Welcome! I'm a 48 (and 1/2) year old, wife, mother (8 1/2 year old son), daughter, sister, friend and volunteer. So, 48.5 really means I'm into my 49th year on this amazing planet, and on July 19, 2010, I'll be in my 50th year. The mid-century mark. L. The big 5-0. However you want to say it, to most of the English speaking world, it means "old". I want to get there with grace, passion, beauty, love and laughter. I want to get there the old-fashioned way: by taking care of myself, eating right, creating a balanced life, laughing and living life to it's fullest. I'll be documenting my journey and hope you will watch and learn along the way. I'll also provide some of my tips for looking young and feeling your best as we head to and beyond our mid-century mark. Here's to being "Beautifully 50".

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yoga Prose

It was hard today. I really, really wanted to snuggle up in bed all day with this Chicago-like Dallas weather. Ok, maybe not Chicago, but NYC for sure. It's cold, rainy and cold. We don't like this in our neck of the woods. But Suze's voice (Suze Curtis, my yoga mentor, friend and therapist) grew louder in my head, "just come in and lay down your mat...that's more than half the battle."  I needed to hear her today, I needed yoga today. For me yoga is much more than exercise, although its' done wonders for my body. Oh- it's SO far from perfect, but I can only imagine what it would look like at 48 if I hadn't practiced for the last 5 years.

Yoga is my stress relief. It's the only exercise (and I've done them all) where you completely lose all mind-chatter. The poses (asanas)  require so much strength and concentration that you truly cannot think about your to-do list, or your relationship, or your finances or anything other than making it through the pose. Sure, those looming thoughts sneak in every now and then, but then Suze commands "headstands" and they vanish.

Suze, and the other fabulous instructors at my studio, are my free therapists. Throughout the class they articulate a positive reminder of what life is all about. Loving yourself, accepting others, learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and standing up for what you believe, are just a smattering of topics. Even the ceilings at Suze's provide inspiration. She often says "there are no accidents in life", so where you choose to put your mat down means something. I used to be a front-row girl, but this week, I've moved to the back for a reason I'll tell you about in another post. My ceiling tile said "I am happy". My usual ceiling tile reads "be child-like" - and I've got that one down for sure. But happiness, I'm not so sure.

Generally, I am happy. But as most people, I have issues and problems that weigh on my mind. Decisions to make that can take me in one direction or another.  Concerns about my son, my parents, my sister and my friends. I have moments when I don't feel happy. I'm not working now (retired since I became pregnant), and would love to have a job that I loved. I have relationship issues that make me sad.
I envy the people that can say they are truly happy day after day.

Therapist Suze came to the rescue. Her final words of the day, that I found most profound, were "Are you pursuing happiness or creating it?" We're all in pursuit of happiness...but it's not something you simply reach out and catch. We have to take responsibility for creating our own happiness. Thank you Suze, I will.

Note: If you are in the Dallas area, check out www.dynamicpoweryoga.com for information on this life-changing yoga studio.  Your first class is free...just come in and put down your mat. 

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stop! And buy the flowers.

I've always loved flowers, and love giving and receiving them as gifts. I rarely, however, purchased flowers for my own enjoyment at home. Why not? I guess I was an arrange-aphobic...if I couldn't do it perfectly, I didn't want to try at all. Until I met my dear friend, Kellie (please check out her beautiful blog at www.cashonandcompany.blogspot.com, you won't be disappointed).  Kellie always has flowers at home, usually in every room, even if it's a simple rose bud in a short, silver vase.  Her home is absolutely stunning without flowers, but the beauty is even more breathtaking when filled with her own arrangements.  She fills her vases with confidence and ease, and often uses the most unlikely of containers to hold her lovely designs.

"I can do this!" enters my mind each time I walk into her orchid-filled foyer! So, one day a few years ago, I decided to try, and guess what? It's not as hard as it looks! Don't get me wrong, I don't have a big budget, and I certainly don't try anything that will make it to the pages of Martha Stewart Living. I keep it simple and inexpensive...but just the few flowers that I do purchase make my senses happy . My favorite go-to's are orchids, potted azaleas, roses, hydrangeas and tulips. I love brights and will usually pick out the fuschia or yellow blooms, with an occasional white or blue in the mix.

When arranging, I love finding different looks on floral websites. I just ran across this site the other day - www.l'olivier.com. A big-time florist in NYC with great arrangements that I know all of us can replicate at home (see below). The best thing about home arrangements - the price. Roses at the local grocery store are only $9.99 per dozen,  tulips may run a little higher, and hydrangeas $3-$4 per flower.  I only buy orchids when they are truly beautiful and on sale. Again, at the local grocer I'm only paying between $20 -$25 for a potted, 2 stemmed, beautiful orchid (down the street at the local florist, this could run you $60).  You can often find even better prices at Sam's Warehouse, Costco or Lowes.

So, why are flowers important? Research indicates that colorful flowers can have a powerful influence over moods. Flower bouquets can conjure up love, uplift a patient's mood and even help combat stress. Dr. Mao is a big believer in using beautiful flowers as stress -busters... thereby leading to a longer, happier life. A study had people performing a 5-minute typing assignment next to either a green foliage-only plant or a beautiful bouquet. Sure enough, the participants next to the peonies were more relaxed and therefore performed more accurately on their typing assignment. Wanting to improve your mood and relax? Surround yourself with nature's lovelies!

Miniature azaleas - they can brighten any spot. 
To ensure longevity, take out of container to water. Soak and let drain prior to returning to pot.

Bunches of Parrot Tulips in small container.
Just cut on an angle, add water and enjoy!

Parrot Tulips and Roses, a perfect match.
Photo credit www.l'olivier.com

Two Bunches of Tulips
This will be my next arrangement.
Use a tulip leaf to tie.
Photo Credit: www.l'olivier.com

My go-to look. Roses wrapped in banana leafs. 
Photo credit: www.l'olivier.com

So pretty and unique looking.  I'll try this one too.
Roses wrapped with philodendron leaves.
Photo credit - www.l'olivier.com

Blue-tipped Hydrangeas
ANYONE can do this!
I would wrap a banana leaf on inside of glass.
Adding lemons or limes would be an easy, fun addition too.

Sunflowers for summertime. 
Another easy bright solution!
A sure mood pick-me-up!

So, next time you are at your local grocer, indulge in flowers for yourself! Just have fun with the arranging...don't think Martha Stewart, think 'for my own pleasure'.
You and your mood are worth it, and Dr. Mao would be proud.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Donna Karan has always been near and dear to my heart. I remember hearing about her as the Anne Klein head designer in the late 70's (after Anne Klein's death) and Anne Klein was my first "designer" purchase. That alone shows my age. It was a red, wool blend blazer with black and silver buttons. I loved that jacket and everyone knew it - I wore it constantly.  I honestly just let go of it several years ago when forced to by my personal shopper (I used her a couple of seasons and she was worth every penny...more to follow in another post). The red blazer didn't make the archive, tailor, or consignment pile. Nope, straight to Goodwill.

Donna (I know we would be friends) left Anne Klein in 1985 after she married the love of her life, Stephan Weiss. Stephan was an artist, but joined Donna in sharing the responsibilities of the company.  Donna's focus has always been real women. Do you remember her claim to fame? The bodysuit! Giving a smoother silhouette to a real women's body, just snap and go. Also, her essentials line - the 7 pieces that every working women needed to mix and match and create several oufits. DKNY was born in the late 80's and this bridge line for real women rocketed her to designer stardom.

I read somewhere that Donna actually has to try on every design in her line, if it doesn't look good on her, it doesn't make it to production. I love that she's not designing with the 18-year-old body in mind, but for real women, with curves, flaws and all. Her Spring 2010 RTW Collection is beautiful and wearable. Simple, clean, feminine lines that accentuate the positive. Soft blush, grays, blues and a pop of red ruled the runway.

Sometimes we just need to appreciate the beauty in fashion. Here are my favorites from her new collection. I can see any fit and fashionable 40-50-year-old looking fantastic in every one of these...Do you have a favorite?

Two feminine, beautiful Spring dresses.

So chic and age appropriate.

My personal favorite.
Love the color & cut, it's sexy, but classy.

High power lunch anyone?

This fabric is amazing.

Now this is a pop of color, and when
I wish I was tall, thin and toned enough to wear it.

Happy Fashion Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apple Juice, Honey and Salmon, oh my!

Yum! As we know, our recommended serving of fatty fish is twice weekly (at least). I'm lucky because I love all fish, but my family is pickier. My son loves fish sticks, swordfish, and salmon, and in that order, so I'm constantly scrambling for new fish entrees that he actually might take more than a bite or two.

 I have to share this recipe that I just tried last night...it was easy, delicious and a crowd pleaser (ok, so I have a small crowd, but the two of them are definitely hard to please).  Again, it was from one of my favorite sites, www.elise.com...I've never been disappointed with any dish a la Elise. I always read the comments section and inevitably they are profuse with adulations for her recipes. This "Glazed Salmon" recipe was no different. I've got it bookmarked already and will be serving it again and again. Enjoy, and know you're reaping the benefits of salmon's Omega 3's!

Glazed Salmon 

 1/2 cup apple juice (I use Organic)
1 1/4 TBS Honey (Again, I use organic, next time I'll try Agave Nectar)
4 skinless wild salmon fillets (approx. 6 oz. each)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Lemon - cut in half

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place salmon in baking dish.

2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat,  bring the cider and honey to a boil, allowing the mixture to bubble steadily until decreased by 1/2 volume.

3. Pour cider mixture over salmon and let sit for 10 minutes.

4. Heat olive oil in large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt & pepper to taste. Place fish in skillet, brush with leftover glaze and cook for 2 minutes or until the glaze begins to carmelize.

5. Turn salmon, brush with glaze, squeeze and add lemons (cut side down) and cook for 2 more minutes.

6. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 6-8 minutes or until salmon easily flakes with a tip of a knife.

Just a reminder, be careful when pulling the hot skillet from oven, the handle will be hot!

Serve with sauteed spinach or a spinach salad and you have a quick, delicious, company worthy meal! If desired, add quinoa or whole wheat rolls for your grains.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Did I say embrace?

Ha! I just had a good laugh at myself. I remember beginning this blog and being proud that I was finally going to  embrace my coming age - after all, what was my alternative?  For the past several years, I shied away from the age question, always making some type of joke to get around it. One day I proclaimed, "I'm 38!", that was my new age..and I was sticking to it. I even begged my 8 year-old to stop announcing my real age at every stop. Seriously, he did. To the Nordie's lady he would proudly announce "my mom is 48!" To the dry cleaner guy, "Guess how old my mom is? " I finally had to bribe him with some horrible sweet stuff to stop spreading my secret. It didn't last long.

One thing I think the entire world has in common - we always "think" we look younger than we are. I just had my refrigerator repair man ask me to guess his age (I hate that question!) and that NO ONE ever gets his number correct within 10 years.  Now,  I'm usually pretty good at this, so I guessed 5 years younger than I actually believed, to make him feel good.  " 60?"  Wow, he was not happy with that..see he is 55 and thought I would guess 45. Oops...I sure didn't make his day. But that's the point, we all want to be perceived as younger than we are...and my hunch is that only a very lucky few do.

So,  at my dance studio the other day (yes, I've started ballroom dancing, having the best time!), some friends and I were commenting on the ages of our instructors. My young, cute, hips-don't-lie, instructor is all of 24! I could easily be his mom, and I'm fairly certain he has no idea that I'm exactly his years times two. Or does he? Yes, I'm just like the rest of the world and think I look younger than I am, but to a 24 year old,  I'm sure I look all of 48 and then some.  You know what? He'll never really know...I swore my dance friends to secrecy. And, didn't I begin this blog to embrace the coming of the big 5-0? Hmm, yes...but apparently not to young, cute, hips-don't-lie dance instructors.

Hey, even Barbie turned 50 last year...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let the tears begin!

When's the last time you had a good cry? For me it's been a while - see, with an 8 year-old, I really try to hold it in, even when I feel as though the flood waters are about to burst.  Actually though, research has shown that having a good cry every now and then is a good thing. Tears appear to reduce tension, remove toxins, and increase the body's ability to heal itself. After an outburst of tears the body is flooded with oxygen, which triggers the release of feel-good hormones in the brain. So, don't hold it in..I'm thinking it might even be beneficial for my 8 year-old to see my tears..after all, grown men should cry.

Need some help? Here's my personal list of weepy movies (in no particular order)...a sure cry every time, especially for this highly emotional, sensitive, Cancer woman!

Beaches ~ A must for anyone with a forever friend. 

Braveheart ~ Mel Gibson at his best!
Gone with the Wind ~ My all-time favorite...

Love Story ~ My first romance movie ever.
Brian's Song ~ Friendship breaks the color barrier.

Ghost ~ Makes you think about losing someone you love.

I am Sam ~ Story of a mentally challenged dad; Sean Penn perfection.
The Notebook ~ I cried reading the book and sobbed at the movie.

Terms of Endearment ~ Classic mother/daughter tale.
You'll get mad, laugh and cry at the same time. 

Schindler's List ~ Spielberg's epic drama about WWII Holocaust victims
Life is Beautiful ~ Roberto Benigni directs and acts. A Jewish/Italian
 father and his family during their concentration camp internment. 

Grab the kleenex box, pop some corn and let the tears begin!
I'm always up for a tear jerker, what are your favorites??

Monday, January 25, 2010

Face Time

Last time I treated myself to a facial (actually, I think I received a gift certificate), I recall filling out the "new client" form..Check the box(es) below if you are concerned about any of the following:

Fine lines and wrinkles - check.
Sun and age spots - check.
Loss of elasticity - check.
Uneven skin tone - check.
Dryness - check.
Oilyness- check.
Texture issues - check.
Skin brightness - check.

I actually checked EVERY box...and then my 22 year-old aesthetician started examining my skin under her powerful microscope. "Aren't you concerned about blackheads?" Seriously, that was the first thing she said to me! Of course I responded, "Well, yes, but that wasn't on your list"!

Honestly, I do have all of the issues listed above, years of tanning, both indoor and out,  have definitely caused the majority of my skin problems. We all remember the drill - baby oil mixed with iodine and album covers covered with tin foil. Seriously - what were we thinking?! Now, I did win a few tanning contests, but that's no claim to fame now. Fortunately I got smart, and I've been using sunscreen for the last 8 or so years.

So, since I have almost every issue in the facial world, I'm going to share my current favorite products. I say current, because I'm a product hopper. Switching my regimen yearly seems to work best for my skin. Again, I firmly believe that all skin is different and you need to find what works for you, this is simply what works for me!

My daily regimen from morning to night:

Morning - Cleanse with  Olay Definity Illuminating Cream Cleanser. The Definity line addresses discoloration and pigmentation issues. Now, I don't think that cleansers can have a huge impact on skin, but I love the feel of this and it certainly does the job. Moisturize with Olay Definity Correcting Protection Lotion with an SPF 15. It's an anti-aging moisturizer, works great as a make-up base and I really feel like it gives a luminous look to the skin. My foundation is an SPF 20 (Lancome Renergie Lift) which is good enough for the winter months. In the summer, I add Neutrogena Ultra-sheer dry touch SPF 55- it's lightweight and non-irritating at a great price, plus an Allure Best Product 2009. My favorite eye cream ever is HYLEXIN by Bremenn Research Labs. HYLEXIN is formulated to help reduce the appearance of serious dark circles, and as I get older, mine are definitely worsening. I've always had dark circles and being in the beauty biz for 10+ years, I've tried everything out there to combat this issue. HYLEXIN really works, keeping my dark shadows at bay. 

Evening - No, it's not the same as the morning regimen. Nighttime equates with renewal, your body needs sleep to repair and rejuvenate. In other words, the biggest bang for the buck occurs while you are sleeping, so be sure to have an active nighttime skin regimen. Most importantly, no matter how tired you are, be sure to take the time to take off that make-up and slather on the good stuff. An old cosmetic wive's tale is that for every night you sleep in your make-up, you age seven days. I don't need to age even one more day.

My nighttime regimen is a little off the beaten path. Years ago, I discovered, through a friend who had to-die- for skin, a little line called Gerri Weise. Products are sold at dermatologists and plastic surgeons and on-line at http://www.gerriweise.com/.  I fell in love with the Orange Papaya Cleansing Gel and the Maximum Care Buffing Creme. Combine the two to deep clean and gently exfoliate without stripping natural oils. Start out every other day for the first few weeks and then move to daily. After this, I use a 20% glycolic lotion, and highly recommend that everyone over 40 makes a visit to their derm for this type of product. It aids in collagen production to increase firmness and fullness, keeps pores clean, helps skin tone by aiding in exfoliation of old, dark pigment, increases skin texture by removing rough, dead cells, and is a powerful anti-oxidant. I believe that my 20% glycolic lotion has changed my skin more than any other product I've used...

Gerry Weise Orange Papaya Cleansing Gel
Gerry Weise maximum care buffing creme

After the glycolic lotion, I use a skin lightening cream from Neocutis called "Blanche" (also an Allure Best Product 2009).  This is a Rx only cream with Hydroquinone USP, 4% as it's main ingredient. Since I do have a lot of sun spots and uneven skin tone, this helps to keep any further damage at bay, while helping to lighten my "freckles". So now comes the La Roche-Posay SUBSTIANE that I've already raved about in a previous post. A replenishing lotion for mature skin that helps to tighen, tone and firm. HYLEXIN for eyes at bedtime again, with Lancome's Absolue Eye Premium Bx on top. Yes, they usually say less is more, but I believe more is more when it comes to eye cream!

Wait! I'm not done yet! Each week, I give myself my own mini-facial. First, I cleanse my skin , then I take a very warm, moist washcloth and keep it on my face for 5 - 15 minutes, depending on how much time I have.  The warmth and moisture helps to loosen any dead skin and/or clogged pores. Since I have combination skin, I use Lancome's Hydra-Intense Masque on my cheeks and forehead, and Lancome's Pure Empreint Masque on my nose and chin. Leave them on for 10 minutes, and I feel like I've just left the Ritz Spa. Ok, I'm lying. Nothing compares to the Ritz Spa. But my cheeks and forehead feel ultra-moisturized, and my nose and chin feel clean and tight. Follow your nighttime routine and you are good to go....hopefully to the Ritz Spa. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hey Neighbor!

Do you know yours? I have to say, I've been living in the same neighborhood for almost 10 years now,  and I only know a handful of neighbors..and none of them on a social level. Sure, every once in a while we have neighborhood kids' events, but our busy lives and not too close homes make it difficult to even catch a glimpse of someone next-door. Fortunately, we have an elderly couple to our left with whom we share neighborly-like chores, like picking up each other's papers when traveling, and it feels great to help them.

Luck. I think that's what it comes down to...you move into your new home and luck defines your neighbors. My good friend built a house right behind one of her family's best friends. Another friend moved onto a street with 21 same-age boys on one block. I'm happy for them, but long for that type of 'hood.

One of Dr. Mao's tips is to be a good neighbor. Spiritual literature throughout history has promoted one constant theme: love your neighbor and treat others as you wish to be treated. Neighbors can play an important role in times of need. I have friends whose neighbors become like an extended family, sharing meals, fun, child rearing and more. Dr. Mao's research indicates the community that neighbors can create help avert loneliness and isolation, and promote a longer happier life.

So, I'm going to make more of an effort to get to know my neighbors. Do you have great neighbors? I bet you do..I know they do! Coffee, anyone?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Sapphires of our Food Chain

Sapphires...the most precious and desireable of all blue gems. Sought after for their color, hardness, durability and luster. I just want one...hmm...maybe for my 50th?! So, while waiting, I'll just keep on eating my blueberries...the sapphires of our food chain. Sought after for their anti-oxidant properties (highest of all berries) and neuroprotective properties than can delay the onset of aging and age related memory loss by sheilding brain cells from damage by chemicals, plaque or trauma, says Dr. Maoshing Ni in Secrets of Longevity.

Wild blueberries always make the list of the top 10 foods, usually landing in first or second place...and Cornell University found wild blueberries topped the list for anti-oxidant activity in ALL foods.Why wild? They contain a much higher level of anti-oxidants than the cultivated variety, not to mention that they also taste sweeter and hold up better if you cook them.  Another plus for wild blueberries - at only 80 calories per cup you can snack on them all day long! Aim for a cup a day to receive the benefits..

Notice I keep saying WILD ...the best place to find wild blueberries, especially in the winter since these gems are not in season, is in the frozen food section. Just thaw and eat or cook with like fresh blueberries. Most grocers carry them when in season...you can tell wild blueberries by their size, they are much smaller than the cultivated ones.

My favorite new way to serve blueberries to my family is wild blueberry sauce - super easy and delicious! Serve over whole-wheat waffles, pancakes or toast for a satisfying and healthy breakfast. My 8 year old can't get enough of it!

Wild Blueberry Sauce

2 cups frozen wild blueberries, thawed
1/4 cup sugar (I have substitued splenda and it works great)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until berries pop (few minutes). Stir in cinnamon (a little almond extract tastes great too). Spoon blueberry sauce over your favorite whole wheat breakfast item! (And, for a special dessert, this is terrific over ice cream as well!)

Enjoy your wild blueberries - as valuable as sapphires!