Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Power of Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Although no one should live in the past, it’s incredibly therapeutic (and fun) to remember happy memories. Some of my best inspiration comes from past memories and experiences.

Remembering good times from childhood, college days, or even a recent fun memory can instantly boost your mood and brighten your day. Anything can trigger a good memory. A friend recently mentioned remembering exactly what I was wearing on a certain day – almost 20 years ago – after seeing someone in a similar ensemble.  It's a good thing.

As MTV approaches the 30 year anniversary, I started to recall some of my favorite nostalgic childhood experiences and favorite things. As I saw Kiel James Patrick wish for a pair of vintage Dooney & Bourke Boat Shoes the other day on Facebook, I decided that vintage equals nostalgia, and that nostalgia is good.

Here are some things that still make me smile.

The Snoopy Sno-Cone machine was one of my favorite and most coveted, yes, coveted Christmas gifts one year. Now, the “Original” toy is for sale in Barnes and Noble. When I saw it in the store, the catchy tune instantly played in my mind. “It's the Yum Yum Fun that is cool and keen and it's name is the Snoopy Snow Cone Machine. You put ice cubes in and get a snow cone out."

Music is a major nostalgia trigger for me. I've always loved all kinds of music. Duran Duran is still one of my favorite 80s bands. I had such a crush on Simon Le Bon!

Of course, Skatehaven, the cool roller rink I used to frequent, tended to play more rock and pop than Duran Duran. I loved my roller skates with matching pom poms and toe stops. All of the boys and girls would skate separately or stand along the wall of the rink in groups until couples skate. Do you hear Wham's Careless Whisper playing in the back of your head now?

The Trapper Keeper was the must have binder for school. A normal three ring binder simply would not do. Each class had a section in the notebook. The collective sound of ripping Velcro as students opened the Trapper Keepers was a sign that class had begun.

My green raincoat with blue whales is a reversible preppy treasure, though I always loved the printed side the most. I was always preppy and my general style has not really ever changed. I like to think that I have simply matured and evolved while still being the same person I was as a child.

Some of my first expressions of fashion and style were created using my Fashion Plates. My sister and I would create oodles of designs for hours on end.

Long before cell phones, I felt like a rockstar to have my very own phone in my own room. Of course, my parents would never let me make or accept calls before or after certain hours, but I was in heaven to be able to talk on the phone in my room. Twirling the phone cord in my fingers as I gossiped flirted chatted was all part of the fun!

What kinds of things trigger happy memories for you?  What toys, games, or clothing do you most remember from your childhood?


pictures curated in my personal and pinterest collection

Saturday, July 30, 2011

School Supplies in July

It’s July, so it’s that time of year... Time to buy the school supplies. In the back of your mind, you’re probably thinking, “What???  Bethany has lost her mind is such a type A mom. It’s 100 degrees and the kids still have a few more weeks of summer.”

But school supplies are in stores like Staples, OfficeMax, and Target now at beyond amazing prices. Pencils and folders for a penny, spiral notebooks and Crayola crayons for ten cents and Crayola markers for a quarter. I stock up now for the entire year. Spending less than $10 on major school supplies for the entire year for my two minnies makes it easy to say yes to the whims of the Lilly Pulitzer highlighters, or the Jonathan Adler erasers, too.

Last year, Natalia told me that only “babies and boys have backpacks,” so the girls graduated to a Lilly Pulitzer original tote for their supplies. My little girls are growing up so quickly. I remember their ladybug rolling backpack for pre-k and now they’re very sophisticated young ladies with a Lilly tote bag of a sudden. But no matter how grown up they are, they still need labels for their supplies and camp clothes.

Mabel’s Labels is the best label resource I have encountered. Children of all ages like their pretty designs and bright colors and patterns make your child’s items easy to locate and quickly recognize among their friends’ school supplies.

Mabel’s Labels tag mates and iron-ons are ideal for labeling clothing for summer camp or school. The labels are waterproof and laundry safe and will last for a long time.

The skinny mini labels are ideal for labeling small items such as rulers, markers, pencils, and scissors. These bright labels are durable and waterproof. They’re a major improvement over writing a name in black Sharpie, don’t you think?

At dance class, girls quickly change between tap and ballet shoes. There’s always a pile of ghillies before Irish Dance class, too. All of the girls are similar in age and size and the dance school requires that every girl has the same brand and style of shoe, so it’s very difficult to know which shoe belongs to which girl. The Classic Shoe labels offer a perfect solution for shoes for dance, sports, or day care. The heavy duty stickers firmly adhere to the insole of shoes and stay put, even with a lot of wear and tear.

Right now, Mabel's Labels has a wonderful promotion for back to school. The Ultimate Back to School Combo includes everything you’ll need to label for the new school year. Here’s what you’ll receive: 50 Tag Mates™, 40 Skinny-Minis™, 16 Shoe Labels, and 2 Teeny Tags™. This special deal will only be available until September 30, so act now and get ready for school. There’s a label for every style too, with 6 limited edition Classic color palettes or 27 Colorful Label Out Loud™ designs, plus 6 exclusive Ultimate Back-to-School Combo motifs. It is a pleasure to review Mabel’s Labels and we are certainly enjoying our Ultimate Back-to-School Combo. I think I need some labels for my own classroom supplies, too!

Have you started shopping for school supplies?  How do you label school supplies and clothing for your children?


Friday, July 29, 2011

A Home for Entertaining

Recently, the minnies and I visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Many of you correctly guessed my vacation spot earlier this week when I posted some preview pictures.

The Biltmore Estate was inaugurated in 1895 on Christmas Eve when George and Edith Vanderbilt celebrated with their guests as they enjoyed the many comfortable amenities of the property. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the home was mean to be a retreat for the Vanderbilts and their friends.  As you travel through the woods to arrive at the house, your breath is immediately taken away be the sheer awesomeness of the house. You could hear a collective “WOW” on the shuttle bus as the house entered our view.

The home is a staggering 175,000 square feet in size and is the largest privately owned home in the United States. Yes, that’s privately owned, and yes, the owner is married, as the guide told one inquisitive lady. There are over 43 bathrooms in the Biltmore House at a time when indoor plumbing was quite rare.

The minnies were very impressed by the Biltmore Estate. Natalia asked if it was “the only castle in the United States.” She’s correct in assuming that this is a castle. It sure looks like a castle and the châteauesque architectural style of the home actually means castle-like. My favorite areas in the home were the library with over 23,000 volumes in the collection and the indoor pool. The minnies loved the Halloween Room, a room in the basement that Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil painted with whimsical scenes for a party in the 1920s. They also loved the two lane bowling alley.

The grounds and gardens at Biltmore Estate are equally as impressive as the home. The gardens were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. This is a view of the home from the Italian Garden. Visitors enjoyed the koi and goldfish in the pools and I loved the water lilies.

The walled garden is a kaleidoscope of color and beauty.  The seasonal flowers are incredible and varied. 

Doesn’t this look like something out of a fairy tale?

After a busy morning of touring the Biltmore House and Gardens, we enjoyed a delicious lunch in a unique venue. The Stable Café is a restaurant housed in 19th century stables that have been delightfully transformed into a fun dining experience.

Biltmore Village is a charming little community at the entrance of the Biltmore Estate that Vanderbilt created. It served as a self-contained and self-sustaining community. That influence is seen today through the many restaurants that use items from local farms and many original cottages, buildings, and a church that have been preserved. There’s even a special limited edition Lilly Pulitzer Lexie crew tee for Biltmore Village. It’s gorgeous!


Hotel Review on raveable

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Head to Toe Gorgeous in One Block

Gilt City DC launches on August 1! The exclusive preview events from the past two weeks have sold out within minutes and I expect that Gilt City DC will be the place to find carefully selected, unique experiences in Washington, DC.

There are so many ways to see the city and the myriad of entertainment, dining and shopping is sometimes mind boggling. So when the peeps at Gilt asked me to put together my favorite experiences in the city, I jumped at the chance.

I were a curator of unique experiences for Gilt City DC, I would offer a delightful luxury afternoon adventure that would leave participants gorgeous from head to toe – in only 1 city block!

We’ll start at the top with a visit to IPSA For Hair for perfectly blown out hair, a fabulous cut, or color that has made this salon a top choice for fifteen years.

Then, walk a few steps to the newly inaugurated Nectar Skin Bar for a LashDip mascara treatment, which lasts for up to 6 weeks and for which Nectar has exclusivity in Washington. Relax in the peaceful outdoor garden at Nectar Skin Bar before your next stop in the head to toe gorgeous experience.

“Authentically preppy" may be one characterization for Sherman Pickey, but it’s my favorite shop to find all of my favorite brands including Lilly Pulitzer, Jules Reid, Elizabeth McKay, and more. This fall, Ethan and the other Sherman Pickey peeps are introducing Darling, a gorgeous collection from London that offers a vintage, ethereal look that is structured and polished. Pick up a new ensemble or two, and walk to the final step in the adventure.

Sassanova completes your head to toe gorgeous afternoon in one city block of a quaint Georgetown street. Now that your hair is gorgeous and you’re dressed to the nines, you only need a pair of shoes to complete the look. Sassanova is a cute store offering great service to find adorable shoes from designers like Kate Spade and Tory Burch.

In just a few steps, you have everything you need to get you ready for a night out on the town, a special event, or just because you deserve it! Beauty, fashion, and shoes in one block. I think it would be the perfect item for Gilt City DC, don’t you?

Please share this post via Twitter. Be sure to include the hashtag #cityscoop and @GiltCityDC in your tweet. If my post is one of two receiving the most tweets for Gilt City DC, I’ll have a $100 Gilt City reader giveaway for Maryland Pink and Green.

How would you spend your perfect afternoon for head to toe gorgeous? Where would you go?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tracy Negoshian Test Drive

My mail man and my UPS man are two of my favorite people. When I spied the Tracy Negoshian return label in the mail, I was so excited. The Sheada tunic dress in Navy Blue Life Preservers that Tracy kindly sent to me was a true lifesaver on a recent adventure.

For the past week, I’ve been living in and out of a suitcase and let me tell you, it’s not fun. I’m picky when it comes to clothing, and insist on ironing things that have gotten wrinkled along the way. Multiply that times three once you add the minnies’ clothing and you can appreciate why easy and carefree clothing is a lifesaver.

Apart from being incredibly gorgeous, the Tracy Negoshian dress didn’t wrinkle at all. It came out of the suitcase after a long trip looking perfect. The same is certainly not true of my cotton shift dresses!

I wore the Sheada dress on a long day of touring in 100 degree temperatures with lots and lots of humidity. What better test drive could I give to this gorgeous dress?

The dress received oodles of compliments from strangers, which is always a bonus. Mark Twain said, “I could live for 2 months on a good compliment.” The many compliments the minnies and I received on this particular day have me in great shape for years!

The day was very hot and humid and we were in an un-air conditioned environment for the majority of the morning and afternoon. The fabric of the dress is light and kept me cool. By mid-afternoon, you can see that my hair and makeup have wilted in the summer humidity, but the Sheada tunic dress is still impeccable.

Do you know where I am? Any guesses? I’ll share all of the fun details with you in a post later this week. But I’ll leave you with two hints. Remember that I was just in Williamsburg, Virginia. Raleigh, North Carolina was the next destination on the trip. These pictures are taken in a different location. 

One last clue! The Sheada tunic dress even looks cute when I’m wearing it on a tractor. 

Many thanks to sweet Tracy Negoshian for her kindness.  You're a lifesaver!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preppy Games

What game does a preppy play after a hard day’s work at the office beach? Nothing too exerting in the triple digit temperatures, please. 

She should play backgammon, of course!

Backgammon is the ultimate preppy board game. It is entertaining, and you can have a cocktail while you’re playing. No one can say that about chess; it requires way too much of a time commitment and concentration for my taste.  Plus, Brooks Brothers sold backgammon sets a few years ago, so that must mean it is preppy.  Although the Brooks Brothers sets are not available, I have some fun choices for you. 

Jonathan Adler's whimsical take on the backgammon is gorgeous. The needlepoint board is protected by a white acrylic tray and the bright game pieces add to the fun.

These backgammon sets look gorgeous as part of your home décor when they are not in use. Your game will be ready for a game of backgammon any time. And it’s a great conversation piece, too.  I love the pink and orange combination. 

Backgammon is also a fabulous game to play on the go. Take this pink quadroll travel backgammon with you to the pool, beach, or airplane.

Jaques London has the ultimate in luxury backgammon sets. This would make a fantastic gift.

Any game that can be played in the pool is a game I like. Slim Aarons captured some preppy peeps in Acapulco playing backgammon. Paradise!

Do you play backgammon? What do you think are the preppiest games?

Shopping List
Jonathan Adler  Travel Backgammon  Jaques London


Monday, July 25, 2011

Lilly Pulitzer Fall 2011

Although the thermometer is in the triple digits, fall is here! At least in Lilly Pulitzer stores, that is. Today the first delivery of fall launches online and in store today, July 25.  Other deliveries are expected for the 25th of each month for the next few months. One of my favorite seasons for Lilly is fall, second only to Resort. Since I have so many more months of cold weather in Maryland, I really do need more fall clothing. Splashes of color help to brighten my mood in the winter when everything else is a palette of gray and black. 

Fall 2011 promises to be a wonderful season. From what I have seen, I’m in love and am going to need multiple items in a few of the prints. I’m particularly impressed with the Lilly Pulitzer fall collection for minnies. My girls adore their Lilly, but sadly, many of the summer items were not practical for their size, growth, daily activities, or my budget. But fall seems to run true to size for minnies, is school and playground appropriate, and includes some outstanding price points.

The minnies immediately chose the Bella skirt with a bow in the Bright Navy Dress Rehearsal print. It is sized small-extra large and has a comfortable elastic waist. The length is above the knee and looked adorable with or without leggings. The skirt is lined, too.

Your Minnie will want a Mini Katia wrap in every color, too. The cotton wrap is a substantial weight and can be worn over dresses, turtlenecks, and tees. The best part is that this versatile piece is an amazing price at only $28! Letter sized.

Other favorites for minnies include comfy stretch knit dresses with adorable rugby stripes in navy and pink or with critters such as monkeys or a giraffe. Sweaters, leggings, and fleece trimmed in print ruffle round out the adorable Lilly Pulitzer 2011 Fall collection.

The Fall Collection revisits some winning dresses from previous seasons. You'll be happy to see the return of the Shauna dress, Adelson in some new gorgeous color combinations, the Connie dress, and the Jonah.

A gorgeous print for the Jonah and matching jacket has lots of high heeled shoes on it in pretty fall tones. There's also a cute little skirt that I saw in the heels print.

For my first official fall purchase, I chose the Noelle shirt in Bright Navy Showtime Dot. The pretty polka dots on solid navy are a fantastic way to make a transition to fall clothing. The button down shirt is perfect to wear now with some white jeans and will look perfect with a cardigan in the fall.  Peeps who are fortunate to have warm weather winters will get a lot of wear out of this shirt.  The shirt is shaped and fits true to size.  I'm 5'4" and it hits just below the hip. 

Fall 2011 has so many things that are work appropriate. In my opinion, some of the colors and styles are a slight departure from traditional Lilly Pulitzer clothing, but I love the look and am thrilled that there are so many classic pieces for work.

My next purchase? Without a doubt, I'm loving the Lilly Pulitzer Christy shirtdress in Sky Blue Thrill of the Chase. The dress is stylized, not boxy, and has front pockets. It's fitting true to size.  From the few pieces I tried, fall does not seem to be cut as slim as some pieces I have from spring that seemed to run very small.

When you you start buying clothes to transition to fall?


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gilt City DC

Gilt City provides access to a broad range of local services at exclusive prices to its membership. Each sale lasts seven days and features many of a city's most sought-after restaurants, concerts, cultural offerings and more. Gilt City is currently available in 10 markets including: New York, Boston, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, DC, Dallas, DC and Washington DC.

The official launch of Gilt City in Washington, DC is on August 1, but you can get a preview of some First Look Offers on July 25.

From epicurean adventures with famed local chefs to indulgent spa services with a twist, Gilt City curates the site to highlight the best that DC has to offer in an effort to make residents love their city more.

Gilt City offers members exclusive access and unique experiences that allow them to connect and interact with their city in unexpected ways. What sets Gilt City apart from the competition is its distinct point of view on curated and customized offerings. To ensure that every offer on the new Gilt City DC site will capture the city’s individuality, the brand has a team of local Curators whose mission is to highlight the very best of the city in an effort to make residents love their city more. In DC the Gilt City Curators are collaborating with DC’s very best vendors to put together the most unforgettable packages.

“We are thrilled to provide DC with coveted experiences and exclusive offers that will help people explore and celebrate all of the wonderful things that define this great city. It possesses the right mix of discerning customers and a rich assortment of local businesses that can support our members’ taste-maker lifestyles,” said Gilt City President, Nathan Richardson. “In the past year, we have built a level of trust with our members that we will deliver premium insider access to the best restaurants, spas, salons, entertainment, and services their cities have to offer. At the same time, we have built a strong marketing platform for local merchants to connect them to the highest value customers in their communities.”

Gilt is one of my favorite flash sale sites for fashion, children, and home goods and I’m thrilled for the launch of Gilt City DC.

Join Gilt City DC today and receive 20% off your first order.

Lilly Pulitzer Lifestyle at Palm Avenue

Whenever I travel to a new city, I love to visit the local Lilly Pulitzer store. Raleigh, North Carolina is home to Palm Avenue, a fabulous Lilly Pulitzer Lifestyle store. This store is so special because it is the first (and only) Lifestyle store. The concept of the Lifestyle store is a place where Lilly lovers can find everything they need from fashion to furniture.

As you enter Palm Avenue, you’ll immediately be drawn to the gorgeous pink Chinoiserie style dining room in vibrant pink.  The staging of the large store space is spectacular. 

Orange is one of the best selling colors for home furnishings at the store. This living room is fun and I like the color combination. The Chinese style is a common element in the prints, accessories, and details of the collection.

Everything about this living room area is so gorgeous, from the Lilly Pulitzer fabric to the Trina Turk accent pillows. All of the furniture and accent pieces are for sale. I was seriously tempted by the white elephant beside the chair.

Of course, you can customize the home collection with a myriad of gorgeous prints that will match any décor. I could sit all day and look at the Lilly Pulitzer home fabric swatch books

I have seen the home collection online at Neiman Marcus and Horchow and was surprised to learn that Palm Avenue’s prices were significantly lower.  The peeps at Palm Avenue are incredibly friendly, too, and that will make your experience 1,000 times better because you'll have interaction with a real (very cool) person. 

The home accessories are also very reasonably priced.

I love the Lilly Pulitzer tablescape...especially the coral candlestick holders.

Palm Avenue has the first shipment of Lilly Pulitzer Fall 2011 and let me tell you, it's gorgeous! So many of the pieces are work appropriate, too.  I'm glad to see the return of the Stephanie shift, the Jonah, and a shirtdress that seems a little bit more refined than last year's Brinkley.  One of the peeps at the store was wearing the dress and she looked amazing!

The minnies' fall is adorable and gets 4 thumbs up from my girls!

Palm Avenue also has a fabulous selection of jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.  The store is located in Cameron Village in Raleigh, North Carolina.  You can find them on Facebook or call the store directly at 919-828-2980.

Thanks to the kind ladies at Palm Avenue for their hospitality. I'm eager to plan another visit!



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