Wine and Girlfriends

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“Wine . . . because no great story started with someone eating a salad.”

So Uncork and Unwind at a great winery . . . What better way to celebrate a fabulous friend’s birthday!

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What better dress than this sweet floral garden navy print in silk chiffon by Tanya Taylor. Love the v-neck and faux wrap comfort. This neon lime crossbody by Anya Hindmarch was perfect for two-fisted fun!

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Here’s my dear friend Lisa with the pinot grigio and me with the dry rosé.

Chaddsford is a fine local winery located about 30 miles south of Philadelphia that hosts fun events during the summer, including this weekend’s Summer Food Truck Throwdown Festival.

This is our second year celebrating Lisa’s Birthday there because, you guessed it, we love a great glass of wine. The cool vibes, relaxed setting and friendly folks brought us back again.

We hung out under a red umbrella on the brick patio overlooking the grounds where patrons roamed the food trucks indulging in delicious edibles.

Noticeably were groups of Girlfriends out and about. It’s a great place to unwind, escape and reconnect. Lisa and I took the opportunity to share and support one another as bloggers (Follow Lisa’s blog here).

After a few hours, the heat and humidity finally did us in, so we moved on to the cool climate of the Brandywine River Museum down the road for Gift Shop shopping.

So, what is it about a glass of wine spent with a friend that brings so much comfort?

I’d love to hear your thoughts

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Happy Birthday Lisa!

Curvy Girl Wedding Looks

Annnnnd just like that it’s Monday!

The last few days have been filled with reunions, football, weddings and food surrounded by amazing friends.

My wedding guest look is brought to you by Theia and rented through Rent The Runway. This midnight navy dress with flounce sleeves and bare shoulders made a definitive statement and was perfect for dancing the night away at a reception filled with love and joy. I paired the navy dress with a pop of orange with a minaudiere by Inge Christopher and earrings by Alexis Bittar.

This look was also perfect for a stormy Saturday evening.

So, here’s a few wedding guest looks I love for us curvy girls. They’re all red, my favorite fall color, and great for making a statement and dancing all night long. My go to is Rent The Runway for these fabulous designer styles.

Summer’s Last Stand

They say that August is summer’s last stand, but I choose to enjoy every bit of the season. What I know for sure is that August is a day in the sun.

Sundresses are my go to. This pinstripe ruffle shoulder dress by Eloquii gave me life this summer in the sun. It’s made with a printed blue zig zag cotton weave material and very comfortable to wear.

Speaking of the sun, August is Summer Sun Safety Month 🌞 I know you know the importance of being sun safe. I urge you to continue to think about protecting yourself from this season’s harmful rays. Now is not the time to slack off.

I still remember the awful pain of overexposure to Atlantic City’s (pre-casino days) sun in the 1960s. I was about 8 and I played on the beach all day. Mom protected me with sunblock but who knew you had to reapply and reapply and reapply? Being rushed to the hospital, the burning hurt, and vomiting was not a way to remember a family vacation.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of awareness on the importance of using sun protection. To my melanin sisters, don’t listen to the nonsense about not needing to indulge.

According to the CDC, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your sun in as little as 15 minutes. Follow their guidelines here for how to protect you and your family.

We all need protection. So, don’t slack off in these dog days of summer.

Pampering Mom

At the end of some days, you just know that it will be enshrined in your heart forever and Saturday was one of those days for me.

I’m glad I was wearing this unforgettable black jersey knit shoulder-baring top by with cascading ruffles and bell sleeves by Rachel Roy. I chose to wear it loose over one of my favorites, a pair of the popular Kady Fit yellow pants by Eloquii. The Striped Irene Tote by CleoBella with leather construction and colorful tassels highlight this bag which is perfect for day with Mom.

When Mom turned 84 this week, I knew it was the perfect time to get her in a spa chair for an invigorating facial treatment. Mom’s a creature of habit and it’s hard to break 84 years of putting oneself last. For as long as I can remember, Mom got great joy of seeing others happy.

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She’s a woman of faith, class, dignity and integrity. She raised 2 of us, but had to pick up the pieces solo when my Dad passed away unexpectedly. My younger brother was just 15. She dedicated most of my youth to being a mentor in the community to many who needed extra love due to a missing parent. Everyone called her “Aunt” and we had that house where everyone wanted to hang out. Of my real cousins, you guessed it, she’s the favorite Auntie.

She’s my muse. My Real Style Icon. When my grandmother treated me like a Princess, Mom went along with it. She had such an influence on me, that yes, I eventually became my mother. Well, not quite, but you know what I mean. I sound like her, etc.

Anyway, I could never seem to get Mom to totally embrace self-love. Mom, let’s take a vacation. Mom, let’s go to the movies. Mom, let’s go to the game. All of these things she loved, but she always said no. Sure, age has caught up to her, but she’s as spry as they come. So, when she turned 84 this past week, we did our usual out to lunch to get fried shrimp. She was elated. You see, I am banned from anymore surprise birthday parties for her (which she thoroughly enjoyed and still talks about them to this day).

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So, with the help of my dear friends at the Clarins Spa in King of Prussia, PA we plotted to get Mom in the store for an afternoon of pampering. SHE LOVED IT! A relaxing facial, hand treatment, other beauty services and a makeover. Did I say SHE LOVED IT? The Clarins Pros were awesome. So, if you’re in our area, may I suggest you head over if you need self-love or if you want to make someone feel special. Ask for Shanna, the Store Manager. Clarins has spas throughout the world, but the only location in the United States is in King of Prussia.

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We topped off the afternoon with a surprise lunch with friends and more fried shrimp.

It was a Great Day!

Revealing My Guilty Pleasure

So, I’m sharing a guilty pleasure today and I wonder if I’m alone.

But first, I’m looking for the sun to start the week and I wanna know why is it the end of July already?

I’m sporting a bright yellow top and necklace from Talbots that I grabbed during their end of season sale (up to 60% off clearance). Today, I paired it with my all-time favorite skirt style, the Neoprene Pencil Skirt, from Eloquii. This style is a wardrobe staple and it’s available in umpteen colors and prints, this one being solid Magenta. I love how Eloquii gets the curvy woman and refreshes this style from season to season. Check out their sale items too.

I have a habit of picking up books that I never quite get around to reading. Evidently, I’m unwittingly engaging in tsundoku – a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature. I thought I was a book collector!

So, I thought back to when I first engaged in this habit and it’s hard to narrow down. I’ve always loved the library. The smell of books, the quiet, the search, and finding the right book.

Then, the bookstore became my passion. I loved big ones with the in-store coffee shops. Then I discovered the small independents with personalized service. Next up, collecting rare and signed editions.

One year, a Holiday Party changed my life. My friend had a Presidential Library set up in his home. Books galore written by and about all things related to the highest office in our land. It was the inspiration I needed to start filling my bookshelves political.

But, I also have bookshelves in our home library loaded with Spiritual, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Self-help. Of course the kitchen shelves have amazing Cookbooks. Some books I even have both the hardback and soft cover edition.

With the exception of the Children’s books, which I read nightly to my boys in the 1990’s, I could probably count on my hands which books I actually read front to back.

A. Edward Newton, who infamously owned over 10,000 books once said: “Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity … we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access reassurance.”

Even today, with a compromised neurological ability to concentrate and focus, I still have this habit of buying books. Decorators mention that they bring warmth to the home. I’m not sure why I engage. I’m not at the point where it has taken over my home or health, all I can say is that’s my guilty pleasure.

What ur guilty pleasure?

Learning to Prioritize my Priorities

My Aunt would often tell me, “You can’t be on every train leaving the station!”

But, if I had to get on the next one, I would throw on and go with this Red and White Stripe Blazer from Badgley Mischka. I paired it with 24/7 Stretch White Boot Cut Jeans by Isaac Mizrahi and a classic White T-shirt from Talbots. I added a Navy and White Tote with a perfect Red Stripe from Tory Burch and I’m off!

My Aunt was looking out for me. I didn’t heed her advice in those days. In my 30s and 40s, I did my best to be all things to all people. Good wifey, mommy, career woman, friend, volunteer, hostess, caregiver, etc etc etc. I was last, meaning my needs were never attended to. I ignored my physician’s recommendation to slow down. It all fell apart when I turned 50. God grabbed my attention. My body said enough!

I still hear Auntie’s advice over and over now that I’m in my 50s. By the way, have you noticed that once the kids are grown and you may have pulled back from your career, everyone assumes you have more time to give. All of a sudden, they’re subconsciously planning your time. Well, when I realized I was falling back in the same old habits, I caught myself and I learned to say, ‘I’ll catch a different train’.

I have a clear understanding of my priorities, leading with self-love. I literally sat down and made a list of what I needed. Had I not assessed what I needed, I would still find myself getting on and off all those trains.

So, when the week starts, before anything gets on my calendar, I make sure I’ve scheduled time for me. All else works around my priorities. This past week really tested my philosophy. It was the week from back to back to back unexpected challenges. For the most part (I missed one appointment), I maintained my wellness commitments through the madness.

Stay focused on you and have an awesome weekend!

Life Keeps Getting Better

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“I’ve learned to have absolutely no regrets over any jokes I’ve ever done.” Joan Rivers

Joan was one of the good ones. She laughed at life and looked good while doing so.

Getting older has so many wonderful benefits. One is being free to wear whatever you feel like and this outfit makes me feel great! This Navy and White Tanya Taylor Ikat Aida Top is unique with gorgeous balloon sleeves, it has slimming angles with a peplum hem, and it shows a little shoulder. It’s super chic, cute and flattering with jeans and I chose an amazing pair of silky dark denim boot-cuts by Designer Laurie Felt that I grabbed off QVC.  I extended my casual look with a dapper Navy and White Tote from Tory Burch because it has the perfect pop of red.

So, let me list why life gets better after 50! Well, really after age 58 . . .

  1. I know who my real friends are.
  2. I truly don’t care if you don’t like what I’m wearing, thinking, or doing.
  3. I’ve learned that my legacy is important to me.
  4. It’s no longer important to be ahead of the driver in front of me, and other road rage causes that used to piss me off
  5. I know that judging people is really not worth my time.
  6. I realize almost anything can be negotiated except my faith, dignity and self-worth.
  7. I know that ‘No’ is ok to say.
  8. I know that ‘Yes’ is ok to say.
  9. I know when a no reaction is ok too.
  10. I follow most rules, but I know some are made to be broken.

I’m no longer in mid-life crisis. I survived and life’s bright on the other side.

The rest of this article is dedicated to the Timeless Female Warriors who prove that age is only a number and who embrace getting older with zest. Here’s a few of my favorite old-school superstars who are still kicking it! (in alphabetical order):

Julie Andrews

Carol Burnett

Diahann Carroll

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Rita Moreno

Yoko Ono

Ernestine Shepherd

Suzanne Somers

Tina Turner

Cicely Tyson

Betty White

Nancy Wilson

Who would you add to this list?

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My Weekends Are So Different Now

B6ACBBFE-8D92-41D8-B232-BD4103AAE751Walking out of this week feeling grateful! . . . and, I’m weekend ready in a Tropical Print  JUNAROSE Cold Shoulder Top paired with Dark Denim Lysee Pnts, Dark Peach Patent Leather Pumps by Coach, and a Rebecca Mindoff Peach Leather Tote.

One Fall Saturday about 15 years ago, after an exhausting week at work, I woke early to prepare sliced navel oranges and frozen seedless grapes for half-time team snacks. Then, with several MapQuest directions in hand and two uniform changes in the trunk of our White Dodge Minivan, I waited for my 10-year old son to jump in carrying his football pads, helmet and cleats. I had a 30 mile drive and hoped to arrive an hour early for the 100-pounders Little League Football game at 11am. Two hours later, we won! Immediately following the coach’s post game wrap up with the kids, we hauled tail to the van. There was just enough time for my son to get out of all of his football gear to change into his uniform for an AAU Baseball game about 20 miles away. Two hours later, again, we won! Then, jumping back into the van, and changing uniforms for a Fall Ball Little League Baseball game located another 20 miles away. When we arrived, the game was already underway, and it was just in time for my son to be put in to the lineup as a pinch runner at second base.

That was just one example of my weekends back then. I was not a full-blown helicopter mom, nor did I encourage him to commit to 3 teams during one season. He absolutely loved sports and we allowed as long as he kept his promise to maintain his grades. I was there to support his activities. Looking back, I loved the games, the comradery and his enjoyment.

Life was always scheduled. The work week. The weekend. The holidays. The vacations. The schedule gave me purpose. I felt needed. People depended on me. But, truth be told, I was stressed by the juggle. I was fearful that I would disappoint someone. The reality is that, I usually came through with flying colors and to this day I’m still calculating the cost I paid.

Then suddenly about 8 years later, without planning, I didn’t have a schedule. Almost simultaneously, my corporate career and my Mom duties came to a screeching halt. But, everyone else’s schedules continued. I just was not part of their plans. It felt like the death of a loved one.

The authority of all things slang, Urban Dictionary, describes ‘Bad Ass’ as “a general term used to describe behavior that is fearless, authentic, compassionate and ethical.”

It takes a real ‘Bad Ass’ to confidently restructure their life at a time when it feels like you’re being put on a shelf. I know my story isn’t that unusual, everyone experiences change. I just admire those Bad Asses who’ve had to accept, pick up and redirect.  And, they’re kicking butt while doing it! You go girl.

I’m a work in progress.

Oh yeah, we won that third game too!

Do You Identify as a BadAss?

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Do You Love Where You Live?

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I Love Philly! . . .And, this is my favorite view in the city. . .  On South Broad Street looking North to City Hall.

Any style is welcomed in ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ (and Sisterly Affection) and on this day, I chose to wear a distinctive red, white and navy pairing of gingham and stripes in honor of our rich patriotic history. Designers Badgley Mischka knocked it out of the park with this fit and flare design and three-quarter sleeves with ruffled cuffs.

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The Philadelphia area attracted a record 42 million visitors in 2017 and City Hall is a popular tourist attraction where you can admire its ornately decorated art and interior, learn about its building history, and see breathtaking views on the observation deck located underneath the statue of William Penn. This architectural treasure is the largest municipal building in the United States. It even sports an ice skating rink during the winter. Philly is a passionate town with loads of personality. I’ve learned to appreciate my hometown as I’ve gotten older.

When I married in the late 1980’s, my husband and I settled in the Atlanta, Georgia area. There were many factors that drove me back to Philly 8 years later with 2 young sons in tow, so this is their hometown too. Now that we’re older, we often ponder where to spend this next phase of our lives.

According to American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the vast majority of new retirees plan to stay in their own homes, but when life circumstances change, relocation tends to improve your psychological well-being. There are many factors to consider: family, health, home maintenance, finances, and so on.

Personally, I have thoughts of relocating to sunnier skies on some days and others I think I could never leave the area that I love so much. God has blessed us with our 83-year old Mother who still lives here and is independent and relatively healthy.  I would never want to leave her here without her joining us. But, who says she would want to go? Somehow, I thought in getting older, these life decisions would be easier. Not sure what I was thinking!

So, what are your thoughts on relocation? Did you (or will you) decide to stay put or did you explore new living opportunities?

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http://www.VisitPhilly.com                                                                         http://www.AARP.org  https://www.aarp.org/retirement/planning-for-retirement/info-2016/relocation-right-decision-for-retirement.html#

Photo Credit: Tony Trott Photography

Philadelphia City Hall: Photofy Stock Photos

Laughter Gives Me Life

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It’s been a year and I’m still laughing . . . but let me first tell you about my love of this season’s stripe dresses. The girls were feeling the breeze in this fabulous multi-stripe crepe mermaid style number with a tiered ruffle bottom by Tome NYC. I paired it with a Zac Posen yellow bag (actually backpack) with an adorable laser cut multi-color floral hanging keychain. I felt the classy bag with a twist helped balanced out the sass from the dress. What do you think?

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.” Maya Angelou

Last year, I attended a fundraiser for a wonderful non-profit. It wasn’t the biggest or the most glamourous event, but it was one of my most memorable.  Elaine, a dear friend of over 45 years joined me that evening. She’s a no nonsense accomplished boss woman, wonderful wife, fantastic mother and supportive friend. I felt she needed a distraction from life, even if it was just a couple of hours, so I asked her to accompany me.

Elaine didn’t know anyone seated at the table with us, but the light conversation was centered around fun and laughter. One joke generated stomach grabbing, head jerking laughter. Then it happened. My friend’s nicely coiffed wig fell off! The laughter was suddenly interrupted with a pregnant pause, followed by eyes dancing around the table. Being the quick wit that she is, Elaine grab her wig midair, cut the tension and fell out laughing. On cue, we all hollered and cried in laughter.

When was the last time you laughed at yourself? Or, did you choose to whimper away with embarrassment? Are you avoiding settings preferring to stay secluded?

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Dr. Charles Staley of In Touch Ministries, blessed his congregation with his instructions for ‘how to be useful all the days of your life’ (Aired 7/15/2018). In other words, how to keep living after age 55. One is to ‘Keep Laughing’ because he said, “when there’s laughter, love, joy, your body responds accordingly.” He advised, “Get something going to make you laugh.”

This message really touched me because I thought ‘who doesn’t love a good laugh’. But, there are days that I find nothing to laugh at because I may allow current events, personal problems, or whatever to get the best of my emotions and my depression rears its ugly head and yanks me back to parts unknown. My body physically aches during this process. I’m on automatic to recognize, retreat, resign, repress, and return. There’s no timetable for this cycle.

The Center for Disease Control* said that depression is different for older adults. Older adults are at an increased risk for depression often because of chronic illnesses.  Therefore, it’s often mistakenly assumed that depression is a natural course for older adults and many will not seek medical treatment.  But it’s important to know that most older adults are not depressed and there’s help for those that are symptomatic. That’s the good news.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please seek help immediately by:

  • Call 911;
  • Visit a nearby medical emergency department or health care provider; or
  • Talk to a counselor at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

I am very passionate about removing the stigma surrounding mental illness. My hope is that someone is helped with this message.

*CDC Source: Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older / Healthy Aging / CDC https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm @CDCgov

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