Uncategorized

Is winter having a temper tantrum?

 

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This is Garden Week in Virginia.   For two weeks the state shines with gardens as the focus.  It is the right of passage that indicates spring is here.  Rain usually graces a day or two of Garden Week but warmer weather and sunshine are also part of the usual package.  Winter is not. Snow, freezing temperatures and generally cloudy days are not helping with the suggestion that it is spring.  I see glimpses.  The daffodils and crocuses are trying to show their colorful presences.  It feels like winter is simply unwilling to relinquish its grip – it is having a temper tantum saying NO, NO, NO, I will not go.  In light of this I have several reactions:

  1. beach pictures on Pinterest
  2. stalk the hot houses of the garden shops
  3. make a dinner of picnic food and spread a blanket out on the den floor for your “table”
  4. create a play list of summer songs

Suggestions?

Etiquette · Fashion · Uncategorized

White Jeans, Diamonds, and Pearls: Fashion Rules or Fashion Faux Pas?

IMG_0608Growing up my Mother and Grandmothers lived by a series of  fashion rules they considered inviolate.

1.  No white after Labor Day or before Easter.

2.  The same rule applied to patent leather.

3.  Do not mix navy and black.

4.  Pearls were to be worn during the day and diamonds at night.

5.  Purses matched shoes.

Most importantly, you dressed to go shopping, do lunch, or go to the grocery.  Lululemon, was a definite no in the eyes of my Mother and Grandmothers.  I’ll never forget my sophomore year of college.  Sent home by the infirmary with strep throat, I arrived in sweatpants and a UNC sweatshirt; the outfit of any self-respecting college student.  My mother was horrified.  When it was time to return to college my Dad intervened on my behalf as I attempted to leave for the drive back to Chapel Hill in sweats. Mom was distinctly offended by my tee-shirt and sweatpants.  She ultimately relented to my Father’s wisdom that I would only be seen walking from the car to my dorm room.  Somehow this wisdom ruled in my favor.

I routinely break rules 3, 4 and 5.  My go to earrings are diamond studs.  I wear them day and night along with a necklace made from my grandmother’s engagement ring.  So much for the rule of no daytime diamonds.  Diamond hoops are my fall back to my studs.

My mother gifted me with beautiful pearls that are also part of my daytime rotation.  Interestingly enough, I rarely wear pearls at an evening event.  Maybe that part of my fashion education took hold?  More likely, I have dressy earrings I prefer for evening events.

I love navy.  I think that may be a southern thing but prior to living in New York, navy was a wardrobe staple.  Then I moved to the City.  There is something special about living in New York.  After about six months, I noticed that my closet was full of black.  Then I found myself mixing navy and black.  I love the combination.  Maybe it fits me, southern with a love of the City sophistication?  If the Parisians and Coco can mix navy and black, it can’t be all that much of a fashion faux pas, can it?

I routinely rebel at being matchy, matchy.  I usually select my bag based on what I need for the day.  I grab a tote for work days and a smaller bag when the occasion permits.  My bag tends to be in the same color scheme of my outfit but rarely matches my 👠 (shoes).

The white and patent before Easter and after Labor Day, this is the one rule that I find to be unshakable.  I love white jeans.  I live in them, as appropriate, in the summer but come Labor Day, they get put away.  For those that might suggest there is an exception for warm climates, it does not fly. Have you ever been to Charleston?  This is home to the maternal side of my family and the white rule stands firm no matter how high the needle on the thermometer registers.  Somehow the white rule is the one that I still see as a faux pas. It was enforced by my sorority with the clear indication that one should know better.   In the end, I guess some rules are inviolate.

P.S.  Lululemon is a regular thing in my house.

Uncategorized

Daylight Savings Time? Does this mean spring is here?

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I’m grouchy.  Last week we “sprang forward” with daylight savings time and all I can think about is when we “fall back” and gain an hour.  I know daylight savings time has something to do with saving energy and an extra hour of daylight and supposedly began during WWI but why now?  I’m all for saving energy but there is something about waking up before the sun to get to work that makes me grouchy.   I think my Aunt has it correct, if I was meant to see sunrise, it would be scheduled later in the day. All week I’ve been sluggish.  I’ve felt off my game.  I don’t want to go to sleep at night and I definitely don’t want to get up in the morning.

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On the lighter, non grouchy, side of things, daylight saving  time usually means that spring is near.  You would not know that from the weather here in Virginia.  On Monday, we were blessed with inches of snow.  The rest of the week presented much like winter and it is not unusual to get a major snow event in March in the south.  Still, there is the hope of spring.  Poking their heads up through inches of snow on Monday were green leaves of crocuses.  Maybe, just maybe, spring is around the corner.

 

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I think I’m going to take a nap!

Decorating · entertaining · Holiday · Uncategorized

The Christmas Tree

My tree is a book of memories.  The ornaments are from multiple generations.  I’ve purchased some, some my mother made or bought, some are from my grandparents and a few from the great grands.  Each Christmas as I open the boxes of carefully packed ornaments I am reminded of the many Christmases past, those special family moments, trips I’ve taken, special friends, and anticipation of what this Christmas will bring.

 

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Acquiring the tree is the first step.  My family always has a live tree and acquiring the tree was always an adventure.  One of the first Christmas trees I remember involved a trip to the family farm to cut our own tree.  The following year the farm was gone so we were off to the tree lot.  Drama ensued when Snowball, my puppy, escaped from the station wagon only to be found curled up by the heater in the cashier’s hut after much drama and tears.  That year was somewhat cursed.  My Dad cut off too many branches from the bottom of the tree as he put the tree in the stand and had to wire them back on to please my Mother.  Once the tree was set up, lights added and fully decorated, my Dad climbed the ladder to carefully place the china angle on the top of the tree.  This angel was cherished and beautiful and a wedding gift.  Yes, you can guess, disaster ensued as the ladder collapsed resulting in Dad on the floor, tree on top of him, and broken glass ornaments scattered across the living room floor.  I still recall my Mother’s cries of my angel, my angle as my father was trapped on the floor under the tree.   Dad was rescued, the tree put back up, new ornaments purchased, and a new tree topper located.

 

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The one thing I never got was why my Mother refused tinsel on the tree.  Her Mother’s tree was a work of art with icicle tinsel perfectly draped.  Her trees were the most gorgeous one’s I’ve ever seen.  She would begin the weekend after Thanksgivingworking diligently up to Christmas Eve on her tree and emptying cases of icicles in the process.   My Mother hated icicles and they were banned from our house.  Then again she decorated three live trees., a small formal one for the living room, the large one in the family room and a white flocked tree in the foyer

I decorate a large tree for the living room and a small tree for the TV room.  They make my Christmas special.

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Family · Food · Home · Uncategorized

The cheese soufflé

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As Thanksgiving approaches I have food on the mind. Food, friends, family and memories all neatly come together for me recalling wonderful times in the kitchen and around the table.   The other night I was thinking about comfort food.  That favorite dish that you love no matter the calorie count.  I noticed that my comfort foods all seem to be cheese related.  Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and a side of chips were a classic Mother/Daughter lunch growing up.  I don’t think I will ever forget watching Perry Mason re-runs on the tv with Mom while eating a grilled cheese.  To this day I love Perry Mason and tend to flash back on those wonderful lunches with her.  Her vegetable soup and homemade chili are on the list and tended to have grilled cheese sandwiches served with the soup.  To my list I’d also add mac-N-cheese, deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, the potato chip, Granddad’s cheese straws and, last but not least a cheese soufflé.

My grandmother made this wonderful cheddar cheese soufflé for “ladies lunch”.  Where my Mom related comfort food is soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, with Grandmom, it is a cheese soufflé.  At my request, she dutifully passed along the recipe.  As a novice cook in my first year of law school, I attempted to prepare my first  soufflé.  It was a disaster.  I needed to back up and learn some cooking basics, like making a white sauce.  My next attempt was slightly more successful thanks to coaching by Mom on some of the finer points of cooking.  Over the years I’ve mastered my soufflé recipe and even branched out to include variations on the original recipe.  I can now do a Roquefort cheese variation that is to die for.

Yesterday, I decided to treat myself to a cheese soufflé that was on the menu at Cognac in the City.  Wow, it was beautiful as well as delicious.  I think the bar has been set again.  Their soufflé was poofy and airy and delicious.  Taller than any I’ve ever coaxed out of the oven.  I’m not certain what the secret is but I’m going back to the kitchen and I may see if I can find a re-run of Perry to keep me company.  Grandmom has been gone since I graduated from law school but there are moments I feel her around and she may even decide to pop in to keep me company.  Back to that food, family, and friends theme!

 

 

Home · Organization · Travel · Uncategorized

Organizing my makeup drawer

I’m on an organizing mission these days.  The back to school, end of summer, beginning of fall is propelling me to get done those things that have languished on my to do list far too long. On top of that list is cleaning out my makeup drawer.  Makeup has a shelf life, especially mascara and eye liner.  One guideline for mascara and liquid eye liner is three to six months once opened.  Lip gloss has a similar time line.  Lipstick is a bit longer at six months.  The danger here is bacteria which may cause infection.  Since I wear contact lens, I’m very careful about my eye health and don’t care to take chances with my makeup.  So, about every four months, I do a thorough clean out of my makeup drawer.  The best part of this exercise is that everything is organized for ease of use and I have a clean space.  This cuts down on my searching for something when I’m getting ready for work in the morning.  Since I’m a night owl and not a morning person, this is a direct benefit to me.

 

The before:

 

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Not only do I throw away products near their expiration dates, I also clean out the clutter.  This means that eyeshadow that I thought I’d love but really don’t gets thrown out as clutter.  I also wash my brushes.  In the end I make a list of the things I need to replace.  I generally buy my products from Carmen at the Chanel counter at Bergdorf Goodman.  She is absolutely wonderful.  She lets me know when there is a gift card event and is wonderful to send samples for travel.

 

The after:

 

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Books · Uncategorized

Books, Books, and More Books!

I love curling up on the lounge on the patio or under a beach or pool umbrella with a good book.  This summer I’ve put a large dent in the books I downloaded to my Kindle and/or the audiobooks I downloaded to my iPod.  One of my first blog posts was on my beach reading list.  Now, several flights and weekends later, I’ve more to add to my summer reading recommendations.

On a side note, someone asked me about my reviews, each book I write about I’ve read (or, if it’s an audiobook, listened to) and enjoyed enough to share with you!

 

As a child I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Dana Girls, Vicki Barr, or Hardy Boys book.  There is just something about the next adventure, the next chapter in the life’s of a favorite character that I can’t wait to enjoy.  In library speak, these books are referred to as series books.  The modern equivalent is the Harry Potter series – yet another I devoured – this time as an adult!

Recently, I discovered two new series that I love.  Both are mystery series with an intrepid female lead playing the part of detective.  Shades of Nancy?  I’ll have to consider further the impact Carolyn Keene has had on my lifetime reading habits.  But I digress, the two new favorite series are Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie  Dobbs and Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness.  Both also have a historical fiction element in common as both are set in the period between WWI and WWII.

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The Maisie Dobbs series is a bit bleaker in that it tackles the hard truths associated with WWI. The initial book in the series is the story of Marie’s childhood, including her time as a nurse in France and the horrors of the battlefield.  Later titles tackle the associated horrors of war in a post war environment.  The most recent title is set in the lead up to WWII.  They are delightful books that hold your attention and yet have an educational side.  Also deftly folded into the story is the story of the women’s movement in England and the corresponding societial changes prodded along by the First World War.

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Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series is simply a delight.  I love them.  They are like chocolate covered Oreos.  One is simply not sufficient.  Let’s be simple, this series is just FUN!  The lead character, Georgianna Rannoch, is Queen Victoria’s great granddaughter and thirty-fourth in line to the English throne.  Just to make things interesting, she is on the poor relations side of the royal family and is constantly seeking a solution to her money challenges.  While she is financially challenged, she has a warm relationship with Queen Mary and her children and grandchildren that include a very young Elizabeth.   Georgie is also charmed by a delicious and dashing noble, heir to an Irish title – Darcy O’Mara, also monetarily challenged, Catholic, and whose occupation is something of a secret agent man kind of thing.  But, oh my,  is he delish!

Georgie constantly finds herself on an adventure and in the middle of a murder investigation in varying parts of the British Empire (Scotland, Ireland, Balmoral), Europe (think Transylvania and the south of France), and even California.  Along the way she encounters historical figures like Wallace Simpson and Coco Chanel!   Light, and completely entertaining, the books also offer a commentary on the changes in society post WWI and the obstacles  for the modern woman in the 1930s.  The series is a must read!

Post script – both series are available as audiobooks from audible and are well done.