Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fashion 101: Weather vs. Season

This past weekend, Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog did not see his shadow hence forecasting an early spring. For some odd reason every Groundhog’s Day my friends and I get into a heated debate about dressing for the weather versus dressing for the season. My best friend instantly wants to pull out the shorts and sandals at the first mention of spring while I’ll wear sweaters until June. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have parents or grandparents remember being scolded for going outside on a nice day in February with no coat because it was “pneumonia weather”. Old wives tale? Maybe. But, what is really the proper way to dress for on unseasonably warm days, those crazy spring days where it begins cold but ends warm, or during the best time of the year known as summer? Never fear, the LBDC team wants to make sure you’re always on the right side of fashion.

Before we begin let’s agree on one thing. There is never any excuse to be overdressed but it is a direct violation of the rules of fashion to be underdressed no matter the season or weather. To dress too plainly or too informally for any occasion is a NO-NO but arriving to work in February with a mini skirt, no pantyhose, and no jacket just because the forecast calls for 70 and sun is attention you don’t want (trust me on this one).

So what’s the answer to transitioning between seasons? LAYERS!!!  Layering your clothing is a tried-and-true way to ensure your comfort no matter the weather. The beauty of this simple concept is that it allows you to make quick adjustments based on changes in the weather.

Layering makes clothes that don’t seem wearable, wearable. Here are few tips to always look FAB no matter what the weatherman says:

§  Stick to a maximum of three layers

§  Wear lightweight pieces under chunky knits and wools.

§  Don’t layer chunky clothes over other chunky pieces. Keep your look slim by picking lightweight fabrics, like cotton jersey, to wear underneath. That way you can add color and warmth without bulk.

§  Show those layers! Make sure that the length of the clothing varies in length (otherwise you just appear bulky)

§  No short-sleeved tee’s over a long-sleeved tee. I don’t care if that look was “in” back in high school. It wasn’t cute then and isn’t cute now!

§  Mix your prints! A cute cardigan over printed tank tops is a great way to incorporate three trends into one, without being overwhelming.

§  Don’t wear two garments with the same style. If you are layering a ruffled shirt with a sweater, avoid using a sweater which also has ruffles.

So that’s it ladies. Master the art of layering and to always be chic but comfortable when going to school, work, or play. Because let’s face it the lady down the street who goes out in the khaki shorts, USC sweatshirt, sports socks, and sandals in February always looks a bit ridiculous.
~Shantell Malachi
Director, LBDC Richmond Chapter

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Celebrate with Punch!

Technically, the holiday season is over, but we still find ourselves celebrating with our favorite girlfriends.  The holiday season is so busy with family visits, traveling, and work parties, that we usually end up extending the season with our friends.

So whatever you are celebrating and whoever you are with, this former holiday punch that we’ve given a new name is great for all occasions.

Celebratory Punch Recipe

Makes 14 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
1—750ml bottle of Martini Moscato d’Asti (or your preferred Moscato)
1—2-liter bottle of ginger ale, chilled
2—10-oz packages of frozen strawberries, partially thawed

In a large punch bowl, combine Moscato, ginger ale, and strawberries.  Gently stir and serve in your glass of choice.
Per Serving:
102 calories
18 grams carbohydrates
Zero cholesterol
Zero fat
Zero protein
10mg sodium
*Recipe retrieved from Essence Magazine, December 2012, page 156.*

- Dr. Rachel Blankenship
Director, Columbus Chapter

Friday, February 22, 2013

In The Spotlight - Tonya Overstreet

One of our most popular features on the LBDC blog has quickly become the Member Spotlight. Highlighting our spectacular members from each of our many chapters, the spotlight shines this time on Tonya Overstreet from Nashville, TN. What better way to celebrate Tonya’s recent 36th birthday than by telling our readers what a great person, friend and LBDC member she has become?

Working as a Systems Support Coordinator at Vanderbilt, Tonya has many hobbies and interests. An avid reader of a variety of genres, such as mystery, memoir, chick lit, true crime, and some YA Lit, she also enjoys writing when she feels the need to be creative. Keeping up with a popular blog, Tonya and her husband also enjoy discovering new restaurants, especially local, non-chain establishments. They also have a dog named Shelton who is quite a star on Facebook with his own Fan Page.

One of Tonya’s favorite activities has been mentoring a Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2009. She’s now 11 years old and Tonya said her lil’ sis has truly been a blessing in her life. A fun side note about Tonya: she is often known as being a huge fan of bacon, and she says she has no problem with that label!

Tonya has lots to look forward to in the coming months. Her husband has a conference in April that he attends every year in Las Vegas, and Tonya gets to go along with him as a vacation for herself. “We have friends who live in Las Vegas, so I always have plenty to do while there, including shopping and finding adventures,” she says.
Tonya and her husband were married on Leap Day (February 29th) 2012 and together they are planning a big trip every 4 years when there actually is a February 29th to celebrate their very special anniversary. Coming up in 2016, they are planning their Leap Day wedding anniversary to be in Hawaii.

Tonya became a member of the Little Black Dress Club in October of 2012. In discussing her LBDC membership Tonya says, “I looked into joining the LBDC a year prior to actually joining when I saw it on Meetup. There were several time conflicts for me, as well as general concern that I wouldn’t fit in or the group wouldn’t accept me. I kept talking myself out of going until Game Night in October was announced on the Meetup page, and I talked my co-worker into going with me so that I could escape if I felt uncomfortable. Needless to say, I was incredibly wrong in my assumptions about the group, and felt welcomed before the first event was over.” Tonya has enjoyed several outings with the LBDC since our first game night. She says she loves that even though we all have different ages, lives and backgrounds, we seem to all click when we’re together. “I couldn’t think of a more fabulous group of women I’d enjoy finding adventures with” she says.

“I tell many women about the LBDC and maybe it’s not for everyone, but I can’t help but feel like they are missing out by not joining” Tonya said. Her favorite quote happens to be one by Tom Petty; “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

I’m a huge Tom Petty fan too, Tonya. Great quote and so true. Thanks for being in our spotlight and thanks for bringing such fun to the Nashville Chapter. Our group would not be the same without you in it!

- Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Being that we're all part of a "club" I was very interested to see what the Joy Luck Club was all about. This is a beautify story about Chinese-American women and how things are not always what they seem. The story is based on the relationship between Jing-Mei Woo and her mom Suyuan who had recently passed away. Through a series of short stories that bound themselves into a novel we get to hear from 4 mothers and 4 daughters and how they got to where they currently are in life. Jing-Mei finds out why her mom acted "strange” or told her certain things that didn't make sense at the time. She was able to find out more about her mom's best friends who were her "Auntie's" and why they were part of the Joy Luck Club.

The Joy Luck Club was started with Suyuan when she had emigrated from China to San Francisco in 1949. It is a weekly mahjong party which is basically a dice/domino type game with four players. However, it is way more than just the game it also involves food, superstitions, money, and gossip. This weekly meeting is about family, culture, and carrying on a long standing tradition among four families.

Throughout the book I was amazed how one story weaves into the other. The bits and pieces of the Chinese heritage and history are very intriguing. I encourage all the members of The Little Black Dress Club to take the time to learn about this other fascinating club!

Reviewed by Suzy Hicks
Co Director, Columbus Chapter

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blue Eye Shadow, Denim Mini Skirts and Other Mysteries of the Universe...

After turning 35 last year I soon realized that there were lots of things that I could no longer do. Mainly because I had lost interest, but also because, at some point during the last couple of years, I realized I had become a “grown up.”
On a Saturday night 15 years ago, you would have found me downtown, wearing blue eyeshadow and a denim mini skirt, effortlessly sliding off a barstool to sing Bon Jovi karaoke while trying not to slosh my beer on the guy next to me. True Story.
Yes, that would be me.

Nowadays, not so much. Last Saturday night I had a plate of cake and some Red Stag whiskey for dinner. I was in my stretchy pants by 6 p.m., and it was a struggle to pull myself off the couch at 9 o’clock and walk the 12 steps it took me to get to my bed. Also a true story. 

While the days of line dancing with strangers 'til 2 a.m. and the confidence of wearing short skirts are long gone, and these days I'm more likely to be found spending Saturday nights on the couch with my dog, there is a happy medium.
Fortunately my medium came in the form of the LBDC. Finding a group of girlfriends who still love to have a great time, whose husbands want them home at a decent hour, whose children need to have a good example set for them, or who are single and just want to enjoy a girls night out without being obligated to the bar scene has allowed me to experience some of the most fun and adventurous times of my life. I have made new friends, gone to new places and tried things I never thought I would be interested in.
Because I am the Type-A personality, which my friends and family love me for, I decided to make a list. I’m sharing some of these wonderful adventures in the hopes that there are other 30- and 40-somethings out there in their stretchy pants watching LMN, thinking about the 90s and wishing they could have a bit more fun, without the denim mini skirt and the late nights at the bar.
Set yourself a monthly goal. Once a month, decide that you will call up a girlfriend and randomly select from this list. Put on your sneakers, get a sitter for the kids, and go learn how to can some veggies, give manicures at your local nursing home or attend a fashion show. The possibilities are endless. If you find yourself wishing you had a partner in adventure or a group of girlfriends to meet for margaritas and bean dip, visit our site and join the LBDC. Because as we say, finding friends is as easy as throwing on a little black dress, blue eye shadow optional.
~Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Top 100 Things To Do That Don't Involve Going To A Club:

  1. Cooking Classes
  2. Pottery Classes
  3. Painting Classes
  4. Groupon, Big Deals, Living Social, Deal Chicken
  5. Volunteer in your community
  6. Glamping
  7. Create a team of girlfriends to run in a marathon
  8. Attend a happy hour
  9. Snow tubing
  10. Wine tasting
  11. Attend a musical
  12. Cooking demonstration
  13. Visit a chocolate expo and market
  14. Join a group of girlfriends at your local brewery pub
  15. Learn to sail by taking a lesson at your local sailing club or showing up for a free social sail.  For example the Sailing Club of Washington offers Thursday evening Social Sails and Percy Priest Yacht Club in Nashville offers a Learning at the Helm program
  16. Learn to ski- Water ski in the south and snow ski if you are up north
  17. Pretzel yourself: lulu lemon stores hold free yoga classes both in store and in local studios.;community;gift-of-yoga
  18. Bourbon Trail
  19. Sushi night
  20. Rock climbing

Friday, February 15, 2013

LBDC Welcomes Rhonda Watson!

Once again the word about LBDC has started to spread. After hearing all about the exciting and fun events that were going on in our Chicago chapter from a girlfriend, Rhonda Watson has decided to join our team of Directors and relaunch the Washington, DC chapter.

Rhonda expressed interest in wanting to become the Director for DC because she loves
exploring the area as well as meeting new friends. Rhonda believes that this role will provide her with the opportunity to build her social connections and have fun at the same time. With a
heightened passion for bringing others together and wanting to help them grow personally, professionally, and socially, Rhonda says “Women have a special bond and are able to relate on so many topics. We empower each other and appreciate each other when no one else will. With our women friends, we can talk about all kinds of personal things; PMS, families, our daily experiences, our personal growth journeys, our relationships, and just the meaning of life. Sometimes, we just need to vent to a loving ear, and in the process, we arrive at our own insights and decisions.” Who doesn’t feel better after discussing these things with a girlfriend?

In her spare time Rhonda enjoys arts and crafts, cooking, traveling, wine tasting, learning about tea as well as attending Afternoon Tea, and of course spending time with friends and family.
Not wanting to waste any time with her new members, Rhonda already has two events on the calendar for this month. First is a Happy Hour at Zengo at 6PM on February 8th. Rhonda is excited to introduce herself to the DC chapter, get to know the members, and make new friends! For the next event, Rhonda will be hosting the DC Chapter at Chef Geoff’s in Rockville for Sunday brunch on February 24th at 11:30AM. Weekend brunch events are always a big hit with LBDC members!

Rhonda’s goal for her chapter is to schedule events in DC, Maryland, and northern Virginia
so that members can participate close to where they may live or work. She is very excited to give her members a chance to patronize establishments that they may have never heard of.

After moving to the area about 12 years ago, Rhonda says she is still amazed that
she can find new places to explore. “This area is so rich in culture and history. I love everything from visiting new exhibits to trying new ethnic foods. Every activity can be a learning experience” she says.

She says her philosophy is to just try and love life.“I believe this world has so much to offer. Every area has been created beautifully and I want to experience as much of it as possible! I love having new experiences and I do that by always finding something new to learn; new food, new activity, and new culture” said Rhonda. She is so excited to share this passion and enthusiasm with the members of the Little Black Dress Club.

Rhonda mentioned that her favorite quote is one by Judy Garland; “Always be a first-rate version of yourself,instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Sounds like you are off to a great start in DC, Rhonda. Good luck with your chapter and welcome to our team!

For more information on the DC chapter, their events, or information on becoming a DC member, please email Rhonda here.

~Shay Ashcraft
National Director, LBDC

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions (now that January is gone)

January 1st has come and gone. Have your New Year’s Resolutions done the same? As a society we've come to use the phrase New Year’s Resolutions as a synonym for all of the things we want to accomplish in the coming year. So how do we ensure that we stick to our guns and accomplish all the things on that list? Well you can start by throwing away that list of resolutions!

New Year’s Resolutions are not only outdated but overrated. There, I said it. Goal setting and goal accomplishing is not a onetime occurrence but a lifetime (and lifestyle) commitment. Success does not happen by accident. True success comes from preparation, planning, and execution. My favorite fashion icon, Coco Chanel, once said “Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” Success will not just happen, you have to seek it! This is probably why New Years Resolutions ultimately fail. We feel that great things will just happen because it’s a new year and a new beginning. WRONG. If you were not working towards a promotion last year, you probably won’t receive one this year. If you were not trying to lose weight last year, you probably won’t fit into that new dress by February (but if you do please share your secret!)

In my other life I serve as a coach to individuals who are often stuck or attempting to make a significant transition in their careers. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard “next year I’m going to go back to school”, “next year I’m going to ask for that promotion”, “next year I’m going to get more organized”, “next year I’m going to leave this dead end job”…. the list goes on, and on, and on…this mindset is a breeding ground for procrastination. Day 1 doesn’t mean January 1. Day 1 is right here, right now.

Here are a few tips to help you REALLY meet your goals (without waiting until January 1st):

  • Once you’ve decided on your goal create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and even a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you must reach to achieve your ultimate goals. Let’s say your ultimate goal is to get a new position or a promotion in your current job. Your smaller plans would include things like continuing your education, attaining certifications, and gaining more hands on experience.
  • Write your goals down and keep them somewhere visible. My favorite place is the bathroom mirror. Every morning I’m reminded of what I’m trying to accomplish that day, that month, or that year.
  • Celebrate milestones (but don’t forget to invite your LBDC sisters!)
  • Constantly re-evaluate your goals along the way. If your focus has shifted or things aren’t going the way they should, go back to the drawing board.
  • Don’t go it alone. Share your goals and dreams with those closest to you.
  • Get a mentor. Take advantage of the experience, education, ability, and imagination of other minds.

So let’s accomplish some goals this year and be sure to share your accomplishments with us. We want to know that you’re living life to the fullest. Burn those old fashioned resolutions and start realizing new success!

~Shantell Malachi
Director, LBDC Richmond

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What Happens In The Woods, Stays In The Woods

A group of women, all alone in the woods during the off-season when no one else is around for miles, all the local shops and restaurants are closed and its below freezing outside. Once the sun goes down, the cabin starts to creak, branches snap outside and everyone is very much aware of how isolated they really are. Scary right? We’ve all seen this movie before. We all know how it ends. Or do we?

If you are a member of the Little Black Dress Club, this past “Glamping” trip ended with 10 empty bottles of wine, a brief stint as trespassers, stomachaches from laughing so hard, and new friendships that will likely last a lifetime.

12 members from the Nashville Chapter along with one member from our Birmingham Chapter embarked on a 3 day trip to Dale Hollow Lake. Leaving Friday afternoon packed with hairspray, wine, a Magic Mike DVD, and lots of snacks, we spent the weekend in a remote cabin with the entire Eagle Cove Resort to ourselves. After getting settled in for the weekend, we noshed on some taco soup and turned in early, ready to start the next day.

Saturday morning started off with a tour of Highland Manor Winery. At the oldest winery in Tennessee, we enjoyed a hefty tasting from their entire wine list. The locals didn’t know quite what to think about such a large group of women all wearing “I heart Glamping” t-shirts and buying 3 or 4 bottles of wine. Each! While everyone was on their best behavior, we certainly left Highland Manor a little brighter than it was when we got there.

Driving on down the road to Muddy Pond, our group stopped to visit the local Mennonite community. Buying homemade goods from the General Store, enjoying a taste of several of their homemade cheeses, and posing for pictures with.....well.....lots of muddy ponds, turned out to be a tiring but great ending to a day full of new and interesting stops. 

Once we arrived back at the lake, half the girls laid down to rest, another handful started preparing dinner, and then there were the few that went rogue. As I have said, this is the off season and the resort and marina, including a dock full of houseboats, were empty. So while others were napping and preparing our dinner, we decided to go for a walk. Which turned into a hike. Which then lead to pictures on the dock with the sunset in the background. Which somehow ended up with us sitting on the top deck of a 180 foot houseboat laughing at each other for no apparent reason, taking ridiculous pictures, and completely oblivious of any “no trespassing” signs. But hey, you only live once right?
Finally realizing we needed to book it back to the cabin since it was getting dark and we had heard rumors of what happens during a full moon, we arrived back just in time to enjoy a great dinner (Thanks Bridget!), “better than sex” dessert, and the first viewing of Magic Mike.
As we changed into our pajamas, popped a few wine corks and began several inappropriate and borderline obscene conversations, it occurred to a few former girl scouts that camping in the woods would not be complete without s'mores. Of all varieties.

Because there were no tall, dark and handsome strangers to show us how to work the gas grill or build our own fire, we compromised. We roasted marshmallows in the fireplace using a fire starter log and we made smores shots! Whatever works right? While the fireplace s'mores were great and the whiskey shots were tasty, it did take a couple of tries before some of us learned how to complete the process without burning off our eyebrows. True Story.

 After a second viewing of Magic Mike, no more wine and the sadness of having to leave the next day started to register, it was time to turn in. While I never thought I would find myself sleeping on the floor in front of a romantic fire with a cabin full of women, it was the best ending to the best day. Ever.

Sunday proved to be no exception. Imagine the movie ‘Hangover.’ Waking up and checking our phones, we began seeing, some of us not remembering,  videos and pictures that we had taken the night before-we all made what we coined “A Full Moon Vow.”  We agreed to view these videos and pictures ONE TIME. Then never speak of them again. There were only a few that escaped the cut.

After realizing our chosen restaurant was closed and only open during summer months, we hit the road. Headed back to Nashville tired, partially hungover, and randomly laughing at something that someone said or did the day before, we ended our weekend with a walk of shame at the only place we could find that was open. Shoney's Breakfast Bar. It was the perfect ending to the Little Black Dress Club’s very first Glamping Trip, the beginning of some great friendships and memories, and the reality that Monday was just a few hours away.

Glamping Part Deux is already being planned. Hope to see you all there next time. You won’t be sorry.

~Shay Ashcraft
Social Media Director, LBDC

Thursday, February 7, 2013

LBDC Is Coming to Dallas, TX!

I first became acquainted with the Little Black Dress Club, while doing research on the internet for social organizations that were geared toward women and philanthropy.  I was contemplating starting a business/organization using the same concept and was thrilled when I learned that LBDC and I shared the same vision and I inquired about becoming a Director. My thought process was “Why reinvent the wheel?” and the fact that there were already established chapters would make it so much easier to “pitch” the organization to women in my community.

I wanted to become a Director because I am all about empowering women!  I am always encouraging friends, family, coworkers, and even strangers that I can come in contact with to “GET OUT AND LIVE” (GOAL).   I am a “Serial Volunteer” and my experience in assisting numerous organizations in the areas of planning and hosting events has enabled me to develop strong interpersonal skills and I do believe that the Dallas chapter will be successful  and an asset to the LBDC organization.

I am in the planning stages of hosting our Launch and Membership Party!   A simple, yet stylish, chic brunch or cocktail party will be the theme.  I am very detail-oriented, so the perfect venue, ambiance, great food, and of course and always, a signature cocktail for the occasion!

Although I am a Louisiana native, I do love Dallas. Dallas is a large city that is very versatile and provides an atmosphere for everyone.  Whatever your mood dictates, you can find it here.  The shopping is absolutely unbelievable and holds true to the saying, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas!”

I have so many favorite quotes, but if I have to select one it would be, “Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.”  I love individualism. Unfortunately, the media and television has depicted the friendships of women in such a negative light.  While I do believe these images are a sad existence and some are sensationalized, this has not been my reality, thankfully.   As women, we have so many commonalities and of course, many differences.   We have to learn to love ourselves and accept all that we are, and make changes where we can and accept those that we cannot.

I am a yoga and wine enthusiast who enjoys traveling, music, reading, writing, hosting and entertaining, all things eclectic and vintage. I am excited to be the Director for the new Dallas Chapter.  I am looking forward to networking with all of the Directors and sharing ideas to make LBDC even more phenomenal!


PJ Barnes
LBDC Director, Dallas

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sex and the City – In a Little Black Dress

How many women do you know whose favorite movie is SATC? Correct answer: All of them!

Did you know that Carrie Bradshaw's computer is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution? Or that the producers had to borrow it back temporarily for the movie?  With the upcoming Valentine season, why not grab all your girlfriends and get together for a SATC themed GNO? Answer questions like these and more!