Saturday, December 3, 2011

Invitation to Shop

Rue La La is one of my favorite places to find deals on designer clothes, shoes, gifts and more for men, women and children. New brands are featured everyday, from Cuisinart and Kate Spade to Nanette Lepore and Cynthia Steffe. If you would like to try out the site, click here. You will get a $10 gift card to start your shopping off right -- but only if you join through this link.

As everyone is shopping this time of year, why not save a few bucks, too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Special Anniversary

Earlier this month, Chapin and I celebrated eight years of marriage. Since we actually got married on the fourth anniversary of our first date, that means we have been together a total of 12 years. It's hard to believe it has been that long!

Our Eighth Wedding Anniversary
I met Chapin in 1999, when I was in my last year of college at Emory and he was in his last year of college at Georgia Tech. We are both shy individuals, so it took awhile for us to feel comfortable around each other and to really be ourselves. Soon, though, we just started clicking, and after the first three months together, I think I knew he was the one. I definitely knew I was in love.

This anniversary was more low-key for us because we just returned from a fabulous vacation in Puerto Rico. (I still have to go through all the photos, but I hope to update this blog soon with an account of our travels. It's also why I look more tan than usual!) Chapin surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to my office, and that night, we went to our favorite Italian restaurant, Nino's, for dinner.

Bouquet from Chapin on my Desk

I still have dresses in my closet that I bought years ago but, for some reason, never wore, so I decided to choose one of those unloved dresses for our anniversary night out. This A.B.S. by Allen Schwartz Strapless Ruffled Lace Dress has some intricate lace detail on the bodice, and an A-line silhouette that is flattering on a variety of body types. I paired it with some Betsey Johnson peep-toes that also have lace detailing, and a black and silver clutch.

Chapin is growing his hair longer for a different look, and I just love it. He is so handsome and sexy, especially with that facial scruff. I'm glad after all these years that I still love him just as much as when we were first together. Happy Anniversary!

Starting Our Life Together

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Relaxing Week in Puerto Rico...

Sipping a Coconut in the Rainforest
This October, Chapin and I took a much needed vacation, visiting Puerto Rico for the first time. The Caribbean sun, short (and very reasonably priced) flight and the fact that we wouldn't need to go through customs made Puerto Rico a perfect destination for us.

Chapin and I have both been working extremely hard lately, and we saw this time away as an opportunity to reconnect with each other, as well as to rest, relax and replenish our energies for the busy winter months ahead.

We picked a great day to leave Atlanta, as the temperature started to dramatically drop right as we touched down in Puerto Rico. Our flight did not take off until noon, so by the time we made it to our hotel, the La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort, we were ready for dinner. 

This Mariott hotel (thank you, Mariott reward points) was probably one of the nicest hotels we have ever stayed in, not including the Four Seasons Atlanta Hotel we stayed in on our wedding night, and the Rihga Royal Hotel we stayed in one time when Chapin accompanied me to New York for a movie junket. Since our room wasn't quite ready when we arrived, we walked from the hotel to a nearby restaurant that the hotel recommended: Casa Lola.

As we were browsing the menu, we realized that a popular fish in Puerto Rico shares its name with my husband. After that, whenever someone asked Chapin his name, he would say, "like the fish!" It was very cute.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to change and hang out at the bar in the hotel lobby. We had a few drinks but did not stay too long since we were so exhausted from our travels. The next morning, it was so amazing to wake up to the sound of the waves on the beach. I could definitely get used to that.

The amazing view from our room in Puerto Rico

Our first full day in Puerto Rico, we decided to just relax and enjoy ourselves. We switched back and forth between the beach and the "adults only" infinity pool. I didn't check my work email, either. I just read my Kindle, drank frothy, calorific drinks and napped in the sun. It was heavenly.

That evening, we decided to walk to a restaurant that was about a mile away. Chapin assured me that the walk would be worth it, so I put on my new MICHAEL Michael Kors Halter Maxi Dress that I had bought especially for the trip -- with Chapin's blessing -- and we headed out.

We walked and walked, from the hotel through suburban Puerto Rican neighborhoods, where we saw nannies with young children and people out walking their dogs after the end of the workday. Finally, we reached our destination... which turned out to be more of a grocery store/ deli than a restaurant. We looked at each other and decided to head back. We would not be eating there after all.

We had passed a Mexican restaurant on the way, so that's where we ended up about 20 minutes later. We ordered margaritas and browsed the menu. Chapin wasn't impressed, so we left after our drinks... which were literally the strongest margaritas I had ever had in my life. After finishing mine on an empty stomach, I was DRUNK. We went back to the hotel and ended up eating a very nice meal in the pricey hotel restaurant. I had seafood. That's about all I remember.

The rest of the trip, we decided to do at least one activity before heading to the pool and/or beach to relax the afternoon away.

We visited the Bacardi Rum Distillery on our second day there, where we got two free drinks and learned about the history of the famed brand in Puerto Rico. (The tour was free.) It was so much fun to be drinking before noon on a weekday! We also picked up some special aged run for Chapin's father (and Chapin), and I got the cutest hoodie for myself. I did not bring any long sleeved shirts with me, and I wanted something casual I could put over my bathing suit when the sun would start to set.

After our tour, we headed back to the hotel, where we immediately went to the beach. Since the beach was man made, the waves were very rough, and I lost my Fendi sunglasses that I'd had for years in the surf. Chapin told me he was actually very glad, because he hated those sunglasses. It was nice to know that after I'd been wearing them for years! I got some new sunglasses in Old San Juan: the Christian Dior Lady Dior Sunglasses. I cringe to see how discounted they are, because I had to pay full price in Puerto Rico. Argh!

That night, we decided to try a restaurant in town that we had read about online: Jose Enrique. This time, we made sure it was a real restaurant... and it was. There was a long wait, so we decided to get a drink, and ended up across the street in an area of town called "Taberna Los Vazquez-la Placita." We got some strange looks, and after speaking to a "local" who spoke English, realized that it wasn't a place very many tourists frequented. That made it all the more authentic for us - a real Puerto Rican experience. And the wait was worth it... the food at Jose Enrique was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating. (And I like to eat!)

The next day, we decided to visit Old San Juan.

We walked around for several hours and treated ourselves to some chocolate ice cream. The views were amazing. Here I am in my new Dior sunglasses and a Juicy Couture strapless polka dot terry cloth sundress. It's the most comfortable little dress for outings on a hot day!

We ate at an Italian restaurant called Vittorino that night, which was in the same area of town as Jose Enrique. We actually weren't sure the restaurant was even open, but then we saw what we thought was a patron walk in. It turned out to be the owner of the restaurant, and even though it was only 8:30 p.m., the restaurant was, in fact, closed. An upscale place, and very small, Vittorino has to limit the number of people who can get a table. We were fortunate enough to get one, because it was our second best meal in Puerto Rico. Our waiter also looked like Johnny Depp, which helped make the overall experience even better.

I wore this magenta Shoshanna Faille Seamed Bodice Tank Dress to dinner. I think the pink hue helped highlight my burgeoning tan. This dress was also spotted on E! News anchor Ashlan Gorse.

On one of our final days in Puerto Rico, we decided to tour the El Yunque Tropical Rainforest. It was a long drive, but we saw some amazing feats of nature, including the world's smallest orchid. Chapin managed to get some great shots of the little orchid, like this one. The little red bud is the orchid!

There are so many favorite photos from the rainforest tour -- the waterfall, the view, the huge spider web! -- but I think this one is my favorite:

Our last night in Puerto Rico, we decided to go back to Jose Enrique, because the food was just that good. I wore this gorgeous Nanette Lepore Silver Blaze Cami Dress.

The food was just as good as we remembered!

Our last morning in Puerto Rico, we got up early and spent the morning swimming and lounging at the pool. All too soon, it was time to pack up for our return trip to Atlanta. I was excited to see my family and George, but going back home after a vacation is always bittersweet.

Dogs on the Woof

A few days before Halloween, Chapin, George and I attended Dogs on the Woof, held on the roof of the Loews Hotel Atlanta. A professional photographer took some great shots of George at this event, where a portion of the proceeds helped benefit the Atlanta Pet Rescue organization, and this one is by far my favorite:

The photographer, Alecia Lauren, somehow managed -- despite all the commotion around us -- to get George to sit still long enough for several great shots. She did such a good job I may hire her for one of our next family photo shoots.

Since there was going to be a costume contest, we decided that a pumpkin, his 2011 costume, wasn't competitive enough, so we put him in a costume he wore several years ago: a caterpillar. I love the little bow tie, the tentacles and all the little feet going up the sides of the costume.

The way he is wearing his hood with the tentacles flying out reminds me of an old fashioned pilot's cap.

The way this costume is made, with helpful Velcro closures, even makes George seem slim! With their hearty little body types, pugs are hard to fit, and most clothing that fits George around the neck and middle ends up being too long. This costume fits better than most of his other costumes, which have included, over the years:
  • Pumpkin
  • Dragon
  • Giraffe
  • Gangster
  • Football Player

I think George enjoyed all the attention he received at the Dogs on the Woof event, although he did not place in the costume contest. Several people came up to us afterward and said they thought we should have won, but a Ghostbuster took that honor instead. The prizes were awesome, though, so we will probably attend next year with a more competitive mindset.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This Coat is It!

I am currently on the hunt for a new winter coat, and am in love with the Jessica Coat in Macrame (White) from Elie Tahari. There is nothing as classic as a white wool winter coat. This one is pretty pricey, though, so it will most likely stay out of reach for now!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Chapin and I had fun dressing up this Halloween as... brain-eating, blood-dripping ZOMBIES!

Although I was hesitant about the zombie idea -- I figured that, with the success of shows like The Walking Dead and other news about the zombie apocalypse, everyone would be dressing as zombies -- Chapin eventually talked me into it. Since he is growing his hair out, he wanted a costume where he could do something crazy with it, and a decaying zombie would be perfect.

I am actually an Undead Teacher's Pet, so I got to be a sexy zombie. I guess that's why Halloween is one of my favorite holidays... because, for just one night, you can dress crazy and provocative (and get away with it). The skirt on this costume was so short that I could not bend over to grab some candy corn, but hey, it's Halloween!

Chapin is actually a character from Shaun of the Dead, a zombie spoof movie that still scares me, which should tell you that although I like dressing up as a zombie, watching movies about them is another story. I refuse to watch The Walking Dead, and scenes from 28 Days Later still haunt me. (And, no, that's not a sequel to the Sandra Bullock say no to drugs romantic comedy of a similar name.)

I did have fun doing the makeup for our costumes, though. I got to do a crazy, smoky eye on me, and Chapin let me make up his eyes as well. (The "blood" on his face is all him.) I also got to use a lot of hair spray on Chapin's head. His hair was so sprayed that my 11-year-old self from 1989 would have been proud.

Speaking of 1989, I watched Teen Witch for the first time in years during ABC Family's Halloween movie marathon this weekend. What a terrible movie, but somehow that "Never Gonna Be... the Same Again" song still got stuck in my head.

And finally, since I could not find a zombie costume for George, he ended up being a Halloween pumpkin. Doesn't he look happy to be in his costume?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sale Alert

It's finally Friday, and there are some amazing sales going on this weekend that I want to bring to your attention:

Nanette Lepore: Friends and Family Sale

October 7 - 10, 2011
Enter Code FFF11 at Checkout for 20% Off Your Order!
Code will not work on sale items.

Tory Burch: Friends and Family Sale

October 7 - 10, 2011
Enter Code FRIENDS2011 at Checkout for 25% Off Your Order!
Code will not work on specific items like the Reva Ballet Flats, but will work on sale merchandise!

Several retail sites are also marking down Summer items as we go deeper into the Fall season, including:
Featured Pick:
Shoshanna Sweetheart Strapless Dress
Was: $385
Now: $115
Featured Pick:
Tracy Reese Contrast Dress
Was:  $257.40
Now: $  77.22
Featured Pick:
Max & Cleo Sleeveless Tucked Dress
Was:  $148.00
Now: $  51.80

Happy Columbus Day Shopping!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Little Bit of Paris...

I've been a little bit obsessed with Paris lately. I think it's because the setting is prevalent in two novels I am currently reading: The Night Circus and The Story Sisters (only $1.99 for the Kindle), which I actually finished this morning. (Am I the only one who mourns novels once I'm done reading that last page? You get to know the characters so well, and then suddenly, they're gone from your life. Sigh...)

Chapin and I are hoping to take a trip to France and Italy next year, but for the time being, we're making do with French restaurants like Bistro Niko, where we ate dinner this past Wednesday night. Since George was with me at the office most of the afternoon, we didn't feel guilty going out for the evening, and I hate missing out on any opportunity to dress up.

Here I am before we left for dinner. (I wanted to show a picture with Chapin, but his head was cut off in all the shots!) I'm actually wearing a dress that I have never worn before. I've owned it for probably close to four years, and for some reason or another, just never wore it. (It's terrible to admit, but I think I actually forgot about it.) The dress is a corset dress from Nanette Lepore, one of my favorite designers.

I am so in love with everything in her new collection for Fall, especially this dress, which I have already told Chapin I plan to buy as soon as it goes on sale. Brands like Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Taylor really turn out feminine, sophisticated looks, and that's probably how I would define my style. I also like looking sexy, and I think this dress I wore for our dinner out definitely fits the bill.

Since Chapin and I usually eat dinner in front of the TV, going out for a leisurely evening is such a nice change of pace for us. On this particular night, the weather was clear and the temperature in the mid 70s, so we sat outside to enjoy our food and wine.

On the menu:

For me:
I wanted to get something definitively French, so I decided to start with the Vichyssoise, which I enjoyed saying as much as eating. This Chilled Leek & Potato Soup was delicious, and  I especially liked dipping my bread into the cold soup.

Oh yes, the bread. I'm not one to stay away from carbs, otherwise I would be much thinner, and this bread was just divine. The outside was crispy but not tough, and the inside was like puffs of soft air hitting my tongue. When we first walked in, we could see baskets of French bread in the open kitchen, and knew we weould be in for a treat.

For my entree, I decided on the "Sole Aux Cherries de Tomate": Maine Lemon Sole, cherry tomatoes, tomato lobster broth and polenta. The fish was a bit bland for me, so I made sure I had enough tomato, polenta and fish on my fork for each bite. (It reminded me of how Barbara Streisand's character in The Mirror Has Two Faces ate her salads... "the perfect bite," she would say.)

For Chapin:
Chapin did not have an appetizer, instead having two pieces of buttered bread, and got the Magret de Canard Rôti a L'Cumquat (Pan Roasted Breast of Duck served with cumquat marmalade and red cabbage) for his main course.

We were both so full, and it was almost 10 p.m by the time we finished our entrees, that we decided to skip dessert. Since Chapin and I both love sweets, that's saying a lot!

A Necklace Made From Polymer

As I mentioned in one of my latest posts, I purchased a new necklace during our recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee. You should know, dear readers, that I like jewelry very much, but I tend to like fancy jewelry... in other words, real diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. I don't have too many costume pieces, but I saw this polymer necklace at the TACA Craft Fair (Tennessee Association of Craft Artists) at Nashville's Centennial Park, and had to have it.

The necklace is designed by Wiwat Kamolpornwijit -- try saying that name five times fast -- and you can read about him and his work on his website. Although the necklace looks heavy, it is made with polymer, so it's light as air. Although it's hard to see in the picture, the necklace is black with small gold flowers, meaning it goes great with this Cynthia Steffe Holly Chain black dress. (I wore it for the Fashion Challenge back in December 2010.) I love discovering new accessories to spice up what would normally be a bland outfit. I also added these teal pumps for a little color.

Project Runway Fashions for Sale on

If you watched last night's episode of Project Runway, you'll know that you can find two designer's outfits online for purchase at Piperlime. (Piperlime is sponsoring this season's Accessories Wall, and if you look closely you will see my own Kate Spade Bixby Bag as one of the featured items.)

I really like Bert Keeter's Color Block Dress, and it's not too expensive at a price point of $98. I'm thinking about buying it for myself. With the cut and color, it seems like a perfect dress to wear on a hot day. You can dress it down with flats or dress it up with some strappy sandals, and it goes perfectly with a little clutch. Since we are going to Puerto Rico for an upcoming vacation, it might be just the thing to wear to a more casual dinner.

I wasn't too crazy about the winning design from Anya Ayoung-Chee. This printed jumper, inspired by the fashion of the 1970s, will probably make someone with wide hips like me look even wider. This is generally one of the reasons I try to stay away from prints altogether. Although I like the color scheme in this particular print, and the back of the dress is just beautiful, I don't think it's for me. The price is also higher, $198, even though we know Anya made it with a budget of just $50!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Noshing in Nashville

This past weekend, Chapin, George and I made the four-hour drive to Nashville, Tennessee, to visit with my sister, Gail, and her husband, Rich. Since Gail went to Vanderbilt for her undergraduate degree and now lives right in the heart of the city, I have been to Nashville several times over the years. During this last trip, though, I felt I connected with Nashville and its inhabitants for the first time. It may be because we crammed in a lot of  different activities during our 24 hours there. (By the time we were ready to go on Saturday, it was already 2 p.m.! Chapin and I are used to leisurely Saturday mornings and this was no exception.)

Chapin (in a Hugo Boss shirt and jeans) and Michele (in Black Halo)

The drive to Nashville did not start off well. Just after we got on the highway, I called Gail to tell her we were on our way. I mentioned that I had packed a nice dress to wear out that night, and then I looked around at what we had packed in the car. I didn't remember bringing our hanging bag down... Yep, we had forgotten it, and had to turn around and head back home. I think we finally, officially started our drive just after 2:30.

The drive went relatively fast considering our false start and the extra minutes it added. Chapin and I had decided to start a new book: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. The book has been getting a lot of good press, so after I made Chapin read Entertainment Weekly's recent review, he agreed it would be a great one for me to read aloud to him on the drive. I downloaded it that morning on my Kindle -- I love my Kindle! -- and it's an interesting read so far. (We are about 40% of the way through.)

When we finally got close to Nashville, Chapin realized we needed gas... desperately. We drove around awhile trying to find a gas station, which delayed our arrival at Gail and Rich's apartment. But, at last, we were parking and unloading the car.

After hanging out for a bit, we changed and headed out to dinner at a local restaurant called Bound'ry. Chapin was very happy when I told him that I had decided to wear my Black Halo Eva Mini Ruffled Shoulder Dress. I had not worn it since the previous January, and it's probably the dress he likes best out of all my dresses. The dress is no longer available online, but the Black Halo Hanna Mini Dress is very similar.

Chapin, Michele, Gail and Rich

Once at Bound'ry, we ordered a bottle of red wine and some salads. Gail and I both had the Peach Salad to start, which was a good choice even though I had to pick off the bacon on top. (In case you're a first time reader to my blog, I want to mention that I don't eat any mammals. Did you know that pigs wag their tails like dogs do?)

Chapin had the Magret Duck Breast, which came with baby turnips, pomme frites and a red wine chocolate orange emulsion. Chapin let me try a bite, and I'm glad I did -- it was so flavorful. Chapin is usually a "good order," and that night was no exception.

Rather than order off the menu, I decided to try one of the day's specials:  a roasted half chicken with fried oyster leek bread pudding and hazelnut cranberry velouté. It was delicious, though I think I enjoyed the side item most of all. It reminded me of the oyster stuffing my in-laws make during the holidays.You can see the full menu for Bound'ry here. I highly recommend it if you're ever in Nashville. Gail and Rich also enjoyed their meals (shrimp and grits for Gail, veal cheeks for Rich). I think I remember Rich saying it was "one of the best meals he'd ever had." Since they recently went to Greece and Italy, I think that's saying a lot.

After dinner, even though we had gone through two bottles of wine, we went to a local pub called Tavern to hang out and have drinks. It was very crowded and loud, though, so we did not stay long. The TVs were blaring games and the DJ was spinning some random music, like the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was funny how we all knew the words!

Everyone was exhausted after our time at Tavern, so we headed home in a cab and decided to call it a night. The next morning, Gail mentioned that she had been wanting to try a local breakfast place called Monell's, and our visit gave her and Rich the perfect opportunity to try it. It's not for everyone, even though the food was hearty and tummy-rubbing good!

With George at Centennial Park (TN)
It's a very different concept for a restaurant, and some people may have a hard time with it, but Chapin and I both had a great time. There are no menus, and you sit at a long table with other people in a sort of "Grandma's House"/ cafeteria style. Then the food starts: cinnamon rolls, biscuits with white gravy (Chapin's favorite), eggs, pancakes, fried chicken (for breakfast!) corn pudding, cheese grits and more. I ate so much that I was very glad to be wearing my shorts that are three sizes too big. (I don't like it when shorts barely cover the butt, but no one sells them in a good length, so I buy shorts that are too big and wear them very low down on my hips. I'm weird, I know, but that's how I'm comfortable!) I think Gail and Rich were the only ones at our table actually from Nashville. There were two different parties from Ohio, randomly. I guess it's a good place for tourists to come eat breakfast and experience some real Southern cooking.

After we were all so full we could barely move, we headed back to Gail and Rich's apartment to get George. Gail wanted us to see the nearby park, and we thought it would be great to give George some exercise.

Centennial Park is a beautiful area, home to Nashville's recreation of the Parthenon. Here I am standing in front of it in my baggy shorts:

There was also some kind of fair going on, so we walked around for awhile looking at all the crafts, Amish butters and jams, and much more. I ended up buying a cool necklace. Stay tuned for my next post to see it.

Afterward, we stopped at Tasti-D-Lite (Atlanta still doesn't have one) and then headed home. I also have to mention the wonderful shots of George that Rich took while we were there. Here is my favorite:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Compliments Come in Unexpected Places

This past Friday, I ate lunch at one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Atlanta: Tomo. I go there so often for lunch that the waitstaff knows my order by heart. I always get the Three-Roll Lunch Special, which comes with Miso Soup, Salad with Ginger Dressing, and Three Rolls: eel, spicy tuna and a California roll -- all for $11. (I usually substitute eel for a second spicy tuna roll for a few extra dollars, though. It's worth it!)

The waiter on this particular day decided to ask what I do for a living, because he said he thought I was a "fashion designer." I laughed and told him I was "just in marketing," but it made my day nonetheless. At least someone is noticing my fashion forward sensibilities!

Afterward, I stopped by Piece of Cake to pick up some cupcakes to treat the employees at my company. I love cupcakes, so it's always fun for me to try new places. Piece of Cake had a wonderful peanut butter cupcake, so I will have to go there again. It may be a little too convenient that it's in the shopping center right next to Tomo...

Writing this post has given me a chance to reflect on my sushi background. I didn't east sushi for the first time until I was 21 years old. Yes, I led a very sheltered upbringing. Now, it's one of my favorite meals. I also really want these sushi pajamas for Christmas this year (hint, hint Chapin). I remember seeing them on SMG (Buffy) and Debra Messing (Will & Grace) back in the day. The cupcake pajamas I have from The Cat's Pajamas are so comfortable, I definitely want a second pair. I think it's only something like 90 days until Christmas!

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy in the Season 4 episode, "Goodbye Iowa":
"That probably would have sounded more commanding if I wasn't wearing my Yummy Sushi pajamas."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breakin' All the Rules

I'm not sure who decided you can't wear white after Labor Day, but it's a rule I had a lot of fun breaking today in this Laundry by Shelli Segal White Ponte Dress.

I'm in love with this dress, the latest addition to my closet (or Fashion Nook), for many reasons, but mainly because I think the whole look is very modern and on-trend. The white dress with black lace detail has been spotted in several designers' collections, and I especially love this Jason Wu that Reese Witherspoon donned a few months back at the premiere of Water for Elephants. (I never did see the movie, but I loved the book.)

If you have a few thousand dollars lying around, you can get a more simpler version of the dress online at Neiman Marcus. (You might remember that Jason Wu designed the gown Michelle Obama wore for the inaugural ball. It was fabulous.)

This particular dress is sold out online -- I bought it a few weeks ago on, along with these darling P.J. Salvage Puppy Love pajama shorts featuring French bulldogs -- but here are some similar styles:

B.B. Dakota Cayla Lace Dress

Cynthia Steffe Gretchen Lace Dress

French Connection Black Lace Dress

Nanette Lepore Carmen Lace Dress 

APART Lace Contrast Slip Dress

As you can see in the photo above, I like to spice up a typical black and white dress with some red, hence the red shoes (BCBGMaxAzria Holiday Red Pumps), bold red lips and ruby/diamond earrings.

Chapin and I went to the nail salon over the weekend, and so I am sporting Smurf blue nails and toenails. It's my last attempt to hold on to summer...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Channeling Jackie O

I have been wanting the famous Black Halo Jackie O dress for a while now, but I could not find one on sale... until a few weeks ago! I guess it's fitting that I wore it during a week when Jackie O herself is back in the news.

I got this Black Halo Jackie O dress in Peacock Blue from for half off (the dress has since sold out). I love getting a good deal, especially on clothes that are both fashion forward and professional. I got so many compliments when I wore the dress, and I love the vibrant blue color.

Celebrities love Black Halo, and especially love this Jackie O style. Katherine Heigl, Tyra Banks and Kim Kardashian -- to name just a few -- have been spotted in the dress in various colors. You can get your own at sites like and

I paired my own Black Halo Jackie O dress with my L.A.M.B. Quincy D'Orsay Pumps in Black.The shoes are an older style, so you may not be able to find them anywhere but eBay.

I have to mention that my husband actually picked out the photo for this post. I usually take about 8-16 shots of each dress, and then try to choose the best one. Chapin likes to make fun of me for doing the same poses over and over, but gave me props for the pose in this picture. Is he hilarious or what?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering a Moment in History

Today is the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the United States. Like those who lived through other major events in history -- President Kennedy's assassination, for one -- I'm sure I will always remember where I was when I heard that the first World Trade Center tower had been hit.

It was the morning of Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, and I was working as a Project Manager at a small website company in Atlanta called Definition 6. I had been working there for about a year and a half; it was the first job I had taken upon graduating from Emory the previous Spring.

I remember the day before, September 10th, Chapin and I had both actually taken the day off work. I needed to see a movie for a junket I was to cover during the upcoming weekend: Big Trouble. (I was still freelancing for INsite Magazine at the time. The junket was later canceled and the movie, though a comedy, wasn't released until the next year due to a subplot with a bomb.) I think we also ran some errands that day, but I don't really remember now.

One of my favorite movies, Working Girl, was filmed in 7 World Trade Center, and you can clearly see the towers in the opening credits:

So the morning of September 11th, I came into work ready for the week ahead, energized after our little three-day weekend. I think our 8 a.m. morning meeting had just finished when someone sent out an email saying that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers. I remember thinking it had to be a joke or some kind of weird prank. What was happening?

Everyone gathered downstairs and someone brought out a television so we could turn the news on. This was in the days before Twitter and Facebook, so CNN connected us to what was going on in New York City. We were all sitting there staring open-mouthed at the television when the second tower was hit. It was like watching a movie, only we all knew it was real, and that it was happening on U.S. soil.

Our manager gave everyone the option to go home if we felt too emotional to work, and since I knew I would most likely not get anything done that day, I gathered up my things and headed home to our little apartment. (Chapin and I were living together at the time. We weren't even engaged yet!) I quickly called my mom as soon as I got home. She told me how upset she and my grandparents were, especially since my grandfather had worked on the construction crew that built the Towers, and she tried to update me on everyone we knew who lived or work in New York City. Fortunately, everyone was ok. (My Uncle John was working in the area at the time, and I think he got stuck in Staten Island, but eventually ended up home.) I spent the rest of the day glued to CNN, like most of the country. I also reached out to friends and family via e-mail, since many phone lines were not working.

Here are some snippets from emails I received that day and in the days afterward. (I keep everything, even old emails.)

From my Dad:

Dear Michele,
This is the worst thing that has happened to America since I have been alive, since the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Please continue to pray and concentrate on your driving when going home.  There is nothing more we can do.
Love Always,
Your Dad.

From my cousin, Alicia:

Hey, our family in NY is ok...right?  I was a little worried for awhile b/c i couldn't remember if Uncle John worked in the trade building or stock exchange, plus I had no idea where Jeff, Bob, Uncle Tom, Aunt Cathy and the girls were during all this. Man, I was definitely scared. Plus, to watch as those buildings went down... I was so sad for the fact that all those people had to lose their lives and b/c grandpa worked on them.  I feel the same way... Are we in [the movie] Independence Day?

From our friend, Rahul:

Hi Michele,
What happened today was an absolute tragedy. When I heard it on the radio this morning, I thought it was some kind of prank that 99x was pulling. I changed stations, but they were the only ones saying it, then
others started saying it also! When I got to the office, I saw the CNN web page and just couldn't believe it! I am glad that your family is fine!

From my friend, Erin:

No, I can't believe that any of this is real. I feel like it is a movie too... I don't understand what is wrong with this world. What are people thinking?!?!?!?!

From my friend, Crissy, on the day after the tragedies:

Hey. How are you doing?  Yesterday was a day I will always remember. What a tragedy to say the least. I was so upset all day long... I just kept thinking about those people and their families. And the worst part was the fact that they had no idea or warning. It is a shame it takes something like that to put things into perspective.

From our friend, Laura, in Birmingham, on September 13th:

Dear Michele,
Thanks for your email Tuesday. Ben and I feel the same way you did. I cried when I heard the news reports on the radio. It was a few hours before I saw any footage, and it is worse than I imagined it in my head. Now that they are finding out more about the terrorists, I start wondering what in the world would make someone, or some group of people, have no value whatsoever on human life. This is clearly the worst thing that has ever happened in American history.

From my husband, one week later:

I'm glad that nothing has happened today.  I really thought that something would.
I love you,

I wanted to leave you with one story that actually has a happy ending. This blind man was rescued from the Towers with the help of his seeing eye dog:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shopaholic Strikes Again

I purchased this Jay Godrey Rowell dress recently -- on sale, of course -- thinking it might be a few months before I could wear it. As you can see, the dress has long sleeves that go to the elbow, and it's made with a heavier, double-layer jersey, so it's definitely not ideal for hot summer days. Well, fortunately for me, the unseasonably cool weather meant I could break it out of my closet that much sooner.

This Jay Godrey dress is from the designer's Spring 2011 collection. I love the turquoise and chocolate brown colors together, as well as the simplicity of the color blocking style. Since the dress is several months old, I couldn't find it available online, but you can check out these other Jay Godfrey dresses, which I am just drooling over!

Side Note: SJP loves red and pink together, and this dress does a great job of combining two colors that seem to clash... but don't.

Of course, Chapin says I had better not buy any more dresses until 2012. I am really trying not to give in to my inner shopaholic, but she's very persistent!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Month Are We In?

Today, I am actually wearing a sweater. I can't believe it. Usually, September in Atlanta just feels like an extension of August with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. Today, the high is only about 70! I just about froze my butt off yesterday morning walking George in shorts and a t-shirt, but I learned my lesson today and had a warm sweater on hand. Back in high school, I distinctly remember my friend, Crissy, and I talking about how we wanted the weather to cool off so we could wear all our new back to school clothes. I think we were in 10th grade and had recently been shopping at Express, GAP and The Limited. I'm sure we would have loved this crisp weather so early on in the school year. (I still shop occasionally at these stores for more casual items, and Express surprisingly has some great suits for working women.)

Although Chapin yelled at me, I did buy a few new dresses last month. As a consequence, he has decided to completely redo our bedroom/ closet area, creating what he has deemed "Michele's Fashion Nook." I love it so far. There are even shelves for my shoes and one for all my purses. Is he a good husband or what?

One new dress I actually wore last week: this Jay Godfrey Erica Color Block Dress, which is no longer available online.

I love the cut of this dress; as I get older, I have found myself embracing my body and wanting to show it off. I am not stick thin and never will be, so the body conscious dress has become one of my favorite silhouettes.  I am also a huge fan of the simplicity of color blocking, especially when you are dealing with such bold, beautiful colors. The turquoise at the waistline really helps bring the whole look together, don't you think?

Today I'm wearing another body conscious dress: the Trina Turk Concetta Dress in Orchid. It is still available online, but hurray, because it's on sale for a great price. I actually got mine for under $50. Score!

Someone once told me that this color looked great on me, and that I should wear it more often, and I've always remembered that. Orchid is a great color, and this dress has undertones of blue and purple that work great with it. I wore blue shoes to help highlight those undertones a little more, although it's hard to tell in the picture.

The dress also comes in other colors, like sunshine yellow and turquoise.

You may also notice a new frame in the background of today's photo. We are doing some rearranging with our wall art as Chapin builds my fashion nook, so we are trying this picture out in our main hallway. The frame contains three photos: George, me and Chapin, and our beloved Izzie, who passed away over a year and half ago. She will be gone two years in January. I can't believe that.

And please excuse my hair in this photo. With the drizzly rain and lower temperatures, it was hard to do much with it today. I also ran out of my finishing serum and had to use some from another brand, which doesn't work as well. My hair is also getting longer, and I can't decide if I want to keep it this length or take another few inches off. I guess I will have to decide soon: I have a hair appointment at my salon in a few weeks!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dinner Out on a Difficult Wednesday

The last day of August this year wasn't a typical day for me, although it started out just like any other weekday. I got up at my usual time (5:15), but instead of heading to the gym for a workout, I immediately started getting ready for my day. At 6:30, I left home and headed to Alpharetta, where I would be spending the day at my parents' house taking care of my 90-year-old Grandma.

In this photo from 2008, my Grandma Marie is being silly, putting on my Fendi sunglasses.
She was visiting this past week, and my father was due to fly her back to New York on Sunday... but Irene hit and changed everyone's plans. Their flight was canceled, and my dad would need a full day to shuttle her to New York and then head back home to Atlanta, so he rescheduled the flights for this coming Saturday.

Since she can't be alone during the day, my parents had to scramble to find suitable arrangements to accommodate the extra week my Grandma would need to stay in Atlanta. My mom took off Monday and Tuesday to be home with her, my dad arranged to work from home Thursday and Friday, so I volunteered to keep an eye on her on Wednesday. It just happened to work out that aside from two conference calls, one that eventually was pushed to another day, I didn't have any in-person client meetings. Lately, work has been crazy, filled with meeting after meeting with both current and potential clients, so this type of day was an anomaly for me. I'm glad that it allowed me to help out my parents when they needed me, though. They are always so good to me, how could I not offer to help out.

My Grandma has lived a wonderful life, though this past January, she lost her husband of over 60 years. Since then, she has had a lot of upheaval: she moved out of her home in Texas, where she had lived since 1979, and moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in New York. She also has dementia, or Alzheimer's (we are not really sure), so most of the time she doesn't seem to know where she is or whom she's spending time with... made all the more confusing lately with her visits to Texas and Georgia to see her other children and grandchildren. (We all wanted to help celebrate her 90th birthday.)

Another photo from 2008: My Grandma, me and my Grandpa.

Most of the day, my Grandma thought I was my mother. She called me Linda and asked question after question about where she was, what was happening to her and why she couldn't remember so well. I was able to get a lot of work done while answering and soothing her, but it was still upsetting to see my Grandma that way, and to fully understand that she didn't know me. When my mom finally came home, she seemed to realize her mistake, but of course I still felt (stupidly) hurt. She seems to have become even more frail in the months since she lost my Grandpa, and that was also upsetting. She is one of the sweetest, kindest women you will ever meet, so it was heartbreaking. I guess I'm just glad I got to spend a day with her (11 hours)!

When I finally made it back home, I felt so exhausted, but I convinced Chapin that I still wanted to go out to dinner as we had originally planned. We had a gift card we needed to use because it expired that day, and after being stuck inside all day, I was itching for a night out.

I put on one of my favorite fancy dresses: this black and silver polka dot dress from Shoshanna. I just love it, and I paired it with similarly sparkly shoes and a black and silver purse. I was very matchy-matchy, as Nina Garcia would say, but I didn't care. I felt beautiful!

Me with my sweet hubby: August 31, 2011
Chapin bought me this dress for Christmas several years ago. (Here is a similar black and silver Shoshanna dress, though not as sparkly.) I remember thinking it looked like the Celine dress that Carrie wore out to dinner with Aidan in the "Just Say Yes" episode (Season 4) of Sex and the City:

Chapin and I went to Veni Vidi Vici for our dinner, and it was wonderful. This restaurant is actually one of the few in the Bucklead Life Restaurant Group that we have never eaten in before, so it was a great experience for us. Chapin had the appetizer portion of the Pappardelle dish to start: wide pasta ribbons, rotisserie duck and mushroom ragu. I tried a bite and it was so delicious, I might have to come back just for that. For dinner he also had duck: the Anatra entree, which was half maple leaf farms duck, lentils, wilted spinach and dried cranberries. He didn't finish it all, so he will have the leftovers for dinner tonight.

Our visit to Veni Vidi Vici actually coincided with Midtown Restaurant Week, so I ordered off that menu. My dinner included:
  • Indivia ai Ferri: Grilled Belgian Endive, Citrus and Raisin Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, Candied Pistachios
  • Gnocchi alla Romana: Roman Style Baked Semolina Gnocchi, Spicy VVV Marinara, Crispy Guanciale
  • Merluzzo: Pan Roasted New England Blue Cod, Parsley and Olive Oil Yukon Gold Potatoes, Caper and Grained Mustard Salsa Verde *I actually got mashed potatoes instead. Yum!
Midtown Restaurant Week ends September 4th, and it is a great opportunity to try trendy, popular restaurants in the Atlanta Midtown area for a very reasonable price. Of course, if you order an expensive bottle of wine like Chapin and I always do, then your bill might not be that beneficial to the wallet, but I needed it after my stressful day.

Side note: If you look closely at the picture above, you will see a little pug! I love seeing George in this pic... I think it makes me love it even more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday Cakes and a Charity Dinner

Chapin has spent the last six months traveling back and forth to Dunedin, Florida. After one last weekend away, I am happy to report he will be working from Atlanta for the foreseeable future. Although I had George to keep me company, and I spent some extra weeknights and weekends with my parents in Alpharetta, I definitely am glad he's home. I got so lonely without him! I guess that's what happens when your husband is also your best friend.

George with Chapin: Weekend of Aug 27th
This past weekend, we had something going on every day, which is my favorite kind of weekend. (I hate feeling like I am wasting any kind of precious time off.)

We started off the weekend on Friday with tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Dralion show. (You can read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's review here.) We saw the Cirque du Soleil OVO show this past December, which was held in a great big tent outside Atlantic Station. This show was held at Philips Arena. Although I didn't enjoy the venue and the story as much as I did with OVO, Dralion was still a wonderful show. I remember feeling my jaw drop several times. The tricks were just amazing... from bodies contorting into head-turning positions to eye-popping acrobatics, I loved every minute.

We followed the show with dinner at 5 Napkin Burger, which just opened up a new location about a mile from our home. I had the Ahi Tuna Burger, which was so yummy. It was a huge sandwich with onion rings and wasabi mayo, and the flavors had me floored. Chapin tried the Italian Turkey Burger, which he enjoyed as well. I don't eat beef, so Chapin is also so courteous and tries not to eat it in front of me, even though I know he wanted to during this particular dinner out!

We have probably tried every gourmet burger joint in the city: Yeah Burger, Grind House Killer Burgers, Flip Burger Boutique and now 5 Napkin. I actually think the tuna burger at 5 Napkin might be my favorite... and the sweet potato fries were definitely worth all the calories!

Saturday we spent the day with my family in Alpharetta to celebrate my paternal grandmother's 90th birthday. Here is a picture of my sisters and I posing with my Grandma Marie.

Laura, Gail, Grandma and Michele (me!) 

We ordered Chinese food and had a chocolate birthday cake for dessert. My Grandma is a major chocoholic... which I guess is where I got my sweet tooth! My sisters and I also treated ourselves to pedicures. Chapin was disappointed he didn't get to come along.

It's a very exciting time for our family, because my little sister, Laura, is expecting her first child with her husband of two years, Matt. She will be the first in our family to have a baby, and she's also the youngest, which I guess puts some added pressure on me and Gail. I'm still not sure if I want a baby or not. I guess I will see how things go with Laura.

Sunday, Chapin and I slept in, and I got a workout in and a little time at the pool before I had to start getting ready for a charity event we were attending that evening. The Give Me Five Charity Dinner, to benefit Share Our Strength: No Kid Hungry. It's a great cause, as there are so many children in our own country who go hungry each night. We bid on a bottle of wine in the silent auction -- and won! That was really exciting, as was meeting local radio veejay Jenn Hobby, who hosted the event. After one glass of wine, I marched myself right up to her and told her how much I liked her show (The Bert Show on Atlanta's Q100 radio station). She was wearing Louboutins, so I was quite jealous! I also met her husband -- she is newly married (hubby #2) -- who was very handsome. I wish them all the best. They seemed very happy together.

So that was my weekend. I love getting the opportunity to share my life with you, even if it doesn't always have to do with fashion.