Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (#StyleMeMay Fancy Day Edition)

As May draws to a close, I am thrilled to focus on "fancy" day from #StyleMeMay. For "fancy day," I am sharing a beautiful dress, necklace, and earrings from the collection at Quarter Moon Imports here in Tallahassee.

Besides looking great, this dress is SO comfortable!

The necklace and earrings are perfect accompaniments.

A closer look.

(A detailed close-up of the earrings.)
Photo Credit: Quarter Moon Imports

This dress just makes me want to read about fancy things.......

And then convince other members of the household to enjoy fancy day
 along with me!

If you live here in Tallahassee, I encourage you to stop by and explore all of the interesting, stylish items of clothing, jewelry, and home decor that they have there. Also, the staff are so enthusiastic and welcoming. If you don't live here in Tallahassee, you can order items!

The items featured here are:

Dress by Pura Vida

To visit the site of Quarter Moon Imports, click here.

.Thank you to Wendy, owner of Quarter Moon, and Tanya, who helped me put this outfit together!

Thank you to Tenley Kiger for indulging her mother by taking pictures of a cat-filled "fancy" photo session!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Father's Day! (A Mama Kat Post)

This week, I chose to do Mama Kat prompt #3, list 10 things you'd would love to give your husband or Dad for Father's Day. A list of what I would like to give him is probably the only thing I can afford this year anyway!

1. The Saleen Truck he wants.

The closest we have come is this valve cap covers he was given when he and Wayne Kevin visited a Saleen dealership a few years ago and took a test drive:

2. Time/Money to golf a lot more.

3. The trip to Europe he has always wanted to take on the Q.E. II (because he doesn't like to fly).

4. The family trip across America in an RV that he wants to take.

5. Members of the family willing and enthusiastic to do #4 (it would take some convincing).

6. Resuming season tickets to FSU Football.

7. The conversation with his brother, Chuck, that I think every member of our family wishes they could have - the one where we tell him to hang in there - that he can't possibly know how many people love him and want to help him fight his demons. To read about Chuck, click here.

8. An incredible outdoor kitchen, with a gorgeous walkway to a sparkling pool, surrounded by lush Florida-friendly landscaping.

9. An end to the interminable job-hunt process that started in August 2010. The continued support of great people who return calls, do what they say they do, and remain friends through thick and thin. A paycheck (obviously, please, sooner rather than later thankyouverymuch) but more than that, the reassurance that there's some vocation out there that's so exciting it makes waking up every morning an act that inflates the spirit. 

10. The gift of no more smoking. We want him around to get all the items on this list (and  more).


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Pearl Edition)

Today is "pearls" day in the #StyleMeMay Challenge.  

I did wear Pearls today:

I like these pearl earrings because they're a) unique, b) dressed down enough for day, and c) dressy enough for evening.

But the better pearl story involves these pearls:

My son got them for me on two separate trips to Sea World. At Sea World, they make a big production out of "harvesting" the pearls from an oyster the customer chooses. Clearly I feel prey to the thrill twice, at a cost of $15 or so each time, then the pearls just sat in my drawer. Whenever we have been near a Michael's or other craft store, Wayne Kevin would beg me to buy jewelry supplies so we could turn the pearls into something wearable. I was a little too cheap and a little too clueless to actually do that.

But then "pearl day" came up and I had to take a picture of something.

Since I don't (yet) own this incredible pearl necklace made at a Guatemala fair trade shop, and sold locally at  Quarter Moon Imports:

Photo Credit: Altiplano

I decided instead to tweet the picture of the Sea World pearls with text that said, "What should I do with these?"

And my friend Barbara, who is super-crafty, tweeted and DM'd me options, including a local craftsman who is probably a lot more proficient at jewelry making than I am.

This story is not over, but if there's a category of "jewelry made from something awesome your kid gave you" in a future #StyleMe month, I am on my way to being prepared!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hey Paula (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

Ever since I decided to do Mama Kat prompt Number 5: List the songs that tell your life story (so far), a prompt inspired by Moments That Define Life, I have been so tempted to pop on over to MTDL to figure out how the heck she did this prompt. But I will not allow myself to do so until after I press "publish."  I'm All By Myself, not relying on any crutches.

[Note - all text in bold is a song lyric.]

When I was born, clearly before the days when ultrasound revealed a baby's gender, I am sure my parents were thrilled to learn..... It's a girl.....

I was a reader and a words-lover through and through. It was crushing to not even make the school spelling bee because I misspelled "judgement" (I didn't use the preferred spelling "judgment") one year; had to miss the school bee the year I had chicken pox, and lost in the finals of the county bee by misspelling "yacht" (I spelled it "yaght"). It's true:

... the words in the dictionary
Are the friends that I’ll have forever

Fast forward to high school, cheerleading, marching band:

On you tigers, on you tigers, roll right down that line.......

We had a cheer dance to "Lady (You Bring Me Up) by the Commodores. I will never forget Debbie Myers being the only one who remembered the choreography after cheer camp and how she taught it to us. She was the epitome of focused.

You bring me up when I'm down.....

Later in our senior year, I competed in the Miss Union County High pageant. Our production number was to "New York, New York." Although I am pretty sure I had wanted to go to NYC since infancy, I was determined to

wake up, in that city that doesn't sleep...

and see
my little town blues .... melting away

Throughout my childhood, teenagerhood, and early adulthood, there was a thread of spiritual music woven through just about everything, including:

Just as I am 

I did go to New York. I did take that bite out of the Big Apple. 

Although Wayne and I did not have a particular song at our New York City wedding, I have always fantasized about having my wedding song be "In My Life":

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you

I loved picking out song lyrics for the birth announcements of Tenley and Wayne. And I had lyrics picked out for the third too. Oh well. Tenley's was from Marc Cohn's "The Things We've Handed Down":
Don't know why you chose us
Were you watching from above?
Is there someone there that knows us,
Said we'd give you all our love 

And Wayne Kevin's was adapted from an old Broadway musical (The Bells Are Ringing):

Everything we feel for you 
started many years ago
Long before we knew you  
Long before we met you
We were sure we'd find you 
someday, somehow    

I was really fortunate last year to add some real live world music to my listening experience, when I visited Guatemala. I can't remember lyrics so much as I remember the sounds of marimbas, but I do recall a lyric that Bob Hentzen, Founder of CFCA, told us about hearing a Guatemalan child sing:

I sing to drown out the sounds of guns

I suppose I have come to "now" and it is so tempting to use a lyric from Natasha Bedingfield's song:
The rest is still unwritten
But I don't really feel that way. Although I feel that there is a lot of "unknown" ahead and a lot of the path my and my family's future can take is indeed "unwritten," I really hope that 

His eye is on the sparrow 

and I continue to have, despite the ups and downs of the last year and a half,

and that as much as I like my "alone time," I ultimately ...

Don't Wanna Be All By Myself


Here are the songs:
Union County High Fight Song (derived from On Wisconsin)
In My Life (Bette Midler Version)
Source of the "sound of guns" lyric - unknown

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Trees > Blogs Edition)

<em>Leap Into Spring!</em> Photo Challenge”></a><br />
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This is week six (the last week!) of the "Leap Into Spring" Photo Challenge.

We have a sago palm (technically, a cycas revoluta) in our front yard that has survived our hands-off approach to landscaping. Ours is doing its best to be king of the front flower bed.

It does not, however, appreciate my need for it to cooperate with my blogging schedule. Last fall there was a bird building a nest in it. I took picture after picture of the eggs, knowing that one day I would be able to do a cool post about the baby birds. I don't know if an animal took them or the mama bird got tired of me disturbing her nest in order to take pictures of the eggs, but that didn't work out so well.

A few weeks ago, the sago palm (which apparently is a boy sago) started the process of its male cone (seriously, this is the horticultural term) appearing. 

The symmetry of this thing is really gorgeous; I could stare at it for hours.

I actually used it as a backdrop for one of my #StyleMeMay pictures.

This eye-stopping feature of our sago palm has changed rapidly, from short and round to long and thin (seriously, it's just a plant!). Here is this morning's version:

But, alas, any hopes I had of it bursting forth with fronds of springlike grandeur are just that: hopes, not realities.

Dear Kristi (Live and Love Out Loud), Alicia (Project Alicia), and Rebecca (Bumbles and Light), thanks for hosting this challenge.Any chance of a summer photo challenge with a "amazing palm foliage that finally showed up" theme?

Epilogue - um, never mind Kristi, Alicia, Rebecca. Boys will be boys I guess:

June 6, 2012
(I used this source to understand my male sago palm better. Thank you Lynn McKamey.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Three-Day State of Bliss (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

I actually had a chance to grill my husband a bit about his vision of how we would carry out Mama Kat prompt number three from last week's selections:  You have a 3 day weekend to do anything you want with your family…money is not a factor, BUT you must stay in your own state. What would you do?

Granted, we do live in Florida, a state that almost anyone would argue is replete with options. And although the topic of theme parks did come up in the discussion, our conversational road took an abrupt turn when the topic of "The Mouse" came up. We have stood in enough lines, endured enough tantrums, sweated buckets of sweat. This three days will not involve any of that.

We were able to agree on a few things:

1) It would be relaxing (hallelujah). And although we didn't name a specific place, I know we both share an affinity for the west coast (Marco Island) and the Panhandle (St. George Island).

Marco Island Photos

This photo of Marco Island is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

2) We would like to indulge in some fabulous food, from someplace like Sea Salt  in Naples, but wouldn't want to bother with driving. Since money is not a factor, we would take a limo!

Photos of Sea Salt, Naples

This photo of Swordfish with Lobster from Sea Salt is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

3) Oddly, one of the first things he said was "no computers."

I notice he didn't say "no ESPN."

Good thing money is no object, because clearly I am going to need a separate sports-free suite.

With books.

And Style Network.

With a balcony view overlooking the ocean.

And wine.

Now we're talking.

Well, here I have laid out my perfect three-day in-state getaway and I have left out 50% of the "family" part. Hm. Good thing money is no object, as Tenley will have been sent shopping (in the limo, of course) with plenty of dough and Wayne Kevin will have ensconced himself behind the awesome Alienware computer in his suite.

Yep, in state all right. "State" of bliss! 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Fine Mirror

In the movie Mighty Fine, Joe Fine instructs the movers from Exodus Moving Company to be very careful with his disco ball when his family is relocating from Brooklyn, NY, to New Orleans, LA. I guess having a personal disco ball was a status symbol in 1974!

Just like the tiny mirrors on a disco ball, the movie "Mighty Fine" shows us the many different facets of a family, especially when that family is dealing with Joe Fine, portrayed by  Chazz Palminteri. In an enjoyable live chat after a recent online preview of the film, Palminteri called Joe Fine a "paradox," a man who vacillated between angry rages and being the benevolent charmer who tried to keep everyone happy.

When the Fine family, consisting of dad Joseph, mom Stella, (who spent time in hiding as a child during the Holocaust); 17-year-old Maddie, and younger sister Natalie pull up stakes and move to Louisiana in 1974, we learn that the women of the family hope this move will dilute Joe's tendencies to angry rages. The deterioration of the financing for Joe's business, though, revives the rage monster and it wakes up hungrier than ever.

Stepping away from the heavy topic for a moment, I have to share the fun and retro-themed joy of all the 70's paraphernalia in this film. (I was 10 in 1974, the year in which the film is set.) Since there was a live chat occurring among all of the participant bloggers when we watched the film online, it was amusing to hear reactions ranging from, "Oh My God people once smoked inside houses!" to "Oh yeah, I can remember when we had to dial the phone using that rotary dial."

Back to the film's "heavy topic." It was sobering to hear all of the experiences with emotional abuse that the participant bloggers shared. Women whose mothers made courageous decisions to leave everything behind in order to get out of abusive situations; women who had been victims of abuse themselves; women who hypothesized that in 2012 Joe Fine would have had access to a mental health professional who would do a whole lot more than his family physician, who Joe convinced that the only problem was a bit of business stress.

Natalie Fine recites a poem at the end of the movie. A line from that poem stayed with me after I watched the film, as I tried to decide what to focus on for this blog. Here's the line:

"There's a monster in dad, and it makes him wicked mad."

When asked about emotionally abusive parents such as Joe, Chazz Palminteri said that every parent needs to remember: "You are a mirror."

What did Maddie see in the mirror of her mother when she tried to placate Joseph? What did both girls see when Stella made her final decision?

I hope you will consider finding out how everything ended by going to see Mighty Fine when it is released on May 25.  It is only available in certain cities (sorry, Tallahassee). You can check here to see if the film is coming to a theater near you.

Here is the film trailer. (If you notice a resemblance between Andie McDowell and Rainey Qualley, who plays her older daughter, you have good reason! They are real life mother and daughter.)

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mighty Fine and the distributor. I received access to an online showing of the film and a promotional item to thank me for participating”.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (It's Not Easy Being Green Edition)

<em>Leap Into Spring!</em> Photo Challenge”></a><br />
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This is week five of the "Leap Into Spring" Photo Challenge. This challenge has two choices of prompts for each week. This week, the choices are "Grass" and "Green." 

As Kermit the Frog sang, "It's Not That Easy Being Green." Green doesn't always get top billing.

It floats along, its hue unnoticed by its occupant:

It gets sat on:

It is the "nice but not memorable" frame for important information:

And as our fun spring photo challenge winds down, it foretells the big ending ahead:

But we're not done yet! Let's see what's down the trail for Finale week:

Thank you to Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia, and Rebecca of Bumbles and Light for hosting this challenge. The challenge will run from April 6th – May 18th and is open to everyone regardless of geographic location, skill level, time commitment or camera equipment. Simply stop by each Friday and share your favorite images inspired by the weekly prompts. It is going to have freebies, prizes and photography tips galore!

(Next week's theme is Finale!. The linky will be up on Friday, May 11.)

(These pictures were taken at Maclay Gardens.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chest Compressions (A Mama Kat Writing Post)

For my Mama Kat prompt this week, I chose "An invention you'd like to see created." Although I usually let www.random.org choose for me, number 3 was practically waving its hands and begging to be chosen. 

I have finally entered the world of fitness technology gadgetry. I have had the same running watch so long that I really can't remember when or where I bought it. The velcro that holds it on is about to fall apart, but otherwise it has been a trooper. Very basic - it keeps time and that's it but that is all I felt I needed. Until now.

Now I have coaches (PRSFit) and Jeff and Diane of PRSFit use heart rate monitoring as a key component of training. (This post provides their rationale in detail.) I had to buy a heart rate monitor as part of my coaching process.

Enough about the fact that I have taken this baby step. Now it's time to talk about the strap. The heart rate monitor consists of the watch-like part you wear on your wrist, and it gets its information from the monitor you wear around your chest. I have known all along when lots of my fitness friends and acquaintances had heart rate monitors on their wrists, that they had the other piece strapped around their chests. Now that I have been doing it myself a couple of weeks, I am here to commend them for their patience and advocate for a re-design.

The chest strap consists of the part that has the technology in it, which is enclosed in plastic, two plastic straps that extend out that are supposed to be wet in order to relay information to the monitor, and the elastic piece that stretches around your chest and hooks into the "information unit."

What mystifies me is why something that we use while doing something that makes us feel so free, is so darned constrictive! Although I am getting used to it, it still feels tight while at the same time feeling like it may fall off at any minute.

I suppose there are a couple of options with the current design:

1) Wear it and just deal with it, or 

2) Shell out around $65 for one of these (a Polar brand "heart rate monitor bra" with little spaces/fasteners where the monitor itself attaches):

The #2 option, however, is expensive and the reviews I have read have been underwhelming.

Surely there's something that is just as functional but a lot more comfortable. I don't know what, but for Heaven's Sake I live in the town that educated the inventor of Spanx. There must be some way to improve the chest strap experience.

Any ideas?

ps - this is a tangent, except for the fact that this post is kind of bra-related. Aren't these some of the coolest looking sports bras you've seen? They're from Roll Up N' Dye, an artist I learned about from Ann of Ann's Running Commentary.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Cold and Wet and Epic Edition)

<em>Leap Into Spring!</em> Photo Challenge”></a><br />
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This is week four of the "Leap Into Spring" Photo Challenge. This challenge has two choices of prompts for each week. This week, the choices are "Rain" and "Water." 

On April 7, 2012, several hundred triathletes stood on the shores of Lake Hall, preparing to prove themselves by swimming, biking, and running through the Red Hills Triathlon.

As a volunteer and friend of many of them, I watched in admiration as they prepared to enter the chilly water.

A few mere hours later, it was as if no epic battles of will and fear had been fought.

But the athletes know.

Like Suzy Hamilton said:

"This is about doing something difficult and not stopping when it becomes not just difficult, but cold and difficult... or cold and wet and difficult... or cold and wet and dark and difficult."

Thank you to Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia, and Rebecca of Bumbles and Light for hosting this challenge. The challenge will run from April 6th – May 18th and is open to everyone regardless of geographic location, skill level, time commitment or camera equipment. Simply stop by each Friday and share your favorite images inspired by the weekly prompts. It is going to have freebies, prizes and photography tips galore!

(Next week's theme is Green/Grass. The linky will be up on Friday, May 4)