Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Robin, the Red-Eyed Reindeer

Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won't you be my eye tonight?

Actually, I don't need Rudy, as I've been sporting a nice red eyeball since Friday, along with what I thought was a Christmas Day Cold but the nice doctor tells me was a sinus infection with a side of pink eye. I'm sure I picked up these germs while Christmas shopping at the fifth gate of hell mall on Christmas Eve eve. I've never been sick over the holidays before, and it bites. I had big plans -- Big Plans, I tell you -- for these two weeks. Visiting with faraway friends in town for the holidays, visiting with local friends that I haven't seen in weeks, closet cleaning, magazine purging, dinner party-throwing. Not to mention the BF is a teacher and this is one of the few times during the year that he has time off and I my work schedule allows me to take time off to match.

But enough whining. In between coughing fits, cabin fever (from which Meg & Mo have been so good about trying to rescue me), daily chats with Mumsie, and The Lounging Party's favorite activity (cat-naps), I've had lots of time to catch up on reading. Two books, a dozen magazines, the daily paper from cover to cover, and blogland. My Google Reader was overflowing with long-unread posts -- some of you are prolific and I've been really bad about keeping up.

Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine I am feeling better and am hoping to make a brief cough-free, red-eye-free appearance at a New Year's Eve party and then cram some fun times (and perhaps some of that closet-cleaning) into what's left of my vacation. Wishing you all a fabulous New Year's!

(photo from ABC)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She spends in a week what you make in a year

{Marie Douglas-David, soon-to-be-ex-hubby George David, and actress Julie Delpy at The 10th Anniversary of Green Cross International and Global Green Founded by Mikhail Gorbachev. MGDavidJDelpy_101104, originally uploaded by Global Green USA.}

Currently duking it out in Hartford Superior Court and on the front pages of the Hartford Courant are the Davids, one of America's uber-rich couples, he the former CEO of United Technologies, she a countess and former Wall Street type who apparently spends more in a week than what some people make in a year.

Click here to see what she spends it on. No really. Click.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around those types of numbers as weekly discretionary expenses. I know that there are people out there who are far more wealthy than 99.9% of the rest of us, and I know that in a divorce there is a little fudging of numbers going on, I just wonder if I was ever that rich would my lifestyle escalate to one where I spent that kind of money on clothes, hair, facials, flowers etc., every week. Every. Week. Oh, sure, in the beginning there would definitely be a shopping spree and lots of travel, but I don't think I could keep it up. There've been too many instances in my life (as a newlywed, as a new divorcee, etc.) where I had to be super-frugal, and even get a second job, just to make ends meet. I'm not saying I would maintain my current lifestyle 100%. I just don't think I could spend four grand a month on my hair.

What about you? Would you be all Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hooked on Holiday House Tours Blog Party

Welcome! I'm participating in Julia's Hooked On Holiday House Tours blog party today. If you like looking at holiday decorations, need to get in the holiday spirit, or harbor some voyeur tendencies, then you may want to pop on over and check out the 50+ homes on display.

I live in a Victorian apartment building that "went condo" in the late '70s, so we have lots of charm and period detail, but with modern electric, plumbing, sheetrock, etc. We also have lots of great neighbors who can get quite festive when the occasion calls for it, and the holidays are no exception. We throw some great parties here, including one just to "deck the halls" i.e., decorate the lobby and the landing of each floor.

Here is the tree in our lobby, decorated with handmade ornaments depicting historic scenes from Hartford.

Before he played for the Sox, Babe Ruth batted for the minor leagues in Hartford.

A mod blue and white tree on the landing to my floor.

My front door. Welcome! (Note, I wasn't tipsy, I just couldn't take a straight picture with my dorky camera).

This year my wreath is silver, pewter and white. And fake. :-( It is very dry in the building and a girl can vacuum the doorway only so many times....

My tree, which I just put up this weekend. I love the smell of a real tree, but a) see note above re: the dry air in the building and b) The Lounging Party [aka my cats] think any living plant is their personal salad bar, just waiting to be chomped on. They did, however, "assist" with the decorating and frequently rearrange things while I'm at work.

My BFF Marie Louise of Cottage Industries brought back this petit chat from her honeymoon in Paris last year. The starfish is from Cape Cod.

I'm in love with the face on this little owl and acorn ornament.

As you can imagine, with a name like Robin I have a lot of bird ornaments on my tree (including the one in my new header above). Many were gifts from my dad growing up.

Even my chandelier gets a little dressed up for Christmas.
Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check out the other tours at Hooked On Houses. But before you go, please have a cookie, made by Meghan of Two Ladies In Waiting for our condo Christmas party the other day. I promise they have no calories!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In stitches

{needle and thread, originally uploaded by Thru Jenn's Eyes.}

I am a girl who wears skirts. And dresses. Mumsie always said "Dress for the position to which you aspire," and I'm sticking with that rule, even though I am always "overdressed" compared to some of my co-workers. I like getting dressed up for work every day and I curse whoever invented "casual" dress code. I have a thing for heels and handbags. And accessories. I'm a girly girl, and not ashamed to say it.

I tore the hem of my skirt today during a run-in with an unruly file cabinet. I mended it at my desk (while wearing it) and it wasn't until I was threading the needle that I really took a good look at the sewing kit. It's a little plastic box with 7 spools of colored thread (there were 8 but I lost one). Of course the black thread is almost gone, followed closely by the navy. There's a plastic thimble, safety pins, a threader and a couple of needles. And then I realized: I have had this sewing kit in every desk I've ever sat at, at every job I've ever had, since graduating college. That's almost twenty years.

I'm sure the gals at Basket of Kisses would agree that "Joan" would be proud.

{Christina Hendricks as "Joan Holloway" in AMC's "MadMen"}

Joan Holloway dresses like the hot ticket she is, and keeps aspirin, a sweater, safety pins and a fifth of something in her desk. For emergencies.

What do you wear to work? Does anyone like getting dressed up anymore?

Sorry for the long absence. Thanksgiving melted right into a non-stop 10 days of work and travel that I only recently surfaced from. Just in time for Christmas shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When you wish upon a bone

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! May your day be filled with good food, good company and good fortune. Don't fight over the white meat and leave room for dessert, because someone slaved over that pie crust and you don't want to disappoint them. Skip the football game and go for a walk; your heart (and waist) will thank you. Make some little kid's day by cleaning off the wishbone and breaking it with them.

This year I am thankful for my family; my BF; my BFF; friends who get up at the crack of dark to go walking with me (and are willing accomplices in so much else); that I have a job that pays well (even though I am ready to jump out the window these days), a nice apartment, a good car, a warm coat, etc.; all of you who keep stopping by even though my crazy life has meant sporadic posting lately; and that the cats did not have a hairball on the white duvet cover today. Yet.

I'm wishing for my government to stop bailing out big businesses with my tax dollars, for an end to the war in Iraq and a swift conclusion to the escalating activity in Afghanistan, for there to be less hunger in the world, less suffering, more hope. Oh, and that the exiled African diplomat who keeps emailing me will finally come through with my millions.

What are you thankful for this year? What are you wishing for on your wishbone?

Monday, November 17, 2008

West wingnut

The West Wing is my new crack.

I have no idea where I was from 1999-2006, when the show originally aired. Well, I know where I was, I just can't pin down the specifics of why I didn't watch it. It has all my favorite things - great writing, witty banter, smart female characters, realistic plot lines and a talented cast and crew to bring it all together. I'm sorry I missed it the first time around, and although I've caught a glimpse or two on Bravo, it's not the kind of show where you can jump feet first into one episode and know all you need to know to understand it (like Law & Order). Add to that the following:
  1. Continued media/blog speculation that "the West Wing is coming true" with the election of Obama and his appointment of Rahm Emanuel (alleged inspiration for the "Josh Lyman" character on WW),

  2. there is nothing on now that Mad Men is over for the season and Lost won't be on until January (!!)

  3. my increased need for escapist entertainment during this, the busiest season of my work year

  4. my neighbors, Meg & Mo (aka Two Ladies In Waiting) and Lyrical Uncertainty & his wife Muffin, blathering on about their mutual love of WW and arguing over whether a certain incident happened in season 2 or season 3

  5. the fact that said neighbors have most seasons on DVD

... and you have a recipe for me becoming a hermit. I watched 5 episodes in one sitting yesterday.

Ooh! And because I love floor plans almost as much as I love maps, look what I found online:

Gotta go. Episode 10 is about to start, and The Lounging Party is waiting for me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A lobster, an octopus and a trilobite walk into a bar...

Early November in Connecticut is catch-as-catch can with the weather, so we were blessed today with bright sunshine, fair skies and temperatures in the mid-50s, a rare treat this time of year. New Englanders know to treasure days like this, as the next one may not come along until late March. I made the most of it by spending the morning on a two and a half hour walk on the banks of the Connecticut River with two neighbors and three dogs, and the afternoon at a Kite Fly at Hammonasset Beach. My dad is an avid kite-maker and flyer, and his kite club had a great day for its last fly of the season. Amid the traditional kite shapes and wind socks were fanciful beasts like the trilobite, lobster and octopus (partially hidden) above. These creatures are enormous, made of yards and yards of fabric and tethered to the ground with huge spikes or tied to truck bumpers. Their lines (which are not "kite string" but heavy kite twine and in some cases, rope) buzz and hum with the tension of hundreds of pounds of wind force keeping them aloft. It takes two to four people to bring them down and roll them up. While taking these shots I nearly beheaded myself on a staked twine; I didn't notice it until the kite shifted in the wind and the hum of the twine changed pitch!

{A close-up of the trilobite. This kite is 90 feet long.}

{A string of small fish kites and windsocks, with a large sled kite. And by "small" I mean 10 to 12 feet. I love the puffer fish on the bottom}

{It's hard to appreciate this size of this sled kite when it is in the air, until you see it in proportion to the two men trying to bring it down}

{It was a good day for horseback riding as well}

{My camera doesn't have a good wide angle lens so it was hard to capture the complete menagerie}

{The trilobite on the ground, getting ready to hibernate for the winter}

{Everybody run, there's a lobster loose!}

{A better shot of the octopus}

{Even Flat Stanley got in on the action}

I'm feeling creative and brilliant today, just don't check the spelling

Two of my favorite bloggers are handing out blog awards (they ran out of Halloween candy) and I am a lucky recipient from both. Pseudonymous High School Teacher, who blogs about teaching HS and living in Hawaii, dished out the Kreativ Blogger award. Only A Movie, also a teacher, and living a world away from Hawaii (and a little closer to me) in Northern New England, handed out Brillante Weblog Premio awards. Cute spelling on the first one; I'm guessing by the spelling on that last one that it did not originate on these shores, further evidence of the borderless nature of the interwebs.

The Kreativ award comes with the request to post 6 things that make you happy, and I think that is a good thing to reflect on, so here goes (note - way more than 6 things make me happy):

1 - time spent with family and friends

2 - the election results

3 - the good fortune to make a good living, live in a nice home, with food in the fridge (usually) and a comfortable lifestyle

4 - stumbling across a great old movie on cable on a rainy afternoon while folding laundry

5 - books, books, books

6 - a $10 bottle of wine that tastes like it should have cost $20

Now I'm supposed to pass these on to others, but it seems like all my blogroll-ees have already won one of these... which of course speaks to my excellent taste in blogs. ;-)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

I cried during the speech last night. And people were driving down Main Street honking and shouting from 11:30 to about 1 am. And then when I came in to work this morning there were people re-watching the speech on and I got to get all teary again. I don't think there has been a positive collective moment like this for a generation. I imagine this is what it felt like when Kennedy was elected.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The unsung heroes of public events

{Not from my event, but I thought the picture was funny. From Southern Living. They thought it was funny too.}

If you think the life of an event planner is all champagne and parties and oh-so-glamorous, I wish you were with me at 7 this morning. I was trekking around chilly downtown Hartford, supervising the installation of port-o-lets for the CT Veterans Day Parade tomorrow. It's the only public (or local) event my company produces, and every year at this time we remember why it's the only one. But that's another story. Today I want to tell you about my new friends Angel and Luis, who got up even earlier than I did (and please remember I am not a morning person) to drive down from Massachusetts and deliver 20 'olets to various locations along the parade route. These guys have it down to a science. First they are driving huge tank trucks, pulling even larger trailers, which are not easy to maneuver on some of our famously stupid and narrow one-way streets. Then the 'olets themselves are unwieldy - large, bottom-heavy, and filled with whatever mysterious blue liquid they use to hide the basest of human activity. But they slide them off the trailer, shift them around a bit, assess the flatness of the area, shift some more, wipe everything down (while wearing big rubber gloves of course), and go get the next one. A thankless job if ever there was one (um, except maybe coming back to pick them up).
No one really likes port-o-lets, our modern-day outhouses. Blech. Big blue reminders of our common human condition. But when you are at a fair, or festival, or parade or other outdoor event, aren't you glad they are there? Whoever dreamed up the fancy looks-like-a-real-bathroom trailer kind was a genius. I wish I had the budget for those for this event.
So if you find yourself in downtown Hartford Sunday for the parade (and if you are local, you should come, it is a kick-ass parade and the weather will be gorgeous), enjoy the bands (more bands than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, thank you), salute our fine veterans and active-duty military, and give a silent thanks for Angel, Luis, and other people with thankless jobs.

Connecticut Veterans Day Parade PSA 1 from CT Veterans Day Parade on Vimeo.
Created by Jeffrey B. Teitler, EnvisionFilms

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm not a Mama, but I'm for Obama

...and liberty, and justice, for all, Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hang on little tomato

Silly little tomato doesn't realize it's October. It's the size of a golf ball and hard as a rock, and with 48-degree days and another frost predicted for this weekend, the tomato and the last vestiges of parsley and basil on my little balcony garden are doomed.

Go listen to the song that inspired the title of this post. It's a Pink Martini kind of afternoon.

Chicago is my kind of town

This was the view from my hotel room (28th floor) every night. Too bad I was too busy with work to enjoy much of it. Maybe when I go back in December for our next conference....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Que syrah shiraz

{flights of wine and cheese at Bin36 in Chicago}

I'm in Chicago this week for one of my company's conferences and last night took the fab assistant Kelly and our VP of sales to one of my favorite restaurants, Bin 36. They have a great wine selection and offer it by the flight, glass or bottle, as well as in their retail shop (unlike CT, where our blue laws prohibit retail sales and consumption sales under the same roof). They also have an amazing cheese bar that makes me so glad I'm not lactose intolerant. The wine flights all have clever, pun-y names and the restaurant's Wine 101 & 102 classes have converted hundreds of wine neophytes into oenophiles. The decor is very urban loft contemporary and the menu is eclectic and planned with wine pairings in mind. If you are ever in Chicago I urge you to make time to visit.
On a related note, the owner of my favorite wine shop in CT doesn't know my name and always refers to me by the name of a wine I asked him about when I first visited his shop last year. "Hi Carmenere!". I guess there are worse things than being mistaken for a delicious Chilean red.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Don't sit. Don't sit. Don't sit so close to me.

{photo by Steve Lakatos in the Hartford Courant}

This photo was on the front of the real estate section of Friday's paper. It's a model home, which means it was staged, which means you'd think someone would know better.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lights on, no one home

{IMG_0714, originally uploaded by mohitontherocks}

For a week now, I've been getting up before the crack of dawn and going for a brisk nearly-one-hour walk with my neighbor, the lovely Meghan of Ladies In Waiting. Her sweet teddy of a goldendoodle, Boddington (aka The Bods) accompanies us and, ahem, "protects" us from any unsavory characters. I should preface this by saying that Meghan is a morning person of the highest caliber. The Bods and I are not (Meghan's partner Mo is not either. She's the smart one, home in bed, sleeping). But once we get to walkin' and talkin' (and boy, can we talk!), I'm fully awake and before you know it we have circumnavigated Downtown Hartford and are home-again, home-again.

It's mighty dark at 6:00 am, and will be until daylight savings starts/ends (I can never remember which it is) in two weeks. In between our incessant talking we've noticed that the city has quite a life of its own at that hour. As the sky (very) slowly lightens, a steady stream of traffic starts coming over the bridges from suburbia, and we've remarked on how ungodly early some people head in to their office jobs. It took only three days for us to become "regulars" on our route, greeted amiably by dog-walkers at the new apartments on Temple St., the corporate cafeteria cooks out for a smoke behind one of the insurance companies, and the construction workers headed for the soon-to-be-finished science museum.

One thing about these walks that really, really bothers us is that in some of the office towers, all the lights are on. All the lights. On. All night. I can see it from my apartment before I go to bed, if I get up in the middle of the night, and when I wake up at 5:45. No matter the hour, every light in these buildings is a-blazing. Yeah, yeah, they're fluorescents and CFLs, so what. Why are they on? No one is there. Even the cleaning people are long gone. How much money are they spending on electricity? Sure, it looks pretty, in a "the city never sleeps" kind of way, but in this day and age, is this really the best use of their money and our resources? Make that our money -- Hartford is an insurance and finance town, and some of these companies were recently bailed out by Our Tax Dollars, so technically that's my money and your money that they are wasting.

I'm tempted to call them up and tell them to turn the lights off. How do you think that would go over?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vodka and Chex Mix. It's what's for dinner

Martini, originally uploaded by Sgt. Gooch.

It was that kind of day today.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Swapimus Autumnus

Sherri over at The Claw held a little Fall Swap and here are the goodies that came to me from the shores of Maine via Erin at Only A Movie:

In addition to a lovely book by Anna Quindlen and fantastic mix-CD (Brandi Carlisle! Paolo Nutini! Glen Hansard!), she included two "Maine" products: French clay soap from Beane's of Gorham and a wonderful terrycloth cosmetics case (lined with gorgeous vintage floral fabric) by PixieGenne. Thanks Erin! I love it all!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Faster Pussycat, Vote, Vote

Simon and Zoe would like to remind you to exercise your right to vote. They came thisclose to being shelter kitties (incredible moment of stupidity by somebody else, not me, but we don't talk about him anymore). And not the good kind of shelter either, but the Hotel California kind (you know, where you can check in any time you want, but you can never leave). As self-elected sovereign rulers of The Lounging Party, they are putting their catnip where their mouths are by voting daily so other kitties (and dogs too, like our new neighbor Tully) can have a better life. The Animal Rescue Site and are having a $100,000 shelter challenge. All you have to do is vote daily (or when you remember) for your local shelter and in American Idol fashion, grants ranging from $25K to $1K will be awarded to the shelters with the most votes. If you have no idea what shelter to vote for, please consider voting for Our Companions, a no-kill shelter in the Hartford, CT area. Many thanks to She Knits By The Seashore for bringing this to The Lounging Party's attention.

Think of this as a warm-up for voting on November 4. And if you are not yet registered to vote in the election that will make a difference for humans (although no cash will be given away), you'd better hurry up, as the last day to register in many states is TODAY October 6.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's like crack

Addictive stuff. You've been warned.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Make that thrice

{Anika Moa CD, all the way from Kiwiland}

Another lovely package from another lovely blogger. This time, an Anika Moa CD courtesy of Raina of If The Lampshade Fits. Raina is an American ex-pat living in New Zealand (aka Kiwiland) and blogging about design, art, fashion, and the Kiwi take on American politics and culture. She's not afraid to pick apart some of the design mistakes that are out there (hello, Kelly "I love the 80s" Wearstler, are you listening?), and her sense of design is surpassed only by her sense of humor. She had posted a video from this artist and when I lamented that stupid American iTunes did not yet have this CD (and it wouldn't let me buy it from one of the international versions), she offered to send me a copy. I've already listened to it three times and will probably wear it out tomorrow while I clean the house and get ready for lunch guests and dinner guests.
In exchange for this musical goody, I'll be sending some issues of Cookie magazine off to NZ to help feed Raina's magazine addiction.... Thanks Raina!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The postman rang twice

{An unexpected package from Fifi Flowers: notecards of a painting that
she did of
one of my photos, plus another of her lovely creations}

Last month I wrote a post about how nice it is to receive mail that is not a bill, and encouraging you to send a note to a friend just to say "hi". If any of you did your homework, a good 20 or so people got a nice surprise in the mail, including yours truly. Fifi Flowers decided to send a note to me (on one of her own notecards of course), and surprised me with a bundle of blank notecards, on the front of which are prints of a painting she made from my photo of peonies.

{A beautifully wrapped package from A-M of
that I
was expecting, with an extra surprise gift}

I, in turn, used one of the peony cards to write a thank you note to A-M, of The House That A-M Built, to thank her for the purse I won on her giveaway. The package I had received from her was beautifully wrapped (and well packed for it's trip half-way around the world) and included an extra surprise -she included the flocked pink notecards that had admired in her web store, Armchair Trader. So of course I used one of those to write a thank you note to Fifi!

Hmm... who shall I write a note to next?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

End of summer, like a ripe cherry

I spent this last weekend working at my friends' winery again for their Fall Harvest Festival. It was the last two days of summer, and the weather was glorious in a way that you hope you can remember come March, when it is cold and gray and you are digging your car out of the snow. Blue skies, bright sunshine, and a nice breeze off the lake brought the regulars and tourists out in droves, and I was too busy to say more than a quick "hello" to Marie Louise et famille, or Meg & Mo from Two Ladies in Waiting, when they breezed through the shop on their way to the tasting tent. Well, it was really crowded, so I'm lying when I say they "breezed through". Think subway platform at rush hour and you've got the right idea, especially given the preponderance of New Yorkers that come up to the country for a bit o' sightseeing.

Before the crowds arrive I like to peruse the retail area and scoop up the good stuff for myself familiarize myself with the new merchandise, and there was a nice display of new chutneys, spreads and dips by The Gracious Gourmet. I think a heaping spoonful of this Spiced Sour Cherry will be great on pork loin. Sear the pork loin on the stove, finish it in the oven, and deglaze the pan with a little wine. Reduce and stir in the cherry goodness. Yum.

Gracious Gourmet owner Nancy Wekselbaum and her husband Natan base their gourmet business out of nearby Bridgewater, CT, so they stopped by the festival to pick up some chardonnay and see how sales were going. They are not only gracious, but charming as well. Their toy poodle, Chutney, is cuter (and mellower) than the Mango Pineapple Chutney in the line.

In addition to checking out their website, I googled them and found that Natan and his brother founded NYC's famous emporium of home goods, Gracious Home. There is so much merchandise that it can be a little overwhelming to shop there, but you come out inspired to go home and move furniture and redecorate. They carry everything from basic cleaning supplies to Diptyque candles to switchplates to 800 thread-count sheets. Definitely one of those places where if they don't have it, you don't need it.