Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ooh La La! The JCAs Go to Brunch Parisian Style...

Yesterday, a tres magnifique brunch was enjoyed by 7 lovely JCA ladies. Planned by the alluring Rosa -- who also organized last month's uber-elegant luncheon at the Occidental Grill following Cleo26's unforgettable White House tour -- yesterday's brunch was held at Le Chat Noir, a charming French bistro set in Washington, D.C.'s fashionable Friendship Heights neighborhood.

The ladies sipped mimosas while dining on such delicacies as escargots, mussels, soupe a l'oignon, and a savory selection of meat and dessert crepes. Everyone looked ultra chic in their ensembles. But most agreed that Cleo26 stole the show in her stunning rendition of the Veruschka dress from the February '08 collection.
And speaking of Cleo, she was also the well-deserving recipient of a J.Crew gift card -- a thank you for her stellar planning and efforts to make the White House tour a smashing success. Don't worry Cleo, we're sure you'll find some worthy items to spend it on!

Post-brunch shopping was a must (and even pre-brunch shopping for some lucky gals!), so we made haste to the Friendship Heights J.Crew to check out the latest fall offerings. Yours truly abstained from buying anything, however, in anticipation of the upcoming pre-holiday/winter rollout private shopping event (read: 20% off!) to be held in early November. Stay tuned for more details on that...

A big thanks for Rosa for another splendid lunch gathering and, as always, an excuse to shop en masse. Here we are left to right: HeidiG, 3PP, Drewablank, Slastena, Rosa, Cleo26, and Kat.

I look forward to more fabulous JCA outings with you girls!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

JCAs Shop Michelle O's Closet at the White House!

Well, not exactly... But did that get your attention?

Here's what did happen. A few lucky Washington, D.C. area JCAs became major VIPs for a day as we took an unforgettable trip to... the White House!

Sure, any tourist can gaze upon the lawn of the White House and marvel at this significant national landmark. And some fortunate folks can even get invited to tour the East Wing, the site of numerous elegantly appointed reception halls, tea parlours, and ballrooms where important social gatherings and affairs of state have occurred over the centuries.

But a select few -- the truly lucky and well-connected among us -- will ever have a chance to tour the inner sanctum: the West Wing. The Situation Room. The Oval Office. The place where all the real action happens. And not just on TV.

That's exactly where we were graciously invited last Saturday by none other than Cleo26, a longtime Aficionada and organizer extraordinaire. In attendance were Cleo26, dinagideon, Slastena, Rosa, Kelly, and myself. Thanks to Cleo's persistence and diligent planning efforts (over the whole summer, mind you) -- not to mention serious connections -- we were able to take an exclusive tour of the East and West Wings of the White House. We even got to study the details of the furniture in the Oval Office. And, did you know that those strapping Secret Service lads that roam the White House are not only strikingly handsome but extremely knowledgeable? They provided us with a thorough review of the art and historic specimens that decorated the Oval Office and beyond.

Plus, they were nice enough to take our pictures! Here, the Aficionadas following our East Wing Tour:

And some close-ups:

Here we are after our West Wing Tour:

We also got to tour the famous press room where the Prez is often seen enlightening the general public on the intricacies of policy, politics, and international affairs. Interestingly, this frequently filmed and heavily trafficked room is actually much smaller than it appears. Even more interesting is to walk through the aisles and read the inscriptions at each seat which specify where the invited correspondents sit. You can really tell which media outlets are important and who gets relegated to the back row. Notably missing from the hallowed hall: a J.Crew Aficionada reporter seat. We'll have to write the First Lady and remedy that!

Here we are orating from the press room podium. Why yes, those are our press passes for the day!

And speaking of the First Lady, a number of us seriously considered sprinting off from the designated tour and making a beeline for Ms. O's closet. She would understand, we just know it!

But that's not all! As if a private tour of the White House wasn't enough to impress even the most jaded Washingtonians among us -- including almost-native dinagideon, and yours truly, a 20-year veteran of the Washington scene -- a red-carpet lunch at the Occidental Grill put this fairytale day over the top. A hallmark of the Washington political and social scene since 1906, this luxurious dining and drinking destination is located one-and-a-half blocks from the White House and is next to the prominent (and equally lush) Willard Hotel.

As luck would have it, they were in the midst of D.C. Restaurant Week, an annual extravaganza of where the area's finest food spots offer specially priced menus to sample their unique cuisine. The mouthwatering lunch menu at the Occidental included an out-of-this world starter, entree, and dessert for just $20.99. We enjoyed such delightful delicacies as "Smoked Trout Filet with a Salad of Upland Cress, Apples and Jicama Served with Cider Mustard Vinaigrette," "Chilled Nalls Farm Melon Soup with Diced Strawberries a Touch of Midori Cream and a Sprig of Mint," "Cold Poached Salmon with White Gazpacho, Halved Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Bell Pepper Relish," "Grilled Marinated Chicken Paillard Served with Frisee and Radicchio Salad, Beech Mushrooms and Zucchini - Basil Sauce," and "Warm Valrohna Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Bitter Sweet Chocolate Sorbet and Grand Marnier Sauce." Yum! Other goodies not to be missed? The "Goulart Sparkling Mojito" with muddled lime, fresh mint, Bacardi rum & simple syrup topped with Goulart rose sparkling Cava, and the “Pennsylvania Avenue” Punch , their summer time hit composed of Pyrat rum with a mixture of fruit juices & Chambord. Oh, and the exceptional service.

A big thanks to Rosa for organizing the unforgettable luncheon at the Occidental. Here we are savoring dessert following our spectacular meals:

All the ladies looked supremely elegant in their J.Crew ensembles. Despite the overwhelming humidity that embraces the swamp-turned-nation's capital each August (so please pardon my hair), we managed to channel chic sophistication and ladylike charm which evidently turned heads everywhere we strolled. Had Ms. O herself been in town, we're certain she would have joined us for a libation and maybe a riveting discourse over the merits of this season's pencil skirts and ruffled blouses. But alas, maybe next time....

Thank you again to the divine Ms. Cleo, and to all the ladies that made this a truly memorable day!


Check out Slastena's elegant recap of our swell White House adventure along with her photos. What a pretty ensemble! Always chic in her structured jackets, she totally rocked last year's Tulip jacket. That color looks like it was made for her!

Not to be outdone, dinagideon posted a stellar rendition of our daytrip which includes a review of the Twist-Sash dress that made her look positively ethereal! Her charming outfit, topped with a smart navy ruffled jacket and accentuated by polished Cole Haan Air Carma navy pumps, made her the belle of the ball. The real showstopper was her Banana Republic floral statement necklace - so fabulous!

Thanks again for a lovely and unforgettable adventure!