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With many assists from the kind sirs at NeonSky Creative Media, I am proud to announce the arrival of my website: rachelsutherland.net.

There, you’ll find more about me, what I do and links to recent work.

More importantly, my If the Shoe Fits blog has also moved too. Please book mark it’s new addy. Same insightful, newsworthy content just a few blocks down the stylish street.

xoxox

r

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Not only is avocado delicious on a Cobb salad, it has great moisturizing benefits that can help your hair and skin.

There are few things I love more than saving money and indulging my crunchy, hippie tendencies. So today, I share with you my favorite at-home beauty fixes. They’re all relatively cheap, and absolutely cheaper (and healthier!) than most beauty products you buy in stores.

Some just take a little elbow grease, but most involve raiding the kitchen cabinets and playing with food, all in the name of beauty. You game?

Hair conditioner: Smash up a whole avocado and mix it with the yolk of an egg. Coat damp hair with mixture and let it set for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and wash with shampoo as normal. Or, use 1/2 C. real mayonnaise to coat damp hair. Put on a shower cap and let it soak on hair for 15-20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly  and wash with shampoo as normal.

Intense body moisturizer: My favorite guacamole ingredient does double duty for the bod, too. Smash up another avocado and spread the paste on your dry skin. Let it set for 15-20 minutes, rinse and dry.

Baking Soda toothpaste: Baking soda is one of the strongest cleaners, but among the most gentle. If you’re really hardcore, you can skip the flavoring and just sprinkle baking soda on your tooth-brush and go to town. If you need a little something to mask the chalky flavor (and I don’t blame you), try this recipe, courtesy of “The Eco Chick Guide to Life,” by Starre Vartan: 2-3 drops of your favorite flavored oil (peppermint, cinnamon); 3 Tbsp. baking soda, 1 Tbsp. salt; 2 tsp. glycerin (available in drug or craft stores). Mix well and store in a covered container.

Lip and/or body scrub: If you’ve got dry, scaly skin in need of a good slough, go get some sugar. Mix 1/2 C granulated sugar with 1/2 C edible oil (extra-light olive, almond, coconut). Rub a little of the slurry on your lips and gently wipe off. For use on the body you may add 5-10 drops of essential oil for fragrance.

At home pedicure: This is by far my most favorite, indulgent, cost-effective treat. Spa pedicures can run in the $40-$75 range. At home, you can achieve nearly the same experience at a fraction of the cost. Using some of the moisturizing tips and tricks mentioned above, you can make this as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. There are six steps to keep in mind: set the mood, soak, exfoliate, trim and clean nails, moisturize and polish. For pedicures, soak you feet in a bathtub full of warm water. If the temperature is too hot, it’ll suck the moisture from your skin.

I had all but given up on manicures. It was just too disappointing to see my pretty nails chip off after a day or two, thanks to all the wear-and-tear of housework and motherhood.  I stopped getting manis, stopped painting my nails and just figured that when the kids are in college, I’ll start fussing over my nails again.

So when my mom raved about Sephora by OPI nail Hydrator, saying it improved the condition of her nails, I was doubtful.  She was so sure I’d love it, she sent me a bottle. I was so sure I wouldn’t, it sat unopened for months.

When I finally did open it and paint the thin, clear treatment on my nails, I was hooked. With no polish, it adds a slight sheen to nails, keeping them looking healthy. My nails were stronger and growing.

As a base coat, the Hydrator extends the life of a mani dramatically. I am on day six of my at-home mani (Zoya’s glittery green Suvi, thank you very much) with little signs of wear. For my nails, that’s an eternity.

As a bonus, the Hydrator treatment is free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde.

"The Fashion Show" designer Reco Chapple will be among the speakers at the Fashion Summit of NC, March 13 in Raleigh. (allen cooley photo)

Here’s an event you don’t want to miss if you’re considering a stylish career: the Fashion Summit of North Carolina, March 13 in Raleigh. The inaugural event will bring industry experts together to share insight with those who aspire to be models, makeup artists, fashion editors/writers and designers.

Reco Chapple from Bravo’s “The Fashion Show” will speak about breaking into fashion as a designer and representatives of Wilhelmina Evolution talent agency (through which Brooklyn Decker got her start) will speak about modeling. I will be part of the panel discussion on reporting fashion.

Tickets start at $50, and include a continental breakfast, lunch, speakers, breakout sessions, a fashion showcase and admission to Fashion’s Night Out Raleigh at Solace Night Club.

I found myself in Statesville, NC this morning to deal with the repercussions of my lead foot. I managed to keep my issues with authority in check long enough to get the penalty reduced a smidge. I was riding such a triumphant high (The last time I was in traffic court, the bailiff said I needed to calm down and lower my voice. Good times), I figured I should do some shopping to celebrate.

A friend had repeatedly told me of fab deals and cute shoes at the Rack Room Shoes Outlet in Newtowne Plaza off I-77, but I hadn’t checked it out until today. Dios mio, I have been missing out.

Nike, Sperry, New Balance, Vans, Chuck Taylor All-Stars and Steve Madden are just a few of the brand names available for crazy cheap prices. I scored an adorable pair of Keds mary jane sneakers for $10 (retail for $35) for my daughter.

It’s certainly not a posh store — it looks every bit of an outlet and then some — but really, when you’ve got racks of super-sale $3 womens sparkly ruby slipper flats at the front door, who can complain?

Ladies shoes start at $5, and all mens, womens and childrens athletic shoes are 50 percent off the lowest marked price (the New Balance and Chucks I was scoping for my daughter were in the $10-$15 range).

It’s a great place to put your “quality versus quantity” spending resolution to good use (What? That’s not your resolution? Hm … maybe it’s just me.). It’s also a great place to stock up on name-brand kicks at a fraction of the regular retail price.

I will be the first to admit that I, on occasion, can be a snob of the handbag, shoe, food and beauty products variety.

So when a makeup artist at Robert Verdi’s Luxe Laboratory sat me in a chair during September’s New York Fashion Week and whipped out the CoverGirl & Olay SimplyAgeless foundation, I tried to stifle my gasp.

Isn’t that the line that is endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres? And ageless? Really? I know I’m *ahem* getting older, but is my skin that bad that is warrants fixing all day long?

Yes. Yes and maybe.

Here’s my mea culpa: I was so very, very wrong to prejudge. This is the most fab foundation I’ve used in quite some time. The pairing of CG foundation with Olay Regenerist moisturizers creates a creamy foundation that is comparable to those at much higher price points.

First, with a small brush or a fingertip, use SimplyAgeless as a concealer under eyes or on blemishes. Foundation application is easy and uniform with a fluffy makeup brush (skip the foam pad provided, especially if you tend to have a heavy hand). The wet-to-dry makeup doesn’t settle into fine lines or pores. Instead, there’s a natural, effortless base that isn’t oily or too dry that also includes SPF 22.

$13.99, CoverGirlCVS/pharmacy and other drugstore chains


“Project Runway” is a bad habit I just can’t quit.

Not as deadly as smoking, or even Peppermint Joe-Joe’s, but  dangerous addiction none the less. Every season, I say I’m done with the lackluster designs and the self-important drama queens.

Especially after season six, which was held in legal limbo for so long, was filmed in Los Angeles and had Nina Garcia and Michael Kors MIA for most of the episodes.

So it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that I’m staying true to my fickle Gemini roots when I say that after watching the first episode of season seven (which airs at 10p Jan. 14 on Lifetime), I may not be over the show after all.

They’re back in New York City, Heidi is pregnant (best not to think on it too hard — daughter Lou was born in October) and MK is there, front and center, with his barbed, bitchy tongue. Tim Gunn and his wonderful vocab are here too.

All is right, right?  Yeah, I guess. There is potential for fireworks, especially when you consider the wide age range of the contestants (some are well into their 40s! Gasp!).

There’s Seth Aaron who is vaguely reminiscent of Suede in hair and third person speaking voice.

There’s Janeane who may have set a record for the number of crying fits in a single episode. One was prompted by only mentioning Bryant Park. After that little display, I expected little from her designs. Until I saw what she sent down the runway.

My early early fave? Costume designer Emilio. He’s mature, thoughtful and experienced.

Look for Birmingham, AL’s Anthony to be entertaining — in design and personality.

Check out the new season on Thursday and be sure to let me know what you think. In the meantime, check out Tom & Lorenzo’s Project Rungay for in-depth designer profiles and hilariously catty insight.