Monday, August 31, 2009

Kyrie Eleison

She walked out of Mass dancing and singing.

My non-Catholic friend bubbled with faith and energy after leaving Xavier University's Bellarmine Chapel and its evening service.

Over some late afternoon sushi, she envited me to tag along, waxing poetic about Jesuit philosophy and the fellowship she's enjoyed since exploring her spirituality.

I shared with her that May 13 was the last time I went to Mass - a wham, bam 20 minute service I attended to honor Maeve's passing. More spiritual than religious, I knew I was in for a check-up.

The crux of the pastor's homily centered on service for others - What are you doing to give of yourself to others? It was a touchpoint I've been mulling lately - how can I give my time while taking care of my own obligations and life elements?

I am grateful I've been given the gift of appreciation. My life isn't perfect, but I'm all too aware of my blessings and fully realize part of gratitude is sharing your gifts with others.

Last night, my friend shared her own gift with me.

Positive energy, optimism, open kindness - these are the things we're meant to pass on to one another.

I must remember that.

I must strive to accomplish that daily.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The High Life From The Other Side

Rule #1: The help doesn't care what the event is officially called.

That is my deduction the morning after volunteering my time as a server at the Goddesses of the Harvest event at Krohn Conservatory.

For over a week, I'd been telling my Twitter followers that I was excited I'd be volunteering at the "Goddesses of the Garden" event at my favorite landmark in Cincinnati. Little did I know this event was about the harvest, not the garden, at Krohn.

Truth be told, I was more concerned about resurrecting my serving getup.

In another place and time, I earned my keep by serving fine diners boiled or baked stuffed lobster, swordfish (ed note: 15 years ago we didn't have warnings about the oceanic ecosystem that we do now. These days, please do not order swordfish and many other types of fish that cannot sustain the demand. Please.), prime rib and other choice dishes.

Working in the restaurant biz was a great training ground - I learned efficiency, team work, stress management, the art of courtesy, the humility of being nice to an asshole you're serving, the vindication of (rarely) dishing it back when it's warranted, and the courage of calling people out when they failed to leave a tip for exemplary service at an expensive restaurant.

Serving in high school and college was a great entree into the real world.

Serving also nurtured my love of good food.

Last night, 87 guests were treated to an elegant meal orchestrated by five acclaimed women, including my friend, Chef Renee Schuler of Eat Well Celebrations and Events in Newport.

Renee invited a friend and me to help at the event, and I was quick to jump at the chance. Volunteering would be a great way to enjoy the moment without shelling out the $75 pp price tag.

And, having worked in kitchens before, I knew there'd be food to eat at some point during the night! I also thought it would be a fun opportunity to blog about my experience and capture the workings of the kitchen for the blog. Enjoy the following videos (each are no longer than :15), paired with my comments about the moment.

Four chefs prepared courses celebrating locally grown produce (including produce grown at Krohn), all paired with wine selections chosen by wine expert Renee Koerner.

The evening started with Renee's summer corn custard, house smoked salmon, petite herb salad, all dressed with a Big Fish Farms caviar vinaigrette.

Rule #2:
Food is much an art as any form you can see at the local museum.

Renee and the other chefs were extremely focused on the presentation. It's true - we eat with our eyes as much as we do with our taste buds. Experts at their art, these women knew a well crafted plate would tease and tempt our dinner guests well before their first taste.

I admired their commitment Make sure the custard is served at three o'clock and the crustini at nine! and the extreme attention detail where garnishing was concerned.

The second course was prepared by Julie Francis, executive chef and owner of Nectar in Mt. Lookout. Consisting of a trio of salads - braised beets with walnuts and a dusting of feta, curried okra, and chickpeas and eggplant with soy - it. was. fresh. The beets practically melted in my mouth, offering an aftertaste explosion of nutty walnut and tangy feta. The okra wasn't slimy like you might expect, and the chickpea/eggplant salad was great too - but the beets were, by far, my favorite.

Last night reminded me of something I picked up in high school and college - Rule #3: The food industry relies on team work.

Where cut throat tactics may fly in the boardroom or on a conference call, an efficient kitchen and dining room operation requires a collaboration of efforts. Last night's orchestration was no exception. Though the meal was prepared by four, individual, spectacular chefs, the entire team supported the one whose dish was getting prepared and plated for the guests.

It was definitely an All for one, one for All kind of gig. Delightful, considering any one of these women was entitled to have an ego the size of Texas.

The above video shows the crew helping Chef Anne Kearney of Rue Dumaine in Dayton (ed. note: Kearney is a culinary treasure for our region. She and her husband originally had a restaurant in New Orleans, and life circumstances inspired them to return to Ohio and open a venue here) plate her braised veal short ribs atop locally grown and ground polenta, garnished with a relish of cucumber, tomato, roasted corn and edamame. Everything was local except for the edamame.

The veal was so, so tender - some bites so fatty and soft that it was reminiscent of pork belly.

So. The serving. How'd I do?

Well, a couple things I remembered. Amy Tobin of Party Source in Newport reminded us, "Lower Left - Raise Right," which refers to how you properly serve and clear plates.

Courtesy and kindness is normally a part of my personality, so I didn't struggle so much with serving these folks with a smile. What I DID struggle with - I had two or three "slow eaters" in my section, and I could never tell if they were finished or taking a break. One of them was downright testy when I asked if I could take her practically bare starter plate. Another rolled her eyes after I asked a second time about her starter plate.

In my defense, she kept switching the positioning of her fork on her plate (which looked like it had been picked over), and I could never tell if she was signaling me to take the dish or leave it.

For the rest of the evening, I left those two ladies alone until absolutely every other plate was cleared and the next course was being served.

For dessert, we enjoyed a magnificent dessert prepared by Pastry Chef Summer Genetti of The Palace Restaurant at The Cincinnatian - chocolate zucchini cake with cheesecake ice cream and a deep and dark hot fudge sauce. I was excited about this course - Julie had introduced me to Summer and her talents a couple months ago over a cupcake flight at the Cricket Lounge.

I was not disappointed.

After enjoying my helping in the back with everyone else, I went for another petite scoop (okay, two) of the cheesecake ice cream. It was spectacular - kind of like when I experienced the cake batter ice cream craze in 2002. Awesome trickery for my brain.

While the guests enjoyed their own dessert confections, our small but hard working crew gathered in the makeshift kitchen for glasses of wine, toasting to our efforts and a smashing event.

Rule #4: The kitchen staff gets to enjoy the fruits of its labor, too.

I normally enjoy these events as one of the paying attendees. I usually justify the ticket price as a small fee to help out an organization while enjoying a spectacular series of dishes.

Last night, I only needed to buy a white button down shirt to gain admittance.

The experience reminded me - food is about far more than a bunch of flavors served on a plate.

Food is about art and friendship. No matter what side of the dish you're on.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

West Wharf

I am longing for home.

Granted, I intend on living in Cincinnati forever.

But Madison, Connecticut has my heart, so in some ways, I guess that makes it my home.

Madison is a place where time is a little bit slower. A place shrouded in my memories. High school angst and silly crushes. The dirty work of my first summer job - schlepping plates at one of the town mainstays. The photo above was my view at work - not bad for a 16 year-old pulling four and change while busing tables.

Madison is lobster boils and patriotic bunting.

Madison is cool summers (Lord have mercy if the mercury climbs higher than 85 degrees) and long walks along the water. Madison is sand everywhere - in your car, your house, your hair.

I am sure part of my nostalgia for Madison is credited to the era in which I spent time there - a time when I was not worried about bills or stressed out about too many commitments/too much work/too many problems.

Life was "hard" when I didn't have any gas in the car or couldn't find anybody to play with on a weekend night.

I miss the place that holds for me the epitome of summer break. Bike rides and Ten Summoner's Tales on my CD walkman, long drives along the water through neighboring towns.

My family and I had a morose conversation once about where we each wanted our ashes scattered. We all agreed that we'd want a piece of us left on those rocks in the picture above. I guess I want to haunt Madison in the afterlife as much as it haunts me now.

I miss the Sound.

I miss home.

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Monday, August 24, 2009


I hate chit chat.

Yes, it’s a polite way to exchange pleasantries with people as you go through your day, but I typically regard it as a time wasting engagement that distracts me from more pressing tasks. I struggle with chit chat at work but am well aware it’s a necessity in developing relationships and fostering good feelings among my co-workers.

Chit chat with someone today, and they just may be willing to help you in a pinch tomorrow.

I appreciate chit chat and its role in office politics. I detest making small talk with strangers.

And neighbors.

My apartment building is a random collection of people. Families. Immigrants. Middle aged married couples. 40-something bachelors. College kids. Mentally disabled people. Me.

For a long time, I was the only real “single chick” in the building. While the rent is dirt cheap and the layout quaint, my apartment doesn't have many of the amenities most professional single women seek out when renting a place to call home.

No dishwasher. No washer/dryer hook ups. No disposal. Wall to wall carpet. The affordable rent makes up for the building’s short comings.

The price tag also has a way of luring people with less means.

The unit above mine recently became occupied by a young woman who expects to give birth any day. About 24 or 25, she is young and rough around the edges. She is missing one front tooth, and the other is chipped in half. Her boyfriend appears to be in his mid 30s. She tells me he has some children who will be staying in the apartment from time to time.

Oh, joy.

Friday evening I was sitting on my stoop, waiting for a friend who was picking me up for the night’s festivities. As I sat there and watched the world go by, my new neighbor and her boyfriend pulled up, fresh from a trip to the grocery.

The young girl wore low slung, orange terry cloth shorts and a shorter t-shirt that failed to cover her massive, protruding stomach. Toting on her arm a plastic grocery bag full of Ho Hos and corn chips, she carried a giant UDF milkshake in one hand and a lit cigarette in another. Unable to temporarily press Pause on my passing judgment, I smiled and did my best to mask my disgust.

I felt compelled to chit chat.

Heaven knows why I wanted to share a moment with this girl. Maybe it’s because I pity her. Maybe it’s because I know she’s in for a tough road ahead. Maybe it’s because I regard her as ignorant and a product of circumstance.

Maybe it’s because I realize I have no reason to harbor any feelings of any kind for her.

Her situation, however, brings out the dichotomy of my internal monologue.

Part of me is angry and frustrated that so many loving, successful people struggle to have a family of their own. Married, single, gay and straight – the world is full of people who would make great parents but for a variety of circumstances fail to receive the blessing of a beautiful child to call their own.

The other half of me is mystified that the universe allows so many unqualified people to take on a parenting role. Occasionally I’m struck by a Mother Teresa/Florence Nightingale desire to collect the downtrodden of the world, hold them tight, make their cares go away and give them the tools they need to be self sufficient and worthy contributors to society.

I am fully aware that to help someone requires an investment of time and an open heart, something that I have, but not without internal struggle. Most importantly, the act of reaching out to another relies on more than passing chit chat. It demands a conversation.

I know that’s something I need to work on.

Like I said, chit chat with someone today, and they just may be willing to help you in a pinch tomorrow.

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En Pointe

Ballet is way cooler than you think.

I started volunteering for the ballet over three years ago, and while giving my time back to a beautiful, remarkable art form, I've learned a lot about the craft I can only admire. I've been enamored with ballet ever since.

My latest brush with ballet came thanks to the monthly Cincinnati Women Bloggers meeting. After a casual post mortem on BlogHer '09, we were treated to a tour of one of my favorite parts of the ballet - the costume closet.

The costumes are designed, constructed and maintained by a mother-daughter team and a few other helping hands. This crew invests hours upon hours in a single, hand tucked tutu. Each costume concept is borne out of an involved process that includes smaller, model versions of the finished product. I believe the red model above is of a costume I saw in a Balanchine piece in May. The seamstresses hand sew each, tiny, sparkling gem on every. single. costume.

The ballet makes some of its money by renting out its costumes to dance companies across the country. The Cincinnati Ballet owns costumes dating back from the 1970s - they're all kept in subterranean caverns that originally kept beer barrels back in Cincinnati's brewing heydays.

The Cincinnati Ballet kicks off its 09/10 season on September 10 with its New Works series. New Works is a collection of new pieces choreographed by people right here in Cincinnati. I always love New Works because it showcases more edgy pieces - dance movements that contradict the idea of traditional ballet. Those funky arrangements paired with modern music makes for a great introduction to ballet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


He told me he loved it when I scratched his back.

An old boyfriend from many moons back confessed he had a sweet spot for long nails. Freshly painted talons with an edge that could cut like a knife, he revealed that he loved when those nails dug into his skin during more amorous moments.

And that was when I resolved to do my best and avoid biting my ragged, flimsy nails.

I've always had a problem with nail biting. Even as a kid, I'd chew off my nails with reckless abandon (there was even a time when I was limber enough to bite off my toe nails. I know. Gross). My sister and I never fought fair, at least where nails were concerned. A scrawny seven years old to my more strapping 10, Brig had one thing going for her whenever we battled - tiny, little claws. Where my nails failed to match, I was able to respond with brute strength.

I guess cat fight is an appropriate euphemism.

Through the years, I have had little luck breaking my dirty habit. My nails always made their way to my mouth in times of stress and adversity. It didn't matter whether my crisis of the moment was borne out of professional challenges or personal conflict, I typically always responded with a good nail chewing.

That was up until two months ago.

The end of my nail biting didn't happen during an intentional effort. I've polished, filed and painted my nails in the past - all efforts that failed to stop my claw chomping. My attempts to use that horrible tasting nail polish were met with failure, too.

My nail biting ended a couple months ago with no effort. In fact, I didn't know it had stopped until I looked down at my hands and noticed my nails were long. Well, they extended just beyond the nail bed, which is long in my book.

I've always been envious of women with beautifully painted and shaped nails - not chicks whose hands scream acrylic, but women whose hands look feminine and polished.

Just over a week ago I was sent some hand and nail care products from a PR rep on behalf of Barielle Skin Care. It was perfect timing - I had some nice, longish nails that deserved maintenance.

I started with the Intensive Nail Renewal Oil - a clear, oily solution brushed on the nail and cuticle area. After about a week of treatment, my cuticles look clean and healthy, not dry and ragged like in days past.

I was also sent a Cuticle Replenisher pot made with mango butter. As soon as I opened the pot, I was struck by a scent that reminded me of a Lemondrop vodka shot. The product says its meant to help cuticles recover from everyday wear and tear, but I honestly think it works better as a lip balm. It might be a great thing to pop in your purse and to keep your cuticles in good shape while on the go, but mine seem to be pretty healthy thanks to the treatments from the renewal oil.

I've also been trying the Ultra Soft Hand Cream. Without a signature scent, the best thing about this hand lotion is that it has SPF 15. As a 30-something chick, I am very conscious of whether my skin is starting to surrender my youth.

The one Barielle product that has prompted tons of compliments? The nail polish. Shades by Barielle is a line of vibrant polish - I've been testing "Slate of Affairs," a blue-gray shade, and "Pin Up," a shiny cherry/scarlet.

Last Monday I had a meeting with my COO, and she was quick to admire my blueish nails, noting they looked fun and cool. I said I was grateful I can get away with something a little more edgy. Two days later I was rocking the bright red shade - it's a color that makes me feel very glamorous and sexy. I caught up with my dear friend, Bluegrass Brit, and she gushed about my nails, noting they were the first thing she noticed when she saw me.

I am loving my new, long nails.

The thing I like about them best? I'm growing and taking care of them for me, not a boyfriend who loves a little clawing.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


I am my last priority.

The to-do list is full of work obligations, personal commitments and social engagements. I am quick to say Sure, I'll help you or Yes, I'd love to come or Absolutely, I can work on that, and through it all, I fail to do many things for me.

Life creates these moments, and they distract me from taking care of my own obligations. Sure, John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans," and for the most part, I'd agree. Life is found in the nuances of our day. Life is not the plot of the story, it's the lines and words written in each act.

And while I realize that all of my work and volunteering and socializing makes up the essence of my life, I sometimes wonder if my life would be better if I said yes less and no more.

So, what would I do if I had more time for *me*?

For starters, I'd commit to a body renovation.

My diet and exercise regime (or lack thereof) would be significantly impacted if I had more time to work out and dine in.

Speaking of dining in, I'd put my 30+ cookbook collection to good use. I'd make time to savor the flavors of my own food, rather than those I discover at dining spots around town. I'd put my fingers in the dirt and try to grow some of the fruits and vegetables and herbs needed to craft my culinary creations.

I would make more moments with the people I love.

Time would be used to nurture the relationships that are most important to me. Rather than giving my days and evenings willy nilly to just about anyone, I'd reserve my prime time for family and my closest friends. Phone calls to say hello and I love you wouldn't wait until tomorrow. Instead, I'd make a point of calling those folks I care about the moment they cross my mind.

I'd clean my hovel. Instead of waiting for the fairies or Mary Poppins to breeze through and make my space spic and span, I'd dig out the mop and vacuum and go to town on a mess that's months in the making. I would use my time to appreciate my space and give my home the respect it's due.

I would make the time to find love.

Sometimes I feel like my life is too busy for a relationship. People ask me how I'm able to keep up my grueling schedule, and I tell them it's possible because I don't have a husband or children. I know full well I'd give up a bunch of my obligations in a new york minute for the love of my life, and sometimes wonder if I need to sit still and wait for the sting of Cupid's arrow.

I know the guy's been at it for an eternity, but even he must struggle with accuracy when a target is moving as quickly as me.

I would read. Not Let's glance at the headlines and have a rough understanding of today's worldly events read, but Pour a glass of iced tea, sit on a porch and let the pages fly through your fingers as your brain transports you to another place and time read. I would finally get through the copy of the Warren Commission Report kept in my bathroom for unusual reading material. I'd re-read Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter and all the other books I enjoyed as a kid. I would get the Sunday New York Times and read every. damn. word.

I'd read the Bible.

And I'd go to church.

As much as I believe I have a solid relationship with God, I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out on anything since I started skipping Mass a few years ago. I certainly don't think spirituality and religion have a mutually exclusive relationship, but I guess going through the paces and attending a service now and then can be good for a person - if for no other reason than having a moment to appreciate life and all its gifts.

Looking at this list of would-be to-dos makes me realize it's time for a change. I know these goals run the gamut from logical to lofty, but I suppose great change can only come from a million tiny steps.

It's time for me to start taking a few more steps in the direction of Me.

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that I won't be sitting in a pew at St. Mary's tomorrow morning.

But I just might muster up the energy to take out the garbage.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bowled Over

Hello, Gorgeous.

A new video is circulating from the BowlHer party at last month's BlogHer '09 conference in Chicago. The video shows b-roll from the red carpet entrance, the melee at the chic bowling lanes, the pool table action and of course other frivolity.

If you look carefully, you can spot Red Kat Blonde, momtrolfreak and me in some clips around 25 seconds in.

Many folks (including myself) had mixed reviews on this year's conference dedicated to chick bloggers. This video proves that, at the very least, many people had some fun while in the Windy City.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Golden Shower

Women can pee while standing if they're really determined.

That was my first thought after watching a particular scene in The Full Monty. In the movie, a woman bets a man that she can pee standing up. She walks up to a urinal, unzips her jeans and goes to town. A man walks out of the Men's Room exclaiming, "They're gonna take over the world!"

That's quite possible buddy, but how we pee has no bearing on it.


I remember an old co-worker of mine, a former TV anchor in Lexington, telling me about a related conversation she had while sitting at the anchor desk. Apparently, the chief meteorologist at the time told her that women can pee standing up based on a special technique involving the positioning of one's hands. I was amazed this conversation actually unfolded at the anchor desk, but I was even more amazed about the content of the discussion.

A hand gesture can help a woman pee standing up.

How amazing.

I mean, this could be relevant when camping or hiking, when faced with the prospect of a dirty portolet or gas station. What a fascinating concept. And yet, something I will likely never entertain.

And then I discovered the Go Girl.

The Go Girl folks handed out samples at BlogHer, and I managed to snag one. It's a latex, molded device that helps a woman pee while standing, thanks to its handy, ergonomic funnel design.

The company recommends new users test it out in the shower, so that's exactly what I did. Users are supposed to form a tight seal with the body to ensure there's no leakage. When I tried it out, it worked well enough for me to appreciate its value in the real world.

Each device comes with a tissue and plastic bag for disposal or transporting before cleaning and reuse.

If you want to save and reuse the device, you'll have to wash it. Even though urine is sterile and the Go Girl's silicone is germ resistant, it needs to be washed to avoid developing bacteria.

You can supposedly put it in the dishwasher - but that's entirely up to you. I don't know that you'd want to wash a bathroom-related tool with your Crate and Barrel Bamboo flatware.

Just sayin'.

Have you ever been in a pee crisis? I know I peed my pantyhose at the Trocadero subway station in Paris once. A Go Girl would have been handy on that occasion.

Leave a comment about your most vivid pee crisis, and you'll be entered to win one of two Go Girl devices, courtesy of the good folks at Go Girl.

Winners will be selected at random.

The contest runs through Friday.

Good luck!

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Sunday, August 16, 2009


I am the last of the line.

Let me start at the beginning. My grandfather was the oldest of five - three boys and two girls. Of those three boys, my grandfather was the only man to have a son- my dad. My father, for all his trying, was blessed with three girls.

Like I said, I am the last of the line.

That fact, paired with the ten years I've spent establishing a career, compels me to at least entertain the idea of keeping my name when I marry someday.

I am prepared for the traditional backlash.

As a progressive woman, I am comfortable with dynamics that go beyond societal norms, but it turns out most people aren't.

Seventy percent of Americans either strongly agree or somewhat agree it's beneficial for a woman to take her husband's name when they marry (USA Today).

The study indicates people who support marital name change do so because they believe it helps establish marital and family identity. Women who support keeping maiden names do so while focusing on establishing a professional or individual identity.

I find the philosophies tied to these beliefs interesting because I prescribe to a thought that a common name is not adequate foundation to cement a marital or family identity. Trust, commitment, honesty, passion and engagement are the bricks-and-mortar for those goals.

I also find it preposterous that some people would propose the government mandate women to change their names when they marry.

Reasoning would tell me that the very people who offered such an opinion are conservative. And conservatives should know Republicans have traditionally backed less government and less regulation. I think it's a riot that the same voters who support a party that endorses free trade and personal responsibility would support a law that strips women of a choice that is far less significant than the choice they have involving their womb.

Whew, time to pipe down.

Study spokespeople say the idea of name changing isn't a political powder keg - but reactions to the concept are a bellwether for how people will react to other, more significant matters.

But I won't bring up that can of worms. Again.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knicker Snicker

Something's been poking my breasts lately.

Before you let your imagination run wild, I'll quell the excitement and tell you that one of my favorite bras has a wayward wire.

It's a beautiful black bra covered in hot pink, embroidered flowers. The bra was a tightly kept secret until Victoria let the cat out of the bag and shared it with me many moons ago.

Realizing that I might be in the market for a few new, beautifully crafted feats of physical architecture, I started scouting out the options.

My Atlanta-based sister tells me there's a fantastic place called Intimacy. The boutique apparently accomodates women of all sizes, whether you are proud of your grapes, or cope with something of the melon variety. This is the place that was featured in Oprah's panty intervention, so they must know what they're talking about, right? Maybe I'll give their Chicago store a whirl when I breeze in to the Windy City in September.

These bras are an investment, I'm told. Something in the ballpark of 50 or 60 bucks - a far cry from the hundreds you could spend in Paris.

It's no surprise the City of Lights is a bastion of romance and love. Parisian women have their pick when it comes to choosing dynamite delicates, including the Louise Feuillère Lingerie Shop. For a mere $450, you can pick up a cotton bra in a rainbow of vibrant colors, some covered in tulle or other lacy fabrics. The 36-year-old lingerie designer also offers luxurious bustiers, corsets, panties and other pieces, many with rare laces, velvets and silks.

I know what some of you are thinking. Why spend so much money on a garment that will spend more time on the floor than it will on a woman's body? Because it would make said woman happy, and that's the most important thing of all.


Ask any woman - a well fitting, comfortable bra can make you look thinner, perkier, and better proportioned, and that's worth its weight in gold.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

I found a few interesting bra-related photos while googling for the pic at top. The photos include this unusual bra

This unusual man

this link to a pic of a chick in a bra made out of bacon. None of these pics celebrate bras I'm interested in wearing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Let's toss out journalistic integrity, shall we?

This story screams small market - and yet it was supposedly turned in Cleveland.

I can't believe this really hit the air. I mean, really...

Hat tip to S.S.H. for posting it on her FB page!

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Flower Child

I have a friend who insists I'm not funky.

It's a funny debate we have - I most certainly know I AM funky, and yet he insists I'm as preppy and conventional as they come. That he's not aware of my counterculture persona is an indication that either he doesn't know me as well as he thinks -or- I've been successful in masking this facet of my personality.

No matter.

Though seersucker, grosgrain and cotton make regular plays in my fashion set list, I have long embodied that of a social chameleon. At any given moment, I can reach in to my bag of tricks (and extensive, varied wardrobe) and pull out clubby, saucy, conservative, hipster and polished - depending on the occasion.

Crunchy is one of those facets.

Over the years, I've worn tie-dye, Birkenstocks and hemp necklaces. When I was but five years old, I carried a metal lunch box wallpapered in a Stop Acid Rain sticker. I tossed around a hacky sack or two when I was in high school.

My ambition belongs in more conservative environs, but my heart is happiest with people who are free, genuine and laid back.

I guess you could say I belonged at Woodstock.

Passion is a wonderful virtue, and no generation has better demonstrated it than the youth of the 60s. They fought against war, they fought for civil rights. The legendary music festival in upstate New York is the most significant example of this convergence of thought - free love, protest, acceptance; it was a place where a generation defined their values.

Woodstock left an indelible mark on society, and I am sorely disappointed I missed it.

I would have had to exist 25 years earlier to appreciate the experience, meaning I would be in my late 50s in present time. I'd miss out on wearing Jams, obsessing over Capri Suns. I'd miss out on singing Pearl Jam with my high school classmates at a hole in the wall bar in Hamburg.

Twitter would likely mean nothing to me.

Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It was a weekend when hundreds of thousands of people joined hands and hearts on a stretch of green, rolling farmland to share a collective thought and feeling of peace. The musical acts that hit the stage are now featured in any soundtrack defining that era. CCR's Bad Moon Rising, Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart, Jefferson Airplane's Somebody to Love. The Who, Joe Cocker, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Sha Na Na (aside: I am told I had a crush on Sha Na Na's Bowser when I was little), Jimi Hendrix - this music, though not in my iPod's Top 25 Played playlist, it certainly inspires nostalgic thoughts of my youth.

This weekend, join me in breaking out the tie dye, hemp and sandals. Crank up your Anthem Rock (whether it be on vinyl, CD or iPod), and do whatever you think best honors a generation of peace, love and happiness.

Just don't call me if you need to post bail - I will be back to my Preppy Handbook-sanctioned wardrobe by Monday.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday's Child Has Far To Go

Please help me welcome Nora Grace to the world.

My niece was born at 1:04 pm today in Atlanta, to her wonderful parents, Brigid and Steve.

I'm told she weighed in at 8 lbs and 4 ounces, 21 inches long and has a head of dark hair. My dad says Nora has brown eyes, too, but I've always heard of babies having blue eyes at birth. No matter - she apparently looks just like Brig. Everyone is healthy and doing well. Nora opened her eyes right away... and the birth apparently took a bit longer than expected because she has a big head.

Must be all those brains!

We've been very anxious for this little girl to join the family. During the entire pregnancy, we wondered, first, whether she was a boy or a girl. Later we fantasized about what kind of child she'd be. Very active in the womb, my sister and mom both discussed whether she'd be wild like her *aunt.*

I have always said there was nothing wrong with having a wild streak.

Every child is a gift from God, but this child is an even bigger gift - because we speculate she was hand-picked by her big sister, Maeve, who joined the angels in Heaven 15 months ago to the day.

Sometimes I wonder if Maeve sent a "wild child" because her health prevented her from being a terror.

However Nora turns out - we are grateful for the gifts, blessings and love she will bring to the family.

And I will be grateful if she has chubby cheeks - because I am desperate to kiss them incessantly.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Precipice of Life

Tonight, a little girl swims inside her mommy's tummy.

Long legs and a button nose, she's cramped with all her worldly possessions - which include an umbilical cord, ten fingers and ten toes, and a strong, beating heart.

She swims inside her mommy's tummy, and has no idea of what life is like on the other side. All she knows is that she's warm, she's safe and she's loved.

She is loved.

We've no idea what she looks like, but we know she's beautiful. How could she not be, born with a melange of good looks coming from her mom and dad.

Speak nothing of her stunning aunt.

She swims inside her mommy's tummy, and we dream of the future.

She swims inside her mommy's tummy, and we pray about the past.

She swims inside her mommy's tummy, and we are grateful for the present.

Tonight, a little girl is swimming inside her mommy's tummy.

Tomorrow she swims in the sea of life.

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

... or, in this case, a thousand aspirations across Cincinnati.

I hope to have some of these bumper stickers in my hand this time next week.

Let me know if you'd like to express your like-minded opinion on your gas guzzler, and I might be able to send you one.


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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

There Ain't No Party Like A CincyPAC Party...

...because a CincyPAC party don't stop.

Well, the party will take a break in two years for the next election.

The city of Cincinnati is in an election year, and that means the political commercials are around the corner.

It's time for you to explore the issues, determine which ones matter and ensure your voice is heard by those folks who represent you.

Thankfully, CincyPAC is doing a good bit of the leg work for you.

CincyPAC is a local political action committee dedicated to using its collective influence to educate political candidates and expressing Young Professional interests. CincyPAC endorses candidates whose political philosophy most closely compliments those YP interests, and will hold them accountable on key issues during their political tenure.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I think it's time to mention that many CincyPAC members like to have a good time while championing the issues.

The organization is hosting the party of the summer on August 22 on the roof of the McAlpin Condominiums. Aptly called Rooftop Revolution, the 7 PM fundraiser is the first time the public will learn of CincyPAC's endorsements for Cincinnati's council and mayoral candidates.

And for a mere $30, the party also offers appetizers by the bite, open bar, and live music courtesy of Marvin and The Experience (funk/reggae/hip hop/R & B/soul).

Come to Rooftop Revolution, meet some of Cincinnati's movers and shakers, and shake what your mama gave ya while enjoying the open air at one of the downtown district's hottest condo developments.

Make sure you buy your tickets soon - I believe there's a cap on the number of tickets sold at the event, and it's in only ten days!

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Church Newsletter

"In this month's 'Catholic Fun' segment, Don't Mess With Children."


Does someone copy edit this stuff? This reads like a Jay Leno joke.

And, yes, this is from a real, Cincinnati area church.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Note to self...

...make sure EVERYONE is clear about your vacation plans before you leave town.

The following video is hilarious. As a passionate person and occasional victim of bad judgment, this just goes to show you how insane someone can become in the name of love.

Or is it hate?

Psycho Girl Forgets Boyfriend is in Europe - Watch more Funny Videos

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Good Morning, Sunshine (via Twitter)

The chirp of my BlackBerry is the first thing that wakes me up in the morning.

After that persistent bleating, the gentle glow of the smart phone's face is the first light I see. Each. And. Every. Morning.

Yes, my previous blog post revealed a general disconnect where social media is concerned during the weekend. But come Monday, I am addicted to Twitter like a junkie on crack.

Last week, I revealed to my department that my BlackBerry gets in bed with me every night, claiming a special corner of the bed where another person would typically lay their head. No, I don't think my phone suffices as a replacement for another human being, but I certainly don't feel as alone at night and in the morning, especially when I can get on Twitter and read what 200 of my closest friends are up to at any given moment.

I guess everyone is logging on and checking out the world's AM comings and goings.

The New York Times link above shows I am not alone in my technologically inclined habits. Families everywhere are spending their moments ensconced in the hushed tappings of laptops, cell phones and video game controls. Rather than reading fresh pulp A.K.A. the morning paper, people are checking online news sources, Facebook and email before even enjoying their morning constitutional.

It's easier for a solo chick like me to live like that each morning; I imagine I'd be a bit miffed if a loved one was giving me the cold shoulder during breakfast while they caught up on their social media feeds.

I guess the art of family life, these days, is offering your loved ones a reason to shut off the technology and turn on the face-to-face interaction.

Time to dig out a playbook from the 1950s.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009


Twain once said Cincinnati is 20 years behind the rest of the world.

In some cases, I'd agree. Fashion trends take a cycle or two before funneling their way through the Ohio River Valley. And for all the collective Young Professional efforts, this community is still a bastion of conservative, archaic thought.

Which means it'll likely be a long while before Cincinnatians begin hosting anti-Twitter, anti-text, anti-any device that chronicles the moment parties.

Today the New York Times featured an article in its Styles section describing a bumper crop of soirees prohibiting such popular communication tools. Apparently a group of news media people are meeting up for salon-type parties that ban the very resources they depend on in their professional endeavors.

They say the technology ban is fostering better conversations, and as a self-proclaimed Twitter addict, I can totally appreciate the merit of this perspective. On more than one occasion, I have disengaged from conversation to tweet a thought, comment or quip borne out of a social setting. After typing my 140 character comments, I'd return to the discussion and ask participants to repeat what I failed to absorb.

Undoubtedly rude, and yet typical of an entire group of First Adopters.

I vividly remember a happy hour outing where four of the five participants were silent and tweeting/texting about the surroundings and company. Ironic, considering the word company implies engaging interaction between more than one person - and the only people we were engaging with were the folks on Twitter.

The article goes on to remark that some folks enjoy the anonymity of "shutting off" their social media feeds at any given moment. I have to say, I've recently taken to steering clear of Twitter and Facebook over the weekend, if only because I appreciate the opportunity to unplug, recharge and enjoy a more private experience.

You don't really want to know what I do every weekend, do you? Or maybe you do...

Twitter/Facebook/Blogging/You Name It opens yourself up to voyeurism. From the tagged pictures to the videos to the tweets - it's easy to forget that your feed is going to more than just your besties and closest loved ones. On Facebook, your network or friends' friends can check out your pics, depending on the setting, and on Twitter - anyone can follow your feed as long as you're not locked.

I don't pretend to be important or well known, but even I have experienced the unsolicited "You're Kate the Great!" moment, and it reminds me that any stranger out there is privy to my life's habits, preferences and minute details through a variety of social media experiences.

It further underscores my occasional preference to cut ties with anything featuring buttons.

So if I don't respond to your tweet or Facebook message, don't take offense. I'm likely just screening my social media contact for those folks who actually have my phone number.

You know who you are.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

200K - Ain't Nothin' But A G Thing, Baby

My blog hit 200,000 unique visitors last night at 10:35:12 pm.

The hit came from someone using Firefox and operating Windows XP. This particular blog reader specifically came to check out the Twitter Freak Out post.

Little did this visitor know they were a part of history (even if it's just mine, and it's really pretty trivial).

Not one to tout milestones, I thought this one couldn't go unnoticed. Monday marked this blog's five-year anniversary, and though many other bloggers out there could eat my StatCounter for breakfast, I'm happy with the traffic I see.

Not bad for a blog without a concrete genere, intentional lack of marketing and a mix of personal revelation and occasional information.


Thanks for sharing, supporting and laughing along with me as I wade through this mess called life.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

RIP John Hughes

From Wikipedia:

John Hughes, Jr. (February 18, 1950–August 6, 2009) was an American film director, producer and writer, responsible for some of the most successful comedy films of the 1980s and 1990s, including National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Home Alone and its sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

Vacation - one of my family's favorite movies.

Ferris Bueller - one of my favorite movies when I was a tween.

Weird Science - Brig and I used to watch that one over, and over, and over.

The Breakfast Club - A freshman-year-in-college mainstay. We even made the Cap'n Crunch sandwich.

Sixteen Candles/Pretty in Pink - Loved these in high school. I SO identified with Molly Ringwald's characters.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - I think my mom might have passed gas while laughing so hard during this movie.

Uncle Buck - Our first introduction to Macaulay Culkin, I think this flick solidified my mom's crush on John Candy (she goes for soft men with soft hearts).

Home Alone - This flick still ranks as one of my favorite Christmas time movies. I get excited every time I watch it.

John Hughes, you left an indelible mark on pop culture, by making fun of moments and scenarios we could each identify with in everyday life.

No doubt, you are in the Chicagoland part of Heaven.

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Twitter Freak Out

9:44 am Eastern

What the hell is going on. Twitter is broken. 5chw4r7z and I are communicating via text message.

I think I'm going to lose my mind.

I've always said I'd jump off a bridge if Twitter crashed - today's the day.

Are all of these messages 140 characters each?

Feel free to leave your own in the comments.

We're all going to have to create a listserv to "group communicate," aren't we?

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Diamond in the Rough

She'd been holding out on us from the start.

That's what Paula Deen said about her originally published fried chicken recipe.

When I was at BlogHer in Chicago, I learned I'd get an opportunity to meet the Food network star and diva of Southern cooking. This was a big deal in my book, considering my entire family has some fascination with the Savannah woman. My mother owns several of Paula's cookbooks, and my sister and brother-in-law have dined at The Lady & Sons restaurant.

Needless to say, when Paula breaks out a stick of butter, we watch.

Knowing I'd meet Paula, I wracked my brain for a good question to pose. Her favorite time saving kitchen trick? Her favorite Southern dish? No.

I'd ask her a question about one of her signature dishes and the crazy ice she wears on her fingers.

Knowing full well I was going to inquire about her fried chicken, you can imagine my delight when Paula, on her own, spilled her big secret on that deep fried delicacy. Apparently Paula didn't give up her secret ingredient when she first published the recipe.

Check out this video to discover the secret to Paula Deen's amazing fried chicken.

Now that we've let the cat out of the bag...

For my one-on-one time, I had to ask Paula about the dirty chore of cooking as it relates to that massive rock on her left hand.

Kate: Paula, I have one question for you.

Paula: (hesitantly) Okay...

Kate: My sister and brother-in-law love your show. They love Southern cooking and have been to your restaurant.

Paula: (hesitantly) Okay...

Kate: And my brother-in-law really admires how you make your fried chicken. He loves how you really dredge the chicken and make sure its good and coated.

Paula: Uh huh.

Kate: And what he's wondering, and me too - How do you keep your jewelry so clean?

Paula: (grinning, waving hand) Oh, honey! I've got this solution that I soak 'em in, and that cleans 'em up. But it still doesn't get everything out. (Shoving massive Rock-of-Gibraltar engagement diamond in Kate's face) See? I was just frying something two days ago, and there's still junk in there.

Kate: Oh, wow. There is...

All in all, Paula was a dynamite lady. I was so excited to meet her. Ms. Deen was genuine, down-to-earth and quite personable.

And if the batteries hadn't died, I would have caught our entire meeting on video camera. Unfortunately I only have :10 seconds of her touching my hand.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blog!

Five is a very, very big number.

Five is when you can go potty on your own. Five is when you start dabbling with your own imagination and the boundaries of truth and fiction.

Five is when you begin discovering the importance of helping people.

Photo credit: AndrewEick

Five is precociousness, play dates and praise for good behavior.

Five years in to this blogging thing, and I think I've hit a good rhythm. I enjoy using this space to share my ideas and perspective of the world. I also like to step up on the splintered soapbox from time to time, pontificating and waxing poetic about life's elements that I feel deserve some attention, recognition or consideration.

I've used this blog to be precocious, arrange play dates and otherwise demonstrate good behavior.

I've dished out (a little) fiction and a lot of honesty, and somehow you all still seem to like me.

Thanks for that.

As self indulgent as this blog is - I really strive to give you some legitimate, thought provoking content. As the title indicates - everything is random and whimsical, but I really hope there's a nugget or two to glean in each and every post.

Maybe it's a smile, a thought, a feeling of shared empathy. Maybe you're inspired to try a new recipe or dream about a new place. Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy discovering life along with me.

Final note - if there's something you'd like me to blog about, try out, explore, investigate, pontificate, reveal, etc., let me know. I'm happy to oblige.


P.S. - Another significant milestone is on its way in the next couple days. I apologize in advance for any silly fanfare or celebration my vanity orders me to display.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Righteous Room - Cincinnati

We used to hear lots of calls to the Phoenix Cafe over the police scanner.

I moved to Cincinnati to produce the morning show at a local tv station - it was a gig that demanded a schedule of 1 am to 9 am. There I'd be, practically alone in a newsroom, silent except for the flurry of typing on the keyboard and the occasional squawk on the police scanner.

Sometimes the calls would issue an order for an ambulance to 7th and Walnut after a shooting at the rough and thuggish Phoenix Cafe.

As one of my former news managers said, "The Phoenix Cafe is the kind of place that makes you check your Glock at the door."

As Downtown Cincinnati evolved, the Phoenix Cafe stuck out like a sore thumb. Amidst the bustling "Backstage District," complete with the Aronoff, McFadden's/BlackFinn, Nicholson's, the Phoenix Cafe was the only establishment where folks picked up the pace as they were walking by.

Thankfully, the space has been renovated, restoring honor to the entire block.

The Righteous Room is swank, offering cozy seating along the wall opposite an expansive bar. Behind the bar, tenders pour a quick cocktail in front of a mirrored wall concealing flatscreen TVs.

A few steps further lead you to a beautiful courtyard with another bar and lots of outdoor seating.

The bar, the newest gem in the Pavilion/AliveOne/The Stand/Keystone family features a list of specialty cocktails. My companion and I did our best to sample some of the favorites - our attentive server suggested the Dragonberry Limonade, which I thought tasted like a pink jelly bean. Made with dragonberry Bacardi rum, 7-Up, a splash of grenadine and lime juice, it was extremely sweet and went down quickly.

We also tried the Crown Sidecar - made with Crown Royal Reserve, a splash of Cointreau, topped with sour mix and served in a glass with a sugared rim and lime wedge. This drink packed a punch.

The Righteous Room is a fantastic place to wind down after work, grab a drink during a night on the town or toast a special occasion.

Welcome to the neighborhood, RR.

My camera man and I spontaneously shot this video - the camera was apparently challenged by the ambient sound and dark lighting - but I think you get the general idea about the space...

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