boutique What Goes Around Comes Around (located at 159 La Brea Ave., Los Angeles) is having its annual Chanel event.  Not necessarily a major price break, but some beautiful bags, shoes, jewelery are pretty just to look at and muse about Chanel days gone by.

Barneys New York,default,sc.html and Saks Fifth Avenue are having sales right now.  However, I checked on the Saks Sale shoe selection and its pretty righteous with B Brian Atwood, Jimmy Choo, Manola Blahniks, Miu Miu among many others offered at a fraction of full price.

Lastly, Zara, the International fashion company, is having a huge sale in stores and on-line.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surviving the Red Hot Days of Summer

So we have transitioned from the school year to our summer schedule in my home.

My son Shane started surf camp on Monday and I am happy to report that -- on day three -- he actually stood on his foam learning board. I am unhappy to report that he has gotten more sun in these past few days than ever before.

Being from Jersey, I was no stranger to baby oil and tinfoil on an album cover (uh dating myself) to get a little color. Say the kind that makes me look like a cooked lobster. I have had my fair share of sunburns throughout the years; so red that I was purple.

One time, I got so burnt in Cancun that I actually got sun poisoning and spent three days in bed with a fever and throwing up.

As an adult, I choose to limit my time in the sun and don't leave the house without being slathered with at least SPF 50 from head to toe.

Ever since Shane was born in Southern California, I have been completely neurotic with keeping him out of the sun. In almost eight years, he has only gotten a little too much sun once -- on his face -- until this week.

The poor boy keeps coming home from surf camp a bit crispier each day.

We are putting Kids SPF 60 on him each morning but, to our chagrin, it is not being reapplied enough throughout the day.

Over the past few weeks, I have been stressing (and I mean that literally) to Shane the importance of putting his Kids Sunscreen stick on his face. I've had him do it over and over again because, in his haste, he is missing big areas of his face. I can tell that is still an issue as he has a few sunburn splotches on his face.

After the first day, we spoke to the counselors and they assured us that they are reapplying sunscreen on the kids but my partially lobster red kid is telling a different story.

My paranoid thinking conjures up images of my little guy on a deserted beach and thoughts of the TV show "Survivor" and the book "Lord of the Flies" sort of merge into one dramatic scenario. Luckily for Shane, this is not his reality.

Part of the problem is that the kids are in and out of the water all day long. So -- even if sunscreen is being reapplied -- it is getting washed off in the water.

He wears a half wetsuit all day so it is only his face, ears and the backs of his legs that are getting too much sun. Right now, after three days, the backs of his legs are starting to turn tan.

Jason's thought is that, once his skin gets used to the sun, he will be brown as a berry and not Hawaiian Punch red. To me, I feel that is still damaging his skin.

I look at red face and it makes me feel so helpless. Besides sending him to camp with an arsenal of sunscreen and threatening the lives of the counselors, I don't know what else to do.

Jason joked that he would buy him a giant mask to go over his head to wear all day. They had a good chuckle, but that doesn't solve our dilemma.

So far, we've been slathering him with aloe at night but, tonight, I broke down and actually patted his burnt areas with cold tea bags. Not sure if that will work, but it was a remedy that my mom used to do for me when I was a kid.

Shane has been very good natured and says that his skin doesn't hurt at all. I have to believe him because if you've ever had bad sunburn, it hurts like hell. Jason thinks his face is just irritated from all the sunscreen we have been applying. I can only imagine the phobias I am in the process of creating for this kid.

During the summers of my youth, I do remember spending all my days at the beach without any SPF clogging my pores. I survived and didn't have any significant sun damage.

I definitely think this is one of those times that I am letting my neurosis get the best of me.

Jason and I have to be rest assured that we are doing the best we can: applying heavy duty sunscreen in the morning; Shane is doing his best to reapply; the counselors are certainly applying it throughout the day, even if it is the spray.

I realize that I have to let it go and let the kid live a little, I know he will survive.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Friendship Bracelets Are All Grown Up

I know this sounds cliche but, when it comes to accessorizing, if I walk out of the house without a bracelet on, I feel naked. However, I tend to wear one big bracelet or a few bangles which – when I get to work – are too clunky and the clanking drives me crazy.  Inevitably, I end up taking them off for the whole day.

But lately, I’ve become obsessed with the slinky stack, and I think it may solve my dilemma: A mature take on those friendship bracelets we all used to wear in Junior High.  A small leather wrap is the anchor for the stack with dainty chains and bangles to add some personality to the assortment.

For a little styling advice, I went to Stella and Dot, a San Francisco-based company that creates entrepreneurial opportunities for women who sell jewelry and accessories through
in-home Trunk Shows and online.

Here is the recipe for friendship that I found on the site

All Photos: Stella and Dot

I’ve posted about Stella and Dot before;postID=1818124249044385973 and they never disappoint me.

Now that's friendship.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Dalai Lama Speaks: 'Be the Change'

If you are up early this morning, check out the Dali Lama’s Live Webcast: “Be the Change” from Inverness, Scotland, on June 23, 2012, from 1:30 to 3pm (BST), 8:30 am (EST) and 5:30 am (PST).

I grew up surrounded by religion; however, as an adult, I am very curious about the different religions and spiritualties from around the globe. 

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – who’s mission to bring peace to the people of Tibet as well as the world – has always intrigued me.

The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet. He was born on 6 July 1935, to a farming family, in a small hamlet located in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet.

At the age of two, the child – who was named Lhamo Dhondup at that time – was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso.

The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.

I am very curious to hear what he has to say; however, if you are like me and won’t be up to actually listen to his webcast live, you can check out the archive at

Friday, June 22, 2012

Harajuku Lovin’
Just like singer and designer Gwen Stefani, I am a lover of Harajuku.  However, I’m not talking about her brand “Harajuku Lovers;” I’m talking about the real deal in Japan – Harajuku Girls.

The Harajuku district of Tokyo – a trendy and hip shopping district– is famous for its Japanese youth who wield the latest trends and edgy fashions to cut their individual style and self-expression.

According to Wikipedia, the term “Harajuku Girls” has been used by the English-language media to describe teen-agers dressed in any fashion style that infuses multiple looks and styles to create a unique form of dress.

So it is no surprise that, after her first trip to Tokyo in 1996, Stefani was inspired by the street style chic and absolutely helped to bring Harajuku to the masses.  She even dedicated two albums and her fashion line “L.A.M.B.” to the Harajuku fashion scene. 

In 2005, Stefani launched “Harajuku Lovers” her brand of apparel, fashion accessories, and stationary which is still wildly successful seven years later.  The concept for her brand came from the four “Harajuku Girls” that are Stefani’s back-up dancers and entourage.

Years later, the hype about Harajuku may have waned a bit in the U.S., but I recently found the site which completely got me fired up all over again. 

It helped me to realize that Harajuku is not the only street style popular in Tokyo. 

The Ganguro style represents the American teenager.  The basic look which Westerners would call “California Girl,” with bleached hair, dark skin, fake eyelashes and nails.
Cosplay is a more costumed-based style.  A cosplay enthusiast will usually dress as a fictional or iconic character from a band, game, movie or anime.

Lastly, Ura-Hara is another section of Harajuku, which caters to a mostly male population interested in hip-hop, graffiti, and skater fashion and culture.

According to, it posts – on a monthly basis – high quality pictures of the latest emerging Japanese fashion trends and street clothing worn by young fashionistas who walk the catwalks of the city sidewalks in Tokyo. 

Since I am careful about dressing my age!/2012/06/proud-to-be-friend-of-ricki-lake.html, I just tend to live vicariously through these Japanese trend-setters who use fashion as a symbol – more than style – to represent their individuality. 

Now, that is what I love …and respect …about Harajuku.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Solstice at Neiman's

Yesterday was the first day of summer, so I am a day late and a dollar short; Well, actually a few Benjamen's short -- if you must know the truth -- because I just can't resist a summer sale.

On the longest day of the year, Neiman Marcus launched its Official Summer Sale so savvy shoppers had more time to take advantage of some great deals. 

An extra 25% off all sale prices offers discounts as deep as 55% off.  If you decide to shop online, such as I did, they are offering free shipping on all purchases with the code "JUNESF."  Although, you can shop the sale in stores if that tickles your fancy and it runs through 4th of July.

So just follow the butterfly to your oh, so many fabulous finds.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Am Home Decorating Challenged

Our house!

It has almost been a year since my husband and I bought our home.  We started out of the gate strong with plans to renovate our Mid-Century Modern.  Within six weeks of closing escrow, we had the hardwood floors in our entire house redone.  The change was drastic; it was immediate; and our new floors are gorgeous.

We also did some minor cosmetic changes such as ripping down the old window coverings and replacing them with new colorful drapes and decorative shades. 

My mom – who is renovating her home in New Mexico – is a big fan of HGTV and the DIY channel.  She sent us a few links for shows that were looking for new homeowners, such as ourselves, to be a part of DIY projects reality shows. 

We actually submitted a video to be considered as contestants and, much to our surprise, we got the role; however, once we found out that it would be up to Jason and I to actually do the renovations, we passed on the opportunity. I think “Divorce Court” would have been in our future.  Also, this show renovated living rooms and that could possibly be the only room in our house that doesn’t need to be changed.

Not really being the DIY-types, our home renovating aspirations sort of fizzled out around Christmas.  Other than purchasing some throw pillows, we haven’t done anything since the New Year.

Our procrastination isn’t because we don’t want to make progress.  I mean, if we had unlimited funds, I’m pretty sure we would move into a rental in order to blow out and renovate our kitchen; revamp our deck; and change our façade.  These projects will all come in due time; however, right now, there are so many little projects that need to be done we don’t even know where to begin.

Our view!

When I personally start thinking about everything we want – um, need – to do around our house, my brain just sort of shuts down.  It is almost like that scene from the Mel Brook’s movie “High Anxiety” where I am spinning out of control.

So, I start to think about things I can control like what to cook for dinner and what I want to wear to my next girls’ dinner.

However, hope and inspiration came to me last Friday when I found an article from the publication “CountryLiving” by Beth Ann Fennelly.  The editorial profiles Emily and Michael Knotts who renovated their home on the cheap.

There was even a reference to open cabinets on my favorite trash TV show, "True Blood."  They actually referenced this article.

I have to say – as a self-proclaimed non-DIY-er – this article absolutely encouraged me.  In particular, the dining room table which they made for $11 is amazing.  It is exactly what I have been looking for over the past year but unable to find in our price range.

Since I don’t have any DIY experience – and I’m not that handy (really) – I could not actually build a dining room table, but I think Jason could. He is the artist in our family.

However, part of the problem is finding the time to do all these projects.  I can barely keep up with my blog let alone take the time to even just clean our garage.

But both Jason and I agree that a change has got to come.  We have decided to get serious about tackling these home improvement projects.

Since summer is here and we spend most of our time out on our deck enjoying our ocean view, this is the first order of business.  Jason is going to weather-proof and paint the deck, while I re-upholster our orbit lounger.  (Yes, it is as cool as it sounds.)  We plan to hit up some estate sales and look for some unique pieces to mix in with our existing patio furniture.  It is time to get busy.

When the deck is done, I’m setting my sights even higher and plan to renovate our guest bathroom.  At 8’ by 8’, I think it is doable. 

Like anything else, revamping our home is going to be a process, it will be one step at a time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heavy Metal Eyes

Sometimes, I like to avoid the chain make-up counters and just peruse the cosmetics at my local drugstore.  This weekend, I had a golden moment and found myself taking home L'Oreal Paris' Infallible Eye Shadow in Eternal Sunshine.

I love mixing metallic on my eyes right now and this cream to powder formula is waterproof, crease and fade resistant. It stays put all day and night.

I just put a little golden bronze on my lids and gold on the lower lash lines to make my eyes pop and, the beauty of it all, it goes with any complexion.

Go for the glow!

L'Oreal Paris Infallible Eye Shadow in Eternal Sunshine, $7.95 at drugstores.

Friday, June 15, 2012 Your Favorite Fashion Shop

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I were invited to a 45th birthday dinner.  I hadn’t had a reason to dress up in quite a while, so I decided to buy a new dress for the occasion.

I began scouring the net and found a unique website called is an online fashion boutique initiative that provides retailing services between customers and specialty boutiques and designers offering branded clothing.  Its collections include men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories from various world-wide brands such as Diesel, Moschino, BCBG, Trina Turk, Dolce Vita, Hermés and about 800 others.

According to its site, is all about putting local fashion on the international map.  They partner with local, specialty boutiques that inspire global fashion by offering them a solid online and social presence.

This global manifestation should be no surprise as the project has come to fruition thanks to Mike Radoor and Konrad Kierklo.  These two young Danish self-made entrepreneurs decided to give a voice and a space online to local independent shops and boutiques. 

In 2009, Miinto launched in Scandinavia (whoo-hoo where my peeps hail) and last year they arrived in the States.  Last month, the venture made its way across the pond to the U.K., Ireland and Holland.

The company offers a web-based dimension to their brick-and-mortar stores giving them an international platform and a wider reach.  Hence, the speedy expansion.  The result: everybody wins! Fashion lovers have access to up-to-the-minute, unique creations, while boutiques can depend on Miinto’s expertise, back-end support and network.

Miinto allows a 14 day return period and a live person is available to give customer support via the phone lines.
The bottom line is that I found the cutest frock on Miinto and, I received so many compliments on the dress at dinner that night, I wanted to share my findings. 

But, more important, the team at Miinto wants to share with you.  They will give a $15 gift cards for all my ATF readers who like them on Facebook.

What’s not to like?

Please visit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Proud To Be a Friend of Ricki Lake

When I was fresh out of high school – back in the 80s’ – I was just coming into my own as a young woman.  I was going to college full-time, but also spent a lot of time exploring my artistic side. I knew that I loved fashion and writing was my calling even back then but, with my new found freedom and a fake ID, I spent a lot of time at the dance clubs in New York City

While I was busy goofing off, a contemporary of mine, Ricki Lake, was making her film debut as Tracy Turnblad, the lead character in John Waters’ 1988 cult-classic “Hairspray.” 

Five years later, Ricki was still realizing her fame with her first talk show – “Rickie Lake” – which premiered on Sept. 13, 1993.  She became the darling of daytime television for more than a decade. 

Ricki’s show was a familiar presence in my home during my young adult years and I was a devoted fan.  Her likable personality and down-to-earth interview style kept me going back for more over the years.  I would even watch “Ricki Lake” when I was home on maternity leave when my son was born.

In 2004, Ricki decided to end the show to spend time with her own family; however, she never really left the spotlight. 

Her documentary about home birth and midwifery, “The Business of Being Born,” was very successful and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.  She also competed on the television show “Dancing with the Stars,” among many other projects.

Now, almost 20 years later, Ricki Lake has come full circle and her new venture, “The Ricki Lake Show” is slated to premier in the fall of 2012.

Recently, I was bestowed the honor of being a contributor to the online magazine for “The Ricki Lake Show.” I had the opportunity to share my views on women’s fashion and the dilemma of dressing too young for your age.  Also, I was able to share some wisdom on how to avoid that fashion faux pas.

I want to thank “Ricki” for the opportunity; now that’s a friend.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Living Every Day Like Summer Vacation

My big boy Shane

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I enjoyed a little Mother’s Day in June.

Yesterday morning, my 7-year-old son Shane looked at me and proclaimed, “Momma, you are the best mom in the world.”

His sentiment made my heart sing, but I was a little bit caught off guard. Shane is a sweetheart but – with only a few months until he turns 8 – I’ve noticed just a little precociousness about him lately; None-the-less, he is such a good boy.

I know that it is only a matter of time before he is too cool for his Momma. So you can imagine how happy I was that I had the absolute good fortune of getting a lot of Mommy and Shane time this past weekend. 

On Saturday, we spent the early part of the afternoon doing two of Shane’s favorite things: eating In and Out burgers and hanging out at his favorite park.

Once our double doubles had been digested, we went straight to the Wilderness Park. Armed with a butterfly net and mesh bug container, we set off to catch us some bugs. However, our first order of business was to see if we could find our formal turtles Fasty and Slowy.

I posted a few months ago;postID=6560186619706425554
about our turtles that we acquired in Chinatown a few years ago. Well, our tiny little reptiles were so healthy and grew to such great proportions that we released them into the wild a few months ago.

Well, not necessarily the wild, but to the 11-acre Wilderness Park. Shane and I were so excited to find one of our turtles right there sunning itself on a rock on the shore of the pond.

Out of the hundreds of turtles at the park, how did we know it was ours?

Jason and Shane painted the shells of our turtles with nail polish, so we were able to locate one of our turtles, Slowy (the small turtle). I suspect Fasty – the bigger turtle – was hiding in the reeds because he was also such a scaredy cat when he lived with us.

Slowy at the Wilderness Park

It was so nice to see that Slowy was alive and sunning herself on a rock with another random turtle. She seemed right at home and it was much more humane than our 70 gallon tank which, believe it or not, was too small for the two of them.

We spent another hour or so trying to catch butterflies. I figured they would be too fast for us to catch, but Shane was good. Thank goodness not too good or fast, because he didn't actually catch one. I kept telling him we didn’t want to wipe the butterflies’ magic dust off their wings because then they wouldn’t fly.

Who did I think I was dealing with and did I really think he would refrain from trying to catch those beautiful insects?

 Uh, duh; that was the fun of it.

But the good news is that our bug catcher came back home empty and all the bugs were safe – at least for another few weeks.

After the park, we ran a quick errand and then we were home to get ready for Shane’s End of the Season Baseball Party.

We spent the entire evening at our local park, celebrating Shane and his team’s Double A Championship win. It was an amazing night and Shane pretty much slept with his trophies.

The next day, Shane had a flag football playoff game and my little man scored his first point of the season in a play that is similar to a field goal in regular football. Of course, mommy looked away for just a minute and missed it but, luckily, I’ve got the chance to see it again on the video replay.

After football, we dusted off Shane’s jersey and I took him to his good buddy’s Video Game Truck birthday party. For three and half hours, Shane was entranced by Halo and Lego Star Wars. I had to practically drag him out of the party because we had dinner plans with my hubby Jason, sister- and brother-in-law.

But, when we arrived at Kula Revolving Sushi Bar, Shane was once again fascinated. Despite the long wait due to its über-popularity, Kula has a conveyor belt that runs around the entire restaurant and you can pluck the sushi and other items off as they pass by your table.  I was even impressed and it takes a lot to get me excited.

Although Jason was with us for most of day on Sunday – with the exception of the party – it really felt that Shane and I had gotten some much needed quality time together.

As I tucked him into bed that night, I couldn’t help but be astonished at how grown up he’s becoming:  His legs are long and not as coltish as they had been; His hair is growing out and making him look a bit older; I had the pang in my chest that my baby is growing up.

I resolved right then and there to make sure I take advantage and enjoy every second of our time together. Before I know it, he’s going to be too cool for me and shake off any hand-holding or Mommy-Son PDA.

I told him that we were going to have the best summer ever and, as his eyes began to grow heavy, he asked, “Mom, why don’t you get summer vacation? “

As I turned out the light I thought, good question! But I said we will just have to make every day of our lives just like summer vacation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Accessories from Under-the-Sea

With the dog days of summer upon us, what better way to keep those fun in the sun memories with us all week long than under-the-sea-inspired jewelry.

One my my favorite Los Angeles-area boutiques -- which also sells its wares online -- M. Fredric offers an array of hot summer accessories such as starfish, coral and shells.

My favorite is the "Starfish Cuff" in gold or silver metal which retails for $32. 

Beachy keen!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Feeling Guilty About Feeling Guilty

I have serious issues with guilt. 

One time, I had a co-worker who asked me if I was Catholic.  Not that there is anything wrong with Catholicism, it was just that I was constantly "feeling bad" about everything I did or didn't do at work.  The co-worker -- who was Catholic -- said I always seemed like I needed to be in confessional.

I know that my guilt stems from wanting to be perfect in every aspect of my life. I strive to be the best mom and wife -- even if it means putting some of my own wants on the back-burner; I am driven to be absolutely flawless at work; I desire to be there for all my family and friends all the time.  I put pressure on myself to do it all and be there for everyone.  I usually think about myself very last and, when I do, I feel "guilty" that I am actually doing something for me.

That is why this attached  Daily Om really hit home for me.  It made me realize that I have to stop being so hard on myself and learn to just let some things go.  I am human and I can only do what I can do, so releasing guilt is on my agenda.

Happy reading!

Dwelling in guilt is like living your life with an anchor tied to your ankles dragging you down.

Releasing Guilt
Permission to Forgive Ourselves

Learning to accept the things that we perceive as wrong can be a difficult task for many of us. Often we have been brought up to accept that it is normal to feel guilty about our actions and that by doing so we will make everything seem alright within ourselves. Even though we might feel that we have a reason to make up for the choices we have made, it is much more important for us to learn how to deal with them in a healthy and positive way, such as through forgiveness and understanding.

When we can look back at our past and really assess what has happened, we begin to realize that there are many dimensions to our actions. While feeling guilty might assuage our feelings at first, it is really only a short-term solution. It is all too ironic that being hard on ourselves is the easy way out. If we truly are able to gaze upon our lives through the lens of compassion, however, we will be able to see that there is much more to what we do and have done than we realize. Perhaps we were simply trying to protect ourselves or others and did the best we could at the time, or maybe we thought we had no other recourse and chose a solution in the heat of the moment. Once we can understand that dwelling in our negative feelings will only make us feel worse, we will come to recognize that it is really only through forgiving ourselves that we can transform our feelings and truly heal any resentment we have about our past.

Giving ourselves permission to feel at peace with our past actions is one of the most positive steps we can take toward living a life free from regrets, disappointments, and guilt. The more we are able to remind ourselves that the true path to a peaceful mind and heart is through acceptance of every part of our lives and actions, the more harmony and inner joy we will experience in all aspects of our lives.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Trina Turk Goes Bananas with Palm Springs Chic

The first time I ever noticed a Trina Turk design was more than 10 years ago.  One of my besties Courtney – who is by far my most fashionable friend – turned up at a wedding wearing the most beautiful Trina Turk dress.

For years – every time I had a formal event – that dress popped into my mind.  I wanted to emulate Courtney in that silhouette and print but was never able to find anything nearly as stunning.
Banana Republic

Then my mother-in-law Judith moved to the desert and I was able to live vicariously through her Trina Turk obsession.  With Turk’s Palm Springs boutique mere blocks away from Judith’s casita, I was a frequent wing man but Turk’s high-end line was out of my grasp back then.  Over the years, I’ve been lucky to score a few pieces – on sale – here and there; but I’ve never actually bucked up for a serious garment from any of her collections.

Now I have my chance.

Banana Republic

As of yesterday, the retail giant Banana Republic launched its Trina Turk Palm Springs Chic summer collection throughout 450 stores worldwide. 

The line – which totals 60 pieces – includes dresses, skirts, shorts, button downs, tunic tops and bathing suits. Turk’s moniker prints – with names such as “Deco Palms,” “Pisces,” and “Crazy Botanical” – have a vintage feel but certainly don’t give off a senior vibe – notorious for Palm Springs. 

Banana Republic

Infused with an affordable freshness, garments are priced from $34.50 to $150 about half the price of the high-end Trina Turk line.

It is only fitting that the dazzling Turk, a native Californian, opened her first retail boutique in Palm Springs in 2002.  Since that time, she has grown her realm to seven boutiques including Los Angeles, New York, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Burlingame, Bal Harbour Shops in Miami, and the new Dallas’ Highland Park Village which opened in 2011. The company has also operates a seasonal store in the tony East Hamptons since 2009.

Banana Republic

After a decade, the collaboration with Banana Republic comes at a time when Turk is focusing on nurturing and growing her brand. 

Along with her former stylist husband – Jonathan Skow – Turk is preparing to launch a menswear collection designed by her hubby himself.  She also recently started selling Trina Turk bedding at Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.  In addition to expanding and renovating her flag ship store in Palm Springs, she has added a jewelry and stationary line to her ever growing empire.

It is becoming a very Trina Turk world.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

‘There’s Nothing in the World Like Action Park’

The month of June always makes me giddy in anticipation for the fun days of summer.  Even though today – I have a career – I live vicariously through my 7-year-old son who is super excited for his summer vacation to begin in exactly two weeks.

It brings me back to the summers of my youth – in Jersey – of course.  Memories of fried clams at Zelbes in Belmar, sweet treats at Day’s Ice Cream Parlor in the Grove, fun in the sun at the beach, and Action Park.

Yes, for those of you who hail from the East Coast, I went there.

Every year for my July birthday, my mom and I would make our annual pilgrimage – either solo, with family or my BFF Dina – to the amusement park and first American waterpark at the Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area.

Action Park featured three separate attraction areas:  The Alpine Slide, Motorworld and Waterworld.  The park’s rides were incomparable and brought thrill-seekers from across the New York Tri-State area. 

According to Wikipedia, the park’s popularity went hand in hand with a reputation for poorly designed, unsafe rides; inattentive, underage employees; intoxicated, unprepared visitors; and the consequently poor safety record.

“At least six people are known to have died as a result of mishaps on rides at the park.  It was given nicknames such as ‘Traction Park,’ ‘Accident Park’ by doctors at nearby hospitals due to the number of severely injured park-goers they treated,” states Wikipedia.

Despite its negative history, I can honestly say that on the days leading up to my visits to Action Park, I was so excited I could barely contain myself.

Our first trip to Action Park – which was only open Memorial through Labor days – was for my 8th birthday.  Exactly the same age that my son will be this summer.

By California law, my son must still ride in a booster car seat until he is 4’ 9”; at 4’ 2”, he still has a ways to go.  But when I was his age, I was allowed to jump off a 23 foot high diving cliff, ride the treacherous Alpine Slide, and drive gasoline fueled go-karts while at Action Park.

Action Park was best known for its Alpine Slide.  Concrete and fiberglass gulleys were carved into the side of a ski mountain and served as tracks for plastic sleds.  These sleds were controlled by a lever that had two speeds: really slow or “death awaits.”

My mom, Dina and I would throw on our sneakers and, clad only in our bathing suits since we were also going on the water rides, would zip down the shoots.  I was always petrified – as I should have been as there were no helmets here – and would go as slow as I possibly could.  Inevitably, some jerk would come speeding down the track and crash into the back of my cart to show how annoyed he was with my cautiously slow speed.

Not necessarily a big fan of the Alpine Slide, my favorite part of the park was definitely Waterworld and my preferred attraction was the Colorado River Ride.  At the bottom of a hill, riders would be given a black inner tube and we would wind our way up the concrete path, through a shady wooded area, barefoot and dripping wet.

Once at the top, you would jump on your inner tube and start to float down the lazy river.  Slowly at first until you started to gain speed as the river ran steep downhill.  Sometimes, if you took a curve too fast, your tube would fly up on the embankment.  If you weren’t holding on, the rider would fly out of the river – landing unceremoniously (and painfully) on wood chips, rocks and weeds.

There was also a tunnel that was made of real rocks and, if you reached your hand out into the pitch darkness, you would find yourself bleeding and scratched on the other side.

To me, the best part was the end and the big downhill portion that had jumps and bumps a foot high. If you were lucky and could stay on your inner tube, you would get air and slam down with a jolt.  If you lost your raft, well, you would probably find yourself at the first aid station getting medical attention.

I also loved the high speed water slides.  They nearly vertical slopes for super-fast speeds. At the top, the slides were so steep that they had netting over top for the first several feet.  I always remember my body elevating at this part of the ride and then slamming back down a few “feet” later.  The lifeguards would yell at you to lay down and stay down.  If you didn’t, there was room for serious error, like flying off the slide.

Since these were the only water slides I had ever really been on in my life, I didn’t realize that getting a giant water enema and wedgie wasn’t actually normal.  Gross but true, I mean, I was 8 you know.

As I mentioned before, I loved that 23 foot plunge off the diving cliffs; surf hill in which you slide down a water slicked slope on mats that landed in puddles; and the wave pool –  aka the “Grave Pool,” – until I had my coming to Jesus moment.

The deadly wave pool was 100 feet wide and 250 feet long and could hold 500 to 1,000 people.  Waves were simulated for 20 minute at a time with 10 minute breaks in between.  And, the waves could get as high as 3 feet. 

My issue happened when I was mid-pool and the waves started.  I didn’t realize that it wasn’t all one depth – it actually got deeper the farther in you went.  In addition, the chlorinated water wasn’t buoyant like sea water, so I found it harder to stay afloat and had to swim more frantically.

Despite being tired, I was able to make my way to the side of the pool – with about 500 poor souls who were trying not to drown – treading water in order to keep my head afloat until it was my turn to climb the ladder out.  As you can tell, I survived to tell my story but others weren’t so lucky.

According to Wikipedia, Six people are known to have died at Action Park:

·        On July 8, 1980, a 19-year-old park employee was riding the Alpine Slide when his car jumped the track and his head hit a rock, killing him.

·        On July 24, 1982, a 15-year-old boy drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.

·        A week later on Aug. 1, 1982, a 27-year-old man tipped his kayak on the Kayak Experience and was electrocuted when he stepped on a grate that was in contact with, or came too close to, a section of wiring for the underwater fans that was exposed.

·        In 1984, a fatal heart attack was suffered by one visitor who some believe was triggered by the shock of jumping into the cold water below the Tarzan Swing.

·        On Aug. 27, 1984 a 20-year-old died in the Tidal Wave Pool.

·        On July 19, 1987, an 18-year-old drowned in the Tidal Wave Pool.

I was shocked to read that, due to all the deaths and the inability to get liability insurance, Action Park operated with no insurance policy for its last several years in operation, said Wikipedia.

I seriously had no idea this seemingly idyllic amusement park was such a dangerous commodity and I continued to frequent the park up until I was in college in the early 90s. 

When I met my husband a few years later, I joked with him about all my scars that I had from this crazy water park that I would go to as a kid.  I told him about the water slides, the high dives and I even mentioned the Alpine Slides.  I said it was crazy but so much fun.

Then, a few weeks ago, he emailed me a Yahoo! Article that was about a looping water slide at Action Park.  The slide had a complete vertical loop like a roller coaster and test dummies had been dismembered.  The actual ride was only open for a few days because riders had too suffered many back injuries and bloody noses.  The article also went into detail about all the injuries and the few deaths that had occurred at the menacing park.

Looking back, Action Park didn’t seem all that scary.  Yes, most of the rides were extreme and, in hind sight, dangerous; however, I just always accepted that this was how you had fun in the Motherland.

It guess it's just a Jersey thing.