Change

The look of the blog has changed yet again, but that’s not really the kind of change that this post is about. That said, aren’t the peonies and lace so pretty? I’m not traditionally a huge fan of the color pink, but I love this background.

No, the changes that are happening at our house are of the bittersweet variety. Russ is 10 1/2 months old now and it’s really starting to hit home that my “baby” is quickly being replaced by my toddler. It’s certainly not a sad thing – just bittersweet, like I said. When I look back and realize that just a year ago, I was 34 weeks pregnant and starting the cycle of baby showers that blessed us so bountifully as we anticipated the arrival of our baby. Russ is walking. Russ is talking – a little bit, anyway. Garbled, messy vowels and consonants that are actually starting to be recognizable as words now (“Dog,” “Daddy,” and “Ma-ma” are his mainstays right now). Russ can finally flip on and off the light switch that he’s been hungrily eyeing for several weeks now. It just doesn’t seem right to me that a year can go by so fast. When he was a newborn or even before he was ever born, I “knew” he’d grow up, though. When I think of some families who lose babies in utero or who lose very young children, I can’t be sad that Russ is coming upon his 1st birthday. He’s so healthy and so smart and so…just wonderful. But change – every day brings a new thing with him. I’m loving every moment, but when the moments seem to fly by so fast, you can’t take too much time to write about them. Besides, I have a birthday party to plan…

Vacation Pics

I finally got a few more up! At some point I will actually download all of them (there’s like 400) and post to Facebook, but I’m gonna leave these to do most of the talking.

OK. For starters: I am not someone who thinks of themselves as being particularly gorgeous. So let’s just be clear on that right now (ya know, in case you see the picture below and think “Oh, well look at Miss Thangy Thang Thang in her polka dot bikini). But at the same time, this body I have is capable, strong, and able to carry and birth and nurse and nourish and cuddle a precious little boy and is therefore, well, pretty freakin’ awesome. So I feel far different about my body than I might have, say, 10 years ago when all I knew was that my thighs weren’t as small as Miss America’s and that even at my skinniest, I probably still outweighed some of my peers (I’m 5’9”, y’all. I can’t be blowin’ away in the wind). No, I don’t care about that crap anymore. Since I had Russ, I’ve been super efficient about my workouts (I love being active, but don’t have time to do more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time), but I really haven’t been dieting at all. I eat chocolate, I drink margaritas, and I bake. A lot. And I can outrun most women and a whole lot of men, too. Basically put, I’m doing okay, and I feel like I’m in a great place physically, as unimportant as stuff like that honestly is. But I’m not going to rep all my new mom sisters by covering up in a one-piece and being all embarassed about having a couple of stretch marks. That’s not living. So, here’s the bikini photo. Have at it.

Look how beautiful my baby is! And look how gorgeous his granny is! That’s what “pushing 60” looks like in my family, y’all. Eat yo’ heart out.

My two guys! Love them. 🙂

 My niece Jill, Russ, and me on the end of the dock. Loving. Life.

I love this picture. Especially my dad’s face.

Fourth of July at the Lake – always a great time. Can’t wait to do it again soon!

About the Kitsch

*Ahem*

Kitsch (English pronunciation: /ˈkɪtʃ/, loanword from German) is a form of art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value. The concept is associated with the deliberate use of elements that may be thought of as cultural icons[1] while making cheap mass-produced objects that are unoriginal. Kitsch also refers to the types of art that are aesthetically deficient (whether or not being sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative) and that make creative gestures which merely imitate the superficial appearances of art through repeated conventions and formulae. Excessive sentimentality often is associated with the term.

Well, yeah, that sounds just about right to me. Anyone who knows me really well has probably heard me lament my current kitchen. As a first-time home buyer a few years ago, I was well aware that we were going to make some mistakes – it’s just par for the course when you are in such unchartered territory. As my friend Jen put it the other day, “I don’t know enough to know what to ask.” Well, that was me and Jonathan. So when we walked through our house, emotions took over and we forgot to do simple things like stop and consider the traffic on the road beside the house (which is typically very quiet, but can be a little aggravating around 5 pm on weekdays). We didn’t know to consider that the kitchen cabinets might look like enough…but weren’t. Embarrassing as it is, we didn’t even open the cabinets and look inside when we viewed the house. We’d seen so many places at that point that they were starting to blend together, and frankly, we just didn’t know any better. With just under two months before our existing apartment lease was up, we felt rushed and anxious – in the offer went, bidding war (prompted by dishonest realtor representing the seller) ensued, and our property cherry was unceremoniously popped, without so much as a cuddle afterward.

Don’t get me wrong, our house is really great in a lot of ways. But the kitchen just has never worked for me. I’ll get it the way I want it for a month or two, but then I realize that it needs further tweaking. Given that we’re going to be in this house for a few more years before we attempt to sell it (which is kind of a pipe dream in the current market), it’s time to get working, because this family of ours isn’t getting any smaller (that’s not an announcement of any kind, by the way!), and the space we have isn’t going to work any better for us.

So, here are some inspiration pieces for the kitchen I want to put together…(yay, show and tell time!)

 I am a HUGE fan of open shelving in kitchens, especially when it makes good use of vintage and thrift store finds like the Jadeite and Pyrex pieces I either already have or want to try to find for a good price. Like the “Drippings” holder below…HELLO, that’s awesome!

 I’m becoming a little obsessed with vintage Pyrex. I’m interested in a few specific patterns, like the Gooseberry (above and below). Gooseberry comes in pink, aqua, and yellow. I scored a full set of the “Cinderella” nested mixing bowls in the Gooseberry yellow (4 in a set, though these pics only show 3) seen below. I’d love to find pieces in the even more rare pink or aqua patterns at some point. Pyrex is great stuff – it lasts for decades (50-60 years or more in many cases), it still affordable, and if you’re a little suspicious of plastics, it’s a far cuter substitute and heats/cools like a dream. It can go from freezer to fridge to oven to microwave to dishwasher without missing a step.

 I’m also keeping an eye on some new and modern pieces that just look classic and aged. I don’t want a bunch of uber-modern, new stuff, and honestly, I’m not put-together enough to pull off anything but an eclectic sort of aesthetic anyway.

Cute, right? I think so.

OOOOH, there’s MORE!! Lookie lookie what I found at Williams-Sonoma.com. I think I might be in domestic, kitchen-y loooooove. These beauties are coming home with me.

Brides and Bridesmaids: A reality check

I admit it: I love wedding stuff. I could sit all day and look at wedding pictures of people I know (or…um…don’t know), I was among the “losers” up at 6 am to watch the Royal Wedding (Don’t judge me! The pomp and circumstance and excess was like cultural fudge brownies to me…I couldn’t resist!), and I have literally hours of DVR’d episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC. I’ve been married for five years, but I still love the process of watching the “look” and general feel and ambiance of a wedding come together.

Now, the emotional aspects of a wedding…ehhhhh, I’m just not that into it. Okay, I’m sorta into it, but I really hate crying in public and I do it more than I’d like already (ask anyone who goes to church with me about the Father’s Day service this year – it was brutal). You know, though – the lovey-dovey stuff, the happy couple gazing into one another’s doe-eyes as a love song plays (or is sung, sometimes by someone really great, but also sometimes sung by a female relative who – in the words of Niecey Nash, “angry sings” and who only performs one song in the key of Allison Krauss)…where were we?

Oh, sorry, I’m just not that into it. I’ve been married for five years now and have experienced buying a house and recovering from childbirth and dog poop, baby poop, “Push Hemorrhoids” (Google those – fun times), terrible stomach flu bouts, rehashing childhood issues, threatening divorce (it only happened once, in a Mexican restaurant at lunchtime back in 2007, and I cringe anytime I think about it – not our finest moment), roadside arguments on Christmas Day, etc. alongside my dear hubs. Frankly…that moment with the love song and the dresses and all that is just not a good overall representation of marriage. It’s a beautiful moment, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like pre-race banana before you run an ultramarathon. Far too many people look at marriage as a “finish line,” when really it’s the very first step in a really, really, really, reaaaaaaally long run.

Our first dance was “What a Wonderful World,” mostly because the one thing I forgot to coordinate prior to my wedding was what the first dance and father-daughter dances would be – DOH! (For the record, the father-daughter dance was “My Girl,” which still makes me cry). Five years into it, I now think U2’s “With or Without You” would be the best first dance song ever, because that, my friends, is marriage in a nutshell. If you can learn to accept each other, love one another unconditionally, and neither cheat nor beat each other…well, that’s the best thing you can ask for. There are days where you have to fight real hard not to throw your husband’s cell phone in the exact way so that it misses his head by about 5 inches (not that we’ve ever had that happen at our house…). “With or Without You” perfectly captures the essence of marriage, even in its finest forms. If you get one like I did – where you would much prefer the former to the latter, then you’re especially lucky!

That said, I am always happy to see friends and loved ones walk down the aisle/wait at the altar! But those long song segments, along with any ceremony that involves combining sands or types of jello or different colored prescription meds or whatever is hot this season always make me squirm as if the entire room was watching a video of Katie Couric’s colonoscopy. Tres uncomfortable. Just light some candles and let’s get this show on the road.

And since watching an obscene amount of a specific show or type of show, having been a bridesmaid before (and always in something with a bow – I’m just not a “bow in front” type of person and we all know it), and having been married myself all equate to me being an expert, I’m thinking it’s high-time for me to exercise my inner Emily Post and establish my own set of wedding etiquette suggestions. Oh, and I’m Southern. That’s, like, the equivalent of a PhD in wedding practices, right? No?

Let me preface this by saying that 1) no actual brides were harmed in the making of this post, and 2) this is directed not at the sane, down-to-earth brides of the world, but at the crazed and self-absorbed set (who seem to be the only ones that appear on cable television, oddly enough). So don’t get your Spanx in a twist, ladies!

Here are my tips for throwing a wedding that will not result in your ultimate demise, ruin your friendships, or leave you with even more reasons to consult a professional therapist:

  • Brides and bridesmaids: Passive-aggression is a tool that must be used carefully, so try not to pull out the big guns. All you brides, yes, it is YOUR DAY. We get it. But you need to consider how realistic it is going to be to ask 12 bridesmaids ranging across 15 sizes and 10 years of age to all settle on the same dress, and while we get that you think “coffee and cream” is a great wedding theme, that color your looking at for these poor ladies’ dresses is what I like to call “cellulite” or “flesh-colored pantyhose,” not “Mocha” or “Latte” or “Pale Nude.”

    The only people who look good in those dresses are…well, the only ones I can think of were those in the ’07 wedding of my friend Jade Fender Cahoon. That is the one wedding – ONE! – where the nude-colored dress was done well, and it was because the bride picked a shade that was dark enough to suit her light-caucasian colored wedding party AND the cut was impeccable. Everybody’s boobs looked amazing, and I mean that in a completely straight sort of way. But that’s a rarity. For most girls, a tea-length, flesh-colored bridesmaid dress with a bevy of Washingtonian chest rufflies is really just going to prevent your single bridesmaids from sealing the deal with any of the hot groomsmen. Don’t be that girl. I would caution you all about yellow, also. “Butter,” a color that I myself have worn (Alfred Angelo, if you need reference for the hideousness), is really just a way to say to your friends and loved ones “The uglier you look, the better!” Please, please, please, for the love of all womankind, consider jewel tones, vibrant shades, tastefully done pastels, and black or navy as a first possibility before you move to colors that mimic back fat and jaundiced babies. K thx.

  • Bridesmaids: Recognize that it’s the bride’s day (don’t worry, if you forget this fact, she will remind you a few times for good measure – I did! *blushes in shame*). Do your best to be a duck and let any drama roll off your back, but also remember that it’s okay to have your “limit.” Now, let’s practice! For example, if the bride suggests a pale baby blue color that you feel washes you out, try it on, smile, and offer suggestions if asked for your opinion. Whether you will be asked for your opinion is a matter of what kinds of friends you have, so keep this in mind during any and all social interactions with other women – i.e., ask yourself – “Is Sally the kind of girl who would put me in an asymmetrical-hem, ombre chiffon, one-shouldered, chain-belted tie-dye bridesmaids dress AND ask me to foot the $210 bill for it?” If your answer is yes, perhaps you should consider that Sally actually wants to kill you, ya know, subconsciously.

    Here’s another exercise: if Sally insists on the pale blue designer dress that you makes you look like you’re about six months along and have attached your breasts to your knees, which costs you half a month’s salary, DO NOT – I REPEAT, DO NOT – voice how much you hate the dress. This will do nothing but make you look like a First Class A-Hole with jealousy issues. Act like you freaking love that hideous dress. Do it. But discuss privately with your bride, before you even start looking at bridesmaids dresses, that you have a set budget for what you can afford for the dress. That way, if the bride chooses to select a $400 bridesmaid dress (I know, I can’t believe they exist either) even when you’ve already stated that you can only afford $150, she’ll know that the other $250 is hers to cough up. If she doesn’t like it, play the recession card like there’s no tomorrow (“I’m sorry, Sally, I wish I could live without water and electricity, but I just can’t do it! Forgive me for my selfishness! I STILL LOVE YOU!!”).

  • Brides AND bridesmaids: Now, listen carefully. This may not be the way it is in your world (in which we’re just living, I understand, okay, okay…), but in the rest of the world, money is an object, and a finite one at that. I actually saw a bride on TV the other day, whilst bludgeoning her plebian servants selecting bridesmaids dresses with her sorority sisters, insisting that if she went over budget to buy her wedding gown, her girls needed to go over budget to purchase the tackyriffic frock she wanted them to wear (it was a nice color, at least). Her line? “Can’t get the dress, just be a guest.” I found myself muttering at the TV “How ’bout they just give your whole wedding the finger and find a better friend, eh, Princess?” The truth is that being a bridesmaid, 8 out of 10 times, sucks, especially if it’s a summer wedding in the South (I’m sorry, Jessica, Dina, Jill, Jenna, and everyone else who attended my outdoor June wedding…I would change it to fall if I could do it over again. But hey, at least we all lost 5 lbs. of water weight that night! Huzzah!).

    SO many issues can crop up in the process of selecting gowns for the entire wedding party (especially if it’s a lesbian wedding. I kid, I kid). It’s difficult to find one dress style to flatter both a size 0 and a size 20. It’s impossible to get 15 girls to shop for dresses at a time when less than half of them will be in the middle of “their special time.” It’s probably illegal to Xanax your entire wedding party prior to shopping without at least hinting that that isn’t a Tic-Tac, else that would be my first suggestion. And while it would be great for your wedding budget if your maids would just silently foot the bill for any dress you chose, it’s really more fair to come to this point: if the bride is footing the bill for the dresses, she should have a large portion of the say-so in the matter of what dress is chosen. But if the bridesmaids are expected to pay for their own dress (on top of throwing showers, bachelorette parties, and getting a wedding gift that isn’t completely crappy), then darn it, there should be a little compromise. Seems to me that the world is producing a large contingent of entitled princesses, on both sides of the aisle (or alter…whatever).

  • Mothers of the bride and mothers of the groom: Try to remain as neutral as possible. When you sit there during the process of watching your daughter try on gowns, know that comments like “You look like a cumulus cloud” or “Is this a shotgun wedding, cause that dress yells ‘Knocked Up!'” are neither helpful not funny. Mothers of the groom, the dress may be ivory. Get over it. There’s a 99.5% chance that neither your son nor his intended have yet to perform the horizontal tango. Ivory will do, if that’s what the bride wants. If your doing this out of some insecurity about your status as a mother of the bride, realizing that you’re not as young as you once were, think of Diane Keaton in “Father of the Bride.” That is your goal, ladies. Graceful, cool, calm, shaking your head as the madness around you *almost* prevents you from being super awesome (but not quite). 

Am I making sense here, chilluns’? I hope so. My only real piece of advice for the men that get mixed up in all this crazy wedding stuff is to start drinking now as to up their tolerance by the time the real poop hits the fan.

On second thought, I’m pretty sure Emily Post would be shaking her head and pouring herself a drink after reading this, but that’s okay by me. Really, I think the best wedding ever is the one that is just the bride and groom, on a beach in Hawaii, married by a local minister, then jumping in the surf to celebrate. That’s what my friend Liz and her husband Greg did, and I still think it’s the most brilliant wedding ever – and nobody had to wear a cellulite-colored dress.

Tales from Vacation: Large bruises, large portions, and little bikinis!

Well I’m back from my 10-day excursion to the middle of nowhere (i.e. very, very rural Clarendon County) and a delicious week and a half at the lakehouse. I love that place. More than the place, though, I love the family I get to see there and the fun times we get to enjoy together. I’m not sure the lake would mean anything without them all (though in reality, I’d still make darn good use of the place in their absence). And since I am waaaaay behind my work both at home (hello, Dyson Vacuum…nice to see you again?) and with my freelance consulting, I’ll keep this post short and sweet and numerical. Here are the tidbits from my time off:

  • My child (now an alarming four days away from his 10-month birthday) is so close to walking that it’s not even funny. I sort of predicted, way back in his newborn stage, that he’d walk while we were at the lake for the 4th of July, but it turns out my predictions were pretty spot-on. He definitely let go and strolled a few steps, several times, from one side of his play yard to the other. It’s just a matter of time before he’s outrunning us all.
  • Let’s talk about water sports! Uh, yeah…moral of that story is this: know when to LET GO. We got tossed of the tube plenty of times over the course of the week, usually while riding two-at-a-time. What I didn’t anticipate was being completely pwned by that thing on Saturday, while tubing solo on calmer waters. I was feeling pretty stable until we hit one good boat wake in the middle of a figure 8 – at which point, the tube turned on its side and my stubborn white knuckles just wouldn’t let go. After skidding along the surface of the water, bathing suit bottom BARELY intact (okay, let’s be honest…I was losing it) a few times, I realized that one more hit at 40 mph might really be bad for my side and let go. Talk about a mother of a bruise the next day…looked like a hickey from a basking shark. Ouch.
  • The cookbook is in the works, y’all!! Mom sent me home with a folder of all her best recipes, jotted down or typed in very old 90s word processing form. These have been waiting a decade to be put into print, so look for something very exciting around Christmas. No, Random House hasn’t picked it up yet, but I’m just waiting for that call from Paula Deen.
  • I’m officially an antique kitchen ware FIEND. I’ve been wanting to start my collection of old Pyrex and Jadeite for awhile, and man…I found the place. Hell no, I’m not telling you where it is, but let’s just say I’ve got a lady in Santee who knows a thing or two about 1950s-style cookware. I came home with a complete set of Pyrex Gooseberry nesting Cinderella bowls AND two covered casseroles that I picked up at the place, and I’m just chomping at the bit to get back there and pick up this fabulous Jadeite salt shaker I saw. My kitchen may soon be outfitted with copious open shelving. This could be an addiction. My mom also sent me home with a cute little find that she found for $2 at Goodwill – a medium oval covered glass casserole from Anchor Hocking. Looks like about a 1970s-1980s piece, and I saw one just like it at the place of my lady in Santee (the one I’m not naming or giving details about). Gotta protect my secret find, ya know? Needless to say, my kitchen is going to be seeing some dramatic changes over the next year or so. I have storage ideas, paint (I said I wouldn’t, but looks like I lied), seating changes, etc. in mind. The theme? Jadeite green, with a few pink splashes here and there. Thing Better Homes and Gardens meets 1950s domestic diva. 
  • The green polka dot suit was a hit. Will definitely post a pic as soon as I get a chance. My only wish with the suit was that I’d gotten the bottom a size smaller. Oversize bottoms act like flippers and catch all the water, especially when one is catapulted off a small rubber projectile whilst going 40 mph over open water. Let’s just say it’s a recipe for wardrobe malfunction awesomeness.
  • I wish I could change some things going on in my family, but then I also find myself incredibly thankful for the clarity provided by these situations. Granted, I’m not exactly renowned for my ability to edit myself, but I’m learning to just sit back and hold my tongue in situations that really don’t affect me that much. On the other hand, I’ll always call a spade a spade. Guess that’s a little cryptic (sorry I can’t say more), but I definitely appreciate the self-examination and motivation for myself that was gleaned from an unfortunate situation for some loved ones. All I can do is send that stuff up to the Big Guy. They say that money is the root of all evil, but I don’t think so. I think people are the root of all evil and money is just little green pieces of paper.
  • I need to start working on “Nelson’s Cut” again. Maybe this week I will post a snippet of the first chapter, which was penned almost two years ago. When I got pregnant with Russ, all my attention turned to baby everything and I sort of lost interest in it. But just being at the lake, combined with the family stuff mentioned above, sort of helped me realize that I need to get back to it.
  • My laptop crapped out completely midweek. I was using it to start putting those recipes into formatted files, but the motherboard is basically fried. Not sure what’s going to happen with it, but we are now officially down to ONE slow desktop at our house. This should make things pretty interesting.
  • Quotes for the week: 
    • “It comes in a lot of flavors…VOMIT!”
    • “FOOT! Well, it said “Down under…”
    • “They’re Poop Buddies.”
    • “That child was blue, I tell you!”
    • “It’s Cornelius.”

And that’s about it! Back to being a pumpkin.