Friday, April 29, 2011

Plated: Lovely Pepa

In light of the recent tragic events in Alabama that I just wrote about yesterday, I thought I would still do a fun upbeat post today. I haven't done a "plated" post in what feels like forever, so I thought today would be a good time to bring that column back.

Today's plated post is a hypothetical birthday party invitation for the incredibly adorable and beautiful Spanish blogger Alexandra from Lovely Pepa. I first found Alexandra on Lookbook and became an instant fan of hers because she definitely has great style. But only recently did I realize that she also has a blog. It's a fun site to visit to see her lovely stylish creations and apparently I have great taste because she seems to get a lot of press coverage and has recently been invited to a blogger event that appears to be "kind of a big deal."

Miss Alexandra apparently recently celebrated her 23rd birthday so I thought why not design a fun invitation based on some of her birthday presents and the beautiful floral prints she wears so well, so often. Here are a few pics of her presents and prints I pulled from her blog.

So first I loved her quirky little skull and cross bones bracelet she received. It was fun and funky in a non-punk kind of way. Then I loved the stunning green shade of the Fun & Basics bag. But I knew I needed more than just these two elements for an invitation. As I mentioned above, she wears lots of gorgeous floral prints, so I thought if I combined a pretty pink and green floral print with a skull and cross bones, it would make for a fun party invite. Not too punk, but not too serious. Especially when you put hearts for the eyes of the skull. See my fake bday invite for Alexandra below.

What do you think?! Would you want a skull and cross bones on your bday invite? I'm curious what you think about this design. Leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today is just a little bit different

Bystanders look on at storm damage in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP / The Tuscaloosa News, Dusty Compton)

So in case you haven't heard, the South was slammed by tornadoes yesterday. The first one I heard about actually occurred as I was out running early yesterday morning (yes, I know, I need to start checking the weather). Luckily my friend and I made it to back to my car just before the bottom fell out. I thought it was just a bad thunderstorm, but come to find out it was either a small tornado or intense straight line winds that severely damaged the community of Cahaba Heights, just a few miles away from where I was finishing up a 5 miler. Then as the day progressed I heard about the destruction of Cullman and later Tuscaloosa, and now I am learning about tornadoes in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.

So needless to say, today is just a little bit different.

Today I woke up and thanked God for my house and my amazing neighbors, The Coopers, who have a generator and not only let me stay with them for 3+ hours last night, but also fed me dinner and asked repeatedly if I wanted to stay the night with them and tried to send me home with food. Today I was reminded of the recent destruction in Japan and said a prayer for them. Today I looked carefully at my neighborhood for damage as I drove to work. Today I talked to the woman in the elevator and asked how her home was. Today I have checked in with almost all of my coworkers. I have talked to my mom and my brother. I have emailed my best friends in Bham to be sure they, their families and homes are okay. Today I woke up my friend Emily with a phone call to be sure that their home in Tuscaloosa had no damage. Today I have received texts and calls from friends across the country checking in on me. And now I am keeping a constant check on twitter and facebook to be sure that other extended friends and family in the area are in fact also okay.

And honestly, today I would rather be out there helping people clean up damage, handing out water and offering a hug to those who have experienced a loss that I know nothing about, than being here at work.

Here is a video of the biggest, gloomiest tornado I have ever seen swiping through Tuscaloosa and destroying parts of the community of my alma mater, the University of Alabama.

4-27-11 Tornado Tuscaloosa, Al from Crimson Tide Productions on Vimeo.

If you want to help, you can donate here to United Way, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or donate another amount here to the Red Cross, or you can sign up for volunteer work here through Hands On Birmingham. And of course, prayers are always accepted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Travel cheaply: UAB Outdoor Pursuits

Me and Ashley at the Grand Canyon. Socks and boots are hot, no?

I think it's clear from most of my posts so far that I am pretty much a "girly girl." But what you probably don't know is that I have in fact gone 7 days or so without a shower, let alone heels or makeup. And I'm proud of that! In fact one of my coworkers thinks it's highly entertaining that I come to work in my stilettos and dresses and crazy outfits, but I'll go spend a week and a half in the outdoors with nothing but a tent, sleeping bag and some food. I like to think of it as I'm just dynamic :)

Beyond just enjoying being outdoors, there are many other reasons why I love going on trips with UAB Outdoor Pursuits. For one thing, you meet lots of great people. I mean, it's kind of imperative that you become fast friends with a group of strangers when you are riding in a van together across the country for three days straight. Another reason I love these trips is because you're splitting gas among several people and staying in tents vs. hotel rooms, so it's an affordable way to see lots of amazing sights. I certainly wouldn't have been able to afford to have visited places like Yosemite or Grand Canyon, or let alone had the knowledge to backpack in those areas if it weren't for UAB Outdoor Pursuits. Plus, I can't even begin to explain everything I have learned on these trips about the outdoors, myself and one of my best friends/travel partners, Ashley.

So if you are in the Birmingham area and you're looking for a little bit of affordable adventure, I highly suggest you check out UAB Outdoor Pursuits. They have some great trips coming up this summer...and expect to hopefully see me on one later in the fall! And if you're not in the area, check your local colleges to see if they have an Outdoor Pursuits program that offers trips available to everyone, not just students. Or you could also check your local outdoor retail store.

I'll leave you with just a few of my fav pics from previous trips to help tempt you to sign up for an outdoor adventure soon.

View from the rim at the Grand Canyon. photo: Kerri Howard

Our descent the first day into the canyon. photo: Kerri Howard 

Part of our hike in the canyon. photo: Kerri Howard

Our awesome team and our nasty boots. photo: Kerri Howard

We caught the most amazing sunset at Sunset Point our last day in the canyon. photo: Kerri Howard

Me and Ashley before our attempt at canoeing Fontana Lake in North Carolina.

Fontana Lake in North Carolina.

The coolest creepiest building we found while backpacking at Fontana.

The most beautiful fall foliage at Fontana that I have seen in a while. 

Bridge and foliage at Fontana.

More pretty fall foliage, but this time it's at the Sipsey Wilderness in Alabama. 

More pretty fall foliage at Sipsey.

An amazing view of Upper Yosemite Falls.

One of the rivers flowing through Yosemite.

The most beautiful lake I think I have ever seen, in the Yosemite National Park area.

We start our hike in Yosemite in snow!

Me and Ashley taking a break from hiking in Yosemite.

The Lower Yosemite Fall. 

One of the MANY huge sequoia trees we saw up close.

ps. You can see Ashley's Etsy store Magpie Magnets here. And you can visit the blog of my friend Kerri who took the awesome Grand Canyon pics here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Splurge on: Sunnies

If you know anything about Rachel Zoe, you know that she likes to call sunglasses "sunnies." And girl knows how to rock her sunnies, that's for sure. I happen to think that just about everyone looks hotter in a pair of sunnies—celebrities included. I think Zoe would agree with me on that statement.

I've also noticed lately that it's kind of amazing how a simple pair of sunglasses can honestly transform your outfit. The best part about all of this? Sunglasses are the ultimate cheapskate accessory. While yes, the truly gorgeous designer sunglasses can cost at least $100, you can also find a few great pairs for around $10—or less!

Here are just five pair of sunnies I'm crushing on right now.

1. House of Sunglasses Wayfarers
Color: Black
Price: $9.99

2. Urban Outfitters Hazy Days Sunglasses
Color: Tortoise Shell
Price: $10.00

3. Fred Flare Sweetheart Sunnies
Color: Pink or Red
Price: $12.00

4. House of Sunglasses Oversized Wings Sunglasses
Color: Only Black/Black and Brown/Brown are available*
Price: $9.99

*Here's hoping they get the Green/Smoke or the Brown/Black back in stock!

5. Charlotte Russe Metallic Round Frame Sunglasses
Color: Tortoise Shell
Price: $5.00

Friday, April 22, 2011

Enter to win my April Bloggiveaway!

Happy Good Friday everyone! And a good Friday it is, because as promised I have another giveaway this month...and instead of one winner, there will be three!

I have been honored to have two sponsors offer up some goodies for you guys! And I am throwing in a little something, too. 

Here's what you could win:
1. A $30 credit to Spruce Boutique
2. Your choice of one item from Magpie Magnets
3. A 12-piece set of personalized stationery designed by Fashionplate Press

To enter, complete as many of the following 5 steps as you can:
1. Leave a comment with your name and email address so I can contact you if you win
2. Follow FPCS through Blogger or Bloglovin
3. Follow FPCS and Taylor from Spruce Boutique on Twitter, then tweet: "Enter this bloggiveaway from @fashionplatecs and @Taylor3709! click here:"
4. Like Spruce Boutique on Facebook
5. Heart Magpie Magnets on Etsy

This sweepstakes is open internationally. It begins today and will end at 10 p.m. next Saturday April 30th.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grooveshark picks for April

One of my first posts was about the beauty of the FREE music site Grooveshark. I'm still a huge fan and try to check out new music there pretty much daily.

Here are 5 albums I can't get enough of right now: (in no particular order)

Artist: Tennis
Album: Cape Dory
Why I love it: It's such a fun, dreamy, happy album; guaranteed to put you in a good mood.
For fans of: The Beach BoysShe and Him, Best Coast

Artist: The Bridge
Album: The Bridge
Why I love it:  To me, it's a great mix of New Orleansy jazz/blues, southern rock and just a tinge of bluegrass.
For fans of:  Second Hand Jive, JJ Grey & Mofro
Bonus: I'm late on this bandwagon apparently and they have two newer albums out now. Those might just make an appearance in my next Grooveshark picks.

Artist: Zee Avi
Album: Zee Avi
Why I love it: It's her debut album and she's signed on to Jack Johnson's record label, need I say more?
For fans of: Judy Garland, Ingrid Michaelson, Jack Johnson

Artist: Matt and Kim
Album: Sidewalks
Why I love it:  Five words. Dance party in my office.
For fans of: MGMT, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Bonus: "Daylight" from their album "Grand" is one of my fav songs to run to.

Artist: Band of Horses
Album: Cease to Begin
Why I love it: It may sound weird, but when I listen to this album, I feel like I am in a movie. Told you, I'm weird.
For fans of: Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes

What are you waiting for? Follow me on Grooveshark.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Styled by a six-year-old

Yes, you read that correctly! This shoot was in fact styled by a six-year-old.

Some time ago, I promised via Twitter to share some hilarious and adorable fashion tips given to me in the form of an essay by my photographer's six-year-old daughter Veronica. So I decided to deliver on this promise with a fun twist and let Veronica herself help me style what I wore in this photo shoot. Basically I gave her options and she chose which outfit and jewelry I should wear and also how I should style my hair. Oh and the red lips, those were her idea, too. And for a girl who has always been more interested in playing "fashion show" and having me paint her nails when I babysit her and her older sister, I think it's safe to say that Veronica was having the time of her life on this assignment.

Here's the cheapskate outfit breakdown V-girl helped me pick out:

1. Dress, Clever Boutique in Santa Monica, CA ($26.99)
2. Belt, Payless ($9.99)
3. Heels, Nine West Outlet ($29.99)
4. Chain purse, Charlotte Russe ($9.99)
5. Black diamond ring, Charlotte Russe ($4.00)
6. Disco ball earrings, ATL Market ($2.50)
7. Square sunglasses, Forever21 ($5.80)

I'll leave you with just a few of my favorite tips she gave me as well. I am writing them verbatim because the misspellings are too cute not to include, but I'll put the "real" word in parentheses after each mistake. And let me reiterate that she came up with these ALL on her own.

Chapter 1: Veronica's Tips of Fashion.
• Fashion is a way to show who you really are
• You can make yourself beautiful by makup (makeup)
• You can wear anything you want to wear to be beautiful
• You can wear braslits (bracelets), earrings and other essories (accessories)
• But most important you have to be nice to be beautiful. Kind people are really pretty people.

Chapter 2: A Good Way
• Fashion is a good way to make people like you
• You get pretty when you go to reshrots (restaurants), pardys (parties) and far away plases (places)
• A good way to keep your skin hethy (healthy) is magicsmoth.* It helps your skin.

* Laura and I still can't figure out what "magicsmoth" is?! I thought maybe it was Laura's made up word for lotion, but she denies it. So I'm thinking maybe Veronica is just way ahead of her time on a beauty secret?

Chapter 3: The Boyfriends (this one is so great I'm including the whole paragraph)
What kind of boyfriend do you desire? Do you like athletic boys? What about the strong type? There are also rock-n-rollers. It is best to choose a boyfriend that treats you like a princess! How wold (would) you treat him? And he wold (would) treat you the same. The best kind of boyfriend is the one you pick and your tipe (type).

Chapter 4: Marriage (again, this one is so great I'm including the whole paragraph)
You have to be beautiful to get married. If you look grose (gross) the boy will not take you as his wife. You have to look ladylike with a white colored dress with flowers or sparkels (sparkles). If you look like a dirt girl the boy will not like you. You need to have a good personalaty (personality) so the boy will take you. If the boy is funny, you can be funny too. 

Well thanks Veronica! Now I know what my problem has been with guys considering sometimes I do in fact look like a "dirt girl" and I never wait to see if the boy is funny to determine that I can be funny, too. 

I'm only kidding of course. I can't wait until she grows up and rereads this and laughs. I love how simple minded children are, and sometimes wish we as adults could think just as simply. I also think it's interesting to see how someone so young already has all of these view points about life and fashion that she has clearly developed on her own, with probably only the guidance of what she has seen in movies, television and her mommy's magazines. So watch out fashion world! Veronica is coming soon. And I'm happy to say that I was the one who gave her her first job.

Photos: Laura Menconi (the stylist's mom)