Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favorite Fragrances

With the approach of the holidays, I always want for my house to have a great scent flowing throughout, especially when we entertain. One of my favorite candles is Archipelago’s Bergamot Tobacco Soy candle. Granted, it doesn’t sound like the best fragrance, but don’t be fooled by the name. It’s a gorgeous, deep woodsy smell.

It had been several months since I went through my last Bergamot Tobacco candle, so the day after Thanksgiving, I was on a mission. I went online and looked up stores in Louisville that carried the brand. Luckily, none were near the craziness of the malls. I grabbed my daughter and we headed out to find the candles. The first store we went to, Blink, was completely out of the brand, so Miss E. and looked at the shiny jewelry and fun outfits, but left soon after because my budget could only handle the candle, not the $250 jeans. We then drove even further into town to a great shop, Clay & Cotton. The sales lady pointed me in the direction of the candles and sure enough, they not only carried Archipelago, but the exact scent I wanted. I paid for my candle and we were out of there. Best shopping experience yet this holiday season!

Another candle that I would like to get my hands on is Lemongrass Verbana by Trapp Fragrances. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Junior League get-together at a member’s home and the hostess had this candle burning in the powder room. Loved it and have to have it!

So, dear readers, what candle fragrances can you not live without? What’s your favorite for this time of year or other times of year? Please share!
Images from Archipelago and Trapp

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving is Over; the Christmas Season Begins

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, full of food, fun and family. We ate until we about popped. Good times, for sure.

Hubby made some delicious turkey and stuffing and I baked some tasty biscuits. My parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and my mother-in-law brought even more food and we dined like kings.

Before our Thanksgiving holiday weekend ended, I was determined to get a photo of the kids to use on this year's Christmas cards. The weather was nice on Sunday, so we headed outside to get some shots. The "photo session" started out pretty good...

With the kids being sweet together...

But then they started getting antsy, having had enough of Mommy and Daddy constantly saying "Cheese!"


It then devolved into a wrestling match...

And that was the moment when we decided to call "Cut!" and head inside. Luckily, we did get some decent shots, and one in particular we plan to use for the Christmas card.

A little later, while Hubby and I were viewing the selection on the computer, the kids came into the office, having yet again used each other as a canvas for their creative coloring. They looked like scary clowns (is that redundant?), so I had to scrub their faces yet again. Ugh. 

Now we're onto Cyber Monday to search for some great online deals. The holiday shopping season is officially here - best of luck to one and all!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, a little boy in our neighborhood dropped a note in our mailbox, as well as those of other neighbors, asking us to donate certain items to be sent to our troops this holiday season. One of the items he said they really want are letters. So, I started writing letters last week and I'm hoping to finish a few more today before the little boy, Nate, comes to pick them up.

I felt a little bad that I didn't make it to the store to purchase other items from the list, such as socks, batteries, beef jerkey (this made me chuckle a bit), and more. But, I'm hoping that our letters bring a little hope and sunshine to these dedicated soldiers who are spending the holidays away from family and friends.

Perhaps if you're looking for something extra to do this holiday season to spread happiness and good cheer, consider sending letters to our soldiers fighting to protect us and defend our freedom. I'm sitting in the comfort of my nice home with my family this morning, drinking coffee and looking at my laptop. Tomorrow, I return to work where I will sit in a comfy chair, working on my computer, enjoying a gorgeous view of the downtown skyline, while also sipping coffee. I don't have to wear full-on protective military gear, carry a gun for protection and worry about what will be waiting for me around the next corner. We should often keep this in our minds and be thankful for our blessings.

While little Nate is collecting the letters I wrote, there are a number of organizations in which you can send letters, such as Operation Gratitude, Letters to Soldiers, and Soldiers' Angels, among many others. Consider dropping a soldier a line and saying thanks this holiday season or even after the holidays. It's a small gesture that will go a long way.
Image courtesy of Google Images

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, it’s been quite a year for our family and we have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The most significant one being my mom’s continued recovery from the illness and subsequent strokes that inflicted her in the late spring; and for my dad’s strength to shepherd her through this ordeal.

Miss E. and my mom during Miss E.'s second birthday party.

My son as a baby with my dad, aka Grandpa.

I am thankful for this man, my wonderful husband, who donned a UK sweatshirt at a football game, even though he wasn't a big fan. He's coming around,  though.

My beautiful kids - I am so blessed to have them.
I’m thankful for my loving husband, my amazing kids and the life that we have together. I’m thankful for my kids’ wonderful schools and the guidance that their talented teachers and caregivers provide to them. I’m thankful that my brother and wife are expecting a baby in March and all has gone well with her pregnancy. I’m thankful for our lovely new home and all of the friends and family we have welcomed to it.

I am also thankful that in this economy, I still have a good job, I like what I do and enjoy my coworkers. I’m thankful that I’m healthy and blessed with such a bountiful life.

I am also thankful for all of you wonderful readers and fellow bloggers who stop by each day, and leave such kinds comments. It’s because of you that I continue to write about everything and anything. Thanks for your support and know that I am also thankful to be part of such a great community of bloggers!

I hope you and your families have a safe, happy and healthy holiday. Enjoy the food, parades, football, Turkey Trots (for you runners) and everything this holiday has to offer. And for those of you planning to shop on Black Friday, my the Force be with you. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. - I also am thankful that this Thanksgiving and Christmas, I will not be flying anywhere, therefore I won't have to endure a full-body pat-down. Blech.
Image from Charles Schultz, via Google Images and JMW collection, not available for use elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wool Tote Giveaway

The oh-so-fabulous Kayce Hughes is having a giveaway on her blog, so stop by for a visit.

I’m a little slow on the up-take, having had a busy couple of days, so I learned that the drawing is actually TONIGHT. But, it appears there is still time to visit her blog and check out the prize: one of her wool totes. These totes are super-cute and would be perfect for the holidays and on into the winter season. So, stop by, say hi to Kayce and enter. Tell her Jen sent you!
Image courtesy of Kayce Hughes

15 Writers

The lovely Jessica at The Entertaining House tagged me to name 15 writers who have had a great influence on me. As an English major in college, there are certainly so many I could name – dozens are floating through my head right now. But, if I had to narrow it down to 15, here they are (in no particular order):

William Butler Yeats – My favorite poet, Mr. Yeats also penned my favorite poem, “When You Are Old.” I wish we had had more time during our visit to Ireland to travel to his home. At least I got to see some of his work and other personal items on display at the Dublin Writers Museum.

Edith Wharton – Ah, Ms. Wharton, you could do no wrong in my eyes. I loved reading about the inner-workings of New York’s elite families and their trials and tribulations. Her eye for detail and describing it fully in print was impeccable.

Harper Lee – What more can be said about such a classic as “To Kill a Mockingbird?”

Robert Penn Warren – “All the King’s Men” is a brilliant piece of literature. He had such a gift for words and character study.

William Shakespeare – In high school, I memorized countless sonnets for English class and read many of his plays. The same goes for college. In fact, I took an entire course on the Bard while at the University of Kentucky. He had a huge influence on my academic career and I can still recite many of his sonnets to this day.

E.B. White – I adored “Charlotte’s Web.” I vividly remember sitting on the circular rug in grade school listening to my teacher read it to us. Such a wonderful book.

Bobbi Ann Mason – I read a great deal of this Kentucky author in college. Some critics call her work “Wal-Mart Realism,” dismissing the stories of middle and working class families, as if they don't have important stories to tell. Not a fair critique at all. Mason is respectful of her characters. They shouldn’t be dismissed in such a way.

Virginia Woolf – “A Room of One’s Own” carries a powerful message for women, not only seeking their own space to create and have solitude, but their own place and standing in the world.

T.S. Eliot – I wrote several papers on “The Wasteland.” In fact, one class I took in college spent half of the semester analyzing this epic poem. I’ve never encountered something that could be interpreted in so many different ways. I still love the part about the Hyacinth girl.

F. Scott Fitzgerald –“The Great Gatsby.” Enough said.

W. Somerset Maugham – I discovered Mr. Maugham later in life, but so glad I finally found him and delved into a number of his works.

Silas House – This Kentucky author writes with such a soulful, mournful, joyful style. I feel so much when I read his work. His characters are full of life, sometimes full of despair, and always full of color. He has great love for Eastern Kentucky – for that region’s eccentricities and complexities, and is a staunch advocate for the environment in that area, especially advocating against mountain top removal.

Gurney Norman – Another great Kentucky writer who has such a skill for the short story. Norman was a professor and the University of Kentucky and later its writer-in-residence. He spoke to a couple of my English classes during my time there. I can still hear his unusual voice – high and twangy (Is that word? If not, it is now).

Louisa May Alcott – I adored “Little Women.” Jo, patterned after Alcott herself, was such a favorite of mine. My tattered copy had a purple cover with an illustration of the four sisters on the front. I wonder what ever happened to that book.

Lucy Maud Montgomery – Like Alcott, Montgomery developed a similar strong-willed character in literature by the name of Anne Shirley. Through her books I became enamored with this red-haired girl and her friends in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island.

There are so many more I could name (like Dr. Seuss!), but I’ll keep it to 15.

So many of you wonderful bloggers have already been tagged in previous posts with this topic, so I won’t name a specific 15 here. But if you haven’t, leave me a comment and name some of the authors who have influenced your life and why. Can’t wait to hear about it!
Images courtesy of Dublin Writers' Museum, Amazon, poetryconnection.com, edithwharton.org, silashouse.net

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Dress

Fashion designer Daniella Issa Helayel, flanked here by two supermodels, is considered to be in the running to design Kate Middleton's wedding gown.

The announcement has been made, the ring has been featured (did anyone else tear up at the sight of Diana’s sapphire ring?) and the wedding will take place in the summer of 2011. What’s next? The speculation as to who will design Kate Middleton’s wedding gown.
So many designer names are floating around, but as of right now, the odds-on favorite is Daniella Issa Helayel, Ms. Middleton’s current designer-of-choice. And I must say that Kate looks amazing in Ms. Helayel’s clothes. The cut and flow of the garments are just breathtaking, so I can only imagine how utterly amazing a wedding gown would be.

Again, a toast to the happy couple! Looking forward to the big day!

Happy Friday, friends. We made it to another weekend. Thank, God.
Images courtesy of Life Magazine, Reuters and The Daily Mail

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Shutterfly Holiday Greeting

As the holidays quickly approach (Thanksgiving is a week from today!), I’ve been thinking about our annual Christmas card.

There are several brands available, but this year we’re planning to use Shutterfly. I like their designs this season, as well as their options beyond a standard photo card. In the past, we have received Shutterfly cards from friends and family – either featuring a single photo, as well a year-in-review collages, which are nice alternatives to the standard Christmas letter. Some cards also feature a timeline of the last year, which is great for a year that featured a wedding, the birth of a child or other big family milestones.

I’m quite partial to the toile design above. Now it’s a matter of getting my kids to stand still for a moment so I can take a photo!
All images courtesy of Shutterfly.com

To view a vast assortment of designs, visit http://www.shutterfly.com/.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

May I Vent?

Okay, I have a bone to pick with Facebook and I’m airing it on my blog. Get ready.

Yesterday, when I tried to login to FB, I received an error message stating my account had been disabled. I was baffled because the night before, I logged on with no problems. So, after a few more attempts resulting in the same message, I decided to troubleshoot the issue. And you know what? Not easy to do on the FB. It’s as if they don’t want you to contact them in any way, should you have a problem, because I guess in the world of FB - which was created by an antisocial Gen-Y loser who is the most overpaid/overvalued person in America - they don’t want to know that problems exist. Just plug those iPod headphones in your ears and stick your head in the sand.

Finally, I came across a link to air my complaints (thanks to a Google search, which by the way was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Gen Xers, because we get things done). I completed the form, stated my issue and asked that someone assist me. I was not given a timeframe in which I would hear from someone. I did receive an automatic response later that day, though, notifying me that my request for help had still not been answered. Wow, clearly I’m dealing with brain surgeons here.

So, last night I logon again from home and was able to access my page. Not sure what kind of glitch happened, not sure if my account was hacked or what, but it’s now up and running. Then, this morning, I received this response from Facebook via e-mail:


Fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited, as is maintaining multiple profiles on the site. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final.

Thanks for your understanding,
The Facebook Team

Are you f-ing kidding me??? First of all, I have never created a fake account, nor do I have multiple profiles on FB (Really? Multiple profiles? How sorry is that?).

I did respond, but in a totally professional manner, telling them that their customer service was poor (i.e. sucks), to say the least. Have I heard anything back? Of course not. And, this should be a sign that perhaps I should disable my account myself and leave FB behind.

Hey, Zuckerberg, you and your team need some serious people skills. Which, I guess is why FB was developed in the first place, for fear of leaving your mom’s basement and actually having to speak to a person, face to face.

Okay, I feel better now. Thanks for putting up with my attitude. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Images from Google Image Search and shinyshinytv.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wills and Kate: It's Official

It's official...my baby boy, Prince William and his darling Kate Middleton are engaged! I call him my baby boy because I remember when he was born and have watched him grow up, as we all have, into a wonderful young man (although, I would like to point out that I am only nine years older than him).

Diana would be so proud of you, Wills. Kate, all the best to you on this momentous occasion. I wish you all of the happiness in the world.

And, to the media and paparazzi: Don't mess with this young lady, or this couple for that matter. Let them be.
Image from cnn.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let the Shopping Begin!

Friday evening I attended a preview party at my daughter’s school for their annual holiday market and art show, which was held throughout the weekend. They had great items for sale and, much to Hubby’s dismay, I did purchase a few things (Hey, it supports the education of our child!).

The evening started with a get-together at the home of one of the moms across the street from school. She served some great hors d’oeuvres and drinks, including something called the “Blond Bombshell.” It has grapefruit juice, vodka, among other ingredients. I had just one glass because I could imagine after two, you would be feeling NO pain.

We then walked over to the holiday boutique and had such a great time. I’m so impressed that our school’s PTO puts on this great event. Alas, we didn’t win the prize drawing for which our daughter sold raffle tickets (i.e., Mom and Dad bought them), but oh, well.

While at the show, one of the reps for Willow House had a display. Heard of this line? Apparently, it’s a result of Southern Living at Home parting ways with another manufacturer (not sure of the entire story), which resulted in a new venture, Willow House. My neighbor recently hosted an in-house party, which I couldn’t make, but that’s probably good for my pocket book. During the holiday market, the rep, Caroline, was selling these great decorative buckets that can be used for wine or cold drinks at a party, floral or seasonal displays, etc.

I wish I purchased one because it was $25 cash and carry at the show, regularly $39.95 if your order it through Willow House. Argh. Oh, well.

Saturday was then a girls’ day with my mom and my daughter, shopping for holiday clothes and then lunch. I am so thrilled with my mom’s progress. She drove over to our house! I then drove us to the shopping center and she managed to use her walker to make it around to a couple of stores. We are so blessed to have her making such strides. My mom is a strong and determined lady, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

The weekend closed on Sunday with church, laundry and more laundry. I managed a trip to the grocery where my kids did not behave AT ALL. It’s moments like that that drive mommies to drink, kids. Just remember that. ;)

So, now we’re at the beginning of a new week. Starbucks was having major problems with their computer system this morning, resulting in a long line and a complimentary coffee for me. Great start to my Monday!
Images courtesy of Willow House and A Mommy in Red High Heels

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Note to Kate Spade

Dear Kate Spade,

Now that you and Andy have sold your company and are moving on to new ventures, might I suggest dipping your toe back into the fashion world, but perhaps designing a more affordable option? What, may you ask? How about creating a line for Target?

Now, don’t laugh. Here’s the deal, Kate (may I call you Kate?) – your clothes and handbags are divine. They have charm, style and a classic look. But, the prices are a bit extreme, even on sale. So, I know you’re up for the challenge to create super-cute clothes with your signature look, yet at great discount prices. Hey, if it worked for Isaac Mizrahi, Michael Graves and Liberty of London, you certainly can do it, and put them to shame in the process.

So, come on, Kate. Give it shot. You’re from a modest upbringing in the Midwest – I know that you can relate to the American gals who have a great sense of style and good taste, but who are living on tight budgets during this economy. We’ll support you in your efforts to design the next superstar line for Tar-jay. We promise.

Kind regards,

As a sidenote, I do actually own a kate spade handbag, which I adore, but which has endured a few bumps and scrapes along the way. While my handbag was fresh from the NYC store when it was purchased six years ago, I’m much more frugal these days (is that my husband laughing in the background?). I’m not above perusing ebay to find a good kate spade frock or two. And, if anyone can recommend other places to find discount kate spade, please let me know (or feel free to tell me I’m dreaming.)
Images courtesy of kate spade facebook page and thefamilygroove.com 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Martha's Drunken Turkeys

Have your heard about Martha Stewart’s turkeys? Apparently she gets the birds good ‘n’ drunk before they’re slaughtered for Thanksgiving. Here she is with Stephen Colbert explaining the process.

According to Martha, this season alone she’s already taken out six turkeys with her bare hands. Now, for years my opinion has been that Martha’s lifestyle empire is the result of dozens of behind-the-scene staff, maybe hundreds, working furiously to make everything look perfect, so that you think it's all Martha. But in this case, I have no doubt that Martha herself choked those sorry birds. Geez, I need a stiff drink just thinking about it.

"Drunken turkeys - it's a good thing."

Veteran's Day 2010

Take a moment today to thank a veteran. It's because of him or her that we live in a free land. And if you don't know any veterans personally, simply thank God for them.
Image courtesy of Google

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goodness in a Cup

Me + Starbucks Eggnog Latte = Very happy lady.
Image from Starbucks.com

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shoes with a Statement

Heard of GTH pants? Well, here’s a lovely pair of Stubbs and Wootton slippers wishing you the same sentiment.

It certainly takes the right personality to pull off wearing such a pair of slippers, wouldn’t you say? I think I’ll go with the equine version or the velvet or plaid versions in the pics below. A little more my style.

Happy Monday, y'all!
Images from Stubbs and Wootton

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blame the Winner

Yesterday's Breeders' Cup was a heartbreaker. Zenyatta, that amazing mare, almost took the crown, but in the end, it was #5, Blame, that edged her out.

Cheers to you, Zenyatta. You are a majestic horse and we've enjoyed your prancing, dancing and amazing racing skills. We'll miss ya, girl!
Photo from The Courier-Journal

Friday, November 5, 2010

Savor Thanksgiving

I know it’s tempting to immediately jump right into discussions of the holiday season, namely Christmas. Especially since red and green invaded the stores before Halloween even arrived. But, I always feel that Thanksgiving should have its due. Seriously, why would you speed past a holiday that is basically an homage to food? You can still keep up your harvest decorations, enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade AND plenty of football on TV; then eat yourself into oblivion, knowing that (for many of us) you don’t have to work or go to school the next day. How great is this??

Really, savor this day. Don’t rush full-force into the Christmas shopping season. Give thanks and enjoy your feast with family and friends. Then, for those of you who shop the day after Thanksgiving, get up early and hit the ground running. I’ll still be asleep in bed and will join the online shopping masses on Cyber Monday.
Image courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Blog feature: ‘Be in Style’ 

Looking for a good style blog featuring the latest news in beauty and fashion trends? Then check out Be in Style, part of the Pocketchange network of blogs.

Be in Style also features the latest blogs that are making a splash with readers in blogland. It’s a great way to check out what people are saying about common interests you may share. And for those of us in our 30s and 40s with kids, it’s a gold mine of helpful information.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The World of Gloria Vanderbilt

The new biography of Gloria Vanderbilt, “The World of Gloria Vanderbilt,” written by Wendy Goodman is out. What a fascinating woman Ms. Vanderbilt is and an incredible life she has led, both with plenty of good and bad throughout. Now in her mid-80s, Gloria Vanderbilt has left quite a legacy, yet it’s probably her son, Anderson Cooper, who is more well-known these days.

David Patrick Columbia of the New York Social Diary recounted his first meeting with Ms. Vanderbilt almost 20 years ago:

“She’s the only celebrity I’ve ever met – and I’ve met scores, even hundreds – whose charisma remains large and intact at all times. This is not an act of pretense but rather just the magic of the woman’s personality. Furthermore she’s a beauty, and although age has made its transformations as it does with all of us, with Gloria, you get the feeling that (aside from a little help from her professional “advisers”) that age transforms with her. “That subtle charm that makes young farmers desert the farm,” to borrow from another Cole Porter tune, is hers.”

Fifteen-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt is featured in Harper's Bazarre.

This photograph features a baby Gloria with her mother, Gloria Mercedes Morgan Vanderbilt and her father, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt. Her father was in his early forties when he married the teenage Gloria Mercedes Morgan. Mr. Vanderbilt died the year after baby Gloria was born.

I recall watching a miniseries about the life of Ms. Vanderbilt – the custody battle between her mother and her aunt; growing up as one of the wealthiest children in the world; multiple husbands, her designer-jean empire and the list goes on and on. Like any good soap opera, I was drawn to the screen. Yet, this was a true story.

Gloria with her third husband, director Sidney Lumet, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. 

Goodman’s biography has the stamp of approval from Vanderbilt herself, and the forward is written by Cooper:

When you have lost, as a child, a father, a mother; when you are raised with the terrible knowledge that nothing is what it seems, and nothing can protect you, you come to understand that anything is possible, anything can happen. Great pain, great pleasure. There is no safety in guarantees.”

My mother learned that lesson early on ...

Gloria lounging with her fourth husband, Wyatt Cooper, father of sons Anderson and Carter.

The book’s art design is by Chip Kidd, probably best known for his work on “True Prep” with Lisa Birnbach. Having received good reviews in the literary world, I may have to add this biography to my Christmas wish list.
Images from The New York Social Diary and Amazon

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cover Up in Style

Love the Russian-inspired coats that Anthropologie is featuring this winter. Many of these would be great for the holiday season and to any fancy parties you attend well into the winter (anything to brighten those gray days and dark, cold nights).
All images from Anthropologie

The Karelia coat, inspired by Russian tapestries. (I can also see Auntie Mame wearing this one, can't you?)

The Friend of Faux Coat

The Phlox and Coral Coat