Saturday, December 20, 2008

winter wonderland...21 december 2008 gratitudes

1. woke up to see more snow covering the city. i never want it to melt. i love all of the christmas tree lots covered in powdery white. something about it is so darling and amusing.

2. met john gardner early and saw his big fat christmas tree. so cute.

3. combed the chelsea garage flea market before work and found a few presents for some folks. i love this flea market and could easily by the entire garage full of treasures. sigh.

4. went to elizabeth's holiday party after work with the mmm crew and chelsea cook. it was only for a hot second because we had to journey out to park slope for chelsea's holiday housewarming party. but she has a very, very lovely apartment and she was a wonderful hostess to us. naturally.

5. fell head over heels for chelsea and mollie's little folksy gypsy home in brooklyn. it was so warm and homey and felt just like what chelsea's dream home should be. and my was it spacious! made me grimace at the how much i pay for so very little.

6. received the most thoughtful christmas gift from chelsea...cupcake sprinkles and porn! well, a very adorable vintage playboy from the 60s and the kind of cupcake sprinkles that looks like glitter. oh how she knows me like the back of her hand!

7. laughed with a group of very sweet souls. chelsea, savannah wyatt, raymond, lee, mollie, and jason. such good people. it felt like i was somewhere other than new york. it felt like a real home. so many strands of lights of all kinds. spools of thread. vintage linens and doilies. beautiful old books. cozy furniture. delicious cooking smells. clusters of candles in a fireplace. christmas carols and gospel. a christmas tree smothered in popcorn garlands.

seeing chelsea's home made every part of my soul light up. she really created such an authentically "chelsea" home. i know moving to new york has not been a piece of cake, nor has the lifestyle been conducive to my little folksy, gypsy, hippie, faerie. but i am so proud of her. she knows how to turn lemons into lemonade. and how to find a bay window wherever she lives. and how to make a house a home. well done chelsea cook. well done. i love my sweet chelsea. my better half.

christmas from the branches...21 december 2008

if our family had ever sent out a christmas card...this should have been it. ho ho ho y'all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

lost in new york...19 december 2008 gratitudes

it was sooooo nice to have one of my oldest friends, kristie day, pay me a visit (i had initiated a count-down til her arrival). even though i only had one full day off with her, i hope i showed her some holiday cheer, big apple style. she even humored me while i pretended to be a new york tour-guide/ macauley culkin in home alone 2.

1. introduced my favorite cold-weather drink to her, a teanychino, at teany in the lower east side. it's like an indulgent improvement on chai tea.

2. combed the perimeter of bergdorf's, drooling over the windows. i mean, i could live inside each little vignette. so many sequins. so many towers of cakes and candies and sweet treats. so many small woodland animals. so many clocks and chess pieces and accordions and painter's palettes and glitter and magic.

3. watched a breakdancing troupe dazzle a crowd with acrobatics and moves that left everyone all clapping and hollering.

4. awkwardly maneuvered through the throngs of people in f.a.o schwartz. a little more modern, and a little less enchanting than i had remembered. it's a tad unnerving (although incredibly progressive) to see "green" santas and eco-friendly toys. for some reason "environmentally aware" doesn't conjure fond childhood memories to me. in my humble opinion. but i'm happy that is the direction of the future.

5. cruised central park on a horse-drawn carriage ride. our horse was eleven years old and named patricia. but she didn't have a fun, festive, feathery headpiece like most of her pony friends. i haven't seen central park like this since i was a very, very young girl with my parents. kristie and i curled up under the wine colored, faux-fur blanket and listened as the driver pointed out landmarks. i learned the difference between a carousel and a merry-go-round. and we saw a crazy man dancing and swearing at a curiously inquisitive little squirrel.

6. dragged kristie into the plaza hotel. i grew up staying there with my parents and it makes my heart ache to know it has been turned into luxury condominiums. i hadn't been inside the plaza in at least ten or so years, and i felt such a nostalgic wave come over me. i snuck into what used to be the edwardian room; a formerly grand dining hall where i cold-called donald trump and gave him my father's business card. i was eleven. it is one of my father's favorite stories to tell people. my networking skills run deep, i suppose. anyway, now this elegant room has been stripped of its glamour. nothing but a few decorated christmas trees and foldable picnic tables inhabit this space. it was like seeing a broken down stage set, after the close of a marvelous broadway play. oh it hurts. i guess everything has its day in the sun before its time passes.

7. ate yogurt at bloomingdale's 40 carrot restaurant. anyone who knows this little spot is the original purveyor of frozen plain yogurt. this place is the predecessor of pinkberry. the portion size is out of this world! the "regular" is a boat of three soft-serve mountains, with toppings of your choice. kristie looked at her bowl with eyes wide like saucers. i finished mine like a champ. she made a valiant effort in finishing, but i'm afraid she is no match for my sweet tooth. *and she is a hot doctor who knows better*

8. watched ice skaters and holiday revelers gather at rockefeller plaza. now i'm embarrassed to admit this, but this new york tree puts to shame the pitiful atlanta spruce that tops lennox square mall! i can't believe how full and perfect this one is! atlanta's is always laughably bare and looks like it was shot down from the forest. thread bare and bullet ridden, i swear. but this one...sigh. it even shimmered every 15 minutes or so.

9. ran into the today show filming a "best in 2008" special. it was the cutest thing. kristie was so excited, and we were all bobbing and weaving to get a closer look at meredith viera, ann curry, al roker, and matt lauer. she had been dropping hints that she wanted to wake up early and go see a taping. now, i love me some kristie day, but i am hard-pressed to believe i am capable of waking up before 8 am. fortunately, the stars were aligned, and we got a very close glimpse of her favorite morning crew. yay.

10. finished the lovely day with dinner at freemans. bless her heart, all kristie really wanted was new york pizza or hot dogs, but i was a brat and insisted i take her to my favorite spot. but she, like always, humored me and even put on a dress and heels.

well day day, ahem, doctor day, next time i promise we can go get a hot dog at grey's papaya, or a slice at lombardi's, and keep it low key. and maybe we'll even see a taping of conan or david letterman. i love you and i'm so glad we've been friends since the 7th grade. i hope i see you over christmas.

the most wonderful time of the decorating gratitudes

this really is my favorite time of the year. i am a sentimental soul and this is my first christmas in new york where i felt compelled to throw myself into the holiday spirit. i've been humming carols to myself and feeling misty-eyed. and forcing my roomate to eat my home made banana bread and hot chocolate. with lots and lots of whipped cream. and stopping at every tree lot to smell the pine. and oohing and ahhing at christmas lights. and wishing i could go back to being a five year old. just for one day.

1. i saved a little charlie brown christmas tree from the chipper at the union square farmer's market. i had my eye on a plump four footer when i heard people making fun of this skinny lil' guy. i just don't care much for schoolyard taunting, so i pleaded with the man to let me take him home! and mr. tree man even let me take him for free! now he may not be a first-prize beauty, but he makes me awfully happy.

2. i re-purposed an old yo-yo curtain to be a skirt for my premie baby of a tree. it's not exactly "festive" but now i can hide the less-than-charming stand that i had to buy(since i got the tree for free).

3. hung my wreath and christmas linen from my grandmother above our poland spring water cooler. every time i go in the kitchen i breathe in the smell of pine. i even have a little water spritzer that i mist it with to make sure it stays hydrated!

4. made a christmas playlist with andy williams, sufjan stevens, and songs from home alone. i play it on repeat and just cry. my mother plays her andy williams tape (yes, tape) as soon as the thanksgiving dishes are cleared until december 26th. as a little girl, my sisters and i had to wait at the top of the stairs christmas morning while my mother checked to see if santa had come. we knew it was safe to come down, when we heard andy's voice signaling us down to our treasures from jolly ole saint nick!

5. found my first set of ornaments and stockings at the chelsea flea market. i couldn't believe my luck when i found the most darling set of shimmery orbs with glittery holiday cheer childlishly sprawled across. amy merrick even approved, saying they reminded her of giant pearls.

6. decorated my mantle with stockings. and white house christmas ornaments. and r.a. miller angels. and a glittery "believe" sign from nikki and laraine from their most recent visit to new york. nikki is our christmas miracle and her sign will always make me smile and restore my faith in believing.

7. witnessed new york's first snow fall of the season. the snow poured from the sky like powdery doilies. i've never seen flakes so big in all my life! and i kept skimming the top layer off of cars and eating it... probably a decision i will regret later... seeing as new york ain't the cleanest of cities.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

setting the mood...

this one goes out to all the darling attendees of ed and my wedding this may. i collected some favorite scene shots from the great gatsby and from *ahem* a river runs through it. both films capture the spirit of the roaring 20s, and hit the nail on the head for costume inspiration. who knew that when i planned this wedding that we were heading for a new "great" depression. i know some of my friends are worrying that they have to run out and by a fringed, tiered, period frock...but i think this can be translated quite well beyond the box.

ebay, naturally, is my favorite.

vintage stores (online or otherwise)


urban outfitters and department stores if you feel like playing it safe.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

like water off a duck's back... 7 december 2008

i don't believe in wasting energy on unkindness. no ma'am.

"like water off a duck's back"

video credit: the lovely keri-anne.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


i believe in and try to practice...altruism. charity. family values. golden rule. happy thoughts. humility. karma. kindness. love. magic. philanthropy. positive thinking. reciprocity.

i don't subscribe to any particular religion, even though i wish i had a central faith system. growing up in the south, religion can be something of a tricky subject. when i told my family that i'm still undecided, but that i do believe in a higher being; my sweet mother retrieved a picture frame of a feather she found on one of her daily walks. she looked me square in the eye, and said,

"this is how i know god exists".

not a bad argument on her part. in my humble opinion.

my wedding photographer who i am grateful for

josh goleman, ladies and gentlemen. as sentimental as i am, normally i am not as smitten with the overall aesthetic of "classic" wedding photography. however, josh's whimsical and poetic approach makes my heart pitter patter. every single time. his latest photos of adam and halli, two sweethearts from savannah college of art and design, got me real excited for may. josh is good. i mean, real good.

chapel of countdown gratitudes

i can not wait to marry my sweet eddie. i know everyone says the planning is really stressful...but so far i am having so much fun. here is what has happened so far.

1. ed's sweet momma shared her collection of sweet bridal/1920s props with me. her sister, aunt nancy, pooled together her resources and unearthed these darling relics for me to see. the pearl beads (they think) were sewn onto their mother's wedding dress and i might be able to keep one to turn into a necklace! the makeup compacts were utterly adorable. tiny and precious, with a place to tuck your calling cards! oh swoon.

2. found a charming alternative to save-the-dates. i want to share right now, but i will have to wait until i have sent them out. i was going to skip this step considering the cost of invitation (holy smokes!) but my friends encouraged me to be considerate of my guests by giving enough advance to book a plane ticket. fair enough.

3. found a little spot for this cutie pie bride doll that my mother found at a thrift store. or maybe a garage sale. she's a little unsettling, but y'all know i loves me a creepy baby doll.

4. confirmed with my photographer, josh goleman. his wedding photography gives me chills. he is the big ticket item at my wedding and i never considered any other candidates. he's incredible.

5. started a pre-wedding scrap book late night, in a fit of insomnia (a chronic misfortune of mine). i want to remember this time so when i have my own daughter/daughter-in-law she can have something tangible to flip through. and being that i'm such a nostalgic softy, i leap at any opportunity to reflect on sweet moments in my life. and this couldn't be any sweeter.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

there can be miracles, when you believe... our gratitude for nikki

this is the thanksgiving that keeps on giving and giving and giving. i received the best voicemail of my whole life last week. nikki is cancer free. after far too long of bad news, nikki's mother finally heard the phrase she (and we all) had longed to hear.


all the medical attention. all the prayers. all the positive thoughts. all the love. all the goodwill. all the faith. every last bit counted. nikki's mother, la raine, told me they were all doing the conga, chanting "Nikki's in Remission!" around the kitchen. i wish i could have been there to grab a waist and join the line. this mother and daughter are true beams of light in this world, and my heart is so very full tonight. and it will be for a very, very long time. thank you all. this truly is a thanksgiving miracle.

and i hope this story makes you smile as much as i am right now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

gobble gobble y'all all up...thanksgiving gratitudes 2008

1. was picked up from the airport by sweet man! he was so cute and supportive about my short hair. and honestly, he was the only critic who i hoped to please.

2. laughed in the car with eddie when he said he recognized me under all my winter layers, only by my shiny shoes. i figure if the rest of me is all bundled up, i might as well keep my feet lookin' fancy!

3. went "shopping" in my mom's kitchen. she is the queen of thrifting, and she has been collecting a plethora of cooking utensils-wooden rolling pins, pyrex cookware, hotel silver, restaurant china, tea cups and saucers, tea kettles, baby spoons, silver serving platters, kitchen timers, etc. and the list goes on and on and on. every piece she showed me i wanted to keep. if only new york apartments had just a teensy bit more space! but then again, if you give a mouse a cookie...

4. caught up with a long lost, childhood friend. i have not seen laura thwaite in at least four years and it seemed just like old times. the majority of my most humorous childhood memories involve her and her family. being in their house felt like childhood. same smells. same gaggle of puppies (five dogs, and two new editions!!!!!). same naughty southern sense of humor. same trophy collection of taxidermied animals shot on their property (and a new collection of turkey beards). same family i spent 3/4 of my life with. rabbit. uncle tiger. laura. little zach. it's funny how deceptive time is. and how fortunate i am to be able to stop by their house years later and feel like it was only yesterday.

5. ate the most delicious thanksgiving meal prepared by my mother. she has been doing this for our family for over 40 years. i've only been around for 24 of it, and that seems like an eternity. i can't believe how lucky my family is to have a mother who has been doing this entirely all by herself for so long. one day that will be me...i hope i can recreate some of her magic.

6. received photos from the white house visit with the president, courtesy of lisa branch! i am so proud of my big sister. she is honored in an official book from this administration, called (or nicknamed, i'm not sure...) "the plum book". she worked so hard and with an incredibly loyalty to her party. whether or not we are on the same political page is irrelevant. i will always admire her dedication and passion to her time at the white house. and we have pictures that i will be sure to scan and post later!

7. listened as my mother, father, and sister, dug into their archives of favorite inspirational quotes after dinner. each one, pulled from a different source. my mother keeps hers collaged in a scrapbook of sorts; my father neatly prints his on the lines of a ruled notebook; lisa stores hers in a blackberry. in high school i had filled sketchbooks and notebooks with quotes upon quotes, and felt compelled to start every homeroom morning by scribbling one in the corner of the chalkboard. and how kind my classmates were to humor me! i love a powerful quote.

8. watched a river runs through it with eddie. i just love this move (and the short story). i kept swooning over the beautiful script, cinematography, costumes... and cute, young brad pitt. i first saw this film in the theater, with my father, on a school night. randomly i mentioned after dinner one night that i really wished we could go see a movie, and he obliged! i always remember this movie fondly, as one of our father/daughter bonding moments. and i really adore the way every single person dresses in it. i love me some 1920s great depression attire...

9. had the loveliest lunch with eddie, momma stelling, and my mother. we ate cute n fancy mexican food and discussed wedding details. poor talk is definitely more fun for girls! i'm so lucky to have two women who have made the planning so easy and stress free.

10. spent some quality time with the stelling clan at their house. i have adored this family since i set my sights on ed in eighth grade. i love them all. his parents. daniel and john. pop. his aunts and uncles. his cousins. laney and riley. they have made me feel so welcome since day one. just the nicest, most charming family. from all parts of the family tree. and i have happily become a u.g.a fan (much to my father's chagrin). but go dawgs.

11. noticed a new buckhead tradition of parents displaying wetminster helmet posts in their yards. the stellings have their #24 helmet proudly showcased on the front lawn. i will always love that number. ed was the first to pick that number, and his brothers followed suit, keeping it a stelling boy tradition. i always fondly think of the posters i used to brandish wildly at games on friday nights.

" #24 on the field, # 1 in my heart" "rock steady eddie" "knock 'em dead ed" ... i have always loved that boy.

and i love my mom and dad and sister(s) and cat and my big fat dog(s).

to kristie and rankin, my favorite atlanta girls, i will see you in december...
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