Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 93 Dollar Club

One of my Twitter friends Jana shared a link to this great story last week - it's too good not to share!



Act of kindness at Trader Joe's sparks outpouring of charitable support on Facebook

You're at the checkout counter with a cart full of groceries, and suddenly you realize your wallet has inconveniently disappeared. Imagine the embarrassment: A $207 grocery bill is staring at you. Something must be done.

I'd start making plans to leave the groceries at the counter and try to get back at some point. Luckily for Jenni Ware, she didn't have to.

Thanks to the kindness of Carolee Hazard -- a complete stranger in line behind her -- the bill was paid in full. All Hazard asked in return was a check to be sent by mail.

Sure enough, the next day, Hazard received a check from Ware in the amount of $300 -- $93 extra -- with a note thanking her for her trust and encouraging her to get a massage with the extra cash.
The story doesn't end there.
"I didn't know what to do with the money. I'd thought to mail a check back to Jenni, but in the day and age of Facebook, I turned to my friends to decide what to do with the money instead," Hazard says.
Several friends suggested giving it to charity, which Hazard loved. In fact, she decided to match the $93 and turned to Facebook once again for suggestions on where the $186 should go. Given that the event occurred at a grocery store, one person cleverly suggested the local Second Harvest Food Bank. Another friend, inspired by the story, matched with $93 of his own money. So did another. And another. Within a few months, strangers across the country stepped forward with their own contributions. And the 93 Dollar Club on Facebookwas born, drawing support from all corners of the globe.
On Aug. 11, one year after the fateful meeting at the Menlo Park Trader Joe's, the 93 Dollar Club had raised more than $100,000(!) for the Second Harvest Food Banks of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties -- all of this coming from an initial spark of kindness that has had a ripple effect.
"If I hadn't turned to Facebook, this never would have happened. I was just along for the ride as opposed to steering this. This really had an energy all of its own," Hazard says. "No one has been asked to donate. People stepped forward asking to be a part of this ... to make a difference. And whether it was in the amount of 93 cents from a single mother who works full-time with little extra cash to spare to a young child making a donation from their allowance, everyone has been able to play a part."
Next up for the club?
"My pie-in-the-sky dream is to get the original $93,000 matched to make it $186,000. That would be so amazing," Hazard says. "Next goal? $200,000, including the $93,000 match. Crazy? Probably. But I have great faith that helping the hungry and passing on goodness will enable us to reach our goal!"
To keep up with the latest in philanthropy, follow Kindness on Twitter @USATKindness.

(Did I mention that Jana who shared the article is an Alpha Chi Omega alumna? Sending a little shout-out to her home chapter, Alpha Nu, at the University of Missouri!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Memoirs Coming Out this Fall

Are there any books you're looking forward to reading this fall? I was really excited to see some of the memoirs that will hit the bookshelves this fall, including these two by inspirational women:

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family On October 12th, Condoleezza Rice's memoir of her family, Extraordinary Ordinary People, will be released. I hope this book will be a candid glimpse into her upbringing and the historical events she's been on hand to see as only the second woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State. Not gonna lie, I am pretty proud that Dr. Rice is a fellow Alpha Chi Omega alumna. Here is the synopsis (from the publisher, via amazon)

Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist.  Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman - and the first black woman ever -- to serve as Secretary of State. 
 
But until she was 25 she never learned to swim.
 
Not because she wouldn't have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he'd rather shut down the city's pools than give black citizens access.
 
Throughout the 1950's, Birmingham's black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last.  But by 1963, when Rice was applying herself to her fourth grader's lessons, the situation had grown intolerable.  Birmingham was an environment where blacks were expected to keep their head down and do what they were told -- or face violent consequences.  That spring two bombs exploded in Rice’s neighborhood amid a series of chilling Klu Klux Klan attacks.  Months later, four young girls lost their lives in a particularly vicious bombing.
 
So how was Rice able to achieve what she ultimately did?
 
Her father, John, a minister and educator, instilled a love of sports and politics.  Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezza’s passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts.  From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community.  Her parents’ fierce unwillingness to set limits propelled her to the venerable halls of Stanford University, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the university’s second-in-command.  An expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs, she played a leading role in U.S. policy as the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated.  Less than a decade later, at the apex of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, she received the exciting news – just shortly before her father’s death – that she would go on to the White House as the first female National Security Advisor.  
 
As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mother’s cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl – and a young woman -- trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference. 

Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer
My second highly anticipated memoir of fall 2010 is Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer by Nancy Goodman Brinker (also a Panhellenic woman, Nancy is a Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna).

It would be hard not to be impressed by Nancy Brinker and the amazing work she and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization have accomplished. For example, they've raised 1.5 billion (yes with a b) dollars for breast cancer research. They've changed the way America looks at philanthropy and made the pink ribbon ubiquitous in our culture. I'm hoping for great things from this book! Here's what the publisher has to say, courtesy again of amazon. The book hits the shelves September 14th.

Suzy and Nancy Goodman were more than sisters. They were best friends, confidantes, and partners in the grand adventure of life. For three decades, nothing could separate them. Not college, not marriage, not miles. Then Suzy got sick. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977; three agonizing years later, at thirty-six, she died.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Goodman girls were raised in postwar Peoria, Illinois, by parents who believed that small acts of charity could change the world. Suzy was the big sister—the homecoming queen with an infectious enthusiasm and a generous heart. Nancy was the little sister—the tomboy with an outsized sense of justice who wanted to right all wrongs. The sisters shared makeup tips, dating secrets, plans for glamorous fantasy careers. They spent one memorable summer in Europe discovering a big world far from Peoria. They imagined a long life together—one in which they’d grow old together surrounded by children and grandchildren. 
Suzy’s diagnosis shattered that dream.

In 1977, breast cancer was still shrouded in stigma and shame. Nobody talked about early detection and mammograms. Nobody could even say the words “breast” and “cancer” together in polite company, let alone on television news broadcasts. With Nancy at her side, Suzy endured the many indignities of cancer treatment, from the grim, soul-killing waiting rooms to the mistakes of well-meaning but misinformed doctors. That’s when Suzy began to ask Nancy to promise. To promise to end the silence. To promise to raise money for scientific research. To promise to one day cure breast cancer for good. Big, shoot-for-the-moon promises that Nancy never dreamed she could fulfill. But she promised because this was her beloved sister. 
I promise, Suzy. . . .  Even if it takes the rest of my life.
Suzy’s death—both shocking and senseless—created a deep pain in Nancy that never fully went away. But she soon found a useful outlet for her grief and outrage. Armed only with a shoebox filled with the names of potential donors, Nancy put her formidable fund-raising talents to work and quickly discovered a groundswell of grassroots support. She was aided in her mission by the loving tutelage of her husband, restaurant magnate Norman Brinker, whose dynamic approach to entrepreneurship became Nancy’s model for running her foundation. Her account of how she and Norman met, fell in love, and managed to achieve the elusive “true marriage of equals” is one of the great grown-up love stories among recent memoirs. 

Nancy’s mission to change the way the world talked about and treated breast cancer took on added urgency when she was herself diagnosed with the disease in 1984, a terrifying chapter in her life that she had long feared. Unlike her sister, Nancy survived and went on to make Susan G. Komen for the Cure into the most influential health charity in the country and arguably the world. A pioneering force in cause-related marketing, SGK turned the pink ribbon into a symbol of hope everywhere. Each year, millions of people worldwide take part in SGK Race for the Cure events. And thanks to the more than $1.5 billion spent by SGK for cutting-edge research and community programs, a breast cancer diagnosis today is no longer a death sentence. In fact, in the time since Suzy’s death, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer has risen from 74 percent to 98 percent.

Promise Me is a deeply moving story of family and sisterhood, the dramatic “30,000-foot view” of the democratization of a disease, and a soaring affirmative to the question: Can one person truly make a difference?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our Night at Hotel Duval

Overall we had a really good experience at Hotel Duval!

We checked in Saturday around 4pm, and were offered both complimentary water and a room upgrade. Nice! We got a corner room on the fifth floor. The bed was super comfy, we had tons of pillows, and I think you can see in this photo that each side of the bed had its own light above the bed.

The hotel was recently renovated (it just opened last fall) and you can see from this picture that there are all new features (that's the closet there between the door and the coffee pot and (lovely round) ice bucket. It was nice to have the big mini-fridge to keep our complimentary water cold until we were ready to drink it.

The bathroom (though quite small) was nicely designed and featured a lot of glass, which did a good job of keeping the space from feeling too cramped. I was a little worried about the door to bathroom, as it was glass, but it turned out to be opaque. Even though it looked a little transparent, it wasn't.

The sink though was completely transparent. Kind of cool, huh? We liked the faucet too.

One of the coolest features of the hotel was this touch screen control console on the desk. It looked like a standard LCD computer monitor but connected your room to all the features of the hotel. You can have the valet bring your car around, request a wake up call, or order room service, right from the touch screen. It was pretty neat so of course we had to put it to the test. 

We ordered dinner from Shula's (the restaurant downstairs) and asked for it to be delivered at 5:15pm. It arrived right on the money. T and I each had a delicious cheeseburger and steak fries that tasted like they'd been been hand cut in the kitchen.

We shared an apple cobbler for dessert, which came with a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. It wasn't traditional cobbler. It was more like an apple cake. T was not a fan but he enjoyed the ice cream.

We ordered salads as well and they were great. We ate them around 7pm. When dinner arrived we wanted to eat the hot food while it was hot! 

Last year when we stayed at Aloft, I took a photo of the hallway, and so here is a photo of the hallway at Hotel Duval. The hotel has lots of beautiful light fixtures, like this one outside the elevators. 

Here's a close up of the light:

After a pretty good night's sleep, we had breakfast this morning at the cafe downstairs in the hotel. I had a very good slice of spinach and artichoke quiche (that also had carrots, yum) with a fruit cup for just $4 in the very trendy lounge-like seating area. It would be a great place for a breakfast or lunch meeting as they have lots of space. They validate parking too, so you could be in and out quickly (with the assistance of the valet, who you have to use anyway, unless you walk over). 

One other point of interest: The wifi in the hotel was complimentary and very easy to connect too - no magic words, no agreements to sign, no fuss. You can also browse the web from the control console on the desk. 

Have you stayed at Hotel Duval? We'd love to hear what you thought!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hotel Duval

T had a great first week of school so in what is quickly becoming a tradition for us, we are celebrating by spending the night at a hotel. (See our adventure at Tallahassee's Aloft last year here and here.)

Today we'll check in to Hotel Duval. This newly renovated hotel opened last October on Monroe Street in downtown Tallahassee. Chris and I visited Shula's restaurant and Level 8 lounge (both in the hotel) not long after it opened, but this will be our first chance to see the rooms, and get the whole Hotel Duval experience. Luckily there is also a third restaurant in the hotel, LeRoc, which features more casual lighter options than Shula's (which is a steakhouse).

Meat and potatoes fest at Shula's 347
View of sunset and downtown from Level 8 at Hotel Duval October 9, 2009
It was a beautiful night!
Here are some snippets from the LeRoc lunch menu:


SALADS
GARDEN SALAD
Fresh Greens topped with Tomato, Carrots,
Cucumber and Croutons 5 | Add Chicken 9
TUNA-STUFFED TOMATO
Chunky Tuna and Vine-Ripe Tomato over
Mixed Greens with 10-Year Balsamic Drizzle 9
TUSCAN CHICKEN SALAD
Pesto Chicken over Fresh Greens with Toasted Pine Nuts 10
CITRUS CHICKEN AND SPICED PECAN
Chicken with Mandarin Oranges, Spiced Pecans
and Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing 10

SANDWICHES & WRAPS
SERVED WITH CHOICE OF SIDE, OR PAIR YOUR
CHOICE OF SOUP WITH A HALF SANDWICH
TURKEY & HAM CLUB WRAP
Roasted Turkey, Smoked Ham, Applewood Bacon, Cheddar,
Lettuce, and Tomato on Spinach Wrap with Basil Mayo 9
THE MELT
Choice of Chunky Tuna Salad, Turkey or Ham with Tillamook Cheddar
or Emmentaler and Sliced Vine-Ripe Tomato on Wheat Berry 9
HAM OR TURKEY AND SWISS ON WHEAT BERRY
Choice of Smoked Ham or Roast Turkey and Swiss Cheese with Dijonaisse 10
PRESSED TUSCAN
Pesto Chicken with Fresh Mozzarella and Sliced Roma Tomato on Ciabatta 10


Stay tuned for more on Hotel Duval tonight and tomorrow!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Figwood in the News Again!

It's so great to see Figwood and Banyan Tree featured on the local news in Cleveland! The video is great:



Read the full article here.
See my other Figwood posts here and here.
Like Figwood and Banyan Tree on facebook too.
http://www.facebook.com/Figwood
http://www.facebook.com/shopbanyantree

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taco Soup

This is a quick easy delicious recipe that we really enjoy at our house. My friend (and former co-worker) Wanda shared it with me. (With a shout out to Mandy who might enjoy it!)

Taco Soup

2 pounds ground beef, browned and drained
1 large onion, chopped
2 packages taco seasoning mix
2 large cans (15 ounces each) hominy
2 small cans Rotel chopped tomatoes
4 regular cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

Dump everything in a big pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 30-60 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips and garnish with shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese.

Any even easier variation: omit meat and onion. Also works well to substitute ground turkey. Generally, we use 1 pound of meat instead of 2. Also you can easily halve the recipe if it makes too much, though we like it for leftovers and it freezes well.

Enjoy!

Update 11/8/11: I made this for meatless Monday yesterday by substituting one pack of Lightlife Smart Ground for the ground beef. Tasted great!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Reading Recap Part 2

I didn't do that much reading on my own this summer, but here are a few I enjoyed.
















I already shared how much I enjoyed Pat Benatar's autobiography Between a Heart and a Rock Place here.

The cover of Meredith Duran's Written on Your Skin makes it look like just another romance novel but this vivid historical novel is an adventure across India during the Rebellion of the mid-1800s. It's filled with strong emotions, with plenty of grief and melancholy. (If you don't like violence, skip this book. There are battles and let's just say they aren't pretty.) After returning safely (but not unscathed) to London, the heroine expresses her pain through art that is moving, ahead of her time, and holds secrets that endanger her. This book kept me up turning pages under the covers with my flashlight!

I can't resist any book that explains why it pays to be nice, so even though The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness is short, it is a sweet little read, with lots of concrete examples that prove that nice guys don't really finish last. If you want to get ahead without stepping over other people to do it, give this book a read.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Goat Olympics

We weren't there to see it in person but check out the great article about the Lake County (Ohio) Fair's Goat Olympics. That's Mom being interviewed in the video. Didn't she do a great job? Go Mom!!

The steam relief first involved a half dozen goats with names like Paul Jr. and Pinky Pie participating in a best-dressed contest.

The eventual top two tandems dressed as a pair of dice and softball players.

Next, came the egg and spoon contest, in which the children had to maintain a spoon handle in their mouths while its bowl carried an egg.

The tricky part is walking forward and backward, as well as kneeling, without dropping the spoon and egg, and walking a goat. Contest winner Allison Misich and her 7-year-old Pygmy goat, Tot, relied on past experience to pull out the win.

"I've done it in past years," said the recent Madison High School graduate and six-year 4-H veteran, "but my jaw starts to hurt."

Misich then joined the other competitors in the obstacle course, in which the students each led their goats through a cone maze, under a pole, over a few haystacks and under a table. It wasn't exactly a sprint for any of the participants, as the generally lackadaisical animals often lumbered along and resisted the exercise.

Last came the best friend portion, where goats where held at one end of the livestock arena, while their owners stood at the opposite end. Goats aren't known for chaos, but this Olympic segment got pretty close. Instead of finding their owner to become a winner, most goats either stood still in confusion or headbutted others and created pileups while the students pleaded for them to return.

In the end, all 4-H students received trophies or gift bags in front of a nice-sized crowd. Attendance wasn't necessarily reflective of a change in attitude toward the goat, but a show of the same support Fair attendees have shown the Olympics for nearly 25 years.

"People are not interested in goats," Zoldak said, "but they're interested in the Goat Olympics. It's a fun thing to watch."
By Brandon C. Baker

See the full article and photos here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Reading Recap

With school starting today it seemed like a good time to recap the summer reading T and I did this year. I blogged about our summer reading plans here (and got so many great recommendations from friends herehere  and here, thank you!).

As is tradition, T and I started the summer by reading The Trumpet of the Swan together. E.B. White's classic is one of our favorite books of all time. T likes it so much, he's started talking about going to Montana to visit the Red Rock Lakes so we can see a trumpeter swan in person! If you haven't read it, it's the story of a boy, Sam Beaver, who loves the outdoors and animals, and of a trumpeter swan born with a speech defect - he can't make a noise at all - so, with Sam's help, he learns to play the trumpet and has quite an adventure.

We had a big stack of books to chose from when we finished The Trumpet but was still excited when T chose to start the Harry Potter series. We finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and have only 2 chapters left in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. T has already gotten the third book The Prisoner of Azkaban off the shelf so we'll be ready to go this week when we finish book 2!

Have you read any good books this summer? I'll share some of my favorite grown-up books from this summer in another post soon!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Favorite Moment of Recruitment



I put the song at the top so you can listen to get in the mood for the story. (no need to watch the video itself.)

As many of you know, I volunteer locally with my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. Our alumnae chapter provides all kinds of assistance during Recruitment, and it's my job to keep all the alums organized and in the right places to help with behind-the-scenes details. We're amazingly fortunate to have many sisters who are generous with their time and talents!

In case you're not familiar, sorority Recruitment at FSU is a big production. There are 4 rounds of parties, that start Monday and run until Saturday. The early rounds run two days each so that the potential new members (called PNMs) have the opportunity to go to as many houses as possible before narrowing down their choices later in the week.

On Monday and Tuesday, each sorority hosts 20 parties. This year, 1341 young women attended them. It's a bit overwhelming! There are plenty of high points during the week - talking to sisters who've meet young women they really like; hearing sisters sing favorite songs; and of course, the ceremony on the final day, which is called Preference Party. This year, though, there was a moment of such spontaneous joy and fun that it immediately became my favorite of this year.

The chapter plays happy dance music as their guests come into the house, and as they exit each party. Friday at the end of the last party of third round, they played Jay Sean's Down (see video) and after the last PNM left, a dance party broke out in the foyer of the house. It was awesome!


It was great to witness how much fun they have together and how much they truly enjoy being together - true signs of a strong sisterhood.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Art of Talking to Anyone

 

Let's face it, some of us are born with great people skills, and others of us have to work at them, to develop and hone our skills. The Art of Talking to Anyone: Essential People Skills for Success in Any Situation is a great book for developing skills. It is  one of the books that we recommend to the collegians as we help them prepare for sorority recruitment, and in turn, job and grad school interviews and ultimately in their careers.

The book is chock full of real life examples anyone can put to use right away, and covers the basics thoroughly without being dull or dramatic. I really like the fact that it focuses on building skills and the power of a positive attitude. The author sprinkles great quotes in with the text and examples, too.

Here is the table of contents:

Part One: The Basics
Chapter 1: How to Succeed in Any Conversation: From Start to Finish
Chapter 2: How to Be Universally Liked
Chapter 3: How to Listen Successfully
Chapter 4: How to Keep the Conversation Going - or Stop One
Chapter 5: How to Ask and Answer Questions
Chapter 6: How and When to Tell Jokes
Chapter 7: How to Deal with Conversational Predicaments
Chapter 8: How to Be an Unpopular Conversationalist

Part Two: The Specifics
Chapter 9: Talking with Anyone in the Workplace
Chapter 10: Talking With Anyone at Meetings and Conferences
Chapter 11: Talking with Anyone at Business-Social Events
and so on...

Give it a read, I think you'll like it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bottlemania: 2010 Common Reading at CWRU

Reprinted from Case News:

With a constant supply of fresh water at their fingertips via fountains and faucets, why are so many American consumers hooked on bottled water?

In Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, this year's selection for the Common Reading Program, environmental journalist Elizabeth Royte explores the staggering popularity of bottled water, the multi-billion-dollar industry that supports it and the building backlash against it.

In the book, one of Entertainment Weekly's 10 "Must Read" nonfiction titles of 2008, Royte travels to Fryeburg, Maine, home of Poland Spring water. In this small town and other like it across the country, she finds the people, machines, economies and cultural trends that have made bottled water a $60-billion-a-year phenomenon, even as it threatens local control of natural resources and dumps tons of plastic waste into the country's landfills.

Moving beyond the environmental consequences of making, filling, transporting and landfilling those billions of bottles, Royte examines the state of tap water today and the social impact of corporations sinking ever more pumps into rural towns.

Ultimately, Bottlemania makes a case for protecting public water supplies, for improving our water infrastructure and better allocating the precious drinkable water that remains.

Acclaimed author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royte's writing on science and the environment has appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Outside, The New York Times Magazine and other national publications. A former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow and recipient of Bard College's John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service, Royte is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor for OnEarth, and a correspondent for Outside magazine. Her work is included in The Best American Science Writing 2004, and her first book, The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2001.

The Common Reading Program was started in 2002 for first-year students, who are asked to read the selection before the start of the academic year. The assigned book then serves as a basis for programs and discussions beginning at orientation and throughout the year. As the featured author for the 2010 Common Reading selection, Royte will deliver the keynote address at Case Western Reserve University's fall convocation, which will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010.

Learn more about the Common Reading program.
Story written by Jackie Fitch.
For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, February 11, 2010 12:47 PM | News Topics: Authors, Events

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Madison OFD Parade Recap

Are you ready for a photo heavy post? We had a good time with Mom's 4-H club last week as they put together their float for the Madison Old Fashioned Days parade (see my OFD preview post here). So proud of them for placing first in the Youth category!



(the kids with their Dads and my Mom)

My sister-in-law and I took T to the parade, and while it's definitely not his cup of tea, he did enjoy seeing all the police, fire and emergency equipment, the animals, and the popsicle he got!




(pretty sure we need this big inflatable soccer ball!)

(the nephews riding on the float)


(the trophy)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dancing Under the Stars Recap

Wow, we had such a fun time last Saturday night at the Dancing Under the Stars fundraiser! My high school reunion planning buddy, Chip, and I went to support our classmate, Roger, who was one of the ten celebrities dancing. (See my preview post here.) All the dancers were great and they performed in a variety of styles and to all kinds of music. And, naturally, since we were in Madison, we saw lots of people we knew! I enjoyed catching up local realtor Mike Warren, his wife Trista, her friend (Rabbit Run Dance Director) Heather Hoffman. It was great to see my Mom's neighbor, Andy, and his girlfriend, Rachel and her family. Rachel's brother was one of the dancers too.
(Andy on left, Rachel in middle, and Rachel's brother, Matt, on right)

Madison Country Club provided a great venue for the event, and the food was really good. We had a plated salad followed by a buffet dinner and a choice of cakes for dessert.

Roger & Carly danced to "My Heart Will Go On" (the theme song from Titanic). I was so impressed! The dance was really moving; they brought a lot of emotion to the performance. My pictures didn't turn out very well but here are a few:




Kudos to the whole team that put on the event, all the details, large and small, were executed beautifully. I recommend attending if you're in the area next year!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today's Music Suggestion

Tracey Thorn's Love and Its Opposite is on sale today for digital download for $3.99 at Amazon.com - check it out here!

You may recognize her voice - she also is a member of the band Everything But the Girl. I heard "Oh, the Divorces!" from the new album a few months ago and liked it so much I shared it with a few friends. Here's a sample of the lyrics: 

Who's next? Who's next?
Always the ones that you least expect...
They seem so strong 
It turned out she wanted more all along
And each time I hear who's to part 
I examine my heart
 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

More on Figwood

It is so fun to see Figwood in the local news while we're visiting Ohio. The August issue of Cleveland Magazine is out and as promised it includes an article about Christie and Sara (See my original post on Figwood here.) And the August 4th Plain Dealer used one of their dresses as an example of how to dress for high school reunions.

Branching Out
Banyan Tree duo create a fair-trade line inspired by the evolution of womanhood.
Amber Matheson
Those of us hovering around the 30-year mark are typically loath to admit that we still occasionally sneak into Forever 21, gorge on $15 tops and squeeze into the largest skirts we can find. It can be hard to find clothes that strike the right balance between youthful esprit and adult sophistication — and some of us are just not quite ready for the grown-up stores.

Christie Murdoch, owner of Tremont's Banyan Tree, and designer Sara Sandberg are two such kindred spirits. Their recently launched clothing line, Figwood, straddles that long, transitional stretch of womanhood that's so difficult to dress for.

"It's right at that point where you want it to be something you can wear to work, but something also that you can wear out and not feel frumpy," Murdoch says.

At 33, the lithe, blond mastermind behind Banyan's ever-appealing home decor, clothing and jewelry selections has overseen the tastes of Cleveland shoppers for almost 10 years. She's been traveling to Indonesia on purchasing trips for the entire decade that she's owned the shop. Because of her connections there, she knew exactly how to set up the fair-trade clothing line she'd always dreamed of offering to her shop's clientele — fashionable, on-trend women looking for easy-to-wear clothing. But for years, it remained just a dream.

Then two years ago she hired Sandberg, a Kent State grad newly returned home from a stint designing for Anne Klein in New York, as a salesperson. The women talked about creating a line, and this past December, Murdoch finally greenlighted herself and the project.

Sandberg drafted sketches, keeping in mind the connection to nature inherent in the names of the shop and the line. The resulting jersey-knit pieces flow and cling organically to the body. A small leaf motif drifts down a tank top ($56) while a double-lined dress ($76) is cut to flatter.

For fall, Murdoch is spearheading a Figwood line of sweaters and scarves that includes a cozy white wool sweater vest and voluminous, square cropped sweaters with funky buttons and wide sleeves. Her hip, carefree approach is the soul of all the pieces.

"It's fun," she says of bringing Figwood to life. "Just all the little details that we're running around doing, it was so fun."

See the full article and more photos here.

From the Plain Dealer:

Lessons in reunion readiness: How to look your best for those big, scary milestone gatherings
Kim Crow

...Hollis is the epitome of comfortable chic in a strapless jersey dress by Figwood, a privately designed label by the Banyan Tree in Cleveland, and loves its easy elegance most of all...
Lou Hollis looks the picture of easy elegance in this strapless jersey dress by Figwood ($58 at Banyan Tree) just days after her 20-year high school reunion.

See the (lengthy) full article here.

And thanks to Mom for clipping the articles!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fun Times in the Madison Area - OFD

My hometown has a little festival each summer called Old Fashioned Days. OFD kicks off with a parade tonight and runs through Sunday. It is everything you'd expect of an old fashioned event - no carnival rides, but lots of carnival food, antique cars, and old timey games, like a frog jumping contest, greased pole climb, and watermelon eating contest. I'm hoping T and I can be part of the Cake Walk on Sunday in the bandstand. See the full schedule of events here.

Here are some pictures from 2008, thanks to photobucket:





This great video shows the bag pipers, followed by the volunteer firefighters as they pass the judges on Main Street (in 2009):



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