Luxury Basics Blog
showing 16 - 30 of 45 post(s)
I was thrilled to get an email from Bahia, the gorgeous dark haired model on my website, informing me that she was a contestant on the new show "She's Got the Look." Essentially, the show is America's Top Model for women over 35. It debuted last Wednesday night on TV Land channel and the second segment was last night. Out of thousands of women who tried out, Bahia was in the first cull of 20, then blew through to the top ten. How I met Bahia is a small story in itself. I was meeting a photographer for the first time at a local coffee shop in Beverly Hills. I was bringing my jewelry and we were going to talk about a photo shoot for my website. He brought his girlfriend. Just as I was entering the door, I noticed sitting outside, Bahia, having a cup of coffee. I was truly captivated by her natural beauty in repose. I told the photographer and his girlfriend that the woman outside seemed to me, to be the essence of my jewelry designs and a beautiful representative of my company. In short order, the photographer's girlfriend walked out, introduced herself, popped the question and soon she was at our table, looking over my things. We have kept in loose contact since the original photo shoot, going our separate ways. At this juncture, though, I want to offer her all of the support that I can. She's not only a natural beauty, but a beautiful person as well. I believe that her inner beauty shows through, both on camera and off. Tune in next Wednesday night and follow the saga of these women contestants. You know who I'm cheering for!!
Semi Precious Jewelry is going to be a new area i intend to cover in upcoming blog postings. It will be very interesting to see the new trends developing out of India as they try to compete with the Italians. Stay tuned.
I am a pearl girl - anyone can tell that from visiting my webstore. Pearls are natural, one of a kind and have a beautiful feel in your hands, like nothing else. Although I have an affinity for most pearls, including the South Sea and baroque variety, there is a special place in my design heart for coin pearls. To me, they are very cool. They can be large or small and not quite round - but they look, well, counter- intuitive. Pearls are supposed to be round or at least round-ish, right? But here is something with the pearl luster but not the shape. Somehow, it doesn't bother me. I love the design opportunities they offer, I love the fact that they are really real. In June, I am hoping that my refreshed webstore will be finished and I will be showing a number of new designs, of course, a number of them with coin pearls of all colors and sizes and shapes. Stay tuned.
This post and the next couple of posts are connected with reaching out to more people who are shopping on the web. Many of you who are visiting my webstore may not be aware that I have many Collections now available, including a very beautiful and versatile Collection of Thai Silver designs. I am in the process of remodeling my webstore to make it even better for navigation. Just a word on Thai silver. It's hand made by a Hill tribe in Northern Thailand. The silver itself is between 97 to 99% pure fine silver. Sterling is 92.5% silver for comparison. As a result, the Thai silver has more luster, doesn't tarnish as quickly and it has a better heft. All around, a beautiful look. When you get back to my site, click on Product Line, then Thai Silver.
It is a lot more expensive to buy, we can all agree on that. Still, the gold jewelry which you can find in my webstore is 14k, which means that it doesn't fade or wear out like gold filled or gold vermeil. Because the cost of gold has more than tripled in the past couple of years, many designers have substituted the lesser quality and charged the same price as what gold used to cost. It's really not right - since consumers aren't really explained the difference. Gold jewelry, when it is 14k, will last a lifetime. Yes, it is expensive, but you won't have to throw it away after a year or two. Now, it's an investment. Because the price of gold has reached over $1000 per troy ounce, many women are taking their old gold jewelry that they don't wear anymore (maybe their grandmother's) and selling it for gold value. You see, there is a residual benefit to owning something of value. The other stuff, the gold filled, gold vermeil, etc. is actually valued only for the design, and for as long as the gold veneer lasts. Take a look at the modern pieces that I have in my webstore. They could be handed down or melted down - either way!
I've been busy lately. Not that I"m not usually busy, (of course, I am) but lately, busier than I would like. I have just designed a new men's line of "neckwear" and "wristwear" which is now displayed in the London Hotel (previously the Bel Age in West Hollywood) and will be featured on the men's side of my website by early May. (hopefully) I have also been developing a new collection for women that I haven't named yet. Actually, I haven't thought of a name for the men's line either. I'm working on both, even as I'm sitting here. Still in the mode of considering my life ( and the lives of my friends and loved ones) refracted against the daily grind for the masses. Naturally, some days, I feel like one of the masses, others I feel grateful not to be one. The other night, walking the dog with my husband, (a nightly occurrence) I just spontaneously said, "I regret that we're not ultra rich, but I rejoice that we're not poor." Lately, that's my perspective. And there's always the unexpected death of a friend"s close friend (yesterday) that concentrates ones thoughts to the essential ones. The redundant, not so comforting anymore, counting one's blessings. Doesn't work like the charm it once did. Could be I'm getting older, or just wiser to the game of life. If you live long enough and pay attention, at times, a person can see 20 -20. Clearly, that is. Hard to keep these moments of clarity uppermost in your consciousness. But I try. It's time to inject my sense of humor into this un-commented-upon blog. I promise, for next time.
Change is in the news these days. For the Democrats, change seems to be the imperative now. Change the ruling party in Washington, change the direction of the country, change the tone of government in general. For the Republicans, it's a little more difficult to assess what change might mean. Change President's, yes. Change policies, not so sure. Change the direction of the country, maybe, depending on which candidate you may support. It's a little funny to me, (not funny ha-ha) that change has moved from a threatening and potentially negative concept to a very very positive concept in a short time, at least for the Democrats. Of course, change can exist on many levels. I was reading this morning on my Yahoo news about a 400 pound guy that finally decided to change the way he was living, since he was suffering badly from carrying around all of his extra weight. He began to walk each day for an hour and adjust his diet by restricting his carbohydrates. He literally walked off 100 pounds in seven months and utimately lost almost 200 pounds. He was quoted as saying that he will never allow himself to ever gain the weight back. We may tentatively conclude that he first, changed his mind about his eating and exercise habits, second, changed his behavior to be consistent with his mind change and third, changed his attitude to preclude falling back to his old condition. Change, it seems, by it's very nature, requires consistency over time. To achieve true change in anything, consistent follow through is a must. Change is challenging at best. A rejoinder that is ringing in my ear right now is the oft-quoted, "be careful what you wish for." I agree with the sentiment of this notion because, change, being a process, sets in motion a number of things pertaining to that change which may spin out of your control and result in unintended consequences (sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse). The issue with a candidate that runs on a platform of change is that no matter how clearly enunciated that idea of change might be, effectuating that specific change in a dynamic environment of competing visions for that change, will almost certainly result in something altered from the original. And that may not be a bad thing. But we don't know. However, many people riding on the bandwagon right now are likely setting themselves up for disappointment. Now we come to the point of expectations. Because with change, there are expectations of what the change will be - will the change meet expectation, exceed expectation or fall short of expectation? I believe this is the real rub. If you knew what the result of the change would be, then you could make some kind of mental adjustment for it during the process. But that is not possible, since the process is dynamic and the outcome of the change can't really be accurately predicted. This, then, is the nature of our humanity and what confounds change and forces it to be exceedingly gradual, even when immediacy is dictated. (I'm thing about global warming here) We want resolution, most of us don't really like surprises, we want to know what happens next. This is hard. Look at the guy who decided to change his lifestyle in order to lose a vast amount of weight. He set in motion a number of changes in his life that likely infringed on others. He said so in this article. He thanked his family for allowing him to be selfish. To put his need to exercise for an hour each day or more, ahead of his children and his wife, who may have needed or wanted his company at that time. What if his family had not gone along? We might have thought ill of them, for not helping him to achieve better health, but they may have had their reasons, maybe even a few good reasons. They may have made the guy's decision difficult to implement, or guilt-tripped him, who knows? The point is, the guy set his plan in motion, and at that moment, lost control of all of the variables that would contribute to his success. He was lucky. He had a great outcome. Although to read the article, which states that he now exercises 2 to 3 hours a day, you might think that he has gone overboard and may be jeapardizing his family relationships with such a substantial dedication. Maybe his wife is now thinking, be careful what you wish for. On the national level, change sounds good right now. There's a lot of frustration and suffering out there that needs hope for the future. Whether that hope for the future can become tangible to the individual in a reasonably short period of time remains to be seen. We still have nearly a year left of the change we picked last time, twice. We must be careful in what we wish for.
I started the new year off with the news of the deaths of several wonderful people that I had the privilege of knowing and caring about for many years. On a more mundane level, over a two day period, my kitchen sink backed up, indifferent to Drano, and my roof sprung a major leak in my kitchen during a heavy storm, just as friends were arriving for dinner. There's nothing like death and finality to give context to your life and your petty woes. Which brings me to the topic of the day, actually, the topic of my every day, which is - making each day count for something.(Not just anything) Not so easy, this one more or less overarching goal of one's life, boiled down to chipping away at it, bit by bit, day by day. Yes, I do try. Some days I do better than others. Some days I try harder than others. Hell, just remembering to try can be elusive. The daily challenges are daunting. The detritus of a day can be wearing - kitchen sinks, roofs, running out of ink for the printer - you know the drill. These are not activities that can readily lend themselves to being elevated to some higher plane of philosophical meaning. Yes, I know it's all wrapped up in priorities - focus on the things that matter and the rest will "magically" take care of itself. To some small extent, this may be true. But there is still the need to eat, (not just me, but my family) to have clean clothes and a clean environment, a non leaking roof, etc. The simple stuff of life consumes a lot of time and energy. Yes, it does. Thankfully, I do have time left to dwell intermittently on the human condition. For example, why a mirror doesn't always reflect back accurately the image in front of it. Or, why so many people talk loudly on their cell phone about nothing in particular (at best) in the most crowded claustrophobic places. I try not to lose sleep over issues like these, but sometimes, it's hard. I can't figure people out these days. Somehow, looking around, I feel clueless about what I see. Partly, I'm a bit scared by it. Not recognizing anything inside the people I see wandering around my neighborhood mall. They look weird. Do I? I don't think I do, but then, they probably don't think they do either. When is the tatoo thing and the nose ring thing gonna get old, I wonder? What's going to replace it? I don't want to dwell on this subject too long. This is the part where I start realizing that I'm a grownup now and have the perspective of having "been there" myself, before. Easy to make a judgment, from a distance. So, I'm stuck with my life, like all of you are stuck with yours. I am going to try hard to keep my eyes open and my head up this year - a challenge for sure. And I will celebrate this crazy, stupid, ridiculously unfair, short term situation called life, for another year, in the absence of any better alternative. As the song goes, I will accentuate the positive...and try my best to do things positive because.......it's easier, and more fun, while it lasts. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it!)
Really, you can turn any activity into an anniversary occasion, as long as it repeats over some period of time. But let's be frank, some occasions are perhaps a bit more deserving of being commemorated, for better and sometimes, since you're counting, for not so better. For me, this 1st anniversary of the start of my business, Luxury Basics, is today, in the deserving category, but maybe not for the reasons a casual reader might expect. First anniversaries, you see, are way early in the game. Early in the game of knowing what you're doing, early in the game of being in the game, early in the game of your awareness of what the game actually is. All of these heretofore mentioned issues related to this game, as it gets defined, change over and over again, so next year, it may be that I'm still in the game, but differently. Who knows? Part of it is how you play your part in the game, how you learn your part in the game and then change your part, or how you define where you are in the game. It's very fluid, this game. It's not really about jewelry, as you might guess, although it appears that's what it's (the game) about. No, I would submit to you that any endeavor, whatever it is, if you're involved in it, being part of it and allowing it to be a part of you, is then, a reflection of you. Therefore, when anniversaries occur, (they sometimes arrive, or pass, depending on your point of view at the time), oftentimes there is an inclination or tendency to want to review, summarize, evaluate, take stock, or somehow mark the time as a stake in the ground for comparison before and after. After all, birthdays are anniversaries, and I had one of those recently, too. This is not the first business that I started from scratch, it's my second. The first one I started evolved into an investment banking business that became very successful and intermittently satisfying. I vaguely remember the passing of the first anniversary of that business. I was still clueless and struggling to pick my head up to see the real opportunities in front of me. This is actually one of the key conflicts. When you are actively engaged, your head is typically down, doing the work in front of you. But only when you can look up, can you begin to see what might be in front of you, a bit down the road, if only you could pay attention. I still don't have any idea how this new business will evolve. After all that I have experienced in starting and leading companies, there is still no shortcut available for that first year or so of being "head down" in the trenches. So, my head is up today, looking around. With the first year behind me, I can try to critically evaluate my progress at the same time as pushing ahead to the coming year with more and better thoughts about building my brand and my base. I have deliberately taken it slow - this creative side is still not fully me - but I am making progress. For example, I don't choke as often as I used to when I identify myself as a designer. Certainly a good and worthy sign. And my dreams are now punctuated with periodic pictures of new designs - I do get up and draw them. One year ago, I really couldn't imagine that I would be sitting here with a reasonable sense of pride and accomplishment. Fear was then the great motivator. (It usually is) Now, I am ready to move into the next phase of the game - expansion, then greed, then game over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Hopefully, I will be stuck in the expansion phase for a good long time. I am sure it will be the best place for me. Thanks for visiting. Stay tuned.
I was cleaning out my closet today, shifting the summer clothes into the closet in the library and bringing out the winter ones, moving them into the closets in my bedroom. Yes, it is a ritual, done more or less twice a year. It is a big job and takes hours - usually over several days. I get allergies now from the dust, my back usually aches from shlepping too much at a time, the winter stuff always striking me as remarkably heavy. (Why should clothes weigh that much?) Of course, it should be noted that I live in sunny southern California, and have lived here for many years. The ritual of shifting clothes for seasonal use is a Midwestern and Eastern one, maybe a Southern one as well. Most native southern Californians that I know find this ritual completely foreign to them - their closets are filled with the continuum of clothing that responds to the not very large swing in season or temperature, compared to other regions. For me, the change of season needs to be acknowledged in a concrete way - one that I find keeps me connected to my childhood and to my awareness of the passing of time. For me personally, the Fall is a particularly challenging time. I hate the loss of warm, sunlit days and the advance of darker, colder shorter days which always foreshadow the imminent approach of my birthday in November. Damn, another year older. I change our blankets to warmer ones, and get out the space heater for the bathroom. I shift the lightweight jackets to one side of the closet that's less convenient, move my sandals and flip flops out, move closed-toed shoes, half boots (no full boots for me, it's southern California, after all) and suede shoes in. Straw purses put in bags, patents and leathers moved closer. Lightweight workout clothes and sleep wear moved out, velour and sweatshirts moved in. Sweaters and leather pants, suede skirts and jackets moved to prominence; shorts, capris, see-through skirts crammed into the back of the walk in closet that my father refers to as "The Tunnel." Why "The Tunnel?'' Mainly because I have become ingenious at filling this walk-in closet with a very full assortment of clothes that often make the rotation with no use in between and because I hide presents there which I may purchase days, weeks, months or years before I need them. Also, I must confess, since I have been the same size for most of my adult life, I still have some things that I can't yet part with from days long gone, including some dating back to college. So this is part of the subject of this post. Not that I have a hard time giving things away, because I have actually gotten much better at it over the years. No, the subject is my consternation at how little room there is left for the wardrobe that I am shifting back, necessitating me to examine the real nature of my life at present and my activities and what I should reasonably expect my wardrobe to be, both now and in the near future. Ah, this is a heavy subject. And it will most surely lead to other, heavier subjects. And I'm not quite sure that I will be able to consider all of its portent in one sitting. The symbolism of the closet and its contents bears careful scrutiny and consideration. There is really so much to consider. The first point that I mentioned, how little room there is left for the newly rotating clothes, is truly irritating. I don't recall adding that significantly to my "base." Also, I know that I did quite a bit of pruning on the last go round, so there really ought to be room for everything to fit quite readily - and yet, late this afternoon, it became quite clear that radical action needed to be taken if I was to make the shift completely into the other closet. I stopped work when this radical action became abundantly evident to me and sought refuge in the darkness that was falling in the library and dampening my spirits by 5pm tonight. What will I need to give away? What should I shift into under the bed chests (which I recently checked, not remembering what was in them) for use later on? (who knows when?) How should I prioritize? These are all questions that need immediate answers, if I am to get all of the clothes off the chairs and into some secure dark place soon, before my family arrives for the holidays. I went back to the Tunnel this afternoon to try to evaluate the potential damage and do some problem solving - to little avail. I put a bunch of things in, filling up virtually the rest of the closet. Yet, there was still a very large amount of stuff still laying on one big chair, not to mention a whole other chair filled with the "maybe this needs to go" stuff. Problems, problems. I unloaded the long sleeved blouses and button down sweaters and moved them into a staging area on a chair in the bedroom. Before putting them away, I first needed to unload the sleeveless and short sleeved tops and shirts in my bedroom closet. Eyeballing the two different sets of clothes and the spaces they were bound for, it seemed like there would be challenges in this area as well. Crap. Again, it started to get dark, leaving me with little alternative than to delay this transfer yet another day. Tomorrow morning, early, I will tackle the heart of this. In order to complete the full transition, I must next go into my daughter's bedroom, to her second closet, where there may be some additional space to offload some of the indecisions until next year. Lately, I notice that my husband has discovered this available open space, and has been secreting his sportscoats there. I noticed last night that he had snuck in two sportcoats into my Tunnel, knowing full well that they had no right there and I would be forced to scout a new location for them. Right now, however, they are only removed and parked in the library on one of the stools, with the jacket arms dangling in a sort of dead, disembodied way. They will have to sleep there until tomorrow, when I can have the daylight to create some more daylight - in my closet that is. Of course, I really don't want to make any rash decisions about my wardrobe, save for the obvious ones. You know, the things that you wore out or wore only once (or not at all). It's good to get rid of those. And the receipts I was saving in my bathroom drawer, just in case. (some are probably yellow by now.) Right now, the questionable pile is filled with a couple suits and about 10 pairs of pants, jeans, etc. Should I take the cuffs off the black and white herringbone pants and let them live another season? Or, should I chuck 'em and all of those memories that went with them? I will sleep on it tonight and decide in the morning. My car trunk is already full of about 5 bags of stuff left from the summer switch. After this go around, Goodwill will be high on list.
This past Sunday, in the New York Times, I read a review of a guy who has become popular with the techies in northern California. His popularity stems from his notion that people nowadays spend too much time with their email and techie toys and don't prioritize enough in their everyday life. I know I said the very same thing a number of posts ago. But he wrote a book about it that has become a bestseller, so he wins. Book or no book, it is still a subject worth revisiting often, since life can be nasty, brutish and short. His contention is that too much time is spent doing things that essentially waste time or can be delegated. He recommends conducting more business over the phone which is more direct and faster, as opposed to by email, which can be tremendously iterative and time consuming. Duh. He conducts his business in four hours per week and has a lot of time to spend traveling and promoting his new book and theories on how not to waste time. Good for him. My question is, why has so many people fallen in love with communication tools that by their nature, are more distancing? For me, I grew up on the wonders of the telephone and the human voice and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I like the immediacy, the sound of the other person's voice. I feel like I can read between the pauses and sighs, the deep breaths. You can't get those in email. The interactive humanness is wrung out and replaced by intentionality and careful thought. Not really the same as conversation. But back to prioritizing. The point he is making is that at the very end of the day, (or at the very end of your life) what do you really have to show for all that time spent emailing and fucking around webspace?? Probably not much, when you consider that all of that time might have been used to engage in other more fulfilling activities, whatever they might be. Problem is, blackberries are addicting, iphones are addicting, being needed by someone who is urgently emailing or IM'ing you is addicting. His solution is simply not to respond. Unless it's urgent, that is. Ooops, there's my phone. I need to answer it. More later.
I just got back today from a short trip to Memphis, Tennessee. The air was crisp and at times blustery, but being there for the first time and looking around, I had such an immediate sense of things familiar and things foreign, all at the same time. I have traveled to many places in the South, both recently and over many years, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on the familiarity aspect - the vegetation, the brick and stone used extensively there, reminiscent of my childhood in the midwest, the trees changing color. The old buildings, homes, downtown area a bit dilapidated but showing signs of coming around - all familiar to me, all like or at least similar to home in Chicago. Of course, I just said home in Chicago, right? Interesting slip of the type, since I haven't lived there in over 20 years. There were aspects of the city that were foreign - how the city is laid out, for example, encircled by highways. How many of the buldings and roads were named after people famous in the city. Danny Thomas is everywhere in Memphis, on buildings (St. Jude) and others, on roads, at the airport, to name a few. And then there is the "small time" celebrity of Elvis (he doesn't need a last name) where almost every store you walk into has a picture on the wall with him and the owner or other celebrities. In certain parts of the city, it really feels like Elvis is still there, since his name and image are plastered all over. One store I happened into was a famous men's store called Lansky's, downtown. In addition to a major guitar collection (BTW, Memphis is the home of Gibson guitar - tours available) of famous performers, there are blown up pictures of Elvis being fitted by the much younger version of the owner with some new duds. I asked the owner, Bernard Jo, about the pics. "Oh", he said, "Elvis came in all the time before he was famous" - real nonchalant. "He was a good boy." In a soft southern accent, of course. I was there with my brother and my parents for a business event and so together we were able to compare and to contrast our experience of a new city with the one we knew closest and best. It's funny how all of us had these resurgent feelings of Chicago - maybe it was the change of seasons that was informing our perceptions. Whatever. It was clear that being together as a family, without spouses and unfortunately, sans our sister, who lives far, far away, the soothing experience of what is familiar combined with the stimulation of what is foreign engendered that long ago but not forgotten feeling of being a family for the first time, as kids. Discovering the city for the first time together. You never know what things bring you back - smells, fall leaves, old red brick houses. But it all comes rushing back, just like it was yesterday. Of course, it was many yesterday's ago. But for a moment or two, there is that memory and illusion of how it all was. In Chicago. I mean, in Memphis.
Lately, in my new jewelry business, I spend a bit of time reading fashion and fashion-related magazines. Trying to keep up with what's happening in the fashion worlds (Paris, Milan, New York, LA) and boil it down to the reality of the world in which many, if not most of us, live. What strikes me lately is my awareness, certainly over the past several years, of the tremendous proliferation of specialty stores combining now, finally, with a concomitant tremendous proliferation of designers of all kinds. I'm not actually trying to be dramatic, only observational. There are literally hundreds of webstores with particular specialties, retail stores -ditto, and designers that by hook or crook, manage to squeak out a small following in some of these venues. (Hopefully, I will not be in those footsteps) So here is my point. Most of the magazines spotlight differing "looks"; some spotlight "looks" that ought to look good on you; many feature interviews of happening people on the fashion scene talking about what's in their closet. It hit me last night, wading through an Elle mag, that just about everyone involved in these mags is wearing something else by somebody else, famous or about-to-be-famous. Very little overlap in designer or brand - maybe only Christian Louboutin, noticeable,(now that I think about it) a profound lack of Manolo mentioned. OK. So there is some unity there, somewhere. Otherwise, chaos. Really. Everyone is striving to be very individual, and reflect individuality in the choices of designers chosen. And yet, after all of the individual pieces are put together by all of these disparate designers on all of these disparate models, the end result really does look remarkably coherent from look to look. Not that different, after all. So, maybe we don't want to look thaaaat different? We want to stand out, we want our choices to be noted and respected, we of course want to look good, but at the end of the day (as they say) we don't want to be so different that we're really out there, alone, as it were. Those "out there" among us can wind up being really, really with-it and ahead of their time(but not too far ahead) or they might just be a little "kooky" (old word) or "nuts" (whatever fits). It's always just a little too difficult to know which way it will tip, so emulating them would be a bit risky. What is happening in our world now, more that ever before, thanks to the Internet, is an amazing ability to see what's going on all over the world and partake of it, directly and immediately. It's a dizzying thing, visiting places worldwide from a sitting position, having conversations, ordering things you like that you see, anywhere. Still, fitting in can be a good thing, while we assert our very individual essence. Somehow, we must yet find commonality, whether in choice of shoes, choice of world view, choice of leader, choice of living on the planet. Differences are a good thing, unity can very satisfying as well.
I don't know about you, but for most of my grown up life, my product choices in the beauty category were made long, long ago as a teenager in high school. For the most part, they were never really challenged. I was more or less happy with my skin care, cosmetics and hair care products and used them loyally for years and years. That all changed this past year as I began to notice that most of them were suddenly, not working anymore. This unmistakeable fact led me to the makeup counters of a myriad of companies, some old and some new in several department stores searching for products that worked for me. This was more of a process than I originally thought, with trial and error the order of the day. Of course, all of the beautifully coiffed and made up women behind the counter were convinced of the quality and value of their product line. In truth, we're all different in our attitudes towards make up and being "made up" and what we are willing to invest in terms of time, effort and dollars to the daily "toilette." For me, I want maximum benefit for minimum of effort. Period. Money is less a factor than time. Ten minutes in the shower, ten minutes to blow dry, five minutes in the morning for make up, five minutes at night to remove. Of course anti-aging is critical, but it better not take too long. So I thought that I would share some of my new product discoveries with you. They are all really great to use and they do deliver. Skin Care. My skin is now resting comfortably in the domain of Darphin, a small French company recently bought by Estee Lauder (since they buy almost everything). I use Stimulskin Plus, which is expensive but supposedly has anti-aging agents, or almost any of their moisturizers - they're all really excellent. I also alternate with skin care products from Fresh, called Creme Ancienne, another expensive one with anti-aging, and Rice Creme both really great. To remove my eye makeup, I rely on Pond's cold cream, deep cleanser. I still haven't found anything better. To remove the face makeup, I go back to Darphin, to their Intral Cleansing Milk for sensitive skin (even though my skin isn't that sensitive). I just love the smell of the cream though it doesn't linger too much, which is nice too. Cosmetics. For foundation, I am really happy with Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick. It is so nice to put it directly on your skin without getting your fingers involved - it goes on just exactly how you want it. Really an innovative product. For blush, again Bobbi Brown - Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks. I have only used it for cheeks with a sponge. Great natural color that doesn't look fake. For mascara, here is a must try. And I was definitely not a believer, me, of the make-it-fast school of makeup. Somehow the combination of the Lancome lady and piping-in of my teenaged daughter compelled me to buy Lancome's Booster XL, a mascara base which is white, to be followed immediately by the application of Lancome Definicils, high definition mascara. Yes, it is a two step process. It doesn't take much extra time. However, the results ARE something to write home about. You will be amazed at how defined your lashes become. Your friends will notice, even strangers. Try it. For eye pencil, I realize that this category has a lot of personal taste. I like my pencil not to smudge or sink into my skin and make me look tired at 10 in the morning. The pencil of choice in this category, after sampling dozens and spending a small fortune, is, hands down, by MAC - called the Technakohl Liner in Graphblack, made in Germany. Nothing better. I'm sure that you can smudge if you want, but you would have to be intentional about it. For lips, Bobbi Brown, SPF 15, Lip Shine, Rouge Brilliance. Looks great, feels great. Stays on. Doesn't smell or taste. For lips and hands at night, before going to bed, Vaseline. It is truly my beauty secret. Put it on religiously every night. It works. For hair. No conditioners. My hair stylist forbids it. Instead, he uses, and now I use, Chihtsai, Olive Instant Treatment, on wet hair before blow drying. It leaves my hair soft, not dry, and manageable. It's expensive, but used very sparingly. My jar is almost one year old. For soap. I love soap. I could go on and on here. But for now I will only mention Fresh, the Sugar Lychee and Lemon scents are fantastic. Any of the others they make are wonderful as well. So there it all is. I could do a commercial for any one of these products. That is, until they stop working for me.......