The Clock Stops Here...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Zoom-bah Baby

Well, dreams do come true...I have long been a devotee of the "Figure Method", a combination of strengthening and lengthening exercises, based on the Lotte Berk Method and refined by my friend Cindy Sites. The promise is to deliver long, lean sculpted muscles. It's tough love, but if you attend consistently and work hard, nothing can compare to this total, one hour body work out. Cindy has been so successful that she has opened 4 studios in the Fairfield area. For those looking for a cardio work out, Spin classes are also available.

I am not a huge fan of sweating. I also have some lingering resistance to anything cycle related, since wrapping myself and my lilac Schwinn around a telephone pole, at age seven (My Mother warned me not to ride in my new flip flops. At least she refrained from saying, "I told you so", as they whisked me to the Emergency Room, in the back of my Father's Cadillac). Still and all, I know somehow, for heart health and fat burning, I have to figure out a way to amp it up.

Before there was a name attached to it, I dreamed of a class, that you could go to, to dance, (and yes, sweat), to fabulous music, for an hour. I have mentioned it to Cindy many times over the years...Persistence being my nickname, I brought it up again recently and she said, "Yup. Zumba. We are going to start it in the the fall". "Fantastic", I replied, "I'm in". Now all I had to do was find out what the puck "Zumba" is...

I went home, Googled it and got very excited! Zumba was founded by a Columbian dancer, Alberto 'Beto" Perez, in the mid 90's. "Zumba" literally translates to, "move fast and have fun". The inspiration, comes from Latin and calypso dance music. His first class was improvised. Perez was teaching and forgot his aerobic tapes, thinking quickly, he grabbed tapes from his car and just salsad in. It was much more fun than his regular class and equally aerobic. Thus, a fitness movement was born. Today over 3 million Zumba DVD's have been sold and 9000 instructors are teaching classes in the U.S. Wowza!!!

I stumbled upon a little blurb in Westchester Magazine about Zumba classes and called for information. My gal pals know I can be a catalyst for organizing fun events, but I am not always wildly organized, so if you get a voice or email with my latest stunt, you either "in, or your ", to quote the great Heidi Klum. I would love your company...but if you can't make it, I am going anyway, solo. Zumba was being taught in a Veteran's Hall, in a neighboring town. Luck would have it... my friend Lynn was in. Suffice to say, that compared to Lynn, Madonna has a paunch and a club foot...she is flawless. We are dressed like twins, in adorable hip hugger yoga pants, tiny ribbed tank tops, with black shoes. We walked in 5 minutes late, so there would be no graceful rumba, to the exit...The room was filled with grandmother's in Sag Harbor Villager Bermudas, golf shirts, tube socks and cross trainer's. We were in trouble. Our cheerful instructor definitely had the moves. My hope was, however, that her heart, was in the condition of an Olympic Pole Vaulter, because the good stuff, was not in evidence on the outside...

How did it turn out??? We had a ball!!! The music was great (they even had a conga drum accompanist), the choreography was fun, but easy to follow, (mental gymnastics are not a favorite of mine. I am there to sweat , not think). We were drenched, but not exhausted. In short, we loved it!!!

So, I am rallying the troops for next Tuesday's class, girls. 7:00 p.m. Are you in, or are you out???


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Service... With a Little Somethin, Somethin

I have had a long career in Fashion, which has included working for three family businesses and 4 corporations. I have been in management and have been managed by others. The last 7 years have by far, been the my happiest and most productive.

Why??? Three words...The Mitchell Family. I don't want to gush, but the reason our customers enjoy shopping there so much, is because we love working there so much. Jack Mitchell, our CEO, has written two books, "Hug Your Customers" and "Hug Your People", outlining the company culture, for those who want to emulate it. It is a tall order, but in these challenging times, a "should" read for both management and employees.

On Thursday, I went to Billy's in Mount Kisco to get my haircut...The place has a great vibe. Billy the owner, cuts my hair. The salon has been beautifully renovated. Billy, in addition to being a great stylist, is warm and attentive. The salon is bustling and clients look happy. His staff is engaging and accommodating. As his stylists leave for the night, they give him a peck on the cheek and a warm goodbye. I know a lovefest, when I see one, confirming that Billy must be a fabulous person to work with and for. As a result, I enjoy my visits, leave happy and relaxed and have no qualms about spending money. Bravo Billy!

I don't know if my service meter is super sensitive, because I work so hard to please my clients, but, as a result, I have little tolerance, for disinterested service. There is nothing to discuss, I just make a decision that if you are indifferent to my being in your store, I am not going to spend my money there. Buh-bye.

It doesn't take much...eye contact, a smile, a greeting...some acknowledgement that they are glad I am there. I love to browse, but when I am ready and we are both free, I might need some information...Please be happy to provide it. First impressions are so important and if you diss me, I rarely return for a second visit.

I have learned so much about grace under pressure from clients...Mistakes do happen, but rarely with intent. Their kindness in the face of mishaps, has taught me to also take a deep breath, when things so awry. For the most part, it is just stuff, nothing life threatening, that can't be resolved. I love that I can tell my boss, "I've got an "Oh Sh-t", happening, and that they will help me, without any retribution, to solve it and move forward. I am far from perfect, but I am striving...

There is so much competition for our business. I hope you shop where you are appreciated, after all, the customer is Queen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fashion Forward...

I love my clients who enjoy shopping slightly ahead of the season...Forget the temperatures brain is now firmly focused on fall fashion. Shop early, and you scoop up the best of the season, pristine and in your size. Take the plunge and get it altered now, delivered before Labor Day. If you wait for the first cold snap, you've already missed it. Truly insane, but truly true.

I always do a Trend Report, before each season for my clients and this past spring, I repeated it, on my blog. I am so excited now, that I will tell you what's inspiring me for fall and if needed, I will update it as we get a little deeper into the season.

A perfectly cut jacket- Slightly longer and shaped. It's been awhile...and suddenly it looks right again. Whether it is in cashmere or velvet, it should fit to the tee and then you can wear it over everything.

Gorgeous Knitwear- Texture, texture, texture. Sweaters are chunky, cabled, nubby, short sleeved, close to the body and over sized. Luxe and luscious.

Wide leg trousers- Whistle clean, slightly higher at the waist, relaxed and jaunty looking with that perfect jacket or a fabulous sculptured sweater.

Pencil skirts and narrow pants- Lean and leggy, sexy yet tidy, If you've got the bod for it, go for it.

Sheath dresses- A la Jackie O./Michelle O. Clean, elegant, no nonsense, often belted. Wear them with suede or patent Manolo's.

Jewel Tones- Face flattering plums and purples, teal and bottle greens, sapphire and peacock blues, ruby reds, look richest paired with all shades of grey and back to black.

Florals- fall bouquets bloom on dresses, skirts, and are sculpted into knits and on shoes and handbags.

Whose collections are stand outs??? Michael Kors, who manages to make 50's and 60's inspired clothes feel perfectly modern. Cucinelli, Loro Piana and Hermes for giving us the most divine, luxe sportswear in the world, Lela Rose and Rachel Roy's pretty dresses with flirty touches like feathers, matte sequins and chiffon panels. Akris, who always nails luxe and modern in a gorgeous, wearable pallette, Dolce and Gabbana, for getting back to the their fitted roots and giving us what we want, Luciano Barbera and Agnona who make classic jackets that are never boring.

So did I inspire you to get a jump start? I am desperately cranky that August is around the corner, summer is too fleeting, but I know I will be feeling better, when my fall special orders arrive...


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Semi Permanent

Most people fall into two camps...Cold weather lovers, who day dream about hitting the slopes and winding down, with a good glass of brandy before a roaring fire or warm weather lovers, who prefer frolicking on the beach and enjoying the long daylight hours. I am firmly in the latter camp, until of course the mercury is in the 90's and the frizz index is measured by my unruly follicles.

I don't think you can have it both only get to complain about one type of weather system, so even if I am melting, I try not to woe and moan. This is psychological warfare, so the first step is to, "act as if", which means wearing a lot of white bottoms, sheer diaphanous tops that don't cling and tidy ponytails. The goal is to look cool and non plussed... "Hot"? "Really??? Ya think so"??? This must be said, even as beads of sweat are forming on your upper lip.

Which brings me to a whole new level of (no investment) make up, that has to be purchased for the, "dog days" of summer. I have been a Bobbi Brown "Ink" eyeliner gel devotee for quite sometime. It takes dedication to go through a whole pot, but finally, the ink well has run dry. One of the things I like best about this product, is its stay put power, what I like least, is its difficult application. My fine motor skills are not that sharp, (ask anyone who has ripped the scissors and gift wrapping paper out of my hands in disgust), but when it comes to make up skills, I am an idiot savant. If I have trouble with this stuff, the lay person, should not consider attempting it. Could I find an eyeliner pencil that would deposit as much color as my beloved BB, was easier to manipulate, did not look "too" perfect, (as liquid liner can) and would not budge, until I was ready to remove it???

Yes I can...and it's a keeper. Over the years, I have dabbled in Revlon's ColorStay stable and stay, they do. They were having a special two for one, so I chose the Black and Blackberry combination, and for $6.59, had no complaints. It lines cleanly and easily and lasted, without touch ups. The other thing I was looking for was a heavy duty, budge proof concealer...something that might cover, say a port wine stain or difficult acne. That way, I would be assured that it wouldn't melt off my more minor flaws, when the temperature soars. I purchased Physician's Formula, "Conceal Rx", at CVS, and will vouch for it's ability to cover anything. Only the tiniest bit of product is needed, optimum application is with a pointed nylon concealer applicator. I could easily turn my body into a human canvas and cover every freckle and flaw...if I had a week.

Stay cool my lovelies, or do as I do...fake it.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ole Olay (Part 2)

I think it takes a week or two to detect changes from new facial products. I am on an Olay Regenerist kick and the results are mixed. I could not bear the noxious scent of the CVS version of Olay's Daily Regenerating Serum, so I exchanged it for the real deal. Better smell, equally semi slimy texture. I will finish the bottle, but move on to another serum, probably something with hyaluronic acid, (for plumping). I also purchased the Rejuvenating Eye Serum...the total contents could fit in an eye dropper. I can see a slight difference, perhaps a wee bit brighter under the eye, since I seem to need less concealer, in the morning. Sometimes I feel like a complete sucker for giving in and buy separate eye much difference could it make if you slopped your face cream on your eyes??? Why do eyes get a separate marketing plan??? Not to mention a whole other shelf in my medicine cabinet. Gee, I wonder what the cosmetics companies are getting out of it???

I am still loving the Regenerist Firming and Sculpting cream. My jaw line and neck do look firmer. (Best test, sit straight up with a hairdressing robe, fastened too tightly at the neck. If you never thought you were a waddle candidate, think again)...this stuff is working. The blue ribbon winner in the Regenerist stable, however, is the Daily Mini Peel with glycolic acid. I am loving this stuff. It has a mildly, (but not unpleasant) gritty texture, it warms on contact with damp skin and it rinses off easily. The best part??? After the first time you use it, you will see immediate improvement in tone and clarity. With continued use, my skin looks brighter and make up applies more smoothly. On a daily basis, this is equal to the benefits I was receiving from weekly use, of Estee Lauder's Perfectionist Peel, which contains 30% glycolic acid. Let's see, $90.00 or $14.99... Which one are you buying tonight???

Bet I can guess...don't forget to pick up some toothpaste while you are there.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Good Things Come in Big Packages

Now this is getting fun! Yesterday, I came home to an unexpected UPS package...insanely, even if I have paid for it, it always feels like a present has been left at the door. I was relieved that it was not, another shipment of the Cindy Crawford skin regimen I what gives?

Too my delight, the package was sent to me from Loreal, via Totalbeauty, one of the beauty media companies that publishes my Blog... Christmas in July. It was my understanding that I would receive product to review, but products??? Oh joy!!!

My Loreal Bounty included: shampoo, conditioner and deep conditioners from the new Vive Pro Nutri Gloss line for regular and color treated hair, hairspray and hair gloss, plus a DVD, which I will watch, out of curiosity. I immediately used the hair gloss, since my hair looked parched and frizzy. My two year old Fekkai gloss still boasts a half full tube, but I noticed it is starting to separate, like salad dressing, in my palm...Time to toss...Ya think??? The Loreal hair gloss, had a nice, clean texture, which was absorbed instantaneously. On a particularly bad hair day, it now looked better, so I am looking forward to trying it again, when the hair playing field is level. I will keep you posted as I work through the rest of it...I am particularly excited about the Nutri Gloss shampoo and conditioner. It has already received good reviews, and Penelope Cruz, (or is it Selma Hayak, I can't tell them apart, and neither can you), looks blonder, but luscious in their new ads.

I am not completely sure how this it someones job to scour all the Beauty Blogs, to see who we are writing about? On the mass level, I have blogged about Garnier Nutrisse and Neutrogena hair products...Is it a coincidence that I received Loreal's new Vive Pro hair care offerings? I have a lot to learn...but in the meanwhile, did I mention how much I am loving my new tub of Creme de la Mer???


Friday, July 11, 2008

Venis Envy

I had an epiphany today...Tomorrow's forecast is a good one, sunny and warm. We have had a spate of rainy east coast weekends this summer, so that is welcome news. Too bad I will be held hostage at the hair salon tomorrow. From robe change to check out, I will be clocking in close to 3 hours. It got me many hours do I spend a year showering, shaving, exfoliating, waxing, tweezing, pumicing, moisturizing, toning, shampooing, conditioning, deep conditioning, blow drying, applying make up, removing make up, getting manicures, pedicures and getting my hair cut and colored??? Holy crap!!! Safe guestimate??? 800 hours.

Here's where the epiphany kicks in... Universally, life expectancy for men is shorter than for women. In the U.S., it is approximately 5.8 years less. The truth??? It is more or less equal. When I calculate the number of hours I have spent grooming from 15 to the average American female life span of almost 80 years, it will equal 5.9 years!!! In reality, there is no discrepancy, just a difference in how the time is spent.

While we, are having hot wax poured on private areas and having hair ripped out by the follicle, (with strips of cheesecloth), men, are out golfing. While we, are sitting naked and freezing in the shower, waiting for our deep conditioner to take root, men, are munching on a little snack, surfing between the History and Discovery channels. While we, are painted with dye and swaddled in tinsel, men, are checking their portfolios, on the Internet. Did you ever notice, that whether a man is going to the Post Office or a black tie gala, he needs the exact same 15 minutes to get ready?

We are off to a cocktail party, so I am signing off, right after I go fix my face...In my next life, maybe I'll come back with a penis, instead of a venis, and it will all equal out.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Marge Schwager 1918-2008

My paternal aunt, "Aunt Margie", died this week at age 90, from a recurrence of ovarian cancer. She was a two time breast cancer survivor, and lived for 8 years after her ovarian cancer diagnosis. Since my own familial breast cancer is indelibly linked to hers, I am grateful for her remarkable longevity and spirit.

Growing up, we knew about the, "cancer curse" that felled so many on my Dad's side. We breathed, whispered, gasps of relief, that this would not be our legacy...Daddy's side...we were safe. Little did we know, it was an even darker history than we knew, since it was never openly talked about.

My aunt was unusual, for her time. A college graduate, who majored in Biology, she left her younger siblings and parents, to marry and raise her own family out of state. Despite sadness and tragedy that included losing her mother in her 60's, her 19 year old son, (in a freak accident) her brother (my Dad) and sister within 6 months of each other,in their forties, and her husband to cancer, she more than persevered.

My aunt and uncle raised two brilliant children, who went on to have successful careers and families of their own. They travelled extensively. Aunt Margie continued to do so, even after my uncle passed. She loved to dance and was a group joiner. She weathered her own diagnosis', surgeries and treatments like a trooper. Her life was far from charmed, but she made it joyous and happy.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37, we thought it was simply, lousy luck. Not genetics. At the time, even my Dr.'s correlation, since the breast cancer was on my Dad's side. 4 years later, when Aunt Margie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I wanted to hear the full account of the true history. Devastated by the truth, I knew I wanted to be genetically tested...this was no mere coincidence, I thought, as it turns out, correctly.

I harbored a lot of anger toward her over the years. Had I known the full extent of what is, in fact, my legacy, I would have made some different choices and felt that Aunt Margie, as the steward of this information, should have been more forthcoming. I know that much of this was mired in the thinking of her generation, that the "C" word was not openly discussed. Her intentions, could not have been deliberately hurtful.

I am grateful that we live in more open, enlightened times and that the work of dedicated researchers has brought us genetic testing. I am grateful to Sue Friedman, who founded FORCE, an amazing Internet support group for women (and men), at high risk for familial breast and ovarian cancer ( And lastly, I am grateful to Aunt Margie, because her full life of 90 years, gives me hope and is cause to celebrate.

Rock on, Aunt Margie. Rest in Peace.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ole Olay (Part 1)

I am happy to report, that Divadebbi, was recently picked up by two Internet media companies, Glam Media and Both sites have tons of interesting articles and Fashion and Beauty blogs, which I enjoy trolling (links to both are on the right side under the "fold", my new lingo). Check 'em out, when you have a free nanosecond...

One of the things I like best about Totalbeauty, is that by category, every nook and cranny that has a product devoted to it, is reviewed by Blogger's like me and reader's like you. I now use it as a regular resource, to check on products, "scores" and reviews, before purchasing them.

Totalbeauty's raves for Olay's Firming and Sculpting, Regenerist, was the final push I needed to go out and buy it. I loved it so much, I recently blogged about it. The next step, was to check out how Olay Regenerist's, Daily Rejuvenating Serum fared, since fellow reviewers also lavished it with praise and a "9" out of 10 stars. Mid aisle, I hit a mental roadblock...right above the Olay offerings, were the CVS cousins, promising the same ingredients and effectiveness for $5 bucks less. I already feel like I am slumming it a bit, buying my skin care regimen in the same place you can purchase bowel cleanser... Am I penny pinching, to the point, where I am buying generic mass beauty products???... Apparently. After checking the ingredients, and finding they were not only identical, but listed in identical order, I figured, why not? I took it as a heads-up, that they were offering a "fragrance free" version, and went ahead and bought it.

Now, if this stuff, which smells hard boiled eggs and cyanide, is the "fragrance free" version, I can't imagine what kind of olfactory bullet I've dodged. Coupled with the slightly, greasy texture, I am hitting the remorse button, and trolling the trash for my receipt. Lo and behold, it is settling in nicely and I am on the verge of glow. I am gonna keep it, but next time I will splurge for the "good stuff".


Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Hoo Ha Spa

I still can't quite believe the article I read in today's N.Y. Time's, Thursday's Style section. Normally, the second page is devoted to a column they call "Skin Deep", covering all the latest news in creams, lasers and treatments, for the face and body, (apparently, every inch of it). It is well written and informative, so I always look forward to see what they are reporting on.

To my amazement, Dr. Laura Romanazi, an Associate Clinical Professor, at N.Y. Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital, is opening a fitness spa for your vagina, on East 58th St. EXCUSE ME??? "Phit" is an acronym for, "Pelvic Health Integrated Techniques". Dr. Romanazi, will determine your hoo ha's fitness, and then, in her role as, "personal trainer", coach you, on Kegel strengthening exercises. In addition, the "post menopausal" set, can avail themselves to skin tightening vulva treatments, (Botox and Restylane can't be far behind). Why not hire one of the "J" sisters to set up a Brazilian outpost, so Phit can be truly full service???

I know I am a little behind the times...On a girls trip to the Bahama's two years ago, I was shocked to find out from my gal pals (all of whom were girl Mom's), that it is quite common, amongst the teen set, to wax or shave, so they looked like their former pre pubescent selves. I immediately needed my sister Loren's input on the subject, and placed a stateside call at midnight...Was this a suburban thing, or were the City girls up to the same tricks, and by the way, where did my niece weigh in on this trend??? To my disappointment, she would neither wake her up to ask or go take a sneak peek...

"Phit" seems more like an L.A. thing to me, but maybe I have got it all wrong...this could be the next big thing...In the meanwhile, I can't wait to see who shows up for the opening night party, Keep your ears perked...or something.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Is Men's Fashion and oxymoron? I think so...Really, does anyone give a rat's patootie whether George Clooney is wearing a tux, from Kiton of Napoli or the Men's Wearhouse, to the Oscars???...Can we tell the difference anyway??? If I had my druthers, men would be recused from presenting duties at all awards shows. Their presence, is a frustrating distraction from my job of seeing whose stylist, will have a job , in the morning.

Today's N.Y. Times, included fashion coverage of the Men's shows in Milan. It occurred to me, that I would rather stick pins in my eyes, than read about it...never have never will. It is not that I don't appreciate a stylish, expensively dressed man. Believe me, I worship him...It's just that men's styles change not by seasons, but by decades. I think this is a bit unfair business, considering we are required to study, pre season, just so we don't look hopelessly dated after 6 months.

With the exception of evening wear, most women's clothes do not have a 5 year shelf life. Whatever style you think will come back, may come back, but with enough differences to render your relic hopelessly dated...not so for the boys. (If you need further proof, look at this 1968 photo of Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen, from one of my favorite films, the original Thomas Crown Affair). It has taken 40 years for men's suits to evolve to their current trim incarnation. On this timeline, we wont be seeing the return of vent less, broad shouldered, full pant, "Armani" style suits, until 2050. On top of that, it will be priced exactly as it was, while we girls will pay our usual double, plus inflation...but that's a whole other rant. Don't get me started...



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