Monday, January 24, 2011

Monograms...Preppy Personalization Perfection!

Preppy-happy: A combination pearls and sterling monogram necklace!
Preppy comfy: a monogrammed pillow on the cottage's bed.

Preppy-practical: a marketing-tote kept handily by the door and...

also Preppy-practical, a tote-around-town refillable water bottle.

Oh, what dyed-in-the-wool Preppy doesn't just love monograms?!

The first monogrammed item I remember being truly-mine aside from my small sterling baby cup was a neat stationary set my aunt gave me one Christmas long ago when I was in the pre-teen stage of my life. It was the early 1980's and all-things-Preppy was trending hot as fire during then which, for my Preppy family, provided us with yet more things available out there fitting in oh so well with our lifestyle. I just loved, loved this pink and cream tiny-floral print stationary set embellished with SLC in a simple engraving at the top and the cards and envelopes contained in a matching folder that tied with a pink grosgrain ribbon.

Throughout the years to follow into the current present, some of my very favorite presents have been the ones which a thoughtful family member or friend had monogrammed for me.

On one of James' trips flying folks around in one a' those commercial jets of the airline he's with, he had an overnight stay up in Maine. He returned from there with a surprise present for me- what fun! A what a perfect present it was to receive and has been since to enjoy using....a large L.L.Bean white canvas tote bag with a blue crab print on it and my monogram above the crab. I keep it over on the island and during the summer, I keep it in my little Jeep stocked with some of my beach-bummin' paraphernalia since, on a whim and within two minutes on the island or fifteen minutes out to the great state park we have here, I can be out enjoying a beach.

Here are some pictures of monogrammed items that are "so me" beyond the monogram :) Especially the amazing sterling and pearl necklace that my dear girlfriend gave me this Christmas! Oh my! This was one of the best surprise gifts I've ever received...along with James' of course....I am surrounded by such thoughtful people and do indeed count my blessings. I soooo love this necklace and wear it a ton...and receive a ton of compliments on it whenever I do. And the gift of this gift is the person behind it and the big-sister-little-sister relationship we share supporting, encouraging and just having a lot of fun around one another.

Monogrammed gifts are such a treat and I hope that you've been treated in this way too :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wintering Around Our Beach... place and purposing much like a canvas to paint

Seaside inspirations from a thrift-shoppe' bargain painting...
And...the reality of our beach...ahh, a serene canvas indeed!

Almost anytime is great for some good ole' "beach time" that's for sure and so this week I headed out to both our tiny island's beach and also to a state park's beach just 15 minutes away.

There was a sunny, 60 degree warmth break in our unusually-for-us cold, foggy and yes actually barely snowing recent winter weather here on the coast of South Carolina and so, seizing the day Carpe' Diem spirit most enthusiastically, I headed out first to the state park's beach and then ended the day with James and our dog Kanon out on our island's small, secluded beach. Well, secluded from non-islanders but not secluded from James, our friend Robbie, his dog Cotton, our dog Kanon and me ;)

I do so value how a beach can be a neutral-canvas upon which to paint the experience you desire upon it. When I am by myself, it's definitely a canvased atmosphere much like a J. M. W. Turner painting where the focus is on sparsity and a blurred kind of self-introspection. The times I'm figuratively painting something akin to this are the beach days where I'll take one of my creative writing projects out there with me. Sometimes I even take a good book but mostly, if I'm not writing, I just want to stare out towards the ocean's horizon line and let my mind either begin to still itself or wander lazily along some proverbial trail among the sand dunes... expanding its journeying or narrowing the pathway but always going along at a leisurely pace.

Other beach times are ones in which it's me and a close girlfriend taking a picnic lunch, our beach chairs and wide-brimmed straw hats along with plenty of sunscreen. Creating a tableau of female figures, brighter pretty color tones and constantly wavering lines much like a Chagall painting. We used to bring books and magazines or even some needlework but have dropped those by the wayside at this point. We never get to these; instead we chat and chat and chat some more. Gabbing and laughing away sitting in our chairs, lying on our towels, wading into the surf and bobbing in the ocean waters.

And finally, there are the times out and about on the beach that are so "active" and busy which are either when I'm out with James, out with James and Kanon, out with James, Kanon and friends or out with a large group of friends. I've run, jumped, thrown Frisbees, played soccer, body surfed and plain ole' goofed-around during those fun days. Dogs or no dogs, we all wear ourselves completely out by the time the time's up and/or the sun sets. If we extend our evenings, we usually go back to some one's house or yard and gather 'round a fireplace, marshside fire pit or in a sunroom to linger longer together. These times seem like Tintoretto or Peter Paul Reubens paintings where everyone's busy, busy all over a larger canvas.

The painting above is one that always inspires me to get out onto our beaches here more often.

I found it at a charity thrift shop we have here in town which has a bit more upscale donations than the usual second-hand stores. I go in occasionally to peruse and at times purchase items like books, ceramic and porcelain cache pots n' vases to put orchids and bulbs in, baskets, some odd pieces of sterling when I espy it and maybe a piece of art or er, a fun piece of artistic-intent.

Sitting flat on a table was this painting which was almost covered up by other items. I picked it up, it made me smile thinking about how much it mirrors our beaches here, I turned it over and saw three dollars on its price tag...three, as in 3 dollars? I took it to the counter and asked if the price was 3 or 30 dollars since maybe there was a zero missing on the tag somewhere but no, it was three dollars and was sold- sold to me.

The photo underneath my bargain acrylic painting set in a wooden frame is from this week's beach day: a similar kind of view towards the ocean waters from a sea dunes and sea oats vantage point.

Off-season, On-season.....beach times are always good times aren't they?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spring Pretty and Pretty Thrifty too! Perfectly Preppy...

Spring's prettiness is slowly coming into the cottage here...
Spring's influence in celadon green tones on the computer n' notebook

Fascinating reading for this Winter into Spring & into the rest of the year

This Winter I am eagerly anticipating Spring...what with actual snowfall early this morning here along the coast of southern South Carolina...for us, this has been quite a chilly winter indeed!

This winter I have also really enjoyed reading a book that I purchased after seeing a couple of good reviews about it: We Have Met The Enemy- Self-Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst. Great food-for-thought and the cover with the doughnut-bomb is too too apt, love it!

I enjoy reading any book about society, culture, economics and the virtues of thrift and this one is definitely a read well worth undertaking. Akst now ranks up there to me with several other current authors within this genre styling including Juliet Schor, David Shi, Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill McKibben. But above all, I'm enjoying his book especially, most especially, as the author incorporates a whole lot of great quotes and theories from many of my favorite philosophers about self-control, discernment, editing ourselves and "enoughness"...

And so, with feeling "enoughness" myself lately as to various things like my wardrobe, books, plants, bibelots, decorative items for the house and cottage and such...I've decided to do an experiment this year and limit myself to $100.00 a month Cheerful Cash where this is the anything-extra fund beyond the usual bills, savings, tithing, investments, charitable contributions, garden supplies and such however... yes, this'll be a fun-fund, but also somewhat practical, purposeful....somewhat ;)

Here towards the end of this month, I'm up to $70.00 spent so far and it's all Pretty Springy Preppy in anticipation of the season to come and amazingly...excepting a computer-cover and a magazine, everything was on Clearance! Last Season-who cares?! We're Preppies, we don't "do" the "latest" 24/7, we mostly wear the "classics" season after season, year after year and...decade after decade. Generation after generation of use actually when it comes to things like pearls, cashmere twin sets, tweed blazers, summer houses and so forth.

Of course I don't have to spend one hundred dollars every month for sheer fancy and frivolity. If I don't spend that or up to that then that'll be just fine as well. The point is to enjoy some sort of monetary self-discipline this year within the "extras" category which usually with me isn't limited, monitored or even thought about really um, to be completely honest.

This hundred dollars spending limit was inspired by McKibben's book, Hundred Dollar Holiday.

From the photos above, the break-down of frivolity so far in January has been:

A Japonesque-design computer cover from ordered online.

Bandelino strappy-heeled metallic hued pumps

Ralph Lauren silk scarf in my favorite tropical-brights for Spring and Summer wear galore'

Lilly Pulitzer's Squeeze scent...super-delicious, yes I've already spritzed it

Babkgaard orange leather plaid-stitched paperweight since I actually use these in the office

Pure Style Outdoors book that's absolutely wondrous and very garden-rooms inspirational

The Spring Fashion edition of Marie Claire magazine for, er, fashion trend research but of course

Oh, and the small green notebook next to my Japonesqued-computer? That's where I'll keep track of my monthly fun-fund expenditures and this'll also serve as a journaling of what all strikes my fancy as this year moves along.....should be interesting to chronicle...

Enoughness-experiencing this year with little dashes of cheer n' frivolity.......I'm ready for it!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Preppy Air...Commercial Flying Extraordinaire!

Preppy Air... where the look and the experience is in a class unto itself! (British Airways circa late 1980's-1990's uniform picture is from an amazing website: ...please check it out- lotsa' fun!)

Welcome to Preppy Air...we hope you enjoy your flight experience with us so please go ahead and relax those wing back chair seats to a comfortable reclining position, adjust your mini-library personal reading lamp and we'll have your drink order from the in-house bar brought to your seat as soon as possible. Thank you for flying today the Preppy-Way!

Ahhh, wouldn't that be truly wonderful? A commercial airline just for Preppies and those non-Preps wanting to be like us or just be hanging around with us?

I think today's world may indeed need a new airline such as this to come about...commercial travel unfortunately has declined in decorum and even now, it is possible to be in Business or First Class and sitting next to an alcohol-breathed, sweat-smelling, overly loud and uncouth individual decked out in his wife-beater-styled tank top, ratty jeans and tennis shoes that smell as rank as his breath. He must have missed his bus and decided to fly since the fares are now so-cheap and the new-normal is that almost anything-goes with proletariat passengers crowding ever-smaller rows of seats on the packed planes. Air travel has come to the masses and masses of people out there who have no idea how to dress themselves and address being within the general public in ways of just plain ole' politeness in all its actions and enactions. It's a shame really that our post modern world has devolved rather than evolved with the personal standards of everyday people out there within the public realm. The People of Walmart have taken to the air! (Have you ever seen that web site's pictures- it's so bad that I either cry from laughter or cry from dismay whenever I see what some real-folks actually do wear to Walmart) But I digress and need to get back to the more pleasant thoughts pertaining to Preppy Air.....and so...

Dress codes would apply to passengers where neat, presentable, appropriate length and coverage would be determined upon check-in. Any individuals who show up sporting tank tops only on-top, too-short or too-much-cleavage clothing items, bizarre' outfits in general will be refused boarding passes until they come back in decent, Preppy Air approved attire.

Conduct codes will also be enforced meaning no overtly weird-acting individuals, badly-behaving children, fighting families or much-too-drunk folks need even try to get on board one of Preppy Air's flights or hang around the gate areas. Preppy Air's airport attendants and security would be top notch and work quietly and quickly to rid the rest of us of such undesirable goings-on. It would be a privilege to fly Preppy Air, not a right and these two code-conditions stated outright in the ticket-purchasing process. Non-Preps are of course welcome to fly with Preppies however, a certain level of personal decorum is expected and enforced for all passengers 24/7 and 365 days a year- no exceptions.

Some aspects about Preppy Air would indeed be understood right off the bat such as:

The food would be plain fare, the non-alcoholic drinks basic standards but the bar offerings extensive and featuring many top-shelf brands. No Star-Chef menu offerings on Preppy Air just plain ole' fare much like one's own house-cook or one's Mother, when need be, would make and thus a typical dinner entree' for Adults: baked chicken breast over wild rice with a side of asparagus lightly lemoned and one hard roll; a typical entree' for Children: Campbell's' tomato or chicken noodle soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. In-flight snacks would be things like small bowls of assorted nuts, cheese and fruit plates and choices like the following: either Yankee-Preppy Cheese on Ritz crackers or Southern-Preppy Cheese Straws. However, food choice options to be kept at a minimal since Preppies eat whatever's put down in front of them and pay it no-attention.

Crew uniforms would be designed by the teaming-up of Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade: navy blazers, khaki trousers and/or straight skirts at the knee, various brightly-hued button down shirts, quality cordovan plain leather belts and loafers- higher heeled loafer pumps an option for the female flight attendants, Ascot knotted scarves in plaids, stripes, paisleys, toiles' and for summer, a tropical-toned madras print. Hair and makeup styled in the classic tones of Grace Kelley and Cary Grant looks while jewelry kept to pearls, wedding rings and/or a family crest ring or school ring with the occasional gold charm bracelet or silver large monogrammed cuff bracelet for women and for men, just a family crest ring or school ring.

A special Lilly-Pulitzer styled aircraft line could be done for Preppies flying back n' forth to Palm Beach, Key West, the Bahamas and various Caribbean islands. Bright oranges with color-shots of hot pink and lime green along with bold, tropical florals and stripes would be that signature look for the planes and crew alike.

And the crew itself...pilots would all have their MBA's and childhood schooling in English Riding, flight attendants would know at least one other language than English preferably French plus have Art History degrees and a general knowledge pertaining to fine wines, sailing and be large dog fans but of course while gate and ticket agents would have a degree in Psychology and have memorized Emily Post's etiquette book during their job training.

And then the other features of Preppy Air which inculcate the ethos and vernacular of "Preppy":

The airplane exteriors for Preppy Air as well as its logo, print ads and such would be in navy blue with thin edging lines of gold and kelly green plus having a small-sized crest appropriately displayed with Garamond type-set lettering spelling out underneath it, "Preppy Air...Flying with Class: first class standards and experience are our daily standards and your flight experience."

Cabin interiors would be carpeted in Oriental or Berber rug runners; well-spaced rows of large elegant wing back chairs that convert to lay-flat beds upholstered in either subtle plaid, chintz or toile' fabrications and not matching but nicely coordinating; tray tables would be in mahogany wood; walls wallpapered in a cream on light buttery yellow striping; high ceilings and plenty of overhead storage for the Hartmann carry-ons and L.L.Bean canvas tote bags but of course.

Cabin bathrooms would be a bit larger in space than typical commercial airplane bathrooms and feature beadboard walls, porcelain farmhouse style sinks, mellow lighting and toiletry products by Caswell-Massey.

Magazine offerings would include such glossies as Town and Country, Sailing, Skiing, Traditional Home, Travel and Leisure, Kiplingers, W, The Robb Report, Coastal Living and so forth. No in-house magazine but Safety Brochures printed on Cranes cream stationary.

Overhead music would pipe-in relaxing classical and jazz upon boarding but have wake-up tunes on overnight flights' early morning arrivals featuring Preppy party favorites like the B-52's, etc. Soft, subtle lavender scents would be piped-into the cabin as the evening wanes on and then, early morning arrivals/departures would have brisk lemon scenting spritzed for a second.

Large dogs traveling with their owners would have their own cabin towards the rear of the plane featuring a "room" to roam within having comfortable sofas, dog beds, lots of dog toys, a personal water bowl and food bowl spot for each dog and a bathroom who's door automatically slides open when a dog approaches it. Flight attendants in this area would pamper said dogs and their owners be allowed to visit them as much as they wanted after take-off and before landing. Other animals like cats, birds and such would travel as all animals do on other airlines... small dogs may travel in dog-bag-handbags with their owners but are generally not encouraged on flights: Preppy flight attendants and passengers prefer them to be back with the rest of the non-Prep animals in baggage especially those pesky ones that yip in sharp, high-pitched barks.

And finally but just as important, all airport terminal waiting areas for Preppy Air would look like Father's club interior and have ticketing agents similar to club attendants and waiters: quiet, elegant and unobtrusive. Flights would be announced in moderate tones and moderate sound levels not from an overhead speaker but by an airline employee walking around and speaking to all assembled there plus offering to take drink orders pre-boarding and passing out glossy, Preppy-oriented magazines as well as The Wall Street Journal to those passengers desiring them. The full-experience of Preppy Air would be a class act from start to finish. ever-galavanting-about-in-airplanes Preppy can dream can't she?

Maybe my husband and I should start up such an airline as this with James being a commercial pilot with an MBA and me having a business management background, fashion background and MA plus the two of us being Born-To Preppies, hmmm. It's something to think about.... start-up funding and trust funds have been wasted on ideas much worse, er, as fantastical as this.

Preppy Air! Preppies flying other Preppies around in a Preppy setting. Pretty Preppy-licious!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Winter's Morning Silence...the virtues of a foggy day

Winter's silence enveloping the marsh side waters of our cottage...
Walking out to the dock, my footsteps were the "sound" this morning...

A foggy, quiet day can be calming, contemplative and oh so pretty...

There are many things James and I enjoy and truly appreciate with being here in the South Carolina Lowcountry with both living out on a tiny barrier island sparsely populated and also having an in-town cottage facing out towards a marsh waterway...access to nature is one thing, privacy and yet also having great neighbors nearby is another and silence, ah silence, is very much to me another cherish attribute to the life we're living right now.

Many days and nights are wondrously silent barring the chirps, rustling and rambling of "nature's goings on" from time to time and the usual exuberant spring chorus of our tree frog population which makes itself loudly, but comically, known for a few weeks when the weather turns warmer.

However, the days and nights when a blanket of misty fog rolls itself down onto our waters as well as the marsh side and woods surrounding us.....ah, that's when I enjoy silence the most!

This morning has been one of those cherished calmed, stilled, silenced times I've basked within.

After a very early morning's work with inventory going on at the store, I returned to the cottage here and walked out to the dock in order to bask in the foggy-silence awhile.

Many writers and poets have written some prose, poetry and pithy statements regarding silence that I'd like to share with you along with these pictures taken of my quiet morning earlier today:

From Paula Huston's fascinating book, The Holy Way- Practices for a simple life, "...I had to learn how to seek out and refresh myself in the pools of silence that lay hidden along the pathway of my noisy daily round."

And Madeleine L'Engle writes that, "...when I went on my first retreat I slipped into silence as though into the cool waters of the sea. We need both for our full development; the joy of the sense of sound; and the equally great joy of its absence."

Here's some food for quiet thought: "When we make room for silence we make room for ourselves...Silence invites the unknown, the untamed, the wild, the shy, the unfathomable - that which rarely has the chance to surface within us." - Gunilla Norris

And for the more practical, prudent minded..."Right speech comes out of silence." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

And of course, poetry alludes to silence in its own quieted, white-noise, negative space kind of way:

This evening stillness...
Just the ruined cowbell
Found by the pasture gate. - Jewell

How quiet-
At the bottom of the lake
peaks of clouds. -Issa

The winter storm
Hides in the bamboo
And becomes silent. - Basho

on a post
near the edge of a brook
a crow
utterly still
in the stillness of high noon - Mori Ogai

There is a beautiful mystery within fog, snowfall, rain and other times and events which "still" us to some degree in the midst of our busy and oh so noisy lives. I like this quote from Albert Einstein which points out that, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."

Those are my non-silent-now thoughts about silence and a morning spent enjoying the fog set out within the marsh waters by the cottage. Maybe you haven't been sitting out within the damp fog surrounding your dock, maybe you're enjoying time by a fireplace or a window as the snow falls, rain drops or maybe you're "stuck" somehow in some way having to still-yourself...however your silence comes, I hope that to some degree, you can happily dwell within it for awhile....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preppy "show" the Food Network may want to pass on

Ahh, a little bit of Haagen-Daz....always such a perfectly Preppy treat!
A Prepster's in-town cottage's fridge: pretty basic, boring but healthy-ish

Preppy work-snack: going healthy since martini-lunches are now archaic.

Today I trotted off to the grocers... eventually one must re-supply the pantry, fridge and such...

Grocery shopping is for me almost akin to a trip to the dentist- I am not a person who loves to wander through the produce section, gaze upon the glass-protected shelves stocked full of deli options or even steer my cart towards the smells and bread-basketed decor' of the store's in-house pseudo bakery. I am much like my father in that...have a list, grab a cart and work quickly through the aisles.

Perhaps one of the Preppiest things about me is that, frankly, I am "not interested much" in food. Now, yes, I do (you bet) get hungry and eat food on a regular basis and obviously am not the startlingly-skinny of certain movie industry starlets, runway models and various members of royalty who are young, in love and constantly monitored as to their fashion, hair-do's and dress size. No, I eat a' plenty and when I do, it's more towards healthy-options though I am hardly one of those Yoga-Moms who get quite militant in their vegetarianism, organic-obsessions and raw food, pure food, slow food and localized food stringent life quantifiers.

Yes, I do like to buy fresh, local and the-least-chemicaled-possible but I do not make it a big issue, a universal absolute or something toward the application of personal postmodern sainthood. I leave that to others.

I grew up in a family who paid scant attention to food. When we lived in Georgia, our house, my grandparents' houses, other family members' houses and our friends households as well all had fulltime cooks. No, not fulltime family foodies who loved to be in the kitchen whipping up something and no, not professional chefs either but actual regular ole' hired cooks who doled out our 3 Square Meals a Day in the manner of 1970's and earlier-styled Southern Cooking...that we all didn't die early deaths of butter or bacon fat grease overdosing is a miracle! That all of us kids were skinny things looking like we actually needed some more butter on our toast was a funny outcome indeed from the food we consumed set down before us day after day.

IF my mother, grandmothers, aunts n' such actually HAD to make a meal for some odd reason, it was literally an opening-of-cans debacle' with toast or some cheese toast burning included in...

When we moved up-north, we left that lifestyle behind and from then on dinner was always a choice in my family of one of two options: more Campbell's cans of soup and cheese toast slightly burned on the edges OR "your father's coming home in a minute and we're going out to dinner" saith my mother who'd be getting dressed for it after her long tiring afternoon of playing away some Mozart, Bach and so forth on either her piano or on her organ in our living room still attired in her dressing gown and robe. My northern friends thought it a riot to see her like that if we popped into my house on school-day afternoons in the farmhouse my parents were busily restoring whenever the renovation-mood hit my mother but in my Deep South vernacular, well, this was just er, normal. Didn't every one's mothers lounge around like that? My late mother did "do real estate and estate sales consulting" for a few years while I was in high school and thus was up fairly early and dressed for work but that wasn't a chapter in her adult life which lasted for very long. It was like playing-at-normal before once again going Deep-South-Faulkneresque as the true roots of her upbringing pulled her back into the Spanish Moss shaded depths of what it means for born-Southerners to live-under-the-Live-Oaks.... but anyway.... I'm digressing a bit, and so....back to the food tales storytelling.

It was about 3 years after James and I had married that on one of our trips up to Wisconsin to see my parents before Dad retired and they moved back South, my mother attempted to cook a meal for us. Now, my James is from a family where everyone loooooves to create in the kitchen and is appropriately talented as such with the most lovely of culinary cuisine outcomes. He's from a long line of Preppies who are Culinary: rare but true. They do exist but much like Preppies who will Buy and Wear Chanel couture, they're exceptions to the general rules within the basic parameters of Preppyhood. And so, James soldiered-on through this big-deal-meal in my parent's dining room that evening and started to sincerely understand why, for his wife Lachlan, while I truly enjoy fine food and delicious meals, I'm just not really drawn to food, meals, wine, wandering around in the grocers and such as he is..........

If such a thing as a perfectly-pitched plated meal IS placed right in front of me, I sooo enjoy it of course but if not, I'm perfectly fine with weeks and weeks of simple salads, cheese toast and soups, cheese slice sandwiches or what I like to "make" most: a turkey or chicken wrap with lotsa' fresh veggies and lettuce in it n' a tad of mayo or Ranch dressing- yum.

In the midst of alla' this, I do have an occasional sweet tooth that pops up every now and then and if I let myself, I'd err a bit in the potent sweet forms of petite fours, cup cakes, beignettes and thick-slab slices of chocolate cake! And that wouldn't be healthy or wise or keep me fitting into the fashions I love so... I've learned how to deal with this: keep a pint of Haagen-Dazs super chocolate ice cream like the one pictured above in my freezer. I am not a huge ice cream eater and so this pint will last me a good month and take-care-of the occasional chocolate craving that has me eating just one spoonful of this late at night and being satisfied.

Preppies like Haagen-Dazs, oh yes! It came onto the better-ice cream-scene long before Ben and Jerry's and doesn't have that we're so righteous saving the world superiority which can get harder to swallow than the Chunkey Monkey's fudge chunks and bits of walnuts. I'm all for giving back, making right, doing what we can and alla' that but heck, sometimes just sometimes I want to indulge in pure sweet tooth decadence without being reminded of my civic n' global duty.

That being said....sometime later this evening you'll know where I'll be....over here at the cottage with that Chocolate Chocolate Chip pint in-hand and a spoon perched to dig out a delicious bit of it! And that would be the most exciting moment of this Preppy's "foodie moment" this weekend and why....I don't think there will ever be something like Pink and Green in the Kitchen showing up in new programming for the Food Network any time soon ;)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bright Spots in the midst of this cold, cold winter... Johnny Jump-Ups n' Such

Winter's flowers hanging-tough in the midst of freezing rainy days....
Outdoor flowers peering into the window at cozy houseplants inside....

Simple but winter-hearty are the planters over at the cottage....

This afternoon I went over to the cottage for the first time in two weeks... I had been missing my little serenity-spot and finally am "mobile" once again with being able to drive a car now that my back's on the mend. I didn't know what to expect after our freezing temperatures, freezing rain conditions as of late but I was so pleasantly surprised to see the Pansies and Johnny Jump-ups actually doing just fine within the few casual planters I have set out over here on the front porch.

I got a kick outta' the oranged-hued ones seeming to peer into the glass french doors of the porch at the cozy, warm houseplants, potted bulbs and an orchid I have clustered in one of the corners of the kitchen. It seemed a bit of outdoor envy at the obvious indoor advantages.

The ivy vines were a little worse for wear and the porch and its steps covered with dead leaves, spanish moss clumps and even a small tree branch stuck between a house wall and one of the garden chairs..... so I picked up as I could, swept a little bit and loved the puttering around outside the cottage despite the cold temperatures today and the rapidly waning sunshine.

Like so many of our sunsets, tonight's was a delicate pink- it was absolutely delightful watching it from the porch expand over the marsh and water beyond. SO nice to have a little break from the rain for the moment.

Rain's once again in the forecast as are cold temperatures but some flowers are hanging-tough ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sometimes it IS the "Little Things"....

So little, so pretty....but what's inside is always so impactful....
...2 of my favorite pictures I carry with me literally wherever I go....

The doldrums of a very cold, icy and snow-dumped-on January can get to folks and this is nothing to be ashamed of especially when so many of us are house-bound with colds, other illnesses, ancy children on snow-days and even blown-out back discs...

Unless you're living in a ski town and able to get outside to take advantage of all of this winter's snowfall (yes, you my dear friends and former neighbors out there so luckily in Park City, UT), a colder than usual winter month like this one is turning out to be can be quite, well, challenging.

Tomorrow I am going to brave the cold temps here and actually drive a car for the first time in weeks. I am anxious to get back over to our in-town cottage and then hopefully the next day, drive the five minutes commute to my fun part-time job and work a couple of hours over there.

Relegating one's world to a bedroom, to the corner of one's bedside where a small table is stacked with books, magazines, hand lotion, water in plastic tumblers capped off with a top and bendable straw for ease of drinking and such gets....small, very small and yet sometimes it indeed IS the "little things" that make a huge difference in where we are and how we are dealing with being where we are....

For me here, one of the nicest small-but-big things has been the beautiful bouquet of roses James brought me yesterday. They're blooming-out now so full n' lush and the scent has been soothingly reminiscent of gardening days past and yet to come. It's always so amazing to me how much flowers or a potted flowering plant can add into both an atmosphere and one's own psyche'. He grabbed this at the grocer's and it has made such a wonderful impact indeed.

Another small thing that I keep nearby year-round is the flat, paper picture frame which was once my Grandmother Wylly's and now I enjoy using. I keep in it two of my very favorite photos and will probably be peering at these in some nursing home on down the line: both are of James and my 2 truly magical years of being ski-bums out in Utah. One picture is us posing in front of the mountain pass beyond which perches our beloved miner's cottage on the sloped streets in Park City's historic district. The other photo is of James and I after we climbed up Double-Arch in Utah's Arches National Park out there in the desert lands of Moab. Still to this day, we count those two all-too-brief years as our happiest married-life adulthood years together. Of course we're having a nice time now and enjoying the present with one another and are glad to be here in our home-grounds of the Deep South but there'll always be something-magical about our Utah time.... just opening this up and looking at the pictures makes me smile.

Our world can be all too easily a landscape of "bigger is better", "grander gestures are greater" and "lots is preferred over just a little" but I disagree to a a lover of cottages, small poetry books, petite four cakes, strands of simple pearls, a single bloom in a silver bud vase, a kiss on the forehead, a door opened and held, sporty roadster cars, a bottle of wine shared, a postcard in the mail, a hug, a steaming mug of tea and so many, many gestures done to someone or done to oneself that speak the language of "Little Things...big of impact and large of meaning."

Here's to you treating yourself and the ones you care about and care literally for with something little and yet oh, so wonderfully lit with largess this month- best to everyone, Lachlan

Monday, January 10, 2011

India Hicks...Island Living inspiration of a more Tropical sort

Needing a tropical-inspired sunny-sky virtual reality break lately.....?
Ah, then, here's an island "tropical-clime getaway" drawn from the pages of India Hicks' book...

India Hicks' interiors are as always, gracious, elegant and "real-life-scaped".

Even her line with Crabtree and Evelyn is oh, so elegantly understated...

Thank you India for being a cheerful inspiration to us all this winter month...

All over the globe there are a myriad of ways in which "island living" is interpreted, imagined and inspired... off the coast of South Carolina, it is a Deep South Coastal-driven "Lowcountry" style that hopefully a few of my blog posts have illustrated somewhat thoroughly for readers in not only decor' and dress descriptives but also history, social setting, gardening, cultural aspects, cuisine and so forth. Out in Hawaii, it is another kind of styling for islanders of course, over off the coast of Scotland, still another rendition and in the Caribbean, still another and so it goes around our world.

I find wonderful inspiration within just about any ole' island I either visit myself or visit virtually via others' experiences, films, books and so forth and one of my favorite ways is to "visit" via a well-written and photographed interior design book.

India Hicks' "Island Life" is one of my all-time favorites and this legendary designer, (descended from another legendary designer as well as English royalty) is as well one of my favorite individuals to see out within the public sphere mainly due to the very casual, laid-back yet still so proper and elegant bearing she exudes. Yes, she's stunningly beautiful, incredibly talented, well-pedigreed and no doubt has advantages to her life galore' and yet... there's a beautiful naturalness and calm to her that fits right on into what us-islanders like to term, "island living" or, "living on island time." Days and nights graced with the tides, starlight and the gentle rustle of its best of course. Like anything in life as we know it, there's always flip-sides to any shiny copper coin but with her book and the actual life she leads as a residential islander in tropical climes, India Hicks can bring us all some much-needed warmer weather joy as we peruse a few pages from her book, her island house and her life...
India Hicks' well-edited eye reminds us that yes, actually less-is-more when it is rendered from within parameters consisting of: classical styling, scattering around well-loved items many of which are obvious sentimental pieces and family photographs, an indoor-outdoor approach to daily living, graciousness enacted through simple luxuries being available to owners and guests alike, utilizing natural elements within one's decor' and bringing a sunny demeanor into one's atmosphere.
In the previous post, I talked about bringing in more "sunny yellow" into my room, my current situation of convalescing and I must remember that this is also very much a part of what "island living" is all about as well even when it's winter, a wet and gray and cold winter, here off the coast of South Carolina............

A Touch of Yellow... accd' to Eleanor McMillen Brown

Rosey-wishes DO come true when wishing for a touch of cheerful yellow today :)
Forget the subtle nature of butter creme...this is a Bright Yellow crave! (as in Van Gogh's delightful "Still Life Majolica with Wildflowers" from the Wikimedia Commons site)

On such a gray, rainy and bland winter's day as is today...I've been thinking about yellow!

Not my usual preferential hue of yellow which can best be described perhaps as a soft butter creme: more lightly-sitting as would be a glaze rather than a thicker paint pigment- that's the kind of yellow I adore and always enjoy having about me. No, the yellow I think I'm viscerally craving right now in this weather and within the kind of health challenge I've been dealing lately with is....bright, bold, in-your-face yellow!

Tennis ball yellow, Lily Pulitzer print yellow, lemonade yellow, L.L.Bean rain slicker yellow, Hunter wellie boots yellow, deviled egg yellow, lemon square bars yellow, large citrine cocktail ring yellow, Kate Spade leather handbag yellow, potted daffodils and tulips yellow....yes, those kinds of bright, cheerful, pretty yellows indeed.

One of my all-time favorite lifestyle quotes is from American interior design maven, the late Eleanor McMillen Brown's quip (and universal truism to be sure) that, "Every room needs a touch of yellow."

Every room, every life does indeed need a touch of cheerful yellow, I so agree !

Growing up, my mother dictated what my "room of my own" looked like and it was beautiful in each house we lived in from Georgia up to Wisconsin and even to the guest bedroom out here on this SC lowcountry island she set up for me since I came down here once a month to visit when James and I were still living in North Carolina pre our UT ski-bum years was always in the tones of a rosy pink, subtle greens and cream with but of course the dark English antiques in mahogany, walnut woods and ever a four-poster bed that seems to be as part of my life as my own set of teeth are- a permanent fixture! (My childhood bed, only a full-size and not a queen, is now designated as one of our guest bedroom beds so it's still very much happily-still-around as they'd say. I'll will it to a can follow her around then...)

And so I loved, and still with the guest bedroom here, very much enjoy this pretty blend of Preppy meets English Country House meets Southern Belle' in the Garden kind of decor styling. Pretty, timeless and so many a bedroom should be.

However, as to the first "grown-up bedroom" I ever had, well the master bedroom of James and my little cottage-house in North Carolina was immediately...painted yellow! All the walls and even the attached master bath were swathed in a richer hue of yellow than I usually gravitated towards and our first married-life comforter set to fit the married-life four-poster Tobacco Leaf bed we bought and fitted out with a queen size mattress was Ralph Lauren's "Evelyn" pattern. Remember that one? Yes, soooo yellow with the bunches of roses n' blue ribbon patterning scattered all over it :) Oh, yellow!

This bedroom had a large bay window at one end of it where I tucked my writing desk and chair nearby and put a large but low chest of drawers in front of it to "filter" so much of that bright sunlight streaming past the curtains on into our very-yellow room. It looked out onto one of my garden areas where I had placed a tall wooden birdhouse which was painted white and had a mellowing copper-roof: a busy place for a family of birds I loved seeing flit in and out and out n' about. A water birch tree provided the dappled sunlight n' shade to one side which further diluted the sun's glare however....we did indeed have quite a sunny master bedroom all those years ago and to this day, I still get cheered-up thinking about it.

And so then......maybe that's why today I am craving a bit of bright yellow while lying here in this rose pink, soft greens and cream room with it's proverbial four-poster bed and dark wood antique bureaus, side tables and such....a window's sashes opened up to watch the rain pour down from the grayed skies above my beloved marsh and woods being blurred beyond the rain's movements and the one lone palmetto tree I can espy from my bed-perch looking so lonely standing there drenched through......

James went to the grocer's today and maybe, just maybe, he'll return bearing something bright yellow to brighten up this day for me. I'd love a bouquet of hothouse tulips perhaps or a small potted arrangement of daffodils but heck, even a couple of lemons that I could plunk into one of our pink china bowls would be stellar! I'd sit it to the side of my bedside table and just drink-in the color's cheerfulness.

A spot of bright yellow in the winter time is just as refreshing as a cool sip of lemonade is within the heat of the summer so here's three cheers to....yes....yellow!

UPDATE: Beautiful roses are what James brought me back! So pretty yellow with the tips edged in pink- what a sweet, sweet treat and they're now on the bureau across from the bed facing me so that I can thoroughly-delight in this "spot of yellow"- YEA JAMES! (see first picture above)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Hours delight with Potted Spring Flowers...

A dose of Spring's poetry within the wintery days of January.... (painting by Augusta Innes Withers, c1793 courteousy of Wikimedia Commons)

Usually at this time of year in early January, I have taken down and stored all the Christmas decorations as well as a bit of New Year's sparkle decor' and am happy to let the quiet, elegantly-spareness of winter's bareness settle in to both the landscape and my psyche' exception.

Clusters of blooming potted bulbs now set about the house are always welcomed reminders, such cheery harbingers of another springtime to come....

As a bevy of garden and seed catalogues begin to sprout up in our mailbox post in the new year, I usually find myself puttering away here in the island house's down stair's lattice room where my potting shed area has become dusty and stilled with an air of benign neglect. Movement and a bit of magic however return to its atmosphere as I pull out various old and new pots, bags of small sized garden stone, bags of potting moss and of course begin to scoop down into one of the large potting soil bags I keep in an antique white enamel child's bath on its tall risers my late mother found in a local antique shop and never put to use. It had been tucked away to the side of her art studio holding old boxes of stuff until I recommissioned it to be an active part of my gardening facilitation's. The potting soil bag it houses now "bathes" spring bulbs being placed into pots every wintertime.

I keep potted bulbs simple and direct for each winter's interior enjoyment: easy, casual clusters of classics such as daffodils, hibiscus, crocus, tulips and such with usually a slower-evolving holiday leftover hanging around like one of this year's er, more stubborn amaryllis over at the in-town cottage. What a laggard has turned out to be. This one's determined to be a Valentine's surprise it seems! Well, so be it...we'll enjoy it then...

If I was of the style bent towards the grand, the showy, the outward extravagance that seems to still permeate much of today's upgrading of one's lifestyle showmanship (now termed Passing-By The Joneses instead of merely keeping up with them) spotted in books, glossy magazines, television shows and various neighborhoods around then perhaps I'd enact something like what I espied in Paris last spring along the Place' Vendome right by our hotel: huge Edwardian urns almost as tall as me with a round-ball clipped boxwood bush in each surrounded by potted daffodils spilling lushly over the brims of the urns. Breath taking, oh yes, and sooo pitch perfect elegant in the early spring grayed-tones of Paris but out here.... well, such things of beauty would seem comic at best, totally inappropriate at worst.

I've always been in wonderment to see homes and their lawns/grounds/gardens not "appropriate" to one another... especially long after someone's moved in and lived in them for awhile. But that's my own quirky observation and I well- realize that standard developer-contractor landscaping has become an American urban, suburban and small town institution.

Back to here where I live, said house, cottage and their surrounds are kept simple because frankly, the buildings themselves are simple. More simple actually than I'd like since I'm more of an English Cottage typa' girl who loves sloping eaves, small-pained but tall n' wide windows, stonework, slatted boards, bricking and ivy vine trailing along windowsills and door frames. However, we are no where near the point of either the timing or the desire for our "dream home" or heck, even a close-enough-house we'd hafta' spend a lot of time, effort and money on.

Maybe one day, but for now I'd rather be keeping it simple n' easy for awhile....taking into consideration my bad back, ongoing elder caregiving, our non-office-hour careers and the mass amount of actual nature existing right out our front n' back doors awaiting our presence fishing, kayaking, rambling around woods, walking along the marsh, beach and such....

This week James helped me out tremendously by not only taking down the holiday decor' but also repotting some houseplants and so maybe tomorrow or the next day or sometime soon we can get at least a couple more pots potted-up with spring bulbs and perched onto windowsills :)

Anyone who has a bulb, has spring. - Anonymous

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. - Rainer Maria Rilke

I'm ready to keep putting little doses of poetry around my house spaces this month, how about you? Happy wintertime everyone and happy spring-to-come glimpsing about as well!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year...a new you? Preppies, is "change" oxymoronic?

Peering into the window of one's life-authenicity....peering into another New Year... change really needed within another year for us or are we to rather glimpse...

...more further into our true authenic selves as evidenced within our daily lives?

If there's one reliable truism within the world of Preppydom and all-things-W.A.S.P...."change" isn't always a welcomed New Year resolution, restitution or reasoning as to how to approach yet another year which now lies ahead of us.

Words us Preppies do embrace with enthusiasm are ones such as: traditional, generational, classic, tailored, appropriate, historically-accurate and such....keeping things relatively the same from one generation on into the next is the predominate worldview of any dyed-in-the-wool Preppy. Having to reinvent oneself either completely in one fell swoop or in stages seems as alien to a true Preppy as would be an actual alien spaceship landing onto our houses' rooftops and Santa showing up as some spaceman with super-galactic space toys heaped into a big silvery goodie bag hoisted onto the shoulder of his astronaut-looking duds. Egad indeed!

Hmmm, "change" and "Preppy"......this seems a bit too much on the oxymoron side of defining our personal lives, lifestyles and decision making however....."fine-tuning" and perhaps a better-defining of ourselves, yes, we can embrace this kind of New Year's refocusing.

For some years now, I've chucked the usual New Year's "Resolutions" listing for rather utilizing the usually quieter winter month of January to mull thoughtfully over various "refocusing", "refining" needed (or just desired) within my own life for the year ahead.

Some years this has resulted in radical redefining logistics such as our two, as of yet, moves both literally and figuratively: first from Charlotte, NC out to ski town Park City, UT and then after my mother's passing, moving back home to the Lowcountry environs of an island off the coast of SC in order to help my father out.

All throughout this however, anyone who saw us where we were living and who walked into our houses could tell that yes, this is still the Lachlan and James we know and that's just how Preppies are within their lives... consistently classic to their upbringings and families' traditional parameters. Some Preppies may be may be more sportier than others, some may be focused more philanthropically than others, some may be in the news and others eschew any kind of public notoriety for themselves, some may be living in family homes passed down through the generations and some may be living in modern city lofts, some may be more formal and some may be a lot more casual but overall, the traditional structuring of Preppy Parameters are still seen throughout the various seasons and chapters of Preppies' lives.

I've been thinking about this today as I've been reading New Year's Resolutions, Changes, To-Do's from new items, magazine pages, Facebook postings and such. I'm sure that this stems directly from my personal Preppyness but honestly I've never felt the need to do a complete "Change Over" on my physical self, personal style, current life situation, current relationships or whatever though I have actually within the past few years, let slide away from my life those " friends who are really just toxic debbie-downers" and that was one of the best quietly-active refining decisions I have done to date. Now as to my hair colors and various hair cuts throughout the years, yes, there's been lotsa' fun changes here and there but all within what would be considered essentially still-Preppy. Throughout the years of Mall-Hair n' Mullets, Punk, Grunge, Boho, Goth, Stripper-stylin', Gamine Starlets and such...none of that influenced me one bit as to my overall look and personal lifestyle actions or reactions. I'll let Hollywood, fashion magazines, the music industry and reality shows radically change-up other folks...

That being said, I did back around our 5th wedding anniversary which was during the Spring of 1996, consciously decide to begin living a more thoughtfully-environmentally centered existence and as much more authentically, simply, sincerely, spiritually as I can. This was one of the reasons we totally stepped away from the Charlotte Yuppie Preppies rat-race that surrounded us in our first years of married life and thus so, happily divested ourselves from a whole lotta' "stuff" in order to move out to the mountains of Utah to an adorable and, at that time, still so real-ski-bum place as was Park City.

For James and I, our authentic-Preppy-parameters definitely includes spending large doses of our lives within small, resort-like historic towns which are surrounded by nature you can literally walk out your front and back doors on into....whether to ski or hike on the mountain or to kayak, fish, hike and hunt on a barrier island. And in the future, this may include walking out the doors into James' family farm's fields and woods.

"Know Thyself" is one of the great inner axioms the Ancient Greeks gave us to mull over the centuries with..."To Thine Own Self Be True" is another one of those.

Where to "Find Thyself", thy true self may be as closer to home and much easier to realize as one would guess. Who needs how-to's from gurus, books, magazines and even blogger ramblings when evidence as to who you really are,what you really are personally drawn to within this daily journeying we call our lives is actually............ directly in front of you.

Just this afternoon while thinking about this before writing this post, I went around the island house here and snapped a few of in-situ vignettes which are "totally me"! As in, I put this stuff there, I live with it daily (well, weekly as I also am in-town at the cottage as well some days) and obviously I use, am attracted to, enjoy these various items placed on a windowsill, my bedside table and a little Art on a Teacart space I carved out of part of the diningroom for watercoloring.

Looking at these pictures, it's fairly obvious that for this individual named Lachlan, aka ole' me, things like Nature, Art, Travel Mementos like a small bust from Paris, a very sentimental raku vase from Australia, copious Books, Antiques and Family Things such as small watercolors by my Great-Grandmothers (who were painter friends), handed-down pearls and so on are all what make-up who I am today and will most likely still be in the future. It's also evident that I like color tones such as peony pinks, celadon green, creams, dark woods, buttery yellow and spots of gilding in gold and silvery tones. I also tend to "layer" as in books stacked, plants grouped and a photo I took of a butterfly on daisies in the garden of Anne Hathaway's cottage in England being placed in front of a Lowcountry watercolor by our friend Nancy Ricker Rhett.

This New Year of 2011.....rather than try to completely reinvent yourself and your lifestyle about taking a good peek into who you really are at-the-core through the lens of a camera taking pictures of how you actually live?

You may be pleasantly surprised and quite satisfied, you may be energized to tweak a little bit more of your life as you're living it or you may be shocked into real-change action but at least you'll be moving within an authentic direction instead trying to totally change for change itself.

Happy New Year everyone and Happy Authentic You too!