Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Princess Bride

On a three way call with my mom and sister, Gail, early on April 29th, 2011, we caught the first glimpses of Kate Middleton as she stepped out of a car and onto the grounds of Westminster Abbey. "Here she comes," I remember shouting, with a gasp over the loveliness of her dress emanating from my lips soon after.

"She looks like Grace Kelly," my mom whispered. We all agreed: the dress was perfect for the future (and now) princess.

The dress designer is Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen's fashion house. You may remember that Alexander McQueen committed suicide in February 2010 at the age of 40. It's sad to think he was not here to see this day!

When speculating over whom might design Kate's dress, I had no doubt about one thing: the designer would be British. On such a special occassion for her country, I couldn't imagine Kate going with a foreign dress designer... and I was right. Ms. Burton is British. I also love that she chose a woman. Kate is the first royal bride to have a college degree, and to me she seems modern, feminine, elegant and refined. Her dress evoked all these characteristics.

Alexander McQueen
I thought Kate would either go with a very well known designer, or someone just starting his or her career. Mrs. Obama all but made Jason Wu's career when she chose his design for the inaugural ball honoring her husband's presidency in 2009. The statement concerning the dress says the following about her reasons for choosing Alexander McQueen:

"Miss Middleton chose British brand Alexander McQueen for the beauty of its craftsmanship and its respect for traditional workmanship and the technical construction of clothing," the palace said in a statement regarding Kate Middleton's wedding dress (statement courtesy of CBS News).

A bride never wants to look back at her dress 30 years later and mutter, "What was I thinking?" My mom, for example, who married in the 1970s, chose a dress that was classic. If you saw just the dress, I don't think you could pinpoint the exact decade it was made. Her hair and bridesmaid dresses (a horrible green) gave her away, of course, but the dress: beautiful.

Here are my own personal thoughts on the dress, jewelry and hair:

Lace is timeless, and since she had to be mainly covered up to marry in the church, I think the look was just perfection. That deep v in the lace gives a hint of sexuality, too. You can see all the detail and work that went into just the bodice, and supposedly the dress cost around $83,000. I'm not surprised. It is just gorgeous.

I love the lace around the edges and the train as well. She didn't overdo the sparkle, leaving that instead to her jewelry: the Cartier tiara and drop earrings, a gift from her parents.

Her makeup was also very natural and not over-the-top. She looked like herself. And I don't think anyone doubted she would wear her hair down. She has such beautiful brunette locks. I always love to see brunettes getting their due attention.

Facts about Kate's dress, courtesy of CBS News:

  • Kate Middleton's dress is made from ivory and white satin gazar, and the bodice and skirt feature hand-cut English lace and French Chantilly lace. The train measures almost nine feet long.
  • "Miss Middleton wished for her dress to combine tradition and modernity with the artistic vision that characterizes Alexander McQueen's work. Miss Middleton worked closely with Sarah Burton in formulating the design of her dress," the palace said in a statement regarding Kate Middleton's wedding dress."
  • Kate Middleton's veil is made of layers of soft ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers. It is held in place by a Cartier "halo" tiara, lent to Middleton by Queen Elizabeth II. The tiara was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) by her mother on her 18th birthday.

Friday, April 29, 2011

At Last

Well, the day has come: Today is the final day of the Fashion Challenge. I am wearing this Betsey Johnson dress for a reason: it was the first designer dress I ever purchased. I thought it would be fitting that I wear it today, for Day 165 and the last day of the challenge.

Day 165: Last Day of the Fashion Challenge
Back in 2003, we were saving up for our wedding and had just purchased our home, so we were not in the position to be spending much money on unnecessary items like dresses. I saw the dress online at Neiman Marcus and knew it would be perfect for our engagement photo session, so I splurged. I think the dress was maybe $90 -- on sale, of course -- and I have gotten a lot of use out of it over the years. It's just a classic piece.

The red checked pattern makes me think of this dress as my "picnic dress," and I love adding bold red lips to match the color in the dress. I know I look tired today, but that's because I was up at 4:20 to watch the Royal Wedding. I woke up before my alarm because I was so excited. I just couldn't miss an event as special as The Royal Wedding, especially since Kate Middleton is such a fashionista herself. :)

Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

My company, Local Marketing, Inc., was recently nominated for an AiMA award. Although we didn't win in our category, it was still a great event, and a chance to meet up with other marketing professionals in a more relaxed environment. I even had a chance to catch up with one of my first ever managers.

The event this year was held at the Georgia Aquarium, one of my favorite places in Atlanta. I could kick back and watch the mammals and fish swim all day long. They are so peaceful, and it makes me feel so relaxed just to watch them. I'm sure the white wine and cosmos I was drinking also helped my relaxed demeanor last night, though! :)

The event was held in one of the aquarium's ballrooms. While we didn't have access to the entire aquarium, we did have windows into two of my favorite exhibits: (1) the manatees and seals, and (2) the whale sharks. The guide we talked to told us that the manatees usually go to sleep around 8:30 or 9 p.m., but that the music from an event will wake them, because the vibrations go through the water so well. Manatees love people.

I really struggled with what dress to choose for the night. The cocktail attire meant I could really dress up, but I had to stay on a professional level. I think I made the right choice, and -- on the eve of the Royal Wedding -- I just happened to wear a dress with lace. When I saw Kate's dress this morning, I thought to myself that it was really fitting I chose this dress for an event so close to the Royal Wedding.

The dress is from the brand Tracy Reese, and it just fits me like a glove. I love a dress that can showcase your curves, yet still allow you to feel completely comfortable. That's how I feel about this dress.

The Tracy Reese Yoke Shift Dress came in black and fawn, and is still available on some sites for a discounted price. Many celebrities love the brand, and Mrs. Michelle Obama actually wore a pink lace Tracy Reese dress on the cover of People Magazine in 2009. Kelly Osbourne wore the exact dress that I have to an event last year - with blue pumps! I opted for an all-black ensemble and wore my black mesh Betsey Johnson pumps with rosettes. The heels are quite high, so I was definitely hurting by the end of the night.

As you can see from the picture above, my husband, Chapin, went with me to the event. I want you to know this type of behavior isn't typical. He does not work in the field -- AiMA stands for "Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association" --so normally he would have no interest in attending this type of event with me. But he is just so supportive of me and my career that he wanted to go, despite the high ticket price and his hectic work schedule lately. I am so proud to have him by my side.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time of My Life

The Royal Wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William is hours from taking place, and I can't wait. I know I'm excited along with the rest of the world, but I can't help it. It's a wedding, and it's between sweet Prince William, whom we've all watched grow up, and a commoner who will soon be a princess. How much more romantic can you get? At least I am not going crazy like the character Frankie from The Middle. That show cracks me up... and also makes me not want kids at ALL.

I wasn't old enough to remember Princess Diana's wedding, but my mom and mother-in-law have both told me stories about getting up early to watch the big wedding. I hope to watch it with my mom in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow... wearing my tiara, of course!

All this wedding talk makes me think of my own wedding almost eight years ago on a beautiful day in November 2003. Chapin and I were married exactly four years to the day after our first date, and it was a wonderful event. Those wedding pictures are probably one of the first things I would rescue, after Chapin and George, of course, if we ever had a situation where we had to grab and go (like a house fire).

I am probably most excited about the dress. I'm sure Kate will go with a British designer, but I'm not going to even garner a guess since it could be anyone. If I had my choice of all the designers in the world, I would go with Oscar de la Renta. He is my dream designer.

In the real world, I had a pseudo celebrity design my wedding gown, though he wasn't a celebrity at the time. Randy Fenoli, whom you may be familiar with if you watch Say Yes to the Dress on TLC, designed my gown, and I met him during a trunk show in 2002 when I purchased it at Bride Beautiful here in Atlanta. Here's a picture of me with Mr. Fenoli just after making the big purchase. In case you want to know, my budget was $1,000, and I spent $1,600. Yes, Chapin wanted to kill me, but that's another story...

My wedding dress designer: Randy Fenoli

Born This Way

Chapin and I were catching up on Glee last night, and I could not help but be a bit annoyed/ bored during most of the episode, which  focused, among other things, on the character of Rachel (Lea Michele) and her desire to get a nose job. While I do think 16 is too young for such a major surgery -- I don't feel you come into yourself (or your face) completely until your early 20s -- in my humble opinion, you don't need to accept all your little flaws in order to be "true to yourself."

I can love myself and still want to make myself a better person -- physically, intellectually, emotionally, etc. Does everyone with crooked teeth need to accept that fact and not get braces? Does everyone with poor eyesight need to suffer with glasses when contacts are just as good? I don't think so.

Self-esteem is so important, especially for a young girl going through puberty and the stresses of high school, and I was one of those girls who had braces AND glasses in my horror year: 7th grade. I do think these people going around getting "prom Botox" are crazy -- what parent would pay for that? -- but you can't tell me I don't like myself because I want to look my best.

Today's outfit is one, actually, that makes me feel like I need to lose about 10-15 pounds. (Weight will always be an issue with me.) That usually happens whenever I wear jersey (such a thin material) in such a close-fitting silhouette. This ruched dress from Ella Moss is actually quite unique. The shoulders are asymmetrical, and I love the ruffle going up the entire left side of the dress. The zipper is actually hidden in the ruffle, so it's virtually invisible. The hemline is also asymmetrical, with the right side falling down longer than the left.

I also love this blue-purple color that falls somewhere between navy and violet.

I couldn't find the dress online, since I purchased it over a year ago, but here is a very similar dress from Susana Monaco. Other ruched jersey dresses that caught my eye include:

One thing I will say about this Ella Moss dress: it does good things for the booty. I feel like I have some Kim Kardashian action going on today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kiss on My List

Day 163 in the Fashion Challenge
I only own one item from the designer Loeffler Randall, and this dress is it. The Loeffler Randall Graphic Dress has a very unique look, not only because of the loud print and diverse top/bottom colors, but also because of the silhouette. The back of the dress makes a fat"x" pattern and the pockets are so high up you wouldn't possibly use them. It's different... and I love it.

Since there's so much going on with the dress, I went really light on the jewelry, wearing just my diamond stud earrings and Michele watch. You won't see the watch in the picture, though. I was so tired this morning, I only remembered to put it on right before I flew out the door. I started watching Out of Sight on TV and didn't fall asleep until after 11. Damn, Clooney sure did look good in that movie.

I'm also wearing my Stuart Weitzman Black Patent Bamada Pumps and carrying my black Michele bag.

The lipstick today is also different for me since it's so very pink: NARS Roman Holiday. But I think it works here. I tend to think that lighter colors work better on me due to my skin tone.

This Friday will definitely be the last day in the Fashion Challenge, which will take me to Day 165 and wrap up the month of April. I still can't believe I made it this far.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morning Sun

Today I'm wearing another dress that I just recently had altered. This checked Tibi dress features red buttons on the front of the dress that I just love, and it's a chic dress you can wear for work, play or both.

Tibi is a brand primarily known for bold prints and colors, but this dress is fairly subtle. Many celebrities love Tibi, and you can check out some examples on

I paired the dress with my white flat Marc by Marc Jacobs sandals, and to play up the color, I am also using my Charles David blue patent purse.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Something About You

I finally have some decent new outfits to wear, thanks to my husband. He made the trip to Gil's Alterations (near Lenox Mall) on Saturday to pick up a bunch of clothes I was having altered. It's amazing to me how long some of these items have been in my closet, yet I was not at all motivated to take them in to be worked on. I guess it took the Fashion Challenge to light a fire under my butt.

Today I am wearing a v-neck china blue BCBGMaxAzria dress with subtle flower cut-out detailing along the skirt's hem. There are several things I like about this dress, including the puff sleeves, beautiful blue color and empire waist.
Day 161 in the Fashion Challenge

I am also wearing Dolce Vita Apple Suede Clog Pumps in a nude color that goes with everything! I especially love this color with blue, and the pumps just fit me so well that they are becoming one of my favorites pairs of shoes.

Whenever I wear blue, I also try to wear my sapphire and diamond jewelry: earrings I got a few years ago for Christmas, and the pendant that Chapin gave me on our first wedding anniversary. The pendant is in the shape of a flower, so it complements this dress especially well.

Gail was saying to me this weekend that there are 180 working days in a school year (she's a third grade teacher in Nashville, TN), so that means I have gone almost a whole school year without wearing the same outfit twice. It still amazes me how far I've taken the challenge. The nerdy high school girl inside me is smiling with pride.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We Are Family

Chapin and Michele
I've got all my sisters with me!

This weekend, Easter Weekend, was a lot of fun since my sister, Gail, was in town with her husband, Rich. Gail's visits are a great excuse for all three sisters to get together and have some fun -- with or without our handsome husbands.

We started the weekend off with dinner Friday night at one of our favorite places in Midtown: Yeah Burger. Laura and her hubby already had plans, so it was just the four of us. We enjoyed our burgers (turkey for me and Chapin), fries and beers. The milkshakes always look so delicious, but I have not been brave enough to try one yet. So many calories... (sigh).

Saturday morning, the three sisters had appointment for manicures and pedicures. I love getting my nails done, and tend to go more during the spring and summer months (official sandal weather) when my toes are showing. I don't get a manicure too often, too, since my nail polish tends to chip after the first hour, so I was happy to try out this new gel polish that is supposed to last two weeks. So far, so good. I tried a sparkly dark gold color that I am just loving!

The manicurist working on my nails said to me, after I told her we were all sisters, that we looked like three very good friends. That made me smile, because Gail and Laura are definitely my best friends in the world.

Michele (the oldest), Gail (the middle sis) and Laura (the baby)

Saturday afternoon, we had our official Easter dinner, since Gail and Rich had to go back to Tennessee early on Sunday. My mom made a feast that was reminiscent of Thanksgiving: turkey, stuffing (with chicken sausage), mashed potatoes, gravy, asparagus, salad and sauteed mushrooms. It was wonderful, and I think everyone overate. I brought over cupcakes from nearby cafe The Patio for dessert. Aren't they pretty?

Easter Cupcakes!
After dinner, the sisters and our husbands all went out to the movies to see Scream 4. Of course, it was not as good as the original, but what sequel ever is, right? It was definitely bloody, and I didn't see the end twist coming, so I think it was worth my two hours. I think it was also the first time all six of us went to a movie together. There's a first time for everything!

In case you are wondering, I will also mention that I am wearing an I.N.C. International Concepts dress, Stuart Weitzman sandals and my Izzie necklace. It was two years ago this week that she had her first seizure, so I have been thinking about her a lot.

Sunday, Chapin and I took it easy. We actually forgot it was Easter Sunday, and tried to go to Publix to grocery shop. At least Kroger was open. Happy Easter!

Chapin at Easter Dinner

Friday, April 22, 2011

All the Right Moves

As I was walking outside to walk George this morning, someone commented to me that I was "wearing my Easter dress." In a sense, I guess that's why I chose this particular dress for today (Good Friday), although I didn't do it consciously.

Today's dress is the ABS by Allen Schwartz Turquoise Plaid Cotton Smock Dress. I love the asymmetrical hemline and the firework of bright colors on the dress, which make it different from most of the sundresses in my closet. I have some great magenta sandals that I would normally wear with this dress, but the heels are so high and I just didn't feel like dealing with them today. Instead, I chose these purple Studio Pollini sandals, which have a wider heel and are much more comfortable.

This weekend I will be picking up my clothes from alterations, and that will give me a few more outfits to wear next week. Then, I think I will call an end to the Fashion Challenge. I know I've been saying that for weeks, but I really mean it this time.

Neve and Rose in Scream (1996)
I am also looking forward to this holiday weekend because my sister, Gail, will be in town with her husband. That means lots of sisterly activities, including mani/pedis tomorrow morning, and finally getting to see Scream 4! I am a big fan of this series, which debuted when I was a freshman in college. Scream 2 (which was filmed partly in Georgia and on the Agnes Scott College campus) and Scream 3 also came out during my college years, so I guess I'm just sentimental thinking of that time in my life. I went from a dorky freshman girl who'd never had a boyfriend or a drink to an ambitious 22-year-old who had career plans and the love of her life by her side. It's funny how your life can totally change in just a few short years...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

You've Got the Love

Day 159 in the Fashion Challenge
If I look a little tired this morning, it's most likely because I didn't get a good night's sleep. Although I went to bed at a decent hour, the windy storm that started up around 3 a.m. woke me out of a deep sleep. It woke Chapin and George, too.

Usually a storm has to be pretty intense to bother us, since we are way up on the top floor (16th story) of our building. The wind was blowing so hard it was screeching. Chapin bolted out of bed because he had no idea if someone was trying to break in or really what was going on. Thank goodness it was just a bad storm. It took me awhile to fall back asleep, and then my alarm went off two hours later. I can't wait for Saturday morning when I can catch up on some sleep.

Today's dress is one I think of as my  J.Lo dress, since it seems like something she would wear. With the pink and gold combination of colors, it's a little obnoxious, but I love that it's different and eye catching. Eva Longoria must agree. She was spotted in the dress at one point, too.

Eva Longoria in Rebecca Taylor
This belted ruffle dress, from Rebecca Taylor, is about three years old, so I couldn't find it online for purchase. Rebecca Taylor designs tend to be more feminine and flowery, and Taylor Swift is a big lover of the brand. I love the brand, too -- when I can score something on sale. Most dresses tend to retail for around $300.

Today's shoes are my pink Moschino Cheap and Chic sandals. I am always happy when I can find something to wear with these sandals, since I love them, but the light pink color means they don't exactly go with everything in my closet.

Speaking of my closet, after going through the exercise of this challenge, Chapin has banned me from buying any more clothes for the rest of the year. Since my birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and people are starting to ask me what I would like for a gift, all I have is this to say: You can never have too many dresses.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Oh, I Love You So

Day 158 in the Fashion Challenge
I still haven't received my things back from alterations, so I'm scrounging for things to wear for the Fashion Challenge. Fortunately, I have a slew of sundresses that I don't normally wear to work, but paired with a cardigan or sweater, are ok for the office.

Today, since it will be 85 degrees, I am wearing this Marc by Marc Jacobs sundress. It meshes some of my favorite colors into a gorgeous pattern: blue, black, purple and pink. I'm also wearing a pair of my "clunky" sandals from the brand, Frye. The Frye Lena Leaf Strap Sandals are very comfortable, and they give me something I love: height!

I last wore this dress when I met up with the kids I used to babysit for back in high school. The oldest is married and living in Germany with his beautiful wife, and the other two are in college at the University of South Carolina. It makes me feel so old that they are all so grown up, but I still love them and think of them so fondly. They were a big part of my life for so many years. I remember when Blake was born, even, and now she is a Freshman in college. Oh how the years go by...

Robert, Michele and Blake

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

Tuesday was terribly busy in my office, as I had so much to do after missing just a day and a half of work. Isn't that always the way?

My outfit today is another Ann Taylor Loft dress that I bought back in 2005 or 2006. I love the coral color (the "in" color this season), and the tie in back really accentuates a small waist. I paired it with my white cardigan to wear around the office... plus, my office is freezing for some reason. They just can't get the temperature right.

I love wearing my sapphire jewelry with this coral color, so I have on my sapphire and diamond earrings and necklace. I think the two colors are just perfect complements.

I'm also wearing white Marc by Marc Jacobs flat sandals. I hope it's ok to wear white right now. I know about the Labor Day rule, but I'm never sure about when it's ok to wear white again. I guess that's a rule I should know. Oh well!

This Magic Moment

Chapin and I just got back from three days in Florida. It was not a true vacation, since Chapin had to work some of the time, but it was still nice to spend time together and just get out of Atlanta for a few days. We also missed the terrible storm that hit Atlanta on Friday night, and had beautiful weather during our entire stay in the Sunshine State.

Here's the lowdown on our trip:

We left Friday afternoon, after stuffing our faces with pizza at my company's pizza party to celebrate the signing of several new clients, plus our recent AiMA Award nomination. Chapin may not work for my company, but everyone considers him (and George) honorary members, since they visit so often. By the time we got on the road, it was almost 3 p.m. We had to drive the new company car down to Dunedin, Florida, since Chapin's company is spending so much time there, it just made good financial sense to have a car. That is another reason Chapin wanted me to tag along on this trip: so he'd have company on the ride.

Chapin and I are kind of nerdy when it comes to car trips. We read. Well, I read out loud and Chapin drives. Over the years, we have read so many books together: all The Lord of the Rings books (and The Hobbit), all the Harry Potter books, all the Sookie Stackhouse books (the novels the series True Blood is based on), and many more. We are currently reading another series by Sookie Stackhouse author Charlaine Harris: the Harper Connelly mysteries. During our recent trip, we finished Book 1 and are now deep into Book 2: Grave Surprise.

We finally arrived in Clearwater about 11:30 p.m. on Friday night. It was a long ride, but frequent stops and our books made the time go by pretty fast.

Chapin had to be up early to go the plant , so I just hung out around the hotel he returned about 1 p.m. We left right away to eat lunch, find Chapin a bathing suit (he forgot his at home) and head to the beach. The water was chilly, and the there was a definite breeze, so we did not venture into the water. I stuck my toes in and promptly saw a crab coming toward me, so that kind of scare me off. Chapin didn't venture in at all. We were both content to sit in the sun and read our books. Chapin just started Game of Thrones, and I am engrossed in Tina Fey's new book, Bossypants. (The cover does creep me out, though. It's very weird!)

Saturday night we met some friends for dinner who live in the area, and whom we have not seen in several years. Alonso and Chapin were friends in high school, and we both adore him and his beautiful wife, Sejal. Alonso was also a groomsman in our wedding. Since we live in different states, it's been years since we have seen the couple... at least five!

Chapin and Alonso

We met them for dinner at a place Alonso wanted to try called Caretta on the Gulf. The food, mainly seafood, was divine, and I think we spent over three hours talking, eating and catching up. (And yes, there were two bottles of wine, too.) Chapin and I split the Crab Cake (served over Israeli Couscous Mac and Cheese), and the bread for the table included pretzel rolls. Covered in butter, these little rolls were amazing (though not for my waistline). But I was on vacation! By the time my entree, the Yellow Tail Snapper, arrived, I was not that hungry anymore. Chapin enjoyed his Monfish. He is a big fan of the General Tso's glaze.

Chapin had to go into work again early Sunday morning, but he was back around 11, so we took that time to go walk around downtown Dunedin, where Chapin spends most of his time when he travels to Florida for work. The town was so small and quaint, with cute shops and restaurants and ice cream parlors everywhere. And all the people we saw seemed to have a dog with them, which made me miss George terribly. We even passed a large mural pronouncing the city as "Dogedin."

I also found a store named "Amanda Austin." It's funny to me, because I have a friend from high school with that exact name! What a small world.

Later that afternoon, we traveled to Tampa to visit with Alonso, Sejal and their two boys: Jay (age 2) and Nicolas (age 4). They have a beautiful home, and we enjoyed our visit immensely. Nicolas especially enjoyed "reading" me books about astronauts and the space program.

Monday we headed home, so there wasn't too much time to see the city or go to the beach before our flight left in the early afternoon. It was a short trip, but filled with friends and fun.

Friday, April 15, 2011

There for You

Fashion Challenge: Day 156
After an extremely hectic week, I am very happy to say those four little words: Thank God it's Friday!

Today I'm wearing a BCBGMaxAzria black and white striped dress with ruffle detailing and a tie in back. The shoes are the Stuart Weitzman Conchita Flat Sandals in Tan Patent.

I'm not a fan of this picture, because you can see how bony I am in the chest area. Maybe the stripes accentuate it. I've never had much body fat in this area, and have always thought how great it would be if I could take the excess fat from my hips and thighs and inject it there. Fat is there to protect you, right? Well, if I'm ever hit in the chest, I'm screwed.

Chapin spilled his coffee all over his keyboard and the floor this morning, so he wasn't in the best mood as I was leaving for work.

I also made fun of him for having his keys clipped to his belt loop, calling him a dork, and that made him even more annoyed with me.

Not every day in a marriage is all rainbows and kisses, but at least I know Chapin is my very best friend in life and love. He is always there for me, even when he's covered in coffee.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Saw the Sign

In going through my closet recently, I discovered several day dresses that I have decided to make part of the Fashion Challenge. Most of these dresses are sundresses that I wouldn't normally wear to work, but that I think I can get away with so long as I don't have any face-to-face client meetings. Fortunately, most of my meetings this week have been on the phone!

Today's dress is one I haven't worn in quite a while. I bought this flowing black and gray Betsey Johnson day dress in 2009. I love the little see-through cap sleeves and the way the dress flows so easily around me.

Betsey Johnson dresses are hit or miss with me; I either love them or hate them. Some of her designs seem straight out of a magazine from 1989, but others, like this simple dress, are comfortable and sweet.

I paired the dress today with black rose mesh pumps, also from Betsey Johnson. The heels are high, so I hope I won't have a sore back later on.

I'm feeling tired today because Chapin and I went out to dinner last night after attending the wake for Rod Sanders. We went to a great seafood place in Decatur called Wahoo that was located near the funeral home. We ate there once before, but for some reason, never returned. I don't know why. The food is great, and the cocktail I had ("The Drunken Gardner" with cucumber and basil) was extremely strong and delicious. The restaurant was fairly crowded for a Wednesday night, maybe due to the great $19 specials they have during the week. I highly recommend it.

At the wake, we spoke to Rod's sister and found out that he had been having headaches and other problems for years, but never went to the doctor. The cause of his stroke was diagnosed as untreated high blood pressure. If anything good comes out of this tragedy, I hope it will compel someone who might not like to visit the doctor to just suck it up and go. Life is too short!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Live to Tell

Day 154 in a Rebecca Taylor Dress
Today I'm wearing an ice blue Rebecca Taylor silk sundress that I purchased back in 2008. I love the vibrant color, subtle polka dot pattern, and the way the silk just flows around me. The belt also helps show off a tiny waist, which is always a good thing!

I paired the dress with some strappy sandals from BCBGMaxAzria: the BCBGMAXAZRIA Women's Maetis T-Strap Sandals in gunmetal. I'm also using my shitake colored Nine West Jameson purse.

On a personal note, I'm feeling sad today.

Ever since Izzie and my grandma passed away, just four days apart, I've been reading more and more on the subject of Heaven and the after-life. I was raised Catholic, and thus learned about the differences between Heaven and Hell from an early age. My sister, Gail, and I also attended a Catholic elementary school during our time in Missouri in the late 1980s, and thus went to church at least twice a week. I do remember questioning some of the stories from the Bible, though, most notably: How did the dinosaurs fit into the description of how God created the world? (I went through a phase where I was obsessed with dinosaurs.)

Some of the other stories, like Purgatory, frightened me, and I remember my mother telling me that as long as I didn't maliciously kill someone, I would go to Heaven. I believed her, of course. It made sense to me.

My husband is not religious, and I stopped going regularly to church in high school, when my parents let me make the decision about whether to attend or not (I usually chose the latter). I went most of my life without having to deal with the death of someone close to me, but since early 2010, it seems to be a constant. Izzie, Grandma T. and Grandpa F. were of course the hardest to deal with. Angie, a guard in our building, passed away in November, and just last week, another guard, Officer Sanders, passed away as well. Chapin and I will be attending the wake tonight, so I guess that's why death is on my mind. In these times of grief, I often think about the idea of Heaven, and hope very much that it is true. Chapin does not believe in life after death, and I joke with him that I will be very happy to say "I told you so" one day.

Officer Sanders, only in his early 40s, died very suddenly of a stroke. He was a very nice man, and always had a smile for everyone in our building. He had the day shift, so if I had time to go home at lunch to walk George, I would always see him and chat with him. He used to joke that he always knew it was me coming, because he could hear my heels on the marble floors.

I also love to bake, and I would always bring some of my treats down to the guards. Officer Sanders was often the first to try out some of these efforts, and he would always tell me how good everything tasted, and that I should bake full time (ha ha)! He just had a very friendly, sweet nature, and it's a shame that he is gone from this Earth. My thoughts are with his fiance and his family during this sad time.

Here's a clip from one of my favorite movies about the after-life, Defending Your Life. I love Albert Brooks!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

I have been feeling very old lately -- for a few reasons. First, I'm turning 33 in a few weeks, which means I am inching ever closer to 35, my "scary" number. It's basically when I feel a woman goes from looking young to looking "older." Although I hope my skin care routine, combined with staying out of the sun, will help my skin stay fresh as long as possible, I know nothing I do can stop gravity and the years from destroying my face. Sigh!

Second, Chapin has installed new lights in our bathroom, and they are BRIGHT.  They show every line and crevice, and it's not doing much for my self-esteem. I am hoping to convince him to change the bulbs or at least unscrew one so the light is not as powerful (there are three total above our sink), but he's not budging (so far).

Finally, Shannen Doherty, from my beloved 90210, turns 40 today. 40! At least I am still a few years away from that number, though I know I'll be there before I know it. This is the last month I can say the lines from When Harry Met Sally... and have them be true!

Sally: And I'm gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it's not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73.
Harry: Yeah, but he was too old to pick them up.

Anyway, today's outfit is one that my mom has been holding hostage. Well, not really, but it did need her attention, because the last time I wore it -- last winter -- I leaned over to pick up George and ended up ripping the back part of the dress. Fortunately, my mom was able to fix it, and she ended up putting a nice slit in the back of the dress. I was very excited about it, because the dress looked fabulous, and I took it home with me without trying it on. Well, she was a little over eager with the slit. I put it on, and realized I felt a draft. You could see my butt cheeks! So last weekend, she fixed it, and here we are...

The dress is from ABS from Allen Schwartz, and is a mock two-piece dress with a black turtleneck and white/black wool skirt. It's no longer available online, but you can find the brand on most major retail sites. I normally would not wear this outfit in the Spring, but it's very breezy and chilly out today. We had a terrible rainstorm last night that fortunately hit after I was asleep. It didn't wake me up, so I guess the rain wasn't pounding too hard. Chapin actually stayed up late to make sure the suspected tornado watches would not turn into warnings. We had a close call a few years ago when a tornado hit in downtown Atlanta just a few blocks away from us.

I am also wearing black patent BCBGMaxAzria pumps.

Monday, April 11, 2011

In the Midnight Hour

It's another week in the Fashion Challenge, and I'm doing my best to try to make it last as long as possible. I even went to my alterations person this weekend to drop off a bunch of items, but it's going to be at least ten days before I get everything back. I'm going to try to make it until then, so I will be pulling out all sorts of random outfits over the next week or so.

Day 152 in Robert Rodriguez

Today, for example, I'm in a ruched dress from Robert Rodriguez that I normally would wear out on the weekends rather than to work. The color of the dress is described as a "deep purple," but it looks more like a midnight blue to me. The belt is black, so I paired it with black suede t-strap pumps from Modern Vintage.

I loved ruched dresses, like this one on, because the ruched detailing tends to hide flaws in the hips and legs. If you want a form fitting dress, but are self-conscious about those areas, opt for one that has a lot of detail and extra material down the sides. It will do wonders for you.

Speaking of miracle working dresses, Chapin and I went to Lenox Mall this weekend to check out the new Herve Leger by Max Azria store. These bandage dresses are very expensive, and are often seen on celebrities like Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Blake Lively and others. They are expensive for a good reason, though: These dresses definitely work your assets and make you look your best. I had fun trying on a bunch of dresses in the store, but when it came down to it, I couldn't fork over that much money for one single garment of clothing. Maybe when I win the lottery...

Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore) in an Herve

Friday, April 8, 2011


Today's dress is a little risque for the workplace, but since it's Friday, I figured I would push my luck. I again tried on several different outfits this morning, debating (with myself) about what would be appropriate for the office. I have some beautiful dresses left in my closet that you, dear readers, have never seen before. But they are all more appropriate for a night out that a day at the office.

This dress, though -- paired with a cardigan -- seems to be working out alright. The reason I've never worn the Cynthia Steffe Giada dress to the office before is because it has several cut-outs, one in the front and one in the back. Fortunately, the cardigan hides the cut-out in back, which you can see in this picture. (The dress also came in black.)

I normally would not recommend a cut-out dress for work, but since we're nearing the very end of the Fashion Challenge, I figured I would break my own rule. After today, I can maybe squeeze in one more week of outfits. And if I take my lazy butt to my alterations lady this weekend, I could increase that number, since I have several dresses that need to be taken in at the top.

Sometimes it is really hard for me to find a dress that fits me just right, because I am usually a four up top and a six below due to the fact that I store all my fat in my hips and upper thighs. Sometimes I don't know what designers are thinking, because usually those items that don't fit have to be taken up at the shoulders.

If you really love something, though, the fact that it doesn't fit quite right should not discourage you from buying an item of clothing. Alterations can really make a garment "work" for you. If you've ever watched What Not to Wear, you will hear Stacy and Clinton tell that to most of their victims.

I paired the dress today with my Dolce Vita Apple Suede Clog Pumps, which I really find quite comfortable.

Fortunately, today is Friday, which means I can sleep in tomorrow. Yay for sleep!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Can It Be Now?


Day 150 of the Fashion Challenge!

When I was getting dressed this morning, I wasn't sure I had the energy to look through the different sections of my closet to find an unworn outfit. I tried on several options, and then discarded them, because they either need to be altered or are not appropriate to wear to work. Then I stumbled upon this old dress. I have had this Ann Taylor Loft dress since 2005 or 2006, and I'm really thankful I still fit in it. The basic a-line silhouette is one that hasn't gone out of style, and paired with a little cardigan, it's perfect for the office.

I'm also wearing my "Izzie" accessories today: my Izzie necklace (the pug with "Izzie" imprinted on it that my friend Laurin gave me for my birthday last year) and my Jimmy Choo Izzy Slingbacks.

I am definitely having a difficult day already, since I went to bed too late and ended up struggling to open my eyes this morning. It was really tough to get through my workout, and I generally feel like it is taking me ten times as long to do any simple task.

I did not stay up late last night for any good reason, either. After Chapin's wonderful meal of grilled duck, polenta, sauteed mushrooms and red wine from our Alpha Omega wine club, we watched TRON: Legacy on Blu-Ray. As I had not seen the first one, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I geared myself up for a good action movie. While the visual effects were amazing, and some of the initial action scenes were quite tense, the overall plot just had me muttering, "This is stupid," over and over under my breath as the movie neared its end. One visual effect that was sort of jarring was a character that was supposed to be Jeff Bridges as he was 20 years ago. Looking at his face as he speaks, you know something's off. It was just weird. Take my word for it.

After the movie, I planned to go to sleep, but then I remembered that Tori & Dean's show on Oxygen was coming back for its season premiere. I am not one for reality shows, but I am sucker for anything 90210, and, of course, Tori Spelling is a huge lover of pugs. This season, she and her husband are planning weddings, and last night's wedding had a pug theme. How could I resist? The answer: I didn't!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hungry Eyes

Fashion Challenge: Day 149
Chapin and I have not been eating too healthy lately, and we both realize that needs to stop. This past weekend, we ate every meal (practically) out of the house. Last night, we had pizza and red wine for dinner after 8 p.m.! I usually try not to eat past that time, but we both got home from work late and could not decide on dinner plans. Finally, Chapin talked me into the pizza. It was very yummy, but today I am paying the price. As I've gotten older, I've definitely noticed that when I eat badly, my body shows it.

Tonight, Chapin is planning to grill duck tenderloin for dinner. Since I stopped eating mammals about three years ago, duck is the closest thing I have found to steak. I just suddenly found it upsetting to eat animals that seemed so gentle to me -- cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits, etc. -- so I stopped. I still eat poultry and fish, but I may one day be a full vegetarian. I don't know what I am now, but at least I feel better about myself. And I'm sure it's healthy to not eat red meat.

As for today's fashion... I am wearing the Frock! by Tracy Reese Thea Dress in a amazing azure blue. I could not find the exact dress online, but here is the dress in a slightly different style and color. As we wind up the Fashion Challenge, I am trying to intersperse more fun dresses with some of my remaining bland outfits.

I'm also wearing a butterfly necklace my in-laws gave me for Christmas several years ago, and Stuart Weitzman Bamada Peep-Toe Slingbacks in Black.

Although it's a bit chilly out today, the sun is out and the sky is so blue... a great Spring day. I do wish I could be outside enjoying the sunshine, but at least the weekend is only a few short days away.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's Raining Men

OK, so it's not really raining men, but Atlanta did suffer through a bad thunderstorm last night that has resulted in fallen trees, power outages and even a few deaths. When is this extreme weather going to stop?

It's also about twenty degrees cooler out than yesterday. Although the high yesterday was around 80, today's temperature will only reach about 60 degrees. Thankfully, Chapin walked George this morning so I did not have to go outside for very long.

Today's outfit is really not meant for this type of weather, but I don't have too many options left for the Fashion Challenge. I am wearing a MICHAEL Michael Kors navy and red striped top and a navy blue skirt that was, at some point, my sister, Laura's, skirt. It is from The Limited and is probably over ten years old. I think I borrowed it from her when I was in my last year of college and just starting to date Chapin. Gosh, I feel old! It's also maybe a little short for work, but I was in a rush to get dressed, and just didn't have a lot to choose from. Most of the dresses left in my closet now -- that I haven't worn yet -- are cocktail dresses.

I am also wearing L.A.M.B. Plum Suede Navy Wedges. Chapin says I look like a sailor, but I love the red/navy color combo, and since I don't have any client meetings today, I thought I could be more casual.

Many school systems are on Spring Break this week, and I feel bad they are experiencing this kind of poor weather during their time off. Chapin and I are thinking of taking a beach vacation, maybe in the Fall, to Mexico, Puerto Rico or maybe the Caribbean. We went to St. Thomas last year and had such a wonderful time relaxing and laying on the beach. It's always good to try to get away from it all and let your mind and body relax. Hmmm, maybe I need a vacation sooner than I think!

Monday, April 4, 2011


It's always hard to come back to work after spending lots of quality time with my husband. As we lose more and more of our friends to their children, we have started spending most weekends together doing things just the two of us... or the three of us. If we can, we always try to bring George along during our weekend outings. We took him to Piedmont Park's Small Dog Park on Sunday so he could run around with other dogs his size. He enjoys getting to sniff anything he chooses, from the other dog butts to the grass and weeds. Chapin, however, has accused me of "hovering" too much and not letting George out of my sight. What can I say... I'm a bit paranoid after everything we went through with Izzie. Can you blame me?

With nothing in the house, and with neither of us showing any inclination to go grocery shopping, Chapin and I ate pretty much every meal but breakfast out this weekend. I know that's terrible, but it was the weekend!

We were both craving Mexican, so we had dinner at Pure Taqueria in Inman Park on Saturday night. This place has the best salsa, and I am a fan of their margaritas as well. There is even a drink named after me (or some other fabulous Michele): the Michele Margarita! How cool is that? (In case you're interested, it is a "margarita with El Jimador anejo & Gran Marnier floater.")

Sunday, we had chips, salsa and beer for dinner at the Taco Mac in Virgina-Highlands. We love going there because we can take George with us -- dogs are allowed on the patio -- which is fairly unique to this location. When we tried to take him to the patio at the Alpharetta location, we were booted. We think it's so funny that George behaves the best when he is either sitting in one of our laps or sitting on his own stool. I truly believe he thinks he is a person! If we leave him on the ground "like a common dog," he spends most of his time either searching for crumbs or pawing at us to pick him up. I have the scratches to prove it!

George of the Concrete Jungle with his favorite toy
It's hot in Atlanta today -- the high is 80 degrees -- and since I'm spending the day at my desk, and not face-to-face with clients, I chose this lightweight sundress from Studio M. I love the pink color and empire waist, and it's extremely comfortable for a hot day. I am loving my short haircut for these sun-kissed days leading up to summer, though I'm still not used to feeling the sun on the back of my neck. I did, at least, remember to put sunscreen there. I don't leave the house without lathering up if I know I'm going to be spending any decent amount of time outside. I usually opt for SPF50. Save your skin!

I am also using a new purse today that I got for just $20 on the Nine West Jameson Tote in Shitake. I love getting a good deal. It is my only mushroom-colored bag, and it matches perfectly with these L.A.M.B. Veena High Heel Sandals.

Although has sold out of the bag, you can find other great deals on Nine West purses on the site right now, like this Nine West Safari Satchel or Nine West Carousel Hobo.

My sisters gave me this dress for my birthday a few years ago, although it also has sad memories for me. I was wearing this dress at work in August 2009, when -- during a call with a client --Izzie suddenly started having a seizure. She went into the hospital for over a week that time, and we almost lost her, but then she started getting better and the disease went into remission. Little did we know it would come back with a vengeance just a few short months later.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Something to Sing About

Fashion Challenge Day 146
Well, thank goodness, I made it through the week. Despite my best efforts, I still ended up working several hours from home last night, so I am hoping I will have the opportunity to take it easy this weekend.

Although it was only 40 degrees out this morning -- how crazy is that for April 1st? -- I still decided to wear a sleeveless dress because it is slim pickings when it comes to the items remaining in my wardrobe. This empire waist print dress, from BCBGMaxAzria, is about two years old, but I haven't worn it all that much. I'm also wearing peep-toe Stuart Weitzman Bamada slingbacks in black.

My lip color today is not from a lipstick, but from Fresh's Sugar Plum Lip Treatment (with SPF 15). The color is not too dark, and it's soothing and smells fantastic. I'd like to try the other "flavors" as well.

I did wear this dress on Thanksgiving Day 2009, which we spent in Alabama with Chapin's family. That was also our last Thanksgiving with Izzie, so remembering that holiday makes me happy. I am trying to get to the point where thinking about Izzie makes me smile, rather than break out in tears.

I know I have to remember all the wonderful times we had together, and the happiness she brought me each and every day of her life. This picture is from that Thanksgiving weekend when our whole clan went out to see the Christmas lights and decorations. Izzie came with us. We were able to get her in unnoticed due to this charming carry bag we had for her. We put this Auburn scarf around her to keep her warm.

In other news, I know Grey's Anatomy aired a musical episode last night, but I stopped watching that show about a year ago when I realized I didn't really care for any of the characters anymore. Izzie was actually named after Katherine Heigl's character on that show. We already had a George (who was named after George McFly, and I just think George is the perfect name for a pug), so I thought, why not add an Izzie.

But, as my sister, Gail, pointed out on Facebook, when it comes to TV show musicals, nothing can top Buffy. I probably know all the words to all the songs that aired in the "Once More with Feeling" episode. Here's a snippet: