What are you doing New Year’s Eve…

From the Frank Buttolph Menu Collection (updated for 2022)

I’ve been enjoying a nice, long break and taking it a bit slower than I usually do.  Eating lots of great food, watching ‘must see’ movies [Being the Ricardo’s, Don’t Look Up, Nobody, The Last Duel and in a few days, MacBeth], and spending time with those I love are the best presents of all, and the perfect way to end 2021.

I’m not a resolution kind of gal, but I am a BIG list maker.  On my list for 2022; travel to San Diego, Denver, Charleston, and Apalachicola, reading, painting [the art kind] and lightening up. By that I mean getting rid of some of the clutter and excess I seem to collect.  I’ve spent the morning cleaning out my internet ‘Other Bookmarks’ folder (aka: links to things I will get around to reading eventually). Here are a few things which made the cut that you might enjoy…

Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best for 2022!

*What Are You Doing on New Year’s Eve? – Ella Fitzgerald

Can’t judge a book by looking at the cover…

In my reading pile…

Even if I haven’t found time to regularly post I ALWAYS find time to read.  It’s been part of my daily bedtime ritual for as long as I can remember. It’s truly ‘me’ time, allowing me to unwind while getting lost in someone else’s story.  

99% of what I choose to read is fiction.  While I periodically re-read favorites by Updike, Vonnegut, Tolkien, Irving, and Gaiman my nightstand is more typically stocked with the newest fiction I can find. And because I read 100+ books a year, every year, it’s increasingly difficult for me to find an author with a truly unique story to tell. These nine authors have achieved that – or I hope will – perfectly.

Just Read

  • The Secret Life of Groceries (because I’ve always wondered how our grocery shelves stay stocked)
  • Opal & Nev (after reading this I want to design a rock star wardrobe for Opal – and see the movie)
  • Nightbitch (between the title and the cover art I could not resist this book)

2 B Read

*You Can’t Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover – Bo Diddley (here)

Lord knows I need some healing…

It’s been 5 months since I’ve last posted.

That sentence has confessional feel to it, doesn’t it? I’ve mentioned before that I am increasingly wary of the influence all things social media has on me as an individual and humanity itself.  That said, I freely admit to spending an inordinate, even unhealthy, amount of time scrolling and surfing for things which educate, excite, confound, and humor me. Which leads me to where I’ve been – posting and life wise.

For the past 2 ½ years I’ve been working on a little something called The Art of Healing Exposition. A casual conversation about why the creative arts aren’t viewed as valuable tools in a physician’s healing box led me to dream about an exhibition built around the restorative traits of creativity. I’d been dreaming of how I could pull together this show long before covid and am oddly thankful for the shutdown of life for one reason. Being home for months helped me expand upon my original dream and work toward the reality of where the show is today.

I spent countless hours on Zoom with a small group of women who formed organically into my planning team.  Our brainstorming sessions suggested the form AoH could take. We wanted the show to feature the creativity of the Nashville community. We wanted to include music, film, writing, sculpture, painting, art – everything creative! It was important that we shared not only the art but the stories behind the art itself. We wanted to build a clinical aspect to the show, involving both practitioners and patient populations. We wanted to share the show with as many people as possible through virtual shows and an on-going social media campaign. We wanted to create ongoing experiences for the community to share the majic of making with each other.

In January of 2021 we issued our ‘Call for Art’ and were overwhelmed by the response. Some 450 pieces of work from 172 artists who shared their talents and their stories of how creativity helped them to heal. I got to spend this past summer meeting with these artists as I received their work and had the most wonderful conversations about creating in a time of chaos and the role of spirituality, fear, loss, love, and joy play in our everyday lives.  Talk about a healing experience.

The Art of Healing Exposition show premiered in September and will hang until December 2022 across 5 sites in Nashville. Make sure to check out our Daily Art – every artist who submitted work for the show is being featured physically, virtually, or both!  Their work continues to amaze me each time I see it, and that is after 6 months of being surrounded by their work.  Additionally, the AoH team has planned an extensive array of Exposition-related events for next year, which should keep me focused on creating until 2023 at least.

All of that to say I’ve been kinda busy (but plan to post on a more regular basis going forward).

P.S. I DID create the AoH mandala above – just so you know I haven’t been a total ‘maker’ slacker!

*The Healing – Guy Clark Jr.

Going back to Miami…

Green trees, Blue skies

The fact that I love to travel should come as no surprise to readers of this blog. I have spent many summers (and winters) residing at various NJ, Florida and California seaside communities. I already have NY and Cali beach trips scheduled for this summer. When friends reached out to ask my advice on how to spend 3 days in Miami Beach I couldn’t resist planning a third.  Here’s what I’d recommend…

Continue reading “Going back to Miami…”

London calling…

Disco Inferno

Marlene Berger ‘Claude’ ruched brocade top | Fuchsia Teardrop Ring | Halston Sleeveless Cowl Neck Jumpsuit | Nine West Zadie Ankle Strap Sandal Sterling Silver Double Onyx Drop Earrings | Alice & Olivia Delora Ruched Mini Dress Verdusa Sequin Miniskirt | Black Opium Perfume | | Zara TRF Tied Heel Sandal | Smashbox Lip Gloss

Has it really been two months since I last posted?  By the calendar it would appear to be so, but by the one big time meld I have been living since last March it could just as easily have been 2 weeks, or 2 days.  Regardless of the passage of time I am still planning on getting to London before October so I can catch the Victoria & Albert Bags: Inside Out exhibition.

I really enjoy 3 to 4 day trips, ones where I can fly in, spend a few days exploring, and then fly back out, maximizing what I do while minimizing what I spend. It’s the kind of travel made for light packing, requiring a carryon bag, a backpack, a captivating book and always, music.

For this quick trip across the pond I am planning my ‘looks’ around the two newest bags added to my own personal bag collection: Studio 54 (a 1980’s Whiting & Davis silver mesh clutch) and Mod Squad ( a 70’s wooden beaded shoulder bag). I’m going groovy for the day and disco for the night, but based on what I’ve pictured here may need more than a carryon to store it all!

Mod Squad

Alice + Olivia Marella Dress | Oversized Retro Sunglasses | Soojun Cotton Linen Boxy Top | Saint Laurent Bianca 85 Node Sandals | Scoop Super Wide Leg Jeans | Julia Jordan ¾ Sleeve Midi Dress | Fhayla Pointy Toe Booties | Thin Wild Mercury Perfume

*London Calling – The Clash

Handbags and gladrags…

So many bags

Coke bag  |  Lipstick bag  |  V&A Bags Inside Out Poster  |  Moschino Pizza Box Bag  | Palette Bag  | Queen of Hearts Bag  |  Slurpie Bag 
Titanic Ship Bag  |  Monopoly Bag  |  Lip Bag  |   Lighter Bag  |  Heart Bag

What is it about a handbag?  Women go nuts over certain brands and styles, many of which have become iconic over time.  The Louis Vuitton Keepall Bag, the Chanel Quilted Bag, and the Hermes Birkin Bag are coveted by collectors the world over, routinely selling, and re-selling, for thousands of dollars.  There are bag collector groups, blogs, websites, and even virtual galleries like The Vintage Purse Museum devoted to all things ‘handbag’. You can even take a quiz (or two) to see which handbag you are.  

Turns out I am either a backpack (simple, compact, and practical with a touch of whimsy) or a hobo bag (free as the wind, live by different set of guidelines, value autonomy, exploration, art and personal expression, and prefer things that are unique and last a lifetime). Laugh if you will but both bags, and personality descriptions, are quite accurate assessments of me AND my bag styles.

I love those What’s IN my Bag’ spreads in the tabloids.  Peek inside my bag and you will always find my Ray Bans, Mac, Nikon, sketchbook, pencils and pens, lipstick, Aleve and my wallet, all carried in a big tote or backpack. I’ve been relying on these choices (almost always in black leather or pleather) since I was a teen.  Both styles are arguably the workhorses of the bag world, designed for maximum content and minimal fuss.  

Are you a bag lover? Do you have a favorite style? I do, and it is definately not a backpack or hobo.  Hands down, my vote goes to a special occasion bag (see whimsical above).  Going out for a night on the town in which a great outfit and attendant bag are required always gets me thinking of how to assemble the pieces of the fashion puzzle to make sartorial magic happen. There was a time when my lifestyle saw me routinely dressing up for one glitzy event or another but those days are long gone, leaving me with an awesome fashion archive and nowhere to wear it to. 

Even if I don’t have any actual plans, for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how I might manage a special, spontaneous and quick jump across the pond to see the Victoria & Albert Bags: Inside Out show.  I could travel light, with my trusty hobo (for a few outfits) and backpack (for my passport, plastic, and sunnies) holding everything I’d need to to get me from here so I could tour the V&A in a rocking outfit and carrying by a great bag the entire time. While odds of this fantasy becoming a reality appear slim a girl can still dream, about travel and a great bag (or two)!

*Handbags and Gladrags – Rod Stewart

Everyday I write the book…

2020’s Top 9

Happy New Year everyone! I trust your celebrations led to much happiness, joy, and love for you and yours. I almost forgot it was New Year’s Eve as my sense of time has been totally out-of-whack since covid began. While I may not be able to tell you what day it is with any given accuracy, one thing which hasn’t been affected by the pandemic is my love of reading, and of books.

I took a look at my reading log for 2020 – yes, I AM a nerd – and 80 titles are listed. That averages out to 1 book every 5 days, and what would be a very expensive habit if not for the library. While no one had any answers for what was going on in March or April, by May our library had an online reservation system up and running and I was back in the reading business, using my 2 Read or Not 2 Read page for inspiration.

I can’t say every book I chose was a winner, and in fact a few were such slow slogs it took much longer than my average 5 days to finish. That said, each of the 80 helped me get through the uncertain days of the past year, and my newest ‘9’ have me hopeful for a great start to this next. I hope the same for you. All the best for 2021!

2021’s 1st 9

*Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Not Ready to Make Nice…

My Warholesque Tribute to the Guerilla Girls

If ever there was a time to make protest art wouldn’t it be now?  In 10 short months we’ve gone from ‘normal crazy’ to outright mayhem, chaos and anarchy with little street art questioning any of it.  Have you seen anything in your town? Anything that suddenly appears on a street, wall or empty storefront which makes you pause to look and maybe say WTF or better yet think and question?  

While most street artists work anonymously there are a few, like BanksyPussy RiotThe Faction and Lushsux who have achieved notoriety, fame and fortune.  That said, with the exception of The Faction, none seem to hail from or regularly create art in the US.  Can that be right?  Is no one making challenging art in America today? Continue reading “Not Ready to Make Nice…”

I’m a Traveler…

Silk Road Quilt by Melissa Sobotka
‘Silk Road Sampler’ by Melissa Sobotka

When I first began blogging the goal was to challenge my creative skills while sharing my fascination with the world around me with anyone who visited this site. Fast forward a few years and a few hundred posts later to now, where inspiration and content creation are challenges I’ve struggled to overcome since covid changed our lives. After reading Austin Kleon’s ‘15 years of blogging (and 3 reasons I keep going) I am, once again, enthusiastic about posting on a more regular basis, beginning with a topic which always gets me excited – travel.

The road dog in me was thrilled by having to drive cross-country TWICE this summer. Even more exciting was the prospect of traveling with two of the people I care most about: my sister and my son. Big Sis joined me for Road Trip #1 to retrieve a cherished family dog from Denver.  Our trip started in Tennessee, then led us north and west through Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado, after which we headed back east to New Jersey before I made the rest of the drive solo through Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, finally  ending up back in the Volunteer State.  It took 8 days to make the drive but we only made it 140 miles before we stopped for our first adventure… Continue reading “I’m a Traveler…”

There Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues…

When the living is easy

It’s Memorial Day which means it’s the start to summer for this Jersey girl!  Plus, all 50 states are beginning to open back up after Covid-19 and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not that I minded staying at home these past 3 months so much as I hated being told I had to stay home.  I’m a road warrior so when safer-at-home orders went into effect the thing I missed the most was the simple freedom* to get in my car, crank up the tunes, and go.

I am about to make up for my lost travels with 5 upcoming roads trips which will take me through 17 states by August.  While Denver, Philly, Mobile and San Diego (x2) are my final destinations I am also looking forward to the pit stops along the way. Regardless of where I stop, or go, I always try to travel light: a few good books, a lot of rock and blues tunes, and a few interchangeable outfits and I am ready for anything the road offers.

Normally I’d pack for my travels with the things I already own but after three months of wearing the same comfy sweats and worn-in t-shirts I’m going help the economy get back on its feet by buying some new clothes that will take me from hiking around Red Rocks to eating a cheesesteak at Pat’s to dancing under the Avenue of the Oaks to swimming in the Pacific.

Pretty Garden Boho Maxi Dress | Aurelia Ankle Strap Pointed Toe Pump |  EV1 ‘Love’ T-shirt | A New Day Aviator Sunglasses | Halogen Tube Hoop Earrings | Cheetah Swimsuit | Sephora Lipgloss |  John Lee Hooker T-shirt |  Fresh Sugar Lemon Perfume | Scoop Vegan Biker Jacket | ChainJoy Ruffled Boho Skirt | Dr. Scholl’s Classic Sandal | Downton Abbey Pearl & Crystal Earring | Bo Diddley Scooter T-shirt | Boden Claire Espadrille| Time and True Tote | Levi’s Signature Boot Cut Jeans

How about you? Do you have any exciting travel plans? Or will you stay closer to home? Drop me a line…I’d love to know where you are headed this summer.

*I am deeply grateful for all of the men and women young and old who have given their time and their lives so I can enjoy the freedom of the road – and all of the other freedoms I have taken for granted too.  Thank you.

**Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran