Quick and Easy Home-Made Veggie Rinse

Nature's BountyAt the time of this post, more than half the country is dealing with more snow than they know what to do with, as well as bitterly cold temperatures. We here in California are thankfully spared all of that although we could use some rain. But soon enough, the snows will melt, the sun will once again turn up the volume and market stands and supermarkets will be bursting with colorful, healthy produce.

I love using as many “whole” fruits and vegetables whenever I can; I don’t like resorting to frozen or canned. (I do freely admit that I use certain convenience items like frozen artichoke hearts, but that’s because I really, really do not like preparing those things). The picture above was taken sometime during the summer of 2014 and is typical of what I use over the course of a few meals.

But with fresh produce often comes fresh dirt and, if they’re right off the farms or truly organic, you might find a few “hitchhikers” of the 6- or 8-legged variety tucked in there as well. And who hasn’t worried about the pesticides that might be lurking on that perfect-10 of an apple?

The answer is veggie wash, not a particularly new product but one that is very effective in removing dirt, waxes and other residues. I used to buy the stuff pre-made but last year I read about and tried a home-made version that’s just as effective and costs much less. So in preparation for the summer that WILL COME, I promise :-)  here is the recipe for a quick and effective fruit and veggie wash:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  1. Add the ingredients in the order listed to a medium-sized mixing bowl/pitcher with a lip. Be careful when adding in the vinegar as it will foam up. I do this in the sink for obvious reasons.
  2. Stir gently to combine and to dissolve the salt.
  3. Pour into a spray bottle.

Alternatively, you can just add the ingredients to the spray bottle and slosh slowly back and forth to mix, but I find that everything gets mixed up better if I do the 2-step process.

To use, spray liberally on produce, and let it soak for 3-5 minutes.Then rinse off with cold water. You can use a brush if desired on more firm-skinned items like potatoes, cucumbers, carrots and so on.

Enjoy!

The Top Nine Reasons Why Bloggers Abandon Their Blogs

I watched an old movie on TV last night. There was a scene where the main character was walking through a house that had obviously been closed up for some time. She walked carefully through the dusty rooms with their shrouded furniture, gently lifting up the white cloths that covered the pieces and peering underneath. Liking what she saw, she purchased the place and a few scenes later she was uncovering the furniture, opening the windows and breathing life back into her new home.

And so it is that I return to the scene of my blog, dusty and covered up these many months. I never expected that almost two years would elapse before I posted something, anything here, but as you can see that is exactly what happened. In my defense, I started jotting down a list of reasons why I hadn’t written and they were, well, rather lame reasons. But that could probably be said for a lot of excuses people come up with for why they quit their exercise routine, diet, class, marriage or whatever. Excuses are usually pretty flimsy.

For me, returning to full time work took away so much of my free time that I found it very difficult to sit down to write anything coherent after a long day on my feet. My days off seemed to fly by, and well… I should stop now. Like I just said, excuses ARE pretty flimsy.

So here are what I believe to be the top nine reasons why people abandon their blogs. Got any more?

1 Less free time for blogging – A new job, a new baby, going back to school – there are dozens of obligations and tasks that can be added to your list of time demands. If something is truly important, you make time for it. If you’re trying to finish your degree so you can get a better-paying job, then you’re going to want to devote as much time as possible to your studies. Writing about the latest hot video game, or finding innovative ways to decorate your home on a budget, while fun to do, end up slipping down a few spaces on the “must-do” list.

2. Accessibility issues – Connecting to the internet from home means you need an internet service provider.  Not all areas of the country enjoy perfect service; interruptions and speed can vary greatly. Maybe you moved and your service options aren’t as reliable as before. Sometimes your internet access becomes more restricted because the boss is watching how much time you’re on its. Or maybe you’re not able to give everyone in your family their own laptop, and so you have to share your computer with your spouse or kids.

3. Nothing more to say – It could be the hottest topic being discussed today, but if you believe you’ve said all you need to or want to, then it makes sense to just step away for the time being. You can always decide later to resurrect your blog with a different focus, or even start a new one.

4. Illness – Sometimes, you’re just too sick or upset to write.

5. Afraid of commentary – Sharing your thoughts and opinions with the world via a blog can be a lot of fun; as your blog grows in popularity, you can expect comments to come in from a wide variety of readers. However, there are jerks out there who just love to post derogatory or annoying comments. Maybe you took a strong view about a currently hot political topic. If going to your blog has become an unpleasant chore, then it’s understandable why you wouldn’t want to post any more.

6. Blog no longer relevant – Perhaps you were writing a diary about your travels in another state or country. Maybe you were blogging about your journey through a particular period in your life, such as the arrival of your first or latest child, or how you’re coping with caring for aged parents, or your own battle with cancer. Perhaps you have been a successful “mommy blogger” whose children are now grown. Once the main purpose for the blog is no longer relevant, sometimes the best thing to do is just retire it.

7. Company went out of business – This is another fairly obvious and common reason for blog death. When the company is gone, there’s nothing left to promote or blog about.

8. Expense issues – There are some costs to maintaining your own blog: you have to host the blog on a server someplace; there are charges for software, virus protection and various other optional services; you may even have to purchase new hardware to replace outdated or stolen hardware. Plus, there’s the ongoing cost for internet service. When times get tough, the expenses for a fun time blog that doesn’t contribute much (or anything) to the family income often wind up on the chopping block.

9. Boredom – There’s no question that blogging has become very hot; just about anyone can have a blog and start a conversation with the world. Maybe you jumped into the fray and have discovered that it’s just not you – you’re no longer motivated to keep posting.

My own reasons are a combination of several of these. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter why you stopped blogging. What only matter is, if you want to do it again, DO IT!

So here I am again. I’ve got things I want to say, so stay tuned!

When White Walls Work

As an interior designer, I have seen the inside of many, many homes over the past ten years. In addition to the layout of the rooms, I was always intrigued to see the choices of colors used on the walls. In many case, this could be summed up in one word: white. And this wasn’t because these were brand-new homes freshly painted top to bottom in builder’s white. No, a lot of these homes were well-lived in. Big, dark, puffy worn-out furniture, beige carpet and white or off-white walls. Or small-scale furniture, a plethora of oak tables and cabinets, an eighties color palette and… more white walls. As part of my design service, I would always present a new color plan for the walls to complement the new furniture and accessories. A good portion of my clients bought into the complete vision and painted their rooms,  but there were hold-outs. People who were downright afraid to paint their walls.

After awhile, I began to see why they were hesitant, or remained convinced that they should keep their walls white. It’s not too difficult to find white walls featured in magazines, articles and showrooms; those without a design background could misinterpret this as a sign that white still worked with everything. It doesn’t, but there are lots of instances where it is the right choice for that particular room.

So if you fear color or just love white walls, here are some design ideas and themes that are complemented by white walls.

1. Nautical-themed roomNavy and white has always been a dynamite color combo for many things, not just rooms: business and casual clothing for men and women,  automobiles, boats and of course, uniforms. In this room, the shades of blue balance out the crisp, stark white on the walls. Medium tones are provided by the wood floors, end tables, the ottoman and the woven shades. And look at all the different textures! It’s nautical, but not overdone.

The beach-house vibe is also perfect for this look. That plaid rug is a bold choice that is balanced out by the coffered ceiling, and laying it on the diagonal keeps the room from feeling too boxed-in. Again, notice how textural elements are quite at home in this room.

 

This attic bedroom illustrates another variation on the theme of blue and white rooms. Far from being dark and dreary, the white walls, ceiling and beams create a charming and open feel to the room. Subtle details in artwork and accessories add visual interest without being obtrusive; as does the open-sided nightstand.

2. Cottage looks – The term “shabby chic” has been replaced by  “cottage,” but the meaning is the same – these rooms feature worn finishes and fabrics, repurposed items and mismatched accessories. Wall colors are often light, making white a great option. These rooms derive a lot of their interest from the accessories – plants and floral arrangements, collectibles, artwork and so on. Keeping the walls and furniture light in color allows the jumble of unrelated items to feel right at home. But that doesn’t mean cottage rooms have to either a) look like they belong at the beach, b) be pale and boring or c) look like grandma has moved in. Check out this lively green and white cottage-style room: White serves as an anchor to the wide variety of colors, textures and wood tones in this room; any other wall color would push it over the edge into looking “too busy.”

3. Children’s rooms – Actually, children’s rooms are the one area in the house where you can break all of the color rules. Which is a good thing, considering how a lot of young girls love pink and purple. Keeping the walls white makes it easier for you to change design themes fairly quickly, going from princess or superhero to stylish and studious teen by just swapping out the bedding and accessories, stowing the toys and expanding the work areas.

4. Muted and elegant – On the other end of the spectrum from beachy, dreamy and cottage-y are rooms that ooze elegance from the tips of their crystal chandeliers to the end of their fringed velvet pillows. Understated and elegant rooms wear white walls equally well because they rely on the same elements – accessories, wood tones and textures – to unite the room and make it work. Lilac, taupe, gray or celadon could be used instead of blue in this room- it would look just as rich and would keep that sophisticated look.

4. Ultra modern – A lot of people think that white is the only choice for a modern room. I don’t agree at all – many modern rooms thoroughly wake up when color is applied to the walls. If you have a modern room and you want white walls, guess what? How you use accent colors, artwork, plants and textures is very important because the furniture in the room is more likely to be clean-lined, and less likely to impart a textural or visual interest than say a carved antique. See how these rooms all feature white walls and modern furniture, yet still look comfortable enough to sit down. Colors other than neutrals are used sparingly, if at all. All three rooms are shown with neutral area rugs; adding a print or patterned rug would also work. It all depends on the look one is trying to achieve.

5. Eclectic rooms – Contrary to popular belief, “eclectic” doesn’t mean “just throw it all together and it will work”. Eclectic just means ideas, styles or tastes derived from a broad and diverse range of choices. These rooms fit that definition quite well:

By painting the brick white to match the walls, and then hanging a white chandelier, these objects add just enough interest without overwhelming. Red bricks and a metal chandelier would have made the room feel too crowded. The white loveseat in the second room virtually disappears into the wall, allowing the neutral tones to take center stage.

Unadorned windows and a fabulous view add to the third room; the wire patio chairs are a fun touch that serve a purpose – additional seating – without adding bulk.

In the final room, the dark, modern table and sleek sofa align with the dark wood floor; the view out the open doors adds texture and natural elements.

By now you should see how important it is to look at all the elements of a room before settling on a wall color. Keep this in mind when changing the look of a room in your home. Create a folder of pictures and ideas that you like, and take it along when you shop for furniture and accessories. Many retailers offer complimentary design services with the purchase of their furniture; this is an excellent way to get the input of a professional.

As you can see, there are many places where white is a perfectly acceptable choice for you wall color. I didn’t even touch on kitchens and bathrooms which can also look wonderful in white. The bottom line, if there is one, is to avoid harshness. Huge, dark  “man-cave” furniture does not look good against white walls; you need more warmth to carry all of that darkness, especially if it’s leather furniture. (Hint: try gold, mustard or darker neutrals).

Your turn! Stumped on what color to paint your room or wrestling with another design challenge? Got a good story to tell about your remodeling experience? Let me know!

Hats Off to My Cancer-Warrior

Back in January I posted about my husband’s cancer surgery on the date of our first anniversary. It’s hard to believe that was almost four months ago, and five months since we found out he had squamous cell cancer of the throat, specifically the base of the tongue. Here’s a summary of our journey:

  1. December 7, 2011 – first learned about the cancer.
  2. January 16, 2012 – surgery to remove the cancer on the tongue.
  3. February 10  – surgery to remove the cancerous lymph nodes.
  4. March 13 – surgery to implant a PEG feeding tube in his stomach.
  5. March 15 – first of 30 radiation sessions.
  6. April 25 – last radiation session.

Today I decided it was time to write about my cancer-warrior. I won’t say this has been an easy journey, far from it. But he has been surprisingly upbeat overall. I think the darkest times were right after he came home from the first surgery. For a man who has been very healthy for 65 years, being weak, unable to eat or sleep or speak properly… it was a real shock to the system. He said he felt like a 65-year-old man.

Right now, he’s out getting his hair cut. He likes being able to reconnect with things from LBC (Life Before Cancer), like hopping in the car, driving over to Pleasanton and seeing the same gal who’s been cutting his hair for the past 18 years. Yes, he needs a quick nap after getting home, but the main point is he’s getting out. He’s not moping around the house singing “woe is me.” He’s even been doing the lawn-mowing for the past few weeks. So what if he needs two days to do what he used to do in an afternoon. He’ll get back to that point.

We’ve been very lucky, both of us, to have had excellent health for so long. True, we eat well but as anyone would tell you that’s not enough these days. We’re not big fans of exercise, either; his is done with a lawn mower and mine is done with a vacuum cleaner. (OK now – you can get your minds out of the gutter!) I have a roll-up exercise mat and hand weights, I know I should do more, but….

So this has been a bit of a wake-up call to both of us. To realize we really do only have so much time here on this particular planet, and it’s best not to waste it.

So hat’s off to Jim, my cancer-warrior, for putting up with all the crap slung his way for the past five months!! Now all we have to do is get him back to eating real food and get that dang feeding tube removed. I’ll be sure to post when that happens.

The 21-Banana Salute

I was raised by parents who grew up during the Depression. “Waste not, want not,” and “use it up, wear it out, make it do” were the rules at my house. As such, I’ve come to regard the wasting of food as something to be avoided at all costs. I’ve concocted some pretty amazing dishes from drips and drabs of leftover meats, starches (potatoes, pasta or rice) and weary-looking vegetables, held together with the basics – olive oil and spices, and maybe a grating of cheese.

So when the caregiver we have for my mother-in-law informed me of her banana overload, I naturally said yes. Her son works in the produce department for a local grocery store and the employees are allowed to take home produce that is past its peak. Good idea; again – I can’t bear the thought of good food being tossed out. This was on a Friday; by the time Monday rolled around for her next visit, I’d completely forgotten about it. That is, until she handed me a large plastic bag full of these dark and glistening curved objects.

Oh. My. God.

Yep – she had FROZEN the bananas! She doesn’t cook much, and I guess she didn’t know the rule that you don’t ever refrigerate or freeze bananas with their peels still on. I stared at the bag on my counter. Some of the bananas had already started to thaw. The clock was ticking.

I counted – 21 bananas. TWENTY-ONE! My go-to banana bread recipe uses only two bananas, and I didn’t have the time nor the right number of foil pans to make 10 breads. I ran my hand over the pile of bananas in the bag. The thawed ones were becoming very mushy. Whatever remained at the end of the day would have to be thrown away, there was no getting around it. I thumped my head  – THINK!  It would have been easier to deal with them if they hadn’t been frozen …. wait a minute! The freezer!

I rummaged through my stack of containers and selected three of the right size, then chose a dozen of the bananas and began to peel. It was interesting, to say the least. The peels were disintegrating and I had to be sure to pull all the fibers off the fruit itself, which had started to take on a brownish hue. They did not look very good at all. All it took was a sample bite to convince me to keep going – it tasted like a creamy banana pudding. Yum! These suckers were worth saving.

I proceeded to whirl up the 12 bananas in the blender, four at a time, and divided the puree among the three containers. Into the freezer they went; nine more bananas remained. Another six were whirled up in the blender and poured into a container that went into the fridge – that would be for smoothies for the next couple of days. Finally, I adjusted my banana bread recipe to account for the third banana (ha!) and baked two lovely banana breads. Whew! All saved!

Do you know what happens to banana puree in the fridge? The same thing that happens to a banana in the freezer – it turns DARK BROWN. Seriously, when I got the tub of puree out of the fridge the next day, it looked exactly like a rich beef gravy. Hmm. Once again, all it took was a taste to convince me that color aside, this was delicious, fresh-tasting banana puree. I stirred it up (most of the dark color was on top) and made a wonderful smoothie. I finished it Wednesday.

I guess I know why companies that make banana-flavored items favor the use of artificial banana – that color was a bit off-putting at first. I’m looking forward to thawing out the tubs of puree that are in the freezer for future breads and smoothies.

So the next time you’re looking at a pile of bananas turning chocolate brown before your eyes, just peel ‘em and blenderize ‘em!

 

 

The Conspicuous Color Drain

It was over a year ago that I got the first inkling that there was something going on in the world of residential interiors. I had just received a new edition of the Restoration Hardware catalog, and it weighed as much as a New York phone book. This was far more than just a “catalog,” this was a design style guide much like you would find in such furniture-and-more stores like Ethan Allen, Thomasville and Bassett. Page after page of stylized interiors beckoned and tantalized that you, too, Mr. or Mrs. Average, could have a room (or a whole house) that looked like it belonged in the tony enclaves of Hillsborough, San Francisco, Palo Alto or even Paris. As in France, not Idaho. (I have nothing against Idaho, it’s a lovely, refreshing place. Just not a place one thinks of to find $13,000 leather sofas).

Yes, the pieces were striking and in many cases unlike anything I’d seen in other similar establishments. But there was one obvious theme that presented itself in these hundreds of pages – there was no color. Now before you throw brickbats at me, I mean color in the sense of rainbow colors – reds, blues, greens, etc. There was none. Just every possible shade of white, cream, beige, taupe, gray, silver, graphite, tan, brown and black. The rooms even lacked plants, something that I consider a faux pas. Greenery brings life to a room, and would have improved the overall look of many of these pages. (Note to Restoration Hardware magazine people: I mean it. Investigate. Ask. And then fix this is upcoming issues). Multiple textures made these rooms far from boring, and with the exception of no plants, they were amazingly beautiful. You could find luxurious velvets, supple leathers, worn woods, gleaming metals, sparkling glass and rough jutes in nearly every photograph. The textures made the rooms interesting. I kept the catalog with the rest of my design books; this was definitely one to keep for future client projects.

It was about two months ago when I finally put it all together and realized that it was more than just one retailer’s vision. Right on schedule, Restoration sent me the next version of their book. Same idea, some revisions and new pieces. (No plants yet…) But by then I had received other catalogs, including Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, as well as picked up a number of style magazines and periodicals.

What I saw was neutrals …  times 10 to the 10th power.

My two deep red sofas in the living room are very distraught; they believe that their species has been hunted into extinction. Maybe they’re right, but at least I saw color being used, although in a much more subdued way. Among the taupe fabrics, dark leathers, cream walls and simple, stripped-down fireplaces were jolts of color in the form of fabulous pillow, beautiful floral arrangements (yay!), rugs and window coverings. But rather than being two or even three coordinating colors, this was either monochromatic, washed-out or color-blocked.

Here’s what I mean:

  1. Monochromatic:  I’m sure most of you know this one – it means one color theme in the room. Shades of the one select color are often used, so that it doesn’t look odd or boring. This has always been a popular design choice because it’s hard to mess it up, but it’s changed somewhat over the years. I’m seeing the larger pieces stay neutral while the accents and windows pick up the color.
  1. Washed-out:  Pastels fall into this category, as does the use of color that is faded out or just plain worn. Think cottage looks. “Cottage” seems to be the new, more accepted form of what used to be called “shabby chic.” Love it or hate it, you have to admit cottage rooms look comfortable. They’re places where you don’t have to worry about using coasters, where dings in the furniture won’t cause panic attacks and the pets can get on furniture without fear. Note: The slip covered sofa is the de rigueur piece; I have to chuckle because so many folks think these covers are machine-washable. Trust me, the good ones are NOT. They need to be professionally cleaned to maintain their shape and integrity. There’s no residential washer that I know of that can thoroughly wash a large, sofa-sized structured slipcover, not even in a Laundromat. If you need this sort of cover due to babies, incontinent pets or other such situations, use bed sheets, tucked in where necessary. Seriously. Sew two together for larger pieces.
  1. Color-blocked: These are the fun, vibrant rooms where the colors are anything but faded. Two or more colors are used, but only on accents or small pieces. You’ll find acid yellow and plum purple pillows, and a big vase of colorful flowers on the coffee table. Or turquoise, orange and hot pink against a backdrop of cool white walls and slip covered pieces, again in white or cream.

Personally, I like the change. As a designer, it can be downright difficult to coordinate and balance a room full of demanding colors. Those “Tuscan” and “French country” rooms that I did a few years ago took a lot of time, and required the review and study of many colors and fabrics to get the look right. This is going to be much easier, especially for those folks who are “scared” of color. Select one or two colors to be used in smaller amounts, and then focus on getting a good mix of neutrals in different shades and textures to complete your room. It’s still going to take time, and the help of a trained eye is still worth it, but these looks are going to be more approachable by the masses.

Stuck on a room? Tell me your challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

Quinoa – What It Is and Why You Should Be Eating It

It’s pronounced KEEN-wah, and it’s name is quinoa. And it’s VERY hot right now, showing up in a lot of restaurants, recipes and healthy-eating articles.

What the heck is it, you ask?

It’s an ancient grain, dating back over 5000 years to the time of the Incas in South America. It contains more high-quality protein than any other grain, and is the only grain that provides all the essential amino acids. It is gluten-free, to boot.  It looks like a cross between couscous and tapioca – round little spheres. Here’s what it looks like cooked:

I tasted some at a wine-pouring event last summer. It was served in a tasting cup with a slice of tri-tip, and it was delicious!  I’m a big fan of healthy eating, so I bought a box and made it one evening, to be served with a pork roast and some vegetables.

My family loves a side dish of plain rice (jasmine, basmati or brown) seasoned with just butter, salt and pepper. No icky rice mixes from a box. (Well, one exception that my 88-year old mother in law loves. I make an exception for her). The subtle flavors add a nice contrast to the main dish and vegetables or salad that accompanies the meal. I fixed the quinoa just like that – cooked up and added some salt, butter and a dusting of garlic powder.

I took a bite and ….. was rather underwhelmed. It seemed bland even though I had seasoned it. It was okay, but in my house, “okay” usually means no repeat visit. Sigh. It just didn’t move me. Drat. I had such high hopes.

I had made enough to create leftovers, so I decided to make a cold pilaf. We don’t throw away perfectly good food here even if it is a little less than spectacular. I added olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar, chopped cucumber, red pepper, red onion, and a sprinkling of feta cheese.

WOW! :-) It was amazingly good! I thought back to the tri-tip and quinoa tasting bite at the wine pouring event – it wasn’t served hot, either.

So that’s how I plan to keep this amazing grain in my food rotation. It gives me another way to do a hot-weather meal besides a pasta-based salad, and it provides way more protein and doesn’t need any mayonnaise to taste great. I can also serve it as a side dish instead of potato salad.

Check out quinoa today!!

My Husband’s Cancer Diary

My husband, Jim, is currently undergoing treatment for squamous cell cancer of the mouth as a result of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). We have decided to document our journey with a blog. Here is the address:

www.radiationroad.blogspot.com

Please pass on this address to anyone you know who might be suffering from squamous cell cancer of the mouth caused by HPV. We are going to do our best to document every day of radiation treatments, which started today, March 15, 2012.

They say shared experiences can be a powerful thing. We hope that by documenting our journey, we might help others who are having to deal with it. Just to know there’s someone else out there dealing with the same thing can be helpful.

We will try to respond to any questions and/or comment on the blog as quickly as possible. To all those other there is cyberspace suffering from cancer of any kind, we send you our most sincere wishes for a speedy recovery.

One Plus One Equals a Litter

Update on my new little guy, Angus…

The neutering went well, the tapeworm (ick! ick! ick!) is gone and he’s settling into a nice routine. He’s so friendly, everyone loves him. Well, except Tabitha, but I wasn’t expecting miracles.

It wasn’t until I saw him sitting very close to a neighborhood kitty on my front porch that the bells went off. This little girl kitty has a home; she just likes to wander and nibble out of  the various food bowls, which is making her fatter and …

Oh. My. God.

Yep – little Munchkin (my name for her. Her real name is Muneca or something like that. It’s Spanish. I cannot pronounce it) is preggers. If I had any doubts, they were quashed today. Her little belly is lumpy and I’ve seen those types of lumps before.

I feel so guilty and yet this probably happened before Angus even ventured into my yard. Remember my first post on Angus, on how I was curious what kind of genetics would come into play if he ever sired any litters?

Guess I’m about to find out. I don’t even know if the neighbors know she’s expecting. I want to go over there but they’re kind of a rough-looking bunch.

Stay tuned for updates. By my guess, she’ll be due right around April 1st.

The War of the ‘Hoses

I really love Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. So far, everything she has worn out in public has been beautiful, flattering to her slim figure, and – on several occasions – items that the average person can quickly go buy for themselves off the rack. (Provided they move quickly, as these items often sell out within HOURS of being worn). Ya just gotta love her mix of designer duds with more common clothes. And I’m not the only one – there has been a lot written about how elegant and comfortable she has looked no matter what she was wearing. As far as I recall, she hasn’t had a really bad fashion faux pas yet, and that includes her footwear. It’s like everyone just loves everything she wears.

But I wonder if she’s aware that she’s about to start and international war among women.

I’m talking about …. pantyhose. In case you didn’t notice, Duchess Kate wears nude-colored pantyhose with her dresses. Most likely this is because of her position within English society: as a royal, one must look the part and keep a degree of modesty about oneself. It could also be because she likes them, no one has really asked her as far as I know. But I bring it up because here she is, getting universal wows on her outfits, all the while wearing barely-visible hose.

“Love that dress!” ” What a great color!” “I would wear that!”

Then I point out the pantyhose and it’s like the woman suddenly was drowning kittens.

“ACK! No WAY!” “How subservient!” “Bet they make her wear ‘em!” “TACKY!” “Old-fashioned!” “PRUDISH!”

Are we talking about the same woman?

Somewhere along the line, pantyhose became a permanent resident on the “OUT” list right next to girdles and chastity belts, and I fail to understand why. Let me first start by saying that yes, I wear pantyhose. And not just to my yearly visit to church. I wear them anytime I put on a skirt or dress unless I am on vacation, and the skirt or dress in question is light, billowy and gauzy. They give a slight blush of color to my pale legs (Don’t even suggest bronzers. I’ve tried. I’m allergic to ALL of them). They hold in whatever needs holding in. They keep my shoes from sticking to my feet. People – what’s not to like here?

I can give a pass to the younger crowd. I was one of you once, before the knee scars from cycling, the varicose veins and the 20 pounds that permanently live on my hips. And I know that there is a small portion of women aged 30+ who can still pull off the bare-leg look. Most of them either live in Hollywood or spend money on their bodies like they lived in Hollywood.

But the rest of us? Um, in a word… NO.  Look, it’s just two wispy scraps of nylon or polyester with a Spanx-like panty. You love Spanx, right? So what’s the big deal? I KNOW it’s important for women to be authoritative, bold, career-minded, determined, energetic, fashionable, a go-getter (I could go all the way to Z but you get the idea). I just don’t see how pantyhose makes you a doormat. Despite the witch hunts in the 70’s, bras survived the burnings at the stake and now make Victoria’s Secret executives very wealthy. Women love bras so much these days that they like to show them off, peeking out from low-cut tops and tanks. For the record, most of that looks good. So why the pantyhose protest? Not comfortable, you say? Uh-huh. Show me a ultra-padded, lace-trimmed, sequin-encrusted push-up that is comfortable. Bottom line – if you’re in a skirted suit for business, you need hose. Make ‘em dark opaque tights if you want, but you need hose. Period. It looks totally unprofessional otherwise.

Catherine’s bold fashion choice has inspired classic hose manufacturers like L’eggs and No Nonsense to ramp up their advertising. I saw a TV add for L’eggs over the holidays – classy and nice. I didn’t see anything to remind me of June Cleaver or the Dark Ages.

I challenge you to experiment. Go get yourself a pair of nude colored hose. They won’t set you back more than $5 or $6. That’s just two Starbuck’s Frappie-Machio-somethings. Then wear them out to your next dressy occasion. Spring is coming … you’re going to a wedding, shower or graduation…wear them. See what happens.

If you truly hate them, you can always cut the legs off, put 3 tennis balls in a leg, tie off the cut end and give it to the dog for a toy.