Paradise Lost? Never!

Summer is my season. I like dressing in lighter clothing and eating lighter meals. Getting to travel to great destinations becomes an opportunity to explore new horizons and even incorporate those cultures into our lives back here in Alexandria. This summer involves staying close to home but I am finding ways to relive my favorite escapes through tastes, sounds, and style.

Last week I posted an image on my Instagram of a skirt I purchased the summer I turned 40. I try and frequently incorporate style tips into my Instagram posts (as well as my love for Briland) that are thoughtful and appropriate to the season. This one entailed adding something from your travels into your wardrobe — a great excuse to do a little shopping while on holiday.

I purchased my skirt from Miss Mae’s in Dunmore Town, a little area in the Bahamas that would remind you of Old Town, were it located in the Caribbean. My husband and I had become the proud owners of a cottage on Harbour Island, where we spent five weeks in celebration of my birthday that year. The magic of that particular summer lives with me in so many ways but definitely during July and August. Inevitable there are years that don’t include Briland, much to may dismay.  This will be one of those years but I have found ways to channel the magic into my staycation. I learned a lot about what living on an island is like that particular summer while weathering some strong storms, attending a funeral, and making a wealth of connections with people who have become woven into the fabric of my memories.

I wouldn’t say we were exactly jobless that summer. As new homeowners to a cottage we planned to rent throughout the year, we were making many updates that involved painting and repair work, making us Briland’s version of Chip and Joanna Gaines.  There were frequent trips to Cichara Hardware on King Street…they came to know us by name! I had just accepted a position as manager at Hysteria and tried to keep in touch with Fairfax Street via our neighbor’s spotty wifi as we learned what island time really was firsthand and waited for certain amenities to get hooked up.

We also spent lots of time creating our own fun. There were no electronics, which meant finding ways to spend the days that didn’t require much more than heading out to see what was going on that day. On one such outing we even became part of a party on the other side of the island. We were “kidnapped” by a group of “pirates” who needed us to follow them in our golf cart back to the party as part of the points for their scavenger hunt. It was their family reunion and we were game as we found ourselves next to Uma Thurman and Arpad Busson’s (known by everyone as Arki on the island) Briland home.

On another outing to deliver invitations to my daughter’s birthday party to our new friends, I passed a woman with a smile and wave who was indeed Naomi Campbell. This was verified when my husband was next to her at Hitler’s bar one night when he was looking for Daddy D, the island DJ. No, we weren’t going to have him play for Lane’s party but Daddy D also is the guy you want to fish with (for the great music AND the fishing) and finding him can be a bit of a challenge. You can’t make this stuff up. As the kids get older, we still find ways to fill the afternoon’s that involves creativity and a lot of laughter.

Shopping for meals was also interesting. Spending five weeks anywhere means you are not eating out every night. You’ve pretty much become a local when you’ve learned the delivery schedules of the G&G freight lines and when Patricia’s homemade bread arrives still warm at the Piggly Wiggly. I love to cook and finding ingredients for recipes was a little more challenging ten years ago on the island. We did our due diligence of packing canned tuna, various spices, and snacks, while asking our family that would come and visit to pack more, helping us to replenish.

Ingenuity was always in order since the price of even the simplest of items could be nearly doubled, which took more than a bite out of the budget. So I learned to make due out of what was available, something I try to practice here at home as well. On an island, you take advantage of knowing who to ask for the freshest of fish. Making the most the day’s catch can require keeping sauces on hand to either zest up your side dish of rice or slather it alongside what’s been caught that day.

Being budget conscious, I also packed a cooler full of frozen items, including chicken burgers, that I anticipated we would thaw for dinners once in a while. That effort of preparedness was thwarted by a surprise house visit where a midnight freezer raid and use of our microwave turned into a police report and future dinner with the culprit’s sister and husband.  What might sound alarming was in retrospect an episode of Bahamian Mayberry where Otis stumbled into our kitchen for a midnight snack. I’m giving you the PG version but island life is filled with many types of adventure.

Many evenings were spent playing cards and Blockus with our young children. My husband and I became well versed at making the Harbour Island hostess beverage, The Goombay Smash. Islanders rarely have actual dinner parties but rather get together for drinks. It’s polite to never come empty-handed but bring a milk jug full of cocktails. One gathering at our cottage included meeting more homeowners since August is the month to take advantage of a more relaxed version of this tourist-driven paradise.

You know you’ve thrown a proper Briland cocktail party when your guest reveals the following morning at Arthur’s Bakery that he never quite made it to his bed but instead spent the night sleeping upright in his Moke parked in the front yard.  Everyone’s version may have a twist, like with margaritas, but the variety of rums along with a smidge of Apricot Brandy is my secret!

So yes, the skirt has passed the test of time and multiple edits. As you can imagine, this is not the only item that has found its way back in my sandy bags from our trips to Harbour Island. I actually still have the very first thread-bare Roberta Freymann top I purchased at the Sugar Mill. The original Sugar Mill was in a tiny white-washed garage space on a nearby side street. I remember the first time I wandered in, finding who I now know was India herself folding items neatly and welcoming us to browse the treasures she had discovered.

How quickly things change… India is now able to reach anyone and ship a little piece of island life to just about anywhere in the world. As an India Hicks Ambassador, I virtually invite you to take a look into all of the charms of Harbour Island through India’s well-trained eye! This style icon has even curated collections with some of my favorite brands like Figue’s Stephanie Von Watzdorf, another global-gypsy with a jet-set spirit! Not surprising since I’m inspired by both of these women and their incredible sense of wanderlust and love of intoxicating locales.

If you would like to know more about joining India’s tribe  please feel free to contact me. Or perhaps you’d like to host a shopping party…I’ll bring the Goombay Smash!


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Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.

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