Buon Apetito

Happy Anniversary to us!  Mr. T&C and I celebrated our 15th anniversary tonight.  Although we were tempted to plan a getaway, we decided to enjoy a quiet dinner out and save our resources for a few trips we are anticipating.  We had a tough time deciding which great local restaurant to choose, in fact, we ended up writing our top eight on slips of paper and then drawing one to be our selection.  Trattoria Giorgio was the winner.

 Mr. T&C made reservations for 7:45, and, unbelievably, we were able to park right in front of the restaurant, where we were greeted by a robust Italian man straight from central casting.  The restaurant has been serving traditional cooking from the Bergamo region of Italy for more than 20 years.  It was a great setting for an intimate dinner.

Mr. T&C had a veal chop topped with goat cheese, and I had ravioli stuffed with spinach and walnuts--tasty!  For dessert, we had chocolate mousse with cappucino.  Then, we waddled out to have a nice walk through downtown, returning home to find Big, Middle, and Little tucked in their beds.  They even cleaned up the kitchen!

 Happy Anniversary, and it's three months until Christmas Eve!

photos courtesy trattoriagiorgio.net

Counting Down and Gearing Up

Despite the 85 degree temperatures (wasn't it only 77 the last week of August?), today is the first day of Fall!  I used to love Fall far more than any other season.  As I've gotten older I've grown more appreciative and grateful for the joys of every season.  Fall is still my favorite by a slight margin, but Fall has also come to mean the beginning of what can be a frantic race to January 2.  I used to tell Mr. T&C that I felt like I had stepped onto a roller coaster sometime in October and listened to the click, click, click of the coaster's ascent until Halloween when the coaster tipped forward and began its giddy, full speed ahead, exhilarating and slightly nauseating descent to Christmas.  Older and wiser, I now hear the clicking begin around Labor Day.  And this week, it's begun to grow louder.

For one thing, Mr. T&C and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary!  On Friday houseguests arrive from Florida to go to the Clemson game on Saturday.  They will leave on Sunday, and more houseguests from Maine will arrive on Tuesday.  Then, on Wednesday I have a little surprise that I will blog about later.  Thursday is the day the corporate merchandiser arrives to re-merchandise our store, Go Fish, and Friday is another surprise we've planned.  Then Saturday, we will attend an American Institute of Architects conference Design Awards event, and then it's only a week until Mr. T&C's birthday, and then we leave for New York.                   Click, click, click.

So, I'm thinking about handbags.  Mr. T&C gave me a gorgeous Bosom Buddy bag for Mother's Day.  It is not identical to the one pictured here, but it is very similar.  Mine has a wide black grosgrain ribbon with a tortoise shell buckle.  I have carried it everyday this summer, and I have received lots of compliments.  I really hate to put it away, but it's time.  And I have nothing comparable for fall.  I would love to find something as simple and elegant--and I would love to find it at TJMaxx!  In the meantime, I will have fun looking at what I think might work.  I love all the cute bags I see, big and colorful and textured, but in my heart of hearts, I know I need a structured neutral bag that just plain works.  It's what suits me.


It rained here most of the day, and, happily, I did not have to work my usual Saturday schedule.  Yesterday I met a major deadline for a freelance project, so today seemed perfect for a little down time.  It was either that or ironing.  So, I ran a few errands and came home to be with Middle and Little.  Big was invited to join a friend in the President's Box (!) for the Clemson game, so he was safe, dry, and apparently fed a banquet of Southern delicacies and tailgate food all day long.  But back to my point, which is I also was home, safe and dry, and noodling around on the laptop when I discovered a website called http://houzz.com  To the right, you will find a link to the ideabook I created. Click on Town & Country Mom's Ideas to see the ideas I think are keepers.  Click on the photo to go to the houzz site.  The first will take five minutes; the latter, five hours.  Either way, enjoy.

All I can say, is that if you are the type of person who savors good design, be careful.  Very careful. You've been warned.   After all, real life is better than virtual life, isn't it?

Yes, it is.

An Abundant Life

Oh, it's a slippery slope for me.  Not writing every day, then not writing every other day, then skipping more than a week--it's downright treacherous!  I have been consciously trying not to be busy just for the sake of being busy, but life has been full, abundant.  This past week had several highlights, including a fund-raising dinner for Child Evangelism Fellowship.  This is the organization that sponsors and provides volunteers for the Good News Clubs, which thankfully are currently allowed in public schools after regular school hours.  Many children do not have the opportunity to attend church, and this fun activity introduces them to the love of Christ.   The evening's special guest was the president of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly.  He was an excellent speaker with a moving and powerful story about his early years, which were far from storybook. If you are interested, please go to http://www.family.org/ to have a look at Mr. Daly's most recent book, Finding Home.

As a side note, Mr. T&C attended a neighborhood Good News Club as a youngster, admittedly initially motivated by the candy but drawn to stay by the kind volunteer who presented a Bible story on a flannel board each week.  To this day, Mr. T&C loves to see a story told using a flannel board. And, yes, he wore a coat and tie to this event. He looked sharp, but I digress.

Other events of the week were an Open House for each of the children's schools.  Little's was a pretty typical elementary school open house.  Her desk is messy, but her work is neat.  According to her "All About Me" page, her hero is Tim Tebow, her favorite show is "Hannah Montana," and her favorite food is Chinese dumplings!  Middle's open house was a bit more enlightening.  His math teacher, who he described as "horrible and tricky" is probably all of 26.  She looks like she stepped off a magazine cover, lovely.  In addition, she offers extra credit for every test; a tidbit Middle neglected to tell us.  Middle's grade has risen by two points since Open House!  Last was the Open House for Big.  Parents of seniors met in the media center before the event for a crash course on college applications, the services offered by the school, scholarship information, and so on.  In a great blessing, Big has already received provisional acceptance to Clemson, his first choice, but there are still some loose ends to tie up.  Two of his classes, AP Calculus and AP Physics, are quite intimidating to me.  I am more at ease in the AP English Lit and Honors Government courses.  Leaving the high school, I felt a little wistful.  The passage of time is unrelenting, especially when it comes to children.  It seems like it was only last fall that all the open houses I attended smelled of playdough and tempera paint rather than formaldehyde and gym sweat. 

Enjoy the photo of our playroom, when Little was tiny, and Middle was toddling, and Big was little. If you look carefully on the righthand wall, you'll see the alphabet cards from St. Edward's Episcopal Nursery School, where "A Seed is a Promise."  I'm thinking that saplings are pretty remarkable, too.

Turn, turn, turn

It seems this is the time of year that the seasons overlap a bit. Summer is slipping away, dimming the lights a little earlier each evening.  But still.  We made it to another baseball game, a much belated Father's Day outing for my dad.  The air was crisp for a summer evening, and I was glad I had a sweater.  A blanket would have been nice, and it's the first week of September!

Fall is coming quickly it seems to me.  The dogwood leaves have begun to turn a bit already.  Little brought home the first cold of the season.  She missed two days of school, but we are ever grateful that she did not have H1N1.  She was recovered enough to cheer at the Friday night high school football game.  We noticed that Middle is no longer in the "rolling down the hill" crowd of rowdy elementary and middle schoolers, but has moved into the eighth grade section of the stands, where girls and boys sit together willingly.  I could hardly focus on the field for watching this new social development.  I was too far away to read lips, but there was a lot of hair tossing on the part of the girls. 

Meanwhile, Big had gone to Clemson for the weekend, staying with friends and visiting his girl.

To everything there is a season.

Party line

Hard to say which I enjoy more, attending a party or throwing one!  By nature, I'm a planner, so I've always enjoyed planning an event--thinking of a theme (not always necessary, but so southern), selecting invitations, creating a guest list, planning a menu, preparing the food, staging the tables and food, choosing music (Mr. T and C always comes through on this one for me), and on and on.  To me, even the cleaning up and the post mortem (with a glass of wine) are so much fun.  I find a lot of joy in anticipating, I'm always looking forward to something--it can be as simple as a cup of coffee or as extravagant as a vacation.   Mr. T and C, however, is more of an "in the moment" kind of man, and--because of that--I have learned so much from him, including enjoying someone else's party. 

Two of my all-time favorite parties are annual events, and this past Saturday night, we attended one of them.  One thing we love about this party is that it is the same from year to year.  The invitations are rustic, depicting an empty rowboat resting on the bank of a lake.  The setting is a boathouse on Lake Summit in the mountains of North Carolina.  The food is simple and terrific.  Before dinner we have pimiento cheese (made with toasted pecans) and plain crackers, the perfect vehicle for the amazing spread; cold green vegetable crudites (asparagus, cucumber spears, haricort verts) on a white platter with a garlicky dip; and heirloom tomato sandwiches on super thin asiago bread with Duke's mayonnaise. 

While the adults are feasting, children are enjoying the corkscrew slide or jumping into the lake via the second story rope swing.  The hosts always invite guests for a ride on the couple's beautiful electric canopied boat.  Custom built by the Elco Company in New York, the boat is gorgeous wood, teak and mahoghany, outfitted with a worn Persian rug and antique wicker furniture.  Three beautiful camps, including the reknown Camp Greystone for Girls, are set on Lake Summit, and only 120 homes surround the lake.  It is blissfully peaceful. 

At seven, we have a grilled sandwich invented by the host--a beef hotdog, wrapped with ground sirloin and served with a secret sauce on a bun specially made by a bakery for these sandwiches.  The host came up with the idea when he couldn't decide if he wanted a hotdog or a hamburger.  They are not gourmet but for this evening, they are perfect, and enjoyed by young and old.  I have seen ladies who ordinarily do not eat more than two celery sticks a week, clean their plates and lick their fingers. 

For dessert, a selection of brownies is offered--toffee, coffee, mint, raspberry, M and Ms, walnut, Oreo, and brown sugar.  All the varieties are cut the size of postage stamps, so you can taste each without too much guilt.  The mint are always the first to go.  My favorite is the coffee. 

At eight o'clock, guests say their goodbyes and head back down the mountain.   A perfect evening comes to a close, and I enjoyed every minute.  Thank goodness, there's always something to look forward to.

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