Dysfunctional Relationship with a Retail Chain

You and I need to have a sit-down. Just you and me. I feel – well, I feel like maybe you’re playing games with me.

At first, everything was all glossy and potentially as much as 30% off, but some days, you just seem like you’re high.

And when you give me something? When you give me something, it just seems like you’re trying to get me to give you something back in return.

I’m pretty sure you’re toying with me.

For instance, why would you withhold that $20 until the next time I see you? Why couldn’t you just give it to me today? Are you trying to keep me around? Trying to keep me interested? To keep me coming back?

I feel like you’re a little manipulative. And controlling.

And you jerk me around like a ragdoll sometimes, you know? Just let me walk away, knowing full well everything will be cheaper tomorrow.

Is that what you think of me?

It’s like you’re someone different every time I see you. One day, you’re buy one, get one for a penny, the next you’re no interest for six months, and the next you’re the Lowest Price of the Season! It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.

What happened to the good old days when things were transparent? Remember? With the price tags? The sticky ones? That stuck?

Now it seems like you’ve gotten a little big for your britches, with your fancy digital displays and your loyalty card. And your VIP credit events. I feel like a pawn.

And your sales? What sales? With you, there are no sales. Everything comes at a price.

If this keeps up, I’m afraid I am going to have to break up with you. Yep, break up. Shop at another store.

I really think we need a break. I’m just going to, you know, see what else is out there. I can’t be party to your mind games any longer.

And I will. Just as soon as I spend this certificate I got the last time I was here.

Beaching It As a Kid vs. Beaching It WITH Kids

I have a pail full of summer beach memories – sitting in traffic in a hot car with steel seat belts for hours, having to eat lunch in that car due to said traffic, and having appendages break through spaces in woven plastic lounge chairs, to name a few. But most of all, I remember our red, white, and blue cooler, with no wheels, that weighed about ten thousand pounds, we lugged back and forth every time .

As I gear up for another summer with three little ones, I find myself often amused at how we ‘got by’ as kids, and how we rock the beach today.

The Beach in the ’80’s: Building sandcastles, in a bathing suit, for hours, unsupervised.

The Beach Today: Building a sandcastle, covered neck to knees in SPF 50 swim duds, overseen by two hovering caregivers.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Everyone carries two armfuls of beach gear.

The Beach Today: This thing…

Picture courtesy wheelez.cn

Picture courtesy wheelez.cn

The Beach in the ’80’s: Tempting salmonella with meatball and cheese sandwiches that sat in foil, in a plastic bag, for twelve full hours.

The Beach Today: Lunch via color-coded Ziploc bags, arranged according to child and food allergy.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Baby oil.

The Beach Today: Sunscreen, safely hidden by SPF 100 swimwear, covered by a Trapper Hat, wraparound sunglasses, and water shoes.



The Beach Today: Ventilated, portable, self-erecting cabana with insect screen.

The Beach in the ’80’s: A towel on your head.



The Beach Today:  Swimmie diapers.

The Beach in the ’80’s:  Shit out of luck.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Sand-crusted aluminum cans filled with your favorite carbonated beverages.

The Beach Today: BPA-Free double-walled sippy cups with silicone straw cozies.

iPod shuffle 4G

iPod shuffle 4G (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The Beach in the ’80’s: Music courtesy one family’s battery-operated “beach radio”.

The Beach Today: iPhone, iPhone, iPad, a Kindle Fire, and an iPod Shuffle.






The Beach in the ’80’s: Making random vacationing ‘beach friend’ while swimming.

The Beach Today: Seahorse-themed beach playdate, scheduled three months in advance.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Taking a header off a wave and emerging with skinned knees and a mouthful of salt water.

The Beach Today: Full-body flotation suits.



The Beach in the ’80’s: “Beach Clothes”, i.e., anything you didn’t mind getting wet or dirty.

The Beach Today: Coordinating three-piece set with matching towel and tote bag from Pottery Barn Kids.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Sunbathing.

The Beach Today: Building a bunker.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Aluminum beach chairs.

The Beach Today: Zero-gravity chairs with built-in massage, cup holders, USB port, and canopy.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Hanging out in the sand until dusk.

The Beach Today: Leaving as soon as possible to avoid contracting West Nile Virus.



As the kickoff of beach season fast approaches, I wish you sandless sandwiches, tremendous tan lines, and seaweed-free trunks.

Nine Beauty Must-Haves for Busy Moms

I, like you, juggle day-to-day chaos with grace and ease, effortlessly sauntering about, looking beautiful and feeling the same.

If you actually are a mother, you’ll realize that the previous statement is completely and utterly false.

I, like you, have a hard time cramming everything I want (and need) to do in one day. I, like you, have chipped nails, neglected toes, wayward hairs, and patches of dry skin. But I’m finding a way out of it.

I’d like to present you a few items that are helping me through.

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product

I was introduced to It’s a 10 by my loyal and ever-helpful hair stylist. According to the bottle, the product does ten things. And it probably does. Am I able to rattle off what those ten things are? Of course not, because I’m a…ready? I’m a busy mom. But what I can say is that it leaves my hair soft and manageable, guards against split ends and heat styling, and tames flyaways, ahem, on the fly. It’s also a Godsend for my daughter, who is of the curlier persuasion. I use the It’s a 10 plus Keratin. You can apply it to either damp, clean hair or hair that’s dry, and them comb through. It doesn’t get much more simple than that. Best yet, you can find It’s a 10 practically anywhere, from CVS to Target to your local SuperCuts. Try it. It’s a 10 retails for about $15. 

Fast-Dry Topcoat

Anyone with kids (pets, dishes, plants, hands) understands it’s not always easy to treat yourself to an at-home manicure. The minutes tick away in anticipation of a small person asking you to open a package, remove an item that’s wedged inside another item, or wipe someone’s something. A good manicure requires time. Time. Well, seems I’ve found time in a bottle. INM Out the Door Fast Drying Topcoat is a product I wish I’d found long, long ago. You can go from wet to set in minutes, and not taffy-consistency dry. I mean, dry dry. Go on with your day like nothing ever happened dry. And that’s priceless for someone who doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait for two-plus coats to set. Orly, OPI, and Sally Hansen also make fast-dry products. Fast dry topcoat will truly change your beauty life. You can find INM Out the Door Topcoat at Sally Beauty Supply for around $5.49.


I know. You’ve heard this a zillion times. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Well, moisturize already! And how ’bout this? I don’t care what brand you use, whether it’s fragranced or fancy, cheap or expensive, or made for babies’ bottoms. Just use it. Think of all the times in a day your hands are submerged in a sink, or being assaulted by antibacterial gel or foam, or scrubbing the floor with Clorox wipes (maybe that’s just me). I’m not going to show you my hands right now, though I should. I have not used moisturizer today. There’s nothing that gives you that New Mom Smell (albeit temporarily), or makes you feel as great about body as slathering a truckload of moisturizer all over. Sure, it’s an investment of a few moments, but the rewards last about twenty-four hours. Again, just use it.

Scented Candles

Image Courtesy of Flickr

Anyone who knows me knows I have a cabinet ludicrously full of Yankee Candles. Why? Because the scents make us feel good. They transform us, transport us. They make us happy. Lighting a candle at the end of a day, or over a luxuriously hot bath simply screams Me Time. My favorite scent right now is Meyer Lemon. Do with that what you will, but there’s something about scented candles that make you feel human again, instead of a taxi-driving maid and laundress. Check out Yankee Candle here, or find other brands at your favorite retailer or mall shop.

Jewelry Cleaner

I catch a lot of flack for cleaning my jewelry – my wedding ring, engagement band, watch, and sometimes earrings – pretty frequently. People do not understand why I bother. At first, I cleaned my rings because I was getting formula powder stuck between the prongs, or I made contact with a bowl of spaghetti. But now? Sheer vanity. I enjoy shiny things. And so should you. It is truly a mood lifter to look down at your hand and see your beloved jewels twinkling back at you. My favorite is Conoisseurs, and it will set you back about five bucks. You can find it at most major retailers, drugstores, and online.

Lip Gloss

I will go so far as to say any lip gloss on this one. From the impromptu runs to the store for poster board, or the “right” tortillas, to the pickup line at school and ballet class, lip gloss tells the world, “I finished getting ready today.” At least I think it does… My ultimate favorite brand is Laura Geller. It has a healthy, glossy shine, it’s thick without being gloppy, the shades are extremely versatile, and it wears all day. Other favorites include Burt’s Bees and Clinique. Prices range from about $4 up to $19.

Trendy Sunglasses

Along with the theme of looking “finished”, nothing says ‘I thought about this outfit’ better than sunglasses. Me? I have one pair of really great quality designer sunglasses. I also have a few pair of not-so-designer sunglasses. From eye bags to finishing off a well-composed look, they help. Trust me. And if anyone’s feeling charitable, I’d more than happily take a pair of these.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure

I know. I talk about nails so damned much. But here’s the thing. If you’re like me, you enjoy manicures that last more than twelve hours. And there are a few brands on the market right now, whose names I dare not speak, that don’t quite live up to those standards. The Sally Hansen Complete Salon manicure can do up to seven days easily. It’s basecoat, polish, and topcoat all in one, and it’s reliable. If you’re doing your nails at home, I’d highly recommend you get some. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure can be found at all retail drug chains, other discount stores, and online for between $6 and $8 a bottle. 

Freeman Bare Foot Foot Scrub

This is a product I’ve been using for many years. It’s inexpensive, can be found most anywhere, and lasts so long. It’s best when summer creeps in and rears its dehydrated, scaly head. Want to rock sandals? No problem! This stuff sloughs off the unsightlies right in the shower. Plus, its smells great. Freeman Bare Foot Foot Scrub can be found at at all retail drug chains, other discount stores, and online for between $3 and $4 a tube. 

I hope my picks help you streamline in this fast-paced world where it’s so hard to get (and stay!) pretty.

Happy Primping!

AHS Freak Show: Was it Good for You?

When I had originally written about the season premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show, I had no idea how wrong I would actually be – about the story line, about the characters, basically about the entire season.

What I’d imagined would be a shock-and-awe campaign, brimming with fancy and gore, actually turned out quite the opposite. Of the things I remember most vividly about this season, in fact, gore was probably last on my list.

Sure, the clown(s) at the beginning got me – they got a lot of people. The grotesque, the new-to-the-eyes, the mayhem, all drew us in. What I hadn’t expected, though, was how sharply the season would turn into something packed with more humanity than I’ve perhaps seen nowhere else this winter.

Many have mused throughout Freak Show how co-creator Ryan Murphy could possibly top last season’s Coven, and here we sit, trying to determine whether that goal was achieved. We’ve also mused about whether or not Jessica Lange could outdo every character she’s progressively outdone since the series began. And we marveled at Sarah Paulson’s working overtime, geniusly portraying conjoined twins, Bette and Dot.

Now we’re faced with the question: How did we find this season, and where do we go from here?

My opinion (that’s why you come here, right?) is that this season ruled them all, for quality of acting, story line, complexity of character, and viewers’ overall investment in the season. In the grand scheme of things, many were mutilated, dismembered, and shot at close range, but for some reason, I don’t remember much of that. What I do remember is Dandy Mott’s (Finn Whitrock) evolution from a pandering mama’s boy to a calculated killer, the moment Ethel (Kathy Bates) received her terminal diagnosis, and Elsa Mars’ (Lange) difficult and disheartening journey to her final destination.

Truth be told, I found last season’s Coven a little bit sloppy. There were episodes I felt were hammered out over a writers’ table in a matter of hours. Other episodes seemed to simply be filler. Yet, despite all that, I remained curiously disgusted about and intrigued by much of the story. What I did not have last season, though, was any sort of emotional attachment to the characters. Though Bates was hilarious and Lange played the hell out of Fiona Goode, I still wasn’t loving any of them. If (and when) one of the characters died (then came back, died again, and was maybe burned or buried alive), I wouldn’t have shed as much as a tear.

I liked them, but I didn’t care about them.

And it’s a hard sell, right? Could we love a bunch of freaks? Did we? Does the horror aspect of this show sort of disappear into the vapor when we can see inside the minds and hearts of its characters? And is this good for the business of horror in the first place?

Has the show become a drama? And would it bother you if it were? I think it would be alright with me. After all, in what arena can you successfully shake up complex characters with good old-fashioned horror, the supernatural, and the infinite darkness of the human mind?

I liked Freak Show. In fact, I liked it quite a lot. But I also felt that aspect we crave, that desire to have the wits scared out of us, seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. I paid much less attention to the gore than the characters and story this time around. At this point, I can’t say whether that’s a credit or a detriment to the series. The construct is more high-minded for sure, but is it in line with the rest of the franchise?

Has American Horror Story evolved? And if so, will the series evolve from here? Will it shed its bloody skin to become more of a drama than a horror story? Would you still watch if it did?

I don’t know. I’m thinking I probably would.


American Horror Story Freak Show can be found on FX. The show has been renewed for a fifth season.

Friendship in the ’90’s vs. Friendship Today

Remember having friends? I mean, really having friends? Those people, who came over, maybe ate dinner, or even watched a movie, with you? Or, better yet, people with whom you went out to the movies? Remember sitting around a table, laughing about your misadventures months after they happened?

I remember those people, too. And those times. Ah, how it used to be. In the good old days, if I may.

Please come by Redbook where I break down the major differences between friendship in the ’90’s and today.

And don’t forget your selfie stick.


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