The only online publication for women in Greater Cincinnati

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Cincy Chic: How did you get into makeup?
Yolanda Webb:
I'm a native of Detroit. I left home after high school and attended Tennessee State University. After graduation, I married and moved abroad. I lived and traveled across continents with my husband and children. While working abroad, I discovered that makeup and skincare products were not designed for my Ebony-hued African-American complexion. So, I learned to mix and match colors in leading cosmetic brands to find the perfect match for my skin color.
Then, I begin to do makeup for my model friends, girlfriends in my neighborhood and anyone else who would let me "practice" my color matching techniques on them.

Coming back to the United States when both of my children were young, I wanted to continue modeling and began to work with John Casablanca’s in San Antonio, Texas. I went on to model for several big companies, including a film and tobacco company modeling products for print ads in magazines.

But I always held on to my dream of one day owning my own cosmetics company, and in November of 2003, E’LON Cosmetics became a reality. Click here to check out pictures from the Tri County Mall store's launch.


And E’LON Cosmetics is more than just about makeup. My mission is to help women see the beauty they possess within.

Cincy Chic: How do you help women see that inner beauty?
Aside from the makeup, I'm also an active supporter of the Women Helping Women organization (now known as the Rape Crisis and Abuse Center of Hamilton County), I participate in the Urban League’s YouthWorks Program as a trainer and I'm an active member and supporter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority among many other community involvement activities.

Cincy Chic: What's E'LON stand for?
E’LON is my daughter Sascha’s middle name. It means "flower" in Hebrew. Sascha was born prematurely while we were in Misawa, Japan and "Mama San," as Yolanda affectionately called our housekeeper, kept saying she had "Élan," the word for a vigorous spirit, and a will to live. So, the little flower begin to blossom and grow and survived.

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Next time you cancel a girls' night out because of a crammed schedule, reconsider. Your physical and mental health could suffer for it.

A 2000 UCLA study found spending time with your ladies releases the hormone oxytocin, which relieves stress, and found that animals with a high content of the hormone tended to be calmer and more relaxed than those without it.

Apply the findings of this study to your life by not feeling so guilty about taking the occasional "ladies' night out" (Like Cincy Chic's upcoming ladies night July 12, 6-9pm, at the Wine Cellar in Hyde Park). Instead of coming home after work for a solo bowl of ice cream and an episode of "Desperate Housewives," make a night of it with a special friend or two.

Feel Like Dancin'?

A great way to spend time with your girlfriends is taking a dance class. CocoCabbana Dance Studios in Cincinnati Mills offers ballroom, line and salsa dancing, to name a few. Owner Rhea says not to worry about coming sans partner if ballroom dancing is your thing. Partners switch every so often to cultivate camaraderie among dancers, so you and your friends will have no trouble finding a hip-swinging Romeo.

But if dancing with strangers doesn't appeal, Rhea says it's no problem to set up a special hour lesson just with you and your friends, and your dance instructor of choice.     

Whatever your dance preference, the activity is a good one: you relieve stress by hanging with your friends, and, as Rhea points out, "Dancing is great exercise because it releases endorphins, which gets you up and gets you moving," she says. "Anytime you move to the music, you have a good time."

For the babe on a budget, get the same effect by renting a copy of "Flashdance" or "Footloose" and mixing up a jug of margaritas. (Warning: hilarious photos ensuing from said suggestion may end up on the Internet.)

Spend Time with Your First Love

Who is this fabled love? It's a thing, for starters. Chocolate, of course! Cultivate your first love for chocolate and you and your friends' affection for one another by participating in a tasting. Haute Chocolate of Montgomery Road can arrange a tasting event for ladies' night out.

"It's a great way to spend a hot summer night here in Cincinnati," says Lisa Cooper Holmes, owner of Haute.

Haute's evening of chocolate would begin with an introduction to chocolate, as well as a sampling of the three most common varieties: milk, white and dark. You can also watch employees make chocolate in the kitchen, and help out in the process yourself.

Cooper Holmes says what happens at the event is up to you. Haute offers a full menu and confections for dessert. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m., and costs $49.95 per person.

Looking to cut costs but not your chocolate intake? You and your gal pals can try your hands at chocolate at home pretty simply: buy some strawberries, a couple of different types of chocolate and drizzle your hearts out. Champagne optional, of course. Meier's Winery in Silverton offers great champagne at a great price, and you can taste before you buy unlike the grocery store brands.

Beads, Please

Another way to make your social life memorable is to commemorate one another's friendship by making each other jewelry. Crafty vixens can visit a bead store and take classes in making all kinds of jewelry, or just use a store's space, like many do at Beads N Things, a shop on Eastgate Boulevard in Cincinnati.

"Groups can come in and do beading if they want to have a ladies' night out," says Carol Lanter, owner of Beads N Things. "They can bring their beads, or buy them, and we'll help if they get stumped."

The store is spacious, and has tables set aside for those just wanting to bead in peace, Lanter says. Doing so usually results in relaxation, Lanter adds, especially when a group of friends is involved.

"The girls get together and they just love it," Lanter says. "It is so relaxing because your mind is totally free of everything else."

Classes last two hours, and cost $25-$35 depending on the jewelry kit you choose to make. The store offers semiprecious stones as well as high quality beads.

If you're not in need of professional beading help, visit your local department or craft store for do-it-yourself kits, and throw a summer BeadBQ. has an excellent selection of charms and Swarovski Crystal Beads. And, we hate to admit it, but Wal-Mart has a great bead selection, too.

Wine and Dine

Just like wine, friends get better with age. And why not have both?  A wine tasting is another option for your girlfriend time.

Henke's Winery on Harrison Ave. offers tastings of seven wines such as locally grown Vin de Rouge and Vidal Blanc at $5 per person. Additional tastings are only $1 per wine.

Visitors can also tour the cellars (reservations should be made a few days before), listen to live bands Friday and Saturday nights and enjoy appetizers or dinner with the winery's usual offerings. Joe Henke, owner and winemaker, says his winery is perfect for group outings. "One of the compliments of groups is they feel like it's a Mom and Pop's type place, with a Cheers-like atmosphere," he says. "Gather together, share a bottle of wine."

If you're a wine devotee but prefer the comfort of your own home, invite a select group of your wine sophisticate friends over for some of your personal wine and cheese selections.



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The Last Kiss
Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson

What was the significance of the title of the movie, The Last Kiss? The Kiss of Death? The Last Kiss of Freedom? People making commitments and then “Kissing their lives away” because entering into the institution of marriage is a sentence of downhill drudgery? Think again. In fact, rent this movie to see for yourself if it presented a biased view of the downfall of rendering one’s life freely to another.

The Last Kiss is a film where the lead character and girlfriend have been together for three years. Life and love is good. Circumstances force them to consider the next step of their relationship. Then a showcase of clichéd stereotypical couples fills the interim of this movie.

"The Last Kiss" is another benchmark in Zach Braff’s film career. It also was Rachel Bilson’s film debut. There are no problems with the charming Zach Braff playing the cad protagonist. He does his job very well. And Rachel Bilson as the younger temptress is believable. Jacinda Barrett as the spurned lover is painfully convincing. Women would most certainly empathize with her character.

Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson are the seasoned actors who represent the “standard, boring, sexless” characterization of a dead marriage. How unfortunate in this movie that for all its effort in telling a story about choices and commitments, it failed to balance or even validate that there do, in fact, exist some real life “standard, still-copulating-and-enjoying-it, monogamous” vibrant marriages.

Rachel Bilson’s character points out that “Marriage as an institution was formed when the expected life span for an adult was thirty years.” Okay, its common knowledge that marriages often outlive the zest, the desire, the commitment it takes to keep it fresh and engaging. We get that marriage is supposed to be forever and forever can be a looooooong time if spent with someone who has given up on the other person or perhaps even themselves.

Yet, if a movie is going to invite us to think about those human fears and dilemmas that force us to be frail, to be vulnerable; shouldn’t it at the very least offer one example of a successful union?

Let’s not confuse the issue here. Or make this a commentary on the pros and cons of marriage. Marriage and commitment are hard. People make choices every day as to whether they will recommit anew or settle for complacency or chuck it all together.

The title "The Last Kiss" in this movie refers to Braff’s one last chance at spontaneity and excitement before he makes a lifelong commitment. Why can’t there still be spontaneity and excitement in a long term relationship? How sad for Braff’s character to think that there is only one last kiss left and the rest of life is so predictable.

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Watch for the reports at 5:15 p.m. on Channel 5, or come here to read the reports!




Five Things June 21: Compulsive Exercise




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Women's health

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Cincy Chic: What is Amy's Hope?
Michelle Harbin:
Amy's Hope International is a not for profit public charity that was established to help private orphanages in Eastern Europe. We consist of a board of seven professionals with backgrounds in sales, marketing, public relations, accounting, tax auditing, investments and pastoral staff. We are incorporated and 501c3 compliant. But to dig deeper, we are people that have a passion for other people. We want to make a difference and we also think the impact is best if it starts with a child. This leads us to “where” we are helping these children; I have had multiple people ask me, "Why Eastern Europe? Why not help orphans in America?" Well, I have ties in Romania. I have participated in volunteer trips to work in youth camps and private orphanages over there. I have seen first-hand what those private orphanages can do for children and what a blessing they are. Romania alone has over 20,000 abandoned street children and another 40,000+ in institutions. Communism left these countries in dire economic straits with little means to attempt to correct 30+ years of damage. Our American dollars can make an enormous impact to these orphanages. It is my dream/ambition/goal to reach as many children as possible; starting one child/private orphanage at a time. In America we have a multitude of public funding as well countless foundations helping to support our orphans. When I researched Eastern European foundations and charities I found that they were sparse and none of which are reaching the audience that we have carved out. Check us out at

Cincy Chic: How did you get the idea?
I have visited Bocsa, Romania for the past two summers. We had spent countless months raising funds to make the trip and then offered 16 days each summer volunteering our time in a youth camp as well as the private orphanage. When you see what we have seen first-hand it becomes impossible to not walk away a changed person with the knowledge and understanding that we have to do something to make a difference.

Cincy Chic: Where'd you get the name?
It is named after my very best friend, Amy. She's amazing! She has taught me through my entire life that there are some people that will walk through anything with you. She is one. We met at the age of 7 and have been a blessing to each other since. I measure all of my friendships by the standard she has set for me. Amy is the mother of three children and the wife of a very nice man. Her close-knit family makes a way for Amy to go to Romania to volunteer on an annual basis with us. Amy she was diagnosed with a rare cancer (Paraganglioma) related only to the Neurofibromatosis (NF) that she was born with. The diagnosis came in 1999 after her second pregnancy. She had her daughter and underwent surgery to remove a portion of her liver. She then had a son five years later. The cancer came back and this time we almost lost her on several occasions. It was the most humbling thing I have ever had to go through. She has always wanted six children, but had to stop at three. Some may think she is crazy for wanting so many, but she is just that kind of lady. She dealt with some depression due to the cancer and the knowledge that no more children were in her future. So, I wanted to dedicate all of the children that the charity would help to her and her ideals.

Cincy Chic: How did you get it started?
I have kept a journal along the way so I could remember when asked this question. Through prayer and a lot of it! I knew something had to be done and I had money to start it. However, I knew this was going to be bigger than me and that I would need knowledgeable people to join in the help. Therefore, I approached people that I deemed competent and passionate and asked for recommendations. It is so cool how my board was assembled. We happen to be seven very unique people with all unique qualities and they also happen to be approximately the first six people I confessed my dream to. We are plugging away learning the ins and outs of 501c3-dom. I have a very strong business and marketing background through my career experience. I am also excellent at networking and I attempt to burn no bridges. People in my past and present have come out of the woodwork to support this thing. This experience has been such a blessing for everyone involved.

Cincy Chic: What's the most satisfying thing about being involved with Amy's Hope?
I guess I was just leading into this. The children. I have no children of my own. I was married for a very short period of time, but I never got to the birthing children part of life. I had been so intensely focused on my career for the past 10 years that I lost my way personally. These kids grounded me again. They definitely made me stop in my tracks and appreciate the simple things. It's amazing how genuine and honest children are. They want to be loved, disciplined, sought after and admired. We all do, I guess; they just show it more transparently. I am a person that wears her heart on her sleeve and I have ton of love to give. It is so fulfilling to play on the lawn with these kids. They have no parents, I have no children, so I guess we have adopted each other. I love them and they teach me. It is a win-win situation.

Cincy Chic: Let's talk about you as a person. You travel all over the world – what's your favorite city?
Prague, without a doubt! I have been blessed enough to travel to many beautiful places in the world and I have loved something about each one of them. However, I just love everything about Prague. It is the best kept secret, I promise. It is absolutely rich with history and just so happens to be the most romantic place on earth. I had wished that I had someone special to share it with.

I am headed to Turkey to see Istanbul on the Bosphurus and Dalaman to yacht the Mediterranean Sea this August. It’s a dream trip that has been dropped in my lap for the price of an airline ticket. So we will see if it tops Prague, but I doubt it.

I just love people. So every trip is an adventure for me as I try to walk away with at least two new friends to remain in contact with. I also love dining – all of my friends and colleagues call me prior to traveling to inquire about the best restaurant spots.

Cincy Chic: What's your favorite thing about Cincinnati?
Skyline Chili! Oh my goodness, I am addicted! When I lived in Chicago, I used to bring it up by the cases. I cannot live without it. But on a more serious note; it's home to me. I have traveled to so many places, but none have the charm this city has. With all of its faults, it has so many bonuses: excellent cost of living, great restaurants, the Bengals! Who Dey! But most of all, my family, my friends and my church. They are my support and vice versa. The people here are awesome. Home Sweet Home.

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8 a.m.
Fourth of July 5K Run/Walk
Colerain Township Government Complex

8:30 a.m.
Red, White and Blue Run/Walk Benefit
Countryside YMCA

9 a.m.
Fourth of July Sale
Colerain Township
Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve

9 a.m.
Independence Day 5K
Presidents Park

10 a.m.
Independence Day Parade
Montgomery Park

10 a.m.
Fourth of July Sale
Glenwood Gardens

10 a.m.
July 4th Celebration
Beach Waterpark

10 a.m.
Harrison Fourth of July Parade
Harrison Community Center

10 a.m.
Fourth of July Parade and Festival
Liberty Township
Liberty Park

10 a.m.
Wyoming Fourth of July Parade
Wyoming Civic Center

10 a.m.
Independence Day Parade
Otterbein Campus Center

10 a.m.
Fourth of July Celebration
Downtown Metamora

11 a.m.
Old Fashioned Independence Day Parade and Celebration
Butler County Courthouse Square

12 p.m.
Independence Day Parade
Anderson Township Government Center

12:30 p.m.
Fourth of July Parade
Fort Mitchell
Diocesan Catholic Children's Home

1 p.m.
Fourth at the Fort
Fort Thomas
Tower Park

1:30 p.m.
Fourth of July Festival
Hoffner Park

2 p.m.
Red, White and Blue Ash
Blue Ash Sports Center

2 p.m.
Fourth of July Social
Park Hills
St. Joseph Heights

2 p.m.
Fourth of July Festival & Social
Sisters of Notre Dame

3 p.m.
Crosby Township
Stricker's Grove

3 p.m.
Fourth of July
Fort Wright
Lookout Heights Civic Club

4 p.m.
Fourth of July Celebration
Covenant Church

5 p.m.
An American Celebration
Princeton High School

6 p.m.
Harrison Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks
Harrison Community Center

6 p.m.
Fourth of July Spectacular
Colerain Township Government Complex

6 p.m.
Fireworks Get-Together
Sycamore Township
Brecon United Methodist Church

6 p.m.
Hometown Family 4th
Springdale Community Center

6:30 p.m.
Norwood's Hometown Fireworks
Shea Stadium

7 p.m.
Edgewood Fourth of July Celebration
Freedom Park

7:30 p.m.
Wyoming Fourth of July Celebration
Oak Park

7:30 p.m.
Red, White & Blue Boat Tour
Springfield Township
Winton Woods

10 p.m.
Fireworks at Belterra
Florence, Ind.
Belterra Casino Resort & Spa

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Watch for the reports at 5:15 p.m. on Channel 5, or come here to read the reports!




Five Things June 18: Summer Skin Makeover
Here are five things every woman needs to know about giving your skin a summer makeover with doctor approved tips.


Look here for past Five Things stories involving money and personal finance. More





Look here for past Five Things stories involving relationships, ranging from friendships to marriage.More






Look here for past Five Things stories involving family and children.More







Women's health

Look here for past Five Things stories involving women's health and fitness.More






Look here for past Five Things stories involving your home and its upkeep.More






Look here for past Five Things stories involving beauty and hygene. More








Want to share your ideas for "Five Things"? Click here!

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Cincy Chic: You, yourself, fall in different generation than the one Queen of Babble targets. Do you have to tweak your writing style/communication to speak to that audience with such ease?
Meg Cabot:
While I am no longer 23, the memory of what it was like to be 23 is still as fresh as if it were yesterday…possibly because it was such a traumatic age for me. So many people seem to look back on their 20s with fondness; maybe because their butts looked so good at that age, but I personally hated that decade. I mean, the pain of trying to find the right job, guy, apartment and all of that will forever be cemented on my memory. I wish I could forget it, actually; but instead, I seem to keep reliving it through my fiction. I guess that's cheaper than therapy.

Cincy Chic: Is there a common thread that weaves all generations of women together?
I believe the answer to your question is Spanx and chocolate. But there are some women who seem unfamiliar with the former.

Cincy Chic: You've written more than 40 books, you travel non-stop, but you are still married and have a steady personal life. How do you manage to do it all and what words of wisdom do you have to offer other women out there striving for a happy work-life balance?
Um, again we return to Spanx and chocolate, and to that I would add caffeine, Unisom and an incredibly understanding, highly intelligent and good humored husband. Seriously, it's impossible to do it all without help and sacrifice. You'll notice I don't have kids. I decided long ago something had to give, and that was my choice. Since my husband wasn't too keen on the idea of child-rearing either – we both have plenty of nieces and nephews – it ended up working out. But seriously, there has to be a lot of compromise. And snacks. And over the counter sleep aids.
Cincy Chic: From reading the excerpt on the back of your book, it looks like the main character overspeaks and starts a whirlwind of trouble, but she figures out a way to use her gift of gab for good use. Are you a Queen of Babble in real life? If so, do dish – what's the most memorable moment your babble put you in hot water.
Ha! The book is incredibly autobiographical, and the sequel, Queen of Babble in the Big City, due out June 26, is even more so! In it Lizzie becomes convinced her boyfriend's mother is having an affair, and blurts out a few things that get her in even worse hot water than in the first book (not to mention, she realizes the boyfriend may not be Mr. Right after all). I would have to say the worst hot water I was ever in was when my agent emailed me to tell me that my German publishers weren't interested in The Princess Diaries, saying that diary books didn't sell well in Germany. And I e-mailed her back to say of course not, look what the Germans did to Anne Frank. And then I realized I'd hit "Reply All," and cc'd the German publisher.

Yeah. That didn't go over too well. (P.S. the books were published in Germany now and are selling very nicely, thank you very much)

Cincy Chic: What is your favorite word and/or book and why?
My favorite word is, of course, dessert – the food, not the climate! That's self explanatory. And my favorite book is Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. It's hilarious and also I think true to life, even though it was written in the 30s.

Cincy Chic: Do you write about specific people from your real life in your book?
No comment!


Cincy Chic: What is your writing process?
Well, I usually don't start writing something until I've mulled it over in my head for about a year (obviously, while I'm doing this, I'm writing other things. I back-burner the other stories I'm planning). Occasionally, I'll jot down a detail or two, but I'm paranoid about the outlining process – writing down anything before the actual novel itself. Once I feel like I've got a solid idea for the opening scene, a firm ending and a semi-planned out path for how I'm going to get there, I'll grab my laptop and work on it from about 10a.m.-5p.m. every day – if possible – until it's done. I used to work in bed, but cat allergies have driven me outdoors to the back porch. Some days, I work on one of those chair floats in the pool with an AlphaSmart. I love those because you can't edit as you go along. That's usually when I get the bulk of my first draft done!

Learn more about Cabot at


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Ready for a fun fiesta, amigos? Let's start with the dress code: The tropical theme works beautifully this time of year. Ask people to wear Hawaiian shirts, flowing tropical-print dresses – prints are really in right now – and cute kitten-healed flip-flops. Places like Mt. Adams-based Elizabeth's Closet sell embellished shoes like this.

Now that we look cute, we can worry about the other things at this party. The following list and menu were created for a guest list of eight. Here's your to do list:

  1. Decide on your fiesta's date, time and guest list.
  2. For decorations, it's time to check out what you have on hand before making a list and heading out to the party store. First of all, you need to decide if you have enough presentable dishes, utensils and glasses to serve eight people. You'll need 16 small appetizer/dessert plates as well as eight dinner plates, eight glasses, plus enough utensils for dinner and dessert. If you have all that, great! If not, go with paper and plastic. It's plenty festive and much easier on the cleanup too! But at least opt for the cute colored, transparent plates though.
  3. Time to go to the party store. We recommend one-stop-shops, like The Party Source in Newport, to save time. Pick out some invitations with a Mexican or a tropical flair. (If you'd rather not send invitations, what about e-mail? Or even better, , where you can get free online invitations, e-cards, birthday invitations, party invitations and birthday e-cards. Pick up one red and one green tablecloth – plastic preferably, or pick some wild, tropical colors. Buy some fiesta-looking paper napkins. Get all the plates, napkins and utensils you need. Most party stores stock Mexican wall decorations, colorful paper flowers, piñatas and centerpieces. Get about a dozen or two small votive candles and as many lunch sized brown paper sacks. On the day of the fiesta, you will fill each with some sand or soil, insert a candle and place two rows of "luminarios" along the walkway to your front door.
  4. For music, visit or your local music store for some toe-tapping, lively Latin music. Linda Ronstadt, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Julio or Enrique Iglesias, the Gypsy Kings, Santana – any of these will help get your guests in the right mood. Don't forget the Jimmy Buffet music. He's always a great mood-setter – especially with a tropical party theme!
  5. A couple of days before the party, make your grocery list. If you want the authentic stuff, go to places on the Web like .
  6. Before the party begins, set up your buffet and your bar. Make sure you have enough seats, either at a dining table or (more casual) in your living room so that everyone can sit down and eat comfortably.
  7. Lay out your most festive and fun serving plates. Lay out the ingredients for all the dishes you'll be making in the area of your kitchen where you'll be doing the food preparation. Decide who to assign as your assistant. Be sure to notify that person ahead of time and ask them to come a little early! Now, get dressed, light your luminarios, crank up the tunes and get ready to have a blast!

Here are the recipes for your never-to-be-forgotten holiday summertime fiesta:


Sangría Blanca is a lighter, less potent wine punch that is perfect for a summer evening. It's made with white wine, limeade, club soda and pineapple (instead of burgundy, brandy and the more hearty fruits used in Spanish-style Sangría). It's lighter and more tropical in its flavors. This makes approximately a gallon and a half and takes about 20 minutes to prepare.

1 6 ounce can frozen limeade
1 can water
16-20 ice cubes
1 gallon dry white wine, chilled
1 quart club soda, chilled
1 lime, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chunked fresh pineapple

Place limeade, water and ice cubes in blender and blend until slushy.

Pour half mixture into each of two large pitchers. Pour half of the wine and half the club soda into each pitcher. Garnish chilled wine glasses with lime and a pineapple chunk. Serve immediately.


Delicately spiced and elegant, this will dazzle your guests. If you choose, you can use reduced or non-fat mayonnaise and then sit back and smile as you keep your salsa dancing hips lookin' good. Serves eight and takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

4 avocados, cut in half and seeds removed
1 pound of crab meat (3 jars)
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup celery, minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp seasoned salt
pepper to taste
2 heads lettuce, shredded
8 hard cooked eggs, chopped
8 strips pimento
2 lemons, quartered
2 tomatoes, cut in 8 wedges
8 black olives

2 cups mayonnaise
1 tsp tarragon
2 tbsp chopped chives

6 tbsp tomato puree

Flake crab meat and combine with hot pepper sauce, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice, seasoned salt and pepper in large bowl. Place avocado halves on shredded lettuce. Fill with crab mixture and sprinkle generously with chopped eggs. Garnish with pimento strips, lemon and tomato wedges.

To make herbed mayonnaise dressing, combine mayonnaise, tarragon and chives in bowl. Add just enough tomato puree to make dressing pourable. Serve on the side.


This exotic salad has a Spanish heritage. Molded Gazpacho Salad is simple to prepare, but delectable and elegant. It's fat-free and serves eight. Takes about a half hour to prepare – but make it the day before so it has enough time to gel.

1 envelope plain gelatin
1 1/2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup red wine
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp diced green chiles
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
romaine leaves, rinsed and dried

Soften gelatin in 1/4 cup warmed tomato juice. Heat remaining juice until almost boiling. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Add wine, vegetables and seasoning. Pour into a one quart mold. Chill overnight. Unmold on a platter lined with romaine leaves.


Because the sea bass (it's called cabrilla in Mexico) and vegetables are baked together with wine, chipotle chiles and cilantro, the fish takes on a distinctive, mouth-watering flavor. Serves eight and takes about an hour to prepare. It makes a lovely centerpiece for your dinner buffet.

2 pounds sea bass, or 8 fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 – 2 tbsp minced garlic
2 – 4 chipotle chiles, diced (available canned in adobo)
2 1/2 lemons, quartered
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled and quartered
2/3 cup white wine
5 tbsp chopped cilantro

Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper, garlic and lemon juice. Sprinkle diced chipotle chiles over top. Melt butter in large skillet. Brown fish on both sides.

Transfer fish and juices to a 9 x 14 inch baking pan. Arrange onion and potato slices around fish and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, pour wine over fish and sprinkle with cilantro. Bake ten minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork and potatoes are done.

Arrange fish on large platter with tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Pour juices over fish and sprinkle with cilantro. Garnish with remaining lemon quarters.


Oh, yum, yum, yum. Simple and exquisite, Baked Pineapple Delight combines the tastes of fresh fruit, rum and custard to create a memorable finale to any meal. Serves eight and takes about 45 minutes to make – but you can do this ahead of time so it's properly chilled. Serve with cappuccino for a memorable ending to a memorable evening!

1 large or 2 medium sized pineapples
sugar to taste
3 tbsp rum
1/4 cup butter or margarine

2 cups half and half
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla

Lay pineapple on its side and take a thick slice from one side. Do not include green top. Set this slice aside. Carefully scoop out fruit and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Mix pineapple pieces with sugar to taste. Flavor with rum. Put pineapple pieces back into shell, dot with butter and cover entire pineapple with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. While pineapple is baking, make sauce by stirring together half and half, salt, sugar, egg, egg yolks, cornstarch and vanilla. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. This will take about 10 minutes.

Chill until ready to serve. Serve pineapple warm with cold sauce on top and try not to blush when you get a standing ovation!


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Running With Scissors
Annette Benning, Jill Clayburgh, Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes

A comedy? A tragedy?

Running With Scissors is a movie based on the autobiography of writer, Augusten Burroughs. Growing up in the seventies in a middle class neighborhood in Massachusetts, Augusten had a mother, a father and a dog. A quintessential existence? Think again.

Critically acclaimed author Augusten Burrough’s bizarre life story is told in magnified grandeur through the vehicle of film and the impressive adaptation of the novel, Running With Scissors by playwright, Ryan Murphy. Supported by an outstanding cast of film veterans such as Annette Benning, Jill Clayburgh, Alec Baldwin, Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes the acting alone is worthy of Oscar nominations.

Annette Benning and Jill Clayburgh were outstanding in their performances. One played a lost soul who abdicated her relationship with her only child. The other played a character who lost her soul when she lost sight of her dreams. Their performances were penetrating and raw. Very courageous for actresses in this youth obsessed culture to reveal their craft in such a riveting honest inelegant and ungraceful setting.

Joseph Cross plays the main character during his teen years. Incredibly, he seems the most normal of all of the bizarre characters in this film. A modulated performance by Cross served well in expressing the pain of his lost childhood. The reversal of roles in his relationship with his mother, Annette Benning, fit neatly into the lunacy of Augusten’s young life. The more erratic Benning’s character, Deirdre, became; the more Augsten was forced to be the adult.

If one is a fan of Augusten Burrough’s writing, then this movie will satisfy. It is full of crippled characters; specifically a delusional mother, a distant alcoholic father, an unscrupulous psychiatrist and several wounded souls.

My complaint is trailers that set the movie up to be a comedy/dramedy. This movie was far from being a comedy. It was a tragedy. It told the story of a young man’s life spent under the care of a deranged psychiatrist. And how this doctor managed not only to bankrupt his own personal finances; but more tragically, forever bankrupt the lives of his wife, children and patients.

They say, Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. For Augusten Burrough, Running With Scissors didn’t kill him. It made him a famous author and a beneficiary of a movie that tells the story of his damaged, unconventional life.