Staying Organized

I’m old school about keeping track of information. I handwrite notes, keep to-do lists and organize my life with a calendar.

Sure, I track things in my smartphone – from business meetings and appointments to events, date nights and family activities – but I also like having a hardcopy of my schedule.


I was pretty excited to check out Day Designer, a strategic planner and daily agenda. They sent me a complimentary 2018 planner and I’m loving it.


First of all, it’s a hardcover, spiral book – nothing flimsy about this calendar! Plus, it has a durable pocket in the front, which is ideal for stashing those post-it notes and do-lists I make.

Here’s what else I love about this planner – there’s a two-page calendar for every month, as well as individual pages for each day.


On the daily pages, there are prompts to keep me focused: “Today’s Top Three,” “Notes,” and “Daily Gratitude,” as well as “To-Do” and “Don’t Forget.”

IMG_8002There are daily inspirational quotes too, like, Samuel Johnson’s, ”Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance,” and the proverb, “It is better to begin in the evening than not at all.”

Do you keep a hardcopy planner or calendar?

Must-Have Accessory: Fashionable & Functional Hairtie Bracelets

If you have long hair, you know the importance of having a ponytail holder at the ready. Often times that means keeping hair elastics in your pocket, your purse or on your wrist.

Wearing a ponytail holder on your wrist can pinch and that hurts, which is why I’m intrigued about an inventive product: hairband bracelets from Maria Shireen.


The concept is simple and stylish – wear a bracelet that has a “channel” to hold the hair tie in place. The silver or gold bracelet is fashionable and functional. They even have plastic ones for kids and teens!

I was excited to try one out. Since I frequently write about weddings, Maria Shireen’s team sent me a bracelet from their wedding collection. It’s silver and comes with a baby blue hair tie. I can picture brides and bridesmaids wearing these bracelets throughout wedding planning and all the celebrations, including the reception and after parties.


I’ve been enjoying wearing the bracelet which is cute and comfortable. Best of all, finding my hair tie to pull my hair back onto a ponytail is easier than ever!

Think about it: you’ll always have your ponytail holder nearby. No more searching the house, office or your bag for a hairtie because you’ll have one ready-to-go on your bracelet.

The bracelet looks pretty on its own and can be worn separate from the hairtie. When worn together, it’s hard to tell you’re rocking a ponytail with your bracelet.

Valentine’s Day Date Tips for Couples & Families

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Stumped on what to do? I’ve got some great ideas on how to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart.

Since I’m a writer for San Diego Family Magazine, I had the opportunity today to share some Valentine’s Day date tips for couples and families with Renee Nelson at ABC 10News during a FacebookLive. We talked about specific places to go in San Diego; things to do on a budget and to splurge; ways to keep love sizzling, and more.

Get more Valentine’s Day ideas in the February issue of San Diego Family Magazine, which is available for free at Albertsons, Ralphs, Party City and local libraries, as well as online.

Here are some behind the scenes photos from the shoot.

With Renee Nelson, 10News reporter
L-R Michelle Hancock, Marketing Director for San Diego Family Magazine; San Diego Family Magazine writer Kristen Castillo, and 10News reporter Renee Nelson.
February issue of San Diego Family Magazine
February issue of San Diego Family Magazine
With 10News reporter Renee Nelson

Feeling Glam in Fall

Fall is such a great season. Even in San Diego, the temps are cool(er) this time of year and it’s fun to wear cozy clothes and accessories in rich, autumn colors. I’ve been layering more and wearing knits and velvet.

Wearing Jane Iredale Fall Glam collection. Love this lipstick!

My accessories and makeup have taken on fall tones as well. I love burgundy, crimson and deep shades of brown.

Jane Iredale Fall Glam

Jane Iredale sent me their Naturally Glam beauty collection to try out and I’m loving it.


There’s a five-color eye shadow palette featuring shimmery neutrals, as well as a bubblegum pink blush which has delicate gold shimmer.


They also sent this soft makeup mitt, which is so useful to wipe off the day’s makeup.


My favorite items? The gorgeous, seasonal lip colors: PureMoist lipstick in Gwen, an apple red and Just Kissed lip plumper in Paris, a sheer light port wine.


These lipsticks have been the star of my fall. I’ll continue to wear them during the holidays.



Put a Ring On It!

As a wedding editor and writer, I’m always following wedding trends. One of those trends is wedding jewelry.

There’s nothing traditional about wedding rings these days.  Like never before, there are more colors, styles and metal choices for women and men.

According to The Knot, in 2016, couples said they spent over $6000 on engagement rings. There’s another jewelry expense – wedding rings for both spouses, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.


The next consideration is style. Gold, silver, titanium, tungsten and more metals, as well as colors and looks like simple bands, beveled designs and adding diamonds of other stones.

IMG_2157While brides often know what they want their wedding band to look like, men can be frustrated by the process. And even fashionable guys, can have a tough time finding a ring that fits their personal style.


That’s why I was eager to check out Manly Bands, which promise to fit different personalities and budgets, all while being sophisticated.

Manly Bands sent me a few complimentary bands: The Gentleman, (below) a polished band made with tungsten carbide, 18K rose gold plated; and The Surfer, a modern ring made with tungsten carbide featuring dark Koa wood and genuine turquoise.

My husband tried both rings and modeled them. His fave? The Surfer (below) for its bold color and how it popped against his skin tone. This ring is very hip and a fit for his lifestyle. After all, my husband is a California native.

The rings, available in sizes five to 17, are all under $200. Wedding or not, some of these rings (like The Surfer my husband likes) can be worn as an everyday accessory.

Falling in Love With Fall Fashion

Ready for fall? Now’s the time to get your autumn wardrobe together.

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I recently had the opportunity to attend a few Neiman Marcus Fall fashion shows at Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego. This season has lots of stylish trends that are easy to incorporate into your attire. Here’s what to expect for ladies:

 Red is the “it” color this fall.

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All shades of red are in vogue but bold shades and burgundies are particularly hot.

The 90’s are back! “This is the look of the season,” says Alex Yanez, stylist for Neiman Marcus, who explains the 90’s style of graphic makeup including heavy eyeliner is in vogue again.

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Many fall styles are punk and grunge inspired, blending feminine and masculine looks. Yanez describes this style as having a “Courtney Love 90’s feel.”

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Bulky boots are making a return too. One black pair featured in the fashion show had a floral pattern, showcasing that mix of feminine and masculine.

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Suited Up. Modern suiting for women is very sleek and totally inspired by menswear.

Check out Dior’s take on menswear below:

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Covered Legs. Another throwback that’s in fashion this fall? Hosiery. Models wore stylish patterned tights and fishnets with booties and heels. A very polished look!

Cozy up to velvet. This season’s in-demand texture, velvet is smooth and soft. It’s making its mark on jackets, tops and accessories, including shoes and purses. One model demonstrated this trend with a velvet hobo bag. Others showed off velvet pants, paired with velvet shoes.

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Velvet works for night and day. It’s “less seasonal than it has been in the past,” says Yanez.

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Leather jackets can add a little edge to a lot of looks. For example, when paired with a soft dress, a leather jacket can toughen up the attire.

Embellishments. Ruffles and fridge are making their mark on the runway and in real life.  The shows featured ruffled skirts and dresses, as well as fringe and embrodiery on accessories like purses.



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Not to ignore the guys, here’s what’s in fashion for men this season:

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Men are rocking red too.

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They’re also looking very seasonally chic in plaid jackets and plaid shirts. Camouflage is also fashionable.

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The velvet trend looks great on guys too. Dark denim, a strong choice for men, pairs well with so many ensembles.

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The big footwear trend for men? Runners, a fashionable and functional shoe.

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What’s fall fashions do you plan to try?

Feeling Fresh Even During a Heatwave

We’ve had a heat wave in Southern California for the past week. Nearly 100 degree temperatures plus humidity, day after day. It’s been uncomfortable to say the least.

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Still it was a great time to try out two products that were recently sent to me. I received two cans of Dove Invisible Dry Spray Antiperspirants. The product line is new and I tried the sheer fresh and clear finish.


These sprays give you 48-hour protection from odor and wetness and they won’t stain your clothes – I love that!

It’s always so annoying to see white chalky deodorant marks on your clothes, especially when you’re wearing a dark top or dress. This antiperspirant has been tested to be invisible on 100 colors of clothing – not just dark clothes.

The heat wave is over but I’m glad I had the chance to try this new spray. I’ll be feeling fresh day every day and my clothes won’t have marks either.

That Island Feeling! Mix.Mingle.Schmooze Hawaiian-Style

There’s something so appealing about Hawaii. The tropical smells and sound of the ocean are so inviting.

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I recently got a feel for the Hawaiian Islands when I attended a Hawaiian-themed party for San Diego Style Weddings – the wedding magazine for which I’m the editor.


The magazine’s “Mix.Mingle.Schmooze” event, which was held at Bali Hai Restaurant, featured all sorts of Aloha vibes, from the food to the music to the décor.

The flowers were so colorful and tropical. Each woman received a flower to wear behind her ear. Single women wear the flower behind their right ear, while married women (or those in a relationship) wear it behind the left ear. Haydee de la Cruz of Haydee’s Creative Flowers designed these blooms!

The photobus photo booth from Pacific Coast PhotoBus was fun. I loved the props, including a captain’s hat and fuzzy boa.

The menu included yummy pot stickers, coconut shrimp, jerk chicken lollypops and coconut rice.

Dessert was delicious too! We sampled Gelato Paradiso gelato and the Cravory cookies.

The Ohana cupcakes tasted as great as they looked! I love those personalized “SDSW” cake toppers.

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In addition to local wines, we sipped cocktails like Snake Oil Cocktail Company’s “Snake Oil Coco-Loco,” which featured coconut milk, applewood infusion, fresh ginger, pressed lemon and club soda.

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The “Passion of the Tiki” drink (seen here) was made with smashed passion fruit and pomegranate, almond, orange flower water, pressed citrus, island spice reduction and Angostura bitters.

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The “it” drink? Fresh coconut milk, served in a coconut, which was branded with the San Diego Style Weddings’ logo!


Here are a few photos of me with the San Diego Style Weddings’ team, including publisher Dena Nolen-Malasek.


With SDSW publisher, Dena Nolan-Malasek.
L-R Abby Barenholtz, social media; myself; Dena Nolen-Malasek, publisher; Suzi Battle, Account executive; Kateri Hansen, sales; Adam C. Walter, production.
Team pics
With Abby Barenholtz who handles social media for SDSW.