Hotel Safety DailyMail TV

I love a list! Here are more tips from my Daily Mail TV story on hotel safety to keep in mind when you are traveling by yourself. You can watch my segment on DailyMail TV by checking your local listings.

  • Have the bellman escort you to your room.
  • Make sure the door has both a deadbolt, security latch or a chain lock.
  • Stay on floors 3 thru 6 and avoid the first floor at all costs. In the event of a fire, you can be rescued from these floors by a fire truck with a ladder.
  • Leave the “Do Not Disturb” or “Room Occupied” sign on the door all the time.
  • Leave the television on. This makes it appear like someone is in the room.
  • Check safety reviews of the hotel and also the surrounding areas.
  • If someone tells you they are a hotel employee, verify that with the front desk if you are in doubt.
  • Cover the peep hole on the door.
  • When traveling alone, walk in or out of the hotel with other people. This way no one will know you are traveling solo.
  • Pull your drapes so people can’t see inside your room.
  • Keep your room number private at all costs.
  • Call the front desk from your cell phone. Ask for yourself and tell them you aren’t sure of the room number. If they give you the room number and connect you, ask for another room. They should always say, “Let me connect you.”
  • Always leave your room key in the same place, ideally next to your bed. You won’t waste time looking for it if you need to leave in a hurry.
  • Check the phone in your room to ensure that it is working properly.
  • Pick up a few business cards with the hotel’s information on them. In the event something happens to you, this will be an indicator as to where you are staying and who to call.
  • Keep your valuables including your computer and iPad locked up when you are not in the room.
  • Get on the elevator last and stand near the buttons. If someone suspicious looking gets on, get off!
  • If you leave your beverage sitting on a table or bar, when you return order another one. This eliminates the chances of someone spiking your drink with drugs.
  • Check to see if there is a government issued travel warning to where you are traveling.
  • Just because a hotel is inexpensive, does not mean it is safe. Is getting a good deal worth risking your personal safety and possibly your life?

These tips aren’t meant to scare you away from traveling. They are simple reminders of things to do and what to look for so that your trip of a lifetime doesn’t turn into the trip from hell. I can not stress enough the importance of RESEARCH! Take the time to read about where you are traveling to and the areas near where you will be staying.

Ricki and the Flash – Two Thumbs Up

Ricki and the Flash

Ricki and the Flash

When I saw that Meryl Streep was going to be starring in the film Rick and the Flash, my initial reaction was not a good one.  I wondered why on Earth this Oscar award winning actress would take on a role that didn’t seem to measure up to her level of stardom.  The saying goes you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The same concept applies to this film, too.  I was dead wrong about Streep’s performance and the plot.

Ricki and the Flash tells the story of a washed up musician who attempts to rekindle the relationships with her three children.  Rick, played by Streep, left her kiddos behind after she divorced their father, played by Kevin Klein, and sets off to chase her dreams in Los Angeles.

Rick Springfield is Streep’s on screen love interest and side kick in her band.  I was a big fan of Springfield’s growing up and was happy to see this multi-talented 65-year-old Aussie carried his own in the film. As did Streep’s real life daughter, Mamie Gummer, who plays along side her Mom in the film.  The acting gene is clearly strong in the family.

Together Streep and Springfield nailed the live band scenes with their vocal talents coupled with Springfield’s guitar skills.  As a kid who grew up in the 80s, the music of that era resonated with me from the very first scene.  Audra McDonald plays stepmother to Streep’s children and carries her role remarkably well.

Springfield answered questions after a screening this week hosted by The Moms Denise Albert.  He talked about his early stardom and his decision to step out of the spotlight and take an active role in raising his children. Springfield said leaving at the top of his career was a tough call. But getting back into the scene was very difficult as anyone can tell you when trying to resuscitate a career.

Rick Springfield talks to Denise Albert

Rick Springfield talks to Denise Albert

The only bad thing I have to say about the film is this.  Streep has the WORST hair extensions I’ve ever scene on the big screen.  Ricki’s braids are atrocious.  Same goes for her heavy blue eye shadow and eyeliner that never seems to quite get removed at night.  Clearly someone needs to introduce her to Almay’s make-up remover pads.  It’s rocker chic.  But hard to look at when I keep seeing Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady or in the Anna Wintour inspired role as Miranda Priestly she nailed in the Devil Wears Prada.  Both of those characters went to bed at night with squeaky clean skin I’m sure!

I was a guest of The Moms and my opinions are my own.  I liked the film and think you should go see it if you want to be entertained. It’s playing in theaters now.



Kids Take Manhattan and One Reluctant Mom

I’ve lived in New York City for years, but I have a confession to make—I have never visited the Statue of Liberty. Or Ellis Island. Not because I don’t appreciate their significance to New York City and America.  But because I have a real dislike for being part of aa sea of tourists.  But now that’s changed, in a big way. After seeing them both on the Exclusive Resorts Kids Take Manhattan Event, I’m glad I waited.

Lady Liberty

On this special Event, we had after-hours access to the Statue of Liberty. We saw Lady Liberty as she’s meant to be seen—without long lines or masses of tourists trying to snap photos. She was impressive close-up. And the only screaming kids were with us! They were thrilled to have room to run to get to the Statue before the rest us. Corbin and I wanted a little background, so we followed our park guide around to the base of the statue for a full rundown.

Statue of Liberty after Dark

Statue of Liberty after Dark

The guide told us that if we wanted to check out the view from her crown, to come back in January or February! Of course, I’d nearly freeze to death getting there, but the crowds are slim and the view is spectacular. Sounds tempting…except the freezing part. We’ll see!

The Great Hall

After our Statue tour (and the requisite trip through the gift shop), we boarded a private ferry toEllis Island. We walked into the main building and into the Registry Room, also known as the Great Hall. It was definitely great, in every sense. The room is awe-inspiring, and had a kid-friendly sit down dinner with the other ER members and their children. Corbin had a blast chatting it up with two boys from Toronto and another one from Alabama.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

The team of park guides took the kids off to talk with them about their own ancestory. The big kids (adults) hung back with our own guide, who gave us the history of Ellis Island and clarified some of the common day myths – for instance, there was not a book that immigrants signed at Ellis Island that led to names being shortened or changed all together! We all reconvened for a little dessert! Corbin and the boys took off, running, hiding, and playing among the massive beams in the Great Hall until we boarded the ferry for our return trip.

Our Personal Playground

How do you even describe a sleepover at famous toy store FAO Schwarz? Three letters—OMG! Corbin still hasn’t stopped talking about it! He was over-the-moon excited when we showed up. Within in seconds, he was off with the other kids and I left them to their “business”. I’ve heard bits and pieces of how the night unfolded, but I can tell you this: He was up until 2 a.m. and was pretty bleary-eyed when I showed up at 8 a.m. I’ve heard about hide and seek, playing on the renowned giant floor piano, and the candy. Literally buckets of sugary candy. Clearly a recipe for a successful night.

The dream is over, Corbin

Corbin, it’s time to go home!


Our last outing was to see the Tony-winning Broadway show Matilda. Despite the great seats, Corbin wasn’t so sure about this one. But once it started and he realized there were really a lot of boys in the cast, he got into it—his lack of sleep the night before got the better of him. He fell asleep during the second act. Fortunately, despite his cat nap, he managed to see and hear some of my favorite scenes in the show.

Corbin before Matilda and his mid-show nap!

Corbin before Matilda and his mid-show nap!

We’ve since downloaded a few of the tunes, too. Corbin is a big fan of Roald Dahl, so he’s checking out the original book. He’s currently halfway through—which makes me infinitely happy. Any Event that leads to more reading is okay by me!

Showtime Selfie

Showtime Selfie


The Skimm on the Oscars

motherofpearl-smallMy friend recently turned me onto The Skimm. It’s just that….a skim of the news, what you need to know, what impact it has on your life, and who the players are in the story. As a journalist, I first thought it was not “good enough” for me. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a total snob. Which I admit I can be when it comes to current events. But here’s a confession – I can’t keep up with everything in full detail all the time and have a life that includes raising an 8-year-old! Ukraine, I hear ya! It’s a mess. But I’m trying to get my son to eat healthy, learn to tie his shoes and master long division!

So, I laughed out loud this morning BEFORE I even crawled out of bed after reading The Skimm’s run down on the Oscars and the best film nominations.The Oscars are on Sunday. And you have a lot of movies to cram in this weekend. Don’t stress. Here’s what you need to know about the best pic noms from The Skimm.


12 Years a Slave… A man is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Very hard to watch and if you don’t like it, you’re a bad person. Lupita Nyong’o. Know her.

The Wolf of Wall Street… It took three hours for Martin Scorsese to explain why you shouldn’t look up to Jordan Belfort and why you shouldn’t work on quaaludes.

Her… This is what happens when you like Siri too much.

Dallas Buyers Club… It took Jared Leto dressing like Kelly Bundy and Matthew McConaughey losing his entire BMI to become major Oscar contenders.

American Hustle… Bradley Cooper got a perm and made Amy Adams — in a weird accent — con some people. Kind of. Everyone said they really liked it but secretly didn’t.

Captain Phillips… Tom Hanks at sea again. But he’s kidnapped this time.

Gravity… Sandra Bullock desperately misses it when she’s lost in space. This is your worst nightmare.

Nebraska… Black and white. Road trip. Bruce Dern will make you cry.

Philomena… Judi Dench tries to find her son. Everyone likes Judi Dench.

Who will win?  Who cares!  It’s all about the red carpet and what the stars are wearing at the end of the day!


The Southerner and the City Goes to NY Fashion Week

GoldNew York Fashion week as come and gone.  However, some of the world’s leading fashion designers are still unveiling their collections in Milan, Italy this week. I hope to be in Milan in September, but for now I’m still marinating in the excitement and insanity of the Carolina Herrera show I attended during fashion week here in New York City.

Last February I participated in the festivities and fun of fashion week.  With Exclusive Resorts’ Andy Irving and Sage Fennig, I had access to the tents and some amazing shows.  Andy and his team planned four jam packed days of fashion shows, shopping, eating, drinking and of course people watching!  This year ER took their show on the road and is in Milan, as I type this post, taking in Prada, Gucci and well, you know, all of those other amazing Italian brands that make you think about taking out a second mortgage on your home! Hopefully Andy and Sage will share their photos and stories with me when they return.

This year I had access to some of the most sought after shows.  However, the ticket prices … yes you can buy a ticket to a fashion show … were astronomical.  For example, a ticket to the Carolina Herrera show which I really wanted to see was almost $2,000.  And no, that did not include any clothes!  I decided I’d pass on the ticket and check out the collection online for a lot less.

djnyfw1But my dream of seeing the show actually came true!  My friend Mayte ended up with tickets to the show.  Much to my shock and amazement, we had seats on the front row in the middle of the runway.  We could not have been any closer to the action.  And, we were seated next to New York Times fashion photographer and legend, Bill Cunningham.

Like last year, the best part of fashion week and the show is the people watching.  Carolina Herrera is a huge fashion brand with an A-list following of celebrities, fashion editors and stylists.  The show did not disappoint in the people watching department.  Molly Sims, Ivanka Trump, Brad Goreski and Tinsley Mortimer sat behind us.  While Anna Wintour, decked out in her perfect scowl and sunnies, along with the raven haired Grace Coddington sat further down the runway.

“It Girl” Karlie Kloss wore the first look of the show.  The dresses where what you would  expect from Herrera.  The were seriously feminine, flattering to a woman’s body with amazing tailoring and made of the most luxurious fabric.  My favorites included a long red dress and a black two piece ensemble with a sequined hooded top.  Simple and stunning.  The collection’s long emerald green dress trimmed in fur would make any Hollywood It Girl swoon.  The waist cinching belts and perfectly placed brooches were also a great touch from Herrera.  You can see the entire collection

Big RubeIf you are a fan of Bill Cunningham’s fashion coverage in the New York Times, then you should also check out Reuben Harley or Big Rube as he likes to be called, from the Philadelphia Daily News  He sat down next to me after the show while I was checking e-mails and returning phone calls.  We started chatting, he asked me about my Wolford stockings, by their EXACT name, and I knew he wasn’t just any photographer! Big Rube and I hit it off immediately.  And we even found a common Southern connection.  He has  an ease and grace about him that doesn’t lend itself to the frantic pace of the fashion world.  But he clearly has an eye for capturing the essence of a woman and all things fashion related. You can find more of his work

In an attempt to capture a photo of me and the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week logo, I ended up looking like a sales person for Mercedes-Benz don’t you think!  Oh, well!  I’ve included it in the mix of photos from the day.

You can keep up with all of DJ’s adventures in the Big Apple by following her on Twitter @mrsdjduckworth and on Facebook at DJ Cunningham Duckworth. DJ is a contributing writer for New York Family magazine. She lives in Manhattan with her three boys; Mark, Corbin and Leo – woof, woof

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Southerner and the City: D.J. Works Out with Celeb Trainer David Kirsch

DJ on the Beachyellow plumsStaying physically fit has always been a top priority for me. If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you that I’m either heading to a yoga or work out class of some flavor. Spending more than 10 years on television – first as a reporter and later as a spokesperson – added extra pressure to stay trim, too. And of course, you can’t rule out vanity! I want to look good.

However, there have been times when I wasn’t in the best shape. The freshman 15 showed up during the second semester of college. It’s hard to drink beer, eat pizza, study and stay trim. After I got married, a few more pounds made their way onto my frame. We were hop scotching all over the place, eating, drinking and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. When things finally slowed down, I found out I was pregnant. Hello, 40 pounds.

Fast forward seven years, I am looking pretty good physically if I do say so myself. It didn’t happen without a tremendous amount of discipline, hard work and some words of encouragement though. Actually, they were not words of encouragement. They were the words that every married woman NEVER wants to hear her husband say. It went something like this, “Honey, that’s not fat. That’s just a midlife pooch.” Lucky for him and more importantly my son, he is still alive and breathing.

It was all I needed to hear – coupled with the fact that my parents had both recently committed to starting a medically supervised weight loss program. My Father is a two-time heart attack survivor with diabetes. My Mom is in overall good health but needed to drop some weight. They made up there minds they were going to stick to the plan and started with fierce determination. I’ve included a photo of them from Christmas. I am so proud of them for their accomplishments.

My parents’ weight loss, along with my husbands poor choice of words, were all the encouragement I needed to start a serious workout plan. My three times a week yoga sessions were keeping me flexible and calm, but I needed to tone and tighten up my 1970s model body. I was on a mission. I stumbled across a video clip of Heidi Klum’s trainer, David Kirsch. I clicked on it, liked it and started doing some research. During this process ironically, I met David backstage at a fashion show at Lincoln Center in September. He and his adorable twin girls were taking part in the show that I was helping with. After introducing myself, I told him I wanted to start working out and liked his approach to training women, specifically. Shortly afterwards, I called and made an appointment with him at the Madison Square Club.

David is known for whipping Heidi Klum back into runway shape for a Victoria’s Secret show after giving birth. He has also worked with Anne Hathaway, Ellen Barkin, Linda Evangelista and Liv Tyler. While I will never be a supermodel or look like one, I decided it would be great to train like one. David’s approach is all about wellness, focusing on your diet and your workout. He helped me clean up my diet and his team of trainers kicked my butt into shape! I am lean, tone, slimmer and happier about my overall physical health thanks to David and his crew.

So you may be thinking, “That’s great D.J., but how can I work out like that”?

It’s really easy, actually, thanks to technology. David has an online workout/wellness plan called The Ultimate New York Body Plan. It is an online training plan you use at home. Once you sign up, you have to enter information based on your health, physical fitness level, eating habits and most importantly your goals. The work outs are designed for your body type and your fitness level.

Several of my girlfriends have agreed to start The Ultimate New York Body Plan compliments of David. Over the next several weeks, the girls will be doing the workouts, following David’s eating plans and incorporating his supplements into their daily routines. I’m looking forward to seeing their results, gathering feedback and keeping YOU informed on their transformations. This is not all about losing weight. It is about being fit, healthy and well in 2013.

Stay tuned for more on the results from my girlfriends as they get “Kirsched.” Thank you, David Kirsch. You are an inspiration to us all!

Keep up with D.J’s adventures in the Big Apple by following her on Twitter @mrsdjduckworth and on Facebook. DJ is a contributing writer for New York Family magazine. She lives in Manhattan with her three boys, Mark, Corbin and Leo – woof, woof!