Sunday, October 9, 2011


I love weddings!  I love the dress, the flowers, the food, the dancing, the people watching.  Love, love, love weddings.  I will be attending a wedding today and thought this would be a great time to share a little wedding etiquette that will go a long way.  Unlike Fight Club, the first rule of weddings is to talk about weddings!  A word to the bride about how beautiful the decor, design and flowers are will make her feel even more special and recognizing all her design efforts will surely bring another smile to her face on her already happy day.  The following are a few of my favorite "dos" and "don'ts":

1)  DON'T dress like it's your event!  Overdressing for a wedding (or underdressing) is simply bad form and screams insecure wedding guest.  A simple, elegant evening or daytime look with simple jewelry, tasteful heels and limited exposure is always best.  You do not want to be the "wedding skank" and every wedding has one, just don't allow it to be you!

2)  DO NOT criticize the event at your TABLE.  You never know who is listening and one overheard negative comment might get back to the bride and that would be awful  Not everything goes perfectly at every wedding.  Sometimes caterers, florists, etc. drop the ball and fail to do their best work at the event and sometimes the old bait & switch occurs (i.e. caterer serves the food a little different from the tasting they provided to the Bride!).  If you must comment, save it for chit-chat after the event.  Better yet, overlook it and keep your mouth shut.

3)  DO help make it fun!  Dance, drink, eat and enjoy yourself.  Nothing makes a bride & groom happier than looking out and seeing their guests having the time of their lives.  Every couple wants to believe that THEIR wedding was the best ever!  Make it happen for them.  And yes, you can even do the worm on the dance floor.  All crazy dancing is allowed EXCEPT bump-n-grind (icky in many a scenario).

4)  DO act like a couple in love if you are attending the wedding with your spouse, partner, or date.  Couples fighting at a wedding is bad karma and is wrong on so many levels.  I've seen pouty spouses & dates acting like divas at someone else's wedding!  Please - do everyone a favor and stay home if you don't want to attend the wedding.

5)  DON'T act like a teenage couple and make out on the dance floor.  Period.  Only the newly wedded couple is allowed to do this and even then, it's has to be tasteful (even if it is your day and all!).

And my #1 Wedding Etiquette DON'T - DO NOT RSVP and not show up!  If you do this, unless it's an absolute medical/life-threatening emergency, send the couple a gift card for the price of your meal/drink (take a guess) with a handwritten apology.  If your babysitter cancels, then one of you show up to the ceremony, eat a little at the reception and go home.

Cheers to the bride & groom!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Time, Time, Time...

Those three little words from the Bangles version of  "Hazy Shade of Winter" are ringing in my head...If only I had more time, time, time!  Everyday I start off with a list of things I want to accomplish.  I usually accomplish most of those things but many are carried over to the next day's list.  I am sure this happens to everyone.  The problem is that I often put more things on my list than humanly possible.  Why do I do this?  Because I want to be superwoman and have convinced myself that I can do it but in reality I end up driving myself crazy.  Well, no more people!  Here is my new plan and I am sticking to it: 

1)  I will assign all tasks a specified time block - e.g. I have 3 hours to work on legal paperwork and get as much done as possible.  This will only work if I actually work these 3 hours on nothing else and I actually stop after 3 hours. 

2)  I will assign all tasks a "urgency factor" - court deadlines, client meetings, etc. will get a higher priority. 

3)  I will assign all tasks a "value added weight" - e.g. will this bring me more business, money, clients, happiness, keep me healthy, etc. 

4)  I will assign all business & home matters to Fridays - e.g. pay bills, call cable guy, make doctors/dentists appointments, etc. 

I am embarking on two new business ventures (more on that later!!!) and will need to learn to manage my time better if they are to be successful.  Not only can time be our enemy when it comes to our looks ("Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your face" - Truvy), but it can be our enemy when we allow it to control us instead of us controlling it.  So, I plan on taking control of my time and making the most of it. 

Now, if I only had time to make that list...


Friday, September 23, 2011

Parents Gone Stupid

I was at my daughter's volleyball game last night and was simply appalled at what I heard & experienced.  First, there was an empty seat in the front row in the audience. I asked the parent sitting next to that empty seat if I could sit down and she said "No, my son is sitting there."  WHAT!!!  Since when does an 8 year kid take the seat of an adult?  I rolled my eyes at her.  I know, I know... that was poor form itself but there is something about these sporting events that brings out the worst in parents, me included (sometimes).  Second, there was two dads standing behind me instructing the very good volleyball server to "hit it to the back row because they can't return anything."  Really?  That's showing kids sportmanship?  Those are words of encouragement?  They are basically saying, compete against the weakest link and you'll win instead of competing against the strongest opponent so that you earn it.  I know that's probably not strategically what teams/players actually do but to say it out loud and voice it when parents OF THE OTHER TEAM can hear you?  What a couple of asshole dads who probably didn't do well in sports when they were in school and are trying to live vicariously through their children.  I could say more but I think you get my point.  In turn, this got me going, again, and I just had to yell out "Way to return it back row" when our team finally broke the serve from the back row. 

I've seen even worse behavior in the past and will keep tabs this season, all the while trying to remind myself that I cannot participate in this childish behavior.  I will try my very best to remember that I am the adult in this scenario and applauding the misses, mistakes and missteps of the other children on the other team is just plain rude and makes me look petty.  That is not what my girl needs when she is on the floor, playing her heart out.  She needs to know how to win without her parents acting like losers. 


Thursday, September 22, 2011

International Dance Party Planning 101

I've been away for a while!  My apologies for those who wait with breath that is bated for my blog (not many, huh?).  I was super busy with a fundraiser event for my daughter's school that took over my life for the last 3 weeks and I needed this week to recover.  It was super fun and looked wonderful, if I do say so myself.  Our theme was International Dance Party.  A "global" party theme is the new black in my opinion.  Because we were on a budget, here are some ideas on the cheap that worked wonderfully:

1)  Bucket of international sodas - purchased inexpensive sodas/soft drinks from Japan, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Holland, Canada (found those at the Dollar Store!!!).  Most of these I found at the local speciality neighborhood supermarkets.  I put these all in a plastic tub with small cups around the bucket so everyone could taste a little of each.   
2)  Gift bag with international candies - Canels (gum from Mexico); Tootsie Rolls; "Swedish" Fish.  It was pretty inexpensive and added a fun little touch to the table.
3)  Ordered international-flag themed cocktail napkins online. 
4)  A handmade cookie bouquet that highlighted each country's flag. 

We tied the theme together with posters from World Market, cheap streamer paper & balloons in bright bold colors (main flag colors of all the nations that were represented) and had an international buffet menu. 

It was slightly "prom-like" but we were in the gym after all (again, we were on a budget) but it still looked pretty good.  If you would like any more ideas on how to bring your own "IDP" to your next party, feel free to email me


Monday, August 29, 2011

Fashion Emergency

I attended a wedding this past weekend that had a morning Thai ceremony and then a more traditional evening ceremony so I knew I would need two different outfits.  For the morning ceremony, I wore a simple, light color dress and had intended on wearing a black dress for the evening (intended being the operative word in this sentence).  Of course, the zipper got stuck and broke as I was getting dressed.  I put my morning dress back on but I felt like it was too casual and a little too short for all the dancing I knew we would be doing later.  My husband is a dipper & a turner, so I knew the shorter dress would not have been good.  I had to get a new dress but we were out of time.  We attend the evening ceremony itself but we sneak out during cocktail hour (yes, not proper protocol but it was a big reception and I knew no one would miss us for 30 minutes and I was in the middle of a fashion crisis), jump into a cab, drive down 8 blocks to the mall, jump out, run into a large department store and I immediately see a dress that I knew would fit me and work well with the shoes & accessories I was already wearing.  I put the dress on, clip off the tags and pay the lady.  The Fashion Gods were on my side.  We were back in 34 minutes. 

I thank my husband for knowing me so well and cooperating instead of just telling me "You look fine..." and going along with me on that adventure (he even suggested it!).   A broken zipper that can't be fixed in time for an event is not exactly a real emergency but he knew that I would be uncomfortable all night wearing the "wrong" dress and he cared enough to help me fix it.  It was important to me.  He so gets me.  That's the kind of marriage I hope for our newly married friends.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cupcake High

I am on a red velvet cupcake high!  Stressful morning so I treated myself to a nice quiet lunch at one of my favorite little restaurants and topped it off with a cupcake, wrapped in its own beautiful little box.  I think the packaging made me happier than the cupcake itself!  The thought that went into the design of the package told me that the cupcake maker thought enough of her customers to make it beautiful and it made me happy the second it was put in my hands.  It was just a small box, nothing too fancy but it was designed for the cupcake and fit perfectly in my hand.  It sat next to me in my vehicle on my way back to work.  I spoke to it lovingly.  I was going to name it but then thought I might not be able to eat it.  This a good example of taking that one little extra step to show someone you put some real thought into whatever it is you are doing.  Some other suggestions:

1)  If you are asked to make a meal for a family in need, add paper plates, napkins and utensils for easy clean up.

2)  If you are asked to host a shower for someone, provide the guest of honor with addressed, self- stamped thank you cards so she just has to write the thank you and drop it in the mail.

3)  If you are asked to carpool for other families, have snacks, drinks in your vehicle for hungry after-school kids. 

You get the idea.  Go the extra step and raise the bar a little.  It will bring others great joy and make you look like a super-star.  I love my new cupcake lady and thank her for bringing a little something extra to my cupcake eating experience. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vacation Clothes

I recently went on work/vacation trip and was slightly appalled at what I saw some women wearing (or not wearing).  There were plenty of haltertops with no, ahem, support to speak of.  Not a pretty sight.  However, I was trying to refrain from being my usual judgmenty self because I totally understand the concept of not dressing as you usually would when you are on vacation.  In fact, I have a whole separate vacation/resort wardrobe that I would not wear when I'm at home.  Dresses a little too short for a night out, maybe a sexy little top that I'm actually too old to wear in my real life, etc.  To a degree, you can have a different style while on vacation and get away with wearing something you wouldn't ordinarly wear around town just in case you run into a co-worker, teacher from your child's school, your priest.  But there are still some rules: 

1)  Wear the proper accountrement - please, on vacation or otherwise, no one wants to see the girls hanging to your knees.  Remember the humidity if you are in a tropical climate - clothes will stick to your body.  The right bra and Spanx provide the requisite smoke & mirrors to make that outfit fit just right.  

2)  Don't assume that tropical prints are "vacation" clothes.  Use sparingly and not at all if possible.  Ick. 

3)  Don't pair a nice dress/outfit with FLIP FLOPS.  Dressing for dinner on vacation does not include flip flops.  Period.  If you are wearing flip flops, then you are eating, not dining, and are at the wrong resort.  

Unfortunately, our usual plans for vacation this year fell through and my vacation wardrobe won't be visiting Mexico.  Maybe someone could send it a postcard?


Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm Not Sorry I Bumped Into You

In my opinion, Elton John had it right when he sang "Sorry seems to be the hardest word".  It should be a word used sparingly because it means so much more then we think.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, it means "pained, regretful, penitent..."  I don't like to apologize much and try very hard to avoid things for which I would have to apologize.  So, it is truly annoying when people (mostly women) go around saying "I'm sorry" for the smallest of things like accidentially bumping into someone or blocking your view in the grocery aisle.  I'm sorry, but it's annoying (see how I wasn't really apologizing?).  These two little words have so invaded our everday vernacular they mean something other than what they were intended to mean.  When you accidentally bump into someone, are you really expressing pained or regretful feelings?  No! Of course not (unless you accidentially bumped someone off a staircase or a bridge).  When you bump into someone, you say "Excuse me," not "I'm sorry".  Save your sorrys for those times that it actually pains you to utter those two little words.  When you are literally choking on the words, then you know you are using them correctly. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aging Gracefully

I saw a picture of Heather Locklear on the internet today and she looks FABULOUS!  She is going to be 50 people!  Reminds me of the SNL skit with Molly Shannon as Sally O'Malley.  I often run around crying out "I'm fifty!  I can kick, I can stretch.  Fifty 5-0!"  When my friend turned 50 last year, we couldn't get enough of it.  But now, as I am creeping up on 50 myself, I think about how I will look and feel over the next few years.  I want to look like the Heather Locklears, the Christy Brinkleys, etc. of the world but truth be told, I am not that dedicated to a healthy diet, exercise, blah, blah, blah.  I also don't live their lifestyle with access to the beauty treatments, products and luxury of focusing on how you look.  I mean, that's their job-job, right?  I schelp bankruptcy petitions & lawsuits for a living!  So, here's my simple plan for trying to look as good as Heather Locklear when I turn 50 (it's too late to marry a rocker):

1)  Drink more water - dehydrated skin shows your age
2)  Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize - see #1 above
3)  Stay out of the sun
4)  TRY to stay away from alcohol/red meat/processed sugars & food (or at least cut down)
5)  Be happy with myself

I read about a lot of tricks and gimmicks (the "Instant FaceLift", yea, right!) but none of these will keep me/you young and honestly, I wouldn't want to be any other age but my age right now.  Otherwise, I'd be that unsophisticated 20-something wearing bad shoes who can't hold her booze.  Who wants that?  So focus on what you can do now to look great later.  Small changes go a long way and although not all of us will look like Heather or Christy when we're fifty, we might still be able to stretch and kick. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Grooming in Public

Well, you would think it wouldn't have to be said out loud, but no, sometimes it has to be said (or blogged as the case may be).  There is nothing more disgusting than people who groom themselves in public.  True story - my husband was at a IHOP and a woman sitting with her family a couple of booths away was clipping her TOENAILS!  She then proceeded to clip the children's toenails.  I thought maybe it was a reality show, like that show "What Would You Do?" but no, it wasn't.  To this day, I can't eat at that IHOP and I can still hear the unmistakable clip, clip, clip of the clippers in my head even though I wasn't actually there (he replayed the scene and he is an excellent re-enactor). 

Another true story.  I was in the sauna at the gym and a women brought out her loofah and started to EXFOLIATE in the sauna!  And, it wasn't a soft scrubbing - it was a full on scrubbing of nooks and crannies that no one, and I do mean no one, should be loofahing in public.  I literally threw up in my mouth a little.  After giving her the stink-eye to no avail, I left and demanded that the management put up a sign that said "Please do not exfoliate your parts in the sauna, thus sharing thousands of dead skin cells with other sauna patrons who don't want them all over their body."  They refused.  I never used the sauna again. 

Of course, these are extreme examples but that they actually exist got me thinking about what is acceptable and what isn't.  In my view, anything that involves an implement  (clippers, hairbrush, loofah)  or involves the loss of any cells, should be done in private.  Yes, this includes filing your nails!  On my flight the other day, a woman was filing her nails.  Where does she think that dead nail dust goes?  In the air.  My air on the plane.  Why not just sneeze on me? 

So, basically, to be safe, practice most (if not all) grooming habits in private.  I would even say that putting on lipstick is preferably done in the ladies room when out in public and not in front of everyone.  I know, I know, the experts are split on this one but for me, it's personal.  Checking your make-up, putting a few stray hairs back in place, these types of grooming habits are acceptable in public.  Anything beyond this is simply too much sharing...literally, keep your dead skin cells and nail clippings to yourself. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big City Fashion

Just got back from a few days in Boston.  It was a great trip and I really enjoyed the big city and all the attractions and the food.  I noticed as we were walking about, trying not to stand out as tourists, that there was a lot of good fashion in the metro area.  Women were dressed in adorable skinny jeans with cute ballerina shoes, short dresses that were accessorized perfectly, cute tops layered just right (the weather could be a little cool).  Now, there was a lot of "fashion don'ts" as well but overall, the big city urban look was great.  I did notice that the later the evening, the shorter the dress!  And I mean short, short dresses with high, high heels.  And, these girls were taking the subway.  They take their fashion seriously in the big city. 

Some suggestions for getting that big city urban fashionista look:

Skinny jeans with ballerina flats
T-shirts layered with thin sweater or a scarf wrapped around your neck
Cute short dress with wedge heels

Most of all, it's an attitude towards fashion and wanting to look your best.  Women of all shapes, sizes, age, etc. were on it in Boston and I was impressed.  I probably spent more time people watching than learning about the history of our country but hey, I can always google anything I need to know.  Fashion was living history that was happening all around me and I couldn't help myself.  That counts, right?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lemonade & Letiquette

Funny story on how the name "Letiquette" came to be...I was at lunch with my girlfriend (who shall remain nameless) and she decided that she was going to make lemonade at the table out of the water with lemons she had asked for, using the sweetner on the table!  As you can imagine, I was aghast!  It was sooo something my mother would have done (Dolores has a reputation of making lemonade at the table and taking sweetner home).  I told her I would never eat lunch with her if she ever did that again.  Her response was "Well excuse me...what's that "Letiquette"?  Thus, the term Letiquette was born.  We still laugh about that today.  She doesn't make lemonade at the table anymore when we are eating lunch together...but I do sometimes take sweetner back to the office. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Closet Envy

I have a severe case of closet envy.  Watching "House Hunters" on HGTV is the reason.  My closet is just too small for all my stuff and when my dog Lola decides that it is her "doggy den", I am really crowded out!  I wish I had a big, huge closet where each pair of my shoes had their own space on a large wall and I could organize them by style, color and season....sigh.  A girlfriend of mine even has a washer & dryer in her closet!  That's serious closet design.  Since I am not going to get a new closet (no House Hunting for us) nor is there any opporunity to make my closet bigger (it's backs up to the kitchen), I try hard to keep it clean and organized to make it feel and look bigger than it really is.  First, I switch my clothing from one closet to another for each season.  Since we only really have two seasons in Texas -Hot, Hot Summer and Kinda Cold Winter- I only have to do this twice a year.  I keep my out-of-rotation items in the guest room closet.  I'm not a packrat and I don't save a lot of "sentimental" things so that I have this extra closet space and it comes in handy.  Second, I get rid of items I haven't worn in more than 1 year.  If it hasn't made my rotation in 365 days, then it's just not necessary and I probably can't fit it anymore...another sigh.  Third, I color coordinate all my clothes (light to dark for spring and dark to light for winter).  Makes me feel like I have more room since everything is nice and neat.  Fourth, I put all my shoes (except flip-flops) in plastic shoe boxes.  They stack nicely.  Fifth, I use the space beneath the lower hanging items for my boots, sweaters and scarves neatly tucked away in clear plastic containers that lay flat.

One day I will have the closet of my dreams...unfortunately, it will probably have to be extra wide for me and my walker to move around in it but I'll get there one day. 


Monday, July 25, 2011

Dinner Party Trifecta

There are three basic components of a successful dinner party - drink, company and food (in that order) perfectly combined.  This perfect combination is sometimes hard to come by but one thing that makes it more likely is to ask your guests to B.Y.O.B.  Yes, I said B.Y.O.B.  I was recently invited to a dinner party/barbeque that was B.Y.O.B.  Although some etiquette snobs might say this is a social faux pas and I once agreed, I have changed my mind and am now a HUGE fan of B.Y.O.B. at a dinner party, mostly because my husband is simply the best bartender I know and since we've been together over 18 years, he knows exactly what I like to drink.  B.Y.O.B. will ensure that your guests are drinking what they like.  No point in drinking something at the party you don't like if you are there to have a good time.  And, if everyone is drinking what they like, they will continue to drink and become more interesting as the night progress.  Thus, meeting the second component of the DPT.  You might even have some new BFFs before the night is done.  This frees up the hosts to focus on the menu to meet the third component as they don't have to worry about what they will serve to drink (other than the typical white/red wines).  This was certainly the case at this particular DP.  The food was AMAZING!  I brought my blood-orange soda and vodka mix (my husband was out of town and couldn't make my drinks so this was the best I could do) and that was good enough for me.

So, if you're throwing a dinner party, don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring their favorite cocktail/wine - it will keeps your costs down and let you focus on your menu.  But be sure you wow them with your food.  You can't get away with asking them to bring their own booze and then serve a mediocre meal!  If you are not known for your cooking, then you should plan on having a well-stocked bar for your guests so they won't notice. By the time dinner is served, it will be the best food they ever ate.  Of course, dinner parties are supposed to be about the good company, conversation, etc., but Letiquette requires that you have the trifecta:  good drinks and good company and good food.  If you ask your guests to bring their own drinks, this is perfectly acceptable for the reasons stated above, so the only thing left is good food....and if I'm invited somewhere for dinner and asked to bring my own drinks, then the hosts better not be serving me crap on a cracker.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Qualetty vs. Quantity

I tackled the quality vs. quantity debate very early in my pre-teen years.  It started with back to school shopping when I was a girl growing up in San Antonio.  My mother would take us kids downtown shopping, back when you could still shop downtown, and we each got to pick out just a few things but we could pick out the good stuff - Levi's, Jordache, Lacoste.  No generic clothing for back to school.  It was the one time we didn't have to worry about prices.  Truly a great sacrifice for my mother.  I could pick out 2 pairs of jeans, 3 shirts/tops, 1 pair of shoes, 1 package of socks; 2 sets of underclothes and a jacket (my brothers got 3 pairs of jeans but who's counting).  I quickly turned my attention to the designer know, the Jordache, the Gloria's, the Calvin's.  I could have purchased 3-4 pairs of less expensive jeans for the same price as 2 pairs of the designer jeans but this was my only opportunity to get the jeans all the girls were wearing.  So, 2 pairs it was, one Jordache and one Gloria Vanderbilt.  I loved, loved, loved those jeans and the fact that they were designer made up for the fact that I only had two pairs.  They also lasted a long time (much to my mother's relief) and they were dark blue denim so I felt no one knew that I wore the same two pair over and over (I think).   

It may seem petty now, as I am admittedly a little designer obessed still today, but I tend to justify it to myself by arguing that you get what you pay for.  If you've ever worn a pair of designer shoes, you know what I'm talking about.  They just feel different.  It's truly a very special relationship between your feet and those shoes.  I would rather have one or two pair of beautiful designer shoes than 10 pairs of inexpensive ones.  That's not to say inexpensive items don't have their place (and I do have plenty of nice, inexpensive shoes that serve their purpose) ...I'm just saying that everyone should have at least one pair of those special shoes (or that one dress/jacket/suit) that is worth every penny.  Come on, splurge a little!  And you don't have to pay full price, get it on sale.  Now, that's a real compromise in the quality vs. quantity debate as you won't have to choose when you hit a great sale. A real rush, my friends.

My two pair of designer jeans helped me fit in so long ago so I could stand out later in life.  It was a life lesson that taught me the value of sacrifice to get what you want.  My mother sacrificed so we kids could get the good stuff, even if it was limited and only once a year, to fit in when it mattered most to us.  Not exactly a Mother Theresa kinda of life lesson but one that shaped my view on when it's ok to go for quality over quantity.  We were poor but my mother wasn't cheap was what she would say...more of a Loretta Lynn kinda of life lesson. 

So, buy quality when you can, buy quantity when you must, but always buy what makes you feel like you're worth it. 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mission Statement

I probably should have started out with this post when I started this blog but que sera, sera.  My purpose in starting this blog and putting my ideas, comments, suggestions, etc., out there was to share these with others who are looking to achieve that "put-togetherness" that many of us want in our lives.  It seems that we are bombarded daily with what we should be doing, how we should be doing, when we should be doing it and how we should look when we are doing it.  But most of the "how-to" information out there is too complicated and overwhelming.  My mission is to take this information and filter it down to the essentials and make it easy.  Simple style, if you will.  I read many magazines and books on entertaining, fashion, and lifestyles (it's my hobby and stress reliever from my job-job) and I always have an idea or twist on how to take those suggestions and make them easier and less expensive.  It's a challenge for me to make it my own because I generally don't like to be told what to do and love to do it my way.  I don't have to reinvent the wheel, there are some basic rules to follow that are universal but I definitely want to put my spin on these rules.  This is what I will share with my followers on this blog.  I hope you will find it entertaining, helpful and a great read and I will try my very best to keep it that way.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Health & Beauty Products 101

I love H&B products! My love affair with "products" started when I was a very young girl and my favorite aunt was an Avon lady.  She would give me the left over items she couldn't sell.  I didn't have very much growing up (certainly didn't have my own shampoo, soap, etc.) so these products were the most treasured things I had.  My favorite was the "Roses, Roses" soap.  I loved to arrange them and then re-arrange them in the box I kept them in.  Something I still love to do today when I am stressed out (I have several bathroom drawers filled with products).  I firmly believe that any woman can have good skin and look attractive if she is using the right products.  They are magical.  There is nothing like that new bag of make-up or opening a new jar of whatever.  And, you don't have to spend a lot.  Here are some of my favorite products that are really quite affordable: 

1)  Aquaphor - the best stuff on earth.  I use it as a deep moisturizer on my hands & feet, lip treatment, put it on mosquito bites, first aid, etc.  It's like the Windex in MBFGW. 

2)  Dry Brush - use it to dry brush your skin.  Buy a good one (Bath & Body Shop) and use it only as a dry brush to exfoliate your entire body but don't be gentle.  It has to sting some.  A little sadistic but, like John Mellencamp sang, it hurts so good.  It will make your skin glow.  You might also lose a few ounces with all those dead skin cells gone.  P.S. Like most beauty routines, this is a private activity not meant for your partner's eyes.  Lock the bathroom door.  If you've never done it before, you might want to use goggles and a painter's mask. 

3)  Neutrogena Body Oil - to relieve the pain of the dry brush.  Just kidding - it doesn't hurt that much. Use it after your shower.  Again, glowing skin.

4)  Mary Kay Satin Hands - almost as good a manicure.  It's a bit pricey and it involves 3 steps but worth it.

5)  Alpha Hydrox Foaming Face Wash - I've been using this stuff for 13 years and it is the best face wash for about $7.00.  Use it.

6)  Alpha Hydrox Soufflé - it's a moisturizer I use on my neck/décolletage.   Many women forget about this area.  You can only wear so many turtlenecks so take care of it!

7)  L.A. Colors Blush (Plushed/Soft Rose) - found this at the dollar store!  Best blush ever that I think is pretty universal (my skin is olive toned).  It's so good that when it broke in my makeup bag recently, I continued to use it from my bag until I could replace it.

8)  Clear Mascara - works great in hot weather to keep your mascara from running down your face.

9)  Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avacado - this was recommended to me a few years ago by a true diva (our friend John whose alter ego is Carmen Miranda).  If the gays are using it, you know it's good.  It feels like buttah...

10)  Blistex SPF 15 Lip Protectant - Rasberry Lemonade Blast!

So, there are you are.  The best "hygienes" (prison slang for products - I was a criminal defense attorney for a while) according to me.  I hope they bring you as much joy as they've brought me.  Yes, I love these products that much.  They make me happy. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The 80/20 Rule

My trainer tells me to remember the 80/20 rule when I workout - that is, a lean body is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  I also apply this 80/20 rule to my diet as in I eat "clean" 80% of the time and whatever I want the other 20% of the time, though true be told, it's the other way around some weeks.  I think this 80/20 rule might work well in other areas of our lives and have opted to incorporate it where I can in my personal life.  I plan on giving most activities an 80% effort and relax for the other 20%.  100% effort is sometimes overrated.  The truth is we can't give it our all, all the time, in every endeavor.  That gets old real fast.  I suggest you save your 100% effort for when it really matters, like a presentation for a job promotion or getting ready your annual family portrait.  So, when you can't serve a homemade meal for a dinner party, make it semi-homemade (there's a HGTV show on this entire subject so you know it's legit).  Buy your sides at the gourment shop and cook the protein at home; decorate with candles instead of fresh flowers; buy a ready made cocktail mix instead of mixing each drink, etc.   When you can't come out in full hair & makeup, slap some lip gloss on and pull your hair in a bun (see previous blog).  If you can't volunteer to be on several committees in whatever capacity (school, work, church) choose just one that makes you happy (Social Chair for me) and let others know they can have 80% of your efforts, take it or leave it.  It will keep you from getting burned out, believe me.  No one is going to know if you are giving it 80% or 100% effort and in most cases, your 80% effort is going to outshine another person's 100% effort!  So, relax, put forth your best 80% effort and be pleasantly surprised at the results. 

Yes, I am loving this 80/20 rule!  Although, I might have misunderstood what my trainer actually said as he might have said I give my workouts 20% of my effort, 80% of the time....



Friday, July 15, 2011

Ladies Who Lunch

Just returned from a lunch meeting with a group of my colleagues.  This particular group of ladies are very impressive on their worst day.  They range in age from new mothers to mature, sophisticated women (I fall somewhere towards the end of the mature, sophisticated spectrum).  I knew that today meant I would have to wear heels, a jacket and maybe put on some makeup in this 100+ degree weather.  But it felt good.  Today, we were "ladies who lunch."  You know, "well dressed women who meet for lunch socially..." (thanks Wikipedia).  It reminded me that, for the most part, women dress for other women.  I laugh at men who believe that we are "dressing" to please them.  Luckily, my husband is well aware of this and doesn't harbor any misguided belief that I take 2 hours to get ready to make him happy.  I do it to make myself feel good and to look good because I know that other women are making mental notes. There is nothing wrong or catty about this.  We need other women to be standard-bearers so to speak.  Otherwise, we might all fall into the t-shirt/sweatpants black hole.  I live by Billy Crystal's quote impersonating Fernando Lamas, "It is better to look good than to feel good."  But the truth is, that looking good will make you feel good.  I don't mean spending hours getting ready on a daily basis because most of us don't have that kind of time.  But there is something to be said for slapping on some lip gloss, mascara (I have a friend who never leaves the house without her "eyes") and a decent outfit.  Again, no sweatpants please!  It doesn't take much effort, really, it doesn't.  So, here are some tips that will you help get that "casual but pulled together" look that we all want:

1)  Cherry chapstick works great as a moisturizer and tint
2)  Clear mascara to put on in the car at a stoplight and if you miss, no black smudges around your eyes
3)  If you wear flip flops on a routine basis, which is fine, make sure your toes are pedicured
4)  Wear a clean (yes, sometimes it has to be said out loud), fitted T-shirt or button down shirt w/ capri's (very Mary Tyler Moore) instead of jeans and your husband's T-shirt
5)  If you can't do your hair, pull your hair back in a nice ponytail or if you can't make a ponytail, wear a cute headband.

Obviously, we can't pull off the "Ladies Who Lunch" look 24/7 (and really, do we want to?) but for me, I was very happy to have to dress up today and remind myself that indeed it is better to look good than to feel good but it's truly the best when you look good and it makes you feel good.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dining, Dishing and Dividing

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you one of my favorite things to do is dine out with friends and dish on everything!  I dislike talking on the phone so I really enjoy talking face-to-face over a good meal.  I particularly enjoy eating lunch out everyday with friends/colleagues and have been accused of going to work only so that I can go to lunch (probably true on most days).  But when you're in a group dining situation, things could get sticky if you don't decide ahead of time how the bill will be paid.  I'm talking about "splitting the check."  An end of meal audit of the bill is uncomfortable and can ruin what was otherwise probably a great meal.  Not to mention it makes them/you look cheap. 

So, if you are meeting others for a meal out, opt for one of the following to avoid any breach of etiquette when it's time to pay the bill:

1)  You pay the whole bill yourself.  Let your guests know in some appropriate manner like "Let's go to lunch - my treat"
2)  Gently ask the server to separate the checks before you order so each pays their own (key word in this phrase is "before"...otherwise, I am pretty sure the server will do something disgusting to your food/drink)
3)  If separate checks are not possible, then let your mates know that you will be ordering the filet mignon but paying your fair share "I'm ordering the surf & turf but you won't have to dig into the college fund"
4)  You share the cost of an appetizer (unless it's something only you want i.e. fried pickles, an acquired taste for some and my favorite).

There doesn't need to be any discomfort about the bill when you are dining out with friends if you plan ahead...unless you figure out you forgot your wallet after having ordered the lobster. 


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hostess with the Mostess

When I was a young girl, I remember my grandparents (Mathias & Nora) would have people over to their house almost every weekend for barbeque, beer and friendship.  They lived in a 5 room house and the kitchen was tiny but they always seemed to have room for all their guests.  My grandfather would barbeque sausage, chicken, and ribs (beef, not pork) and my grandmother would make rice, beans, & macaroni salad (which I didn't learn to appreciate until I was older - nothing more disgusting than macaroni salad when you're a kid) and usually a homemade pastry like empanadas.  The beer and drinks were abundant.  My grandparents weren't rich so providing a big meal like this for a lot of people was a real sacrifice.  The Martinez house was THE party house and everyone knew it.  My brother and I would love to watch everyone drinking, dancing and having fun.  You knew it was a party when the Mariachi music started (Vicente Fernandez, of course) and my grandmother would start to belt out "Volver, Volver" (look it up) after a few too many beers (these days, she denies that she ever drank beer, she's 89). 

I'm a pretty good hostess - I always have enough food, go to extra effort to have special cocktails for my guests, provide extra touches like flowers.  But hostessing is about more than just providing food & drink.  You have to open your home and your heart to your guests like my grandparents did.  You want your guests to feel like family and that the party was no trouble at all but we all know it's a lot of work and expense to have a party on any level.  My grandfather was the most gracious host I've ever known  No plate was empty, no thirst unquenched, no discomfort felt by anyone in his home.  Contrary to George Lopez's version of what happens at parties with a lot of Latinos, NO ONE ever got out of line at my grandfather's house.  Mathias wouldn't allow anyone to make a scene.  And every party was successful as a result i.e. Police were never called = successful party.  Those parties are some of my fondest childhood memories. 

Who knew that a tall, Mexican sheet metal worker from San Antonio would be my ultimate hostessing role model? 


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Dirty Dozen

Ok, so there's nothing "dirty" about this post but I thought it might grab your attention. I'm talking about the dozen essential fashion items every woman MUST have in her closet.  I've read about a million fashion articles and every book I can get my hands on so trust me, I'm right on this:

1)  Undergarments - Ladies, get a bra that fits and underwear that banishes VPLs.  Get fitted by a professional bra fitter (and no, not those twits that work at the large lingerie box store that wear their boobs up to their chins).  You'd be shocked by what size bra you should actually be wearing and believe me, it is never the size you think and you are wearing the wrong size!  Now, the large lingerie box store does carry an excellent line of undies that eliminate VPLs (or chones for my Latin sisters out there) "Very Sexy" - try the hiphuggers.  They are the best!

2)  T-Shirt - Basic white/black T-shirt.  Get both.  Speaks for itself, no?  Good quality (Target & Talbot's have good ones).

3)  Crisp White Shirt - By crisp, I mean ironed.  By shirt, I mean with a collar.  Again, Talbot's has an excellent line.  White shirts are universal and can make any outfit look like you cared when you got dressed in the morning. 

4)  Neutral Colored Jacket - Yes, a blue jean jacket counts and no, they are not passé or country looking.  Work it with a beautiful pin or scarf and you have a staple that will last forever!  I have 3 (CAbi is my favorite).  Your other choices are a navy blue jacket, white, black or tan.  Lime green or pale pink DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT count as neutral on this planet.

5)  Scarf - Tan or Black work best but a solid bright color (like teal) will also go a long way.  Don't spend too much money on this item.  Buy in bulk at Target. 

6)  Jeans - Every woman (and man for that matter) needs that one pair of jeans that fits perfectly but I REFUSE to pay more than $50.00 for a pair.  Takes a little extra time but you can find a pair in that price range.  And please, no bling on your ass.  Seriously, it should look good in those jeans without rhinestones all over it. 

7)  Solid Colored Dress - The possibilities are endless.  For your fashion dollars, a SCD is extremely flexible and can be dressed up/down with a different belt, pin, jacket, etc....makes it look like a different dress each time.  Keep patterned dresses to a minimum.  Contrary to what you may think you see in your mirror, not every woman can pull it off. 

8)  Tailored Pants - Here is where you should invest some real bucks (at least three $$$ = minimum of $100.00).  You only need one pair - black, brown or tan (but not too light colored).  Get them tailored (hem, waist, etc.) to fit you perfectly.  Worth the money!

9)  Calf-length skirt - Another classic.  A-Line or belled skirts are my favorite and are universal.  A pair of heels (a pair of "heels" = 3 inches at a minimum) works best with a calf-length skirt.  If you insist on wearing flats, then do yourself a favor and wear a skirt above the knee.  Neutral colors again are better than patterned.  A recurring theme for me.

10)  Neutral Colored High Heeled Shoes - There is just no getting over this.  Every woman looks better in HHS.  And, every woman can wear them if they just practiced!  Stop being a wuss and get over the pain.  It's temporary and you can dull the pain with martinis.  It's a win-win as far am I'm concerned. 

11)  Chunky Necklace/Earrings Combo - My favorite is oversized pearls.  Of course, they're fake but Jackie O wore fake pearls too.  No shame in that.

12)  Wide Leather Belt (to be worn around your waist) - Real leather please, preferably from Italy (Chinese leather doesn't have the same smell).  Again, black, brown or tan.  Patent leather is beautiful also.  It will last forever. 

Hope this helps! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cleavage & Church

I'm in Texas and right now, it's about 1000 degrees outside!  As I was getting ready for church yesterday (and, no, I am not a regular attendee but I was moved by the spririt yesterday or the heat that resembled hell), I was looking for an outfit that would keep me cool.  I decided on a white blouse that was admittedly lower in the front than would be respectable for Sunday services - quick fix - I used a shawl to cover up in church and simply removed it when we walked out.  Tip - Cleavage & Church is not a good combination, no matter how hot it is outside!