What’s uP: Where’s the pH?!?

5 01 2011

Or, where the heck I’ve been hiding for the past 3 months.

I’ll be honest, the second half of 2010 was one of the hardest years of my life. In addition to trying to survive in a luxury business through a still dreadful economy, my husband and I each braved very difficult health issues. And, sadly, my writing took a huge backseat to getting physically and mentally well. Six months later I’m happy to report that business is getting better and better and the hubby and I are both A-OK. I’m also thrilled to announce that at the end of that huge shit storm there was a beautiful rainbow: We’re expecting our first baby in April and couldn’t be happier about the addition of  baby pH! I also promise that this will not turn into a baby-centric blog, although every once in a while something may sneak in there.

When I started feeling better and then my husband received his clean bill of health, I decided that I needed to do something to “give back” and keep the good karma flowing, despite my complete lack of free time. It was through my boss that I got involved with an amazing organization called Curly Tail Pug Rescue and decided to become a foster home for unwanted dogs. Curly Tail’s Mission is “to rescue homeless, unwanted, sick or injured pugs.” They “fully rehabilitate medically needy pugs and/or provide behavior modification to help place them into loving, permanent homes.”

Everyone who works for Curly Tail is a volunteer and within two days of applying to be a foster home, we got our first pug, McKenzie. She already had a home lined up and was only with us for a few days. About two weeks later, we received Onyx, a.k.a. “Little Bear” who would go on to stay with us for three months.

When we first picked up the Bear my first thoughts were “Oh my God, that’s the fattest, dirtiest pug I’ve ever seen.” He was a whopping 35 lbs and looked like he’d been rolling around in a baseball field all day. We got him home, immediately threw him in the bathtub and began what I like to call The Biggest Pug Loser program to get the Bear back into fighting shape. Onyx was perfectly house broken and never had a single accident in our house. He loved being around people and while he wasn’t the most outwardly loving dog I’ve ever met, all he wanted to do was be by your side. We put him on a strict diet and exercise program and before long he had lost 5 lbs. Although it was clear that Onyx had no signs of abuse from his former owner (thankfully!), I don’t think he was ever walked a day in his life. We’d get him outside and that little chunk would want to walk for hours. For three months, I put all my time and attention into training and loving this little giant, getting him prepared for his forever home.

The Little Bear

On January 2, we tearfully dropped Onyx off to meet his adoptive family. He’ll be living up in Massachusetts and, thanks to Curly Tail, will get a second chance at a wonderful life. And while I’m remaining active with the organization, taking on more responsibility, I’m taking a break from fostering for a short time. While it’s incredibly fulfilling to rehab these pups, it’s even harder to see them go. I still expect to see my little bear at the door when I come home at night or next to my bed staring at me at 7 am every morning. To paraphrase my husband, nobody said altruism was easy.

So here we are: January 5, 2011 and in the words of the late, great Nina Simone: “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… And I’m feeling good.” I look forward to another great year of posts and I thank everyone who takes the time to read my musings. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011!!

For more information on how you can help the pugs, please visit http://www.curlytailpugrescue.org


Make uP: I’ve Been Cheating on my Mascara

28 10 2010

One thing anyone will tell you about a Virgo is that we are loyal. I’ve been seeing the same dentist for 20 years, even though his pea green office was vomited right up out of the ‘70s. I’ve used Oil of Olay since I was a sophomore in high school and my nana told me about crow’s feet. I even wound up marrying my first “real” boyfriend. So when I find something I love, I stick with it through good and bad.

From the second I was given the ok by my mom to wear makeup, I swiped her pink and green Maybelline Great Lash and went to town on my eyes. Over the years I’ve sampled other mascaras, but for the most part they would remain in my makeup bag, half used until my twice yearly clean out. On my wedding day I used the Great Lash waterproof. I even keep an extra tube in my purse in case of an eyelash emergency. Next to my Burt’s Bees, this is my desert island makeup staple. So it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I admit to cheating on my old friend, but the fact is I think I’ve found something better.

So who is this mysterious stranger, you ask?  Well, it’s Maybelline “The Falsies” Volum’Express Mascara and it’s incredible stuff. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it looks like I’m wearing false eyelashes, my lashes are definitely long, thick and gorgeous without being clumpy or sticking together. The mascara itself doesn’t smell (yes, I’ve had issues with this before, Lash Stiletto) and is very easy to apply with the curved wand. A little Shu Uemura eyelash curler+the Falsies=huge, bright eyes. Save the money on those creepy lash extensions and shell out $7 for a tube of this magical mascara. It saddens me to be unfaithful but in this case I think this could be my next long lasting relationship.

What’s uP: The pH is now on Twitter!

7 10 2010

I’m happy to report that the pH is officially on Twitter! If that’s your sort of thing, click the link below and follow my stream of consciousness @whatstheph on a daily basis.

Follow whatstheph on Twitter

Dress uP: 5 Fall Essentials

9 09 2010

September, while my favorite month, is a tough time to get dressed. Mornings are brisk, afternoons sometimes sweltering and evenings chilly. It’s too early for tights but too late for sandals and most of our wardrobes hang in a weird limbo until mid-October.

Here are 5 essential staples to get you through the transitional period that is September:

Gauzy Scarves– Scarves are an amazing and simple way to autumnize summer clothes. I like to fold them end-to-end and loop once around neck, tucking the ends through the loop.

Gauze scarf ($28) http://www.nordstrom.com

Ankle Boots– a perfect choice when sandals seem too summery and knee boots feel like overkill. Wear with anything from little dresses with bare legs to skinny jeans.

Chinese Laundry Ankle Boots ($119) http://www.piperlime.com

Jean Leggings– I flat out refuse to call them jeggings but jean leggings are huge this year. If the skinny jeans thing isn’t YOUR thing, I’d suggest sporting them with a longer top and tucking them into boots. Otherwise, pair them with ballet flats, lace up oxfords or a stiletto ankle boot.

The most comfortable jeans I've ever worn ($69.50) http://www.gap.com

Shirt Dress– a button down shirtdress is a perfect September staple. On warmer days you can roll the sleeves and throw on a chunky necklace. On cooler days, belt it and throw on a pair of leggings. Flannel plaid is very popular this season but I always love a crisp white shirtdress as well.

Flannel Shirtdress ($48) http://www.hipsterchic.com

Military Jacket– I’ll admit that it took me a few wearings until I no longer felt like a member of St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but the feeling wore off and now I’m quite at home in my H+M Military jacket. It’s a little more chic than a denim jacket and adds a bit of an edge to your ensemble.

Steal: military jacket ($24.99) http://www.target.com

Splurge: Military Blazer ($234) http://www.nordstrom.com

So there you have it, 5 things sure to make your season easier and more fashionable. Plus, they’re all interchangeable. Hope you enjoy your September as much as I do.

Change it uP: Meredith’s Fabulous Friday

12 08 2010

My friend Meredith is absolutely fearless when it comes to changing her look. In the ten years we’ve been friends I’ve had her honey, chocolate, copper, golden and back again in the blink of an eye.  When she recently cut her mid-back length hair into a Mia Farrow-inspired Pixie cut, we decided that her color needed to change as well. With the help of the talented makeup artist, Michael Gwaltney, who designed her 60’s Edie Sedgwick “Mod” look for an art opening, I present the new Meredith!

Meredith Before:

From Long Hair to Pixie

I love the short hair, but I’m not loving this color…

And the lovely and courageous Meredith after spending the afternoon at Edris Salon…

White Lady

Meredith with the brilliant Michael Gwaltney

Andy and Edie

Many thanks to Meredith for her bravery and the folks at Edris Salon for encouraging constant growth and creativity.

What’s uP: A Few Words on Long Hair

2 08 2010

When it comes to long hair on women, there is a very fine line between sexy and religious cult.

Scary! Crystal Gale, admiring her hair cape

Sexy! Julia Roberts knows when it's time for a trim

Now before you write me off as one of those chop happy hairdressers who believes that every woman over the age of 35 must surrender to the dreaded mid-length mom cut, let me say that I love long hair on women of any age. As a matter of fact, my own 33-year old hair is what I refer to as “mermaid length” this summer, simply because I haven’t come up with my next look yet. But despite my long locks, I insist on getting a haircut every 6-8 weeks to get rid of my pot scrubber ends.

Hair brings up many strong emotions for most women. We tend to hold on to styles (perhaps for too long) that we wore when we felt our most confident or sexy and while we probably can’t recall the best haircut we’ve ever received, we will never forget our worst. And that scars a lot of us. One of my worst haircuts ever came from my father by way of a bang trim. It was the summer of ’89 and I was a hotshot (ha!) middle schooler who had recently traded in these enormous coke bottle glasses for soft lenses. My self-confidence was on the climb from non-existent to hanging on by a thread when my dear father offered to trim my bangs in order to get them out of my newly contacted eyes.

It seemed easy enough. I had the “waterfall fringe” of New Jersey in the late 80’s: a huge bouffant of hair that was teased up and to the side and then sprayed into submission with a few pieces that were curled and combed onto the forehead. I gave my dad strict instructions that he was only to touch the fringy forehead pieces and NOTHING ELSE. But my dad, being the armchair Vidal Sassoon that he was, decided to mess with the waterfall. It took him about 0.25 seconds to comb the whole sculpture down and cut it straight across with a pair of eyebrow scissors and in the blink of an electric blue eye, I was left with a look to rival Pee Wee. I literally didn’t leave the house for three weeks (Thank God for summer vacation and Blockbuster) and I wouldn’t wear bangs again until my late 20’s.

Something like this has happened to just about every woman I’ve ever met. One childhood friend of mine has never grown her hair long because on a school trip to the zoo, a llama chewed off her ponytail when her back was turned. Another friend has never worn her hair above her bra strap because her mom insisted on giving her at- home Dorothy Hamill haircuts for the better part of her childhood. Women flee to a safe hair haven and in doing so, tend to go to the extremes.

Now when it comes to long hair, many gals think it’s the definition of womanly. And those silly, extension wearing Victoria’s Secret Models aren’t helping matters (Good God, where is Linda Evangelista when we need her?!) In their quest for long, flowing, underwear goddess hair, women either bypass a regular trim entirely, or go to the hairdresser with a year’s worth of scraggly ends and ask to please leave the length because they are “growing it.” To these women, I have only this to say: You are a half inch and a French braid away from Branch Davidian. So unless you have religious convictions that state otherwise, please, PLEASE shape that hair up. You will still be hot. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/lover/parent will still love you if they are worth a damn and your hair will actually grow faster. Yes, you heard me correctly. Your hair will grow faster. Because all those nasty split ends won’t be causing breakage.

Here are my tips to having long luxurious hair:

  • Have regular haircuts or trims (every 8-10 weeks if possible)
  • Every once in a while, have your hairdresser cut an inch or more off the length
  • Deep conditioning masks every week. I am in love with the Mud Mask by Aestelance right now

    Mud Mask by Aestelance

  • Folic Acid and Biotin are incredible for hair growth and health. If you don’t like to take a million pills, I recommend an over the counter pre-natal vitamin. They are packed with Folic Acid and Biotin
  • Don’t forget about your scalp. Healthy hair starts with healthy insides and continues with a healthy scalp. When lathering, really manipulate the scalp to stimulate hair follicles
  • Throw out those stupid glued in extensions. They ruin hair and feel disgusting. If you absolutely must add length, I recommend the ones that clip in.
  • Brush your hair. It seems like a no-brainer but many women will brush their hair in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day. Brushing your hair with a bristle brush stimulates hair growth and disperses natural oils through the ends
  • Trust your stylist! The best haircut I ever had was a shoulder-length shag with full bangs. It was like nothing I had ever worn before and made me feel sexy and completely badass. I never would have thought to do it but I left it in the hands of a very gifted stylist and was treated to something very special.

    One of my favorite looks

Eat uP, Drink uP: Take a walk down Washington Street

14 07 2010

I’m very fortunate to have an incredibly scenic commute to work. Every day I walk up Washington Street, from Christopher to 14th (where I work) and back again, and marvel at how many great bars and restaurants are along this 10-block west side street. As a matter of fact, you can do your own little “pub crawl” without ever stepping off Washington Street.

Begin your descent at 14th Street, and walk one block down to the corner of 13th and Washington. Here you will find one of the original Meatpacking biker bars: Hogs and Heifers (859 Washington Street), aka the “Coyote Ugly” bar. This is basically a disgusting dive bar but hey, beer is beer, right? Plus, it’s always a hoot to see tourists bring their kids here: “Look, Johnny! There are SLUTS dancing on the bar!”

The Biergarten at the Standard: You'll never see it this empty again

Cross the street and you’ll find The Standard Grill (848 Washington Street) and their outdoor Biergarten, serving up beer, German-style snacks and boozed up chicks in 5″ heels. Get there early because it gets packed and it gets loud.

If the scene at the Standard isn’t for you, cross back over Washington and grab some thai food at SEA (835 Washington Street). There’s outside seating with a great view of the High Line and the drunken hooligans at the Biergarten.

Food is served here. Really.

In the mood for diner food, or doing an AM walk down Washington? Grab a breakfast wrap at Hector’s Café (Corner of Little West 12th & Washington Street). It looks like the shadiest diner in the world but it’s inexpensive and delicious. I recommend the Florentine wrap.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more upscale and Italian, Barbuto (775 Washington Street) is a fabulous place with great ambiance. With outdoor seating, daily menus and brunch on the weekends, you can’t go wrong here.

Barbuto. But look out the window: it's Tortilla Flats!

Now if it’s cheap, not really authentic but still delicious Mexican you’re craving, you’re in luck! Everyone’s favorite west side drunkery, Tortilla Flats (767 Washington Street) is just across West 12th Street.  If you’re not in the mood to have your memory erased by a barrage of tequila and bingo, not a problem. There’s a new wine bar next door called Entwine (765 Washington Street) that has an outside garden, wine tasting downstairs and a more loungey, sophisticated vibe.

On the corner of Bank and Washington Streets you’ll find the best happy hour deal on the west side at Automatic Slim’s (733 Washington Street): $3 draft beer, $4 wine. It can get crowded and loud here but there’s always good music and funny bartenders. Oh, and cheap booze.

Continue your trek to The Upholstery Store (713 Washington Street), one of my absolute favorite places in the city to get wine and a snack. From the outside it appears to be a home furnishings store (hence the name) but what’s inside is an intimate space filled with friendly bartendresses, overpriced pretzels and a lovely wine selection.

Last but not least, before hopping onto the PATH train back to the Jerz, we stumble upon Malatesta Vino & Cucina (649 Washington Street), a terrific little Italian restaurant on the corner of Washington and Christopher Streets. There’s plenty to see on Christopher Street so this is perfect even if you just want to sit outside, have a carafe of Chianti and take in the sights.

Happy west side eating and drinking!