Category Archives: Fashion

Black Friday Shopping Tips and Apps From J’s Everyday Fashion

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am already looking past tomorrow’s Turkey Day and onwards to the infamous Black Friday–the biggest shopping day of the retail year!  Black Friday can be tempting and terrifying all at the same time… the deals, the crowds, the parking, the savings, the credit card bills…yikes!  But rest assured our favorite fashionista blogger J from J’s Everyday Fashion has helped make this year’s Black Friday a bit easier.  So, without further ado, here are her suggestions, originally posted on November 17 …and thanks, J, for letting us re-post it!

5 Things to Know about Black Friday at the Florida Mall




Today I was invited to a blogging/technology lunch with some other bloggers and the marketing folks at the Florida Mall. We talked about the upcoming holiday events at the mall and enjoyed some tasty lunch from Buca de Beppo!

Here are 5 things you need to know about Black Friday at the Florida Mall:

1. Approximately 50 stores will be opening at midnight on Black Friday. Night owls rejoice!
2. They are expecting 100,000 guests. Pack a snack and be ready to shop, shop, shop.
3.  Lanvin hits H&M on November 20th. Check out this FabSugar feature to see pictures from the line.
4. There are a bunch of new stores at the mall to check out including Charming Charlie (affordable accessories), A’Gaci (a Forever 21 type), and Cotton On (an Australian brand that reminds me of American Eagle).
5. Finally, check out these apps to help with your Black Friday shopping: here’s no better way to maximize your Simon shopping experience than the free Simon Malls iPhone App. And there’s no better way to maximize your shopping experience when you get there than with the Simon Malls app.

Park’n Find: This will save you time finding your car in a crowded mall parking lot. Park’n Find uses GPS to remember where you parked so you can find it again later. The app can also remind you to put more money on the meter using push notifications. is a year-round bargain hunters application where forum members meet online to swap deals, coupons codes and savings strategies. But each year, as Black Friday rolls around they really get serious. Black Friday will keep users up to date on the latest BF ads and discounts. It pulls information from the online forums as new deals are posted.

Mall Maps Deluxe can help you navigate the crowded mall. Mall Maps has detailed floor plans for more than 1,000 shopping centers in all 50 states. You can even directions to the mall or search the phone directory of the mall’s retail stores.


The TGI Black Fridayapp is powered by and, this app is designed to help users prepare for the Black Friday. Find ads, deals and coupons from major retailers — sometimes before they are released to the public — then create a shopping list and compare prices. offers this application for tracking Black Friday Deals. Some people wait all year for them, while others seek out Black Friday-like deals every day. This application does both!

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Filed under Fashion, General Info, Guest Blogger Extraordinaire, New & Hot

Go Green in College Park – This Wednesday!

Infusion Tea and the Artistree Co-Op is one of my favorite little places in the Orlando area.

Imagine yourself in a charming, indie boutique with a bit of a vegan and gypsy feel thrown in… awesome loose leaf teas and an incredibly delish menu make this a sure thing for a great meal.  And, then throw in the attached Artristree Co-op, one of the best places in town to find deals on the cutest locally made arts and crafts, and you’ve got a winning combination!

Here’s the invitation for this Wednesday, where you can buy environmentally-responsible gifts as well as be in the running to win a $400 gift basket!



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Filed under Fashion, Fun, General Info, Orlando

Park Avenue Fashion Week Tent Show: The Main Event!

Saturday evening culminated Park Avenue’s Fashion Week with a tent show, which was quite an event.  I attended with several friends, including Katie Murray, major fashionista, Carol Kostick, Rollins alumna, Suzanne Lemons, who sits on the City of Winter Park’s Park and Recreation Board, and Susan Leonard of Tommy’s Island and Shore Brand clothing.

Katie Murray, Susan Leonard, and Top 5 editor Bess Auer

Susan, who has been in the fashion industry for years and has attended a zillion fashion shows across the nation, was complimentary of how professionally the fashion show was presented. We had fun watching the models strut across the catwalk and people watching in the crowd.  Mayor Ken Bradley was seated on the front row opposite title sponsor Harriett Lake. (Ms. Lake leads quite the social life… I had just seen her the night before at the Orlando Ballet. I hope I have such good fortune when I am 88 years old!)

The tent was packed; in fact, we had trouble finding seats despite paying $125 for VIP seating! However, the models were young and beautiful and the fashions were fun. The music was loud and rocking and the crowd seemed to love the evening.  They especially appreciated the Go Red for Women heart survivors, which was a nice tie in. Enjoy this short video from the event:


Filed under Fashion, Fun, Politics, Uniquely Florida, winter park

Park Avenue Fashion Week: The Swag Bag!

I was so excited to stop by the Kick Off Party for Park Avenue Fashion Week at Tuni on Park Avenue earlier tonight.  As a VIP ticket holder, I received a special invite to stop by and pick up a “swag bag.” Hmmm…they peaked my curiosity.  Just what would a swag bag from PAFW include?

Well, the build-up was fun enough, as Tuni had a special “photo wall” prepared for VIPs to have their picture taken, and they had live mannequins modeling in the windows (fun!) as well as champagne and a DJ inside the boutique.






So, I flashed my VIP ticket and was shown past the DJ to the back where the “check in” table was located.  There I received my silver swag…


Top 5 Editor Bess Auer has got swag!


And on my way out, I was suddenly fodder for the paparazzi!



And so, just what was inside the bag???



  • Program of Events for Park Avenue Fashion Week
  • Gift certificate from La Belle Furs for a free 100% cashmere scarf
  • Chocolate High Heel (edible – yum!)
  • Gift certificate from Syngery for $20 off any UGG purchase
  • Fall edition of Brite Magazine
  • A catalog of Van Gogh Vodka Imports
  • A beaded/ribbon necklace and hope earrings from Tuni
  • Two complimentary tickets to a Festival of Orchestra performance
  • A tie-dye tank top and peace symbol necklace from Sultre
  • A bottle of Aveda Rosemary Mint Hand and Body Wash from Gary Lambert Salon
  • Gift card for $25 off any hair service over $50 for four visits from Gary Lambert Salon
  • Eye glass cleaner and gift certificate for $100 off any pair of glasses from e|o Eyes & Optics
  • Gift certificate for $25 to Current (if you spend $125)
  • Gift certificate for $25 to Coralia Leets Jewelry Boutique
  • American Heart Association “Go Red” red dress pin
  • One complimentary admission to a Rollins College sporting event
  • A gift certificate for $5 off any dinner at Tolla’s
  • A card for a complimentary drink at Fleming’s
  • Sample of Oribe shampoo and conditioner and a gift certificate for $10 to Kendall & Kendall Hair Color Studio
  • Sample of Biomega shampoo and conditioner from Marvaldi Hair and Make Up Studio
  • A gift certificate for $25 to Eileen Fisher (if you spend $50)
  • A coupon to enter to win $500 towards an outfit from Thread
  • A key from Eileen Fisher and Synergy to possibly win either $100 gift certificate or a pair of UGG Classic Boots
  • A gift certificate for $100 to Tuni (if you spend $200 or more)

Not bad for some free swag, eh?

I really love the chocolate heel…I am assuming it is from PeterBrooke, and I like the jewelry from Tuni.  The tie-dye tank totally rocks, too!  As for the gift certificates, I’m going to have to spend a lot of money to be able to use them, and most have a fairly soon expiration date, so I may or may not get much use out of them.

Overall, though, PAFW is off to a fun start!


Filed under Fashion, Fun, New & Hot, winter park

Make A Wish and Lady Bloggers!

The Top 5 was honored to join several fellow “lady bloggers” last night at The Wine Room on Park Avenue in Winter Park. Organized by Kim Taylor of The Pulse of Central Florida, I got to see Colleen Burns of Yelp Orlando and Lady Ballers, Jeanette of J’s Everyday Fashion (who dished on her celebrity interview with Giuliana Rancic), Katy Widrick of Growing Bolder and her own blog, Jackie of Momjovi, and then Katy of The Balanced Foodie. On the way out, I even ran into Holly Shakespeare!

The Lady Bloggers!

So, our gathering was not the only event happening at The Wine Room. Roll out the red carpet, spin out the DJ, and turn on the spotlights… a fashion show was making its way right through the middle of the establishment! Fashions were provided by Liz’s Fashion Experience, and so we got to watch slinky long-legged models in high heels and faux fur as they strutted the “catwalk” to the front. And, it was all raising money for the Make A Wish foundation… so we loved it!

So, the night was a dazzling time, all the way around! Looking forward to the next gathering of the Lady Bloggers!


Filed under Blogger Extraordinaire, Celebrity, Fashion, Fun, Girlfriend Getaway, Just for Me, winter park

As ourselves, we are not good enough…WTH?

Maybe it is because I am tired after a 6 hour drive home from the Keys, or maybe it is because I’ve already finished my glass of wine, but regardless of the cause, I am an irritated blogger right now.  I just started reading Orlando Home & Leisure, one of my favorite local rags. However, they have run an article that has gotten my goat, so to speak…

“How Not to Look Your Age” has struck a nerve with me. Now, regular Top 5 readers know I am usually the “good news” or “feel good” blogger, who writes about all the fabulous things going on in Central Florida. It is only when I really have my panties in a bunch that I detour from this route. (i.e. my Dear President Obama post)  So, it is highly unusual for me to write anything negative, but I feel I must take issue with this particular article. Here’s actual tips from the article:

  • “My mom would never think of wearing capri pants with tennis shoes and socks…for heaven’s sake, if you must wear capris, at least wear heels.”  Maybe sometimes, but all the time? Get real, this is Florida. #cutesandalsprevail
  • “Include a tasteful application of black eyeliner (‘gives you an instant facelift’)”  What?  I with my allergies, I rarely wear any eye make up!  #claritin
  • “High waisted panties (‘no ugly lumps’)” According to my hubby, I don’t have ugly lumps no matter what style panties I wear! #hefrequentlylies
  • “and never leave home without make-up (‘the best thing since sliced bread’)”  Don’t even get me started, since I rarely wear it! #andstilllookgood
  • “Adjust your bra straps” Ha! As if I had enough to adjust! #modestlyproportioned

Okay, now I sound like a total granola freak…but I am not. (Reference my spa/salon blog posts as well as my homecoming queen and collegiate cheerleading days as proof!)  But, I do teach middle school, and I am extremely worried about the message articles like these send the budding young ladies I teach.  What message are we sending these girls as well as women of all ages?  That as ourselves, we are not good enough?

I once had a modeling coach tell me that I should dress up for my students, wear pantyhose (in Florida heat!), and always have make up on. When I commented that I rarely wore make up, she said, “Oh, I would never do that to my students…if they saw me without make-up, I would scare them to death.”  I’m sorry… just because she doesn’t have enough self-confidence in her natural appearance to go without make-up, doesn’t mean that I should change mine!

And, I guess that is what it comes down to… self confidence.

I firmly believe that is what I should be teaching my students: confidence in how they look and how they act.

When I coached cheerleading at Rollins College, I would have freshmen arrive with already augmented breasts; before their bodies have even finished growing! (Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery if that is a grown adult’s choice, but give a body a chance to finish maturing!)

And, what about the title of the article in the first place? What is wrong with looking your age?!  All an age means is that you didn’t die before reaching it…and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me!  (Hmmm…. maybe that’s because I turned 40 this year!) But, I would never trade the knowledge I have gained as a 40-year-old to go back and look like I was 20…would you?  Beauty for wisdom is a trade-off I would take any day of the week!

So, while Orlando Home & Leisure is still one of my favorite magazines, I do not think I will finish reading this particular article.

Okay, rant over. 🙂


Filed under Fashion, General Info, Just for Me

‘Her Universe’ Is Pretty Darn Cool! Interview with Ashley Eckstein

So, the Top 5 took time out from our vacation in the Florida Keys to speak with Hollywood actress Ashley Eckstein. (Well, actually, I was ankle-deep in green-blue water on the shores of Bahia Honda State Park while we were talking. I wonder if she’s ever been interviewed by somebody at the beach before… well, she is the famous Ashley Eckstein, so maybe she has!)

Ashley is coming back to Orlando this month for the upcoming Star Wars Celebration V.  This is the mother of all fan conventions and is officially supported by LucasFilm.  In fact, George Lucas himself will be in attendance, and maybe you will be lucky enough to catch his interview on center stage with the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart.  (Hmmmph!  I bet Jon’s never interviewed somebody while leisurely tanning at Bahia Honda’s beach!)

At any rate, Ashley is the voice of Ashoka Tano, one of the stars of LucasFilm’s animated spin-off, The Clone Wars.

Ashley posing next to her character, Ahsako Tano. Photo by Sue Schneider_Moonglow Photos

Ashley also has her own clothes line, Her Universe, inspired by the Star Wars films.  She started the line after finding there were very few sci-fi clothiers catering to the female fan.  As it turns out, nearly 50% of Star Wars fans are females, so a clothing line was born. (FYI: The shirts are totally awesome, and I have ordered one for my trip to the Star Wars Celebration, since I don’t have a Stormtrooper outfit handy!)

Ashley modeling merchandise from Her Universe website.

Both Ashley and her husband, David Eckstein of the San Diego Padres, are Central Florida natives.  Ashley grew up performing local theater and graduating from Dr. Philips, while David has roots in Sanford.  So, when the Top 5 caught up with them, we decided to ask just what it was they love about the Central Florida area.

Ashley Eckstein’s Top 5 Things to do in Central Florida:

1.  Go to Disney World!

Ashley’s father worked for Disney and it was also her first job in high school, as soon as she turned 16. She shared with me, “I was a cheerleader in the Hercules parade!”

Disney also played a part in her life when she got older: David asked her to marry him at the Grand Floridian and they had their wedding reception at the Yacht and Beach Club.

2.  Eat at Cafe Positano’s.

The couple eat at Cafe Positano’s “probably two to three times a week” during David’s off-season. She laughed, “I am obsessed with their pizza!”

3. Check out Orlando Theater’s Scene

Ashley got her start performing in shows at the Orlando Rep, so she enjoys going back to see the shows now being performed. She also loves when she can visit the SAK Comedy Theater, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, as well as trying to catch parts of the Orlando Fringe Festival if she’s in town.

4. Shop

She mentioned the Millenia Mall, but also gushed about Rocks Fine Jewelry on Park Avenue in Winter Park, where David got her engagement ring. She recalls how David Hernandez was just fantastic and how great their custom jewelry is.

5. Satisfy her Sweet Tooth

Although she’s a gorgeous actress, she is human after all, and places like Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt call her name.  There she can pile the toppings as high as she wants, even qualifying her for the store’s “Professional Mixer” category.  She also fondly recalls Goofy’s Candy Company in Downtown Disney.

To see Ashley Eckstein and other Star Wars celebrities in person, attend the Star Wars Celebration V at the Orange County Convention Center, August 12- 15. Tickets are still available for this once-in-a-lifetime event!


Filed under Celebrity, Convention Center, disney, Fashion, Resident done good

You Only Live Once… right?

If I mention a salon and day spa on posh Park Avenue in Winter Park, are you suddenly picturing $$$$$$$$$?

Well, never fear because enter YOLO Salon and Spa, and you will suddenly feel transported back in time to an earlier version of Park Ave., when unique storefronts and boutiques reigned, rather than the chain-owned stores of today. To a time when a shopper would discover a rare find, and then have to come back to that store again and again because it was the only place it could be found. And a time when most people who live in and around Winter Park could still afford to shop there!

YOLO Salon and Day Spa

That’s because YOLO, which stands for You Only Live Once, is a store packed with funky fun finds, traditional lime green and pink t-shirts customized with palm trees, and items reminiscent of Austin’s hippie feel. In fact, when I first walked in I thought it was just a store and was completely surprised to see they are also a full service salon–hair, pedicures, facials, bikini waxes, the whole nine yards!

Not surprisingly they have garnered fame among the Rollins College crowd, and most appropriately, they keep their college-aged customers (and budgets) in mind. I got a bikini wax ($35) and customized facial ($85 but I utilized their $20 discount for being a new customer), so it was nowhere near what today’s Park Ave. prices have risen to.

The day of my appointment, I arrived at YOLO a bit early to hunt through their chic boutique and was offered a drink from a makeshift tiki bar set up in the middle of the establishment. (Too cool!) There were also some comfy chairs and couches to plop down in to wait if I so chose.

Have an iced tea while you relax.

Kari, my technician, soon arrived and escorted me back. In a treatment room, she put me at ease before setting about to a painless (well, almost) waxing and then a luxurious facial. She mixed a custom mask for me based on my skin type (and she nailed it perfectly!) before massaging away my tension as well as a horrible neck crick while it dried.

And do you know what I loved the best? Although the front of the salon was packed with a variety of different lines of soaps, lotions, etc., she didn’t seem predetermined to sell me something after the facial. (You know what I am talking about! Those salons where the technicians recommend some $90 facial wash and $80 lotion, making the whole facial seem like some big sales job!)

Great selection

So, while some exotic, high-priced salons must be saved for only truly special occasions, like birthdays or Mother’s Day, YOLO Salon and Spa seems like the type of place I would want to be a regular. A place where everybody knows my name when I walk in…a place to just hang with the girls. And, for those regulars, they have a membership program for even bigger savings! During the summer months, YOLO is running all sorts of fun specials, like $30 Tuesdays, so be sure to pop in and see what they’ve got going on. (And don’t think that the better price means skimping on the service…I would put their facial up with the best in town!)

So, here’s to only living once and pretending to be a lady of leisure while I’m doing that living! And thanks to YOLO’s great prices I can afford to do that… well, at least some of the time!

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Filed under Fashion, Fun, General Info, Just for Me, Rollins College, winter park

Boutique For a Week is Coming!

Too cool!  Part owner and Central Florida resident Kelly Traugott contacted me about her Boutique for a Week, which is one of the best ideas I’ve heard about in quite some time. As a mommy who used to have all sorts of kids stuff, the “Premiere Children’s Sale” and “Nearly New as Never Been Better” are quite a draw!

I know my moms of twins (friends and sister-in-law) will definitely be interested in this. How easy and quick to set up…much better than a garage sale, don’t you think?  With a mission to become the premiere children’s resale in Central Florida, you are sure to find some quality items. The sale will feature, clothes, toys, educational items, and more.  By the way, they need consignors and workers.

So, if you are a mommy looking to get rid of some almost-new stuff, register as a consignor. If you are looking for almost-new stuff, be sure to attend:

June 27 – July 3 in Casselberry

And the nicest part is consignors may donate any unsold items to those in need… sounds like a winning event to us!

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Filed under Charity, Education, family, Fashion, Resident done good

iChicken – Oviedo, FL

We spent much of our Saturday at the Taste of Oviedo, and it seems that the rest of Oviedo came right along with us! For those of you unfamiliar with this town, just imagine Main Street, USA and you get the idea.

Here, neighbors welcome neighbors and newcomers alike, and they take quite a bit of pride with their wild chickens that strut about town. (Yes, it’s true, the chickens do hang out in the parking lot of a Popeye’s Chicken!)

Special thanks to Shoreline Graphix, Inc. for the great iChicken T-shirt!

And, for those of you athletic types, Oviedo not only has the Oviedo Trail for running and biking, but its Olympic-sized pool is home to one of Central Florida’s oldest and best swim teams, the Blue Dolfins.

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Filed under Agriculture, Fashion, Fun, Just Plain Weird, Uniquely Florida