Living Graciously, Artfully, Frugally.

Consciously taking notice of the gifts each day places in our path.

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” R. W. Emerson

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thank you for Being my Friends!

I have the best group of friends a girl could want. Old friends who have known one another for enough time that they have been through some of the ups and downs of life together, have seen one another at the best and worst life has to give, are friends worth keeping close to your heart forever. The kind of friends that know your secrets, laugh at the same old shared stories and know what you are going to say before you say it. I am lucky enough to be blessed with several friends like this. This past Sunday they surprised me completely.
My Dear friend Kathy had invited a group to her home for a Southern Ladies Tea. (Ya'll know I want to be Southern in my next life) Little did I know she had a plot brewing. I was out of town for my 50th birthday so Kathy decided that she would hold a party for me this year. I had no idea, my birthday isn't for a few weeks yet and as I had already passed the half century, I strolled on in without a clue. Wouldn't you think the cake would have been a give away? No, I thought it might be for Kathy's sister who was stopping by. I picked up my friend Sue on the way to Kathy's and she had a gift bag with her, a hostess gift I figured, berating myself for coming empty handed. Kathy even asked if I liked the cake. Yum, coconut is my favorite, I replied, clueless. When other guests arrived with gifts I thought "Oh crap, I missed something. Was I supposed to bring a gift and didn't read that part of the invitation? What am I going to do now." I wonder why these people are still my friends when they have to spell everything out to me? Once again Kathy mentioned the cake as I was taking photos of the table. Click! A lightbulb! Is this party for me? These girls are good at keeping a secret!
Kathy served delicious food, black eyed peas and crab spread, tiny sweets and coconut BIRTHDAY cake, sweet tea, bourbon punch, delish I tell ya! I also spent time taking pictures of Kathy's stock of mid century collections displayed in her sweet little 1920's era cottage.
She is a retro girl who really loves Georges Briard glassware and Vera linens.
So many vintage goodies to look at in her home.
Great little luncheon sets for filling with treats.
Gorgeous deco tile on the fireplace.
Look at the sweet tile and aqua trim in her kitchen.
Luscious bourbon punch, and a retro pot of sweet iced tea.
Of course the best part was the company and the laughter. The kind of laughter that is literally side splitting, can't catch my breath, mascara down the face, shared laughter. I have known some of these women for most of my life. I have been friends with Kathy, Barb and Ellen as well as Kathy's sister since junior high and Mary in high school. The others, Sue, Ellen, Lynn and Linda and I have been friends since our kids were young. Ellen's son and mine have been friends since preschool, our birthdays are a week apart and we were pregnant at the same time with daughters who were born a week apart. Fate.
So we enjoyed the afternoon together, talking, laughing, eating, laughing and... well you know, laughing. I felt like a kid again blowing out my candles with a group of girlfriends cheering me on.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says that "One of the blessings of old friends is that you can afford to be stupid with them. " Thank goodness that is true! Beautiful Mary and Kathy, two of my oldest friends. (Not in age, girls) Tee Hee. Kathy was the gracious hostess.
Oh and did I mention gifts! Clever Kathleen specified gifts to be recycled, regifted or vintage...does she know me well or what?
Look at all this goodness. Teapots and baubles and peacocks and little birds, carnival glass, crystal, stained glass, a frame for my "girls", bookmark, salt and pepper Humpty Dumpty, China flowered box, embroidered hanky, wine, a sweet pea candle and Cherry Blossom lotion...gaaah. You ladies are too much!
Am I the luckiest girl around or what?
I had a thoroughly wonderful day with my best friends.

Thank you Kathy (and Murph, the four footed furry host) you are the best BFF a girl could have!

Have a laughter filled Tuesday, P.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

A Week of Gratitude

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. I am specially blessed with wonderful friends , some go way back, some are more recent and some I have met through blogging. This week I am going to honor some of them.
I would like to pass this little give away along as well. The Rustic Victorian posted this on her blog. It is a fun give away for all of the creative bloggers out there. The rules are simple. The first three bloggers that comment on this post will be sent something in the next few weeks created for them by me. The only other rule is in turn they must post the badge and do the same for the first three comments they receive. Lets get some art flowing out there!Speaking of art, my dear Silver Bella friend Sandy, of Sew Revived, has graciously invited me to take part in a charm bracelet swap. We all send a bracelet to Sandy, then she will take on the process of sending then to the first girl on the list, who will make charms for each then send them on to the next person, and so on. By the end of the swap we will all have bracelets with eleven handmade charms. Are you jealous yet? Not only has Sandy taken on the task of overseeing this swap, she made each of us a lovely jewelry pouch for our bracelets. Are these fabulous or what? She is one talented girl!
Speaking of talent, I purchased a few goodies from another dear Silver Bella friend, Geralyn at Greetings from Geralyn. She has a lovely little Etsy Shop full of her art as well as supplies for your own artistic inspiration. So, as I said, I ordered a few bits of this and that and OMG I was overwhelmed by what arrived in my mailbox.
Are you kidding me! Look at all these goodies. A box full of fluttery, blingy butterflies, buttons, baubles and stickers.
Beautiful Easter images and all the springy colors.

Last but not least, a darling vintage egg shaped, tin box covered with floral images in my favorite pastels. You ladies are all too wonderful for words!
I have lots more to share this week. Be sure to visit all these sweeties and say Hi for me!

Have a Thankful Monday, P.
P.S. Let me know if you want your comment to count for the pay it forward participation. If not feel free to comment anyway, just let me know you aren't going to play... I still have two spots open. Thanks!
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Foodie Friday Cincinnati Style, Part II

Foodie Friday and chowing down in Cinci.
On our Saturday trip to an altered state, Kentucky that is, we indulged in a traditional lunch of Cincinnati Chili. We dined in Kentucky's version of a Cincinnati chili parlor. Cincinnati chili is unlike the widely known Texas chili. The Tri State region around Cincinnati eats the most chili per capita. Cincinnatians consume about 2 million pounds of chili per year. The city has more chili parlors per capita and per square mile than any known city on the continent! Another little known fact is that original chili powder, which was the base for what is known as Texas chili, was invented by DeWitt Clinton Pendery. In 1890, he traveled with his mix, which he called Chiltomaline, from Cincinnati to Fort Worth Texas. This mix was instrumental in creating what we now know as western style chili. Cincinnati chili is a recipe originating with Greek immigrants and the first version was sold at a hot dog stand near the Empress theater by Tom and John Karadjieff in 1922. They altered a traditional Greek stew and served it over hotdogs or spaghetti. This became Empress chili. Other Greek immigrants learned the trade at Empress Chili and then opened their own Chili Parlors. The Sarakatsannis family started Dixie Chili and the Lambrinides family were the originators of Skyline Chili which has gone national in the past few years.
You can order a Cheese Coney, which is a hotdog with mustard on a bun topped with chili, onions and shredded cheese. (or customize by holding the onion, mustard or cheese or even the hotdog, which is a chili sandwich) The traditional 3-way is spaghetti topped with chili and cheese and a 4-way adds onions. (recently beans have been added as a 5-way or in place of onions on a 4-way if you wish)
There are many restaurants serving Cincinnati chili in the area but the Chili Parlors most recognized are Skyline, Dixie Chili, Gold Star and Empress. This chili starts with a traditional mix of meat, cumin and chili powder but the similarities end there. There is often cinnamon and cocoa in the mix. The chili is served with oyster crackers and hot sauce if you choose to use it. I do.
Of course, this is no Weight Watchers meal. I would hate to think of the "points" value! I know many a visitor that has tried chili in a Cincinnati Chili Parlor and been addicted. I have included a recipe link that is fairly close to the original in flavor. If you would like to try it go Here.
We did not stop for ice cream at Graeters as we were absolutely full to capacity! (Graeters is another Cincinnati original) But after a few more stops we decided we did want something sweet.
So we stopped for a creamy whip. Not the homemade taste of Graeters but it is a treat that tells me warm weather is almost here to stay.
This was the only little ice cream stand around us that was open yet. Most were not opening until the following weekend.
Nothing like a beautiful sunny day to make a creamy treat taste just right. We sat at a picnic table in the sun and enjoyed the weather, and the ice cream and one another's company.

The sweet ending to a lovely day.

Have a delicious Friday, P.
P.S. I am unplugging for the rest of the weekend. No computer for me til Sunday evening when I will try to post again about how it went. I am joining Kimba at A Soft Place to Land. I am starting a bit late so I am unplugging tomorrow as well. Join me?
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

A View From an Altered State

I am taking you on a short visit to Newport Ky. Joe and I visited this fun antique mall Saturday morning. It is called Sin City Antique Mall. Did you know that Newport Ky. was once a more popular destination than Las Vegas ? Known as Sin City for it's reputation as gambling and prostitution mecca. When I was growing up it had a rather nasty reputation as a strip club capital. That has changed in the past 20 years as Newport has been growing into a beautiful place to come for entertainment (not strippers), dining , shopping and nightlife. (Sometimes I think Cinci. should take a lesson from Northern Ky. on how to attract people downtown).
This mall had tons of fun retro clothing and jewelry as well as beautiful furniture. I found a gorgeous wood display case that would solve all my storage woes, but there isn't an uninterrupted wall in my whole house where it would fit. Too bad.We then took a stroll along Riverside Dr. in Covington, because , as you know I love my Cincinnati and wanted to show you a different perspective.
Cincinnati from across the Ohio. Mind you, this view is what you would see each day if you lived on Riverside Dr. in one of the Civil War era homes on the river front.
Can you just imagine living here? Which one would you choose? I don't think I would ever come away from the windows! Look at these porches! I am crazy about this area.
I love the side porches on this home. I know there is a specific name for them but it escapes me at the moment.
Gorgeous windows. In the background, the big sloping glass building is a recently built condo complex called the Ascent. There was much back and forth about whether would be beautiful or an eyesore. I personally find it stunning. I have always loved the juxtaposition of historic and modern that make up urban areas.
It would be heaven to live in this historic district, a peaceful place within walking distance of the entertainment and dining that city living has to offer. I don't think we will be forking out the sum that would land us in one of these lovely homes. The Ascent is not in our future either I fear. The average price per unit is just under a million with the penthouse going for just under five. I guess I must content myself with a stroll along the river. I can dream, right?
The trees are flowering in Northern Ky. It is amazing, the difference of a few miles can advance the spring weather by weeks.
Do not forget to double click on these photos to check out all the decorative detail on these charming homes.
Looking across the river towards home.
I think she deserves her name as the Queen City.
This bridge is nicknamed the MacDonald bridge for obvious reasons.
To the east of downtown lies historic Mt. Adams, built into to the hillside where vineyards once grew. I spoke of this neighborhood in a previous post. Seeing the city from across the river shows her at her best.
Thanks for indulging me once again in my fascination for Cincinnati and her history.

Have a Monday full of new experiences, P.
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Sunday, Spring and Daffodils

What is more evocative of Spring than sunny Daffies?The little trumpets are announcing "Spring is here, the garden is unfurling it's colors."
Yellow is the color of happiness.
I hope the sun is shining on you where ever you are today.
Have a sunny, daffy, Sunday, P.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Am Hooked on Local Food

This is another Hooked On Friday post for Julia's Hooked on Houses.
Are you making more of an effort to buy your food locally?I am also participating in Gollum's Foodie Friday with my post about Findlay Market.( her theme is train wreck meals but I have too many so...) Findlay Market is Cincinnati's oldest public market. The market building was erected in 1852 and opened for business in 1855.
It is the only one of nine public markets of the late 18th and early 19th century still operating in Cincinnati.
Open Wednesday through Sunday it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The main building houses about two dozen year round vendors. Meats, spices, seafood and bakery goods can all be found. People from all over the area and all walks of life gather here to purchase locally grown food.
So much more of an event than a trip to the grocery. It is more of a community gathering place in the historical West End of the city.
The beautiful Italianate buildings are slowly being renovated as living space above and retail below.
From April to November these outdoor streets will be lined with local vendors selling home grown produce as well as flowers and soaps, preserves, even waffles.
It was still a bit chilly Saturday but the outdoor spaces were perking up, a sure sign of spring and summer in the market.
Some even get to ride around the market in the lap of luxury.
A taste of things to come.
Love the cheerful paint colors.
We buy organic produce at Madison's.
The market is located near the Over the Rhine district once populated by German immigrants.
This area will be filled next month with various local farmers selling all their delicious bounty.
Buildings newly renovated. The market area has been growing and thriving in the past few years although it has been in continuous operation for 150 years. Each week brings live music, special events and art on display to purchase.
If you are interested in learning more visit the Findlay Market website. If you ever have a chance to travel to Cincinnati you really should put this on your must see list.
Shopping for food is a necessity, why not make it a weekly event?

Have a Friday filled with deliciousness, P.
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