Monthly archives of “July 2010

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Asheville, NC: More than Biltmore

Our 24 hour trip was nowhere near enough to see much more than Biltmore, but we did get one little taste (derp!) of Asheville before heading back to Charlotte—on our previous nite’s waiter’s recommendation we headed to 12 Bones barbeque in the River Arts Distract for a late lunch. (They close at 4pm, so don’t get there too late, as one guy did and was very sadly left knocking on the locked door.)

The drive from Biltmore in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a one lane road through the industrial warehouse side of Asheville in excruciating sunshine was a mind-numbing 45 minutes (in addition to the 25 minutes it took us to get out of the damn estate). But it was totally worth it.

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It might not look like it could possibly be worth that much effort, but as the best things in life usually do, this one came in an unexpected package. An order at the counter and then sit at an indoor/outdoor picnic table sort of place, one of the best things about 12 Bones was the  random clientele—everyone from an elderly couple to Asheville’s best-dressed rockabillies and hipsters seemed to be there enjoying the food.

 

They served fancily-flavored bbq with local ingredients, local beers, and the biodegradable corn type of disposables. I had blueberry-chipotle ribs, various type of pulled pork were tried, and we all (especially my vegetarian friend – one portobello burger for her) gorged on amazing sides like mashed sweet potatoes and cauliflower and cornbread. 

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They also had several unconventionally flavored ketchups/mustards—between those and their marinades we could probably single-handedly keep an online business going. Just sayin’, if someone at 12 Bones is interested….

 

I’m definitely bummed that we didn’t get to explore downtown Asheville. I hadn’t expected to feel quite as out of place in NC as I did (though maybe it was just the retiree-heavy Biltmore), but the rest of Asheville seemed like the kind of place we could hang out for a while. I mean, so far as I could tell, their "River Arts District" had galleries in actual warehouses, not post-modernist hipster, but "this is a real warehouse" at $5k for a month’s rent…

I’d really love to go back and see more than just Biltmore. Not too long after we got back to NY did I find out about this awesome-looking shop through my day job (they want to carry Esopus!):

 

And one last plug for the awesomeness of Asheville–not to be left off the map, they have their own street style blog:

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We did take the time to take the scenic route back to Charlotte (and miss my friend’s concert because of it, but that’s another story), and it was also way worth it. You see, I have this habit of looking at a map and saying, "But this way will also get us there and it looks cooler." And you know what, it usually is.

 

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So the trip to 12 Bones was just the beginning of NC-driving-induced-delirium for us, as we were soon winding through the mountains at 30mph not quite sure if we would ever reach a "real road." But there was plenty to see, and plenty to laugh hysterically at. (Hickory Nut Gap, NC anyone?) Luckily our plucky little rental Suburu was up for the challenge. (Pretty sweet for a rental, I know. It took us 2 hours and the manual to figure out it was mistakenly in "sports" mode.)

 

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Some highlights…

DSCF9992Idyllic Camp…Crystal Lake 

DSCF9995 "Moonshine Junction"

DSCF9999 Chimney Rock…is up there somewhere…

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Lake Lure

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What North Carolina does for fun…

So a good time was had by all at Biltmore, Asheville, and ultimately Charlotte. (Though please don’t get me started on their fresh-from-the-frat club scene…)

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Ideeli Fail

For someone who hasn’t posted much since starting this blog last year, I sure talk about Ideeli a lot.

Probably cause it’s like my morning coffee. I know I should switch to some happy blogs that teach me how to craft or something. But that’s like skim milk to my half & half loving self.

My Ideeli addiction started off easily enough: I signed up on a friend’s recommendation and found it easy enough to resist the $1k Fendi bags. Then they starting adding sale after sale, and things got cheaper and harder to deny myself. And eventually I bought something…and then another something…and then so many somethings that they gave me a complimentary upgrade to Front Row membership. Which I’ve retained for like a year now…

These purchases were not without their problems. Shipping (overpriced as it is) takes foooorevvvvver. Items show up hanging out of half-taped boxes days before you even receive the (overdue) shipping email.

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pc: Ideeli.com

The ABS Essentials dress I missed out on…

I thought the worst was when they sent me the wrong size. But that was the tip of the beginning of what turned annoyance into hatred. Despite my near-hysterical rant (shouldn’t complimentary Front-Row status count for something?!), they refused to apologize for their mistake. In fact, they acted as though they were doing ME a favor by returning an item ordinarily ineligible for return! What are you Ideeli–a store or a grab bag?!

I PROMISED myself I would stop buying.

I would just…browse.

Needless to say that did not last.

Which brings us to the latest Ideeli Fail.

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pc: Ideeli.com

Oh la la Cheri Mystere Chemise Set

(BUY THIS from me on EBAY)

This lovely lingerie, that I was so excited to flounce around in (ok, more like I was excited to have something cute to hold up my cable knit stockings in the fall), was too big. I know it internet shopping means size gambling. But this “S”, an alleged 32B, was MASSIVE.

So massive, in fact, I put on a Victoria’s Secret 32B underneath it and still had enough room left over for an extra bra-covered boob in each cup.

On no planet does this “small” equal a 32B. If it is, I pity the small-titted woman like myself that will never get to enjoy Oh La La Cheri’s beautiful things.

I say “if” because, though there was a hang tag with size “S” on it, the tags sewn into the chemise and panties were unmistakably cut off.

Ideeli fail, Ideeli scam, you tell me if I’m crazy. Maybe they came up with a crafty solution for the customers like me who actually care if they get a Small or a Large.

And no, before you ask, I didn’t email Ideeli. I work on both sides of the customer service spectrum day in and day out. I can’t stomach more crap when I get home. Instead, I emailed Oh la la cheri out of curiosity. To satisfy yours, here is their equally unhelpful response:

Hi there,

I recently purchases a Mystere set through Ideeli in a size "Small," listed as the equivalent to a 32B. It is unusually large on me, although I always wear a 32B. I was wondering if the tags sewn into your garments should indicate the size, as the hang tags say "S," but the tags inside the garment appear to have been cut off. Thanks for your help!

CustomerService <customerservice@ohlalacheri.com>

Dear customer,

I am sorry to hear that the fitting is not what you were expecting.

Could you please tell me a little bit more about the piece you bought:

You said it was a Mystere set. Could you tell me now:

    * the color (Pink or Black)
    * the shape (2-pc set chemise + g-string or Bra+Boy Short)
    * Did you order a Small or a 32B?

Thank you for all your answers as we always try to make sure our customers have a great experience with our products.

Best regards,

                             Customer Service

To: CustomerService <customerservice@ohlalacheri.com>

Hi there,

Thanks for the quick response. It was a black, 2-pc chemise + g-string set. The size is Small which, according to the size chart on Ideeli, was the equivalent of a 32B. The hang tag says Small, but the tags sewn into the garments do not have a size on them.

Thanks!

CustomerService <customerservice@ohlalacheri.com>

I truly wish I could exchange it for you but we are out of that style for most of the sizes, Mystere being a very popular item.

As much as I’d like to help you and change it for you, there is no much else I could do.

Should there be anything else I could do to help, please let me know.

Sincerely,

                             Customer Service

To: CustomerService <customerservice@ohlalacheri.com>
Hi there:

There is no need for an exchange, my inquiry was only if the tags sewn into your garments should indicate the size?

Thanks

Way to hire robot/Southeast Asian CS reps, people.

I know I’m not the only person out there with these issues, in fact, the very friend who sent me my Ideeli invite is trying to get me to jump ship to Swirl. (Thanks dude, That is like giving a 15 year old a joint and trying to get them off crack 3 years later.) Sure, she might be on to something with their quick, reasonable shipping, And even better are the more expensive, fewer sales that sell out faster.

Regardless, I’m done with buying from Ideeli.

I’m just browsing.

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Finally to Biltmore.

Back in April the boy and I had a wedding to attend in Charlotte, NC, and he and some friends relented to my quest to visit Biltmore Estate.

 

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Biltmore was another stop in a life-long obsession with the Vanderbilts, among other Gilded Age celebrities. Although it’s the largest privately owned home in the US, I was surprised to find it isn’t like the Hudson Valley, Newport, or Gold Coast mansions. It’s a home. Some rooms are spectacular, some rooms are, *gasp*, “normal” (for the early 1900s), and there are a lot of them! In its day as a private privately owned home, it was probably more like a supersized B&B. Such is why the Inn on Biltmore Estate is such a great concept.

 

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Our night’s stay at the Inn was a delicious splurge. I basically wished that I was still 9 years old, playing pretend that I was a special guest of the Vanderbilt’s daughter Cornelia. But being a grown up there was almost as good: the service was exceptional (hello upgraded room!), the rooms were lush, the grounds fabulous, and it was just so calming. I’m a New Yorker–I don’t know how to relax, and yet, there surrounded by aging Southerners taking a weekend away to read the paper on a terrace in the mountains, I was…unwinding.

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After we checked into the Inn the four of us headed the short (downhill) walk to the winery buildings for dinner. It was too late for most of the shops and wine tasting, but we were able to grab a yummy meal at the pub, and then explore the farmyard and kitchen garden. The sun setting over the mountains was a beautiful sight, best enjoyed frolicking among vegetables and [penned] sheep.There were even fireworks! (That, admittedly, the welcome letter in our room announced were “practice fireworks.”)

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The only snafu in our blissful 24 hours occurred when we went down to the pool/hot tub after dinner.  The boy and I were just beginning to relax in the romantic and deserted hot tub when we noticed that the underwater light was out and someone had placed it, still wired, onto the deck beside the hot tub. We were debating exactly how hazardous this was, when a hotel worker came out to take a look at it. He told us it needed a repair (obviously), and he’d have to shut down the pool area for the night. Sure it was a massive letdown, but he was so apologetic, and what else could you do. I consoled myself with the spa tab in our upgraded room instead.

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We got up early for a walk around the grounds with some complimentary (and delicious) coffee. It’s amazing how easy it is to get up at 7am when it’s not for work. We went by the pool area, and I was very impressed to find everything repaired and reopened.

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After checking out, we headed over to the house and grounds. Yes, it is such a Disneyfied experience, from the parking lot shuttles to the “ride” (I mean, walking tour) photos that you can purchase upon exiting. But, like Disney, it’s all very orderly , clean, and well-organized, with reasonably-priced, tempting gift shops (and outrageously priced foods). And you’re more likely to get stuck behind seniors than screaming 3-year-olds.

The house is…um…extensive. And I can hardly comprehend how there’s more to be seen behind the 50+ rooms on the basic self-guided tour. If we’d had more time, I was really lusting to do the rooftop/balcony tour. Nooks, crannies, stairwells and amazing views? Yes, please! If there’s a tower to be climbed, I’m all for it. And I think the boy would’ve enjoyed close-ups of gargoyles, even if he had to grapple with his fear of heights.

 

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The gardens are picturesque in the most art history use of the term. I’m not a Frederick Law Olmstead fan (he also designed Central Park), but there were some pretty views and had we not been EXHAUSTED by the 2.5 hour walk through the house, it would’ve been fun to explore everything at a more leisurely pace. The (expensive) horseback rides or bike rentals are probably lots of fun and a great way to see the grounds.

 

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But we had to get on the road, with a not-so-quick lunch detour and a very “scenic” scenic highway standing between us and seeing my friend open for Lupe Fiasco back in Charlotte. SPOILER ALERT: We did NOT make it in time.

 

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