Atlanta Steeplechase

Where:  Kingston Downs, located between Rome and Cartersville, Georgia.

When:  April 22, 2017 (it takes place each year, mid-April)

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A very southern soiree…  The bigger, the bolder, the better.  That’s our motto.

Here are a few hats I’ve made for Steeplechase this year and last.  All you need is a good hat, some wired ribbon, flowers, feathers, tulle, WHATEVER you like.  Mine are quite conservative compared to some that you see there.  If you shop Target, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls for a good discounted hat, these range from $60-$70 each to make.  You can certainly do it for less, but I spend more on the realistic silk flowers.  It really makes all the difference and $70 is a fraction of what you would pay to order one at this same quality.

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There is much to see throughout the day… Parade of the Hounds, the Budweiser Clydesdales, bagpipers, a hat parade & contest and of course the races!  Also, there are artist’s tents set up throughout the grounds, and you can even take a ride on a camel!
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Be sure to bring the party with you.  This is tailgating to the extreme.  Our spread consists of pimento cheese, cucumber sandwiches, deviled eggs, chicken tenders, a variety of desserts, endless dips, chips, and a full bar- everything you could imagine.  Don’t forget tables, chairs, an awning, and a corn hole set.
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My “Garden floral asymmetrical dress” was made by STYLESTALKER.  Compliments of Rent the Runway. Because I made the hat the year before, I had to find a dress to match.  When in search of a dress for a specific occasion, color, or something last minute that you don’t have time (or the budget) to shop for, Rent the Runway is a lifesaver.  I rent more dresses than I buy…  Do I save money by doing so?  Probably not, but you rarely see me in the same dress twice and it is sure to be perfect for every occasion, unique, and within a current collection by a highly regarded designer.  Click here for $30 off your first order.
The men also dress to impress in linen, pastels, and bow ties.  This is just as much a fashion show as it is a cocktail party… as it is a horse race.
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San Francisco (be sure to wear flowers in your hair)

San Francisco, the city by the bay with endless offerings.  What a lovely place it is!  The streets are lined with pastel Victorian town homes, trolleys, cafes, and all within a short driving distance to the infamous Redwood Forest, as well as Sonoma and Napa Valley.

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There really are too many sights, restaurants, and shops to mention, but here are a few gems that were highlights of our most recent trip:

Near Union Square:

Blue Bottle Coffee.  This is by far the best coffee I have ever had.  They specialize in siphon coffees – a centuries-old technique that is done mostly by hand, requiring precise temperature, time, attention and skill. The results are well-worth the effort, and more like the consistency of tea than coffee.  Meant to be consumed black and never with the addition of cream or sugar.  Their breakfast items are just as fantastic.  If only I could start out every day with a stop at Blue Bottle…

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And right on the edge of Union Square, you will find a quaint little cafe and wine bar called La Marsa.  The owner, Rafik Bouzidi, serves as host, waiter, bartender, and chef.  He’s a one man show.  Do not let this discourage you.  This is a very small space and he offers high quality, inventive dishes with a Tunisian flair, and a side of conversation.  If you’re out and about Union Square, stop and see Rafik for a glass (or bottle) of wine.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Haight Ashbury:

Possibly the most famous neighborhood of the 1960’s hippie movement. The Haight was home to many artists and musicians including The Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin.  Here you would find people dancing in the streets and preaching free love to all.  The year is 2017 but the vibe remains the same.

Love on Haight

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710 Ashbury (current day)

Corner of Haight & Ashbury

You can now find eclectic boutiques, bars and cafes serving everything from coffee to rum punch served by the bowl (see Hobson’s Choice).

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Piedmont Boutique

One of my absolute favorite boutiques is Decades of Fashion, selling authentic vintage clothing and accessories from the past 100 years, separated by decade.  It’s no wonder that many Hollywood costume designers come here for authentic pieces, as well as inspiration.  The store is owned by fashion designer, Cicely Hansen.  Amongst the vintage collections, lives one line of 1920’s flapper style (inspired, not original) beaded dresses, designed by Cicely.  A few of these dresses were made for the 2011 movie, “The Artist”.  She sold me the most beautiful hand beaded cocktail dress.  I can’t bear to put it away in my closet, so it’s still hanging on display in my office.  After all, it is a piece of art.

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Muir Woods:

A short trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, and just past Sausalito, you will find Muir Woods.  This protected nature reserve is home to some of the world’s largest redwoods, ranging  between 600 – 1200 years old.

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Wine Country:

We have visited both Sonoma and Napa, and I have to say, I prefer Sonoma.  On both occasions, we traveled with a tour group (approx. 10 people), and so we were taken to smaller, family owned wineries.  A few of my favorites include Larson Family Winery, Cline Cellars, and Jacuzzi Winery (all located in Sonoma Valley).

What is the difference, you may ask?  Sonoma Valley is located along the coast and has a slightly cooler climate, largely producing more white wines such as Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, sparkling wines, and also Pinot Noirs.  Napa is on the opposite side of the mountain range, which aids a warmer climate and produces more Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots.  Napa is more known for their Michelin star restaurants and more expensive tasting rooms, while Sonoma is less expensive and more like a traditional visit to country vineyards.  I do of course, recommend you visit both.  Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to dine at some of the finer restaurants, but it is on my list for future visits. See the video below for some aerial footage taken in Napa just a week ago (no grapes yet on the vines)…

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50 year old vines.  At age 40, they produce far less grapes. However, vines this old make for the most delicious wines.  You can spot them by their burley, gnarled appearance.

Recommended Tours:

Green Dream Tours– Mark was fantastic!  The price is well worth booking a tour rather than adventuring out on your own if you happen to be staying in the city, like we were.  They will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and the tasting fees are included.

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Many tours are available, Sonoma, Napa, or a combo of both, Alcatraz Island and wine country, food/wine combo tasting, private tours, etc.  Take a look at their website and decide which fits your interests best.  And ask for Mark.

San Francisco is lovely in the Spring, but I would recommend anyone traveling to plan their trip for the Fall.  You will experience the best weather that San Francisco has to offer, and the grapes will be fully ripened and ready for harvest.  Do some research or just wander about the city.  Either way, there’s a breath taking view and happy-go-lucky locals on every steep and winding turn.  Cheers!

(make sure to view the above video in 1440p HD for maximum quality… thanks for watching!)

 

 

My future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.

Hello, Spring! 

In conjunction with New York Fashion Week, the PANTONE Fashion Color Report provides a comprehensive overview of fashion designers’ use of color in their Spring 2017 collections. Featuring the top 10 shades seen on the runway, the PANTONE Fashion Color Report is your essential color guide to the season.

Drumroll, please…

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PANTONE Fashion Color Report- Spring 2017, including the “2017 Color of the Year”, Greenery.

Unless you dress in all black (I’ve been guilty of that from time to time), this palette really has something for everyone.  I love the fact that it isn’t too pastel, or too neon, just a nice medium array of jewel tones that in my opinion, are reminiscent of fashion of the nineteen sixties.  I believe that we will be seeing more sixties inspired prints this season as well, thanks to styles recently re-introduced to the runway by Roberto Cavalli

As stated in studies of color psychology, color can manipulate mood.  Think about the weather and the seasons… With the exception of the oh so glorious Christmas season, is Winter not the dreariest time of year?  There’s something about that first glimpse of Spring that puts a smile on everyone’s face (similar to this lovely palette of naturalistic hues).  In Atlanta, the masses flock to patios all over the city, moving the party outside.  Piedmont Park is bustling with dog walkers, picnickers, frisbee throwers, and Mimosa drinkers.  My husband says that when he sees the first bumblebees, he knows we’re out of the dark.  So bring your shades, because we’re about to have another “Summer of Love”.

Supporting Local Art: Spotlight on Sarah England

A couple of years ago I was looking to have a portrait made of our dog a.k.a. “our little pumpkin spice puppy”, Kobi.  I knew that I wanted a watercolor, and preferably something quirky.  I found Sarah on Etsy, and it was a complete coincidence that she hailed from the ATL. Sold.
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Sarah captured Kobi’s sassy demeanor to a tee.  She’s painted people’s dogs, cats, and other pets.  Many people buy them as gifts, perhaps even for a loved one who has lost a pet and would like to memorialize them in the form of a watercolor painting.  You can find more information, including prices on Sarah’s Etsy page: ArtbySarahEngland
Born and raised in Georgia, Sarah graduated with a BFA from University of West Ga and unlike many, can proudly say that she makes a living as a full time artist.  Although she has several side “hustles”, such as assisting a jewelry maker, and selling clay sculptures of the moon, Sarah is a painter, specializing in watercolor.
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“I am so thankful that with an inspired mind, my left hand, and just a paint brush or pencil, I can be self-sustainable.”
Besides her own mother, who is a talented watercolor artist in her own right, Sarah says that seeing work by local artists inspires her most to create more work of her own.  Sarah’s studio lies within her apartment.  Above her workspace hangs a map of the U.S., with a pin in each city where her work hangs.  What a cool reminder of what she’s accomplished and to just keep moving forward… There are a lot of pins on this map and from what I’ve learned, she needs to upgrade to a map of the world.  Maybe soon…
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Much of Sarah’s recent work has had a moody tone, characterized with a darker neutral palette.  I knew that Sarah was the one who should paint our family portrait.  But we didn’t sit for her.  This is her tribute to our love of Halloween.  All I can say is that I couldn’t be happier.
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I can tell you from experience, watercolor painting is not an easy medium.  This girl has talent.  You can find existing work for sale, or commission her for a portrait of your pet via her Etsy page.  She also posts new work to Instagram.  Look, share, follow, SUPPORT local artists.  Sarah hosts shows in local coffee shops and even hair salons, but most of her work is sold via word of mouth.  So spread the word.
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These are a few of my favorite… Fashion and beauty finds this season.

 

1. Anastasia’s Modern Renaissance eyeshadow palette

This is THE palette to buy this season.  I was planning on purchasing the new Chanel red palette (don’t get me wrong – it is gorgeous!), but this has way more bang for your buck and it goes on super rich.  It’s also only $42 for 14 different shades.  Available at Sephora.

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2. OPI’s Washington D.C. collection

A collection of lovely matte shades that work so well with a Fall or Winter wardrobe, and add that little POP!

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3. Benefit’s Goof Proof eyebrow pencil

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I have used multiple eyebrow pencils, pomades, special brushes, etc. and this is my favorite product.  For many reasons – the color is a perfect shade of brown/dark blonde (in attempt to not make my brows look TOO fake), the shape of the pencil is a narrow triangle, perfect for outline and shading, and the brush on the other end is just convenient.  If you’re partial to using a pomade, try Anastasia’s Dipbrow (a previous favorite before discovering this product).  I sometimes revert to Dipbrow when I want a more dramatic look.

4. Suede!

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Aforementioned as one of the hot trends on the runway this Fall, suede has made a comeback.  I think it works great as an accessory.  Shoes, boots, belts, bags…  Or, layered with different textures and fabrics, perhaps a short flowy suede dress paired with a long drape front knit cardigan…

 

5. MAC’s Nutcracker Sweet: Red Mini Lipstick Kit

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This is awesome.  I went to Saks to buy my all-time favorite shade (Rebel) and the MAC rep sold me this instead… It includes 4 mini lipsticks of the best shades of red/berry that MAC has to offer (including Rebel).  Also available: a Nude Mini Lipstick Kit and a Pink Mini Lipstick Kit.  Currently on sale for $21 (that’s less than the cost of ONE lipstick, people!).

Threads of History

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  If you are in Atlanta and have not yet visited SCAD FASH, do yourself a favor and GO NOW.  Drop everything and go.  If you are reading this blog, I will assume that this is a subject of interest for you.  What is SCAD FASH?  Located at the SCAD Atlanta campus (1600 Peachtree Street NW), SCAD FASH is a museum, dedicated to the celebration of fashion and film.

Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra Sachs, Executive Director of SCAD FASH and Atlanta galleries.  She provided some very interesting insight into the museum’s operations.  Alexandra and her team are responsible for the styling of the exhibitions.  Let me back up…  these are not your typical “displays”.  The work that has been done here goes beyond any type of curating that I have seen.  The way that they present these unique pieces is nothing short of extraordinary.   In lieu of traditional dress forms, Alexandra decided to use life size marionette scultpures to display these designs.  The actual form of the “body” had to be individually sculpted out of foam in order for these tiny – waisted dresses to fit.  Current day dress forms are not made for the shape produced by the overbearing corsets of yesteryear.  An interesting fact that you would never know, and yet just one small piece of the puzzle.

It’s all in the details…

What do you do when you have an entire facility and student body of fine artists at your disposal?  You take advantage of that talent!  The projected animations were done by an animation student.  The wallpaper is actually a large scale painting by one of the painting professors.  Everything you see in this museum is an original work of art.  I am not posting photos of this here, as they would not do the exhibition justice.

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The photo above was taken from SCAD FASH website

The show is split into two parts… “Embellished: Adornment Through the Ages”, on view until January 29, 2017.  This collections features exquisitely embellished accessories dating back to the early 1700s, as well as original prints of “La Mode Illustree” – one of the first ever published French fashion magazines.  This was indeed a treat.  La Mode Illustree was a subject of my undergraduate thesis exhibition.

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And “Threads of History: Two Hundred Years of Fashion”, on view until March 19, 2017.  A fashion show that takes you on a journey through history, beginning with the 1700s, most pieces likely belonging to wealthy aristocrats, all the way up to roaring 20s.  If only these dresses could talk… what secrets would they tell of the women that wore them as they sipped champagne from teacups and danced on tables?

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Most of these pieces are on loan from world-renowned Italian fashion professor and collector Raffaello Piraino, whose legendary collection, housed in Palermo, Italy, consists of more than 5,000 garments and accessories that belonged to the Sicilian aristocracy and bourgeoisie.

Why do they not take this show on the road?  After all, SCAD is a non-profit organization (although my bank account would suggest otherwise), so they really could use the extra revenue.  This show is truly awe-inspiring and specifically because of how the team at SCAD has packaged it.  The emence talent that is on display in even the bathrooms, could host an artist’s reception for which not many others could compare.  I cannot imagine this not thriving as a traveling exhibition, especially when backed by the SCAD name.

Kudos to Alexandra Sachs, Rachel Evans, and the rest of the team at SCAD FASH.  I cannot express what a fabulous addition this is to Atlanta’s art scene.

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This – is – Halloween!

Halloween, in my opinion is the most fun time of year.  I love HORROR and the idea of ghosts and spirits among us.  We actually just booked a ghost tour in historic Savannah with television ghost hunter, Patrick Burns.  Cheesy?  Maybe.  But you have to embrace it all and be willing to use your imagination (ghosts are real by the way).  Maybe that’s why so many adults cease to celebrate the holiday… and that is a damn shame!  Halloween offers itself to truly be the most out-of-the-box, creative time of year.  Here’s a look at our costumes from a few Halloweens past…

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Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein
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A Pirate and a Mermaid (this was actually our Honeymoon in U.S.V.I.)
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Zombie Bride and Groom
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Evil Ring Leader and Circus Clown
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Morticia and Gomez Addams

Dress up.

I really get into the makeup portion of my costumes (much like real life).  My absolute favorite artist, specializing in (but not limited to) FX makeup, is the uber talented Angie Davis a.k.a. Goldiestarling.  I have been following her for years and this girl is truly my spirit animal.  Whether you’re interested in FX makeup or not, you have to appreciate the art.   Here is her Youtube channel and here is her Instagram page.  Please check her out.  I’ve lost hours upon hours watching her tutorials.

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“Bootstrap Bill” – makeup, costume design, and photography by Goldiestarling

Halloween parties.

This is your chance to get really creative with all aspects of the night.  Beware of deterring guests from eating the food in attempt to make it extra “gory”.  After all, it is a Halloween party, not Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  Here are a few bites from last year…

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charcuterie and coffin shaped cheeses
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pumpkin spice cupcakes
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pimento cheese deviled eggs
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white chocolate covered pretzels
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chocolate “spider” cake with cream cheese icing – made by my MOM!

We throw a pretty elaborate Halloween party every couple of years.  Each year, we invest more into the props.  Soon, we will need to convert our spare bedroom to a proper storage space.  For example, last year we added an actual burial casket and a 6 foot spider.

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Of course, for any party you need invitations.  It is very rare that you will receive an “Evite” from me.  I love paper invitations.  I think that they are more personal, and I think it’s sad that everything has gone digital (says the girl pushing a WordPress Blog).  I like printed photographs, magazines and books, and invitations that I can touch.  The invitation sets the tone for what one should expect from the party.  99% of the time, I make invitations myself.  It will save you quite a bit of money and they can be customized to your heart’s desire!  Not an artist?  Many artists will create a custom invitation for you and send you the file to print yourself.  Of course, you’re still paying for the work but you will save a ton in the end if you own a nice printer.  See the toe-tags below that we sent out for last year’s soiree.  Each personalized based on the cause of death, and then edges burned to create a gruesome, unsterile aesthetic.

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Home Decor.

Whether decorating the house for a party or just for the Halloween season, the task is equally as fun.  Here’s a glimpse at what I’ve done this year, which is very scaled back compared to last.  When not hosting the party, I try to keep it in the creepy theme that is Halloween, but still a bit classy- so, this year you won’t find decapitated clown heads hanging from hooks, or blood dripping from the window sill.  However, Kobi (our little pumpkin spice puppy) does carry around a “new toy” that looks like a prop from The Walking Dead.

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Try painting pumpkins instead of carving them- they will last much longer!
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These pillows were hand painted and sewn. I’m a sucker for all things vintage Halloween!

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Ravens and spiders sit amongst the wine racks.  Not overly obvious, but a nice detail.
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One of my favorite pieces… I found this wooden bride and groom last season at Marshalls.

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Happy Halloween, y’all!