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Curvy Expo, Mississauga May 14th, 2016 Discount tickets and Giveaways

Ever look through a magazine, love the look, but feel like, fashion does not cater to the majority of women who hunt for pieces in size 12  and up? Instead of accepting this long standing disassociation between fashion’s offerings and its unlimited market potential, Curvy Expo being held in Mississauga, Ontario, will take the mystery out of fuller figure shopping by hosting curvy-body conscious retailers, all under one roof.

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Meghan Bradley, a top 10 plus size Canadian model, spokesperson, and “fashion for all” advocate is the illustrious director. She is the brainchild behind Curvy Expo happening on May 14th, 2016, from 10:00am to 6:00pm, at the International Centre, Entrance 4, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga. Her television appearances and interviews to promote this pride in being “the best you at any size” has stirred the media  and proud women to join in this movement towards a healthier, more positive outlook on one’s appearance and importance in society. A professional, fun, fashion forward image is what we all crave. We all want to project our best self, to reflect how good we feel on the inside.

To save money on your entrance fee ticket, go to Eventbrite.ca and find Curvy Expo. When you buy your ticket, type in ADDITC and receive $4.00 off the $27.00 ticket price at the door. There are some ticket giveaways and contests as well which you can follow on the facebook page aptly named, Curvy Expo.

For years, I have had the good fortune to be a plus size model myself and worked many times with Meghan who is a wonderful, enthusiastic, beauty whose success hinges on the fact that she radiates positivity and enjoys empowering women in every project she touches. My spellcheck reveals that positivity is not a word, but that is the only way I can truly describe her, other than someone who is down to earth, real, and a visionary when it comes to this brilliant idea of Curvy Expo. It is my privilege to be a part of this wonderful, evolving movement, so, come say hello to me and sign up for great giveaways at the Curvy Expo booth!

I have long craved fashion shows where you can actually buy what you just saw shown on the runway. The runway shows being held at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are a great way to see many looks on body types that reflect our own. I have modeled in individual stores where appetizers and drinks were served, and customers were invited to a runway show and shopped immediately afterwards which is a wonderful, intimate, personalized shopping experience. But Curvy Expo is a fast track, short cut to all the fashion Meghan could muster under one roof, and believe me, an even more efficient way to shop.

Be sure to check out Dare Magazine https://issuu.com/daremagazinecanada/docs/dare_spring2016 which Meghan contributes to regularly and will be part of Curvy Expo. The articles and fashion shoots are very inspiring!

Retailers benefit because I personally love to mix and match from different stores, different designers, different price points, to make the look my own. As far as retailers are concerned, I believe this type of shopping experience where we all get together and celebrate our curves and discover ways to combine jewelry, makeup, undergarments, casual, formal, and every day pieces to express our relevance and presence in society is filling a much needed gap in the market.

Liis Windischmann, will also offer her expertise as a fellow plus size model and body love fan of every type of woman at 1:30pm. She too, is an inspiration and successful blogger with unique challenges that never get her down, they only push her to be even more amazing on her blog, Liis on Life. I am equally proud to have modeled with Meghan and Liis in catalogues, magazines and the runways for many of the retailers featured at Curvy Expo. You can say, it will be a bit of a reunion of a plus size movement we have moved with, became passionate about, and want to empower other women to follow suit.

I have had the privilege of modelling for several of the forward thinking retailers that will have clothes available to purchase at Curvy Expo, right on the spot. Pennington’s has been a great account over the years, always treating the customers to fashion shows, and hiring plus size models such as myself for major campaigns, posters, ads and changing with the times to embrace different styles. Two other major players I have modeled for are Addition-Elle and ToniPlus.

I remember a campaign I did where Pennington’s hired me for the whole day, which was a big deal in the plus size booking world at the time, and I had baked banana bread for the shoot. When they passed out menus to order lunch for everyone, I was amazed. It was a pleasure to work with the whole team. No shoot can be successful without a great hair and makeup artist, a fashion stylist, a vision for the shoot, an assistant photographer, great lighting, creative directors and a great rapport between model and photographer.

I loved what the makeup and hair artist, Paul Venoit, had created, when I looked in the mirror. I loved the tailored suits and casual jeans. The enthusiasm and the support from the team helped boost my confidence and ability to perform on camera. I felt like an actress, with a role, to show how the clothes made me feel, convey an air of friendly confidence, I felt empowered and I wanted to make the shoot worth the client’s while. When the posters came out in the store windows, they were larger than life, almost the entire height of the store window! The look was soft, romantic, with a muted, almost Monet background.

MXM, which I love, one of many of the fashion lines you can find in Pennington’s, used to be considered the younger, edgier line of clothing, but many of us enjoy the edgy style, regardless of age. Thank you Pennington’s for having shopping carts which more retailers should provide so we can sling our coat and purse and pile a few things in, rather than getting frustrated trying to carry everything around the store. Now there are so many more celebrities coming up with their own lines of clothing under major Canadian retailers which I am really impressed with! Check out Melissa McCarthy’s line now at Pennington’s.

Addition-Elle will always hold a special place on my first modelling composite card and in my heart. I traveled to Montreal, a fashion mecca in itself, for several shoots for this plus size retail pioneer. It was probably the first time ever, that a plus size model was featured in a campaign with a male model. What a concept! A handsome french male model was handpicked for the shoot, and our pictures were published in newspapers, ensemble! Formidable, avant guarde, and ahead of its time.

On the other hand, so normal! It’s just that, pairing a plus size female model with a male model had never been done before, not to my knowledge anyway. I was nervous, and wanted to do my very best to represent plus size customers, that were having fun, looking good, and living life to their fullest. There was a romantic air about the photos, shot along an ornate staircase, in a theatre, and one shot, from a very high ladder, offering a bird’s eye view of the two of us. The architecture of Montreal’s buildings in the background really gave the pictures a European flare.

My work with Addition-Elle was dreamy, exciting, forward thinking and creative. I will tell you a little secret, the best part of these shoots is getting your hair and  makeup done. Once these artists reinvent you, the confidence just oozes out and boosts your ability to express a sense of fashion satisfaction that is hard to describe. You walk taller, no matter what your height, and there is something in the way that you move in front of the camera which translates into a very special feeling you get while wearing fabulous outfits.

ToniPlus was also an incredible experience where I had the chance to meet visionary Toni herself and also to work with triple threat makeup, hair and photographic artist Korby Banner. ToniPlus has always offered its customers a sophisticated, classic, tailored silhouette. The day shoot gave me some of the best editorial shots I ever showcased in my portfolio. I had just changed my hair to a bob, and my booker at the time failed to convey the message to refresh my highlights. Korby came to the rescue with his chocolate mouse and creative stylings. I felt like a million dollars after he had finished my makeup and hair.

The movie star lighting, the carefully chosen clothes were elegant and with Korby’s guidance my mood  was transformed to one of mystery. Korby said he picked me because of the way I moved during the audition, and I am so grateful for that. I certainly felt wonderful during the shoot, and the pictures turned out very artistic. I remember Liis buying a full length, chic, tailored black coat from ToniPlus for a meeting she had with executives in New York for a pilot show to mentor young modelling hopefuls learning the craft of runway. These pieces stand the test of time, so artfully tailored.

Although I have proudly worked as a plus size model in the Toronto area, Chicago and New York, I certainly am interested in each new collection and fresh new take Canada has to offer as a leader in the plus size fashion market.  I have had the benefit of shopping curvy in Europe, where some countries acknowledge the existence of women size 14 and up, while others are in the dark ages, unwilling to cater to a segment of the population which is more than just niche. Having asked women all over the world deserving of fashion selection in their size, I learned that some have adjusting sewing patterns to make the clothes themselves. Model or not, every woman can look their best by feeling their best, no matter what their size. I know very well that clothes that are a reflection of my personal taste and fit well can give me such a motivational boost and inspire me to enjoy every day.

I am a big fan of all sizes getting a variety of fashion to create a look that is unique. The only way to do this, is for plus size fashion to reflect a variety of designer duds, interesting and ethnic accessories and modern yet comfortable shoes. Kudos to Canada, ever the salad bowl, offering up the  freedom to choose from an ever widening selection of fashion for the majority. I am also excited to discover the newest and latest of retailers to see what interesting pieces I can add to my wardrobe. I am so grateful for these retail pioneers identifying a still not completely tapped market and catering to curvy women like myself. For more information, visit http://www.curvyexpo.com and check out their show guide for a list of sponsors, show times, special guests, and mingle with fashion bloggers and plus size models. Note to all the lovely ladies out there, you do not have to be a plus size model to accomplish the “look” of a model. Don’t let anything stop you from applying any tips and tricks of the trade right after the show.

Shop all in one spot for clothes and accessories and get makeup tips from Cityline guest makeup expert Tracy Peart slotting in at 10:30am, so come early! Two fashion shows at 12:00 noon and 4:00pm are not to be missed. Lynn Spence celebrity stylist,  and enthusiastic commentator will share the latest in fashion trends. Movers and shakers in the fashion industry can pay close attention to the buying power, the desire for great style and the beautiful women that will attend and shop with their mothers, daughters, sisters and friends at this history making event. Now let’s celebrate our curvy womanhood! YAAY!DSC02317

 

 

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Costa Rica’s Wild Beaches, Pura Vida, Liberia

Costa Rica indeed has it's version of a whitish sand beach, Playa Coco

Costa Rica’s Remote Beaches, Playa Coco
Photos and article by Paula Erskine
In the case of Costa Rica, pictures speak volumes of the remote or lightly populated nooky beaches. Although renting a car for just one day can be more expensive than longer periods of time, the roads are well signed and beaches easy to get to. Word to the wise and the wordpressians…do not speed and take note of the changing speed limits in Costa Rica. The police will gladly ticket you and are on the lookout for unlawful drivers. We split our truck rental 6 ways and if you have a credit card that covers car insurance on rentals, that will save you from taking insurance from the rental company. Even though we only had a day to spend at Play Flamingo and Playa Coco each, those few hours away from a hotel atmosphere felt like a week in relaxing chill land. Play coco is a place I would definatly return to. It had one main restaurant on the beach where we watched the sunset and listened to their local two piece band. There was also a small resort midway across the street with a pool, but 99% of them were at hotel pool. Which left the beach for just a few of us. As day turn to dusk, people filtered into the reggae bar to enjoy and marvel at this wild, and fairly undisturbed beach and it’s glorious sunset.

Costa Rica's sunset melts into the ocean at Playa Coco.

Costa Rica’s sunset melts into the ocean at Playa Coco.

All photos by Paula Erskine Loco Coco at Play Coco served up delicious food right down to it's coconut ice scream! on the beach dream.

All photos by Paula Erskine
Loco Coco at Play Coco served up delicious food right down to it’s coconut ice scream! on the beach dream.

The food was very innovative, adventurous and delicious at Loco Coco Restaurant in Playa Coco. Some of the best appetizers and meals I have ever had in Costa Rica. They had a two piece band that filled the background to the spectacular Costa Rican sunset. Great tables on the beach, which for some reason, has a whiter cast than other more volcanic brown beaches. Then again, I have never met a beach in Costa Rica I did not like.

The food was very innovative, adventurous and delicious at Loco Coco Restaurant in Playa Coco. Some of the best appetizers and meals I have ever had in Costa Rica. They had a two piece band that filled the background to the spectacular Costa Rican sunset. Great tables on the beach, which for some reason, has a whiter cast than other more volcanic brown beaches. Then again, I have never met a beach in Costa Rica I did not like.

Backlit by the Costa Rican Sunset, Playa Coco

Backlit by the Costa Rican Sunset, Playa Coco. Striped Navy and cream cotton maxi dress from BH department stores, England

Don't let the small waves fool you, they are tall enough to knock you over and spin you around. Be careful on all beaches, the currents are strong. Most of us chose to stay at knee or waist level and battle the waves, and refresh ourselves from the heat of the sun. Lots of fun, laughter and unexpected wave slaps. Just to keep us all in check. Playa Flamingo

Don’t let the small waves fool you, they are tall enough to knock you over and spin you around. Be careful on all beaches, the currents are strong. Most of us chose to stay at knee or waist level and battle the waves, and refresh ourselves from the heat of the sun. Lots of fun, laughter and unexpected wave slaps. Just to keep us all in check. Playa Flamingo

Why Costa Rica is One of My Favourite Places Costa Rica is the destination to rent a car and visit the many simple, unspoiled, nooky beaches all along the coast. It takes just a few hours away from a hotel to feel refreshed, energized, peaceful and gain the feeling that you alone have discovered these beaches with a handful of locals and very few outsiders. Playa Flamingo is very simple, feels very local and was not without it's own quirks. The beach sand had a thin film of water that was an incredible mirror to our own images and the sky. It is so great to be unplugged in paradise. Forget what you know about white sand beaches. Despite the volcanic brown sands, Costa Rica's beaches can really make you feel you have entered another world. The monkeys slept lazily in the trees above, the restaurant owner showcases his parrot pair, and the ocean's breaking waves can really throw you around, so be cautious with the current and stay close to the shore. I would say a picture says a thousand words in the case of Costa Rica, several pictures, a rented car, two wonderful beaches in two days, and keeping the great company of people who are not satisfied with cookie cutter vacations. Costa Rica is still wild, still unspoiled, and unpredictable. Go Wild and carefree, in Costa Rica.

Why Costa Rica is One of My Favourite Places
Costa Rica is the destination to rent a car and visit the many simple, unspoiled, nooky beaches all along the coast. It takes just a few hours away from a hotel to feel refreshed, energized, peaceful and gain the feeling that you alone have discovered these beaches with a handful of locals and very few outsiders. Playa Flamingo is very simple, feels very local and was not without it’s own quirks. The beach sand had a thin film of water that was an incredible mirror to our own images and the sky. It is so great to be unplugged in paradise. Forget what you know about white sand beaches. Despite the volcanic brown sands, Costa Rica’s beaches can really make you feel you have entered another world. The monkeys slept lazily in the trees above, the restaurant owner showcases his parrot pair, and the ocean’s breaking waves can really throw you around, so be cautious with the current and stay close to the shore. I would say a picture says a thousand words in the case of Costa Rica, several pictures, a rented car, two wonderful beaches in two days, and keeping the great company of people who are not satisfied with cookie cutter vacations. Costa Rica is still wild, still unspoiled, and unpredictable. Go Wild and carefree, in Costa Rica.

A simple beach restaurant on Playa Flamingo with it's owners perched to entertain us from above. (A couple of small hotels there, but not necessarily open to public.) Very local and spanish speaking atmosphere throughout, very unpopulated, they way we like it.)

A simple beach restaurant on Playa Flamingo with it’s owners perched to entertain us from above. (A couple of small hotels there, but not necessarily open to public.) Very local and spanish speaking atmosphere throughout, very unpopulated, they way we like it.)

Fascinating to watch these monkeys, some of which woke up long enough to trek along with their young from tree to tree. Playa Flamingo

Fascinating to watch these monkeys, some of which woke up long enough to trek along with their young from tree to tree. Playa Flamingo

Half way through my plate, I can say Playa Flamingo's simplest beach restaurant was tasty, but likely store bought fillets prepared with local, buttery goodness and again, store fries. Then again, some people prefer their fish filleted. We donated some clothes to one of the servers, used clean washrooms, and enjoyed their beachfront location, their pet parrots and onlooking monkey natives in the trees above all of which were keeping us entertained. My sunglasses hiding behind the water bottle would soon be swallowed in a fight with the waves at Playa Coco weeks later. The moment I survived several tumbles in the surf is the moment I said goodbye to my, ahem, "designer," prescription glasses. Several gulps of salt water cured my pining their loss for more than the hour that I searched for them to wash back up onto the beach.

Half way through my plate, I can say Playa Flamingo’s simplest beach restaurant was good, but likely store bought fillets prepared with local, buttery goodness and again, store fries. But we donated some clothes to one of the servers, used clean washrooms, and enjoyed their beachfront location, their pet parrots and onlooking monkey natives in the trees above all of which were keeping us entertained. My sunglasses hiding behind the water bottle would soon be swallowed in a fight with the waves at Playa Coco weeks later. The moment I survived several tumbles in the surf is the moment I said goodbye to my, ahem, “designer,” prescription glasses. Several gulps of salt water cured my pining their loss for more than the hour that I searched for them to wash back up onto the beach.

Other than the 2 hotels, which was lightly populated, we gladly visited this lone restaurant and it's humourous, rest station.

Other than the 2 hotels, which was lightly populated, we gladly visited this lone restaurant and it’s humourous, rest station.

Nature's Art Museum, the road to Playa Flamingo.

Nature’s Art Museum, the road to Playa Flamingo.

Of course, buses take local currency the equivalent of an American dollar. However, many buses later (and about 2 hours in the blazing sun across the road from Liberia's airport, and a spanish speaking qualified person interpreting our urgency to reach the beach the same day we set out, had us pondering the taxi alternative. Two hours in the blazing heat, we started to negotiate with several taxi drivers. Negotiating from in front of the airport is not in the least advantageous to getting a good price. But eventually, we came up with a $40 ride for 4. Time was ticking, and later we found out that the bus was in a major accident and had blocked traffic for miles. On the way back from Playa Flamingo, we saw these spectacular flower bushes. After visiting the local grocery store, we negotiated for a ride home with a Tina Turner type taxi driver. We pretended we only wanted to go to a certain stop half way and take the bus back to the airport from there. But in the darkness, and winding roads, our spanish qualified brother figure managed to negotiate a $25 direct to hotel rate. Which made us realize what a bad deal we got on the way to Playa Flamingo. Buses may be cheap in Costa Rica, but out of many buses that passed us, each one said it's "right behind this one" in vain. So if it the bus never comes, and you don't get to visit this quirky beach, then you can't afford not to take a taxi. Well worth visiting. Be prepared with american dollars and local currency and know the exchange before you set out. The hotel at Playa Flamingo had already sent their deposits to the bank and could not exchange  any money for us so we could eat in the simple beach restaurant. Upon leaving the beach area, we found a grocery store and one of us got it on good authority that there was a bank machine quite a bit down the road. The cabbie gave him a ride, quite a walk, to be nice. Nothing worse than facing a bank machine dispenses millions in local currency and not knowing the exchange. Enough said.

Of course, buses take local currency the equivalent of an American dollar. However, many buses later (and about 2 hours in the blazing sun across the road from Liberia’s airport, and a spanish speaking qualified person interpreting our urgency to reach the beach the same day we set out, had us pondering the taxi alternative. Two hours in the blazing heat, we started to negotiate with several taxi drivers. Negotiating from in front of the airport is not in the least advantageous to getting a good price. But eventually, we came up with a $40 ride for 4. Time was ticking, and later we found out that the bus was in a major accident and had blocked traffic for miles. On the way back from Playa Flamingo, we saw these spectacular flower bushes. After visiting the local grocery store, we negotiated for a ride home with a Tina Turner type taxi driver. We pretended we only wanted to go to a certain stop half way and take the bus back to the airport from there. But in the darkness, and winding roads, our spanish qualified brother figure managed to negotiate a $25 direct to hotel rate. Which made us realize what a bad deal we got on the way to Playa Flamingo. Buses may be cheap in Costa Rica, but out of many buses that passed us, each one said it’s “right behind this one” in vain. So if it the bus never comes, and you don’t get to visit this quirky beach, then you can’t afford not to take a taxi. Well worth visiting. Be prepared with american dollars and local currency and know the exchange before you set out. The hotel at Playa Flamingo had already sent their deposits to the bank and could not exchange any money for us so we could eat in the simple beach restaurant. Upon leaving the beach area, we found a grocery store and one of us got it on good authority that there was a bank machine quite a bit down the road. The cabbie gave him a ride, quite a walk, to be nice. Nothing worse than facing a bank machine dispenses millions in local currency and not knowing the exchange. Enough said.

Reflecting on the beautious Playa Flamingo beach... Seeing the sky mirrored across the glassy sand was magic.

Reflecting on the beautious Playa Flamingo beach… Seeing the sky mirrored across the glassy sand was magic.

all photos Paula Erskine Nothing better than a live sunset.

all photos Paula Erskine
Nothing better than a live sunset.

Skywalker, Paula Skywalker-Croatia Must See Villages

Skywalking in Croatia-Vrbnik

At the base of the pier in Vrbnik, Croatia, is a heart-shaped cave opening with a secret beach which only stays sunny till mid-day, but is worth passing through the rocky archway. If you have a kayak, or flippers and a floatation board (and you feel confident in the water) you can venture from this beach into the water and around the right bend to another private beach which is harder to access and quite a bit further. My husband found many underwater artifacts there with his snorkel gear. He also got the bends diving too deep without a tank and surfacing too quickly. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Just off the pier is a small port where the water is quite a bit warmer than the coast. Vrbnik is located in the Bay of Kvarner and is less than 40 minutes from towns on the mainland, the closest being Selce on the border of Crikvenica. Vrbnik is one of my favourite go-to villages built on cliffs. They are famous for their home made “Zlatina” (pronounced with a soft “g,” “glatina,” meaning golden) wine, prosciutto, lamb stew (that graze on salt sprayed grasses), fried sardines and many typical Croatian dishes.

Region? Primorje, on the island of Krk. Krk, (follow the signs Otok Krk), also has the Rijeka airport on it, and the bridge to Krk island is near Rijeka. There is a small fee to cross the bridge. There are many tours offered by boat if you don’t drive that can be booked from Selce, Crikvenica and Novi that I have noted.

Wardrobe? This is a conservative town, so wear your beachwear on the beach. Put clothes on when strolling about town unless you want a Babushka shaking a stick at you in disapproval. I bought my maxi-dress in the store New Look which can be found downtown London, England or the suburbs. Maxi dresses are my favourite wardrobe item! It is a staple item for the summer and is always in my suitcase when travelling south. I keep it in my carry on bags in case my suitcase gets diverted so I have emergency clothing. New Look stores have a regular, tall and plus size section called “Inspire.” I always check them out when I am in their town for jeans and other offerings. A maxi dress with sleeves and long length will not offend when entering holy places of worship. Plus you can wear supportive undergarments without showing your bra strap, and it can double as a discreet “changing room” as you switch to dry clothes in some corner of the beach or boat. Yup, an inventive change-room maxi-dress. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

Updating Portfolio on Miami Beach

I travelled with my friend Liis to Miami where we had pre-booked two different photographers for a two day photo shoot blitz to update our portfolios. It was great to finally get more outdoor shots in my portfolio. Most of my photographs had been in-studio with no natural lighting or setting. This trip was also a chance to bond with Liis, as we truly have always been two women who loved to exchange ideas and get inspired by each other and the world around us. This day felt very inspiring for me. I had shopped the day before in The Gap and found some very pastel and summery clothing that I would not normally find in Toronto at the time. I liked how Gap had created a palette to suit the pastels of Miami’s architecture.

Here I wore a sweater that I purchased in a department store in Poland when I was there on layover as a flight attendant. The brand name was Wallis which I now know can be found in stores across the United Kingdom. Wallis is still one of my favourite brands that carries larger sizes and doesn’t compromise style and detail. When it came to buying clothes to feature in my portfolio, I considered the clothes an investment in my wardrobe. This sweater was not cheap, but in this case, I got what I paid for. I wore it for about 10 years and always enjoyed it. I gave it to my mother in law when she visited from Russia and it was well received. It was just the right shade of taupy beige and I always wore a matching beige bra or camisole underneath to keep the lines clean. My mother instilled in me since my childhood that linen pants always look rich and have a fine quality. Plus they feel cool in the summer and look classy. I think they look very summery in this photo.

Liis and I, shooting the breeze

Liis and I, shooting the breeze

I was pleasantly surprised when I got the photos back and had lots of shots to choose from. I did not employ a stylist. I had done a major shopping spree in Scotland during a layover and had alot of good pieces to choose from. I have learned no stylist had more access to a wider variety of clothes as myself. I have made some mistakes, but when I learned to trust myself and get creative, I am my own best stylist. Plus I am not alone on set or on the beach. The photographer, makeup artist, and my colleague all put their creative input into the look. Clean and simple. Accessories are the first thing that date any photo, so I kept it clean.

Paula and Liis pose off in Miami after dark

Paula and Liis pose off in Miami after dark

It was getting late on the beach, but a very pregnant, scandinavian photographer was robustly taking photos and made me feel so good. Liis and I took turns as we changed outfits and had our makeup and hair touched up. The bonus was that the photographer had worked with plus size models before. So she had experience and knew how to make  voluptuous women look wunderbar in a photo and feel great! A successful photo shoot includes excellent hair and makeup, great lighting, chemistry with the photographer, lots of laughs, a great wardrobe and a bit of magic. We loved her zest for life and enthusiasm. We have always loved women who empowered each other. Together, we can all move mountains!