Gracey Hitchcock,Click on the topmost title to open and scroll to open

No one is perfect. We all mess up sometimes. May be we feel overwhelmed or have take on too much –or we just mess up and hurt someone. If we are smart we straighten things out and if necessary make amends. But, the ebb and flow of this type of behaviour should be very limited.


When it comes to being on time, respect, kindness and all the little niceties that make up a friendship if the scales are not balanced, you might be the problem. Because, my darlings – and I am guilty of this, too – people will treat the way you let them.


So if friends are careless with your friendship, gently remind them of the missed appointment or other offence. Don’t lecture but be firm about the problem. If a friend or colleague is dismissive of your work or help – and this happened to me recently – don’t offer it so easily again, no matter how sweetly they ask. Believe me, no matter how coolly they receive the information people get the message. This isn’t about playing a game of tit-for-tat – it is about standing up for your value and demanding to be treated as you deserve. When it comes to respect, actions speak louder than words.


Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian Friends and Happy Columbus Day!

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Gracey Hitchcock

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Girl time!

A relaxing spa can be the ideal place to spend quality time with a friend or two.
When was the last time you spent quality time with a good friend? I don’t do that as often as I used to, and sadly not as often as I would like.
According to experts, spending time with good friends is a boon as well as being enjoyable. A new study out of the UK, recently reported in the Huffington Post, found that children who experienced “unpleasant events” with their best friends produced lower levels of cortisol than those who experienced the same events alone. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can shorten your life. Cortisol is also responsible for adding fat around your middle. It is definitely not something you want to encourage!
In an article entitled An Alternative to Fight or Flight, Gale Berkowitz reported that," A landmark UCLA study suggested that friendships between women are special.” She reports, “They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.” Can you think of a better reason to slow down and make time for your friends? I can’t.
So when my good friend and colleague Angela D'Amario and I had the opportunity to investigate the girl’s getaway at The Chattanoogan Hotel, we didn’t hesitate. We were both overdue for some serious R&R and catching up. Busy work schedules and a very nasty cold on my part had left us both tired and little stressed.
A relaxing spot to chatChattanooga is a pretty little city tucked away in the gorgeous Tennessee Mountains. It is an easy two-hour drive from Atlanta and the perfect destination for anyone looking for fall getaway with temperate weather and beautiful scenery.
Angela had visited Chattanooga before, but it was my first visit. I was charmed by the welcoming, walkable city. It was wonderful after driving in Atlanta’s traffic to be able to hand the car over the hotel’s valet and then forget about it for the duration of the trip. Restaurants, bars, festivals, shopping, and the amazing Tennessee Aquarium were all within walking distance or reachable by the free electric trolley from our hotel.
But darlings, we really didn't come for sightseeing, although we did visit the aquarium. And we had a lovely lunch at Nikos, a cute Greek restaurant on the south side of the city, before checking into the hotel. We came for the spa. As a career beauty editor, I can tell you that all hotel spas are not fabulous. Most of them are luxuriously appointed, but the level of services can vary. It is possible to get a mediocre massage or second-rate pedicure in very posh surroundings, but for a very steep price. I have experienced both.
The spa at The Chattanoogan is low-key, in keeping with the mountain setting. But don’t be fooled this is a serious spa with all the amenities and top-notch technicians, as Angela and I found out.
I had a combination deep tissue and sports massage to deal with my aching muscles. My massage therapist, Nicole, expertly zeroed in on the muscles I overuse in my daily workout, and she also worked on my achy joints. She was thorough, intense, and careful as she kneaded away my aches and pains. My massage also included a pumpkin scrub for my feet. Nicky also applied a moisturizing aqua pack to my face as she worked on my neck and shoulders to soothe my dry skin. It was heavenly.
Angela had the “nourishing facial”. The treatment was selected for her by her esthetician, Paula, based on questionnaires we filled out when arrived at the spa detailing. Angela told me Paula applied different anti-oxidants to her skin with a very gentle massage. She also massaged Angela’s neck, shoulders, hands, and feet. After the facial Angela's skin calm and glowing. Angela skin is prone to redness and Paula’s treatment was very effective. Paula also applied a collagen eye treatment which Angela said was an add-on to her facial.
Even the next day, we both still felt the benefits of our spa pampering.
After our afternoon of renewal we were so relaxed that it was fabulous not to have to leave the hotel for dinner. We headed down to the hotel’s restaurant, The Broad Street Grille. We were delighted to discover the emphasis on a farm-to-table menu featuring fresh local ingredients.
The service at the restaurant – and the hotel for that matter – was friendly and welcoming.  We were offered the choice of sitting at a regular table or the chef’s table, which is a bar that overlooks the kitchen prep area. The chef’s table would be a great option for a woman alone or a group of foodie friends would enjoy a bird’s eye view of the action. We opted for a quiet table for two.
We both started with an amuse bouche of a perfectly caramelized scallop on a bed of sweetly-stewed onions, butter, and herbs. The seafood was fabulously fresh and the perfect start to dinner. I then had the soup of the day, a delicious white bean soup redolent of smoky ham and herbs. It was perfect for a fall night.
A trio of mini crab cakes on an aioli type sauce and fresh greens from the appetizer menu followed the soup. The crab cakes were perfect. They were crisp and full of tasty fresh crab.
Angela grew up in Germany and she loves traditional pork dishes. She ordered the fresh local pork chop. She told me it was tastiest, juiciest pork she had in very long time. We both enjoyed the wine that we ordered by the glass. Neither of our selections was disappointing, as is so often the case with wine by the glass. There were several good choices of each varietal. We split the vanilla crème brûlée for dessert.
For me, a spa trip provides the perfect combination of bonding time and relaxation on a short getaway with girlfriends. A nice hotel with a great spa lets everyone relax and forget about driving and traffic for a day or two as well while indulging in some well-deserved pampering.
If you haven’t had time to catch up with your best friends lately why not try to plan a spa weekend, or at least an afternoon in spa heaven. It will do you a world of good. Just ask the experts.
The Chattanoogan Hotel has a Girls Just Want to Have Fun Package. It includes deluxe overnight for 2 nights with breakfast for 2 days, a spa lunch as well as a full menu spa pampering, and other treats.   It starts at $500 per person based on double occupancy.
The hotel has modern mountain decor with dramatic but cozy fire pits and many amenities.

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You’ve got to have friends!

The diva Bette Midler sang it, and it is so true; darlings you’ve got to have friends. So make time for yours. Life is short. Good friends soften life’s blows and they make good times even sweeter. Call a friend for a chat, to go for a walk, to have a drink, to do yoga, or to go away for a spa weekend – but make time for friends.
On another note check out our own Anne Gravel’s weight loss blog. It’s really great. Go Anne!
Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already; email your info to domore@dolcedolce.comDolceDolceis free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Please LIKE us on FACEBOOK Look for our logo! Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
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No time for the bitchiness backlash

In this 1980’s teen classic, mean girls play for high stakes --and one of them pays ultimate price. Recently a gorgeous young friend asked me if there was a beauty backlash going on. She had been subjected to nasty, unsolicited comments about her hair and weight by other women. I wasn’t surprised. Nasty comments couched in seemingly helpful or self-righteous tones are common ways some women try to cut others down to size and establish dominance. When I was younger it used to happen to me – and surprisingly it still does.
No matter how often it happens, it always takes me by surprise.
I have always had a lovely group of friends growing up. We never behaved that way. We dressed for Friday nights with none of the nasty competitiveness you read about. I encountered a mean girl or two, but they were easy to avoid and ignore.
Bullies want attention and status
I was lucky, and now I understand why. My group was popular, cohesive, and non-confrontational. The wannabe mean girls knew this and had to restrain their behavior. They couldn’t really be that mean or they would have become pariahs — and they knew it.
A recent study by the University of California Davis says a teen’s popularity dictates  how much bullying they will do. The research says the most popular kids don’t need to bully or torment others; they already have social status.
In a similar study done in the Netherlands and quoted on WebMD, researcher Rene Veenstra said"bullies aren’t looking to be loved, but they are looking to be noticed.”
The Dutch study included almost 500 grade-school children between the ages of nine and 12. It stated that “children who bullied were often motivated by a desire to increase their popularity, and that they chose generally unpopular victims to avoid losing social status. Boys who bullied tended to seek the approval of other boys; girls who bullied sought the approval of other girls.”
Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence contends that cute girls are mean because they can be.
My mean girl tried and failed
I am not sure if there is universal motivation, but I do agree most bullies are looking for attention at some else’s expense.
Mean girls use social sabotage
Most of us have encountered a mean girl. A girl in our group in high school was a mean girl to me. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care what her problem with me was. I was never anything but nice to her, but she was as mean as she could be to me — without getting caught out by our other friends. She still goes out of her way to be unpleasant whenever I see her, even after all these years.
She once tried to cause trouble for me by repeating something I told her in confidence. At the time I confided in her, I was unaware of her venom. I was a little shaken that a teacher had attempted to touch me inappropriately. It was a minor incident as these things go, but unsettling nevertheless. I swiftly exited the room and resolved never to be near that person again. That was the end of it, or so I thought. She was the first person I ran into as I left the room, and I confided in her after swearing her to secrecy. I also had told her that nothing had happened. I had fled unharmed and annoyed. I warned her to avoid the guy.
This mean girl promptly reported that I was “spreading rumors.” Luckily for me, she blabbed to someone in authority who knew us both well. When this person asked me what had happened. I told him exactly what had happened and I wanted the matter dropped with no drama. And so that was the end of it.
I have never spoken of it since — until now. She simply wanted to cause trouble for me. Mud sticks, even if nothing had happened — as she well knew. I did not want that type of gossip attached to me. Thanks to an intelligent administrator, she failed to drag me though the mud, but I know that was her intention.
They are social snipers
Women like her are snipers; they lie low and take shots from the cover of friendship or innocence. They mask their intentions. They define the words catty and bitchy.
Studies show women are reflexively competitive with other women
My friend who feels judged by other women is not imagining it. In a recent widely-reported study, women admitted to passing judgment on other women within 20 seconds of meeting them. Women look at how fat another woman is, whether she wears too much makeup, and whether she had her roots done. The study included responses from 200 women aged from 18 to 45. So if you think mean girls grow up to be nice, think again darlings, many of them stay mean.
My friend is 25 and she was harassed by women her own age. One of her so-called friends told her that she should not try to be the same weight that she was at 20. Please! She is only 25. She is working toward her fitness goal through exercise and healthful eating.
On another occasion, a woman whom she had just met at a party felt compelled to
comment that “colouring hair is not natural or good." She directed this to my friend who had been receiving compliments on her pretty blond highlights. This might sound minor, but she attacked my friend in a conversation at a party, and it felt hostile. She didn’t want to defend her grooming choices, or even discuss them at social event.
My advice was to avoid women like this. Who needs the bad attitude? I reminded her that the women at our fitness club (we worked out together in Toronto) were lovely and supportive. So are the beautiful and talented young women she grew up with – so why put up with nastiness.
The best way to deal with this bitchy backlash is to learn to shut it out and not let it get to you. Surround yourself with women who share and support your values. The last thing a woman needs as she struggles to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle is a negative friend. I am sure a lot of my own confidence comes from growing up surrounded by beautiful and supportive women who were quick to reject catty behaviour.
Often mean girls grow up to be mean women
Sadly many mean girls don’t outgrow being mean. Recently, on a popular reality show I saw a group of women attacking another woman. They were criticizing her for working hard to stay young and fit. The woman they were discussing looks fabulous. The venom the other women directed at her was astounding. I was amazed when they brought up her age and questioned whether she was menopausal. The woman leading the attack is only five years younger than the object of her scorn — and has had all of the same cosmetic procedures. It’s not unusual, I know few women who have not had to deal with the occasional mean girl.
Cultivate friends who reject the cookie-cutter coven mentality
I adore my women friends. We all have our own style. We are far from the
cookie-cutter coven some women seem to want to belong to. Even at my age I am still surprised when an attack comes from some random woman who takes a shot at me about my looks or life style. Now, it doesn’t get to me. I just have no time for the bitchiness backlash.


I enjoy stories like Princess’s. They are fun to write because they are inspiring. People do accomplish their dreams, and anyone can make something wonderful happen for herself and others. It’s a matter of being open to the opportunity. 

Many years ago, a friend of mine who aspired to be a writer talked me into going to a mystery writer’s convention with her. She did not tell me it was a glorified fan convention, or that she was using the trip to try to write an article and didn’t want to go alone. She was sneaky and manipulative about the whole thing. But, I decided to let her behavior slide and have fun anyway. I rationalized that she was embarrassed about her aspirations. And a trip is a trip – and I do love a good whodunit.
Well darlings, long story short, she dumped me for an hour or two to pursue her interviews. During that time, I met some rather famous writers. We all hit it off. We made plans to meet again at the cocktail party and then later at the bar. Yes, she was invited and she liked these writers too. It was a fun, informative evening. There were great women. She sulked all weekend long.
Years later, I am a writer and as far as know she is not.  I believe she sealed her own creative fate by indulging her bad attitude. She missed an opportunity to meet many creative, generous people that weekend. I still think it is very sad. There was no shortage of goodwill or inspiration in the room.
Princess’s project, The Southern Television and Film Summit, will give talented people a chance to meet those who can help and inspire them. That is exciting. Darlings, be open to opportunity; it’s too precious to miss. Life is short, but can be sweet!
Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already or email your info to and I’ll do it for you! DolceDolceis free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
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© DolceDolce® 2010
All DolceDolce content is copyright

Shut -it down

Fabulous supportive friends are a source of wealth, but true friendship is a two-way street. Darlings, I am not recommending that you fight everyone’s battles or involve yourself in all the dramas that come your way – far from it. The world thrives on drama and much of it is small, tiresome and distracting. But gossip and bullying is soul-destroying, so help shut it down. It’s initiated by the jealous and small-minded. Often disinterest alone can squelch nasty natterers. Life is too short to spend time down in the mud with rumour, petty gossip, and pointless manipulation. Be smart and strategic, but draw the line at pointless negative behaviour. Elevate yourself with those who seek to make life sweet.

Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already or email your info to and I’ll do it for you! DolceDolceis free. And please forward us to all your friends. And please give us your comments by emailing us at the same address. We want to know what you think. Let’s start the conversation!
Gracey Hitchcock
Photo by:
© DolceDolce® 2010
All DolceDolce content is copyright

Do you have to be either a snarky b*t*h or a doormat?

Some  mean girls never grow up --what a bore!Recently, I heard a disturbing discussion on the Today Show about how “snarky” women are to and about each other. It startled me. The same week I attended a prestigious press luncheon. A careless woman left her bag sticking out in the aisle between the tables. I tripped over it as I was walking to my seat. The people I was speaking with at the time grasped at me, trying to stop me from falling. They were concerned I was hurt. And as it turned out, I was — a bit banged up. The offender looked me coolly and moved her bag. She did not apologize.

Her bag was clearly where it should not have been; it was placed far out into the aisle where many people would have to walk to find a seat. She looked at me quite calmly. She was not embarrassed. I would have understood that reaction. No, she was a simply a “b—-”. The other women’s reaction around me spoke volumes; they were also clearly surprised by her lack of manners.
I am perplexed and appalled. This woman is the co-founder of a magazine for women. She is an experienced professional. We do not know each other, so it could not have been personal. Why would she behave so badly?  Is she simply on auto-snark when dealing with other women?
Listening to Hoda Kobt and Kathie Lee discuss how badly women can treat each other seemed some what ironic when their popularity seems predicated on their “girlfriend good feelings vibe”. Granted they were not endorsing the behavior.
A successful newswoman, Hoda spoke with authority about “how sharp women’s elbows can become at work”. She is not wrong. Darlings, I have had women who have actually lived at my house as guests for months stab me in the back at work.  I have also made generous life-long friendships with women friends in the workplace. We all have a choice about how we conduct ourselves. It’s funny, some of the strongest, most successful women I have worked with are the most generous, professionally and personally.
You may dismiss this all as just “TV-talk”, but I think it is important. Recent research shows some of the worse bullies at work and school are grown-up “mean girls”. I have seen my friends’s daughters — all popular and lovely — suffer the scorn of mean girls. Luckily for them, they have observant, savvy mothers who were able to help them though it quickly.
I have dealt with my share of snarky b—–s in the work place. I can’t and won’t excuse their behavior. We all have bad days and problems, but we do not have to snap off other peoples’s heads or insult them. These are trying times, but it’s not an excuse for territorial or hostile behavior. No, this is the behavior of a snarky b—-, not a professional or a lady.
Mean girls, the young and not so young ones, defend this kind of behavior as necessary. They say they need to be “tough” to get ahead and seize opportunities, otherwise they’d be doormats.  Please! I can stand up for myself and so can you without resorting to underhanded nastiness and bad behavior.
A friend just told me about her daughter’s recent plight. The young woman is attending a summer enrichment program at one of the seven sister colleges in the U.S. She recently called her mother distressed because the shared kitchen in her dorm is so dirty that she and her roommate can’t use it. The sink and counters are piled high with their unwashed dishes and garbage. She refused to take her mother’s suggestion to post a polite sign requesting a clean up. She fears social reprisals. I know she is most likely right. It would not be the young men who would bother her, it is a women’s floor. No, the snarky young women who made the mess would treat her to cutting remarks and a whispering campaign for daring to complain.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose; things have not changed much since my university days. I remember being in the sights of mean girls once or twice. Fortunately, it is difficult to socially terrorize someone who doesn’t care for clique mentality and will fight back. But, that type of social pressure can be devastating to gentler souls. I would never recommend that more timid types directly confront their tormenters.
I am grateful for the women in my life. We don’t cut up other women, it’s not our style. When I told one of my dear friends what I heard on the Today Show — how some people flip through magazines to find fault with celebrities — she laughed out loud. Why anyone would do such a thing? When they would find the time?  She and I are known for our marathon conversations via Skype. We never run out of conversation about our own affairs. We laugh non-stop as we plan a million things to do together. We have been friends more than 20 years. Her three grown daughters have joined the conversation too.  
My friend Gerda Neubacher, a well-known Canadian artist, started a salon to celebrate accomplished women and help young artists. Most women close to me, friends and colleges, celebrate their friend’s accomplishments, children and lives.
Catherine Zeta Jones use honey as a beauty treatmentDarlings, we all know some snarky “b—-s”.  I avoid them when I can.  I don’t sit around and snark. What a bore!  If I have a problem with someone, I solve it or move on. If I am stuck with them for a while, I may moan in confidence to a close friend. I do not call this being snarky, but human.
I would rather work on becoming better, faster, and smarter than snarking at the competition. If I have a problem, then I can solve it. I suggested a big package of paper plates anonymously placed in the dirty kitchen to solve the problems my friend’s daughter had with the dirty dishes. And maybe if her mom agrees, a tad more dining-out dosh — anything to keep the peace. College dorms are as fraught with booby traps as a guerilla-infested jungle. My way may not be everyone’s way, but the young lady has a job to do and taking on a bunch of brats isn’t it right now. She picks up at home without her mother asking!
Darlings, I don’t believe the choice women have is to be a snarky b—- or a doormat. I believe in standing up for yourself in whatever way makes you comfortable. I also suggest you pick your battles. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon, and a lot of the stuff people who to challenge you on is just noise. Tune them out and join a classier conversation that will elevate your mood, mind, and spirit!
When the offence against you turns serious, defend your position, honour, and turf — but do it the right way. Keep your head and your heart high, and your elbows down. Believe me darlings, there is no more powerful or attractive force to behold than a smart, honourable, woman.   

Let your spirit soar

Darlings, I always say kill them with kindness, but lately bulling on large and small scale is out of hand. I’m not for one minute suggesting we get down to their level, but we do have to put a stop to. So if anyone tries’s to roll over your feelings, privacy, or prerogatives. Speak up firmly with compassion and determination and defend your right to live like a civilized adult. Never let any one dim your glow and walk with grace.


Have a sweet week and remember recharge your batteries by spending time with friends and family. Treat yourself to beauty break every day now that the weather is nice.  Break away to spend 10 or 15 minutes basking in beauty. Take a walk and look at architecture, books, fashion and flowers, use imagination and let your spirit soar!

Until next week, please sign-up if you haven’t already – DolceDolce is free. And please forward us to all your friends. Send us you comments, we want to know want you think. Let the conversation begin.







Gracey Hitchcock



© DolceDolce® 2009

All DolceDolce® content is copyright