Friday, October 30, 2009

Fabulous Fridays: A Fall Day In Central Park

I love fall in New York. It's my favorite season. Besides the change in the color of clothes, the leaves are just blazing in fabulous reds, yellows and golds. Everything is so colorful, especially Central Park. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Born To Run(ning) For Love

The streets and sidewalks of New York have become a running track. The New York City Marathon is this Sunday and over 37,000 runners from around the world will be running the 26.2 mile course that winds through part of each of the city’s five boroughs.

I’ve always been a spectator, standing with amazement along First Avenue, cheering the crowds as they enter Manhattan from the 59th Street Bridge. Despite a recent New York Times article that questioned if you can truly call yourself a marathoner if it takes you a longer time to finish this amazing race, I’m such in awe of their accomplishments. For the throngs of everyday people, some of whom are my friends and colleagues, I applaud you!

It’s always been a dream of mine to run a marathon. At least since I ran my first 6 mile loop in Central Park. But my knees had other ideas and I never got around to it. I still run, but I still need to increase my mileage to take this goal into a reality.

The 26.2 mile course of the NYC Marathon

According to an article in Runner's World magazine, slowly adding distance to your running routine is the best way run longer distances. It also improves fitness, builds endurance and burns calories. Who doesn’t love all that?

Here are some tips to help you build miles without running the risk of injury or fatigue.

* Slow down. Taking your speed down a notch or two gives you energy to go longer. Add about two minutes to your usual pace. For example, if you usually run three miles in 30 minutes (10 minutes per mile), expect to run four miles in 48 minutes (12 minutes per mile) or longer.

* Build gradually. Adding miles too quickly can lead to burnout and injury. So increase your long run by no more than 1 to 1.5 miles at a time.

* Run long every other week. This gives your body time to recover, which reduces injury risk.

* Take walk breaks. A six-mile run with walk breaks still gives you six miles of endurance. The benefit? More energy for your run and a faster recovery.

Besides all the physical and mental benefits running, my friend Jessica is running for another reason. This sassy chic is running this year’s marathon in the hopes of finding love along the way.

Jessica has never had trouble getting dates with guys, even great guys. But never THE ONE. She had a wake up call after she broke up with her last boyfriend back in June, who she described as a good guy, but just not right for her. “After I broke up with him I thought I could go back to do what I was doing (going out to bars, online dating, friend setups), but I felt I needed to do something different,” she said. But between work, friends, family, volunteering and staying in shape, the time for meeting Mr. Right wasn’t there any more. “It’s not like I’m in my 20s anymore,” she said.

Jessica is Running For Love

So in an effort to meet Mr. Right in her very busy schedule, this energetic entrepreneur decided to combine her passion for staying in shape with dating. Smart move! She set her goal to train for this year’s marathon, and at the same time, to find love. “Every year I watch the marathon and there are always so many guys running. Good looking guys, guys who had ambition, who set goals. That’s the guy I wanted to meet,” she said.

Over the course of the past five months, Jessica has participated in a number of running charity events, races and has even taken her story to NBC’s “Today in NY”. As a result, she said she has found her calendar packed with dates. “All of a sudden guys were coming out of the woodwork,” she said. NOTE: Jessica doesn’t require the dates to be runners and still enjoys a good glass of wine or two.

Though Jessica still hasn’t found her Prince Charming yet, you can catch her on Marathon Sunday sporting her favorite running tee in green that reads: “JESSICA” on the front and “Running Slow So He Can Catch Me” and her email” on the back.

I’m rooting for you Jessica!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sexy Halloween Costumes - Love It or Hate It?

It’s my favorite time of year. The leaves are breathtakingly beautiful and cobwebs are found in nearly every doorstep. My mind naturally turns to what the heck am I going to wear for Halloween. And it’s this Saturday. Yikes!

I know for a lot of people, dressing up for Halloween has lost its appeal. But for many, the holiday is a great excuse to dress up, live out a fantasy and be someone else for the evening. I'm finding many of the characters and costumes I cherished as a child are made in adult sizes, only with less costume and are more skin revealing.

Glinda, the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz and the name of my tooth fairy, has gotten sexier

Billie Burke as Glina in The Wizard of Oz

On full disclosure, I've never played the part of sexing up my costume. I'm alway afraid I won't be able to pull it off. It also makes me really sad to see a woman my age who would want to be seen in public like they are still on their Spring break. Sure, I get it. It’s fun to role play for the night. But do you find it just a little bit odd for an adult woman to parade around in next-to-nothing, revealing too much skin, just to get noticed? I guess they think if they carry around a cape or a pillow case they'll be fine. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with flaunting a little sex appeal. But what happened to the notion that you shouldn’t reveal too much. Come on, be a little mysterious. I feel sorry for women who feel the need to wear next to nothing and be a fantasy of some of my friends’ children.

But on the other hand I do get those that listen to their inner voice, saying "Go for it, It's Halloween." For some women, it's simply fun to dress up in something completely different and even be liberating from wearing the same thing day after day. It can also build confidence that you're able to pull it off and an opportunity for some women who may never have the chance to act out their wild side.

For sure, woman are creative enough to come up with a Halloween costume that’s a little more respectable. Some of the more clever ones I've seen recently is Crayola crayons, a Hawaiian tourist, a hippy or even a fashionable ghost.

What do you think about wearing sexy Halloween costumes? What will be you on Saturday?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Queen of the Supermarket

I’ve been eating for almost 40 years, but cooking for practically none of it. So when I’m forced to go to the grocery store and pick up something for dinner, I’m at a complete loss. I've been known to snoop in other people's refrigerators for some food insight. I know it sounds easy enough, but I hate it. I either buy random ingredients that sound interesting or fill my cart with animal-shaped prepared foods.

This approach to food shopping didn't mix well with the hard efforts I put into exercising. I know what foods are healthy, but I wasn’t buying them. I needed a plan where I could fill a grocery basket with healthy foods.

My friends food blogger Tina, fashion blogger Kristin, the lovely Lisa and I recently went on a food shopping field trip with Melissa O’Shea (aka Market Melissa), a registered dietitian with Food Trainers. Melissa expertly guided me though the aisles and aisles of food and helped me formulate a healthy shopping list. Along the way I got a better understanding of when it's important to buy organic food, how to read food labels and how to stock my pantry with foods I like, but healthier.

We hit up the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle and explored some of the carnal rules of food shopping. These rules should help you choose healthier foods that are high in volume, low in calories and will hopefully reenergize you to a lifetime of healthy eating.

  1. Shop with a basket rather than a huge cart. This helps you avoid adding unnecessary items.
  2. Write a grocery list and shop from the list. Spend the time to plan your meals and shop for that recipe.
  3. Look for natural food items versus packaged goods. You might want to just take a quick survey of your basket and make sure there are more food items from the farm and not the factory.

A scene from my food basket

The first area to explore was fruits and vegetables. Here we discussed the benefits of buying organic, local and in-season produce. I always thought that if I were to mix organic products with conventional ones, the benefits of eating organic foods were then eliminated. This is so untrue, Melissa said. Rather, she said to focus on those foods that have the heaviest burden of pesticides, additives and hormones.

*According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), consumer can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

So what are the so-called “dirty dozen” fruits/vegetables you should always buy organic, thus reducing your pesticide intake:

Apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, lettuce, carrots, potatoes and spinach.

Apples are part of the "dirty dozen"

Those that didn't make the cut and are on the clean list include: pineapple, mango, papaya, kiwi, bananas, sweet peas (frozen), asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, onions, avocado, sweet corn (frozen).

In addition to looking for organic food, it is also important to think locally, shop for foods that are in season and mix up the fruits and vegetables you buy. To get a healthy variety, think of the rainbow of colors they offer. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants. Melissa’s tip: try a new fruit or vegetable every day.

The second area on the healthy list was seafood. Melissa said it was important to choose low-mercury fish and aim to eat fish twice weekly (or more) for a dose of Omega-3s essential fatty acids. This is good to reduce inflammation and help prevent chronic disease like heart, alzheimer and arthritis. Fish considered low in mercury generally are smaller in size since the older and larger the fish, the greater the potential for high mercury levels. Fish with low mercury include:

Catfish, cod, crab, flounder/sole, haddock, herring, lobster, ocean perch, oysters, rainbow trout, farmed and wild salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, spiny lobster, tilapia and farmed trout. Other sources include: ready-to-eat shrimp, canned chunk light tuna.

If seafood isn’t your thing, you can also shop for omega-3-enriched eggs for another alternative source.

Other protein sources are meat and chicken. Melissa said chicken should be organic and meat is better served when grass fed.

Of course any healthy food list would include dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese, rich in calcium, protein and vitamins. Here too, Melissa suggested going organic to limit your intake of rBGH, a growth hormone injected into cows and that has been associated with certain cancers. Suggested brands include: Stoneyfield Farm fat-free or low-fat yogurt (high in dairy), Fage 0% Greek yogurt (high in protein) and Organic Valley low-fat cottage cheese and string cheese.

Also on the list and my personal favorite category, grains, breads and cereal. Melissa said most products like whole grain breads, pasta/rice and breakfast cereals should be made from whole grains, and not from refined flours. For nutritious cereal, look for at least 5g of fiber and less than 8g of sugar per serving. Healthy choices of cereal brands include: Nature’s path, Kashi and McCann’s.

My downfall is always snacking. I'm always on the go and often times reach for anything that's handy, but not always good for me. For a healthy snack alternative, Melissa suggested the humble nut and dried fruit. Although most people nuts are high in fat and calories (they are indeed), nuts can most definitely be a part of a healthy diet. Research has found that people who eat nuts regularly actually live longer. Nuts are one of the best sources of protein and they are rich in fiber and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. Go nuts for nuts like pistachios (lowers cholesterol), walnuts (rich in Omega-3s), almonds (Vitamin E and calcium). Dried fruit is also a healthy, convenient snack option. Look for freeze-dried brands, with no sugar added.

Other healthy snack options are crackers (Finn Crisp Crackers, Ryvita crackers and Wasa crackers); pretzels (Happy Herbert's oat bran pretzels and Newman's Own High Protein pretzels); chips (Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips and Garden of Eatin' tortilla chips) and cookies (World of Grain cookies, Kashi cookies, New Morning graham crackers).

Other words to the wise include:

* Be careful with dressings, sauces and condiments. They are convenient but can be sneaky sources of processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup and poor quality oils. Read labels or make your own dressing made with canola or walnut oil.

* Frozen foods are also super-convenient and can be healthy if you keep entrees to less than 500mg of sodium/serving. For frozen sweets, keep these treats to around 100 calories.

Next time you are going to the market, why not bring a nutritionist along with you? I'm sure glad I did. I'm inspired to cook meals that are nutritious and delicious.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've Got Yankee Fever

The Yankees win! Thheeeeee Yankees win!!!

It’s been six long years since I’ve been able to say that my beloved Yankees are heading to the World Series. With a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angles, the New York Yankees claimed the American League Championship Series (for the 40th time) last night at the Stadium. What a night! They have a date with the defending World Champs Philadelphia Phillies starting Wednesday night.

I didn’t get to the game last night, but I had a few friends who were there. They said the Stadium was out of control. I’m beyond excited and ready to celebrate the fall classic by bringing the ballpark to my apartment. My apartment will of course by full of pinstripes and I’ll be sporting my official World Series sweater I knit and wore to the World Series. As such, I've listed a few things you can do at home for the World Series - but really, this can apply to any sporting event.

My mom and me at a World Series game. Check out my sweater.

To Set the Stage

  • Prepare scorecards and rosters for you and your guests.
  • Create a scoreboard and assign an “official” scorekeeper.
  • Dress fashionably in your team’s official colors and logos. Click here for Yankee gear. Click here for Phillies’ paraphernalia.
  • Display any baseball trivia or memorabilia. Pennants, jerseysPerhaps you still have your baseball cards?
  • Coordinate party supplies (balloons, plates, napkins) with your team’s. Party City has a pretty amazing selection of props to turn your home into the ballpark.

Keep The Game Lively:

  • Do have a special prize for the best dressed.
  • Do have a betting pool. In this case, How many inning with the starting pitchers last?; How many homeruns will be given up, by each team?; How many errors will the umpires make?; What will be the final score?

Food and Drinks

  • In goes without saying, Hotdogs, Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
  • Hamburgers
  • Garlic Fries
  • Chili
  • Pretzels
  • Nachos
  • Beer

Here is the schedule for the 2009 World Series games:

Game 1: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 7:57 p.m. at Yankee Stadium
Game 2: Thursday, Oct. 29, 7:57 p.m. at Yankee Stadium

Game 3: Saturday, Oct. 31, 7:57 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park
Game 4: Sunday, Nov. 1, 8:20 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park
Game 5: Monday, Nov. 2, 7:57 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park*

Game 6: Wednesday, Nov. 4, 7:57 p.m. at Yankee Stadium*
Game 7: Thursday, Nov. 5, 7:57 p.m. at Yankee Stadium*

*If necessary

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fabulous Fridays: Spooky Jewelry by Wendy Brandes

Just in time for Halloween, and always in style, are a whimsical and eye-catching collection of mummies, bats and skull created by my gorgeous friend, witty blogger and talented jewelry designer, Wendy Brandes. Wendy has some pretty amazing pieces in her collection. I know this because I wore her earrings and necklace the night of my wedding. The entire collection is inspired by Wendy’s influence of fascinating women, whether they lived in the 16th century or the Swinging ‘60s. Her main collection, Vivat Regina, is Latin for “Long Live the Queen.”

Wendy, who has been designing jewelry since 2004, first caught my eye with her far-out lockets and poison rings, her specialty. I love them for the surprise inside.

The Juana Peekaboo Skull Ring has crossbones highlighted in diamonds on the outside and a skull with big white sapphire eyes on the inside. Inspired by Queen Juana "La Loca" of Spain., also know as Joan the Mad. 18K yellow gold. $8,750.

Anyway, I’m talking about Wendy today because she has a really impressive, frightfully beautiful collection of one-of-kind, hand-made pieces that are perfect for Halloween or for a subtle touch on the rock ‘n roll trend.

I know some of you can’t get enough of vampires. You need to check out Wendy’s interpretation of those bloodsuckers.

This upside-down bat has his eyes on you in 18k yellow gold. $815.

This one is in sterling silver. $315.

Here are some other amazing pieces of jewelry from Wendy:

This onyx skull ring is a one-of-a-kind, hand-made 18k ring with large onyx skull at the center, surrounded by pave tsavorites. Diamonds are set on the inside of the ring. Price upon request.
The Matilda sword necklace was designed as a tribute to the strength and determination of Empress Matilda, the rightful heir to the English throne in 1135. The elaborately engraved sword, made of 18K white gold, can be pulled out of its scabbard.

Aren’t these just fabulous?

Wendy just rolled out her newest piece, her new mummy locket in sterling silver. Hello Dearest. The sarcophagus is about 1 1/4″ long and hangs from a 16″ chain in its current incarnation. The mummy itself is finished on both sides and has diamond eyes. So sparkly. It’s chained to the sarcophagus so you won’t lose it. This piece is $500.

She even has spooky pieces for your man. These sterling silver cufflinks appear to be sleeping, but really the eyes will be watching. $515.

You can alway find these incredible beautiful pieces and whole lot more at Not only will you find yourself wearing a unique piece, but you will have a wonderful history lesson about the person inspiring the work of art to share. Now that's impressive.

And if you’re in New York this weekend you need to visit Wendy (and me) at her sample sale tonight, October 23, from 5 PM to 8 PM, and Saturday, October 24, from 12 PM to 6 PM. It’s being hosted by boconcept, which is at 105 Madison Avenue and 30th Street. Everything will be marked down from 30% to 80% off retail, so bring your friends.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brighten Your Smile With Clinique

Clinique was my very first skin care brand, but I left it with my teen years some time ago. Sure, they were great when I had a pimple, but I wasn’t sold that they could perform the daily miracles I require today.

That may all be changing with the new Clinique White Teeth Instantly lipstick. Clinique is embarking on a new campaign, showcasing popular lipstick hues with a new twist - shades to make your teeth appear whiter with each application. And who doesn’t want a brighter smile? I know I do.

This blue-based, teeth-enhancing lipstick is offered in 12 amazing shades in all color families including reds, violets, pinks and nudes that create enough contrast to make your pearly whites exactly that. This brilliant idea is a far more painless way to make teeth whiter than the painful bleach-whitening method my dentist charged me $500 for. It’s a brilliant marketing move from Clinique.

Smile! Check out the 12 shades that made the grade for making smiles sparkle.

Clinique recently enlisted the help of 100 women and a board certified dentist to test some of the beauty giant’s best-loved lipstick shades and identify which lipstick colors make teeth look brighter. The dentist used a dental color guide to measure the shades of their teeth before and after application and found 12 that made teeth look a full shade whiter.

I tried out Red-Y To Wear, a classic red. It felt moisturizing and it wore well. It provided moderate to full coverage coverage. I also tried Pink-A-Boo, a sheer golden pink. It had a glossy finishe and felt creamy, yet smooth. When I went to see if there was a difference, I actually saw a brighter, whiter smile. I was really impressed. Not only am I flashing a great big smile, I'm loving this shade of red.

These new lipsticks are proving what my mother has always told me: My smile is my best accessory.

The shades, along with the matching lip liners and glosses, are available online at and Clinique counters nationwide and retail for $14.

Now I’ll be checking the mirror to see how dazzling my teeth look, rather than if I have a piece of food stuck.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

These Boots Are Made For Walking

I'm all about boots. There is something about that first real chill in the air that sends me on a quest to find the perfect pair. Last week, as the temperatures plummeted, the streets of Manhattan were stomped by boots of all shapes and sizes.

I recently asked style guru and author of Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want, Bridgette Raes, what were some of the latest and greatest styles we need to own that can step up our look. I'm talking about boots that are versatile enough to take us where we need to go in style but with comfort in mind.

She said riding boots and ankle boots are both an especially important trend this fall. Another important style to have in your closet is a well-heeled boot, she said.

Western-inspired styles, including riding boots and cowboy boots, are heading into the fall with high marks. Riding boots are generally flat, have wider leg openings and are detailed with buckles or tabs to make them appear more equestrian. This style of boots are a great, yet unexpected addition to a chic LBD or skinny jeans. Bridgette said she loves to wear hers with skirts and tights. If you are pairing them with a skirt, team the riding boots with a sporty-style skirt or a skirt made from denim or corduroy. Also, make sure you keep the skirt on the shorter side of the stick to play off the proportions.

I love these riding boots from Piperlime. These boots aren't totally authentic, but they have elements of riding hardware like the warm yellowish golden buckles.

Another strong trend that are reappearing this fall are booties. This, Bridgette said, is one style that is very important to keep in your wardrobe because it’s great for pants and who doesn’t wear a ton of pants in the cold weather.

If you are wearing these low boots with a skirt and are worried about your legs appearing chuncky, partner them with monochromatic tights to create a slimmer silhouette. So if you are going for a brown boot, team it with brown tights

or leggings. “Monochromatic dressing creates a slimmer look because the eye goes up your body without interruption,” Bridgette said. “It’s an optical illusion”

The classic must-have for any boot collection is the tall- heeled boot. What makes these boots so important is they go with everything. To find a pair for you, Bridgette said to look at the dominant color in your wardrobe and stick with that color. So if you wardrobe if anything like mine, you’ll want to stay with black hues.

Of course no boot wardrobe would be complete without a stylish insulated, waterproof boot, especially if you live in a walking city like New York. I love the fun, playful Wellies, but I think these waterproof suede slouchy boots from Nordstrom are especially chic and stylish. I would even wear them on sunny days.

Of course I needed to know if over the knee boots that are in all the fashion magazines are a yes or no if you are over 40. Prior to this fall, they were always deemed more trampy than trendy - think Pretty Woman.

She said if this is your style, but you are concerned about your height or the shape of your legs, look to pair them with monochromatic tights or leggings. She said to pull it off and still look chic, it’s also important to keep the rest of your outfit understated. “If you have a lot going, you’ll have too many focal points and it might look like a disaster,” she said.

These over-the-knee boots from Zappos are a great boot in a great color. They can works with jeans and the shade of brown works with brown or black. Plus the have a comfortable low heel.

For a pop of color, Bridgette said she loves shades of purple. “The darker, the richer, the more it makes sense,” she said, noting colored boots can be great to add interest to any outfit.

These purple boots from Stuart Weitzman are so fetching and are definite edgier choice that anyone will appreciate.

As for brands, this stylist loves Born, calling them very practical, stylish and comfortable. To me, they all look pretty much fabulous. I’m particularly in love with the romantic and chic Peri boots. The supple leather is constructed with a cushioned footbed for all-day comfort, always a plus.