Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Tina Konyot, member of the USA’s Dressage Team, competes in a recent competition at the World Equestrian Games.

As many of you know, I hail from the fine Commonwealth of Kentucky. I cheer for the Big Blue, I tear-up when I hear “My Old Kentucky Home,” I like a good bourbon and a fast racehorse (preferably, one I have money on). Any chance I have to brag on my home state, I take it. So, I’d like to share with you the happenings in our little piece of heaven over the next few weeks.

The World Equestrian Games are taking place in Lexington Sept. 25 to Oct. 10. This is the first time the international event has been held in the continental United States. It’s big stuff and our little state is hosting. But, then again, this is horse country, so where else would it take place?

The U.S. Equestrian Team entered the stadium during the opening ceremony Sept. 25,  for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Lexington is abuzz with activity as equestrian teams, equine enthusiasts, celebrities and royals from around the world have descended upon Kentucky. The WEG features such equine events as Reining, Endurance, Dressage, Eventing, Jumping, Para Dressage, Vaulting and Driving.

As the week goes on, I’m hearing more and more amazing stories from the games. Sunday, reigning Endurance World champion Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain won the individual gold medal after riding 100 miles in a little more than 7.5 hours. Oh, yeah, and she gave birth to a baby girl seven weeks ago. She beat Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the gold; he’s the Emir of Dubai, don’t ya know. Girl power.

Endurance World champion Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton of Spain won the individual gold medal after riding 100 miles in a little more than 7.5 hours. She also gave birth seven weeks ago to a baby girl.

So, if you are lucky enough to score a ticket to one of the events (I’m still hoping I can get the family down there – I think it would be a great experience), it’s bound to be a good time. And, you may see some big names. I’ve heard from my spotters in Lexington that Bruce Springsteen was there (his daughter rides); Lyle Lovett, Carson Kressley and William Shatner were there with their horses; and a number of royals whose names don’t ring a bell. (If it’s not William or Harry, I don’t have a clue.)

The Boss's daughter, Jessica Springsteen, has been competing at the games. Dad, Bruce, has been there supporting his little girl.

Lyle Lovett and his fiance are attending the games. Lovett shows horses and will perform at the closing ceremonies.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, president of the International Equestrian Federation rode in a carriage during the opening ceremony.

Oh, yeah, and part of the festivities included the Vienna Philharmonic performing Monday night at my husband’s alma mater, nearby Centre College, led by guest conductor Gustavo Dudamel. I’ve been told by a reliable source that during the rehearsal, Kentucky boy George Clooney was hanging around backstage. That’s what I’ve heard. Maybe he was on his way to Maysville for a home cooked meal. You never know.

For more information about the games, visit
Images courtesy of The Lexington Herald-Leader and

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today Only

If you're looking for a lightweight bag for fall, Vera Bradley has a special offer. Today only, the Villager style bag is on sale for $29 (regularly $72) in select colors. Visit the Vera Bradley website for more details.
Images from

Monday, September 27, 2010

Today's 'Get a Clue' Awards Go To...

And today’s “Get a Clue” awards go to:

Stephen Colbert: I think your schtick is funny on Comedy Central, not in front of the House Judiciary Committee. It’s pathetic that you took up precious time making fun of an important topic, while in character, when real business needs to be underway.

What the hell was Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California thinking? Apparently other Dems found it inappropriate. Wow, ya think? But, the question is, were they briefed about it before he made his appearance? If they knew beforehand, that's really bad. Seriously, folks, get a clue. How embarrassing for all involved. Just one more example to support my argument to clear house in D.C. If there are people like Lofgren running around, and people enabling her, it’s just a sad, sad state of affairs.

Katy Perry: What’s with the outfit you wore to tape your "Sesame Street" segment? And why did SS producers approve such an ensemble? I’m not a prude, but when my kids sit down to watch a program – on PBS of all places – I don’t expect to see that. This isn’t the MTV Music Awards, Katy. Get a clue. And for those in the media and Hollyweird who think I’m overreacting, clearly you aren’t raising children.

Lindsey Lohan: Just please go away.

Happy Monday, folks!
Image courtesy of Zazzle

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dear Always...

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m determined to end this week on a good note – since it’s been hellish for the last few days. Lots of big happenings at the company and one particular project group has been driving me ape-sh#! crazy. So, I took it as a good sign that Natalie Merchant’s live version of “Sympathy for the Devil” was playing on satellite radio as I drove into work today. Good tunes, tasty coffee (if you’re ever in Louisville, stop by Red Hot Roasters – good stuff) and a glimpse of the harvest moon in the sky. Ah, I’m ready for the weekend.

So, to end this week on a particularly funny note, I’m including a letter that was sent to me by a co-worker yesterday. Ladies, I know you can relate to this one. Guys, if you have a wife, girlfriend or gal pal in your life, I hope this sheds some light for you on a few things.

This is an "actual letter" from an Austin, Texas woman sent to Proctor and Gamble regarding one of their feminine products. This was PC Magazine's 2009 Editors' Choice award-winner for the best letter sent via e-mail. (Editorial note from Jen: Snopes claims only a portion of this letter is true, but it's pretty darn funny, so I'm including it today.)

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts.

But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.'

Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customer's monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women.

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'

Are you f------ kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong'.

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullsh!t. And that's a promise I will keep.


Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farewell to the McQueen

This past February, I blogged about the tragic suicide of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. While I was not a fan of his work, it was sad to see such a huge influence in the world of fashion leave the scene so soon. He was only 40.

On Monday, a memorial service was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for McQueen, and the fashion elite were out in full force to pay their respects. Anna Wintour (say what you want about Anna, but you gotta love this outfit - those boots are beyond fabulous), Sarah Jessica Parker and Daphne Guinness were photographed wearing McQueen creations. Oh, Daphne. What the heck is going on there? According to news reports, she fell over in her McQueen boots. Well, of course she did. I can’t help but agree with fashion editor Suzy Menkes’ comments on McQueen’s last collection: “the shoes he designed were some of the most chillingly misogynist footwear we have ever seen on the runway."

That was often my perception of McQueen’s work. It seemed to be designed by someone who didn’t like women very much. Harsh, severe, binding are words I would use to describe his work. Although, later in life he seemed to soften his approach to fashion. I guess he was one of the punk rockers of the fashion world and his clothes reflected that.

From today's The New York Times: As the service ended around noon, rays of sunshine broke through onto the checkered stone floor and a lone bagpiper walked slowly down the center aisle, past the congregation, toward the entrance to St. Paul’s, playing music from the film “Braveheart.” He was followed by the choirs and the members of the clergy, and was joined on the front steps by 20 pipers. As the guests filed out, many paused and listened, as did the crowd in the street below.

McQueen left an indelible mark on the world of fashion. Here’s hoping he has found peace and comfort in the afterlife.
Images from The New York Times and Daily News

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I'm Reading

I finished Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo over the weekend. Wow, that's quite a story. While it's very graphic and very disturbing at times, I couldn't peel myself away from it. I suddenly found myself staying up far past my bedtime to read yet one more page. And given that I love sleep more than just about anything else on earth, that tells you how engrossing it is.

Now that I've finished the first book in the Lisbeth Salander trilogy, I'm ready to tackle The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. In fact, I was so wishing that I had the next book to read, I almost ran out to the bookstore last night. But, it was 9 p.m. and I had to show some restraint.

Once I finish the last book in the trilogy, though, that will be it. Larsson died in 2004, therefore no more Lisbeth novels to follow. A film based on the novel was released in 2009. It's a Swedish film with English subtitles, so when I'm good and alert, I plan to watch it. Apparently a Hollywood version is in the works. We'll see how Tinseltown does. Little-known actress Rooney Mara has been cast as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig has been cast as the other main character, Mikael Blomkvist. Now, that is a VERY good thing. :)

I'm sure there are readers out there who will disagree with my assessment of Larsson's novels. Believe me, the subject matter is not for the faint of heart. But, if you like psychologial thrillers, and you can somewhat decipher the pronunciation of the many Swedish towns, restaurants and other businesses featured in the stories (seriously, I've never seen so many umlauts in one publication), then you may find the books appealing.

In other literary news, I finished True Prep. I'll just say I wished I had checked it out from the library instead of spending the money.
Image courtesy of Amazon

Monday, September 20, 2010

The de la Renta Collection: Works of Art

In last week's NT Times, Fashion writer Eric Wilson covered Oscar de la Renta’s recent collection presented during New York’s Fashion Week. Personally, I think de la Renta’s line is a work of art and I could envision myself wearing just about every piece.

As you can see from the article, Wilson called the line, “Fifties Prom at Oscar de la Renta.” Oh, well. Take me back to a time when clothes looked like that. Yes, I love elegant tailored frocks, but I can appreciate a cupcake of a dress, too.

I wonder if the program "Mad Men" had some influence on this line. Look at the designs – you certainly could envision Betty Draper sporting these clothes.

I had to laugh at Wilson's description of the final dress featured during the show, which is the last in the series of photos above:

"And then there was the showstopper, a green and pink pull-out-all-the-stops tribute to Lilly Pulitzer, also covered with carnations and topped with a pink silk faille bolero. The decor at the Greenbrier is more subtle."

If you've ever been to the Greenbrier, where legandary decorator Dorothy Draper was given free reign to coat the entire place with her fabulosity, you know exactly what he's talking about (and yes, I LOVE everything about the Greenbrier).

You can view de la Renta's entire collection via the NY Times or New York Magazine. I could have included every piece of his collection in this post, they're so beautiful.

I'm having extra coffee this morning - so very tired. Hope you're morning is a little more alert than I am. :)
Images courtesy of The New York Times and New York Magazine

P.S. - Thanks to everyone for your interior decorating advice that I solicited last week. Great comments! Yes, I'm with everyone on the fact that we need an area rug to add some color and warmth to the room. Believe me, that's definitely high on my wish list. Thanks again!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Color Needed

Dear blogger friends, I need your input!

Okay, here are shots of our new living room. Very neutral, no? Our sofa, the walls, the brown mirror frame and the brown accents on the lamps – definitely needs a punch of color, I just don't know where to start. (And, I just threw in shots of our dining room entry hall for the heck of it.)

With a couple of other paint jobs in the works, we’re not going to be painting the walls or reupholstering furniture in this decade, so I need to come up with something colorful to flank the mirror. But, not sure what. Prints or artwork in colorful frames? Toile plates – or is that more appropriate for a kitchen or dining area? And did I mention we’re on a MAJOR budget? (By the way, the curtains in our living room are not pink, they are actually red, but the color appears washed out in these photos.)

Oy, where to begin. Any creative suggestions are most welcome and VERY much appreciated.

TGIF, everyone. Have a great weekend!

P.S. - To blogger friends old and new, thank you for all of the kind words, for compliments on my blog of late, kind messages and for just checking in everyday to read this little blog of mine. I really value you and appreciate your support. Thanks so much! And, thanks for your patience as I try new fonts and layouts. It's a work in progress!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eye Candy


So, what do you think about Tiffany & Co.’s new handbag collection?

My thoughts? It’s how I feel about their jewelry – a feast for the eyes; too expensive to buy. :)
Images from Tiffany & Co.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mashburns - Southern Chic

Joining Sid and Ann Mashburn are their daughters, from left: Harriett, 13; Louisa, 17; Daisy, 15; Pauline, 8; and Elizabeth, 19. In the photo, above right: cotton swatches for the Sid Mashburn shirt.  

Ann and Sid Mashburn are so cool. Both have successful clothing companies housed in amazing boutiques in Atlanta. Sid’s store features a ping pong table, bottled Cokes for thirsty customers and a fabulous larger-than-life equine painting behind the counter (oh, how I want that for my living room). Ultra cool.

Sid Mashburn - Atlanta

Two Sid Mashburn employees sporting the brand at the Atlanta store.

Meanwhile, Ann’s boutique is light and airy, more feminine, yet shares that “Southern chic” aesthetic for which the Mashburns are known: Tailored cuts and classic lines, yet with a modern twist.

Ann Mashburn, Atlanta

The Ann Mashburn showroom, Atlanta

Did you know that Sid Mashburn designed the J. Crew barn jacket? The barn jacket was a staple of my college wardrobe. And to think that good ‘ol Sid designed it. That piece of clothing went on to bring J. Crew $10 million in revenue each year. Holy cow. That is beyond cool.

Then there’s his lovely wife Ann, who opened her own shop two doors down from Sid this past summer. Love, LOVE her gingham shirts. Like Sid, she also carries other designers, in addition to the Mashburn in-house brand.

The Mashburns are proud parents of five – yes, five – daughters. We’ll see if more Mashburns join the family business in years to come. For more details on the Mashburn family, view this article from Taigon’s archives.
Images take from Garden & Gun and “Fetch,” by Taigon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Knock, Knock

Later this month, we're having our front doors painted black and changing out the weather-worn hardware. Yep, we’re losing the yellow doors. After living with them for a while, we’re just not that crazy about the color.

So, I’m thinking about changing out the door knockers for something more attractive, perhaps even with some character. I’ve been browsing online and came across some interesting options. See what you think.

Restoration Hardware offers the traditional, as well as something a little more modern. Both would like good on our doors.


I kind of like the bear, but he’s more suited for a cabin in the woods or a log home on one of the Great Lakes.

A woodpecker – we get it. Probably not on our house, but it’s a cute idea.

Dragonfly – I like the whimsy of it. Perhaps for a back door, but not likely something I’d put on the front of a house. Really cute for a cottage or vacation home (neither of which we have, so a “no” to the dragonfly).

Lion – This falls into the traditional category, big in Victorian England. Although, for some reason, this reminds me of something that would hang on Ebenezer Scrooge’s front door.


Since the fleur de lis is the symbol of Louisville, this is a possible consideration. Although, I think the fleur de lis has become a bit overused in our area. And with the Saints winning the Super Bowl last year, it’s EVERYWHERE. We’ll revisit this.

Love, LOVE this pineapple doorknocker from Williams-Sonoma. Although, even on sale for $98, it’s a bit pricey, given that we need two.

Both Hubby and I are of Irish descent, so this is something to consider. But, not a top choice.

Any good Kentucky home has one of these, but it often hangs above your door, on the inside of your house. I’m afraid that two of these on our front doors scream “Welcome to the OK Corral” or "Let's hit the saloon for a shot of whisky."

Creepy Hand
Uh, no.

So, what’s your favorite design for a doorknocker? Traditional? Whimsical? None of the above?

Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone!
Images courtesy of Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma and Signature Hardware