Archives for December 2010

December 13, 2010

Getting into the Spirit with Linnea Johansson and Xante’

If you were going to survey my apartment, you would think a gourmet chef lives there! I mean, I have all the right pots, pans, knifes, tools and accessories.  I collect recipes, cookbooks…..hell; I even take an occasional cooking class. But unfortunately for me, the cooking gene just passed me by. Not that I don’t have an interest in cooking, I do, but I genuinely do not have a comfort level in the kitchen.  It would be easier for me to talk nuclear physics (a subject I know nothing about) than cook a dinner for more than two. We had home ec for one year in junior high, and I failed miserably! I would have rather been playing basketball…..what was I thinking?

Fortunately I am lucky enough to surround myself by people who are experts though! One of these people is Linnea Johansson. Linnea’s passion is food.  When she was a six year old and vacationing in Greece, she helped run food in a friend’s restaurant rather than play on the beach.  Her favorite summer vacation memory?  The year she helped out in a strawberry shortcake booth in Vermont. It is no wonder that some of the biggest name in show business, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Julianne Moore, Sean Combs, Reese Witherspoon, Sienna Miller and many others, run to Linnea when they need to throw a party or two.

Since I needed some help with a few of the holiday parties that I will be attending, I could think of no one better to ask than this Swedish born New York City based chef, event planner and kitchen goddess!  In her entertaining cookbook, “Perfect Parties-Tips and Advice From a New York Party Planner’ Linnea shares her best professional advice on food, cocktails, decorations, invitations, and much more to make your event a success.  Her book offers innovative menus and designs for all skill levels and party types- from an informal brunch to the most elegant dinner party. Her tips ensure that you will never run out of ideas on how to make your next get together a unique and memorable occasion for your guests!

One thing that I normally try to do at my holiday events is to come up with a new drink. It normally will inspire conversations, even if you are going up to someone you don’t know and asking them what they think of the drink.  Did she have any favorites?  One of her favorite spirits comes from Europe and it was one that I had never heard of-Xante’ Pear Spirit.  Xante’ is a combination of a fine French Cognac, with a touch of vanilla and the perfect penetration of pear. Sounded heavenly! And Xante’ is perfect on its own, or it can be combined to make a delicious cocktail.

Here are three of her favorite recipes:

1)      Xante’ Hot Apple (perfect for those of us in cold climates!)

1 ½ ounces of Xante’ Pear Spirit

Fresh Apple Cider

A Cinnamon Stick

Heat the cider with the cinnamon stick.  Add the Xante’ before serving.


2)      The Lennart (perfect for those of us at a beach!)

1 ½ ounces of Xante’ Pear Spirit

1/3 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice


Pour over ice in a highball glass and top with Sprite or 7UP.

Squeeze a lime wedge and drop into the glass.


3)      And here is one Linnea just created……

3 AM cocktail (anti-hangover)

1 part Xante’Pear Spirit

1 part Passion Fruit Coconut Water

2 Parts San Pellegrino Lemonata Soda

1 Lime wedge

 Mix Xanté and Coconut Water in a cocktail glass. Pour over ice and top with Lemonata soda and squeeze of lime.

I can’t wait to try them at my next event! And I hope to include Linnea’s wonderful advice, tips and fabulous recipes in upcoming blogs!  Who knows…..maybe with her advice, I will manage to finally be comfortable in my kitchen!  For more of Linnea’s advice and recipes, see and for more Xante’s recipes see

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December 12, 2010

Are you protecting your skin in the cooler weather?

Did you know that using sun protection all year long is essential for healthy, hydrated skin?

Are you aware that the sun’s UV rays are around all year long?

If you answered “YES” to both of these questions, you’re right!

November was National Healthy Skin Month. It was originated by the American Academy of Dermatology to increase the awareness of the significance of year round care for your skin…even during fall and winter.

The following points for healthy skin, especially during the cooler weather seasons are quoted from ~ Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU and practicing Dermatological surgeon:

· Cloudy Days Still Mean UVA rays. Those wrinkle and age-spot producing rays are present rain or shine and indoors or out. Whether you’re driving your car, inside near a window, or outside on an overcast day, sun protection is essential.

· Use Lightweight but Equal Protection. Although you may not need a heavy-duty sunscreen this winter, you should still use one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Dr. Hale suggests Coppertone® Oil-Free Faces SPF 30, a lightweight product you can use.

· Don’t Forget About Your Lips. Lips are the most exposed to the sun throughout the winter months. Toss an SPF-containing chapstick into your bag for everyday use to keep your lips hydrated and protected.

If you have sensitive skin, including rosacea, COPPERTONE® Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotions provide an SPF 50 for your body and face that includes:

• A gentle, hypoallergenic formula
* Broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection
* Non-Greasy
* Fragrance-free
* Waterproof
* Won’t irritate skin or sting eyes
• Free of dyes, oils and alcohol

These COPPERTONE® Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotions are available nationwide at food, drug, mass and Internet retailers.

I really enjoy the feel of the COPPERTONE® Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotions. The SPF 50 is great, especially with the UVA/UVB protection. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that such a quick to apply, lightweight, easy to use product will provide you protection from the elements.

Your skin is going to be with you for quite some time… Don’t forget your sunscreen, whatever the season!

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December 9, 2010

Chris Willis

Music….it is a staple of most people’s lives.  How many people do you know that don’t have a radio, stereo, IPOD, MP3 or music on their computer? I can’t think of any of my friends.  Our tastes in music also changes as we age, travel, and experience life.  I am convinced a great party game would be putting everyone’s IPOD’s or MP3’s into a bag, mixing them all up, and having to identify the owner just by looking at the play list!

I don’t think it would be that easy! I remember a friend of mine being amazed at a song that he saw on my play list. He actually couldn’t believe it would be a song that I had even heard, let alone downloaded.  My taste is very eclectic. Of course, growing up in the rock and roll age, my IPOD has  rock (now it’s called “classic” rock to make us feel older), pop, jazz, classical, rap, gansta rap, hip hop, r & B, blues, dance, reggae, gospel, island, musicals and movie soundtrack, you name it, I am sure it is somewhere on my IPOD.

I am a big music junkie.  I’ll get a tune in my head and it will stay there for several days.  Since I am currently in a “happy funky upbeat mode” one of my latest uploads is an incredibly catchy dance anthem “Louder (Put Your Hands Up)”.  Great to dance to, work out with and quite frankly just hum and be happy…….it creates feelings of joy, excitement and brings out the “life is good” Tigger in me. It’s a nice place to be!  

So who is this guy Chris Willis? After all it is his creation? He, with the commanding voice that refuses to be ignored and the songwriting hooks that will not leave your head??  “Louder (Put Your Hands Up)” is the Atlanta –born gospel singer’s first solo offering.  But he has been around for awhile. Chris has been the voice and songwriter of hits with uber-hot French producer David Guetta including “Love Is Gone”’ “Every Time We Touch” and “Just A Little More Love”.  He has worked with pop, R&B, and hip-hop A-listers ranging from Ne-Yo, To Fergie to Kelly Rowland to Will .I.Am to LMFAO. Chris remained front and center as the master-mind behind the single “Getting Over You”, (featuring vocals of Fergie and LMFAO).  It recently was #1 in Europe and was featured in the soundtrack of MTV’s Jersey Shore after steadily climbing the US charts this summer.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Chris earlier today!  It was nice to learn about his influences….  He grew up in Atlanta in a very musical family.  Gospel singing was a family staple. A grandfather directed a church choir.  A grandmother performed in Carnegie Hall.  His parents are musical.  His mother played the piano, and she and his father would travel and perform in choirs. They exposed Chris, his two sisters and his younger brother to all types of music, not just gospel.  Chris inherited his mother’s piano playing and can play by ear.  Holidays with the families end with sing-a-longs; acapella included! I hope they have some of these sessions taped as they must be spectacular!

So….with the holidays approaching, lines getting longer, tempers getting shorter, I find myself singing “take another sip of the premium, keep the drama down to a minimum, just  turn the music up to the maximum, spin the bottle down, down, down…….” And life is good! Thank you Chris for restoring my mood! And I am so looking forward to your futures endeavors!

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December 9, 2010

The Place To Be on December 9, 2010?? The Plaza Beauty!

The Plaza Beauty, one of my favorite places to shop will be welcoming 4 of its celebrated designers to their boutique on Thursday, December 9, 2010 from 1pm to 5 pm.  Meet Ky Bae, Amy Nix, Inna Roizin and Lucia Tristao.  Work with one of these noted designers to create a custom piece and receive 10% off of your purchase. I personally am familiar with all of their creations, (absolutely stunning doesn’t begin to do them justice!!)  and am very happy that I will be able to meet all personally at The Plaza Beauty.

Ky Bae, a native of Korea, crafts jewelry made only from the best stones and crystals collected from exotic locations around the world.  They are jewelry inspired by energy. Ky started making jewelry as a hobby when her designs quickly became a favorite of friends and admired by all those encountered them.  KB Collection represents a harmonious blend of stones such as Amethyst, Tiger’s Eye, Jasper, Citrine, and Crystal.  All of her pieces are unique. To see more of Ky’s designs see

Jewelry designer Amy Nix of Nix and Stones, creates statement pieces created by layering and pairing……..vintage pieces with new. I spotlighted Amy in my blog during the month of October, which you can read on my past blog topics.  I spotlighted Amy not only because of her breath-taking designs, but because of her work with domestic abuse shelters.  

Inna Roisen, born in Latvia, began her collection creating hand-made custom beaded evening bags and cuffs for all of her friends.  These were her staple designs.  Inna’s collection has since evolved to belts, bustiers, and one-of-a-kind art pieces and accessories made-to-order.  She works with precious, semi-precious, antique and unique beads collected from all over the world to create her custom works of art. You can view more of Inna’s collection on

Brazilian born Lucia Tristao began her career as Primiera Ballerina and her talent was recognized on an international level.  As a ballerina she traveled to America to study with the American Ballet Theatre as well as the prestigious Carnegie Hall.  She further showcased her artistic talents as a make-up artist, a fine art consultant as well as a singer and actor.  While working with Valentino, she discovered she had the passion to create. We all have Valentino to thank, because for the past decade she has been creating headbands, hats, and hairpieces, each made only with the finest international materials.  Each piece is unique in every way defining Lucia as an exquisite architecture of beauty.

Join other jewelry and accessory designers, as well as skin care professionals and fragrance experts at the Plaza Beauty on Thursday, December 9, 2010. The Plaza Beauty is a complete collection of essential beauty luxuries housed in one opulent boutique.  Drawing from the worlds of skincare, cosmetics, accessories, and fragrance, The Plaza Beauty represents an exclusive array of the most luxurious, efficacious beauty formulas from internationally renowned brands. Located in the landmark Plaza Hotel, The Plaza Beauty embodies its namesake’s rich heritage of elegance and cachet, contributing to the Plaza’s legacy of impeccable taste and historic glamour.

The Plaza Beauty, One West 58th Street, Grand Concourse Level, NY, NY 10019

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December 8, 2010

Pictures from “Combat to Career”

It is fitting that on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, we in NYC got together to celebrate our veterans! Led by Joseph Abboud’s Creative Director, Bernardo Rojo, along with CEO Tony Sapienza and President Kenton Selvey , the IAVA, JCPenney and  in conjunction with leading New York athletes Shaun O’Hara, Kevin Boss, Matt Dodge, Antrell Rolle, Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Bear Pascoe and Deon Grant, “Combat to Career” care packages were filled with essentials to help returning vets transition back into civilian life.  Players and vets stood side-by-side as they got into the holiday, mingled with shoppers and took pictures. 

 This fall 2010, JOE Joseph Abboud, JCPenney, and IAVA celebrated veterans with the national campaign “Welcome Home Joe’” which provided Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with $1 million in certificates to purchase professional attires as the transitioned to the civilian workforce.

Below are some pictures from the event and to view more photos from the “Combat to Career” online see

**Photo credit: Dave Allocca/



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December 7, 2010

Lincoln-It’s Not Just the Town Car Any More!

Not that I dislike the Lincoln Town Car…..just the opposite! I love the Town Car! Especially when someone else is driving!  One of the things that you get used to very quickly in NYC is car service.  The vast majority of the services in town use the Lincoln Town Cars, and for good reason! If I am given the choice (which happens pretty often) between taking a limo or a Town Car, I’ll always opt for the Town Car.  Smooth, quiet ride, completely pampered in luxury……my ride (normally to or from an airport) becomes my sanctuary…..can’t compare!

The people at Lincoln certainly hit an appropriate note when they introduced the new 2011 MKX and MKZ to the press at the Lincoln Pampering Event at MILK Studio’s in the Meat Packing District on December 6, 2010. The 2011 MKX and MKZ are the first of seven new vehicles that Lincoln will unveil in the upcoming years.  These vehicles seamlessly integrate technology and design.  The vehicles feature My Lincoln Touch, which is an interaction between driver and car like never seen before. This feature utilizes intuitive technology that the driver can activate three ways; by voice, by touch screen or by steering wheel controls. This will allow the driver to concentrate on more important things, like the road! The technology is even able to offer the driver the most eco-friendly route.

Luxury and hybrid designs normally do not go together.  And they certainly have not been priced the same until now. The MKZ hybrid is priced the same as its gasoline counterpart. It is nice to not have the car company penalize the buyer for wanting to be more environmentally conscious!  The MKZ is also made with organic leather (which can be recycled), as well wood from sustainable forests for its luxurious interior design.  

The 2011 Lincoln’s have been rated as the most fuel efficient as well as having the most torque in its class.  The MKZ gets 41 mpg in city driving and is 50% more fuel efficient than any other luxury vehicle. It uses the battery not fuel thus reducing the gas needed and saving fuel.  In city speak; a tank of gas will enable you to drive 700 miles, which is 200 more than its competition. It is a good thing the car’s technology will locate the nearest gas station, because with mileage like that, you will forget where the gas stations are located. You will rarely see one!

Made in the USA, the MKX and MKZ have all of the best features that a Lincoln is known for; a quiet, smooth, luxurious ride. The cars are also sleek and stylish, and have the most standard features like heated/cooled front seats and heated steering wheel.  They combine the utmost in luxury with the latest in technology, while having the best mileage and power in its class.  They make me long for those days I had a garage and driveway! If I was looking for a luxury vehicle, my search would begin and end with the Lincoln. My hardest choice would be what color! For more on these outstanding cars see  And test drive one of these babies before making any new car decisions!

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December 5, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 7th, 2010 Event!!!!!!!!! Sure to be a hit!

Celebrate Our Troops

On Tuesday December 7th, you can join some of New York’s leading athletes at JCPenney to give “combat to career” care packages to returning veterans. Just in time for the holidays, dynamic partners JOE Joseph Abboud, JCPenney and IAVA (Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America), and several of New York” football greats, will salute the newest generation of veterans as the host an in-store event for a truly worthy cause. 

Athletes, vets, and customers will assemble care packages on-site.  These care packages will contain fashionable must-haves that will help male and female vets transition into the workforce in style.  Encased within the IAVA messenger bags, men will receive a tie, wallet, sunglasses, shoe-shine kit, umbrella and men’s grooming products, while the women will enjoy a jewelry set, scarf, a leather make-up kit, featuring make-up and skin care provided by Sephora inside JCPenney.  Throughout the day, customers will have the opportunity to interact with the players and vets, enjoy a uniquely branded photo booth and enter to win special raffle prizes from JOE Joseph Abboud and JCPenney, including tickets to the Giants vs. Eagles game, and a signed football.

Scheduled to appear will be New York’s finest football greats, Kevin Boss, Shaun O’Hara, Matt Dodge, Osi Umenyiora, Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Bear Pascoe and Deon Grant.  It all happens from 12:30 through 2 pm at JCPenney Flagship Store located at 33rd and 6th Avenue.  (100 West 33rd Street at the 6th Avenue Entrance.  

Come and thank our veterans, meet our athletes and get some holiday shopping done!

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December 3, 2010

Gift for the Quintessential New Yorker

Windows at Bergdorf Goodman

Ah, the holiday season in New York City! One of the prettiest times of the year to be here! Whenever I have out-of-town friends who ask me when I think is a good time to see the city sights, the holidays are undoubtedly my number one choice!

There is always something to do here any time of year, but life becomes extra special around the holidays.  The decorations, displays, events– we New Yorkers love a spectacle and around the holidays, these spectacles are everywhere! Come holiday season, one of the most amazing sights to behold is the elaborate window displays at stores throughout the city.  Looking at store window displays has become a holiday tradition for generations of New Yorkers and tourist alike.

One of the most elaborate window displays has to be the windows of Bergdorf Goodman.   Bergdorf Goodman was founded by master tailors Edwin Goodman and Herman Bergdorf in 1901.  It is located in the former site of the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 58th Street.  The store is known for its one-of-a-kind exclusive fashions and unparalleled service.   

Their window displays are legendary not just at the holidays, but throughout the year.  They are the creations of the Bergdorf Goodman visual gurus of Linda Fargo and David Hoey.  Their work consists of innovative displays that do far more than herald the changing winds of fashions. They are rich in their artistry, detail, smart references and sly visual jokes.  While our dynamic duo never stops thinking about the holiday window display, it sometimes take advance planning of two to three years to come to fruition.  The unveiling of the holiday windows is one of the most anticipated events of the year.  The theme for the 2010 holiday windows? “Wish you were here” which is about traveling to faraway places on unexpected forms of transportation.

Bergdorf Goodman’s splendid window displays have now earned their own limited-edition, hand-bound Assouline tome.  Assouline books are a work of art themselves as they capture culture and bring it to life. This collector’s item presents the best of the past decades window displays at the store.  It contains more than 100 illustrations, including three gatefolds and fifty-five photographs tipped in by hand. It is a perfect gift for a past, present or wannabe New Yorker.  Re-live the magic! It is available on the store’s seventh floor as well as at and

Photo by Rudy Pospisil. See more of Rudy’s photos at

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