Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stockings on the sideboard... a preppy Christmas indeed

I absolutely LOVE Christmas!

There's much humbugging of late about the over-commercialization of Christmas, the stressed nature of the holiday season, the grumpy customers and glut of traffic and so forth and so on however... if you streamline this time of the year down to what is most important and most significant, well then, it's actually a really wonderful life we're living after all isn't it?

We have much to be thankful for and if you don't think so please, by all accounts, go and spend some time in an underdeveloped country's underdeveloped areas to gain a little postmodern perspective about gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude and a daily affirmation to enjoy employing at Christmas most especially as ole' Scrooge aptly learned in A Christmas Carol.

My very favorite part of all of the holiday season is the Christmas Eve church service. Growing up and now with growing ever so more middle-aged, this special time is what I look forward to most of all each and every year. The hymns and carols, the scripture readings, the closeness of sitting in a congregation together worshipping, praising and being in awe of the mercy and beauty that God has given us... exiting out at midnight or later into the cold of the evening with a Merry Christmas warmth in one's heart, here indeed is the true spirit of Christmas!

The one thing I do miss this time of the year so keenly is having a fireplace in the house to return to and gather around. Until now, each house James and I have had included within the living rooms a large fireplace complete with a hearth that could seat a couple of cozy-minded folks. Especially out on the mountainside of Park City, Utah, having a fireplace going was incredibly wonderful. The snow, the skiing, the wintery walk back up to our darling miner's cottage from the Christmas Eve service still carrying our lit candles with us... the Christmas we had out there in Utah is still James and my favorite of all of our Christmases so far. It couldn't have been more iconic and more spirit-filled fulfilling and such a total blast too with skiing all Christmas Day away together.

Here out on the island, this house sadly does not include a fireplace. Even the great river porch right off of the livingroom cannot make up for the lack of a fireplace. So, where do we hang our stockings? Well, maybe it can't get much preppier than, "if you don't have a mantle, a sideboard will do." And so, our stockings have been hung with care on the diningroom's sideboard: one for James, one for Kanon, one for Daddy and one for me. Needlepoint stockings with old fashioned themes and no names spread across the top of them though actually monograms may have been a nice classic touch to include, haha!

Our Christmas decor' features lots of deep reds, silver and gold tones, greenery everywhere, tiny white lights, tartan n' brocade ribbons and always, the main tree decorated in a religious theme with a secondary tree done in an antique/antiqued bird ornamanent theme. We have a bit of an affinity for birds I guess. We enjoy two of them, Beau and Brummel (of the chattering-classes and fine feathers) inside plus resident peacocks, quail coveys, owls and the occassional hawk outside as well as of course various song birds that like to visit our yard. Bluebirds take up our bird houses and a cardinal family seems to enjoy nesting in our lemon tree. Also, the ever-present herons out in the marsh reeds off of our yard of course.

Have you ever read the small book, A Bird's Christmas Carol? It's not what you'd think it would be and is so sweetly sad that I tear-up every time I read it. My late mother loved this story and I remember her reading it to me when I was a child. It's another reminder about gratitude and remembering others much less fortunate than us during this time of year, yes of course, but also during the whole year through.

Last year we had a huge literal month-long Christmas with hosting both of my brother's families, another family from Australia and family who came in from North Carolina as well. We rented a large house right on the beach, put up a tall tree and did a very kid-friendly n' centered Christmas holiday. This year it's back to a quiet, cozily-cloistered island retreat contexting for our holiday season and I am really enjoying this... especially after just finishing up graduate school and also at the same time beginning a new job. My treasured Christmas gift this year is graduating next week up at UNCG with all-A's in a Masters of Humanities degree. I think I'll tie with a big red bow my diploma cover and set it up on the ole' sideboard... whatever Santa drops into my stocking's gonna' seem quite secondary to this...

Best of all is the gift God sent humanity as His ultimate Merry Christmas. And with that in mind, with much gratitude and joyous merriment, I wish you all this year a very merry Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Preppy Thanksgiving... i.e. What happened to the turkey?

A circa 1980's Thanksgiving meal on Tybee Island with yours truly sippin' sweet iced tea:

This year's Thanksgiving has come and gone and... this year...

...I made the meal. Yes, that's no typo! You read it right. Shocking though true, I actually cooked the turkey, several side dishes, rolls and so forth and had the table set n' ready n' candles lit by the time James came back from helping out at our church's community meal.

Well, the turkey was really only a large turkey breast and both James and I had prepped a lot of the side dishes the night before but heck, for once I actually had a holiday meal all ready-by-myself. This was a big deal for me though I'm sure it's quite nothing at all for others. But you see, the way I grew up, none of the women in my family cooked. Period. In Georgia, there were other people cooking for our family as well as cooking for my extended families' households. After we moved up north when I was in fourth grade, um, we either "did canned soup and sack lunch style sandwiches" or Dad took us all out to dinner after he got home from the office. Needless to say, I loved being over at my various girl and guy friend's houses whose mothers were great cooks and even might have fresh baked cookies awaiting us after school. Gee wiz- how neat was that?! Stay-at-home mothers that cooked? Wow... My mother, bless her Southern Belle heart, was usually still in her impractical at-home wear playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon unless of course she had played tennis that morning. Then she'd be in her tennis togs playing away on the piano at 3:00 in the afternoon. She'd finally get dressed for the day right before Dad came home- funny that eh? haha

And meals featuring turkeys were quite interesting after we moved up north and mother was attempting to fix a festive meal oh, at least three or so times a year. I remember her calling our next door neighbor Mrs. Foley to ask what the little bag was tucked inside the turkey that she had bought at the grocery store the first year we transplanted ourselves from Georgia to the great white North. I also remember an experiment with her placing slices of bread on the outside of the turkey (for goodness knows what) as it cooked and the truly decrepit looking result that had my brothers and I losing our appetites long before the carving of said sad bird. Then there was the cook-it-in-a-paper-bag fiasco where the kitchen smoked-up. Oh my.

I guess then that I shouldn't have been too surprised when, trying to find a picture to post of a past Thanksgiving meal, I could only find this one here of some of our family at the Tybee Island beach house circa mid-1980's when I was about 15 or 16. That's me sipping what I know could only be super-sweet iced tea while sharing a table with my father, two brothers, grandmother, aunt, cousin and a baby which I think is one of my second cousins. My aunt who married into our family could cook and so I'm also quite sure that the food featured in this photograph features mostly her cooking.

There was one dish however that my mother contributed every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal that was a hit and still is- a praline sweet potato side dish. It is absolutely delish and one of my husband's favorites and so, but of course, I made a big batch of that this past week.

I inherited my late mother's love of reading cookbooks but I smartened-up big time by marrying an incredible classically-trained chef who does wonders in the kitchen! I've happily played sous chef and clean-up crew in our household for almost two decades now. However, this particular Thanksgiving, it was so neat to see the delighted surprise on James' face when he walked down the hallway from the front door and saw that his meal at home had already been home-cooked for him. He had been expecting to finish cooking it himself once he returned from volunteering at our church but lo and behold, a Thanksgiving miracle happened indeed.

Next year... who knows, but at least for one year in my life, I managed to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by myself with not a motley, encrusted slice of bread on the turkey in sight.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The proverbial When Life Gives You Lemons....

Ah, how true is the proverbial ditty, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"...

Yesterday I took a quick sunshine-break out and about in our yard here on the island since the weather was so balmy, breezy and bright for what by now is a very extended Indian Summer going way into November this autumn. Our lemon tree that my late mother planted is loaded down with lemons and so I picked a few of the ones that were ready. I also picked the roses which were in full bloom in mother's rose garden that, since we moved-in here to be with my father, I've tended and even added some additional rose bushes into. It's a tiny bed out in front of the first stair landing leading up to the house's front door with a bird bath in the middle of the assorted rose and lantana bushes. (One of my first posts on this blog has a picture of it) And above is a photo of the harvest-bounty from today's gleanings...gathered up in one of my favorite old baskets which I set out onto our dining room's table.

For the most part, we've kept the yard areas around here (upper and lower lots) au natural n' woodsey but I have retained the rose garden in front by the stairs and then we also have our 3 large raised-beds kitchen garden in one of the side-areas. My aesthetic style is much more woods n' vines than it is neat beds of landscaped boxwood bushes n' bark chips. I greatly admire the full, lush beds of English Gardening and many-chimney country homes I've glimpsed on various trips into the English countryside over the years but as for me, it's always been a joy of natural spots with a cottage plunked down amidst the trees, deer, vines and occasional flowering tree.

And the tree in bloom right now is mother's lemon tree.

Life did so seem to be filled with lemons, tart, biting, very sour lemons when I came back here to help my mother in her final 5 weeks of life five years ago this past August. It seemed quite bitter indeed that she never even made-it to her retirement age and left us so shockingly quickly after her surprising diagnosis. I don't think I will ever stop missing my mother or stop missing the life I was absolutely enjoying living out there on a mountain side in Park City, Utah however...

... some of those lemons have indeed turned into sweet lemonade thank goodness!

Living out here on this island is wonderful as are our local friends and church family. Plus now for the first time since my early childhood, I'm close to my aunts, uncles and assorted cousins who live in Savannah and also up in Charleston. And of course being able to spend time with my father is so great too. It's also been this time period within my life where I was finally able to go on to graduate school and tonight, er this morning at 4:00 a.m. I finished-up what is my Master's Portfolio project which I'll be turning in soon before I graduate in December. Very exciting!

Though we honestly can't believe that we've been out here five years already, James and I both enjoy this simple island livin' chapter of our life together. It's been 20 years now since our first date and 18 1/2 years of marriage and... we're still having so much fun! We've just traded-in time spent out on rivers fly fishing for fishing outta' kayaks pushed off of our yard at high tide. I do prefer catching and releasing nice and easy brown or rainbow trout to the seemingly endless supply of bonnethead sharks I tend to catch here but overall, life is good and a lot of our happily-living-times are still being spent out of doors which we both love so much.

And so my quick ramble around outside today in between lotsa' hours of schoolwork was delightful!

There's so many lemons on this lemon tree that in another week I think I'll be making a lemon tart in addition to pitchers of fresh gives me lemons, oh, they're going to be put to good use alright ;)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wonderful World of Wellies!

From Preppy Sporty above to Preppy Pretty as featured below... one's footwear statement can be a whole lotta' fun!

Ah, there's nothing like tromping around in wet weather with a trusty pair of boots on! I love misty mornings, rainy afternoons and thunderstorm nights...really. I toe the line however at hurricanes with now living out on a tiny island off the coast of South Carolina.
I remember when my mother and I traveled from England to Scotland a few years ago. While we were out n' about enjoying England's iconic Lake District, it was wonderfully misty-rain all around and so by the time we arrived in Edinburgh, the weather was way too sunny bright skies for our tastes. Where'd the mists go? Darn! This past spring, James and I were in London and caught a rain shower or two while there. More recently, while up in the North Carolina mountains this autumn, we enjoyed a good weekend's worth of rain pouring down on us and I wish now that I had had my new Sperry Wellie-boots along with me.
Aren't these tartan Sperry boots great?!
They made me literally smile the first glimpse that I had of them in our local Belk store and so, naturally, they came on home with me. The coordinating "duck shoes" too as I am a sucker for anything Burberry-hued plaid. Last year for Christmas, James gave me a terrific Burberry cashmere scarf that's really a shawl at times, it's so wide and wraps so wonderfully. I absolutely love it... I wear a lot of brown, tan, black and cream with dashes of Chinese-red anyway so these color tones within a tartan are just perfect for my wardrobe. This color group also coordinates with my beloved Barbour field jacket but that's another story...
But anyway yes, it's been the proverbial English Hunt Country Look for me for a very long time. Both Preppy in general and super Deep-South at the same time and oh, so very practical. Where else does one sport shoot with her pearls on in America? That's my Australian contingents favorite picture of me and if I can ever unearth a copy around here, I'll post it onto the blog here. My buddy Fletcher snapped that photo and we laughed about how it really is just an ordinary kinda' thing for a lowcountry gal to be toting her rifle while wearing pearls and a sweater twin set out behind a tomato field.
There's Preppy-posturing which is an affected, purposed styling and then there's just ole' Preppy which has been handed-down for generations and is as natural as breathing. As comfortable to wear around 24/7 as one's old pair of boat shoes or riding boots. In fact, most true Preppy attire is rather well-worn or is a recent replacement of a well-loved piece of clothing, accessory or footwear that finally couldn't be worn any longer. Like when my riding boots, really worn down after years of hunter jumper riding, just could not be re-soled anymore. Oh, that was a sad, sad day. I'm not sure where they are right now but I did run across James' old riding boots the other day. He traded-in his actual horse Sonny for a clothes-horse (me!) some years ago and at times I wish we were both riding once again though I think our jumping days are now far behind us.
Speaking of James' boots- he has the real Hunter wellie boots and has enjoyed them for years. Right now in fact they're out on our front porch's stoop all muddied from some marsh pluff-mud tromping around that he did while getting in and out of one of our kayaks the other afternoon.
I had thought about ordering me some newer Hunter boots, as my old ones are tight to get into now where my foot arch is (which is strange since I'm wearing the same shoe size and have lost weight since buying those but anyway...) and then I espied these too-cute Sperry versions.
Life out here on our rustic, woodsey, marsh-lined island is very indoor-outdoor and this is just the way I like it! Now if only my Orvis fly fishing boots looked as cute ;) Happy fall ya'll and happy sportin'-around in boots this autumn!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halloween Costuming...Preppy style

Lately I've been thinking of Halloween.... not a big ole' surprise, surprise eh during this month of October? But costuming, and what we choose to costume ourselves with, has been on my mind since running across the above photo of my husband and I dressed-up for a Halloween Ball the month we first began dating back in 1989. (We're standing in the hallway of my college dorm)
We could have gone to the festivities as I guess just about anything and once at the dance, it was glaringly obvious that most party-goers had come in about the wildest formations of "anything" they could muster. However, being both raised-Preppy, James and I 1.) sought Anglophile and historic inspiration, 2.) found the best class of costume to be had around town and 3.) coordinated our theme and so... I was the "Lady in the Tower" of London and James but of course was the Beefeater Guard of said tower ;)
This past April we enjoyed touring around the actual Tower of London together which was a blast and being there kinda' brought us full-circle to the theme of many a Halloween ago.
For my 40th Birthday blow-out-bash a few years back, we again coordinated our costuming efforts. This time, since we live out on a small island, we went for a local-flavor theme that had me dressing as a Mermaid and James simply gearing-up in his flyfishing apparel. That evening was such a fun celebration with the house literally packed-full of folks and our good friend Don "won" the best costume award with his quite amazing Don Juan impersonation: cape, sword, black mask, clothing n' tall boots and an attitude to match. He was hilarious!
SO in the spirit of Halloween and all-things-Preppy, here's a listing of Prep and Non-Prep Halloween attire to get a laugh out of and perhaps even some costuming inspiration from:
Prep Costume: going as a rendition of the family gardener complete with muddied Wellie boots
Non-Prep Costume: going as Larry the Cable Guy
Prep Costume: any Royal entity or actual personage... purple, ermine and crown is optional
Non-Prep: any current Hollywood "star" especially if the face is some full-head rubber mask
Prep Costume: a classic Vampire, Witch or Ghost
Non-Prep: Freddy Kruger, Jason, Michael Myers or any other low-budget film slasher
Prep Costume: one's mother's old Lilly Pulitzer maxi-gown aka Palm Beach circa 1970's
Non-Prep: doing the hobo-look because one has not thought of a decent costume in time
Prep Costume: Polo playing or English Riding togs
Non-Prep: Bowling League shirt and empty bowling ball bag carried for potential candy bounty
Prep Costume: looking subtely-sexy in a non-sexy costume
Non-Prep: those unfortunate tarty servitude French Maid, Pirate Wench and the like outfits
Prep Costume: classic Devil or Angel
Non-Prep: politician masks donned with an ill-fitting business suit
Prep Costume winner: dressing like-Daddy-does in a smoking jacket, leather slippers, pipe, etc.
Prep Costume loser: dressing like anyone Daddy or Mother hires including accountants, bankers
Hope you enjoyed a good tongue-in-cheek chuckle and Happy Halloween costuming to you all coming up!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Laughing at myself... Prepsters always maintain a good sense of humor, especially at their own expense

Oh, I just hafta' laugh and laugh hard...

Not ONE DAY after I posted about the frippery of funky fashion trends that end up being actually more comical than thoughtful additions into one's classic wardrobing- I get presented and accept a job offer for... you're going to love this....

Special Events Coordinator and Merchandising Consultant at a national retailor!!! :)

Oh, the irony of it all eh? Haha. BUT, and there's a huge however caveat here, this dual position involves a company known for its department store offerings having plenty of wearability with wardrobing and so, bringing in trends that are actually translatable. So I'll be back into having a blast producing special events n' fashion shows that actually MEAN something to the harried and overwhelmed consumer who wants a distillation of seasonal trends as well as a sincere avoidance of anything remotely clown-like coming into their closets. None of this bizarre' exaggerated shoulder pads fiasco going on right now or any return to M.C.Hammer pants on my runways.

Today I began pulling clothing, accessories, jewelry and shoes for an upcoming fashion show. I was well-pleased that the various clothing line selections are abundantly pretty and pretty darn wearable.

I love retail when it's realistic. Yes, I do understand the inspirational "concept stories" of designer collections coming down the runways each new season and used to get Women's Wear Daily which is considered by most to be the-bible-of-fashion. I have some Chanel, Armani and Versace' pieces in my wardrobe plus a couple a' those great Chanel handbags and haved truly loved them though I'm still.... justifying their expense. But I am also prudent and practical and certainly don't mind purchasing with longevity in mind.

Hence, no collar-necklaces (that frankly look like be-ribboned baby bibs) either on the runways, event shows and special merchandising that I'll be producing in the weeks n' months and most likely even years to come. After a 5-year hiatus from being gainfully employed within the fashion world, I'm back into it and am thrilled for this flexible-hours and creative license opportunity that came most unexpectantly my way.

I'm currently also in the throes of my final graduate school course for this MA degree I've been working on and so will be super busy between schoolwork and fashionwork but it's all good!

So here's to a good n' hearty laugh at myself and....

....enjoy the comical Frida Kahlo totebag image included in this post that just says it all (doesn't it?!) when an iconoclast of fevered anti-fashion expression within her lifetime becomes a commercial style all of her own posthumously. Ironies abound! And ironies abound especially within all-things-fashion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Frugality has always been a Preppy Partiality

In the midst of doing a most-unpreppy task this past week, cleaning out our downstairs areas that include the two car garage with a studio next to it and then behind that, our long indoor-outdoor lattice room, I began thinking about the meaning of "stuff" in our lives. Most especially, how the Preppy Lifestyle is less about having lots of stuff, lots of new stuff and more about carefully choosing and caring for the various items one's family has passed along for generations as well as adding in at times a few more recent buys that are classic in style.

The ole' "less is more" and "elegance is always understated" maxims certainly apply here... as well as, "if you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves."

There's a big elemental difference between being layered with family history within one's house and being layered under an excess of material goods. What's more at the heart of Preppydom: a small library room that's filled with well-used books and happens to have a regular-sized television in it or a great room whose emphasis is the huge entertainment center taking up a whole wall with its massive flat screened television complete with surround-sound and stacks of DVD's? One is an indicator of the active mind and one is an indicator of the entertained mind. It's not an intellectual stretch to figure out which one's more indicative of a true Preppy mindset.

It's the difference between wearing grandmother's cashmere sweater twin set instead of going out to buy some trendy sweater top that'll be dated looking by Spring. It's the contrast of lovingly tending a small herb and kitchen garden alongside the woods instead of hiring-out landscapers and their crews to enact the latest garden look that's inevitably too large and garish for the space gageing from the latest Chelsa Garden Show "winners" where the wonderful concept of a timeless English Garden has in recent years completely gone amuck.

Stuff that is meaningless comes to us fast and furious each season as retailers, merchandizers and lifestyle consultants n' gurus quickly spin trends in order to make a dime.

With the rare exception, they're not getting many of my dimes these last few years. I've gone completely off the trend-wagon and only buy now for either needed replacements or actual relevancy to my personal taste and style.

I've become all-about "perennials"- what is classic and will last season after season. The all too fleeting "annuals" no longer interest me. For instance, this past summer, super stylin' shoes were all about overly-strappy and high-heeled vampy styles but instead of buying these, I found two pairs of classic ballet flats with bamboo toggle trim in leather that will last n' last me for years. Recently I dropped by a local consignment boutique and espied several of these summer-trendy strappy stilettos on their shelves being resold at a fraction of their original price. Fashion can indeed meet up with frugality in the prettiest of ways when shoes last beyond just a couple of month's retail trend shelf-life. My summer shoe buying investments are real investments within the category that includes naturally the classic Chanel purse, black Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses, strands of pearls in any length, the little black dress, the tailored white blouse, Levis jeans and other tried n' true wardrobe investment pieces. Some stuff IS worth buying when it takes you through the years oh so elegantly.

Kind of like my old, and I do mean old, English Riding Boots that I both rode horses in and wore with great outfits for almost two decades until the cobbler told me that they could not be re-soled anymore. That was a sad day. I had loved those boots and definitely got more than my money's-worth out of them. They saw me in good stead atop a horse going over jumps and through the streets of Europe as well as through highschool, college and my early married years. Last year I finally replaced them with a pair that I bought on major-sale in January. I'm sure that these will last and last for at least another couple a' decades especially since I no longer get to ride horses much anymore.

And maybe it's turning into my 40's that has me much more mindful of how I'm living out my life. I'd rather err in the vein of lasting and appropriate quality than waste time n' money focusing on the ever-changing of the moment quirky in quantities. Both in the fashion-side of living out life and in the where-do-I-use-my-resources of time, money, metal and physical energy, this is on my mind lately as I've now crossed over into living out the other half of my life what with the average age of women lasting up into their late 70's. My second-half of living won't be running around trying to keep up with any kind of trend whether it's fashion, food, wine, decor' or the latest travel spot.

Authentic living means being true to oneself rather than being trendy. Find the "trends" that are "truly you" whether you're a bit on the bohemian side or a bit romantic or whatever...find a way to mix them in with the classics and ignore the rest. I'm more of a classic-romantic so whenever subtle ruffles and ribboned-bows pop up in the trends, I'll take advantage of that and buy a few items but lately, with the return of ugh-80's frights like exaggerated shoulder pads, leggings, mall hair and neon brights, I'm happily letting alla' this just pass me on by, wheh.

This weekend I've been spending most of my time and efforts outdoors kayaking with my husband and sitting out on friends' river porch well after a dinner party had ended last night enjoying the conversation, chilled wine and a cool night. Running around shopping or heading to a mall isn't on the agenda for howmy weekend's going to flow so I'm both saving money and saving myself from purchases that won't last past one season.

Preppy is all about the things that endure, the efforts we make towards being rather than purchasing, lovingly taking care of things and passing them on rather than simply amassing them and having a good time with our family and friends throughout it all.

So that's been my thoughts about "stuff" and how frugality has always really been a Preppy partiality in such a very good way.

Oh, and the stuff we've been clearing out of our downstairs? It's old, former household stuff (like excess pots n' pans, linens, etc.) that was moved with first my parents' move here to the island and stored and then us as well as we combined households in order for me to take care of my parents. 5 years later, we decided to finally go through all of these extra boxes n' bags and have taken them to the dump and Goodwill in order to streamline ourselves of....excess "stuff". No trendy replacements for any of this is planned that's for sure- we have enough and are happy with that.

So... on to more Preppy-pursuits like having a great time with our fellow islanders! And so here's raising a wine glass out on a river porch to, "less stuff, less running around with buying of trends and rather, classic things that enable us more lasting times enjoyed with family n' friends"... Less IS more in so many, many ways.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mulling About Monograms

Lately I've noticed a growing trend around town- monograms on cars! No, not those initials on car licence plates which have been done throughout the decades since I was a child as well as those small nautical sticker flags for the jaunty sailboat set but actual swirly, girly monogram stickers placed up high on the back window of vehicles where you'd normally expect a collegiate referencing or two to be found instead.
I'm not sure what to think of this... it's kinda' cute in a way and of course highly personal. One can certainly find their automobile in a parking lot now that's for sure. But on the other hand, it seems a bit um, "over the top" monogram-wise. Like anything involved with living a life-of-style, there's tasteful and then there's tacky and its close cousin, bordering tacky. The verdict's still out in my opinion where to exactly relegate this trend unless the car window monogram is unusually large or swirly which then sends it directly on into the tacky category.
This is a time, among many times, when I REALLY WISH that an updated version of The Official Preppy Handbook would come out and address what all's come about since its 1980 initial publication.
As for monogramming in general...I adore it in tasteful, discreet doses. Having grown up with many a monogrammed item of my own, it is a nice way to designate and personalize one's things especially when they are daily, publicly used as in the case of tote bags, eyeglass cases and key chains. I also enjoy quiet touches of monograms on silver around the house such as napkin rings, flatware, picture frames and so forth. Of course monogrammed stationary tops the list of must-haves for me and I keep stocked informals, formals and calling cards just like my mother did. I also have my mother's large silver monogrammed cuff bracelet from the Savannah Cotillion Club as well as my own. We used to smile at wearing these together- sharing our rite of passage experience with her debut' in the 1960's and mine occurring two decades later. I still wear my deb bracelet whenever I'm "wearing silver" for the day. If I happen to be in Savannah while having it adorning my wrist, it's amazing how many glances it gets. I've been tempted to wear both mother's and mine one time for a lark and really cause a stare or two with the Wonder Woman wristlet costuming- hilarious! In other parts of the country undoubtedly no one would take a second glance at a silver monogrammed cuff bracelet but in Savannah, it's par for the course for some folks to glimpse and wonder... yeah, this is a place where pictures of the current debut' season's girls were, and probably still are, put up in local boutique's offices so that they'd be recognized if they dropped by the store. I'll never forget my own frankly-amazed experience with that but....anyway, that's a story for another day and well off the monogram mulling I'm doing tonight.
Back to the subject at hand! In my handy dandy, and I do mean dandy, copy of The Official Preppy Handbook, there's a wonderful and very detailed section on, "The Politics of Monogramming" which I'd like to quote some here: "...most Preppies are so proud of their monograms that they put them on virtually everything in sight. The monogram itself must be tasteful. Women may occasionally choose a rather loopy script, but its use should be confined to writing paper and- at the outside- sheets and guest towels." The huge list of "Things To Monogram" has the usual suspects like, "address books, tablecloths, ice buckets, door knockers" and the like but the "Things NOT To Monogram" is where the proverbial rubber meets the road (to use an auto metaphor) stating that, "your dog's collar ([is] ostentatious), your china (it will look like a hotel)" and, AND..."your car, unless you use nautical flags to signal your initials on the door." Hmmm, quite interesting isn't it?! I'm dyin' to know what Lisa Birnbach would say about this current trend of loopy, mostly all-white monogram stickers at the top of a car's rear window?
I'm tempted, really tempted, to go and get one of these bright white sticker groups in my own monogram for the back window of our 19-year-old, rusty, dented dark green and tan ole' Ford F-150 work truck which we used to haul horse hay in the bed of and now use for hauling our kayaks around every so often. I LOVE to laugh at myself and poke some fun at conventionality every now and then and this would certainly be doing just that! I'd place it over the car sticker I put onto our truck's window as a gag-laugh so many years ago...I think I was, and still would be no doubt, the only Junior Leaguer around Charlotte with an official JLC logo sticker sported on a work truck! Back then, I drove around in a Corvette convertible but chose to put this sticker on our work truck and it's still there to this day, fun! Now I drive a "jeep Jeep", aka a real jeep complete with its bumpy ride and limited space, and can't really picture one a' these cutsey new car monograms on its back window. But I may some day in the near future put one on our old truck and if I do, I'll post a picture of that here on the blog so that you can enjoy a good laugh too!
Monogramming's so much fun...whether taken seriously, taken as matter of fact or taken for a wild ride on the back window of a car...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Julie and Julia, Top Chef and all things Cheese Straws

I was feeling some trepidation going to the movie Julie and Julia the other night with one of my girlfriends. I had read bits of the blog and some of the book that inspired this film and yes, enjoyed the story overall but frankly found the author's liberal use of the F-word more than a tad bit off-putting. To indulge in using a culinary metaphor, a writer swearing so much within their body of work is kind of like a chef dumping way too much bitter dried red pepper into a dish that's already fine without all of that unnecessary sharp stinging flavor. A dash of d..m is one thing but a all too liberal dousing of swearing is a whole 'nother thing entirely.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful editing-out of that unfortunate dingy bar room n' gansta rap lyrics inspired potty mouth prose influence of the blog n' book within the movie itself and chuckled when the Julie character bemoans Julia Child's frosty reception of her blog asking if it was her use of the F-word throughout it that Julia doesn't approve of.

The reporter calling up Julie for a comment about this infers that it is the lack of respect towards food and cooking perhaps that has Julia frostier than the inside of a refrigerator towards the blog and its blogger or, as my Grandmothers would say, frostier than an icebox.

There's no frost however on the seats of movie theaters or bindings of cookbooks as the numbers coming out of Julie and Julia movie ticket sales and Mastering the Art of French Cooking book sales indicate.

Ah, all this increasing glamorization of food and all things "foodie". It's quite fascinating to watch as an outsider. A huge cultural turn-of-the-tide for Americans that seems to have begun gradually growing on a mass scale back when Julia Child's cookbook and television cooking show popped up on the United States' cultural radar. Thanks to Julia, folks woke up and began thinking to themselves, "Oh, wow, things can taste better than bland eh?" For us all eating across our nation, I am grateful that folks throughout the subsequent generations have embraced this and I too enjoy the results of such keen interest expressed towards elegant, sumptuous food and pairings of delightful wines going along with that. Or, in the case of the Deep South, pairings of perfectly sweetened iced tea during certain meals and also at picnics, porch parties, oyster roasts and SEC football tailgating events.

Until I met my husband, I lived within a world where frankly, aside from seafood and special occasion delights like homemade pound cake or cheese straws, food was entirely an afterthought. All the women of my family up until my generation enjoyed the advantages of in-home help which included maids, gardeners and yes, cooks. So I laughed out loud during the Julie and Julia movie when Julie subtitles her blog, "Nobody here but us servantless American cooks". Yes, my generation well understands that. I literally exist on salads, cheese sandwiches and cans of Slimfast until my husband comes back home from his work trips and begins to whip up something delicious in the kitchen. He comes from a family with long lines of culinary talent and food business ownership. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in his immediate family can seriously cook and could be put up against many of the contestants of Top Chef and hold their own. I LOVE this about my in-laws, ahh, it's food wonderful food 24/7 around them!

At breakfast they're mulling about what's for lunch and at lunch, what's for dinner while within the household I grew up in, we hardly even noticed we were eating breakfast let alone would give any thought to lunch.

For my family minus the meals prepared by outsiders whether within their homes or without well, let's let a great line from the book, Mating Rituals of the North American WASP suffice it to say that, " WASP parties the food was little more than a decoration." Yes, so true, and aside from parties, it was little more than a fleeting thought past the realization that, " gosh, I'm hungry and can't remember when I ate last" for me and my relatives.

One side of my husband's family is uber-Old South WASP and it would be interesting to find out when they derailed from the Olde' English Bland Food Train, hmm. Maybe it was when Julia Child brought French cuisine and culinary skills into the general American psychic realm?

As for myself, I revel in the wondrous outcomes of my former classically-trained chef husband's kitchen creations. I happily play Sous Chef to his Executive Chef and also am the clean-up crew after meals. Occasionally I like to bake but that's about it for expressing my inner foodie. The seriousness of the contestants and the judges on Top Chef makes me chuckle under my breath and Julia Child in person would have probably made me quietly giggle as well with her exuberant enthusiasm expressed towards food and the eating of food.

I laughed during the movie at Julia's unbridled joy and Julie's unbridled confusion and found myself very grateful that I, I am on the sidelines of this current love affair with all-things-food.

Pass me a Cassoulet, a glass of Chardonnay or heck, just pass me an iceboxed chilled can of Slimfast... I'm happy with whatever comes my way.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Tale of Two iPods... pink and green Shuffles that is

I need to write a disclaimer before I go any further: yes, I am still a big proponent of simplifing life and quite decidedly not a techie or a trendy type of person. Being a lifelong "preppy" just scratches the surface of my general leanings towards all-things-classic.

That being stated, I have found however that incorporating a few newer things into one's life that really work for daily living is handy indeed. Case in point, the iPod shuffle. Earlier this year, I began my enchantment with my husband and my joint Christmas present to ourselves, another trend that we've embraced: the Wii Fit. Or rather, should I say, the Wii "My Fitness Coach" program which I actually look forward to doing on a regular basis. This began supplementing and then overtook my usual around the island walking or jog-runs. For years, while exercising I had held in one hand a clunky CD disc Walkman that went through two headsets. Yes, for over a decade I used that thing. However, while strolling through our local electronics super store to get the Fitness Coach program, my eye espied those cute, oh so tiny iPod Shuffles. I just had to check them out. It was all too easy to justify the purchase of one since gosh, how great is this to simply clip right onto my clothing while working out?! So light and hands-free.... so sold!

Promptly I was putting all of my favorite Classic Rock and highschool era 80's dance tunes on my new, darling hot pink Shuffle. And I'm really enjoying it. I exercise to it, mow the lawn areas with it and even at times wear it while I attempt to cook, er mostly bake actually. It's been great. Price per wearing/using indicates that I'm getting my money's worth outta' this, oh yeah.

The only "downfall" to the Shuffle is that the tunes all intermix and though it's fun to reshuffle them, it really is best to keep the same genre' on one Shuffle at a time. Otherwise it's a bit jarring when I need a dose of what I call my "Zen Time" of enjoying quieter music such as classical orchestral pieces, Japanese flute and such since it's very difficult to calm and center oneself if one's iPod Shuffle jumps from say Bach to the Beastie Boys in a matter of minutes and so...

...a second iPod Shuffle entered into my life. (Thank goodness for columnist checks coming in each month entailing my bit of mad money that lets me get-away with such frivolity as purchasing two Shuffles, wheh!)

This second Shuffle, but of course, is the green one. Green for calming, cooling Zen-mood music and the hot pink one for energizing rock n' roll tunes. Perfect! My pink and green little shuffles sit up on a bureau top in the bedroom always at-hand when I need them. This methodology of music has worked out so well for me and lets me enjoy my favorite tunes without them barging in on other's listening around the house to the television, radio, our CD player and also to the wonderous silence that we all enjoy around here with being out on 5 acres by ourselves.

If you would have told me last year that I'd have not only one iPod device but, gasp, two... I would have bet ya' at least 5 whole bucks that that'd never, ever happen.

Gotta' love the ironies of life and gotta' love laughing at oneself! Here's to pink n' green iPodin'!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

From white to champagne.... "party frocks" in middle age

After my recent posts in this blog about all-things-lowcountry-preppy regarding the various white dresses within my life signifying special moments, I naturally began of course to notice plenty of darling all-white dresses around in the stores this summer and even tried a few on. However, despite having a bit of a tan along with using more sophisticated accessories and shoes, these all-white dresses seemed almost "too sweet" for my now 40-something personhood. I do wear quite a few white blouses still: especially tailored, Irish linen ones with camisoles underneath for that effortless n' breezy islander style which helps get me through these torridly-humid months around here but I truly think that my all-white dress wearing days are officially o.v.e.r....

However... like any Southern Prepster worth her weight in gold, and the weight of her thin gold bangle bracelets, I've happily moved-on from the milk of youth so to speak to the champagne years of adulthood and frankly, what fun!

This year I've worn a delightful party-frock that's champagne-toned to 2 weddings so far and its garnered a few compliments here n' there. In February, I added a complimenting paisley shawl, pearls and champagne with bronze trim pumps to this dress for an afternoon wedding. Yesterday, I added my diamond earrings and strappy champagned metallic summer heels, via Talbots' wonderful recent sale going on. Need great shoes? Check out Talbot's website!

(Note: If one is a Southern Prep with a Scottish background, it is not only considered good judgement to wear special occassion clothing more than once, it's considered an honoring-one's-heritage cultural requirement. Men especially see how long they can wear-out their bespoke tuxedo before its inevitable fraying and fading has threads disintegrating into disrepair. My father STILL wears his HIGHSCHOOL tux...I literally kid you not! My husband's tuxedo gets dusted-off upon occassion as well.)

Speaking of Talbots (who I wished paid me for endorsements or better yet, outfitted me as a spokesmodel, haha)... my fellow-Talbots-groupie is pictured here in this photo of the "it's not all white dresses anymore" special occassion champagne dress blog post.

M is a great friend and "sister"in-law relative; with our husbands getting along so well plus their wonderful children whom we enjoy hanging around with, it's always so much fun to be together for family weddings plus of course visiting one another as we can throughout the years.

M, her husband W, James and I are perennially-Preppies in upbringing, style and lifestyle.

Ironically enough, at the family wedding this past weekend up in Charleston, SC... I was the only female in my family and extended family to NOT be wearing pearls...shock of shocks!

I had initially put on my pearls as a matter of ingrained-habit but for some reason, the sparkle of this champagne dress and the evening hours of the wedding festivities just seemed to call for yet more sparkle so out came the diamonds instead. I remember my Grandmother's maxium of, "a lady doesn't wear her diamonds until the evening hours except her engagement ring" and she would have been proud of me last night but...quite agast, that I also like to glitter-by-day upon occassion as well. Modernized times indeed! Bling in the sunshine, oh my.

Now that I'm happily sporting this "champagne sparkle" in party dresses and crystal flutes, the transition from white dresses seems natural and kinda' exciting in a way. Sometimes when we grow older, the additional wrinkles that show up all too well against the flatness of bright white can find a compliment instead in the glittering distraction folds of champange-toned silk...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What "Preppy-Isn't"... But I Do It Anyway

Life is about truly living and not simply being absolutely defined by a certain lifestyle either inherited, cultivated or experienced by default. I grew up, and certainly have always been, a Southern Preppy through n' through especially now on into my midlife years as one's habits and preferences become even more habitual however, like my jaunt out into the mountains of Park City, Utah to enjoy being a ski bum for a couple of years, various life experiences have offered up a variety of non-prep things that I found myself enjoying. And... still enjoy today. Here are a few of them listed as examples and for a good chuckle:

Mowing the lawn. Oh, how I love to be out on my John Deere riding mower under mostly bright blue sunshine skies mowing the 5 acres we have out here on this island. For me, this is a time of almost Zen-like calm and "being" in the moment at hand: chop wood, carry water. Contemplatives such as Buddhist monks, Christian monks, desert father contemplatives, retreat seekers and gentleman farmer-poets understand the value of physical labor work that rests the mind. I also have always maintained wherever we've lived, a small organic kitchen garden with seperate herb and cutting-flower beds. We do have a yard-guy that helps out with the heavier grounds-work but I'm the one who mows the two lawn areas around here... the above picture is of part of one of the lawn areas that I enjoy mowing.

Eating Salsa. Mexican food, and for that matter Hispanic culture in general, isn't really on my radar-screen to be honest though I once studied the Day of the Dead festivities for a World Arts course and found that interesting. However, I make an exception with my love of salsas- all salsas except the ones so fiery-hot that they're about inedible. And, being southern, Peach Salsa is of course something that I can eat until I literally can't take another bite, yum!

Looking like a page out of the Patagonia catalogue. Being outdoors in the woods, out on the water in kayaks and scampering around southwestern desert areas, practicality necessitates morphing into wearing togs that look a lot more river-rat/tree-hugger than preppy. I absolutely enjoy the natural environment and I support many environmental efforts plus am always reading essays and literature pertaining to our natural world however, I don't feel that I need to cultivate "the look" of environmental-political-correctness for my general life or each time I go into a natural foods emporium. But these types of outdoor-gear clothing are wonderful to be wearing, especially the drip-dry and moisture-wicking stuff, whenever I'm out hiking, paddling and the like. James is talking about us camping in order to get back into great spots to fly fish and so this section of my wardrobe no doubt will increase a bit. I call these pieces of clothing my "island wear" and the rest of my wardrobe, "off-island" since when I go into town or am in the process of traveling, I'm back-to-Preppy. Yes, L.L.Bean has some outdoors-wear that's Preppy and of course there's Orvis and Barbour that I love to shop as well but for some things, especially kayaking, Patagonia, North Face, etc. just have better offerings.

Enjoying Bluegrass music. I do like all types of jazz music since it counterbalances my listening to classical however, some expressions of Bluegrass does veer awfully close to Blues n' Country for most Preppy listeners. This must be a "southern thing" like grits and collard greens: to like Bluegrass even while listening to Country music which is, in my book, akin to hearing nails scratched down a chalkboard. I just bought James a Robert Johnson CD and we'll be listening to it a lot I know.

Academia. I realize that for the most part, Preppies endure years of school and subsequent MBA's or JD's in order to get to prime earning-potential if their trust funds seem to be dwindling away. I also realize that for most core-Preppy people, unless you're working in business, law or various high-end antiques/art auction houses or galleries, your career is "suspect" however... after experiencing 15 years of business management, I am utterly happy to be back into academia. In fact, I'm having such a blast getting my MA that I am already seriously looking into PhD programs since I graduate this coming December. I hafta' laugh that the forerunner of PhD programs in the Humanities I'm researching is Salve Regina University in Rhode Island which is considered a "Preppy school". Hopefully it'll be a natural-fit for me; we'll see. I am intrigued with their emphasis on Ethics which, as we all know too well, has been rapidly departing the business area especially certain financial institutions recently. I have always loved learning and challenging myself intellectually but at the same time, I can party-in-madras with the best of 'em.

Nailpolish in the Summertime. There's just something-fun about having a great tan, cute outfits, darling strappy sandals and one's toe nails polished in the summer. It's lighthearted frivolity that finds me either painting sweet ballet pink shades or more daring coral brights on my toe nails and even fingernails at times in the warmer months we have here on the island.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Preppy is... Southern Preppy is...

Preppy is: plenty of pink and green
Southern Preppy is: oodles of pink and green Lilly Pulitzer patterns

Preppy is: Bitsy and Chip
Southern Preppy is: Anna-Kate and Buddy

Preppy is: Princeton and most Ivy League institutions
Southern Preppy is: Ole Miss, University of Virginia, Sewanee and any all-girl's school

Preppy is: hunting dogs
Southern Preppy is: hunting dogs named after Confederate generals

Preppy is: Madras and Seersucker in the summer
Southern Preppy is: wearing these almost year-round in the lower coastal south

Preppy is: using Florida as a gateway to the Keys and other tropical destinations
Southern Preppy is: denying that Florida is southern at all

Preppy is: bar glassware with mallard duck motifs
Southern Preppy is: Tervis Tumblers for the porch, boat and the beach

Preppy is: silver flatwear, serving trays and so forth
Southern Preppy is: the above plus old silver flatwear turned into bracelets, rings and keychains

Preppy is: an uncle who works on Wall Street, lives in Connecticut and summers in the Hamptons
Southern Preppy is: an uncle whose office is unknown but who can be found boating on the back river almost 24/7 and who never feels the need to summer or vacation anywhere at all

Preppy is: living in the nicest areas of Manhattan pre-children necessitating a move to Connecticut
Southern Preppy is: flying up to Manhattan to stay in the Waldorf Astoria's Junior League rooms while taking in a play and the opera

Preppy is: a station wagon, sedan or SUV of the appropriate brand
Southern Preppy is: an old, much-loved green n' tan truck that's seen better days

Preppy is: knowing about your ancestors
Southern Preppy is: literal ancestor-worship

Preppy is: Mummy and Daddy
Southern Preppy is: Mother or Mama and Daddy

Preppy is: There are certain sports to watch on television
Southern Preppy is: What's there to watch beside southern college football?

and so forth and so on...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

White Dresses- Wedding

My wedding dress has a funny story behind it.

Like my mother, I had planned to "just add sleeves" to my deb gown and use it as my wedding dress. However, going into a wedding boutique to look for bridesmaids' dresses, I saw this incredible champagne silk ballgown with rosettes trimming the neckline that reminded me so much of a gown my great-great-grandmother Birdie had of which we have a portrait of her in...

My mother and I loved it, I tried it on and we left the store without it.

A few days later, I left to go to Ole' Miss to be with my older brother who had just started law school there. I stayed a few weeks bumming around the law library and the cute carriage house he was renting just off of Oxford Square.

When I returned home, what was hanging up in my childhood bedroom by my four poster bed but this amazing wedding dress! My father had gone and purchased it while I was in Mississippi- what a wonderful, truly sweet surprise! I always treasure that memory.

And the bridesmaids' dresses we went into the wedding boutique for? Well... we ended up getting them at Lord & Taylor in the evening gown section where I found tailored, elegant midnight-plum ballet length dresses with simple cummerbund-like sashes and plain sleeves.

This photo above is my favorite candid-shot of my husband and I taken just before we walked downstairs to get into our "getaway" horse n' carriage. Hard to believe that it was 18 years ago...

White Dresses- Savannah Debut

I love this picture- it always makes me smile. It was taken in a backyard swing where I was teetering on the tiny seat trying hard not to slide off of it while also not gripping (in a very unladylike way) the swing's ropes to steady myself with...

This ballgown I chose in a matter of minutes at the Lord & Taylor in Chicago. I didn't try any others on because when I walked into the boutique area and espied it, I knew it was "the one".

It was worn twice: to my Savannah Cotillion Club Debut' and to my Milwaukee Service Club Debut'. Both balls were held at Christmas so for two years, my family experienced very busy holiday seasons.

White Dresses- Sweet Sixteen Party

This is one party dress that I absolutely loved! I wore it first to my Sweet Sixteen Party which was held in a hotel's ballroom and exited via a friend of my mother's Rolls Royce- what a blast that was. Truly a special night filled with family, friends and a lot of dancing and laughter.

To me, this dress was sweet but still had a little bit of 1920's Flapper-girl much fun to wear and dance in.

I wore it also to my Junior Prom where it stood out very elegantly against a bevvy of bright taffetta and big bows which, in the mid-80's, was all the latest style. But a Preppy isn't about the latest fashions; a preppy is always elegantly and appropriately attired despite them ;)

White Dresses- 8th Grade Graduation

Recently I ran across a box of pictures in storage that I had so much fun looking through and while perusing through these, I realized that for many of my life's special occassions, I have worn a white dress. I know that in childhood I certainly sported many white dresses from baby dresses to my christening gown to Easter outfits but these were pictures of the following:

8th Grade Graduation where I was wearing a Gunne Sax dress- all the rage that year ;)

Sweet Sixteen Party where it was an all flat-lace sheath style that I still think was so elegant.

The Savannah and the Milwaukee Debutante Cotillions where the lace was kept to being just the sleeves of an otherwise very tailored a-line silouette ballgown.

The Wedding where I went totally Viennese-Ballgown with lace, silk rosettes, and pearls galore'.

So here's starting with the 8th Grade Graduation photo taken in our backyard in 1982. Note the pearls, pinkie signet ring, ribbon sash and Princess Di haircut...Prep-a-rama to the core!

Sperry, Top-Sider that is, Soliloquy

Ahh.... Sperry Top-Siders! They have been a part of my life n' lifestyle long before The Official Preppy Handbook was published in 1980. Coming from a family where a passion for sailing existed on both sides, Top-Siders were part n' parcle of casual outfits, bumming around the water and being cast-off onto wooden porches like some still-life vignette featuring all-things-lowcountry-southern.

I wore them as a child, teenager, collegian and continue to wear them now as both fashion and function. Sailing with my parents, aunts n' uncles and cousins plus taking some sailing lessons myself that were formal lessons and not just scurrying around family boats, my various Top-Siders sure came in handy for messing about in boats. I also still love to wear them as a fashion statement though being so "islander" now, my favorites are the sandal versions.

In the above picture that I took this afternoon, my 10 year old Sperry flip-flops are still holding up well and so very,very comfortable. I keep these right by the door and constantly slip my feet in and out of them throughout the day. Between these and my English gardening clogs, I'm pretty well covered for days of lolling around the island here whenever I need to be more than simply barefoot of course.

Currently in my closet are the following Sperrys: The brown leather flip-flops, the pink thong leather sandals that are featured up at the top left of this blog in the "Summer Finds" section, a light taupe leather pair of slip-on mules and the traditional Top-Siders that lace up which are a combination of light brown leather and canvas.

This is nothing compared to the masses I had in junior high and highschool but I won't even begin to list them here... at summer camp each year, I had a pair of Top-Siders and an Izod polo shirt for each day of the week for several weeks- no joke. Of course it goes without saying that I didn't pack-light at all each year I headed up to the northern woods for summer camp.

Sperry Top-Siders are wonderful for boating, bumming around and literally...f.o.r.e.v.e.r.....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Mother, My Mentor

Much closer to home as a gracious-lifestyle mentor of all things elegant and preppy was my late mother. She could have written the book on Southern Preppy! Here is a picture of my parents circa mid 1980's standing in our backyard.

Mother is wearing one of her Lilly Pulitzer dresses and the omni-present strand of pearls that was on her person unless she was going super casual instead with her gold add-a-beads. Remember those?

Wish I had those Lilly dresses of both hers and mine from the 80's but at least I still have the pearls. Lately Lilly Pulitzer is making a fashion trend comeback and I have picked up a piece or two of it along the way. Lilly's a style perennial here in the coastal, beachy South :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Mentor From Afar

For over two decades now I have been collecting, reading and re-reading the works of Alexandra Stoddard. Her design ideas, personal philosophy, gracious lifestyle, gentle focus on family and friends plus her career both as a designer and writer...all quite inspiring! I was able to personally meet her when she was the main speaker at one of our Junior League of Charlotte monthly meetings many years ago.

I recommend her books for anyone who enjoys cultivating an elegantly-preppy lifestyle and desires ideas, inspiration and affirmation along their own journeying...
“All forms of self expression are linked.” -Alexandra Stoddard

Perennially Preppy

Musing about my preppy-roots stemming themselves down long generational lines, it occurred to me that indeed, "preppy is perennial". Just like a stalwart rose bush, it blooms season after season. I find comfort in wearing pearls from a great-aunt, a Repousee' silver cuff bracelet of one of my grandmother's, my mother's family tartan shawl and the assorted preppy-classics I myself picking up from time to time. I've already passed along a couple of things to my young nieces that I'm sure they'll pass along to other family members in future years to come.

And it's not just the material things, it's also the culture and inherent customs as well. Oyster roasts and hanging out on small sailboats with cousins, ballgown fittings and learning to waltz, dog paws and Wellie boots making mud tracks onto the porch, baking cheese straws while sipping sweet iced tea in the dead of winter and being sure to write thank you notes the very first minute that there is the time available to do so.

Southern Preppy has followed me from my childhood in Georgia up to teen years in Wisconsin then college and young married years in North Carolina, a fun two ski bummin' years out in Park City, Utah and now back here amidst family in the Savannah-Beaufort-Charleston lowcountry environs. Even after the 1980's hey day of Preppiness, I still had elements of it coursing through my life and never rebelled into any alternative lifestyle posturing itself away from the basics and classic renditions of what is essential-preppy. Aside of course from dropping out of tennis lessons and playing which I frankly did not enjoy being made to do from age 6 into my teens. I'm glad that others like playing this particular sport but as for me, I'd rather watch than swing a tennis racket any day. My poor mother, she tried ;) Even Izod tennis dresses didn't do the trick for me... cute to wear as they were...

Here in Beaufort with its salty, sun-soaked and gently sauntering kinda' local atmosphere, I'm happily back into a relaxed islander version of Preppy that's less about the glaring obvious and more about a casual, off-handed expression of taste and style where faded khacki shorts and old topsiders paired with a bright coral tee shirt and madras belt work so well with a coozie in-hand at an impromptu dock party. And where a much-worn cashmere sweater twin set and pearls underneath a Barbour jacket that's overhanging wrinkled jeans and battered, re-soled leather riding boots are just fine for a sport shooting afternoon. And of course, anything cute and stylish is always just right for church however long I've been pulling these outfits out of my closet.

I'm much less "starched and primped" than I was back in my North Carolina days and yet do now wear a bit more makeup and far less clogs than I did when being a ski bum out in the mountains of Utah and... am realizing overall that here in the lowcountry of South Carolina, I am finding this to be a very happy place for me to be.

I'm back full-circle to my Southern Preppy roots and feel full-rose-bloomin' ;)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Preppy Patriotic stylin' for Fourth of July 2009

This year's annual 4th of July island parade had my father as its Grand Marshal which was a lot of fun. It was inevitable that I'd be wearin' some piece of madras, being the middle of a hot n' humid summer here in the lowcountry, and I received many comments n' compliments on my "patriotic preppy" look. The Prep-style goes anywhere very appropriately and IS a slice of genuine Americana...

Being a professional writer and having once written a long-standing fashion column for a wonderful suburban newspaper some years ago, I've missed writing about fashion n' lifestyling and all that fun stuff so I've decided to do a blog about my lifestyle look which essentially is Southern Lowcountry Island Preppy.

In posts to come, I'll muse some more about this...