Archive | November, 2010

Soul of a Sailor

22 Nov

But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean. – H.P. Lovecraft

Let’s be honest: I never really had a choice. When I was only seven-and-a-half weeks old, my parents packed up the car, and the three of us made the drive from Augusta, Georgia to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Seeing as it was the middle of March, the weather was a bit too cold to really enjoy the beach. Even so, because of my father’s remarkable love for the water, he insisted that I see the ocean at such a young age. His plan worked: I’ve been in love with the water ever since.

all bundled up for my first beach trip!

While I may not remember this memory myself, it’s one of my most treasured moments from my babyhood. As a young child, I was more of a Gulf Coast girl. On family vacations, we frequented Destin and Seaside, the Back Porch and Bud and Ally’s. We usually traveled through “LA,” and as a gullible little girl, I never quite understood that Daddy merely meant “lower Alabama.”

During my middle school years, my parents found a treasure of a beach on St. George Island, and we’ve been spending time there ever since. At the beach house (affectionately called Fish Camp), life is simple: it’s filled with seafood and sunshine, sand dunes and sea oats. We take boat rides in the mornings and bike rides in the afternoons. On one particularly lucky late September night, we watched the baby sea turtles hatch, helping to be their guiding light towards the water.

Not only do I enjoy the water when I’m on vacation, but I also enjoy it when I visit my parents in the house where my brother and I were raised. Growing up with a lake in my backyard, I was permanently spoiled with an immensely beautiful view. For me, my happy place has always been sitting down by the dock. It’s my favorite place to write, to think, to just be. And I’m lucky enough to have two furry companions who agree with me.

Because of my constant proximity to water for as long as I can remember, I’m simpler happier when a river, pond, lake or ocean is nearby. I may not have inherited much from my dad when it comes to looks, but I like to think that my love for the water is something that he passed along. I know it’s a feeling that I’ll keep close to my heart forever.

happy day in the sand for me and Colin

Music & Memories

18 Nov

Every song has a memory; every song has the ability to make or break your heart. – Andy Warhol

I love music. Yes, I am a Gleek. Yes, I see a Broadway show whenever the opportunity presents itself (which was twice during one particularly rainy New York City weekend). Yes, when a song strikes a chord (pun intended), I have a tendency to listen to it again and again – why mess with a good thing? And no, I cannot carry a tune in a bucket – or a barrel, for that matter.

No matter my mood, country music is always my first choice for background noise.  I was lucky enough to take a class on the history of country music during my senior year in college (one perk of going to school in Nashville) and got a behind-the-scenes look into this genre.  Most notably, country music is unique to America; it is the only music that we can claim as our own.  Started by the working men and women in the early 1900s, these songs are relatable and real, telling the stories of the people who sung them.  While country music has evolved tremendously, it still captures happiness and heartache, connecting its listeners through these common feelings.

It is this type of music that serves as the soundtrack for my own experiences. The first song that I listened to on innumerable repeat was “She’s In Love with the Boy,” by Trisha Yearwood. As a girl who has always been boy crazy, I wanted to fall in love with a Tommy who drives a beat-up Chevy truck (and I also wanted to be named Katie).

A big mile-marker in my little girl world was my first dance with a boy. I’ll forever think of this moment and this boy every time I hear “Strawberry Wine,” by Deana Carter.  We were at a middle school Christmas dance (very romantic, I know), and I was wearing a long-sleeved, knee-length red crushed velvet dress.  As tragic as this fashion choice seems, it was selected with incredible excitement for this very event (an early example of occasion shopping).

More recently, when recovering from a broken heart, one song meant more to me than anything else: “Red Light,” by David Nail.  This song mirrors my own break-up nearly exactly, serving as proof-positive that someone else experienced – and survived – the same sadness and grief. Now, when I hear this song, I am reminded of the strength that I gained from that relationship – and I know that I am where I am now because of its ending.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit.  Since it’s (almost) December, I have a confession to make: I’ve been listening to Christmas music since the start of November (a certain boyfriend of mine is cringing right now). Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday, so by no means am I skipping over this time of year. I just prefer to make the most of my holiday playlist (aptly titled Christmas Carols), listening to it non-stop until the New Year begins.  And sometimes in July too.

one of my first CDs - Trisha Yearwood

the newest addition to my holiday playlist - Glee: The Christmas Album

Seeing Spots

16 Nov

My weakness is wearing too much leopard print. – Jackie Collins

While working in my church’s nursery recently, I saw one of my favorite little girl outfits to-date. A particularly well-dressed 18-month-old wore a black turtleneck and jeans, complete with a leopard-print belt, shoes and giant bow (of course). This budding fashionista served as perfect proof for two rules of fashion: black can be a perfect backdrop for any outfit. But when that black is too basic, animal print is the perfect way to liven up a look.

Designers seem to agree: there is a plethora of animal-print accessories this season, with leopard print being the dominating choice by far.  While a girl cannot go wrong with a leopard handbag or headband, my favorite expression of this trend is found in shoes (shocking, I know). Christian Louboutin has a pair of leopard booties or pumps for any mood, proving that he understands a woman’s need for options. For my shoe collection, I opted for a pair of Tory Burch leopard flats, bought a few years ago on Gilt Groupe.  In haircalf rather than leather or suede, the texture adds a little oomph to the shoes, making them the perfect addition to any neutral outfit.

one pair of leopard-print booties, three looks from Kim Kardashian

In an effort to further support my addiction to this trend, a new item has rapidly climbed to the top of my wish list: Rebecca Taylor’s Zip Front Hoodie in a heather grey puma-print. With temperatures finally dropping to the 40s, this sweater would be a great something extra to keep in my car and help me survive these chilly nights.  If only my budget agreed.

Leopard print can easily find its way into home décor as well.  I recently purchased a new welcome mat from Ballard Designs. Leopard print and prettily-wrapped in a green holiday bow, it is the perfect way to take this trend one step further and usher in the holiday season.

Happy hunting!

my favorite way to say merry christmas!

Way Down South

15 Nov

Oh the sweetest winds, they blow across the South… – Zac Brown Band, “Oh My Sweet Carolina”

As a little girl, living in the South meant summer days were passed wearing only a bathing suit and bare feet and summer nights were spent catching fireflies in the backyard. As I got older, it meant that our car radios blasted country music, that our cups were usually filled with sweet tea, that our tan lines lasted nearly all year. And then there was college. College in the South meant pairing pearls with sorority t-shirts, wearing dresses to football games and playing beer pong instead of Beirut.

No matter your age, there is one thing that truly brings Southerners together.  The start of fall signifies cooler weather, riding boots and falling leaves, but the most important marker of this time of year is football season. I believe that it was inevitable that my brother and I both attend SEC schools, partly due to proximity to home but equally due to our familiarity with the football teams. Having just watched the Auburn Tigers take on the Georgia Bulldogs (and kick some major butt), I can easily argue my case. Taking school pride to an unprecedented level, cars sported tiger tails, and students drank out of orange solo cups. It was even assumed that I was a Georgia fan based on my red car.  Good thing my parents were driving a blue one.

the stadium was filled with orange and blue. WAR EAGLE!

Born and raised in Georgia, I’ve lived in the same house in the same town since I was three years old.  As recent as 2009, Peachtree City was ranked the number eight Best Place to Live by Money magazine. The city’s claim to fame is unarguably the miles and miles of golf cart paths that stretch from side to side, making it easy to take a golf cart to nearly any destination. While my friends and I often referred to Peachtree City as Pleasantville and lamented our childhoods spent in “the bubble”, looking back, I cannot imagine a better place to call home.

It is for these reasons and many more that I ended up back in the South after two years away.  Being from the South means more than a funny accent and a friendly smile.  For me, it’s a way of life, a way of family – and something that I will always carry with me, no matter where I end up.

forever one of my favorite views: my backyard

Alice-in-Wonderland Bands

12 Nov

No headbands in college, okay? – Dan Humphrey, Gossip Girl

Blame it on Blair Waldorf, but headbands have made a comeback.  As shown by the number that I own (23, to be exact), I have fallen head over heels for this trend.  A headband is an easy way to express yourself or to hide a bad hair day, making it both fashionable and functional.  Furthermore, it is a great example of a little thing that can make a big difference. After all, a simple headband has the ability to make a sub par outfit into something spectacular.

one of my favorite Blair Waldorf fashion moments

The history of headbands is somewhat debatable. Some people believe that headbands originally took their shape from scarves that were worn around the head or from hats that tied under the chin.  Others trace this trend back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who wore hair wreaths for special occasions. They began decorating their wreaths with gold and silver jewels (perhaps the beginning of bedazzling?), and thus, the modern-day headband was born.

Over time, the wearing of headbands evolved, shifting from an accessory only worn at important events to something that is appropriate for any and every day.  Nowadays, it’s easy to find a headband in any shape or size with your choice of adornment – a flower, a bow or even just some sort of pouf (I own all of these examples). Still, your most basic option, the horseshoe-shaped headband, is easily found; it is sometimes called an Alice band because of the headband that Alice wore in Wonderland.

In case I haven’t been quite clear enough, I love headbands.  I love them so much, in fact, that I’ve spent many days suffering through a headache that can only be blamed on this accessory. However, taking off that headband and ruining my outfit is simply not an option.  Fashion is worth the pain, right? Personally, I think Blair deserves a thank you.

my most treasured Alice-in-Wonderland band

headbands are the perfect accessory for a day at the Hunt.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

10 Nov

The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened. – Oprah Winfrey

Revisiting the first season of Gossip Girl (trust me, it’s just as amazing three years later), I was reminded of one of my favorite girlhood traditions: slumber parties. Now, a Blair Waldorf soirée is not your typical sleepover.  Pastel-colored trundle beds and truffles on the Upper East Side translate to Disney-themed sleeping bags and freshly-popped popcorn in the real world. Even so, this overnight activity still plays a big role in every woman’s past.

Sleeping away from home for the first time is a big moment in a little girl’s life.  It’s easy for me to remember this treasured night because it was the day that my brother was born.  I was as excited as a big sister could be for Colin’s impending arrival, but having a three-year-old at the hospital makes things a bit too complicated. Instead, I spent the evening at a friend’s house and met the new baby the next day. My first sleepover and a little brother to torture – it was quite a big weekend in my world.

College is kind of like a slumber party that lasts for four years (or maybe more). You’re permanently sleeping away from home. Your family and high school friends are always a phone call away, but your college friends are just a knock-on-the-door – or sometimes even just a walk-to-the-other-side-of-the-room – away.  Of course, after a fun night out, we all usually ended up in one dorm room, proving that it is possible for seven girls to sleep on a couch and in three twin beds.

As a grown-up (which I am, even if based on age alone), I still love the occasional slumber party. Recently, after a long day of playing with babies (it’s harder than it sounds), I went over to a girlfriend’s for a seemingly harmless and low-key night. Three bottles of wine later, I was in no condition to drive home, so we had a spur-of-the-moment sleepover – a perfect way to start my weekend. Moreover, when I’m separated from my best friends by cities and busy lives, 24-7 bonding time is just what we need. A bottle of wine (or three), some delicious take-out and a chick flick – maybe dreams do come true.

how come my friends never threw slumber parties like blair waldorf?

baby brother was a good enough excuse for my first sleepover.

Dress to Impress

9 Nov

You may have great inner resources, but they don’t show up as confidence when you don’t feel pretty. And when the world approves, self-respect is just a little bit easier. The pursuit of beauty is honorable. – Estee Lauder

While on my post-college job hunt, I often had phone interviews rather than face-to-face meet-and-greets. Although this long-distance method of communication had nothing to do with what I was wearing, I always picked out a proper outfit for the big day. As someone who knows me better than most people in my life, my father reminded me of the confidence that comes with feeling pretty.

Now, I have an even bigger challenge when it comes to prepping for interviews.  As a nanny, I not only have to present myself in a put-together way, but I also have to ensure that whatever I’m wearing makes it easy for me to get down on the floor and play with kids.  I was recently put to this test, having an interview with a new family scheduled after a full day of nannying for an existing family.  I decided on J. Crew boyfriend jeans (comfortable enough to withstand chasing after a youngster all day) with a navy blue sleeve top and floral cardigan (both from J. Crew as well), making it easy to go from air-conditioned indoors to the sunny outdoors. Just to add a bit of “me” to the outfit, I wore hot pink Tory Burch Patent Reva Ballerina Flats.  I was happy with my choices – and I got the job.

I unconditionally believe that personal appearance plays a leading role in first impressions, and removing this piece of the puzzle unequivocally changes a relationship’s dynamic. It is always imperative to take pride in your identity. Be sure to dress to impress – even if it is only for the reflection smiling back at you in the mirror.

 

don't forget to smile!