Sunday, June 22, 2008

Keeping Secrets

Since I moved to Chicago I've slacked a bit on my side-hustle as a personal shopper (I hate to use the word hustle since I usually neglect to charge a fee) but the month of June made up for that with my biggest task yet. While I love the actual sort of shopping (yeah, I called it a "sport") and live for the challenge of finding the "best price" on an item, the hardest part is the gift buying for other people. This means I have to keep my mouth shut about my exciting purchases until the recipient has seen their surprise.... not easy at all when the recipient is my cousin (who's more like a sister) Gabbi and we talk about fashion all the time!!

getting ready for the big date

Gabbi and her oh-so-cool hubby just celebrated 12 years of marital bliss and he wanted to make sure she was pleasantly surprised with her gift so he consulted his personal shopper (me) and laid out the plan....he needed 2 pair of high end designer shoes - one of which HAS to be a pair of Christian Louboutin (a.k.a. CL) pumps. **For those who aren't familiar with this sexy, trendy high end shoe designer here are a few pics of some of the celebrities who swear by these shoes - famous for their very high red inner heel and sole...

Angelina Jolie

angelina_jolie_beowulf_08angelina foot CL

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba CLJessica Alba CL foot

Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton CLThandie Newton CL foot

Victoria "Posh" Beckham

posh CLposh CL shoe

Fellow Spice Girl Mel B

Mel B CLMel B CL shoe

Pretty hot shoes huh?? This was like a task from heaven and I took my job very seriously. After surfing the net to get ideas and see what styles were out there, I went to Saks Fifth Avenue on Michigan Avenue with my soror Micky and our new friend/sales associate "Anthony" quickly joined in on the fun. I had narrowed my search to the "Rolondo" and the "Ron Ron" but found out just before heading to Saks that the Rolondo was only available as a PRE-order for freakin NOVEMBER. What????? Ok, so that changes things. As soon as I walked into the CL section of the women's shoe department I saw "THE SHOE". It was the "Ron Ron" in a "tortoise" bronze print that I can't even find anywhere online!! Such a SEXY shoe! Since we wear the same size its only right that I try it on to make sure it will fit her, right? :-) After prancing the aisles a few times I was in love and I knew Gabbi would LOVE this shoe... here are some pics I took of it in the store.


One down, one to go... and as I walk past a table of Stuart Weitzman shoes I see what I call the elegant version of a high heeled gladiator sandal called "Zoom" - some of them tend to have too many straps or appear too bulky but this one is gorgeous in black patent with white piping (I'll have to get Gabbi to send me a pic since I don't have a very good one below). This week I opened the July issue of LUCKY magazine last week and saw this same shoe featured! Pretty good, huh??? **brushing my shoulders off**


Now of course I couldn't do all of that shopping and not find things I loved for myself. Right now, money won't allow it but IF it did, I would run to Nordstrom and buy this Marc by Marc Jacobs Totally Turnlock Mini Quinn bag in this hot pink color called Cranberry IMMEDIATELY!!! Maybe it will fall out of the sky or something.... I'm not gonna hold my breath but I will keep my fingers crossed! LOL

marc by marc jacobs mbmj totally turnlock mini quinn

This week I will be in MIAMI starting my holiday parties a week early! Have a great time wherever you are and make this holiday a safe one!

miami beach

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father Knows Best

Because I know my father is a faithful reader of my blog (Dad, if you're not then keep faking it - it makes me feel special)... I must take a moment to wish him a Happy Father's Day. I gave gift duties to his beloved son this year and my fingers are crossed with the hopes that he actually comes through as he promised (a.k.a. was instructed to do by his big sister). Either way, I want to take a moment to say...


to the men in my life and in the lives of many others I know. This wish goes out to my own father who taught me everything I know about engineering and always trusted me, from an early age to make good decisions and learn from the ones that weren't so good;


my Papa who knows everything there is to know about anything and gives me a bar to keep reaching for in my quest for more knowledge;


my brother John/Bravo, who is not as father (as far as I know) but for decades has professed his hopes to someday father over 100 children;

daddy0019the kids 

the men who helped my dad with the daunting task of raising a daughter in so many ways over the years - Andre, Edgar, Mr Martin, Mickey and a number of other cousins and friends; the young men with no kids who stay in the community working with young men and women who may be headed down the wrong path; friends of mine who are very admirable single fathers and never quit trying despite all they have been up against; all of the men who hope to someday be fathers knowing that its not going to be an easy job; and to anyone else I may have forgotten.... Happy Father's Day!

The Yellow Dress

After surviving what I swore would be a full blown tornado in Chicago an hour ago, I am WIDE awake and hungry at an unreasonably early hour of this Sunday morning. I should have taken pictures too post although I'm sure my shaky hands would have made the pics too difficult to see.

This weekend was all about bucking tradition and breaking rules. As this is the Pan-Hel Weekend here in Chicago I am spending time with my line sisters from TSU who also live here in the Chi (click here to find out what the National Pan-Hellenic Council is if you aren't familiar with the Black Greek frats/sororites or didn't attend a HBCU).

Friday night we hit up the NPHC Black and White party in Bronzeville. I decided I didn't like my black dress or my white dress so I broke out the multi-colored, mosaic patterned French Connection dress I was drooling over last year... let's just say, I stood out and I loved it!

To keep the trend going, I decided to skip the standard "black dress" for the USGBC Emerald Gala black-tie affair on Saturday. As this is the formal event for all of the local "green-ies" like myself, I needed to stand out and spark conversations and what better way than a new dress.

Thus the search began... After some online surfing I had my mine made up. I wanted a yellow strapless floor-length gown. Nothing else. Walked into Macy's and there it was!!!! A BCBG yellow gown with a whopping $320 price tag to match. hmmmm... not gonna work into my budget. So I keep looking but nothing else seemed quite as nice.

bcbg silk chiffon yellow gown 061408

At Nordstrom Rack (where I rarely EVER can find a cute dress) I get to the far back clearance rack in the dark corner and... VOILA... standing all by itself is my coveted dress.... with a price tag of.... NO... it can't be... did that really say $79.99???? And is that really a "60% off lowest marked price" sticker on there???? I snatch it off the rack and run to the dressing room so fast you would have thought someone was after me. In the dressing room I am seriously worried because the tag says it a 6 and I know it could be too big. I try the dress on and it turns out, its on clearance because it had been altered (taken in) and the person never came back for it! So aside from a little extra "air" in the boob area (nothing a good push up bra won't cure) it fits great! And the $32 price tag was a lovely bonus!

Next came shoes. SIGH. The hard part. I knew I wanted a gold strappy sandal. I checked everywhere - Nordstrom Rack, Macys, Nordstrom, Kenneth Cole, Cole Haan, Guess, Saks (yeah, I got a little ambitious on that one) I was up and down Michigan Avenue for hours. ....I even called to ask if there was any way they could get some shoes to me by Saturday afternoon... Nothing. My line sister Mikyra told me to check out Sensual Steps in Bronzeville so I grab the car Saturday morning and head out. I got there at 10:05 and they didn't open until 11. Dang. I really wanted to check the place out but I didn't have time to wait. Head over to DSW (where I can Never find anything) and lo-and-behold.... there is one shoe in the last aisle in my size that would go perfect!

IMG_0042 IMG_0043

**Its the Guess "Gaylen" shoe but I can't find it online. If you're looking for a gold sandal the Guess "Orwellian" is very pretty (and on sale) but they didn't have my size at the Guess store.

My overall look was amazing and I was getting compliments all night. I got a little too sure of myself at one point and tripped on the gown causing my hole to tear through the chiffon (SIGH - again). Luckily the yellow color and the flowy skirt hid it very well. I couldn't even find the hole myself once I stood up. Check me out!

 Emerald Gala 200802Emerald Gala 200801 

**I couldn't get my pose together before the timer on the first one.... and don't talk about my light bulb being blown out!!! LOL... I can't reach it.

For the items of the day I am going to feature some of the eco-friendly companies and products featured in the Emerald Gala Silent Auction yesterday. I would have loved to purchase a number of these items but remember... I'm still on a "budget" ;-)

Whitney Wood Works baby changing station - Made from FSC certified Maple and Veneers. Natural Oil and Beeswax Finish.

www baby changing station

Aveda Green Science kit - contains Organic argan oil, one of the key ingredients in Aveda's Green ScienceTM Skin Care, comes from the nut of the fruit of the argan tree, which grows in Morocco.

aveda green science

Mohawk Flooring Welcome Mats - made from recycled tires; What does tire recycling mean for the environment? Consider the fact that making four new tires requires 2,072 gallons of water and 88 gallons of crude oil. Discarded tires can also produce dangerous, toxic fires in dumps and old tires retain water where disease-spreading insects thrive. Mohawk now converts more than 30 million pounds of tires into welcome mats each year.

mohawk recycled doormat

Gilasi recycled glass tabletops - Eco-friendly Gilasi countertops recycle glass in Chicago, Illinois. Gilasi’s unique manufacturing process combines locally sourced green materials with high-end style.

gilasi counter tops

Skyline Design Berry Activity Stool - made from FSC-certified, formaldehyde-free birch plywood and clear zero-VOC finish.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Time Fun

I am looking forward to my first summer as a resident of Chicago! I have visited numerous times over the years during the summer, but this times its just not the same. Instead of a few days, I have MONTHS to attend parties, picnics and shopping events! (Ok, forget the shopping - we're on a budget remember?)

The "cherry on top" for this summer is my first trip to Mexico at the end of August. Most everyone I know has been south of the border, but not me... and I'm truly excited. April and I just bought our tickets and we are ready to lay on the sand, splash in the water (neither of us is a good swimmer), and try every brand of tequila under the sun! I used to be able to put together a collection of "my __ went to __ without me and all I got was this t-shirt" shirts... but this time, my boyfriend went to Mexico without me and brought something much better than a t-shirt... I got a bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila. While it sits near the top of the list for "best vacation gifts", it also, more importantly, provides a great way for me and the girls to get in some "practice" for our GGW August trip! :-)  **I'm sure GGW for me will be more like a good book and a few umbrella drinks... hahaha**

Before we can do all of that, I have to get my gear together. I have room in my budget for one thing... SWIM WEAR! I have been surfing the net for weeks checking out the swimsuits available along with current styles and trends.  Its all about details (ruffles, strings, crystals, ruching, etc), cute patterns, animal prints or bright/bold colors. The high waists are back in, but I'm going to pass on those... not really my thing. I decided to get two swimsuits this summer, since one will be a much deserved gift! Now here comes the hard part - WHICH TWO??? Here are some of the beautiful suits I found online (both in and out of my price range!).....


trina turk geometric print bikini 060208emilio pucci halter bikini 060208bcbg pop art floral halter 060208ralph lauren halter and skirted bottom 060208ralph lauren leopard bikini 060208VS tie dye bikini 060208


carmen marc volvo ruched tankini 060208jantzen ruched vamp one piece 060208anika brazil cut out one piece 060208


kenneth cole reaction hipster tankini 060208badgley mischka tankini 060208lablanca zebra tankini 060208

I've decided to take some of the ideas I see online and go into the store to try them on. Some places in Chicago (and across the US) that sell swimwear are:

Malia Mills - great for basic suits for women of all ages and sizes

Everything But Water - National chain that usually has tons of suits to choose from

Target - great selection of swimwear - but be prepared to see 5 other people wearing your suite regardless of what state you're in!

If you find any good places (stores or online) to buy your swimwear, please share!