Friday, October 29, 2010

Weeks 35 - 37: Dubai & Weeks Thereafter

A word about these pictures - I am finally getting around to posting these almost 3 months later (yes, I slacked). Oddly, I can almost remember every event to where I wore each outfit, so in addition to my description of the get-up, I writing a quick blurb about what I was doing that day. Also, the pictures are appearing from most recent to least, as I forgot that in Blogspot, your pictures load in on top of each other.

October 30th - Ann Taylor Loft sweater, BR brown dress - small Halloween gathering with friends - quite close to the last of the casual stuff (hence the dress and shawl).

October 29th - White House Black Market jacket (one of my faves!), Target skirt - very loose and big in the back (which I why I had to donate it) - Friday errands and a trip to Vino100 to say hello - probably one of my last glam shots before running out of clothes!

October 28th - Suit for a client meeting (all BR, of course) - one I haven't worn in awhile and that used to be loose - darn that food in Dubai (or the food on the plane in first class on my way there and back!)

October 27th - Ann Taylor Loft red cowl neck sweater, Favorite "fat" jeans (BR) - I can't remember - errands, maybe?

October 26th - brown ribbed v-neck sweater, belt from a boutique, BR boyfriend jeans (I swear our washer shrank them - or not!)

October 23rd - White BR tie-neck sweater, BR camel wool sheath dress (another favorite), Nine West boots - Saturday speaker in Bowling Green

October 21 - Ann Taylor jacket, Ann Taylor Loft brown suit pantsClient meeting in Providence, RI - starting to scrape the barrell for work-related attire and had to rely on pants from a suit.

October 20th - BR 3/4 sleeve shirt with sequin detailing at top (funny, I don't remember this beingn so tight or short!), BR fat jeans

BR black button down top, BR khaki skirt

Ann Taylor Loft button down (yuck, this one's going to the donation pile), BR pencil skirt (recycled to go with this skirt!)

Ann Taylor Loft poncho, BR black tights, Lovely People wedges - starting to run out of clothes!

So, Dubai ended up being totally amazing! After my post that first morning in the Middle East, I did end up going skiing in the indoor ski slope (which is appended to one of the outrageous malls they have in Dubai). It's funny that my first time skiing in 10 years was actually in the middle of the dessert - INDOORS! My client and I managed to get 2 good hours of skiing in, and then shed our ski gear and stepped back outside into 80+ temperatures with high humidity - yes, humidity! Dubai, because of it's enormous amounts of man-made ponds and lakes, is subject to humidity because the hot sun evaporates the water, but the heat forms a shield on the atmosphere making you feel like a plant in a greenhouse. This gives a whole new meaning to "greenhouse effect!"

The rest of my stay in Dubai was great and consisted of a visit to the largest mall in the world (yes, just my luck), the purchase of a piece of gold jewelry (I had to - I was in the gold capitol of the world), a couple of dinners with the client (one that came with belly-dancing entertainment delivered by a Brazilian model - interesting), and the actual reason I was there, a meeting with the client - a meeting of which I only contributed about 15 minutes. Good thing they flew me all the way out there - for 15 minutes! I also managed to get in a little spa time at the resort that I was staying at - an amazing spa, I might add, and went to the top (well, 2/3rds up) of the world's tallest building. Clearly, Dubai does not understand the concept of understatement with everything being the biggest, tallest, richest...etc.

My flight back from the Middle East was less enjoyable than my flight there, as I was extremely tired from sleep deprivation (not being able to sleep when it's supposed to be 2pm in the U.S.). Nonetheless, I rode back in style in Business Class and ate every single meal offered to me - which left me feeling the size of a cow when I got home from my 2 days of traveling in the air. Nonetheless, this trip goes down as the best business trip ever! I doubt I'll be able to top this one!

So, since my trip to the Middle East (gosh, I feel so worldly typing this), I have eased back into the daily grind. I did have one overnight trip to Providence, RI which was fun, especially this time of year. The air was brisk, the buildings were beautiful, and the food was farm-fresh. Yummy! Aside from that trip, my days have mostly been spent doing the usual - working from home or putting in an office visit in Detroit. Similar to my return back from Belgium, I have been trying to fight the number on the scale after my debauchery in another country - so I am once again depressed about the fact that the clothes remaining in my closet to wear (yes, I still have not exhausted my wardrobe) are too tight. I have had to make a trip upstairs to find a shirt to go with the last skirt or pair of work pants so as to truly go through every item of my closet. I have decided to give myself some slack for this upcoming week - which will be spent in Western PA for our annual company conference. We're allowed to wear jeans all but one day, so I need to dust off my best looking sweaters to parade around in during the conference. I also will be wearing my Louboutins and the red sheath dress that I bought during my quick NYC reprieve (when Mike gave me spending money for some new articles of clothing) as I am in charge of playing a Heidi Klum like character during one of the sessions at this conference. I must say, proudly, that had it not been for this "assignment," I would try to wait until February 7th (when my challenge ends) to wear the pieces of clothing I purchased so as to legitimize this challenge.

Refraining from shopping at the world's largest mall (in Dubai) and then again in Providence (when I accompanied a co-worker to buy a new work outfit as she spilled water on the one she had packed) has not been even close to difficult. I did start getting a slight urge to try things on when in Providence as the holiday stuff is coming out (always a weakness for me in the past). The shiny sleeveless tops with sequins and made of satin are have historically beckoned for me to try them on. However, this year, a little, but not so much that I grabbed them and made a mad dash for the dressing room. Mina, the co-worker with me in Providence, was sporting an awesome Louis Vuitton bag which did get the shopping juices flowing, I've decided that at the end of this challenge, I am going to plunker down a good number of Ben Franklins to buy my "bitch bag" - a bag that says to everyone "I have arrived!" I am in need of a new bag, as my orange Kate Spade is starting to show major signs of wear and is getting a little dirty on the handles and edges.

During spinning this morning, one fellow spinner that has been MIA due to some health issues showed up today and asked me if I was still not shopping. I let her know that I was still holding true (for the most part) and she came back asking how much money I've saved. Sadly, I had to answer - hardly any! Although I originally noticed a big savings when I first started this challenge, surprisingly these savings have not really been adding up. My thought is that most of this extra cash has been allocated elsewhere - like to all the spa treatments I have been indulging in, trips that Mike and I have been taking, and home-related stuff. So, sadly, though I've managed to kick one addiction, other smaller money sucking activities have happily stepped in to take shopping's place! Sigh - oh well, at least I have been able to prove to myself that I can give up shopping and that I won't die without it - who knows though, I still have 3 months to go!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week 3?: Trip to Dubai!

October 14th, 2010 (from hotel room in Dubai): Ann Taylor grey tee with flower detail, favorite denim skirt!

I couldn’t help but blog from the first class cabin of the KLM flight from Amsterdam to Dubai. Well, let’s just say I now know why they call this the Elite cabin. I have never traveled in such style. On my way to Amsterdam, I sat in a pod-like chair and shared a space with another “elite” passenger who was flying to South Africa. Not that he told me that himself, Elite passengers do not make conversation with each other and chatter each others’ ears off, unless they are business partners, and then they don’t stop talking…but no harm done as you are presented with a noise canceling headset, a quilted comforter, a down pillow, and an overnight travel kit with earplugs, an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, fuzzy socks, face cream, and lip balm when you arrive at your spacious seat. As soon as you are settled, the flight attendant comes by with a selection of libations delicately balanced on a tray – I, of course, chose the champagne – you know, to help me sleep. Upon take-off, I immediately began trying out the 10 different positions that my leather bound chair offered and got nicely snuggled into my sky-high bed when just shortly after, the flight attendant came with the first of my 4 course in-flight meal. I certainly couldn’t turn down a meal, though I was not in the least bit hungry. I began munching on the warm nuts while steaming my face with the hot towel handed to me. You’ll be surprised to know that I showed some restraint and actually ordered a water instead of wine with my crab cake dinner. The meal itself wasn’t all that remarkable, except for the pumpkin bisque that came as the appetizer course. After eating only about 1/3 of my dinner, I declined the dessert tray – an assortment of cheeses, cheesecake, fruit, and pastries as I was stuffed and worried about my ability to sleep on an overly full stomach. While consuming my meal, however, I did decide to pull out my personal flat screen TV (lodged in an inconspicuous spot, which required me to discretely observe other passengers and how they pulled theirs out) and watch Toy Story 3, as I know it’s a movie I’m unlikely to get anyone to watch with me, except maybe my friend’s children or my niece or nephew. So, after dinner and finishing the film (which, I might add, was funny enough to require me to snicker as quietly as possible so as to not seem like a total geek), I reclined back into my sleeping pose and slept – actually slept – on the plane for 4 straight hours. This is completely unheard of for me, as 1) I have a hard time sleeping on even a Westin Heavenly bed, 2) my feet don’t touch the floor when seated in an airplane which ends up cutting my blood circulation off from my legs, and 3) just am overall completely uncomfortable on planes. But, in first class, it’s a different world. Something about the mild turbulence and drumming sound of the plane (drowned out just enough by my noise cancelling headphones) paired with all the accoutrements is just the right touch to conk me out – that and the glass of champagne that you enjoy while the coach passengers are kicking and biting each other to settle into their crammed little seats – do you sense an air of snobbery? Well, you should – because I think I have been ruined!

So, that was just my first leg to Dubai. I’m now sitting in first class on my second flight, enjoying a bowl of nuts. P-shah - they’re not warmed – probably because we have a 50 minute delay and the airplane oven isn’t fired up yet. That’s another thing, when the pilot announces a delay on the speakers, no one in first class groans or complains…not sure if it’s because everyone else is a seasoned traveler, are enjoying the benefits of being “elite” like me, or just don’t care after beginning the consumption of their second cocktail while reading a hand-delivered copy of their local newspaper. So, upon entering the KLM first class (now called business class) section, I am confronted with a lounge-like atmosphere with chairs spaciously spread apart. Kind of like being in an auditorium that dovetails into what would normally be the cockpit, but given that this is a larger plane, is on the floor underneath where the pilots sit. Again, after getting settled, I am presented with a colorful array of beverages and decide to go with the champagne mixed with Blue Curacao (clearly not fearing a blue mouth for the remainder of the flight). I don’t have the overnight kit (probably because this is a day flight), but still the nicer blankets and pillows, what appears to be noise canceling headsets, and my choice of a selection of international newspapers (I chose USA Today, sadly, because they don’t have the NY Times). I head into the restroom, as the Blue Curacao cocktail is starting to hit me, and see a display of antiperspirant, lotions, facial cleansers, and face lotion – niiiiiiiice!

So, knowing that this is supposed to be a blog about my fashion consciousness and the pains associated with not shopping, I must comment on the attire of my fellow elite passengers. They are, for the most part, metrosexual international men either in business suits, sports jackets (probably Armani or Prada) paired with designer jeans and crisp white shirts, or some form of Euro-sporty wear. They all have leather shoes that have a slight point at the top and, as the gentleman sitting next to me has demonstrated, even have some pretty fancy, high-flutin’ socks underneath those $400 Gucci leather loafers. Almost all of them have some form of a Rolex watch and appear to not be in the slightest bit amused by their affluent surroundings. So, here I am, in my denim skirt, Forever 21 white tee and cardigan, and silver thongs, looking probably in my 20’s (I am wearing Forever 21 mind you), and feverishly typing on my computer to capture this moment – but all the while, looking very industrious and playing the role of an international business traveler who must bang away at her keyboard, even while sipping (now) a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from the wine list presented to me by the flight attendant when she gave me my nuts. Gosh, life is hard…and to think that I didn’t want to come on this trip!! Once you go Business Class, you never go back (unless you’re me and flinch at the idea of paying the same amount for a plane ticket as I would for a high-end dining room table – but let me tell you, the extravagance is definitely something too hard to turn down!). The rest of the flight was splendid and was spent watching movies and drinking endless wine...definitely a great way to fly!

I arrived into the airport last night around 11pm Dubai time and didn't get to my hotel room until around midnight. I then spent some time returning emails and then my head hit the pillow around 1:30A - not to be confused with when I actually fell asleep (damn jetlag!). I awoke this morning in a bit of a daze, but nothing that a little coffee couldn't take care of. I ordered an exorbitantly priced room service breakfast (but really delicious), sipped my coffee, watched Aljazeera on my flat screen tv, and opened the curtains to see that I have a patio overlooking the man-made lake in front of this resort with a backdrop of beautiful skyscrapers - reminds me a bit of Vegas meets Miami. I'm getting ready to head out the door to meet up with one of my clients so we can travel to the indoor ski resort and get in a couple hours of skiing...should be fun! Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weeks 33 & 34: Another Year Older/Prep for Dubai

September 29th, 2010: Blue BR v-neck top, Striped Ann Taylor Loft suit pants

September 30th, 2010: JCrew Grey Suit, BR striped woven shirt

October 1st, 2010: Black BR scoopneck sweater, Gap Skinny Jeans

October 2nd, 2010: BR wool green long-sleeved tee, Gap khaki couduroy skirt

October 2nd, 2010 (evening): BR turquoise wool sheath dress

October 3rd, 2010: BR green wool turtleneck sweater, Gap skinny jeans

October 5th, 2010: BR white cableknit sweater, Ann Taylor Loft couduroy pants, Ann Taylor loft scarf (b-day gift from Kim!)

October 6th, work from home day - nothing to report
October 7th, 2010: Black sleeveless tank with leather cross and heart thingy and metal grommets (very biker-chic), Black JCrew skirt

October 9th, 2010: Liz Claiborne black cami, Black Ann Taylor loft short sleeved cropped sweater, Express Jeans, Tara Hubbard (local designer) belt, PeeWee the kitten as an accessory (holding her to keep her from getting in front of the camera)

October 10th, 2010: Gap striped 3/4 sleeved tee, unknown denim skirt (a favorite for years as it expands with my waist)
Yes, the challenge continues though my blogging has slackened! I must share that I am typing this blog after a major stress attack as I am gearing up for my trip to Dubai and while checking in online for my flight, realized that I could not find my passport. I checked in the usual place and sure enough, it was missing - but my husband's was there. As you can imagine, I tore through the house in a frenzy trying to find the damn thing while crazy thoughts raced through my head: "what if I took it out to fill out some travel paperwork and it got mixed in with the mail that needed to be shredded and I SHREDDED IT????" "what if I left in a suitcase and during all of my travels since my trip to Belgium, it slipped out onto a hotel floor when I left the zippered pocket open?" This anxiety mixed with the thought of having to tell the client that I couldn't make the trip because I'm a dumb ass and lost my passport stirred in with the regular Sunday anxiety that I experience certainly created nothing short of the worst Lilly-monster Mike has ever met. Finally, Mike stopped me in my whirlwind of panic and we re-traced the events that happened after we returned from Belgium and it suddenly dawned on me that I was using a different travel bag when in Belgium - one that has been hanging on the doorknob of our bedroom since May and has remained untouched. I quickly buzzed over to the bedroom and with the biggest wave of relief yelled "I FOUND IT" and ran back into the office where my patient husband was waiting and fell on the floor in exhausted contentment. Nothing like an episode like that to really get you excited for travel, eh? I guess the good news is, the thought of not going to Dubai really made me want to go - so now I'm actually relieved that I am going!
The past couple of weeks have been great low-key, relatively low activity weeks to allow me to charge up for my international trip. After New York, I spent most of the work week from home with just a brief overnight jaunt in Detroit. I got to see my new home away from home (Mike & Lyn's rented house) and broke in the return of the queen-sized bed in my own room (as opposed to the pull-out couch in the basement). The Friday of that week was spent on a "personal day" giving myself a chance to chill out and be "cat-like" as Lyn suggested I do to celebrate my upcoming birthday. That evening, Mike and I headed to Cleveland for a spa-retreat getaway and had a 3-course meal at the spa resort. Saturday morning, we woke up, enjoyed a meager continental breakfast which was part of the "getaway package" and then had a few spa treatments followed by a 3-course champagne lunch - yummy. We then headed to the Westside Market in Cleveland to peruse the ethnic goodies being sold in the market and then had a glass of wine in the afternoon on a very dreary pre-maturely cold day. That evening, we headed into Cleveland Heights to meet up with my boss's boss, Barry, and his wife Peggy for dinner - we went to a great french restaurant in the heart of the Case Western campus - and it was delish! Sunday, Mike and I spent more time on the Case campus, visited the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is beautiful after it's renovations (they have a Rodin room that is made of glass walls that you can peer into from the outside as you drive by the museum). We then hit up Trader Joe's in West Lake and then headed back home to ease into Sunday evening.
I took Monday off to celebrate my birthday and continue being "cat-like." I started with a Monday workout, followed by a hot stone massage and lunch with my lovely DUB club friends, and the caught up on TV while I waited for dinnertime to roll around. Mike and I went to Revolver, our favorite "local" (I put it in quotes as local for us can fall within a 50 mile radius) restaurant, and got royal treatment as we know one of the waitresses there. Needless to say, I celebrated my birthday in style and judging from the tight fitting clothes all week, did so with success.
This past week was a light week from a workload perspective, so I had a chance to catch up on administrative type work activities and mentally prepare for my trip to Dubai. On Friday, we had our team kick-off meeting at Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in Novi, MI and some of us stayed behind to turn our outing into a Happy Hour and dinner at a restaurant nearby. Mike and the other significant others joined us and we ended the night breaking in Mike and Lyn's basement polishing off a couple bottles of wine. Saturday was an easy day and began with a stroll through an awesome farmer's market around the corner from Mike & Lyn's, Mike and I returning home and getting some house-stuff done, and then chilling on our neighbor's newly finished back patio drinking some vino. All in all, it's been a great October so far!
I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4G, which means that I am completely addicted to finding apps that purport to simplify my life. Sure, simplify my life, but also decrease the already scant amount of time I spend interacting with people in a normal fashion. During breakfast with Mike & Lyn yesterday, Lyn was the only person at the table with enough restraint to leave her phone in her back and attempt to make conversation with the rest of us who had our eyes, fingertips, and almost noses glued to our new toys. Mike, Mike, and I all compared applications and began almost every sentence with "Oo! Have you heard of X app or Y app, or did you know you could do Z with X?" Poor Lyn! This unacceptable behavior, unfortunately, has carried into today and during lunch with Mike today, I sat looking for different applications that would find movies, store all of my club cards on my phone, match a paint chip to a color that can be bought at Lowe's (by the one, no such app exists), tell me what characterizes a specific wine vintage and varietal, track my grocery list, track my car maintenance, do my laundry (ok, no I didn't really look for that one - I'm not stupid - or at least I don't think anything like that has been created yet, but who knows!). Anyway, I guess I should consider looking for a blogging application as I am very much slacking in what used to be daily commentaries, though I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing to you readers!
Ok, so on the clothing front - still going strong with not buying anything (though I have been looking up clothing apps to see if you can more easily shop online and be able to pair different articles of clothing together - I'm sure one exists, and if not, perhaps I should create one - or at least communicate this to someone who can!). My closet is still dwindling - I have officially spun through all of my summer tops and only have a few more sweaters left to wear. I do have a few more suits that still need to either be worn or donated, as well as a couple of dresses. I'm thinking my company conference in November will seal the deal on that one! I am giving myself a bit of a break and allowing myself to go upstairs to my "do not wear" closet and pick out some items for my trip to Dubai. Luckily, business attire is not going to be required as the client has scheduled some group outing that is to take place the day I am presenting and because of the 40C temperatures that day, she has encouraged everyone to come in shorts and t-shirts - not that I will - but I do need a good pair of capris and a button down short sleeved shirt - all of which I have already churned through. I promise, once I get back from Dubai, however, I'll resume the do not repeat clothing rule.
I will try to blog in Dubai, as I think I'll have a lot to write about, even from a no shopping perspective given that my hotel is connected to the Dubai, until then (which will be about 36 hours given that I'll be spending at least 20 hours traveling!).