Monthly Archives: February 2016

Aging Gratefully

Lately I’ve been hearing more and more people—and you know who you are—complain, however humorously, about being “old”. This may seem benign, but it encourages a mindset that dwells on the negative and that’s never healthy.

So I’m dedicating this post to my delightful, vibrant and beautiful cousin Helen (shown above), who is 93 years young. Helen has had her share of challenges in life, but she faces every day with energy, enthusiasm and passion. She still lives in Manhattan, where she traipses about the city to museums, lectures and the symphony; she also works and travels the world for the UN, raising awareness of the needs and contributions of the elderly. Check out this inspiring video.

I’m not in denial about the passage of time, but here’s the thing: We may be grayer, wider, gassier and slower, but don’t think for a minute that our best years are behind us! Kiss that rosy glow of nostalgia goodbye and do a happy dance that these (and more) are in the past:

  • Gym class
  • Tie-dye anything
  • Canned spaghetti
  • “Second base” in the back of a Chevy
  • Ironing our hair
  • Avocado and harvest gold appliances
  • Hot pants
  • Ripple, Boone’s Farm, Cold Duck, Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose
  • Learning to parallel-park
  • Songs like “Feelings”, “I Honestly Love You” and “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”
  • First job jitters
  • Paisley shirts, especially on men
  • The Thighmaster

And let’s look ahead to what the future holds:

  • Legalized pot across the U.S. —who’d a thunk it??
  • Retirement, a.k.a. time to read War and Peace, learn new languages or binge-watch every episode of The Real Housewives
  • Space travel (Can I book a one-way ticket for my ex?)
  • The Rolling Stones’ 75th Anniversary tour
  • Seaweed that tastes like bacon
  • Your daughter acknowledging how hard motherhood is
  • Finally being considered “wise”

Of course we’ve all got stuff to worry about, but it’s easier to cope if we keep reminding ourselves of everything good in our lives: friends, family (well, perhaps not all of them), pinot noir, music, and the roof over our heads—even if it needs to be painted and maybe leaks a little.

Life wasn’t perfect even in the “good old days”. Besides, if you think you’re old now, just wait another ten years.


My Dark Secret

Dear Readers,

While I’m pretty good at a lot of things – at-home facials, finding a sale, folding a fitted sheet – I absolutely suck at technology. Which is why it took me several weeks to realize I needed to install a widget to create a “Follow This Blog” button. Pathetic, I know!

So, to thank you for your patience and understanding I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes: a rich chocolate mousse you whip up in the blender. This is so creamy, delicious and fancy looking that everyone will think you spent hours on it, yet it takes under 10 minutes (plus time to set up in the fridge). Enjoy!!

Blender Chocolate Mousse


  • 6 oz. of chocolate morsels (use good quality chocolate; e.g., Ghirardelli Dark)
  • ¾ cup milk*, heated just below boiling
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • (Optional: a splash of black coffee or your fave liqueur)


  1. Put everything except the milk into a blender.
  2. Heat the milk and add it last.
  3. Blend for 2 minutes on low-medium speed. (Note: this melts the chocolate and “cooks” the eggs)
  4. Give it a quick blast on high and pour immediately into 4 large or 6 small ramekins.
  5. Chill for at least 2 hours or until firm.
  6. Garnish with whipped cream, fresh berries or just dive on in.

* I use fat-free milk but of course 2% or whole milk tastes even better.

Old Bags

No, not us of course!! But now that I have your attention, let’s talk about older handbags and how to maintain a long-term relationship with them.

As someone who works from home I don’t crave an extravagant wardrobe, but nice bags have always been my kryptonite. Since I fall in love constantly, I try to hold out for high quality with staying power and resist trendy one-season wonders; plus, I make it a rule to purge at least as much as I splurge.

Why do I love them? Let me count the ways:
1) Bags don’t care what size you are; they always fit
2) They’re a discreet way to schlep your life around with you
3) Good leather feels and smells yummy
4) I’m a sucker for pretty things
5) Some bags even increase in value. More on that later.

Let’s be honest: Everything we put on is a signifier and, like it or not, folks judge us by our appearance. Even demonstrating that you “don’t care” by not wearing makeup or choosing clothes that don’t fit represents a deliberate choice. People who aren’t vain about how they look are still vain about something, e.g., their intellect, achievements, or the belief that it’s better not to seem “superficial”.

In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with vanity unless it’s excessive; it’s a sign of self-respect. So, assuming you’re not taking out three mortgages to fund it, why not treat yourself to whatever gives you pleasure?

Choose wisely. Like great jeans, a black jacket and an LBD, begin with the basics: a cross-body to keep your hands free while doing errands or shopping, a roomy top handle style for business or travel, and a clutch for evening.

Don’t go too young or too old. Backpacks give off a middle school vibe unless you’re under 40 or actually hiking. Conversely, top handles skew matronly so to my eye they look more modern when worn as a counterpoint to casual clothing. However, if you work in an office, a structured bag is always professional. Think “Olivia Pope” with her classic outfits and Prada totes.

If you wear mostly neutrals, consider a bag that adds a jolt of color. You’ll get as much use out of a red bag (which goes with anything) as you will with a safe color like black, and it’s much more interesting.

Keep the relationship fresh. Nothing ruins a look faster than shoes with run-down heels or a bag that’s scuffed, faded, ripped or has lost its shape. If yours needs first aid, your local shoe repair store can usually fix zippers and broken stitches or re-dye a stained bag. For designer bags, ask the store where you purchased it if the manufacturer will repair it.

My favorite rescue strategy is to mail the bag to Leather Spa in New York. They’re not cheap but I’ve seen them work miracles and they’ll give you an estimate before they start.

Have a taste for the exotic? All leathers benefit from regular conditioning and storage (stuffed with tissue to maintain their shape) in their dust bags. If you’re lucky enough to own an ostrich, python or crocodile bag make sure it gets extra TLC.
– For natural or untreated skins, apply a light coat of waterproof spray to protect against dirt and water. Collonil makes a good one; be sure to test a small section first and spray lightly. Soaking the bag can ruin it.
– To avoid dryness, periodically wipe your bag with a slightly damp cloth and apply a conditioner made specifically for exotics. Python is more fragile than other skins.
– Avoid long-term exposure to direct heat or sunlight, as this may cause uneven fading. Exotics also scratch easily.

When to break up. Sometimes you have to move on. Ask yourself if:
– Your bag no longer makes you happy
– It’s in bad condition (cracked, faded, rubbed corners) and can’t be salvaged
– It’s just not your style
– You’ve upgraded to better quality or designers
– You have too much stuff

Time to say goodbye? Consider these options:
1) Give your treasures to a daughter, favorite relative or friend
2) Donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, etc.
3) Consign the really good stuff. I’ve had great luck with Ann’s Fabulous Finds and The RealReal and hear positive things about Yoogi’s Closet. All are reputable places to buy as well, if you are interested in a “pre-owned” bag. On the resale market, classic styles from brands such as Hermès and Chanel hold their value and can even sell for more than their original price.

Is it worth it? Finally, for anyone who thinks a high-end purse is a crazy purchase, a recent study says the Hermès Birkin (the collectors’ holy grail at $13K+) has been a better long-term investment than either gold or the stock market!

Luckily for my bottom line—and my ever-tolerant husband—that particular style doesn’t float my boat. I might flirt, but deep down I know it’s only lust. The Bolide, on the other hand, might be true love.

Follow Your Heart

Valentine’s Day may be over, but it’s important to show your heart some love all year long! Heart disease is deadlier than all forms of cancer combined; luckily, even small changes can make a huge difference to your health.

Rise and shine. Start the day by stretching and taking a few moments to breathe deeply and clear your mind. Studies show that yoga can lower cholesterol, while meditation helps lower blood pressure.

Get a move on. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping, which strengthens the heart and lungs and improves your body’s ability to use oxygen. Aim for a minimum of 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. For less wear and tear on older joints, try low-impact activities such as biking, walking, swimming, water aerobics, or working out on an elliptical or rowing machine.

Don’t smoke. It’s not just about lungs. Chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells and can damage the structure and function of blood vessels. Smokers are 2-4x more likely to develop heart disease and the risk is higher for women. Enough said!

Boost your “D”. You already know that vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, an essential component of strong bones. But did you know that low D may be risky for your heart? Checking vitamin D levels isn’t always a routine part of an annual physical, so ask your doctor if you should be tested. I discovered that mine was alarmingly low since I am super cautious about avoiding the sun, and my doctor recommended a daily supplement. Most people can get sufficient vitamin D from 15 min/day of unprotected sun exposure but don’t forget the sunblock after that.

Know your cholesterol numbers, especially the balance between HDL (“Healthy” high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (“Lousy” low-density lipoprotein). Exercise helps boost HDL, while adding more fiber to your diet can lower your LDL.

Veg out. The USDA recommends eating 5 servings a day of fruits and veggies and most of us don’t even come close. Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients including antioxidants, which prevent and repair damage caused by free radicals, molecules that attack healthy cells.

Don’t fear fat! Fats are essential for a healthy diet, as long as we eat the right kinds, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help maintain cell membranes and can lower triglycerides—reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, and slowing the buildup of artery-hardening plaque. Natural sources include walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and certain types of trout.

Practice gratitude. Constant stress is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. To help put things in perspective, focus on the blessings in your life instead of dwelling on what could be “better”. Making a list of everything you’re grateful for will remind you what really counts, as will helping others who are less fortunate.

Grin, giggle and guffaw. I read recently that a good belly laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your entire body. As you laugh your blood vessel walls relax and expand, which helps keep them pliable and flexible. So share a joke, watch a comedy, or enjoy the absurdity in potentially frustrating situations.

For more information about heart health and women, check out the GoRed website. And go spread the love!

Hi Pumpkin!

I made this yesterday and it was too good not to share!


You will need a small loaf pan, approximately 5″ x 9″ x 2-2 ½”


1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin*

½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 eggs

¼ cup milk

Powdered sugar for dusting (or make glaze, below)


1. Oil and flour the loaf pan or use baking spray (Tip: spray your pan in the dishwasher to avoid getting it all over your countertop!)

2. Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

3. Combine flour, baking soda, powder, spices and salt in a bowl and set aside.

4. In bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugars, vanilla, pumpkin, butter, eggs and milk. Mix until smooth.

5. Add flour mixture and mix until you have a smooth batter.

6. Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until done. (Test by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf. It should come out clean or with a few crumbs.)

7. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn over onto a plate to cool completely.

8. Dust with powdered sugar or glaze.


In a small bowl combine: 1 cup powdered sugar, ½ tsp vanilla, 4-5 tsp milk (just enough for a thin icing you can drizzle over the cake.)

*NOTE: By mistake, I used about 1½ cups of pumpkin. It was very moist and needed another 15 or so minutes to bake fully but was delicious. If you prefer a wetter consistency use the larger amount and just keep checking for doneness!

Clothes Encounters of the Male Kind

Left to their own devices, I suspect most men would barely notice what they put on their bodies.

This explains some of the odd items lingering in my husband’s closet: The polyester smoking jacket. The Hawaiian shirt in cheery shades of brown. The pilled sweater circa 1995.

As I’ve stealthily upgraded his wardrobe over the years, I’ve been fascinated by the differences in our fashion philosophies. If these “rules” remind you of anyone, there may be a closet makeover in your future, too!

  1. If it fits, it’s fine. A lot of guys have been wearing the same style of khakis since college. Hell, a few are still wearing the same pair – and are so proud they can fit into them that they’re completely oblivious to the giant rip in the rear end or the ground-in beer stains from frat week ’71.
  1. Avoid clothes shopping. He’d sooner get a prostate exam. And the only thing he hates more is un-shopping. If he buys a shirt that’s two sizes too big or too small he’ll leave it in the back of the drawer growing moss rather than go back to the store to return or exchange it.
  1. Buy cheap, especially if you’ve gained weight. If most of your man’s clothes are labeled Costco, you know what I’m talking about.
  1. The best clothes come from Dick’s Sporting Goods. You may think fan gear is silly; to him it’s sacred, as well as a fashion staple. Moreover, it’s a known fact that if you don’t wear team gear on game day, your team will lose. That simple.
  1. Underwear lasts forever. Whether it’s saggy, full of holes, or the elastic is all stretched out, if he can still put it on, it’s still “wearable”. Ditto, socks.
  1. Stockpile old shoes in case you have to repaint the bathroom someday. That Boy Scout “Be Prepared” thing is drilled into his subconscious. I don’t think they meant six pairs of worn-out loafers, though.
  1. Sweatpants are appropriate for all but the most formal occasions. And if he could wear them to the rehearsal dinner, don’t think he wouldn’t.

Happily, although many men hate shopping, they love receiving gifts. This gives you the perfect excuse to introduce him to natural fabrics, a tie that’s not a military stripe, and something other than a Black Sabbath t-shirt to wear on casual Fridays.

Order jeans and khakis online (stores like The Gap carry a variety of styles and sizes) so he can try them on at home instead of in the dreaded dressing room.

Since most men will avoid twirling in front of a mirror to check out their butts, it’s up to you to tell him what’s flattering and explain why pleats are not his friend. Likewise, why cotton will “breathe” and synthetics will make him sweat faster than getting a letter from the IRS.

Once you’ve stocked up, it’s time to purge. Toss the frayed underpants, moth-eaten slacks and anything with a 5” lapel. Keep the t-shirt from the kid’s alma mater, no matter how beat up it is. One pair of ratty old sneakers should be sufficient for future home improvements.

Soon enough, he will start to appreciate nicer clothing and trust you when you tell him if a particular garment doesn’t look good. And by then, he won’t even notice you threw out the sweater his ex-wife gave him.

Let the intervention begin!

Fine Lines

Our lives are filled with lines, both literal and metaphorical. I’ve been pondering them lately: the good, the bad, and the ones you can fix with Botox.

One of the great things about getting to be our age is that you have a much better handle on the lines you don’t cross. For example, you now know better than to sleep with your best friend’s spouse. (Unless it’s Sean Connery, in which case go for it.) We’ve also learned that swearing like a truck driver in front of a devoutly religious person is not likely to go over well.

What’s harder to manage is drawing the line with people who are belittling, critical, or drain your energy faster than a Jacuzzi when the hot water runs out. These include toxic co-workers, “frenemies”, needy obsessives, and relatives who like to remind you how pretty you “used to be”. Time is short; why waste it with people who make you unhappy?

Since these folks are more focused on themselves than on you, they probably won’t even notice – let alone be offended – if you change the subject, claim a migraine, or excuse yourself to go to the restroom. When you don’t rise to the bait they’ll move on to another victim.

Other lines I love include vertical stripes and long scarves (who doesn’t want to look taller and thinner?); swimming lanes that allow me to paddle along at my own, slow pace; and a nice, tall fence that blocks out the neighbor who likes to garden in the nude.

On the flip side, one of the worst lines, except for maybe the DMV, is the ladies’ room at any theater/movie/sports arena. Fun fact: it takes the average mammal 21 seconds to pee, regardless of size. So why do women take so much longer than men to get out of a stall? And why are we all there anyway? Do women automatically head for the “head” at intermission like lemmings heeding an ancient siren call? It’s one of the great mysteries of life, along with why you always attract the people you find least appealing and who first decided to eat sea urchins.

As for those lines on your face, I believe what you do is your own business. If they don’t bother you, great; if they do, you shouldn’t let anyone bully you into feeling it’s wrong to address them. That said, the overall “frozen” look is more aging than wrinkles, so a light touch is best.

A word about Botox: First of all, think twice before telling your husband, who, if he’s anything like mine, will panic about the fact that you’re injecting deadly botulism into your body. If you must, calmly explain that Botox doesn’t enter your bloodstream because it’s not injected into a blood vessel; tiny amounts are inserted under layers of skin to block signals from the nerves to the muscles. Then fix him a drink.

If the passing years have gifted you with a permanent scowl, Botox is an easy fix. Consider these benefits: 1) Why look angry when you’re not? and 2) When you are angry, no one can tell how much they piss you off. This is very zen, and buys you time to plan your attack.

I still haven’t found a remedy for the vertical lines above my upper lip since I’m afraid fillers will be painful and/or leave me with duck lips. But your derm or plastic surgeon can tell you if chemical peels, laser resurfacing or fillers will give you a good result. If you don’t want to go that route, all the major cosmetic lines offer products that temporarily soften the appearance of fine lines.

I’m a fan of L’Oréal® Revitalift® Miracle Blur, which is available with or without sunscreen. The sunscreen version is easier to apply and daily SPF is a major way to avoid making lines worse, but for camouflage I prefer the thicker non-SPF version. It’s kind of waxy so press it on sparingly or it can bead up.

What’s the best line of all? The horizon – as you watch the sun dip below it at the end of another day. That peaceful feeling more than makes up for the endless line of rush hour traffic.