Friday, September 30, 2011

Little Happies

Enjoying life every day is something that I strive to do. Sometimes it's easy to feel like life is similar to the movie "Groundhog Day" where every day is exactly the same monotonous blur. Little things in life can make you smile and a smile is contagious. I challenge you to find a little happy today and every day to make each day unique and special. Here are some things that make me happy:

1. Finding a spot towards the front of a completely full parking lot. Email from my favorite stores reminds me that Christmas is just around the corner. There’s nothing sweeter than finding a spot practically reserved for you in the parking lot of a busy shopping center. Double bonus points if it is raining or snowing!

2. The feeling of my hair when I am rinsing out the conditioner. I love to run my hands through the conditioner. So soft!

3. Opening new hardcover books. When I was in elementary school, a wonderful nun, who taught me many valuable lessons about school and life, told me that there was only one proper way to open a new text book. Getting new school books was such a big deal and we took it very seriously. Almost in unison, we put the spine on the desk and carefully opened each side of the book, one at a time. The sound is almost as good as the crunch of a French baguette.

4. Discovering that you have free wifi in an airport, hotel, or restaurant. Finding this right when you need it, for free, is such a good thing.  Free wifi has saved me and made my life better in countless ways with everything from scoring airline upgrades to finding the important confirmation number for the "missing" reservation.

5. Catching something that is thrown to you from a distance. I’ve never been particularly athletic and I’m a klutz when it comes to throwing or catching. No one would ever recruit me for the softball team. So catching a set of keys from across the room is a small victory! It makes me smile and think to myself, “I did it!”  I can only imagine how people feel when they catch a baseball at a game. 

6. Hearing your favorite song in a restaurant or store. Sometimes the background music at a store or restaurant is just that, background. But every once in a while, I’ll hear a song that I really, really love, and it instantly boosts my mood and puts a smile on my face. Music is such a powerful thing. I remember being in a restaurant and hearing Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” start to play. In a flash, my thoughts went back to a happy memory. Has that ever happened to you?

7. Using the good plates and silverware, just because. So many people have the china as a pretty accessory that is never used. Make any occasion special and enjoy life. Use the china and silver, even if it’s just a normal dinner at home.

8. A Brand New Box of Crayons:  Every year during back to school, I make a point of purchasing a 64 count box of crayons.  New crayons are so pretty!  I use them carefully and keep them organized in the box.  Now even though my daughters prefer markers and colored pencils to crayons, they still ask to get a new box of crayons at the beginning of the school year. 

9. Warm blankets fresh from the dryer.  Pure heaven. 

10. Picking your own pumpkin/strawberries/anything.  Part of the fun of getting a pumpkin or a Christmas tress is finding the "perfect" one.  When we're going to the pumpkin patch, it's fun to make a day long adventure of the event.  Picking strawberries or raspberries is also so much fun. 

What little happies in life do you enjoy?


(via pinterest)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Tomorrow is the beginning of the 3 day Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. This show features over 250 artists and their wares in an all indoors environment. Many of the artists are on hand to talk about their work, too! I love meeting the artist behind the art. The glass exhibitor is one of my favorites.

A highlight of the show includes live craft demonstrations including papermaking and wheel-thrown pottery. According to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival website, "Clay spins on the Weichmans’ well-worn potters wheel as they demonstrate how a simple lump of clay can be magically transformed into functional stoneware, including bowls, plates, tea pots, mugs, and vases." Amazing to see in action.

I’m also excited to hear musical entertainment from Stan and LeeAnne as they perform songs from The Cranberries and Peter Gabriel.

The family-friendly event has entertainment for children, too.  Children under 12 also have free admission. 

While you’re there, be sure to check out the specialty food options that are available.   At last year's festival, the candied almonds never even made it home; they were so good, that they had to be eaten immediately!  There are also plenty of traditional fair concessions. 

Going out guide:
Sugarloaf Craft Festival, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium Maryland.
Friday, September 30- Sunday, October 2.
Purchase tickets online or at the door. Click here for a discount coupon.
Free Parking.


A Job Whale Done

Thank you! Thanks to Vineyard Vines Tysons Galleria for their sponsorship of Shop For A Cause with Maryland Pink and Green. This week shoppers saved 10% off their purchase and Vineyard Vines donated 10% to the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Washington DC.

The colorful sign at the front of the store announced the exciting event.

Party guests enjoyed sweet pink and green treats and pink lemonade while they shopped. The whale cupcakes were adorable!  People returned for more and more of the yummy jelly beans. 

More than once I found myself singing along with the musical duet. The group used an interesting array of instruments, like a ring of house and car keys, and had fantastic interpretations of songs from many decades. My favorite was The Police’s hit Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic. They were so good that I was sad when they had to take a break!

Unlike other shopping events I have attended or hosted in the past month, the audience at Vineyard Vines was probably equally split between men and women. The Vineyard Vines fall collection for men is so nice! The fabrics are incredibly soft and comfortable, while the color palette is pleasing to both conservative and eclectic styles. The men at the party ranged in age from college age students to working professionals to one man who was might have been in his 60s.

If I had a little boy, I would love to see him in a preppy outfit like this one! Isn’t it the best?

For women, I love the soft cardigan sweaters and comfy fleece pullovers. They're perfect for crisp fall days. The silk skirts are another favorite.  They're perfect for work!

The surprise of the night was the arrival of the Vineyard Vines whale mascot!

Thanks to everyone who attended the event or ordered by phone. You helped make a little magic for a wonderful cause. It was a job whale done!

If you're at Tysons Galleria, be sure to visit the friendly peeps at Vineyard Vines. You'll find a gorgeous store with many items that are exclusive to Washington, DC. "Like" the Vineyard Vines Tysons Galleria Facebook page to find out the latest about special events, exclusives, and sales.

Shopping is fun, but shopping to help a good cause is even better!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kate Spade at 80% Off

Just in time for fall formals and holiday parties, I have the best news to share with you! Starting today, Kate Spade is now available online at Rent the Runway. Remember that I introduced you to Rent the Runway a while ago?

Why buy a spend a small fortune on a brand new dress that you will only wear once? Rent styles from the current season at about 80-90% off the retail price.

Here's a sneak peek at what Rent the Runway has for you today.

So how does Rent the Runway work? Choose your dress, in two sizes to ensure a perfect fit, by date and zip code. The dress arrives in a garment bag that is yours to keep along with a fit kit.

After you are finished with the dress, return it in the pre-paid envelope and drop it in any blue mail box. That's it! No need to worry about dry cleaning or anything else.

While your picking up a pretty party dress, be sure to check out their jewelry and bags for a total look.

Here are my favorite Kate Spade dresses from Rent the Runway:

P.S. Rent the Runway has Lilly Pulitzer, too!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sample Sale Strategies

Last night I attended the Fall 2011 District Sample Sale. This luxury sample sale features over 20 clothing and shoe boutiques offering their goods at outstanding prices.

It’s important to have a strategy when you go to a sample sale to get the best items. Here are my top tips for you for your next sample sale:

1. Know where you’re going.  Plan out parking and driving in advance so that you don't lose any time.  There is ample parking for the District Sample Sale in the parking garage for only $5.  It's really convenient. 

The line at the District Sample Sale

I was standing here...

2. Dress appropriately.  Everyone was dressed to impress at the District Sample Sale.  No one was wearing yoga pants or uber casual clothing.  I would recommend wearing something form fitting so that you can try on clothing on top of what you are wearing.  Another option is to wear a camisole or tank under your top.  There were a few pop up dressing rooms, but these are very limited and most women chose to try on clothing in the open on top of their clothes. 

Lovely guests show off their purchases

3. Make a plan. If a map is available before the sale, study it carefully and visit the sections of the sale that interest you the most. If you don’t have a map, quickly scan the sale area and visit your favorite boutiques or departments first. It’s perfectly ok to go from floor to floor or across the room. Don’t worry about looking at the shoes if you want to find a dress. Assess your wardrobe before the sample sale and decide what items are at the top of your list. Sometimes it is difficult to find a specific item, but if you know more or less what you would like to find, chances are that your targeted search will pay off for you. Whatever you do, don’t miss the Georgetown Cupcakes at the District Sample Sale!

My primary objective was to find some Fornash jewelry to complete some sets I have but I was also on the lookout for Lilly.  There were Lilly Pulitzer dresses, skirts, tunics, and tons of shoes, but they were either things that I had or they were not my size.  I did end up finding a silk J. McLaughlin halter for only $25!

Georgetown Cupcakes

4. Pay in cash. Surprisingly, cash is much quicker than credit cards. Please bring your identification for credit card and check purchases. Depending on the sample sale, cash may be the only method of payment accepted.

Fornash was my first stop of the evening.
I couldn't resist the elephant bangle!

5. Buy on impulse. Sample sales are not the time to consider a purchase. That pair of Tory Burch shoes is going to be gone the next time you go back to find it.  It's every woman for herself at sample sales.  If you want something go for it and hold on to it until you pay!  Everyone was very well behaved at the District Sample Sale, but I've seen other sample sales where women grab things off of rolling racks and practically attack each other for items. 

Jules Reid, Lilly, and J. McLaughlin at Sherman Pickey
Gorgeous Fornash tunics ~ 75% off!
Tracy Negoshian at Simply Soles

6. Consider your purchase. No, this is not a contradiction to number 5. Make sure that you are actually going to wear what you are buying and that it fits your body, your lifestyle, and complements your wardrobe. Sometimes it might seem like an incredible bargain, but a dress new with tags in your closet is no bargain. What didn't make it home with me last night?  The faux fur Milly vest was so chic, but I just didn't think the price tag would justify the number of times I would wear it. 

7. Shop early. You know the old saying, the early bird gets the worm? Well this is certainly true with sample sales. In the case of the District Sample Sale, VIP tickets allow attendees to enter the sale one hour before the general public. If you’ve got your eye on a particular item, this might be the way to go. At the Lilly Pulitzer warehouse sale, the samples are the first things to go…usually to the first hundred people in line.

8.Have fun!  Remember to enjoy yourself and the shopping experience.  Attendees at the District Sample Sale enjoyed cocktails and delicious food.  Tables, stools, and little couches were comfort zones in the middle of the sample sale floor.  Part of the fun for me at a Lilly Pulitzer warehouse sale is going to dinner with friends after the sale.  Shopping is a fun social experience

Cuba Libre's ceviche is out of this world!
Lovely appetizers on tables are also passed by servers.

DSS in a nutshell from Maryland Pink and Green: As we waited in line outside of the sale, the DSS peeps efficiently checked our names on an ipad and gave us our stylish wristbands. The line moved quickly as we entered the building about 10 minutes early. So exciting!

My first stop was to pick up a District Sample Sale swag bag to carry all of my goodies. Fornash was next on the list. The earrings were $15 and bracelets were about 50-70% off retail price. Sherman Pickey offered a fantastic selection of clothing for women and men. I spied a gorgeous embellished Jules Reid dress for $99 that was regularly over $500! A J. McLaughlin silk halter top managed to jump into my shopping bag. The price was $25 from an original retail price of $155. Other favorites included Sassanova’s fantastic selection of shoes and clothing, including a Kate Spade confetti top, and Simply Soles’ Tracy Negoshian dresses and Lilly Pulitzer shoes. The Dandelion Patch is another wonderful find at the District Sample Sale and the owner, Heidi Kallett, is so delightful. She even recognized my black lace Lilly Pulitzer Shayna.  Like two peas in a pod.  I stocked up on switchflops snaps for $3 a pop from the Dandelion Patch.

You’ll want to attend the next District Sample Sale!

"In five years, the District Sample Sale has become the premiere shopping event in the region" -The Baltimore Sun

"Fall's most fabulous fashion fete" -Washington Examiner

"Stylish Washingtonians snap up designer deals for a good cause" -Washingtonian

What are your top sample sale or warehouse sale strategies?


Monday, September 26, 2011

I Love the County Fair

Although I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC, the county I call home is the largest agricultural county in Maryland. With everything from organic farms to equine, cattle, turkey, and dairy, agriculture is incredibly important to the economic and social fabric of my town. In fact, the annual county fair is such a big deal that students are given a school holiday in order to experience the fair!

The Birthing Center at the fair is always a must-see for visitors. This year we saw little piglets who had just been born; in fact, we saw the poor Mommy pig in labor on Thursday and then we saw her babies after they were born on Friday. The girls noticed the umbilical cords on the piglets and asked questions about themselves when they were babies. It’s a real learning experience. We also loved the baby calves and goats.

The farm and garden exhibits showcase the best agricultural products from local farms and gardens. The watermelons are half of the size of the minnies! The displays were pretty and some were very unusual. Can you imagine how gorgeous this field of sunflowers must have been?

I’ve never seen my girly girls get so excited about farm equipment! Machinery Row displays farm and garden equipment serving a myriad of functions. Children (and their parents!) are encouraged to climb on the machines and one huge tractor has been converted into a playhouse and slide. You could overhear many children asking if they could “have one of these to ride around the neighborhood.”

Although the agricultural “classroom” is interesting and fun, no one can resist the allure of the fair midway. Every inch of the fairgrounds is filled with amusement rides for all ages and typical fair food treats. We paid one price to ride all the rides the girls could handle and they had a wonderful time. Meanwhile, I’ve learned that either I’m not as brave as I used to be...or vertigo is getting the worst of me!

The exciting day was topped off with some must have treats that I enjoy once a year. Don't judge, but we had pizza, home made dairy ice cream, and the classic funnel cake...with lots of powdered sugar.

Do you have a large county or state fair in your area?  What is your favorite fair food?



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