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Friday, February 25, 2011

Honeymoon Locations in the South: Part 3

In Part 3 of my series, I will now take you Richmond, Virginia to stay at The Jefferson Hotel for your honeymoon!

The Jefferson Hotel is a beautiful old hotel in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

There are many elements in the Richmond area to take in, from the Cary Street shopping district, called Carytown,

to the Museum of the Confederacy,

to the Poe House,

to the world-reknown Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,

who has just started a huge exhibition of Picasso (the only East Coast locale on this tour) that will go from now until mid-May. If you go, you MUST check out their Faberge collection - it rivals the Forbes collection in terms of eggs and photographs & frames of the Romanovs!

The Jefferson itself is a sight to behold.

The Rotunda lobby is gorgeous (which used to be a Japanese palm garden),

[note the Tiffany glass atrium]

the restaurants are the top rankings of the entire Commonwealth

and the rooms are heavenly.

What more could you ask for?

Photo sources: The Jefferson Hotel, Carytown Association, Museum of the Confederacy, VMFA and the Poe House.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Honeymoon Locations in the South: Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my series - Honeymoon Locations in the South!

Next stop is a town to the north of my hometown: Staunton, Virginia (pronounced STAN-tuhn).

Staunton has only one decent full-service hotel, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel!

It underwent major renovations in 2005 to update its interior to a higher standard. It had originally opened in 1924, and is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation Historic Hotels of America list. It has 124 guest rooms. Part of this project was due to a new parking garage that was built adjacent to the hotel on New Street. The other reason is because of the addition of the renowned American Shakespeare Center ("ASC") at Blackfriar's Playhouse.

As written by Frommer's: "This stunning re-creation of the first indoor theater in the English-speaking world, which William Shakespeare and his colleagues built on part of London's Blackfriars, in itself, a reason to visit Staunton." The theater has 300 seats and is to scale and detail exactly what a serious theater buff would enjoy!

The hotel has a lovely dining room called the Colonnade, which does a very nice breakfast. Another dining option is the bar that is open at night. Often, there is live music at the bar and they have food as well. Both come highly recommended by friends and family. M and I have discussed doing a one-night stay there at some point, so we shall see! As you can see below, their king bedrooms look super-comfy:

So, if you are a couple looking for a southern town with some of the most talented Shakespearean actors in the country, this theater and music town is for you! If you love an old town steeped in unique architecture and history, then this location may be ideal for you as well!

Photo sources: Stonewall Jackson Hotel, Staunton Visitors Center

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Honeymoon Locations in the South: Part 1

I'm starting a new series this week - honeymoon locations in the south! [yes, I love the Disney movie Robin Hood. Sue me.]

Today is Part 1, so we will start at a place near my hometown - the Homestead.

The Homestead was founded in 1766 by Capt. Bullett and Andrew Lewis of the Virginia Militia. They built a wood lodge near the famous Hot Springs of Virginia on a tract of 300 acres. Visited by the newly-formed United States Presidents while they were in office (or not), the Homestead grows in popularity. By the early 1800s, Bath County and the Town of Bath, named for the English city are founded. At this point an average of 6,000 people come to "take in the baths" every year.

As early as 1832, the Homestead starts to form itself into the resort that stands today. However, the Homestead has had to resurrect itself many times due to major fires that occurred in previous centuries (literally).

In 1888, J. Pierpont Morgan (of J.P. Morgan fame) purchased the Homestead, as it had gone down in popularity during the Reconstruction era. In 1892, Morgan and additional financiers started renovating the resort and added a new wing. Thomas Edison, a frequent seasonal guest, provided a state of the art power plant. The Virginia Building, West Wing, ladies indoor badminton courts as well as the golf locker room, were completed by 1893.

The Ballroom is added after a major fire in 1901. From 1892-1913, the Old Course at The Homestead is completed by Donald Ross. Almost every single President that has ever been in office has golfed and/or stayed at the Homestead.

Here is a photo of a family taking a carriage ride with a view of the Homestead as it is today:

The Front Porch has tons of rocking chairs to encourage conversation between guests. The entire resort is heavily influenced by the Victorian era.

Be sure to book a suite at the Homestead! Most suites are immaculate in the details of the decor and they are so comfortable. The suites really give you the best deal for your money, and if you are able to drive to your honeymoon, spend that money that would have gone to a plane ticket on a room upgrade! The smallest rooms are almost 200 square feet, with suites going up to 630 sq ft (not including the President Suite). I believe the room pictured below is a Preferred Homestead Suite - which has both a living room and a bedroom and goes up to 500 square feet.

I would recommend honeymooners to stay at the Homestead if they are people who enjoy the outdoors. They offer horseback riding, carriage rides, skiing, ice-skating, canoeing, fly-fishing, archery, paintball, sporting clays, skeet, falconry, riflery, mountain biking and hay rides.

Traditional people would enjoy the Homestead for its classic Southern features that occur indoors as well. Every afternoon Tea is served in the Great Hall. You can enjoy reading by the fireplace or playing games in the Sun Room. You can also go bowling. There is also a spa, too!

Isn't this scene beautiful? Families enjoying the outdoors together. A big band would often play in the Pavilion or out on the lawn. As a child, I enjoyed watching my parents dance cheek to cheek here. I grew up attending Easter brunch, Mother's Day brunch, Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Labor Day parties here on the back lawn by the Pavilion - I even had a few birthday parties here myself!

And if you have kiddies, you should know that in 2010, Travel & Leisure ranked The Homestead #12 of 52 of "The World's Best Hotels for Families." (including my own, below, on my brother's birthday/New Year's Eve... yes I am that kid in the red dress)

Thanks to Disney for the Robin Hood screenshot. Most photos of The Homestead are public domain, Library of Congress or the Virginia Historical Society. If they are not, then they are my own or The Homestead's property.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pints and Pinstripes

UPDATE: please see more dress ideas below!

P & P, as it were, is happening in March (click on the image above to read the details).

It is going to be quite the event at Silo Point, in Baltimore, MD (in the Penthouse no less):

I love attending charity events - especially ones in places near and dear to my heart. reWIRED for Change was started by Sonja Sohn after her difficult childhood in Newport News, VA. One of my Great-Uncles ran the Newport News shipyard for years so I know how things there have changed over time (obviously I cannot relate but I hope you all know what I mean).

As Sky Blue Events writes: today reWIRED for Change is a "Baltimore-based 501c(3) non-profit organization empowering at-risk youth living in underserved city communities through a program combining education, media and social advocacy, and street-based intervention." Please try to attend if you can, 15% of each ticket + 100% of silent auction proceeds will be donated to reWIRED For Change!

I have been poking around for the ideal cocktail dress before buying my ticket for the event --- Neimans, Saks, Nordies, etc... trying to find something Spring-y but elegant. I honestly have a hard time wearing most of my Lilly P dresses to an evening event and I am trying to build up a wardrobe of quality pieces I can wear for the next ten-plus years. I already have a deep purple dress in chiffon and satin, a green silk dress, several wool dresses in varying shades for mourning/office, a green cotton embroidered dress, and one proper cocktail-style Lilly P dress. I have others but those are the ones which stick in my mind.

I now want a pink dress.

Here are some of my options:

A Shoshanna pink and white tulip dress - which is cotton. I love the shape and it is flouncy enough to wear to more fun, relaxed events. It has a fitted waist as well, which is good as I am very long-waisted.

This Jay Godfrey dress is the "Jennings" dress. It actually is not this short on me, more like an inch or two above the knee. I love the satin bow on the one shoulder - and the texture of this silk dress is so comfortable.

Here is the back of the "Jennings" dress:

This is my #1 favorite:

A Phoebe Couture dress in pink satin. It is a one-shoulder dress but I feel as though it is elegant. I love the fun details as I like to show off my shoulders and back (without looking skankyyy). The back of the dress is pleated in a way that almost looks like a bow but isn't a bow.

Here is the back of the dress:

Yeah, I love to look confidant. I think this dress would do that. Too bad M isn't attending. BWAHAHA.

I really loved what Claire Danes wore to the Golden Globes this year, a chic salmon-colored frock. It photographed differently from TV show to TV show, camera flash to camera flash. Here it is:

Along in that vein, I give you two new options, both by Kay Unger New York.

The first is a coral silk cocktail dress with a pencil skirt. There is pleating around the waist to make it more fitted. Beading details finish the dress off:

In the back there is a cut-out shoulder, to really emphasize an hourglass figure:

Here is another option, a faux-wrap salmon taffeta dress. This dress has a sensual asymmetric shape and a flattering one-shoulder neckline. The bodice is tiered in the style of a Herve Leger without cutting off circulation:

The back shows off the vent in the straight, yet shortened style of a pencil skirt - as well as the shimmering shade of coral/salmon in the taffeta fabric:

What are you thinking of wearing to this Sky Blue Event? What would you wear if you could go (if you aren't) (but you SHOULD be!)?

Special Thanks to Sky Blue Events for letting me steal some pictures for reference! Thanks to Neiman Marcus for the pictures of dresses.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ask Sydney

Students walking for Relay for Life

A classmate of mine is not graduating this year. I would like to share you her story, which she included in a student-wide email. The next email after her story is about what Randolph-Macon College plans to do to help Sydney and people like her.

Here is Sydney!

"My name is Sydney, and you may have been wondering what exactly you were supposed to "Ask" me. Well, here is my story, so you can form the right questions.

In June of 2008 I had a simple surgery performed in order to remove a mysterious bump in my hand. All 3 of the medical professionals I had consulted thought it was a harmless ganglion cyst. After the surgery, the surgeon told me that he didn't know what “it” was. Not only had the surgeon never seen anything like it, but neither had any of the pathologists in Austin, TX (my hometown). The "cyst", that was later learned was actually a tumor, was sent to Massachusetts General, where it was diagnosed as a Rhabdomyosarcoma.

Rhadomyosarcoma is a rare pediatric cancer of the muscle cells most commonly found in the lungs. Sarcomas make up 1% of all cancers diagnosed, and there are fewer than 400 cases of rhadomysarcoma around the world a year. So instead of planning a fantastic junior year of college with my best friends at Randolph-Macon, I was trying to figure out how to save my life. Unfortunately, these plans included dropping out of school, and moving to Houston, Tx. for two years. I no longer had to worry about when my next test was or when my next paper was due, but rather trying to have a life to get to live.

Luckily my story has a happy ending. After 2 impromptu surgeries, 3 emergency stays in the ER, losing my hair twice, 15 rounds of chemotherapy, and 30 radiation treatments I have won my battle against cancer. Sadly not everyone who fights this battle has the same outcome.

Foundations such as the American Cancer Society have donated and supported cancer patients like myself. Without all of the time and effort the professionals as well as people who participate in events, like Relay for Life, have given, you may never had the opportunity to ask me... Please support Relay for Life and raise money to help find a cure for cancer.

We are not victims, we are survivors.

We will not die from cancer, we will live with it.

Thank you in advance,


Here is Sydney at the 2010 Relay for Life


The Kappa Alpha Order [Zeta Chapter] provided refreshments at the 2010 Relay for Life

Good Morning Randolph-Macon College,

I know you have all had your various questions throughout the week: "Who is Sydney?" "Is that OUR Sydney?" "What are we supposed to 'Ask' her?" And that was exactly the point... to make you ask questions. The bright neon signs caught your attention, and the lack of detail kept it. Now we are filling in the blanks. We can answer your questions, so PLEASE ask them. We are Relay for Life of Randolph-Macon.

Today the Relay for Life Committee members are wearing World Hope shirts and/or buttons encouraging you to "ASK SYDNEY" or "Ask me about Relay". We know Sydney. We know her story. BUT we also know Relay; something Sydney was a active participant in long before her diagnosis. We each Relay for many different reasons. Some of us have lost parents to cancer, others have watched our friends fight this horrible disease. And so we Relay.

On April 30th, 2011, Randolph Macon will host its 3rd Annual Relay for Life event. There will be food, entertainment, friends, and fun to be had by everyone. It is all in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Money that will go towards providing care for patients, and towards research for, what any cancer survivor or fighter will tell you they want most in the world, a cure.

Join a Team today! Or create your own team!

Be a part of something that has changed so may lives. Sydney was one of us. She was a student at Randolph-Macon who would have been graduating along side of many of us in May. And now she is a survivor, before that, a fighter. She beat the odds and is living and breathing today because of the medical advances made possible because of volunteers and donations to ACS.

Find your own reason to Relay and let's make cancer a thing of the past.

2010 Luminaria at the Relay for Life. Highly emotional for all of the student body with Sydney present. Around the Fountain on campus.