A day of shopping…

BoardwalkOK, truth be told, I was not looking forward to this trip.  For all of the reasons I stated in yesterday’s blog, plus I didn’t have a chance to bring work along, and I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do to entertain myself for a couple days in Atlantic City while my husband was at the convention center in sessions.

Just getting to sleep late in the morning was a treat.  I didn’t have to get up and make anyone breakfast.  Instead, my husband and I had a leisurely breakfast in a cafe in Caesars, and then he went off to a seminar.  And I went shopping.  This time I hit the ground floor of the Pier Shops, which I wrongly said yesterday that they were built over the site of the old Steel Pier.  Well I was wrong, I found out later that the Steel Pier is still there, but about 1.5 miles down the boardwalk from Caesars.  I felt a little better.

As it turns out, I had a wonderful day.  Still would have liked to have shared it with a girlfriend, but I was able to focus on the task at hand, finding bargains, and seeing what fashion is out there, and I was wildly successful.  First, let me say I’m not a shopper.  I’m pretty cheap, and I’m pretty easy to fit, and have a wardrobe full of clothes, and because of the way I purchase separates, and coordinates, I have combination’s of classic clothes that can be put together with a handwoven jacket and I can always be in style. Or close enough for my tastes.  I look carefully for quality pieces that will last a few years, and my policy is that for every thing new I bring in, something old has to go.  So there is zero growth in my closet.  Which is important because 60% of my closet is all my handwoven garments and artwork, representing about 30 years worth of work.  It is a big closet, but not that big.

So, off I went to visit the first floor of the Pier Shops, and my first stop was to revisit Kenneth Cole and look at a vest I had seen yesterday, that I really loved for the styling and the detailing, and I thought about it all night. When I went back, I found it had been mismarked, and was instead, 50% off of $72, instead of $128.  OK, that was a find.  Next I hit Chico’s.  Always a dangerous place for me, I go right to the sale rack.  I tried on a couple dozen garments and ended up with five sweaters to update my separates wardrobe, all deeply discounted and I got an additional 25% off of the final price.

Next stop was Caché.  I’ve never shopped in Caché, but I thought I’d check it out.  I found a cute vest in denim, (I’ll take photos of the vest when I get home) on the sale rack in the back, marked down to $19. with an additional 50% off.  I also found a couple pairs of pants.  The fit was terrific.  So I purchased three items from Caché, each priced at $9.50.  Oh I’m going to have fun cleaning out my closet when I return!

I dropped my purchases in my hotel room, and headed toward the convention center, stopping at the outlets along the way, the first one I hit was Naturalizer.  I new I was in trouble as soon as I spied the size 10 rack.  First of all, I love the comfort of Naturalizer shoes.  Kohl’s carries some, but they don’t often have my size, which is a 10.  So here was a couple dozen pairs of Naturalizer shoes, in my size, from 50-70% off.  I bought five pairs.  And the total only came to $138.  So I lugged my bulging shopping bags to the nearest Starbucks, and sat with my Chai Latte, and actually decided that this city wasn’t so bad after all.

I met up with my husband who was returning from the Convention center, we dropped my additional purchases in the hotel room, and then set out on the boardwalk, to walk the mile and a half down toward the Trump Taj Mahal, where we had to attend a couple of additional receptions.  Instead of a pricey dinner, we got to munch on appetizers and get free drinks, and chat with people who are affectionately called October Friends.  Meaning we get to see each other only at School Board conventions in October.  I think the handweaving community has a lot of those types of friends.  There are the Convergence friends, the regional conference friends, etc.Daryl_Beach

dunesThe weather was really lovely for a long walk on the boardwalk. The seagulls were everywhere, with their shrill eerie cries.  I will say I adore the Jersey Shore after October 1st, the deserted beaches, the cold gray wind, the cries of the gulls, it is really like something from a Bronte Sisters Novel.  Except it isn’t the moors, it is the Jersey version, the dunes.

TajMahalSteel PierWhen we got to the Taj, we were enchanted to find the old Steel Pier, still intact, an amusment arcade, a shadow of its former glory, and I remembered that a fire in 1969 wiped out a huge portion of the pier which hung out way over the ocean.  It was like looking at a distant memory.

At each of the streets that Monopoly made famous, there was an enlarged placard that looked like a card from the Monopoly game, and gave some of the historical facts and features of that street/area.PennsylvaniaAve

Inside the casino, which has a definite Indian feel, we found a gorgeous 10 foot metallic embroidered fabric, mounted on the wall outside the ballrooms, I’m sure Indian in origin, but I so wish there was some sorIndian_Embroidery_Detail2t of signage.

We head home tomorrow after my husband attends a morning session, I’ll head down to a quiet breakfast by myself.

Indian_EmbroideryI have actually enjoyed this mini vacation, there is a lot of history here for me, but I’m so rarely ever out shopping, that I am grateful for Indian_Embroidery_Detailthe time, and the opportunity and the very high end shops that were having some terrific sales, where I could entertain myself while my husband was doing his schoolboard thing.  I already wore one of my pairs of new shoes, and one of my new Chico’s sweaters, a shade of Paprika with a large cowl neck collar that can sit a bit off the shoulder.

Stay tuned…

Atlantic City

room with a view

My husband has been on the School Board in our district for more than 10 years.  This is an elected position, and every three years we put up campaign signs and go to the polls to vote my husband back into a volunteer position for another three years.  Because our district only goes up to 8th grade, we send our students to a different district for High School.  My husband is also a member of the board of education for that district as well.

The only perk, of endless hours of meetings and negotiations to try and do the best for both the taxpayer and for the students in our town, is the once a year trip to Atlantic City, for the Annual New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. Usually around the last week in October, I try to keep my calendar clear so I can attend with my husband, though gone are the years where the wine flowed and the food and entertainment were top notch.  With budget cuts and schools struggling to pay for janitors and keep critical programs, attending events like this for many districts is unrealistic.  Many board members end up paying their own way.  The connections and the vendor hall, the workshops, and the discussions, are all part of the education process that makes a well informed board member.  It reminds me a lot of a fiber conference, except there isn’t any fiber.  Some of the vendor booths are interesting, but most are over my head or not remotely interesting to me, and I tag along with my husband watching him collect all the give-away trinkets and tote bags, pens, and novelties.

Sidebar:  I grew up vacationing at the Jersey Shore.  I remember Atlantic City, well before the casinos came to town, I remember watching the diving horse at the Steel Pier, the boardwalk, Captain Starn’s Restaurant where our family went every year, where I fed the seals, and learned to eat piss clams, not the cherrystones, but the one with the big fat tails.  Real steamers. And I loved reading the street signs as we drove along following the Monopoly Board.  I watched the slow decline of Atlantic City, the decay and the poverty take over, to the point where Atlantic was a depressed poor dangerous city to vacation in.

Enter the era of the casino.  I have to say I have very mixed feelings about this place, and I am uncomfortable for a couple of days before I come down.  I have great memories of a simpler Atlantic City, but that city is gone, replaced by one that is a towering monument to greed, and wealth, and to me, stupidity.  It is fairly impossible to navigate to a hotel room or a hotel lobby without going through disgusting smoke filled noisy clanging casinos, where seniors in wheelchairs, on oxygen pour quarters into slot machines, hoping to win it big.  My husband and I talked in the car ride down this morning, and his perspective was a bit different, there are many seniors who enjoy the bus ride down for $20. and they get $20. worth of quarters to play with and it is a day outing.  I don’t understand it.  But there are many that say that about my obsession with weaving and sewing.  There are those that ask why I would weave my own fabric? Seems logical to me… 🙂

stormtv in bathroomSo, we are here in Atlantic City, it poured rain the entire trip down the Garden State Parkway.  After the School Boards Association Luncheon, we checked into our hotel room, and looked at the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the 36th floor of Caesars Palace. The storm was beginning to subside, turbulent clouds giving way to rays of sunshine.  The rooms are gorgeous, of course, and I remember staying in Caesars last year and wondering why there was a remote control Velcro’d to the bathroom wall.  I remember clicking on the remote and a TV screen popped up in the bathroom mirror.  I think I near fainted.  So this year, I was sure to get a photo of the TV screen in the bathroom mirror.  So if you can’t get enough TV, not only is it in every restaurant, bank, and airport waiting area, but it can be put in your bathroom mirror as well!

My husband had an afternoon seminar to attend, so what did I do?  🙂  I went shopping!  This is a huge outlet center, but I chose instead to venture out to the old Steel Pier which has been redone into a four story pier that has two floors of high end shopping like Coach, Movado, Michael Kors, Gucci, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Juicy Couture, Betsy Johnson, BCBG Max Azria, Kenneth Cole, etc.

The first shop I entered, and I was really wishing I had a girlfriend with me, was Eleganza, where I tried on a Catherine Malandrino coat, for $895.  OMG!  It was gorgeous, lace mounted over wool, huge shawl collar, the under collar a beautiful supple leather.  And it looked like an $895. coat. I wandered through Michael Kors.  I was sort of surprised at how the only colors I was seeing in any of the shops were not colors, but black, gray, and the occasional wheat.  I saw the occasional plum or aubergine color, but mostly there was little color to be found.  And the hobo bag is hot.  I saw more hobo bags than I ever want to see in a lifetime, and none of them actually called out enough to want to come home with me.  I am very happy with my orange leather Vera Wang I paid $30 for on sale at Kohl’s.  I did look at one in a beautiful lime green, made of woven strips of leather at Michael Kors, and it was on sale, but the $495 price tag still was out of my reach. Actually, the only color I saw really, was in the hobo bags!  Do you know how much weaving equipment I could get for that $495?  Or another sewing machine?

In the end, I did buy an Indian scarf for $17 on sale at Ann Taylor, and a couple of short sleeve sweaters on sale at Banana Republic.  They were only about $22. each.boardwalk

caesarsI reconnected with my husband for the evening receptions and parties from many of the vendors our school district does business with.  There are appetizers and food stations, wine and beer, loud music, and lots and lots of people.  I always find it hard to have any kind of meaningful conversations in places like that, so I just sit, sip wine, and observe.  I look at the décor, the clothing, the msAmericafashions around me, and as we passed from one of the receptions into another I got a quick glimpse of the beautiful evening gown displays from all the former Miss America winners in the Sheraton.  Atlantic City was home to the Miss America pageant for many many years.  So the memories and memorabilia here are strong.

Later on we gathered in the Gypsy Bar in the Borgata, to listen to a wonderful band, watch the beginning of the World Series, or as it is affectionately called here in NJ, the Turnpike series, if you aren’t following the World Series, The Phillies and the Yankees are playing each other. And NJ is stuck right amberBottleshere between the two great cities.  I couldn’t hear anything over the band, so I looked at the décor, and DaleChihuly2noticed these gorgeous walls of amber liquids in clear bottles, and had to get a shot of it.  On the way out of the Borgata I looked up and realized the lobby and walkways were decorated with Dale Chihuly chandeliers.  One of the biggest one of his chandeliers I’ve seen is in the V&A in London, but there are many others, like the one in the art museum in Milwaukee. If you ever get a chance to see one up close, they are mesmerizing.  The worm like blown glass tentacles, and flowers that explode from the globe-like shape seem like they are writhing and moving and glowing in the light.

DaleChihulyChihulyDetailStay tuned as I explore more of this amazing fascinating city of hidden treasures and extreme wealth.