The Northern Neck

Many of you know that my family and I escape as often as we can to our house at the Northern Neck. So, I thought I’d share this article Brad wrote for The Local Scoop, “Hitting the Reset Button,” on what that community has come to mean to me.

“We sought a getaway home to get back to the kind of pace and clarity that had shaped our upbringing. We wanted a spot that would keep our son and then-six-year-old daughter from becoming city kids.”

I’ve posted the article below, but for an easier to read version click here.

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Elizabeth’s Shoe Closet Breakdown

A few days ago, Elizabeth gave a joint presentation with friend and stylist Alicia Mccaslin on style, trends and what every woman should have in her closet. Of course, Elizabeth was tasked with breaking down the ten shoes that will make any wardrobe manageable and this is what she came up with:

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1. A neutral flat. This is the shoe you don’t have to think about. It goes with everything, is comfortable and can be worn during at least three of the four seasons.
2. A demi-wedge. Especially if you have bad feet, this shoe will provide a little lift, lengthening your legs without sacrificing comfort.
3. A black pointy flat. If you work in a professional environment, this is a must-have. And you’ll just have to trust us, the pointed toe is much more sophisticated and feminine than a round-toe ballet.
4. Strappy heel. Get a heel height that you can stand in for at least an hour or two, and if you opt for a nude the shoes will go with every evening or dinner-out dress in your closet.
5. A black bootie. This particular trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it’s stronger than the traditional knee-high boot. And if you get the right pair (one that doesn’t cut you off at the ankles), you can wear it with skirts, dresses and pants.
6. Sneakers. This is one trend we are grateful has made its way back to the mainstream. Of course, we are subjective and love our Supergas, but there are many styles and brands from which to choose!
7. Black pumps. You need these for all the same reasons you need black flats. And yes, you need both because you never know what the day has in store.
8. Riding boots. Get a classic style that hits you about half an inch below the knee. The shaft should be cut at a slight angle, and look for a style with minimal hardware. If you abide by these rules and care for your boots, they will last you a lifetime.
9. Summer sandal. Here, we showcased a cork version. You could go with another neutral, just be sure you aren’t limiting what you can wear with them. This is the dead-of-summer answer to your neutral flat.
10. Colorful option. You should insert color into your shoe wardrobe where you will wear it most. If you need a variety of work-appropriate shoes, get a red pump. If you find yourself running after your kids at the playground every day, get a blue sneaker. Wherever you need it, do color.

A Labor of Love: A Guatemala Recap

Several weeks ago I posted on Alexandria Stylebook about packing up and heading to Guatemala. I know a style blog isn’t really a place to talk about going to dig ditches for a sanitation system but since some of you have asked, I thought I would post a few photos from the trip here.

I went with a group from my church to work with an organization out of Richmond called the Highland Support Project (www.highlandsupportproject.org.) This trip might not fit the mold of what you think of when you hear the term “mission trip” because of its approach. This organization was different to me which is why I decided to pack my bags once again. Highland Support works with the indigenous people of Guatemala, the Mayans, to break the poverty cycle through collaborative work with the community. They don’t raise money and go in with a bulldozer and build a sanitation system, although there were many moments I was so exhausted I wish we did. Instead, the work is manual labor, done equally by volunteers and people of the community, working side by side. They are part of the process both in decision-making and implementation. It reminds me of the old saying that giving a hand is better than giving a hand out.

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I flew into Guatemala City and from the moment I landed I was amazed at the physical beauty of the place. It’s one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen but as we traveled up to 12,000 feet in the mountains we were confronted with poverty everywhere we turned. There is no place to escape it entirely. The third, and most relevant, thing confronting a visitor is that even though the Mayans have literally nothing in material terms, they are some of the happiest, warmest people I have ever met.

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I could not help but to sit and ask myself ‘why in the heck am I so grumpy all the time?’ I have everything and then some. I didn’t need to go to Central America to break the connection between material things and the character traits that endure, but a reminder to re-calibrate perspective was worth the trip alone.

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Look, I am not going to sit here and say I am going to stop shopping or highlighting my hair. But taking myself out of my very blessed existence is something I am thankful I have done. It’s not a stretch to say that I didn’t take a mission to Chuicutama as much as Chuicutama brought a mission to me.

A Meaningful Message

I’m not going to lie–I understand that by owning a shoe store I am not saving the world. I do realize that much of the globe’s population is actually shoe-less. But every now and then, I am reminded that I love what I do, and this recent Facebook message from a Shoe Hive fan makes it all worth it:

Dear shoe hive, throughout my tour in Afghanistan viewing your shoes/sales/latest fashion has become a way for me to connect back to “normal.” Thank you. When I get back to DC I’ll definitely visit your store.

Thank you. So much.

5k Pirate Treasure Your Health Race

As a longtime member of the YMCA and given its great benefit to our community, I decided to share this special event with you. YMCA Alexandria’s annual 5K is this Saturday (October 12) at 8 am and it has a new course and a new theme – the 5K Pirate Treasure Your Health Race! Post-race activities include music, face painting, prizes and more. For the tiniest pirates (ages 2-10), sign up the day of the race for a 50-yard dash with booty for all at the end. Costumes are encouraged and the best one will win a prize. Don’t miss this fun-filled event or you may be forced to walk the plank! Register NOW at www.prraces.com

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P.S. When online registration closes, you will still be able to register in person Friday (October 11) between 4 and 8 pm at the YMCA or on the morning of the race before 7:30 am.

My Weight Loss Challenge

For the past four years, I have been trying to get down to my pre-baby weight. I will make some progress then fall off the wagon, never reaching my goal. My son is now a bona fide pre-schooler, so the concept of calling it my “pre-baby weight” is even getting a little laughable.

I have been a client at Fitness on the Run for many years and I got in the best shape of my life right before I had my first child thanks to Adrien (or as I call her, “AMC”), one of the owners.

Fitness on the Run has been so committed to trying to help me get my eating and fitness in order, yet I continue to disappoint both them and myself–try as I may.

I have no decided I need a new strategy: public shame. To be clear, I know I am not “fat,” I just have some weight to lose. In my husband’s words, I am not fat, just “fatter than I want to be.” The worst consequence of this status is that I have all these beautiful clothes sitting in my closet that don’t fit me! At some point, this isn’t a vanity issue or even a health issue, it is a fiscal issue.

So, I have decided to set a goal for myself and blog about it on Fitness on the Run’s website. My goal is to lose 10 pounds in one month for the 10-year anniversary party of my store, The Shoe Hive. To follow my weight loss journey, to find out how much I weight, for a picture of my goal dress and to discover my weight loss rules, check out my first blog post. And wish me luck…

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Inspiration: County Fair Style

So, if you read Alexandria Stylebook, you discovered yesterday that Brad and I took the kids to the Richmond County Fair–which they have now declared an annual family tradition, one I am happy to oblige. While at the fair, I decided I needed photos of these chickens based upon the fact that they would make cool fabric/patterns for clothes. Inspiration county fair style.

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What do you think? Doesn’t the last photo look like a DVF dress print?

And this one was just funny looking. The white part is his head!

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