Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good Reads for a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous New Year

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month and to celebrate the New Year, the health of my cervix and hopefully yours, I wanted to shine a light on three inspiring women authors -- Jennifer Grace Safina, Jacqueline Whitmore and Michelle Whitlock -- who I have met thanks to my cervix.

At one point in time, the four of us were all present at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition's annual conference.
This photo was from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition Conference 2009 in Los Angeles. I am in the back row, far right; Jennifer Grace is beside me. Jacqueline Whitmore is in the red dress, far right middle row. Michelle Whitlock is here too, but the photo is too small for me to point her out
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Jennifer Grace Safina and I met five years ago in a classroom. We became fast friends and worked on a cervical cancer awareness campaign together. Jennifer Grace has since become an "executive dream producer."  She leads motivational seminars and soulful retreats all over the world, for individuals and businesses, in person and on-line, and she was just chosen to be a Hay House author and radio personality. Her book "Directing Your Destiny" will be published in the near future. Here's Jennifer Grace as she appeared on "The Balancing Act" last month.

Jacqueline Whitmore and I met at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition conference in 2008. Jacqueline, a renowned expert on business protocol, was a guest speaker at the conference, and she shared her own story about surviving cervical cancer. I was moved by her candor and presentation, and we continued a friendship beyond the conference. Recently I was invited to her beautiful home to celebrate the publication of her second book, "Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities that Distinguish Outstanding Professionals."

Michelle Whitlock was at that conference too, and she shared her dramatic story about survival. Michelle's passion for life is contagious, and I was happy to learn, after reading a sample chapter a few years back, that her book "How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice: A Memoir of Love, Hope & Empowerment" is now published.

Jennifer Grace, Jacqueline and Michelle are each interested in sharing wisdom, techniques, and information that can lead to a life of physical health and spiritual well-being. Something to think about as the new year quietly rolls in.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of a friend, Jeanne Bice, an incredible business woman and funny writer, who beyond building a QVC fashion empire, used words to motivate others and to "Pull Yourself Up by Your Bra Straps."

For more information about Cervical Health Awareness month, click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

ELVES: Take the "S" Out of Selves

Francesca (left) and Sammi were on stocking duty.
Last weekend my children totally got the meaning of the classic adage: "It's better to give then to receive." While I have learned that there's also great merit to receiving, as a mother who tries to teach compassion to her kids, it is a really good thing when a child can experience the spirit of giving firsthand rather than just be told about its benefits.

Renee gathered all the fixins...
and hung the stockings with care.
 We brought some holiday cheer into the home of a family-in-need. Guided by our friends who did all the planning and purchasing, we entered the family's home like a band of elves. This act of kindness actually began some time ago when the family, whose oldest daughter Deana was diagnosed with  leukemia, applied for aid from the Arielle Anacker Cancer Foundation. The  Foundation, created by my friend Diane Trivelli in memory of her daughter Arielle who, at the age of 11, lost a 3-year battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, has been helping in many ways to ease the financial strain put upon the family.

Renee, friend to me and Diane, was touched by the family's plight, and wanted to also help. She raised money to buy a kitchen table, new Christmas decorations, and individual presents for the family members. Her daughter Francesca used her own savings to buy a welcome mat for the front door.

We worked like elves for 2 hours. We put a crisp red cloth on top of the table, put up the tree, flung some tinsel around, and hung a wreath on the front door. The girls personalized felt stockings with glitter glue. We all signed a holiday card to the family and Diane made out a special one to Deana in celebration of her last chemo treatment. And then we waited to surprise them.

A new place to gather 'round.
Well, not all of us waited. Dylan and I unfortunately couldn't stay, but Sammi stayed as the Dagmi rep. She reported that the homecoming was "sad and beautiful" and that everyone hugged, and that the mom and oldest daughter were crying happy tears. They loved the kitchen table and  kept touching it. "You should have been there," she said. "It was awesome!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011


This story on CURATOR was originally slated for EAST magazine. After I submitted the story, however, the publishers decided not to run it. On a scale of 1-10, my disappointment was a 10.

I interviewed Dave Hall from Moto Art for a Bob Vila story and when he saw that I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, invited me to CURATOR as his guest. I hadn't heard of the event and thought it sounded like a fun one to cover. I pitched the idea to EAST and they said "Go."
 Had I not been "working" the event, I may have gone as the guest I had been invited to be, and I could have experienced the evening without the baggage of cameras, notebook and pen and  without the pressure of getting the shot. And, I actually may have eaten some food and had a drink.

But c'est la publishing vie, and I did leave with some nice swag compliments of New Beauty.
Thank you Matthew. Along with a delicious scent, you made my night!
New Beauty Swag
Souvenirs included my very own fragrance from Memoire Liquide, personally blended right before my very eyes by scent genius Matthew Aguilar from New Beauty at Fred Segal, as well as a bunch of random beauty products.
Here is a revised photo essay: 

Curator: an evening of flight, fantasy, fast cars, and fun.
Fiction created a swanky setting that included wonderful characters.
One thousand forty nine miles south of the publishing metropolis is a growing media company gracefully gathering magazines and entertainment companies under the sun. Sandow Media, now a decade young, known for thick slick glossy mags like Luxe, New Beauty and Worth, is now putting some focus on treating its audience to experiential luxury events such as CURATOR.

Sponsors first:
(l to r) David J. Archibald, President, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC; Ronald B. Laconi, President, Chartis Private Client Group; Andrea Bezark, VP Marketing Communications, Chartis Private Client Group; and
James N. Dimonekas, Executive VP, Group Publisher, Sandow Media.
CURATOR, Presented by WORTH magazine and Chartis Private Insurance, and held on the grounds of Sheltair in Ft. Lauderdale, was a platform for exclusive exhibitors to target a luxury-seeking quality-demanding public.
 The red dress makes (and the woman wearing it) the shot.
At 5'9" plus 3" heels, I found it hard to slink into the Lamborhini Adventador.

As late afternoon turned to evening, dramatic lights lit up the tarmac, and guests climbed into planes, slunk down into sports cars, and washed down  BurgerFi fare with fruity vodka drinks.

Though the Occupy Wall Street movement was protesting nearby at the Boat Show, the decadent mood at CURATOR, was enjoyed free of guilt.

Compliments of Chartis, photographers Thomas Daniel of Splashlight and Maicol Diaz of Unique Photography & Design, snapped crisp black and white portraits of guests all night long.
L.A. designer and wardrobe architect David August (left) sifted through swatches with clients
Mia Foley (left) and Lorena Arbelaez model DeWitt timepieces as....
guests, each handed a key upon check-in, tried to unlock the box holding a $26,000 DeWitt Twenty-8-Eight Regulator A.S.W. Horizons.
Inside a top-of-the-line Hawker 4000 that smelled so leathery good: Hawker Beechcraft demo pilot Dan Raffaelli (left) and Vicente Miralles, Sales Consultant with Avia Service.

A Wynn-win situation with Larry Altschul, Executive VP of Player Development at WYNN ENCORE in Vegas, and friends Teahnna Suriano and Jacqueline Bicknell who flew in from LA.

The Moto Art group: David Hall (right) with sales execs Melissa Pelligrini and Mike Rudden, and a few recycled airplane creations, including 2 fuselage partitions, a propeller sculpture, and desk from the private collection of Sandow Media CEO Adam Sandow.

I loved this computer animated artwork by Julian Opie called "Susanna Walking Forward". Click here to see her walk forward.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A School Assignment I Didn't Like

I think I might be channeling the curmudgeony spirit of Andy Rooney. It's a phase, and I'll be back to my happy-go-lucky self in no time. But while I'm feeling particularly disappointed today by a homework assignment, I thought, "Why not blog about it?"

Sammi and the entire fifth grade class is preparing to spend a day at Biz Town next week. Biz Town is a very cool local interactive exhibit where kids get to act out business and job-related roles. Sammi and her friends are totally psyched about this field trip, and in preparation, the class is learning about jobs, taxes, and expenses, and economics-lite. The kids have special homework assignments that digress from the usual. Today's assignment was to watch television,  find 8 good commercials and write the reason why you like them. The class had discussed some of the properties that constitute a good ad.

Sammi started watching TV at 6:30 and by 9:00 had managed to write down 7 examples that were likeable. Besides the ad for a cellphone with a 3D camera, it was hard for her to articulate why she actually liked the ads. She liked the Hershey ad because she loves chocolate, and the pizza ad pleased her in the same way. Perhaps she was used to clicking the "like" button on Facebook -- an easy to express opinion that requires no comment.

Early on in her assignment, I asked, "Can you write down commercials that you do not like and explain why?" "No," she told me pointing to the form that provided a 3 1/2" L x 1/2" H "like" space for writing her reason. I said, "But I bet you could as long as you explain yourself." She didn't agree.

I took a shower, and found myself getting more pissed at the assignment. Was I over-reacting or was it narrow-minded to only ask kids why they liked ads? It wasn't like it was even the Superbowl or Oscars. As the holidays approach with ads for all the things we fake need, I would be much more interested in tapping into a healthy dose of budding skepticism.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Leave your Worries on the Mat

When I became a first-time mom in 1996, I started looking at dirt differently. For me, motherhood happened to coincide with the purchase of an expensive wool off-white carpet, but I assure you, my preoccupation with keeping a clean, germ-free house was more about the baby than the Karastan. For the last 15 years, my family and our guests have been kicking all shoes off at the front door.

We started with one shoe basket. Then we had two. We could have had three, even four. It didn’t matter. The shoes piled up and spread out. My entry hall looked like crap. It may have smelled a little like that too – no one complained but I was always self-conscious. Not to mention that my grandmother’s beautiful antique oriental rug, which had served dutifully as our welcome mat, had worn thin from too much sole-rubbing friction. 

In an effort to save an heirloom, correct a decorating eyesore, and stave off germs, I bought The Magik Mat. I saw a demonstration one morning on The Balancing Act and thought this might just be a simple, chemical-free, part-time solution to shoe cooties and footwear management. The Magik  Mat may not be the most fashion forward mat, but the neutral pattern – somewhere between an organic design and animal print – is totally livable and less of a “decorating don’t” than pre-existing Shoe Mountain. It actually looks fine layered on top of granny’s old rug.

I am hoping this mat does what it professes. Germs are microscopic so it’s hard to tell. Forever the skeptic, I would like to conduct a comparison test to see if there is indeed a reduction of germy residue brought into our home. But until then, I can tell you that there is a measurable reduction of mess in the entry of our home and that the “better” rug is finally protected. Instead of leaving shoes at the door, we now wipe our shoes on the damp Magik Mat, and then walk right on in through the house, and deposit shoes into their respective closets. And that’s certainly a step in the right direction!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

STITCH ROCK: Tis the Season for Beguiling StitchCraft

Stitch Rock. My first. I have a habit of going away in early October, so I have always missed it. Stitch Rock is 5 years old, and is Delray Beach's cool Indie hand made bazaar topped off with kick-ass secondhand clothing, vintage wares, and fab people watching. By not going these last 4 years, I figure I have saved about $400.
In other words...I spent about $100 today. My loot included an Odille (that Anthropologie brand) copper-colored silk skirt with crochet hem ($20), and then a felt bracelet ($18), a feather hair decoration ($20), a few pins ($10), and 3 duct tape wallets for gifts ($45). All but the skirt are gifts.

Here are a few of my favorite things :

 Unicorn Chicks and Dear Deer Trophies made by Sara at Stitch Whimsy

Vintage from Moderna Muerte soon opening on Dixie in West Palm Beach

glass dish garden stakes made by Jennifer at Smash Art Studio

 lace doily pillows from Betsy Bell

Melodie from SnipTease is snipping some sass into a friend's tee.

Wear what you sell:
Karlee's rocking some of her feather hair ornaments and jewelry
Brenda from HumbleBumbleb sporting a pillbox 

wallets from Treasured Tape

and colorful crochet afghans that i love collecting.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Last night I steamed corn... or rather smoked it. I put a 1/2 inch of water in the pot, placed two ears on the steamer basket, and turned the stove on. Then I started working on a collage.And totally forgot about the corn.

Forty minutes later when I detected the faint smell of smoke, I blurted, "Oh shit, the corn!" and ran to the kitchen. The pot was badly charred, but the corn, had a grilled flavor, and was surprisingly tasty. I was lucky on both accounts.

Because I tend to start several projects at once, I normally set the microwave timer when I am cooking. That way even when I get caught up in something else, the ding reminds me to come back to the kitchen. Using a timer, I have found, keeps me and my family out of harm.

Last night, i forgot to set the timer. Today I spent $35 on a new pot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Let me preface this blog by saying that I am not an advertising, licensing, or entertainment industry insider or expert. Rather, I am a casual observer of popular culture who takes an interest in marketing and branding. Now more than ever, disparate or formerly competitive brands are hooking up all over the place and these dalliances seem to be successful.

Mergers are nothing new. But merging without being acquired, merging of equals or merging without the slightly smaller guy forfeiting identity – well that seems fresh. There’s a good message in creative collaboration, and perhaps sharing the spotlight, rather than hogging it, is the ticket to economic survival, at least for now.

Here are three successful instances of brands hooking up:
Performing artists are brands and in the music biz, I never thought that tough boys Eminem and Royce da 5’9” of Bad Meets Evil would hook up with Bruno Mars, a singer with a beautiful voice and a frequent pompadour. I mean Bruno Mars croons la-la-la and the other two rap from a harder harsher place. And yet when "Lighters” comes on, I am mesmerized, sucked into the lyrics and the chorus. The parting shot in the video gives me chills. It’s an incredible symphony of styles. It works beautifully.
The same thing for this week’s airings of NBC’s The Nate Berkus Show and HGTV’s “Design Star.” I was a bit surprised – and happily so -- when Nate was the special guest of “Design Star” and the competing “Design Star” designers debuted on “Nate.” Since both shows share viewers but not time slots, this was no doubt an audience and advertising booster win-win for all. Like a pinch of salt, Nate Berkus is an enhancer.
And then turning to the magazine biz, when back in April, the innovative on-line design magazine Lonny gifted half of its web chic-ness to Traditional Home when the two launched TradHome. While so many magazines are struggling for ad pages, this 347-page collaborative launch was so optimistic. Perhaps if more magazines had a merge mentality, less would have fallen by the wayside. It’s probably better to have a little less pie than to have no pie at all.

There are obviously many more instances of brands hooking up. What do you think are some good examples? Not so good ones?