Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm CEO, Bitch.

Clayton Gardner

Last night I went with Blair and Kim to the Icehouse at the lake to hear Bleu Edmondson play and hang out with our friend and singer Clayton Gardner. We hit up the bar for a couple of beers, and Clayton shuffled over to say hi in his gray Army t-shirt, black basketball shorts, socks and house shoes. Yes, house shoes. Somehow the guy I rarely see without a baseball cap who sports a permanent scruff of a beard was clean shaven and had a fresh ‘do’ – so I guess he had to make a statement with the house shoes. "Who are you, Mark Zuckerberg?" I asked. "I wish!" said Clayton. So I told Blair I've got to make him some "I'm CEO, bitch" business cards.

Later on Bleu even ushered Clayton up to sing while he took a short break, so the house shoes were a tappin’ away on the rung of the bar stool up on stage. I hope there’s a photo floating around.

Clayton’s got some good tunes, so check out his music.
Bleu Edmondson
After the show we were listening to some of Clayton’s new songs for his upcoming album out at the truck when Bleu stopped by to chat. He said one of the local bar owners had told him to stop on by, so he asked if we were all up for some beers. When Bleu Edmondson says, "Let's go make some wrong decisions," you're gonna go.

My only stipulation for him – the man who I’ve never seen a photograph of without a hat and a scruffy beard – was that he had to go in without a hat on so we wouldn’t get mobbed by 18-year-old girls at the dance hall. Deal, he said.

So, we parked in the back where the artists unload, came in the back door and hung out at the small bar in the back. We joked around –he’s actually pretty down to Earth and hilarious, drank beer and chatted about music while a few feet away two dance floors full of college kids danced and sang away as two of his songs came on while we were there. And none of them had a clue he was there.

A night to remember, for sure.

Poll – beards on dudes. Yes or no? Discuss.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

She'd Appreciate the Bling

From mid June to mid August I was working tirelessly on a huge project for the office that I started two years ago. In the final stretch I was working mad hours that included one 76-hour work week. It was during this time that I discovered I must be a stress shopper. I guess I had never thought of it before. With my more recent forays into online shopping, this retail therapy became even more accessible, and over the past two months I’ve purchased about seven pairs of shoes. Luckily, two pairs didn’t fit and are going back.

Being all-consumed with work, I hadn’t seen my parents since Mother’s Day – quite a feat for our large, obnoxious and yet close family. I also had a shopping trip on the books for months to meet up with Kevin’s mom so we could raid the mall, San Moon and she could give me back my camera I kept leaving at her house.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, just a week after I launched my project and during my first trip home since Easter, I received a devastating call from Kevin’s cousin. Kevin’s mom, Bobbie, had passed away the night before from what we would later learn was a heart attack. I crumpled to the floor in my parents’ living room and thanked God that I was home for my mom to hold and comfort me. A woman I once thought would be a grandmother to my children hadn’t lived to meet the babies her sons will father.

So on Friday I donned my little black dress, a black and white flowered cardigan, a skinny, red, patent leather belt, my blingin’ flower bracelet (a Christmas gift from Bobbie’s Aunt June) and one of my only material gifts from Bobbie – a pair of small, crystal and opal hoop earrings. Then I slipped on my pair of retail-therapy black flats with crystal-covered toes. And when I sat with Kevin’s cousin in the pew at Bobbie’s service, she stroked my arm, handed me a tissue and said with red eyes and a half smile, “I like your shoes.” All I could say back was, “She’d appreciate the bling.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Deja Vu

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I'd ever strip down at the office, I'd tell you, "Of course not!" And then I went on a group first date where my brand new dress' zipper broke at the beginning of a 3-hour happy hour. And I was just thankful that I had made it through a day of meetings without a busted zipper.

And then Monday I got my first package in from another British retailer, Simply Be, who recently started shipping to the US, and I was ecstatic! The tiered dress I bought to wear with my boots at the dance hall was crazy short, so it's going back. But the hitched skirt - although a little long - was fun and different. I've been locked away in my office plugging away on a project for the last week or so, and I knew going a little more casual to the office would be fine. So I wore it yesterday with a cami, cardigan and brown belt.

When I went to the ladies' room at 2:30 I noticed that the zipper on the skirt had broken!! What is it with British companies and poor quality zippers??? Thankfully I had worn a long cami and you couldn't tell. We'll see what the company says about it. You know I emailed them!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Incredible Customer Service

In the last week I have experienced TWO cases of incredible customer service.

Last week I told you all about the zipper fail on my date. Disaster! The next day I emailed City Chic's customer service department about the snafu. Since two zippers failed me on products from their site, it makes me wonder if there is an issue with their zipper supplier. The clothes on the site aren't cheap, so I expected a little more durability out of them.

As the customer, it's our job to let the company know how we feel about the products - both positively and negatively. Be an advocate for quality customer service and products. If no one ever told them they experienced issues with the zippers, how would they know? It's like the passive aggressive roommate who doesn't tell you she can't stand when you put your bananas on the counter instead of in the pantry! (insert stories of passive aggressive roommates here-Lord knows I've had my share.)

So I wrote a NICE email to them, informing them of the zipper malfunction. The next day I got a response from a customer service rep. An actual response email - not a canned email, "Thanks for your comments!" Smiley face, exclamation point. They apologized, said they were shipping out a new dress to me that day, and for my trouble? How about a $100 credit to the store.

Hello? What? Who does that?? And you know what - I'm not sure I would have shopped at the store again if it wasn't for that. Now, I've ordered another dress and a top. And if these come in problem-free, they could have saved a customer.

If you haven't heard of or tried Birchbox before, go there immediately. Each month, for $10, the company sends you a box of samples of beauty products. This can include fragrances, hair products, lotions, makeup, etc. Then, you get free shipping on the full-size items on the site from that month's box. The items are kind of pricey, but the benefit is the try-before-you-buy model.

In this month's box, one of my items was a full-size Laura Geller Baked Blush-n-Brighten compact. I was pumped! But when I opened it, it was destroyed in shipment. So I emailed Birchbox's customer service group to see if I could get mailed a replacement. They were all out, so instead they offered me a refund or $10 off a full-size item. I fell in love with another sample this month, Kate Spade Twirl, so I took the discount and ordered the fragrance.

It just goes to show you what can happen when you communicate with a company in a respectful manner to let them know of issues and work together to solve them.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weight for It

I know some incredible women who have dropped a significant amount of weight lately. You go, girls! No - I'm not one of them. Yet! I started Weight Watchers this weekend with my sister-in-law, and we're getting to know the new plan, writing out all the points in the pantry and trying new recipes.

Right before college graduation (four years ago) I lost 40 lbs on Weight Watchers, so I have a whole other wardrobe in my closet that I'm excited to start shopping in! Some of you aren't as big of clothes hoarders as I am, so transitioning to a smaller wardrobe when you lose weight is difficult.

If you are still in the process of losing weight and don't want to splurge on new clothes until you're closer to your goal weight, here are a few tips on how to make the most of what you already own.

Places like the Buffalo Exchange and Plato's Closet can get you name-brand looks with just slight wear and tear. A girlfriend of mine swears by resale and has picked up pieces like an Anthropologie dress at Buffalo Exchange for $8 and a leather Fossil bag for less than $20. Note: Plato's Closet will have more junior-style pieces, but you may be able to pick up some basics like jeans and cardigans or tanks to get you by the in-between sizes.

The key to getting quality pieces from a resale store (or Goodwill, Thrift or other discount stores like TJ Maxx and Ross) is to visit a location that is in a more upscale part of town. This is where people who change their entire wardrobes with each season will drop off barely worn clothes for resale or Goodwill.

Brooch it
Pin the back or side of a shirt with one of your favorite brooches. This even adds some bling to your look. You can even convert a hair accessory into an item to cinch your shirt with a safety pin.

Cover up with a Cardi
Pull out that cardigan that was a little too small for you before and throw it over larger items. You can safety pin or clasp a shirt in the back to make it more form fitting and throw on a cardigan to cover up the pin.

Consider buying a neutral cardigan that will go with everything from one of the resale shops, or borrow one from a friend that is cardigan crazy.

Belts, Belts, Belts

If you have a favorite top or dress, and it's just too baggy to wear, try belting it. This instantly cinches your waist and shows off those lost pounds. It'll make the top or dress last at least another size (hopefully!).

"But I don't have any belts that fit anymore!" Ok, understandable. If you just can't poke another hole through the leather of your belt to make it work, try some alternatives:
  • Pull the belt tight through the hook and wrap it around the belt in a loop-di-loop like Kimberly from Fab Finds Under $50. Learn how to do the loop-di-loop from Kimberly.
  • Use a scarf for a belt. Fold it, roll it, or braid a couple together and tie it in the back. Then tuck the ends in behind the scarf. I've done this even with scarfs with fringe, and tucking in the ends hides the fringe perfectly.
  • Splurge on a belt with stretch in a smaller size. Go to one of the resale shops or look for a good sale online on a belt that is elastic around the back so it'll fit you for awhile. Try it in a neutral color like black, gray or brown, and design so you can wear it with a variety of things.
  • Steal your hubby's tie. Try taking one of your hubby's ties and using it for a pop of color or interesting pattern for a new twist on a belt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Give it to Me

I feel the itch to do another giveaway. What do you want it to be?? Vote!

I'll make personal recommendations for you on any of the items below and let you pick your favorite!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Naked in a Bathroom Stall

Last night I went on a first date. Or a group first date, rather. Two girls from a CPA firm in town set up a Match.com account for their coworker and emailed me thinking we would get along great. After a few weeks of emails back and forth with the gals trying to set something up, we finally got together for happy hour at a local bar last night. A couple of my friends came along as my security blankets, and he had the girls there and their significant others.

I had worn my new high-waisted color blocked black and cobalt blue dress from City Chic I ordered a couple of weeks ago, a gray shrug and black patent leather Bandolino sandals. So I was feeling comfortable and confident in my new purchase after some great compliments at the office during the day.

Just as we settled in with our beers a little nervously, I reached down to adjust my shrug and noticed the dress' side zipper was down! I excused myself to the ladies' room where I gasped at the mirror when I realized the zipper wasn't down - it had split open! I scurried in to a stall, untied the bow and slipped the dress over my head. I tried desperately to get the zipper to go down and rehook, but the minutes passed and I just knew they would think I was 'sick' in there. So I got dressed, pulled the sash tight and tugged the shrug down to cover the hole. Then I walked back to the table with my arm by my side.

I told my girlfriends quietly about the problem and asked them to keep an eye out. When we left the pub I tucked my purse close in to my side to hide the hole. Success!

I guess today's lesson is - always have a cardigan or shrug handy! That, and don't listen to your coworkers! One had told me I should ditch the shrug for the date. This is one day I'm glad I'm not a fan of my arms!