Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cougars are no big deal

Today's Annoyance: The dog vs. cat argument
Mantra of the Day: It's a woman's world. We just let men run it.

Compared to other parts of the world, Americans still seem to make a big deal out of it when a mature woman dates a younger guy. I’m not talking about the teachers who are hooking up with their teenage students. (That’s creepy and just wrong.) What I’m talking about are women in their mid-30s, 40s and beyond who date men ten or more years younger. On an almost hourly basis, we see old, bald, fat dudes with 20-somethings on their arms. No big deal. Time and again a guy marries the first wife, only to divorce her years later for the much younger, bright-eyed woman who’s probably more likely to put up with his crap. We’re used to that. Yet a woman in a relationship with a younger man still risks greater and more obvious social disapproval.

The word “consensual” comes to mind. If they’re cool with it, why aren’t we? Think of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins or Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. How about Madonna and her new boy toy Jesus, or her soon-to-be ex-hubby Guy Ritchie? I’ve heard that in Europe, women are believed to get better with age (like fine wine, no?). Thankfully, it’s getting better in the States, slowly but surely, but, will we ever reach the point where it’s not such a big deal?

Recently, there was a great Huffington Post article which pays homage to hot women in their 40s, some of whom have younger lovers. Also, there was that reality TV show a couple of years ago called "The Age of Love." Now, there's a new reality show called "The Cougar". Maybe the more we see this kind of thing, the sooner we'll get over it.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly]


Monday, March 30, 2009

Road Rage

Today's Annoyance: Inappropriate multitasking
Mantra of the Day: I knew I was better off on the sidewalk.

I am a city girl. I did not grow up in the city, but over the years, I have spent enough time in them to have forgotten about suburban life and embrace the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle. That is why driving a car seems so unnatural to me. I just came back from a business trip where I needed to drive three hours to the meeting site to see a client. Granted when we got there, it was so beautiful in the end that it was well worth the trouble, but I think that I discovered road rage in the span of that three hours.

I have talked about sidewalk rage before, and I still have to say that it gives rise to stronger feelings than frustration on the road, but the crazy things that people do while driving blows my mind. We started out during rush hour, where I saw a guy sending out emails on his BlackBerry. Then, there was the woman putting on mascara (which in my mind is not the ultimate offense because I think I could put mascara on while sleeping) and the coup de grâce…the guy reading the newspaper while driving. Really? I always thought that you had to worry about things like drunk driving and ice on the road, but I guess that I didn’t have a clue.

What is the craziest thing you have seen someone do while on the road? Let me know, I am dying to hear what you have to say…


Friday, March 27, 2009

Ava's Faves: AirfareWatchdog.com

Today's Annoyance: Stupid airline fees
Mantra of the Day: The point in jet setting is getting there.

New York to Dublin, Ireland for $357 roundtrip. L.A. to Cabo San Lucas for $257 roundtrip. Chicago to Orlando for $173 roundtrip. These are some of the recent deals to be found at AirfareWatchdog.com. You can even sign up to receive free airfare alerts by email for good deals from your favorite local airports.

If I’m forced to fly commercially, naturally I want to get a good deal. This website does just that. Join me for some reasonably priced jet setting!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Isn't "guilty pleasure" an oxymoron?

Today’s Annoyance: Forced modesty

Mantra of the Day: I wanted it and I paid for it therefore I feel no guilt.

I make no excuses for the things that I enjoy in life. If something makes me feel good and I can afford it, I’m going to enjoy it (unless it’s illegal). Why should I pretend not to enjoy all the abundance that life has offer? Because “misery loves company”? I think not. If anything, my joyful experiences should provide some inspiration for others. Do I sound arrogant? Only as much as it sounds stupid to feel guilty about having or doing something that you enjoy.

If you do something that you’re not supposed to do, that’s not a “guilty pleasure”. That’s just wrong.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ava's taxicab confessions

Today's Annoyance: Smelly, expensive modes of travel
Mantra of the Day: A hired car service is worth the expense.

I have a love-hate relationship with cabs. In most major cities, cabs are easy to find and they serve the simplest purpose: getting you from point A to point B. Plus, cab drivers are a special breed; they’re often interesting characters with amazing stories. Sometimes, they’re sullen, other times they’re quietly focused on getting you to your destination and getting their next fare. Maybe cab driver personalities and the anonymity of the experience explain why cab rides bring out the craziness in people. (Have you ever seen HBO’s documentary Taxicab Confessions? Just so weird.)

On the flip side, between the deteriorating condition of many cabs, the difficulty in communicating with some cabbies, and the confusing fare system, cabs can really suck. It’s often worse when you’re traveling overseas because of the increased communication problem. For what I’ve been overcharged by some cabbies, I may as well have just hired a car service. Oh well, what’re you gonna do?

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rihanna and Chris Brown

Today's Annoyance: The media’s death grip on a scandalous story
Mantra of the Day:
Good things can come out of bad situations.

I know that this topic has been beaten to death but as it keeps evolving, I can’t help but chime into the debate and give my two cents on the story. So to recap, not that you don’t already know, boy pop star allegedly beats the crap out of popular girlfriend pop star. Girl pop star promptly goes back to boy pop star even though boy pop star is also allegedly cheating on girl pop star. Boy pop star is accused of wanting to continue their relationship only to use her to save his career from disappearing into oblivion.

To be honest, the whole thing makes me uncomfortable. You never want to see something like that happen to anyone, especially someone who is as beautiful, talented and seemingly good-natured as Rihanna. In the end, I think that some good can come out of the situation because it has definitely opened up a nationwide dialogue concerning domestic abuse. This is a problem that has plagued mankind for as long as I can remember, but from time to time it is good to remember that it does impact a number of people with whom we interact everyday and they should not have to suffer in silence. If you have a friend or loved one who you think might be in an abusive situation, I ask that you be there for them in a nonjudgmental way. Even if that person has not yet seen the light and has decided to stay with their partner, let them know that you are there for them in the event that they may need you. I hope that all this serves as a wake-up call for all of the Rihannas of the world and those who love them.

Peace and blessings…

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Examiner.com]


Monday, March 23, 2009

Not So Distant Strangers

Today's Annoyance: Not knowing the people I see everyday
Mantra of the Day:
I love eye candy!

So this morning after my daily run, I stopped into a Starbucks near my house, when not two minutes later, in walked a beautiful not-so-distant stranger. I call him “the Moroccan” because I know absolutely nothing about him but he seems like he might be from that part of the world (and he looks like the mega-hot Moroccan pop star Ahmed Soultan!). Instantly
I wished that I was one of those women who always wears makeup when she works out, but that has never been my style.

Anyway, I see this guy everywhere I go - the gym, on the way to work, when I'm out shopping - he is just a part of the city landscape for me. He's not the only person I see on a regular basis and have a nickname for, but he's pretty easy on the eyes so I tend to remember him more. I always wonder if people who I see all the time have a nickname for me for me too or know my routine better than I know it myself. Do they notice me in the same way? Are you known to someone as “the girl with the Louis bag who rides the train at 7:46 a.m.”? Why don't we ever introduce ourselves to these people? It’s probably because they are more interesting to us when we make them into fictional characters in our heads.

Well, that's all I've got for you today. Ciao xox

[IMAGE: Courtesy of AhmedSoultan.com]


Friday, March 20, 2009

Ava's Faves: Biscoff Cookies

Today's Annoyance: Diets
Mantra of the Day: I promise, I'll only eat 10 cookies, for now.

Here’s a confession: I refuse to give up Biscoff cookies. If the economy continues to worsen, I’ll restrict my diet to tea and cookies. If you’ve ever had a Biscoff cookie, you know just what I’m talking about. I discovered these Belgian slices of heaven in Monaco. They’re typically served with tea or coffee after a meal. Mind you, I could eat them every day, all day.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Biscoff.com]


Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's your absolute travel necessity?

Today's Annoyance: Luggage fees
Mantra of the Day: My office goes where I go.

I have a friend who refuses to travel without a purse-sized spray can of Lysol. Originally, I thought this might be a bit rude. However, considering the malodorous condition of some airplanes, the airplane toilets and sadly, some of the passengers, I completely understand her motivation.

For some travelers, an iPod or some other MP3 player is a must-have. For others, it’s a cute black outfit. (Who knows when you’ll be invited to a party?) As a classic over-packer, I probably have far too many travel necessities. I know, I’m terrible. And yes, I’ve paid a lot in luggage fees. If I had to choose one thing that I absolutely refuse to travel without, it would be my Samsonite mobile office. Actually, that’s cheating, sort of, because it allows me to pack a bunch of stuff like my laptop, MP3 player, work-related files, an outfit (or two) and some toiletries. If I have to pick a fashion-related item that I couldn’t and wouldn’t travel without, I’d choose…………honestly, how can you choose just one thing? A woman’s got to have her accessories!

So, what’s your must-have?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fashionista survival guide

Today’s Annoyance: Disaster at the end of the tunnel

Mantra of the Day: We’ll get through this together.

Call me “Pollyanna” but I have no intention of subscribing to the disaster mentality of the populace. Am I in denial about the economy? Not at all. But, I am not going to walk around dressed in sack cloth waiting for the bread lines to start. I have faith that the economy will turn around but it’s going to take awhile. In the meantime, as we all tighten our literal and proverbial belts, I plan to let my fabulousness continue to shine through.

Here is my 5-step survival guide for the fashionista-turned-recessionista:

  1. Find the outlets. Outlets are very cool because you can buy name-brand clothing and accessories at discounted prices. For those of you in the U.S., go to the Outlet Locator or Outlet Bound to find outlets in your area. Premium Outlets has locations throughout the U.S., Mexico, Japan and Korea. If you live outside of these areas, try searching for “outlet mall” using your city or country name.
  2. Mix-and-match. Fast-fashion coupled with some lux items can create a really nice look. No one will ever know that you’re wearing H&M, Michael Kors and Celine together unless you tell them.
  3. Comparison shop. It’s the most fantastic thing about the Internet!
  4. Be grateful for what you have. Go shopping in your own closet. I’m continually amazed by the number of occasions when I “discovered” something in my closet that I had forgotten all about.
  5. Have courage, my readers, because saving is très chic now. I’m happy for the trust-fund babies who can still pay full price but if I can get a deal, why not?

Share your survival tips with me. Ciao for now!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's St. Patrick's Day...where's my pot of gold?!

Today's Annoyance: Lack of concentration
Mantra of the Day: I can resist everything except temptation. - Oscar Wilde

I've been so crazy busy that I forgot to wish you all a happy St. Patrick's Day. Hopefully, you were smart enough to wear something green to avoid getting pinched otherwise you've been getting pinched all day and now you're ready for a beer (or a six-pack).

I wonder if half the people celebrating even know what St. Patrick's Day is all about. I mean, a lot of us know about wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage, heading out to the local bar for drinks and debauchery. Most of us are familiar with leprechauns, bagpipes, kilts and pots of gold but, I would guess that more than a few people have no idea why we celebrate every March 17. If you haven't a clue, History.com has a cool collection of info (that's if you're still sober enough to care).


[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Body advertising

Today's Annoyance: Tattoo overkill
Mantra of the Day: We should have seen this coming.

Imagine walking up to a sacred temple, only to see it emblazoned with the kind of obnoxious electric signage that you see outside of Las Vegas casinos. That pretty much describes what I think of body advertising. A growing phenomenon over the past decade has been the paid use of body parts to advertise for new and established brands. Toyota has paid for temporarily tattooed body parts, so has Air New Zealand, Nokia, iPhone, Blackberry, beauty retailer FeelUnique.com, Dunlop Tires and online gambling site Golden Palace, which paid a woman $10,000 to permanently tattoo their website address on her forehead. There are even websites where you can register your body parts for use, including your shaved head, your eyelids, back, arms, legs and stomach (even, and maybe especially, if you’re pregnant).

The only thing that my body will ever advertise is my fabulousness, no matter the offering price. Besides, if you think about it, I already give plenty of “body” advertising opportunities to a number of brands simply by wearing their clothes and accessories. Adorning my hand, back, forehead, or some other body part with an inked logo is just a line that I’m not willing to cross, even if it’s just temporary. Not so for everyone though. Apparently, a lot of people are leasing body parts, and so much more. I’m guessing that somebody, somewhere, has an ad on their headstone. Would you do it? What body part(s) would you lease…and for how much?

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Tatt'ad]


Monday, March 16, 2009

Media madness

Today's Annoyance: People who are famous for no good reason
Mantra of the Day: Money can definitely buy you undeserved attention.

Every daughter of a billionaire or celebrity seems to need a publicist nowadays. You’ve seen them…those people who are famous simply for being uber-rich and are often recognizable just by their last names. Celebutantes like Hilton, Kardashian, Richie and Gastineau. They’re often paid to show up in nightclubs and at posh events around town. They have entourages, clothing lines, and sometimes famous boyfriends. Fashion magazines dedicate full spreads and occasionally cover pages to them. They get to have their own reality TV shows. Sadly, this isn’t just an American pastime.

My question for you today is this: Do people read and watch stories about celebutantes because the media has nothing better to offer or does the media offer this type of “news” because people really, truly care what celebutantes are doing? Either way, I’m annoyed. Can someone make it stop, please?


Friday, March 13, 2009

Cell phone use on planes...NOOOOOOO!

Today's Annoyance: Forced eavesdropping
Mantra of the Day:
BOSE QuietComfort headphones are in my future.

Say it isn’t so, Ryanair! Why must you insist on forcing me to hear the tedious conversations of dozens of other people while I travel?! There must be other ways for airlines to make money. I’d even pay for my food. Oh wait, they’re already charging us for that. How about charging to use the toilet? (Actually, Ryanair's CEO jokingly talked about doing this and several followup articles during the past week have reviewed the possibility of airlines charging for toilet use, so-called "pay-to-pee".)

I had heard a couple of years ago that several airlines were planning to launch in-air mobile phone service. To my chagrin, Ryanair has already equipped 20 of its planes with the service. Luckily, these planes are only being used on routes to and from Dublin. (For now.) I’m betting that the ob
session of the average person with phone calls and text messages will spell (more) doom for travelers who like a bit of piece and quiet on planes. Not even the cost will deter most of them from gleefully calling or texting their friends from 30,000 feet only to ask that age-old question: “Guess where I’m calling from?!”

Even the Tower of Babel had to be better than this. At least those people could simply run away. I’m thinking that air rage incidents will be on the rise in the very near future.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Partying with an "it" girl

Today's Annoyance: Drunk girls
Mantra of the Day:
I never was, nor will be, that girl.

Although in some circles I may be dubbed an ‘IT’ girl, I think that my friend Eddy fits the bill way more than I do. As you know, I have been in London (her hometown) for the past week. We were invited to attend an event for Moet. This being her turf, she felt, let's say….comfortable with her crowd. So what is a girl is to do when your friend goes wild at a party? We were invited as celebrated guests so people noticed we were there, even if they did not know us personally. I had the idea that we should be on our best behavior for that very reason. I guess that kind of thing is seen as hip to some people these days, but I hope that I never fall victim to nauseating trends. Really, vomiting in public is not cute.

I never understood how it became fashionable for young women who come from upstanding families of means to behave like drunken idiots. In my book, that look is not becoming on anyone. I think it’s sad to see what the effect of tragic stars who have public meltdowns will have on the Hillary Clintons of tomorrow. I am getting off my soapbox now, but in the end I have to say that I had a great time even if I did have to play babysitter by the end of the night.

Much Love, Ava

[IMAGE: Courtesy of iStockPhoto.com]


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pub life

Today's Annoyance: That fish and chips aren’t health food
Mantra of the Day:
I love one-stop shopping.

One thing that I discovered during this trip to the UK was pub culture. Why don’t we Americans do this? I love the idea of one-stop shopping where you can meet up with your fr
iends, meet new people, get some food, watch the game and drink until you can’t remember your name, all in a cute and comfy atmosphere. Most people usually save their pub time for after work drinks, but I started out my day there. There was a place around the corner from my hotel called The Pontefract Castle that is over one hundred years old and looks exactly like you would expect an old English pub to look. The staff is friendly and even though they might not know your name, they are eager to learn it.

Anyway, the point being is that I fell in love with the full English breakfast. Then I would finish the day there with dinner and a drink. Apparently eating before drinking is more of an American thing. They wait until they are tired of drinking to go home to their families and have dinner but whatever, why would they be serving food if they didn’t want us to eat it? I guess that’s one of those questions for the ages. Or maybe that explains why we are so fat (not that I am including myself in that statement, just saying… girls, are you with me?) What I am trying to say is, go check this place out if you are in that neck of the woods.

Peace out.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Global Jet Set Media, Inc.]


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jet setting tips on a budget

Today's Annoyance: The U.S. stock market trading at 6500 points
Mantra of the Day: I will survive…with a little pampering

The past few days, I have been in London visiting my friend Eddy (Edwina), doing the social circuit with her while trying to see some of the sites. Since I have been over here, I thought that I would pass along some tips on jet setting during a recession. I think that everyone is trying to save a few pennies while not sacrificing any fun.

I found this gorgeous hotel in the West End near Marble Arch called The Cumberland – a Guoman Hotel. It is super sleek and modern spot that has fabulous little bar, lounge, restaurant and night club on the property, so if you are feeling lazy, there is still plenty going on. It is also conveniently located a stone’s through away from the Tube stop, all for around one hundred pounds ($150) a night. And remember, getting around town on the subway is always more exotic when you are in another country (and it is not taking you to work!). Plus, if you haven’t taken the London Tube before, it is super clean and easy to navigate.

By the way, the greenback is killing right now, so those traveling with dollars can get a favorable exchange rate. There are some beautiful clothing shops where you can get some items to keep you fashionable the rest of the year. Check out Whistles and Karen Millen for chic little dresses perfect for any occasion. (I love those places!) Well, I don’t want to talk your ear off because I could go on forever. I’ll just catch up with you tomorrow. Cheers!

The Cumberland Hotel - Lobby

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Global Jet Set Media, Inc.]


Monday, March 9, 2009

Today is Barbie's 50th birthday!

Today's Annoyance: Plastic humans
Mantra of the Day:
I want to be Barbie. That bitch has everything. (license plate frame)

Barbie is 50 years old and looks as good as ever. Yes, that’s because she’s a doll. And she’s not doing too bad for herself – an enviable wardrobe of designer clothes and accessories, cars, boats, airplanes, houses, businesses and a hot boyfriend. (If I recall correctly, she and Ken never got married. Maybe he didn’t want to sign a pre-nup.) She has been a mermaid, a princess, a NASCAR fan, and a rock star.

She has even seen her fair share of controversy over the years. Loads of mad moms bitched about her “unrealistic” figure, her out-of-wedlock pregnancy, tattoos and an alleged S&M version (“Black Canary Barbie”), among other things.

I’m taking Barbie’s birthday as opportunity to pay homage to the real women who make 50 look good (with or without a little help): Angela Bassett, Holly Hunter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Tilly, Joan Jett, Jody Whatley, Marg Helgenberger, Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sade, Sharon Stone, and Ellen DeGeneres. Best wishes for a 50th year of life! I want to be you when I grow up!!

[IMAGE: AffluentUSA.com]


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Celebrate International Women's Day

Today's Annoyance: People who take life and our freedoms for granted
Mantra of the Day: I'm grateful to the amazing women who came before me.

Today is International Women’s Day, which celebrates women’s economic, political and social achievements throughout history. In honor of this global celebration, my friends and I are going to get together for dinner and talk about the incredible women who have influenced our lives – mothers, sisters, mentors, celebrities, businesswomen, politicians, and social leaders.

Are you attending any IWD events or planning to do anything special? If you’re just getting into the loop, go to http://www.internationalwomensday.com/ for more information.

[IMAGE: Courtesy of AssociatedContent.com]


Friday, March 6, 2009

Ava's Faves: Persistence

Today's Annoyance: Whiners
Mantra of the Day:
Try not. Do. Or do not. - Yoda (Star Wars)

I feel so inspired today! I read a news story about a 68-year old South Korean who has taken her written driver’s license exam a whopping 775 times without passing. Reportedly, she has spent thousands of dollars on the exam fees and she has no intention of stopping until she passes. While some think she’s crazy or feel sorry for her, she is totally upbeat and encourages others to keep trying until they reach their dreams. In my life, I have sometimes had a fear of failure which kept me from pursuing my goals because I was afraid of what people would think. This woman is so strongly focused on her goal to have her driver’s license that nothing seems to faze her, not even international exposure, pity or negative commentary. Bravo to her! She is my new hero.

[IMAGE: DailyContributor.com]


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reality TV (Part 2)

Today's Annoyance: Taking yourself too seriously
Mantra of the Day: Keep your eye on the prize

I love reality TV. I don’t know what it is about the whole concept; maybe it’s the voyeuristic aspect or the trashiness of most of it or the complete mental vacation that I can take while watching it (and the way the stock market is going, I could definitely use one) – but I love it.

One of my favorite shows right now is Diddy’s Making the Band 4…. Drama! I first got into the show because I have a lot of respect for the man behind Bad Boy Records and how he has built an empire from nothing. Of course, I was hoping to pick up some pointers. I know not all of you watch the show but the basic premise is that P. Diddy has put together a girl group that has been a huge success all over the world but now they have broken up simply because they could not keep their catfights in check. How could you let the fact that you do not like someone (and what they do with their free time) interfere with the chance of a lifetime to improve your life and the lives of your family?!

I am on pins and needles to see what he does to keep the group and his business in tact. Keep watching, I know that I will be…

[IMAGE: Courtesy of WeekendThrowdown.com]


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ava’s Faves: Moroccan Steam Bath

Today's Annoyance: Anything that makes me late for the spa
Mantra of the Day:
I’m washing my cares away.

For the pleasure of my fellow jetsetters-in-training, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite things that make life much more enjoyable. (Just for the record, these are not paid endorsements.)

First up, Moroccan steam baths. Yes, ladies and gents, this is the best thing since sliced bread. This 2-hour long treatment was worth far more than I paid for it. It starts out with 15 minutes in the steam room. Then, you enter a bathing chamber where you experience an amazing body cleansing ritual for your face, scalp, body and feet. As if that’s not enough, you get a relaxing massage.

After my treatment, I’m almost sure that I heard the angels sing. Mind you, I’ve visited plenty of spas in my day and I’ve tried an endless number of treatments. A Moroccan steam bath is sheer heaven. I’m imagining how awesome it would be for a couple. Go now…take a bath…and enjoy!

[IMAGE: Courtesy of Getty Images]

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