Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Season Musings...balls and ballgowns part two

 Standing with my parents at The Cotillion Club ball in Savannah, GA in December of 1987

For some reason, I couldn't get the picture of Mother, Daddy and I to post into the previous post tis'....

Posing with my parents right before my debut with The Cotillion Club of Savannah....

It was such a neat evening with both of my brothers as my posts, James III and Wylly and my presenter being my favorite fun uncle Johnny. Grandparents and my Uncle Ralston and Aunt Kate were also in attendance and we all danced and danced the night away until finishing up with a very delicious midnight buffet breakfast.

The next day we all dragged ourselves out of bed for an oyster roast at a nearby plantation and so the debut season went well on into the new year in our part of the Lowcountry...southern hospitality extraordinarily magnificent to be sure!

Still so loving all the oyster roasts we attend around here and James and I are gearing up to help host a big one this coming February but I'm still wishing for one more good excuse to don an honest to goodness real ballgown one more time ;) Maybe one of my nieces will be up to this sometime in the future- the oldest one is just 10 as of now. What fun it'll be for her Aunt Lac to be in a ballgown once again eh? hahaha, oh yeah...

Happy Holiday season to you all and...Happy New Year too! All the best, Lachlan

Holiday Season Musings...past years of balls and ballgowns

Uncle L III, my mother E and my father J Jr. at The Cotillion Club ball in Savannah Georgia.

Every year when December rolls around I find myself musing from time to time about all of the wonderful Cotillion Balls we used to go to through the years and what fun they were. Between Savannah and my teenage years up in Wisconsin, both The Cotillion Club and The Service Club provided a neat reason to attend glamorous galas each December.

I miss dressing up, I mean really truly dressing up, getting into cars with one's grandmother's mink coats or stoles (depending on the weather) topping my gowns, gemstones and long white kid gloves, being driven through Christmas-light lit up streets up to whatever hotel or civic center was the ball's atmospheric destination, brothers or cousins hopping out in their white tie tux to open the car door for me and...walking up the outside stairs into a wonderland of romantic-glam!

I guess this is the closest thing to feeling like a princess aside from one's wedding day but of course.....and I loved it! Both being an attendee and also being a debutante'...first in 1986 up in Milwaukee and then in 1987 in Savannah. The northern debut was "for fun and with my girlfriends" and, as any Lowcountry gal worth her sea-spray salt well understands, the southern debut was oh so very much, "for family" though I did enjoy doing this with my Savannah gal-pals too but of course :)

Since I was the only girl in my entire generation which was stocked full of brothers n' boy cousins, I had no choice at all about being a debutante when I became "of age" for it but heck, party after party after boating party after oyster roasts and also getting more clothes than I ever had been so fortunate to have before in my life for the various goings-on during both debutante seasons...frankly, wow, this was great with me!

And the gifts from people I knew as well as from complete seemed a weekly gift pick-up trip to Savannah's Cottage Shop...and the copious thank you notes I wrote with my monogrammed Crane informals stationary or tucking in one of my calling cards into a bauble or bouquet being send along as another kind of thank you gesture.

My mother also loved her Savannah season and above is one of the pictures of her in her ballgown at the old Savannah Desoto Hilton posing with her two posts: her brother, my late uncle on the left and her boyfriend, my father on the right side!

She was sooooo beautiful and feminine whereas I'm a bit more on the preppy-sporty side though every once in a while, my obviously-inherited bit of southern belle' femininity will show up but, heh heh, the sporty short hairdo I "sported" at my Savannah debut was indeed a standout from alla' the long and/or curly do's my fellow debs were displaying back there in 1987. As, (for debuts back then) really simply tailored ballgown with its plain a-line shaping and only embellishment being the Austrian hand-knitted lace shoulder covering. I spotted this dress while in Lord and Taylor when I first walked in, tried it quickly on and said, "this is perfect!" as my father pulled out his checkbook and I traipsed over to the Vidal Sassoon salon to get that Princess Diana short layered hair style I wore all through my junior high, high school and first year of college days.

Now of course, we live a much more casual lifestyle these days which in general I really enjoy but every so often...I get a bit wistful for those ballgown wearing days.....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Snowy Preppy White Christmas...indeed!

Ah, it's a Preppy Pastoral scene indeed: this White Christmas wonderland!
It's complete with a backyard stable and peacefully pretty!

It's smiles all around...James, Lachlan and yes, even ole' Max as well ;)

 My Sis-in-law is sporting a festive red hat as well as one of the horses too! Fun

Merry Christmas greetings to everyone from where we are up here in the wonderfully snowy environs of North Carolina! What a treat to have a wintery wonderland for this Christmas weekend.
Such a Preppy Setting with alla' this beautiful holiday-festive snowfall, a big brick white columned house, lots of land around and a stable with frisky horses ;) Perfect!

It's not very often that James and I can make it up to his parent's place and especially so during the holidays so this was a treat we were so looking forward to.

The horses were quite funny with this snowfall... we had a blast watching them playing within it. And so, I'm posting a few pictures of them for your enjoyment plus one of the Ivy's house and driveway's Bradford Pear trees dolloped with heaping doses of snow.

And, but of course, my faithful lightweight Barbour coat and Burberry scarf kept me warm n' cozy while my old pair of brown leather boots kept my feet dry.

What I really wished for this weekend however was my ole' cross country skiing ensemble' that I'd put to such good use all those teenage and college-aged winter seasons when we were living up in Wisconsin. I loved looking out one of the windows in my bedroom up there in the 1890's farmhouse my parents were having renovated to see fresh snowfall on the ground during the weekend. Ah, this meant that I could literally throw on my Nordic ski sweater and heavy corduroy knee-banded skiing culotte pants, grab my cross country skis, ski shoes and poles plus a ski hat, gloves and down jacket vest and.... putting on my skis, ski from our front yard on into the park that was right off of Lake Michigan just down from our house. Absolutely loved that!

I've kept up with downhill skiing over the years but haven't been cross-country skiing in a long time......

Best to everyone from where a little bit of snow is still falling tonight!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve day spent...Out on the Family Farm

Well...there was cotton out here...Lachlan in the family farm's fields

Like many folks out there on Christmas Eve day, James and I spent it traveling. Planes, trains, boats and automobiles... hopefully we all got to where we wish to be this evening and are enjoying being with our family and friends for the holidays.

For James and I today with leaving the SC coastal region behind to drive ourselves up to North Carolina, our road trip this a' way requires the usual stopping by his family farm which lies between Sumter and Florence, South Carolina. We found ourselves taking a nice walking break, from all of the driving , sauntering along the edges of cotton fields. Row after row after row with just pine tree lines completing the horizon line between fields and the wide sky above them.

This farm has been in his family since circa 1700's forever...........

James has been trying to convince me for years to move out there and us build a classic South Carolinian farmhouse within the pecan tree grove area that is in between some of the fields. You know the style: wide porches all-around, tall windows, a central hallway running from the front door all the way to the back door, several fireplaces and plenty of spaces for people to gather or for an individual to enjoy a quiet moment within as in a sun room, window seats, small library and such. His Great Aunt's house was like this and we were sorry to see it go out of the family.

Hmmm....throw in an English glass n' wrought-iron conservatory, monogrammed gardening tools, someone to help me with the heaviest n' hardest of digging 'round the dirt and I may finally be convinced ;) But that's a big hmmmmm

Thinking further upon this "possible in the future" lifestyle change-up, I've come up with my own Top Ten listing about what I call Our Family Farm Fantasy:

  • Expansion of one's Hunter boots "Wellies" collection would never be questioned as purely a "want"...on the farm, they're definitely a need

  • Gardening tools and supplies have become so darn cute and can be monogrammed

  • More fresh vegetables and flowers for the cutting than we could possibly use n' give away

  • Complete privacy: 24/7 and 365 days a year out there

  • No makeup, hair in a bandanna, no fuss getting ready each morning- could get used to that

  • Pecans, pecans and more pecans...

  • Truly living a simplified, off the land self-sufficient kind of life

  • Oodles of time for my writing and also USC isn't too far for the future PhD pursuit

  • Carrying on the tradition of family members living out on the road named after them

  • James would be happy- I kinda' think this would be reason #1 but of course ;)

Things I would miss by being on the farm would take up another listing and may take up more than ten points bien sur! Best of all worlds would be for James and I to have two places and go in between them: one on the farm and one out on the island.... we'll see what happens.

Until then, we'll keep enjoying walking along the farm's fields and woods with one another........

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Alice....a wonderland full of Preppy Stylin' circa early 1990's

I am a big fan of Woody Allen movies and so why it's taken me until this evening to finally watch, "Alice"...I have no idea!

Can I just state outright that if this isn't what I looked like in my young adulthood then I don't know what would be any closer: the bobbed haircut with bangs and headband, the pearls and big-pearl-earrings, the boxy Chanel-styled coat tops, the bows, bangle bracelets and boiled wool hats...oh yes indeedy!

The scenes of New York City, spas, boutiques and the interior of Alice's sister's place plus all the great jazz tunes playing in the background...double-yes. Even her change-up of lifestyle where she does volunteer work, dresses more sporty and lives more simply but still Preps-out...yes, yes!

There's always something to take-away from a Woody Allen film that's for sure but with this one, for me at least, is was less something new than something recognizable and I found this enchantingly wonderful to watch this evening.

An aside about all that jazz music: something I've been watching lately whuch has been on PBS...special after special about jazz. Ken Burn's overview of the history of Jazz in America was fascinating but I tell ya', just soo purely magical was listening to the "In Session" studio jamming between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King: WOW and double-Wow!!! They were a' working more of the Blues with this but that's a close second to my enjoyment of jazz...
I miss a good local jazz club but occassionally I catch a concert here at the USCB performing arts center and of course pop into clubs while traveling around. Two of my favorite jazz memories: with my James at NYC's The Blue Note during a Latin Jazz night and with my brother James and friends in Manchester Lane of Melbourne, AU for a long amazing evening of jazz, dancing and laughing our heads off all the while...anyway, occassionally on tv there's actually really good programming to enjoy: intellectual, cultural, arts and societal, gosh, go figure! heh heh ;)

Roses...and December

Beautiful blooms on the bushes at the December...
...brought inside and put into my cute new-logo vase from work...

...across from a bed bedecked in seasonless English rose-chintz.

Another garden blooming inspiration from...Australia and my friend Kev!

Bring on the flowers...Kev's garden is having a very pretty springtime indeed.

In the midst of all of this actual winter-weather we've been having here on the South Carolina coast, it's getting harder and harder to remember that just a couple of weeks ago we were enjoying...roses in December!

...and flowering Azalea bushes, a plethora of pansies, lemons on the lemon tree and so forth...

This past autumn we truly enjoyed an extension of beautiful blue skies, warm temperatures, balmy breezes and blooming flowers all about us, ahhh. We were spoiled quite frankly! I was bringing in bunches of flowers each week into both the cottage and island house. Cutting into fresh lemons picked off the tree in the yard was a delight. Potted plantings lasting and lasting on the porches was a relief...extended time in between the usual seasonal re-do's felt so luxurious.

Inside and out, I tend to just adore flowers. Fresh is best, chintz patterning covers the rest....

The Cottage Look oh so fortunately includes embracing flowers, flower patterns and all things gardening. Back in North Carolina, our house was very "English Country" styled while out in Utah, our miner's cottage was very "English Country Goes Alpine Ski Bummin'" and here in the SC Lowcountry, our cottage is I guess, "English Country and Lowcountry Southern Relax Together."

Speaking about Southern...waaaay down under in Australia, my friend Kev's incredible garden is going full-blast-blooming with it being early Spring where he lives. I've posted before about Kev's garden and am glad that he just sent me some current pictures we all can enjoy within this blog post. So beautiful and so inspiring to see while winter's heavy hand is upon us here in America.

I've always heard the saying, "Bloom where you're planted." At times this quip seems hokey, at times it seems straight from the musings of some mountain top sitting sage and yes, at times it seems something to take quite literally into one's life and this one's daily lifestyle.

May you all enjoy...roses this December! Bloom, bloom away!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, The Life Of A Preppy Dog...

A Preppy Dog...yawns as he finishes "helping" with wrapping Christmas gifts
...settles down to snooze away on an antique sofa and designer pillow

...turns the other direction for optimal sofa-snoozing but of course

...then wakes himself up to play throw-the-tennis-ball with his Grandpa who also had been snoozing (don't worry, it was warm in the house- my father always layers 24/7 like crazy)

Tonight I got the biggest chuckle out of watching our dog Kanon move around "his favorite spot" which just happens to be the antique sofa passed down on my mother's side of the family...

My grandmother slept here many an evening when it was in the living room of her house in Savannah and I'm frankly not sure what she would think knowing that a big ole' Doberman chose this now as his personal spot to enjoying both snoozing on and watching football games on the television along with his Grandpa and of course James and I as well.

Earlier this evening, Kanon was er, "assisting me" shall we say with some Christmas gift wrapping going on which had me sitting on one end of the sofa wrapping up presents and him either pouncing paws onto rolled-out wrapping paper or having a fun time pulling at ribbons. It took me twice as long to wrap but we had twice the fun!

After I had wrapped up the wrapping for the evening and tucked the materials to the side, then Kanon decided that it was time to nap in front of the football game we were watching.

He yawned quite a bit, spread out on the sofa, accepted the pillow I tucked under his head and then...about an hour later...dragged the pillow over to the other end of the sofa where he turned around three times and scrunched himself down in the opposite direction for yet more zzzing.

Finally, as the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, Kanon decided that he'd had enough resting and began to play throw-the-tennis-ball with ole' Grandpa.

It's a wonderful life and a wonderful dog's life out here as well so it seems ;)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Parties...Preppy Past and Preppy Present

Old-School Preppy Holiday Party Attire... My parents in Savannah circa mid-1960's
New-School Preppy Holiday Party Attire...when Lowcountry Islander living

The GREAT Plaid Taffeta party skirt I bought from Talbots I'm determined to wear somewhere this holiday season...even if made-casual with a black turtleneck n' tall black boots

For decades and for many of my married years up until recently, going to Holiday Parties meant a whole lotta' dressing up.

Taking up a large section of my closet literally from childhood until James and I moved ourselves out to a mountainside miner's cottage in Utah to be ski bums and then on out here onto a tiny island were... a bevvy of party frocks and later on evening gowns n' cocktail dresses along with dress shoes, evening bags and such. Jewel tones, taffeta, velvets, lace and the like predominated. I've always so loved the dressier aspects of living out life and so getting ready for parties has always been such a pleasure for me.

At the moment however (and actually for the past seven years) we're living within an uber-casual place. Both this island and the general small coastal town area we live in is a place where one can be over-dressed in a heartbeat. I tend to be that person. It's actually difficult at times for me to go completely-casual unless I'm involved in some outdoorsy activity. It is very difficult for me to dress Lowcountry Casual whenever I'm headed out to a party around here in December.

Yes, there's been a few shindigs where I've happily donned a "pretty party dress" and James has either been suited-up or at least sporting the classic navy blue blazer, button down skirt n' a tie and kacki pants with black leather belt and loafers and...his family crest ring but of course. And every Christmas Eve service, I love wearing my family tartan in a kilt with a silk blouse, pearls, black cashmere cardigan sweater, black hosiery and pumps or my dressy black boots. I miss the Charity Ball and Savannah Cotillion gala's however we're just not involved in those at this present time in our lives. What I'd give to be able to don a beautiful ballgown once again!

This year's holiday parties are all casual events so I'm trying my best to tone down my party attire and limit the sparkle n' "pretty" to a scarf or pin or heck, even just eyeshadow with a subtle glimmer ;) Ahh....yes, one of these days perhaps we'll return to a more formal lifestyle n' setting within which I'll sparkle, sparkle away but until then...I think I'll remain er, overdressed.