Come mid-November/early December, depending on where you live in the U.S., you may look at your CVS in a whole new way. The friendly neighborhood drugstore chain is stepping into the beauty big leagues, with the roll out of its new upscale beauty store-within-store concept called Beauty 360. The first such store-within-store will debut in Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle with a second opening later this year in Mission Viejo, California.

The store chain is banking on consumers in this economic uncertainty who are tightening their purse strings, to continue to treat themselves to smaller, less impacting luxuries like lipsticks, eye and face creams. “It may not be a vacation, or it might not be the new dress, but you know what, the $15 lipstick might not have the same pinch to her that the rest of those higher priced ones do,” said Mike Bloom, senior vice president of merchandising at CVS in his November 3 interview with WWD.

Make no mistake though, in the new concept, you will not find the Revlon’s, L’Oreals or the Cover Girl cosmetics, but rather higher price point beauty lines like Borba, Laura Geller and Canyon Ranch products, with price ranges of $15 to $170. Although the concept could make for stand alone stores, currently the company only has plans to expand into existing stores where there is enough room to have the true store-within-store concept, namely about 1,000 of their West Coast locations. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine walking into CVS or their 360 and spending upwards of $50 for a beauty product, that seems reserved for the high-end department stores where the overall concept is luxury, not just one part of it. But perhaps, that is just me.

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Weekly Comfort Item: Foot Petals

Wearing stilettos is a challenge however it is definitely doable with a little help from Foot Petals. Rather than allow the foot to slide down towards the toe of the shoe, which is almost inevitable depending on how the stiletto is made, the use of Foot Petals makes the shoe more comfortable and works as a stop gap to the foot sliding downward.

What are Foot Petals? Basic Foot Petals are a unique collection of products designed to adhere to the lining or insole of the shoe or other area with an adhesive backing to prevent slipping, sliding and rubbing of the foot. Foot Petals are made from PORON, which is performance urethanes designed to help stop friction, which helps to prevent blisters and calluses. Additionally, the design of the products helps to protect the bones and tissue of the foot and enhance the comfort of wearing desirable shoes such as stilettos.

When wearing stilettos, women tend to either grip their toes or walk awkwardly to prevent the sliding of the foot downward, which in time throws off the alignment of the body. Foot Petals Tip Toes, one of the many Foot Petals products, work as a preventative to long term damage by simply applying the shaped rubber patch to the area of the shoes where protection is needed.

Foot Petals offers a product called the Stiletto Foot Stylist Kit. The unique kit consists of items such as Killer Kushionz, Heavenly Heelz, Tip Toes, Strappy Strips, Sole Stopperz and Haute Heelz. Killer Kushionz are full insoles designed to provide precision support. Heavenly Heelz are designed to be applied to the back of the heel and cushions the tender area of the heel that is prone to blistering. Strappy Strips, on the other hand (or foot), provide comfort to shoes with straps. Foot Petals Sole Stopperz protect the soles and provides a non-slip surface. Finally Foot Petals Haute Heelz are designed as shock absorbers.

The Foot Petals Stiletto Foot Stylist Kit is available in Black Iris, Buttercup or White Lily and retails for $50.

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Celebrity Gossip: Child Custody and Birthday Parties

Could Madonna be losing a husband and a child? Madonna adopted little David in 2006 from Malawi and promised David’s father that she would take good care of him. Well, David’s biological father has now come out to say that he feels bad for David because of all of the photographers pushing to get pictures, and Madonna’s impending divorce has added even more unrest. Since Madonna adopted David, his biological father has gotten a new wife, had two other children and also has provided a home for his family in Malawi. David’s father had this to say about the situation, “But now, when I think of David in danger of living outside a family life, I find it unbearable.” As you may remember, Madonna had trouble adopting David in the first place, because he was from Malawi and there were certain laws that had to be followed. Could this be a way for little David’s father to get him back from Madonna? You never know.

Comedian Sasha Baron Cohen and actress Isla Fisher celebrated their daughter Olive’s first birthday with a celebrity filled party. They threw a country western first birthday party with all the works. The celebrity guest list included Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox with her daughter Coco, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Dustin Hoffman and Tobey Maguire with his daughter Ruby. What will her second birthday party be like, let alone her sweet sixteen?

It’s official. High School Musical heartthrob, Zac Efron is now 21. Efron laid low for his 21st birthday, celebrating with his girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens, and close family and friends at L.A.‘s Pace restaurant. Some of the guest included Monique Coleman, Ashley Tisdale, Amanda Bynes, Brittany Snow and Michelle Trachtenberg. Efron left the restaurant with Hudgens just around midnight and headed off to a local hotel with a couple of the guest to continue the party. I’m actually pretty happy to see that some young Hollywood stars know how to celebrate and not make fools of themselves. Good for them!


Most Popular Distance Run: The Sunburst Races, Indiana

The Sunburst Races in South Bend, Indiana have something for all the family – a marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, a 5K and a family walk – seriously, they have everything. More than 2,000 runners and walkers participate in all of the races, so they have everybody, too!

The Sunburst Races are held every year. In 2009, it will be their 26th year. They start every year’s events with the Friday Night Family Walk. Like it says, it’s a walk for the whole family (baby strollers and baby joggers welcome), and everybody who participates gets a Family Walk t-shirt. This is one of the few walks left in the country that still allows headphones, but organizers caution participants to be careful as they really don’t want to scrape you up off the street later! (BTW, headphones are not allowed on the marathon or half marathon.)

On Saturday, the more serious events begin. The marathon starts at the College Football Hall of Fame (Notre Dame, of course) and is run on a pretty flat course with only one half-mile incline and a couple of minor hills.

The half marathon follows the marathon’s first three miles but then veers off into Keller Park, finishing the race back on the marathon’s course and on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. And participants in both races get cool t-shirts. The 5K, 10K and the fitness walk all start between 7:15 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Sunburst does a great job with services too. There are tons of water stations, Gatorade fluid replacement stations, energy gel is available on the course, and they even hand out bananas for that all-important potassium. But the best bit of all: there is massage therapy provided at the finish line by massage therapy students from Davenport University. I’d throw on my running shoes and run in any marathon if I had massage therapy to look forward to at the end of it.

The Sunburst Races also has awesome finish line food (last year provided by Meijer supermarkets,) and there was everything!

I really like the Sunburst Races. Indiana is one of the prettiest American states, I think, with its rolling hills, green fields and clear blue skies. When these races start early in the morning, you really feel like you’re running in nature, so it’s worth running one just so you can feel that. Right?

Stress, Stress, Stress: Breathe Right

When it comes to stress reduction, people think of all sorts of things: hot baths, aromatherapy, exercise and time management. But there’s one easy (and obvious) stress reducer that nearly everyone overlooks. We all take it for granted, but breathing right can make you feel better, help you think more clearly and reduce muscle tension. It also makes exercise easier on the body, providing more oxygen during your workout. Believe it or not, breathing the right way on a consistent basis is harder than it sounds!

The right kind of breathing will cause both your chest and your stomach to rise! During regular breathing, most people note just the chest rising. But think about it: your lungs extend nearly to the base of your ribcage, ending at your diaphragm. When the chest is the only thing that rises, it means you’re only using a portion of your lung capacity!

If you pay attention to how you “normally” breathe, you’ll notice that most breaths are shallow, with intermittent, deeper breaths. To get a feel for deeper breathing, place your hands on your chest and abdomen. As you breathe in, concentrate on causing your stomach to rise, filling your lungs as much as possible. Now, breathe the entire breath out and repeat. Try to breathe like this as often as possible, particularly when you’re feeling anxious or tense.

It’s a simple thing, but sometimes the best ideas are that easy. No gadgets, gizmos or cash required. Just breathe well and reap the benefits.

Best Hiking Trails: Virginia

I think Virginia is one of the prettiest U.S. states. Lovely weather, green hilly fields and blue skies in the summer, and postcard-perfect fall colors in the autumn – you really can’t beat picturesque Virginia . The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is a perfect example of beautiful Virginia countryside. It’s also a great place for hiking trails. With 770 miles of hiking available, you can hardly complain about choice.

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail runs from the Potomac River itself all the way to Allegheny Highlands in the Ohio Basin. There’s even a 100-mile, unbroken section of trail where you could actually walk for three to four days without branching off it. There are literally hundreds of different sections of trail you can hike or backpack but check these three out in Virginia’s lower Potomac region, as they are probably some of the best.

George Washington’s Birthplace – I can’t think of a better place to hike than the birthplace of our first president. Popes Creek Plantation is right on the Potomac. It has a nature trail that runs for a mile and lots of little footpaths that you can take to get in a good hike. There are also historically interesting exhibits scattered around that tell you about colonial life and Washington’s early years.

The Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve – The wetlands here are home to many birds, insects, flora and fauna. There’s almost 330 acres of marshland, much of which you can explore, as well as forest with hiking trails. It’s a great area to hike just to see the marshland birds you probably won’t see anywhere else and to revel in the beauty of the birdsong.

The Voorhees Nature Preserve – If you’re really lucky, you might see bald eagles along trails in the Voorhees Nature Preserve, a nesting place for bald eagles. There are almost 800 miles of trails on the preserve, and it is right next door to Westmoreland Berry Farm. So, you can hike and enjoy nature, and then come back to the farm and pick berries to take home for dinner.

The best time to experience any of these trails is spring or autumn, when temperatures are perfect for a strenuous hike. The summer too can be a nice time to visit, as long as you don’t mind the heat.

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Our wonderful Help Desk Coordinator in the 2290 building, Miss Dorsey T., knows that nothing makes you feel at home quite like the smell of homemade cookies. The smell alone makes you forget that you’re at work – and not at Grandma’s. And that, my friends, is what the Zappos culture is all about.

So come visit the 2290 Help desk around 1pm every day for a fresh afternoon treat.

Penn & Teller Room in 2290!

Nope, it’s not an illusion, there is an actual Penn & Teller room in the 2290 building!

The magicians/satirists/comedians Penn & Teller have had a long running show in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino, and also have a television program on the Showtime network, of which has a title that really can’t be mentioned here: )

Penn and Teller first appeared in the mid-1980s, and since then have made their mark in the entertaiment industry as an original magic/comedy act by actually revealing how they perform their tricks to the audience and providing a biting but hilarious look at magic.

There have been two instances that have crossed this reporter’s Zappos life that involved P&T. In our original offices on Warm Springs, there was a coffee shop close to the office that we would walk in and occasionally see Teller sitting and drinking coffee. To our surprise, (because in their act he is mostly silent) he was actually quite talkative.

The second was when I was writing a blog a few months ago in our offices, I looked up and saw our CEO, Tony Hsieh, standing outside of our room giving Penn a tour. He is a tall man!

This room is a salute to you, Penn & Teller!