Punta Cana

Punta Cana – What I Wore and More

The last week of July my husband, Len and I were able to have a dream vacation in Punta Cana.  It was kind of a big deal as we were able to celebrate his renewed health and healing.  Not only did he survive pancreatic cancer, Len also survived pancreatitis caused by his gallbladder and removal of his gallbladder shortly after.  His overall health was precarious from January through June.  During our 11 days in the hospital on the second stay, I visualized us laying on a beach soaking in the sun as this is the type of vacation we enjoy!  My heart was filled with gratitude that we were able to turn my visualization into reality!

Breathless:  Live Big Breath Deep

We stayed at an all inclusive adults only resort and spa.  How perfect is their motto:  Live Big Breath Deep?!  That’s exactly what we did for seven days!  The staff were amazing and dedicated to ensuring we had the best experience possible!  Emilio gave us the VIP treatment all week long.  Carmen Russell, our wedding planner, ensured that our vow renewal ceremony was picture perfect.  Vladamire caught the special moments of our ceremony and romantic dinner on the beach.  The E Team kept us entertained in the evening, got us up and dancing and had us all laughing!

Breathless Lobby:

Sofrita Restaurant (There are 11 restaurants.  This was one of my favorites!):

The Beach (My Happy Place!):

Our Room and Some of the Pools:

What I Wore:

Punta Cana in the summer is hot!  I mean really, really, really HOT!!!  I enjoy hot weather!  In fact the hotter, the better.  I was prepared to live in my swimsuits during the day and brought along what I consider resort, fun wear for the evenings.  Here are few of my “fun wear” ootn!

Rompers:

I might be romper obsessed this summer!  Rompers are cool and perfect for the tropical environment!  I couldn’t resist posing next to this amazing palm tree in my palm print romper! On this particular romper, I love the fringed detailing.  Easy on and easy off are also criteria especially when drinking and running to the bathroom!  LOL

The colors, flutter sleeves and fact that I could wear my regular bra were all pluses for this romper…and yes, it’s easy on and off!

We made big decisions every night…which restaurant to eat in (there are 11), what kind of umbrella drinks, martinis, etc. to try!  If you ever go, you must try the Mamawanna!

Hard Rock Resort Punta Cana:  

Since Len’s passion is music and he’s in a band, we always stop at the Hard Rock whenever we travel!  Although we weren’t staying at The Hard Rock, they did allow us to come onto the property to go to the casino.  I adore this outfit especially since I would have NEVER picked it out for myself nor would I have chosen the size of the pants as I thought they would have been too small.  I got this outfit when we were in California with our Fierce 50 sisters at the Chico’s in Santa Monica brunch.  I stated that I had no where to wear this outfit.  Cindy commented, “That has never stopped you before! Take it to Punta Cana!”  Boy do my friends know me!

VOW RENEWAL CELEBRATION:

Early in the week we met with our wedding planner.  Four things were important to us (well maybe mainly to me – Len is so easy going!):  renewing our vows on the beach, flowers, pictures and a romantic dinner that night on the beach.  They made it all happen and more!  Emilio made sure our room was decorated extra special and surprised us the day before.  We returned from the beach to find this…rose pedals led us through the entry hallway across the room and out onto the deck where the jacuzzi was filled and decorated.

Additionally, they brought us breakfast the day before our renewal as well as the day after…

Len and I enjoyed a couples massage (sorry no pictures!) HA!

THE DRESS and VOW RENEWAL:

As you recall from my previous post, I was out hunting for a dress!  Many of you commented on your favorite pick for me.  So drumroll please…the winner was:

I was unprepared for the flood of emotion, nervous excitement and overwhelming feelings of LOVE and GRATITUDE! This day was so special for so many reasons!  The road we’ve traveled together has had so many bumps.  Those bumps only drove us closer together.  I can’t imagine being on this adventure called life with anyone but Len by my side!  We may not have always liked each other but we’ve ALWAYS LOVED each other!  This trip was a blessing to be able to celebrate Len’s healing and health and the gift of 30+ years together.  We choose each other every day!  The ceremony was beautiful not only the words Carmen had us say but the words we wrote to each other!  This is now a cherished memory that will forever be priceless!

Love that they transported us in a Rolls Royce Golf Car!

Our romantic dinner on the beach!  Steak and Lobster – YUM!

Some details I thought worth sharing and of interest!

Barefoot Bling!

That evening I felt as though the entire resort was our wedding party guests.  So many people approached us with complimentary words and congratulations both men and woman!  They continued to greet us and celebrate us the day after!  What an amazing experience!

If you ever consider renewing your vows, I’d highly recommend it!  If you’re considering a trip to Punta Cana, you’re guaranteed a good time!  When asked, “How are you?”  Everyone at Breathless replied, “Magnifico!  Excelente!”  That about sums up our trip perfectly – MAGNIFICO!  EXCELENTE!

Marriage After 40? Debunking the ageist stereotype

I write this post from Cape Cod.   My husband and I spend the first 2 weeks of Aug up here with his family and friends every year. (There are about 25 of us in total!)  It’s one of the highlights of my year.   In fact, my husband’s family has been coming here during the same 2 weeks in Aug for over 50 years.   Our anniversary is Aug 10, so we get to spend that time with friends and family each year.   It’s more special because got married here 7 years ago.

I don’t know if its coincidence, but over the last few weeks I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and posts about marriage Julie renewing her vows,  to research I’m currently doing at work on millennial women which while doing research online, I came across this old article.

 

Thirty years ago, the magazine declared that single women over 40 are more likely to be killed by terrorism than to get married—prompting a nationwide crisis whose anxiety still seems to linger based on more current articles I’m reading.  The reality we know that it’s not true, but unfortunately I think for many it still  feels true.

The fact is that, there are more never-married adults over 35 and 40 now (and “single again” adults) than at any time in our nation’s history, according to various reports I’ve been reading.

I remember when this article came out.  It makes me angry to be part of ageist “trend” and it does not reflect my experience.   You see,  I was 48 when I got married for the first time.  Contrary to the Newsweek article I didn’t settle.  I’m so glad I waited for the right guy.

Was I worried when I was in my early 40’s and single?   Yes, I have to admit I was a bit.   It really felt like I did everything I wanted to do in life. I had a great career.  Great friends.  I traveled.  So, time was kind of slipping by.   But then by chance, a mutual friend introduced me to my husband Craig  and the rest is history.  Note:  we dated for 10 years before getting married.   I changed my mindset once we started dating ….I didn’t put pressure on myself to get married.

So, in celebration of my anniversary next week, I thought I would share with you my wedding day.

I got married on the beach in East Sandwich on Cape Cod and had a lobster/clambake reception.   It was a small wedding.  We had about 75 attend.  I planned the entire wedding online (and this was before Pinterest and the popularity of IG) What I would have done for Pinterest back then!  LOL

Like my every day life, I kept it simple.  Frankly I didn’t have time to stress about all the details due to my work commitments.  I didn’t have seat assignments.  My flowers came from a guy who lived down the street from our cottage who use to be a florist.   He grows the best flowers in his backyard and you can buy a container (on the honor system) for $5!  Total flower bill for my wedding was $60!  We had flip flops for everyone so they didn’t need to wear their shoes down to the beach.  There was no photographer.  We let our guests take the pics and we set up an album in Shutterfly where everyone could share them.  I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but we got great candid shots I probably won’t have from a more “formal” photographer.   My dress came from  White House Black Market.   (more on the dress in a minute)

The day was perfect!   It couldn’t have turned out any better.   It was an intimate, relaxing celebration with family and friends in a beautiful setting. Which when you think about it, that’s what a wedding should be all about.  Right?

 

The Dress

I bought my dress a month before the wedding.   Not sure why I waited until the last minute.  I guess it was because I had no idea what I wanted.   I wanted to feel special, to look and feel my best but most importantly, I wanted to feel like myself, which is relaxed and comfortable.    For me, spending loads of money on a princess-for-a-day dress that’s going to end up in mothballs seemed unnecessary.  I rather spend the money on the food and drink!

So, on a whim, I decided to go to the mall to see if I could find a dress.   First store I walked into was White House Black Market.   I walked in saw the dress, tried it on and just knew that this was the perfect dress for me and the day.   So that was it…I didn’t shop any other stores to see if there was anything “better”.  I bought it and didn’t second guess my choice.   It was what we now call an “alternative” wedding dress.  (and it was on sale for under $100!)

Interestingly more retailers are offering what they call the alternative wedding dresses   featuring designers and price points from low to high end.  White biker jacket anyone?

So what’s my takeaway message ?

Marriage is not a fact of life, its a choice.  If you want to get married, I’m a firm believer that you will.  My advice for anyone at any age would be to make your wedding day fun. Make it just yours and make it a reflection of you and your fiancée. That’s where the real joy comes in.

 

I said, “Yes, to the dress!”

I said, “Yes, to My Third Wedding Dress!”

Yes, it’s true!  I recently brought my squad to help me pick out my third wedding dress to wear when celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary!  This anniversary is kind of a big deal as Len (my husband) has recently had some medical challenges so it makes it all the more important to celebrate!  Additionally, I don’t need much of an excuse to to shop with my gal pals and; I love wedding stores!  One of my favorite shows to watch is “Say Yes to the Dress”…no surprise right?!

First, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane…Len and I were married on September 19, 1987!  Yes, you guessed it!  I had a marvelous 1980’s style wedding dress but I loved it then and am still glad it was the dress I said yes to all those years ago!

Of course I need to include a picture of my bridal party, as fellow FTF Cindy and Lori were by my side!  At the time, I thought the gold lame was wonderful and oh so stylish and elegant!

I felt as though that day was picture perfect!  I loved everything about our wedding and all the planning leading up to that day.  I especially loved that I was getting to say, “I do!” to my true love!

20th Anniversary

Fast forward to our 20th wedding anniversary…we always said we would travel to Hawaii to celebrate, which we did and it was glorious!  We did not renew our vows but had an outstanding time touring three islands.  No saying yes, to a dress for that anniversary, but a glorious wedding anniversary celebration vacation!

25th Anniversary

For our 25th wedding anniversary, we decided to go back to the church we were married in to renew our vows.  We invited our original bridal  party to join us along with our immediate family and friends.  I had the amazing pleasure of going to get another wedding dress to celebrate our day together.  I thought I wanted a silver dress, but here is the one that stole my heart:

As in the past, my gal pals Lori and Lynn were by my side!

Planning for the 30th Anniversary

This brings us up to date and to our most recent shopping adventure looking for that perfect dress to say, ” I DO!” all over again.  One of the bridal shops gave me a robe to wear in-between dresses.

My gal pals, Lori and Lynn, by my side helping me to decide!

Here are most of dresses I tried on (some good some NOT so good)… I must admit I went in thinking I wanted one type of dress and changed my mind once I put on “THE ONE”!

 

 

Which is your favorite?  Which do you think I picked?  Tune back in to get the answers and see all the details of our vow renewal celebration in Punta Cana!

 

 

 

 

Packing Tips for Travel

Packing Tips From The Frequent Traveler

A few weeks ago, Julie, Lori and I were in Redondo Beach to participate in the first annual gathering of the Fierce 50 Revolution.  If you missed the post on the fabulous weekend we had, click here to read all about it.

Julie and I got to the hotel a bit earlier than Lori, so we checked into the room and started to unpack.   I pulled my clothes out of my suitcase,  hung them up and I was basically done.   Julie said, (I’m paraphrasing) “Wow! You are done?  You have everything on hangers and in dry cleaning bags.  What’s that about?”    I told her my tip on why I hang everything in dry cleaning bags and she said, “I had no idea, you need to blog about that!”

The Frequent Traveler

For those of you who don’t know, I travel every other week to Los Angles for my job.   I don’t mind the travel, but constant packing, repacking and living out of my carry-on luggage is the worst part. I hate the time-consuming process on Sunday of figuring out what to take and the realization that those five pairs of shoes I must bring take up my entire carry-on.  LOL!    The constant airport-airplane-hotel-repeat routine over the years has resulted in some tips I would like to share.

My 5 Tips

Pack efficiently.  I pick a color pallet and depending how long I’m going to be gone I pack 3 tops for every bottom. Tops take up less space, and people are generally more comfortable repeating bottoms than tops.  I always pack a white t-shirt for any “plan b” that might come up.   In fact, it happened about a month ago when I had to stay in LA an extra day and wore everything I brought.  Thank god  I had  the white t-shirt I could throw  on with some jeans and the jacket I wore on the plane traveling out and had a new outfit.  Note:   My favorite white t-shirt is from the Old Navy for $8!   Boyfriend Pocket Tee for Women • Old Navy • $8

Everyone says “roll, don’t fold”.   I keep clothes on hangers and put in dry cleaning bags and then fold as normal. The plastic will prevent creases/wrinkles from setting in.   My mother taught me this trick years ago because I hate to iron and this really works!

For best results, you can hang each item in its own bag.   The bags then slip around one another and each item stays virtually wrinkle free even while packed for hours.  Plus, it takes minutes to unpack.  Pull out of your suite case and hang in closet. That said, for things like T-shirts & leggings to lounge in, I will roll them instead of folding to take up less space.

I use my straightening iron on collars of my shirts if they got unexpected creases

I wear my biggest shoes and heaviest layers on the plane.    It goes without saying, but keep your biggest stuff out of your bag if possible.

Have a separate toiletry bag.  Every time I packed for a trip, I had to go through my daily toiletries and pick out the necessities for my trip.  Then every time I came back, I had to put these items back in the bathroom so I could use them at home.  I finally got smart and now have a totally separate bag of travel size toiletries so I don’t have to pack and repack every time.  I even have a dedicated electric travel toothbrush.

Some of my favorite travel products
 

So, there you have it – all my tips and tricks for packing!  Do you have any packing tips to ease the packing and unpacking woes of frequent traveling? I’d love to hear yours!

Fashion Trends and Friends and the Fierce 50 Weekend

FTF was so happy to participate in the first annual gathering of the Fierce 50 Revolution in Southern California.  It was a wonderful weekend getting to know so many fabulous women and sharing our love of fashion, new midlife discoveries, passions and making new friends.  Some of the women are local California girls like our leader, Catherine Grace O’Connell, and others traveled from as far as Germany like Heike Hutmacher.

LAUNCH PARTY:

The weekend kicked off with a launch party for the Cat and Kaehler  show on LA Talk Radio.  Pictured with Cat and Kaehler is Heike Hutmacher of Creates Uniques.   The party was held at the Redondo Beach Hotel.  

 

Also attending the party was Carol Parker Walsh of Evolving Your Image, which FTF featured for the start of the Fierce 50 Campaign in Feb. 

 

Next Up was Brunch and Jewelry at French Kande!

One of our Fierce 50 sisters is Kande Hall of French Kande graciously hosted us for brunch allowing us all to share our stories which allowed us to get to know one another better.  Kande also gifted all of us with one of her wonderful custom made bracelets.  This was truly a memorable event and highlight of the weekend.  Pictured below are some of our new best friends and Fierce 50 sisters, Anita Morris of Anita by Design, Shauna Robertson of Chicover50, and Barbi of Southern Blonde Chic.  We fell in  love with these girls!

Lights Camera Action – Photo Shoot in Hermosa Beach!

FTF did a little pre-gaming at the Shade Hotel before the Fierce 50 Photos shoot!

The photo shoot on the beach was a blast! A BIG shout out to Chico’s for gifting each of us a fabulously, fun beach hat and tote!

Shopping Party at Chico’s in Santa Monica!

One of the many events over the weekend was a brunch and a shopping party at Chico’s on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.  We had so much fun shopping with our fashionista sisters.  Here are some video clips of our experience and some styling tips!  Pictured below is Sarah!  She came to assist from the Santa Barbara store.  Sarah was simply amazing, patient, encouraging and full of great styling tips…the list could go on and on.  Don’t be afraid to engage with the stores sales staff as they know their inventory and more than that know how to create the perfect look for your body type!

 

Who doesn’t  love an on trend summer romper – check out Julie rocking the look! This romper needs a belt and some added bling.  Sarah is going to hook Julie up with the perfect belt.

I went to check out and saw this outfit on one of the most adorable Chico’s sales staff.  I went straight back into the fitting room.  Twining!  I love this outfit – SOLD!

 

No matter what the age Chico’s has something for everyone!  Lots of choice that flatter all body types. My FTF girls and I put a serious dent in our pocketbooks!  LOL   So many great finds we highly recommend you check out your local Chico’s store!

Pool Party Time at the Shade Hotel!

After all that activity, it was time to relax and chill at the Shade Hotel pool party.  Live DJ, food and fun in the sun was just what the doctor ordered before flying back home to Chicago!  The party was full of millennials, but we thought we fit right in…age is a state of mind and we’re still back in college where we met!  LOL

Thank you Catherine Grace O’Connell for putting together the first annual Fierce 50 Revolution event.  FTF can’t wait to see what happens next with this incredible group of women!

Good – Bye beautiful SoCal!

 

 

Summer Girlfriend Shopping Event

Summer Girlfriend Shopping Event at Chico’s

At a previous Chico’s Girlfriend Shopping Event in the spring, Lori and I decided to host a shopping party to highlight summer trends.  We thought it would be a blast to reach out to our college girlfriends and invite them to join us!  We met these girls our freshman year at Northern Illinois University in 1979.  We were all on the same dorm floor!  The result was a full day of shopping, laughing, catching up, reminiscing, eating and drinking!  Needless to say we had so much fun we agreed to do it again soon!  Those who couldn’t attend will be sure to join in the next time.

The sales staff were more than gracious providing us snacks, pulling sizes, taking pictures and joining in our laughter!  A big thank you to:  Alex Modoran,  Linda Andrews, Amy Collier and Maryann Fitzpatrick  (pictured below)!  FTF thinks they had as much fun as we did!

Cindy and Kathy bought the same tops so we’re thinking they’re proven winners!


 
This top and these pants were must haves for me although I do not intend to wear them together!  The detailing on the pockets and drawstring tie are amazing…Rhinestones!

 
Jaci had a successful shopping trip as evidenced by her foot long receipt!
Jaci won the raffle prize give away, which was a nice summer beach bag!  Chico’s gifted each of us either a key ring or a bracelet.  How very generous and greatly appreciated!  Thanks Chico’s!
After several successful hours of shopping, it was off to dinner, drinks, continued laughter and reminiscing!
Lori and I gifted the girls an NIU tee shirt for old time sake!
What’s your favorite thing to do with your girlfriends?  Leave us a comment!

A Trick To Flatter Your Neck

How to wear your collar up to flatter and disguise the neck.

The neck seems to always give away a person’s age and my neck has started aging and it bothers me. You know what I’m talking about….those horizontal wrinkles.  Hate them!  LOL

Have you seen the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie” with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin?

One of my favorite parts of the show is seeing what Jane Fonda is going to wear.   I can’t believe she is 80! I love her style on the show.  It’s odd because her style is classic , slightly preppy and that’s not necessarily my style.   But the way they style her doesn’t scream the traditional preppy look.

What I realized this season that got my attention was how she continually wore her shirt collars up.  I searched online to see how she dresses off camera.  Many, many of the photo’s I found show Jane styled with the collar up.  I began to research further and found out that this “trick” gives a flattering frame to the face and elongates the neckline.

I remember the collar up style from the 80s.  For me it was collar up and pearls.  Back then I wore that look as a trend, not to flatter my neck!  So, I’m going to start experimenting with “collar up” solutions again.    How about you?  Do you like the collar up look?

What tricks do you have to flatter your neck?

SHOP A SELECTION OF COLLARED SHIRTS

White Jackets For Summer

White Jackets For Summer.  Are you in the white jacket camp?

Every season there’s that piece in your closet that you just can’t get enough of. This summer, for for me, it’s the white jacket .  Ok,  so a white jacket isn’t the most practical of items but there’s something about it that instantly dresses up even the simplest outfit. It’s casual and dressy at the same time, and when it’s paired with denim it’s a perfect mix of the two.

I love mine for traveling although many flight attendants have been on the receiving end of my dirty look when they lean over to pass a coke or coffee to another passenger.  LOL

I ordered this one from Cabi a few months ago.  I think it gives any outfit a refreshing look.  I paired with jeans and Michael Kors Leo Sport Slip-On Sneakers 

I love the ribbed front panel of the white jacket because it creates a flattering body-hugging silhouette, but still can hide those “sins”.   Plus, it’s a lightweight cotton so not heavy for summer months in Tucson.

Here’s a close up:

 

Looking for a white jacket?  Here are a few more white jackets that I’ve found.

So, what do you think? Are you in my white jacket camp?