Had it with hostile hostesses?

Chelsea Clinton was a gracious hostess to all her guests!Chelsea Clinton’s recent wedding was beautiful and tasteful, but that didn’t stop a horde of naysayers from criticizing it. I have had it with them.

I take issue with vegetarians and vegans who are disappointed that the bride (Chelsea reportedly shuns meat) did not use her wedding as an opportunity to promote their lifestyle. If she had, I believe she might have turned a happy occasion into an awkward – and possibly abusive — one for her guests. So Brava Chelsea! for not being a hostile hostess!
I respect vegetarians, but I recommend having food and beverage options at any function. I have always done so. I also respect religious and dietary requests. I have cheerfully prepared and discreetly substituted fish or veggie plates even at my small dinner parties for years. No one should use social celebrations to chastise or abuse guests for their personal lifestyle choices. It’s rude, inappropriate, and unwelcoming.
My husband and I make a habit of asking first time guests about their food and drink preferences and allergies. After all, we don’t invite guest to torture them or make converts. It’s a party not a punishment!
Years ago we attended the wedding of a friend’s vegetarian daughter. My friend, against her older European-born husband’s wishes, decided to serve vegetarian food. It didn’t go over very well with many guests. I think it was a mistake. My friend and the bride knew that many of the guests were older Europeans. They looked forward to weddings as a time of celebration. They had never eaten the type of food served, and they did not like it. Hospitality would have been better served by having a choice of vegetarian and more traditional dishes.
Recently, I have heard of conflicts when one side of the family drinks and the other doesn’t. What to do at the wedding? It’s tricky. I would offer choices, as I see it as the easiest way to respect everyone’s lifestyle.
I am not even going to address the ‘Bridezilla’ phenomena. It did not exist, at least not openly, when I married; it would not have been tolerated. I cringe at the expression, “It’s my day”. When I married, my goal and that of my friends was to have a lovely wedding. I hoped everyone would have a good time. I can’t conceive of decreeing that "people look at me” or that I wanted to be a "queen for a day”. It’s outlandish, yet many people today seem to want an audience more than they want guests.
I also could not believe Joy Behar’s bad manners and questionable taste. The talk show host went on for weeks about how President Obama was not invited to the Clinton wedding. When The View was lucky enough to have the president as a guest, she actually asked him if the Clintons had invited him. He said no, and that he understood why. He added he did not think it would have been a good idea to have two presidents at a wedding. Behar persisted, saying he should have been invited so that he could have declined. Where did this woman learn her manners?
Behar is not alone. I am constantly shocked when people talk about who was invited to a function and who was not. The golden rule is you don’t talk about a party with anyone who was not there, unless it was long ago or far away. Otherwise, it’s awkward, rude, and insensitive. President Obama should not have to defend the Clinton’s guest list. Shame on you Joy Behar.
I am not advocating nitpicking hospitality. A good guest approaches an evening with enthusiasm and good will. They RSVP and show up on time. Heavens, save me from those who don’t know that being "fashionably late” to a private home is a big no-no! And an evening out is never an invitation to be a food critic. Compliments are fine, but keep your critiques to yourself. Good guests bring their ‘A’ game of pleasant and amusing conversation.
A young friend recently shared with me that her boyfriend is surprised she and her friends serve food at their parties. His gang, like many others, just opens a house and calls that party – quelle horreur! Too many young single women have told me how broke they are, paying restaurant bills for all the parties to which they are “invited”. They have a salad and two drinks ,and then get hit for more than their share of the bill, which can be hefty when the tab is unfairly split.
Some single friends prefer to entertain in restaurants and pick up the bill. There is nothing wrong with that, if they can afford it. But it is amazing how often their hospitality is not reciprocated. I happily entertain my single friends. I find they pay back my hospitality in many delightful ways.
It is fun to see to see my younger friends emerge as hostesses. They are learning the pleasure of watching guests enjoy a meal at a beautifully-set table. I’m proud of them.
Great hosting can have many styles. Over the years we have had the pleasure of having many dear friends who are fabulous hosts. We all have our style of entertaining. But I think we all agree, every party and evening is about making memories.
Often whenever we travel, we are met by hospitality that simply blows me away. I will never forget one dinner in Odessa on the Black Sea in Ukraine. Many people who lived there at the time had electricity only for part of the day. We stayed on a cruise ship hotel, just to have reliable power and hot water. But Odessa is famous for its savory cuisine and warm hospitality. 
Friends of my husband’s translator invited us for dinner. When we arrived, the elevator was out, so we walked up flights of stairs. As a cook I could only imagine what else the hostess had had to cope with during the day. That evening we were treated to a spectacular multi-course meal. It was finer than anything then available in any Odessa hotel or restaurant. Knowing the dodgy state of markets in the area I could only try to imagine the expense and trouble our hostess had gone to find the wonderful food she served. The care with which she prepared the many tasty appetizers called zakuski was mind boggling. The evening was magical. The hospitality was sincere, gracious, and memorable.
Darlings, I don’t know how we have come to this sorry state, when too many seem to have become hostile hostesses and far too many guests are boorish louts. If entertaining is a bore and chore, don’t bother! If a party is just a chance to lecture, convert, or otherwise abuse your guests – leave me off your list. Having a party should be a ball; going to one should be a treat!
One of my favourite quotes is from the fictional detective Nero Wolfe: “To me the relationship between the host and guest is sacred. The guest is a jewel resting on a cushion of hospitality”. I think that’s the golden rule of entertaining. Whether you style is barbecue or dinner at eight, you’ll never go wrong if you keep it in mind.  

Get insider designer styling

Karen Green in her own creationHave you ever wondered where new designers come from? Where do they get their inspiration? Popular shows, such as Project Runway, show us how designers perform under pressure to fulfill the demands of the judges. What drives a young designer whose vision is to try to sell to boutiques and consumers? We have been watching Karen Green of Green Label Designs, since she debuted her collection with a unique and popular skirt last year. She has expanded her line into a  capsule collection. Karen’s label is unique in that she does not design by season, but by silhouettes. Karen talks about her inspiration and shares her personal styling tips. If you love fashion, you won’t want to miss a word of this insider interview.

DD: What is your must-have green label item and how do you wear it?
KG: The great thing about pieces from Green Label Designs is their versatility. I often never leave the house without something on from our collection. The Signature Skirt is probably my "go-to" piece of the line. During daytime my favorite outfit is a plain white tank from say the Gap or J.Crew, paired with a Signature Skirt and a pair of leather or glittery flip-flops. This way if I need to get ready quickly for a last minute evening engagement, all I need to do is throw on a couple dozen strands of pearls and my favorite stilettos. It’s fabulous evening look! 
The Jet Set Tunic is another staple in my wardrobe. The ease of the fabric ensures that when I travel, I look fresh.  I do travel quite a bit for PR engagements and to visit our different boutiques. Whether on a plane or sitting in the car for hours, I want to finish my trip looking like I did when I started.  Again, this piece is amazing with ballet flats, flip-flops, sandals, or just below the knee boots. Going into the fall and winter, a great way to wear The Boxer Short is with opaque tights, a sheer turtleneck, and a fabulous pair of booties. 

DD: What inspired you to create Green Label Designs?
KG: Shannon, my sister-in-law and business partner, and I didn’t intend on starting a clothing company.  It all started with what was supposed to just be a birthday present to me for my 32nd birthday last year. Shannon is a couture bridal designer. Since I met her I have wanted her to work with me to create a fabulous couture piece for myself. We never knew that it would change our lives forever! 

DD: What type of women wears your line?
KG: I would have to say that our target market is a contemporary woman probably in her late 20s to early 40s. But, my mother at 64 wears our pieces and my little sister at 22 also does. They both feel and look amazing in them. A Green Label Designs woman is confident, sassy, sexy, and fun. She doesn’t want to wear pieces that are trendy and can be found just anywhere. Our customer wants something special and will pay top dollar for that uniqueness.

DD:  Are there themes to your different collections?
KG: I’m not sure if I would say that we necessarily have themes for the collections we’ve turned out in the past year.  Shannon and I concentrate more on creating pieces that our customer just has to have. We focus on elegant silhouettes with a tiny modern twist and a little something unexpected. 
Since we do not plan on having on adding new garments every season, it is more important for us to find fabulous new satins and silks in beautiful colors and patterns. The colors we have for this fall are very reminiscent of the Mediterranean. We have periwinkles and turquoises like the beautiful sea and pale pinks and whites reminiscent of the sand. The dark plum and platinum are like a soft nighttime sky.

DD: Do you have any styling tips on how women can integrate your designs into their own wardrobes?

KG: Absolutely! The Signature Skirt and The Boxer Short are both pieces that can be dressed up or down with ease with plain tank tops and great flat sandals or ballet flats for daytime. For evening, just slip into a fitted high-collared white blouse with a great necklace and a pair of heels. The Martini Romper looks best when you pair it with a fabulous belt or sash right from your closet. I like chain link belts, but an Obi sash look amazing around the waist to complete the look. Also your favorite necklace worn backwards and hanging down your back with the dramatic drape silk looks stellar. We’ve added loops to the shoulders so you can attach your favorite necklace easily. The Saint Tropez Yacht Dress is another piece that looks amazing for day or evening. Wear it over your favorite bikini on the deck of your yacht, or simply by itself for a dramatic evening dress.

DD: Who is your favourite design inspiration?
KG: I would have to say that I’m especially inspired by my favorite designers Lanvin for their bit of eccentricity. I like Jason Wu for his simple yet innovative design and Milly for always creating fun new girly silhouettes.


Grassroots beauty

Triple Mushroom Cream by Grassroots  is just luscious. It also has impressive ingredients. It’s not surprising as Grassroots is made by Estee Lauder for Kohl’s.

Grassroots Triple Mushroom intensive Anti-Wrinkle cream with wild ginseng also contains three different exotic mushrooms. The special fungi are known for their anti-oxidant properties. Both the mushrooms and ginseng are used in Chinese medicine for their anti-aging benefits. The cream also has botanicals and shea butter so skin stays soft and dewy-looking all day. It’s a steal at under $35. Canadian ladies, this cream is worth looking for on cross-border shopping trips, or buy online and send it to your hotel when you travel. 

Eat for beauty

Did you know that sweet tasty watermelon is a natural beauty booster? Well, darlings it is. Watermelon is full of Vitamins C and A, and beta-carotene. Vitamin C is necessary to build collagen and keep you skin from sagging. So always be sure to get plenty of it in your diet. It also speeds healing. Watermelon is also rich in lycopene, as are all red, pink, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps protect your body against cancer and heart disease. It also helps to reduce LDL or bad cholesterol. The benefits of lycopene are well documented. Watermelon is also full of water, making it perfect for dieters at only 48 calories a cup. Studies show that eating water-saturated fiber-rich foods significantly aids any sensible weight loss plan.

So, enjoy cool sweet watermelon as a snack or in a salad during these last wonderful weeks of summer.

Pretty feet fast

Sexy Revlon Red for about $5 --and you can even buy it at the grocery shopNo time for a pedicure? Don’t stress darlings! A quick DYI job is snap. Use an emery board to shape your nails into a very slight oval shape. I find nails are easier to shape with the polish still on.  After filing, remove any old polish.  In a pretty clean jar, mix 2 tbsp of olive oil with ¾ cup of kosher salt or brown sugar, and add a few drops of essential oil or your favourite perfume. Rub it into your feet. Don’t forget your toes. Take a shower or bathe, and wash off the oil. Brush on a top coat and two coats of polish. Add a top coat, if you have time. Studies show that red drives men mad — if you care. My favourite is Revlon Red. It’s a classic that suits all skin tones, doesn’t chip, and you can buy it anywhere. If you want a pale shade, try Revlon’s Sheer Rose, it is a gorgeous shade that can show off a tan. Total time 15 minutes max, not including the drying time, and your feet will look fabulous. If your hands look less than fabulous, give them the same treatment, but finish with a coat of Sheer Rose or clear to avoid chips. If you love drama, go for Revlon’s Valentine – a deep sexy shade.

This is the perfect me-thing to do before a busy weekend while catching up on your favourite magazines or watching an episode of Mad Men!

Pool hair

TriSwim hair and body collection was created to battle what my friends and I used to call “pool hair” — the effects of chlorine on your hair and body. Swimming is great, but the chemicals that keep pools safe and clean can leave hair and skin looking and feeling beat-up! Skin becomes dry, and hair can even start to “grab” the chemicals. Blonds may even notice a greenish chemical tinge. TriSwim Shampoo removes the chemicals, TriSwim Lotion soothes skin, while TriSwim Conditioner pampers hair without build-up. There is also a spray lubricant to prevent chafing during sports. Designed by a former sportswoman, the products have aloe and citrus. Tri-Swim products are light, but effective. www.tri-swim.com


Protect pricey colour

Darlings, I love summer, but the strong sun can play havoc with your hair colour. Even a short time in the light can fade pricy salon highlights or colour. Protect your hair and scalp as you do your face. Redken Color Extend Sun Solar Screen SPF 12 protects against UVA and UVB rays. It helps to moisturize, as well as protect, with ceramides and mango oil. You can use it on wet or dry hair.


Life-long love

In His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester, Jeane Westin tells the bittersweet love story of Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley. Ironically, the story has become strangely relevant, as more women take the lead in relationships as powerful wage-earners and their partners assume less powerful positions.

The novel captures the last three years of the monarch’s relationship with her lover. The two had known and loved each other from childhood. Many have speculated that Elizabeth resolved never to marry as she feared she would lose her power once wed. Dudley resented that she would not marry him, but still he could not stay away from her. Elizabeth was both a queen and a woman, and she suffered when he strayed.
It is fascinating story of passion, jealously and of love between dynamic historical figures. It is also a captivating portrait of a powerful women’s struggle to balance love and power.