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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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A Real-Life Miracle

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

davidweddingMiracles do happen.

This past weekend, our son, David, married his fiance, Kelly, mother to our darling granddaughter, Emma.

Cue angels singing, rays of sunshine filtering through the clouds, and rainbows.

This was not just any wedding. For many, many years, David struggled mightily with alcohol and drug addictions. There were occasions when we weren’t even sure he would live, let alone get a good job, buy a home, marry and have a daughter.

meanddavidGrateful barely begins to describe how we feel. There are many people to thank for their support, prayers and shoulders to lean on when we needed it. Thank you to them all; you’ll never know how much we truly appreciate you and the care you gave when we needed it most.

We share David’s story because it is ultimately one of hope. To any of you with a loved one struggling with addictions, life can turn around. David is proof of that.

We thank God every day for David, Kelly and Emma and the joy they bring us. Wishing all of you peace and joy, angels, sunshine and rainbows!

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Comfy Pants That Don’t Make You Look Like MC Hammer

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

harem pantsWe’ve all seen them–women who wear sloppy, baggy sweat pants because they’re “comfortable.” Not only have we seen them; sometimes, they are us. (No need to raise hands. You know who you are.)

As if sweats weren’t bad enough, now we’ve got the resurgence of the MC Hammer harem pant. Ladies, they were ugly then and they’re ugly now, unless, of course, you look like my 24 year old daughter, Megan, who can pretty much wear anything and look fabulous. And no, that was never me, even at my best. My best would have been the preppy khakis with the button down, which made me look like Jake from State Farm, although I didn’t know it at the time.

But I digress.

Too many of us give into the quicksand of “comfortable,” telling ourselves we’ve earned it (we have), and thus rationalizing that it’s okay to go out in public looking as if you’ve just scrubbed the toilet (it isn’t).

There are alternatives, and O Magazine’s Adam Glassman gives us some options in the clip below. Don’t be afraid of the skinny sweat pant, gals. Too many of us believe that large and shapeless covers our flaws when all it really does is make us look, well, large and shapeless. Give these pants, or a fitted yoga pant a try. And feel free to skip the sky-high heels. A nice ballet flat works just as well and won’t have you breaking an ankle.

Happy spring shopping!

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Beach Chic Comes to Big Box


By: Chrysa Smith

Have you seen the commercial? An explosion of color, the scene at a tropical mansion looks like something from Fantasia. Bikini-clad women sit poolside with tropical birds and drinks all in bright shades of hot pink and blue, yellow and lime green. A Caribbean vacation? Florida resort? Nope. Just a trip to your local Target. So grab your beach hat because Lilly Pulitzer has arrived. That’s right. Lily–the uptown beach boutique designer has joined the ranks of other A-listers bringing their upscale fashions down-to-earth. Like Vera Wang at Kohl’s, Michael Kors at BonTon, designers are learning that fashionistas come with all size wallets, whether they be from Dolce and Gabanna or just Buxton. As with many new ‘products’ Pulitzer’s colorful fashion dynasty was born out of trying to solve a problem. The heiress to the Standard Oil fortune, Lilly spent her time in good company. She married the owner of multiple orange groves. And, spending time on the Miami beaches, she was made aware of the ‘plight’ of juice vendors. It seems the orange juice would brightly stain simple clothing, so she went to work and designed bold,bright, floral prints that would camouflage the stains. Joila! An empire was born. Personally, I will be headed to Target this week. I’m curious. While some of her line is too ‘Town and Country’ club for me, others are just fun. It seems to me much of her lines have included shifts, which I guess, makes sense coming out of Florida. Simple enough, but pretty pricey. Just the other side of $150, I’d say. Doubt that flies in Target, so I assume the line is a scaled down version of her trademark prints. Either way, some color is in order this year. After a winter of black and gray, some hot pinks, lime greens, bright yellows and booming blues are just what the doctor ordered.

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Digging for Pearls

By: Chrysa Smith

Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a trio of matriarchs in my family. All sisters by birth, they couldn’t have been more different.

First there was my grandmother—a quiet woman who liked to sew, brush my hair and make me Tom Collins’ and hot dogs with ketchup. She lived in a Brooklyn row house and, except for a few factory-type jobs, was a homemaker. Nonetheless, she always had on her heels and an apron. You never know who’d come calling, correct? Once I remember a gentleman from the neighborhood come over (my grandmother was a widow) with a liquor bottle stowed beneath his trench coat. With a broken Polish-English accent, he’d say ‘Dancing?’ What a smooth operator—maybe he could have scored a role on today’s Bachelor show.

Then there was Clare, who married, had three kids and worked her way out of Brooklyn to the luxurious suburbs of Queens. She bought a house, loved antiques and lilacs, and we always got Pussy Willows from her yard.  She loved the color blue and wore jewelry, including pearls, and strong perfume–and of course, one of those God-awful fur stoles (complete with animal head) that were so popular some 50+ years ago.  Also a widow, she did have a steady gentleman caller that we always called by his proper name: Mr. Dean. He was a bit more slick than my grandmother’s caller, and also a constant companion back before such things were proper. I’d say she was ahead of her time —a Renaissance thinker? Well, perhaps more of a gal who marched to the beat of her own drum

Finally, there was Pauline—the middle child. As you might guess, the loudest of the matriarchs and by sure, the funniest. ‘You gotta eat’ she’d say to anyone who visited. She’d give you a shot if you were of age, or celery soda and orange creamsicles for me. Maybe that’s where my love of sweets came from! She’d walk around with her hair pinned up and her stockings rolled down—in her slippers. A rosy, round woman, she’d always have something funny to say. When the family spoke about someone who they weren’t sure how he kept a gal, she simply said, “Maybe he’s good in bed.”  And her psychological advice to most any life crisis? “Relax and have a piece of chocolate.”

And this brings me back to the beginning. To pearls. And the pearls that first came to mind were Pauline’s earrings. My mom recently told me she was looking for some and once had a nice pair. When I asked her what happened to them, she said they were on Pauline’s ears, six feet under and many years ago. (Hey, Pauline needed to look good, while laid out) But I think those pearls came to mean more to me as I reminisce. What great ladies. What pearls of wisdom they shared. With shopping bags in their hands, dozens of rubber bands wrapped around literally everything, loving music and life, what they gave me was priceless. Even above pearls.

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Commandments for Being the Perfect Mother-in-Law

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

shrewWell, friends, this Saturday, I will officially become a mother-in-law. It’s a scary thing. Not because of my future daughter-in-law. I mean she’s lovely.  Damn it, there I go again, saying something potentially offensive and stupid without even realizing it!

I’m determined to do my best to become the perfect mother-in-law, but I know it won’t be easy because, well, I’m me. Check out my rules for my new role in this piece I wrote for Women’s Voices Magazine. (And yes, that is a picture of a shrew. Discuss.) Enjoy!

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Bathing Suit Season at TJ Maxx–Gina Barreca

This hilarious video from Dr. Gina Barreca says it all about bathing suit shopping. As we head into the summer season, your job, ladies, is to have fun and not obsess about how you look in a suit. Yeah, right. Enjoy the video!

–Mary Fran


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Get Outta My Face(book)

By: Chrysa Smith

9451611021_671e426319_z I love adorable animal pictures, wise and clever sayings and seeing photos of friends and relatives who live far away. So that’s generally why I’m on Facebook. But let me give you a word of advice—like with all other conversations with complete strangers, steer clear of politics and religion. It can only get ugly.

I find it interesting that some people are always posting all of their business, political, religious and social views on this social media platform that friends of friends of friends read. But dare offer an alternative view—-and whoa!!!! Watch out.

It recently happened to me. Someone on my list of ‘friends’ is always posting political statements, photos and cartoons. When I recently commented on one, I kid you not, there was a lengthy conversation with all sorts of people who jumped in and attacked my commentary. What was really funny and ironic, is that their view was supposedly tolerance and acceptance—but of only one group of people. Tolerance and acceptance for the opposition? Well that didn’t seem to matter because it was not this person’s opinion.  The conversation went on for over a day and long enough that the page of comments went longer than one screen! And certainly longer than my patience.

While I’m generally a proponent of technology, sometimes I sit and ponder—if phone conversation, letters and face-to-face talk were all the communication routes available to us, would we be as quick to jump the gun? As quick to be insulting? I think maybe not. When we’re confronted with a difference of opinion, face-to-face, we acknowledge a person with a mind, views, feelings. When we’re a cyber person, all of that goes away. And I think that Facebook, like many things, can be turned into a grunting ground for angry people. Bah humbug!

So, I’ve learned a couple of things. Facebook ‘friends’ are sometimes not all so friendly. Commenting on politics and religion is just opening the door for crazies of all kinds. And I should take my own advice and stick to the animal pictures, cute and clever comments, personal transformation images and ooh and aah at babies—both known and unknown. In fact, have you seen the one about the lady with saggy boobs? Before long, they’ll be nuts! OK. Maybe I should pick up a book and read instead. Or start that great American novel. Or do something else of more value—-like paint my nails!