Monday, January 3, 2011

Timeout for the Holidays

So, home for the holidays and in our normal style we did our best to cram in all we could.  The plan was to visit family in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio before flying to New York to celebrate Steph's big birthday.

On arrival in Charleston, we found ourselves scrambling to find a hotel room when our bags didn't make our flight.  For some reason, "it happens all the time", they would be on the last flight of the night and ready for us to pick up the next morning.  I guess its a good way to hopefully end the travel jinx we've had all year - starting with getting stuck in DC last December due to record snow fall, followed by volcanic ash cloud disruption (April) and canceled flights in both Chicago (June) and Faro (October).  We've had our share of flight problems this past year!  Let's hope 2011 can reverse this trend!

We did use our delay in Charleston to take a few photos of the impressive State Capital building out front that was frosted with a fresh layer of snow.  We really enjoyed seeing the family in West Virginia and then drove on to Kentucky to see the immediate family.  It was a wonderful Christmas - a white Christmas, in fact!  We also took a few photos with the new gear from Santa and tried out a technique we've been reading about (notice the shape of the lights?!).  It was good to be home for the holidays to visit with friends and family!

For Steph's birthday she wanted to celebrate in New York City.  What better place to celebrate New Years Eve than NYC?  After a little Google magic, I was able to surprise her with a personal shopping experience to explore some wholesale warehouses in the Garment District.  I'll let her tell you about it...


Well, as normal, Josh told me to go easy on shopping while I was home for the big surprise there!  But he was so insistent and after having Christmas with both my family and his (and not receiving a crazy mass of clothes from either of them) I had to break down and ask him if something was up....why can't I still go after-Christmas shopping?  That's when he gave me my birthday present - an afternoon with a personal shopper in NYC.  And not just any personal that has access to the designers' showrooms in the Garment District, showrooms not open to the public AND I could buy from them at wholesale!  Wahoo!

So, we started the day by grabbing a couple pastries-to-go from the hotel breakfast and a couple coffees from a nearby cafe.  We got there about 10 minutes early hoping to eat our pastries then but Pilar, the shopper, was already there and I quickly forgot about eating!

The first showroom was a knitwear/scarf designer.  I got some fabulous scarves, a couple nicely structured tops and a great poncho (as well as a couple pairs of leggings from one of the showroom worker's own line - not her boss's).  Then we were off to another knitwear showroom, but a French designer.  The line was very colorful and not completely my style but very interesting all the same.  I found two absolutely great sweaters - one that looked like knit lace!  The French designer was hilarious and shared a lovely box of chocolates with us too!  After another successful visit we were off to a coat designer.  I tried on a flury of coats - my favorite being a fancy bell coat (see picture) although I didn't purchase it.  It was amazing but I couldn't figure out how it fit in to my current lifestyle (I know, I know - sometimes I'm too rational for my own good!).  And last but not least was a business/dress wear designer who had an excellent showroom with huge glass windows overlooking a busy street of the district.  Kevin James got to watch me try everything on!  haha!  This last stop was probably the best - I scored some amazing suits and dresses, as well as some great accessories such as a studded handbag and a scarf - the same two the designer herself was carrying that day.

Pilar also went all out and organized a bottle of champagne for this last visit to make it even more fun!  After I filled three shopping bags worth of the day's finds, Pilar and the designer (Renee) invited us to the local bar for a drink.  It was really an interesting visit with them - finding out all about how they both got started, learning about all the struggles and less glamorous side of the fashion industry as well as just discussing why they both love NYC.  We finally went out separate ways but not without them recommending a pizza joint across the road ($1 a slice) and it was delicious!  All in all, it was a great day!  And amazingly, thanks to carefully rolling and packing the clothes, I didn't have to check an extra bag!  (although we did carry on a bit more!)


She was like a kid in a candy store which I will chalk up to being a successful birthday present.  I want to send out a big thank you to Pilar of who made our shopping trip an experience to remember.  I think she might have even turned us into repeat customers - it was an great way to shop!

Last but not least we celebrated New Year's Eve in a bar just off Times Square.  After reading about the challenges of seeing the ball drop in person in Times Square, we opted to watch it on TV in a nearby bar.  However, as luck would have it, we could see the ball from the sidewalk outside the bar, but only see it drop 1/3 of the way down.  So, at a minute to midnight we dashed outside to see the drop!  It was a fun night and a great ending to 2010.

Happy New Year!

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