Smart girls don’t play with snakes

Cleopatra came to a sad end --or so the story  goes -- playing with a snakeIn an incredible display of irony on a recent episode of The Real Housewives of New York, Jill Zarin sponsored an event to help stop classroom bullying. Let me be clear, I have nothing but admiration for her step-daughter Jennifer Zarin, a young woman with a facial deformity. She spoke elegantly about being bullied and is an example as to how to behave graciously.

But one can only wonder what the ladies were thinking as they ripped into each other at an event to prevent bullying. Watching them go at it, it should come as no surprise that studies show that women are among the worse bullies in the workplace, and that mean girls can be as dangerous as bully boys.
The “Housewives” franchises are my guilty pleasures. Many people may dismiss them as crass nonsense, but I find they too often mirror the values and behavior I see daily.
I shuddered as I watched Countess Luann attack cast-mate Ramona Singer. The countess demanded that Ramona discuss her problem with Jill Zarin before a planned trip to Morocco. She then informed her, in the middle of the event, that she (the countess) and several cast-mates had been at a spa party, and no one wanted to go on a trip with Singer. She continued to berate Singer for not wanting to share David Meister, the designer who supplies Singer’s clothes for the show. It was almost comical when the countess feigned innocence as Singer told her to stop “getting in the middle and picking a fight.”
Reality TV is not reality. Producers do edit and manipulate story lines, but a thread of truth runs through it. People often behave this way. We have lost our civility. Gone are the rules that make polite society polite.
Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be said for good old-fashioned manners, when it comes to getting ahead and getting along.
For instance, people don’t like to hear about parties they were not invited to. So follow the old rule and never talk about an event unless it was at least five years ago or 500 miles away. You will be more popular. Keep Facebook posts of these festivities to a minimum; a few pictures will do. More is less, and classier.
The exceptions include family parties, such as weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, and reunions. Class reunions fall in this category, too. Post away! Anyone who missed the event will love seeing the photos. Try to label pictures and avoid posting anything that embarrasses anyone. Be discreet and you will be loved.
I recently saw the documentary film Bill Cunningham New York, about the legendary New York Times photographer and social chronicler. In it, Annette de la Renta, the philanthropist wife of designer Oscar de la Renta, lauded Cunningham for “always being kind.”
Follow his example – and hers. Pick your fights and choose your words carefully. Life is too short to go around battling and gossiping over every little thing. I am not advocating being a doormat, far from it. But many little scraps people try to draw you into are just not worth it. Fight for things that are worth it. If someone tries to bully you or tarnish your reputation, stand up for yourself, then walk away. Needy people get a charge out of battling. They like drama and they will drain your energy if you let them. I prefer work, accomplishment, friendship, and creativity.
Often women who try to bait or bully you are jealous or needy. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Bethenny Frankel left the show after seeing so-called friends attack Ramona Singer. Both Bethenny and Ramona are successful businesswomen.
Recently, a woman I know casually came to me to vent her frustration after a business venture she had counted on had failed. She was discouraged and angry. It was in an area where I have some expertise and experience, so I was glad to give her some advice and reassurance. I also offered a few tips on how to avoid the same situation in the future. I was careful not to lecture or be negative. I know no one enjoys feeling naïve or stupid, and it is counter-productive. It was a brief and positive conversation, and one that she had initiated.
So darlings, you may imagine my surprise a week later when she and I were chatting about another matter involving a mutual friend. “Oh,” she said, “she should have asked you – you’re so sneaky.” I quickly objected to that characterization, and she backed down. But as far as I am concerned, that was the end of it, and of our relationship.
I don’t need friends who take jabs at me — or anyone else, when they are feeling badly about themselves and want to feel smarter. I am simply not interested. It might surprise her, but her behaviour did not make her new friends that day. Smart women know that being friends with women like that is like snake handling – it is just a matter of time before you get bitten. Smart girls don’t play with snakes – just ask Eve.
Another friend of mine — a delightful, hardworking professional — has had mean girl issues at the office. Recently she was assigned to work with a woman who refuses to get along, no matter what my friend tried to do. My friend even asked for advice from her own boyfriend, an even-tempered professional, but the woman remained surly. Finally, the woman disclosed the real reason for her discontent. She was jealous that my friend gets more respect for creative ideas from their boss. The problem is my friend is the creative person in the partnership, and the malcontent is the administrative person. Perhaps the woman longs to be creative, as do many people.
The other housewives long for the monetary rewards and fame Bethenny and Ramona enjoy. I think they are foolish. Ramona is savvy and I would keep her close. I am impressed with her business acumen. She has successful jewelry line, skin care business, and now a new wine.
As for me and my friend, we have worked hard to get where we are professionally. I am not thin-skinned and am happy to help others whenever I can. I have many old dear friends, and I don’t accept bitchiness or bad manners in my friendships. I know it isn’t necessary or healthy. My friend will ride this out. The other women will be the poorer for missing out on a great colleague, who would have their backs.
Smile and walk away from troublemakers when you can. Always be a lady, even when you have to defend yourself. And remember darlings, smart women never play with snakes.

How to devastate on the first date

Babe Scott Babe Scott is the author of Delicious Dating, a new book that explains the relationship between men’s culinary and mating styles. She’s an expert on dining, dating, and men, and as research, she went on dozens of first dates.  

Among other things, the dating diva found out that getting dressed just right for dinner is essential.
“I had to turn my wardrobe into a weapon and make the process of dressing for dinner as finely tuned as a military operation,” she told us. “And believe me, style is the first salvo in the battle of the sexes.”
So darlings, if you are still battling to find your own true love, you won’t want to miss a word from one of our favourite dating divas.
Here’s Babe Scott and her wardrobe dictates:
What you have to remember is that men have absolutely no defenses against our womanly allure. Flaunt your femininity and you will have him eating out of your hand in more ways than one. It’s all about bringing your extended charm arsenal into play and showing off your curves. Your dating ensembles should make you feel you’re most confident and coquettish best. Here are some guidelines to ensure your style selections get him salivating:
Turn your wardrobe into a weapon
Your closet is one of your most important allies when it comes to success in the mating game. Just as a meal needs to look enticing to be appetizing, so should you. I recommend going through your wardrobe ahead of time to work out your most enticing ensembles. A little fashion forethought will take the stress out of dressing for a date.
My own rule is not to wear anything I don’t feel datable in. Even my gym clothes are curve-hugging and my office outfits show a suggestion of décolletage. Bad girls rule the boardroom too, in my opinion. And I believe a little sensual harassment in the workplace puts a spring in your step. You want to feel confident in any clothes you are wearing, as Mr. Right can show up anywhere, whether he’s doing a cat pose next to you or sitting one cubicle over.
Try on everything in your wardrobe in front of a full-length mirror, and be as honest as you can in your self-appraisal. If it doesn’t make the grade, get rid of it. Separate you’re dating outfits and make sure you have the right accessories for them, from necklaces to earrings to pantyhose and heels. Rate each ensemble in terms of how high they rate on the flirt meter so you will know what to wear depending on how much you want to turn up the heat.
Gravity-defying undergarments
You may need to buy a few more dating outfits. I always say: “Buy the dress and the occasion will find you.” A closet full of sweatpants is not good fashion feng shui, and is telling the world that you aren’t ready for company. I recommend outfits that flaunt your curves. Take your cue from Jessica Rabbit who famously said: “I am not bad; I was just drawn that way.”
The most important thing is to ensure you have quality undergarments. Get properly fitted for push-up bras that defy gravity. If you need a little extra padding, make sure they have some inbuilt va-va-va-voom. I would also get some nice panties rather than orthopedic ones. Beyond this I recommend buying some quality camisoles or bustiers that you can wear under low cut tops. You want to show a suggestion of cleavage, not the whole Grand Canyon. Depending on the weather, wearing control-top pantyhose to help streamline your silhouette is not a bad idea. Seamed stockings and even a fine fishnet are sexy and sophisticated, and get every guy’s imagination spinning.
Dresses that detonate
Once you have your undergarments worked out, I recommend form-fitting dresses or tops and skirts. There is nothing more feminine than a frock that moulds to your figure. Make sure the waist is cinched. It’s all about accentuating your curves so your body looks like a rollercoaster. Buy a few belts so you use them to further emphasize your waist and create an hourglass physique. Even if you have an athletic body like mine, you can still create a womanly shape.
Make sure the dresses show some décolletage. High-necked dresses are for librarians. It is also unflattering having black right up below your face. In fact, it is more aging than hospital lighting. I love a sweet-heart neckline, but a v-neck or even a scoop-neck also works. Breasts have enormous power over the male psyche, and while you don’t want them on full display, subtle cleavage can be used to devastating effect.
As far as baubles, I think jewelry should be used to enhance rather than to distract. Add a dash of sparkle to your ears or neckline but don’t wear pieces as big as Christmas ornaments. Your jewelry shouldn’t upstage you. I’ve seen earrings so huge that they could double as chandeliers, but the problem is that rather than notice the woman wearing them, all you notice is the ballroom they are wearing on their ears.
High heels
No dating outfit is complete without heels. They are the ultimate in sensuality. In fact, the stiletto was designed to mimic the shape of a woman’s foot during climax. If you find them hard to walk in them, there are brands like Cynthia Rowley that have heels that are easier on your feet. If they have support in the toe or a wedge heel they will be also be more comfortable. Whatever the state of your tootsies, there is no excuse not to have a few pairs of sexy shoes. They are among the most important articles in your wardrobe arsenal.
I usually pack flats in my handbag so I can put on my high heels just outside the restaurant or before I meet my date. No one wants to be walking miles in Manolos. Beyond the shoes, you should make sure that your toenails are immaculate. Invest in a quality pedicure. There is nothing more unappetizing than toes that should not be seen outside a dinosaur museum. On that note, a manicure is also important, as is a well-cared mane. Big bouncy sex kitten hair is my preferred look. Just as when it comes to your figure, you want your hair to be a bit voluptuous too.
Beyond this, I would wear a spritz of perfume, a tiny purse, and your prettiest smile. If you put your most fashionable foot forward, then you are guaranteed to snag a dishy guy., follow her on or like her on

Must-have summer cover up

American Eagle Outfitters $50A denim jacket is classic, but it is also a hot fashion trend this summer.  Fashion-loving celebrities have been spotted in this $300 denim jacket by Rag & Bone.
Rag and Bone Jacket $300This jacket by American Eagle Outfitters is only $50 in soft denim. It also has a body-flattering cut.

Manicurist in a box

Crabtree & Evelyn La Source 60-Second Fix Kit for Hands is a luxurious treatment that will restore even abused hands to softness in just two simple steps. First apply Hand Recovery, a silky but gently-exfoliating cleanser that whisks away dry skin as it smoothes rough hands and ragged cuticles. Rinse hands and then seal in moisture with intensive Hand Therapy for beautiful soft and groomed hands. 

This luxurious treatment is almost like having a manicurist in a box. It is my new must-have beauty item, and the perfect way for a busy woman to keep her hands perfectly groomed. 
I also love the fresh sea scent of the La Source 60-Second Fix Kit for Hands.
There is also a Gardner’s 60 Second Fix Kit for Hands, with the scent of fresh green clover, lavender, sage, rosemary, and thyme. And a Citron, Honey and Coriander, 60 Second Fix Kit for Hands for lemon lovers.  The kits are beautifully packaged and make perfect hostess or thank you gifts. $34 for the kit or $15 for a cute mini kit.

Fight thinning hair

Nearly 33 million women in the U.S. and Canada suffer from the deeply-upsetting problem of hair loss. Hair can start to thin for many reasons, so you should discuss sudden hair loss with your doctor, as it can be sign of more serious problems.

For many women thinning hair is a result of changing hormones and too much DHTDihydrotestosterone, a hormone that interferes with hair growth.
Redken’s New Intra Force hair treatment systems combine Zinc PCA, Vitamin E, and Arginine. According to Redken, the combination works to “provide the optimal environment for hair growth.” There are two Intra Force hair care systems, one for natural hair for colour-treated hair.
In both systems, Zinc PCA helps to reduce excess scalp oil and DHT. Arginine is an essential amino acid that helps promote micro circulation to help stimulate the hair follicles.
The lines consist of three daily-use hair care products: Shampoo, toner, and scalp treatment. There are also two additional booster products: Microboost for low-density hairlines and Hair Advance for hair that is noticeably thinning. There is also the Hair Densifer Mousse – a weightless thickening, styling mousse.
There is also a salon treatment designed to stimulate the scalp.
Redken says the new Intra Force System will give users thicker fuller hair in thirty days.


Spa at home

SkinSync is a new  line of spa quality and spa-tested skin care products designed to be used at home.  

SkinSync has four product lines to tackle different skin concerns such as aging, hyperpigmentation, and dryness. They also have specialty products such a heightening peel, and a time-released retinal and lip plumper. The line uses top-quality ingredients that are found in many of the best medi-spa lines.
I liked both the light, but penetrating Pro-A Age Defying and Pro-B Brightening eye creams. They leave the eye area moist-looking and refreshed. The day creams have an SPF 30 which makes them effective sun protection for most women, and that alone is a good recommendation.
SkinSync is a good option for women experiencing the first signs of aging. The line is well-priced for quality ingredients. The pricing is good for the high quality of the ingredients.
Prices range from $29 for a cleanser to $85 for the brightening peel.


The love life of Louisa May

If you grew up reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women you’ll adore these two new books based on the popular writer. 

Louisa and the Missing Heiress by Anna MacLean is the first whodunit in a series. MacLean’s Louisa is a resourceful amateur detective, as well as an aspiring author. She is out to solve the mystery of her childhood friend’s murder. The book has a cast of famous Bostonians including her famous philosopher father, Bronson Alcott. This is a fast-paced and charming mystery with the flavour of an Alcott tale.
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Conner McNees places the young single writer in New Hampshire for a summer. The Alcott family has taken refuge there with relatives for the summer. Louisa has yet to become successful, and although intellectually well-regarded, Bronson Alcott never earned a good living for his family as a lecturer.
Using letters and diaries, O’Connor has created a fictional romance for the young Louisa. She paints the picture of a headstrong intellectual woman who is determined not to spend her life in domestic drudgery.
I grew up on Alcott’s books, just 20 minutes from the family’s final home in Concord, Massachusetts. I visited the area often as a teenager. I found O’Connor to be pitch-perfect in her depiction of the Alcott family, their friends, and the era. The book is charming, and her speculation is interesting.

Chef’s “ultimate” burger is still low-fat

Ultimate low-fat burgerSummer is not only for BBQs and outdoor entertaining, it is also the perfect season for the “ultimate” burger.  

Chef Kyle Reynolds suggests a tasty, low-fat healthful burger, or as he calls it, his “ultimate burger.”

Here’s what the instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta has to say:

Chef Kyle Reynolds“Everyone loves a delicious burger, but dreads the calories and health concerns that come along with it.  The ultimate burger delivers flavor, is packed with nutrients, and is lower in fat and calories.  Georgia is blessed with a bounty of wonderful, healthful products that bring incredible taste and surprising nutritional value.  White Oak Pastures ground beef is only 2.6 percent fat; almost half the amount of fat found in the leanest corn-fed ground beef found in most supermarkets.  Take a dive and try the ultimate burger and leave your diet concerns behind.”

Servings: 4
12 ounces White Oak Pastures grass-fed ground beef (2.6% fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 ounces Sweet Grass Dairy – Green Hill cheese
4 hamburger buns
2 ounces fat-free mayonnaise
2 ounces wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely grated
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, finely chopped, fresh
1 large tomato, thinly-sliced crosswise
2 ounces lettuce
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
2 ounces Vidalia onion marmalade
4 slices Patak bacon, baked crisp and drained
Portion the ground beef into four equal-sized patties, season to taste, and grill to the desired doneness. While the patties are cooking, slice the cheese and place on top the patties to warm slightly.  Toast the inside of the buns on the grill.  Spread a tablespoon of mustard on the inside of the top bun and sprinkle with minced garlic, lemon peel, and parsley. Spread a tablespoon of the mustard on the inside of the top bun, place a patty on top, and stack the remaining ingredients.  Top with the other half of the bun and serve immediately.