Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Fashion Decisions

I probably won't be buying tons of new clothes this summer. When I say probably, I mean I won't.

However, if I buy one or two items, I do want them to be exactly the perfect thing that I can wear anywhere all summer. We're getting ready to go to the beach for a bit (not yet, but in a few weeks), and I'd prefer to buy them beforehand. So what can I wear at the beach/on the beach but can still utilize when I get back and am just lounging around the house or out and about in Charlotte?

Here are a few options.
Blouse - H&M
Heide Mint Dress - Francesca's

Blouse - H&M
Blouse Detail

Dress - H&M - I think this might be too 2000's, but I like that it wraps.
Which one do you love? I'm thinking of going with something similar to the off-white blouse from H&M. I love the lace. I may check out a few of my favorite boutiques in Charlotte, ivy & leo, Blush, and Francesca's.

Things to Do in My Summer Attire - 

Date night to one of Charlotte's tasty restaurants.

Explore a Charlotte Museum.

Pack a picnic for the Whitewater Center

How do you make decisions on what to buy for the summer season?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Childress Vineyards Lunch Date

A few weeks ago, my sister, Jen, and I decided to meet for lunch. Then a few days ago she suggested we meet at a winery/vineyard for lunch. 

Why, of course! Of course we can meet at a winery for lunch on Thursday. What a perfect idea.

This is one of the great things about living in Charlotte while your sister lives down the road in Winston-Salem. In between are numerous wineries, but up until now, we hadn't taken advantage of them.

And it was quite appropriate that we chose Childress Vineyards because today is the Coke 600 [NASCAR Race in Charlotte] and Childress Vineyards is owned by Richard Childress, the owner of Richard Childress Racing. I didn't know this until we were there and I saw all kinds of wine corks with racing numbers on them. There were quite a few racing fans at this fancy, stucco, tuscan winery. Just look at their front doors.

Front Doors
Of course, I couldn't walk through the place without singing [internally], "Try not to think about it, A-lice Chil-dre-sss."
Sweet Nephew
Before we met, I talked to our old neighbor, friend, and wine connoisseur, Ken, to ask if he'd been to Childress before. Of course, he had, and so he gave me the suggestion to try the Cabernet Franc. Jen and I split a bottle at lunch. It was great. It wasn't as sweet as a Merlot, but was more mellow than a Cabernet Sauvignon. 
Perfect Lunch
I had Grilled Chicken and Spinach Gnocchi for lunch. It went above and beyond my expectations. The description said it had "sun dried tomato creme and cipollinis," both of which were amazing. Apparently cipollinis are onions, and the sauce was excellent. I will definitely get this meal again when we go back.

Jen and I hit the walking trails for a few minutes after our meal. We took some great pics.
Mommy and Evan

Overall, I was impressed with my first NC Winery. Jen and I had good conversation, a lot of laughs, and delicious food and wine. We plan to return some time in the early fall with our families.
Front Fountain

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Great Gatsby AKA, Leo dies in the pool

I'm wondering why Leonardo DiCaprio ends up in movies where he dies in the water?
Seriously. He and death and a water scene go hand in hand.
And The Great Gatsby is no exception.

If you're mad because I didn't say spoiler alert, the book has been around since 1925 and almost everyone read it in high school (even though the content is way too mature for a 17-year-old), so get over it.

During the final scenes of The Great Gatsby, I couldn't help but think about Titanic and how Leo was holding onto the wood when he died and then sunk into the water below. The death scene in Gatsby didn't have the "blow-up mattress" that the book described. I almost wonder if the Baz Luhrmann felt Leo's death on a water mattress would have been too close to Titanic's death on a wood plank. But Gatsby does sink down through the water towards the bottom of the pool, just like in Titanic. The theme of water and DiCaprio is also evident in Inception, where he washes up in the waves on the beach of his dream world. The theme of death is evident in almost all DiCaprio's movies.

Other than this parallelism between the movies, I loved The Great Gatsby. Some people have said the modernism of the music took away from the feel of the movie, but I felt they combined enough jazz era music with the thumping bass of a modern party. I almost think the music was essential for a modern movie-goer to understand how scandalous and erotic Gatsby's parties were. It's easy for an individual to hear jazz music and think about symphonies, orchestras, and Porgy & Bess, instead of the underground jazz movement with flappers, alcohol, and immorality.

I'm also not a huge Tobey McGuire fan, but he played the overwhelmed, insecure, and curiously timid character of Nick Carraway very well. His disgust at the materialism and reckless behavior of Tom and Daisy Buchanan was evident in his ultimate dedication to Gatsby, who he truly would have hated if he hadn't been taken under Gatsby's wing.

I guess Carey Mulligan did a great job too because I was so frustrated and over Daisy by the end of the movie, even though she was gorgeous and stylish.

My favorite quote from the book and movie:

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made..."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

3 More Weeks

Spelling tests, homework, math sheets, agenda checks, cleaning out the cubby, turning in homework, taking back library books, standing in line, raising his hand.

E is over it. I'm over it, too.

He is past the point of being ready for summer break. This morning I had to drag that little doodle-head out of bed while he moaned, "I don't want to go to school. How many more days? Which ones are half days? When is Memorial Day?"

We're all pretty miserable about it, even the dog. He's tired of whining at the front door at 8 am when Tyler and E leave.

In the last week E has forgotten to do most of the things essential for success in school. His joy at seeing Mrs. Crawley and his classmates has dwindled, and we're at a low point. June 7 cannot come fast enough. I'm just thankful his school doesn't do EOG's for 2nd graders, or this week would be even more taxing, and his scores would reflect his underwhelmed feelings about school.

It's hard in moments like this to remember how much I love shopping for school supplies, fresh pencils, erasers, notebooks, and markers. I love school.

Today, I just need to dwell on these moments and remember all seasons are both hard and easy.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Good Old Days

From canitbesaturdaynow.com

Do you ever stop and think, "These are the good old days."

It's true.

One day, you'll look back and remember only the good things that happened today, this week, this year. You'll say, "Remember when we used to be able to go out whenever we wanted; remember when gas was only $3.50/gallon; remember when people could still disconnect from their cell phones; remember when we didn't have to pay a mortgage, student loans, and our parents' nursing home bills; remember when we sat on our porch and ate brunch after our five-mile run; remember when we took that vacation to Florida and slept all week on the beach."

These are the golden years, no matter what anyone says about retirement, because my body doesn't hurt all of the time and most things in the adult world are still new and captivating. But there is always nostalgia attached to previous eras in life, though when life is actually happening, we rarely recognize it.

We grumble. We complain. We hope all of the things we are doing will make the next era of life better. I was reminded of this when I saw Chick-Fil-A's new salad slogan on their cups. They say, "Take Your Taste Buds to Greener Pastures." Of course I want to try their salads with that tag-line.

Sometimes our nostalgia for another era, these good old days, stems from being discontent in our current situation. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia, the kind that warms your heart and makes you smile to yourself especially if no one else is watching, but sometimes we long in desperation for those past days, forgetting that each season of life has its own difficulties and challenges.

Just the other day I was overwhelmed with being a wife, mother, teacher, writer, cleaner, friend, and any other odd role I assume. For a fleeting moment, I longed for grad school, when I was just a single mom and life was easier.

Grad school when I was a single mom and life was easier.

Who am I kidding? Grad school wasn't easier. Being a single mom wasn't easier. I didn't have to cook dinner every night or wash a 3rd person's clothes, but other than that, life was more difficult on all horizons. I am so thankful for Tyler, but in my moment of discontentment, I chose to focus on only the good during that time and the bad things in this moment instead of seeing the truth of my current and previous circumstances.

No matter what era of life you live today, these truly are the good old days. Happy Friday!

MWF Seeking BFF - Book Review

Check out mwfseekingbff.com
This was one of those books that plopped into my lap at the perfect time, and Tyler probably got overwhelmingly annoyed with how often I talked about it. Surprisingly, even with all of my monologues about the book, every time he looked at it he tried to come up with what MWF meant.

Macho Women's Front

Miserable Whales Forever

Mistaken Wart Frog

I actually made those up. His were probably more interesting and inappropriate.

This fun book is the memoir-ish story of Rachel Bertsche, a Chicago journalist, looking for a new BFF. In an attempt to give herself the best opportunity to need a new girl friend (after 2 years of living in the city with her man/husband), she goes on 52 friend-dates in one year. She also uses different methods of meeting friends from internet groups to even renting a friend, which was weird and awkward, but part of her research.

While I would never have the courage to attempt this feat, I was impressed with what Rachel (yes, I'm on a first-name basis with this character - the book left me feeling that close to her) learned about herself and friendship in her late 20's. I understand she also was working on this book as a research project to write a book and it was considered both work and play, but her husband was definitely a trooper to put up with the whole thing, especially since they hadn't been living together/married for a long time. All of those friend dates and reconnections took tons of time, but I guess it is a demanding job to research and write a book.

Rarely am I really inspired by a book. That is a complete lie. I'm typically inspired by books. But this one caused me to be more intentional about the time I spend with other women. I'm the hole-up in my house with my dog and emerge only to do things by myself kind of person, and all of my best friends live in a different state. But I'm taking initiative now to build new friendships here in Charlotte.

MWF Seeking BFF: My yearlong search for a new best friend is definitely worth reading, even if you're one of those people with tons of friends. It helps give insight into what the new girl is thinking, not to mention it's crazy hilarious.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Eternal Silver Screen

Picture Link
This was my favorite chapter from Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou. It's insightful and wise. I love how Angelou reflects on experience and her response to a situation that seems to honor her. So much of our past affects us in so many ways no matter how much we pretend it does not.

Many years have passed since the American Film Institute gave a tribute to William Wyler, one of Hollywood's most prolific and prestigious directors. I, as a member of the Board of Trustees, was asked to participate in the ceremony. I was to make a simple introduction. Of course I was flattered by the invitation and I accepted.
The affair, held at the posh Century Plaza Hotel, was attended by the most glamorous and famous actors and actresses of the day. Fred Astaire was there, as well as Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Walter Pidgeon, Greer Garson, Henry Fonda, and Charlton Heston sparkled in the audience. I sad trembling at a table and looked around the room. These were some of the faces which formed my ideas of romance, dignity, and justice. These people on the silver screen had shown grace, morality and beauty, chivalry and courage. Then the picture of the segregated movie house in my small town in Arkansas floated into my consciousness.
Each time my brother and I had gone to a picture show, we had to brave the hostile stares of white adults, and once gaining the box office, we paid our money and were rudely thumbed toward a rickety outdoor staircase which led to the balcony (called a buzzard's roost) restricted to black customers.
There we sat, knees to chin, in the cramped space, our feet crunching discarded candy wrappers and other debris on the floor. We perched there and studied how to act when we grew up and became beautiful and rich and white.
Years had passed and now I sat in the hotel's glittery ballroom and watched as movie star after movie star rose to pay tribute to Mr. Wyler. Old memories had taken me back to days of southern humiliation.  When my name was called, every word of my carefully memorized introduction fled from my mind, and I stood at the microphone looking into the famous faces, furious that they had been, even unwittingly, the agents of my old embarrassments. Anger thickened my tongue and slowed my brain. Only be exercising phenomenal control did I restrain myself from shouting, "I hate you. I hate you all. I hate you for your power and fame, and healthy and money, and acceptance." I think I was afraid that, if I opened my mouth I would blurt out the truth "I love you because I love everything you've got and everything you are." I stood mute before the famed audience. After a few attempts to speak I mumbled a few words and walked out of the room.
There was a rumor which was untrue that drugs had made me blank out. Upon later reflection of the painful incident, I am remembering what Arkansas gave me. I came to understand that I can never forget where I came from. My soul should always look back and wonder at the mountains I had climbed and the rivers I had forged and the challenges which still await down the road. I am strengthened by that knowledge.
Angelou, Maya. Letter to My Daughter. New York: Random House, 2008. Print.