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