alp.jpgClick on top title to open Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins is about choices and regrets.The women have taken different roads in life and Lydia and her party is what holds the group together. But none of the friends know that this is the last party Lydia will host.

As she readies her house and cooks her famous spicy chicken stew, Lydia wrestles with how to say goodbye to her friends. And as she looks for the words with which to bid her friends a final farewell, she begins to feel pangs of regret for all the things she didn’t do: the trips she didn’t take, her abandoned painting career and passions the she reined in.

Hawkins weaves a rich and spellbinding tale from the homey details of the friends’ lives as they prepare for the party.

Lydia’s Party is a cautionary tale about taking chances and following your passions before life slips away from you, but it is also an uplifting story of friendship and love.

Lydia’s Party was painful to read at times but it was impossible to put down. The characters are quirky, endearing, and relatable. But Lydia’s unrelenting examination of her own life forces the reader to reflect on their own choices and passions – and that is what makes this book a must-read.


Break your bad hair habits

jenhairClick on top title to open  Mario Russo, the owner and lead stylist of his namesake salon in Boston says that women damage their hair with bad habits.  With more than thirty years of experience as a stylist, Mario knows how to keep hair looking healthy and shiny. You may be surprised by some of the things that can hurt your hair.

Here are Mario’s tips to break your “bad hair habits

Stop blow-drying your hair upside down! You’ve probably noticed that your hairstylist never asks you to flip your hair over at the salon. That’s because doing so will quickly over-dry your hair by pulling out the moisture and nutrients. Instead, blow-dry your hair in sections with a round brush. No head banging or Cousin It resemblance is necessary!

Don’t leave in your hair products overnight. Just as you should take off your makeup before bed, you should also brush out the majority of products from your locks before you hit the hay. Otherwise, you will create build-up on your hair and make it harder to restyle the next day. To further avoid build-up, use a clarifying shampoo, such as Bumble and Bumble’s Sunday Shampoo once a week!MarioRusso

 Mario Russo (Right)

Don’t use the same brush over and over! Make sure you clean out your brush or purchase a new one every four months. Brushes are prime breeding grounds for germs and extra residue. A simple home remedy is placing your brush in a mug full of vinegar. This will break up the oils. Then just rinse and scrub it with a sponge. Voila! Good as new!

Brushing hair down from the roots is the ultimate “no-no.” Instead, separate your hair into four sections. Grab the section in the middle and hold your hair while you use baby strokes to detangle your mane. This will prevent breakage. If your hair is super knotty, try a leave-in conditioner such as Kerastase Reflection Chroma Riche Luminous Softening Essence.

We’re all guilty of the nervous “picking your split ends” habit, but it’s actually making your split ends worse! If you are not using proper hair sheers to trim split ends, you can really damage your hair. I suggest a quick trim at the salon every six weeks … and in the meantime, investing in a stress ball or a moisturizing crème like Oribe’s Supershine Moisturizing Cream to keep split ends at bay.

Remember to switch up your shampoo with the seasons. When the temperatures change, your products should, too. In the summer, when you’re very active and out in the sun, opt for a clarifying shampoo to rid locks of oil and chlorine build-up. In the winter, choose products that add extra moisture to your locks to help with frizz and dryness from the cold. My go-to summer shampoo for clients is Moroccan Oil Clarifying Shampoo.

Hot tools aren’t the only things that can fry your hair; the sun can, too! Prolonged exposure to UV rays can weaken hair cuticles making them harder to manage. The solution? Simply wear a fashionable yet practical hat when you’re on the beach, OR be proactive and protect locks with a product like Bumble & Bumble’s Color Minded UV Protective Polish.

Say goodbye to your elastic hair tie. They cause damage and split ends. Try a cloth one to keep your hair beautiful and healthy. Emi Jay bands are a great option because they will color-coordinate with your outfits while doubling as arm candy alongside your stack of bangles.

Take it easy on the hairspray! While everyone loves layering on the hairspray to hold your style in place, don’t use it too often. Hairspray makes your hair brittle and more prone to breakage. Additionally, if you suffer from a dry or itchy scalp, hairspray could be part of the problem, as the alcohol it contains can dry skin.

It’s fine to rock the tight ponytail or bun every once in a while, but don’t overdo it. Over time, wearing a tight ponytail or bun will lead to hair loss and major hair breakage. The tightness of the style restricts the blood flow to the hair follicles and puts pressure on the hair cuticle, which can lead to problems. Let your hair down! If the ponytail is an attempt to manage unruly hair, try Oribe’s Shampoo for Moisture and Control. In addition, after wearing a tight style, always take a few minutes to massage your scalp to promote nourishment.

Here are a few of our DolceDolce picks to keep hair looking it best:

L’Oreal Advanced Hair Care Total Repair Extreme Split Ends Fixer

Philip B. Imperial Conditioning Crème

Nexxus Frizz Defy Leave in with Moroccan Argan Oil

Goody Ouchless Ribbon Elastics


Hand cream plus

download (7)Click top title to open Oraser Overnight Hand Recovery from ZOSkin Health is packed with effective anti-aging ingredients that include retinol, powerful antioxidants, and rich emollients. Use this hand cream overnight. Smooth it into cuticles to help reduce pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. During the day be sure to apply at least an SPF UVA/UVB sunscreen to your hands and reapply as needed. 

I love this hand cream for keeping cuticles looking smooth effortlessly.




Trend alert: The small neck square

BBcarnationanne Taylor Click on top title to open EtsyIf you need a breath of spring right now try one of cutest spring runway trends: the small, retro, neck scarf. Marc Jacobs tied small solid colored chiffon scarfs around the necks of his models. The look is very Laverne and Shirley – and cute! The retro squares were also seen in prints and silky solid in other collections. It’s a colourful and easy alternative to the season’s heavy statement necklaces. Adding one of these scarfs to dark sweater or the neckline of a dark suit or dress can lift your look. 

Brooks Brothers Carnation Silk Square 36 x 36, $248 (L)

Ann Taylor Checkered Silk Scarf 32×32, about $60 (M)

Vintage Chiffon Scarf, under $10 Etsy (R)


Really lighten age and sun spots!

elure Click on top title to open elure Advanced Brightening Night Cream is part of elure’s three-step system.  This rich cream uses a naturally occurring enzyme called Melanozym to treat and lighten age spots and discolouration, and reveal a more luminous complexion. We love elure because it works.

We have tried lightening products galore and we have a found a few good ones. But our testers who have stubborn age and sun spots told us that elure works better and faster than any other line we have seen – and we have seen them all. Too many skin brightening and lightening cream regimes promise too much and deliver too little. Some may fade spots just a little. Some creams, especially strong prescription creams, containing hydroquinone can even make hyperpigmentation worse, or in rare cases, even turn skin blue. elure contains lignin peroxidase, a naturally-occurring enzyme derived from a tree fungus that actually breaks down melanin, the substance in skin that causes spots and discoloration.

elure Advanced Skin Lightening program is a three-part system designed to safely erase hyperpigmentation, also called sun spots or age spots. Clinical trials show it works on all types of skin in 28 days!  The night cream and lotion are priced to sell at $150 each, and the cleanser sells for $35. Costly laser treatments may or may not work, depending on the cause of the pigmentation as well as the operator’s skill. And prescription creams that contain high doses of hydroquinone can have serious side effects. There are three products in the régime: Advanced Lightening Lotion, Advanced Lightening Night Cream, and Advanced Facial Wash.


Trend alert: matching lips and nails

chanelspringClick on top title to open For years the idea of matching lips and nails has been considered a little old fashioned, but this spring everything old is new again. Glossy matching lips and nails looks fresh and are easy to wear – and DIY at home, too. Try a glossy coral-red or a shimmery pink.Here are two combinations we like:Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Mélodieuse and Chanel Nail Lacquer in Tapage.Fake Bake Prissy Lip Gloss and Essie Nail Polish in Not Just a Pretty FaceDolceDolce tip: It is easy to match a favourite lip colour.  Brands such as Revlon, Essie, OPI, and other lines have many different shades of nail colour. For a perfect match go to the store with your lip colour.




A riveting debut mystery

NorthofBoston Click on top title to open  Elizabeth Elo’s debut novel, North of Boston, grabs you from the first page. Elo takes on a roller coaster ride that involves fishing, poaching, billionaire oligarchs, and a perfume company.  As the book opens Pirio Kasparov is comforting her best friend, Thomasina’s son Noah. His father, Ned has just been killed and Pirio is alive only because she is an amazing swimmer. She and Noah’s father were fishing when their boat was smashed by a freighter. Pirio survived by swimming through freezing water that was so cold, Navy SEALs now want to study her.

Pirio is the daughter of Russian immigrants and the heir to a large perfume company. Thomasine is the daughter of a billionaire. The two young women met a boarding school where they bonded as young rebellious girls. They moved to Boston together after school and gravitated to the waterfront. The young women attract attention as they are both model-gorgeous and inclined to spout poetry and philosophy when drunk – which is often.

Recently, Pirio grew bored with partying and returned to run her family’s perfume empire. She still keeps in close touch with Thomasina and Noah, whom she considers as family.

At Ned’s funeral Pirio picks up the idea that Ned may have been murdered. She decides to investigate and things turn deadly.

Elo’s Pirio Kasparov is an intellectual who is street-smart as well as strong and maternal. Because of her own pain at losing her mother at an early age Pirio is protective of Thomasina’s son Noah. She understands his feelings of insecurity.

Elo’s depiction Pirio’s of the world of rough waterfront bars and her father’s Beacon Hill home is vivid and believable. Her writing is descriptive but also clean and brisk. Elo’s dialogue is pitch perfect capturing the voice of Pirio’s cynical Russian immigrant father who has seen and done it all, while building his empire as well as recreating the unmistakable Boston accent of the waterfront bars.  .

The more I learned about Pirio Kasparov and her exotic family the more I wanted to know. I can only hope this is the first in a series. Not since Robert B. Parker’s Spencer novels has there been such a captivating sleuth on Beacon Hill.



Quick and easy Thai chicken curry

smallthaicurryClick on top title to open This easy Thai chicken curry recipe is the one people always seem to want. It takes only minutes to make restaurant-quality Thai Green Chicken Curry. Try it once, you will be hooked. If you use a barbecued or rotisserie chicken, it takes about 10 minutes, start to finish.

For four people:

3 limes

3 cups of cooked diced chicken

1½ cup green vegetables quartered or sliced: Thai eggplants, snow peas, frozen, green or asparagus.

Thai eggplants are small and green and available in Asian markets. Wash and quarter them unless they are tiny. Slice snow peas thinly, also green beans to bring out flavour and colour. Cut asparagus on the diagonal. Add good frozen sweet peas. All are delicious. In a pinch, a big red bell pepper, diced, is good too. Green pepper doesn’t work as it is not sweet.

Open a can of coconut milk

Wash and cut three limes


Dice three cloves of garlic and grate 1½-inch of fresh ginger, or use one heaping tbsp. of garlic ginger paste. Place it in small amount of hot oil (any type) and heat until it begins to colour. Add 1 heaping tbsp. of green curry paste. Cut the heat to a low simmer and cook the curry paste with the garlic and ginger.

Add the coconut milk and several inches of lemongrass that you have smashed with a bottle or rolling pin, or several well-rinsed Kaffir lime leaves, rolled and sliced into very thin slivers.

Add the chicken and the green vegetables (I often also add a red bell pepper thinly sliced for colour with green peas or asparagus, but not with the eggplant.)

Add 2 tbsp. of fish sauce and 2 red chilies (do not add if you do not like very spicy curry)

Adjust heat to a low simmer. Add the juice of two limes. Add 1 keeping tbsp. of sugar or brown sugar (brown sugar is more like Palm Sugar used in Thailand).

Stir and taste. Add more lime or sugar or fish sauce for salt.

This all takes about 10 minutes, max.

Grate a little lime peel into curry to intensify flavour if you like (that is why we wash all citrus; this is not necessary if you have Kaffir Lime leaves)

Remove from the heat and add ¼ cup fresh chiffonaded (thinly-sliced) Thai or regular basil leaves.

Optional: Top with ¼ cup fresh cilantro and fresh basil (Thai basil is fabulous and more intense if you can find it – regular will do) and chopped peanuts. Serve with the Jasmine rice you started before you made the curry. This can be served at a dinner party, it is that good.

Garnish with fresh herbs, peanuts, sliced chilies, and a piece of lime.