Chatting with Bravo’s Bleona of the Euros

BleonaClick on the topmost title to open

We loved interviewing Bravo’s newest star, Bleona. She is the most outspoken cast member of Bravo’s new hit show Euros of Hollywood, about a group of Europeans who are trying to make it big in Hollywood.

Bleona is billed in the show’s tagline as “the Albanian Madonna”.  But she soon sets everyone straight: she is not a Madonna copy but an original. As an international pop star she has already sold more than 1.5 million albums and now she is out to make her mark in the U.S.

Following in the footsteps of Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, Bleona made her big American debut performing at the White Party in Palm Springs. The song in the video is her newest single, Famous.

Here is our exclusive interview with Bravo’s Bleona:

DD:  What was the most surprising thing about Euros of Hollywood? Who was the biggest surprise in a good way and also in a bad way? 

BLEONA: I think the most surprising thing people will find on the show is how different our group really is.  American people perceive us [Europe] as one whole entity. And the truth of the matter is Europe is different from America in that we have different cultures, different languages, and different backgrounds.  When they came up with the concept for “Euros of Hollywood,” the production company thought it was going to be easy because it was just a group of Europeans trying to make it in the U.S. Basically, because of our different personalities, it was like it was like throwing a lion, a lamb, a wolf, and a fox in one cage or you’ll get ridiculous confusion!

It was really funny because I guess the producers didn’t expect the differences between us to be that big, but things exploded into a fight the night of the first dinner.

Another big surprise is that no one is really who they say they are in the beginning.  Every character will be perceived very differently in the first two episodes, but the truth will come out in the end.

DD: What would surprise people most to know about you? 

BLEONA: It’s very easy to paint me as the villain because I’m so outspoken and direct. I’m doing me everywhere I go. What people don’t know about me is that besides being a diva, which I am proud of, I’m also a real person, and I do things for myself. It may look like I have a lot of help from a lot of people, but in reality I have a very strict discipline about what I do and who I am. I’m also a real person with a real heart who has supported my family since I was twelve years old. I know I can be perceived in a negative light until people take the time to get to know who I really am.

DD:  What are your three beauty must-haves and why? 

BLEONA: I never go to sleep without removing my make-up.  Remember I started performing since I was five years old, so I’ve been wearing makeup for a long time.  My must-have is my special green drink that my mother makes for me every day.  It’s a power drink that really helps with everything.

Bleona’s breakfast smoothie recipe: 1 pear (can also use 3/4 c. fresh berries, kiwi, pineapple, or papaya) 2″ cucumber or 1 whole Persian cucumber ½ stalk celery 1 small handful greens (romaine, mixed greens, kale, chard, etc.) 1/3 c. lemon juice 2″ peeled ginger 1 Tbsp. flax seed oil 2 Tbsp. Billy’s greens (or other similar green powder, algae complex) 1 Tbsp. Billy’s Vitamin C

1Tbsp protein 1tsp Maca (can add more if needing an extra morning boost and/or weaning off of coffee) 1tsp chlorophyll

1 c. water

Also, Techno shape is a belt that you use when you are on the treadmill. It’s a low intensity pressure therapy, which burns your fat in minutes.  It has pressurized air which increases circulation in your mid side area…. As a result you can lose a lot of inches in your waist. It really works!

DD: What are your fashion must-haves for every day? 

BLEONA: My jewelry! My jewelry is – how I say this in English? – my Achilles heel. If I wear my heels and I have my jewelry, the rest doesn’t really matter.

DD: What is the secret of your fitness routine? 

BLEONA: My fitness routine includes chocolate. I’m just kidding. I’m going to be honest: I can’t stand the gym. I do however get expert advice from fitness professionals, and I try to do some sort of workout every day. Whether it is playing soccer or swimming, I try to do some sort of cardio workout, and when I feel tired, I’ll just do some Pilates.

DD: What is always in your handbag? 

BLEONA: In my handbag you will always find USB cables, a hard drive, and other professional musical devises/tools. It’s funny because when you look at me, you’d think that I just have a ton of beauty products in my bag, but I’m like a guy in that sense.

DD:  What is one thing you want everyone to know about you?

BLEONA: One thing I want everyone to know is that I’m a very honest person, and sometimes because of my honesty I can be perceived in the wrong way. I just want people to be patient and give me a chance to show them who I really am.


Chatting with “From the Lab” about the future of beauty

LorraineDahlingerjpgClick on top title to open and scroll  From the Lab is a monthly beauty box subscription club that calls itself “the future of beauty. It sends its members a selection of two or three skin care items or cosmetics from upscale beauty labs before they are released to the public. In our exclusive interview, co-founder of From the Lab, Lorraine Dahlinger, tells DolceDolce how “From the Lab” puts together their beauty boxes of hot new products every month and what makes them so special.

I really wanted to hear what she had to say as “From the Lab” is one of the few subscription beauty boxes I really like. I am not one for subscription beauty boxes as the deluxe samples they offer are often available to anyone who can get themselves to a decent mall –especially one that has a Sephora store or a few posh department stores. What I love about From the Lab is that they send large samples that contain a full 30-day supply. And so far, I have also really liked all of the products they have sent.

Here is what Lorraine Dahlinger had to say:                                                                                                                                                                 Lorraine DahlingerFromthelab

DD: From the Lab talks about being part of the “informed shopping trend”. Can you explain the trend and how it relates to the beauty industry?

LD: Informed shopping is a form of knowledgeable buying that requires actual research on the part of the consumer. Instead of blindly buying an item based on packaging or price, consumers take the time to find out details about the product and the company that makes it (of course the details will vary depending on the product/industry). In the beauty industry, it means checking out the ingredients in the cosmetics. Because certain cosmetic ingredients have been deemed harmful to the body, such as parabens and phthalates, women are really starting to realize how important it is to ensure that their beauty products are free of toxins. In order to proactively support this trend, we decided to include a separate pamphlet with all of our products that details the ingredients.

DD: What makes From the Lab different from other subscription beauty box clubs?

LD: From the Lab brings next-generation beauty products to consumers on a regular basis. We offer a monthly subscription plan that delivers the future of beauty right to the consumer’s doorstep every month. We partnered with the best independent cosmetic labs in the world – the same labs where high-end, brand-name cosmetic companies get their ingredients – to procure their most groundbreaking products. By eliminating the marketing, frivolous materials, and lengthy, drawn-out distribution process we give our subscribers up to two full-sized luxury beauty products up to 18 months before they will even be available in the U.S. market – and for 80 percent off the retail price. We also include a separate pamphlet with each product that details all of the ingredients used because we believe women not only have the right to know, but should be well-informed, of exactly what is in their cosmetics.

DD: Why do you call yourselves the “future of beauty?”

LD: It’s simple: we get you today what we know major brands will get you in the future – the future being as far as 18 months from now. We know that most of the formulas and ground-breaking ingredients our beauty products contain will be used in the beauty products of major retail brands months after our subscribers receive them. So although our customers receive them in the present, these high-end products are essentially the future in cosmetics.

DD: How are the products created? 

LD: The product formulas are created in elite cosmetic laboratories, the same innovative cosmetic labs the major beauty brands rely on. We attend closed-door meetings to see which formulas are producing the best results and are thought to be the next big thing in the cosmetic industry. We procure access to these formulas and put them through a female focus group. We then select and supply our subscribers with the formulas that women tell us they cannot live without. 

DD: How do you capture trends in the beauty industry?
LD: We don’t capture trends, we create them. Our partnerships with these independent cosmetic labs give us exclusive first access to their revolutionary new products. Our expert knowledge and research, as well as our relationships with industry insiders, allow us to select products that best represent future trends in high-end, luxury beauty. All our premium ingredients are known for their efficacy and ingenuity.

Memberships in From the Lab begin at $19.95 a month and members can re-purchase their favourite items from limited stock


All about barre3

aamadonna.jpgClick top title to open the item and scroll Recently, I tried a work out at Atlanta’s new barre3 studio in Buckhead.  Barre3 is the creation of celebrity fitness expert Sadie Lincoln. It combines ballet, barre work, yoga and Pilates for challenging whole-body workout. Barre 3 got a big boost a couple years when it became known that Madonna was working out with Lincoln. Since then barre3’s popularity has grown.

With so many new barre workouts appearing on the market it is hard to choose the one you will like best.  The barre 3 class I experienced opened with a warm-up that had a 1980s “Jane Fonda” feeling to it.  It was followed by an effective workout with light weights for arms and shoulders, and ballet barre work for the thighs and buttocks. These two sections were similar to other barre workouts that I have tried with classic exercises like pliés and bicep curls.  I loved the abdominal mat work at barre 3. The use of their squishy fitness ball really focused “the burn.”                                barre3 got a boost from celebrity fans like Madonna (photo: John Shankman)

Barre3 is a unique experience worth trying if you enjoy barre and Pilates. As with all barre workouts, if you are looking for yoga this is not yoga.

The Buckhead studio is owned by Katie Schrier. She first fell in love with barre3 at Lincoln’s original flagship studio in Portland, Oregon.  Katie agreed to answer my questions_Blog_Atlanta.jpg about barre3:

Katie Schrier on barre3:

DD: How is barre3 different from other barre workouts?

KS: Our variety and our approach to fitness are what make us different. We offer variety:  We have a unique ability to teach classes that consistently deliver a head-to-toe, balanced workout without being boring or repetitive. We are constantly innovating so clients get fresh, smart, and thoughtful exercises that will continually challenge, break plateaus and fight

boredom. We have a team of choreographers with a singular mission to balance the body and improve posture. Our choreographers come from a wonderful and diverse background ranging from professional athletes, to yogis, accomplished dancers, Pilate’s teachers and physicians.

“One thing that is really special about barre3 is our focus on whole body health.  Being healthy isn’t just about working out, it’s about everything from how you sleep to how you nourish your body to your relationships with friends and family. Because all 24 hours of the day contribute to your overall health and well-being, we offer clients support beyond our studio walls with online workouts, seasonal recipes and combined exercise and nutrition programs like 28 to Great and 7 Day Body Blast. We also recently launched a Mobile App that
gives you easy access to local studio listings, 10-minute workouts that are great on-the-go, seasonal recipes, even the ability to create your own grocery shopping list with ease.


Another way to plug into our vibrant community and get loads of support throughout the day is through our Atlanta – South Buckhead Facebook and Instagram pages. I love staying connected with clients online – I’m constantly posting tips and tools to help the Atlanta community stay motivated and on track.

Another thing that makes us totally unique is our signature three-step workout formula designed (and proven) to build strength, burn fat and create long, lean muscles. Here’s how it works:

We start with an isometric hold. By holding your muscles at mid-contraction (their strongest point) you increase strength and endurance without having to add weight, shorten the muscle, or even move. Holding still strengthens your muscles continuously (there’s no room for breaks!) while focusing on posture and alignment.

Then, we layer on small, controlled one-inch movements. By moving only one inch, you maintain the strength and endurance benefits of a hold but can keep it up longer. One-inch movements heat your body from the inside out, increase core strength, and rev your metabolism.

Finally, we flush out the body with low-impact, large range motion, a heart-healthy cardio blast that improves circulation, sends fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, burns calories and re-energizes the body. The results are truly amazing!”

I’m most proud of barre3’s accessible, warm, and welcoming approach to fitness. Our community is supportive of one another. We’re a family. It’s amazing to see veteran clients shepherd newer clients. My favorite parts of the day are the moments I spend in our studio lobby before and after class connecting with clients and my instructor team. Our

culture is really special.

DD: How many times week is it recommended doing the workout to see

results?  And how long before results are apparent?

KS: I encourage clients to do barre3 at least three times a week. And because it is low impact, barre3 is a workout clients can do daily, if they so desire. Many clients tell me they feel a difference in the way they hold their posture after just three classes. Our studio is celebrating our one-month anniversary this week and I already have clients telling me they have seen physical changes in their body such as weight loss and a stronger core. One client told me she has been able to shave a minute off her running pace time. Another client who is a violinist shared that she feels herself holding a stronger posture while playing the violin and that she is experiencing fewer aches and pains from her time spent playing.


Southern food lightens up

ATST_Case_0709NAv4.inddSouthern Living Slim down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil and Southern Living is the perfect cookbook for anyone who wants to indulge in the rich, sweet food the South is known for, without blowing those New Year’s resolutions. O’Neil takes southern traditions such as “meat and three veg” and modernizes it. Instead of fatback and three portions of soggy, cheesy veggies, O’Neil suggests roasted or baked meats with fresh, crisp vegetables. She offers old favourites that are lightened and brightened. Such recipes as Lemon Herb Madeleines, BBQ in a jar, and skillet fried chicken are mouthwatering versions of traditional favourites. 

The book also contains recipes and meal suggestions for every time of day as well as many different occasions. O’Neil also includes serving and entertaining suggestions. Another nice feature is the many interviews with Southern chefs. This is a wonderful book for anyone looking for creative ways to serve healthful food for family and friends. 

I had the chance to ask Carolyn a few questions about eating, cooking, and entertaining the “Slimmed Down Southern” way. Here is what she had to say:

DD: How do you define Southern cuisine? How does it differ from regular American cuisine?

CO: Southern food is so closely tied to our history and heritage and still reflects our close connection to the land. It’s comforting, wholesome, and generational. There is no other regional cuisine in America that is so defined as Southern food. Southerners have an emotional relationship with family recipes and it keeps our food alive and thriving.  

DD: What is your favourite dish for entertaining? 

CO: I always make grits when I have a party. They’re easy to feed a crowd, and are always a dose of comfort on everyone’s plate. I served my Peppered Pork Roast with Blue Cheese Grits for Christmas Eve last year and it was a huge hit. The roast can be made ahead and the grits are to-die-for.  

DD: What are your favourite tips for entertaining?

CO: Plan a menu that almost all can be done ahead of time. Make a timeline of what to cook when for the three days leading up to the party. Start the party with an empty dishwasher. Wait until the very last guest’s leaves before cleaning up. Don’t let your guests clean up. Relax and enjoy the guests. They’re at your house to spend time with you. Serve family style. It creates more conversation and community at the table. Offer a drink as the guests enter the door. Plan out the flow of the guests to prevent a clog of people in one part of the house.  

DD: Who was your greatest culinary influence and mentor?

CO: Nathalie Dupree was the first professional cook I worked with and remains to this day the greatest influence on my work. She taught me so much about being in the business and held my hand on the journey from her apprentice all the way to a colleague.

 DD: What recipe in this book do you make the most often? CO: I make Divine Pimiento Cheese at least once a week. I could live on it and be completely happy.

 DD: What is your favourite healthful Southern dish?

CO: Beets are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. I’ve never met one I didn’t like. I cook them all ways from pickled to roasted, but really love the Beets and Chevre Salad.




Chatting with Alexandra Dilworth of Bravo’s The Real Atlanta


Alexandra Dilworth

Alexandra Dilworth

Alexandra Dilworth is cast member of The Real Atlanta, which follows a group of passionate entrepreneurs and performers as they try to make it big. Alexandra is an outspoken, rich Daddy’s girl in this crowd of hard-working professionals. From the first episode, she stirred the pot and caused controversy by declaring her goal was to be a “trophy wife,” as she attempted to dominate the other women. 

We caught up with Alexandra and she agreed to share some of her style tips as well as her impressions after a season on a reality show. Here is what she had to say: 

DD: What was most stressful and what was fun?

AD: The most stressful is probably seeing the social media after each airing. People can just be so mean for no reason. I don’t let it get to me, but sometimes I just feel bad for my friends and family who read some of the comments because they know me well and it makes them angry. The most fun part is all of the people I’ve met because of the show. I’m a very social person so I really enjoy all of the new and different perspectives I meet. 

DD: What are three of your fashion must-haves for every day?

AD: Yes. Big earrings, bright colored lipstick, and an awesome pair of shoes. 
What are three of your fashion must-haves for red carpet occasions?

AD: The perfect set of heels, a cute clutch, and a dress that will make a statement! 
Please define “trophy wife” and explain why you aspire to be one?

AD: A trophy wife is a dedicated housewife who is there for her husband and children. She is a homemaker, a philanthropist, she has many hobbies, and she takes care of all of the family’s social affairs. She is not just a pretty woman who sits on her behind every day; she is a well-rounded woman who is adored for her dedication and hard work to the family. I aspire to be a trophy wife because my mother was one and I do believe in traditional family settings. Being a housewife is hard work and I’m tired of it being looked down upon. I want to change the meaning and negative connotation of the phrase Trophy Wife



Chatting with Lydia McLaughlin of Real Housewives


Lydia McLaughlin

When Lydia McLaughlin joined The Real Housewives of Orange County some of the other ladies mistook her for a lightweight they could dominate. They soon found out, that in spite of her little girl looks and quirky personality, Lydia is not a pushover but a powerhouse in a petite package. 

Lydia has been close to power all of her life and she isn’t easily intimidated. She is the granddaughter of Canadian media mogul Geoff Stirling, founder of the NTV television network. Lydia is also very proud of her Canadian heritage. She took her Orange County cast-mates skiing in Whistler, British Columbia to show off her Canadian roots. 

In addition to being the mother of two young sons, Lydia and her husband own and run SKYLAB, a modern art gallery, and Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine.  Lydia also designs her own line of jewelry, Lydia. She designs each piece herself from crystals and vintage chains. It is handcrafted in California from the finest materials with 10 percent of the profits going to the iSanctuary, an organization that provides rehabilitation options for survivors of human trafficking, both domestic and abroad. 

Lydia took time out of her schedule to share some of her style secrets and inspirations.

Here is what she had to say:


DD: When did you start designing jewelry? What inspires your designs? 

LM: I have always been interested in jewelry and design. When I was in high school I would wear a necklace as a headband or a belt. I have always been into fashion and expressing myself through my “look”.  My everyday life inspires me. We live by the beach and I love the beauty in Laguna and wanted to create a line that is sophisticated yet feminine and ready to wear. 

DD: What piece from your collection do you wear most often and how?

LM: I love wearing my Pandora bracelets. I wear three of them at a time, and last night I slept in them. I forgot I still had them on! 

DD: What are your three beauty must-haves and why?

LM: I love Vitamin E oil as eye makeup remover. I feel like it’s good for my skin while getting rid of my makeup. I also love a good lip gloss. Bobby Brown makeup is my go-to. As well as jewelry for your hair. Let the world see your sparkle.  

DD: What is the secret of your fitness routine?

LM: Before I had kids, I would work out four to five times a week. After kids I just don’t have time for that! But, I am more efficient with my workouts, so if I’m at the gym, I am working it!  I do a boot camp class, and there are people in there who are faster and stronger than me, so I am always pushing myself to keep up! I think what you eat is more important than how you work out. I love the documentaries “forks over knifes” and “food inc.” We aren’t vegetarian but we do Meatless Mondays and things like that. It’s more about a lifestyle than trying to fit a dress size… But what do I know? Apparently I could use a cheeseburger (This cheeseburger remark is a reference to a crack made to Lydia by a cast-mate. I told you, she is not a pushover. She called him on it.) 

DD: What is always in your hand-bag? 

LM: Diapers, wipes, lollipops, granola bars. Stuff for my boys. And my lipstick and iPhone for me. 

DD: What is your idea of the perfect romantic evening? 

LM: Being with Doug anywhere. He is very romantic and has planned some of the sweetest, memorable evenings for me. I love it when he shows effort and attention. The smallest things like making a dinner reservation, or getting flowers just shows the ladies they care.  


Chatting with Kyle Keller


Kyle Keller

Kyle Keller

Kyle Keller has been compared to Jenny McCarthy because of her quirky humour and “hottie” looks, but we think she is an original.  Since being picked as a MAXIM Hometown Hottie, Kyle has gone from radio personality and style expert, now to television host. She is the latest addition to VH1’s popular reality match-making show Tough Love. 

As busy as Kyle is with all her new projects she took time to tell DolceDolce readers about her new projects and share her beauty and style tips. 

DD: Kyle what was the most surprising thing about being on VH1’s Tough Love this season?

KK: The most surprising thing for me this season was coming to terms with the fact that I am, indeed, disconnected. As a broadcaster, I’m used to interviewing and asking questions, but never realized I “interviewed” people and wasn’t connecting with others in my personal life. It’s been a challenge. 

DD: How to you manage to look good all the time while shooting a show like VH1 Tough Love, with the very demanding schedule?

KK: The first few episodes were hard for me because I was sick and didn’t feel like I looked good at all. I had to wear glasses and couldn’t wear makeup while the other girls were extremely dolled up, so the best I could do was have fabulous clothes! I’m pretty low-maintenance in general in terms of getting ready. As as long as I had some mascara and blush, I was able to work with the schedule!  

DD:  What are your three beauty must-haves and why?

KK:  My three beauty must haves are Maybelline’s Volume Express mascara, Bare Minerals powder, and MAC’s Bronze eye shadow. I have been using them for years and always get compliments on my skin and eyes. To me, less is more … if you want to do a smoky eye, then you need to have a nude lip! 

DD: What are your everyday fashion must-haves?

KK: My fashion must-haves change with each season. Luckily, the weather in Los Angeles is always nice so I can wear tank tops and jeans all year round. I’m obsessed with shoes. The higher the heel, the better!!!

DD: Do you have a special red-carpet routine? 

KK: My red carpet routine is pretty simple: My stylist, Marisa Kenson ALWAYS dresses me in her fabulous designs, so I base the rest of my look off of what I’m wearing. Usually, I have beach wavy hair and a smoky eye, but recently, I have been rocking a red lip!  

DD: What is the secret of your fitness routine? 

KK: I love to hike and do yoga and try to do some sort of exercise every day. I’m pretty lucky genetically, but my diet could be better! Ha-ha. I’m a grazer and tend to snack throughout the day so I try to make healthy choices. 

DD: What is always in your handbag? 

KK: I ALWAYS have Listerine spray on hand; I can’t interview with bad breath!! I also have a few lip glosses and Chapstick handy, and, of course, dental floss! It’s never attractive to have something stuck in your teeth!!! 

DD:  What was the funniest thing that happened while you were shooting this season? 

KK:  Honestly, this season was difficult and very challenging. I was stressed the whole time!! I think the funniest thing for me was seeing one of my best friends from high school date one of the guys I lived with. It was so weird!!!


Chatting with True Blood’s Valarie Pettiford

Valarie Pettiford, True Blood's newest cast memeberTony nominated actress Valarie Pettiford has been cast in a recurring role on one of TV’s hottest, sexiest shows, True Blood. We won’t give away the plot but the she is involved in a “wolfish” story line. You may have seen Valarie on the small screen before in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne or on the show Half & Half.
We asked Valarie her about joining such a successful show. We also wanted to get some of her best beauty and fitness tips.
Here is what she told us:
DD: True Blood is one of the sexiest shows on TV and quite a bit has been written about the nudity on the show.  How do you feel about the nudity and sexy tone of the show?
VP: I love it!!!! Enough said 🙂
DD: You are an accomplished dancer. Does this help you with your role on True Blood?
VP: Yes there is always tremendous pressure when joining a cast that has been together for years, and especially when it's a hit show. You want to fit in and you want to contribute.  You don't want to disappoint. Also, you don't want to disappoint the fans! That's why I was so grateful that cast and crew was welcoming. They made it so easy to do the work.
DD: What are your fashion must-haves for every day?
VP: For me, my Rock and Roll boots. I can dress them up or dress them down. I've had them for years. They keep getting better with age 🙂
DD: What is the secret of your fitness routine?
VP: Because of years of being professional dancer I have a couple of issues with my bod which limits what I can do. What I can do is Spin class, Power Plate class, weights, and Pilates.
DD: What are your favourite beauty must-haves?
VP: Ponds make-up remover and moisturizer – and a great mascara and lipstick.
DD: What is always in your hand-bag?
VP: Lise Watier lipstick, hand sanitizer, pocket change, pen.
DD: Share three of your best fashion or beauty tips?
VP: Wear what makes you feel good. Feelin' good is good for the soul.
      Less is more, sometimes 🙂 whether it's fashion, beauty or life.
       Water, you can't live without it,
Season six of True Blood airs on Sundays at 9 ET on HBO.