Friday, March 29, 2013

Guest Post: On the Nose


Still feeling a bit under the weather 3 days after surgery, but each day I do feel a little better. Later today, I am going to have the packing removed from my nostrils. If you don't know what that entails, here's some YouTube links. I'm too scared, I refuse to watch them!

I thought I'd get Curtis, my dedicated and hilarious husband, and the blogger behind One-Step Father to  give you the low down on how things have been around here the past few days.



You should know that Katie is very dedicated.  Even as we sit on deck for her septumstraightenoscopy, she is typing away on her phone.  I’m sure she’s tweeting out something or other… check that… she got excited about some offer for eyebrow tattooing.  I can deal with a lot, but I’m not so sure about eyebrow tattoos.  Katie has expressive brows, and I require them to fully understand the degree of how bad I messed up.  She says her eyebrows are wonky because of undiagnosed thyroid issues. 

Let me just say that if this is the type of stuff she talks about without being doped up, we are all in for a treat.

Dismissed from the room that is really just a bed behind a curtain, I have lugged my work gear and a bag of Katie’s clothes back to the waiting area.  Earlier today, Katie tweeted an inquiry as to whether she should wear a bra or not, and judging by the bag the answer was no.  I’m not sure why she even had to ask that question; I've made it quite clear over the years that I saw no need for her to wear bra.  It would seem that my expert opinion is not quite as convincing as a doctor’s.

I’m not sure what the best part of the waiting room is, but it might be the bad local morning news on television.  Ambulance chasing lawyers and overly-chipper news anchors are everywhere, but we’ve got a reporter that just interviewed a lady about a book she wrote and then stared at the screen to declare, “I’m going out TODAY and buying this book.  You better believe that!”  You can’t intimidate me into buying anything, man!  Also, today on Kristin Chensworth and Michael Strahan’s show, Dido is coming back from the great beyond to do a performance.  I really expected to see her in Starbucks serving up some lattes, so good for her.  Three minutes in, and I’m convinced these two are drunk.

Let me throw my “Dad Blogger” hat on for a minute.  There’s a lady in here with her little girl.  The girl has the sweetest little southern accent you can imagine, and is understandably sick of sitting around this waiting room with nothing to do.  She keeps asking her mom questions, and this lady is straight up ignoring almost everything the girl says.  “Mama, I can see a plane!   Do you see it?” (crickets)  “Mama, can I look at that book?” (crickets).  I’m tempted to say something because it comes across as lazy, and as someone that goes into a borderline rage when I ask a question with no response, I’m vicariously done with this lady.

Finally, I get to head back to see Katie.  All she can say is “hurt” which sucks because a) I don’t like her to feel bad and b) all I can really do is rub her feet.  Since I’m not totally sure she can feel the foot rub with the anesthesia wearing off, I’m extra helpless.  We’re clearly not getting that ham and cheese croissant she wanted.

I want to offer my respect and support to all the people that help the people who are recovering from surgery.  On the way home, we dropped off her prescriptions, and I bought her a white cherry Icee.  Once we got home, she was able to move about under her own power pretty well!  I got her all settled in, and she went promptly to sleep.  With hoodie and grocery list, I set out for what can only be described as the most harrowing experience anyone in my house had that day.

First I was off to Wal-Mart, where the convenience of extensive stock and the plague of idiocy collide like a ramp-jumping motorized shopping cart.  In ten minutes, I had everything I needed, and twenty minutes later I’m still standing in the checkout line behind not one but two women using coupons that require them to make their purchases separately instead of one primary transaction.  Once I was at the front of the line, I assured the cashier that I had brought neither coupons nor price matching circulars.

After picking up another white cherry Icee from the gas station, it was off to pick up Katie’s meds.   Another ten minutes of waiting at the drive-thru while the car in front of me couldn’t remember which address their account was set up under (which isn’t remotely sketchy), and I was off to my final stop.  On the other side of town, I was at Sonic to pick up a bag of ice.  Sonic ice has magical healing powers, in case you didn’t know.  The last time I bought it was when Katie was pregnant, and only a few months later the parasitic organism that had been leaching her nutrients was no longer in her body.  The only setback is that we had to keep it, and now it talks and crawls into bed with us in the middle of the night.

Finally, I was home, but Katie struggled.  She couldn’t swallow, couldn’t sleep well, couldn’t get comfortable.  Her mom and I brought up a recliner from downstairs, so she could be as comfortable as possible because sitting up was better than lying down.  I hooked her up with a TV tray lined up with all her meds, blankets, and the remote control for the tv.  Who says I’m not willing to make sacrifices?

Day two has been better.  A good nap, a little less pain, and a little more tolerance for food makes a big difference.  We have good family and friends that brought food, company, and free babysitting.  The best part is that it won’t be long before Katie can breathe better, sleep better, have more energy, and get back to the blogging that you have been kind enough to read.  That’s what Michael Scott would call a “Win-Win-Win.”




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guest Post: Hair's the Thing

I am so so so excited to have my beautiful best friend Callie guest posting for me today ( I am in NO shape to be taking photos, trust me). I've had some hair controversy lately, as somehow each time I go get mine cut it gets shorter and shorter. How does that work exactly? ;) 

I figured since Callie is the genius behind my haircut (or the culprit, if you hate it) AND she just cut most of her's off, that she would be the perfect guest blogger for me!




I have always been the girl with "the hair." Since college, I've kept it a long, fiery orange-red, and I get compliments on it wherever I go. As a hairstylist, I use those opportunities to introduce myself with a smile and a business card. But honestly, my hair really is my best feature. On the days when my pre-pregnancy jeans (still) won't button, I know a good hair day is all I need to add a little confidence to my look.


Friends for life- bonded by beautiful hair and amazing style!



 So when I sat in the chair at work and had twelve inches of my hair cut off earlier this month, I didn't know what to do next. For the rest of the day, I kept reaching for hair that wasn't there. I secretly saved a lock of it from the trash and took it home. I couldn't bear to see my crowning glory thrown away like garbage. Now, I know Katie has already done a short hair empowerment blog post, and I know because I'm the one that cut her hair off. This isn't one of those.




 Like I mentioned, I'm a hairstylist, so hair is not just important to me, it's my life. It pays the bills, plus I'm pretty passionate about it. All day long, I cut hair, style hair, look at pictures of other people's  hair, pin fancy hair on Pinterest. I love hair. But my hair has always been such a comfort zone to me, and I was in a very long-term, very predictable, relationship with it. When I first had my hair cut into my current style (my mom calls it a Loshob - long, shag bob), I could barely style it. It was so different, I was left going, "abuuuhh??" like I'd never styled hair before in my life. After three weeks, I'm beginning to find my rhythm. So what I'd like to share with you are my pros and cons of long and short hair. If you're thinking of cutting or growing, maybe this list will help you narrow that decision down. 



Cons

1. I miss my bouncy ponytail. I had a lovely ponytail. It was sassy and voluptuous and fit for the head cheerleader. Now I can still fit my layers into a little sprig I refer to as a "nubbin," but it's not the same. 

2. I also miss my messy topknot. I was pretty thrilled when that thing became the "it" style, because when you only wash your hair twice a week, a dirty pile of hair on your head is a go-to look at LEAST on Wednesdays and Sundays, and sometimes even on Fridays.  

3. Speaking of only washing my hair twice a week, that is a thing of the past. Short hair doesn't hold its style as easily as long hair. It gets sweatier during a workout and more matted when you sleep. Now I shampoo it three times a week. 

4. Long hair is hot and heavy and made me sweat, even in winter (gross but true). 

5. Long hair requires more products, more shampoo, and more applications of hair color to get the job done. Not very cost-effective or good for planet Earth. 


Pros

1. Short hair is fun. I feel like it sets me apart more. My long hair was stunning, but I feel like the short cut gives me a more defined style. I feel like I look like me, instead of lots of other girls with long hair. 

2. I love hair accessories. I'm kind of an accessory fiend as it is, and short hair is made for wearing clip-in bows or flowers, headbands, wraps, and sweet little bobby pins. Long hair dwarfs little cute accessories. 

3. My eight month-old daughter can't pull on my hair as easily now that it's shorter. It also doesn't get knotted up in necklace clasps anymore. Definitely a pro. 

4. Long hair is kind of easier, from a styling perspective. There may be more of it, but there is usually less effort involved in getting it to look good. There are more quick options for long hair, like my aforementioned topknot, not to mention a fishtail braid, sock bun, and other updos. 

5. This one is all vanity, but for the sake of honesty, I got more compliments when my hair was long. Now people tend to say, "Oh, I love your color," instead of "Wow, I love your hair." 


The bottom line is, new hair can be new territory just like a new pair of neon skinny jeans can be new territory. My philosophy is to wear my hair just like I wear my clothes: with a little daring, lots of confidence and like, "yeah, I meant for it to look like this."
-- 
Callie




Katie again!
Opposites attract really, because unlike Callie, 95% of the time, my hair is the last thing I think about. I don't miss the sweaty mess it was in spring and summer. I don't miss fighting with my bangs to behave or giving up and tossing it up in a messy ponytail or bun.  If you aren't ready to take the plunge yet and chop it all off for spring, then at least make it pretty! Here's a super easy tutorial for styling sexy blunt bangs all the  girls envy (and a chance to win some money too!)!



Prizes & Promotions page on Blogher.com:

https://www.blogher.com/blogher-tv-weekly-hair-style-sweepstakes

Sweeps Rules (3/27-4/2):

http://www.blogher.com/hair-sweepstakes-official-rules-week-2

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blow Me Away


I'm technically on spring break this week, but it's not one I'm looking forward to. The weather is terrible (these photos were taken last Saturday, which was a beautiful day, of course)- cold and rainy. And tomorrow I am having sinus surgery, a septoplasty and turbinoplasty to be exact. Y'all, I am scared to death, seriously! Kinda like horrific birth stories, mention that you are having surgery to fix a deviated septum just brings people out of the woodwork. "Let me tell you about MY surgery," they start, before launching into a terrifying tale of blood and gore and pain.


All, that is to say that I'm not exactly sure what my blogging schedule is going to look at. I've gathered up some posts. I've got a few, fun guest posts planned, and I guess we will see how I feel and take it one day at a time. At first I was a little bummed about spending my spring break in bed, napping and watching movies and surfing the web, but then I had to be totally honest with myself. Really, that's not too different from what I would have done (except with the addition of bloody gauze and pain pills), so I can't be too bitter.

So many inappropriate photos as a result of the windy conditions! I spared you.
You are welcome.

Vainly, I am afraid of my nose looking "different" post surgery. I kept hearing "Empty Nose Syndrome" and imagining my nose collapsing like Michael Jackson's did or Stevie Nicks' after years of cocaine abuse.

For the record, it's totally not your nose collapsing in on itself, but it's still a scary name!  Plus, I'm pretty attached to this nose, despite the constant sinus infections and insane snoring. I'm assured that structurally, from the outside, it won't change. But my ENT also incredulously informed me that I had the WORST deviated septum he had ever seen. So if someone were to, oh I don't know, have his or her beloved nose collapse in on itself, it would be me.



P.S. Have you ever seen a cuter spring dress?? Cats. Hearts. Red. Turquoise. Eshakti just blows my mind sometimes! New customers can get $25 dollars off their first order and free customization. If you haven't tried Eshakti yet now's a great time because they have some super cute spring dresses available! I am eyeing this one or this one next!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Side Splitting

It's no secret that I love Gwynnie Bee. In addition to the monthly subscription saving me over $100 a month on new clothes, I am constantly adding new (and awesomely stylish) clothes to my daily mix. Literally every time I wear something cute, co-workers ask, "Is that yours or Gwynnie Bee's?" and most times I have to admit that it came from GB's closet not mine!

This cool dress is no exception. It combines two spring trends- stripes and peplum, and I was super-excited to see it in the New Arrivals. I got so many compliments, until the end of the day when a teacher noticed that there was a hole in the dress. At first I thought that maybe my zipper had come down. Upon closer inspection I realized that there were actually two holes on that side and another hole on the right side.


Stripe Knit Peplum Eloquii Dress- c/o Gwynnie Bee

I was literally splitting at the seams. Immediately I thought I must have squeezed myself into a too small dress and destroyed it. Then I thought, "Oh, crap! How many kids saw my torso today?" Then I thought about what a terribly made dress it must be. I've worn and loved several pieces from this company, so I consider it a fluke, but still, it was aggravating.

You know, what I never thought about? Having to deal with customer service to get my money back. I also never thought about what Gwynnie Bee would say. One of the questions I get asked most frequently is about staining or messing up the clothes you've borrowed. And here's the thing- it's ok! The ladies at Gwynnie Bee know that sometimes accidents happen and you aren't charged or held responsible for things like that.



Or things like your dress falling apart while you wear it. This was a BRAND-NEW dress. Once GB gets new product in they inspect them before sending them out to be professionally laundered. Then it is inspected again after returning from the laundry and again before it is sent to the customer and after it is returned. Items are constantly being checked and rechecked. When I contacted GB to warn them about possible issues with the dress, they immediately offered to re-ship the dress. Now that is customer service. You never have to worry about feeling like you did something wrong, and they are committed to doing everything they can to make things right!

So do YOU have any embarrassing wardrobe blunders to make me feel better???



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Would You Like a Little Cheese with Your Wine? Day 2

One thing Leslie shared with us all during her presentation on day one was the old French supersition surrounding sex and toasting. She said unless you wanted to have bad sex for SEVEN years. you must always make eye contact with ALL the people you are toasting. As you can imagine, Curtis took this to heart, and nearly bore holes through the eyes of every women within toasting distance. 

Since we had already been introduced as a married couple, and he was the only male guest at the Gathering (a wine mister, they called him), Leslie kinda embarrassed us, and good-naturedly commented of Curt's toasting skills that he was going to have great sex. Well, we were so exhausted from drinking and touring that we promptly fell asleep at 9:00 PM and woke just in time for breakfast one day 2. C'est la vie!

Luckily we were well-rested for Day Two of the Gathering which started with a tribute to Leila Janah for her amazing work supporting women. Samasource, a nonprofit she founded four years ago, connects people, especially women, living in poverty to microwork — small, computer-based tasks that build skills and generate life-changing income. The same concept inspired her to co-found Samahope, a new site to crowdfund surgeries in poor countries. Leila was beautiful and well-spoken and truly takes “Helping a Sister Out” to a global level.


Leila Janah being honored for her work with Samasource! Such an inspiration!


Afterwards, the stunningly beautiful Danielle Smith hosted an interactive workshop entitled  ”You On Camera: Getting Comfortable with Video.” Danielle is the mastermind behind Extraordinary Mommy and she shared tons of tips for vlogging beginners. Being comfortable in front of the camera is essential in this day and age of visual and video media, so Danielle had volunteers from the audience practice vlogging. I was too scared to do that, but I am definitely participating in her 7-Day Video Challenge, where she encourages you to film video for 7 straight days to get comfortable being in front of the camera. I am super excited to start getting some vlogs out on Hems for Her after hearing Danielle's tips. Follow Danielle on Facebook and Twitter.




Curtis and I LOVE cheese so we were super excited for the Wine and Cheese Pairing Workshop hosted by Cabot Cheese. We tried five different cheeses paired with five different wines and it was such a fun (and delicious) experience. I can't wait till it warms up and I can host my own wine and cheese party on the back porch! Yummy!


Cheese and Wine- It doesn't get better than this, trust me!


As if we weren't full enough, we then headed out to local favorite Don Giovanni for a traditional Italian meal complete with amazing garlic bread and lasagna with homemade pasta noodles! Immediately after lunch we toured the intimate and rustically charming  Chappellet Vineyard & WinerySince 1967, the Chappellet family has been hand-crafting critically acclaimed wines on the rocky slopes of Pritchard Hill. Chappellet was one of the first Napa Valley wineries to plant cover crops and adopt no-till farming practices, and today the entire vineyard is farmed organically. We walked through the property and vineyards and tried several delicious wines. I loved our hosts at Chappellet, Candace and Jessica, and even owner and winemaker Cyril Chappellet showed up to answer questions and show us around. 


Lunch at Don Giovanni- more wine, garlic bread, beet salad and a decadent dessert.


We spent most of our tour at Chappellet on the hillside.
It was truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!
Tired yet? After leaving Chappellet we traveled to Quintessa for MORE wine and cheese! Quintessa produces one singular estate wine in the highly acclaimed Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley. Each year, the red meritage wine is a blend including some or all of the five varietals grown on the estate: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenere.  The property itself was absolutely breath-taking, definitely my favorite, and the tour was laid-back and relaxed. By this point in the day we were all very "relaxed" and chatty, and I had some of my best conversations while inhaling cheese here at Quintessa.






We were outside a lot on Day Two, so I paired my trusty boots with another Eloquii dress from Gwynnie Bee. I threw on an old, cozy sweater  to help keep the hillside winds from chilling me to the bone! Again, I saved a ton of space and time by shipping my Gwynnie Bee clothes back the day I checked out of the hotel. I came home with a suitcase filled with souvenirs, instead of dirty clothes! That's the best kind of vacation, right?




And check out this AWESOME and INTERACTIVE Instagram collage! I'm in love with it :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How To Use Bloglovin' to Follow Your Favorite Bloggers

Ever since Google announced last week that they would be shutting down Google Reader this summer, people have been freaking out. Most bloggers and blog readers use Reader as a way to organize and read posts from their favorite blogs. Personally, I've never used it, so I am not worried in the least. There are MANY alternatives to Google Reader. However, many are switching over the Bloglovin' and have questions, so I thought I'd write up a little post about what Bloglovin' is and how it works.

Most bloggers will be linked up to Bloglovin' already, so all you have to do is click on their Bloglovin' badge, tab, button, etc. and you will be directed to the main Bloglovin' page. Signing up is a piece of cake!




If your blogger doesn't have a short cut to Bloglovin' then you can search for the blog on the home page at the very top. You can also manage your account from the home page, download the app for reading blogs easily on your phone, and quickly check all unread posts!



It's super easy to organize your blogs into different groups and categories and follow or unfollow blogs.



 I hope this quick and fast tutorial helped you! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and be sure to export your Google Reader before July 1st!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Luck Be a Lady


I wanted to thank everyone who entered my Kiyonna End of the Rainbow giveaway last week. I have been saving my own Emerald Isle-inspired dress for this weekend, and I have to say I love it! I didn't want to look like an over-sized leprechaun, so I paired the frock with my trusty peacock feather fascinator for an elegant look.

Yep, my deodorant is working!

Am I grinning because you won??? Well, if you are Patty O., then yes I am! You will receive an email from me and Kiyonna shortly! And can I just say, I was really excited to see a Patty win, since this was a St. Patrick's Day giveaway!




Friday, March 15, 2013

in vino veritas- Day One of The Gathering

Our first day of the Wine Sisterhood Gathering began with breakfast and an inspiring welcome  by Wine Sisterhood Founder, Terry Wheatley.  I was immediately drawn to Terry's warm personality. Several times when speaking about the Sisterhood she became emotional, and it was easy to tell that this community is something she feels strongly about. The Gathering was a celebration of women and girl power- female wine makers, female business owners, female divas from all walks of life.

Founder Terry Wheatley welcoming us to the Gathering


I'll admit, it was hard to not get pumped up when Terry shared some of her favorite inspirational quotes, particularly, "If you can dream it, you can do it." I left this conference feeling amazing- uplifted, inspired, and ready to take on the world!



Terry was so inspiring!
After Terry finished Aliza Sherman (Follow Aliza on Facebook and Twitter), the epitome of girl power- author, CEO, blogger, etc., etc. conducted a hands-on "download these great apps and try them now" workshop. She introduced me to SOOOOOO many awesome apps- like, Trover, Corkbin, Foodspotting, Happy and Viddy! I'm still playing around with them, but soon I will write a post and give you my own recommendations!
Then the wine started flowing! Media Personality & Today Show contributor Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco led a tasting workshop on the merits and differences between sparkling wine and Champagne. I learned so much about the process of making sparkling wines and the differences. I knew the basics: Brut means dry and Champagne only comes from the Champagne region in France, but Leslie taught us so much more. For example- Did you know that to properly saber a bottle of sparkling wine, you want to make sure it's super cold?? Watch Leslie show you how to do it here (thanks, Girlfriendology for the video clip!) Follow Leslie Sbrocco on Facebook and Twitter


Welcome to Bubbly University! Not only did I sit in he front of the room- what can
I say, I'm a teacher's pet- I also finished my wine, so I'm pretty sure I graduated
with honors ;)

Thirsty Girl Leslie Sbrocco gives the thumbs up for mid-morning drinking!

For lunch, my group visited Domaine Carneros. Eileen Crane heads the winemaking team, and she and wine educator Mike toured us through the beautiful chateau before we settled in for a delicious lunch. I can't decide which was better: the wine, the food, or the amazing views! Follow Domaine Carneros on Facebook and Twitter


Left Top: Winemaker Eileen, Right Top: Signature wine La Reve
Middle Left: Sparkling wines in waiting, Middle Right: Domaine Carneros map
Bottom: Tons and tons of corks- Lots of bubbly around this place!

Delicious lunch!


Once we finished lunch, we hopped back on the bus and headed over to Palmaz Vineyard. Equally beautiful, but stunningly different, Palmaz is a multi-terraced affair with mountainside vineyards, and a deep underground building. We had a wine tasting paired with some of the most delicious little bites of food I'e ever had. The duck morsel was to die for, seriously! Follow Palmaz on Facebook and Twitter


Palmaz Wine Tasting- an unforgettable experience!

Left: Barrels of Cabernet Right: Barrels of Chardonay
Bottom: Look at that view!

For the day's traveling and touring, I borrowed this fresh nautical-inspired dress from Gwynnie Bee and wore my trusty Old Navy boots, perfect for walking around vineyards! My Gwynnie Bee subscription was great for this trip because the morning I left, I just packed all my borrowed pieces in the prepaid shipping envelope and left it with the front desk at the Andaz Napa to ship. This was perfect packing because then I had room in my carry-on for my souvenirs! 
Left: Ignore my lazy eye- I had been drinking since 10:00AM!
Lovely Eloquii dress c/o Gwynnie Bee




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Thursday!

Happy Thursday!


So much going on today. First, I would LOVE for you to go check out Franish. Sweet Fran was kind enough to feature me on her awesome "Behind the Blog" series and I have been so excited to see it!

Also I wanted to remind you that I have a couple of giveaways ending this week.

First, on my blog, I am teamed up with Kiyonna to give away a $100 gift certificate. Follow this link for the giveaway details and entry.






Also, I am giving away $50 to any store of your choice over on my friend Audrey's blog. Maybe you've heard of it? Head over to Putting Me Together for details and entry!






Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wine Sisterhood- Opening Night Speakeasy

Way back in June, on a total whim, I entered a "Pin It to Win It" contest sponsored by The Wine Sisterhood- an online community and wine company (you may have seen their super cute Middle Sister wines at your local Target). I figured it was a long shot, but I literally had nothing to lose. So I entered and promptly forgot about it. The week after Thanksgiving, I received an email from Chelsea at The Wine Sisterhood telling me that I was the grand prize winner!

I couldn't remember what the grand prize was, but I remember yelling to Curtis, "Holy crap! I just won a contest and I don't remember what the prize was, but I think it's really friggin' big!" Boy, was I right! We won an all-expenses paid trip to Napa, California to attend the 2nd annual Wine Sisterhood Gathering. The Gathering is a  "three-day conference featuring interactive workshops, winery visits, stellar dining experiences, and time to mingle with influential women from a variety of industries and backgrounds."  I'm going to be talking about how inspirational this trip was throughout these posts, so bear with me!

So after our whirlwind visit to San Francisco, Megan drove us out to our hotel in Napa Valley, the Andaz Napa. We checked in and immediately started getting ready for the Welcoming Reception at Raymond Vineyards. No rest for the weary (or my blistered feet- from walking all over San Francisco!). The party had a 1920s, Speakeasy vibe, and we were encouraged to wear outfits befitting the occasion.


Beautiful Hotel- I hope I get to come
back one day!


I had purchased this gorgeous beaded dress from Simply Be, almost immediately after hearing about the reception's theme, so it's been hanging out in my closet for months, just teasing me. Needless to say, I was so excited to finally be wearing it!




Accessories- Charming Charlie's
Shoes: Target (Old)


Sadly, we didn't take many photos of the actual party- to be honest I think it was a combination of free-flowing Champagne and absolute shock at the party and venue itself. I have NO experience at all with wineries, wine tasting, wine tours, etc., so I don't think I was prepared for what would greet me. But after speaking with several of my fellow wine sisters, I don't think any of us were prepared for this! Imagine part Alice in Wonderland, part Willy Wonka, part Bacchanal debauchery and you have the party I attended.


The storied Red Room, owner and host Jean-Charles Boisset, and me- taking it all in!


From the Wine Sisterhood website:

" Named the 2012 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast for both their exquisite wines as well the spectacularly designed winery, Raymond is the perfect host for the Gathering’s Welcome Reception and Wine Dinner.  From the Red Room, the members-only private club, to the Crystal Cellar, laced with fine Baccarat crystal throughout, to the quietly hidden Library Room, Raymond offers many corners to explore. Bring your flapper attire and get ready to toast in style!"



The Crystal Cellar- Everything was backlit with red, sexy mannequins, delicious food, and barrel room


Our host, and president of Boisset Family  Estates, was Jean-Charles Boisset, and I was immediately enamored with him. He was so kind and charming (and French!). Walking through the winery, I felt like it was an extension of his personality and preferences. By the end of the night, I was pretty certain I wanted to marry him and move into the Red Room forever!


Stainless steel wine "barrels" and a small selection of wine offerings

Until this reception, I really had no idea what I was in for, but Raymond Wineries really set the tone for the evening and the rest of the trip! To Be Continued...



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Love Affair with Lace

Just in time for spring, the ladies of Gwynnie Bee are curating some of their favorite lace pieces for a collection called "Wild and Lacy".  If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, then you know, I have a thing for lace.

But it hasn't always been that way. For years I avoided lace, as being too "old-lady" or "doily" looking, but now I embrace its feminine and romantic nature. Some of my favorite lace pieces (also all Kiyonna pieces!) that I have featured here are actually available at Gwynnie Bee.  If you are like the old me, and you are nervous about investing in lace pieces, then Gwynnie Bee's "Clothing Without Commitment" options will be perfect for you.

You can order and try out any lace pieces you want, and if you hate it you aren't out $50 or $100, you can just send it back and pick something else out of your virtual closet. Also, Gwynnie Bee heard your wishes (and my wishes), and you can now buy pieces directly from them if you get something home and decide you can't live without it! It's truly the best of both worlds!

Second Chance Prom
Gwynnie Bee

On Aging and Birthdays
Gwynnie Bee

Pomp and Circumstance
Gwynnie Bee

Romance Reigns
Gwynnie Bee
If you haven't joined Gwynnie Bee yet, now is a great time! She is celebrating her one year anniversary of helping plus-size and cusp-sized women feel beautiful, and to celebrate you can join and receive one month free to try out the services offered. There are absolutely no strings attached! You risk nothing. Request an invitation and get started today!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Sometimes, when you don't know where to start the best place is always the beginning... March 1- March 6 with go down in my personal history as the best week of my life (so far)! I have sooooo much to share with you; seriously, I'm a little stressed out about how much information I have to share and how long it's going to take me to write all these posts and edit all these photos. The laundry is piled up and the dishes are dirty. There are tests to be grades and parents to be called. But all I can think about it writing.

Because of some amazing circumstances I will be sharing in my next post, Curtis and I found ourselves in California last Saturday morning. My very best blogging friend ever, Megan from Feathers and Freckles, offered to host our short stay in San Francisco. One of the things I love most about blogging is the true friendships that develop over time. Megan and I have so much in common, and I think we were both thrilled to finally meet after more than a year of emailing back and forth. 


Yes, she is really that beautiful in real life! I, on the other hand, had
 literally just gotten off an airplane, and traveled across three
time zones. So I looked a little worse for wear!

We had a great time exploring San Francisco with Megan, her husband, Kevin, and her best friend, Christine. Because they are all locals, we got to see SF through the eyes of experts instead of goofy tourists. We still managed to visit all of the big landmarks, but we also spent a fair amount of time exploring smaller sections of town and out of the way bars and restaurants. Curtis and I both loved everything about San Francisco. I think I would move there right now if I could! If you want to see what Curtis has to say about our trip, check out his post here on One-Step Father!

Left: Bird dress, bird poop, and a totally truthful sticker!
Top Right: San Francisco Skyline
Middle Right: The Sea Lions at Pier 39
Bottom Right: Coit Tower

Curtis and I stayed in the awesome Hotel Fusion right off of Union Square, and if you are ever in town, I can't recommend it enough. The location was perfect. The employees were so kind. The bathroom (and shower) were HUGE! Even though we were only stayed one night, I thought it was a great value and I will definitely stay there again.

Left: Alcatraz
Right: Curtis getting artsy-fartsy at Coit Tower!
Bottom:More San Francisco Skyline


I picked this dress out from Gwynnie Bee specifically for my initial meet up with Megan because we both have a well-documented love of birds, but the San Francisco wind was brutal. Every time I looked down, buttons had come undone and I was flashing anyone nearby... wonder what kind of photos the other tourists got of me! ;)


We were also very excited to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge on our way out of town. It is such an iconic image of San Francisco, and even though we were freezing in the wind, we had so much fun taking photos. The trip, though short, was so wonderful and it really felt like I had known Megan forever as opposed to having just met. We had such a great weekend with them, and I am already determined to go back sometime in the summer or fall!

BBFF- Bloggy Best Friends Forever

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