Back To Reality…

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By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Three and a half years ago I started this blog. I was a relatively new mother with two one year olds and a bone to pick with a life that forced me to get up every day and go to work, leaving the babies I had fought so hard to create. I sought to follow my passion for television in hopes it would lead to a new career. Since then it has taken me on an insane joy ride through the realm of reality television and its varied stars…and here I am today, right back where I started, but with a new perspective.

For months I have struggled with what in my heart I felt was the inevitable truth. That, like every television show we have and will ever watch, all good things come to an end. This my friends, is that end.

There are many reasons why this has to happen now. For instance, I predict that The Real Housewives, despite the announcement of two new franchises ( The Real Housewives of Dallas and The Real Housewives of the Potomac) is on its way out and fast. Just the fan reaction, or lack of fan reaction, on social media is enough of a clue. For me it ended months ago. Not even Bethenny Frankel who I have always admired so, could keep me interested in The Real Housewives of New York City. For the last year I have tried to watch reality TV and all I hear is Charlie Brown‘s teacher. Substance-lacking background noise that doesn’t hold my interest whatsoever.

More importantly, however, I have a firm belief in what Vincent Van Gogh said, “and what is done in love, is done well.” Everything we do has a personal shelf life. It’s good so long as we want to do it, but the tipping point comes when we no longer want to do something. That feeling of having to do something is one of the most nagging, awful feelings, at least in my opinion, in the universe.

Not like I want to do laundry, or sit in traffic, but I have to do those things. I need clean clothes, I need to get to work (which, by the way, has been far more gratifying since I was given a new position a year and a half ago). What I don’t have to do is spend hours on my laptop combing my brain for something to say, when I feel like I really don’t have anything to say at all. The struggle is real.

I will always be grateful for this journey, one that has given me the opportunity to attend filmings, mingle with stars, and even be on TV myself, but right now what I want, what I need, is just one less thing to do.

I plan to enjoy my family and my new home and relish in all the mundane tasks that I used to find too ordinary. Quite frankly, I am beyond ecstatic at the thought of just being ordinary again. However though, someday I will have the urge to write again about a new topic, on my own terms. When that day comes, I hope you will come back and we can be friends again.

Until that day, much love, much success, and much peace in a world that needs those three things more than ever.

Regards and hugs,

An Ordinary Blonde

Haute Halloween

Laduree's signature bag and 6 set of macarons given to guests of its swank Halloween Fete with children's clothier Bonpoint.

Laduree’s signature bag and 6 set of macarons given to guests of its swank Halloween Fete with children’s clothier Bonpoint.

By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

Pumpkin decorating, face painting, a haunted hay maze…Gucci Westman in full out geisha attire? Welcome to the Halloween of the well heeled New York City tot. On Saturday October 24th, the who’s who of New York gathered in the SOHO gardens of famous French eatery Laduree for a fall fete’ fit for Martha Stewart‘s grandchildren. Stewart and her beautiful blonde littles, along with a team of nannies, were among the guests who packed the gardens to enjoy gourmet candy and macarons for the kiddies, and champagne and spooky mixed cocktails for the grown ups. There were delights for sweet lovers and celebrity spotters of all ages.

When I first found out about this event while at Sonja Morgan‘s fashion show, I was excited at the prospect of having something fun for my children to do for an afternoon while indulging in the decadent chewy luxury of a Laduree macaron (or four). For those not familiar with Laduree, the company hails from Paris where the line to get in can wrap around the city for blocks. This is exactly what it did when I visited The City of Light in August 2010. Pregnant and hungry, I just couldn’t wait for over an hour on a line with no snack or bathroom to sustain me. I left France never having experienced the euphoria of a Laduree pastry.

Co-host Gucci Westman dressed as a Geisha.

Co-host Gucci Westman dressed as a Geisha.

Fast forward exactly a year later and New York finally got the answers to its macaron prayers when a tiny replica shop opened on the Upper East Side. I made the pilgrimage to finally sample these famed sandwich cookies with the hefty flavor and price tag and found they were indeed worth the wait. Biting into a Laduree macaron is like biting into a slice of heaven, worth every penny of the nearly three dollars you will spend on one. The tiny shop did so well that the company opened a full tea salon and restaurant in SOHO in February of 2014. It now has a line to get in reminiscent of the Paris shop.

Alas, no lines for my family the night of the party, as we went in through posh kids’ clothing shop Bonpoint which neighbors the tea salon at 398 W Broadway. Upon entering we were handed floral Bonpoint shopping bags with their glittery logo emblazoned on the fronts. These were used for the children to gather treats passed around on silver platters and glass candy jars. The gardens, transformed into a spooky themed space, had pumpkin decorating stations and a face painting table. A hay maze only big enough for the pint sized was the centerpiece. My sons went in and told me they saw a spider inside, “but it wasn’t real mommy,” they assured me, full on aware of my arachnophobia.

While the children enjoyed  macarons and freshly made merengue and marshmallow candies, adults enjoyed champagne passed on silver trays. When I first entered I found myself standing next to Ms. Stewart. Having a friend who works high up in her company I shamelessly name dropped and we began to chat, only to be interrupted by a crying child at our feet. Stewart cooed at the little girl, asking if she was okay.  A familiar voice began apologizing profusely, “Oh I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”. The voice belonged to Drew Barrymore, whose daughter cried most of the party (maybe she was scared of that spider.)

My son enjoys a puppet show in Bonpoint.

My son enjoys a puppet show in Bonpoint.

Later on I ended up next to Stewart again during a puppet show in the back room of Bonpoint. It was quite crowded and the two of us got jostled throughout the entire performance. At one point she tapped me on the shoulder to share with me something funny her three year-old grandson had just said. Meanwhile my son had the loudest laugh in the crowd. Both my sons, blissfully unaware of the kind of company they were in, had a blast. That’s what this party was about…the children, and whether celebrity children, or the offspring of regular folks like me, kids are just kids. Gucci Westman’s daughter was looking for her mom, Barrymore’s was still crying…celebrity or not, we all seem to have the same “mom problems.”

As the party wrapped up I stopped into a little hut at the front of Bonpoint for a tarot reading by veteran psychic consultant Tarot by Dante , who has advised major brands for over 30 years. After some good news about my husband’s career and my kids taking on more responsibilities around the house, it was back to Laduree for our little family to have some dinner (reservations are recommended, which we made online during the puppet show.) As we exited we were handed the familiar  mint and gold Laduree bags containing Halloween themed boxes of macarons (which I have hidden from the rest of my family as these are to be savored and not inhaled overnight.)

It was a fantastic evening, and one I will never forget. After all, my tweet of the evening sums it up:


Designer Michelle Rene’ Thinks in Pink


By Tara Cushing (@TheBravoBlonde)

When people think New York Fashion Week, they think of lofty, often sterile feeling, event spaces with lines of chairs. For Michelle Rene’s pink themed fall fashion show, the Pennsylvania based designer went a different route. Off the beaten path, it felt kind of like an Off-Broadway NYFW production, but upon entering the venue it made perfect sense. In a bar appropriately named Stitch that bore a large Singer sewing machine over the door, Rene’s models (whom she affectionately calls her “girls”) strolled a long path down a spiral staircase to that giant sized Singer and back, to music that sounded like a compilation right from my favorite Pandora station (dreamy, melodic, chick music…think JES). The girls, all different sizes and skin tones (Rene’ prides herself on showcasing “real women”), may not have looked anything alike, but they all had one very obvious thing in common. Each one was wearing pink. Rene’s latest collection is an homage to breast cancer awareness. Read on to find out more about (and see) this very special group of gowns, created by a very special woman.

TBB: What was your inspiration for this collection?

MR: Well, basically this collection was inspired by my belief in educating others about breast cancer awareness. I really wanted to do something that was fun and playful and, of course, pink. I’m hoping that the images and the gowns will help bring some awareness. I think (breast cancer) education is a priority. There’s a lot of (research) going on in finding a cure,  but I think the general public really needs to be educated about the dangers, the signs, and what they can do.

TBB: Have you, yourself, had experience with breast cancer?

MR: Yes, I have. I am a survivor for many years now. When I was very young I had a lumpectomy, so I’ve been battling it for quite some time. I’ve met some wonderful people along my journey. I’m inspired when I think about the friends that I have and the friends that I’ve lost, and the friends that I’m still going to meet. All that keeps me going.

TBB: Your dresses are very feminine. Who are some of the other designers that have inspired you?

MR: That’s a tough question to answer, because it really isn’t another designer or a genre. I’m inspired by the fabric. The way it moves, the way it talks to me, and the emotions it brings to me. It’s hard for me to pick just one designer because I love all the designers. Designers are just amazing people. The first designer that really caught my eye would have to be Betsey (Johnson). She’s kind of like my secret crush.

TBB: Your dresses are very beautiful and they are really special. What types of events do you see the pieces from this collection being worn to?

MR: I think they can be worn to any event. I think my esthetic is not about the dress itself. I think one of the things that irritates me the most is when someone comes up to one of my models or a client and says, ‘Oh my God that’s a beautiful dress.” I don’t want them to see the dress, I want them to see the woman wearing it. I want them to see how confident, how beautiful, and how poised she is. I think clothing has a great deal to do with that. When you look good and you’re confident in what you wear it just shows through. When people see my designs, or they see a client or a bride I love hearing them say (to the wearer) ‘YOU look so beautiful!’

TBB: How long does it take to put a collection like this together?

MR: It takes months. I will sit down and start something and then I will Tim Gunn myself. I go into my studio and I tear it all apart, and then I put it all back together. So anywhere from four to six months, but my wheels are constantly turning. I mean right now as I look at the (models) in everything I’m already thinking of next February, I’m thinking of Spring Fashion Week.

TBB: What color palette will you be leaning towards then?

MR: I think I really want to do something with blues and greens. Even though I know I’m supposed to be designing for the fall, you know Spring Fashion Week is all about the fall designs, I still can’t help but design for in the moment.

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To learn more about Michelle Rene’ and her designs follow her on Twitter and Instagram @michellerene5 .

Photos courtesy of Michelle Rene’ designs via Christopher Hann of Liquid Canvas Studios.