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A $5000 hamburger? The opportunity to be in control of the Bellagio Fountains? Here are 10 Ways to Experience the Luxurious Side of Las Vegas.

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Congratulations, President Obama!

Congratulations, Mr. President, on another four years!

President Obama
This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

Step Away From the Leftover Halloween Candy!

Okay, now here is a brilliant idea. You know your kids (and you!) don’t need half the treats they collect, so help them sell their stash back to a local dentist participating in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back program.

Dentists register to pay a dollar a pound, then they send all the goodies off to the troops overseas as part of Operation Gratitude. Your kids will easily be able to imagine the joy on the soldiers’ faces when they open these care packages filled with candy. Last year, a whopping 60 tons were sent. Sweet!

P.S. I don’t have trick or treaters in the house but I do have a lot of leftover candy which I am packing up now before I stick one more Kit Kat in my mouth.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

Sexologist Dr. Trina Read on "50 Shades of Grey" and Women’s Sexual Health

Trina ReadI was pretty excited when sexologist Dr. Trina Read offered to do a short video for us about the importance of sexual health and how women can spice up their sex lives. After all, she is a renowned expert in the field as well as the author of Till Sex Do Us Part: Make Your Married Sex Irresistible.

Dr. Read also has a great website that features articles about everything from creating more sexual anticipation (remember how hot Moonlighting was before Maddy and David actually had sex) to making love in the water. She addresses serious issues like when online porn is out of control and when virtual sex becomes cheating. She even has a section entitled Fun Stuff, which includes erotic stories not intended to be read at work – although I guess it depends where you work! I spent way more time enjoying them than I should have, which is why you almost didn’t get to see this post today!

Anyway, we asked Dr. Read if she could address the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon and talk about the growing sex toy market (which I learned about and shared with you in my 50 Shades of Grey — The Magazine?! piece). Although we do often get products to review, we did not receive a sample of the fascinating toy she features in the video. Damn.

Without further ado, here is Dr. Trina Read:

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

25 Random Things About Lois Alter Mark

Lois Alter MarkDo you remember back in the early days of Facebook when people posted all kinds of lists in their “Notes” section? Our all-time favorites were the amazing “25 Random Things About Me” lists — they were so real, so personal and so fascinating.

SoIe thought it would be fun to post my own list so you can get to know me better.  (Uh, I’m not sure I ever told anyone about number eight …) [Read more…]

Dr. Pepper Schwartz on "Hope Springs" and Sex After 50

Dr. Pepper SchwartzI always enjoyed watching relationship expert, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, whenever she was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, because she was so real and direct, and it was very easy to relate to her. She has written about so many aspects of sex, love and intimacy that there is literally something for everyone to learn from. In her latest book, Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years, she puts her money where her mouth is and shares her personal experiences re-entering the singles market after being married for 23 years.

So, after seeing Hope Springs last weekend, I thought, “Who better to talk about how realistic the movie is than Dr. Schwartz?” We’re thrilled to have her as guest today, weighing in on the movie and offering us some tips to keep our own sex lives sizzling (well, at least warm and cuddly). [Read more…]

"The Booby Trap" and What I Discovered About My Husband and Christy Turlington

The Booby TrapTo be honest, The Booby Trap is not the kind of novel I would normally gravitate to, especially after learning that the title is the name of the Hooters-like club in which the main character – the unfortunately-named Bambi Benson – waits tables. But, when I was invited to be part of the blog tour for Anne Browning Walker’s book launch and, inspired by the story, write about a surprising discovery I made about my own husband, I was intrigued.

So, after dismissing my preconceived notions, I started reading and was happy to find that Bambi is actually a doctorate student in Women’s Studies, working on her dissertation by researching the scantily-clad women who make their living there. While on the job, she meets Trip, the rich and handsome face of a prestigious Boston dating service, and they discover that neither of them is the person the other expected them to be.

The Booby Trap is a fast and fun read but it’s also surprisingly thought-provoking. It made me realize, once again, the dangers of jumping to conclusions, and showed me that I shouldn’t assume I know everything about someone – even my own husband.

This was made clear to me a few weeks ago when Michael and I were in Ireland, talking to a couple we had met on our trip who we knew would become lifelong friends. As Joan and I paused in our conversation for a minute, I heard Michael say to Bob, “Yeah, I worked with Christy Turlington before she really became famous.”


I have been married to Michael for 30 years – we’ll be celebrating our 31st anniversary next week – and I have never heard him mention working with Christy Turlington before. Cindy Crawford, yes. He loves to talk about “discovering” her for the Intimate perfume ads – you know, the ones with the ice cubes. But Christy Turlington, the model-turned-activist who just gave a keynote presentation at BlogHer 2012? Uh, no.

“You worked with Christy Turlington?” I asked, rolling my eyes. Anyone who knows Michael knows that his life is a celebrity-filled version of The Sixth Sense. Rather than seeing dead people, he sees famous people. He has worked out with Tiger Woods, mistakenly knocked on Sheryl Crow’s hotel room door and been winked at by Andy Kaufman on Madison Avenue. He has been in a pool with Elle McPherson and waited with Don Henley for a valet to bring his car. I, of course, have never been with him during any of these sightings – nor, apparently, has anyone else.

“Yes,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “I worked with her on the Trouble perfume ads for Revlon back in the ‘80s.” Now, anyone who knows Michael also knows that he is very creative and a brilliant storyteller. It’s what’s made him so successful in advertising and why he had two books published before he turned 30.

I’m not saying that he exaggerates or anything but his stories do tend to get more dramatic with each telling. The 15 feet he fell in Nepal is now 50 feet. The con artist who ripped him off for $100 has now taken him for $200. It’s kind of endearing.

“We’ve been together for more than 30 years, and you never once told me that you worked with Christy Turlington?” I persisted. He shrugged.

So, after 31 years, I guess I can still learn something new about my husband. Even if I only half-heartedly believe what he says – like a traffic court judge once told me when I went to fight a ticket, “I believe you believe you stopped” – he still makes me laugh, and that’s huge. And it’s one thing that, I’m happy to say, doesn’t surprise me about him at all.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.com.

Talking About Disaster Preparedness with Steve and Aaron, Part 2: What You Need to Have on Hand, plus a 10% Discount

Yesterday, Steve Miller and Aaron Garner of Afterac shared their experiences of living through the 7.1 San Francisco earthquake in 1989, and made it pretty clear why every one of us needs to have a disaster preparedness plan. They’re back today, telling us exactly how to make that plan.

Not only are they giving us a list of what we should have on hand in case of an emergency, but they’re also offering a 10% discount on all of it. Just visit the Afterac site, and enter coupon code  HGEXNXQBB20 at check out. Be sure to pass this along to your friends, too.

Since having to evacuate my house during the Southern California wildfires back in 2005, I have been meaning to put together an emergency kit. What are the basic items everyone should have on hand for an emergency?

Emergency Preparedness Kit Aaron: This is a good question and one where lots of people and organizations seem to have their own opinions. My advice for you is to follow the general guidelines from the American Red Cross. Mainly because needs can vary from state to state. The most important element is water. One gallon per person, per day. I would recommend the same ratio if you have pets. Generally speaking, you should have a three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for the home.

The emergency kit itself should be something that is easy to carry, like a backpack. Below are the basic recommended contents for an emergency kit: [Read more…]

Empowering vs Embarrassing by Anna March

Anna March and I have been dear Facebook friends (!) for a while now, sharing all kinds of stories and posts. So when she suggested we feature a regular column of sexist products and media portrayals of women, counterbalanced by those offering positive messages, we all loved the idea. This is her third one for us — if you missed her first or second columns, go back and read them!

Anna’s fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in Salon and other publications. She writes the “Ink on the Tracks” playlist column at Connotation Press. Her novel, The Diary of Suzanne Frank, is forthcoming.  She’d love to hear your suggestions, so feel free to reach out to her on Facebook.


Dear Sugar  is an advice column unlike any other you’ve ever read.  Written by an anonymous forty-something woman who is married (to Mr. Sugar) and raising two kids (the baby Sugars), Sugar offers us a huge dose of her own life (the column where she reveals that Mr. Sugar was unfaithful to her before they married will tear you to bits, just before it restores you) and her wisdom-from-the-pain sensibility gives her a wide platform on which to stand with us and call on each of to rise up and find our way out of the muck. [Read more…]

The Book Tour of Broken Dreams by David Prybil, Author of "Golden State"

Our friend, Judy Rowles, told us about David Prybil and his new novel, Golden State. She had seen David at a literary event and was impressed with his talk about his start in the areas of film and law and how he began the process of writing his first book. We asked David to tell us about Golden State and the challenges involved with promoting a book as a first-time author.

As my first novel, Golden State, was about to be published, I thought I had found the perfect launching pad to promote it.

Set as it was in Sacramento, California, during the crazy recall election of 2003, and revolving around the misbegotten quests of four locals to follow Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lead and grab their own piece of the American Dream, it seemed fitting to do my first book signing in that same capital city, on the same day Arnold left office — a capstone to an era. Jerry Brown’s Inaugural would also be the inauguration of my book tour. [Read more…]

Judy Collins vs Katy Perry: The Times They Are A-Changin'

Even though I have to admit I was never a huge fan, I went to see Judy Collins at the Belly Up in San Diego over the weekend. She is an icon, after all. But back in the day, you were either a Judy Collins fan or a Joni Mitchell fan – they were sort of the Edward and Jacob of their time (with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in the Bella role) – and I was Team Joni all the way. [Read more…]