Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Swift exit

On today's Page Six of the New York Post, there's an unflattering story about singer Taylor Swift and her new beau, Conor Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy clan. It's based on an article that ran in the Boston Herald.

I don't know if it's true, and Swift's rep denies it, but the story interests me because it brings up some socially sensitive issues that are worth talking about.

According the publication, the duo crashed the wedding of one of his family members. He didn't RSVP until an hour before the event, so the bride's mother told them they couldn't come. They ignored her wishes and showed up anyway.

Afraid that the megastar Swift would detract from her daughter's big day, the mother of the bride asked them to leave. They didn't take her seriously and stuck around. At the reception, they left during the dinner, but returned when the band started and danced into the evening.

Again, I have no idea of the validity of the story, but I do want to comment on a few things.

1. Always, always, always RSVP. I'm not perfect, I've certainly forgotten to RSVP to events, but it's always a mistake. If there's a No. 1 rule of parties, it's to have the courtesy to let the hosts know whether or not you'll grace the event with your charming presence. No matter the size of the event, if you say you're going to attend you need to be there unless you become ill or some other unfortunate but understandable circumstance pops up in your life. Another major mistake when it comes to RSVPs is to say you're going to be there, then you go back on your decision because you end up getting a better invitation elsewhere. If you call at the last minute and tell the host you can't make it - then word gets back that you went to another event instead - you will be thought of as selfish, wrong and rude.

2. Never, ever ignore your host's wishes. If he or she tells you that you've RSVPd too late to come to an event, don't go. It's not negotiable.

3. Even if you've RSVPd, and the host asks you to leave for whatever reason, go. Don't argue with them, just leave. Hopefully you'll be able to repair the damage at a later date, but that moment is not the time.

I will chalk this alleged incident up to two young people who didn't know better. To me the detail that makes me think it's true is that they left during the dinner. I'm sure that's because there wasn't a place set for them. Sometimes there's an assumption that at a party, there's always room for a few more, but that's not always the case. And if you've ever worked on a seating chart for a sit down dinner, which is truly a slice of hell, you will never again show up at a party without warning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Kappas and cocktails

The Charlotte Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity regularly hosts a series of cocktail parties at chic venues around town. (It's last one was Aug. 16 at Delta's uptown). 

For details on the next soiree, go to

In the meantime, here's a list of cocktail party dos and don'ts they sent out. These tips are a great reminder to keep it light, dress to impress and have fun - but not too much fun. 

Master the art of small talk.
Mingle and talk to someone you don't know.
Dress in the most charismatic way possible.
Have leave-behind contact info, cards preferably.
Relax and have fun. 

Arrive too late, you'll miss the action.
Forget names and faces.
Talk about controversial topics, keep it light.
Refuse a cocktail, unless you've reached your limit.
Drink and drive. Call a cab or a friend. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Carson Goodwyn's fall fashion must-haves

Editor's Note: Style savvy teen Carson Goodwyn takes over this blog to write about her fashion picks for fall.

As summer fun comes to an end and fall is just around the corner, it's time to put away your swimsuits and sandals and break out your denim and boots. Here are four must-have items to update your fall wardrobe. 
Colored Pants: Walking around the streets of Charlotte, people are sporting bright summer colors.  When it starts to get chilly, that doesn't mean your clothes have to turn pale, too. Colored pants work into the fall season and make your outfit pop.  My favorite way to wear them is to pair green or red pants with a white blouse, a light brown sweater and boots.
Riding Boots:  They look good with dresses, corduroys, jeans, skirts and even leggings. Pick a neutral color so you can wear them with anything. My favorites are black and brown. Labels  to look for are Steve Madden, Frye, Lucky Brand, Zara and Tory Burch.  
Denim Jackets/Vests:  There has never been a fall without denim, but this season it's all about jean jackets and vests. They go with any shirt or dress and make an  outfit look chic, but with a slight edge. 
Retro: Your mother’s closet is a great place to "shop" for retro pieces, especially anything from the 1980s. The denim vest I'm wearing in the photo above (taken by Observer photographer John Simmons) is one from that era that I found in my mother's closet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Patriotic pooches welcome

Deby Cozzie, manager of Claws and Paws Inn, once worked in the airline industry so she knows firsthand how some pet owners hate leaving their dogs behind when they travel. 

With the Democratic National Convention coming to town, she began to think of visitors who will be calling around looking for dog-friendly hotels. She says there aren't many, but since she's located near the airport and uptown, she thought of a way to help.

She contacted nearby hotels and the DNC organizing committee to let them know that Claws and Paws is accepting reservations for out-of-town pets. That way, their owners can be a part of the convention and stay in the hotel, but be near enough to their pets to check in on them.

Through pet owners I trust who live in the town of Belmont where Claws and Paws is located, I've heard it's a great place. It's owned by a veterinarian, Dr. White of Catawba Heights Animal Hospital. A vet is on site at six days a week and all the staff are pet owners. 

"If we get enough dogs coming in, I plan to do a photo shoot and give them a patriotic bandanna when they check out."

Cozzie loves to plan special events, including the inn's annual Dogtober Fest. "I have a Priest come in and bless the dogs," she says. "We have a canine unit who comes out and puts on a show and any money we raise goes to needy animals." 

The DNC promotion is not just a way to get more business, Cozzie truly cares about animals. 

"There's always room in my lap for a dog, unfortunately sometimes it’s a Great Dane," she jokes.

For more details, call 704-822-1966 or go to  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Women of Achievement Awards

The YWCA Central Carolinas is taking applications for its 2012 Women of
Achievement awards. If you know a woman who has "demonstrated leadership in Charlotte by promoting
social justice," you have until Aug. 17 to nominate her by going to You can also contact Marianne Schild, YWCA donor relations manager, at or

There are three categories: Pioneer, a mature woman
who has exemplified a lifetime commitment to promoting social justice; Community Champion, an established
woman currently working at the forefront of social change; and an Emerging Leader, a woman of the rising
generation who will lead our community forward.

The winners will be recognized at an event on October 25. Last year's winners were Sally
Robinson, Kristina Cruise and LaWana Mayfield.

Other past recipients include Kristina Cruise, LaWana Mayfield, Sally Robinson, Sarah Belk Gambrell, Cynthia Marshall, Dr. Jessica Schorr Saxe, Carlenia Ivory, Charlotte Watkins, Claire Tate, Velva Woolen and Maria Hanlin.

The awards are part of the mission of the YWCA Central Carolinas to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bye bye bamboo sculpture - it sure was fun

Is it possible to pine for a bamboo sculpture? For me, the answer is yes. Although I knew it was never meant to last forever, I'm so sad that the end days are near for the huge bamboo sculpture on the front lawn of the Mint Museum Randolph at 2730 Randolph Road.

Commissioned by the Young Affiliates of the Mint as part of Project Ten Ten Ten to commemorate the opening of the Mint Museum Uptown on 10/10/10, it's titled "Passage: Waterway" and was created by artist Tetsunori Kawana.

When it was unveiled on Aug. 11, 2011, I read that Kawana wanted people to walk through the sculpture and feel connected to nature while contemplating the life cycle. That's why he specified that it be left up for a year and then demolished.

One day when its bamboo was still fresh and green, I decided to go see what all the fuss was about. From a distance, it looked like a giant bird's nest landed on the lawn. It wasn't until I walked through it that I began to develop an emotional connection to the work of art.

Inside it I felt small and in awe of the trees, sky and grass that I could see through its twisted pieces of bamboo. Instead of feeling like a cage, it actually made me feel closer to nature. It was like a walking meditation to wander through it.

I would wait until no one was around and go through it alone so I could take my time and enjoy just being there in the moment. Because it's on the museum's lawn, you don't have to pay admission to view the sculpture, so I would go back again and again.

When spring came around, it became the center of my socializing. I'm fortunate to live near the museum, so I would invite people over, we would walk down to experience the sculpture, then go back to my house for drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

I meant to do more of that this summer, but either my work schedule or the blazing hot weather would make me put it off. Now I only have a few more days left to enjoy it. On Aug. 16, it will be torn down. It may sound silly, but I feel like I'm losing a friend. It's a reminder to enjoy and appreciate things while you have the chance.

Annie Carlano, the Mint's director of craft and design, articulated that thought beautifully in a statement released by the museum:

"(It) has now come full circle," she said. "It's gone through the four seasons, its life cycle, and is coming to an end. How lucky we have been to live with it, walk through it and experience it over the past year."


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Will Kathleen Murphy's design dream come true?

Jewelry designer Kathleen Murphy is the only Charlottean to make it into the group of 15 finalists vying to win Belk's Southern Designer Showcase competition. She and her fellow competitors will gather at the Belk headquarters tomorrow for more events surrounding the contest. The final prize is a big one: The winner will have their designs produced for sale at Belk stores and featured in advertising campaigns for spring 2013.

To qualify, the contestants had to be from the 16 Southern states where Belk operates stores, or have strong connections to the South. They then submitted samples of their works and photographs to Belk. Categories were women's, men's and kids' apparel, shoes and women's accessories.

Murphy, 32, has a day job as a dermatology sales rep. But since she was 8, her hobby has been making jewelry. She has her own web site ( and sells her wares at 12 boutiques including two in Charlotte (Scout & Molly's and Ruby's Gift). 

As the daughter of a Navy doctor, she moved all over the world. While attending N.C. State as a college student, she realized she wanted to make the South her home because it's where she felt the most comfortable and she loved Southern style. It's also when she became a fan of Belk. "In college, a cute boy asked me out," she says. "I went to Belk and bought a really great dress to wear on our date. He asked me out again and I was convinced it was because of that dress."

That love of Belk and fashion led her to follow the blog of Arlene Goldstein, Belk's vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction (her blog is titled Arlene's Closet and can be found at While Murphy was reading the blog around the first of the year, she saw the announcement about the competition. 

 "I thought hey, I’m a Southern designer, I’m in 12 boutiques across the Southern U.S. - I'll give it a shot," she says. 

Murphy quickly went into overachiever mode. "They asked for photos and samples of 10 pieces of your collection," she says. "I made 60 pieces, then edited them down to what I thought looked good together and made a cohesive statement. I probably took a hundred photos of each piece, then narrowed them down to the photos that showed them off the best. I put together a Look Book with a biography, list of stores that sell my jewelry and a CD with all the images."

At first, Murphy didn't tell anyone but her closest family and friends about entering the contest. "I thought that there was no way they were going to pick little ol' me," she says. 

After making it to the final 36 out of hundreds of entries, and then into the group of 15 finalists, she's begun to tell more people so they can keep their fingers crossed and say a prayer for her.

"It's really exciting to even be considered. Every night I do a little dance at the thought of winning." 

What will she do if she wins?

"I'm going to throw a party!"