[Note: I am so sorry, but I thought that I had posted this column over a month ago! There was a while there during the past few months when the pain of my back was taking over my mind, so please forgive me for this column’s tardiness. But, I thought with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations coming up, it could serve double-duty as a gift suggestion column, too. Hope it helps.]

If you’ve read some of my recent posts, you may know that I’ve had back problems for three months now, so, unfortunately, many of my usual fun activities have been severely curtailed. I was especially disappointed that I didn’t have the stamina, or ambulatory abilities at the time, to be able to attend my usual half dozen or so Oscar gifting suites.

But there was one I really didn’t want to miss, so with lots of help from my good friend Lauren, and the accommodating staff at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, (the same hotel whose afternoon tea I reviewed yesterday,) I was able to attend the Secret Room Style Lounge the day before the Oscars. And boy, did it lift my spirits!

Quinton Aaron arriving at the Secret Room gifting suite.  Photo by Lauren Bennett.

Quinton Aaron arriving at the Secret Room gifting suite. Photo by Lauren Bennett.

I’m glad I chose the Secret Room as my sole (and soul!) suite this season because it was jam-packed with lovely personnel and vendors. And, although I never care about supposed celebs, this one had the most recognizable group of attendees that I’ve ever come across. There were lots of television actors from the few shows I actually watch, (Glee, The Forgotten,) the rarely-seen-in-person Candy Spelling, and I was especially happy to see Quinton Aaron, who played Michael Oher in The Blindside, having so much fun.

Usually I concentrate on the gifts, but after five weeks of virtual house rest (which seems like ar-rest,) I headed straight for the spa services. The hotel had provided a wheelchair for me, because the event was too big for me to navigate on crutches, and the lovely spa people worked around it. I didn’t even have to get out of the chair!

Karen getting back to her glamourous self!  Photo by Lauren Bennett.

Karen getting back to her glamourous self! Photo by Lauren Bennett.

First, I had a very quick massage on my upper back, and then moved on to nails. I was thrilled to get both a mani AND pedi because I usually do both myself, and couldn’t do the toes since it’s hard to move my leg right now. The girl who did them both, Arlene Estrada, was very understanding about my situation, and even had some good info for me on the subject of back surgery. Next, Ami Desai did my brows. I felt like a new woman!

Since it was hard to navigate my way around the room, big as it was, I checked-out only a few gifts. But they were all special. I was especially enamored with a gorgeous one-of-a-kind clutch courtesy of Errienne Designs. Each one is hand-made, with different patterns and materials, including the interiors! (They were so fresh, in fact, that the owner’s mother was upstairs in the room, sewing some of them right then!) The designer, Chelsea Schick, helped me choose a textured navy blue one, with red and white interior, that’s both classy and casual at the same time. Loving it!

The colorful Alter Ego Jewlery.

The colorful Alter Ego Jewlery.

They almost couldn’t get me away from the Alter Ego Jewelry table that featured campy jewelry made out of small toys! I mean it–smurfs, matchbox cars, you name it. I wanted a bracelet with Cruella DeVille, but that would have been type-casting!

I was happy to discover three luxurious skin care lines at the suite:
Fanie International was featuring botanical skin care products, including a masque that I can’t wait to try. I hope the products are as lovely as the people manning their booth!
Hylunia has so many helpful treatments, many for sensitive skin, that there’s truly something for all types. And the girls in their booth are Capricorns, just like me!
Cellcosmet was developed in Switzerland, so if it’s as good as their chocolates, we’re in luck! And the mini-products came in an eye-catching red clutch.

Many of my pals are having babies nowadays, and they’re all boys!!! So I pleased to find organic onesies by Sweet Prince Design, that are made of organic cotton. So far, they say their products are “exclusively for boys,” but I think they’d look good on all babies.

As we were on our way out, we noticed a table with mini-cupcakes from Two Parts Sugar in Orange County. I always feel responsible for the cupcake craze in southern California because no one here had ever thought of it until I reviewed New York’s Magnolia Bakery on my show, and told of the lines around the block for simple cupcakes! The audience response (both in-studio and viewers’ calls and emails) was one of astonishment that so much money could be made from something as basic as cupcakes. Well, a few months later, creepy Sprinkles came along, and all hell broke loose. I should have just whipped some up myself, and I’d be rich now!

But back to the Two Parts Sugar. I tried their one that looks like an old-fashioned Hostess cupcake, (which I lived on in my formative years–how I managed to be skinny then, God only knows!), and I loved it!!! It was truly the best cupcake I’ve had in years! I’m lucky they deliver in only a 100 mile radius, which is far, but not enough to get to me, or I’d be gorging on them–I loved them that much! And to top it off, they gave me the sweetest little cupcake pendant. That whole experience cheered me right up.

One last note: I don’t think I’ve ever written about this, but though I’m not a prejudiced person, I always say there are two groups I’m not fond-of: Hare Krishna and child actors. But I think I may have just found the exception to that last rule. Ashley Boettcher, whose work I’m not familiar with, but photogs were taking her pix, was just the sweetest little girl. We compared nails, and let me tell you, I was seriously jealous of her choice of a different bold color on each nail. Exactly what I used to do, and I was way older than seven! (It was in recent years that I was so colorful.) I hope she stays as good-natured and adorable as she was at the Secret Room.


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