Thursday, April 29, 2010

Raise a Glass to the Big Day

Tomorrow is the running of the Kentucky Oaks - we’re heading into a whirlwind of activity over the next couple of days, and given that, this is likely my last post as we head into the weekend. The schools are closed on Friday and most of the city shuts down. Believe me the tumbleweeds will be rolling through office buildings throughout the city. So, in honor of the Derby, I’ll share some Derby pics of Hubby, our friends and me at Derbies past.

Unfortunately, we did not score tickets this year. Boo!!! But, we’re doing the next best thing, gathering with friends for a big bash. Good food, games and plenty of Kentucky spirit(s). Oh, yeah, and a horse race or two will be watched.

Derby Picks
According to the sports writers, current favorites are Lookin At Lucky trained by Bob Baffert with 3 – 1 odds, and Sidney’s Candy owned by weight loss mogul Jenny Craig, with 5 – 1 odds. As of right now, I’m picking Dublin as my overall horse to win. He stands at 12 – 1 and is trained by D. Wayne Lukas. Not too bad.

Just because bets:
  • Homeboykris, owned by Yankees Joe Torre, for Hubby (50-1 odds, what the heck)
  • Backtalk in honor of my son, also a 50 -1 odds horse, but an offspring of Smarty Jones, so you never know.
  • As I mentioned yesterday, I loved the look of Paddy O’Prado. You should always bet on a gray horse, no matter what. So, I may place a show bet on Paddy.
  • For those of you who follow blogger Sara at Southern Comfort, her good friend is co-owner of Mission Impazible, so in honor of Sarah, place a wager on her friend's colt.
  • Last, but not least, the filly, Devil May Care. You gotta place a bet on the only gal running in the race. Girl Power!

To those of you who are attending the Derby this year, cheers to you. It’s such fun and one of my favorite events of all time. There’s nothing else like it. Ladies, wear your hats proudly and may those heels not do a number on your feet by day’s end. Gentlemen, make sure your ties are straight and your white bucks are ready to go.

For those of you who will be watching the Derby from distances far and wide, raise a toast during “My Old Kentucky Home.” I will be, with a tear in my eye. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Derby Dining

A group from my office attended “Dawn at the Downs,” this morning. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then watched the horses workout. Saw such Derby contenders as Dublin, Noble’s Promise and Line of David, as well as the beautiful gray horse Paddy O’Prado. I also saw Homeboykris, which I may have to place a bet on in honor of Hubby, if anything just for the name.

So, as I continue the tips for the Derby, you may want to know some great places to dine while you’re in town. If you’re looking for a place after Derby, you better have reservations. In fact, because seating is so limited and they want to avoid no-shows, many restaurants require that you provide a credit card number in addition to your name. So, keep that in mind. Some of my favorites are Lilly’s and Jack Fry’s in the Highlands and 610 Magnolia in Old Louisville. One place you must check out if you’ve never been to the ‘Ville is Proof on Main, part of the 21c Museum Hotel, which has been voted one of the best hotels in the United States. Part modern art museum, part hip luxury hotel, it’s quite a site to behold. And, lots of red penguins thrown in for good measure. What? Visit the website if I’ve piqued your interest.

For those of you wanting to party like it’s 1999, your concierge will probably direct you toward 4th Street Live. It features several bars and eateries that the hipsters like to frequent, although this isn’t quite my scene. I’d rather head back to the Highlands neighborhood which has a much more eclectic vibe and “come as you are” attitude. There are some upscale restaurants in the Highlands, but they sit among funky and creative establishments as well. And, if you’re really brave, try the Bambi Walk, our city’s version of the pub crawl. May the force be with you if you do.

Then, if you’re not too hung over the day after Derby, venture out for breakfast or brunch at Toast on Market or Lynn’s Paradise Café, which will be featured in the Today Show this Thursday. Talk about eclectic! But the food is amazing and the giant portions will keep you full well into late afternoon. Or, if you happen to be out in the East End, try one of the two Wild Eggs locations. Their Stuffed French Toast featuring thick sliced sourdough, sweetened cream cheese, blueberries and strawberries, maple syrup, powdered sugar and cinnamon, is to die for.

I also have to give a special shout-out to the Holly Hill Inn, which is close to an hour down the road in Midway, Ky. While it’s a bit of a jaunt from Louisville, it’s in the middle of horse country and serves the most divine food in a gorgeous, old southern home. If you want a true Kentucky dining experience, go to Holly Hill (then head to Woodford Reserve for some bourbon tasting.)

This is just a small list of the many fine restaurants the Derby City has to offer. We must be doing something right because Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri keep coming back (although, I’m sure the horse race has something to do with it, too.)
Image courtesy of Southern Accents

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Derby Fashion

So, you have tickets to Derby. What’s your next step? A great hat, of course!

Some gals come into town with their hats in tow. They know what they’re wearing and are ready! Just hang around the airport later this week and you’ll see the ladies with hat boxes in hand. It’s quite a site.

But, say you’re from the area and you need to score a hat from a local establishment. Or, you received a last minute invitation, you’re coming to Louisville and would like to shop for one here. Where do you go? One of the best places to go is Dee’s Crafts. Dee’s is primarily a craft and gift shop, but around Derby time, they create the most beautiful hats. You can purchase a really inexpensive chapeau at a local department store and then take it to Dee’s to be all dolled up. If you already have an outfit purchased, bring it with you. The ladies at Dee’s can help coordinate the right colors to match your dress perfectly.

Another growing trend you’ll likely see at the Oaks and Derby this year is the “Fascinator,” a smaller headpiece for women who would rather not don the wide-brimmed hat (see above).

If money is no object, then go after the “hats made by the big daddies” – Philip Treacy and Frank Olive – which are available locally at Objects of Desire Gallery, the Peacock Boutique, Rodes, and Rodeo Drive, among others.

So, what if you need to buy a dress and you want to hit some of Louisville’s shops? You can’t go wrong with Rodes (which also carries great men’s clothes), Circe, Peacock Boutique, Clodhoppers or Blink, as well as the Peppermint Palm, should you prefer to wear Lilly on the big day. There are many options for great dresses in town, so you really can’t go wrong.

And where do you go for great accessories? In addition to these shops, I highly recommend Luna Boutique (which also carries hats by fabulous milliner Christine A. Moore) in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood. And, if the weather is nice, after you’ve shopped at Luna, head next door to Avalon, which has one of the best dining patios in town, and enjoy a cocktail. Or, head to the east end of town to Westport Village to accessory shop at Croquis Boutique. Then, if you need a break from shopping, venture across the village to Napa River Grill, which also has a great outdoor dining space.

So, those are few suggestions I have for Derby attire. Local ladies (and the out-of-towners who have attended Derby), chime in with your recommendations as well. Tomorrow, I’ll feature some of my favorite local eateries and great places to go for a cocktail or two while in the Derby City.
Images courtesy of Her Scene Magazine and Dee's Crafts

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ballet, Soccer and Laundry Oh, My!

This past weekend was full of activity, from kids' events to sprucing up the house for Derby season, to countless loads of laundry.

Because of the rain, our daughter's two soccer games were cancelled, yet our son's game went on as scheduled. Go figure. I guess the YMCA is a lot less strict about their fields than the local Catholic grade schools. ;)

On Saturday, Miss E. had her dance recital, followed by a tea party. It was such a sweet event. Her teacher is a long-time ballet instructor in the community and I love that my daughter had the opportunity to take lessons from her. She talks about wanting to do it again in the fall, so we'll see.

I was asked by a reader last week if I had any tips for Derby. Now, as far as betting, I need to study up a bit, and then I'll have to consult Hubby, who has always been great at picking the ponies. Then, in regard to hats, dresses, shoes, etc., I'll be sure to comment on those items as well. So, if you're not too tired of hearing about Derby, tune in this week for some tips!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The 'Derby Daze' is Approaching...

Yesterday, I attended one of my company’s quarterly management meetings at Churchill Downs. Now, the spring meet has yet to start – it begins on Saturday, the day after Keeneland’s spring meet ends. So, it was interesting to be out there during the calm before the storm. And, it’s probably the closest I’ve ever parked to Churchill. On Oaks and Derby, forget about it.

I do know that many of the Derby hopefuls are already at Churchill, getting the lay of the land. It’s such an exciting time of year here in the Derby City. If you ever have an opportunity to attend the Derby, run, don’t walk. It’s great fun and we'll be sure to treat you right. ;)

So, as we approach the busiest week in Louisville, where it's all things Derby, all of the time, thought I’d share some news about the goings-on in Derby Town.

This year, the always-lovely Historic Homes Foundation Derby Breakfast held at Farmington Plantation will be co-hosted by Garden & Gun Magazine and renowned garden designer Jon Carloftis. This annual event is always a favorite of the broad-brimmed-hats-and-seersucker crowd, so I think G&G’s partnership this year will complement the event quite nicely.
There will be live music, a southern breakfast buffet courtesy of Wiltshire Pantry and an open bar (Yeah, we start early on Derby Day; pace yourself, though. Derby is not for the faint of heart.)

So, if you happen to luck enough to score tickets to the Run for the Roses, consider purchasing additional tickets to the Historic Homes Foundation Derby Breakfast, which benefits the ongoing operation of Farmington Historic Plantation, Thomas Edison House and Whitehall House & Gardens, three local jewels. It’s a great way to kick-off Derby Day in style.
Image courtesy of Garden & Gun Magazine

Thursday, April 22, 2010

World of Good

Sorry I’ve been MIA of late. Between work and outside commitments, I’ve not had much time for anything else. But, enough about me. Today is Earth Day where we focus on the environment in hopes to improve Mother Earth for generations to come. Now, I’m not going to pull out my soap box and start lecturing on climate change, recycling and so on. Instead, I’m going to showcase a wonderful site where you can buy earth-friendly wares and support craftspeople and artisans across the globe: WorldofGood from ebay.

This site features purses, clothing jewelry, food, skin care products and so much more. All of the items featured above are available on WorldofGood. According to the website, items are categorized by such “goodprints” as:

People Positive"Combines economic empowerment, cultural traditions, and enhanced quality of life with the unique by eBay shopping experience. People Positive products are made in Fair Trade, sweatshop-free, safe environments.”

Eco Positive“Combines energy conservation, eco-friendly production, and environmental conservation with the unique shopping experience. Eco Positive shopping brings you thousands of all-new eco products, 100% verified by independent Trust Provider organizations and labeled with Goodprint statements to show your positive purchase impact.”

Animal Friendly – “Products are a positive force for animals. In both materials and production, no animals are killed or harmed, and natural habitats aren't disturbed. (Some Animal Friendly products are made with animal ingredients, such as wool or alpaca sweaters or Fair Trade milk chocolate.)”

Supports a Cause - “On by eBay means that your purchase enables the seller to donate from 10% to 100% of the item's final sale price to a worthy nonprofit organization through eBay Giving Works. The amount of the donation is on the listing, and it doesn't add to the selling price. Nonprofit charity organizations can do their own selling through eBay Giving Works as well.”

And best of all? The prices are FABULOUS! For instance, the recycled glass bowl above is only $4.95! The natural fiber purse is $26! You’re not only making a fashion statement, an eco-statement and helping fair trade artisans, you’re getting a major bargain in the process! Can’t get much better than that.

So, if you’re looking for a way to commemorate Earth Day, consider WorldofGood as your “green” activity of choice.
Images courtesy of ebay's WorldofGood

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What I'm Reading: The Season of Second Chances

I just finished a fine novel by author Diane Meier – The Season of Second Chances - and I have to say, I was charmed by this book. It offers many appealing facets: a college town, an old house, a great supporting cast of characters and a protagonist, Joy Harkness, who finds herself experiencing an emotional growth spurt in her late-40s.

Joy Harkness takes a position in the English department at Amherst, leaving behind the college politics of Columbia University and the stark anonymity of New York City. Her journey to Massachusetts is not only a geographical change, but a change within, as this guarded woman finds herself taking leaps of faith that she never thought possible.

At times I was frustrated with Joy’s choice in love interests, not finding them very believable for this academic. But, by the end, I was a believer and saw how necessary it was for her to make these connections, and how they helped her grow into a more accepting, open person.

This novel also is about a love affair with a house. It takes hard work, patience, determination, and perhaps a little dose of insanity, to tackle something that can make or break you, like an old Victorian. As someone who has considered purchasing an older home, the maintenance simply scared me off. So, I was fascinated by Joy’s determination to make what was once a white elephant, her home. As Joy evolves, so does the house; a passage for both entities.

Alas, I don’t want to give too much away of this delightful book, so I encourage you to read it yourself. Meier’s writing draws you in and keeps you captivated until the last page.

For more information, visit:

A special thanks to Leah Paulos for sending me an advance copy of the novel for review. I’m a voracious reader and I’m always on the look-out for the next great read. Thanks for sharing such a jewel with me.
Image courtesy of

Friday, April 16, 2010

Collared Greens

One of my favorite local preppy haunts, Parallel 38, recently hosted a trunk show for the clothier Collared Greens. With Derby right around the corner, Collard Green’s line of vibrant bow ties is a perfect fit for any dapper gentleman making his way to the race course. They also feature polos, ball caps and other attire.

But, what’s really great about Collared Greens is their environmental focus, not only with proceeds of their sales, but also in how they construct their clothing, which is made of organic cotton in the good ol’ US of A. Here’s the story behind their name, according to their website:

Why "Collared Greens?" First, it's a word play on the delicious Southern dish collard greens, a form of kale. Secondly, all of our polo shirts have the Collared Greens original green twill tape on the inside collar to indicate that they are made with sustainable, "green" organic cotton. As you may have guessed, our polar bear brand symbol was suggested by this magnificent animal's status as an iconic endangered species.

So, in addition to their “green” focus, I appreciate their homage to a traditional southern dish. And even though Collared Greens is based in the wild west of Sun Valley, Idaho, they truly are a preppy brand. Look at all of the sun-kissed, athletic, fresh-faces in their catalog. The living must be good in Sun Valley! So, if you’re looking for classic clothing that also promotes a good cause, consider Collared Greens.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facebook Wedding Invitation - Really?

At the risk of sounding catty and judgmental, I just had to share the news I received this morning. I was checking my Blackberry around 6:15 a.m. and saw that I had a Facebook notification, featuring an invitation to an old college friend's wedding. Yes, that's right, my first wedding invitation via Facebook. In the words of Liz Lemon, "What the what?!"

I hope I don't offend anyone by saying this, but seriously, what has the world come to? Can you not spring for a nice paper invitation? And what gets me, is that I haven't seen this guy since college. He "friended" me last year and every now and then we may comment on each other's status but only on rare occasions. So, I think it's odd that I was invited in the first place. But, apparently, his entire "friend base" in Facebook has been invited, so there.

This is his second marriage and I can understand doing a low-key wedding in that circumstance. I totally get that. But announcing it via Facebook and having people RSVP that way? And, in lieu of gifts asking folks to bring a dish for the potluck reception - really? Maybe my old-fashioned, Southern sensibility is coming out in full-force today, but I'm going to say it: you just don't do that!

Okay, I just had to get that out of my system. Am I alone in my thinking here? If so, again, forgive me for my cattiness. Now back to our regular programming. ;)
Image courtesy of

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Won!

I am a lucky gal! First thing this morning I found out that I won Kristin Pearce’s giveaway. Kristin is the lovely blogger behind Summer in Newport, as well as a talented jewelry designer with her own business, Kristin Pearce Designs. She recently hosted a giveaway for a beautiful pair of earrings and, ta-da, I won!

Be sure to stop by Kristin’s site for a look at her fabulous jewelry. You won’t be disappointed!
Images courtesy of Kristin Pearce Designs

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Much Would You Pay for a Mint Julep?

In my town, Derby season is in full tilt, so every dress shop is featuring colorful prints with gorgeous hats; men’s stores are showcasing dapper suits with natty ties, nubuck shoes and lots of seersucker; restaurants are advertising boxed lunches for the big day; and images of roses are everywhere in honor of the Run for the Roses.

Of course, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the mint julep. My mother often says that a mint julep is a waste of good bourbon, but when “My Old Kentucky Home” is playing as the horses make their way to the post, well, a cold mint julep in the hand is a must. In fact, it's somewhat sacrilegious if you don’t have one. It’s like not wearing a hat to the Derby. It’s just not done, sugar.

So, I had to share the latest addition to this year’s Derby festivities: the $1,000 julep. For a mere $1,000, you can have a mint julep served in an exclusive Tiffany & Co. silver cup. It features Woodford Reserve bourbon, organic sugar from Brazil, mint from Louisville grown in a Woodford Reserve barrel, and ice from a 10,000-year-old glacier near the Gulf of Alaska. Sure, I’ll take two.

Proceeds from the special concoction benefit the Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center. So, you high-rollers out there, if you get a hankering for a good drink while at Churchill on May 1, consider one of these babies. Visit Woodford Reserve’s website for more details. But, if you can’t afford the julep, I highly recommend a visit to Kentucky’s Bourbon trail for a tour of Woodford Reserve. It sits amid the horse farms in Versailles, Ky. and is simply beautiful. And, before you leave, be sure to visit the gift shop to purchase a bottle of Woodford. Perfection.
Photo courtesy of The Courier-Journal

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Masters - Golf at its Best

The Mickelson family celebrate Phil's win of the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament.

Mickelson at the 18th hole at Augusta as the crowd goes wild.

Former Masters champion Angel Cabrera, left, of Argentina, presents the green jacket to Mickelson for his 2010 Masters win.

The Nelson Bridge near the 13th hole at Augusta, one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.

If you tuned into The Masters this weekend, you were not disappointed. This was golf at its best. There were birdies, eagles - a plethora of winged animals taking flight. Fortunately, the circus surrounding one golfer, who also bears an animal name, calmed down as the week went on. The game of golf was finally the focus and the best came out to play, to the delight of those lucky enough to score tickets along the fairway.

Phil Mickelson, my fellow lefty, came from behind to win. And, to add to the drama of an incredible game, his wife, Amy, came to see him play on his final day. She's been battling breast cancer and has not been well enough to attend any of his tournaments over the last year. But, she was there on Sunday, along with their three children, crying tears of joy.

While also watching The Masters, I couldn't help thinking about how large their grounds-keeping staff must be. Good God, that place is immaculate! Love those azaleas!

Have a great week, everyone!
Photos courtesy of

Friday, April 9, 2010

Unhappy Hipsters

Growing up Minimalist meant she was easily amused.

(Photo: Hertha Hurnaus; Dwell, July/August 2008)

Yesterday, I stumbled across the site Unhappy Hipsters. Not sure if I would classify it as a blog, satiric commentary, or what. All I know, is it makes me laugh. The droll, witty captions that accompany the imagery of über-modern hipsters and their families (see above) are fantastic. Remember “Mystery Science Theater 3000?” My college roommate and I used to laugh our arses off watching that show. This site is somewhat like that – sardonic statements about poseurs on the screen. Stop by for a look at something different and see if it produces a giggle or two.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you have a great weekend ahead of you. Little Man has his first soccer practice/game tomorrow. Hubby is the coach. I’m sure it will be like herding wet cats, but fun all the same. Cheers!
Photo and caption courtesy of

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Basket Beauty

Okay, I admit that I’m shamelessly stealing, no borrowing, this topic from a piece that Haskell Harris of Garden & Gun recently posted online. Or perhaps I should say Haskell inspired me and therefore I must share her great find with the blog world at large. How’s that for a justification?

I have the beach on my mind because 1) it’s spring break and many folks have flocked south to certain beach locales; 2) my own beach vacation will be here in two short months. Given this, I’m thinking about what to take with me: accessories, bathing suits (gulp!), etc. Then I saw Haskell’s post featuring Medina Baskets and I fell in love.

Medina sells a variety of baskets, from home décor to bags for schlepping groceries and beach gear. They also have baskets that can serve as a great summer purse. I remember in high school (or was it college?) when French Basket purses were the rage. Did you have one? Anyhoo, Medina does. Another great thing about Medina Baskets? They are very reasonable in price. And for additional bonus points, this Virginia-based company supports fair-trade artisans.

Medina baskets make me want to venture to a farmer’s market right now! How chic would I look toting around my organic fruits and veggies in one of these baskets? Okay, reality check – one of these baskets may enhance my regular trips to Kroger for coffee, cereal and milk. :)
Images and "content inspiration" courtesy of Medina Baskets and Haskell Harris of Garden & Gun

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Renovation Nation

Okay, so I’ve been quite the slacker in sharing the latest goings-on with the kitchen renovation, painting, etc. My apologies; life just seems to get in the way sometimes.

Here are photos of what the room looks like now that the walls are down and you can see into the den (click here for a before pics). We had hardwood placed in the kitchen and also covered our den paneling with dry wall. Prior to the painting, two of our walls were white, two were accented in red. Once the dry wall was complete, we painted the entire room a neutral color, “Bone White.” I’m now working with a fabulous designer and fellow Junior-Leaguer, Darcie, on picking fabrics for the window treatments – I’ve included images of the sample fabrics I’m considering.

In addition to the activity on the main level, we removed the Santa Fe-inspired wallpaper in the master bedroom upstairs (seriously, what were the previous owners thinking??) and painted the walls a grayish/blue. We then replaced the old, green carpet with a more neutral carpet and removed the God-awful window treatments, replacing them with plantation blinds. Our bedroom is much more the calming oasis it should be.

I am quite pleased with the progress we’ve made. We still need to figure out what to do with the countertops and the bare spot on the wall above the stove. That’s next on our list, although the tab is running up, kids, and we really need to watch our pennies. Maybe I’ll just create a mosaic out of broken pieces of china, glass and legos, stick it on the wall and call it a day. Whatchya think?

* Please excuse the disarray of the house in these photos. Art work needs to be hung on the walls and we're waiting on the arrival of our new sofa, so some things are still in flux.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cheers to the Bulldogs

Fashion guru Carson Kressley performs cheer routines with the Butler Bulldog cheerleaders in downtown Indianapolis during the NCAA tournament. Now, that's not your typical sports photo, is it folks?

In March of 1992, I was a freshman in college. My wonderful school, the University of Kentucky, rallied to make a great comeback in college basketball with an amazing group of players (this was after a bout with a disgraceful coach who dragged our mighty program through the mud).

That year, UK made it to the Elite Eight to play that team from North Carolina who shall remain nameless. We were close to winning. It was a beautiful thing. My friends I were jumping up and down in front of the television. Then, that senior player with the foppy hair sunk a last-second shot and all was quiet. It sucked the air right out of the room. It was a devastating loss (And, CBS sports continues to show that shot in the opening credits for each game. Really, is that necessary?)

Well, that team won the NCAA title again last night. I was pulling so hard for their opponents, the Butler Bulldogs. One of my best friends from high school went to Butler. I have family in Indianapolis. It was like cheering for the home team. You so wanted these guys to pull off one of the greatest upsets of all time. And, they almost did. It would have been so poetic. Although, the fact that they made it to the championship game was poetic in itself.

Cheers to Butler. It was a great run, guys. You should take great pride in what you’ve accomplished. See you next year.
Image courtesy of

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Return of Chocolate

I seriously need to throw a pair of these on and start running. The Easter candy has taken over my house and I have succumbed to its delicious decadence.

Yesterday morning I happily welcomed the return of chocolate to my life after the Lenten fast. But, I do not care for the residence it likes to take in my rear-end. So, I need step up my exercise routine, pronto.

Although, I have to say we timed the sugar high and crash with the kids very well, yesterday. We allowed them a few pieces of Easter candy in the morning, but I think they snuck a few pieces while we were getting ready for church. So, by the middle of 10 a.m. Mass, both kids were leaning on us in the pews with droopy eyes. Probably the best behaved they've been in church in a while. ;)
Image courtesy of Zappos