Sunday, October 21, 2018

Guess WHAT??

I got a job offer this week......


That's right....

I'll be working at J. Crew!

I love this store and since moving to Dallas the manager has asked me to apply, and truth be known, I've wanted to work here since the late 90's. 

Well, this week I decided to go ahead and apply and yesterday I received the offer! 

I can't tell you how excited I am. 
This will go hand in hand with my Fashion/Lifestyle Instagram/Facebook and even this blog!

It will feed my love for fashion and still gives me the time for my writing projects, as well as real estate.

It is starting out as a seasonal position for the holidays but I'm opening it turns into permanent. 

We will see!

Til next time....
Kathie and Lillian



Bringing back the dinner party!

I must say that living in Washington spoiled me me in ways that definitely left me unprepared for the 'rest of the world.'
In a city where Jackie Kennedy still sets the standard - you don't see a lot of cleavage or too much leg (especially not at the same time) - and home entertaining still takes precedence over fancy restaurants.

Not so much in other areas. I find that people would rather entertain in restaurants or meet up in groups for a night out. That's fun sometimes, but I'm so busy that I really find myself missing home and just having a home-cooked meal.

So recently I have longed for and chosen to incorporate many old-school ways back into my life and the dinner party is one of those things. 




Two weeks beforehand I sent out written invitations to each guest.
It has been years since I've actually hosted a sit-down plated meal so I'll be honest - I was a bit nervous.

In the old days I'd have it catered, but nowadays, unless it's a big event I just go ahead and do the cooking myself. 
(It helps that I have every cook book under the sun dating back to the early 80's when I first got married).

Since it's October I went with an autumn theme and used my grandmothers 'Harvest' China.




It was so nice to sit and visit and not have to compete with the noise/chatter of a busy restaurant. 



Below is a sample of a proper table setting. I've never been that ambition of a hostess to need all of the glasses and all of the silver in this illustration, and as you can see from my setting above I only had water glasses as my guests were all tee-totallers.


I'm very surprised at the number of young men/women who don't know how to set a table. This was something that was taught at my mothers knee and believe it or not it was also taught in school.

I am also shocked at the number of event planners I know that don't know the first thing about place settings. I recently attended what was supposed to be a black-tie event and ALL the silverware was on the right side of the plate and the glasses were to the left.

It may not seem important but I guarantee you this person lost potential business because at events like this people 'know.' 
Not knowing the rules can cost you an opportunity as many times leader in large corporations 'test' their candidates by taking them 
out to eat to observe their manners and how they conduct themselves in that setting. 

But I digress...this is not intended to be an 'etiquette lesson,' but to share with you ways in which we can all try to bring some civility and beauty back into our lives. 
I think we all need some of that. 

The meal doesn't have to be over the top fancy. Actually, it doesn't have to be 'fancy' at all. 

On this particular evening I made 'Skillet Sphaghetti' with French Bread and warm Brownies/ice cream for dessert.

No need for overtime in the kitchen if you're not confident. 
One of my best parties was the night we had a baked potato bar and dessert was an ice-cream bar!

I plan on doing this once a month and being creative- anything to get people together, have fun and do it on a budget, so stay tuned!

I'd love to hear some of YOUR ideas (and may I steal them?)

Till next time....


Kathie...
(and Lillian)


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Secrets.....

Calm down, now....I'm not about to release any deep, dark, private family skeletons.

"Secrets" is actually the name of the ' I-couldn't-put-it-down' novel from one of my favorite multi award-winning authors, Arkansas native Nancy Dane.


The 11th novel for Dane, 'Secrets' takes place in post-Civil War Arkansas. While the plot itself is a work of fiction, the author historically/accurately details the struggles of  re-construction not only of whole communities, but also the hardships of re-building individual families (introduced and detailed in her prior books) torn apart by the separation and horrors of war. Furthermore, keep in mind that while Arkansas was a confederate state, it also sat dangerously close to the new wild west, yet to be tamed. 
Now - mix aaallll that together and you have the perfect recipe for a nail-biting narrative! The plot is exciting and moves rapidly and best of all,  Dane has a way of describing gruesome happenings without overly describing gruesome happenings. In other words she has a talent for giving the reader just enough information about a violent scene that you know exactly what happened, but you're not so haunted by the vision that you lose sleep (which I have a tendency to do, so thank you, Nancy!)

I have to tell you, dear readers, that I truly loved this book. While it's a continuation of her other books/characters, you could still easily pick up this novel and get right into it without knowing the back-story of the personalities.

Another thing I love about Nancy's imagination is that she is no 'respecter of characters.' You never know if you're beloved hero/herone is going to be the next casualty, which just adds to the suspense. And also - I have to admit - I was NOT happy with this ending....which I can only hope means a sequel. Ha!

'Secrets' is now available on Kindle. Paperback release in November 2018.
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"Secrets is set in an era of violence and lawlessness being tamed by Judge Parker's court and enforced by his deputy marshals. David Hadley has no idea the secrets he is about to uncover and the price he will pay when he decides to enlist in this fight against evil."
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Books by Nancy Dane


Tattered Glory
Where the Road Begins
A Difference of Opinion
A Long Way to Go
An Enduring Union
A Reasonable Doubt
Sarah Campbell, Tale of a Civil War Orphan
William’s Story
A Boy Named David
Jackson Loring
Secrets

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Seeking the Lovely in a Not So Lovely World, (Series, Part II)

Good morning, everyone!
(at least it's morning as I'm writing this.) 

You know, I've always had a thing for fresh flowers. 
It's one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to add beauty to your home - not to mention the heavenly fragrance.....



You can tell by looking at these arrangements that I'm not a professional florist but I don't let that intimidate me. 
Everything from shopping for the flowers, to cutting the stems, to searching through the house for unique vases - it's all therapeutic for me.



This cute little fox is one of a set of 6 I picked up at Cracker Barrel a few years ago.



These lovelies right here are peeking over the top of my computer as I write this - I love the way the sun brings out their brilliant colors and mmmmmm - the smell!




You don't need to spend money on expensive vases (unless you want to!). I always dig out old pitchers, glass jars, Mason jars - even a juice class or coffee mug works.


The North Texas temperatures are still in the upper 90's but it definitely reflects autumn here in my house. 
(Our leaves don't even turn until 2 weeks before Christmas!)



If this isn't something you've ever tried then please do! If possible try to place some type of arrangement in every room.
I buy my plants and flowers at my local grocer - sometimes I splurge, but most of the time I buy very inexpensive seasonal flowers. 
Roses, of course, are my signature flower and even those I can buy in a bundle pretty cheap.
How long do the arrangements last? I always put the plant food the store provides in the water and usually they last for 2 weeks - often times even longer.

What do YOU do to add special touches to your home? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Til next time, 

Kathie and Lillian



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Seeking the Lovely in a Not So Lovely World....(Series, part 1)


Lately, I have been mourning what seems to be - if not the demise - then at the very least a steep decline in just the basic every day common courtesies.

More and more I find myself withdrawing to the comfort of my home - even working from here on days that I am able.

(I recently took a vacation and while my husband offered to whisk me me to the destination of my choice, I  actually chose a 'staycation' and did not leave the confines of Rosebud Cottage for a whole 7 days! It was divine!)

I have all but given up my social life - night time used to find me at some sort of event in Dallas, but now most of my evenings are curled up with sweet little Lillian and a good book.

So, with all of that said, I am making a concerted effort to seek the lovely in an often times 'not so lovely world' and I thought, 
'why not devleop this into a series?'

From what I hear from readers across the country and I think a lot of you are feeling this way,

My hope is that you'll find some inspiration in my musings - and in turn I would LOVE for you to share some of YOUR ideas with me. I'll also post below the name of blogs that I follow that fall right in line with our theme. 

 Aaannnddd...somewhere in the series I will have a wonderful give-a-way for one lucky reader!

So, let's get started with Part One!

"Seeking the Lovely in a Not so Lovely World"

Long ago, when Jay and I first married we had the opportunity to spend 4 years in England. Being an Anglophile since as early as I can remember (I started practicing my British accent at 5), living in the United Kingdom was a dream come true!!

It took me about 2 hours to acclimate to my new surroundings and one of the rituals I adored was afternoon tea. First, of all, the term 'tea' means different things to the British. Usually, 'tea' is the evening meal - a very informal meal that takes place about 5:30-7:00. (After that it's called 'supper' and is usually more formal).


Anyway, afternoon tea in which you actually just have a cup of tea is from about 2-4. Most of the time it's just that - tea. But sometimes it's served with finger sandwiches or maybe a scone.

When I moved back to the states I continued that tradition. Everyday, at about 3:00, I will drop whatever I'm doing and have a cup of tea in one of my beautiful China cup/saucers that I've collected the past 36 years. 

I find nothing more relaxing than to just sit back, pick up a book, and take 15 minutes for myself. 
After that I'm refreshed and ready to continue my tasks.

Speaking of tea and tradition, for 31 years I've subscribed to Victoria Magazine and relishing it during my tea break. It cured my homesickness for England and still to this day has the ability whisk me away to another time and place.




Below is the first edition as it appeared in 1987.








Then....in 2001 something catastrophic happened!! Can you see it below?
They changed the magazine. The font and even the photography had a more 'modern' feel. I hated it. 
I knew right then that was the beginning of the end.

(Of course I didn't know it at the time, but it's the same grief I would experience years later when Dowton Abbey ended.)



I suppose others felt as I did because just as I predicted, the magazine folded up the next year. I am not exaggerating when I said I was devastated. 
I lived for that magazine to show up in my mail every month. 

It was a bit  of 'home' for me those first few years after I returned from England. No matter where we relocated, I'd anxiously await each issue, welcoming it like a long-lost friend.

It got me through the pain and aftermath of a stillborn baby. I would get lost for hours at time and dream of the places I'd surely never go and the people I'd surely never meet - although I DID!

As luck would have it, in 2004, Phyllis Hoffman with Hoffman media resurrected Victoria again and I must say it's the same magazine I fell in love 31 years ago, as well her sister publication, Southern Lady!



My husband used to joke with the children that when these magazines came in they might as well order pizza because Mom would be out of commission for the remainder of the night.

Anyway, there you have it - just one of the many things I do to bring a sense of calm and beauty into my daily routine. I'd love to hear from YOU and what you do to incorporate peace and tranquility into your life.

And as promised, here are a few blogs that I follow that I think you'll find inspiring. But, warning! Once you open their pages don't expect to get annnyyything done the rest of your day! 





Til next time ----

Kathie and Lillian