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A Grand Slam for Lexus

A Grand Slam for Lexus 5.00/5 2 votes

Cathy's Car Corner on SmartFemI don’t know if it’s the opening of baseball season or what but, when I told my grandson I was testing the 2014 Lexus GS 350 Sedan he said, “Wow, Lexus makes a Grand Slam Sedan?” Let’s attribute that statement to the five precious years he’s been on this planet and the fact he plays T-Ball learning new terminology weekly. Either way, I thought to myself that the initials GS could very well stand for a Grand Slam on the part of Lexus. They developed a car filled with interior and exterior amenities way beyond the reach of Derek Jeter or Joe DiMaggio.

2014 Lexus GS 350 SedanI’ve probably test driven every Lexus to date and can’t find much wrong with any of them. I’ve always felt that Lexus was the epitome of luxury, style and comfort. I’m not sure if it’s because I get to travel behind the scenes at press meetings where I meet with the engineers, designers and technology experts or because when I drive them I feel kind of like Audrey Hepburn complete with black dress and pearls.

The craftsmanship and perfection of the Lexus brand makes me enamored with everything from their hand stitched leather steering wheels to the (tuned to perfection) sound systems. Whatever it is, I believe there is a model for you within the right price range and with appropriate amenities.

My most recent test drive in the 2014 Lexus GS Sedan was a 40 minute drive to see my 5 year old grandson take a swat at the ball and run the bases with such ease while focusing on the fundamentals his father/coach taught him. This is much like the way Lexus sprints past its competition while remaining true to its roots with great engineering and good looks.

2014 Lexus GS 350 Sedan_interior_Phoenix_AZFor 2014 the GS 350 boasts an 8-speed shift enabled automatic transmission along with the welcomed steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. You’ll find efficient LED daytime running lights, front fog/driving lights and Apple’s Siri eyes-free iPhone interface with steering wheel mounted controls. All of this has taken the Lexus GS up a notch making it quite the global brand.

What hasn’t changed is the Lexus legacy with the posh features we’ve grown to know and love such as 17 inch alloy wheels, heated reverse-tilting power mirrors and a power sunroof. There is leather upholstery and power adjustable front seats along with leather, wood, and simulated alloy cabin accents to embellish the interior. The split folding rear seatbacks add a little more room to the car’s spacious 14.3 cubic foot trunk capacity for 2014. I tested the trunk with two sets of golf clubs, a cooler filled with box juice for the team and those folding chairs you can purchase at Sam’s Club so you look like all the other millennium parents lined up at the fence watching the games.

2014 Lexus GS 350 Sedan_exterior_Phoenix_AZA Few Facts on the 2014 Lexus GS 350

  • Price Range: 47,250 – 49,950
  • Engine: 3.5L V6 – 306 Horsepower
  • GS 350 – GS 350 F Sport – GS 450 H
  • Economy (MPG) – 19 City 28 Highway

I have found safety to be the biggest concern for women when shopping for any vehicle in any price range, and they rank the GS 350 as a favorite. The GS 350 includes all wheels Antilock Brake System (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags and front head restraint whiplash protection. Optional safety equipment includes a blind spot alert system, Lexus’ self explanatory Intuitive Parking Assist, lane-departure warning and pre-collision preparation accompanying radar-based adaptive cruise control. The Heads Up Display can project key information to appear six feet in front of you providing you vital information. Lexus technology keeps improving to keep us more focused on the road, not on the phone or flipping for music or checking Facebook.

The cockpit of the car evokes luxury amongst the smell of leather and wood grain finishes, but if you look at the instruments and controls of the GS 350 you will see some very cool features. There is a drive mode select that allows you to turn a dial to your desired ride such as Eco, Normal and Sport S. Lexus 350 Dial for EcoThese three choices allow you to make your vehicle more responsive or efficient with the simple turn of the dial. Eco mode moderates the throttle response, engine power output and climate settings for increased fuel efficiency. Normal mode provides the optimal balance of fuel efficiency and engine performance. Sport mode alters the powertrain for faster gear changes and more dynamic throttle charting. I feel like you get three cars for the price of one… just dial for the situation or your mood.

WeddingTBallPumpkin023When I left the game on Saturday in Ahwatukee, I was impressed with a team of six year old boys and girls who were having so much fun; trying to hit a ball, run to bases they seemed oblivious to and “high- fiving” coaches who possess the patience of saints. Leaving with all of this in mind I dialed my Lexus GS 350 to normal mode because that is what this day felt like.

Out of the mouth of babes the fancy Lexus GS 350 really is a “Grand Slam” and for now on that’s what I will call it. As far as I’m concerned Lexus hit one out of the park… again.


Cathy Droz-Two for the Road_585

For more reviews go to and here on


Ending Homelessness in Phoenix

Ending Homelessness in Phoenix 4.80/5 5 votes

Most people think of the homeless as disheveled adults with signs next to the freeway ramps begging for a handout.  The staggering statistics that we don’t talk about is that 1 in 4 children are at or below the poverty level.   There is some good news however; these numbers are changing due to the amazing efforts of some of the valley’s leaders.

Darlene Newsom, CEO of UMOM and Debbie Gaby, of Sleep America Charities met with me to discuss some of the ways the homeless have been able to successfully transition into society again.  The idea that the majority of the homeless don’t work simply is not true.  The biggest population of homelessness is created by families of the working poor.  These families work hard, but due to the low wages of Arizona and the high costs of daycare it renders many incapable of sustaining themselves and their families.

within art debbie

Debbie Gaby and Darlene Newsom

UMOM has an all-inclusive program that not only shelters these families, but gives them the support they need but also the important life skills needed to further advance them into society. These life skills include programs such as counseling, parenting classes, interview skills, and safe daycare for their children.  The shelter is almost fully self-contained with a beautiful daycare center, full medical center as well as a culinary school to help its residents learn valuable practices they can use in the outside world.  The residents can stay up to seven years in transitional homes so that they can finish their education and gain the necessary skills to become self-supporting.

A great deal of planning and services has gone into the program to ensure the successful transition for its residents.  Debbie Gaby, of Sleep America Charities was on hand to discuss her partnership with the UMOM organization.  Sleep American Charities and Tempur-Pedic donated an astounding 140 beds.   These are some of the most expensive luxury beds on the market and they are also made of hypoallergenic materials. Since dust mites and bed bugs cannot penetrate the mattresses, this makes them perfect for the homeless.  The beds may be expensive but they will last longer and they don’t have to be replaced as often.

playgroundHomelessness is a problem but it does have a solution. If we all would write a check to organizations such as UMOM instead of giving our cash to the homeless we could actually make an even bigger difference.   UMOM has a high rate of success for successfully transitioning the homeless.



Remember the donations that you make can put an end to homelessness and hunger for a child.

Women’s Enterprise Foundation- Supporting Women Entrepreneurs

Women’s Enterprise Foundation- Supporting Women Entrepreneurs 5.00/5 2 votes

The Women’s Enterprise Foundation is an organization that provides women business owners with resources to help them grow as women in the business world. WEF has been around since 1991, making a difference in women’s lives and businesses.

wefwomen200Julie Heiland, President of WEF has worked her way up the ladder. She was a scholarship winner three years ago, and has come a long way since then. She is excited to spread the work about WEF because she knows how much it can help women business owners. “I wanted to give back, so I became president elect last year,” said Julie. “It has made me a stronger business person,” she added.

Carmella Dodge is very passionate about this organization and what it has to offer. While she has always been the giver, she finally feels like she is the receiver. “I’ve always generated for others, but I never had the business skills to generate for myself,” said Carmella. She believes that WEF can open many doors, and create strong connections between women across the globe. “We are not only building the relationships with the women, we are building friendships,” she said.

WEF offers scholarships and grants that allow women business owners to continue in their path to success. They recognize that women are an important part of the business community, and empower them to reach their fullest potential.

One of the scholarship winners this year is Carrie Severson founder of Severson Sisters, a non- profit organization that helps women increase their self-esteem.

WEF’s next fundraising event will be one you will not want to miss. Joie de Vivire will take place at the National Bank of Arizona Conference Center. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine and a fashion show with one of a kind Alexander McQueen inspired botanical dresses. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Beyoncé Comes to Phoenix

Beyoncé Comes to Phoenix 4.50/5 2 votes

On Saturday, December 7th, 2013, Beyoncé made another stop for her tour, The Mrs. Carter Show, in Phoenix, Arizona.

People of every ethnicity and age came out to the long awaited concert. Lines stretched out from U.S. Airways Center, exceeding the maximum capacity, and requiring the security to create alternate entrances for the ticket-holders.beyonce585

JohnJay and Rich had a red carped laid out outside of the arena to make every guest feel like a celebrity. They made it an entertaining wait for the thousands of people waiting outside.

Luke James opened the show with his passionate and seductive music. While he isn’t a household name yet, he did not disappoint his audience.

jjrWhile concerts’ main goal is usually to entertain, Beyoncé made it so much more than that. She shared clips about how important it is to give back to the community. Something we recently talked about in Oscar De Las Salas’ article.

She also educated her audience throughout the concert. “We fight to find who we are,” she said. A quote that fits every single individual in their journey in trying to find themselves through life.

The Mrs. Carter Show was one for the books. From the stage setup, to every dance number, the concert had everyone on their feet.

B remains the Queen.

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding Star-Studded Event Kicks Off the Holiday Season in High Gear!

Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding Star-Studded Event Kicks Off the Holiday Season in High Gear! 5.00/5 4 votes

Christmas came a little early this year thanks to Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding event. The Solid Rock Foundation puts on a Christmas show yearly to benefit The Solid Rock Teen Center. The show is always a little different and this year was no exception.  This year’s event was hosted this past Saturday December 7th at the Comerica Theatre. It was amazing to see all the rock stars of my childhood come together under one roof to aid Sheryl and Alice Cooper in their quest for keeping teens safe. pudding300

This year’s line-up included:  Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer of Kiss, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Kip Winger of Winger and Joan Jett.  Seinfeld Star John O’Hurley hosted the show, and Bill Engvall was a special guest comedian.

This year’s event was very special as Rock Demarco, the world’s fastest painter enlisted the help of Alice and Sheryl Cooper to help him propose on stage to girlfriend Olivia Haine. Demarco comes out to paint some of the celebrities every year for Christmas Pudding to serve as auction items. This year he painted legendary rocker Joan Jett, and the man himself, Alice Cooper.puddingproposal200

It is fun to work with people who are passionate about what they do and give a hundred percent every time. That is one of the things that endear me personally to Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock in addition to Alice and Sheryl Cooper and the entire Solid Rock Team.

The Cooper’s are a very community-minded and gracious couple, and that is why celebrities donate their time to Christmas Pudding every year!

pudding200I would also like to publically acknowledge Coye Pointer of Scottsdale Airpark Dodge and Cherylanne DeVita of DeVita International who have been generous Solid Rock sponsors for years, and who I have the honor and privilege of working with on

Christmas is a very special time of the year; help Alice and his friends keep teens safe by giving them the gift of music, dance, self-esteem and a sense of belonging.  To find out more go to

Also to see more photos of this fabulous event check out our Facebook page,

Photos courtesy of Surrealsister Photography

Sister Mary Kateri – The Journey to Guilt Free Living

Sister Mary Kateri – The Journey to Guilt Free Living 5.00/5 1 vote

Patty Kogutek, also known as Sister Mary Kateri, stopped by SmartFem to share about her life journey and accomplishments.

With an award-winning book under her belt, and numerous public speaking appearances, Patty has had a lot of success. But that’s not the only side to Patty. Her experience and journey has molded her into the wonderful individual she is today. For Patty it has been to live life guilt free, and she might have just achieved it.

patty1Patty Ptak Kogutek was born in Omaha Nebraska, where she attended all catholic schools. Right out of high school she decided to enter the convent. While her parents were against it, they ultimately supported her in her decision and finally approved. Patty felt that she needed to be of service to God, and a good way of doing that was to enter the convent, where she would dedicate all of her time to him.

According to Patty the first two years at the convent were the toughest, as they were the most strict. “They want to mold you into a wonderful nun…leaving the material world behind,” said Patty. They were not allowed to talk about anything personal. She felt that they were trying to take away her personality.

After spending seven years of her young life in the convent, Patty decided it was time for a change. She was ready to live her life. She moved to California with her parents and brother. As she had already been teaching in the convent, she had a college degree, but decided to go back to school to be able to teach in the state of California.

Education became a huge part of Patty’s life. She received her Doctrine at USC and worked as a principle. She later worked at the San Diego County office. She retired 12 years ago, but only to do bigger and better things.

Patty’s life is far from perfect, but she knows how to make the best of it. She has been divorced, broke off an engagement, and then married again, but she doesn’t let that define her. She lets all those imperfections let her grow and learn as she lives her life one day at a time.

bookThe once nun did not completely leave God behind, she simply learned that she could live her life and serve God at the same time. Patty’s first secret from her 7 Secrets of Guilt-Free Living reads, “Don’t let religion get in the way of your relationship with God. “That is what living guilt free is. It is being OK with with saying no, being OK with living for yourself, and being OK with looking after you before anybody else.

It took Patty about four years to write her book A Change of Habit. Not because it wasn’t a priority, but because it became difficult to dig back into her memories. Patty and her husband split their time between Phoenix and Montana. They are hoping to relocate to Phoenix permanently.

While it seems like Patty has done it all, she is not done yet. She says she wants a bigger platform to accomplish even bigger goals. Could writing for SmartFem be one of them? Stay tuned!

Financing Your Plastic Surgery

Financing Your Plastic Surgery 5.00/5 2 votes

SmartFem’s Phoenix plastic surgery expert Dr. Richard Joseph Brown “Dr. Rick” continues our series on plastic surgery with the topic of financing plastic surgery.

So you’ve made the decision to have plastic surgery. You’ve interviewed surgeons. You’ve researched the procedures you are contemplating. You’ve even checked out a local Phoenix area plastic surgeon’s website and watched the 3D animation of your procedure (wink wink). Maybe the only thing that is holding you back is money.

Consider this­: Know up front that plastic surgery will need to be paid in full prior to the procedure. If a lump sum is not an option – and for most people, it isn’t – there are two other financing options to look at.

fianance300Layaway – Not just for Kmart. All kidding aside, some of our most financially savvy patients, who are eager to get going, plan ahead. He or she picks a date in the future (within 6 months) and we work individually to take payment bi-weekly or monthly until the procedure is paid in full. Then, come surgery time, all that is left to think about is how to relax after surgery and take care of yourself so that you heal quickly.

Another financing option is called Care Credit, offered through GE Capital Retail Bank and applying is quick, easy and secure. Plus you’ll know within minutes if you qualify. Care Credit allows you to pay over time, instead of a lump sum prior to surgery. They even have a no-interest option if paid off in six months. You can finance all of your procedure, or if you have some cash saved that you’d like to use, Care Credit can cover the remainder. Care Credit offers a payment calculator on their website so that you can see right away what your monthly payments would be.

Check out and call us with any questions. We’re happy to help.

Dr. Richard Joseph Brown “Dr. Rick”  is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon serving the Phoenix, AZ area with practices located in Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as Sun City West.  Dr. Rick is an expert in the field of plastic surgery and frequently contributes to SmartFem.

Dr. Richard Brown_plastic surgury_Phoenix


Maids to Order, Personalized Housekeeping for Phoenix

October 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Home, Latest SmartFem Recommended

Maids to Order, Personalized Housekeeping for Phoenix 4.70/5 10 votes

Cleaning Arizona One House at a Time

One Maid, One Home!

Maids to Order is A National Franchise of Full Service Cleaning and Housekeeping Professionals.  Established in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004.  Corporate Headquarters in Cleveland Ohio, since 1988.

Our ONE MAID, ONE HOME policy gives you PEACE OF MIND and MORE TIME… experience the PERSONAL TOUCH difference today!

Maids to Order provides housekeeping services for people who are tired of team cleaning, want One Maid in their home, that is customized to their liking and that fits well within their budget. Other services include property management, personal assistant and errand services.

Maids to Order give you our Personal Touch promise to treat your home as if it were our own. While some companies send teams of cleaners and others force you on a rotation plan. Our philosophy is simple, we will meet with you personally to discuss your cleaning needs and develop a custom service plan to fit your lifestyle and schedule. Our franchisees cross train their staff so in cases of unforeseen circumstances your regular Maid can be substituted by another Maid who knows your home and cleaning preferences.

OUR 100% GUARANTEE: We expect to earn your trust with every cleaning.  We don’t require signed contracts and we guarantee our work. If you’re not satisfied, neither are we. Call us within 24 hours of the cleaning and we’ll re-clean the unsatisfactory area immediately, for FREE.

Gift Certificates in any denomination for house cleaning services are always available:  Call our office for details! We even deliver them to you, up to 40 miles.

Call us for a FREE in-home estimate! 
Like us on Facebook!

8280 East Gelding Drive — Suite 102
Scottsdale, AZ 85260



Call 480 607 3330

Residential/Office/Commercial Cleaning Franchise, Maids To Order Of Maricopa County, AZ,  located in the Scottsdale Airpark.  Maids To Order services Residential/Apartment-Condo (MOVE-IN/MOVE-OUT, HOTEL READY), Office Cleaning and Commercial offices. Bonded and Insured. Member of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and the  Better Business Bureau, Service Magic and Linkedin.

Volvo of Phoenix

September 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Auto/Motorcycle, Latest SmartFem Recommended

Volvo of Phoenix 5.00/5 4 votes

Home to one of the largest selections of new Volvo cars in the valley

When making such an important purchase, it is essential to shop with a reputable dealer who will not leave you stranded after the sale. Volvo of Phoenix is staffed with sales and service professionals who truly care about your vehicle buying experience, just as much as they care about your ownership experience. Our associates have the knowledge and expertise to help you find a vehicle that perfectly suits your lifestyle and budget, and after you drive off our lot, you can expect that our Volvo repair and service technicians will continuously follow up with you to ensure that your vehicle stays in tip-top shape.

Pristine Selection

Volvo of Phoenix 2014 S80 sedanVolvo of Phoenix offers the full line of 2014 cars, crossovers and SUVs, including models like the S60, S80, XC60 and XC90. Along with our selection of new Volvo cars, you can also check out our fantastic collection of used and Certified Pre-Owned Volvo cars.

Quality Service

At Volvo of Phoenix, we not only want to pair you up with a vehicle that’s your “perfect match.” We also want to help you retain the value, safety and quality of your vehicle, and service is a huge part of this. You may think that it’s cheaper to have your car serviced at a chain, but studies actually show that on average consumers pay less when they have their vehicles serviced at a dealership. In addition to having competitive prices on service and repairs, Volvo of Phoenix offers courtesies like shuttle service and free car washes. We also have a wonderful complimentary maintenance plan in which all of your routine, factory-scheduled services are free for up to 5 years when you purchase select vehicles!

We have one of the only repair facilities in the area that is staffed by manufacturer-trained Volvo technicians, and you can get their incredible workmanship at incredible prices by using our service coupons.

Visit us today at 2205 W Bell Road and see why many of your friends and neighbors have made us their premier Volvo dealership in Phoenix.

Volvo of Phoenix

Map it! Volvo of Phoenix 2014 XC90 SUV2205 W Bell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85023

Sales: (888) 351 – 8804

Sales Hours:
•  Monday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
•  Tuesday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
•  Wednesday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
•  Thursday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
•  Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
•  Saturday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
•  Sunday: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

Volvo of Phoenix – How Safe is a Volvo

SmartFem publisher Lea Haben presents Volvo of Phoenix on ABC15 Sonoran Living Live to talk about how safe and affordable a new Volvo is today.

Grandparents on the Go – Butterfly Wonderland

Grandparents on the Go – Butterfly Wonderland 5.00/5 1 vote


It is nearly impossible not to smile when a butterfly enters your vision.  Now imagine thousands of them, and Phoenix is probably the last place you would expect to witness that, especially in a rainforest environment.  Since opening in May of this year, Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale boasts the largest butterfly atrium in America!  Due to its lush, tropical environment, it is also most likely the only butterfly atrium where you feel like you have had a moisturizing facial along with your visit…

Butterfly Wonderland - Grandparents on the Go - SmartFemFar more than just a facility where butterflies rule, you will find several other live exhibits to fascinate your grandchildren and yourselves.  To get in the spirit of things, begin in their fabulous 3-D theater to watch the Flight of the Butterflies.  This movie chronicles the amazing journey of the Monarch Butterfly.  Your little ones will thrill at the butterflies soaring within their grasp.  Next you will enter the Emergence Gallery where you will witness various species of butterflies emerging from their chrysalises, their metamorphosis complete.

Our grandkids were really fascinated with the Live Aunt Colony and the Honey Bee Extravaganza. Watching those industrious creatures made us adults feel rather lazy in comparison! The Rivers of the Amazon exhibit showcases freshwater aquatic life up close, and even includes a baby stingray petting pool.

Above all is the Butterfly Conservatory, the magical centerpiece of this extraordinary facility!  By all means, bring your camera to this lush atrium that is adorned with tropical plants, waterfalls, koi pond, and thousands of butterflies that travelled here as chrysalises from as far away as Thailand! An equatorial climate awaits; a feast for the senses!  Be sure to school your grandchildren beforehand regarding the basic rules; no touching the butterflies, watch where you step, and enjoy it when they choose you as a landing spot! It is easy to lose track of time while watching these beautiful creatures.

Butterfly Wonderland - Grandparents on the Go - SmartFemIf You Go:

Butterfly Wonderland
9500 E Via De Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
Food Items available
Gift Shop
Open 7 days a week, 9am-5pm
Adults $18.95 ; Student, Military and 62+ $16.95; Children 3-11 $9.95
2 and under free, strollers welcome

Check out their website for group rates, annual passes and private event rates

Please no sunscreen – since butterflies ‘taste’ with their feet, if they land on you  it can interfere with their ability to taste ( A Fun Fact courtesy of a Butterfly Wonderland Volunteer)


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