Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Next Home Project?

Saturday evening I attended a “Margartia Mom” benefit for my daughter’s school and PTO. It was such fun and gave me a chance to meet several of the moms, some who have kids in kindergarten as well as those with kids in other grades.

A couple we know from preschool, church and now grade school, were gracious enough to host the event at their beautiful home, which sits in the middle of town, yet is tucked back on a quiet road with a few acres to spare. The party featured a Mexican theme, and a few of the PTO moms served as hosts while their hubbies helped park cars, tended bar and cleaned up behind us.

While touring the house, I loved that in the kitchen, a giant bulletin board covered an entire wall, featuring photos, calendars, cards, etc. of the family. It wasn’t a fancy Pottery Barn board with special framing; no, it likely came from Home Depot, Staples or the Parent/Teacher Store. It fit perfectly with the down-to-earth lifestyle this couple leads; they may be doctors living in a large home, but they have four kids, they live busy lives and clearly their home reflects who they are, not what a hired decorator thinks they should be. It's their touchstone. It reminds them to "keep it real."

Currently, our fridge, like in many homes, serves as art gallery, scrap book, date planner, you name it. But, now I’m inspired to have a separate space for all of those items that, while it may look messy at times, somewhat contains the chaos. Dear readers, do you have bulletin boards, memory boards, etc. in your kitchen or office? If so, did you make it? Buy it a crafts store? What do you display on it?

Ever feel that there's not enough coffee in the world to make you come to life? Shew, I'm having one of those days. Hopefully, the fog will lift soon. At least there's a three-weekend waiting for me on the horizon! :)
Images courtersy of  Marta Stewart Living and Pottery Barn

Monday, August 30, 2010

A 'Real' Red Hot Mess

I’ll admit, from time to time, I sit down in front of the television, flip through the channels and stop upon the train wreck that is the “Real Housewives” series on Bravo. I’m always left wondering why these people would put their lives on display and submit themselves, and their families, to this odd fishbowl lifestyle, knowing all along that the producers are going to set up certain situations that portray them as caricatures (although, often it’s not far from the truth, if not all of the truth). And, rarely is the cast portrayed in a favorable light.

I would imagine the women, or couples, who sign up for this type of program are fame seekers, looking for yet another way to make a buck. And while these people are supposedly wealthy in the first place -- because the focus of the show is lifestyles of the rich and self-centered -- often times they are living in high debt and need the income from Bravo to supplement their lifestyles. (Case in point: I read that one of the New Jersey housewives filed for bankruptcy, the bank has seized her house and is auctioning off her furniture. I hang my head in shame that I even know this type of information.)

As you may be aware, the latest installment of the series takes place in Washington, D.C. The show received a great deal of pre-launch press when the gate-crasher Salahis attended the president’s State Dinner, uninvited. It became a big brouhaha. And, from what little I’ve seen of the show, this couple seems to have a habit of doing such things. The terms “social climbers” and “opportunists” fit these folks to a T. But, I became even more intrigued with the series after reading an article yesterday in the New York Times Style section that featured RHODC couple Cat and Charles Ommanney. She’s the ruder-than-rude Brit and he is (or was) her photojournalist husband.

Charles Ommanney truly is an insider in Washington (as opposed to the rest of the cast), having worked for Newsweek, traveling with presidents and dignitaries, covering their every move. And to do so, he flies under the radar, remaining in the background as he documents their lives. Now, though, he’s known as the husband of one of the nasty housewives and his street cred is ruined. He signed up for this circus, supposedly, because he loved his new wife and wanted to please her. But they are now going through a divorce and he’s beyond embarrassed for having been a part of such a sideshow.

So, should we feel sorry for Charles because he joined in the name of love, yet was burned in the end? Not sure. It certainly makes for good drama. And, of course, it leaves the execs at Bravo with big smiles and fat wallets.
Photo from The New York Times 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Trader Joe's...

Hey, blogger friends, do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? We don’t and from what I hear about the cool, laid-back chain, I wish we did.

I have yet to visit a Trader Joe’s, but from what I’ve heard, it’s a great experience. Where I live, a certain grocery chain pretty much has a monopoly on the area. There are few smaller, independent markets here and there, but for the most part, we have to shop at the big K. And while the one I shop at is referred to as the “Gucci K,” I wish we had more competition in the area. A Fresh Market opened down the street from us recently, and while I like it, it’s trés expensive. From what I’ve heard, Trader Joe’s is affordable and people love their store brand. And while I try to save money and buy the store brand at our grocery when necessary, it’s not always my favorite thing to do.

NPR did a story about the company yesterday, which is featured on the front cover of the latest Fortune Magazine, and it intrigued me even more. They don’t do much advertising – it’s more grass roots; their customers serve as ambassadors of the company. Trader Joe’s is a privately held company, and private to the point that the business doesn’t talk to the media. There’s a certain mystique about Trader Joe’s that adds to its cool quotient.

So, Trader Joe’s, I make a plea to you. Please make an effort to enter the Kentucky market, more specifically Louisville. You have stores in Indianapolis and Cincinnati, just a couple of hours up the road. We’re the fun, funkier sister city to the south. I really think you’d fit in well here. Can’t you see yourself in the Trader Joe’s Suite at Churchill Downs on Derby Day? See, we'll treat you right. Seriously, our town needs more competition in the grocery realm. Please visit, kick off your shoes and stay for a while. You'll be glad you did.

It’s Friday, y’all. We finally made it!
Image from traderjoes.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tag, I'm It

Meet some of my dinner guests: Gerard, Bono and Matthew

I’ve been tagged by the lovely blogger, Falling Off a High-Heeled Life, to answer a few questions about myself. High-Heeled has such an inspirational story to tell and sage advice to share for those who have been affected by a life-altering experience, be it you personally or someone you care about. Please stop by to check out her blog – you’ll be glad you did!

Now, on to the tag:

1. What three words would your friends outside the Blogging World use to describe you?
  • Funny
  • Sympathetic
  • Worrier
Odd grouping of words, I know, but I worry too much, I am sympathetic to others and I have been told by many that I have a wry (and irreverent, at times) sense of humor.

2. What five people - dead or alive - would you like to invite to dinner and why?
  • Jesus – Because I want to know if I have a shot of “getting in” and I think he would offer the best darn blessing my dining room has ever seen.
  • Bono – I want to discuss his philanthropic efforts and then have him serenade me with “All I Want is You” in my living room.
  • Edith Wharton – for writing advice and gossip.
  • William Butler Yeats – after dinner, I would ask him to write a poem for me.
  • Gerard Butler – Because he’s pretty and Scottish. That’s all.
  • BACK-UP GUEST – If one of the above had to cancel at the last minute, I’d like that teacher guy from “Glee” to stop by. He could join Bono in a duet. And, he’s pretty.

(And, Lord, I was only kidding in the first bullet. I would love to have you over for dinner and I promise to be on my best behavior. I like to think, though, that you, too, appreciate my irreverent sense of humor. :)

(And, for those of you who may be reading my blog for the first time, and you find my list somewhat blasphemous, refer back to question number one. And, lighten up a bit.)

3. Who wrote the last book you read and what was the title?
Fall by Colin McAdam

4. If a movie was made about your life, what would the title be?
"The Write Stuff"

5. What is your favorite hobby?

6. Are you a coffee or tea drinker?
COFFEE! COFFEE! COFFEE! (Think I should switch to decaf?)

7. If you had to choose, wine or champagne? Why?
Wine; champagne gives me a headache.

8. How do you order in a restaurant: look at the dessert than order the main dish, or just order the main dish and not worry about having room for dessert?
I order the main course and then, depending on how stuffed I am, I may look at the dessert menu afterward. Even if I’m stuffed to the gills, I will still look at the dessert menu.

Rather than tag a specific group of bloggers - because I have so many favorites and it's hard to choose - I'd love to have your feedback on some of these questions. So, let me know, especially on #2: who would make your dinner party guest list?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Images courtesy of Fox, Fanpix and U2.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Happens in the Pool, Unfortunately Stays in the Pool

The entrance to "The Club" (be sure to lock your jaw when saying it), as well as the scene of the crime.

Took the kids to my mother-in-law’s country club to swim yesterday. And while most of these folks are living in high cotton, even the down and dirty comes to visit sometimes at the toniest of locales.

The baby pool was closed because, according to the lifeguard, “Fecal matter was detected in the ph levels, therefore we will need to drain, scrub and refill the pool. It should take about two hours.” Hmm, whose darn kid pooped in the pool for Christ's sake??

Oh, well. Miss E. wanted to swim in the big pool anyway, now that she’s loving her water wings. And, while Little Guy didn’t want any part of it at first, I pulled him in anyway, to which he responded, “See, I told you I liked it!” Then, after passing him off to my MIL, he fell asleep in her arms, in the pool. I wish I could fall asleep that easily!

Meanwhile, Hubby stayed behind to make another jaunt to Home Depot, the second home for those who have recently move into a new house. Thanks, hun, for all of the work you did. The house is looking great!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and are surviving another Monday. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

For Those Bound for College...

Found some of these back-to-school items for college students. For those of you with a university-bound kiddo or friend, you may want to consider these items (saying this tongue-in-cheek, mind you).

The College Care Gift Bag from Star Provisions - for only $175, you can send your college student off to school with:
  • 1 Star Provisions feed bag
  • 1 Star Provisions baseball cap
  • 1 Bodum Brazil 12oz french coffee press
  • 1 lb bag Dancing Goats coffee
  • 2 heavy hall china plates
  • 2 heavy hall cereal bowls
  • 2 heavy hall mugs
  • 12 disposable wooden place settings flatware
  • 1 box Hot Tamale candy
  • 2 boxed candy cigarettes
  • 1 ear popcorn on the cob
  • 1 bag bourbon caramel corn
  • 1 Orla Kiely composition book
  • 1 table top ping pong set

Hmm, this sounds like a swag bag for Holden Caulfield, not the average college student I know. But, hey, maybe kids are more sophisticated these days. Should we be concerned that it contains stimulants, fake tobacco products and bourbon laced caramal corn? Hmmm.

The Alfie Khaki Bag from Elements is an upscale alternative to your L.L. Bean backpack. It features a back slot for your laptop or iPad, but at $240, I’m going to have to pass.

A more affordable item is the Dorm Survival Kit from Mr. & Mrs. It contains a book light, caffeine gum, eye mask, earplugs, a first aid kit, thermometer, laundry bag, laundry instructions, sewing kit, air freshener, poster adhesive and screwdriver. Laundry instructions - really? Geez, parents, get your kids on board with doing the laundry long before college.

I found these oh-so-practical items among other great finds on Taigon. If you haven’t visited this luxury online retail site, be sure to stop by. While most items are not in my budget, it’s fun to browse anyway.

TGIF, folks. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And So It Begins...

Banner day in our household - our eldest started kindergarten!

I'm already so thrilled with this school. Late last night, my husband told me to look out the window. There was a sign with a balloon in our front yard, welcoming E. to her new school. Then, this morning we took her outside to take photos and show her the sign. When we opened the front door, there was a gift bag on the porch with a stuffed animal and a note from our sponsor parents (each new family has another family that serves as a "sponsor" or guide to welcome and orient them to the school). How wonderful is that?

We arrived at school to a canopy of balloons and an upbeat atmosphere. All of the kindergarteners gathered in the cafeteria to wait for their teachers. Miss E. met her 7th grade "buddy," a boy whose name is actually Buddy. I tried not to laugh at that one. As the kids left in single line to walk to their classroom, our three-year-old said, "Well, there she goes!"

So, can't wait until this afternoon to hear about her day. For those of you with kiddos starting a new school year, best wishes to all of you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Meet Your Teacher

Bear with me while I post yet again about my lovely daughter. We're beginning a new chapter with the start of Kindergarten tomorrow and this is a big deal in our home.

Yesterday was "Meet Your Teacher" day at school, during which Miss E. visited her classroom for the first time and dropped off her school supplies. She saw her new cubby and took in the sights. Miss E. can be very shy, so few words were spoken. But, she did meet one of her classmates, Lily, a very sweet girl, so I'm hoping she will be one of many new friends our daughter makes at her new school. Luckily, one of her pals from preschool will be in her class as well. In fact, I dropped her off at her house this morning so they can spend the day together.

Tomorrow we will walk our girl into school and hand her off to her new teachers. I'm excited for her and a little nervous, but I think she'll do fine. We'll be taking plenty of photos of her in her new uniform sporting her backpack, so I'll be sure to bore you with more images of the big day!

Happy Tuesday, all!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Grand Dame

In this past weekend’s New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote about his recent visit to the Greenbrier with his family. While he seemed to like the experience overall, his article was full of back-handed compliments. Garner’s wife didn't seem to leave the resort a big fan. According to her, overnight was more than enough and she would have like to have left the next morning. Well, hon, clearly you’re not cut out for the Grand Lady.

While the Greenbrier has had its ups and downs (filing for bankruptcy in 2009), it still carries a magical aura that you will likely never find at another resort. Hubby and I celebrated our 10th anniversary there last October and it was wonderful. I enjoyed many of the Greenbrier's long-time traditions: tea time, dressing for dinner, the over-the-top Dorothy Draper interior design ; it was all so fabulous.

Garner did note the recent addition of a casino, which I'm not crazy about. When we visited last fall, they were in the process of building the 40,000 foot underground facility. And while its the new owner's attempt to paint a newer, shinier face on the Grand Dame, it's not what I care to see at the Greenbrier. And, apparently it's only accessible to overnight guests. So, that surprised me a bit. Then again -- and here's the snob in me surfacing -- glad to know that the Vegas/Atlantic City/gambling boat crowds won't be converging on the Greenbrier for day-trips.

Have a great day y’all. ;)

P.S. - Today was "Meet Your Teacher" day at our daughter's school. She dropped off her supplies for kindergarten, saw her new room and got a feel for her new school. I can't believe we start this new adventure on Wednesday!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hubby and I are hoping to host a housewarming party once we’ve put the final touches on our house, and once the temperature drops about 30 to 40 degrees (today’s high will be 101).

I’ve always liked the idea of hosting an outdoor dinner, like the ones you see in the Italian countryside with the long tables, jugs of wine and plenty of food served family-style. Of course, Tuscany probably doesn’t have the mosquito issues we have here, so early autumn is likely the best time for us to host such a party.

I really like the “firebowl” in the photo above and think that would be so cool for a backyard party, or just to lounge by in the cool evenings. Sculptor Elena Colombo actually designed the bowl for her cottage on the shore of Peconic Bay in New York. Colombo started a business designing propane-fueled, no-logs required firebowls. Although, I have to admit I love the smell of real logs burning on a fire, but Colombo’s invention is a great idea.

So, dear blogger friends, did any of you host a party when you moved to your new digs? If so, was it a cocktail party? Brunch? I wish I could have all of you over to celebrate our new house. In the meantime, I really need to take some photos of our new abode and post them on the blog. I promise, I’ll get on it soon!

Happy weekend everyone!
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Must-Have for the Backyard

How cool is this in-ground trampoline? Less worry about the little ones falling from several feet above the ground. I really think I -- I mean, my kids -- need something like this.

(Thanks to Kayce Hughes’s blog, from which I stole borrowed this image. BTW, if you haven’t visited Kayce’s blog or her retail shop, be sure to do so. Super-cute fashions. And she’s the mother of seven kiddos. Shew, you rock girl!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Insanity of Summer Heat

Quick, get me a cold lemonade, I think I'm going to melt!

People, it’s been 100 degrees here for going on three days; the heat index is 109. It’s nasty-I-can’t-breathe-hot. Now, we Southerners are born and bred in the heat and we can handle it -- for the most part. In the same way that people from Maine or Minnesota are often called “ a hardy lot,” for withstanding the cold, Southerners don’t wilt too easily in the summer heat. Or so we like to think. Eventually, the heat makes many of us go mad. That’s why every Southerner has a crazy old aunt or uncle. We often refer to them as “colorful” or “eccentric.” But, really, they’re crazy as loons and the heat has a lot to do with it. So does the bourbon.

While I bathe in the Kentucky heat, Hubby is in Colorado on business where it’s in the 80s with no humidity. Fine, go get your Rocky-Mountain-high on, see if I care. He’ll be singing a different tune when he’s in Atlanta next week. Paybacks are hell, darlin.’

Perhaps if I focus really hard, I can will the early arrival of cooler, crisper weather. Because, quite frankly, living on the surface of the sun is growing quite old. Didn’t I have a similar rant about the endless winter just a few short months ago? Nah, that wasn’t me.

Anyhoo, try to stay cool, folks, and sane, as best you can. :)
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meet My Friend, P. Allen

Do you know P. Allen Smith? Well, according to a recent article in the New York Times, he’s the Martha Stewart of the South. Well, thanks NY Times, for tipping your hat to us little folks down South. But, perhaps Martha Stewart is the P. Allen of the North. Did you ever think of that?

If you can’t recall the name, you probably would recognize the face and southern lilt. P. Allen Smith is a gardener/home entertainer extraordinaire who hosts his own program on PBS, makes regular appearances on the “Today Show” and has authored several gardening/landscaping books. He’s now about to launch a line of products, including holiday wreaths and a new cookbook.

P. Allen is just someone I could envision sitting with me in my backyard, sipping iced tea and discussing how to perk up my hosta plants. Meanwhile, Tim Gunn joins us on the deck, after having redone my closet, while Nate Berkus rearranges my furniture. Wait, that’s my gay best friend montage. Sorry, I digress…

As part of the NY Times feature on P. Allen, it included gorgeous photos of his 650-acre estate, Moss Mountain, in Arkansas. In the words of Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.” This place is beautiful, the gardens are lush and the view is out of this world. P. Allen’s signature touch resonates throughout the home and grounds. And, P. Allen (I just love calling him that) is committed to staying in his home state, connected to the people, the land and his heritage. Good for you, P. Allen.

So, this holiday season, I’ll be watching for P. Allen’s new products, especially that cookbook (Hubby, take note).
Image from the New York Times

Friday, August 6, 2010

This Week's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As this crazy week comes to a close, I'd like to reflect on what I've experienced, as well as what's been taking place in local and national news. It's been an interesting few days.

First of all, I have learned that not all flights of stairs can accomodate a queen-size box spring. This lead to an unexpected trip to the mattress store and purchase of split box springs, which will be delivered today. What's up with that?

The trial in which a woman tried to extort money from University of Louisville basketball (and former UK coach) Rick Pitino ended in downtown Louisville yesterday. She was found guilty on all six counts. It has been a sordid affair from the beginning (Pitino admitted to having had "relations" with the woman) and far too much information has been revealed in the last couple of weeks. It's gross, tired and I'm glad it's over.

Will some network executive please put a stake in the heart of ABC's "The View" and end that mindless show? I don't watch it, but I'm so tired of hearing about the antics of its manic hosts. Apparently Whoopi assaulted one of the Real Housewives? The one who crashed the White House? Blah, blah. Who cares?!

Sean Penn is criticizing Wyclef Jean's motives on running for president of Haiti. Penn can do this while sitting atop his high horse living in Haiti. Hey, Sean Penn: who are you to criticize ANYONE?? Just go back to making movies where you cry in pivotal scenes and shut up already.

And, so I don't sound like a complete raving lunatic, I would like to give props to one of the classier events that took place this week: Chelsea Clinton's wedding. No matter what your politics, whether you like her parents or not, the way she and her hubby handled their nuptials was very well done. No media circus, no selling of photos to People Magazine. Elegant and refined behavior all around. Keep the memories for yourselves, your family and your friends. So many people should learn from your elegant restraint. Cheers to you, Chelsea. :)
Image courtesy of The Huffington Post

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Beginnings

Well, I'm back among the living! We are officially in our new house and unpacking the gazillion boxes that are strewn throughout. I can't believe that we moved during the hottest days that Louisville has seen in decades. Seriously, the temperature reached 102 degrees yesterday with a heat index of 110. Welcome to the surface of the sun.

On Tuesday, while our moving men were unloading our furniture, I high-tailed it to our daughter's final preschool program (she attends a year-round daycare/preschool). Poor Hubby had to stay behind with the movers. At least my mother-in-law was able to attend so Miss E. had plenty of family support.

It was bittersweet because she's moving onto an exciting time in kindergarten, but we're so going to miss her teacher, Ms. Cindy. She is fabulous. Luckily, Little Guy will be in her class in a couple of years. It was also difficult not having Ms. Carol there, whom we lost to cancer just a few weeks ago. Her sister and niece attended the program, which brought tears to our eyes. Above are some pics from the event. The kids made their own T-shirts, sang songs and received their certificates and gifts, which were two school folders and a pencil box full of school supplies. Miss E. was thrilled to have a Hannah Montana folder. Oy.

So, I'll start taking photos of the new house once I get a chance to breathe again. The move has taken a lot out of us. How is it that with all of that walking back and forth, climbing of stairs, and the constant sweating in the sweltering heat that I didn't lose a single pound? Maybe I just gained muscle from all of the lifting. Yeah, that's it. :)