Saturday, December 28, 2013

Smile Blossoms

The Foxtail Orchid necklace arrived in the mail two days after Christmas. My six-year-old granddaughter, Rosannah, and I had walked to the community mailbox to kick-start my New Year’s resolution to exercise more. I thought the half-mile jaunt to the mailbox was a good way to combine fitness with function.

Checking the mail can be a dismal task, but it was a bright, cool and sunny afternoon in Arizona, and with the knowledge that my credit card statement wouldn’t arrive for another week and a half, I had little to fear. I opened the mailbox. There, in a postal cubby sharing space with bills, advertisements and one late holiday card was a welcome package from Eternal Girl.

My necklace had arrived.

Both Rosannah and I couldn’t wait until we walked home to admire the piece. We stopped at a bench and opened the padded envelope. Inside was an adorable, hand-made box. We opened it and pulled out the pendant. The sunlight sparkled as we admired the crimson flower petal design encased in an airy, antique-finish, casing.

“It’s beautiful,” said Rosannah as I placed it around her neck. “It makes me feel happy.”

We took turns trying the necklace on and taking pictures of it for this review. I thought it was very mystical that I read that flowers in henna tradition represent joy and happiness and it was the one of the first things Rosannah said when the piece was placed around her neck. However, I, with many more years of skeptical thinking, felt the necklace had a calming, yet joyful, quality about it when I wore it.

I recently started taking yoga and yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates) and I thought how perfect the piece would look as I struck my Tadasana pose or let it dangle while I attempted a cat-cow stretch. Although the brass, antique finish and intricate trim around the pendant casing gives the impression of heft, the piece is feather-light. The brilliant colors of the orchid almost seem to illuminate a happy, yet subdued quality that is a perfect complement to a novice yoga practitioner. Rather than other pieces of flashier jewelry I own, this Foxtail Orchid has a subdued, unaffected charm that seems to whisper fresh, wholesome and sunny.

However, I was curious what my Generation Y, daughter, Brittany, would think of the Foxtail Orchid.

She donned the pendant at a large family gathering. She was already in a festive mood, so I can’t credit her happiness entirely on what she was wearing (she was happy before she accented her striped sweater with the henna-inspired creation.)

“I really like it,” she replied when I asked for her assessment of the pendant. “It’s unique, has a really good clasp and is well-constructed. I appreciate something that is hand-crafted.”

Brittany has fashioned her own jewelry and has a keen eye for quality workmanship.

“This pendant looks like the unique type of jewelry you might discover while on travel,” she stated. “You can tell the artisan who created it put a lot of time and thought into it.”

Brittany went on to say that jewelry has a special meaning to her and the story or thought behind a piece speaks volumes more than the price tag.

“In our family I know that most of us may never have enough money to splurge on everything that glitters and shines, but I feel like it has been a blessing because it teaches us to focus on what is truly special.”

Brittany talked about how the thought of a gift spoke volumes more than the price tag. The Foxtail Orchid pendant also made her reflect on the role of jewelry in her life.

“Some of my favorite memories growing up were when cousin Ashley and I were playing dress up with grandma's scarves and jewelry. In my eyes, her bowling bracelet was on the same level as the Hope Diamond, and to this day I still don't know if the tiara ring I found was actually made of plastic for a Barbie, or if it really was a legitimate piece of jewelry. Regardless, I will always remember feeling like I was one of the royals even when it was draping ill-fittingly on my tiny little finger because of how treasured that piece really was. One of my favorite things about this necklace was the filigree on this piece. It reminds me of the vanity organizer

that I found at Goodwill while I was dropping off some donations. It may have only cost me a few dollars, but it reminds me every morning of the way I felt playing dress up, and makes me feel like a part of grandma is there with me. In the few short weeks that this necklace has been around, it has created a special moment that you were able to spend with your granddaughter, and a moment that helped me remember my grandmother, and that is something that I feel is worth noting.”

So there you have the assessment of Eternal Girl’s Foxtail Orchid pendant by three generations of the Marks family (four if you count Brittany’s memories of her grandmother.) There is no limit on what a person can spend their money on for themselves or others. This is especially true in jewelry. However, my advice is rather than going for an extravagant purchase that can cause a financial hardship, consider a gift that evokes a pleasant memory – as did the Foxtail Orchid pendant for me and my daughter, Brittany, and hopefully one day, my granddaughter, Rosannah.

Information about Eternal Girl
The henna-inspired creations are hand-drawn designs by Julia, the owner of Eternal Girl. View more designs here:

Find new items, shop updates, and coupon codes on:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Little Black Dress

This flutter dress from Fresh Produce has it all – effortless style, comfort and versatility. The sexy, V-neckline, gathered waistline and fashionable flutter flap add elegance and flair. I chose this style because I thought the classic design could perform double duty and be dressed up or down depending on my accessories. When I travel on a cruise, vacation or business trip I need outfits that I can wear more than once. The machine-washable fabric is delightfully soft and easy to pack. Sizes tend to run a tad large, so I’d suggest carefully checking the size chart before ordering. At $89 the dress seems a bit pricey, but when you factor in the benefits (say goodbye to those nasty dry cleaning bills) it is a bargain.

I recently wore this dress to a funeral. I thought the neckline was a bit too revealing for the occasion, but found that wearing a black camisole with a lacy top worked perfectly. The only down side of this dress is that it does not hide the extra pounds that I have accumulated in middle age as much as other outfits I own. I cannot blame Fresh Produce for this (if there were a company called Too Many Desserts and Not Enough Exercise that would be a better scapegoat label). However, since many of Fresh Produce’s customers are women like me, they might find a way to design something that hides the dreaded “menopot” that comes with middle age and a post menopausal lifestyle.

That said, you can’t always have restricted style and comfort, so I still think this little number is a great item for any woman’s wardrobe. I can see wearing it casually, to a party, and even to bed. If I can exercise more and eat more fresh produce (as well as wear it) I will be one happy grandma.
To view this dress (which is on sale now) go to

Sally Marks is screenwriter, television writer, author and the president of Marks Public Relations. This blog article was written in exchange for the product review. To view the dress, visit the link above. For more information about Sally, her book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, or her public relations business please visit

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rerun of Enjoying Christmas "Presence"

Here is another one of my favorite holiday blogs. The top picture is my daughter, Alicia around age 8 and her sister Brittany age 3. The lower picture are my granddaughters Rosannah and Briannah a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy reading it.

One of the most challenging experiences I have in my daily life is to stay focused on the present moment. It is so easy for my mind to skip forward to the future or lapse into stale memories. Although I’d like to think I’m older and wiser, I have found children are much better at enjoying (or being grumpy about) what is happening right now. If you don’t believe me, try convincing an infant to wait two hours to be fed
or a three-year old with a full bladder he or she can wait until you get home to pee.

However, the one occasion where children DO put their minds into the future is Christmas time. Who doesn’t remember being a kid and anxiously counting the days until the holidays? Unfortunately, as I have aged, and in spite of every retailer putting up holiday decorations on display in September, the holidays have a way of sneaking up on me. Last year I didn’t trim the tree until Dec. 20th!

Fortunately, I learned from my mistake. This year, I decided to put up my Christmas tree up before I polished off my Thanksgiving leftovers.

My Tannebaum is a straggly old, plastic thing but I love it. After my divorce I got rid of a lot of things I didn’t want to move. My old tree went to Goodwill. For a few years I did not put up a Chanukah bush. Between limited finances and lack of holiday cheer, I could not face the idea of putting up a tree by myself. My marriage was over, I lost my job and my future prospects were looking pretty shabby. My oldest daughter, Alicia was newly married, so I went through the ornaments and gave her many of her hand-made decorations, as well as colorful balls that said things like Baby’s First Christmas 1980.

I eventually remarried, but my new spouse, CB, did not want a tree in the house. I put out a bowl of ornaments and placed a couple of holiday items in the music room. I complied with the request to go treeless for a year or two, but finally decided that enough was enough. This Boo Jew (a semi-kosher gal who converted to Buddhism in the 1980s) decided to take a stand and buy a tree to put it on. I decorated the tree alone. Eventually I convinced CB to place one ornament, a trumpet, on the tree.

However, as soon as my first grandchild was born (five years ago) I made sure I would have company when I celebrated the holidays. Little Rosannah was only a few weeks old for her first tree-decorating experience. I spread out a blanket and put her on it as I engaged in my tree trimming festivities. She seemed to enjoy the colorful lights and didn’t cry when I sang holiday tunes.

The next year Rosannah was a little more active and I had to work hard to keep her from eating the ornaments. But, with her company (although not her help) I got the job done. The following year a new granddaughter was a part of the mix. Putting the tree up and watching them was a real challenge, but I got it done.

This year Rosannah and Briannah are 5 and 3 years old. Rosannah helped put the tree stand together and placed the branches into their slots. Briannah was mostly focused on one ornament that she kept trying to hang before the tree was ready. However, both girls enjoyed looking at a lifetime’s worth of memories disguised as wooden reindeers, Santa Clauses and stockings.

After Briannah hung up her favorite ornament she became obsessed with the candy canes. I can’t even tell you what decade it was when we got those sugary sticks. However, I DO remember my youngest daughter, Brittany, was in junior high and was supposed to sell the red and white stripped peppermints to earn money for her school orchestra. Unfortunately, our dog, Rusty, ate a box and licked a bunch of other ones. The candy canes have been part of our holiday decorations ever since that incident.

After an hour or so the tree was up, the lights strung and my two granddaughter had placed numerous decorations on the tree. Unlike when I was growing up, I didn’t enforce any decorating rules. In my youth we weren’t supposed to put two of the same color balls next to each other, and, when possible, we tried to color coordinate the hue of the ball with the nearest light. Green ornament next to the green light, red ball by the red light etc. Candy canes were distributed evenly. Briannah decided they should all be placed together in a sort of candy cane family clump. Needless to say, all the decoration were on the bottom half of the tree.

Years ago, that decorating scheme would have bothered my sensibilities, but now I enjoy seeing their handiwork. I also admire how they appreciated each item. They didn’t reminisce about holidays past, they were perfectly happy to take part in the present activity.

It made me pause and think of how much I can learn from my grandchildren. I have an advantage of age and experience, but they are experts at living in the moment. And it’s truly a gift to have these adorable girls in my life.

To all of you reading this story, I hope you have a great holiday. My wish for you is to be kind to yourself and others, release past hurts and embrace the season as if you were a child again. Happy Holidays!