Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

Natural Woman

What:

Exploring the beautiful new apparel + home store OAK, which stands for one-of-a-kind.

Why:

Airy, soft and welcoming: OAK is the kind of boutique you can get lost in. It reminds me of a store you’d find in California (say, Malibu), mixed with a hint of Southwest mysticism. I love everything about it; it speaks to all of my girlie senses. From beautiful pillows, pots and dried flowers to casual cool t-shirts, jeans, jumpers and jewelry, there’s something for every kind of fashionista.

The new apparel + home hot spot, snuggled into the heart of Coral Gables, is the brainchild of Kelly Nelson and Nicolle Mailal, who just happen to be first cousins.

The two have an easy way about them; you can tell they’re very close. Kelly procures the home decor pieces and Nicolle hand picks the fashion. Although both were raised in Miami, the duo has traveled extensively, taking their love for different parts of the world and infusing it into their new store.

It’s different than anything I’ve seen in South Florida before and I really like the premise of one-stop-shopping. I’m a busy person and making stop after stop to shop just doesn’t suit my lifestyle. Not only can I get an entire outfit with accessories at OAK, I can also find unique touches for my personal space.

The natural textures of the home goods and the ease of the clothing is a direct reflection of what’s going on in fashion right now. People want less fuss, more quality and of course, individuality or what I like to call living as a “Natural Woman”. With that being said, everything at OAK truly is One-of-a-Kind.

For fall, a bold jacket is emerging as a major trend as well as high-waisted jeans and the all-important body suit. In the tropics, you can never go wrong with a wide-legged jumper, perfect for any occasion.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight at 7:30 & 11:30pm, as we go inside OAK to show off what “effortless style meets casual comfort” looks like, because being a “Natural Woman” is one of my Favorite Things.

Where:

OAK apparel & home
116 Valencia Avenue
Coral Gables 33134

When:

Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

www.shopoakonline.com/

Be Social:
IG: @oak__miami
FB: @OAKMiami

You are already what you are looking for.anonymous

Natural Woman

OAK by #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
Styling: Nicolle Mailal
wardrobe, accessories & home goods provided by OAK apparel + home
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “One-of-a-Kind” Auerbach

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

Wings of Summer

What:

A whimsical morning exploring “Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden” in Coral Gables, with a beautiful butterfly experience inside the “Wings of the Tropics” exhibit at The Clinton Family Conservatory.

Why:

Tears filled my eyes when I walked through the pressure-locked doors at the butterfly exhibit inside “Fairchild Tropical Garden.”

Partly because of the breeze the doorway created, but also because of my emotional vulnerability.

I was still dealing with the trauma of James and Rigby being attacked by three unleashed Rottweilers. I wrote about the horrific event in my last blog (Life is Beautiful).

Even though it happened almost two weeks ago, I still couldn’t shake it. James wasn’t quite himself either and don’t get me started on Rigby; just looking at the poor thing is painful.

So there I was, still feeling unhinged about life, when I walked into one of the most special things I’ve ever experienced — “Wings of the Tropics” — one of “Fairchild Garden’s” most popular exhibits. Simply put, it’s a sea of exotic butterflies. It’s absolutely magical.

The exhibit, which is lush with greenery, has a long path winding its way through an exciting journey of nature. As you walk through, you see hundreds of exotic butterflies dancing, fluttering and sometimes landing right on top of you. They apparently like the taste of human sweat. It’s a salt thing.

I was lucky enough to experience what they call a “release”, where they carefully place butterflies on your arms and shoulders. It was exciting to see them so closely and feel the pitter-patter of their feet against my dewy skin. The conservatory is kept extremely warm and humid, recreating their natural environment. OMG, I had no shortage of salty sweat, meaning the winged ones loved me, hence the blog entitled “Wings of Summer.”

After experiencing the release, I realized I had been completely in the moment. Present. Even if it was brief (and it was), I somehow managed to escape the deep sadness I had been feeling after the dog attack. James and Rigby are my everything and when they got hurt, I felt helpless and for whatever reason, I was angry, too. Nature was comforting me. Extending a healing branch, if you will.

When I left the conservatory, I felt a slight shift in my demeanor and enjoyed touring the garden grounds. There’s so much to see and do: with 83 acres of lush tropical plants, trees and everything in between, it truly is a one-of-a-kind experience and for good reason…

In 1938, the garden was carefully curated by the late Dr. David Fairchild. The famed plant explorer went all over the world to procure what you see in the garden today. Conserving the world of tropical plants isn’t easy, but he built it allowing everyone to enjoy what he loved and man, is it spectacular!

Over the years, I’ve written quite a few blogs on butterflies. One of my more popular ones, “45 Days and Nights of Black Butterflies”, was about healing after being sick with GBS. I repeatedly dreamed of butterflies all around me, coming out of me. I would float, flutter and eventually free myself of illness.

After I became well, I developed a healthy obsession with what the winged ones represent: transformation, resurrection, change, hope and life.

Having a chance to see the butterfly exhibit meant more than I can possibly explain. It’s hard for me to tear-up; as an entertainment reporter/host I’ve see a lot in my life. It was a crescendo of happiness. Also…

The metaphor isn’t lost on me: holding the beauty of life and then releasing it isn’t just about healing, it’s about enduring and becoming a better person in the process.

And that’s why “Wings of Summer” is one of my Favorite Things.

PS. James is getting better, still a bad puncture on his left hand and his knees are finally scabbing up. Rigby? Well, he finally got his stitches out and is playing with a few of his new toys. 👫🐶❤️

Where:

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road
Coral Gables, Florida 33156
(NORTH ENTRANCE)

When:

Monday-Sunday: 9:30am-4:30pm

Admission: Seniors 65 & over $18, Adults $25, Kids 6-17 $12, Children 5 & under Free
Fairchild Members: Free
(for more information: 305-667-1651)

Be Social:
FB: @FairchildGarden
IG: @fairchildgarden
Twitter: @FairchildGarden

www.fairchildgarden.org

To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.Audrey Hepburn
Photographer: James Woodley Photography
Butterfly Dress: ETXART & PANNO, MIAMI — IG: @extartpannous
Butterfly Ring: Jill Zaleski Custom Jewelry — IG: @jillzaleski
Vintage Flower Earrings: A gift from my mother (who was gifted them by her mother)
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Salt Thing” Auerbach

The Perfect Pant

The Perfect Pant

The Perfect Pant

The Perfect Pant

The Perfect Pant

The Perfect Pant

What:

Learning to love pants (again) with POOL LabShow in Coral Gables.

Why:

I’m an unadulterated skirt lover and I wear them with just about anything: blouses, sweaters and t-shirts.

I even have a special color-coordinated section of my closet dedicated to skirts: sleek, tight, puffy, loose, metallic, sweater, vintage, wool…you name it, I got it. What can I say? I’m a skirt girl, but it wasn’t always that way.

A few decades ago, I was a pant-a-holic. Yep, I used to love me a good pair of slacks/pants. Back then, they were sharp, sophisticated, and professional. Not to mention…

When I was a young, budding features reporter in Indianapolis, Indiana (and broke as a joke,) a good pair of pants could extend the life of my limited wardrobe. In those days, mixing and matching was essential. And a good pair of pants could breathe new life into my sometimes stale shirt collection.

Plus, when you’re trying to do a live-shot in 30-degree temperatures and the snow is blowing sideways, pants protect you; providing comfort and room for tights or, in my case, long underwear. No doubt about it — back then, my pant game was strong and as perfect as could be …

Until the birth of the skinny jean. Noooo!

I tried loving the trend, I really did, but my legs always felt like two sausages encased in a tight sub-mucosa. Yuck. And when I’d bend over to retrieve something? Forget about it; I was killing the world with my butt-crack one squat at a time and in the process, cutting off my own circulation at the knee.

In a prerequisite on-trend pair, I was all booty, with no bounce. Nothing moved, breathed or looked normal. As Dolly Parton would say: “It fits like two pigs fightin’ under a blanket.”

From jeans-to-pants, the skinny trend slowly trickled its way into everything (much to my chagrin). My butt and knees were doomed. I tried expensive, moderate and different materials, but it just wasn’t the right fit. At least, for me.

If that weren’t bad enough, a stylist I was working with at the time begged me to rid my closet of anything wide-legged, saying: “It’s dated and out of style.” I begrudgingly obeyed and quickly found my way to the skirt rack and never looked back, until now.

“The Perfect Pant” isn’t an elusive memory anymore. Thanks to the beautiful new boutique “POOL LabShow” in Coral Gables, I’m finding my way back into the two-legged material game, one step at a time.

High-waisted, wide-legged pants are FINALLY nudging out the skinny trend, making way for a more put-together, sophisticated, glamorous look. Think old Hollywood, Marlene- Dietrich-meets-Madonna in the 1989 music video “Express Yourself.” (Crotch grabbing optional.)

If you prefer less room, a not-so-tight tailored look is in, too, like a mix of Annie Hall and a modern-day Lauren Hutton. Personally, I love the freedom of “The Perfect Pant” because it’s easy to wear and effortless to style.

Plus, it works for any occasion: work, play, cocktail party and if you’re really fashion forward, a black-tie gala. The best part? My butt-crack has finally found shelter and my knees can bend like an appropriate joint again.

Don’t miss Deco Drive tonight at 7:30 & 11:30pm, as we team up with POOL LabShow, to bring you the latest and greatest in pant trends.

They’re also showing other styles you’ll see come spring and sharing what makes their boutique so unusual; although, I’m sure you can tell by the pictures, it’s a special place with amazing clothes and accessories.

Learning to love “The Perfect Pant” (again) is definitely one of my new favorite things and I’m sure it’ll be yours, too.

PS. I won’t judge you if you still love a good pair of skinny jeans.

Where:

POOL LabShow
376 Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, Florida 33134

When:

Monday-Friday: 11am-7:30pm
Saturday: 12-7pm
Closed on Sunday

Instagram: @poollabshow
(website coming soon)

Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will.Anne Klein
Danielle Margherite Photography www.dmargherite.com
Styling: Beatriz Carrillo of Pool LabShow
Grooming: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Sub-Mucosa” Auerbach

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

Little White Dress

What:

Koko & Palenki (in the Shops At Merrick Park) at 358 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables, Florida 33146

Why:

I’d like to say things have been pretty normal since my last blog post, “One Stop Glam Shop,” but the truth is — they’re not. I’ve had the worst case of anxiety and some crazy nightmares to go along with it. Believe it or not…

It’s because of the Zika Virus scare in South Florida. I keep dreaming that I’m being attacked (actually, more like swarmed) by thousands of bugs. More specifically, mosquitoes. I wake up startled in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, sometimes crying.

Calming my nerves at 3 am isn’t easy, but I make my way to the kitchen and pour myself a tall cup of orange juice. For whatever reason, it calms me. I’m not the only one its affecting…

My poor boyfriend (James) has become a mosquito-killing ninja, locking himself in different rooms of our house when I’m convinced I’ve spotted a flying intruder. Armed with a can of RAID and a towel to swat with, he doesn’t leave the room until the insect is vanquished. Sometimes, though, he comes up empty-handed and my anxiety turns to panic. He’s such a good sport…

I know he does it because he loves me. I mean, why else in God’s name would he lock himself into a room with a blood-sucking mosquito, risking his own health and well-being? All this hoopla (by the way) isn’t unwarranted…

Some people who are infected with Zika actually get GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome.) Yup, the illness that almost killed me a few years ago. The good folks over at the Centers for Disease Control say Zika is showing up in Miami from abroad.

In other words, people who’ve been bitten by mosquitoes elsewhere come here and voila! — Zika is now part of our viral landscape. Even though it’s highly unlikely mosquitoes here would carry the Zika virus, it’s still possible and it doesn’t make me feel any better. After all, GBS is extremely rare, but I still managed to get it despite being healthy, strong and young.

Sure, yeah, I recovered with IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) and relentless physical therapy, but man, the wound is still deep and the threat of getting it again is utterly terrifying. I’d be lying if I said I was over it: residual neuropathy and spine pain are still very much a part of my everyday life. I’ve just learned to live with it.

So, what does a “Little White Dress” have to do with any of this? At the very height of my Zika neurosis, I got a call to host an event featuring up-and-coming jewelry designer, Phebbs Svester, who was unveiling her UMEE Life collection to South Florida fashionistas.

Along with all the other ladies participating in the event, I was asked to wear white. For the record, I hate this request. You know how it is: white is in every single store until you actually need it. Then, poof! — it’s magically extinct. So, I immediately reached out to my fashionable friends at Koko & Palenki, who said they indeed had a few options.

As soon as I saw their new “Little White Dress” by Alexis, I was completely smitten. The sheer lace detailing and whimsical appliqués border on angelic. I paired the dress with Koko’s white caged high heels and a multi-colored, silk DVF clutch that they had gifted me years ago (right around the same time I was recovering from my illness).

I felt so beautiful in the dress, I decided to blog about it at the last minute. And the event? It was definitely something I was meant to be a part of. UMEE Life jewelry (the name is a combination of YOU & ME =’s LIFE) isn’t just about fashion, it’s a company based on good karma, positive energy and self-transcendence.

“You always get what you give,” said one of the moderators at the event. She also declared: “Whatever you believe in and whatever you think is actually who you are and what you’re asking of the universe.” Her words immediately resonated with me.

Even though I truly believed in “Cause and Effect” (which was basically what she was saying), it was something I had lost sight of. Living scared of the Zika Virus isn’t something I wanted to send out into the universe. What’s more, being afraid of getting sick again isn’t the person I had become after my illness. Instead…

I had become genuinely happy for my new lease on life and I didn’t waste my time on things like “what if” and “would have, could have, should have’s.” So, in my perfect “Little White Dress” (a color that represents wiping the slate clean) I let go of the fear, worry and anxiety that was “bugging” me and remembered living joyfully in the moment (even if I was wearing a lot of mosquito repellant) was definitely one of my favorite things.

Shop the perfect “Little White Dress” on-line at www.KokoPalenki.com
Twitter: @KokoPalenki
Instagram: @kokopalenki
Facebook: Koko Palenki
She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.anonymous
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Hair & MUA by Odett Hernandz
Editor: Matthew Auerbach