Thursday, March 25, 2010

Become Your Dream

Yesterday I saw three simple words that were a total wake up call.

Written in chalk along a random sidewalk on the Upper East Side of Manhattan were these three simple words - "Become Your Dream" accompanied by a fish.

These powerful words were written by famous NYC street artist James De La Vega, who has been spreading his poignant messages throughout the city for years. They were so inspiring to me and I can't stop thinking of them. How can these words etched on a dirty sidewalk move me the way they did?

They were a gentle reminder that we all need to follow our dreams and do what we love when it comes to choosing what we want to do with our lives. At this point of my life, I need to figure out what I want to do in my next career path. This will probably entail going back to school or taking some career courses that will help me become more inline with today's marketplace. My first step, and my main challenge, is finding out what it is exactly I want to be doing for the next 20 years or so. Having a career that I love, one that I'm excited to get up in the morning for, rather than continue in a job with no future, can be really depressing.

I know going back to school or changing careers in your 40s can seem rather daunting. But the recent economic downturn that has effected so many of us -- either with a loss of a job or greater insecurity with the job currently held -- can also lead to making major positive changes in our lives. This includes becoming super creative and independent, and ultimately more happy in what we are doing in our daily lives. I have plenty of friends who have taken this step and they are all the more better for it.

We have plenty of years ahead of us to follow our dreams, find a greater meaning in life and do what we love.

Can we afford NOT to pursue our dreams?

With any change comes risk, but once you discover your dreams, you are well on your way to living your life as you should.

If you want to check out more of De La Vaga's gospel, head on over to his museum on St. Marks Place.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

I took a new gym class on Monday. It was the hardest workout I've ever done. The hour-long class is called Practice. It's an advanced workout "for the athlete in you." I knew I was in trouble when I broke out in a full body sweat during the first 10 minutes, which the instructor Eric VonFrohlich said was just the warm up. I crawled home that night, exhausted. I thought I would take it easy on Tuesday by stretching out the kinks.

It's now Wednesday and I still can't walk. My legs feel like logs and they are screaming. I was hoping when I woke up this morning they would magically be better. But as I took my first steps, my legs were loud and clear about how sore they really are.

This is why I'm sore. The class included:
Tricep dips
All at super high voltage.

I usually like the pain from a new workout. After all, I'm using muscles that I haven't used in a while or I'm using them in a different way. In this case, one part of the class involved speed squats until your butt hit the step about a foot off the ground for 20 seconds, eight times, with 10 second breaks. Another move was attempting to sit down on the step with one leg slightly raised and then getting back up again.

I'm going to take it easy today. This doesn't mean I'm not going to be working out. I still can do light exercises for my lower body and my upper body and abs can certainly be worked on.

So what can you do to make sure you can recover faster?

What you eat after a workout matters as much as stretching. No matter if you're a morning, lunchtime or evening person, the most important part to remember when eating is to combine protein, to help your muscles recover, and carbohydrates, which replenishes your energy. For the best results, you should eat within an hour of exercising, when your muscles are most receptive. In addition, it's really important to drink plenty of water. And if you feel the need, pop a couple of ibuprofen and soak in a hot tub with epsom salts.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going Sleeveless: How To Get Toned, Sexy Arms

Spring was in the air this past weekend and New Yorkers like me, Tina, Lisa and Jeremy as well as 8 million more eagerly flung off our winter layers to soak up the fabulous 70 degree temperatures. To rejoice in the warm weather, we headed to our personal back yard -- Central Park -- for a chance to feel grass on our feet again. We enjoyed a mini picnic, complete with two bottles of wine, and a few quick games of rummikub. Afterwards, with the sun still bright, we headed to Rancho for some good and creamy margaritas.

Now that Spring is finally here and summer is right around the corner, I realize I need to turn my attention to toning my arms, shoulders and upper back. I want them to look fabulous when wearing tanks and spaghetti straps. Plus, think how much easier it will be to lift all your shopping bags!

Here are some quick and sure-fire ways of giving you the rights to bare arms that you can do at home or a the gym:

Push-ups are an old-school way, but they definitely work and are extremely effective. The best part about doing push-ups is they require no equipment and you can do them at home or when you are on the road. They also take two minutes and are really effective. Push-ups focus on the back of your arms and your upper back. You can do various sorts of push-ups to make your workout just for you. For instance, you can do a classic push-up. Lie chest-down with your hands at shoulder level, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Your feet can either be together or hip distance apart, just make sure they are parallel to each other. Keep your eyes forward, don't look down at the floor. Straighten your arms, pushing your body up off the floor making sure you chest hits the floor. Then you want to lower yourself, making sure you keep your head straight to your chin and not your nose reach the ground. You can also do push-ups from your knees or with your legs elevated on a step riser or to give you more of a challenge.

My goal this week is to do 10 solid push-ups each day and build upon this by adding one additional push-up each week. My goal is 30 push-ups because that's what I was up to when I was preparing to take my black belt test.

The classic push-up

If you want to work with hand weights, try lifting weights from a plank position and lift one arm along your sides at a time to do a reverse row lift. For this, I always find it helpful to keep my legs a little bit wider than hip distance to keep a solid base of support. Keep your core lifted and tight, this will keep your stomach muscles engaged and give them a workout as well!

Reverse row lift

You can also do tricep dips. All you will need is a single bench, chair or coffee table to perform this exercise. Place your hands on the edge, keeping your knuckles pointed forward and arms with a slight bent at the elbows. Your feet should be straight out, as far out as possible. Now lower your butt towards the floor, keeping your elbows pressed against your ribs. You want to lower as much as possible, ultimately getting your arms to reach a 90 degree angle. Now, push off yourself back upwards with your arms back to the initial position. Do 10-12 reps of this exercise and three sets.

A lot of people get toned arms through different yoga poses. I don't do a lot of yoga work, but when I do, my arms are killing me by the next day. All yoga poses where your palms are on the floor and are used as the foundation to support your entire body weight can only serve to strength arms, shoulders and upper back. Even the standing postures where your arms are resisting gravity's pull downward can develop your strength.

Thanks to my totally amazing and super fabulous friend Tina for taking these photographs. She was even made a delicious lunch - goat cheese, mushroom and Swiss chard panini.

You want the right to bare arms this Spring too, right? Let's tone up together. Who's with me?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fabulous Fridays: Eyes For Summer

After last weekend's monsoons, I've really been enjoying the Spring-like weather here in New York City. I really do need a pair of these.

The original Tom Ford "Jennifer" sunglasses

These Tom Ford "Jennifer" sunglasses are super chic and are just oversized enough to cover my dark circles. They'll run you $285 at Eye Goodies.


They are also available for a mere $10 at OC Shades.

Imitation Tom Ford "Jennifer" sunglasses

I know I want them because they have my name on it. Who wouldn't want a fabulous pair of shades or a piece of jewelry named after them.

Truth be told, they are actually named after Jennifer Aniston.

Photo source: People magazine

Which do you like better? Do you think the Tom Ford sunglasses are worth the splurge or will have an extra $275 to spend this weekend feel better?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What I Love About Spring

The weather the past few days has been so glorious and we all deserve this. Spring, with its warming rays and longer days, certainly puts everyone in a happier mood. I've always considered my birthday and St. Patrick's Day to be the great divide between the long, dreary Winter and the Spring awakening. Last night I was walking home from the gym with Michael and actually saw buds on the trees. I wanted to do cartwheels all the way home. There is new life blooming again.

Spring, iIt's coming!!!

These are the things I love best about Spring.

*Spring flowers especially lilacs. I had two lilac trees growing up and I still love the powerful smell.

*The feeling of my energy being renewed.

*The sound of birds chirping.

*Longer hours of daylight. It's so great leaving in the morning when there is still light and be able to do more fun things at night.

*Memorial Day Weekend.

*The return of the Yankees to the Bronx.

*Eating outside.

*Going to the park and reading.

*Taking my bike out for a long ride. Speaking of, I need to get mine from my parents house SOON!!!

*Enjoying all your outdoor activities again such as gardening and walking around the neighborhood. Being outside after months of suffering from cabin fever is so blissful.

*Spring cleaning. Maybe not the top of the list, but getting myself organized is immensely satisfying.

*Light color nail polish.

*Taking long walks in the Springtime air.

*The smell of freshly cut grass.

*Opening my window and smelling the fresh air.

*Packing up all my hats, scarves and gloves.

*Stripping away the layers and layers of clothing. Not needing to leave my house with hats, scarves and gloves.

*Wearing sexy pajamas and no longer fidgeting in your flannels.

*Healthy eating. I tend to eat lighter in the warmer weather. Salads, fruits taste amazing after months of comfort food.

*Outdoor concerts.


*Not needing so much makeup. Bronzer, mascara and your favorite gloss and you are good to go.

*Wearing bright, light and breezy clothing after months of dark colors and heavy wools.

*Sundresses, sandals and flip flops. Need I say more?

Tell me, what are you looking forward to the most this Spring?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You're In Luck: The Best Of Fabulously Green Fashion + Beauty

Happy St. Patrick's Day my fabulous friends!

I love the color green. Green can mean so many things - money, envy, eco-friendly and, of course, St. Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. On this day everyone is merrily Irish and the holiday has the happiest of all traditions and symbols - from lucky leprechauns, shamrocks, rainbows and pots of gold.

The streets of New York are a sea of green today. Green is such a pretty, flattering color on everyone. So whether you are going to soak up the holiday with some green beer, green beauty products or you want to wear your colors to the parade, here are some fabulous picks to channel in your inner leprechaun.

Just add your lucky gold bangles and clutch and you'll be ready for your close up in this vibrantCatherine Malandrino silk-blend dress.

Catherine Malandrino

I love the texture of the leaves climbing the neckline of this cotton/cashmere cardigan from Anthropologie.

Be the lucky lady in this soft, stretch camisole with colorful foil graphics from Old Navy.
Old Navy

I love the draped neckline on this silk Stella McCartney dress. I would wear it all year with neutral pumps and armloads of golden bangles.

Stella McCartney

I love this sweet, romantic tunic in a green floral print from one of my favorite warm-weather shops Calypso.

As stunning as they appear on your monitors, these Susan Earrings by gem queen Wendy Brandes are breathtaking in person. They make the most beautiful jewelry accessory to any look.
Wendy Brandes

Green is the most colorful of all the neutral shades. That's why adding green components to your look is always a smart choice. I totally want this Faridah Totally leather bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs to wear with everything.
Marc by Marc Jacobs

This green fig candle from Diptyque will warm any home with its woodsy, fruity scent of fig trees. I've always wanted a candle from Diptyque, the scent fills the room with such an amazing scent.

I like to play with color on my nails and I'm so excited there are so many shades of green to pick from this Spring. I'm going to try this OPI nail polish in Green-wich-Village for sure. It's a medium green jelly shade that looks outstanding.


If you're looking to get lucky, why not go for these flirty leaf green mid-rise thongs from Hanky Panky. They're festive and sexy and prevents you from getting pinched on St. Patrick's Day. With these though, I'm pretty sure the pinching will only turn into kissing later on. Personally, I never heard of the pinching business on St. Patrick's Day and I can't track down the origin, so if you know what it is, I would love to learn more about it.
Hanky Panky

Of course, if you're up late and your eyes are not adjusting to the morning light, you might want to try Up You Gets from Lush. You'll love the lime, grapefruit and lemon scents. It will awaken your senses, help your brain be more alert and make your morning more bearable.


Have a happy and fabulous St. Patrick's Day! Just be sure to bring your Lucky Charms with you! I'm going to try something daring, something new and going to cook corned beef and cabbage tonight. Let me know in the comments how you plan on celebrating.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Fabulous Birthday Bash

My always fabulous friends and family braved Saturday's Nor'easter to attend my 40th birthday bash (aka "The Twentieth Anniversary of Jen's 20th Birthday") at Bourbon Street. I'm so touched so many of my closest friends came out during the wicked storm. There was no better way to spend a special birthday with such amazing and inspiring friends who have touched my life in countless ways. It really means so much to have everyone all together.

The fashion theme of the party was staying dry, keeping your hair from getting frizzy and wearing party-appropriate clothing that was waterproof. Think LBD and Hunter Rain Boots.

I was lucky to have my own personal photographer for the evening, my Dad.

Here I am, one year older. Don't I look wiser, wittier and overall so fabulous.

Wearing a wool jersey DVF dress and makeup by Nars. So happy Michael arranged for a car pickup so I wouldn't come to my par-tay drenched.

I was lucky to have my parents celebrate with me. As they were leaving their house in New Jersey, they heard a booming sound. They lost power and a tree of theirs came crashing down and landed on their neighbor's car. Fortunately, power was restored on Sunday, but they are still without their phone (Yikes!), computers and television.

Here's a photo of my fabulous parents taken by Kristin.

My fabulous friend Lisa from high school always has a beautiful smile and the best accessories. I wish my scanner worked so I can show how timeless Lisa is.

Lisa, my mom and me. Not a night to showcase our fabulous knitting.

My friends from Northeastern braved the storm. Laura came all the way from Cape Cod and Marianne from Boston. I was lucky to have the Boston ladies extend their stay and really enjoyed spending extra time with them. Laura, Michael and I spent Sunday at the Grateful Dead exhibit at the New York Historical Society and wolfed down some lasagna at Bianca.

The Sigma girls Jamie, Laura and Marianne. We are pros at posing.

The always chic Tina and Wendy didn't let a little rain stop them from looking fabulous.

Beautiful bloggers and friends Tina and Wendy.

Stephanie came from the South and Alyssa came from the North and met at Bourbon Street. Stephanie is looking fierce in her new leopard-print DVF dress.

Me, Stephanie and Alyssa.

Kristin knows a thing or two about being fabulous.

Kristin and I.

Lauren is ready for Spring. I love her easy, breezy style.

Larry and Lauren. I wonder what they are talking about?

A fabulous thank you to my darling hubbie Michael for making my birthday so special. He even combined all my favorite desserts to make the night extra sweet. He ordered black and white cupcakes and a peanut butter birthday cake. I wish I had a photo of them so I can eat the images.

Michael and me. Thanks Michael for a great night!

So far, 40 is looking so darn fabulous! Thanks everyone for such an amazing night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fabulous Fridays: My Birthday!

Look who's now 40!!! FABULOUS! I know my forties will be truly fabulous. I'm lucky to have an adoring husband, a wonderful family and a so many awesome friends in my life. You've helped make me the person I'm today and I thank you. I'm off for a fabulous weekend, so if you see a ray of sunshine, you know that's where I'm at. Look out 40, here I come!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Target's English Garden

Right there in the middle of the urban jungle we call Manhattan was a lovely English garden full of trippy flowers. It was so beautiful I didn't want to leave my peaceful surroundings. You see, I caught a preview of Liberty of London and Target's collaboration of chic floral and vibrant patterned looks at wallet-friendly prices. The result is truly outstanding.

Liberty's iconic and preppy floral patterns have crossed the pond and have made a huge splash. The collection features clothing and accessories for women, men and kids as well as a huge selection of home goods ranging from piggy banks to bikes. It's just so perfect for the Spring season and just right for colorful flower power trend.

I'm already planning a trip to the Tar-jay in Brooklyn on Sunday. Overall, the prices were great and the quality was fantastic. I asked the sales associate if the usually expensive liberty prints were in fact Liberty prints and she confirmed they were indeed. Target just has the benefit of buying in bulk driving the prices way down.

The Liberty of London floral dress I bought today at Target.

The vibrant florals really spoke to me on this dress.

I'll be checking out this pretty number on Sunday.

I picked up a green floral smocked cotton dress for $16.99 and a lace-trimmed cotton chemise for $17.99. But they had so much more that I'm still oogaling like a bike for $199 and decent collection of sleepwear, bras and panties. My heart also swooned over the floral wellies and matching umbrellas. Most of the home collection was already gone, but I'm really excited to see their plates, coffee mugs and pillows, all in their playful floral patterns.

I'm so toting around town this summer on these big wheels.

I'll be ready for April showers.

If you are lucky to live in Manhattan, Target's pop-up shop will have its doors open until Saturday, March 13 from 9 am to 8 pm. But don't worry if you can't be here this weekend because Target stores and online will have the entire collection starting Sunday, March 14.

What do you think of the collection? Will be make a point of visiting Target to scoop out your favorites?

Go Pamper Yourself

Today, I'm going to do my best to reverse time by doing a little pre-birthday pampering. The stress of turning 4-0 has been wrecking havoc of my hands and face.

My first step was sleeping in. This was a real treat for me as many of you know. Then I'm heading downtown and going for a relaxing lavender manicure and pedicure at Element Beauty Lounge. My hands and feet are so dry and can definitely use some TLC. Finally, I'm off to my all-time favorite place for skincare Mario Badescu Skincare for a much needed facial. Like many models and actresses, I've been going to MB for years to take care of my skin. It's a no-frills, no-nonsense spa that does an amazing job at cleansing and rejuvenating your face with facials and treatments, starting at $65. I love talking to one of their skin care specialists about customizing a skincare routine and they are so generous with samples to test first before you purchase. I'll be sure to ask about any products I might need for Spring. In between my beauty stops, I'm going to take a sneak peek at Target's new Liberty of London collection at a special pop-up shop near Bryant Park before this limited-edition floral line debuts at the stores this Sunday, March 14.

Tell me, how do you pamper yourself? What are other ways in life that make you feel fabulous?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Update Your Spring Wardrobe With The Trench Coat

I realized over this past gorgeous weekend I need a decent Spring jacket. My faithful denim jacket and oversized cardigan sweaters just won't cut it at this point of my life.

One option I have is a new trench coat. Wearing a trench coat during a downpour is no longer the only time you can wear this classic jacket. Thanks to the creative and whimsical tastes of several designers this season, this classic style no longer adheres to strict fashion rules.

Sure, the classic beige silhouette will always be a wardrobe staple. Trench coats originated when Burberry was commissioned to keep soldiers warm and dry in the trenches during WWI. But the traditional trench coat is getting a major makeover this Spring and I'm loving all the new, fresh styles. For starters, it can be worn short for a chic nighttime look. Just team the cropped look with strappy pumps and a chic clutch and you'll be ready to hit the town. Designers are also showing the timeless staple in relaxed silhouettes, playful patterns and a bevy of playful colors. Some are adorned with ruffles and, of course, many are belted.

cropped swing trench from Topshop has all the classic details, but I love the cropped silhouette and easy shape.

Play up your wild side in this zebra-striped trench from J. Crew.

Burberry is the epitome of class trench styles, but this ruched sleeve trench is more edgy.

Brighten your Spring days with this double-breasted cotton trench from Moschino Cheap and Chic.

The off-white color of this high-collar trench from Mackage may not be practical, but I love the motorcycle influences.

If you already have one hanging in your coat closet you're happy with, add a patterned belt or colorful pumps to add some punch.

So, with the forecast calling for more rain in the Northeast this weekend and April just around the corner, why not brighten your day and add to you Spring collection with a new trench coat. I'm sure you will look Fabulous.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sandra's Keeping It Real

Congratulations to Sandra Bullock for her well-deserved Best Actress win in her moving portrayal of Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side. Sandra looked stunning last night in her golden moment, but I'm left to wonder if Sandra's stylist suggested to the actress she would look like her Oscar statue in the body-hugging, gleaming Marchesa gown.

I'm really happy for Sandra. I loved her in Speed, thought she was adorable in The Proposal and was moved by her performance in The Blind Side. Her acceptance speech made me LOL and cry at the same time. I guess that's why she gets all the big bucks. She brought a smile to my face in her opening sentence: "Did I finally wear all of you down, or did I really earn The Award deservingly?" But she brought tears to my eyes when she thanked her mother German opera singer Helga D. Meyer "that there's no race, religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than any else."

The day before the Oscars, Sandra took home another award: The Golden Raspberry for the comedy All About Steve. In the movie, she played Mary Horowitz, a socially awkward crossword doer who turns stalker when she meets a local TV cameraman. She picked up her Razzie in person, arriving with DVDs of the flick to give out to the audience.

Amen sister! Keep it real!

I thought all the gowns were really glamorous last night. Metallic was huge trend last night. In addition to Sandra, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Miley Cyrus looked gorgeous in their shimmering dresses. I also thought Sarah Jessica Parker looked so lovely in her custom buttery yellow Chanel dress adorned with silver flowers.

Of course, hair and makeup were as fabulous as the dresses last night. I loved Sandra's loose hair and glamourous makeup. She looked so gorgeous. Who wouldn't just die to have such long, gleaming hair. Turns out the Oscar winner uses Fredrick Fekkai's Brilliant Glossing System just like me. You can read more about how to really add shine to your hair here.

I've used Fekkai's Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner and really liked it. It's packed with silicone and natural oils like jojoba, olive and sweet almond to really soften my hair and add gorgeous shine without weighing it down. I use it whenever I feel I want to bring my dull hair back to life. I like it best when the shampoo and conditioner are used together. But be warned: the consistency of both is really thick so don't use it more than once a week to avoid buildup.

Other tips to get that glossy, silky hair like Sandra's are use the right hair dryer like the ones that use ionic technology, try hair oil like Moroccan Oil, mega moisturizers like Lush's H'suan Wen Hua and eating food rich in Omega-3s like wild salmon, avocados and almonds and you'll bring back luster to your hair.

I also really liked her bold, colorful fuchsia lips. It was a unique twist to the classic red lips. Sandra used Chanel's Rouge Coco Hydrating Creme Lip Colour in Paris.

While smoky eyes are usually the makeup de jour at these award shows, last night the berry and red lips took center stage and it was my favorite beauty look all night. The bright lip colors really popped against a sea of metallic, slate grey and flesh-colored gowns. Best supporting actress-nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal lips were a bright pink. She wore a Nars lipstick in Schiap while presenter Cameron Diaz wore a pretty orange-red in Chanel Rouge Coco in Gabrielle.

What do you think of the colorful pouts last night? Are you going to go there this Spring? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fabulous Fridays: Flower Power

I'm ready to frolic in the warm sun and delight in all the pleasing floral prints for Spring.

For me, nothing captures the feeling of Spring fever like the smell of freshly cut grass and blossoming floral prints. I think floral prints are fresh, feminine and best of all fun. Now that the stores have cleared out of their winter sales, their shelves are flourishing this season with these pretty petals.

What I like best about floral this spring is they are made for adult sensibilities and aren't overtly girlie. The bold pinks, oranges and purples are mixed with blacks and dark navy for a modern, grown-up taste.

Tibi is known for her bright, playful prints. This silk tunic becomes more complex with its mix lush florals and black background.
Flowers come to life on this fabulous black silk chiffon top by D&G.

This strapless dress from Trina Turk is not your usual garden variety.

Pink peonies bloom across this navy tank dress and matching cardigan by DKNY.

Florals aren't only meant to worn on your clothing. There are wonderful accessories like shoes, necklaces and hair accents that have the flower power to really capture this fun trend.

These Rene Caovilla floral ruffles sandals add extra punch to any Spring look.

Remember, when picking tops and dresses, be sure the color and pattern do not overwhelm you. Hold it up to your face or try it on and see if the colors compliment you.

It's time we shed our winter coats and dark clothing. Brighten up with some florals and bring some sunshine back to your day and nights.

The sun is bright and the weekend looks like it's going to be fabulous. After looking at all these delightful floral prints, I think my Spring fever went into high gear.

Tell me, do you plan on wearing floral prints?