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June, 2012

  1. Atlanta Style Bloggers Event: Free People

    June 30, 2012 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    The ladies over at Atlanta Style Bloggers (ASB) have been kind enough to have me on their blogroll for the past year or so.

    As if that wasn't great enough, now I get invited to neat ASB events! Tonight was a blogger event at Free People (White Provision) — over near Ormsby's and Bacchanalia on the West Side (Atlanta).

    The gals and the store hooked us up with pretty solid discounts at Free People (25% sale items, and 10% off our entire purchase) as well as tasty bevs, snacks (including some from JCT kitchen!), fingernail polish changes, gift certificate and more. I made a beeline for the complimentary chair massage from Spa Sentio (just upstairs in White Provision – FYI looks like they may be a decent spot for services other than manis/pedis). Days were busy this week in my "real job" (which is not blogging), so the shoulder rub was more than welcomed.


    The complimentary beer from Mirosa was legit tasty. The purveyors positioned it as, "like a Sprite, but mixed with beer." He was kind of right. Mirosa Lemon reminded me of Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. It was refreshing, light and lemon-y without being overlight sweet. I didn't taste it, but I'm told the Mirosa lager is not unlike Heineken. Probably most fascinating is the beverage company's "Economic Stimulus Opportunity" promo. Allegedly if you buy a six-pack of Mirosa, which is available at Metro Atlanta Publix and Kroger stores, and e-mail a picture of the receipt (along with your name, mailing address and phone number) to MirosaBeerPromo@gmail.com, you'll get a share of Mirosa stock.


    Free People has cute stuff (a high-end Bohemian/hippie vibe), but over conversations with fellow bloggers about my blazer ($5 at Goodwill), I was reminded that most of the shop's goods were out my usual price range. What can I say? I'm a thrifty gal! (Though I must say FP had a wide range of goodies, with items like bracelets sometimes going for $15 or tops for $30, all the way up to dresses for $139 or handbags for $200. I do hear they have some pretty good sales as well).


    BUT I talked myself into these fun print, high-waisted, cropped pants ($49 on sale) and bright orange/coral tank ($19 on sale). Altogether my goodies were $56 once discounts came into play. I'm excited about the funky pants (I plan to wear them with a grey or white tank and a khaki blazer — and blue wedes) but I can already hear my husband saying, "are you sure those aren't pajama pants?" (See exhibit A below. Necklace is mine: picked up for maybe $8 at trashy ole Dots — they have good accessories, y'all!)

    And I got to meet a few other Atl blogger chicks!

    Miss Foodie Fash (L) is new to the blogging scene! Check out Dee Dee's blog here.

    This is Holly (R) from My Scuttle, who in her most recent post is wearing the same orange tank I bought! Holly's blog shows off her cute, sometimes edgy, feminine and deal-savvy style. I would describe her look as a more polished Betsey Johnson vibe (a little rock and roll, a little bohemian). Cute!
     

    These are some of the fabulous ladies behind ASB and the Free People event. (L-R) Diamonde, Mattie (of Mattieologie) and Kristen (of Lily Kai Vintage).
     


  2. Airbrushed (Not the Panama City Variety)

    June 26, 2012 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    I’m a sucker for a deal, even a spray tan deal…

    Yes, most of my deal hunting falls into the realm of food or shopping, but even a discounted tan can be tempting to a cost conscious/savvy gal such as moi.

    I visited RAW Bronzing Studio in Inman Park (Atlanta) for the second time* a few weeks ago — just days before we left for our French/Monegasquan vacation. Tanning (spray/airbrush or the bed variety) isn’t usually my thing but I justified it. “Well, we do have a family wedding.” “I have the worst tennis tan.” “Wouldn’t it be nice to start out vacation tan?” The Scoutmob $25 deal package I hadn’t used yet sealed the deal.

    RAW has an industrial/modern/open space just steps away from Fritti (Italian) and Sotto Sotto (Italian, too, but specializing in thin crust pizza. Both are delish, by the way.

    Owner Tiffany Terranova started her business after a scary run-in with skin cancer (in 2009 she started “spraying” from her home, then eventually opened up the RAW studio in April 2011). Tiffany set out to help people have gorgeous, glowing and natural looking tans — sans the harmful rays of artificial or authentic sun.  Also, all her ingredients are organic (one upside is no funky, chemical smells).

    So, I walked in to meet a cheerful receptionist who asked me my name and if I’d been there before. “Katy, and yes, just once.”

    Then another smiling face walked down the stairs and said, “Hi, I’m Lauren — I’m going to show you up to your room.” This face, however, looked familiar.

    I said, “I know this is random, but are you Brian’s sister? I work with him and I think we met a few months ago.” She was like, “Oh my gosh! Yes! I met you when I was doing catering — and I brought y’all lunch!”

    The next thing I thought, of course, was: “Fabulous! I work with your brother, and now you’re going to see my breasticles.”

    I quickly got over it. Tatas are tatas, and I’m sure she’s seen many a pair. Lauren showed me to room/booth #1 and reminded me what to do: dress down into whatever I wanted to get sprayed in, and wait just a few minutes for her to come back to do the pre-tan exfoliating spray. The exfoliating spray sloughs off dead skin and helps your tan “stick.”

    Tiffany, the owner, came back a few minutes later (giving me enough time for the exfoliating treatment to dry off) along with Lauren. Tiffany asked me if I wanted to go a little darker than last time. I was nervous to, but she talked me into it since the vacation was still a few days away and summer had nearly arrived (meaning a darker tan wouldn’t look odd this time of year).

    I mentioned to Tiffany and Lauren that my only complaint from the previous visit was the white creases I ended up with between my cheeks and my legs. Tiffany said they don’t like to point out the “situation” to clients, as some feel self conscious about it, but that many gals end up with this phenomenon, and an easy way around it is to stretch/bend over so the spray can access all parts of your bod. (They nicknamed these white creases “shadows” and said you can get them under your rear or under your twinsies.) I was okay doing a few yoga-ish moves if it meant better coverage.

    Sunless tan prep tips:

    – Exfoliate well in the shower.
    – Don’t wear any (or much) lotion or deodorant, as it will interfere with the absorption process.
    – Bring loose clothes to wear afterward.
    – Consider bringing an umbrella in the case it’s raining on your way out!
    – If you go somewhere other than RAW, make sure you read the reviews so you don't end up looking like an ooma loopa!
     

    During tips:

    – Wear whatever you’re comfortable with, whether that be nothing or a complete swimsuit. (I went somewhere in the middle and only wore my bikini bottoms.)
    – Tie back your hair with a pony tail holder.
    – Rub the provided lotion on the palms of your hands to keep them from being soaked with color (orange palms are a sure sign of a spray tan!).
    – Follow the “sprayer’s” instructions; she’ll walk you completely through the process (when to stand with your arms out, when to turn around, etc.)
    – Be patient. RAW is prompt with starting your appointment but the whole process does take about 30 minutes.

    Post tan tips:

    – Give your palms and heels a good rubdown with the provided baby wipes (again, to keep the color from soaking into those spots).
    – When you wash your hands for the several days following your spray tan, watch for “pooling” at your wrists and elbows. Be sure to thoroughly dry (but not scrub) these spots after washing hands or showering.
    – Keep in mind that shorter and cooler-than-usual showers will help preserve your color. (I only wash my hair every other day so I’ve had pretty good luck keeping my color for a week. The first time around I did make the mistake of getting a pedicure the day after I “tanned,” and I’m pretty sure that sped up the fade process on my shins.)
    – Remember that your tan will probably last around five or six days, but the more you follow the above tips, the better results you’ll have!

    Lots of RAW testers have turned into believers. Just check out their 22 nearly all five-star reviews! My verdict: I’ll definitely be back, but probably for special occasions (versus having a regular membership). My tan had a lot of color but felt very natural, and to be honest, it did make me feel a little more confident/peppy in my step. The staff is super friendly and professional (I love the personal phone call reminder the day before!) — and I’m a real big fan of how RAW embraces technology (online appointment system? Sign me up… no pun intended). I'd recommend RAW to anyone wanting to try out a spray tan, or anyone who's a fan of the process and looking for a new shop.

    Awfully grainy photo taken about an hour post tan.
    I actually took the picture more to show off my new Lucky Brand mocassins (eBay – $40) than my tan.

     

    Two days post tan at my stepsister Katie's wedding. (Yes, two Katys/Katies, one family. Isn't she beautiful? Katie is naturally radiant and olive-toned; I, however, am not.)

    The $25 Scoutmob package I purchased included the pre-tan exfoliating spray and a regular spray tan (usually $15 and $35 respectively, and the pre-tan exfoliation is optional).

    RAW Bronzing Studio
    Elizabeth St; Ste A103
    Atlanta, GA 30307
    (Inman Park)
    (770) 683-8267
    http://www.rawbronzingstudio.com

     

     

    *My first visit was just before my company’s annual sales event in Las Vegas, and my pale January skin needed some help if I was going to wear a one shoulder cocktail dress. I should have written my RAW review then, but I forgot. Whoops!


  3. Happy Father’s Day!

    June 17, 2012 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    Is it wrong that I bought my dad a binocular flask for Father's Day? I mean, aren't practical gifts the best kind?

    Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

    I've been enjoying Facebook posts today giving homage to lots of longtime and new dads.


  4. Savvy on France: Day 1 (Paris)

    June 15, 2012 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    First of all, calling this series “Savvy on France” is a laugh. Savvy I was not. More like Fish Out of Water in Paris. BUT my hope with these posts is that you’ll 1) get some laughs and 2) be more prepared to visit to visit France (and Monaco) than this chica was.

    Okay, so day one of our vacation ended up being shorter than originally anticipated. Once we’d boarded our Chicago leg and gotten comfortable on the plane, the pilot came on the air to say that our AC was broken and the ground crew was working on it. An hour later, our AC was looking like it would be okay — but weather patterns then prevented us from taking off. Once the weather cleared up, we got in a line of 45 planes waiting for takeoff. About 30 minutes into that, the captain realized we weren’t going to have enough fuel to make the transatlantic trek. To try and make an already long story shorter, we hung out on the Tarmac for five hours before finally taking off. For those of you wondering about the Passenger’s Bill of Rights, yes, they did offer us to get off the plane after four hours… if we wanted to discontinue our journey to Paris. So we elected to stay on the plane and continue on to our destination… and eventually (hallelujah) we did get there safely.

    Lucky for us, we bought travel pillows and slept through some of the Tarmac episode, and most of the long flight. So lesson #1: buy travel pillows. I bought this memory foam U-shaped neck pillow from Amazon.com ($15.29), which was the bomb. Dan laid claims on that one. I tried out the TravelRest Travel Pillow Reinvented ($26.95), which got good reviews on Amazon, but was a big womp-womp as far as quality goes. It kept deflating. Lesson #2: test said travel pillows prior to taking them on a transatlantic flight. I ended up buying a cheap-o version of Dan’s pillow in the airport to use, which did the job but wasn’t as a great as the memory foam version. Either way, the travel pillows were clutch for arriving as minimally jetlagged as possible in Paris.

    The Travel Pillow Reinvented was a FAIL. (Update 6/15/2012: Terri from the Travel Pillow Reinvented company called me in response to my Amazon review to say she was very sorry I didn't have a good experience with the product. She asked if I still had it on hand so we could troubleshoot the issue. Unfortunately I'd already sent it back or else I would have been open to her suggestions. She said that of the products they've had returned, none have had leaks so far – it's possible though that the air flaps weren't completely secured or  the cabin pressure affected it's ability to stay inflated. She said if I am ever interested in re-trying the product, they would love to send me another one. A+ for follow up!)

    We landed at Charles De Gaulle Airport (metro Paris) around 3:30 local time.

    Dan did a lot of research and planning about transportation in and around Paris (to be honest, he did all the research and planning — he’s a saint). So we went to find a place to buy train passes from the airport to our hotel, and a two ten-packs of metro passes we could use during our two days in the city.

    Lesson #3: Know ahead of time how to buy train passes.

    We saw ticket counters. We spotted electronic machines for buying passes. We noticed signage for two different trains: TGV and SNCF. We also saw signage for something called the RER. What the heck were we supposed to do? I waited in line for information while Dan tried to use the electronic machine. He eventually figured out what we were supposed to buy, but he couldn’t get our credit card to work (we found out later that most American credit cards don’t work at these machines, and you definitely have to have a credit card pin if you want any chance of the machines working). Eventually we asked information where we should go then went to the SNCF counter and bought the RER passes we needed. (Round trip train passes to the airport and two ten-packs of metro passes were about 50 euros).

    Made it to the metro. Phew.

    Once we got on the train, we were in business. Dan determined we should get off at the Luxembourg RER metro stop, and he was right on the money. Upon exiting the train station, I was surprised by the weather (maybe 55 degrees and rainy); I expected it to be a little warmer and dryer. BUT, when I watched Midnight in Paris (a Woody Allen movie), Owen Wilson’s character said a few times that “there’s just something about Paris in the rain,” so I was optimistic for a good (maybe even romantic) time.

    We had a super easy walk (suitcases and all) from the metro to our hotel, which looked out on the Pantheon. (Did you think the Pantheon was a historic building in Rome? So did I! Well, apparently there’s one in Paris, too!)

    Hotel du Pantheon was quaint and lovely. The staff was professional, helpful and super friendly. And while we certainly didn’t feel like they needed to cater to our minimal English, it certainly did make things easy that all the staff members spoke terrific English. Not to mention the hotel is situated in the Latin Quarter, which is an active and interesting part of town.

    The Pantheon… through our hotel window!

    After checking our bags, we evaluated our options. We’d planned to go to the Lourve for a few hours but quickly realized that plan was shot (it was 4:30 by this point, and the Lourve closed at 6). Change of plans: We decided to go explore the Pantheon. Hell, it was right next door. Also, going to the Pantheon gave us an opportunity to buy a Museum Pass. The pass that gets you into many local attractions at a discount — with the option of buying a two-day (39 euro), three-day (54 euro) or 6-day (64 euro) length pass. The pass gets you into tons of neat stuff in Paris, such as the D’Orsay (Impressionist) Museum, the Lourve, the Chateau at Versailles and more. From what we read, it was worth it. 

    So we got into the Pantheon and met a friendly and helpful cashier/guide. She sold us two-day museum passes, and since we didn’t want to activate them until the next day (it was late on Monday by this time), she gave us free entry to the Pantheon.

    The Pantheon itself was pretty neat but also not the most spectacular international attraction I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen many though, by the way). The Mausoleum-style building was built in 1758 and finished in 1790. Voltaire and Rousseau are entombed there, among others. My favorite part was the expansive/ornate ceilings. I’m pretty sure Dan’s favorite part was the Foucault Pendulum, which shows how the Earth rotates.

    After visiting the Pantheon, we took a stroll down to the Seine River, taking note of the Notre Dame Cathedral (which we planned to visit the next day), cafes and artist/knickknack sands. I really hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast or earlier (our clocks were all screwed up) so some baguettes and cheese were calling my name. We landed in Grand Bar Cluny for a snack. (The place has one good review on Trip Advisor and one bad one. Our experience was fine. After all, we just wanted a cold beverage and an easy snack.) Grand Bar Cluny’s assorted cheese plate (assiette fromage) was perfect, including a brie, a goat and a bleu-ish cheese (and it was a really good-sized portion at 10 euros). I washed down my fromage with a Leffe brune beer (a darker version of a Belgian beer I’m already a fan of in the states, but I hadn’t tried this version befor) and Dan had a 1664 pilsner (a beer we saw on almost every tap in Paris and Nice). In the café, we heard plenty of native French speakers, and we enjoyed the little French bulldog (named “Artiste”) who roamed the place. Total bill: 25 euros.

    After a beer and a snack, our hotel bed called. Yes, it’s a shame to take a nap in a foreign country with so many fantastic things within walking distance, but we were having trouble keeping our eyes open. In our minds, investing an hour and a half in a nap would be well worth it in terms of relieving jet lag and being ready to enjoy the rest of the trip. Once our heads hit the pillows, we were out in seconds.

    We didn’t wake up until close to 8:30pm Monday, which worked out okay considering the French don’t eat dinner until at least 7:30. (Lesson #4: No early bird specials in France. Expect to eat dinner late. If you arrive at a restaurant at 7, they will likely not be open. Many French, especially Parisians, we hear, don’t eat dinner until 8:30 or later. Eating at 9 or 9:30 isn’t unusual.)

    Dan looked through our Rick Steves Paris travel book and found several good options. We poked around online (we had wifi in our hotel) and confirmed that a quaint restaurant in the book had still had a good reputation and smart wine pairings. The place also happened to be incredibly close to our hotel — score! So we were off to Le Vin Qui Danse (4 rue des fosses Saint Jacques, 75005 Paris, France).

    We had a great first true meal in Paris at Le Vin Qui Danse. I opted for a reasonably priced prix fixe three-course meal with wine pairings. After all, the place claims to have a smart wine menu. My starter was a nice piece of salmon fillet marinated in olive oil, lemon and local herbs along with mashed white beans, thinly sliced carrots and julienned eggplant. (By the way, lesson #5: in the U.S., “entrée” is synonymous with main course. In France, “entrée” is synonymous with starter or appetizer.) The main course was lamb confit, fingerling potatoes and jous. Divine! For dessert it was pineapple, cream, lemon sorbet and basil. Everything was delicious! While I’m no oenophile, I enjoyed the wine pairings. First wine was nice, subtle and a little dry: Domaine de la Renaudie (the bottle also said “et son verve de Bergerac blanc”) – 2010. I was told it was from near Bordeaux. What I have written down for the second is “et son de Pecharmant domaine de la renaude” – 2008 – but now that I’m reading my notes, it seems like I missed something. This wine was from near Burgandy and reminded me of a pinot but was bigger/bolder. What I wrote down for the dessert wine pairing is “et son verre de Monbazillac Chateau La Brie – 2005.” I was tired and probably a little tipsy at this point so all my notes say is “sweet dessert wine – tasty.” (um. Duh.)

    Also, after initially hearing our really (bad) American-sounding “bonjour,” our waitress asked (in French) if we spoke French. Embarrassed, we shook our heads “no.” Then she said, “no worries – I speak good English.” Turns out our waitress has French parents but was born in Maryland and lived in California for a while before her family eventually made their way back to France. She was funny and attentive.

    In other words, I would agree with other TripAdvisor reviews about this place — I would definitely say we had great service and food at Le Vin Qui Danse.

    We were quick to bed after dinner. I’m tired from just recapping our first day. I can’t believe how much we did from 4:30 to midnight on our first day in Paris. It felt like a whirlwind!

    More to come…


  5. Savvy on Several Cities: Travel Posts to Come!

    June 2, 2012 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    I had been mum about our planned trip to France and Monaco (perhaps in hopes I wouldn't jinx myself and lose another camera) — but now that we're baaaack, I can't wait to share all the details (photos, trip log, food descriptions, etc.)!

    Dan and I got back Thursday night from a super fun, 10-day jaunt to France… with the culmination event being the Grand Prix in Monaco. We visited Paris, Nice, Monaco, Port Grimbaud, Cassis, Marseille — and a few little places in between). What a trip.

    Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting details of each day as well as general France travel tips/ideas/insights (key words/phrases to know at restaurants, Parisian style observations, what we picked up about the French culture and more) … but first, we'll start with advances in airport bathroom technology spotted on our trip:

    Have you seen these toilet seats that recover themselves with cellophane plastic after each use? They seem a lot cleaner and less fussy than paper toilet seat covers, but at the same time, I would also think they create more waste. (Spotted at the Chicago airport prior to our five-hour stint on the tarmac)

    And how about bathroom mirrors that double as display advertising? Powered by the folks at Microsoft Kinect, these new fangled devices play a few ads then pause for a few seconds to serve as traditional, reflective mirrors. (I believe also Chicago) From what I understand, these mirros use the Kinect recognition technology to serve you relevant ads based on things like your gender or age demographic. But let's hope that if the mirror is in the ladies restroom, this thing already knows your gender…

    I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat for the rest of the photos, right?