Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weekending in Emerald Isle

We've just returned from our annual beach trip with Bret's family, this year to Emerald Isle, N.C. We spent a few glorious days just sunning and eating and of course, sipping cocktails. Here are some snapshots from our trip!

We kicked off the trip with dinner at Jackie's American Grille, where we enjoyed shrimp tacos, burgers and custom loaded fries. No visit is complete without popping into the beach store next door to buy a pound of taffy.

As we so often do, Bret and I accidentally color-coordinated in our Proud to Be An American colors. 

On Sunday, we headed to Circa 81 for a delicious and fun brunch! They have a Sunday Funday special on pitchers of sangria, so we enjoyed a white sangria custom-made with peach schnapps while grooving to Motown songs.

I had the "Moo Sandwich" with beef, brie and horseradish and they were sweet enough to make me a side of the potatos bravas from their tapas menu. They were so good.

Ashleigh had a starter of she-crab soup, followed by this excellent dish of shrimp and grits.

 Bret had a seafood omelette with home fries and the most adorable slice of watermelon!

And we finished up the good vibes with (clockwise) a caipirinha, an orange basil mojito and a blueberry mojito.

 After brunch, it was time to hit the beach and since it was so windy, I picked up a $5 Cinderella kite. Totally worth it.

We gussied ourselves up for dinner and ventured to the very popular Amos Mosquitos for dinner.

The view from the restaurant was lovely. 

And to keep with their kooky vibe, we enjoyed their china-lined garden beds, visible from the deck.

 We had a round of their fried pickle "lollipops," batter-dipped and juicy.

And I had delicious lump crab cakes on a bed of penne with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. So good!

 On our last full day, it was a day of beachin' and eatin'. We started with a round of beachin...

 And then headed to Bogue House for some good old-fashioned fried seafood. The fried shrimp platter with mac and cheese and fries and hush puppies nearly killed me.

And we finished off with a Mexican feast and the finale of RuPaul's Drag Race! It was a fabulous trip, and much-needed. Already counting the days until we see where next summer takes us!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wine Fest 2016

Guys, times are tough when more than a week has passed and I'm just now posting pics from our favorite kick-off to the spring social season: Wine Fest! This year was just as fun as all the others, happily lacking in sunburn but with the unhappy addition of puking when I got home. Eep. Here are a few snapshots from the day!

We enjoyed a bottle of Rosemont rose.

The best part of the day: our oasis tucked away from the fray. So fabulous!

All in all, another great day sipping wine by the water, even if it ended with a little barfing on my part. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fashion Review: Met Gala 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Once a year, people take serious risks in the name of Fashion with a capital F and it is glorious madness! That's right, it's time for the Met Ball, a time when the truly fashion-forward step out from the pack of wannabes and prove they've got the cajones to be considered a renegade. Or, they make a major misstep that's more headscratcher than headturner.

This year's theme was "Manux x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology," so obviously I'm grading based on: futurism, fashion derring-do and overall styling. It's truly the most subjective event of the year, so here are MY opinions:


On any night for any occasion, Claire Danes' Zac Posen gown would be my favorite. It's Cinderella realness, but then THEN they took it a step further and somehow managed to capture — in real life — that best moment of the movie when the Fairy Godmother is spinning the dress out of sparkles. 

HER DRESS GLOWED PEOPLE. It freaking lit up. I love love love that Zac took the theme of fashion in the age of technology and made it apply to his existing style without feeling compelled to design a robot costume. Kudos all the way around.

I'm not in love with her flopsy hair, but her Atelier Versace gown manages to look both futuristic and incurably romantic, and clearly demonstrates the theme of "fashion in the age of technology" since I imagine we're looking at pieces of laser-cut plastic. It's a work of art, and that's the damn point.

I liked how Brie Larson's shimmery Proenza Schouler managed to harken to the original era of futurism — the 1920s — while still looking modern and fashion-forward. The styling is perfect here, and she's selling it like a pro.

Many, many, many women stepped onto the carpet in silver Balmain, but few have the I'm-still-here-BITCHES panache as 50-year-old Cindy Crawford. Perfect fit, perfect styling for her, perfect for the theme. 

Emma Watson managed to straddle a few of the night's recurring themes while still standing out from the pack: black-and-white, smokey make-up, surprising cut-outs. Her off-kilter Calvin Klein is clean, but deceptively simple; there are many interesting details in the design and I think it might actually be pants, with a removable train. Also, how dramatic is this picture? Amaze.

I mean, how often do you get to dress as Storm at the Oscars wearing a gown trimmed in silver crosses? Ciara really knows how to LIVE! I'd cast her in the next Star Trek based on this.

Vogue Editor-at-Large/Professional Socialite Lauren Santo Domingo had one of the most interesting of the silver gowns, looking like a cascading waterfall of mylar. I cannot imagine how awesome it was to dance under the lights in this Giambattista Valli fringe gown.

Kristen Stewart must have gotten the invitation, heard the theme, and said, "FINALLY! The perfect event for my natural inclinations!" Her sparkly cut-out and laced Chanel manages to be revealing in demure ways, and the styling is an all-around A+.

The prevailing trends on the red carpet were: metallics, white and cutouts. Of the bunch, I thought Karlie Kloss knocked it the most out of the park in her sexy sexy (and yet still somehow not trying too hard) Brandon Maxwell dress.

At first I was not sold on this Givenchy gown designed to emphasize Beyonce's ASSets, but after I saw a clip of it in motion, I realized she really dug a little deeper into the "fashion technology" theme by forgoing the obvious metallics for a rubberized gown. Daring, unforgiving and if you can pull it off, amazing.

I mean, this is obviously kooky but Lady Gaga LIVES for costume parties and how can you deny her? Woman is wearing circuit boards like she's the version of Cher that survives the nuclear apocalypse with the Twinkies and cockroaches and I'm loving it.

Zendaya has emerged as one of the most interesting ingenues on red carpets these days. She's not afraid to experiment and play, and this Michael Kors gown was fun in its alternative approach to futurism. It was nice to see someone try out a different metallic hue, and the Dorothy Hamill wig is working, no? 

You just gotta give it up for Lupita N'yongo's shameless fearlessness in this metallic seafoam Calvin Klein. She looks like a tribal Seuss character you'd definitely encounter on a distant planet and I'm down for it. Is there anyone else on Earth who could pull this off? Also, how many times do you think she bonked her hair on something?

It's highly possible Kate Bosworth's gown was a feat of modern technology, but who cares if it was totally off-theme? It's just gorgeous. The detail and styling — like an Edwardian woman at the Olympics — is how I want to look most days.


I'm debating a lot of feelings about Taylor's experimentalism these days. On the one hand, her bleached shaggy hairdo — looking VERY Courtney Love here — is possibly the most daring thing she's EVER done other than finally revealing her belly button. Also, this look is dead-on for the theme. So why don't I love it? Is it a sense of her just trying a little bit too hard? I just couldn't bump it to my BEST best category, even though I think it's very good.

Oh, these bitches. I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I saw Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner on the red carpet doing their best Jenna Lyons impressions WITH Jenna Lyons. Is it a joke? Is she in on the joke? Is it not even a joke, but an ode? It's the best because it's a giant fashion in-joke and it's the worst because it feels like a missed opportunity in my book.

How is it that I cannot entirely fault Solange for dressing like a butterfly emerging from its latex stirrup-tights cocoon? It's wrong and yet...and yet...I just love her for being so committed to never wearing a flattering, 100% likable look. Good on you, Solange!


I feel like Willow and Jaden Smith do deserve some props here for managing to hit the theme, look cool as hell and yet give off the air that they already had this stuff in their closet and looking chic and fabulous is just No Big Thang.

The "Good" category is reserved for those who — under any normal circumstances — would be best, but fell a little short of hitting the theme or stretching their fashion boundaries. Emily Blunt looks magnificent in this fit-for-a-mama-to-be Michael Kors. It's just a little blah for the event.

I thought Jessica Chastain's Prada was very interesting, and I love the styling, but it's not really AHMAZING the way it needed to be.

Zoe Saldana scores major drama points for the voluminous skirt of her Dolce & Gabbana gown, even if it looks a little like a fashion interpretation of the aftermath of the Mardi Gras parade route.

So, about half the family was present and as such, it seemed best to rank them, best to worst.

No surprise here: the high fashion model of the family, Kendall, SLAYED it in this barely there Atelier Versace. It's perfect for the theme, but not cliche, and the fit really couldn't be better.

This seems like a master class in bad posture. Kim just looks like misery in this picture from the neck up, but on the face of it, Balmain is a really good choice. It fits well, it's on-point...she just looks like she's trying too hard.

Not to be outdone, Kris also flaunted her curves in sparkly Balmain, but hers was more Morticia than machine.

Poor Kylie always comes off as trying the hardest and the lines on this Balmain manage to make a skinny girl look kind of like she's sporting a muffin top. Also, it's VERY mature for an 18-year-old; Kylie, look at what Taylor wore. That should be your template.


Even Anna Kendrick's face seems to be saying "meh." There's just not much to write home about with this very-respectable but not interesting Derek Lam. I think she's someone who's WAY overdue for a new stylist.

Hailee Steinfeld was sending major mixed messages with this look. What I imagine was meant to be fashion-forward and futuristic comes off as Jersey Mafia Wife in Atlantic City. The make-up is WAY too much, the H&M dress fit is atrocious, the gold accents look cheap. It's just a miss.

I just can't feel emotions about the Haim sisters in Rodarte. Like, okay. Not even the most tech-savy or futuristic work Rodarte has ever done and the matchy thing? MEH.

Kerry Washington just looks like she's wearing a costume here. This Marc Jacobs with the hair is trying WAY too hard. It doesn't really do anything for me on any level.

I'm just perplexed by Zoe Kravitz's outfit. I'm not even prepared to declare it bad, although I should. I'm more mystified on how she read the invitation, pondered her options and landed on Tinkerbell's Homemade Masquerade Costume.

If ANYONE should have knocked a "Machina" theme out of the park it's Alicia Vikander (star of "Ex Machina"), but she got saddled with this Wonder Woman-meets-Pirates of the Caribbean-meets-Roller Derby by Louis Vuitton that is beyond my comprehension. I wasn't prepared to declare it one of the WORST, but it's close to defying categorization.


It's not even like Madonna didn't dress to the theme; it's more like this is so the usual for her that I'm yawning. I even find it boring she has her titties out. Been there, done that, lady. She's also worn black every year since 2012. I appreciate her adventurism...I'd just like to be a little more moved by it.

Amber Heard delivered a serious snooze with this ill-conceived and incredibly, impossibly boring Ralph Lauren gown. I can only assume her hair and make-up were inspired by Melrose Place.

Somehow Dakota Johnson interpreted "fashion in the age of technology" as "fashion in the age of the Big Top." This Gucci gown looks like it was designed for a costume ball themed around "The More You Know" campaign.

Demi Lovato has a tendency to end up looking approximately 40 years older than she is, and this futuristic bumblebee gown by Moschino is more of what I would expect from Kris Jenner. Her slicked-back hair doesn't help.

Ellie Bamber is apparently a British ingenue who we should care about, but nothing about this Marie Antoinette duvet cover is going to make me curious about who she is. This is the kind of high fashion look that works on a tall supermodel but makes mere mortals look like Lilliputians. Also, what about any of this screams "young actress attending future-themed Met Ball?" 

Irina Shayk's gown (designer unknown) genuinely looks like what a truck stop fashion show might churn out, if there was a Project Runway unconventional challenge set at a Speedway Travel Plaza.

Kate Mara's little mini just feels underdone for this event. Is this what you wear to fashion's BIGGEST night? I think not. To me, underdressing is as much of a sin as wearing a pleated cocoon that obscures most of your body with latex stirrup leggings...and I'm almost on board for that!

I thought Lara Stone (shown in Tom Ford) was Ivana Trump and I can't imagine that the Donald's put-upon 67-year-old first wife was her style inspiration.

Lauren Bush Lauren, shown here wearing Ralph Lauren, is just off-base in every possible way. As if I didn't already hate the concept of Pilgrim Couture on Jessica Chastain in 2011, it's also nowhere near the target board of the theme, it's underwhelming, it's not incredibly flattering and it has the additional distinction of being Lauren, worn by Lauren Lauren. 

You can pout all you want, Lorde; it's not going to convince me that this rainbow prom dress by Valentino makes any sense at all. This is the opposite of selling a look.

Misty Copeland is basically an insanely gorgeous and ripped ballerina and yet someone decided to dress her in this ho-hum champagne satin curtains-and-sheers gown that does basically nothing for her. Imagine her for a second in Brie Larson's Proenza Schouler or even Karlie's Brandon Maxwell. She'd be topping everyone's list.

Nicki Minaj interpreted "man and machine" as meaning buckles and seatbelts, as worn by Bride of Frankenstein. This is cartoonish.

And SJP, God Bless Her, trotted out Carrie's blue pumps, a Wedgewood cameo and a post-modern Mozart-meets-Betsy Johnson look. I cannot really even imagine the conversations and thought processes that arrived at this look for this event, but I imagine the doodles are glorious. 

Whew! That's a lot of looks. Truthfully, almost everybody looked great and really brought it this year, which only makes me more excited for next year. What do you think?