Find Your Passion at the Ocean Reef Club

the duPont Registry September 20015

At the apex of the Florida Keys, 112 miles north of Key West's carnival and 65 miles south of Miami, the world is set at bay.

Arriving by car, the 2500 acres of the Ocean Reef Club lie hidden off Card Sound Road, as you approach the land of Bogie and Bacall, Key Largo.

Surrounded by water and directly on the Atlantic, residents are as likely to sail in, or land a private jet on the 4,000 foot airstrip.

Sixty years ago this was a single family's retreat. Today it's a sublimely private, self-contained town, with fourteen restaurants, fashionable shops, a food market, a medical clinic, an inn for visitors, and a cultural center where superstars like Liza Minelli and Tony Bennett have head-lined.

"This is by no means a retirement community," says Richard Weinstein, the Ocean Reef Club's VP of membership and marketing.  "The vast majority are still employed, and the semi-retired are actively involved on corporate or non-profit boards of directors."

It's multigenerational, adds Paul Bobik, president of the Club's real estate company. "You have members who've owned homes for thirty-plus years and now their children and grandchildren are purchasing."

A private school serves students through eighth grade, either full-time or drop-in for extended family breaks, and twenty camps include cooking, diving, and beach volleyball.

Surrounded by water, there's world-class fishing, and sailing, and heavenly diving at Pennecamp Park. On land, there two championship golf-courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, the beach, a fabulous spa, and an endless variety of clubs for every pleasure. Delightfully, the favored mode of transportation is the golf cart.

Homes range from palatial oceanfront estates, to marina villas and condominiums, to boat slips for the live-aboard set. Single family home prices begin at $1,000,000, condos from $500,000, and docks from $200,000. 

Club membership is separate and social memberships are available.

Mother of the Bride Chronicles, Part 3: Wither the Wonder Bra



 I’M JUST GOING OUT to buy a bra. So why do I feel like I’m headed for a colonoscopy?

Being firmly, though not so much anymore, of the braless generation, I am not totally unfamiliar with undergarments. But the only bra I possess of the non-sports variety (a modest concession to time and gravity) is a hot pink push-up number purchased 20 years ago.

It’s in pristine condition but just won’t suit my Mother of the Bride Dress, a black gown with a rhinestone doodad closing the faux wrap front. It’s a heavyweight jersey and as close as I could get to pajamas.
While The Bride breathed a sigh of relief that I selected something other than black pants, she pointed out that the visible combination of back lines from my ancient bra and the top edge of the essential Spanx just would not do, even if I spent the evening with my back against the wall.

How can this be?! I have no back fat! Whereforth do I bulge? While my thighs and midsection might be well-larded, I have a fine back, or so I’m told by my princely husband. I don’t spend much time looking at it so I gratefully take his word.

But, apparently, if the poitrine, as they so glamorously call it in French, is not hoisted, I look like a Renaissance painting of a mother in waiting. You know the ones, with the hands demurely clasped above the swollen belly–just add jowls, and a scowl.

My friend Kathleen swears that a proper brassiere is a life-altering experience. Make it one of those body-shapers, as they’re so coyly called (a girdle? Heaven forbid!) and the abdominal swelling will be magically diminished as my breasts proudly rise. Clothing will hang sveltely and line-free. I will be magnificent.

So we are off to Nordstrom at Tysons Corner, which has, Kathleen says, the mother lode of foundation garments. A storage room so vast, she assures me, that various hoists and compression agents are stacked floor to ceiling–she caught a glimpse of it one day when the door was left ajar.
Alas, Nordstrom disappoints. While there are lovely, lacy, dainty items in abundance, the selection for the (oh lord) matron is lacking.

Now, let’s be perfectly clear: I am not fat. I am, in fact, still several sizes below the Average American Woman. But getting into the available body-shapers was like stuffing a sausage casing. How are they supposed to get on, anyway? I tried pulling one over my head and my arms were jammed into my ears. A full-length number got stuck between my knees and my hips.

Two gorgeous bustiers were a total bust, even with a foot-on-the-rear maneuver by Kathleen trying to get the little hooks latched. Even if it fitted I’d require a lady’s maid.

By then, I was beyond shame. Kathleen and the saleswoman were no longer speaking to me; they consulted each other as they stripped one thing off and pulled on another, then headed off for larger sizes. Larger Sizes!

On I struggled, staring at the mirror in misery, pushing this bit of flab here, that bit there, and then noticing in horror the sign on the wall informing me that Nordstrom’s staff monitored the dressing rooms. So I sat in a corner, and pondered my mismatched socks.

Who are these things made for? Anyone who can tug one on can’t possibly need it.

And the ones that fit me? They looked like something my Aunt Ruthie used to fold her pendulous boobs into in the cabana dressing room.

You want mortification? I thought Nordstrom prided itself on its broad array of sizes. I guess that’s just the shoes.

Kathleen finally arrived with a pretty lace thing that would do the job if it were only a bit bigger, and they can order it and I can try it at home, if I can flag someone down in the street to assist with the hooks . . . so I do, and consider myself done.

But I’m not! Macy’s is next. Kathleen is indefatigable in this quest. If she hadn’t towed me out here, I’d have left an hour and a half ago.

Macy’s is, in fact, good! Almost immediately I see something that resembles an armored black tank top with a built-in chest. It goes on, and is not even the largest available size, which could be its greatest selling point besides being 20 percent off. I’m willing to instantly whip out my credit card, though Kathleen insisted I sit and bend and hop around like I’m dancing to make sure it didn’t make a gradual creep up my torso.
It didn’t.

I now almost have two undergarments, but since I’m going on a diet in the morning I’m not removing any tags.
–Stephanie Cavanaugh

Mother of the Bride Chronicles, Part Two. In Which We Try a Four-Minue Facelift

For MyLittleBird.Com

I feel like my face is sucking a lemon.

Per instructions, I’ve pumped two squirts of Allurica Clinical Strength 4 Minute Facelift onto my fingertips and rubbed it in vigorously from chin to nose, then pumped another two to cover my forehead and scowl lines.

Now I’m to sit still and wait for it to completely set and magically lift my face.

Mindy Miller Berg, my pusher, says, “it’s a temporary fix, but there’s nothing like it for special occasions; when you’re going out to dinner or being photographed.”

Special occasion.
Check, check, check . . .

Sounds like a wedding, which I just happen to have coming up, my daughter’s, in fact. On April 18. And, oh man, do I need work.

Before and After with Allurica
Before and after using Allurica
Before and after with Allurica.
If Mindy’s name is familiar, by the way, the 51-year-old New Jersey-based marketing pro, editor, stand-up comedian and sometime photographer underwent a physical and emotional overhaul courtesy of “Today” show  nutritionist Joy Bauer and her Get Fit Club last year.
Mindy tripped across Allurica when a friend asked her to take before and after photos at a conference, and watched as one after another guest slapped on the product and sat in front of the camera. “I finally got up my gumption and tried it. I said, Holy crap! I don’t buy into hype but . . . ”

That’s four minutes of typing, excuse me while I go check my face.

Well, how interesting! The marionette lines that have etched themselves from the corners of my mouth to my chin are gone. My forehead is, I think, 50 percent smoother.

Since Mindy cautioned me not to use anything too heavy or oily, I can now put on moisturizer, BB cream, a little bronzer, mascara, lipstick and, hey . . .

I look a tad tighter, but not plasticized. Better, though not incredible. I could be deluding myself.

Let’s just go and ask my husband’s opinion, although this is frequently a mistake.

Sidling bravely into his office I say, “Honey, does my face look any different?”

“Than what?” He says, looking up from the paperwork he was shuffling about on his desk.
“Than it did yesterday.”

“You’re wearing makeup.”

“It’s not the makeup.”

“I’m not supposed to notice the lipstick?”


“This is a little tricky,” he says warily, suspecting a trap.

“Just be honest. Do you see anything different?”

“You don’t usually have lipstick on in the morning.”

“It’s not the lipstick.”

He studies me in a way he hasn’t studied me in years and says: “You did something to your eyebrows?”

“No, I didn’t do anything to my eyebrows. Do I look at all different?”

“You have color right here,” he says, rubbing the apples of his cheeks.
“Yeah, but it’s not the color.”

“Did you get implants?” (I’m surprised that he says this so calmly)

“No,” I say, resorting to hints. “Does my face look any tighter . . . or less lined?”

“Since yesterday?” A lengthy period of facial study ensues. “Well. Your cheeks look full and firm, is that what I’m supposed to notice?”

“Maybe. How about my forehead?”

“I see furrows in it.”

“Hmmm, okay,” I say with, I guess, a hint of disappointment.

“Was I not supposed to see them?”

“How about my chin?”

“No, I don’t see anything; did I use to see something?”

I laugh a small, aha! laugh and return to my brow. “Do my forehead furrows look the same?”

Another studied pause: “Basically . . . you look less furrowed than you usually do. What is it, an overnight serum?” (He knows from serum since there are bottles of various brands falling off the bathroom shelf.)

“It’s a four-minute facelift.”

“My goodness,” he says. Which in retrospect is an oddly mild reply. Possibly he’s relieved. “So, how long does it last? Four minutes? Walking down the aisle takes longer than that. ” He laughs soundlessly, which for him is uproarious and always an unsettling sight, rather like viewing a silent movie.

Three hours later and the grooves below my mouth are reappearing, although my face still appears softer–like a smear of Old Hollywood Vaseline on the camera lens. Maybe I could make it through the wedding.

Mindy says she sometimes reapplies Allurica to trouble spots a few times a day, but the longer she uses it the less she needs. “You don’t have a lot of time to rest in bitch face. Even though it’s temporary, it’s muscle memory.”

At $90 for a one-month supply, one would hope there was some incremental improvement. Well . . . Mindy says with regular use you retrain your face to–not scrunch so much. Used with Botox, she says, the smoothing effect of that powerful injectible, which usually lasts around three months, is strengthened and prolonged.

The Allurica Clinical Strength 4 Minute Facelift was developed by Gregory Kelly, who brought Dermasilk’s Five-Minute Facelift to market in 1994. Dermasilk is sold for $29.95 on Amazon, and has a 3.7 out of 5 star rating.

Is this four-minute version $61.05 better? I have no idea. Kelly was not available for comment.

Allurica is not yet available in the Washington area, and will be sold only by dermatologists and at spas (like a high-end Mary Kay or Avon). The company is so new that the web page is still in development, but more information and lots of before and after shots are available on Allurica’s Facebook page. And they are quite remarkable (which is how I got sucked into trying it).

“It’s truly revolutionary,” says Mindy, whose experiments with various face firmers border on the heroic. “Nothing else does what this does.”

Perhaps I just need better training, but the only lemon I want to be sucking is at the wedding, in a gin and tonic.
–Stephanie Cavanaugh
More Mother of the Bride struggles coming up soon (before the wedding!).

Designer Tricks that Will Let You See Your Home in a Whole New Light

A supermodel at work -  

Courtesy Theodore's Contemporary Furniture

 A slightly abbreviated version of this piece appeared in the Washington Post Real Estate section

Judith Capen hopped up from the candlelit table and popped on the overhead light. Suddenly, ghoulish shadows appeared beneath her twinkly eyes and wrinkles sprayed cheeks that a second ago seemed cherubic.

"You never want to look into a light source," she said. "Every time you glance up it's the Dracula effect, your eyes look like black holes."

 It's enough to make one scream. One does.

Blame it on the wine.
The author digs a  $10 Ikea spot

It's amazing what lighting can do. Besides making you look more attractive, and dare we say sexier, good lighting can be energizing, focusing, relaxing, or simply illuminating -- accenting the room's best features, minimizing the unsavory, and making your home a more enjoyable living and entertaining space when evening falls.  

With the plethora of lighting gadgets and gizmos available everywhere from Ikea to Amazon to Home Depot and Restoration Hardware, just about any effect is possible, inexpensively and often by dinnertime.

Capen, an award winning architect with Architrave Architects, made her point about overheads. That harsh light, handy as it is for Scrabble, killed the mood and threatened to put an end to a convivial over-dinner conversation

"How do you know an architect designed a space? By the number of wall switches." That's an architect joke, she said.

If Capen was designing a kitchen from scratch, for example, she'd stop the cabinets eight inches from the ceiling, "and have a tube on top so you have enough light to stagger through without tripping over the cat." That would have one switch. Another would operate a brighter fixture for the counter, "so you could see what you're doing with sharp knives." Two more would operate an overhead light and a ceiling fan.   

Instead of walking around the room and turning on lights, or fidgeting with a dimmer, "I'd rather walk to the wall, flip some switches, and be done with it," she said. "I can mix and match and get distinctly different things versus one fixture that goes from light to less bright."
Light at play in the Capen Weinstein home

But most of us are not going to rip out the ceilings and walls and install an elaborate and expensive new system. Instead, we sit with a feeling of vague dissatisfaction, contemplating a room as clinically bright as McDonald's, or fidgeting with a lamp shade to get enough light to read. 

And Capen is quick to concede that you don't have to. There are plenty of cheap sources of light that are plenty effective.  "Like fluorescents," she said. "Put them on top of cabinets where you don't see the fixture." This is not just a kitchen trick, consider fluorescents on top of an armoire, or a tall bookcase, anywhere the source is unseen.  Puck lights, little round battery powered LED discs that require no wiring, are also handy for inside cabinets, under shelves, and dark corners. "It's not about an expensive fixture, but what you can do with it to shape a space."

Whip Those Lashes into Shape!


Mascara? I've played with so many. High end to low. But for maximum drama, I keep returning to the stuff in a cake -- perhaps the only thing from the trendy-again 70s that I can still wear without looking ridiculous.  My purple suede hot pants come immediately to mind.  

A drip of water smudged around to make a nearly dry paste (spit works brilliantly too, but we won't mention that) and there is nothing like cake mascara for creating the thickest lashes shy of falsies. Uppers and lowers.  

It used to be easy to find, and so cheap! Maybelline had it in a little sliding drawer of a red case.  A buck, maybe? Mary Quant was pricier, but had the best brush, I still have it. Much like a baby-scaled toothbrush -- if your baby has a particularly wide mouth. Tight bristles. Indestructible. Does 1968 qualify it as an antique?

Lancome's mascara had one with a little plastic comb on one side, I still have that too, though all of the plastic bits have broken off (how I wonder? Was I cleaning the grout?)

Cake mascara might be hard to exhume in stores, but it's still easily findable on line.

Chasing My Chins And Other Adventures in Skin Care: The Mother of the Bride Chronicles, Part I

Some days I wish bearded women were in. Today is one of them. I once vastly improved a chinless ex by talking him into some pretty lush whiskers. Spotting him recently at a funeral, I noticed he's still sporting a beard forty years later. Does his wife knows what's under there? 

Meanwhile, I resemble a basset hound in a turtleneck, a situation that is reaching crises level as my daughter's April wedding approaches.

To paraphrase Catherine Deneuve, At some point you have to choose between the ass and the face.  Sadly, what I have are really good ankles, which haven't been a significant lure since about 1915.

While kvetching about my falling face, I've done virtually nothing but study possible solutions for the past thirty years. Perhaps it's the German in me, this reluctance to Get Serious About My Skin. As if I should be able to keep my chin up entirely through force of will.

Oh how stupid are the young. Thirty years ago I looked like a nymph. A nymph with nearly undetectable scowl lines, what they call inverted commas between my eyes, no doubt formed from whining about looking older. 

That's when a similarly tetched girlfriend and I started a weekly radio talk show called A New Wrinkle, to discuss what to do about our nonexistent problems: Retin-A and Botox and such, then cutting edge. Fortunately, or not, the station (the only one that would host us) had such a weak signal that my husband had to sit in the car in their parking lot to listen. We made tapes, but thankfully I no longer have anything to play them back on.

Now I don't much care about looking older, but how old I look is another matter. I'd rather not look any particular age at all. Here's what I want to hear whispered at the wedding:

High Life at the Umstead - Luxury in the North Carolina Triangle

Story and Photos for the Washington Post's FW

We (and by that I mean I) were severely underdressed for lounging at the Umstead. The Forbes five star resort and spa set in a 12-acre wooded grove in Cary, North Carolina warrants slink; champagne satin a la Harlow, marabou mules, a coupe not a flute for the bubbly. 

Sleek blond furniture, Frette linens, plush carpets, triple layers of drape, it's tres 1930s drawing room comedy.  Bring on Jeeves! Enter Clark Gable.  (You can add a pup but Fluffy will add $200 to room tabs that begin at $329).