Le beach chapeau

Summer is a coming, and I can't wait to go to the beach. To avoid swim suit shopping, I've been focusing on hats to protect my already sun-damaged skin from further abuse.

I confessed in an earlier post that I used to do this in high school.

From There's Something About Mary.
I'd love to wear my derby hat, but I'm afraid it won't afford the amount of sun protection needed.

Do you think I should go into the millinery business?

My friend Susannah at Out Went the Light wore this Marley Lily hat on derby day. It's available in many colors with monogram for just $29.99. Perfect for you southern girls.

Picture you and your besties on the beach this summer.

Love this hat!


On the more practical side, Gottex's classic wide-brim hats are reasonably priced, packable and UPF +50.

 "Bimini" comes in many different colors for just $55.

With just a touch of bling, "Nauru" comes in black/gold (shown), cream/gold and turquoise for $79.

Or, if you're feeling frisky, the "Spellbound 50 Shades of Grey Ombre"  hat is sure to give you that raptured look for just $70.

J. Crew has several hats this season. I like the summer straw hat for its simplicity. Comes in pink (shown), black and natural for $34.50.

Happy Memorial Day!

Photo images: 1, 2 3, 4 5

Serenity now, insanity later...

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Frank Costanza's doctor prescribes a relaxation cassette that cues him to say "serenity now" when his blood pressure gets too high. Instead of saying it he yells it. Well that's how I feel when I've had enough family togetherness.

A few months ago, I sent my friends an email message with the subject line reading "it's time." They agreed that a get away was in order before the end of the school year. We decided that Mother's Day weekend would be perfect. How could our husbands say no?

After much discussion and research on venues, we chose the mountains over the beach. Although I was a bit tentative about staying in a cabin (I don't do rustic.), my friend Allison assured me that it was a really nice cabin. I took her word for it.

I was delighted when we arrived at our sprawling home nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains.

View from back terrace and our horse hitching post.
Our plan was to settle in and go out for a bite. Most places closed at 9:00 pm so we were SOL. After driving around in circles in the pitch dark, we made our way to Ingles for some provisions before it closed at 11:00.

Mr. Mophead is always so curious about girl's getaways. He finds it hard to believe that we have enough to do and talk about for three days.

It's pretty simple.




And, soak in our hot tub with freshly painted toes.

We spent Friday afternoon getting pedicures and massages at Serenity in the Mountains Day Spa, which was featured several years ago in Rachel Rays' magazine as one of the "ten best value spas in the country." It wasn't the Four Seasons, but the services were ample and the staff courteous and accommodating. As promised, it was a serene experience. Plus they gave us red roses and chocolate dipped strawberries for Mother's Day.

A few words about charming down town Blue Ridge before I launch into the shopping and eating portion of the trip.

Founded in 1886 Blue Ridge was once considered an elite health resort because of its pure mineral waters. Established as a railroad town, visitors would ride the train to town, eat dinner at the Blue Ridge Hotel, and take a leisurely walk to the mineral springs after dinner. It is now known as the “antique capital” of Georgia with friendly folks and an old time atmosphere.

The train depot is still in the heart of town, and you can ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway on a 26 mile round trip along the Toccoa River with stops in McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN. We didn’t have time to ride the train. But we did spend some time on Main Street shopping and dining.

I'm not one for clothes shopping. The House of Threads of Blue Ridge (another location in McCaysville) is a cute little boutique I did enjoy visiting. There was good stuff inside, but the owner wouldn't let me take photos. Silly for a small town shop.

Many of the shops -- housed in historic buildings -- were designed with cool architectural and industrial salvage. Like this fan.

Loved this vintage Chevy parked behind an antique store.

My favorite shop was the Blue Ridge Olive Oil Company. A tasting room for international olive oils and vinegars. I've never seen anything like it. A plethora of pure, extra virgin, organic and infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars in every flavor imaginable. You can sample 'til your heart's content from these really cool stainless urns. When you're done tasting, the friendly and knowledgeable staff fill your bottles, label then seal them with heat guns. Just in case you're wondering, I bought an EVOO and pomegranate balsamic. Suggested pairings available in store and on line. Check it out if you love to cook. Culinary gifts galore.

Blue Ridge has lots to offer from casual to fine dining. We had some yummy meals. If I had to pick, Cucina Rustica was my fave. Who knew you could find amazing northern Italian cuisine in the Georgia mountains.

Dining at Harvest on Main -- a farm-to-table experience with a southern twist -- is a must.

Lucky for us we hit the grand opening of Blue Ridge Grocery. A from scratch bakery, deli, cafe and coffee bar all in the second oldest building in town circa 1890s. We popped in for coffee and take-away dips and other happy hour provisions. And, ate breakfast there Sunday morning. I loved everything about it, especially the vintage coffee and meat grinders, old butcher knives and milk bottles that littered the space. Cool fresh-squeezed orange juice machine! Another must visit place while in town.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. I will not share any photos of what my house looked like when I returned. The most interesting finding was hair clippings in various places. My kids did really need haircuts, but I thought they had outgrown self hair cuts. Guess not.

Insanity revisited.

It's all about the love

Some want it to happen. Some wish it would happen. Others make it happen!

I know you've all been sitting on the edges of your seats waiting to hear about the end of my tennis season. Those of you on Facebook may already know that my C8 ALTA tennis team -- affectionately known as D1 -- won our division. Through blood, sweat and tears (and some drama) we worked our way up from worst to first. We went to the city finals last week, but lost.

Having never imagined going to finals, we didn't know what to expect. In addition to being the premiere sporting event of the season in Atlanta, city finals is a showcase of fashion and decor. It is all about decorating, after all.

I talked a little bit about D1 fashion in an earlier post. As Derek Blasberg says: "the gear impacts the performance." D1 girls take this advice to heart and dress for success. No tramps in this crowd. We even wipe our brows in style.

Our captain gave us personalized towels last year. Each with our appointed nickname. 
That's me. Cute, right.

The day before the match I received an email outlining the details for the day. Not only were we expected to play like champions (which we are), we had to compete in the "Best Dressed Table" competition. BYO everything, including the table. ALTA coordinators would be stopping by to view tables and sample food. Although it was a team effort, Tracy (aka "the Hammer") pulled out all the stops and dressed that table to the nines. Believe me when I say it was very classy.

Let's take a look:

Linen table cloth, pewter serving pieces, vintage racquet...

Chocolates courtesy of Greene's Fine Foods.

Champagne glasses with stem tennis ball charms -- nicknames of course. We used plastic just in case the revelry get out of control.

A closer look. Hmm, it looks like Marni (aka "Hot Shot") rearranged the glasses and put hers up front. Always vying for the center of attention.

Adorable D1 and tennis ball cupcakes courtesy of Katie "Moss the Hoss."

Empty tennis ball cans used as high ball glasses. So clever.

Unfortunately, I was unable to visit other tables except for our opponent's that was sitting right behind us -- not so classy. That's to be expected from any team residing OTP (outside the perimeter for those of you who don't live in Atlanta -- similar to outside the beltway for you Washingtonians).

You can imagine my horror when Tracy told me later that a team with ties to Party City won the table competition. Gasp! We were robbed.

Back to the match.

It was a nail biter of a day. The D1 girls toughed it out for over six hours. Boy did we put up a fight. Margaret (aka "Bruiser") walked off the court with a black eye. No lie. Her partner Maggie (aka "Killer") inadvertently hit her with her racquet. But, we did not prevail. With grace and poise, we accepted our ALTA salad plates. First place team won an ALTA dinner plate. I guess the idea is that you can collect an entire place setting if you make it to the finals often. And, we toasted ourselves with prosecco -- our match day drink of choice. Truth be told, we used to drink prosecco before most of our matches. Okay, I had some a few weeks ago. Not during playoffs.

Overall, it was an amazing season. Moving on up to C4, we will always remain D1 in our hearts and minds. Tennis is all about love. We have many challenges ahead of us, but we're bringing home the dinner plate next year. Our new motto:

Good. Better. Best.
 Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best.
-- source unknown

Go D1!

Gatsby style

As some of you may know, I majored in English lit in college. That's why I'm such a good writer. Just kidding. If you've noticed any typos, misspellings or other errors lately it's because I fired my editor. Lawyers are way too conservative.

 F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favorite American classics. To Kill A Mocking Bird being first. If I could go back in time, the 20s would be my first choice -- both for the fun and the fashion.

So what do you all think about the soon-to-be released Gatsby remake? It opened this year's Cannes Film Festival in 3-D. Gasp! Remakes are never as good as originals. Turns out the original film adaptation was in 1926. Fitzgerald walked out of the theater before it ended. Guess he didn't like it.

The most famous Gatsby screen version was made in 1974 starring Sam Waterston, Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. It got panned by critics, but I'll loved everything about that movie, especially the lead actors and their costumes.

Could Leonardo pull off any of these looks?

 Robert looking dreamy in pink.

And, dapper in white.

 I think not. 

 Would Brad have made a better Gatsby?

Who would be your choice for leading lady Daisy? Carey is pretty cute (Loved her in An Education.). But, she is no Mia that's for sure.

I do like Tobey Maguire as Nick.

I also like Tiffany's Gatsby collection. I've put in a request for the blue sapphire
deco ring (far right) for Mother's Day. No doubt I will get it.

Gatsby opens this Friday. Of course I will go see it, but my expectations are abysmal. Hope I don't walk out with 3-D glasses in tow.

Photo images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Signed, sealed, delivered...

Do you all know about Red Stamp? I didn't until I stumbled upon the cofounder and CEO Erin Newkirk who is a Matchbook correspondent. Erin writes a column called Etiquette Corner. She is a “Matchbook girl” because she was the proud owner of not one, but two sets of personalized stationery before she could even write. A girl after my own heart!

Red Stamp allows you to create personalized cards, notes, invitations, announcements and much more right from your iPhone or desktop. You can send your correspondence via email, text, post it to Facebook or Twitter all for FREE. You also have the option to mail a paper copy anywhere in the world. Domestic mailings start at $1.99 for a single card (international mailings start at $2.99). Price is based on quantity. The more you order, the less you pay per card. That translates to saving you time and money. Given the dearth of tasteful greeting cards on the market these days, Red Stamp offers lots of classy options right at your fingertips. Plus, you can add a photo to your card. Love that!

I’ve written about Paperless Post -- my favorite online invitation service. I was curious about how Red Stamp differs, so I decided to reach out to Erin directly. Erin graciously offered to make a guest visit.

BMH: I’m a self-professed paper hoarder. When did your love affair with stationery begin? Did you really have two sets of personalized cards before you could write?
EN: Read OR write. Let’s just say I come by my love of paper honestly, from my mother. I also had a few pads of pink and green personalized notepads, but who’s counting?
BMH: What else do you love?
EN: My family, my friends, great food and lively get-togethers. I love occasions of authentic happiness. Not fancy, not overdone. Just comfortable. And lots of laughter!
BMH: What do you loathe?
EN: Insincerity.
BMH: What sets Red Stamp apart from say Paperless Post?
EN: I honestly love what Alexa and James Hirschfeld have created over at Paperless Post. They bring a formality to electronic correspondence that’s cool. But, our take on correspondence starts with life and allows our sender/recipient to live in the moment, whether that moment is on the beach or at their desk. Our mission is to help people manage their social and business correspondence with style and grace so they can make their relationships stronger. 
BMH: Speaking of business, tell us a little about your new business correspondence.
EN: Simply put, we want to do whatever we can to help small businesses and entrepreneurs affordably create and send personalized, branded letterhead, business cards, notes, invitations and announcements from wherever they do their best business.
BMH: It’s rare to get a card in the mail these days. I personally love finding one in my mailbox no matter what the occasion or sentiment (almost as much as getting a shelter mag). Being the etiquette maven that you are, when is it absolutely necessary to send a printed card?
EN: Ah! Mailbox bliss. Yes, I love it too. Which is why printed postcards were a “must have” in our app. These days there are no hard and fast rules. I usually decide how I send a card based on 3 things: how the recipient prefers to receive correspondence; the occasion; and what contact info I have for my recipient -- that’s the practical side of me, I suppose. Long answer, but I’d like to think that if I can make someone’s day by delivering that sweet moment via post, then why wouldn’t I send a printed piece?
BMH: Emily Post’s Etiquette questions whether wedding e-vitations are personal and special enough. An electronic version doesn’t give it “keepsake status.” What do you think?
EN: I’m going to appear a bit old fashioned here, but I am all about paper when it comes to wedding invitations. Gorgeous paper stock. Engraving. Letterpress. Simple elegance. It’s the little things that build into something as special as your wedding and marriage. I like to shake things up when it makes sense, but there are just some traditions that are beautiful and time honored. Why mess?
BMH: I read that Red Stamp users sent 62,265 valentines this year. What’s been your most popular holiday to date?
EN: Valentine’s Day. Ha. We are an international app, so it’s rare to find one day that transcends all lifestyles, all religions in all regions. And, we love that our most popular day is all about love!
BMH: What’s next for Red Stamp?
EN: So much. We are going to continue to make it easier for our clients to make their relationships stronger -- however and whenever it works for them. The business collections are flourishing rapidly. More features, more functionality, in more places. It’s all in the works.

Thanks for stopping by Erin. I know my readers will love Red Stamp as much as I do.

Question for you readers: If wedding e-vites were an option, would you consider sending them to your guests?

P.S. While we're on the subject of weddings, Paperless Post is no longer paperless. In addition to adding paper cards to its digital line, the company just teamed up with Crane & Co. to print wedding invites.
Blogging tips