Listen/Depart DC: Alma Desnuda @IOTA (3/24, 8PM)

 Grandma’s Day…filmed on the one of a kind streets of New Orleans!


Over the summer my best friend, Kara, whom I’ve mentioned before, surprised me with a trip to Napa and San Francisco! (Do I have the best BFF EVER or what?!?) While there we came across a band, Alma Desnuda, a feel-good, get-up-and-dance-while-inspired-to-make-positive-changes-in-the-world band! Unfortunately, we missed their live show by 2 days. Bummer, I know!
I liked what I saw/heard online so I signed up for their email list and hoped that they would make it to the east coast at some point. Crazily, one of the band members, Chris, sent out an email asking if anyone living on the east coast might be able to help them book a show as they were going to be in the DC area in a couple weeks. I was totally psyched and more than willing to help them book a show for selfish reasons as well as altruistic ones!
I was able to book them at MacDowell Brew Kitchen in Leesburg. You are probably wondering what happened since you know I would have ensured some of my most favorite people would have been there dancing along side me! Hurricane Sandy descended upon us and their flight east was cancelled:(
Alma Desnuda is trying once again and have procured a spot in a pretty cool line up of bands this Sunday night at IOTA in Arlington! I hope to make it but since it’s a school nite, well it may be tough. For those of you that are able to make it, the show is going to be one for the memory books and for those that aren’t lucky enough to be there…here’s hoping a hurricane doesn’t stop them from coming to the east coast again!  

Depart/Contribute: Ritz-Carlton – World Savers Awards 2012 : Conde Nast Traveler


Ritz-Carlton is eponymous with luxury, five star accomodations and a hefty price tag!  Now, however, a new adjective can be added to that list, philanthropic. 
One of the winners of Conde Nast’s World Savers Awards, the Ritz-Carlton is not only reducing it’s carbon footprint by reducing it’s hotels energy and water comsumption, but also adopts schools in the neighboring resort areas helping kids stay in school through their Suceed Through Service program.
You can now travel guilt-free to one of their 79 properties across 25 countries while helping the less fortunate with one of the Ritz-Carlton’s Give Back Getaways during which you stay in luxurious accomodations but spend half your day helping others, whether it’s people or animals, alongside Ritz-Carlton staff that are making a difference, too!


DepartDC: Top Two Girls Night Out Destinations in Leesburg: October 18, 2012, 5:30-8:30PM

I recently had the pleasure of spending a lovely fall Saturday with two of my most cherished girlfriends, Gail Mazzatenta and Trish Wilmans, who treated me to a day out in honor of my 40th birthday! We hit many locales in downtown Leesburg, but I want to share our experience at two of our favorites starting with our shopping experience at Madisonbelle.



As a matter of tradition for the past 6 years, Gail, Trish and I have kicked off the school year with a Back to School coffee and shopping trip which always includes Madisonbelle so for this birthday celebration a stop at Madisonbelle was a must!  We love all of the on-trend but not over the top clothes and jewelry, and adore the staff which consists of Kim Dziabis, the owner, and her “belles”, Anne, Genie and Renee. They always greet you with a smile and there is absolutely no pressure or guilt to buy unlike many other small boutique style shops’ staff who tend to hover and pressure you into purchasing something that you don’t like or need.  They want you to love your purchase and be happy each time you wear it!  The “belles” will tell you if that dress you are trying on truly does flatter or not if the case may be and will offer up an alternative if possible.

Madisonbelle’s self-described, “City Hip” characterization is pretty spot on, although I would have to add it’s also urban with a cool street aesthetic,too! (Is that the same as CIty Hip?) Anyway, you can find everyday casual attire from jeans and tees with designers like Michael Stars and Free People to dresses fit for a night out on the town, not to mention accessories like super fun jewelry, edgy belts, colorful scarves and bodacious bags!  Need some sexy undergarments to wear under that amazing dress you just found? Well, they’ve got that too with Hank Panky underwear in a plethora of colors.

One of my favorite spots in the shop is the back room full of sale items like a recent find of a gorgeous Michael Stars flowy, fuchsia tank (shown in the pic below, along with other goodies Gail and Trish showered upon me this fun day!) that looks amazing with skinny jeans for only $19!   


In addition to all the fabulous fashion finds, you can give back to the local community as Madisonbelle frequently collects (and matches in kind) charitable donations for local non-profits, hosts in store events such as makeovers and offers professional style advice.  Sign up for the mailing list and you will receive a $20 gift card for your birthday and “Like” Madisonbelle on Facebook to be in-the-know on the latest happenings.


Through a magical etched glass door we left Madisonbelle and entered Organic Plum Studio, an all organic and chemical free spa which offers facials, massages, make-up services and more! (There is a door in the back of the building that is the actual entrance to the studio.) Gail and Trish surprised me with their 90 minute Signature Anti-Aging Facial – very appropriate considering it was my 40th birthday! Lisa Leach, the owner and master esthetician, laid out a glorious spread of chocolates, fresh fruit, crackers, cheese and cookies for us along side bubbly glasses of Prosecco! Definitely a divine way to start off our spa time!  (Can you tell I am totally enjoying myself?)


Once we were done nibbling and sipping, it was time to push the reset button on our faces! According to Organic Plum’s  website the Signature Anti-Aging Facial is an ” Escape into a state of bliss as your skin receives more intensive treatment to combat the signs of Mother Nature! This amazing feast for your skin begins with an appropriate peel using either AHA, glycolic or enzymes to produce the most beneficial exfoliation for your skin. This will enhance the circulation and absorption of the vitamins from serums and masques chosen especially for your skin’s needs. This luxurious treatment includes specific work of the eye contour, neck and jaw line. A delicious scalp, shoulder, arm and foot massage make this a complete mind, body & spirit renewal.”   What a perfect description!  Boy, does it ever! It was 90 minutes that zipped by way too fast! The products smelled wonderfully fresh, clean, earthy and fruity depending on the treatment and was complimented by a completely relaxing massage of my feet, neck and shoulders. It was like taking a stroll through the woods encountering a delightfully smelling fruit patch and collapsing into a cloud. 

But the fun was far from over because our faces were refreshed but make-up-less, and we still had much more shopping and eating to do! Lisa and Michael Lynn, one of Organic Plum’s estheticians and make-up gals, went to work transforming us! This trio was ready to rock and roll!


We are lucky to have these one of a kind small businesses in our area, and I am lucky to have such thoughtful and generous friends that would go to so much effort to make my 40th birthday such a special one! Here is just the excuse you need to check out the fun in downtown Leesburg for yourself, if you haven’t discovered it already! This Thursday, October 18 from 5:30-8:30PM downtown Leesburg plays host to Girls Night Out, a monthly excuse for the girls to get together, shop, eat and drink!  And if you pop into Madisonbelle or Organic Plum Studio prepare to be delighted and be sure to enter their joint raffle benefitting the Loudoun Breast Health Network.  You could win a $100 gift card to either store or maybe both if you are super lucky!!