The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati
Featured

    by -

     

    When I started writing health and beauty features for Cincy Chic, I immediately scooped up a couple of assignments that I felt I had complete expertise in. But, even though much of my work is now with medspas, my personal experience falls a bit short when it comes to the big guns of beauty: Cosmetic Surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I am ready and willing to be “freshened up”; and when I win the lottery I will bypass the Jimmy Choos and perhaps instead indulge in a subcutaneous musculoaponeurotic system rhytidectomy. But, in the meantime, I wanted to be able to share with our readers an overview of the ever-increasing menu of procedures that are available.

    I focused my research specifically on procedures that help turn back the hands of time, as opposed to procedures, like breast augmentation, that offer a “fix” for features that you simply may not be thrilled with. Also, while time does take its toll on the body, limited space required that I zero in on exclusively on facial procedures.

    Now, it probably goes without saying but, plastic surgery and, the other medical esthetic treatments that are rendered along with them, cannot be effectively selected from a list. Everyone and every face is different and only though a thorough consultation will you be able to determine what products and procedures are right for you. Some lifestyle issues, such as smoking, and medical conditions, such as diabetes, preclude certain types of treatment altogether. But the following will give you some of the details you may need to narrow your research and decide if any, or several, of these procedures might be right for you.

     

    Click here to view a comprehensive analysis of various procedures on the market. (Don't see all 14 pages, or want to save this chart for future reference? Right-click the link and select "Save As…" to save to your computer.)

     

    *Rosacea is a chronic (long-term) disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes. The disorder is characterized by redness, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin.

     

    For more information on these procedures I recommend the invaluable Web site for The American Society of Plastic Surgeons www.plasticsurgery.org. If you are seriously considering any procedures I encourage you to check out their Web site where you will find very detailed information about the procedures and locate the highly skilled physicians that render them in our area. Speaking of our area, the team at The Plastic Surgery Group, which has three tri-state offices, has written a series of articles about many of these procedures. These features contain vital and straightforward information for anyone considering a cosmetic procedure.

     

    Or you can hear about it from Dr. Lawrence C. Kurtzman, one of the six doctors at The Plastic Surgery Group.

    "My goal in all of my cosmetic surgery is to make someone look and feel as natural as possible," he says. "To me, if someone looks at a patient of mine and says, 'Gee, you had a facelift or other type of plastic surgery,' I feel as if this is a failure."

    Kurtzman is the only plastic surgeon in the Tri-State area who is a national educator for Botox Cosmetic. Many other doctors come to train with him in this capacity.

    Picking a plastic surgeon is very important, Kurtzman says. First, find someone who is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, which is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for full training in all aspects of plastic surgery. "It is important to understand that while there are a number of self-proclaimed 'boards' there is no board nationally recognized by the ABMS that contains the word 'cosmetic,'" Kurtzman says. "Moreover, your 'board-certified' surgeon may be certified by a board that requires no supervised training in plastic surgery."

    It is also advisable to look for a surgeon who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Kurtzman says. "This indicates that they have been evaluated not only on the number of cases they have performed, but on the quality of the surgery. their surgical judgment and ethics as well."

     

    Learn more about The Plastic Surgery Group at www.theplasticsurgerygroup.com.

      by -

      Imagine this situation: you’re on the way to a snazzy company party, and your boss calls you on the phone, asking you to pick up a bottle of some “real classy” wine for the party. You agree, hang up the phone and realize you are unprepared to face the towering walls of wines to choose from.

      Well, Cincy Chic is here to rescue you from that nightmare. What follows is a user-friendly guide to the world’s most complex drink. From a general overview of the most common wines to how to go about getting started on your wine discovery quest, curbing your fear of wine will no longer be a problem.

      Let’s Get Started


      Before you start running to the nearest wine bar, the first thing to think about is types of wine and the most common wine vocabulary you will hear used to describe the wine.

      The two basic categories of wine are white and red. Other than the obvious difference of color, the actual difference (and the cause of the color disparity) is the fact that red wine is the result of crushed fermented grapes, while white wine is the result of fermented grape juice that has been separated from the skins or meat of the grape.

      Here are some popular wines in each category:

      Popular Red Varieties


      • Cabernet Sauvignon
      • Grenache
      • Merlot
      • Pinot Noir
      • Sangiovese
      • Syrah (Shiraz)
      • Tempranillo
      • Zinfandel


      Popular White Varieties

      • Chardonnay
      • Gewürztraminer
      • Grüner Veltliner
      • Pinot Blanc
      • Riesling
      • Sauvignon Blanc
      • Semillon


      Now for the terms — so you won’t be too overwhelmed when the person next to you asks, “Do you think it’s a bit too woody?” We’re going to overview a few of the most common wine vocabulary words. However, remember there are a great many words used to describe wine, so research wine books, surf the web or grill your friends for the rest.

      General Wine Terms:

      • Acidity: Wines with natural fruit acids that give them a tart, crisp taste.
      • Body: The weight of the wine on the palate, ranging from light to heavy or full.
      • Corked: Bad corks can sometimes result in wine with a moldy smell or other flaws.
      • Legs: Teardrop impressions of alcohol weightiness visible on the inside of a wine glass.
      • Vintage: Year that grapes were harvested and fermented to make a wine.


      Descriptive Wine Terms:


      • Dry: A wine without sugar or sweetness.
      • Earthy: Flavors and aromas of mushroom, soil and mineral
      • Fruity: Obvious fruit aromas and flavors excepting flavors such as berries, cherries and citrus, which are considered sweet.
      • Oak: When barrel fermentation results in flavors such as vanilla, caramel, chocolate, smoke, spice or toast
      • Sweet: Wines with a higher concentration of sugar after fermentation.
      • Tannin: A drying, astringent impression on the palate generally associated with heavier red wines.


      Learning through the Grape Vine


      Once you’ve mastered the rudimentary terms and types of wine, it’s time for the fun part: hit the bar. Start with basic grapes, says Jane Wakerman, director of Public Relations at The Wine C.A.R.T. in West Chester. Then try selections of basic whites and reds, she says.

      But rather than aimlessly choosing a wine, Wakerman suggests newcomers to the wine world join a group or club dedicated to wine so that you can participate in their events and pick the brains of veteran members who can suggest wines or inform you on not-so-well-known wine trivia.

      Don’t get discouraged by the sheer volume of information out there about wine. “Learning just doesn’t happen all in a day,” Wakerman says.

      Something else not to get discouraged about is the development of your palate, Wakerman says. You may try a highly-praised wine and find it to be terrible, but in a few years your tastes may change. Starting out on the basic Vidal Blancs and such is normal, Wakerman says, and once your palate becomes more sophisticated, you will appreciate dryer or more complex wines as well.

      Also, don’t worry so much about whether a wine is “good” or “bad.” Bad is relative, Wakerman says. “All wine’s good I think, for anyone, it’s a matter of how they think or feel when they drink it.” Your friend may love one type, you another. And that’s fine.

      Keeping an open mind is also important to the learning process, Wakerman says. Cornering yourself with a wine or two you like without trying new ones is going to stall the path to wine knowledge. Try any wine that comes in your way, and you might surprise yourself.

      Tasting the Wine Flava


      Another great stop on your wine journey is the tasting, be it at a bar or winery. Tastings are great for extending both your general knowledge of wine and your palate, says Joe Henke, owner of Henke Winery on Harrison Avenue.

      “Look at the wine, look at the clarity, sniff the wine, and take a small sip. Then take a second sip. Let it linger in your mouth for a second and then swallow,” he says. This allows the taster to really sample the wine, and find out if that particular strain suits your palate.

      Start with a softer wine such as a Blush or a Riesling, Henke says, and then gradually move to the fuller-bodied wines. Wakerman also suggests starting with what she calls “basic grapes,” making slow progress from there.

      Wakerman asks would be wine-ites: “‘Why don’t I do a flight so you can evaluate with your mouth what to expect in each variety,’” she says. “They they make their own evaluation, what they like and start researching it.”

      Wakerman also suggests keeping a journal of your tastings to keep track of what you’ve tried and what you thought of them.

      Food and Wine, Oh My!


      The next integral step in your journey of wine is pairing it with food. Again, what goes best with what is relative, Henke and Wakerman say.

      The cliché rule is that white wines go well with fish, while red wines work best with hearty meats and meals. But that is not necessarily true. Henke has broken that rule himself and had a great meal, he says.

      “Pairing is another thing that is very personal,” Henke says. “It’s not up to a particular person to tell them what is right or wrong. Other’s experiences are not necessarily the answer.”

      Wakerman says pairing wines with cheeses is a good starting point. She recommends pairing a fruity, low tannic white with a creamy cheese, a crisp fruity wine for young and tangy tasting cheeses, a versatile white or red such as a Pino Grigio go with any salty or tangy cheese and dessert wines go best with very aged, salty cheeses such as a Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese.

      Experimentation is key to this process, and as Wakerman says, “It’s in the palate, it’s all in the palate.”

      Collecting and such


      Once you’ve found a few wines to call home, you may want to stock up on some of these favorites. But there are some things to think about first.

      Older is not always better. Some uneducated folks think the older a wine is, the better quality or taste it has. That belief can be problematic, Henke says.

      “Wines have their own particular life and certain wines are to be [consumed] young and fresh while other wines can mature gracefully,” he says.

      Not knowing the life of your wine can lead to disappointment, he says, especially when you’ve been saving your wine for a special occasion and uncork it only to find spoiled vino.

      Blush and Rieslings are generally meant to be drunk early, while Cabernets and Red Zinfandels have a longer shelf-life with the aging potential to sit back and enjoy year after year, Henke says. The best way to determine the life of your wine, however, is to ask the winemaker, who can give you the most accurate idea of when to uncork your prize wine.

        by -

         

        Have a Spot of Tea

        If you’re into Britain’s favorite beverage, Yesterday’s Café and Tea Room, located in a historic 115-year-old building in Olde Florence, Ky., is your answer.

        Hardwood floors, a fireplace and friendly employees set the stage for experiencing a bit of “Merrie Olde England” in the new world. You can drop in for a solitary cup of one of the shop’s 30 loose leaf teas, eat the special of the day or call ahead and make reservations for an afternoon tea, which Yesterday’s has every day at 2 p.m.

        This afternoon event features all of the hallmarks of the famous British variety: food and drink served on antique china and tiered trays, scones, Devonshire clotted cream, curds and, of course, a perfectly brewed pot of tea.

        Yesterday’s also has a gift shop to peruse while the tea is steeping, which boasts the Tri-State’s largest collection of tea, tea pots and tea-related gifts. The shop also carries books, jewelry, Fine English bone china, scone mixes and curds, bulk tea and coffee and gift baskets.

        When in Greece

        Taste Cincinnati’s Greek influence by stopping in Sebastian’s, a staple in West Price Hill for more than 30 years. The gyro sandwich (pronounced “year-oh”), made up of ground meat with herbs and spices, sliced thin, wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes and onions, is this restaurant’s specialty. (Be sure to eat it with sadziki sauce, made of cucumbers. It’s delicious.) Other than gyros, Sebastian’s also serves a select menu of authentic Grecian cuisine, including baklava and spanakopita.

        Started in 1976 by Alex Sebastian, a Greek immigrant from a small village near Kastoria, Greece, (who will more than likely be simultaneously chatting with customers and serving gyros), Sebastian’s has a customer-friendly atmosphere. The restaurant, though small, is nonetheless packed full everyday with families and professionals seeking its down home Grecian flavor. Tiled floors, statues of Greek gods and souvenir hats from around the world complete its warm ambiance.

        Sebastian’s, located on Glenway Avenue, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

        Stop by the Mariemont

        Barely 8 miles away from Cincinnati is the suburb of Mariemont, a community meant to resemble an authentic English village. In this suburb, which was planned and designed for pedestrians by Mary Emery around 1910, you’ll find the Mariemont Theatre, a welcome alternative for movie-goers sick of the latest cartoon movie or action flick.

        This theatre, recently re-opened by the Esquire, makes showing unusual or simply non mainstream its claim to fame, or in its own words, “offers films you won’t see anywhere else.”

        The Mariemont has stereo surround sound, three screens and reasonable ticket prices, from $5.50 for Tuesday discount tickets, to $8.50 for evening ticket prices. Expect the regular movie concessions, then some: the theatre sells imported chocolate and soft pretzels to its film buffs. Visit www.mariemonttheatre.com for movie showings.

        Try a New Kind of Ride

        Rather than catching some waves this summer, why not catch a train? Stop by the Lebanon Station in Lebanon, Ohio, for a nostalgic train ride on the Lebanon Mason Monroe (LM&M) Railroad through Warren County. Every weekend on LM&M’s one hour excursion, travelers can walk to the back of the vintage 30s’ era train to the open-air gondola while conductors inform passengers on railroad history and operation and conduct a locomotive tour.

        The LM&M also offers special events, such as the one coming up on July 20, 21 and 22, which is a ride on the Hogwarts Express. Harry Potter fans can travel to Platform 9 3⁄4 (a.k.a. the Lebanon station), shop in Diagon Alley, (downtown Lebanon) and eat a start-of-term feast at Hogwarts (a.k.a. the Golden Lamb). Passengers can dress up as their favorite characters and expect to be welcomed by Professor Dumbledore himself at the feast. Other LM&M events include Murder Mystery Dinners, the Madcap Puppet Train and a Civil War train and reenactment.

        Rides are offered Saturdays at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Costs are $17 for adults and $12 children ages two through 12.

          by -

           

          That person looking back at you in the mirror has the right to her own goals, dreams and some "me time" too. And there are plenty of ways to get focused on you.

          The first step to rediscovering yourself begins with realizing that you’re worthy of it. You won’t get the “Worst Mother of the Year” award or a “Bad Best Friend for Life” trophy by taking time for yourself. And don't worry about falling behind at work if you don't work 60-hour work weeks. It's all about working smarter, not harder.

          Define Your Goals


          Establishing a clear definition of your goals is the second step, and it's the best way to get motivated and accomplish them. Set goals that can easily be measured and realistic to what you truly want.

          Define your goals by deciding what you want to achieve in your lifetime. What makes you happy? Write the main goals first, followed by smaller, attainable targets to reach and get you there.

          Top Achievement.com recommends using this S.M.A.R.T. guide when developing your goals:

          Specific- A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.

          Measurable- Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.

          Attainable- When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true.

          Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.

          Timely- A goal should be grounded within a time frame.

          Keep track of each goal you accomplish. This will help you stay on course while building your self-confidence.

          Remove Obstacles


          Is there anything preventing you from reaching your dreams? Too many times we let fear, self-doubt or negative naysayers stand in our way.

          The only person responsible for your happiness is you. Failure is a part of life and often the best teacher on the path to success. So, stop hesitating and jump out there.

          When making a lifestyle change, a positive network of family and friends is a must. Attaining your goal may require a great deal of sacrifice and change. The last thing needed as you start your new journey is any negative conflict. Surround yourself with those eager to encourage and support you.

          Pamper Yourself


          Susie never misses practice, your husband enjoys his favorite meals and Rover gets his morning walk, all thanks to you. How about a little self-indulgence?

          There’s no better way to get centered back on you than a relaxing visit to a spa. From acupuncture to a mud body wrap, spas provide the perfect environment to meditate and reflect on what’s important to you.
          Spas are an excellent choice to rejuvenate your mind body and spirit. Check out the following Web sites and treat yourself to a little R&R:

          www.avalonss.com
          www.siaspas.com
          www.tuscanyspaandsalon.com

          Try a New Look


          Still wearing the Jennifer Aniston bangs from 1998? Well, my friend, there’s no better way to start your new journey than with a new look.

          Makeovers are great for building your confidence and improving self-esteem. If you’ve neglected yourself over the past couple of years, make an appointment with a stylist and get an update on your look.

          Be open to trying something totally different, but stay within your comfort zone. If you’ve had long hair since your teens, try a shorter look. Always been a brunette? Go blond, or maybe red.

          Makeover solutions is a great Web site that lets you take a virtual makeover with your picture online. You can search hundreds of celebrity hairstyle pictures to find your new look.

          Here are a few beauty and style tips from www.makeoversolutions.com:

          • Keep ends looking healthy and neat in the summer heat by getting a trim every 4 to 6 weeks. Also, a good leave-in conditioner with SPF may be your hair's best friend this season.
          • The best place to test if a foundation color is right for you is against your neck or on your jaw line. To see if the color is correct for you, examine the color under a good light (natural daylight is best).
          • Never apply mascara before using a curler on your eyelashes. You should apply all other eye makeup (liner, shadow, shimmer) first, but keep your lashes clean before you curl them.
          • When using a powder blush, be sure to shake off all excess color from the brush before applying. If you're not sure where to apply, just smile as you look into your makeup mirror and dab on the apples of your cheeks.
          • If your hair gets poofy or frizzy as it dries aggressive towel drying may be the culprit. After shampooing, squeeze moisture from your hair with a towel and smooth downward along the hair shaft to keep the cuticle laying flat. Apply some leave-in conditioner and detangle with a wide-toothed comb.
          • Don’t forget about your wardrobe. Take an honest look at your closet. Are your clothes drab or fab? Not sure? Ask a good friend to come over for a fashion show and ask for her honest opinion.


          Plan Events That Interest You


          When’s the last time you planned an event that got you revved up and excited? The kids' birthday party or your sister’s wedding shower doesn’t count.

          Plan something that appeals to you, whether it’s skydiving or taking a cruise. Too many times, we get caught up in supporting everyone else’s activities, while forgetting to plan things for ourselves.

          Suggest checking out live music, a wine tasting, riverboat tour or comedy show for girls night out with friends.

          It’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day tasks for family, career and friends. But we have to remember that we can take care of ourselves, as well as others. Start a plan, get rejuvenated and put the focus back on you. Who knows? There may be a dancing queen itching to come out!

           

            by -

            Prescription for Surviving Work and Home

            • Manage your guilt
            • Follow the guilt-busting 8 steps
            • Carve out time your self-care
            • Heed self-care basics
            • Prioritize with the "Kitty Factor"
            • Follow "Kay's Rule"
            • Ask the critical 2 questions
            • Cultivate your female relationships
            • Tend and befriend for oxytocin release
            • Prioritize social connections
            • Capitalize on networking opportunities 

              by -

              You, and millions of other women, are finding it difficult to balance work and home. How did we get in such a pickle? As women, we learned some powerful lessons at our mother's knee about self-care, self-priority and care for others that work against us every day. Plus, we are continually met with a barrage of messages from our society that brainwash us into attempting to do the impossible.

              In 2006, my education, expertise and experience in effectively balancing work and home was put to the test. The test included life-threatening health issues for my daughter, son-in-law and husband, loss of a baby, the death of my mother, responsibility of being the executor of her estate and even the death of our beloved family pet. These life-altering events coincided with some of the greatest opportunities of my career. Yes, it was the big test of life balance and I flunked. Like many of you, I tried to do it all. Ugly life lesson No. 1, it's just not possible. So it was back to the basics for me; maybe for you, too. Let's find out. Ask yourself these questions:

               

              • Do you feel exhausted most of the time?
              • Is guilt your constant companion?
              • Do you struggle to feel completely successful both at work and home because of the constant pull from the other side?


              "Yes" to any or all of the above means you are experiencing symptoms of balance burnout. If you are looking for techniques to get more done in less time, stop here. My recommendations are about rejecting some of those lessons learned at mother's knee and embracing a new philosophy. Having a successful career and a satisfying home life demands embracing the philosophy that you count as much as everyone else in your life, and that's not selfish. Try these strategies:

              Manage Your Guilt


              Survival equals managing your guilt. Guilt is a soul-robbing emotion that adds extra stress to life and can eat you alive. Many of you have taken guilt to an art form. You even begin to feel guilty when you don't feel guilty. There's functional and dysfunctional guilt. Functional guilt is what you feel when you have broken a law, a rule, a moral code or a social norm. You're at networking event and see someone you met six months ago. Out of your mouth come the words "Yikes, what did you do to your hair?" You feel terribly guilty, that's functional guilt. The antidote is an apology. It's all about something you have done. Dysfunctional guilt is quite the opposite. It's about what you have left undone. With dysfunctional quilt there is the sense that you can never do enough. Try these eight steps to managing guilt:

              • Determine the type of guilt (functional or dysfunctional)
              • Clarify actions to take (apologize)
              • Acknowledge positive actions (I've called my mother everyday this week.)
              • Embrace choices and priorities (Family members question your life choices? Get clear on why you have chosen that path and make peace with your decisions)
              • Avoid defensiveness and justifications ("Having a career and children is the best decision for our family, I'm sure you only want the best for us.")
              • Avoid the comparison game ("I know my sister Susan is a stay-at-home mom; that's great for their family, but this is what is best for us.")
              • Accept limitations of personality, time, energy, etc. ("Because of current work obligations I can't take on the association presidency.")
              • Release guilt as a norm (Guilt is a learned emotion that can be unlearned)


              Carve out Time for Your Self-Care

              Psychologists say to be healthy and balanced, you need a minimum of 21 minutes of daily personal time. Showering, sleeping and eating don't count. The goal? 11 hours a week. It Breast Cancer to force my colleague, Kitty, to put herself as a priority. Her rest, nutrition, exercise and self-care had to be priority No. 1. Don't wait until you have a life-threatening illness to put yourself as a priority. You deserve it now! If you are already stretched to the limit, where will you find the time? Follow "Kay's Rule": "When you do for others what they rightly can do for themselves, you rob them of opportunities to raise their self-esteem and sense of competency." Merely by teaching my children to do their own laundry at 9 years of age, I gleaned hours a week for myself. Warning: fight the temptation to fill that "found" time with more obligations. Take that time for you. Delegation at home and work gives others the opportunity to grow.

              Now, ask yourself these two pivotal questions daily:

              1. What do I need today?
              2. What do I want today?


              You may be surprised by the answers and get some great insight into how to use that newfound time.

              Cultivate Your Female Relationships

              Fascinating research out of UCLA by Laura Cousino Klein, PhD, indicates cultivating your friendships with women has a positive physiological effect on stress. When the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress response in women it encourages them to tend children and gather with other women. While tending and befriending more oxytocin is released reducing stress even more. Apparently, men's testosterone blocks the effect of the oxytocin, negating the stress reduction. Unfortunately, our outings with female friends often get erased from our schedules when work and home get crazy. Who knew boosting get-togethers with your women friends to a higher priority would actually be good for you? That's an important fact if you need a swift kick in the pants to prompt action. Looking for another excuse to connect with women? We know that networking can be essential for career enhancement and, based on this research, it can have stress-busting benefits as well.

              Don't let the stress of balancing home and work rob you of the joy of life. Try these steps to give yourself a break beginning now.

               

              (This article is a transcription of FIttes' speech, given at the June 27 eWomen Network's networking event)

                by -

                 

                Regardless of financial status, we all enjoy getting together with family and friends. However, when money is a little tight, you don’t have to opt out of hostessing if you utilize some sensible alternatives.

                Your first task should be to decide the theme for your event. This will help you to create your guest list as well as help you see what pre-party elements you can bypass and what areas you will want to make extra special.

                For a large party, consider cutting corners by cutting back your guest list. You could save a ton of cash that could be used for more practical purchases by narrowing your list by just 10 or 15 individuals. For more innovative themes that will feed – and please – a large crowd? Click here to get five great themes provided by the Food Network.


                For most of us we simply want to entertain a few friends. Be sure to supply a comfortable amount of room for your guests. If yours is a dinner party, you will want to ensure you have enough chairs for your entire guest list. If it is a cocktail party you can and should opt for “milling”; room rather than so many chairs.

                Another consideration is where you have your event. This can also either be costly or not. Here is a list of some inexpensive alternatives.

                1. Your own home or backyard
                2. Your local church Fellowship Hall
                3. A local residential clubhouse
                4. A local business or entertainment complex, i.e. skating rink, bowling alley
                5. Park or picnic area
                6. The beach or lakeside
                7. Your family or friend’s home


                The latter suggestion I offer with the thought of further spreading the expense by hosting a Progressive Dinner. These types of parties can be most memorable and fun.

                Just what is a Progressive Dinner? Simply put, each course of a meal is prepared and presented by a different diner. My recommendation here is to plan carefully the route to minimize driving distance.

                The next issue you need to decide is whether to give out invitations or not. Although a phone call is often less costly than a printed invitation you may want to consider sending them to at least some of your invitees. The more formal your event the more likely this should be done. Some ideas to consider that can help cut down on the expense here are:

                • Computer generated invitations
                • Printed
                • E-mailed
                • Online greeting cards
                • + Online digital greeting cards
                  + Evite.com invitations

                • Hand crafted cards
                • Quilled
                • Stamped
                • Embossed, or otherwise embellished
                • Calligraphy

                 


                Hand crafting your invitations can be fun and will provide a unique invitation that may be cherished by the recipient for many years to come. You can even have a group of close friends or family members assist you with the invitation’s design and creation. Think about the laughs and memories you will be making at the same time.

                Here are a few more tips, provided by the Food Network, for hosting the perfect soiree:

                • For an informal party, keep things simple. Purchase snacks like chips, salsa, nuts, cold cuts, bread and prepared salads.
                • Before you go shopping, clean out your fridge to make room for all those prepared foods and make-ahead dishes.
                • They're your friends; feed them right. Incorporate healthy dishes based on fruits, vegetables and grains.
                • If you are serving buffet-style, then you'll want to plan a little crowd-control — spread things out on small platters with the sides and meat pre-sliced.
                • There's no need to foot the bill for the wine as well as the food. Make it a BYOB and ask your guests to bring wine, beer or soda.
                • Make well-placed and clearly marked areas for trash.
                • Have plenty of ice on hand.
                • Set and dress your table before your guests arrive.
                • Get creative: use water glasses for crudités, breadsticks and even flowers.
                • Wrap utensils (either plastic or silver) in napkins and place them in a basket for your guests to easily grab and hold.
                • Keep plastic bags and containers handy to pack leftovers for your guests and yourself.

                  by -

                   

                  Europe
                  Usually, agreeable summertime weather makes Europe a hotspot for history and sight seekers. Italy is especially popular this year. If you plan to visit holy sites in Italy, such as the Vatican, be sure to have appropriate clothing. This means no shorts or short skirts and women should have a sweater to wear over sleeveless shirts or dresses.

                  Watch history come alive. Savor new foods. Shop for exquisite fashion. Thrill at a top-notch theater. Discover new passions.

                  Europe is truly a palate of pleasures for the senses — enticing, entrancing and exciting. It's Harry Potter, Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes come to life. Its fairytale castles and real kings, queens and princes. It's thriving cities, breathtaking countryside, quaint pubs and the world's finest museums. It's days of sightseeing, or just a long afternoon sitting at a sidewalk café. It's magical and it's undeniably magnificent.

                  National Parks
                  The nation’s network of national parks is most busy in the summertime; some of the most popular are Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Parks. But don’t forget Washington, D.C., which always attracts throngs of families and tour groups all summer long. Washington, D.C. can be very hot and humid in the summer, so make sure your hotel has a pool.

                  From the gaming cities of Nevada, to the cosmopolitan cities of California, to the purple sunsets and desert landscapes of Arizona, the West is full of fun in the sun. The heartland of the U.S. offers great lakes, great shopping and grand monuments. Travel east for history, culture and world-class entertainment in our nation's largest cities. In the south, slow down and enjoy blissful warm weather, wide beaches and make new friends.

                  Theme Parks
                  Walt Disney World continues to be a favorite for young and old. Summer is a great time for families, including grandparents, to take in the sights and fun of a Disney Vacation. Get a dining plan with the purchase of this 5-night/6-day vacation package including theme park tickets. Disney is inviting you to come live out Disney dreams like never before during The Year of a Million Dreams, a first-of-its-kind event, celebrating your dreams and the dream-making magic Disney cast members create every day at the the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

                  Each and every day during The Year of a Million Dreams, the Disney cast will be surprising guests with enchanting dream-come-true entertainment and magical moments happening during this very special year. Suddenly you are not watching a parade, you are in the parade. Not only do you see a princess, you become a princess, or a pirate. It’s imagination in full force. Make-believe, made real.

                  Cruises
                  Summertime cruises make it easier to see many destinations in one vacation, especially to northern climates. Exploring the glaciers and wilderness of Alaska – and basking in never-ending days of sunlight – has become a favorite and affordable summertime trip. If you want to stay near the Denali National Park entrance, be sure to book early. Rooms are limited and July and August fill up fast.

                  Hawaii
                  Visiting Hawaii is so exciting. Each island has its own personality, weather patterns and activities to seek. Visit Pearl Harbor, explore Oahu and then hop over to one of the other islands such as Maui for R&R, golf and exploration.

                  Another option to visit Hawaii would be a seven-day cruise! You can start in Honolulu and travel to Kauai, Hilo, Kona and Maui to name a few ports, all while unpacking just once. Of course, meals are included, making this an affordable way to visit the islands.

                  – Cindy Berre is a travel agent with The Travel Authority. Contact her at 513.645.1754 or
                  cindy.berre@thetravelauthority.com.

                    by -


                    CONDOS

                    South Shore
                    There’s no hotter spot to be than downtown along the banks of the Ohio River. Between the shops, restaurants and scenic skyline views there’s plenty of reasons to make the riverfront your home.

                    South Shore condominiums – located in Newport, Kentucky – is one of many brand new developments designed with all the luxuries of home.

                    To be completed in the summer of 2008, South Shore offers a private marina, spacious master suites, 24-hour concierge service and limo transportation are just a few of the amenities that South Shore has to offer.

                    South Shore residents can also take advantage of the Shore Club. This private clubhouse features a caterer’s kitchen, wet bar and billiards room, a wine bar with individual lockers for private reserves, a fully equipped fitness facility with massage and yoga rooms, a swimming pool with a waterfront sun deck overlooking the Cincinnati Skyline and an outdoor practice putting green.

                    The Ascent
                    Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no its the Ascent at Robeling’s Bridge! More than likely, you’ve seen this magnificent structure curving, sparkling and reaching towards the sky along the riverbank.

                    Located in Covington, Kentucky, new condo owners can enjoy a wine cellar and tasting room, private theatre and a playroom for children with terrace access. The Ascent officially opens its doors at the end of November 2007.

                    One River Plaza
                    If you're partial to the Cincinnati shoreline, One River Plaza may be the perfect fit for you. These luxury condominiums and townhouses provide quick access to many traditional Cincinnati events at Yeatman’s Cove Park such as Riverfest, Party in the Park and Tall Stacks.

                    In addition, the River Promenade walkway conveniently connects the Purple People Bridge and nearby Northern Kentucky with One River Plaza.

                    The Queens Tower
                    Once home to the Eighth Street Incline, is the Queens Tower, which is now home to the hottest condo homes on the West Side. With the help of several millions in TIF money provided by the government, the area surrounding the Queens Tower – also known as Price Hill – will soon be what's projected to be the "Mt. Adams of the West Side."

                    If you're looking for affordable city-view condo living, keep this place on your radar because the Queens Tower is probably your best bet in terms of value.

                    HOUSES
                    If life along the riverfront doesn’t suit your tastes or budget, here are a few hotspot areas popping up across the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area:


                    • Fort Thomas and Fort Mitchell: Northern Kentucky offers established, neighborhood charm in Fort Thomas and Fort Mitchell. Similar neighborhoods are found north of the river in Hyde Park, Mariemont and Maderia.
                    • Boone and Kenton County: Newer areas of Northern Kentucky experiencing rapid new home developments can be found in Boone and Kenton County.
                    • Mason, West Chester and Lebanon: In Cincinnati, the Mason, West Chester and Lebanon areas feature many custom built home communities.

                     

                     

                     

                    REHAB HOMES
                    If you’re looking for a great neighborhood full of homes to rehab, look no further than Northside. This historical area has an array of older homes brimming with character.

                    With an even balance of urban appeal and a small town environment, Northside neighbors can easily connect while staying in tune to the pulse of the city.

                    Northside residents can conveniently walk to various businesses to shop for antiques, shoes, music, imported furniture, fresh produce and even a new hairstyle all within a four-block radius. Seven parks and woods are also nearby.

                    Protecting homes and the Northside community is a communal effort. Citizens on Patrol walk the neighborhood streets to keep residents safe.

                    RESOURCES
                    You can search thousands of homes in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky for free. Try these sites to find the hot spot for your new dream home:
                    www.LivingInCincinnati.com
                    www.LivingInNorthernKy.com
                    www.therealestatebook.com

                    You can’t ask for more diverse options in living than this area. From an upscale home on the shoreline, to the rapidly growing Boone and Kenton County areas, to the custom built homes in Lebanon or a distinctive fixer-upper in Northside you’re sure to find a house you can make a home.

                    Happy hotspot hunting!