Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Toast to the New Year

Where did the time go? Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that 2010 is knocking on the door. It's been quite a year for our family: Hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage, the kids grew at rapid speed, Hubby got a new job, we said goodbye to our beloved dog, I ventured into Junior League and met some amazing women along the way - the list goes on and on.

It also was a tough year for many, as the economy continued to nose dive, our close friend continued to fight cancer and our country was still at war. While I can reflect on my happy year, I must acknowledge that it's not been that way for everyone. And, I keep those people in my thoughts and prayers daily. I hope 2010 brings comfort, rest and joy to many.

Thanks to those of you who have stopped by A Place to Dwell over the last year to comment, say hello and even become regular followers. I'm still in awe that people stop by each day to read what I write. I'm honored that you consider my daily ramblings worthy of your time. I've gotten so much out of your blogs. You've been an inspiration and I thank you for it.

So, in honor of New Year's Eve, I raise a virtual glass to all of you and leave you with this Irish toast:

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions."
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Changes Will You Make in 2010?

My lovely SIL, Lizzie, made me some darling stationery for Christmas. When I sat down to use them for holiday thank-you notes, I saw that besides my monogram, some of the note cards featured little sayings and quotes. Such a great idea – not only pretty, but thought-provoking as well.

I’ve featured one of the note cards above because I think it offers a great saying for the New Year (compliments of Ghandi). If we want change to happen, it first must take place within. It’s up to me; I can’t depend on anyone else to make the changes I want in life. So, in 2010, I plan dive deeper into my volunteer work, seek out more professional development in my career, nurture my physical and emotional well-being and, most importantly, be the best mother and wife I can. I want to be a great parent, and great companion to my husband. It’s all there within me, but there’s always room for improvement. Change is good and change for the better is, well, even better. And, I hope that the changes I make within myself will reflect outward, thus improving my outlook on the world, and, just maybe, the world itself.

So, what changes will you make in 2010, dear friends? Perhaps many of you are already in a good place and change is not necessary. If so, cheers to you! But, if you are looking to make changes and improvements, know that you’re not alone and that we’re rooting for you. Let 2010 be an incredible, blessed year for all of us!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Step Away from the Candy and Get Off the Couch…

My new down jacket from The North Face - love it!

So, 2010 begins this Friday and yet again, I’m resolving to get in shape in the New Year. With the cold weather and gray days/dark nights setting in, it’s very easy to just crawl under the covers, watch TV and pack on the pounds (a recap of last winter). But, this year I’m determined not to let that happen. For one thing, I received some great workout clothes to motivate the style maven in me. Who wouldn’t want to work out in cute clothes?

Seriously, though, I wanted some warmer workout clothes to brave walks in the neighborhood in colder weather, you know, when I actually pull my sorry butt off the couch. So, Mom gave me some fabulous fleece pants and an extra soft fleece pullover, both from The North Face. At first I thought they wouldn’t keep me too warm, but I had to take them off in the house after a while because I broke out in a sweat! So, should be great for the outdoors. Then, Hubby surprised me with a wonderful down jacket, also from The North Face, that is perfect for running around outside. It is so warm and comfy. I wish I had a full bodysuit made out of the material! Prior to this Christmas, I’d never owned anything by North Face – just thought it was a fashionable outdoorsy brand. But, I’ve been impressed so far. What do you think of The North Face? Like/dislike? Any other active wear brands you would recommend? (I had tried ordering some items from one of my favorite retailers, Title Nine, but unfortunately, they didn’t have many sale items left in my size.)

Get this: I even brought my running shoes to work this morning so I could run the stairs during lunch. Wow, I must really be getting into this. So, after eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich this afternoon (lunch of champions), I’ll hit the stairwell. Really, I swear. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Time to Return to the Real World

I’m back at the office today after more than a week’s vacation. No one is here, which is nice. I can get plenty of work done with little interruption. Most people like taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but given that my kids aren’t in grade school yet, I can still take an earlier vacation in order to prep for the holidays. That will change when Miss E. enters kindergarten next year. But, for now, I’ll enjoy the solitude.

Just had to show you the watch Hubby gave me for Christmas from A. Tierney. I love the rectangular face and grosgrain ribbon band. Hubby said Ms. Tierney was super-nice and very responsive when he ordered it. (Apparently she was having a website glitch at the time and called him on the phone. Don’t you love great customer service?) As you can see, my grande Starbucks is also in the background. Had to grab my morning fuel or else I don’t think I could have made it from the parking garage to my office. Plus, it snowed last night and is quite cold, so winter welcomed me with full force on my first day back.

Oh, and to the oddball who left the bizarre PETA-esque comment on my “Peace on Earth” post yesterday: get a life. Please don’t use my blog as a platform for your wacky causes. There wasn’t even a connection there. Oh, and one more thing: Beef, it’s what’s for dinner. ;)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Peace on Earth Y'All

Christmas was wonderful - we are so blessed to have such loving and supportive families. My house is now in the post-Christmas state of unwrap with toys, paper and bows strewn everywhere. I need to clean it up, but then that means Christmas is truly over and that always makes me a little sad. But, because I'm a purist, our tree will stay up through New Year's, so at least I'll have the twinkling lights for another week.

By the way, for my fellow Southern gal bloggers, I forgot to mention one of my prized-purchases at the JLL Hollydays market a few weeks ago. One of the vendors was selling long-sleeve T-shirts from a company called Sweet Tea. I purchased a green one with a red globe on the front that said "Peace on Earth Y'all." It's so fabulous! My Mom bought one for herself and my aunt who now lives in South Carolina. Sweet Tea features a number of T-shirts with fun southern sayings. So, if you're looking for a fun gift for the Southern Belle in your life, check out Sweet Tea's line of shirts.

We're heading into the last week of 2009 - I hope it was a good year for everyone and here's hoping 2010 is even better!
Image courtesy of Sweet Tea T-shirts

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night

It's the morning of Christmas Eve, the kids are watching "Martha Speaks," I'm sipping my coffee in the kitchen while listening to the "Charlie Brown Christmas" album and taking it slow before the craziness of the day kicks in. Hubby had to go into the office for a few hours, but will hopefully be back in time so we can bake some cookies for Santa (and mommy).

We will attend Mass this evening and then head out to my uncle's house on the river to celebrate with my Dad's side of the family. Tomorrow we'll tear into presents and then host a casual brunch at our house and enjoy a lazy day by the fire. Yep, that's what I'm talkin' about!

There's so much to be thankful for this holiday season and I'd like to give thanks to the many wonderful people I've met through the world of blogging. You are funny, supportive, kind, creative and so much more! I enjoy reading your posts and love the fact that even though we may live in different states, countries or continents, we can connect through the written word. It makes the world a little bit smaller and that's nice.

So, many blessings to all of you this holiday season. I'll be back after Christmas and look forward to hearing how many of you celebrated the holiday. Safe travels to those of you on the road this year - Merry Christmas to one and all!
Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Holiday Shuffle

My lovely SIL, Anne, who hosted us last week, posing with my daughter, Miss E.

Sorry I've been MIA lately. Between our trip to North Carolina and preparing for Christmas, I've had little time to sit down at the computer.

Our trip to see Hubby's family in Charlotte was so much fun! We stayed at my SIL's house and enjoyed spending time with her hubby and our nephews. We also got to meet the newest addition to our family, Hubby's brother and sister-in-law's little Miss M. She is scrumptious! I was holding her and got the slight twinge of baby-lust, but then my two-year-old started screeching from the other room and that feeling quickly subsided. ;)

Luckily, we missed the terrible snowstorm that hit parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky. We drove home on Sunday with no problems and enjoyed seeing the beautiful snow-covered landscape.

Since I'm off work this week, I've been spending my days completing my Christmas list (no, I wasn't finished yet!) and getting the house in working order. The kids went to pre-school the last couple of days because fun activities were taking place (cookie-making, games, etc.) and they didn't want to miss it. So, I took advantage of the time to get organized. Today, they are staying home (Hubby has to work, though) and we're going to spend some quality time together. Perhaps we'll walk over to welcome our new neighbors. I understand they have twin two-year-olds, so good news for Little Man.

Oh, one more thing: Happy anniversary to my parents who are celebrating 37 years of marriage today. Love you guys!
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Road Trip

Off to visit Hubby's family in North Carolina - talk to you early next week. In the meantime, good luck to everyone on their holiday preparations. And, if you get some time for yourself during this busy season, take it! Cheers!
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elf on the Shelf

Last night we attended a Christmas dinner at our friend’s house who also happens to be our son’s Godmother. She gave the kids an “Elf on the Shelf” doll and book, and it’s a huge hit in our household.

To be honest, I had not heard of “Elf on the Shelf” until this year. My neighbor and fellow blogger Crafty Paper Girl posted about their elf recently and then I started hearing about it from other moms. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the kids name the elf (ours is Jack) and then place it in a location in the house. The elf is supposed to watch what the kids are doing and then report back to Santa each night with a naughty or nice update. Then, the next morning, the elf has moved to a different location, so the kids think he or she actually left and came back at some point in the night.

When we got home last night, Miss E. put Jack on the kitchen counter, by the phone. Early this morning before everyone woke up, I got my coffee, moved Jack to the mantle and then drafted a quick letter to the kids. Jack told them how good they behaved at dinner last night and how Santa was so pleased with this news. Santa said to “keep up the good work” and that Jack would report back the next night. On the way to school, Miss E. told Little Man that he better stop fussing because Jack will tell Santa. Ohh, Elf on the Shelf, where have you been all my life??

A cute tradition for the holidays. Not sure if I can keep up with the letter-writing, but I’ll certainly try, to keep that holiday magic in the air.

Tomorrow I travel to Lexington on business and then we’re heading down to North Carolina to celebrate an early Christmas with Hubby’s family. I’ll check back in with y’all this weekend. Have fun preparing for the holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cloche Hats

I love cloche hats. They’re oh-so-fashionable and add a chic touch to one’s outfit. Sadly, you don’t see many women donning these chapeaus outside of the Derby or other special events, unless you’re Blair Waldorf from “Gossip Girl,” or Posh Spice. Maybe I could wear one to Mass on Christmas Eve…nah, don’t think I could pull it off.

Perhaps if I snag an invite to the Breeder’s Cup next fall at Churchill Downs I can wear one featuring a fabulous brooch or feather. We’ll see. Either way, I certainly enjoy looking at them. Very pretty.
Images courtesy of Shop Hype. The WB and Louise Green Millinery

Friday, December 11, 2009

Family Tradition: The Nutcracker

This weekend, there are tons of holiday activities, from our daughter's Christmas program today, to decorating the tree, story time at Barnes & Noble and finally a performance of The Nutcracker on Sunday afternoon. I’m so excited for both of our kids to see The Louisville Ballet’s new production. Apparently the costumes and sets are completely new – brought in from a ballet company in South Africa. I’ve already heard how incredible the production is, which is good, because I’ve been a bit worried that my two-year-old son won’t be able to sit through it. I took my daughter and the grandmothers last year, and, of course, she was entranced by the whole production. So, here’s hoping Little Guy will have the same experience, because Mommy and Daddy don’t want to be stuck walking around the lobby!

In preparation for the many holiday activities, I couldn’t help but pick up some festive clothes for the kids. I ran over to a great children’s boutique the other day and got my daughter a beautiful green bishop dress with smocking (candy canes) and Little Guy red cords and a navy sweater. The sweater is from a Kentucky-based children’s line, Bella Bliss, which has fabulous kids’ clothing. Check them out if you’re looking for something special.

So, dear blog friends, what do you have on tap this weekend? Parties? Trimming the tree? Enjoying some nog? Would love to hear how everyone is getting in the holiday spirit. Have a great weekend!
Image courtesy of San Francisco Ballet

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Good Blend

What do you get when you mix Kentucky bourbon barrels and Australian wine? A damn fine drink. Garden & Gun recently featured Southern Belle Shiraz, a new wine from an area south of Adelaide, Australia that's creating a lot of buzz among winemakers.

What's so special about this wine? Well, it's aged in whiskey barrels from the Pappy Van Winkle Distillery in Kentucky (in my Hubby's opinion, the Rolls Royce of bourbons produced in the Commonwealth). The barrels once held whiskey for a 20-year period, and when the barrels made it to Australia, they were filled with the Shiraz, which was then aged for 18 months. I can only imagine the taste. Wow!

I have yet to try Shiraz Southern Belle, but I'm dying to, so I'll be on the search this holiday season. And, to my friends from Down Under, if you can get your hands on a bottle as well, let me know what you think. Cheers!
Image courtesy of Garden & Gun Magazine

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Hubby went quail hunting last Saturday and came back not only with birds to eat, but stories about the two wonderful hunting dogs the guide brought on the trip. They were English Setters, beautiful breeds and similar to a hunting dog that Hubby’s late grandfather once owned.

So, as we’re reading the latest issue of Garden & Gun, which happens to be the sporting issue focusing on fly fishing and hunting (Hubby was glued to the pages), there was an essay and an article about hunting dogs, in particular the Boykin Spaniel (puppy pictured above). I had never heard of this dog, but apparently it’s South Carolina’s State Dog. So, in addition to never having heard of the dog, I learned that states have dogs. Who knew?

With our curiosity peaked, Hubby and I went online to see what these pups look like and learn more about them. These are cool dogs. They’re not only good companions and great family dogs, they’re ideal hunting dogs, if you’re into that sort of thing. And, they’re not huge – averaging about 40 to 50 pounds in weight. While we’re not in the market a dog right now (still mourning King, kids are too young, we're too busy) I could definitely see a Boykin as a possibility for our family one day. I’ve always been a big proponent of pound and rescue dogs and come to find out, there’s a rescue program for Boykins. Again, who knew? So, perhaps one day we’ll get a Boykin. Or not. Either way, I’m glad I learned about them.
Image courtesy of Rock Creek Kennels

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kitchen Renovation - It May Really Happen This Time

I know this kitchen has been featured on such blogs as Cote de Texas and most recently The Newlywed Diaries, but I couldn't help feature the island because it's so gorgeous. I love the idea of taking a piece of furniture and making it the island. Oh, to have such a space to cook in! Actually, we've been working with an architect/contractor on possibilities for our kitchen renovation. Last week, he had the cabinet maker and electrician out to the house for a walk-through. Today, I'm meeting him at lunch for the flooring and HVAC guys to see the kitchen. We're waiting on a final quote to see if this is going to break the bank or not, but it's sounding like it's a real possibility after the holidays.

Luckily, we don't need to purchase new appliances, which is a big cost when renovating. And, we're not completly redoing the cabinets, so another area where we can save. But, we are looking at some demo, to open the kitchen into the family room. Given that we're discussing possibly moving a little closer into town over the next year or so, we really need to update the kitchen, since that's what often sells a house. But, we don't want to outprice ourselves for our neighborhood by going overboard. I think what we have planned is a good balance.

So, I'll keep you posted on if and when this adventure in renovation begins. It'll mean several weeks without a kitchen, so I'm sure I'll be in a great mood in the first part of 2010. But, I just need to keep my eye on the prize, right?
Images courtesy of The Newlywed Diaries

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stocking Stuffer

I received an e-mail this morning from Erica at Jewelry Without Jewels with a special holiday offer on her fabulous designs. She's having a Stocking Stuffer Sale, where you can buy three of her fabric necklaces for only $40 (they usually run $20 each). If you haven't checked out her work, be sure to do so. The necklaces would really add a punch of color to a black turtleneck or solid shirt.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

It's snowing! When I went downstairs to fetch my coffee this morning, I looked out the window and saw a dusting of snow outside and it was still coming down. But, it's more of a wet snow mix, so the schools in our area were not closed. Although, a little north of us, some schools were on a delayed schedule.

I couldn't help but take a photo of the view from my office when I got to work. I thought the circles atop the parking garages made for an interesting design. (Sorry for the glare.)

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Hollydays was great and lots of lovely gifts were purchased throughout the weekend. I enjoyed hanging with the gals on Friday night and more shopping on Saturday with the kids. And, best of all, the Cats beat UNC! Woo hoo!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Holiday Frenzy

The family and I have a weekend full of activities, as the holiday frenzy continues.

This evening kicks off our Junior League’s Hollydays Art & Gift Market with a special Girls’ Night Out event. Cocktails and shopping – deadly combination. But, I need to buy Christmas presents, and proceeds go toward a worthy cause, so it’s all good. At least that’s what I plan to tell hubby when the credit card bill arrives.

Tomorrow, my mom and I are taking the kids back to Hollydays, this time for Santa and storytelling. Hubby is going quail hunting, so hopefully we’ll be dining on a delicious bird at some point this weekend. I then plan to hurry home to catch the Kentucky vs. North Carolina basketball game. I can’t wait! I hope we smoke the Tarheels – go Cats!!

Saturday night is another Christmas party. Whew! So, hopefully Sunday we can take it easy.

Have a great weekend, everyone!
Image courtesy of Junior League of Louisville

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going to my happy place...

I need a vacation. The last couple of days I’ve dealt with meltdowns and tantrums, and don’t even get me started on how my kids have behaved! ;)

Yesterday I took my daughter to get a flu shot (Little Guy already had one, due to his age – our pediatrician’s office was rationing for particular age groups). She had a complete fit, screamed, kicked – it wasn’t pretty. I was sweating by the time we left the office. Thank God the office had restocked their supply of lollipops.

Then, this morning, traffic was horrible (please finish the road construction near my house, please!), I had to stop for gas and then once we got to preschool, the outbursts began. Little Guy wanted to open the door first, but Miss E. pushed her way in front. I’m trying to run interference and not completely lose it at the same time. We’re carrying coats, ballet gear and extra underwear for Little Guy, who is potty-training. Yeah, that’s been a fun process. He has another meltdown because he wants to go to a particular bathroom, not the one I choose. Ugh, Calgon take me away!

Now I know why so many parents are sprinting out the door of the preschool each morning. It’s not that they're in a hurry to get to work so much as it’s running as fast as they can to make a clean getaway from the kids.

No, I love my kids. But, many of you know where I’m coming from. I just need to go to my happy place for a little while and decompress.

Happy Thursday, everyone. We’re almost there!
Image courtesy of Photo Bucket

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kings of Leon

Damn, I love this band. Listened to them on the way into work this morning. Great way to get the day started.
Image courtesy of

Monday, November 30, 2009

Discovering Kiehl’s

Kiehl’s has opened a small shop within a large department store in my town. According to a recent article in our local paper, this area has such a large number of online sales of the Kiehl’s brand, that after much research, the company decided to open a shop here. Not a store so much, but a "mini boutique," a little larger than your average beauty counter. It’s an interesting concept and when I saw it recently, it certainly stands out among the Clinique and Estee Lauder kiosks of the world.

But, here’s my confession: I’ve never tried any of the Kiehl’s products. Yes, I feel like the country mouse in saying that. It’s been around forever (apparently since 1851), it’s a favorite of celebrities, and many of the products have a reasonable price tag. So, where have I been??

I’m tempted now more than ever to jump on the Kiehl’s bandwagon, since apparently everyone and their brother in the tri-state area are buying this product. So, blogger friends, are any of you users of Kiehl’s products and, if so, what would you recommend? I’m always on the look-out for a good moisturizing lotion and I hear their Cream de Corps body cream is top notch. Or perhaps I should try the Heat Protective Silk-Straightening Cream, since I spend just about every morning straightening the wave out of my hair.

I’ve long been an Aveda fan, but I’m open to new products, so if anyone has opinions to share on the Kiehl’s line, would love to hear it!
Image courtesy of Kiehl's

Let the Frenzy Begin

And so it begins...the frenzy of the holidays is upon us. Are you ready?

I'm ordering our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints today (our scanner was on the fritz, so I'm behind the eight ball this year). They have the cutest designs and it's great how you can drop in the photos, change colors if needed and order matching return address labels. Oh-so-convenient!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We had a good time at Churchill Downs, although it's tough chasing a two-year-old throughout the suites at the racetrack. Probably not the best place for a child that age, although there were lots of little ones all over the place. Which explains the large number of mommies with wine in hand.

I enjoyed taking naps the last few days, seeing friends at a dinner party Saturday night and putting out the Christmas decorations (a few at least). Of course, the holidays are not complete without an appliance malfunction, so the plumber will be visiting our house today (pipes in the kitchen backing up - not good).

Enjoy your online shopping if you are partaking in Cyber Monday madness!
Image courtesy of Tiny Prints

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and many of us will be gathering with family and friends to give thanks for our good fortune and enjoy delicious meals. As I look back on this last year, I have much for which to be grateful: a loving husband; beautiful, smart and healthy children; a nice home; a good job – the list goes on and on.

All of us know people, though, who have struggled this past year and they’ll be in our thoughts and prayers tomorrow. I think of our dear friend who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year at this time – he recently had a setback when he suffered a seizure. I often think of him, his wife and sons. I just hope that life will improve for them and this coming year will bring better health and a return to normalcy, as best as can be expected. I give thanks that he’s out of the hospital and will be spending Thanksgiving at home with his family.

Enjoy this special time with your loved ones, eat some turkey and pumpkin pie and get some rest. The Christmas season will hit us like a brick on Friday and we’ll need all of the strength we have to survive!

Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pretty Baubles

So, what do you think about the costume jewelry craze featuring large beads, faux pearls and such, tied with grosgrain ribbon? I’ve seen it everywhere, from J. Crew to Stella & Dot. In fact, when searching for a pair of jeans at Ann Taylor Loft (BTW, I FINALLY found a pair – for a petite girl who is fighting the pear shape, jean shopping is a miserable experience. But, that’s an entire blog entry unto itself.), I couldn’t resist buying a necklace that featured large green, glass baubles with a black ribbon. It’s pretty bold for me, so we’ll see if I chicken out and take it back. But, I tend to be a sucker for pretty, shiny things, hence the spontaneous purchase. Of course, once I buy into a fad, it's a guarantee that it has reached its peak and will soon die out.

But, that aside, I think it's fun during the holidays to break out jewelry and accessories that makes a statement. We decorate trees, why not decorate ourselves a little bit with the sparkles and the trinkles? (Yes, I'm channeling Eloise at the Plaza - been reading that to my daughter lately.) So, for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday celebrations, will you be donning any bold baubles? If so, what are you wearing and how are you styling it?

Only one more day of work, kids. Can't wait for the long weekend.
Images courtesy of Ann Taylor Loft, J. Crew and Stella & Dot

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fitz & Frannie Giveaway

Looking for the perfect gift for the preppy gal in your life? How about a pair of earrings from Fitz & Frannie? How about two? Fitz & Frannie is running a special where you can buy two pair of earrings for $30 and receive free shipping. The code at check-out is PREPPY.

Then, beginning Nov. 27 – Black Friday – for every order of silk knot earrings placed through their Web site,, a free pair of earrings will be given away to a lucky winner each week. That gets me in the holiday spirit!

These earrings add a fun touch to any outfit, whether you’re donning the pink and green to top off your preppiest of outfits or sporting your school colors at the big game (Honey, I’ll take the blue & white in time for the next UK game, please!), the knots are a traditional “twist” on everyday jewelry.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little Twinkle for the Holidays

With the holidays come parties, get-togethers and plenty of social occasions. It’s always fun to wear a festive outfit during these times to get in the spirit of the season and sparkle a bit. I want to find a new sweater that I can wear with slacks or a skirt during the holidays, but something that’s unique and not your run-of-the-mill holiday wear (nothing adorned with Santas, wreathes, bells, etc.).

Anthropologie has some great sweaters. And, of course, J. Crew is featuring a number of sequined cardigans, often paired with jeans or khakis to demonstrate how versatile you can be with the ‘bling.’ Sometimes I like their accessories even more than their actual clothes; just pair a fabulous beaded necklace with a solid color sweater, or a brooch that really pops, and that could make an outfit.

So, dear readers, what do you recommend for holiday attire this year? Any special retailers, outfits or other frocks/accessories you would recommend? Would love to hear about it!

It’s finally Friday, kids! Have fun this weekend. My big plans? I just hope to get a nap at some point.
Images courtesy of J.Crew, Anthropologie

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Divine Design

I’ve always been an Home & Garden Television (HGTV) and Food Network junkie. Some of the shows on those networks entrance me and I can’t break away. One of my favorite designers on HGTV is Candice Olsen from “Divine Design.” I’ve always said that if I ever win the lottery, I’m flying Candice, Chico and the entire crew down from Canada to decorate my house.

Anyhoo, we’re in the process of lining up some painting projects for our house, including our dining room. The dining room features wallpaper from when we purchased the house and while I’ve been able to live with it, it’s time to update. So, I started thinking about potential colors and I kept returning to robin’s egg blue. I love that color and I think combined with a crisp white trim, it could make for a gorgeous room. Then, in looking for inspiration online, I thought, “What would Candice do?” I came across a photo of a dining room make-over she performed and fell in love with it (see image above). The color scheme, the fabrics, the lighting – classic Candice.

So, any other HGTV junkies out there? What’s your favorite program?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Blog-i-versary

Today marks one year since I started my blog. I can still remember the great joy I felt when a reader left her first comment and said such kind words about my writing and subject matter. There were times I wondered if anyone was reading, if they liked what I was saying, if I was making any kind of impact in the world of blogging, knowing there are millions of blogs out there. But slowly, over time, more and more people left comments and became followers. I, too, discovered a number of wonderful blogs and bloggers out there, with great stories to share, beautiful imagery to project and humorous stories to brighten my day. I have found I have so much in common with people from all over the world, making the world seem a bit smaller, which is nice.

So, a huge thanks to all of you who return to read my little blog each day. Your kind words, encouragement, advice and general happy thoughts have made this blog what it is today. I hope you’ll continue to visit, as I will always check in on your blogs, and I will strive to make this a nice place to dwell for a few moments when you stop by.
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is next Thursday. How did that happen? And, as usual, the Christmas holidays are sneaking up far too quickly. I've already seen two houses with Christmas trees displayed in their front windows, and as I was driving into work this morning, the downtown tree lot was setting up shop. Holy cow.

So, before we jump straight into the Christmas frenzy, let's savor next week's holiday and all it has to offer. It's a time to reflect on the year and give thanks for our many blessings. And, it's a time to eat ourselves into a food coma. Woo hoo!

So, dear friends in blog land, what are you doing this Thanksgiving? And, what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? My favorite dish is my husband's oyster stuffing - delicious! But, this year we won't be cooking. Instead, we're dining at Churchill Downs and watching the races with members of our family. Churchill does an amazing Thanksgiving feast so we're going to dine on good food and then enjoy betting on the ponies. Hey, it's Kentucky. That's what many of us do. ;)
Image courtesy of Marth Stewart Living

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hostess Gifts

Yesterday I attended a Junior League general meeting at the home of a sustainer (AKA, long-time member). It was during lunch, so I was able to get away from the office for a bit and spend some time in yet another gorgeous home. As a thank-you to the hostess, the meeting planners provided her with a small gift. So, it got me thinking about what makes a good hostess gift, especially during the holidays. Then, when thumbing through the latest Pottery Barn catalog last night, I came across several good suggestions.

If you're bringing a bottle of wine, why not consider a decorative stopper to go with it? Pottery Barn's new serving sets with engraving add a nice touch to a buffet and table setting and are of heirloom quality. You may consider a personalized gift (if you have time to plan in advance), featuring the host or hostess's monogram, such as soaps or a lovely julep cup with flowers. (If bringing flowers, have them cut and already displayed in the julep cup or a vase, rather than a loose bouquet. That way, the hostess doesn't have to stop what she's doing to cut and arrange flowers.)
Images courtesy of Pottery Barn

P.S. - Thanks to everyone for your kind comments about our dog, King. It's comforting to know I have such supportive readers/blog friends out there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Long Live the King

Our beloved dog, King, was put to sleep yesterday. He had been very sick and it was for the best. But, it made for a sad day.

King was full of energy - too much at times - he could wear us out! One of my favorite memories of him, though, was a time he was very still. I was home sick from work one day, lying on the couch and King stayed by my side the whole time. He was our protective pound dog and we'll miss him very much.

Long live the 'King.'

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old School Gifts

As I was thinking about my own Christmas list yesterday, it provided the next entry for the “My Favorite Things” series on my blog. I’ve been in an old-school kind of mood lately, so for lack of a better title, here are some suggestions for the Old School Preppy in your life (I’m sure I’m leaving several items out, so for the die-hard preppies out there, feel free to expand upon my list).

  • Duck Boots – I could use a new pair of snow boots, but why not get something that’s good for the rain, too? I haven’t had a pair of L.L. Bean Duck Boots since college, so perhaps it’s time to bring back an old favorite. Shearling-lined definitely, but the boot or the gumshoe – what do you think?
  • A. Tierney Watch with grosgrain ribbon band – You can’t get much preppier than grosgrain. Wear it on your wrist with a pretty watch face and you’re sporting a classic, never-goes-out-of-style look. These days, with cell phones, Blackberries and such, watch sales are down. So, boost the economy old-school style with this timeless (ha, ha) favorite.
  • Aviator Sunglasses – I had a pair of Ray Ban military aviators in high school and college. Damn, wish I still had those bad boys. They’re back in style and I need (okay, want) to get a pair. Be it Ray Ban or the cool Ft. Knox shades available at J. Peterman, you can’t go wrong with this look.
  • Norwegian Sweater – I guess I should just include a link to the L.L. Bean catalog here and call it quits, as far as preppy clothing is concerned. I still have my gray and red Norwegian cardigan from the late 1980s. It has silver snowflake buttons. (Cheers to me, it still fits!) If you’re a guy, you’re in luck, the navy and white version is still available. I couldn’t locate a women’s version, so ladies, just order a size smaller.
  • Barbour Jackets – I gave the Barbour Liddesdale jacket to Hubby for our anniversary this year and he loves it. I love looking at it. It’s quilted moleskin with a tartan liner. These classic jackets will never go out of style. Barbour makes a gorgeous women’s line as well. Visit Barbour of England’s site directly or see what’s available through Orvis.

I’ll refrain from suggesting Bermuda bags, add-a-bead necklaces, shrimp rings/earrings and such. I have yet to see these items come back with gusto, but you never know!
Images courtesy of L.L. Bean, A. Tierney and Orvis.

Monday, November 9, 2009


When I was in college, I had a poster of Andre Agassi on my dorm room wall. That mane of hair, those soulful eyes - I had a huge crush on Agassi. I followed his career on and off. When he married Brooke Shields, I wasn’t thrilled, but like he was going to consult me on that. His career took a bad turn and then he had an incredible come-back. He divorced and married one of my favorite female tennis players, Steffi Graff and had kids. They became philanthropists, opened a school for disadvantaged youth and have made a huge impact on their community. Both he and Steffi remain, to this day, two of my favorite athletes.

Then, his autobiography, Open, came out. If you haven’t heard, there’s controversy over his revelation that he did crystal meth and lied about it to the ATP when a drug test came back positive. Knowing this, I made sure to sit down to watch his interview with “60 Minutes” last night. And you know what? I think I like him even more now.

He’s been very honest about the time he used drugs and the self-loathing that was involved with it. The interview was excellent, but not until Katie Couric brought up the reactions and comments that fellow tennis players have made, did he get emotional. She quoted Martina Navratilova who attacked Agassi for lying about the drug use and compared him to baseball player Roger Clemons, who used steroids and lied about it. Agassi was taking inhibiters, not enhancers, so he was in no way trying to improve his game. He was addicted, he was depressed and he didn’t care about his life or tennis anymore. During the interview, he asked that people see that and have a little compassion. I say, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Martina, you helped break up the marriage of one of your girlfriends and then got involved in a nasty palimony suit with said girlfriend. Who are you to call anyone out? (Don’t mess with my Andre, people.)

I’m sure there are people who disagree with my stance on this and will continue to criticize him for what he did. But I admire Andre Agassi, far more for what he has done off of the court than on it.
Image courtesy of

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Get a Kick Out of kate

Why should little girls have all the fun? These color block stockings from kate spade add a vibrant punch of color to an ordinary outfit. It's like playing dress-up, but for grown-ups!
Image courtesy of

Thursday, November 5, 2009

G&G - Thanks for Sticking It Out

I just received an e-mail from my favorite magazine, Garden & Gun. It was a letter from the president and publisher and I thought, "Here we go again, another one of my wonderful publications has bitten the dust.

Thankfully, that's not the case. G&G is, not folding, like other favorites Gourmet and Southern Accents. Although, due to cost cutting, there will not be an October/November issue. But, look for their holiday issue in late November if you're a subscriber (newstands early December). This magazine features some of the best writing in the business, exquisite photography and captures the flavor of the new South like no one else can.

While I'll miss my fall issue, I'm so glad you guys are sticking around.

Temptation - The Devil is a House

So, I'm on my way to taking the kids to preschool and then heading into work this morning. I stop at the Mommy Crackhouse (aka Starbuck's) and then as I'm passing one of my absolute favorite streets in town, I notice two small real estate signs pointing down the street. Now, I had just decided the night before that I needed to stop this silly pouting about my house and stay focused on the good in my life, on what I have, not what I want. Then, temptation hits again. So, what do I do? Turn around and head down that street.

I was familar with one of the houses - it's been for sale for a while and the asking price was recently dropped. It's a cute cottage, but a bit small for the price. And the other house? The clouds parted and angels began to sing (or maybe it was the devil dressed as an angel - he's been tempting me a lot lately). It's beautiful. Would be perfect for us. Very close to the kids' preschool and future kindergarten/grade school. And, of course, priced way out of our league. Sigh. Oh, well. A girl can dream.

Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend will be here soon!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

House Envy

Ugh, having a bad case of house envy lately. Ever get in a funk where you seem to notice every single flaw with your own house? Meanwhile, everyone else seems to be remodeling or buying a new house (okay, maybe not at the moment) or redecorating? I know, it could be so much worse. I should be grateful I have a home and it's not being reclaimed by the bank. Sorry, just looking for people to join me for cocktails and "whine" at my pity party. :)

I have been feeling this way for a couple of weeks. Then, we went trick-or-treating and I caught glimpses of my neighbors' houses and it made me wish I could redecorate. Granted, I only saw entry halls, but they were quite beautiful. ;) Then, last night, I attended a Junior League meeting at the home of a long-time member. The hostess is the wife of a local politician who currently holds a fairly important position with state government. And, he has his eyes set on higher aspirations in Washington. So, anyhoo, I travel out to their newly-built house in a very wealthy enclave and I couldn't believe it. I've been in big homes, but this place was amazing. The details, the furniture, the beautiful couple and their new baby. Yeah, it made me want to throw up in my purse.

I don't want to be a bitter person; I want to enjoy my home. It's just hard right now. So much to do, yet so much debt to pay off! I have to keep telling myself that our time will come. There's a plan. Now, if God would only whisper it in my ear...
Image courtesy of Southern Living House Plans