Friday, February 13, 2015

Slim-down secrets from a celebrity nutritionist

I had never heard of the Dukan Diet or its nutritionist Simone Gloger (her photo is above) until I was contacted about some tips she wanted to share. 

If you want to learn more about the Dukan Diet, here's an objective take on it from Web MD:

As for Gloger, her celebrity clients are working hard so they'll look their best at the Oscars on Feb. 22. But her tips are helpful to anyone who needs to cut back for a few weeks before a special event or party.  

1.  Eat Strategically Before the event, eat nothing but lean protein for 2-3 days (Choose lean chicken, grilled fish, eggs and shrimp). This will rev up metabolism, decrease water retention and have you looking extra lean in your outfit. 

2.  Cut Out Dairy This food group is one of the hardest for the body to digest - dairy causes bloating, acne and dark circles under the eyes in a lot of people, leaving you less than camera ready.

3. Lemonize Start your day with hot water and ½ a squeezed lemon. Then do a few more lemon shots throughout the day. This is a great liver detoxifier - the liver supports fat burning and this helps it do its job. Also, lemon neutralizes acids. Acids create a layer around the fat cells so they won't shrink.  Lemon is alkaline so having shots of straight lemon, or even lemon in water, helps to neutralize the acids around the cells so they can shrink like they should.

5. Get Golden Nothing hides flaws and makes you look leaner than a great airbrush tan—make sure to have the technician give you an extra misting on trouble spots like triceps and your inner and outer thigh area.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Taylor Swift takes a fashion cue from a Charlottean

When I was looking through all the fashion photos from the 2015 Grammy Awards, I paused on photos of Taylor Swift. 

She was my personal favorite in an aqua Ellie Saab gown accessorized with bright purple suede heels. The gown was a stunner on its own, but adding the contrasting pop of color with her shoes looked so right and made her stand out even more in the stylish crowd. Based on past prom stories I've done, I guarantee her gown style and choice of colors are going to be copied by many teen girls during the upcoming prom season. 

Then my mind raced back to attending the Father of Year Awards in Charlotte in 2013. That year's co-chair, Peggy Leo-Gallo, wore a similar color combination at the gala and it was such a knockout that every time I run into her I comment on it because I thought it was such a bold fashion statement.

Here's a photo of Peggy and her husband, John Gallo, at the 2013 fundraiser. Peggy, you are now a certified fashion trendsetter!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Overwhelmed with love, not stress

The Emily Post Institute ( is my go-to source whenever I have an etiquette question. Its team of etiquette experts has never let me down over the years whenever I've had a question.

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, the Institute sent out some tips for ways to love your own Valentine's Day celebration with your sweetie and not give in to pressure or hype.

  • The first step is talk to your your Valentine and get a feel for what each of your expectations may be. Ask an open-ended question so your partner can express his or her feelings.

  • If you're hesitant about giving a gift, especially if you're in a new relationship, less is more. At the very least, give your sweetie a card. Flowers and chocolates are traditional options for a reason - they usually please the recipient. So does a nice, home-cooked dinner, and it saves the stress of trying to book a table on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year. Taking the time to think about a gift your partner would genuinely enjoy often means more than the numbers on a price tag.

  • If you've just started dating someone, it's usually not appropriate to splurge on a significant piece of jewelry or lingerie. Think personal,, but not over the top. Does your love like to cook? Buy them a nice cookbook that focuses on a new type of cuisine to try. Are they an outdoor fanatic? Plan a date to go on a hike to a new spot together. The idea is to show you care without hinting towards anything too serious. You want to choose something thoughtful that doesn't imply a sense of obligation on the part of the recipient. 

  • If you're in a solid relationship, but it's still new and you're learning about the other person, introduce them to something you love in the form of a gift, like one of your favorite books with a letter about why you love it, or a specialty food item from a place that is important to you.

  • Many couples choose not to celebrate Valentine's Day in any special way, and that's okay, too! The day is meant to focus on love and caring for one another - it does not have to be governed by the giving and receiving of gifts. You can show you care by being particularly attentive to each other and being complimentary. Do a lot of the little things that let the other person know they are special to you. 

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Designer Showcase deadline is Feb. 2

The deadline for Belk's 2015 Southern Designer Showcase is Feb. 2.

The competition gives designers a chance to get their collection into Belk stores and online in Spring 2016. 

It's open to designers of women's, men's or kids' apparel, shoes or women's accessories who either live in the South or have a strong connection to the region.

To enter, you must be at least 18; submit at least 10 photos of actual products (not drawings); and include a bio. 

Entries can be sent to

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Two simple Super Bowl party tips

Actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose husband Rodney Peete is a former quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, spoke to US Weekly recently about her favorite tips for a Super Bowl party, or "Homegating" as she calls it.

Here are her two tips:

Stay off Pinterest or you'll become overwhelmed with ideas. Instead, keep it simple and have the basics of beer and easy game day food that everyone loves.

Since the game is in Arizona, add some Southwestern flair whether it's with food or decor.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

My fashion notebook

Last year, I decided to start a fashion notebook. It turned out to be a great idea for me, so I thought I would share it with you.

I bought an inexpensive notebook from the drugstore and titled it Clothes. Am I a creative writer or what?

For all of 2014, I recorded every single thing I bought to wear on my body. Dresses, scarves, jewelry, shoes, socks and more. No matter what it was, it went in my notebook. Everything is recorded by month. For each item, I drew a quick sketch of it, then wrote a description underneath it that also includes where I bought it and the price.

An example is a halter dress from Belk that I lived in over the summer. I wore it as a dress, as a tunic, as a cover-up at the pool and to just relax in around the house.

Here's my notebook entry on the item (if I knew I was going to publish it I would have put more effort into my handwriting and drawing!)

Here's the actual dress so you can see that the drawing doesn't have to be exact, just a simple visual reminder of the item.

At the end of the year, it was incredibly helpful (and fun) to look back and quickly see what I bought. It helps me realize which stores I tend to shop at most, how much I spend annually, and the types of clothing and accessories I tend to buy.

I'm a very visual person, so the drawings - no matter how crudely drawn they were - were key to making this a success. If I had just written out the information without an accompanying picture, it wouldn't have had as much impact on me.

The drawing also quickly helps me see what I bought that I ended up loving and wearing a lot, and what I bought that turned out to be a dud. I think I'll go back and put a star by the items I loved and wore over and over. And an X by the items that didn't work out, some of which I've already donated to Goodwill.

I've bought things for $12 that have turned out to be amazing pieces that I constantly get compliments on. And I've bought things for $600 that are amazing pieces that I constantly get compliments on.

And the reverse is true. I've spent nominal amounts of money on things that I ended up not liking or wearing very much. And I've spent a lot of money on things I ended up not liking or wearing very much.

After studying my great fashion finds from last year, and my not-so-great ones, I really feel like I'll make even better, wiser choices this year.

I've already entered in my first note and drawing for January 2015: A gorgeous navy lacy dress with beige inserts at the waist and hem that I ordered from Boden. I'm planning on wearing it to two cocktail parties I have coming up.

I hope at the end of the year, when I look back at my entries, the lace dress will end up getting a star. If not, someone at Goodwill is going to luck up on a pretty dress that I hope earns a star in their fashion notebook.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Beauty Bootcamp Jan. 24

Sonya Barnes of the International Fashion Style Academy is partnering with boutique owner Dan Mauney of SHU for the second annual Beauty Bootcamp Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SHU Boutique in South End, 1426 S. Tryon St. Sonya (her gorgeous photo is at the top of this blog) has worked with clients as an international image and style consultant for over a decade. 

A press release says the full day of beauty and style will feature a team of industry experts as well as some of Charlotte’s finest retailers, specialty boutiques and hair and makeup artists.

“January is a perfect time to jumpstart the new you,” said Beauty Bootcamp founder Sonya Barnes, CEO of Harris & Barnes Image Consulting in a statement. “We’ll show you why you need to toss the mom jeansget fitted for the right size bra and accessorize.”

The cost is $99 per person and includes lunch and a swag bag full of partner products and discounts. Participation is limited to 25 spots. 

You can register through Jan. 23 at or call 704-607-4300.

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Resolution reminders

Did you promise to make 2015 your best year yet? Then you may find these tips helpful. They're from nationally-known therapist, educator and life coach Diane Lang ( She practices what's called Positive Psychology. She's on a mission to help people turn their lives around by developing a sustainable positive attitude.

1. Make myself a priority this year. I will learn to say “no” to others when I feel overwhelmed and stressed. I will say “yes” to my needs and wants. This year I will learn it’s OK to put myself first and take care of myself. This year I will learn that selfish isn’t always a bad word. I realize that if I take care of myself, I will be there for others.

2. Be grateful for what I have. I will take the time to pause and think about all I have. This isn’t about my material objects. This is about my abundance of love, warmth, comfort, care and empathy I receive on a daily basis. This year I will make room in my life for gratitude checks where I spend a few minutes each day thinking about all I have in this life and just being thankful I have my life. 

3. Pay it forward constantly. I will give more of myself everyday. I will inspire, help, and empower others on a daily basis.

4. Step out of my comfort zone. I will take risks, add variety and become more creative. This is the year I won’t be stale or stagnate. The word “bored” will be removed from my word list this year.

5. Be a great role model. This will make me a better parent, mentor, friend and educator. I will teach others by my actions. 

6. Become fully aware of my negative thoughts, comments and actions towards others and myself. I will make a conscious effort to be more positive and respectful of others and myself.  I realize positive energy, actions and thoughts are all contagious. 

7. Make action plans. Not only will I set short and long-term goal lists but also action plans on how to get there. I will write down each detail of my list and follow each step. I will feel a sense of accomplishment because I have taken action. 

8. Live in the present. I will let the past be in the past because the past doesn’t equal the future. I will stop worrying about the future because it doesn’t exist. I will not waste my energy being stressed about something that hasn’t happened yet. 

9. Spend less time trying to control others and being perfect. Neither one is possible and even though I have known this for many years, I never listened. This year I vow to let go of my controlling issues and perfectionist traits and learn to enjoy life in its messy existence. I will learn to enjoy the unorganized, the messy, and the not planned life. I will realize at the end of each day - everything works itself out. 

10. Say “thank you” to everyone I love. Not just on New Year’s, birthdays and holidays. I will say “sorry” when needed, “thanks” when it’s deserved and “I love you” just because I do.

11. Not try so hard to be something/someone I’m not. I will not keep up with the Joneses, compare myself to celebrities, or wish I were someone else. This year I will learn to spend time alone with myself. I will learn what my likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, dreams and hobbies are. I will become fully aware of who I am. This year is the year of me!

12. Let go of all the expectations of what could be or should be, and just live my life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our unrealistic expectations that we forget to just enjoy the life that is here right now - our present life, present situations, environments and family. We forget to be clear and aware of our surroundings. The love, warmth, and caring…the friendships and affection - I will remember to enjoy those simple things.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

February events

Here are some February fundraisers that I love...

Feb. 7
Shain Gallery is the featured gallery for this annual art auction benefiting the nonprofit Safe Alliance's domestic violence programs. It includes silent and live art auctions, entertainment and hors d'oeuvres. The emcee is Erica Bryant of WSOC-TV. 7-11 p.m. at Founders Hall, 100 N. Tryon St. Tickets are $100; VIP tickets are $250 and include reserved seating at the auction. For more information or to order tickets, go to

Feb. 7
This black tie fundraiser for the American Heart Association includes a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, a seated dinner and dancing. A reception and silent auction start at 6 p.m.; the seated dinner and live auction are at 8 p.m. NASCAR Hall of Fame Crown Ballroom, 400 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. Tickets are $250. Details: www.charlotteheartball/ 

Feb. 21
This black tie gala is a benefit for the nonprofit Charlotte Concerts that includes dinner and dancing. It also marks a milestone in Charlotte's arts community: the 85th season of the series that brings nationally and internationally known performers in music and dance to town. Myers Park Country Club, 2415 Roswell Ave. Tickets are $250. Details:

Feb. 21
The Venus Chapter of the Daughters of Penelope in Charlotte hosts this 19th annual benefit for the Carolina's Breast Cancer Fund at the Levine Cancer Institute, part of the Carolinas HealthCare system.  Along with tea and a buffet of sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres and pastries there's also a fashion show from the Eileen Fisher boutique at Phillips Place. The emcee is Laura Palka Callis of WSOC-TV. Speakers include Dr. Lisa Jervis. A prize will be given to the woman with the most stylish hat. 2-5 p.m. at Carmel Country Club, 4735 Carmel Road. Tickets are $40. Details:

Feb. 21
The Lupus Foundation of America's North Carolina Chapter brings a New Orleans tradition to Charlotte with this ninth annual event. Presented by the Dickerson Family Trust, it features entertainment by the band Hot Sauce, Creole cuisine, a silent auction, photo booth and a fortune teller. There's also a masquerade contest and the crowning of the Gala King and Queen. From 7 p.m. to midnight at CenterStage@NoDa, 2315 N. Davidson St. Tickets are $150 and must be purchased by Feb. 11. Details:

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Art with Heart Juried Show

Some of the art donated to the Art with Heart Auction, an annual fundraiser for Safe Alliance coming up in February, is part of a juried show at Elder Gallery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at the gallery, 1520 S. Tryon St.

It’s free and refreshments will be served. For details about the juried show, and the fundraising gala on Feb. 7, go to

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wesley Mancini wins award

When I was at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art's 5th anniversary gala last weekend, I congratulated Andreas Bechtler on receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Until I read the Business section of the Charlotte Observer the next day, I didn't know I should have also congratulated another guest who was there that night, the fun and philanthropic Wesley Mancini. He recently won a the inaugural lifetime achievement award from the International Textile Market Association.

The photo above is of Wesley with Regine Bechtler at the gala and was taken by Daniel Coston.

Here's what the item in the paper said about Wesley:

"Charlotte businessman and textile industry leader Wesley Mancini has been named the inaugural recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the International Textile Market Association.
Mancini runs his company, Wesley Mancini Ltd., out of a South End design studio. Along with creating new fabric designs, he also has a rug line, a decorative trim line and one for drapery hardware. Clients have included Ethan Allen, Mitchell Gold and Drexel, plus celebrity lines such as Oscar de la Renta.
Art Reilly, ITMA board president, called Mancini an "obvious choice" in a statement. "With this award, we were looking to find ... a unifying situation and honoree, and we found that person."

Congratulations, Wesley!

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Judging the Best Dressed Couple

Expect a glamorous and fun evening at the Lowe’s Pride Awards hosted by Pride magazine. The formal dinner and awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Westin, 601 S. College St.

This year’s gala puts the spotlight on the impact of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in our city. One of the interesting elements will be dancers from Charlotte Ballet demonstrating the science of ballet.

Tickets are $225.61. Details:

The evening is known for its fashionable attendees. Some of that has to do with the stylish tone that the evening's host, Pride Communications CEO Dee Dixon, sets for the evening. This photo by Daniel Coston of Dee at last year's event shows her in a gold strapless gown with a sequined bodice and tulle overlay purchased online from Rissy Roo's; earrings and bracelets from Dots on South Boulevard; a clutch from CC's Accessories; and a wrap from Belk at SouthPark mall.

And I’ll be there again as a judge picking out the Best Dressed Couple. Last year was the first time I was asked to take on that fun duty and I'm so looking forward to having an excuse to check out what everyone is wearing. It has its challenges though because there are hundreds of people there. Plus, couples don't always stay next to each other. Sometimes I would see a potential Best Dressed candidate, but the person was attending the event solo or with friends and co-workers.

The main thing I'll be looking for is a couple that looks fabulous together and on their own. Last year I picked Nick and Regina Wharton. This photo of the couple was taken by Daniel Coston.

Nick accessorized his Baroni tuxedo with a Hugo Boss shirt, silver studs, an ascot he chose to match his wife's dress, a David Yurman bracelet mixed with bracelets he bought on a trip to Puerto Rico, and Johnston & Murphy shoes. 

Regina's Tadashi Shoji gown is from Neiman Marcus at SouthPark mall, which she paired with a bracelet and earrings from Lia Sophia, a David Yurman watch, and a crystal necklace from Tuesday Morning. 

I loved that Nick was confident enough in his personal style to break the rules by wearing an ascot instead of a tie with his tuxedo. And Regina’s black gown with white lace detail was flattering and on trend.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

O, yes!

My husband and some of my friends call me O. Except for Paul Williams III, my original Scene & Heard photographer who still shoots for me today. He calls me O2, which suits my Gemini personality fine. 

I assigned Paul to cover the "Love Thy Sister" reality show premiere party last night at Sports One bar ( The bar at 521 N. College St. is owned by Peter Thomas of the hit Bravo reality TV show "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" (Peter is the husband of cast member Cynthia Bailey). Cynthia is one of my all-time favorites in the "Housewives" franchise because she had such an amazing modeling career in NYC, is gorgeous and constantly changes her look, is a complete class act, and she's a successful businesswoman. 

I'm also a fan of Peter, especially this season (which I think is the best yet) and I admire his personal style and his Jamaican background.

Peter was there at the party, and so was another of my favorites, Lawrence Washington of RHOA and co-host of "Fashion Queens" on Bravo. (The word is Miss Lawrence was completely gag-worthy, which is "Fashion Queens"-speak for fabulous). 

Although I really wanted to attend the event, I had another obligation and couldn't be there. Paul definitely looked out for me and I can't thank him enough. He hit it off with Peter, whom Paul described as "cooler than the other side of a pillow." 

Paul told Peter I was a fan and asked him to make an O and an O2 sign. The photos are at the top of this blog and it makes me so happy. Peter Thomas, thank you for being such a good sport! And Paul, thanks so much for your great photos (look for more photos from the event in the Jan. 15 Style section of the Observer in print and online). 

And congratulations to our new local reality TV stars, sisters Ruby, Ellen and Ione Rucker who are the subjects of "Love Thy Sister." They are from a well-known area family with roots in Lancaster, S.C. and are as spunky and as real as they are gorgeous. I only know the lovely Ruby from Charlotte's social scene, but I've heard the whole family is really nice and they raise a lot of money for good causes. 

The buzz about the show is that the sisters jump right into the reality format and open up their entire lives, including one moment that might shock a few. Overall, I've heard that the sisters look fantastic and keep it interesting, which are the two keys to being successful in reality TV. For details about the show, go to

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Read more here:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My favorite photo of 2014

One of the most fun parts of my job is looking at the photos my photographers send me from the social events I've asked them to cover throughout the year. I look through thousands of images a year and decide which ones work best for print in the Observer, online at or in SouthPark magazine, which is an Observer publication.

I had a photo in mind as my favorite of the year, then photographer Daniel Coston shot The Nutcracker Ball fundraiser at Charlotte Country Club right before Christmas. When I saw the photos, I realized I had a new favorite.

First, a little background, because I don't want anyone to read anything negative into this photo. The Nutcracker Ball is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Freedom School Partners that's geared toward children. Parents are there. It's a lovely evening for them to mix and mingle with other parents while the children have an absolute blast. It's so much fun to see all the kids looking sharp and being groomed to be future philanthropists.

The boys, as is their nature, can tend to get a little rowdy as the evening goes on. At one point at the end of the long evening, a group of young friends was goofing off. Daniel did not catch some melee in process. Instead, the boys saw him taking pictures and decided to really give him a scene to shoot. Daniel laughed, the kids laughed, and I about fell out of my chair with laughter when the photo popped up on my screen at work.

It was all in good fun, and an instant classic.

So here it is, my favorite photo of 2014:

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Monday, January 5, 2015

A real house husband in Charlotte Jan. 8

If you're a fan of the Bravo reality TV show Real Housewives of Atlanta, you may have seen a recent episode where cast member Cynthia Bailey's husband, Peter Thomas, told her about his plan to open a bar in Charlotte.

Here's a photo of the power couple on their wedding day:

The bar is called Sports One and on Jan. 8, Peter and fellow RHOA "friend" and Fashion Queens TV host Lawrence Washington will be there for a screening party for the reality show, "Love Thy Sister" on We TV.  The party is from 7:30 to 11 p.m.; the show will be screened at 10 p.m. The bar is at 521 N. College St. Details:

Here's the premise of "Love Thy Sister" from the site:

Love Thy Sister introduces viewers to a whole new kind of sisterhood. Ruby, Ellen and Ione Rucker belong to one of the oldest and most prominent families in the Carolinas. They’re sexy and privileged, and outrageously funny.
Ruby, the eldest sister, and her husband, Ford, an orthodontist, have three children. Ford’s practice has recently fallen on hard times, so Ruby feels pressure to keep up with her sisters while downsizing her family’s lifestyle.
Ellen, the middle sister, is divorced from Vince Carter of the Dallas Mavericks, and is the mother of their daughter, Kai. Ellen has been dating attorney and now former South Carolina Congressman, Bakari Sellers for five years and struggles with the idea of committing to him because of her failed marriage.
Ione, the youngest of the three sisters, is also divorced from a prominent pro basketball player, Antawn Jamison, of the LA Lakers. Ione has three young children, and spends a lot of time with her transgender best friend, Londyn. However, Ione is single and has yet to find the next love of her life.
As they deal with the ups and downs of life, these three sisters remain the best of friends, but they can also bring out the worst in each other. But no matter what, they always Love Thy Sister.
The reality of reality TV is that what you see is often filmed way before it airs. That's certainly the case with this show. When I viewed video of the promo I thought it looked familiar. Then I realized it was from a charity fundraiser the gorgeous sisters hosted in April 2013  in the Ballantyne area that one of the Observer's talented freelance fashion writers, Kiran Dodeja Smith, let me know about. 
The event was not only beautiful, it raised $25,000 for the educational scholarship fund for the A.R. Rucker Middle School in Lancaster, S.C. where the family has strong ties. Coplon's provided the clothes for the fashion show. Here are photos and as you can see, it was definitely a great event to capture on film. The photography is courtesy of Tommy McCart Photography. The first photo is of the sisters. 

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