Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Sun and Giving Back

I just came back from an amazing 4 days in South Beach Miami and Key West Florida with my sister celebrating her 40th Birthday. Note to self: Always have a birthday destination celebration. Especially somewhere sunny and tropical!

Since my sister is a December baby, so is my mother (on 12/12) and my precious little boy (12/13) who will be turning 4 yrs old this year. So you can imagine I am feeling a little wee bit mucho feeling the pressure since that is how I am wired. Who isn't? Not only do I have the pressure to make sure my son has a beautiful experience with Christmas (this year he is really into Santa Claus) as well as his birthday. It is not his fault he was born in December!

What better way to decompress prior to the madness with a getaway mi ermana ( Miami is very Spanish, in fact, you better practice speaking Spanish as you feel you are literally in South America or the Caribbean). We have not been to Miami since before we got married and had children. Yikes!

I am very lucky my husband was able to take time off while mommy "had to go and meet Santa Claus in person and ensure he knows what a good little boy her son is and reconfirm his gift list".
Hey, a parent has got to do whatever it takes to make their children happy right? Smile.

My sister is a great travel partner as we have travelled halfway around the globe together since we were in our teens and twenties. We spent 2 1/2 months in Europe back in the day when Europe was affordable. There was no such thing as the 'euro' back then. We saw the Berlin Wall. You get the idea now.

We had a nice and stress free holiday and now I know why people go somewhere warm in the winter months. Snowbirds and "nortoamericanos" is what they call us who come visit. Imagine wearing flip flops and tank tops in the month of December when the high was 87 degrees and the low was....gasp! 70s. I could get used to coming down here more often! A funny sight for us was watching the female Miamians ( I hope that is the correct way I address the natives down there) wear winter boots of any kind with their outfits.

Alas, all good things have to come to an end and on my way back home I had a layover in Atlanta. Since I had some time to hang around my gate again I am one of those astute observers where I was reading the billboards. This one really caught my eye from Oxfam. We keep fussing on searching for the perfect gift for our loved ones that we really need to step back and see what giving back to a total stranger can have such an impact on their lives. For example, a gift of $25 and under can provide a child clean water, a mosquito net or even a meal at their school. Please check this site and refer all your family and friends that instead of accepting a gift to donate to Oxfam. This organization has been around for years and is reputable.

I sure will.

Until then...keep smiling!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte & Frugalista Chic

Ahh... the holidays are upon us... Images of sugar plums dancing in our heads while dreaming if Santa Claus will be providing us with treats (or a big fat lump of coal) under our Christmas trees. Who am I kidding?! That is what I want.. those images on the books I read to my son at bedtime. Meanwhile in the back of my do lists.. keep spinning around faster than a holiday toy.
It is December already and I have to make sure the house is decorated, send the holiday cards, get those darn white lights installed outside, gear up for my son's birthday party (alas, he was born in December.. a true Sagittarius) STOP! When did life get so rushed and stressful? Oh, that's right, I am a grown up now. Want to know how I literally take a break and say to myself "You deserve it babe" Is it a manicure-pedicure? A trip to the salon? Nope, dear folks.
A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and Cranberry Bliss Bar. Decadent. The minute my eyes saw those red holiday cups I knew the holidays have finally arrived. While I enjoy every last drop and slowly eat each bite to savor those few precious moments I am one of those people that actually read the sayings on my latte holiday cup. This one is so true:

"We invite you to listen to your desires and to renew your HOPE. To see the world not as it is, but as it could be. Go ahead, Wish. It's what makes the holidays The HOLIDAYS."

Time to make that walk again on the walkway to burn off those calories (smile). Maybe the next time I feel the need to hit the pause button I will try the Gingerbread and Peppermint Mocha Latte. All nonfat of course.

Frugalista and Recessionista.
When did being frugal sound so cool? When I hear the word 'frugal' I recall old ladies stealing sugar packets from restaurants having their early bird specials.
Now they are buzz words for the fashion world. Back in my day when I was a university student it was called shopping vintage at local thrift stores. Imagine my mothers' horror after my sister and I came home shopping from this cool store in Chicago called "The Alley" (were you literally would have to enter through a back alley) coming in with my old, er, vintage Doc Martens combat boots and army coat. "People have died in those clothes!! and you are bringing them in my house?" she would screech.

For those of us who have always wanted to look like the cover from a fashion magazine (moi) but cannot afford the fabulous clothes (again, moi), check out Nina Garcia for Target (pronounced 'tarjeht' in a fake french accent). Watching the cute little clips there are such darling ways to wear the classics or the new trend without breaking the budget. Nina also shows you how important it is to have accessories..that bright handbag or scarf can really do wonders for your wardrobe. Sign up and you will receive email updates on the latest and greatest. C'est magnifique!!

~ Skin Byte ~
This is not to be confused with an insect bite (smile).
No matter where you live, a change in the seasons means your skin is changing as well. What used to be a hot and humid (or dry) summer and possibly autumn means a drier winter. Being indoors with forced heat and then cold dry air can wreck havoc on your skin. A 'frugalista' tip: Essential oils. People now call them 'serums'. Translation? Organic essential oils found at your local health food stores or Whole Foods.
All you need to do is after washing your face in the morning or getting ready for bedtime, just dab a few sprinkles on a handtowel and microwave for 2 minutes. Press firmly on your skin and relax for at least 20 minutes while the heat fades away from the towel. You will see amazing results since, like your figure, your skin needs to be fabulous during the holidays.

Until then...keep smiling!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Walking and Green Cars

I am one of those people that used to workout for several hours and was serious about it. Now, not so much. If I can squeeze in 30-40 minutes a day, I am a happy camper. Nowadays, we are overloaded with too much information from everywhere: cell phones, emails, texting, internet, television... the list goes on. We try to stay connected with family, friends, colleagues and then all we hear when we ask each other "How are you doing?" you either get an answer 'tired', 'busy' or 'exhausted'
We need to 'disconnect' (alas, yes) just for that 30-40 minutes in our day and make it destressful. What better and cheaper way than just "going for a walk". Yep, you heard right. A walk. When I used to live in Manhattan for 6 years all I did was walk. Everywhere. And I lived in a 5th floor walkup apartment on the Upper East Side so that was my stairmaster. Who needed a gym? Well, I no longer live in the city, so I have to make every effort to take care of myself (not just for vanity's sake but for health reasons as I am no longer that 20 something young thang). So, you cannot imagine how excited and relieved I was when the Walkway Over the Hudson opened last month on 10.03.09 The walkway used to be a railroad track which burned in the 70s but was finally rebuilt and is now a 2.2 mile walkway linking Ulster and Dutchess County with majestic views of the Hudson River.

No matter how crabby you feel a good walk will lift your spirits, get your blood flowing and clear your head. It does for me. If I have a crummy day where everything seems to go awry, at least I know I accomplished something and check it off on my endless to do list.
Did you know the Hudson River Flows Both Ways? (yes, I do read those placards they hang on the walkway (smile)
"Though the river dates back some 60 million years, the river we see today was shaped during the last Ice Age. About 16,000 years ago, a massive ice field gouged the river bed to a depth below sea level, thus allowing water from the Atlantic Ocean to enter the Hudson. For 150 miles, from Manhattan to Troy, the Hudson rises and falls to the flow of ocean tides. The river reverses its direction of flow through tidal changes."
While I am on the topic of walking, most of us rely on our cars to go places. I am going to make a confession here. I purchased my first car when I moved upstate in the Hudson Valley. Hint: I was NOT in my 20s, so I am not going to tell you my real age..hehe. What turned me off (and still does) is that having a car is a necessary evil but it can be such a waste of money in terms with gas. Thumbs down. Fortunately, there are strides in new green cars that are affordable.

Take the Gwiz green car. It is one of the latest green cars, designed in California and built by Indo-US Reva Electric Car Company. It travels 48 miles per charge, a certified top speed of 50 mph. The car goes for about $25,171.61 US dollars. (that is almost the amount I paid when I bought my Honda Element back in 2005).

Europe has always been ahead of the curve with smaller more efficient cars and yes, I know they have no choice being parking and spaces are tight. But think about it, are you smiling when you whip out that credit card charging $50-$100 filling up your tank next time you hit your local gas station? I currently pay $30 at the moment and am seriously considering the investment.
People are zipping all around in London in these. Get this.. charging posts are popping up all over London where you can charge your car. I think that is so cool. Hey, while we charge our cars..wouldn't it be more fabulous if we can charge our laptops and be the ultimate green consumer?
A bit about the car.
A bit on the reva and where to buy

A bit on charging post in london

~Fashion Byte~

On a festive note, I am sure we are all gearing up for the oncoming holiday season but if you are like me, you are not a fan of spending/breaking your budget. I was at my local Rite Aid drugstore over the weekend and the December issue of Elle magazine caught my eye for Sarah Jessica Parker was on the cover ( I adore her!) As I was flipping through, I noticed the insert brochure of Swarvoski crystal ( hang on..they are affordable... I promise) Nothing is more elegant than a piece of Swarvoski jewelry and what I found so cute are these adorable charms and charm bracelets/necklaces that you can customize. I am not kidding these can fit your budget and make unique holiday gifts.

Need some arm pulling? I noticed a 15% discount off all products shown on the brochure using code BF30XC3G either online or the Swarovski Crystallized store......hubby are you reading this?

Until then..keep smiling!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Hello everyone and welcome to my blog.
Well, I (gulp) actually created a blog after so much time thinking about taking the plunge. There are so many bloggers out there, my fears that held me back were "What do I offer?"
Well, I am one of those people that loves so many things such as fashion, how to make yummy yet healthy recipes for the week, trying to stay fit (so friggin hard) as well as being a mom to an active 3 1/2 yr old boy.
I have always been a person that enjoys her privacy in that my writings have always been pen and paper type journals. I will continue to do this for as long as I can, but on the flip side, I have always been the gal who has been touted as a 'wealth of information' on various topics of interest that really surprises people.

Rest assured, I am not into morbid depressing tidbits/info bytes as I feel we have enough of that information out there as it is. My mission is to empower you and make you learn something new when you read my tidbits. Maybe make you laugh a little (smile).

I love learning (and not in the boring text book methods..lord knows I have had enough of school) and whether we realize it or not we can learn something new just by having a simple conversation with a friend or someone you meet at your local hangout of choice.

So.. here goes!
If anyone is visiting New York City between November 17, 2009 - February 27, 2010
The Onassis Cultural Center will present an extraordinary group of 15th and 16th century paintings, including early works by El Greco. Curated for the Onassis Cultural Center by Dr. Anastasia Drandaki, Curator of the Byzantine Collection at the Benaki Museum, Athens, The Origins of El Greco will include approximately 46 exceptional works from public and private collections in Greece, Europe, the United States and Canada, many of which will be traveling for the first time.
Admission: Free!
Visit the site

Did you know?
That on this day November 17, 1973, the Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 was a massive demonstration of popular rejection of the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. The uprising began on November 14, 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17 after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic.

That was the past, which should never be forgotten.
Let's focus on the present to make a better future. Take a look at this breathtaking website on one of the cities I love most in Europe. I could be biased because I am Greek. :)
~Fashion Byte~
I am certain we all know what a Burberry trench coat is and we all would love to covet one. Congrats to those who own one, I succumbed to a knock off scarf in NYC Chinatown (shh..don't tell) and you can imagine my glee when I found one in the donations pile when working at CBS TV doing community service back in the 90s. I was heartbroken when the trench was a MEN's size and it was HUGE, so I kept it for a long time trying to use my poor sewing skills to alter it to my size.
You can imagine that my heart skipped a bit when I saw this picture of this Cool Chic (I looked like that once..yeah right) on how she repurposed the lining of the trench. Imagine that! Who would have thought of wearing the Burberry liner as a long vest! (and not end up looking like a spy). If you like, you can actually post a photo of yourself (or someone else who looks fierce wearing it) at
Until then....keep smiling!