I know, you came here to read about Beverly Hills, but…

Published on Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Mardi Gras 2006, on my way the the Hermes Ball; Royal Orleans Hotel lobby

…I used to live in New Orleans and frequently I am asked about my recommendations. I recently compiled this list for a friend, and for those of you who may visit the Crescent City, please tell them I sent you!

Alexandra’s Do’s and Dont’s for New Orleans

DO – General

Good Neighborhood over view Map – you probably barely have time to explore the French Quarter (aka Vieux Carre’), The Central Business District (aka CBD or Warehouse District). the Garden District and Uptown. I have lists for other areas but no one ever has the time to do everything I want them to. You may find that you love one particular area and you can spend your whole vacation exploring it!

Great map of restaurants in French Quarter( see list of favorites below):

List of the best antique stores on Royal Street – my favorites are M.S. Rau and Ida Manheim – if antiques aren’t your thing, it’s fun to window shop them at night, too

Great map for walking in Garden District – try commander’s palace for lunch or Casamento’s before or after your walk – get off the streetcar at Washington Ave, and follow the map~if you see anybody coming or going from Colonel Short’s Villa – say hello – my friend owns that house now and it’s FABULOUS!

Good Listing and map for the Magazine Street galleries and shops, the most unique gifts, art and antiques will be here. A couple of my faves on the list are Cole Pratt Gallery, Mignon Faget, Blue Frog Chocolates, and Williamson Designs – links are on the list!

List of Cemeteries

Museums at Jackson Square with terrific exhibits including Mardi Gras

Listen to radio station 90.3 in your room and check listings for music around town.

Off the hook fabulous hats and perfumes way up at the end of the streetcar stop – the best milliner in the USA!

The Audubon Zoo and Park are wonderful too – you can see some ancient oak trees with Spanish moss

Best taxi – seriously, this matters – I took a ride down the freeway one night with a drunk and blind idiot from the airport – I should’ve taken a United

Best place to get a funky New Orleans costume or wig – well, I need them frequently whether or not you do:
Fifi Mahony my very favorite – for real girls and wanna be girls!
Little Shop of Fantasy – best masks you’ll ever see
The most counterculture clothing and shoes will be found at the end of Decatur Street near Esplanade –usually buy at least one thing around there each trip to treat my inner Goth

French Quarter Food:

Acme Oyster Bar great po boys, seafood baskets and shucked oysters

Bayona best gourmet cuisine -tell Regina and Susan I said hi : )

Galatoires – Best creole seafood – go for Friday lunch – they don’t take reservations; just get there as early as you can and wait for a table – try to get table downstairs

Cafe du Monde is the ONLY place to get a beignet, the creole donut, with café au lait – great site for people watching too.

Johnny’s Po Boy will deliver if you’re hung over

Central Grocery – have the original muffeletta sandwich and a Barq’s root beer; in fact, make sure you drink Barq’s with everything 🙂

Southern Candymaker Best pralines in town!

French Quarter Cocktails ( keep in mind you can get them in a “go cup” and walk around or stay and soak up some atmosphere):

The Carousel Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone – fun to sit and spin at the bar, or people watch from the windows

I always stop by Napoleon House for a Pimm’s cup cocktail which is very refreshing on a hot summer day

Pat O’ Brien’s Don’t have the hurricane – you might throw up, but it’s fun to sit in the courtyard by the flaming fountain and have a party pic made – they also have a great piano bar

Stop at any daiquiri joint you might pass – they help beat the heat – just keep in mind they are much more powerful than you think – It’s like Jamba Juice with 151 proof!

Central Business District Food:

Emeril’s Great restaurant from Emeril LaGasse eclectic –

The BonTon Cafe – definitely the best creole food in town with the best seafood – odd hours, but don’t miss it!

Mother’s Killer po boys and best gumbo in town (the ONLY gumbo in town, really)

Uptown / Garden District Food:

Casamento’s best po boys, fried crab claws and shucked oysters uptown

Commander’s Palace -a Nola institution – great brunch; try the turtle soup – great cemetery across the street

Franky and Johnny’s great juke joint WAY uptown – awesome poboys, onion rings, daily specials and alligator pie!


DO NOT EAT/SHOP HERE (tourist traps):
 Court of the Two Sisters
 Anywhere on Jackson Square or in the French Market, except for Café du Monde and Central Grocery
 Anywhere on Bourbon but Galatoire’s or Desire Oyster Bar
 Your hotel ;), unless you’re staying at the Windsor Court or The Omni Royal Orleans
 The Riverwalk
 Do not go off the beaten path in uptown – stay on or close to the mapped area above and on the main streets
 Do not engage in conversation with anyone who wants to guess where you got your shoes, who wants to show you a timeshare, or wants to tap dance for you.
 As a pedestrian stay on streets that are more crowded

Laissez les Bontemps Roulez!

Designer Alexandra Anderson Bower

Published on Monday, November 11th, 2019

A fantastic article in Beverly Hills Life magazine by Josephine Stevens!

UPDATE June 25, 2021
January 15, 2019 marked the anniversary of my twentieth year in Beverly Hills. Since I first started my business, I have evolved from the school of scholarly perfectionist interiors and intellectual design of such icons as Albert Hadley and Rose Tarlow to a creative who truly prefers to have artistic and design challenges of all sorts. Clients have evolved over the years, too, and from the moment the internet became part of the design equation, all the creative businesses that created or contributed to the visual personality of a space needed time to catch up. Because I painted, crafted, and honed all my visual art skills, created this blog that you’re still reading after thirteen years, wrote and illustrated a children’s book, I have a weird skill set. For the last two years, I have been very focused on finding a way to do all these things and still be able to enjoy my life in a way that I keep making art.

In June I launched Alexandra90210.com. The internet has given me SO much to grow with, that I now can do so much more from remote locations. I can now communicate details that before were impossible to communicate other than an in person meeting with huge props and lots of billable hours. With all that in my pocket, I have taken all the ephemera of my experience and distilled it into my professional artist / designer / writer’s site.

All new work from June 2021 will be added to Alexandra90210, Instagram, Facebook, and a beautiful place called Artwork Archive.

This page will now serve as an archive to the good ol’ days.

Thank you for continuing to follow and support me – sending love and creativity to you in the new normal

Alexandra Anderson Bower
July 30, 2020
from Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi

Since 1997, I have been a practicing artist/interior designer and a student / follower of all things design – interior, fashion, photography, music, film, art, and architecture. I’m a Mississippi native and I came to Beverly Hills from New Orleans in 1999 after completing design school and having been a successful art broker.

I have worked on all sorts of design projects in this time, and either solely or collaboratively all sorts of work, a sampling of which I have pictured below. In these photos I have performed many functions, from interior and architectural design from the drawing board to fluffing the last pillow, to antiques and art acquisition, installation and styling of projects. Enjoy these and then you can return to the blog occasionally to see what’s happening in a real designer mom’s life.

I trained with some of the best high end hospitality and high end residential designers -if you’d like to see my resume, click here. If you’d like to know more about my art, look at my Louis XIV of Beverly Hills page. If you have a project you’d like to discuss with me, feel free to contact me at Alexandra at BeverlyHillsMom dot com.


Published on Sunday, February 14th, 2016

Tomorrow morning PBS Kids will premiere Ready Jet Go!, its rocking new show from the creators of Dinosaur Train, complete with songs that make you want to dance and cool science facts from a real FEMALE NASA scientist. I first became aware of the show last spring when I attended PBS Annual Meeting in Austin. I was thrilled to meet creator Craig Bartlett, because Dinosaur Train was The Critter’s favorite for two years of his eight year life. I can recall Critter and I snuggling up to watch and singing the songs that didn’t bore or irritate me. I marveled at how he actually would retain the knowledge that I would have had a hard time grasping in college, due to the great writing and the interstitials with Dr. Scott the paleontologist. It was obvious to me that Ready Jet Go! would have the same effect, as I could not get the theme song out of my head. This is a good thing, because it may have FINALLY taught me all the planets in the solar system.

During our visit to NASA last summer we met up with Amy Mainzer, an actual rocket scientist who performs experiments on Ready Jet Go!, and were amazed at how cool (and un-selfconsciously gorgeous) she is. I am now always thinking that if I had known Amy and Craig back in my barely-passing-Astronomy college days, I probably would have aced the class. I have now watched Amy create a comet with her own two (heavily gloved) hands with every day materials, and listened to Craig perform new songs from the show that made me want to party down, even if it was 8:30 AM with no alcohol involved.

Produced by Wind Dancer Films, “READY JET GO! follows two neighborhood kids: Sean, who has an all-consuming drive for science facts, and Sydney, who has a passion for science fiction and imagination. They both befriend the new kid on their street, Jet Propulsion, whose family members happen to be aliens from the planet Bortron 7. Together, they explore our solar system and the effects it has on the science of our planet, all while learning about friendship and teamwork along the way.”

Speaking with Executive Producer Dete Meserve at PBS Press Tour where the comet making and booty shaking was instigated, I find that she also is all about bringing science experiments into real life. She shared that at a recent dinner party in her home a question about gravity prompted moving the party outside to test theories. I confessed to her that my college GPA was dragged waaaaay down by the fact that I could never pass a science, causing my friends to band together to drag me through Astronomy 101 and 102 so I could finally graduate. If only I’d been taught to think about science as fun early on the way The Critter is being taught, I’d have been spared all that stress!

Be sure to check your local PBS station’s for air times, and if you’d like to catch up on Dinosaur Train, watch full episodes on PBS Kids, or Netflix!

Amy Mainzer creates a Comet at the PBS Winter Press Tour  2016
Amy makes a Comet!

Fall Kicks Off with “The Bar” and the SEC

Published on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

One of the things that I’ve always loved about Beverly Hills is that it’s not obsessed with football. I chose a husband for this reason – during the year of courtship well into the first years of our marriage, I was blessed to call back home and tell my friends who are football or deer season widows that I was neither. WAS.

Thanks to the influence of business travel to Georgia and one of my crazy Mississippi friends, my husband has become an SEC fanatic and now he claims 24/7 TV viewing rights on weekends to the SEC and Seahawks! I complain bitterly that I did not sign up for this! It was easy for me to move all the way out here because I never liked football, and never could relate to anything football. I would rather do almost anything than go to a home game at my own alma mater, let alone one of the top three universities. There’s indisputable evidence that had I remained in my home town, I would have had to conform to the calendar of football if nothing else: many invitees did not make it to our wedding reception in Mississippi due to the fact that it was the weekend of the Ole Miss vs. State game. Priorities. So now in my own adult home, each year I grumble about hating the games and the loud noises they make when they are on TV. I serve a lot of dude food like queso and onion dips, then go have cocktails at Neiman Marcus with friends who are oblivious to football as well.

But I have to love this one fictional football team in South Carolina that my friend Nancy has created. Last Sunday while my hubby watched football, I attended the premiere of my sweet Alabama ex pat pal, who has embraced the football obsession of our home with The Bar. Nancy had the idea and got together with some other cool Hollywood people, and they now have ten episodes of this hilarious comedy about a bar in a community college town in the Deep South. Two of my most creative friends Shannon and Jeannine came along, and we howled at the characters and the colloquialisms. The afternoon, although it was about football, really wasn’t about football. It was about celebrating a friend’s hard work and HUGE accomplishment in a very little timeframe. Watch the whole season of “The Bar” above, and wish the cast and crew a hearty congrats!

Remembering Katrina – Ten Years Later

Published on Saturday, August 29th, 2015

On this weekend in 2005, I had just met my husband. I had just started back up with a beloved client again to finish more of what we started. I also had just finished designing my mother’s new Gulf Coast house and was there in Gulfport, enjoying the sultry breezes, a few cocktails and amazing gulf seafood, catching up with family and friends. We knew a hurricane was out in there, but we consulted with all the neighbors who were, along with us, veterans of Hurricane Camille. We even knew where the water went up to in our neighbor’s house, and the storm surge wasn’t going to be that high. We would probably hang out upstairs with the shutters closed and the worst that could happen would be six inches of water on the newly refinished pecan wood floors. We scoffed at the idea that we would need to evacuate – there had been so many false alarms in the past, here and when I lived in New Orleans. In a flash flood one day in the early 90s I was stuck on the interstate for nine hours within spitting distance of my Garden District exit, so there was no way we were joining an exodus of people onto Highway 49 to get out, only to be turned away.

And then it got serious. My new almost boyfriend (now husband, who had been in the U. S. Navy) called and asked the address of mom’s house, and when he found the place on the map, he started getting emphatic. “Do you realize how serious this is? You have got to get out of there!”. So the denial slipped away, and we called Robby’s mom who still lives in the old nighborhood that was well out of the storm to see if we could stay the night, then packed up the supplies we were going to use for the storm and headed over. The last thing my mom said about the house was “do you think we should get sandbags for the windows? If there are only a few inches of water reaching the house, they may stop it – I am so worried about ruining the floors…” I think I rolled my eyes or something and told her that it’s time to go. I had become sufficiently convinced that the storm was going to be bigger than we thought.

Robby’s family was fantastic – they had all sorts of systems for survival in place for once the water and power inevitably went dead, and in between watching the wind in the trees predict how close Katrina was coming we ate a lot and watched the news on the solar powered tv, took naps then awakened to ride the storm out in the wee hours of the morning. The storm proceeded to pummel the Coast for an entire night and day, many hours longer than Camille did. We all sort of went into a type of shock, because we didn’t need to see the news to know that there would be nothing left. It took a while for us to get back to the beach, because the destruction from the storm had blocked streets and intersections. We did arrive at what was left of our house just before the National Guard, the press and the looters got in, the latter two before the former. All of a sudden, there we are, talking to Harry Smith standing on the pecan floor, and noticing women rifling through the massive debris that was now our neighborhood.

The reality then became that we needed to get the hell out of there, because it was crushingly obvious that there was nothing to be done or saved. We managed to get up Highway 49 over countless downed trees and power lines, shocked by how far inland the destruction was all the way back to Jackson, where my mom’s primary residence is. We noted what a luxury it was that her building had a generator so we were able to be cool and get clean, after almost three days of hurricane experience. We were very fortunate to have that luxury, as it was not so for so most. Our friends and family suffered extreme hardships and many lost everything. People died during and in the aftermath from the stress and fear and seeing the world look like the apocalypse had happened. None of these are happy memories.

I am very grateful for the few days before Katrina ruined everything, because my childhood hometown looked more beautiful and lush and graceful than ever before, and I got to relive the best parts of my memories by driving down Highway 90 with my mom, commenting on every house that we loved to talk about since I was old enough to say veranda. They lined the beach drive like beautiful ladies in a row, having an afternoon cocktail and watching the water. It hurts to know that they are not there anymore – gone along with the surge of the tide of a natural disaster. I only wish I’d taken a “before” video.

Summer Wedding Weekend in New Orleans

Published on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Since I have been missing New Orleans an awful lot lately, I was thrilled to receive an invitation to a wedding from my friend Danette and her longtime love Randy. Met through mutual friends in Los Angeles, I’ve known Danette since I lived in New Orleans, where she brought her musician friend Phil (who plays nine instruments) to stay with me in the Garden District and play around town in order to launch her cd in the early 90s. Randy and Danette are bonded in their love for music so they would bond as man and wife at the historic Preservation Hall in the French Quarter and take us on a Second Line to my favorite cocktail spot the Carousel Lounge.

I immediately bought my plane ticket, made arrangements to stay at the Omni Royal Orleans, which has been my goto hotel in the French Quarter since I was five, and started figuring out how many friends I could visit in between wedding festivities and if I could fit in meals at all my favorite places.

First on the list was to have lunch at Galatoire’s, which is always especially lively on Fridays and did not disappoint, which included a table for twelve wedding guests I met and befriended that day and my dear friend Lori Mac, with whom I was a fledgling art dealer when I first moved to New Orleans in 1994. The wedding guests were charmed like everyone who ever had lunch at the French Quarter institution, and we cocktailed and ate amazing creole seafood dishes like one does in the Big Easy.

Up the next day was to have breakfast at Cafe du Monde, stop by the French Market for the Creole Tomato Festival, and go by Fifi Mahony’s for something unique in a wig or hat, which I managed to accomplish in time to get back to the hotel in time to dress for the wedding. My friend John, who has been escorting me to weddings since we were in high school picked me up and we were off to the Hall. The wedding was a music lover’s dream, packed with the love and personal touches that I have come to love from the bride. I made many short clips of the wedding because I knew it would not be easy to find words for it. A couple of hours later, we were lined up to parade in our Second Line. My gift to the couple was a few gross of pearl Mardi Gras beads, which were flung by the guests from our moving block party through the Quarter into the cheering crowds – it was truly the BEST Second Line I have ever participated in. People were joining in and dancing to the fantastic band Danette and Randy chose, parading with us all the way to the Carousel Lounge. Note that I have not complained about the heat yet, but it was hotter than Hades. Being (very) damp did not dampen our spirits – we partied at the lounge, then John and I grabbed po boys to go from Felix’s and I went back to the Royal Orleans to take my third shower of the day and rest up for the brunch and reception the next day.

I was so happy that my sweet friend Marcie and her husband David (and son Max!) made the drive from their home on the Gulf Coast so that we could visit and have brunch at the Palace Cafe’ which will now be on my list of favorites. I started drinking Bloody Marys and that became my drink o’ the day. It was hugs all around and then off to the reception, held at my friend Michael’s mother’s home in Uptown – the perfect place to have more Bloody Marys and eat more – corn muffins, summer salad, hot boiled crawfish and two kinds of wedding cake! I stayed in the air conditioning and we had our traditional sing along where Michael shows that he can play anything on the piano and we sing along. It was so much fun to be in the familiar and share it with new friends. Back at the hotel I had another shower and called it a day.

My last day came too soon, but not so soon that my friend Hal whom I adore personally and professionally, as he is the best designer I know and has the most gorgeously decorated historic home in the Garden District. We had so much fun catching up on New Orleans, our families, the work, and of course we had an amazing meal complete with brandy milk punches at Antoine’s. More hugs and then I had to do one last thing before I left.

I had one hour before the taxi picked me up to walk the Quarter one last time and say a little prayer for my friend Robby in all his favorite places. The anniversary of his death was near, and it was the perfect place for me to do my last goodbye to him and to get my creative and emotional mojo back. I hopped into the taxi and hugged the wonderful bellmen at the Royal Orleans goodbye, and from that point on couldn’t WAIT to get back to my sweet husband and the Critter.

Best Birthday Ever at Music Stars and Masters

Published on Monday, July 7th, 2014

I walked past Music Stars and Masters in the Westside Pavillion Mall many times and wondered “What happens in there?”. Well, let me tell you, I am SO glad I finally stopped one day to ask! Critter’s birthday was fast approaching and I didn’t have any plan yet, and of course there’s the added self induced pressure to top last year. So I stopped in to see what they offered for birthday parties. When I do a party for the kids, it usually needs to have a main attraction which hopefully has some physical activity, a little arts and crafts to take home, cake, food, and goody bags.

I spoke to Christael and she was so professional with the right amount of fun thrown in, so we decided to go for it. The venue was really spacious and had the flow of the party all figured out: Dressing room of rocker outfits, photo shoot, drumming and dancing with Teacher Roscoe, bounce house, and onstage performances. They thought of everything else – crafting back stage passes to wear with their rocker outfits, plenty of tables for cake and goodies and chairs for moms to hang out and watch. We were given a choice of colors for balloons, streamers, and table covers to coordinate with the cake and candy bar that I brought. One more call to Roni’s for pizza delivery and we were covered!

I was not prepared for how much FUN the kids would have! The dancing and drumming got the party mood elevated to level 10 and then the kids signed up to “perform” on a professional stage with lights and instruments. The kids chose instruments or singing and it was so adorable -when the lights came up and the music on, they sang and “played” along to some playlist favorites (the theme to Frozen was well represented). We definitely know who the divas and dudes who are stage bound. For those who wanted to bounce, voila! The bounce house was inflated in minutes in place of the drum and dance circle and bounce they did. I did less work on this party than any party we have had and SO enjoyed myself, because Music Stars and Masters engaged the kidlets so fully and timed things so well that I was able to visit with the moms and watch the performances.

I also wasn’t ready for the amazing bonding that happened while the kids put together their performances. The video you see above is at the end of the party with everyone onstage. They were all hugging and singing like a millennial Brat Pack. I got a text from a mom last night (SEVERAL weeks since the party) saying that as her son drifted off to sleep he announced that he wanted a party just like the Critter’s for his birthday. I think that’s some serious party validation. I HIGHLY recommend Music Stars and Masters for parties AND music lessons. They have graciously offered my readers a couple of wonderful promo codes this summer for parties and lessons:
50% off a 5-pack of group classes for new students (promo code: BHMOMCLASS831)
5 Free group classes for all Deluxe Rock Star parties held in July or August (promo code: BHMOMPARTY831)

***These special promotions expire 8/31/14***

A Page From the REAL – My Summer of Sadness

Published on Friday, July 26th, 2013

Although I share quite a lot here and throughout my outlets, I usually don’t include bad days of my life. I have many things to write about that are happy and good news that I naturally don’t share the Real that is up there in the masthead. Something happened in my life and I really can’t move forward until I write about it, so today, after many days of living it I want you to know the Real.

The Critter’s last day of school was June 12th. On Thursday June 13th, my friend Robby (most people in LA call him ROBERT, but he’s my OG) and I went to see Cyndi Lauper at the Greek. It was a monumental evening – we were able to meet Cyndi and hang in the VIP room, and we were able to talk A LOT, which we never had enough time to do. It was the 30th anniversary of the release of “She’s So Unusual” – the album that made Cyndi famous and made unusual kids cool. We talked about lots of things, mainly that things were going well for both of us: happy in love, happy in work, happy in life, in general. We stayed as late as possible and then made our way home, promising to get together next week for lunch to talk some more, and the summer was officially kicked off.

On Saturday morning at about 5:00 AM my phone rang, and I just tapped “decline” – my name tends to be the first on many of my friends’ contact list (due to the AAB initials), and I get pocket dialed frequently. Then the phone rang again. I answered this time, seeing that it was Robby’s niece calling from the Coast – it must be important. That call shook the ground beneath me, as she told me that Robby had been in a terrible car accident, and could I please go see what has happened? I was dressed and left the house within minutes and was at LA County/USC Medical by 6:00. I waited there with two of Robby’s close friends Susan and Joe – Robby’s life partner Sean was away doing a show in Northern California and was desperately trying to get back to LA. After almost three hours of knowing nothing at all, a doctor emerged telling us that Robby was gravely injured – he had been in surgery since 2:30 and that he “might not make it”. This was not at all something one ever expects to hear about someone they care about, so we resolved to keep it positive for his family, and to pray really hard that the doctors were wrong.

This began a ten day vigil of being at the hospital, seeing my friend go through torturous surgeries attached to every life saving machine that the very kind and competent staff could use, holding hands with Sean, Robby’s parents and our friends, wondering what the future would hold. We went through enormous emotional highs and lows, one day thinking that encouraging news meant he could go home and live a somewhat impaired life, to wondering if he would require 24/7 care for the rest of his life. I sang him songs, read him a book that he gave me when I was a freshman in college, and talked to him, hoping that he didn’t really know how horrible this was. He was the type who would be mortified that we were so worried. We were given a respite of the fear on the 23rd, as it was finally determined that his spinal cord was not severed, only traumatized, and this allowed us all to sleep a little bit better that night.

As I was dressing to take the Critter on an outing ( I can’t even remember what it was) the next morning, I got a call from Robby’s mother Flo saying that things had taken a turn; Rob had developed an infection and he was not expected to live. My husband came home to be with the Critter and I went back to the hospital, in full denial that this was really happening to face that this was REAL. It was really happening. There were lots of tears and prayers and disbelief as we waited for what would come next. It was decided that the machines should be turned off after Robby’s brother got to LA and was able to say goodbye. After that happened, the family left – no parent should have to stay for something so awful. I had planned to leave when the Williamses did, but I felt compelled to stay in the event of a miracle. Sean and our friend Brandon stood next to his bedside, talking to him, telling him that we would all be okay if he was ready to go. After a few hours, while Sean was telling us how they met, Robby took his very last breath. At that moment, there was relief – that he wouldn’t be confined to a wheelchair and other indignities for the rest of his life – that so many people loved him, he lived a full life.

The next two weeks I did not sleep at all, as we set a date for a tribute to Robby and everything had to be planned. It was very hard to accomplish this, as everyone involved would have days that we just couldn’t cope with the reality – before I would have called him to help me with this sort of thing, and he would have. He was like that. We finally made it to that day, and I completely lost my voice. Normally I would have been able to talk without stopping about Rob for HOURS without having written anything down but some bullet points. Since there was no way to even to speak, I had to sit down and write what I would have said about him, and I would stand with my sweet husband as he read my tribute. There were also very touching speeches by Susan Lambert and Donna Jolly, and really amazing performances by Ayanna and her troupe, Trish Lamkin, Michael Collum , Susan Brindley, even Tony award winner Norbert Butz, who was a dear friend of Robby’s from his Master’s program at Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Seeing as how this event was staged for a person who would appreciate it – there was, of course a finale. Sean read a poem that Robby had written to him, and a letter he had written to Robby, and then he picked up his guitar and jammed to Patti Smith’s “Southern Cross” along with Trish, Michael and his fellow bandmate Greg Carson. This was truly a magic moment; they all did what they do best and the music soothed us. We gave Robby a send off that embodied all his favorite things, and we felt his love from that big theatre in the sky. There will never be another like him, and we were all truly blessed to have had his friendship all these years. He really did dance through life…

Going with the Flow…

Published on Friday, October 5th, 2012

I realize that if you don’t follow me on Twitter, then you may think I’m not writing because nothing exciting is going on. I you do follow, you’ll know that the end of summer was full of awesome activities with a the finale of the Critter going to kindergarten. This has been a HUGE transition, probably more huge for BeverlyHillsDad and me, because the ante is up. Lollygagging is over. There’s homework and tardies count (of particularly terrifying note to me). If my five year old isn’t turning in homework it’s because MOM didn’t get him to sit in the chair and do it. There are folders, backpacks, lunch and a snack that need to be filled properly. There are days that are designated wear and eat a certain color day. I had a minor breakdown at midnight the night before yellow day when I realized there were no bananas for Critter’s lunchbox, and came back to my senses with triumph when I remembered there were lemons in the fridge. Right now I am fantasizing about Halloween, and just spent way too much time arranging the gum in a bowl in my kitchen, but I seem to be in there so much lately, I wanted it styled.

So you see, I’ve been getting the hang of kindergarten and the ever changing life as a mom. As much fun as this is, the gum could be called a cry for help. I actually knew this a couple of weeks ago, and am now getting back to spending more time with the parts of my livelihood that feed my creative energy. Last weekend I sat on a panel moderated by Jessica Gottlieb along with Romy Schorr and Candice Berneman Khan at the BLP ConnectHer Conference. A group of about 200 attendees spent the day at the Casa del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, a gorgeous hotel, which, by the way, was a project I worked on in my early design days in LA – I hand picked all the seashells in the lobby! Over the day I spent time with these and so many intelligent, compassionate, accomplished, stylish, sexy, women like Jeannine Chanin Penn, Donna Tetreault, Ali Landry, Lisa Steadman and Wendy Bellissimo. We shared some highs and lows of our respective professions, and what worked for us and what didn’t. It was a really generous (and gorgeous) group who were all there to learn how to do business better, but the theme broadened into the fact that we all have lives that go on during (and WAY after) business hours, and how we all manage it. The tide of women in business is no longer to fit into an existing model, but to create what fits into our lives – and to own all the parts of how we do it. I feel really blessed to be able to maximize my time with my Critter, and have work(and play) that works with us. In the spirit of this, it may take me a while to share more of what we experienced, including but not limited to: our trip to the Pebble Beach Concours, the making of a video with ET, PBS Press Tour ( I met Martha Stewart!!!), and loads of the style photos I know y’all love.

Speaking of travelling and making it work: I will be attending the Bloggy Boot Camp Las Vegas next weekend. I had so much fun last time I went to this conference, I couldn’t pass up a chance to do it in VEGAS baby, and I’ve also roped 90210Mom and Ashaa to go with me. There will be no juiceboxes or flats allowed.

And last but definitely not least: I am really amazed to be the guest of Coca Cola at their world headquarters to participate in Conversations with Coca-Cola, a social media conference. When they called to invite me, I assumed it was because they heard how much Diet Coke I drink. I’m really excited to see behind the scenes and know more of how the most venerable brand in the WORLD operates. Jamie will be there with me, representing from Los Angeles – stayed tuned!

Remembering Elizabeth Glaser

Published on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m so glad that my wise beyond her years friend Jamie posted about Elizabeth Glaser today. I remember the first time I became aware that there was this terrible disease called AIDS. It was the Sunday before classes started back at Millsaps after Christmas break, and my roommate and I were at the local gay bar for Beer Bash. For those who aren’t gay heteros like myself, Sunday is beer bash day. For a college freshman, Beer bash=cheap beer and fun guys to dance with. We got there really early so there was only other person at the bar with us. He was kind of scary to us because he was shirtless and had rings through his nipples. Piercings like that were pretty unheard of in those days and we struck up a conversation with him regarding whether those things hurt and why on earth would he do something like that.

He was very good natured, answered our questions, and then pulled several flair buttons out of his pocket that had different designs on them in pink and black. One said AIDS=Death. He said that he was selling these buttons to raise money for research on “the gay cancer”. I was really worried when I heard this, because I had some really good friends who were gay, and I definitely didn’t want them to get cancer. He explained that it was a disease that gay guys were getting and no one know why and that lots of guys in New York were dying. I bought the buttons and pinned them on my Calvin Klein denim jacket (also racy for Jackson at the time), but I didn’t think much more about it.

And then my friend Buff’s brother died. And the most talented florist in our town. In 1985, five minutes into watching one of my favorite movies Pillow Talk, an emergency breakthrough came on the television announcing that my heartthrob Rock Hudson had just died. And then Willie Smith, Perry Ellis, Keith Haring, Ricky Wilson and Halston. It was as though there was a punishment for being gay, people were starting to feel desperate about catching a virus that ensured you’d die a really ugly death WITH pain and suffering. In 1988 I heard from my best friend the neonatal nurse that she was attending to a set of twins who were born three months prematurely, crack addicted and HIV positive. Her words and tears over the futility of the situation still haunt me as I think about the phone call I got when the babies died.

After seven years of sadness and trepidation I can remember feeling SO relieved when I watched a program that showed Elizabeth Glazer behind the scenes on the set of filming the PSA for AIDS research with Ronald Reagan. It was an enormous leap in AIDS awareness for the mother who contracted and passed the HIV virus to her two children to convince the former president whose dismal record on helping the disease to say “I’m not asking you to send money. I’m asking for something more important. Your understanding. Maybe it’s time we all learned something new.” . Because she worked every connection she had in Hollywood and beyond, Her statement that “Every person with AIDS is somebody’s child. AIDS is not a political issue. It’s a virus and it kills people, no matter who they are.” , had opened the door to lift the stigma of AIDS and finally get people on board to find a cure. It is because of this brave woman that a national treasure like Magic Johnson is still alive after a diagnosis twenty years ago.

Since watching the video above, I have been randomly bursting into tears because toward the end I saw that her son Jake is still alive. This is a person who was born with HIV and is now approaching his third decade on this earth. As a mother I just can’t wrap my mind around what it must have felt like in the early days of their story and how terrifying that must’ve been to have this mysterious illness, to lose a child to it, and to know that another could die as well. Jake’s mother’s fortitude so profoundly affected medical science so that at least one of her babies could go on – to see him there on the screen smiling and handsome like his daddy just breaks my heart and inspires me at the same time. That’s one amazing legacy. I want us never to forget her.