Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Baby Buggies & Superman Snuggies

One of my co-workers, Deborah, is expecting a baby girl next month and I was asked to plan a small shower for her this past Friday.  I have never planned a baby shower. In fact, I have never even been to a baby shower, but was up for the challenge.  I said I would decorate and coordinate the games if my co-workers would provide the food.  I am a very picky eater and will only cook if the recipe ends with "Microwave on High for 3 Minutes".  By 8:15AM, our conference room was transformed into a pink and white cafe complete with fruit, cupcakes, breakfast casserole and even a waffle maker thanks to my wonderful work buddies!

Eliza Marie is expected to be born on January 11, 2011.  I'm not sure what it means to be born on 1-11-11, but it must mean something good!  We all pitched in to buy the Mommy-To-Be a gift card to Babies-R-Us, exchanged some other gifts and played baby themed games.

The One-Handed Diaper Game
Little Liza's first onesie from me
The personalized baby bottles I made
Soon it was time to start the work day but, in the spirit of the holidays and recent snowfall, my manager agreed to let us have a "Wear Your Snuggie to Work" day! 

Workin Hard
Hardly Workin
On Saturday, Bethany and Lauren made an overnight stop in Raleigh on their travels back home for Christmas break.  We had a blast together, and it felt like we were roommates all over again...minus Blanche :(.   Fingers-crossed, they will be able to stop by again on their way back south.

Christmas Card Senior Year: Lauren, Bethany, me, Blanche.

Happy Holidays Y'all!

.....Must Have.....

I wouldn't consider myself eco-friendly. I drive an SUV, I blast the heat in the winter and the A/C in the summer, I take a shower every morning and a bath every night. Suffice to say, I am not doing my part to "Go Green" these days.  However, I have found a way to reduce my carbon footprint.  The Water Bobble is a unique water bottle with a built in filter. This itty bitty Brita is made from 100% recyclable materials, is reusable, and each filter can purify nearly 40 gallons of water (that's 300 water bottles)! The filters ($7 each) come in a variety of colors, and the bottles ($8-$10 each) come in several sizes.  Water Bobble even offers a line of baby bottles so your toddler can start saving the planet, too.  With all this hype about how wasteful humans are, it's time I put down my Evian and picked up a Bobble.  I may not be hugging a tree anytime soon but I will be embracing this hip new way to reduce, reuse and recycle.

.....Must Hear.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music City to Tire City

The past few days have been a whirlwind of on the goes and travel woes.  I headed to the airport Friday night and arrived in Nashville, Will's hometown, at 7PM.  Will met me at the airport and we drove straight to the newly renovated Opryland Hotel.  The legendary hotel underwent a $225 million renovation after the flood that left half of Nashville underwater.  Opryland boasts over 3,000 guest rooms, 8 restaurants, 3 pools, a nightclub and most notably, a river boat that floats through the hotel's indoor gardens. 

We made our way to Solario for dinner with Will's parents, his brother Matt, and Matt's girlfriend Maggie.  We enjoyed authentic guacamole, queso and fajitas. After our delicious meal, we roamed through several ballrooms and lobbies admiring the beautiful Christmas decorations.  

Maggie, Matt, Me and Will
Family Photo

On Saturday, I could hardly wait to take a tour of the city.  Hoping I could catch a glimpse of Nashville royalty, we went to Hillsboro Village and had breakfast at Fido's Coffeehouse where Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal were spotted last week.  Although there were no celebrity sightings, I did enjoy a filling breakfast and a delicious coffee concoction called a Milkbone!

We drove downtown, uptown, to Germantown and all around. Nashville has such an expansive variety of architecture from modern music halls, to quaint row houses, to ancient world replicas. Will showed me his high school's campus, a few of the celebrity houses I was dying to see, Belle Meade's Percy Warner Park, and Nashville's very own Parthenon.  

A typical home in Germantown
The Parthenon
Parthenon Walkway

Will's High School

Some Guido's Dream Home
Percy Warner Park
Reese Witherspoon's home

Saturday night we had dinner at a small Italian restaurant then drinks at the most interesting place ever! The Patterson House is a very small, upscale night spot inside an old governor's home.  From the outside, the bar looks like a home with heavily shaded windows.  There are no flashy signs or bouncers outside, or smokers on the porch, just a small sign on the front porch.  Upon entering, I felt like I was in a library. Law books filled the shelves from ceiling to floor with the exception of the following sign:

The bar itself was hidden behind a thick velvet curtain.  We had to put our name on a list and 15 minutes later, we were escorted beyond the cloaked entrance to our seats.  They weren't kidding, there was no standing allowed which I LOVED! No being shoved around shouting your drink order, being stepped on, spilled on, shouted at, just a relaxing dimly lit atmosphere and a bartender that greets you the moment you are seated.  

Will ordered one of their specialties, a Bacon Old Fashioned.  We thought maybe it was named for someone but after one sip it was clear that the mixologist had in fact infused the drink with bacon flavoring.  We were not fans, but apparently it's all the rage so we had to try it. Fortunately, the presentation of the drink was enough to divert our attention from the displeasing taste. The Patterson House molds each ice cube into a sphere, a process that takes 5 minutes! Behold!

The Bacon Old Fashioned

Sunday morning, the snow began to fall as we headed to church with his family.  We went to Germantown for brunch then took a tour of Belmont University.  Will's grandfather was the President of Belmont for years and his parents met there (his Dad proposed to his Mom on the steps of the Belmont Mansion, awww) so the campus is a very special place to his family.  By 3 o'clock, the roads were already icing over so we headed back to the house, and relaxed by the fire.  

Will's home at 4PM
And 8PM
Snow :)
As suspected, my 7 o'clock flight was delayed to 9 o'clock, then cancelled.  After a few quick phone calls, I was rescheduled for the first flight out in the morning.  By 9AM Monday morning, I was in the air on my way back to Raleigh where another travel dilemma was awaiting.  I was on my way to work when I got flagged down by a concerned driver. To my dismay, my tire was dangerously flat. I cautiously made my way to Tire City, waited 45 minutes to get the tire patched and then sped to work.  Apparently, the technician working on my wheel slept through the "Tire Patch" portion of his schooling because when I got in my car after work, the tire was flat, AGAIN! 

Not willing to take chances, I called my lifeline, AAA. Two hours later, I was finally home, after the gain of a spare tire and the loss of  what I had hoped would be a relaxing evening.  Not the ideal way to end an enjoyable weekend but I should have a new tire by the weekend, restoring my car's stability, and ego!

.....Must Have.....

There is nothing better than a glass of red wine on a cold winter night. Riedel's Crystal Ultra Wine Decanter adds body to your wine and aesthetics to your dining room table.  I am far from a wine connoisseur, but you don't need to be a sommelier to differentiate between a good glass of wine and, well...sour grapes! So the next time you are entertaining, pour a bottle of your favorite red into this glamorous glassware and let the wine breathe before your guests arrive.  The difference may be difficult to detect, but if nothing else, this snazzy centerpiece will look more elegant on your table than a bouquet of flowers.

.....Must Hear.....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sepia-Toned Loving

This week has been busy to say the least. Hence, my blog has taken the backseat to more pressing activities.  With the constant presence of of sleigh bells and carols, it was finally impossible for me to avoid the reality that Christmas is a mere two and a half weeks away! With gift giving looming in the not so distant future, I decided to forgo a weekend away in order to save money and tend to the ever present To-Do List.  

Amidst the clutter that was consuming my closet, I uncovered a few meters of green ribbon that I had acquired from the gift wrapping station at Pottery Barn a few weeks ago.  I cut the ribbon into 16 inch segments and gave my shower curtain a makeover by tying bows around the curtain rings. Ta-Da!

By three o'clock I had crossed off half of my list and decided it was time to tackle my newest Do-It-Yourself project: a photo wall collage for my room.  I started by purchasing a handful of picture frames in different shapes and sizes.  I then spent an absurd amount of time at the Target Photo Center cropping and enhancing some of my favorite memories.  With no level, no layout and no tape measurer, I began the messy and laborious process of creating my ideal collage.  My wall took the beating of its life and I am dreading move out day when I have to conceal the numerous holes, dents, and scratches that have materialized over the course of my endeavor.  I finally finished and am happy with the final product!

Most importantly, I can not forget to wish my super duper brother George a Happy 26th Birthday!!!!!

You're finally of age...... to pay for your own health insurance.  Don't forget to send Obama a thank you!

Love you, Yetti!

.....Must Have..... 

I was thrilled to see a prevalent display of velvet in designers collections this season.  Velvet is one of my favorite winter materials. It is elegant by itself and can be modernized when paired with opposing materials like silk, shantung, or even sequins! This Black Velvet One Shoulder Dress by Rare Opulence is ideal for the holiday season. The sweetheart neck and asymmetrical cut provide a unique and surprising twist to the traditional winter cocktail dress.  So here's to the marriage of velvet and sequins and the reinvention of  the little black dress. 

.....Must Hear..... 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A November to Remember

I spent my Thanksgiving break traveling to see family and friends in Maryland and Virginia. I was thrilled to be able to enjoy a 4 day holiday (a luxury I now realize I took for granted in college). After work on Wednesday, I drove to Richmond and stayed with Jessica. It was so nice to be able to split my 6 hour drive between two days, and I even managed to avoid a significant amount of traffic.

I continued my trek on Thursday morning and arrived at my aunt's house in Baltimore just shy of 1PM.  I barely had time to put my car in park before I was directed to follow the Milligan Family Caravan to Thanksgiving "dinner". It has been an ongoing joke between the grandchildren that Thanksgiving dinner reservations seem to get earlier and earlier each year. Four years ago we had dinner at 5PM, and two years ago we were seated at 3PM.  Like clockwork (pun intended) "dinner" was served at approximately 1:30PM this year.  Our Thanksgiving crowd consisted of a mere 13 relatives from Mom's side of the family.  Although that is large to some, my mother is the oldest of 6 children and I am one of 9 grandchildren. Our Thanksgiving meal usually involves 29 people offering a smorgasbord of meats, starches, and my personal favorite, pumpkin rolls.

Pumpkin Rolls!

Due to the dwindling crowd this year, my grandparents opted to make reservations at The Manor Tavern, a decision I was very happy with because I knew it meant no cooking for the parents and no clean-up duties for the "kids"!  At brunch/dinner, Mom was also able to entertain the family by ordering a wine flight which my Pop-Pop (baffled by the concept of small pours of white wine variations) aptly named, The Drinking Tree.  Feeling full and happy, I thanked my grandparents for the second breakfast and asked what time we would be eating dinner.

The Drinking Tree

The next day the women of the family headed to Towson Mall for the Black Friday sales. I courageously handed my keys to my 16 year old cousin Claire who was still basking in the glow of her freshly printed Learner's Permit.  I informed her that, although I would be throwing a soccer mom arm stop at the sight of every brake light, I thought she could use my expert driving tips (not entirely true, I don't like driving, especially in parking lots, especially in mall parking lots, ESPECIALLY in mall parking lots on Black Friday).  After finding a parking spot on the seventh floor, we (my car and its passengers) arrived safely. I applauded Claire on a job well done remembering the week I got my permit when I proceeded to run my Mom's car into a pole while attempting to park in a virtually empty parking garage.

On Saturday it was off to my home turf, Hampton, Virginia.  I accompanied Mom to a friend's cocktail party which she and Dad attended together every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.  There were quite a few people at the soiree and Dad's best friend treated the guests to a tribute song he had written in honor of my father. It was sad to not have him at the annual shindig, but I was glad to join in the celebration of friends and music with those who were closest to my father.

Making sure to cram as much fun as possible into my short stay, I joined some of my friends at the annual Oyster Roast at James River Country Club. There were about 200 people at the gathering and it was a blast from the past. I saw peers from high school, kids I used to babysit, parents, grandparents, you name it.  It is always so nice to be able to catch up with people who you have not seen in a while and to hear the wonderful things they are doing now that we have grown up, graduated, and joined the working force. Everyone was healthy and happy in their newfound cities and, I hope I get to see more of them this year! 

My fellow HRA Navigator's all grown up!

.....Must Have.....

Tired of forgetting what day your library book is due? Or debating whether your work presentation is on Tuesday or Wednesday?  Worse yet,  do you consistently fail to remember your mother's birthday? Get organized with Kate Spade's Jane Street Debra Pocket Organizer. Like the name implies, this calfskin planner is small enough to fit in your purse for quick accessibility when you need to jot down that important phone number or deadline. 

These chic agenda books include a weekly and monthly calendar, a ruler and tabbed sections for addresses, notes, restaurants and birthdays.  So get a head start on your New Year's Resolution and order your 2011 planner now. Who knew penciling in your annual teeth cleaning could be so fun, and fashionable! 

.....Must Hear.....