Friday, August 29, 2014

CLOSETS I LOVE – Yolanda Foster

Here is Beverly Hills Real Housewife Yolanda Foster (right), and, I swear, if there is one woman whose closet I’d like to go shopping in, it’s hers. 

And this photo is a prime example of why: I like that she is simple and understated; I like the tan pea coat and matching booties; and I particularly like that she is wearing white jeans in cold weather, something that it wouldn’t occur to me to try.

This ensemble is just one of many, in my opinion, that Yolanda has gotten right. Here are a few more:
Casual chic at it's finest: I love simplicity of this ensemble...

Another hit and my book. Although, again, Yolanda's really not wearing anything spectacular: sneakers, yoga pants, a black puffer jacket, and sunglasses...

This is proof positive that laid back casual isn't the only style of dress Yolanda excels at. I love the upswept hair, the fit, cut, and hemline of the dress, and the nude sandals. She looks like a lady. Another reason this look, to me, is one to aspire to is because she eschews the need to bare too much flesh when at 50 (I think), she has the body to do it.

Bravo, Yolanda! (No pun intended.)

And when you're done with any of the pieces above, feel free to send them my way, m'kay?

About Closets I Love: I could spend hours (and have) on the Web searching for celebrity candid photos, which inspire me to create new looks from clothes I may already own. In this series The Look, I share some of my favorite celebrity photos.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Tending: Bright, colorful sneakers!

If you've been following this blog since the beginning, you'll remember that I published another Trending post back in January, about ankle boots

The takeaway from that post is that I don't do well with following trends. Not because I don't fancy them, but because by the time I finally get around to jumping on the bandwagon, the ship that the trend was traveling on has usually sailed. And I'm left looking like a fashion reject.

But this particular trend -- the bright colorful sneakers trend? Well, I've wasted no time jumping all over that one like a cheap suit.

Before I divulge my delicious finds, here were a few of my inspirations, from left, Formula One racing heiress Petra Ecclestone, actress Jordana Brewster, and actress Reese Witherspoon:

Judging from these photos, apparently pairing your colorful sneakers with black yoga pants and black sunnies really sets the look off. In case you were wondering, sunnies is what the British call sunglasses.

And, no. I'm not British. But I like the word sunnies. It's a nice word. Go ahead: say it out loud: Sunnies.

Okay, back to topic. Now, my first foray into this trend was the pair of Nike TR2s, which Scott bought me for Christmas. I'm wearing these shoes in the top photo (with Kennedy at a New Jersey state park this past spring), although you can only see one foot. These shoes not only fit the bill style-wise, but they make me feel as if I'm walking on air, thanks to a memory foam insole.

Then came the realization that I love these Nikes so much that I semi-feared messing them up, which is completely counterintuitive to having a pair of sneakers in the first place. I realized I had really gone off the deep end when, one night after putting the kids to bed, I caught myself admiring my TR2s in the confines of my walk-in closet, although I had no real designs of wearing them again.

Please refrain from leaving me comments about how this is strange.

I already know.

So I ended up buying these from New Balance:
I wholeheartedly realize that half the people reading this will think these shoes are hideous.

And if you are one of them, go ahead and flame away.

But I'll tell you this: These shoes are light as a feather, cost under 40 bucks, and because the predominant color is black, I don't have to prance around on eggshells in fear of getting them dirty.

What's your take on this bright, colorful sneakers trend? Are you in or out?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Conover Family's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

We did it!

Watch our video below and see how our whole family gets in on the act -- and how a three-hour blowout can be ruined in a matter of seconds, all for a good cause, of course...

In addition to accepting this challenge on our own accord, we've donated funds to the ALS Association. And now we challenge the lovely readers of The Brown Girl with Long Hair blog:

*Share your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on the "Posts to Page" section our Facebook page 
or donate to the ALS Association

*And if you've enjoyed this video, please feel free to share it with your family and friends!

One more thing! Click here to enter today's giveaway!
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Photo Gallery: Inside Detroit Lions Training Camp

I don't know about you, but I had long assumed that an NFL training camp session would look fairly similar to a high school football team's practice: You know, a lot of huffing and puffing from the players, sidelines littered with Gatorade squirt bottles, and a coach or two wielding a clipboard and a whistle.

And then I actually attended an NFL training camp session and realized that I was wrong.

It is more than just a practice, it is pure entertainment that is, in some ways, more fascinating than The Big Game itself. If you blink, you might just miss something, so I was fortunate that The Hubs was present to run interference for me (that's a football term) and provide an explanation for things that I thought I understood but in actuality did not.

This is my second Detroit Lions Training Camp post. (You can find my first one here.) But unlike my first post, this one provides a blow-by-blow of what The Hubs and I experienced from beginning to end as guests of head coach Jim Caldwell...

And so it begins...
Lions staff accompany Scott and me onto the field at the exact moment that players are exiting the locker room. I join the line right behind tight end Eric Ebron, the Lion's first round draft pick (and 10th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Entering "no diet" territory 
As the players proceed to the field, Scott and I are led into a comfortable and inviting area reserved only for special guests. Complete with a canopy, flooring, and Honolulu blue tablecloths, this was the perfect place to stop...
 ...and eat. (That's Lions Executive Chef Joe Nader looking on, left.) The menu that day included gourmet chicken and lamb pita sandwiches, spanakopita triangles, chicken skewers, and Greek salad. I really needed two plates:
Here Scott and I are (with full bellies, I might add) about to head out onto the field to see the players' practice up close:

Photos, please
The field is teeming with photographers. They are E-VER-Y-WHERE. The only other place I've seen cameras with long lenses like these are when paparazzi are chasing celebrities down on TMZ. And off in the distance, yet not too far away from the field, are all the TV news trucks. FYI: Those tall silver sticks are called masts, and they enable reporters to report live on location:

The eye in the sky
Meanwhile, the Lions have cameras of their own rolling: Two videographers are holding court -- 40 feet in the air -- on cherry pickers:
Practices are recorded so that the players and coaches can break it all down later in a room that looks nearly identical to a college lecture hall.

Looking back
The view of the special guests tent from the football field. Just looking at it now makes me want another pita sandwich...

Paying tribute

Above the tent hangs this flag: In March of this year, the Detroit Lions mourned the loss of William Clay Ford, Senior, who had served as the organization's owner since 1963. In Ford's honor, Lions players will this season don a patch on their uniforms that is identical to the flag.

Thank you, Coach!
Scott with Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell, who is just all-around awesome. While his players took a break between drills, he came over to welcome us and say hello.

Past and present
I caught Scott looking on, deep in thought, as members of the offensive line -- the position that he used to play -- ran through drills. Having walked in these players shoes for nearly seven seasons, Scott knows what these players are about to do before they do it.

In the video below, Scott gives a recap of the day's training camp session thus far...

Breathing room
Members of the Lions defensive, including defensive end Ziggy Ansah, linebacker Kyle Van Noy, defensive end Jason Jones, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh taking a break between drills.

Just in case
Lest anyone get any ideas to run up on the players, there is security on standby.

The refs
The actual referees that call games during NFL games during the season are the same ones that attend training camp. And unbeknownst to many, these referees already have a primary job -- they are lawyers, doctors, airline pilots, and educators.

Marquee players
Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford in action. We were literally standing a stone's throw away from him when this photo was taken...which makes focusing on picture taking rather difficult when you're constantly looking over the shoulder for a flying ball.
Similarly, Scott and I were right in the thick of it when wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- aka "Megatron"-- ran this play. I'm not even kidding when I saw him running in our direction with break-neck speed, I did the sign of the cross and said a silent prayer that I wouldn't become spectator roadkill.

No blue chips, only black ones
The Detroit Lions are among a select group of NFL teams that have installed Zebra Technologies' real-time tracking system. The system involves players wearing a tiny black chip under their should pads, which will help teams to evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance. This chip can actually detect the speed, distance, and duration of a player's run.

Just like old times
Near the end of practice we are greeted by a very familiar face: Lions Athletic Trainer Joe Recknagel, whom we refer to as simply "Trainer Joe." Having been with the Lions organization since 1980, Joe was a part of the staff when Scott played for the Lions.

Lights, camera...
The many faces of Reggie Bush: A crush of media descends upon the running back the minute practice ends, and he handles every question like a consummate professional.

Under the rainbow
This photo, courtesy of the Detroit Lions, captures the perfect ending to a wonderful summer afternoon.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Soul Food & Family on PBS

Here’s a challenge for you: Name a memorable family gathering that didn’t involve something good to eat.

Now, think about it. I’ll sit here and wait while you do.

What’s that? You can’t?

I figured as much. Because food and family are inextricably intertwined. From Thanksgiving dinners in the fall, romantic Valentine’s Day feasts for two in the winter, to gooey, delectable smores around a smoldering fire pit in the summer, the time we spend with loved ones is often punctuated by good eats.

And while it comes as no surprise that the world-renowned book series Chicken Soup for the Soul knows a thing or two about the importance of family, the franchise has also knows that eating with family is akin to the proverbial cherry on top.

As a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series – Need a gift idea? Why, just click the Buy my books link on the menu bar! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) – I am pleased to share with you that Chicken Soup for the Soul’s first TV show, CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: FOOD & FAMILY, is airing this month on PBS. The one-hour show is a fun and informative look at how we eat, where we eat, and what we cook. The show reminds us about the importance of gathering our family and friends around the dinner table and will demonstrate some easy recipes that anyone can cook. The program will even incorporate stories into the show and, as you might expect, a Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love – which includes a story written by yours truly about a dinner Scott made for me while I was pregnant with Scotty – is featured in the thank you gift that PBS donors will receive:
Three extraordinary hosts from the food world — Amy Newmark, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Catherine Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief of Taste of Home Magazine, and John Doherty, former Executive Chef of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York — are joined with commentary from internist Suzanne Koven, MD, to explore the relationship between food, family and love.

Here’s a preview:

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: FOOD & FAMILY has already been picked up by 202 of the 355 PBS stations around the country. The program is scheduled to air at least once in each of those markets during the August Pledge Drive. Your best bet is to check the listings of your local PBS station(s) to see if they are showing it. If you don't see it, give them a call because some of the stations are not showing it in the listings because it was a late addition to the schedule.

In today's crazy, busy world, gathering together for dinner with family or friends can seem like a luxury. But sharing food with people you care about is not only fun — it's important for health and well-being, and has the power to create lasting bonds between the generations.

So make a date to grab a family member – or two, or twenty – as well as a delectable snack and watch CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: FOOD & FAMILY. It’s sure to be delicious fun!

But first, what's the best food you've ever eaten with family or friends?

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Monday, August 11, 2014

The time I blew my car note on discontinued lipstick

Toilet paper. Water. Cereal. Office supplies.

Buying in bulk can be a wonderful thing.

But the most coveted (and unusual) item I’ve purchased in bulk is none of the above, yet I’d bet the farm that, you, too, would have done the exact same thing I did – if you had been given the chance.

We've all been there: Faithful to a particular cosmetic item; loyal as can be. We've grown to depend on it day in and day out, and it has come through for us – pun intended – with flying colors.

Then, one day...Poof!

In comes word that said item has been discontinued. Without nary a warning. To say that the disheartening news is crushing is a complete and total understatement: You are beyond hurt and even wonder – secretly – if this shrewd, illogical business move is somehow personal. How could they: Don’t they know how hard it is to find lip color that you can wear during a night out and to the store to pick up a loaf of bread?

This happened to me…

One fine day in 2004, I ran to the MAC store in my local mall to pick up a tube of my favorite lipstick called Bronx. Bronx is – I mean, was – a taupey matte that went with everything. As the clerk plucked what appeared to be one of the last available tubes, she says to me lackadaisically, “You know, this has been discontinued…”

I heard nothing else after discontinued.

I bought out her remaining stock and then took a seat on a nearby bench to wallow in my sorrow and collect myself for fear that the disturbing news had rendered me unfit to get behind the wheel and drive home.

My next move?

I called the MAC hotline. Apparently they had some program where customers could request to purchase discontinued items from their headquarters – but only for a limited time and only on a first come, first serve basis. The sum total I spent on this lipstick is now murky, as this was ten years ago. I was single back then and had recently purchased my first home. (Read: I didn’t have a lot of play money left at the end of the month.) When the clerk rendered my total, I remember thinking, Damn, this is more than my car note.

I paid it anyway.

Three weeks later, a box containing approximately 18 tubes of MAC Bronx lipstick arrived on my doorstep, and I’ve since guarded and cared for these gems as if they were Faberge eggs.

And I’ve still got several tubes left.

Honest to God, I store them in the temperature-controlled fruit cellar in our basement. And lest anyone reading this gets any fancy ideas, I'll have you know that the area is booby trapped.

What’s the most unusual item you’ve ever purchased in bulk?

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Let grass grow under your feet

About two weeks ago, I published a post entitled 8 Crunchy Products I Love, and I'm just going to cut to the chase now and let you know that you can file this post under the same category.

It's called grounding, my friends, and the information I'm about to share with you regarding this topic is, trust me, about as crunchy as it comes, but hear me out because I truly put stock into it...

Several years ago – about four to be exact – while I was studying to earn my yoga teaching certification, I read somewhere (Yoga Journal, I think) that there are health benefits to be had by spending time everyday walking on grass with one's bare feet. This act, which, again, is called grounding, has been said to actually help decrease anxiety and depression while simultaneously increasing the levels of endorphins – the chemical released by the brain that works as our own private narcotic. Endorphins are responsible for our feelings of excitement or satisfaction and can be triggered by all sorts of things including sex, exercise, and even hot peppers.

Yes, hot peppers. That one leaves me scratching my head.

But back to bare feet and grass.

The most eloquent and easily-understood description of grounding I was able to find comes from a site called MindBodyGreen

"Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water, which is great for conducting electricity. The  earth has a negative ionic charge. Going barefoot grounds our bodies to that charge. Negative Ions have been proven to detoxify, calm, reduce inflammation, synchronise your internal clocks, hormonal cycles and physiological rhythms.

Six months after learning about grounding, I became pregnant with Scotty. And without regaling you on the long, sordid details, I was put on modified bed rest during my second trimester after a fibroid tumor in the muscle lining of my uterus grew to a whopping 17 centimeters – way bigger than a large grapefruit. My lowest point was when the fibroid began to battle Scotty for blood supply and lost – a process that's called degeneration. 

The important thing is that while my OB was unsure of my ability to carry Scotty to full-term (I did) or deliver him vaginally (again, I did), I was thankfully never at risk of losing him. That said, the physical pain I endured from this experience made my labor and delivery feel like a paper cut. And what felt arguably as bad was my inability to practice yoga during my bed-rest: I went from doing sun salutations and headstands everyday to, at times, not being able to walk to the kitchen without help.

Grounding became my yoga. Sometimes I wondered if it was worth the effort, but I made a point to walk on our lawn every chance I could until the day I delivered Scotty.

I'm no doctor, of course. I can't tangibly measure what benefits – if any – I gained from grounding. But I believe it did something for me.

So I make an effort to practice grounding to this day, and I bring Scotty and Kennedy – whose fat feet you see in the collage above – on our lawn with me.

And so I ask you: Have you walked on grass today?

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