Monday, August 30, 2010

Bellevue and Vogue Fashion Week

Front Row at Vogue Fashion Week in Bellevue

For the past few years, a friend and I have been attending fashion week in Bellevue.
We buy All Access tickets to get goodies such as front row seats or valet parking (one year we lost our car! It was a nightmare so valet parking was an awesome perk.)  The Bellevue Collection and various partners get together to put on a benefit fashion show, announcing the beginning of Fall/Winter Fashion.  The benefit was for the Moyer Foundation!  What a deal!  We get to have a girl's night out, an incredible fashion show, and help out children.

My friend and I pre-funked the show with a trip to Neiman Marcus at The Bravern.  It's an hour plus drive to Bellevue from where we live.  Since this is the only Neiman Marcus in Washington state, I was going to take advantage of our drive to refill my Meteorites compact and get a Fresh Soy Cleanser.  We also stopped at one of my favorite cupcake bakeries, Trophy Cupcakes for a before fashion show treat.  Check out the lemon cupcake!  It was a delicious way to start the adventure.  

The Hyatt Regency was our host for the second year running.  A beautiful hotel with gorgeous modern sculptures and a lush interior, it is the perfect backdrop for Fashion Week. Complimentary valet parking was included on the ticket price this year.  I was excited to take advantage of this deal because of our SNAFU last year.  We entered right into this room from the side street where the friendly valets took my Miata.

Here I am in front of the Vogue/Bellevue Collection Fashion Week sign.  I wish you could see my shoes.  They were glorious J. Renee's that I bought for a wedding and wore that evening too.  My shirt is my favorite, bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, it is a gorgeous pink that hovers between pink and taupe depending on what you pair it with.  I happened to put it with the dark olive Halogen sweater which sounds odd but worked (I had a Tim Gunn moment in my closet prior to coming to the show).


 The staff of the Hyatt and the Bellevue collection welcomed us with drinks and hors d'oevres.  Special for the night, the bar offered a drink titled Sexy Stiletto, a mixture of champagne and possibly pineapple and grapefruit juice with a raspberry garnish.  It was delicious.  While we wait for the doors to open, waiters took around trays of small bites.  There was mahi mahi on a wonton chip (not my favorite btw because of it's lack of seasoning), veggie quesadillas (too spicy), chicken wraps (delicious!), onion quiche (also yummy).  One waitress who was responsible for the tomato artichoke cups only went down one side of the room.  Somehow we did get a taste of that offering and it was great but after that we couldn't get her attention to get another one! 

Anne Vincent, Vogue
Now to get to the good stuff, the clothes!  The show was divided into themes; Fur and Feathers, Under Wraps (coats for Washingtonians - LOL - We are always on the hunt for fashionable outerwear!), American Sportswear, Urban Luxe, Animal Magnetism, Sweater Girls, and A Night on the Town.  The show was opened by the lovely Anne Vincent of Vogue.  I have a few pictures of her but they are blurry.  She was wearing a gorgeous skirt of deep blue feathers.  I'll include it anyway but here's my disclaimer.  I was using my I-phone for pictures which took some getting used to and didn't always take the greatest pics.  So in small form, they look ok but larger not so great.  However, check out the blue on that was to-die-for!

From Nordstrom - Fur
The great clothes in the show were provided by the shops in the Bellevue Collection; Nordstrom, Banana Republic, Macy's, White House/Black Market, Boss Hugo Boss, Vince, Aritzia, Ann Taylor, and more. I enjoyed the Fur and Feathers theme more than I thought I would.  It's so easy to go wrong with both elements.  However, the stylists pulled it together with thoughtful consideration to this fact.  You can see in the picture of one of my favorite outfits from the fur/feathers theme that the Joie fur vest layered with a Michael Stars sweater and lace leggings has a sense of urbanity and modernity that made the whole look work.

Some of the name brands/designers work featured in the show were Haute Hippie, Joie, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rachel Roy Rachel.  I liked the Kate Spade jeweled cardigan.  My picture (in the slide show) makes it look yellow but it's a lovely bright pistachio.  Another favorite item was actually the tights, especially the orange ones.  They added a great punch of color to the outfits.  Unfortunately, the accessories weren't listed but there were some fantastic shoes, handbags, headbands, and jewelry.  I loved the rhinestone ball necklace featured with a few outfits but couldn't get a clear picture of it (seriously that is the story of my life.).  The menswear was to drool for with suits by Boss Hugo Boss.  The models themselves made nice eye candy too!  I loved everything from Banana Republic (as per my usual modus operandi).  

Each guest received a swag bag with great items such as OPI nail polish, a cosmetics bag from the Bellevue Collection, samples from Sephora (who donated make-up stylists for the show), Obadiah Salon (hair stylists), and other assorted delights.  Plus there were plenty of coupons, gift cards, and shopping treats to encourage a whirlwind of shopping madness in the mall afterwards.  I took advantage of the Banana Republic coupon to buy a cardigan.  Inside the mall, after the show, the models posed on picture frame stands to get a closer look at the clothes.  You will see a picture of this at the end of my slide show.  But the best part besides the shopping was the dessert spread and free goodies from some of the participating stores such as Crabtree and Evelyn where we scored a little gift bag of samples.  The dessert spread in the mall consisted of the most delicious shortbread thumbprint cookies with fruit (one was mango and I don't know what the other was) sprinkled with sugared rose petals.  I could have eaten about a dozen of these but restrained myself to trying the two flavors.  In addition to these goodies, Z'Tejas and PinkaBella offered samples upstairs.  There were more samples along the way such as Cinnabon but we didn't make it to those.

At the end of our whirlwind night, we walked back to the Hyatt Regency and found our car through the helpful services of the valets.  A note to the Bellevue Collection staff though - a paper voucher would have assisted the valets at the desk in retrieving our car.  They wanted to charge us unless we could show proof that we'd been at the show.  I showed them my arm band but the gentleman was reluctant to take it.  A minor hiccup in the process though.

Check out my next post for the slide show of my pics.  I am struggling with a soundtrack for the movie of the Fashion Show so today it's basically an add your own soundtrack moment.  Have a fashionable day!  And enjoy!

My Favorite Kate Spade in the Sweater Girls Theme

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garage Sale Finds of the Weekend! Mad Men Style

I have been in awe of the incredible Mad Men style. It took me several tries to get into the show but the sets and fashion are so impressive. I must have gone garage saling this weekend with that in mind because several of my scores had Mad Men style! I know on the east coast these sales are referred to as tag sales. My family and I go to all no them no matter what the name. Sometimes I find neat, interesting things and sometimes not. However, when I do find stylish fashionable items, I've decided to share. After all what's the fun of a score if I can't SHARE?  Ok, I liked show-and-tell in kindergarten!

I have an itsy bitsy martini shaker. It's really an individual size. Recently I had been thinking that if I wanted to make lavender cosmos for a party, it was going to take me awhile. But this weekend, I scored a party-sized martini shaker. A steal at $2.50, this martini shaker has a tilted pour spout with it's little removable lid and strainer. The top half is clear glass with a few minor imperfections such as a bubble in the glass. There are different sized silver stripes that match the shiny lid. The bottom is a textured glass so that gripping the shaker while preparing a drink won't be a dangerous experience!

Shot glass and wine bar set
Rarely do you go from sale to sale and find coordinating items but down the road at the next sale, I found a matching shot glass with a silver rim for 50 cents! And to complete my bar saga, later on in the day I found a wine opener, corkscrew, and stopper set for a quarter.

Add the cost of the crisp white linen that I photographed on and my total to update my bar was $4.25!  Now that's a thing of beauty!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Spoonful of Honey - Featured Product Honees

I am starting a regular feature on this blog.  This means blog commitment so I hesitate to say that it's going to happen every week or every other week.  But I am committed to expanding this blog so here goes!  I grew up in a time of fads and fancies where living by the land was appreciated.  Big skirts and bonnets were popular.  Floral prints abounded.  That was simply the fashion.  The style of living was made equally simple with homemade goods and natural products becoming a consumer focus.  I remember a time when regular supermarkets didn't have a "Natural Foods" section.  My mother shopped at special organic markets or 'cooperatives'.  It was a strange time.  For years I didn't taste a Hostess Twinkie.  I grew up with no white sugar in my house.  And corn syrup was kept as a staple but I don't remember it being used EVER.  In fact, it had a layer of dust on it that rivaled a mud flow. But we did use honey in all forms.  I didn't sweeten drinks with sugar.  I did it with honey.  Baked with it.  Healed with it.  Used it for skincare and hair care.  As a result of this, I developed a passion for different types and forms of honey.  I will buy anything with honey in it.  But the reason I started this little feature is to share some of the great and surprising products with honey!

The product this week is my all time favorite from when I was a child; Honees.  Made in Italy by Ambrosoli, these candies are little nuggets of honey happiness.  Recently they became difficult to find in my town.  I used to buy them in the natural foods section of my local Fred Meyers but they stopped carrying them.  But thanks to Amazon, I have restocked my supply. 

For years I have carried a pack of these in my purse.  They are non medicated but when you have a sore throat, I find that they are a sure-fire relief inducer.  Featured at the right are the Menthol ones in the green package and the Milk and Honey flavor in the blue and gold package.  I don't currently have the third flavor which is the regular honey flavor.  On Amazon, a box of these goes for anywhere from $15 to $21.  However, you get a supply that will last you for months.  I give them out to my friends.  They make great gift basket additions.  No one complains at all! 

Honees are a great pick-me-up when you are hungry and on the go.  A total of 5 grams of sugar per drop and no fat, they are delicious and relatively painless if you can only keep yourself down to one!  My favorite of the three flavors is the milk and honey because it's softer than the others.  When you bite it, the milky honey just slides out on your tongue.  Absolute heaven in a drop.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Camping for the Fashionista - Waterless Style

Being out in the wilderness presents itself with many challenges for the fashionista.  The concept of the 'elements' rings a different tone to the fashion conscious.  Sure I was concerned about bears and cougars but I was also concerned about packing lightly for hikes and keeping my hair and skin fresh and beautiful.

But camping in a campground with limited water sources brings about even more challenges.  This is the situation that I found myself in for two days.  In the sprint up until Labor Day, I am certain that many other fashionistas will find themselves in the same situation.  Here are some tips to accomplish a few goals;

1.  Stay clean day to day.

2.  Come out of the camping trip with hair and skin minus damage.

To do this, I targeted a few areas.  There are some realizations when camping that you are not going to be a goddess.  I could accept this and move on.  

Target one - Hair

My water supply!
Products to pack - Dry Shampoo - I picked up a can of Psssssst.  Other great dry shampoo options include; Batiste Dry Shampoo and Frederick Fekkai Au Naturel.  I wasn't sure that any water would be available for hair washing since this campground was in the mountains and sometimes it's difficult to do traditional plumbing.  But if there was I also packed a backup of conditioning shampoo.  We were lucky when we arrived to find a pump from which to draw cold water.  But it was nice to refresh with the dry shampoo.

Target two - Body

Products to pack - No Rinse Cleansing and Deodorizing Wipes - I found a version of these at Target in the dollar bins with cute wrappers so I had been storing them in every bag or vehicle that we own just so that I would feel fresh on the road. I wouldn't necessarily say that these are a substitute for a shower (very little is!) but it helps you live with yourself for a few days.  And they are light and easy to pack on a hike!

Perfume rollerball - I have several at my disposal so I always have one on hand.  It may seem like a strange thing to take camping but there was an odd use to it.  I originally thought (like the French during the Age of Kings) that I would cover up my body scent with a bit of perfume (they didn't use it in bits though. HA!).  In the end, it covered up the unpleasant scents such as the campers next door!

Makeup wipes - again with the wipes but these were great for oil removal after we'd been hiking in the morning.  I used some from Sephora but these look wonderful from Korres - Pomegranate Cleansing and Oil Control Wipes.  

Sunscreen - Don't forget a great sunscreen.  Since we were hiking, lightweight packaging was in order.  I didn't want to be carrying around bottles of everything.  My favorite product of the season are Tocca's Sunscreen Wipes.  I carry these everywhere.  My daughter carries them everywhere.  We stash them in our purses and vehicles.  They smell like the ever popular Stella fragrance by Tocca and pack a powerful wallop with 30+ sunscreen.  Each towelette goes quite a ways.  I always use these on both myself and son.  Between the two of us, we can get through one wipe.  The sunscreen melts into your skin and doesn't leave you feeling greasy.

Target Three - Pest Control - No sense in coming back from a camp out covered in bug bites!  We used to ways to control the pests.  Both were nose and child friendly.  When my son did get a bite on the back of the leg, I grabbed my Benadryl Itch pen - the coolest invention ever - this easy packable pen gets right to the spot of the irritation with a dose of Benadryl. 

But to even go back farther, we escaped bug bites by spraying with Cutter Skinsations which does contain DEET in small doses.  I also purchased a DEET free version but I can't remember the brand and we didn't use it because the bug quotient was high.  We were lucky though because we spent the night in the lovely camp cabin that you see here.

Camping can be a great family experience!  When presented with foreknowledge that I was going to be without a shower or sink, I was able to prepare with some handy and innovative products.  With careful planning,  camping can be a beautiful experience without the stereotypical issues that go along with roughing it. 

Lower Wallace Falls

Friday, August 13, 2010

Forever 21 opens in Olympia!

I am not a huge Forever 21 fan.  Not because I dislike them or hold any great antipathy to affordable fashion.  Forever 21 is just relatively new to my state.  I am also not their target audience - perhaps too old (ahem).  But that said, they remind me of the old Jay Jacobs and a frilly Fashion Direction (for which I spend a great five years working in the 80's).  Trendy and inexpensive, Forever 21 will provide some healthy competition for the other stores in our mall, including Charlotte Russe which is my daughter's favorite store.  Both my daughter and I had been driving past the spot in the mall where construction was happening and ogling the chandeliers as they went up.  Excitement was building along with the new store. 

So today, on opening day, we trekked over to the mall.  No we weren't first in line - perhaps this post should be on (if there was such a thing!).  But there was plenty of eye candy and great deals.  Most of what I bought was for my daughter.  She found a great ruffle skirt and some leggings to go under them.  My daughter found aviator sunglasses for $1.50.  She recently lost her dollar pair that she'd found on clearance somewhere else so this was a major score.  I focused on the accessories areas because that's typically my forte.

However, I bought HUE corduroy leggings in forest green at Nordstrom's a few weeks ago during the anniversary sale and was also on the hunt for an over-sized shirt to go over them. 

Trends seemed to be on point with the pre-fall line up.  As you can see by the pic, lace sprinkled tops all around the store, providing cut outs, layering options, or frills.  Tons of pearls and rhinestones spilled over the baskets and display tables.  A Parisian theme peppered the store with chandeliers and fake moldings around inset accessory walls.  But also several of the jewelry pieces featured bicycles, the Eiffel tower, Victorian birds, and cat's eye glasses - also lining up with the trend point of the early fall - Glam Victoriana.

I desperately wanted a glittery silver thread shot scarf but both daughter and I agree that it might be a bit early for a cover up.  I am still searching for where I might have misplaced my favorite Eddie Bauer scarf that STILL has the tags attached so I was loathe to buy another.  This is definitely my favorite part of the store with gobs of handbags, scarves, and jewelry.  I had several necklaces in hand, having a hard time trying to pick just one.  I'll be back for more!  But I did buy bird with a gold finish (somehow I ended up with two pieces of bird jewelry) and his name is Roadie.  He looks like a roadrunner to me.  With his gold tone finish and brown wings, he will look great on nearly anything that I wear. 

The store was busy with a line up at the dressing rooms.  There were plenty of great sales consultants on the floor.  My daughter had a friend who was just hired by them and she told us that they stocked to store in four days.  We were asked if we needed help more times than we could count. 

Off to the right, you see my favorite score of the day!  Meet Percival (so named at the register).  He sits right on my hand as a ring.  That isn't a great picture of him but look at how BIG he is!  I will try to get another pic later.  He was one of the more expensive items that I purchased.  I did manage to find a shirt with a deep rose print on it.  The dark forest leaves will match nicely with my cord leggings.

    The end of the mall has been greatly improved by this store front!  It's clean and bright.  Just beautiful.  We had a hard time getting a picture where there wasn't someone standing or walking in front because it was that busy. 
Tommy at the register was a little taken aback when we told him that I was going to blog about it.  But here we are at the register.  Thanks, Tommy.  We thought you were adorable!  We'll see you later!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Single Cup Coffee Machines - Truly a Thing of Beauty

For my birthday, I asked my husband for a Tassimo.  This was not a decision that I came to suddenly.  My coffee drinking days consisted of filling a twelve cup coffee maker with grounds and filters and tons of water.  Every morning I would dump the disgusting grounds into the garbage, clean out the thick dark brew left over, and start again.  Think about the waste.  And as I evaluated this ritual that I'd been in for years, it occurred to me that I was a coffee connoisseur who was treating coffee more like an everyday commodity.  I only drink two cups a day.  The coffee aisles at the stores are a collector's paradise.  I savor good body in coffee.  So why was I wasting it? 

One of my favorite places to do shopping research is Amazon and so that was the first place that I went.  The world of single cup machines is fantastic and varied.  Do you want a machine that can make many types of drinks?  Should it be able to handle your commuter mug?  Do brands matter to you?  What about the flavor of the coffee?  The first single serve machine that I tried was actually in a Sur La Table in Seattle.  Unfortunately, the brew was bitter and lacking in depth.  So it turned me off for awhile.  But it certainly made me think about the reviews that I was reading.  I enjoy dark coffee.  If the single cup maker in Seattle had not been able to satisfy my taste, I wanted something that would.  These musings led me to to the Tassimo.  This machine offers a coffee stand experience but the flavors are limited.  I was sacrificing range for quality.  The Tassimo line offers Starbucks and Gevalia coffees (among others), a variety of hot chocolates, and tea.  Not only could it be a machine for myself but for the family as well.  When it arrived, I eagerly read the directions, there was some moderate wait before I could enjoy a freshly brewed up.  The machine looks impressive on my countertop.  My counters aren't much to look at since they haven't been updated.  But the machine seemed to instantly modernize my tired laminate!

Bosch makes a quality product.  Every cup of coffee that comes out of my Tassimo is ideal.  There are a few things that I wish for now and again such as an extra foamy setting and not to have to hold the button down when I want a larger cup.  What I appreciate is how easy it is to have a fresh cup of coffee!  And the clean up is simple.  I just remove the disk and toss it in the garbage.  However, I didn't realize that this was just a gateway machine into a larger world.  As I began to explore single cup machines, even after I had chosen the Tassimo, I realized how deep of a lifestyle change it was.  This was not just a cup of coffee but a true passion as evidenced by the blog, Single Serve Coffee which is the most AWESOME blog by the way! 

I began to explore even deeper I devised a grand coffee scheme.  Why did I have to sacrifice?  I could have a few machines!  This crazy thought occurred to me one day and it was so asinine that I could barely voice it.  I still had the 12 cup coffee maker sitting on my counter taking up space.  Why not replace it with a little K-cup brewer?  Fate dealt a hand in a strange manner.  One day shortly after I had this thought but before I could really entertain it, I was perusing Target's clearance shelves when I stumbled quite by accident across an out of box Keurig Mini brewer.  It had been marked down a few times and according to the cashier there was nothing wrong with it.  How could I resist?  Forty dollars for a hundred dollar machine?  I snapped it up, feeling giddy as my plan came together (yes, you can make an A-team reference here).  Not only that but it was an adorable red color!  How could that lovely cherry red go wrong with a fashionista like me?  There were a few problems with it when I got it home.  Someone had used it and left it dirty (oh cruel world!).  I didn't have a manual and found purely by accident there is a drip pan which had not been cleaned.  A new one would have come with complimentary k-cups.  I had to spend a little extra to get a box of them. After some cleaning and experimentation with different k-cups, I have now found some delicious blends and great satisfaction in the options that both brewers give me.  The mini brewer does not crowd my counter either.  I had serious doubts about having two machines in my tight coffee corner.  But my doubts were put to rest as the Keurig really is mini and slides nicely under the countertop. Now to the fun part of buying lots of flavors.  I perused online and there are many buying options but eventually I discovered the nirvana of K-cup stores, Bed, Bath and Beyond!  While their online shopping is disappointing, the selection of both K-cups and Tassimo disks in the store is impressive especially considering I am not a huge fan of that particular home store.

There are pros and cons to each machine.  Depending on my mood or taste, I find myself going for one or the other.  Either way, the convenience and modern technology make my single serve coffee machines things of beauty.