Friday, January 28, 2011

So Cheap It Should be a Crime

My mother and I have contradicting outlooks on finances, especially in the clothing arena.  Mom insists it is wiser to buy 5 pairs of knockoff brand jeans and has no problem sacrificing quality for quantity.  I, on the other hand, appreciate the craftsmanship and  durability of designer clothing and therefore am much more prone to save my money until I can afford one pair of designer jeans.   She sees her way as getting more bang for your buck, I see it as a short-term solution.  She sees my way as a spontaneous splurge and I see my it as a long-term investment. That being said, I knew I had to call her the second I left the mall last night. 

My 2008 iPod is on it's last leg so after work I headed to the mall determined to find a newer model.  As I made my way through J.C. Penney toward the Apple store, I spotted a sale on pencil skirts and decided to take a look.  Before I knew it, I was rummaging through the sale racks grabbing every pant, shirt and skirt I could find.  After trying on multiple outfits, I left the fitting room with a red bouclé jacket and a royal blue silk blouse.  I proceeded to the counter and when the cashier tallied up my grand total ($13.94!!!), I nearly fainted.  

I immediately grabbed the two items and began inspecting them, certain that I would discover a jagged seam line or a missing button.  To my delight, the clothes were in perfect condition.  "Spring collection's coming in next week, gotta make room," the cashier informed me, obviously sensing my astonishment.  

I was so thrilled, I turned to the lady in line behind me and shouted "Fourteen bucks! Do you see this? Fourteen bucks!"  My fellow shopper (Diane was her name) seemed to share my skepticism because she began inspecting the clothes too.  Diane looked at the price tag and she gasped "This jacket was originally $98.00! Where did you find it? What a deal!"  We spent the next 5 minutes marveling at the jacket and coming up with ways to accessorize the new ensemble. 

 As I skipped out of J.ust C.osts Pennies Diane and I exchanged our nice to meet you's and good bye’s.  I proudly strolled toward the door with my new purchases and Diane called out "Have a good night".  I just bought a new outfit for less than a tube of mascara, I would consider that a very good night.

 .....Must Have.....

One of the best examples of my mother's insatiable appetite for a good deal comes from a story my Dad used to share.  When my parents were first married, Dad came home from work to find two enormous bags of dog food in the pantry.  Dad was a bit confused seeing as they didn't have a dog nor were they planning on getting one. When asked about the bags of kibbles, my Mom explained that she simply could not pass up Purina's Buy One Get One Free deal at the grocery store and that when they did get a dog, they would already have food.  I always thought Mom's  premature purchase was ridiculous until I came across these adorable crate covers by BowhausNYC and found myself whipping out my wallet despite the fact that I have no dog.  

These adorable tailored covers come in small, medium, and large dimensions which means pooches of any size can lounge in luxury.  When I do get one, their puppy palace will be eagerly  awaiting them.  Now if only I could find a sale on dog food....

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a Pain

My roommate's dog Ruckus bit my face -yes I said face- this weekend.  He has truly lived up to his name, and although I am a lover of dogs, I am coming to terms with that fact that my admiration for this particular four-legged friend is not reciprocated.  There was no provoking, no foul-play, just the dog's sudden disinterest in me (half of my face to be exact) that led to this traumatizing event.  In my own impromtu "It's Me or the Dog" scenario, my roommate and I discussed our options.  Not one to break up the bond between master and pet, I suggested my roommate take the devil dog to behavioral classes to see if his temperment could be changed.  Tomorrow as I apply Neosporin to my injuries, Ruckus will be at doggy boot camp.  Stay tuned for the results....

On a different note, the rest of my week has been spent searching for reasonably priced airfare to the Canary Islands, a task that I thought would be simple but has turned out to be nearly impossible.  As a graduation present for Jessica, my mother rented us a condo for the week of March 12-18.  I chose the Canary Islands since Jessica and I have never been but have always wanted to visit. Flights into Europe are a dime a dozen but flights from Europe to the Canaries are few and far between.  As time ticks on, the prices are going up, but with limited vacation hours, Jessica and I are unable to find round trip tickets for less than $2000! 

In the past, I have relied on RyanAir to hop between cities, but they only offer one flight a day at 6AM to Tenerife.  Jessica, we may be canoeing to our resort come March!  If anyone reading has a suggestion, please let me know, I feel hopeless! 

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

We all have been in line at the grocery store and have reached for a magazine to pass the time.  Many, like myself, flip directly to a specific section to browse our favorite column.  In Style readers scan the "Deals & Steals" page, Cooking Light followers peruse "The Hungry Traveler" column.  But my all-time favorite go-to read is Real Simple's "New Uses for Old Things" which offers easy and creative ways to get maximum use out of everyday items that can be found around the house.  In celebration of their 10th anniversary, the writers of Real Simple released 869 of their favorite new uses for old things.  Some of my favorite ideas are:  

An old picture frame as a vanity tray

Life Savers as colorful candle holders

A jumprope as a playful ribbon

The book is chock-full of great solutions to life's little problems like where to store all those loose buttons (an ice tray) and how to properly portion your pancake (squeeze the batter from an old ketchup bottle).  So crack open this book, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy. But don't forget to save the cork, the material is perfect for emergency earring backers!

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beautiful Beaufort

What a wonderful weekend! I was reunited with a handful of my Wofford friends in Beaufort, South Carolina, Mary Loyal's hometown.  I had a great time seeing everyone and celebrating ML and Lash's first engagement party.  On Saturday night, family friends of the Bride-to-Be hosted a cocktail party at their gorgeous home.  There was an endless supply of bite-sized quiche squares, mini-ham biscuits, and petifores monogrammed with the initials of the soon-to-be husband and wife. The party ended, but everyone headed downtown to continue the celebrating.  We had a great time reliving good ole college days!
The Bride and Groom
The Bridesmaids
Me, Lauren, Bethany and Hanna
Sunday morning we headed to ML's gorgeous home for an enormous brunch cooked by the FOB.  As luck would have it, the weather was perfect, and after a filling meal we spent some time in the sun on the family's pier.  We had a few hours of downtime before getting ready for the next soirée. 
Mary Loyal's backyard
Mimosas and Bloody Marys on the pier
Enjoying the gorgeous weather
Around sunset we arrived at an Oyster Roast that was being hosted by Mary Loyal's neighbors.  The backyard was beautifully landscaped and offered picturesque views of the creek. There was a folk/bluegrass band playing music on the deck of the guesthouse.  The hosts provided homemade chili and cornbread for the non-oyster eaters (I know, I know, New Year's Resolution) and wine appropriately named "The One". 

All the right things!
Ladys Creek at sunset
The backyard
College Roommates

The sun set and we all said our goodbyes, but I am looking forward to the ongoing festivities leading up to "The Big Day".  I am so glad we all got to celebrate together and could not be happier for the future husband and wife. Cheers!

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

My grandmother is a huge collector of Native American art and jewelry, and over Christmas she showed me a ring she had purchased on her last trip to Santa Fe.  I was so impressed when she handed me her reversible Turquiose and Roserita ring by designer Gloria Sawin.  The interchangable ring is reminiscent of Bvlgari's design but Sawin's is much more unique. With the twist of a band, the face of the ring changes, how inventive! Choose from an array of gems ranging from your basic diamond and pearl to more unusual stones like the Black Onyx and Australian Opal.  Sawin has found a way to make a simple accessory versatile and contemporary while reflecting the rich culture of her surroundings.  Santa Fe may be a long way from Raleigh, but I am hoping this creative twist on ring wear will make it to the East Coast.  After all, the only thing better than having one ring is having two!

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 So Far

We are almost two weeks into the new year, and I am already neglecting one of my resolutions: to be more attentive to my blog.  In an attempt to resurrect my blog's sense of timeliness, I am providing an up to date record of the past week's activities before another another week flies by.  Other than becoming a better blogger, my resolutions are as follows:

1.  Try new foods.  I am notorious for my strange eating habits.  I don't eat foods with contradicting textures. For example: melons, foods with pits, drinks/yogurt with pulp, anything on the bone, etc. In the rare event that I do eat meat, it must be thoroughly cooked, easy to chew, and one color, ie. no light/dark meat.  Seafood is off limits as well, which is most unbelievable seeing as I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in a city whose economic livelihood was centered around the crabbing and fishing industries. Needless to say, my food fears have resulted in a less than typical diet which over the years has begun to be a problem. This year, I will make a conscious effort to try new foods and abandon my finicky habits.

2.  Plan a family trip.  2010 was a tough year, and I think my mother, brother and I could all use a vacation.  My Mom, the self-proclaimed travel agent, has successfully booked fabulous trips for the family throughout the years.  I think this year would be the perfect time for me to plan a getaway and prove that Mom's travel-savvy tips have been taken to heart.  Although I will not be able to compete with Mom's African safari outings, or Swiss Alps skiing trips, I do hope to plan a relaxing vacation somewhere sunny.

3.  Be a better friend.  Cheesy I know but, this past year I have gained a new appreciation for the incredible group of friends with whom I have been blessed.  When people ask how I have been doing these past few months, I confidently respond, without hesitation, "I would be doing much worse if it weren't for my friends".  I have so much to thank my friends for and, although there are no words that could sufficiently define how grateful I am for their ongoing love and support, I will try to return the favor any way I can. 

Speaking of friends and the New Year, I was thrilled to be able to ring in 2011 with my friends Wilson and Tippins at their home in Murrells Inlet, SC.  The hosts set up a fire pit and treated the guests to an oyster roast among many other lowcountry specialties.  

The hosts
Me and little Rex
Ben, Charlotte and Tippins
Will and me

The weather was unusually warm on New Year's Day, so we spent the afternoon walking on the beach and enjoying an outdoor lunch.  For dinner, we went to a hibachi grill, and it was quite an entertaining meal.  Unbeknownst to me, Will informed our waiter that it was my birthday (not really) and by the end of the meal I was surrounded by a group of singing staff members and dancing on my chair.

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

Trying to alleviate some of Mom's Christmas shopping stress, I opted to purchase gifts for our neighbors and my second family, the Lockwoods.  I stumbled across the goldmine of discount websites, 6PM, and within minutes I found Katie a stylish pair of Kate Spade glasses and even ended up getting Will a Mountain Hardwear jacket.  Shopping for my best friend Jessica, however, proved to be a challenge.  Jess said she wanted a clutch that was big enough to carry by itself but small enough to fit in your purse as a wallet.  The leather Hobo International Mavis fit the bill.  

Thanks to the shopper friendly web developers of 6PM, I was able to see the clutch from all angles.  The selling point was the site's video which showed a model carrying the clutch and explaining the features of the Mavis.  The video allowed me to see the actual size and brought my attention to the "secret zipper compartment" that is cleverly concealed along the bag's underside.  I bought one for Jess, and I suppose Will was sick of me gushing about this perfect find because a few days later, he slipped the clutch into my hand before we headed out for dinner.  I am now the proud owner of my own Mavis, and unfortunately for Will, I still haven't stopped singing its praises.

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

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Vacation

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! I made the annual trip to Venice, Florida, where my grandparents live.  This was my 20th Christmas in Florida and I have grown accustomed to spending the last days of December by the pool rather than by the fire.  I always enjoy escaping the cold weather and spending a few days in flip-flops and beach cover-ups. Not your typical white Christmas, but it's Christmas to me. 

View from the front porch
On Saturday, Mom thought it would be nice to go on a "little bike ride" to the beach. Thinking it would be a short trip, I hopped on a bike in jeans, a cashmere cardingan and leather boots.  Thirty minutes later, George and Mom arrived at the beach.  Forty minutes later, I arrived, out of breath and covered in sweat.  It was then Mom informed me that the  "little bike ride" was code for a 13 mile trek upwind. Needless to say, I insisted we take the less scenic route back which took us half the time. Saturday night, we opened presents and then my grandmother made Christmas dinner for the entire family.

Grammie and the pup.

Christmas Morning
Mom's Gift
George is quite the gift wrapper.
My gift to Lady, doesn't she look thrilled?!
Every family has a holiday tradition.  On Thanksgiving, we have a talent show where everyone displays his or her most unique "talent".  On Christmas Eve, my grandparents hide a tiny pickle in one of the five Christmas trees around their house and the grandchildren race to see who has the sharpest eyes.  Legend has it, the one who finds the pickle will have good luck the following year (and as an added perk, Grammie and Pop-Pop give the winner a $50 prize).

Can you find the pickle?
On Sunday, my travel plans were once again diverted by Mother Nature.  Due to the Christmas 2K10 Snowstorm, all flights to Raleigh were cancelled so I was graced with one more day in Florida.  That night, the entire family went to dinner at our favorite local pizzeria, Luna's. 

Notice anything weird on the menu?
The family at Luna's
Of course, Christmas was not the same this year without Dad.  In a beautiful tribute to my father, Grammie designed a wreath that will hang in the living room every Christmas as a reminder that Dad is still with us in spirit.  The wreath is adorned with mini guitars, Dad's favorite, and is strung with purple lights in recognition of pancreatic cancer awareness.  My family and I were so moved by Grammie's sincere and thoughtful homage to Dad.

Dad's wreath.
Before Christmas dinner, my Pop-Pop said the blessing, something my father would do most Christmases.  Pop-Pop reminded us that although we lose loved ones, it is important to be thankfully for the time we had while they were still with us.  I will end this post with a poem my cousin Joe read to the family following the blessing.  The message is powerful and uplifting.  Although he was not at our table this Christmas, it's nice to know he spent the holidays with angels.

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below,
With the tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
The people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description
To hear an angel sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you imagine Christmas
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love,
So then pray for one another
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I am spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King!