Friday, January 29, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Salinger


The iconic writer J.D. Salinger died yesterday. He was 91 or 92, depending on what media outlet you read. Given his reclusive lifestyle, it’s understandable that there may be differing reports on that front. I read The Catcher in the Rye many years ago and recall being somewhat frustrated with Holden Caulfield. Perhaps I just didn’t have the patience for his male adolescent angst. And, if I revisit it at age 36, I may have even less patience for it. But, you never know. It could surprise me a second time around. I know it resonated much differently with my husband.

In other literary news, I finished Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry last night. If anyone else has read that, please let me know and perhaps we can talk “off-blog.” I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t read it. But, I would like to discuss it, book-group style. Let’s just say I have some questions and a few opinions to share. I’ll leave it at that.

For all that is good and holy, it’s finally Friday!! I don’t know about you, but it’s been a long, tiring week. Maybe it’s the cold, gray days, but everyone I know is dragging. Even my kids who are usually up early in the mornings have had to be pried from their warm environs. Spring, if you can hear me, could you plan an early appearance this year and stay around for a while? I’d really appreciate it.

At least I have my little get-away to help soothe the winter blues: a UK basketball game tomorrow. Yay! Rupp Arena will certainly be a warm spot on a winter’s day. Hey, it’s the little things that make me happy!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Interior Design Ramblings



Our painter started working on the trim in our house yesterday, so I finally feel like the ball is rolling! It was so exciting to come home and see some progress being made on the house. I had to laugh because what I thought was an off-white color on the walls now looks down-right yellow compared to the crisp, new trim!

I can’t wait to finally tackle the awful wallpaper in our bedroom. We’ve not done much with this space since moving in six years ago. Maybe because I’ve given birth to two kids during that time. Kind of puts the skids on interior design, doesn’t it? Anyhoo, we’re finally at a point where we can start this project. I like the color of the rooms in the photos above. What do you think? Either would make for a nice, soothing color palette for a bedroom.

As far as the kitchen, the only thing hinging now is for the HVAC guy to come to the house (he’s turning out to be somewhat flakey and that makes me nervous). The plumber thought rerouting the plumbing would be possible in order to take down the wall between the kitchen and the den, but it’s now a matter of how much that will cost. I’m getting anxious to get this started. Progress, people; I want to see more progress!

So, in the meantime, I continue to browse through magazines for inspiration on paint color, furniture, etc. (because, you know, I have copious amounts of money just lying about). My February issue of Southern Living arrived yesterday and that always offers some great design ideas. In fact, there was a blogger connection in there. If you have the latest issue, check out the feature on the couple from Florida who worked with interior designer Erica McPherson Powell (the bedroom featured above is one that she did for a client). Her blog, Urban Grace Interiors, is one that I read often, as is that of her twin sister, Darby from Fly Through Our Window.

The week is almost over, folks; hang in there, I can’t wait for the UK game on Saturday and a getaway to Lexington. Yay!! We enjoyed our number one status for a whole two days (thanks, South Carolina), so I’m hoping we can eke out a win against Vandy. Go Cats!!
Images courtesy of Southern Living and Erika Powell, via My Home Ideas

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Scarab Jewelry



So, how many of you had scarab bracelets growing up? I did. Granted, it wasn’t a true scarab, just a plastic reproduction, because I certainly couldn’t afford the real thing in college. The popularity of scarab jewelry seems to go in cycles. Sometimes it’s really hot, other times, not so much. In some circles, though, scarabs have taken on a timeless quality (that's ancient Egypt for you) and are worn often. Just depends on if you like that style of jewelry, I guess.

Lately I've been thinking aobut vintage scarab rings and possibly getting one. I like the look of some I’ve seen and if they’re the right size and quality, the rings can make a bold statement. Years ago when I was doing an internship in college, the director I worked for sported an Egyptian ring on her right hand. It was gold and I loved it. To this day I can still tell you the shape and design of that ring. (And, yes, I did manage to learn something during the internship as well.) I admired this woman; she was smart, poised and stylish. Perhaps that’s why I have an affinity for that type of jewelry.

So, dear readers, do any of you have scarab jewelry that you still wear, or at least some taking up space in jewelry box?

P.S. – A note to the City of Louisville, those who oversee transportation and your road crews: what the heck happened this morning??? The roads were solid sheets of ice. It took more than an hour to drop off my kids and get into work. Cars off the roads, accidents everywhere - horrible!
Images courtesy of ebay

Monday, January 25, 2010

And one more thing...

My Kentucky Wildcats are now ranked number one. Back where we belong. ;)

C-A-T-S: Cats! Cats! Cats!

I'll be chanting this Saturday in Rupp Arena when we play Vanderbilt. I can't wait! (Don't you love my use of the term "we," as if I'm out on the court shooting baskets myself? I'm a Kentucky grad - we're a very possessive bunch.)
Image courtesy of UK Sports

Who dat?!



For my brother-bloggers, as well as my sister bloggers who enjoy the gridiron, this one's for you: Who dat?! Cheers to the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints for making the Super Bowl!

I’m a big Colts fan (love Peyton Manning), so I was thrilled with their win yesterday. In the NFC Championship, I was pulling hard for the Saints, in hopes of them making it to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. They didn’t disappoint, although the Vikings sure gave them a run for their money. Great game, guys. So, the two teams I wanted to see in the Super Bowl are going. It should make for a great game.

In other news from the home front, the weekend was full of errands. I finally got around to having one of my lamps fixed, and purchased a new fleur de lis finial to top it off. Perhaps that was a sign that the Saints were going to win? The temperature warmed up a bit on Saturday, so we took the kids to the playground and ran them hard. They fell asleep in the car, which was a beautiful thing.

That night, we attended a trivia contest with family and friends. We’ve been going to this contest for the last five years. We also attended one the weekend before at our church. We joke that we’re on the “circuit.” But, it’s all for good causes (both schools’ PTOs) and it finally gives me an opportunity to be rewarded for all of the useless, pop culture information I carry around in my head. And, if you’re not doing well in the contest, at least they serve beer, so it’s not a total loss. ;)

The weekend concluded with lots of laundry and football. I have a feeling that was the theme in most households yesterday.

Happy Monday, everyone!
Images courtesy of ESPN

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cure for a Gray Day




It’s rainy and gray here. I had a crown procedure at the dentist yesterday, so I’m sore and grumpy. I just want to go back to bed, really, really bad. I’m holding onto the fact that tomorrow is Saturday. If the kids allow, I can sleep a little later and maybe even get a nap during the day. Plus, it’s getting up to 60 degrees, with partly sunny skies. Yea! Come Monday, though, we’re supposed to have snow showers and cold temps. The weather around here is so schizophrenic. No wonder so many of us seem to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (Thirty Rock reference – did anyone catch it last night?)

So, let’s think happy thoughts to try to get us to the end of the day. Have you seen the work of jewelry designer Lisa Leonard? I recently discovered her line of jewelry, Lisa Leonard Designs, and I really like it. In fact, I e-mailed her Web site link to Hubby, in case he’s looking for Valentine’s Day inspiration. (To my credit, I’ve already purchased his V-Day gift. I’m on it, I tell ya!) Her necklaces and bracelets are perfect for any occasion and you can have them personalized. She also has a blog, so you can learn more about Lisa and what inspires her.

Feel a little better? Sometimes jewelry helps. So does a stiff drink. But, at least the jewelry won’t leave you with a hangover.
Images courtesy of Lisa Leonard Designs

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Best College in the South



I have to give a shout-out to Hubby’s alma mater, Centre College, which has just been named “Best College in the South” by Forbes. Way to go Colonels!

Hubby and I attended very different schools for undergrad. He went to a small, private liberal arts college, while I attended a large state university (the flag-ship remind, you), both in the Central Kentucky region. We bring two very different experiences to the table, which I think will be helpful when our kids are researching colleges. (We both went away to school, though, which I think is very important to get the full college experience. But, that's another entry for another time.)

While my husband teases me about my Cats (he grew up a Louisville fan; I still love him despite that fact), I know deep down he really likes the University of Kentucky – he did go to grad school there after all. And, I have grown to have a great fondness for Centre, through what I've heard from Hubby over the years and seen when I’ve visited the school. You can’t help but feel a special aura about the place when you step on the campus. And every graduate I’ve known feels that way.

So, I raise a toast to Centre College for earning yet another fine distinction. And, I say a prayer that when it’s time for our kids to attend Centre, they either have been awarded academic scholarships, or we have won the lottery.

P.S. – I should also recognize the number three school on that list, Washington and Lee University, where my BIL attended undergrad and years later, his lovely wife, my SIL, was a professor. Talk about a picturesque campus – gorgeous!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Evening Ritual



We have a little family tradition in our house. After the kids have changed into their PJs, brushed their teeth and we’ve read a book to them, we all plop down on mommy and daddy’s bed to watch HGTV’s “House Hunters.” It’s a guilty pleasure that we indulge in, and while some people may balk at the fact I allow my children to watch a little TV before they go to bed, well, I say, get over it.

If you’re not familiar with the program, it features buyers who tell of their current living situation and what they hope to find in a new home. Then you meet the realtor, who takes them on a tour of three houses. You see everything about each house, including the price. Then, the end of the show reveals which house they chose and visits the owners a few months later to see how they’ve put their own touch on the dwelling. It’s fun to see the houses and try to predict which one they’ll buy. Our daughter really gets into it, “Ooo, Mommy, look at that kitchen. It’s so pretty!” “Eeew, that rug has to go!” Yep, she’s her mother’s daughter.

We saw an episode the other night featuring a couple from Savannah, Ga., hoping to purchase their first home. They own a business in the downtown district called “Nourish,” which peddles hand-made soaps, lotions, etc., all natural (I’m blogging a lot about soap lately, huh?). They were a cute couple and the show ended with a photo of them with their new baby. I’m tempted to order some of the shea butter they make at their store. I’m a big proponent of “mom & pop” shops, so be sure to visit Nourish online, or in person if you're in Savannah, and check out their wares.
Images courtesy of HGTV and Nourish Savannah

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


So, plans to start the kitchen renovation are in place (One of my inspiration kitchens from Southern Living is featured above). It very well could get underway in a week or two. Our contractor was over Thursday night, we settled on a more-budget friendly design and we were getting excited. Then he had to check in the basement one more time to make sure that we can knock through one of the walls. Wait...there's plumbing in the wall. So, now we have to see what the plumbing/HVAC folks say. Is it something that can be easily reworked or would it be too much trouble? We'll have to wait and see.

Then, we take Hubby's SUV to the mechanic yesterday because something is wrong. Something is right. The damn thing needs a new transmission and fuel pump. This on the heels of finally committing to a kitchen renovation that we've been wanting for more than six years.

Sigh. I just need to put this in perspective. I have a roof over my head and another vehicle to drive. People in Haiti have lost everything. I know, I am blessed.

I'm still a bit peeved, though. ;)
Image courtesy of Southern Living

Monday, January 18, 2010

Little Edie Would Have Been Proud



So glad HBO's Grey Gardens walked away with the Golden Globe for best miniseries/movie during last night's awards program. And, even better, Drew Barrymore won for her portrayal of Little Edie Beal in the same film. She was amazing in that role, as if channeling Miss Beal herself.

I'm sure the real Little Edie (pictured above) would have performed a song and dance in honor of the event.
Images courtesy of USA Today and Grey Gardens archives

Friday, January 15, 2010

Got Your Goat



I had to share another great product that I purchased at Hollydays in December. Goat Milk Stuff is a family-owned and operated business that makes soap from goats’ milk. I purchased the Oatmeal Milk & Honey soap bar and absolutely love it. I’ve been using the soap in our downstairs half-bath, but after reading a testimonial from a grandmother on their website, I’m going to try using it on my son during bath time. According to this grandmother, the soap greatly helped her grandson’s eczema. My poor Little Man suffers from eczema – it’s really bad on his arms and legs. We’ve used a variety of medicated creams and special soaps, but if something that’s all-natural works really well, then I’m definitely going to try that option.

At their Hollydays booth, Goat Milk Stuff also gave away small samples of the Ocean soap. It has a great scent as well and my kids love washing with the “mini” soap, although it’s about disappeared at this point. There are several varieties available, including organic soap, travel bars and luffa soap.

Goat Milk Stuff is the creation of PJ Jonas and her family. They are a family of ten – that’s right, eight kids – so order some soap from these folks. They have lots of mouths to feed! PJ also has a blog, so you can learn about the business, their family and their herd of goats that are the source of Goat Milk Stuff.
Images courtesy of Goat Milk Stuff

P.S. - Many of us in blogger land have written about Haiti, extending much-needed prayers and encouraging donations. If you're looking for a great resource for information on the relief effort in Haiti and what organizations are taking donations, visit USAID. I personally donated to UNICEF, because 100 percent of my donation goes to Haiti, rather than a portion going to administrative fees (Do your homework - not all dollars go toward the aid effort, depending on the organization). God bless the earthquake victims and please give strength to those who going there to help them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fun, Funky Jewelry

Today I’m wearing a fun, artsy-style necklace that I purchased at the Junior League Hollydays Market back in December, and thought I’d highlight the creators of these whimsical pieces.

Clara Mill Designs is the brainchild of artists Jennifer Prechtel and Kim Schmitt of Indiana, who create hand-painted pottery (serving trays, bowls, etc.) and jewelry. I purchased one of the necklaces featured above, known as the “Funky Wrap Necklace,” and have received so many compliments on it. I also purchased one of their circular pendant necklaces with an “e” on it for my daughter as a stocking stuffer.

So, if you’re looking for a hostess gift, a birthday present or just something special for yourself, consider Clara Mill Designs.
Image courtesy of claramilldesigns.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We're Large and In Charge


Just had to give a shout-out to my Kentucky Wildcats who are
17-0 this season. They beat Florida in Gainesville last night. Woo hoo! This team is amazing and such fun to watch.

Hubby and I have tickets to the UK/Vandy game on Jan. 30 and I can't wait! Basketball in Rupp Arena is a religious experience, to say the least. So, looking forward to our get-away to Lexington. I'll be decked out in blue, screaming my lungs out (Ashely Judd has nothin' on this Kentucky girl. Yeah, I'm tired of seeing her on TV at the games, too.)
Image courtesy of the Herald-Leader

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our Human Duty

Miep Gies with her husband, Jan, on their wedding day, July 16, 1941.

I read this morning that Miep Gies, the office secretary who helped Anne Frank and her family hide from the Nazis for two years, and saved Anne's diary, died on Monday. She was 100 years old.

While she was lauded as a hero for her efforts in aiding Jewish families during the Holocaust, she didn't feel worthy of the title "hero." She noted that there were others who did far more dangerous acts to help others during World War II, yet her acts of kindness accomplished extraordinary things. She risked her life to try to save the lives of others. In 1997 during an online discussion with school children she said,

"I don't want to be considered a hero. Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary."

I love that: "do your human duty." If only more of that took place in the world today. If only more of us looked at the world through the eyes of Miep Gies and reached out to lend a hand. It is our human duty as citizens of this earth. I am a very blessed person and while I live a busy life, I've recognized over the last year that I need to do more to serve and help others. It not only benefits others in so many ways, but it's food for our souls as well. And, it's our human duty.
Image courtesy of the Anne Frank Museum

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kiltie Clogs


So, as I mentioned in my previous post, Hubby and I volunteered in the nursery at church for the first time on Sunday. As I was chatting with the mom who was the coordinator for the nursery that morning, going over supplies, snacks, etc., I couldn't take my eyes off her super-cool shoes. They were red patent leather clogs with shearling lining. I noticed the shoes when she came running across the lobby to unlock the nursery door, apologizing for being late. I thought, "No worries, just tell me where you got the shoes and no one will get hurt."

So, as we're setting up for the kids to arrive, I ask this person, whom I've known all of five minutes, where she got her shoes (I also wanted to know where she got her gorgeous coat, but I thought that would be border-line stalker to ask that as well). She laughed, because her sister actually found them at a kids' consignment store. Yes, that's right. She has to wear children's shoes. Damn. They were Uggs Kiltie clogs, but in the searching I've done, I can't seem to find any in women's sizes. So, either they're no longer made, were made only for kids, or both.

But, if anyone knows about Kiltie clogs and it they're still manufactured (for ladies, not kiddies), please let me know. Like I need another pair of shoes...
Image courtesy of ebay

What I'm reading...



I received some great books over the holidays, so I’m making my way through them, bit by bit. I first delved into A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean, which is the autobiography of Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row across the Atlantic solo. She’s also the first woman to ski to the South Pole. Murden McClure lives in my hometown and is very much the local celebrity, but I’ve never known much about her. So, to learn about her life, the struggles she faced in childhood and adolescence, her strong dedication to her mentally-disabled brother and how she went on to achieve amazing things -- often in the face of adversity -- well, I have a new-found respect for her.

Now I’m onto fiction, reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I loved Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I was quite anxious to read this novel. I’ve been glued to the pages each night. Niffenegger has a gift for writing about other-worldly things – she is so creative. I won’t go into great detail about the storyline, so not to give anything away. I’ll just say if you haven’t read it, get a copy soon.

Hope everyone is staying warm. It’s supposed to thaw out a bit later this week. This weekend flew by – not sure where it went. I had a Junior League workshop on Saturday morning, so Hubby took the kids sledding. I then hit Whole Foods on the way home to pick up soup, artisan bread and cookies for our new neighbors. Sunday morning, Hubby and I volunteered in the nursery during Mass. We were surrounded by nine toddlers for an hour. It was fun, though – a great group of kids, including our Little Man. Luckily, another parent helped out, so we could divide and conquer if needed.

Happy Monday, y’all!
Images courtesy of apearlinthestorm.com and Barnes & Noble

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm Digging this Music...


One of my favorite bands, Vampire Weekend, has just released their second CD, “Contra.” I’m so jazzed because I love this band. If you’re not familiar with Vampire Weekend, they’re an Ivy League-educated, madras-wearing group of young guys who sound as if they’ve been inspired by Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” but with more of an indie/punk flavor.

I purchased their self-titled debut album after hearing an interview with them on NPR a few years ago. Their sound reminds me of summer vacation. You can totally imagine yourself listening to these guys on the outdoor deck of your favorite beach town’s watering hole, Red Stripe in hand, as you sport a polo shirt (collar popped, of course) and Eliza B. flip flops (with a little sand between the toes).

So, if you want to be transported to a warm, happy place through some great music, check out Vampire Weekend. Because, baby, it’s cold outside.
Image courtesy of vampireweekend.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Strap on the Snow Claws


Since "Snow-mageddon" it's taking place this morning (seriously, people, learn how to deal with this weather - it's crazy on the roads!), thought I'd feature a cold climate accessory for the munchkins in your life.

How cute are these kids’ snow shoes from Redfeather? They’re called “Snow Claws” and are perfect for the little ones who want to make a special mark in the snow. These would probably be more popular in areas where snow is a more frequent occurrence; not sure my kids would get enough use out of them. But given that the white stuff is coming down pretty hard today, I would bet my kids would love strapping on a pair of Snow Claws and running through the wintery drifts.

Mommy, on the other hand, would rather watch the kids run around from afar, preferably from the comfort of a warm spot by the fire, hot toddy in hand. Have I mentioned that I don’t like the cold? Yeah, thought so. :)
Photo courtesy of Redfeather.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Easy Veggie Dish

I like to cook, that is when I have the time and the available ingredients. Often, I'm coming home from having picked up the kids after work; I'm tired, Hubby is tired and everyone is hungry. So, all-too-often, we resort to take-out.

But, last night I was determined to break that cycle. We had left-over pork loin in the fridge (thanks, Mom) and I thought some veggies would be a good side dish. So, I asked Hubby to pick up some red pototoes, butternut squash and a red onion. I chopped up these items into bite size pieces, placed them on tin foil, drizzled with olive oil, parsley, thyme, sea salt and pepper. I then baked them at 375 degrees for about 40 minues. Yum! The veggies would also be good served over rice. You can always change up the ingredients, from squash and zucchini with mushrooms and onions to cauliflower and broccoli with onions. Just be sure to add some zesty herbs and spices for that special kick.

So, an easy veggie dish that's a little different from your standard green beans. I can't say that the kids liked it, but they hardly like anything these days, so what ya gonna do?

Hope everyone on the east coast and regions north are keeping warm. I've heard the U.K. is having quite the cold snap as well, so bundle up my friends! We have a winter-weather watch here, possibly three to five inches of snow tonight and very cold temps. Everyone in this region tends to lose their minds when the weather turns bad. They might as well post a sign at the stateline that says, "Sorry, we're closed," because we just can't seem to handle it here. Wish I could hibernate until spring. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Post-holiday spending


So, who has taken advantage of the post-holiday sales and what did you buy? While I vowed to put the skids on the spending after the holidays, I couldn’t resist the 40 percent off e-mail I received from Vineyard Vines on Dec. 26. So, I ordered the High Tide sweater in Pink Lemonade. It’s warm and comfy and brightens up the winter blahs with its cheerful color. It was an okay deal, although as much as I love VV, they are a bit overpriced. Come on, Ian and Shep, the sweater was originally priced at $125 - for a cotton sweater. I mean, the little whale logo on the front is cute and all, but seriously. Even the model in the photo above seems to be saying, “OMG, you paid how much? Sucker.”

But, I did buy the sweater. Guilty as charged. I guess in the end it is all about the little whale logo. Yeah, I’m a total consumer.
Image courtesy of Vineyard Vines
Editorial note: Just a few minutes after this post went live, I received another e-mail from VV about their 40 percent off sale. I think they're watching me. :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a Warm Climate...

The Lilly Resort Collection, the beach, a margarita and me. That would do it.

So, I keep getting these e-mails from Lilly Pulitzer, telling me about their latest releases and updates on their resort collection. It just feels like a constant reminder that I'm in a very cold place and I should be elsewhere. So, to deal with the cold, dark days of January, I'm starting to research locations for our summer beach vacation.

We've traveled to the Outer Banks for the last several years and love it. But, we're thinking of a change. We've heard good things about Wilmington, N.C. and the surrounding beaches: Kure, Cape Fear, Carolina, etc. Has anyone been there and would you recommend it? If so, any particular rental agency? Or, should we look at South Carolina, perhaps Folly or Sullivan's Island? We like laid-back, lazy areas, but also within driving distance of other activities.

Any input on the beaches in those areas (or others you may be fond of) would be much appreciated. These cold days just aren't cutting it. I think I was destined to live much closer to the equator! Meanwhile, Hubby is a snow guy. Go figure. Oh, well. Maybe some day I'll move further south. We'll see. :)
Image courtesy of Lilly Pulitzer

Friday, January 1, 2010

Best Wishes in 2010


From my family (Hubby, I need a photo with you!) to yours, Happy New Year! May 2010 be a safe, happy and healthy year for all of us.
Cheers,
Jen