seizures medications

Stand Tall in UpCouture

These T-shirts from UpCouture encourage good posture. You won't need reminding to sit or stand up straight.

These T-shirts from UpCouture encourage good posture. You won’t need reminding to sit or stand up straight.

I call it the T-shirt that does what my mother never could – make me stand up straight. We all know we shouldn’t slouch — we need to hold our shoulders back and sit up tall, right? Well, now there’s a clothing line designed to make sure you do just that.

UpCouture has a line of T-shirts for men and women that have hidden bands that actually hold your shoulders back and encourages that excellent posture we should all have.

Made in France of organic cotton, the Up T-shirt is really comfortable, and yes, did make me sit and stand up straight. The shirts come in a variety of styles and colors. Prices run from $145 to $170.

Shack Shake Opens in ATL

The Shackburger from Shake Shack. It's worth the extra calories. (Photo by Evan Sung.)

The Shackburger from Shake Shack. It’s worth the extra calories. (Photo by Evan Sung.)

I’m a Fitbit fanatic, a regular at the Y, eat salads every day and generally find most desserts are NWC – not worth the calories. A good chocolate chip cookie is the notable exception.

But sometimes you just gotta throw dietary constraints and concerns about huge calorie counts out the window and reach for a whopping burger, fries and a shake.

On those occasions, head to Shake Shack, that hamburger stand with the cult following.

Shake Shack just opened its first location in Atlanta, a two-story building in Buckhead Atlanta, fronting Peachtree Road across from the old Cheesecake Factory. (Long-time Atlantans will remember it as the former location of the Buckhead Men’s Shop.) The original opened in Madison Square Park in New York in 2004, and now has more than 50 locations.

We were lucky enough to attend a big opening event this past Tuesday, and while it was a challenge grabbing food as it was carried out on trays by the ever-smiling staff, it was worth the effort. My first taste was of the DogMeister, a 100 percent all-natural beef hot dog topped with cheddar cheese, American cheese sauce and crispy shallots. Pretty delicious, although I rarely eat hot dogs. Remember our theme is making exceptions.

I enjoyed the fries but they aren’t my favorite. Wow – that SmokeShack cheeseburger, though. Made with hormone-free Angus beef, it was perfectly cooked and slathered with ShackSauce, applewood bacon and chopped cherry pepper.

Homemade frozen custard ice cream at Shake Shack.

Other menu items include the ‘Shroom Burger, a portobello mushroom burger, and the Chicken Dog. Of course, Shake Shack is known for its milk shakes and they were creamy and delicious, made with real sugar and hormone-free milk. A nod to our city comes from the Peachtree, a caramel peach shake, and pecan pie from H&F Bread Company. Concretes are frozen custard treats that you can design yourself with your choice of mix-ins.

Soft drinks, iced tea and juices are available. And yes, there is alcohol, including ShackMeister  Ale, brewed for Shake Shack by Brooklyn Brewery. The wine list is as simple as it gets – either red or white wine, bottled by Frog’s Leap in Napa Valley.

I recommend hanging out on the spacious rooftop terrace, weather permitting. I loved looking over Peachtree Road, and the chance to do that is pretty rare, particularly in Buckhead. I’m predicting tables may be hard to come by here though — it’s bound to be a big hit in Atlanta.

Favorite Fall Travel Dress

If you see me on a plane or in an airport, chances are you'll see me in the Ponte Travel Dress from Royal Robbins.

If you see me on a plane or in an airport, chances are I’ll be wearing this Ponte Travel Dress from Royal Robbins.

Comfort is the key word for me when it comes to picking a great travel outfit. Oh, and warmth.  And it has to look stylish.

This Ponte Travel Dress from Royal Robbins covers all the bases for me and is now my official travel dress for the cooler months.

I put it on for the first time this week, the first day of fall, to wear to the theater. It’s so soft, made with a fleece-like material, and has a flattering cut that’s just lose enough I can forgo the body slimmers.

The dress is wrinkle-free so will be no worse the wear after I throw it in my suitcase during the trip, and quick-drying should I need to wash it while on the road. The dress comes in blackberry, dark galaxy green and jet black for $85.

Royal Robbins is owned by Royal Robbins, an internationally acclaimed climber and kayaker, and his wife Liz. They started the company more than 30 years ago when they couldn’t find clothing that suited their active lifestyle. Check out their other styles for men and women at Royal Robbins.

New Delhi Delight



The magnificent pool at Leela Palace in New Delhi. Photo by Rohit Chawla

The magnificent pool at Leela Palace in New Delhi. Photo by Rohit Chawla

It was only because I had to catch a flight to the amazing Ananda Spa that allowed me to tear myself away from one of the most beautiful pools I’d ever seen, featuring a vertical garden over an infinity pool with city views below. But then again, everything I’d seen at the five-star Leela Palace in the Diplomatic Enclave of New Delhi had seemed fit for royalty.

My luxurious, elegantly appointed room was huge, with a view of a tree-filled roundabout below, the greenery forming a colorful contrast with the pink stucco buildings lining the streets. During a walk around the hotel, I marveled at the multi-million dollar art collection and fresh flower accents everywhere.

More flowers were in abundant supply as we enjoyed a breakfast buffet in the sprawling gardens in The Qube, one of the award- winning restaurants that are destinations in themselves for locals and tourists. Others include Le Cirque, MEGU and Jamavar.

While our delayed flight ruined our chance to enjoy dining at one, we did enjoy martinis, lamb and vegetable samosas and meat kebabs in The Library, a lovely ending to a stressful day of travel and a perfect introduction to my first visit to India.



Special Travel Issue: The Atlanta 100


Ananda Spa near Rishikesh, India

Every week I write 100 words on something travel related for the weekly enewsletter The Atlanta 100. I have total freedom on the topic and have covered the Global Entry Card, new restaurants at the Atlanta airport, travel-related products and many destinations.

The one thing I don’t have any say on? The length of each article. They have to be exactly 100 words. And if one of my items has a slide show? Yep, exactly 100 seconds.

The Atlanta 100 is taking a short hiatus and is running special issues for a few weeks. Last week was a special travel issue, with eight destinations I selected from the previous year. These include Ananda Spa in India, inns in North Georgia, the magnificent Jefferson Hotel in DC, a Vantage Travel riverboat cruise, the 25Hours Bikini Berlin hotel and more.

You can see them all here. Basically you can travel the world, 100 seconds at a time. Enjoy!



Friday Lunch at Galatoire’s


Locals get a head start on cocktail hour every Friday with lunch at Galatoire’s Photo by Louis Sahuc

“No one in here has ever worked a day in their lives,” our newfound friend told us about the locals enjoying their weekly party that is Friday lunch at Galatoire’s in New Orleans.

I had no idea if that is the case, but it was clear that no one was working now or would be the rest of the day, as we indulged as well in a 4 ½ hour lunch unlike any I’d ever experienced.

As a “second line” parade was forming from a table of decked-out-in-gold-and-black ladies in the front, one of the staff grabbed me and threw me into the parade. We danced our way around the restaurant to the cheers of everyone there, as the tuxedo-clad waiters patiently wound their way through the merriment. It’s just that kind of place. Once you’re in, you feel like you’re part of the best party in town.

You have to earn your seat by waiting in line, or as some people do, hire someone to hold your place for you. Gentlemen have to wear coats, and don’t even think about it if you’re looking for quiet and relaxing. But if you want a wild way to kick off your weekend, spend your Friday afternoon at Galatoire’s. As our scurrying waiter remarked, “This isn’t a restaurant; it’s an insane asylum!”

A River Runs Through It: Nantahala Outdoor Center


A woman is rescued by NOC staff

It wasn’t your typical class. The group of 11 men and women wore helmets, life jackets and rain gear and stood ankle deep in the swirling river current as the instructor led a swift water rescue class at Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, North Carolina.

“They will be practicing self rescue today,” our friend and tour guide for the day Pat Gleeson told us. “They first need to learn how to rescue themselves, then others in rapid currents.”

The river is popular with rafters of all ages.

It wasn’t long before their first ad hoc demonstration came floating down the river. A woman was being swept down the river, hands crossed over her chest, a panicked look on her face. “Help me,” she cried faintly, holding her head just out of the water.

The instructors and other NOC staff sprang into action, quickly paddling rafts in her direction while another threw a long yellow rope her way and calmly instructed her to grab it. In shock, she didn’t move and a staff member had to grab her and lift her into the boat. They paddled the badly shaken woman safely to shore.

The ropes course at Nantahala Outdoor Center

The swift water class is just one at NOC, where the SOLO Wilderness Medicine center has courses and certifications for EMTs, Wilderness First Responders and Wilderness First Aid. Pat told us that NOC would be hosting firefighters from New York City and were seeking a permit to sink a car to train them in underwater rescue.

That was just one of the many fascinating things I learned about the NOC during a recent visit there. The NOC has 1,000 employees working on seven rivers. The Nantahala location alone has lodging for 211 people, including five rustic cabins, and hosts several summer camps for children in conjunction with the North Carolina Camp Association. An Amputee Adventure Camp is offered for wounded warriors.

The Nantahala Center is located on the Appalachian Trail, about a two-week hike from its beginning

The Nantahala Center is located on the Appalachian Trail, about a two-week hike from its beginning in Georgia

Located right on the Appalachian Trail, a two-week hike from its start, hikers can pay $19.38 for a bunk with mattress, shower and towel at the hostel-style base camp.

“We have an excellent outfitter store, with experts to help hikers find the right equipment, approved by our Master Guides. Often, they toss out the gear they bought at Walmart and provide them with what they really need for camping,” Pat told us.

Day visitors can enjoy five zip line adventures, mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing tours, guided hikes, paintball, a ropes course and train excursions on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Around 1,100 rafters float on the class 1 and class 2 rapids each weekend. A call center is staffed with 30 people to handle up to 4,000 calls a week for information on activities.

River's End Restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious fish tacos, a cold beer and a view of the boaters in the Canoe Cup Challenge

River’s End Restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious fish tacos, a cold beer and a view of the boaters in the Canoe Cup Challenge

We had started our day with a delicious meal of fish tacos at River’s End Restaurant, one of three on the property. Seated just a few feet from the river, turned a dark green from the steady rainfall of the drizzly day, we had an excellent view and sat enthralled as raingear-clad participants launched their boats of various types one by one into the current for the Canoe Cup Challenge taking place that day.

While most people visit the center to engage in one of the many activities, others come just to eat and enjoy the activity. “It’s kind of like Woodstock,” Pat told us. “You can drink a beer and just hang out all day.”

A trio of kayakers practice their rollovers in a water feature. The NOC has the largest paddling school in the country.

After lunch we walked over the bridge spanning the river for a closer view as boaters navigated the red and green gates in the class 2 rapids. With no let-up in the rain, our paddleboard adventure was cancelled but we had a great day as Pat drove us around the huge 500-acre property.

On our return to the main part of the campus, we watched as three kayakers took turns practicing their rollovers in one of the water features created for training. The NOC has the largest paddling school in the country and 22 members of the Olympic Kayak Team have trained there.

Partipants navigate the gates during the Canoe Cup Challenge

After a look in the well-stocked Outfitters Store, acclaimed as one of the best in the world, we visited the convenience store, where Pat treated us to another of the NOC’s gems — a Nye’s Cream Sandwich, available in flavors like blueberry pie, peach and strawberry shortcake.

On our return trip, we plan to stay in one of those cabins, get that paddleboarding session in and maybe even a raft trip. And of course, we’ll enjoy a meal at River’s End, followed by one of those delicious ice cream sandwiches.


Best Summer Shoes: A Pair of Pons


When it was finally warm enough last spring to ditch my boots, I started wearing a pair of Pons Avarcas. I violated a cardinal rule by taking them on a long trip without really wearing them to ensure their comfort. Next to having clean underwear, a comfortable pair of shoes is key to my enjoyment of any trip. I wore these for hours, walked for miles, and had no problems.

Just a few of the more than 80 versions of Pons Avarcas for women

Just a few of the more than 80 versions of Pons Avarcas for women

I have the beige in the classic style, which also comes in 19 other colors. I just counted up more than 80 versions of the women’s shoe, with metallic, glitter, and animal prints, in various styles including wedge and Mediterranean with an ankle strap.

Originally worn by workers in Menorca, a small Spanish island in the Mediterranean, these soft leather sandals are still made there and are now available in the United States, thanks to Noelia and Jose Pahissa. When they moved from Barcelona to California 10 years ago, Noelia brought along a few pairs of Avarcas sandals from her native country. After receiving many compliments, she and her husband decided Americans would enjoy Avarcas and founded Pons Avarcas to sell the authentic versions. The sandals are available for men, women and children. Prices for women’s start at $77.

A Dog-Sized Hole in My Heart

One of the last photos taken of our dog Riley, shortly before he died July 21.

One of the last photos taken of our dog Riley, shortly before he died July 21.

“My friend believes that when we die, our dogs come running up to us to welcome us to heaven. And they can talk,” a friend told me the day my beloved dog Riley died.

I chuckled at the prospect and remembered what Will Rogers said. “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

Then I thought about what Riley would say to me and told my friend, “I might be in trouble.” I was specifically thinking of a remark my son had made years ago, when Riley was young.

“Dogs don’t get very good medical care,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “We take him to the vet and get him all the shots he needs to have.”

“Well, when I’m sick you let my lie on the couch and bring me soup and crackers. When Riley is sick you just throw him in the backyard.”

Fair point, I thought. But we did give him good medical care — for a dog that is. And I believe I deserve extra credit for that time right before Christmas when he chewed on the Christmas tree and half of his face swelled up like he’d been on the losing side of a lengthy boxing match. I called the vet’s office and told them of Riley’s Rocky-like appearance.

“Sounds like an allergic reaction. Just stay home and listen to his breathing,” I was advised. So I cancelled all 87 errands for that day and did just that. But after he was diagnosed with an aggressive, fast-growing cancer in May at the age of 12, we were advised that there was nothing we could do for him. Now it was just a matter of waiting for that last breath.

Medically, that is. But we could lavish attention on him, take him for walks, and cook him whatever he would eat in those remaining weeks as his appetite diminished and his digestive system began shutting down. For weeks I made him four scrambled eggs sprinkled with bacon bits every morning.

And we began our daily Poop Patrol, which is just about as much fun as it sounds. The vet had said when he quit pooping he was near the end. We practically cheered each effort and result, harkening back to potty training days many years ago.

Riley frolicking in one of our rare snows in Atlanta

Riley frolicking in one of our rare snows in Atlanta

Another time we were gone for the weekend and my friend next door texted me a photo of his latest production, knowing how much it meant to us.

Riley had been our companion for 12 years. We called him our Society Dog because he came from the Atlanta Humane Society. I had gone with my kids to pick out an adult dog. I had no desire for a puppy. With two young kids and a job, my hands were full enough.

I steered them right past the puppy room where I knew we’d be in severe danger of falling for one of the adorable squiggly little guys. They don’t call them puppy eyes for nothing. “Adult Dog Room only,” I said firmly.

Yet there he was. Somehow, at the tender age of four months, he had talked his way into the Adult Dog Room, perhaps using some canine version of a fake ID. We took him for a test drive, where they let you walk around outside with one of the dogs up for adoption to see if it’s a good match.

After taking a few other dogs outside, we picked the small black lab mix named Max, who frolicked with joy on the grass as my kids giggled and romped with him.

We came back inside and I knelt down to look at him as he walked inside. He ambled adorably right over to me, looked at me with his big dark eyes, and rested his sweet doggy head on my knee. It was Game Over. “He knows who the decision maker is,” I said.

We changed his name to Riley and he instantly became an integral member of our family, riding in the car with us each morning as I took the kids to school. They are both out of college now, living and working in distant cities. During each phone call, they would each ask, “How’s Riley?” Often they’d ask me to text a photo of him after we hung up.

We knew he would only live a matter of weeks, not months, as the tumor became more and more visible. But both kids were coming in mid-July. “Hang on just a little while longer,” I’d plead with him as his movements became slower and he ate less.

And he did. Although his back legs were betraying him and he struggled to stand up and walk, he greeted them from his favorite place in the world, our front porch. The day my daughter left, this past Monday, was his last.

We gave his favorite squeaky toys and leftover treats to Ruby, the dog next door, whom he had married in a backyard ceremony a few years ago. “The widow gets everything,” my husband said sadly. He took Riley’s death really hard, and wrote about the Life of Riley in a weekly enewsletter he produces, The Atlanta 100.

Yesterday I was in my office working when I heard a tremendous crash downstairs that made my heart leap. It can’t be somebody in the house, I thought — Riley would be barking. Then I remembered. Never again. My friend and protector was gone.

I read this week that grief has its own schedule and that’s true. It hits you in unexpected ways. The day after he died I drove in my driveway and heard the familiar sound of one of his squeaky toys, usually an indication that he was playing in the backyard. But it was Ruby next door and I felt that familiar ache in my heart.

It seems I have a dog-sized hole there now.


Fragrance on the Go


BlackOnyxIt’s a beautiful black onyx bead bracelet with pretty crystal spacers. But wait, there’s more! The filigree charm holds fragrance beads so your fragrance goes where you go, simply by slipping on this lovely bracelet.

Select your signature scent from six Lisa Hoffman fragrances by using the iScentify fragrance finder on the website. Adjust sliders to indicate your preferences. Do you love citrus, woody or soft floral scents? Or maybe you’re more into green and powdery.

With no worries about getting perfumes through security or having it spill in your suitcase, this fragrance jewelry collection from Lisa Hoffman Beauty is perfect for travel. The fragrance jewelry is also available in necklaces, pendants, cuffs and even earrings. Prices start at $65.