Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Playing New Year's Eve Dress-Up with Lindsay

On Monday afternoon, I received a fun e-mail from my friend Lindsay (addressed to me and another girlfriend):

"Alright ladies, I am waaaay too excited about NYE this coming weekend and I would love some style advice. Any chance I can ambush you two before Thursday night for wardrobe help? I am willing to travel with armfuls of clothing...."

So on Tuesday night, I headed over to Lindsay's to play a little New Year's Eve dress up. Lindsay wondered which of three or four outfits would be best for our little holiday party, and also wanted feedback on how to best accessorize.

So here's what she tried on:

A black, one-shoulder dress purchased from Express recently as a "New Year's Eve" outfit contender. Paired with red heels and a thick, black, stretchy belt.

Same dress, same heels but now with a thin, silver/gold rhinestone-studded belt (also from Express).

Now with booties.

Up close of the new, rhinestone belt.

Another accessory option: a sparkly headband.

Thick belt, one-shoulder dress... now with black, peep-toe heels.

Another dress to consider: a whimsical blue, dyed halter dress (originally worn for a friend's wedding). Shown with black peepies.

An elegant looking red silk/chiffon-blend looking dress... originally a longer bridesmaid's dress (gasp!). Again with the black peep-toed heels.

And lastly, a pink satin/silky top with a black pencil skirt, and the black heels. The skirt is part of a suit.

Can you guess which of the "looks" she decided to wear?

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You probably guessed it! The black one-shoulder number with the thick belt (plus black heels and a sparkly headpiece). It was decided that while the other dresses and shoe combinations were cute, this dress was especially flattering and the most fitting for the occasion, season, etc.

Lindsay's going to be a knockout at the NYE party!

Maria, we missed you at our little dress-up party!

Need Your Help: What to Wear on New Year's Eve

I was really sure about what to wear on New Year's Eve... until I hung out with my friend Lindsay last night and saw all her cute attire options. (I will post about that in a bit... we had a great time playing dress up!)

So now I need your help! The party attire is "cocktail," though I'm sure attendees' outfits will run the gamut of casual to formal.

Option 1: Cream/iridescent sequined halter (bought this in the formal department of Dillards in high school and have never found a good reason or way to wear it, until now) with a black pencil skirt.

Option 2: Deep purple, velvet vintage dress (from my October visit to My Sister's Closet), accessorized with a flower brooch (from Hurs) and satin ribbon at the waist. I love the dress but feel that it would look a lot better if I had the top taken in a little to fit better. Should I save this dress until after I make alterations?

Which of the below two outfits should I don to ring in the new year? I'm perplexed! (Leave a comment, or vote in the poll to the right of this post.)

Up close of the brooch

And for you Decaturites who don't yet have plans, e-mail me at and I'll tell you the details of a little shin-dig we're putting together.

Wishing you all happy and safe New Year's Eves and fabulous starts to 2010,

As of 10pm on New Year's Eve eve, the combined votes (the poll, comments and e-mails from friends and colleagues) are...

Option 1: 12
Option 2: 6

This may not be a close call afterall!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Goodies: Dressing Up the Wardobe

My family (including my "new" family in Dan's fam) knows that I am pretty easy to please when it comes to clothes and accessories. I don't have a particular style and am happy and excited to incorporate new things into my wardrobe.

I got one of the biggest items on my wish list: a pair of saddle-colored, knee-high boots with a medium heel! My in-laws gifted me with one of the pairs on my November "Boot Envy" post... the gorgeous Arturo Chiangs from Not to mention Dan and I had a great time visiting his rents in Florida. :)

Both black and brown have been marked down to $89.99 on Piper Lime (a steal). Note - since posting this, I've read several complaints on Piper Lime that these boots are not real leather - so buyer beware.)

Wahoo! I am already brainstorming all the ways I can wear these boots. Like with this dress. Oh, and this one...

LOOVE this cream, wool cowl neck sweater my dad and stepmom snagged at The GAP. They know that from my high school days working there, I very much like GAP and its classic yet modern looks. What I love about this sweater is that I can dress it up (wear it to work with patterned pencil skirt) or dress it down (wear it with skinny jeans and my new brown boots).

GAP cowl neck sweater, shown in heather grey (mine's off-white/cream)

My good friend Lauren always spoils me with super cute, super thoughtful gifts (often shoes, purses and accessories). This year, she gave me a cobalt blue, studded clutch that I am head over heels for. This color (which is actually similar to a scarf she gave me a few years ago) matches about everything in my closet. Love.

Clutch by Urban Expressions (certified Vegan, btw). Link to Baghaus' collection of reasonably-priced Urban Expression bags here.

A Life Fulfilled hopes that all of your holidays were extra fantastic!

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Sneak Peaks of My Christmas Shopping: Etsy

For someone with a unique and fun sense of style and approach to life: owl luggage tags (tags by Wei's Open Secret -- he/she is out on vacation but should post some things in a few weeks)

For someone who may appreciate a few more fun and funky necklaces in her collection: a copper and bead costume necklace (check out other items in Rhubarb Incident's Etsy shop)

For someone with tremendous team spirit: a monogrammed koozie (check out Polka Dots and Pinstripes' shop here)

Etsy has tons of great gift ideas for anyone and everyone. For Father's Day this year, we bought cuff links from Etsy (post here). Fab Sugar has a great post up re: Etsy gift ideas. Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hurs: Fab Place for Jewelry and Accessories

I wish I could remember who originally pointed me to Hurs Wholesale Mart (5316 Buford Highway NE; Atlanta)... because I need to thank them.

Hurs is a megastore of jewelry (costume and sterling), brooches, hats, scarves, handbags and other fun accessories. While you have to peruse the aisles rather carefully to sort out the kitsch from the fashionable, Hurs is a place you shouldn't pass up. Their offerings are perfect for birthday treats, Christmas gifts, bridesmaid "thank yous"... and of course, beefing up your own accessories collection.

First off, almost everything in the just ITP store is under $10 (save the sterling jewelry, tiaras, scepters and oversized bags, which really aren't my thing anyway). And the variety is incredible! If your style is retro, funky, conservative, preppy, trendy, punk rock or whatever, this place has something for you.

Some photos from our visit (note: I took more photos of the funky items, but there were plenty of fashion-forward and conservative items, too).

One of the first things I spotted - a red, leather purse IDENTICAL to mine (except $18 less expensive).

Wall to wall costume jewelry and other goodies.


Those bib necklaces that are all the rage (I think these were $10/each).

Awesome or sketch? You decide.

Hair accessories.

Felt hats: $20.

Yeah, I'm not sure either...

These necklaces have wacky grandma or freaky kindergarten teacher (or Julia?) written all over them.

All in all, I spent a grand total of $103 but came home with the following:
  • Vintage-y looking brooch for my potential New Year's Eve outfit
  • Two pairs of knit gloves (gifts)
  • An owl pendant necklace (gift)
  • Two knit headbands with fun knit flowers sewn on (one for me, one for a gift); I'll have to post an outfit wearing this later -- it's so fun!
  • A jeweled evening bag/small purse (gift)
  • Two scarves (gifts)
  • Two white elephant gifts for a holiday party (guests of Ben and Becca's annual Ugly Sweater Party, watch out)
  • A holly berry scarf to don for aforementioned holiday party
  • A colorful costume necklace (gift)

Not bad, eh?

Now that you all know where you're going for your Atlanta costume jewelry and affordable fashion accessory needs, I know we can all sleep better tonight. :)

- Katy

Thank you, Miz Megan, for joining me for this field trip. I hope Mike likes his dapper gift.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My First (and Second) Antico Experiences

I've pent up so much excitement about one day visiting Antico Pizza (1093 Hemphill Ave; Atlanta, GA). After hearing more and more good reviews from friends and reading more and more RAVING reviews, I couldn't hold it in any longer (Blissful Glutton's review here, Savory Exposure's here, Besha Rodell/Creative Loafing's here and Chow Down Atlanta's here).

So on Friday, my colleagues Peg and Gene and I made the trek down from lower Marietta to the pizza joint (near Georgia Tech). Antico has taken up post in a space that formerly housed a bakery. As we walked up, I thought about how grateful I was that Antico expanded its hours and is now open for lunch. If my memory serves me correctly, they've only been open about 10 weeks.

I'd heard that the food was good (and authentic), the ingredients fresh from Italy and the experience unparalleled. It's all true.

Within two minutes of ordering our $17 Margherita pie (with pepperoni added for $4) from menu, a steaming hot pizza arrived at our table (apparently the pizzas cook in under a minute in the blazing hot, Italian-imported ovens). Gene, who had been twice before, showed us where to find plates, fresh chopped garlic, parmesan cheese and paper towels. Not sure how we wanted to attack the pizza, Peg and I requested silverware. So there we sat, in the bustling kitchen on modest folding and rickety wooden chairs, devouring our pie and listening to blaring Italian music.

I now understand why Besha Rodell says in her review that she had to eat there several times before she could concentrate on writing the review. I couldn't even talk. All I wanted to do was shove more pizza deliciousness into the whole in my head you call a mouth. OMG. I can't believe I'm saying "OMG" in my restaurant review... but seriously, OMG. The sauce was simple but didn't lack flavor. The buffala cheese tasted so fresh it was unreal. The pizza featured just the right amount of basil. And the pepperoni wasn't that preservative-packed, pseudo-meat stuff we've all tasted too many times. The crust was lightly charred, light and fluffy (but not soggy). We groaned, grunted, shoveled more food into our mouths and mopped up the leftover crust with some of the most delicious olive oil I've ever had. We topped the meal off with a complimentary espresso (good call, Gene). So. Good.

We all left reflecting on the delicious meal and saying we had to bring friends and family here. And so I did, that night. That's right. I came back for dinner Friday night.

Friends Moeko and Matt, as well as my husband Dan, heard all my ranting and raving and wanted to check the place out for themselves. I obviously had no qualms with stopping by again. Mo picked out the Margherita ($17) for them; we snagged cappricciosa ($21 - artichoke hearts, proscuitto, mushrooms).

The moments that came next were like deja vu of lunch earlier that day. More grunting, groaning, eating without many words exchanged, dipping of crust in olive oil, etc. The cappricciosa was good, but I have to say the classic margherita is better. (FYI, the gal at the counter said the pomodorini is fan favorite -- it's a riff on the margherita but with whole cherry tomatoes).

Since Antico doesn't have its liquor license, it's BYOB. We brought a bottle of Spanish granacha ($10) with us -- but some folks next us brought in four coolers, about 10 six packs and enough wine for a small army. Too bad they wouldn't sell us a bottle once ours ran out... FYI, for those of you who don't do math, we ate and drank for about $12-$13/person. Not bad for a dinner out.

Moeko treated us to a tiramisu, which was nearly as delicious as the pizza itself. Served in a modest plastic cup, the dessert's lady finger/licquer and custard layers melted together beautifully. Moeko thought the bottom of hers was a little too moist (perhaps it had been hanging out the fridge a little longer?) but she enjoyed it tremendously nonetheless.

My fellow evening diners agreed that the pizza was the best they've had in a long time. And we all loved the loud, rustic dining experience. "It was the best pizza I've had outside of Italy," my husband shared. He wanted to go back on Sunday (sadly, Antico is closed on Sundays). "I seriously dreamed about that pizza the night after we ate it," is what my friend Moeko said. No joke.

If the so-called "Atlanta Pizza Wars" are being fought, Antico is winning.

The pros:

  • Pizza that's so good that you'd think you died and gone to Italian heaven
  • Affordable, plus the BYOB saves on the spending
  • Fresh, authetic ingredients

The cons:

  • Super healthy eaters may be turned off that Antico doesn't offer any low-cal options like salads
  • Some may be put off by the casual, dive-y eating experience (note: we enjoyed it) and not really having wait staff
  • Local food movement folks may not like the carbon footprint created by importing ingredients weekly
  • (You're plain crazy if you don't like this place)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

For the Cooks on Your Holiday Shopping List

As you finish up shopping for the 2009 holiday season, I wanted to share some fun gift suggestions.

I always have a few cooks on my shopping list and am perplexed about what to buy them that they don't already have. Here are a few items I scooped up this year:

Chez Panisse Vegetables: this 368-page cookbook should be in any serious home cook's arsenal. This book was published in 1996 by Alice Waters and includes recipes from the famous Berkley, California, restaurant. I was introduced to the cookbook a few months back at my friend Kate's (we made the butternut squash risotto and it was TO DIE FOR). Pick up a copy for about $25 from Amazon.
Pan Scrapers: practical, affordable and perfect for stocking stuffers. These durable, plastic scrapers are safe on non-stick surfaces and will likely prevent lots of frustration and angst following baking, broiling and sauteing. I picked up colored ones (99 cents each) at the Decatur Ace Hardware (they have AWESOME gifts) but you can also find them on Amazon and on

Chop2Pot Cutting Board: another find from Intown Ace Hardware ($15). This cutting board lays flat while you chop and dice, then when you're ready to scrape your veggies into the pot, you squeeze the handle and let them roll right in. My description may not make sense, so hopefully the photo helps you get the idea. Chop2Pot cutting boards are also available on Amazon (though I hate that one review says the boards don't last long!).

Flying Biscuit Cookbook: perfect for your friend or family member who appreciates healthy and hearty breakfast cooking. Atlantans will especially appreciate the recipes, as the restaurant started here and has grown into a successful local chain ($12.95 on the Flying Biscuit Web site or at Intown Ace Hardware).

Fire Wire: How cool is this flexible, stainless steel grilling skewer? This gift is great for the occasional or hardcore griller. The skewer can be locked and loaded with veggies, meats and other deliciousness. One big perk is that the skewer's flexibility allows you to easily marinate in a plastic bag or bowl. I bought on Amazon for about $14 (set of 2) but these are also for sale at Intown Ace Hardware. Check out this Tailgating Ideas article on Fire Wire.

Utensil pot clip: another practical stocking stuffer. By clipping this handy thing to the edge of your pot, you can rest your spoon or spatula so that it drips back into the pot versus making a mess on your counter or cooktop. Available on the Vat19 site or at Intown Ace Hardware for about $7. (As an aside, Vat19 looks to have lots of nifty cooking gadgets with its motto of "Unique Gifts and Unusual Gift Ideas.")