Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Flip for Decorating

Elizabeth Mayhew

House Beautiful special projects editor and Today show contributer Elizabeth Mayhew, is coming to Louisville next week for a book signing. She recently released Flip for Decorating, and will be in her hometown for a wine and cheese event on Oct. 8. And, it's a fundraiser for Junior League. And, I won't be able to attend. But, it's for a good reason because I'll be at The Greenbrier. Yea!

So, if you live in the area and you're a fan of Elizabeth, stop by the store Complements in Holiday Manor, Oct. 8, between 5 - 7 p.m. and have her sign a copy of the book. She's also going to discuss decorating, organization, cooking and other lifestyle topics. Should make for a fun evening!
Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fabulous Frocks

CK Bradley's Apres Dress

CK Bradley herself modeling the Sonoma dress

The Taylor Ruffle Ponte Dress from Bailey's - love it!

First of all, thanks to everyone who offered tips and suggestions on what to wear to this weekend's wedding and dinner party, as well as dining at The Greenbrier. Rather than buy yet another black dress (as much as I want to), I'm going to wear one that I already have and jazz it up with accessories. But, if I were to buy a new dress, I've seen some fabulous fashions online at CK Bradley (love her) and Bailey's that are pretty tempting.

I happened to come across Bailey's blog via Southern Gent (another fun read by a brother blogger). Visit their online store: The boutique is located in Annapolis, Maryland, but they also offer some fetching items online. And, I love that Bailey’s features photos of real-life folks donning their fashions. For some reason, that always appeals to me: If you have a cool Web site, featuring cool people wearing your clothes, that’s a plus in my book.

Which brings me to Ms. Camilla, over at CK Bradley. I’ve adored her clothes from afar for years. The finest preppy frocks and now she has a fun blog to accompany her retail Web site. Check it out.

I was very close to buying a dress from Bailey’s the other day, but because I’m a little gun shy about ordering dresses online because of sizing, I held off. But, I may get brave and order one. We’ll see.

In the meantime, check out the latest from these shops and see what tickles your fancy. You may just score a fabulous find!
Images from CK Bradley blog and shopbailey'

Countdown to Next Week

The Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, where the Greenbrier Resort resides.

Hubby is out of town on business until Thursday, so I’m playing single mom this week and it’s already wearing me out. The kids have gotten into this habit of climbing into bed with us in the middle of the night, so our sleep is constantly interrupted with little ones trying to vie for space and then one of us carrying them back to their own rooms. So, last night, I just let them snooze with me because I was too tired and there was enough room for the three of us. Oh, well.

So, as I deal with lack of sleep this week, it just makes thoughts of next week even sweeter, because we’re going to The Greenbrier for our wedding anniversary. Yea! I’m going to sleep late, take a nap each day and take it as easy as I can. The only thing on the agenda right now is a spa session for me, hunting clays for Hubby and high tea each day at 4 p.m. I may do more, but what we have planned so far sounds like heaven right now.

I’m going to miss my kiddos very much, but Mommy needs some R&R. And, it’s our 10th anniversary – a big one to celebrate. So, I’m looking forward to having Hubby to myself for a few days. I can’t wait!
Image courtesy of The Greenbrier

Monday, September 28, 2009

Outlet Shopping: Is it Really a Good Deal?

On Saturday, my mother, daughter and I drove an hour north to hit the outlet mall in hopes of scoring some great deals on fall clothes. The kids desparately need new clothes for the fall and winter and I was in the market for a few good finds myself. And, while I did come home with shopping bags galore, I probably could have purchased so much more for the kids locally at Kohl's or Old Navy. Remember when outlet shopping really offered great deals? Anymore it must be just the convenience of having all of these stores in one giant location, because, I saw many of the same prices I encounter at the regular retail stores close to home.

I did find some deals at J. Crew and I did find the riding boots (above) that for which I had been longing. Again, though, I didn't walk away feeling like I had come upon the deal of the century.
If I want a great deal, maybe I need to head up to northern Kentucky where there's a Gap outlet - now, that's a great deal. Granted, some items may be ripped, marked or feature other flaws, but often times you can come across a gem of a find. Maybe that will be my next venture. Or, I could just sit on my bottom and order online, which I much prefer. :)
Photo courtesy of Anne Klein

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ballet, Hives and Football - Such is Life

Thursday was Visitors' Day at my daughter's ballet class. These little girls are too cute (Miss E. is in the black leotard). I am so proud of her and how well she listens to her teacher. Hubby and my mother came too, and we all took turns walking with Little Guy in the hall, because, well, he insisted on being very much a 2-year-old that day.

Little Guy went to the doctor this morning to have his hives checked out. He's had three break-outs in the last week so they suggested he be examined. Of course, his skin was fine this morning, and it's very hard to tell what could be triggering the outbreaks. The doctor wrote a prescription for Zyrtec and we'll just continue to monitor it. Sigh.

Have a great weekend everyone. My Kentucky Wildcats take on the Florida Gators tomorrow night. That's going to be a tough one. Although, I hear some of the Florida players have the Swine Flu, so if Tim Tebow gets it, we may have a fighting chance. Calm down, I'm just kidding. ;)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Style Icon: Coco Chanel

Oh, how I love Coco Chanel. Her iconic style lives on as the design house she built continues to create gorgeous clothing, with Coco’s aesthetic still very much present in today’s designs (thanks to Karl Lagerfeld).

Unfortunately, I don’t have a budget for Chanel, but I love to look at the clothes. Lately there’s been great focus on the life and times of Ms. Chanel, most notably with the film “Coco Before Chanel,” starring Audrey Tautou, the book The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, by Karen Korbo and an article in today’s New York Times Style section.

Chic and elegant, that is Coco Chanel.
Images courtesy of NPR and Amazon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Would Audrey Do?

I'm having a devil-of-a-time finding a cute dress for some upcoming events this fall. To be honest, I haven't hit too many stores, because, well, I just don't have much time. I have been scouring the Internet, though, and I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed in my old reliables, Ann Taylor and J. Crew. I'm just not digging the styles of dresses this season.

So, I have to pose the question: What Would Audrey Do?

Here's my dilemma: I have a wedding in early October followed by a birthday celebration at a restaurant the same night. The following week we're celebrating our anniversary at the Greenbrier, where dressing up for dinner is the norm. (I'm set for Keeneland - will be donning boots for that daytime event). I have black cocktail dresses, but I'm looking for something a little different; not too trendy, though. Classic, but unique. Which tends to always bring me back to black. I guess Audrey knew what she was doing.

I realize ordering online can be tricky, but I don't often have the time to scour the shops. Perhaps I just need to sliver out a few hours this weekend. So, Ladies (and, any gentlemen who may be readers - feel free to chime in), any luck with ordering dresses online and if so, what would you recommend?
Image courtesy of Sotheby's.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Game Day

Saturday was game day in Lexington and we had so much fun! We left Louisville about 7:45 a.m. with plenty of food and beverages in tow. We tailgated near the stadium and close to some of the dorms where I once lived. In fact, at one point Hubby and I ran over to the Commons, the cafeteria I used to frequent, to use the restrooms. That place still smells the same! How is that?

The Cats managed to squeak out a win. We enjoyed some post game tailgating with another group of friends while waiting for the crazy traffic to let up, then grabbed some dinner on our way out of town.

Next week is the Florida game. Tim Tebow, please be gentle. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Moments of Grace

Yesterday, I took my daughter to ballet class. Usually, my mother-in-law does this because the classes take place in the afternoon, while I'm still at work. Well, MIL is in England right now, so I took off a little early to escort my sweet girl to her class. She was so excited to have me there and her teacher came out to tell me how excited she was and that she kept saying "My mommy is here today!" It made me feel great, but at the same time, as I sat in the hallway in my high heels, holding my Blackberry, amid the stay-at-home moms clad in T-shirts and shorts, I felt a little sad. She's thrilled to have me there because I've never been able to make it before. It was quite the "coup" that Mom could break away from the office. Sigh.

I try to tell myself that this is a pastime that she can share with her grandmother, but my working-mom guilt always creeps in and says "You should be the one taking her each week! You're missing out on very important milestones!" Then I have to stop myself and consider that I like working, I'm raising great kids and we have a wonderful support system around us. It's great that her grandmothers are both available and can spend time with her and her brother. And, just as I did yesterday, I will move mountains if I have to, to be there for my kids. I've made certain career decisions to do just that. While I have a good job and I'm in a senior position, I'm not on a fast track and that's perfectly fine with me.

So, what am I trying to say in today's post? Hmm. Whether you're a career mom or a non-paid mom, we all have our moments of struggle and feelings of failure, yet we also have our moments of grace. Rather than viewing yesterday as a moment where I've struggled to be present for my kids, I'd rather see it as the beautiful afternoon I spent watching my daughter flutter and flit around in ballet class, as she smiled from ear to ear. I helped create that little person. That was my moment of grace.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Tomorrow we travel down the road to my alma mater, the University of Kentucky, for tailgating fun and what I hope is a stomping of that red team by my beloved Cats. Given that we have to drive down early in the morning, we're going to make it easy on ourselves and get boxed lunches. And, of course, plenty of beverages to enjoy leading up to game time. ;) Thanks to everyone who sent recipes and suggestions for tailgating fare. I definitely plan to use those - perhaps for a football viewing party at home!
Image courtesy of Julius Friedman.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tretorns: The Preppiest of Tennis Shoes

Ah, remember Tretorns? These were a preppy staple in my wardrobe during high school. I think I even had a pair of the classic pink above, or maybe they were yellow. I do remember that I had a pair of plaid ones that were oh-so-fabulous. Did you ever sport these preppy tennies? Perhaps you still do! Although, besides just a couple of the old standards they carry, their new line I am not crazy about. Not preppy at all. Shame, shame!

Oh, on a side note, I managed to miss my first general JL meeting of the season yesterday because my son came down with a horrible case of hives and I had to pick him up early. Benadryl is a miracle drug, let me tell ya. He's doing much better - luckily his breathing wasn't affected in any way. I think it may have been the peaches he had at lunch, b/c I suddenly recall a reaction to peaches when he was a baby - his face turned bright red. He's had them since with no problems, but I'm guessing that may have been it. It's amazing the things you forget. Bad Mommy!

It's almost Friday folks - yea!
Image courtesy of Tretorn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Kindergarten Tours to Tailgating

What's currently on our tailgating menu - food suggestions welcome.

Well, we're two tours down and one more to go on the kindergarten search. But, I think we've pretty much decided upon the school for our daughter and, of course, it's the one that will require switching parishes. But, it just felt right. I was happy with the size of the school, the curriculum, the theology and the overall feel. Like everyone said, you'll know a good fit when you find it and we certainly did. Thanks again to everyone who offered words of support. I greatly appreciate it! Here's hoping we're not placed on a waiting list...

Now, onto thoughts of food, drink and general debauchery, or as we call it in the South, tailgating at a college football game. I need to decide what we're going to bring with us down to Lexington on Saturday morning. Any suggestions on what will travel well for the one hour trip? Besides beer or bourbon? We're going to get down there early in the morning, since the game is at noon. I'd like to do something breakfast/brunch style. Anything that requires baking will need to be placed in a special carrier - hopefully it will stay warm for the trip. Recipes and general tailgating suggestions are welcome!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Power of Women

I saw an amazing documentary yesterday that I just had to share with you. It was called “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” and it’s about the women of Liberia who helped bring about change to their war torn country. The producer is Abigail Disney, great-granddaughter of Walt Disney.

I saw it as part of a girls’ leadership summit for which I volunteered as a member of the Junior League. The film was powerful, disturbing, sad, joyous and hopeful. Again, it was something that made me count the many blessings in my life. I went home and hugged my babies and thanked God that I was born in this country, with the ways and means available to me. But, it also made me think about the power that women have and to see how we can affect change. I wish more of that took place in this country. We are strong. We are the mothers and the caretakers. We are smart. We are the peacemakers. I look at the women in Liberia who brought about change to their country after years of war, killing, rape and other unspeakable acts. Through it all, the country eventually elected the first female president. These women were in a position where there was nothing left to lose and they were, literally, fighting for their lives and the lives of their families.

I look at the resources many of us women have this country, knowing we could do so much, yet so few women hold office and we have yet to elect a female president. I felt compelled to do something, but I’m still struggling to figure out what that something is (keep in mind this was yesterday afternoon – still taking all of this in!). So, that’ll be weighing on my mind. Would love to hear from you, dear readers, about how you, as women, think we can affect change in our society, whether through education, childcare, healthcare, so on. And, if you are a male reader, I’d like to hear from you as well. I know, heavy question for a Monday. Sorry! :)

Have a great week! Five more days until tailgating in Lexington for the UK/UofL game. Can’t wait!
Image courtesy of "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" documentary

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Kindergarten Chronicles Begin

Tomorrow we kick off our first of three tours of kindergartens that will take place over the next week, so I just wanted to ask that everyone please send prayers, positive vibes, good ju-ju, and everything else our way. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Relax, not a big deal!” And, in the grand scheme of the world, it’s probably not. But, we are deciding on an educational path for our first born, so, I am a bit anxious and nervous. I want to do right by my child.

In our case, we’re choosing Catholic education. My husband and I both attended Catholic schools, K-12 and we're active in our Catholic faith. So, we want to provide that for our children. We will be selecting the school she will attend from kindergarten to eighth grade.

We currently belong to a parish that has a school, which we’ve heard wonderful things about (Hubby went there as a child). But, it’s rather large. So, we’re also looking at two other parish schools in the area – one very small and one that falls in between and has an excellent reputation. Now, preference is given to siblings and then to families who belong to the parish church. So, if we decide on a school other than our current parish school, well, big changes are in store. And, here’s hoping there isn’t a waiting list at the school we end up choosing. I can’t even face that possibility (I know, I sound like those parents I made fun of in a post last week.)

Hubby and I have been praying that we make the right decision. We’ve heard great things about all three schools, so that’s a positive. It’s just going to depend on what feels right for our family. I’ll keep everyone posted on the decision. I can’t believe I’m deciding on a kindergarten for my baby! Ok, deep breath…

Hope everyone has a great weekend! No game for the Cats this Saturday, but Sept. 19 is the big game with Louisville. We’ll be tailgating in Lexington and I CAN’T WAIT!!!

Family Huddle

I heard a great interview today on NPR with members of the Manning family: Archie, Peyton and Eli. We all know who they are – Peyton is quarterback for the Colts, Eli for the Giants and each have won Super Bowl titles. Their dad, Archie, was an all-star in his day at Ole Miss and went on to play professional football as well.

I’ve always liked these guys – hmmm, could it be because they played in the SEC? But it’s also because I think they’re class acts. They just seem like upright guys who support the communities in which they live (Ever been to Indianapolis? Peyton’s name is on the children’s hospital and he’s involved with many charitable organizations.). You’d never see a Manning caught up in a dog fighting circuit. I’m just sayin’.

Anyhoo, the Mannings have come out with, of all things, a children’s book called “Family Huddle,” about three brothers who play sports and their parents who support them unconditionally (oldest brother, Cooper, played at Ole Miss until an injury derailed his football career; Eli was a star at Ole Miss as well). During the interview, Archie talked about how his own father never pushed him in sports, but encouraged and praised him, and he said he always did the same with his sons. The Mannings are successful because they push themselves and support each other; not because an overbearing parent or coach needled them to be better. They build each other up, they don't tear each other down. There was no spirit- breaking in that family. That’s a refreshing philosophy, especially in a sport that can be brutal in the way it treats young men.

So, cheers to the Mannings. “Family Huddle” is definitely on the Christmas list this year.
Images courtesy of EPSN and NPR

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From Lake Livin’ to Country Club Crashin’

It was a great Labor Day weekend, spent with friends and family. The first part of the weekend we drove down to Lake Cumberland to stay with friends at their lake house, and enjoy boating, cooking out and just taking it easy on the porch.

The kids had a ball and actually got in the water for a bit. We had a scare Monday morning, though, when our two-year-old took a tumble down the concrete steps at the house and scraped and bruised the right side of his face. We’ve been calling him “Raging Bull” ever since. I had been expecting something to happen – Little Guy has no fear. It’s pretty sad when you visit a place and the first thing you think is “Where is the nearest hospital?”

We then ventured back home on Monday and transitioned from fleece and hiking boots to Lilly Pulitzer for the annual Labor Day bash at my mother-in-law’s club. The kids were in heaven with the pony rides and carnival games. Both were so excited to ride on a sweet little pony that Miss E. named “Della.” We then enjoyed the buffet and finished most of our meal on the patio before the skies opened up and poured rain. Luckily, we were able to quickly grab a table in the dining room. So, after catching up with some old acquaintances, it was time to head home and get ready for bed. I feel like I need another day to recover from the holiday. Whew!

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day. The pools are closed now. Pack away the beach towels and swimming suits. It’s time to seriously think about fall!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Garden & Gun Club

Attention fans of the fabulous magazine Garden & Gun: the Garden & Gun Club has arrived.

According to G&G publisher Sid Evans, “Somehow this magazine has always felt like the greatest club on earth, a place where there’s always an interesting conversation going on, the food is sublime, and you never know what great artist or writer is going to walk into the room.” To capitalize on that feeling, the club has been established and features three different membership categories from which you can choose: the Adventure Society ($35), the Sporting Society ($100) and the Secret Society ($500 and limited to 1,000 members).

So, for those of you who adore this publication as I do, you may want to consider joining the club and taking advantage of some great discounts at a variety of restaurants, hotels and merchants across the South. Plus, they’ll send you some cool swag, like a car decal, tote bag and more, depending on your membership level.

I hope everyone has a fun and relaxing holiday weekend. Take it easy and soak in the last days of summer. Enjoy!

P.S. – If you subscribe to G&G, but haven’t received your latest issue (I’m still waiting), apparently there was a snafu at the printers (this is according to a Facebook entry on G&G’s fan site). Supposedly the new issues are on their way.
Image courtesy of Garden & Gun

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fry 'em up

I promised myself that I would start eating healthier and walking more in the evenings, in hopes of losing a couple of pounds. But also just because I need to make healthier choices. Cut down on the soft drinks, bread and other high-calorie items, and get back into a regular exercise routine.

So, what did we do for dinner last night? We ate at a local home cookin' place near our house and I had a BLT on sour dough bread. And, the tomatoes were FRIED GREEN TOMATOES.

Damn they were good. I'll start tomorrow, I promise.
Image courtesy of Simply Recipes

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happiness in a Cup

The Pumpkin Spice Latte has returned to Starbucks for the season. Can I have an amen?
Image courtesy of Starbucks

Food Stories - The Final Chapter (for now)

Thanks again to everyone who entered the Southern Living cookbook giveaway and shared their delicious recipes and charming stories about family, friends and good home cooking. Thought I’d share the last three stories with you. Bon appetite!

TLM at Teresa Bug shared this delightful story.

I would love to add that cookbook to my collection!

Food is such a huge part of my family that I am having a hard time coming up with one recipe. We have so many traditions (chocolate pie at Thanksgiving, egg strata on Christmas, ribs and BBQ Pork Butt in the summer, the list goes on) One thing that my mom has always made every summer and has now become a shared experience with the whole family is pickle relish. It isn't nearly as sweet as what you buy in the store and it is the perfect touch to potato salad, hamburgers, macaroni salad, hotdogs, etc. One day it will probably be my job to make it.

Molly Lou Gifts

The lovely Mrs. Molly Lou shared this wonderful memory of one of her grandmother’s recipes. And, yes, please send along the recipe. It sounds great!

Thanks so much for doing this...I am so excited about this giveaway and think it is a fantastic idea. I am really finding my love for cooking and just adore Southern Living. Everyone has a story and food is such a way to bring people together and make those stories and memories.

I think my favorite recipe is my grandmother's homemade macaroni and cheese. My grandmother is such a fantastic woman and has lived quite a life. She grew up on a farm in the Midwest with just her father, after her mother died of typhoid fever; and then went on to raise two children alone after her husband died when my mother was just 8. She is so strong and has such a fantastic work ethic. She makes the best macaroni ever. I have tweaked it over the years by using reduced fat cheese, skim milk, and a little less butter. I also combine cheeses and use two different cheeses most of the time. My mother never made this growing up as she isn't much for macaroni and cheese, so it was always so special when I went to visit my grandmother. I remember the first time she let me help her make it for a big family dinner...she was making a triple batch to feed the masses. I felt like such a "grown up" that I was able to actually help and not just watch.

Every family has one recipe that seems to be passed down through the years and I hope that my children will one day make it too. I know it's a winner because Picky Pete, I mean, my son, will eat it. :) I am happy to share the full recipe if you want it. Thanks again for doing this...this was a fun little trip down memory lane.

Queen Bee Swain

Queen Bee Swain has offered up twist on the traditional grits dish, which I love. If you do get the recipe from your Nan, Queen Bee, please send it along. Garlic, cheese and grits – you can’t go wrong there!

I am going to have to call my Memphis bred and raised Nan- her garlic cheese grits are my hands down fav Southern food! She only makes them on holidays now and I do not know the recipe, which is a good thing because I'd be the size of a barge if I did- basically just grits with cheese, butter and garlic!

Picking the 'Right' School

The other day when I was home sick from work, I watched a documentary on Showtime called "Nursery University." It followed five New York City families who were all vying to get their progeny into one of Manhattan’s exclusive nursery schools. We’re talking pre-K and under, folks. At $20,000 a year and up. Uh, huh.

I was entranced by this program because Hubby and I will be touring schools this month to decide upon a kindergarten for Miss E. next year. I thought I was being a bit over-anxious about this process, but after seeing these parents, I’ve decided I must be so low-key, you’d hardly think I had a pulse. What lengths these people went through to get in the door, on the right waiting lists! They jumped through hoops, trotting their children out like trained ponies. They hire consultants for thousands of dollars, just to get advice on how to get their kids in the "right" school. I could not believe this. I had always heard that the world of Manhattan private education was cut-thoat, but this was CRAZY! I’m guessing that they assume if their child gets into "the" nursery school then they’re a shoe-in for Harvard? What the what?! So, if your child doesn’t get into the first choice, is everything down hill from there?

After watching this program, it made me thankful that I don't live such a pressure-cooker lifestyle. My kids are bright and will get a good education. My husband and I will work hard to help them attain that. But, at some point, you have to step back and look at what's best for your life and that of your children. Not what you think society is pushing you toward.

Is anyone else going through the school search with for their kids right now? Be it pre-school, grade school, high school or college? Would love to hear your stories!
Image courtesy of the documentary "Nursery University"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Henry Brown Bags

Ever have one of those days where you’re working like mad, taking care of everything from the kids to meeting deadlines at the office, and you think to yourself, “You know, I should really buy myself a present.” :)

I know, completely self-indulgent, but last week was tough and I needed a boost. So, what did I do? I ordered a new purse from Henry Brown Bags. HB is headquartered in Lexington, Ky. and features super-cute designs. I’m a sucker for buying local, so I felt the need to support the economy by buying from a Kentucky gal (I can really spin this, can’t I?).

I was in a boutique the other day that carries a few Henry Browns, but I didn’t see a style I liked. So, I went online and ordered the “Mimi Large” in green (see above) and decided to have it monogrammed. Well, a few minutes later I get an e-mail response that says Henry Brown is changing up their colors (they haven’t had a chance to update their Web site), and that particular green is no longer available. Ugh. So, they sent me a PDF of the new color line for fall in case I wanted to change my order.

Now, I’d hate to jump the gun on Henry Brown, so I won’t attach the new color line in this post. But, the colors are great, as are the matching interiors. I will say that I changed my order from green to their new “Dijon” with the interior lining in “Eloise Blue.” So, as soon as my present-to-me arrives, I’ll post a photo. Can't wait!

Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone! We have a three-day weekend coming up. Yea!
Image courtesy of Henry Brown Bags