Saturday, December 22, 2007

Xmas Goodies

The Hubby and I have offered to make Christmas dinner this year at my in-laws, however the scary part is it will be in their kitchen! My in-laws, who are well into there sixties, are way over cooking, even if it’s the Christmas feast. In fact, they would just as soon do instant mashed potatoes and Stove Top stuffing. They have warned me, no more cookbooks—ever, ever in their lifetime! My mother-in-law has stated that her husband (A New Orleanean) should have a Food Network show called Cooking With Envelopes With Andre’ (The Cajun New Orleanean)—hey I like it! Move it on over Emeril! I have to admit the crawfish etouffee is pretty good (somehow though I cannot find that envelope). Basically envelopes are the extent of their cooking, and if it does not come from an envelope then it does not get made. The good news is since Michael and I will be doing the cooking, no instant mashed potatoes. Tis The Season!

So after making 18 dozen cookies this past weekend (how I got myself in this situation of volunteering for cooking, I don’t know. My husband made me do a bill of materials and create a production operation), I have decided to do something different! After watching Giada from Everyday Italian, I have decide to add a little Italian flavor to our Christmas this year. In one of Giada’s episodes she does some Italian goodie bags, and one of the things she added were Amaretti cookies, which are not so easy to find here in Nashville. The best part about these will be that I don’t have to make them, as they come indivually wrapped in beautiful old world looking tissues. I sent the hubby out to Marche’s, a Italian market here in Nashville, thinking they would have them--no such luck! The amaretti cookies they had are in the red tins and are not indivually wrapped; I have to have the ones that are individually wrapped! Hey, it all about the presentation. I found them through and decided against spending the huge shipping fee, but with a little work I did find them in Atlanta, which is where we are heading anyway. So I’ll be heading to Harry’s Farmer Market, where they even put a few boxes on hold for me. So with my Italian goodies bags and antipasta platter of meats, cheeses and olives—we’re set! Now, I just need to get my hands on some rosy goat cheese for my father-in-law!

Amaretti cookies

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sprucing Up The House For The Holidays!

Picture Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

My buddy Cruella and I were talking this afternoon about decorating today; however, it was different than normal--it was about decorating for the holidays! Cruella is one who likes to really go all out to decorate her home for the holidays. In fact, I don’t hear from her for weeks because she is decorating her house, and then she moves on to her friend Sarah’s house, next she goes to her sister’s house, and then it’s on to her Mother’s house. Today, Cruella and I were discussing why some people like to go all out to decorate for the holiday, and why some people choose to keep it somewhat simple, like me, for instance. I do tend to keep everything very low key, and this is for several reasons:

· First, my house is quite small.
· Second, I don’t want to go down our dark creepy basement to gather up our
Christmas decorations-- don’t need the Cat in the Hat that bad.
· Third, my Hubby always has me on a shoestring budget.
· Fourth, and on top of all this, we’re going to be away for over a week.

But here are some things that I have found where you don’t have to put a lot of money or a lot of effort into to create a nice festive feeling!

Picture from Martha Stewart's Decorating For The Holidays

Starting with the outside: Wanting to create a nice warm welcome, one thing I had to do was change my outside sconces. As I’ve mentioned earlier, my husband and I are slowly working on our house and the sconces that we had needed to go. Thanks to House Beautiful I found a pair that I liked at Home Expo. Next, I added just a wreath with a pretty red ribbon. I always try to buy a few real wreaths, simply because I like the smell, but a faux works as well.

Thanks to Martha Stewart’s Decorating For The Holiday I now like to go to the market for ladies apples, cranberries, clemantines, pears, nuts and what other fruit that may come my way. Next, I like to use a lot of pinecones, and in if you’re in the South you can easily fetch them for free. Another thing, I’ve found that you can do a lot with is tree clippings. Some home improvement centers will give the clipping away for free, but I noticed here in Nashville a few of the high-end centers would like for you to pay for the clippings because they have figured out that you can do a lot with them. I tried to plant nandinas this past summer and I was told they would have berries-- but not a berry to be found! My neighbor Trish has them but I don’t think she would appreciate it if I came over with my sissors. I may have to do without them this year. Once cut, nandinas will last for a long time. Cruella still had hers at Easter.

Picture Courtesy of Martha Stewart (Decorating For The Holidays)

Martha Stewart's Decorating For The Holidays

If you are expecting company and want to make your house a little more cozier, try adding some pillows --Silk Trading Company is a good choice for ready made pillows and curtains. Plus a nice new throw always works.

How about some nice new towels for your company? Two years ago when we first moved to NashVegas and I was expecting my in-laws in for Thanksgiving and I bought the Thomas O’Brien towels from Target. My mother-in-law complements me on them and I noticed Domino mentioned them as well—overall, nice for the money. Now I just need to get a few more to have monogrammed. Last but not least make sure you have enough wine & champagne glasses and serving pieces. I just found some pretty etched champagne glasses that have some age to them at Antiques and Beyond that would be perfect for sorbet or champagne. Not too bad for twenty bucks for a set of six. Too bad I’m going to be away! Oh well, there is always next year.

Picture From Martha Stewart's Decorating For The Holidays

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Time To Wrap!

Picture Courtesy of Carolyne Roehm

One of the things that I love to do around the holidays is to pick out gift wrapping paper and pretty ribbons-- although wrapping, Ill admit, has never been my forte’! This is a task, that I easily assign to my hubby, not that I’m being mean and trying to give him extra work but he can tie a ribbon better then me--I believe this is a talent he acquired from his mother. However, I still love to shop for gift-wrap and all the trimmings!

Over the years, I’ve found I would often spend more on wrapping paper, ribbons, and tags then on the gifts --sometimes I would even buy my paper before all of my gifts (like this year). Currently storage is a huge issue at my house, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money on gift wrapping paper because when Xmas is over and the paper that is left over will be going in my cold, very dark, dirty, infested 1930’s basement that even my hound dog won’t go down into! So now, I just wander into certain stores for inspiration. So for me, the best advice I ever read was in Carolyne Roehm’s Winter Notebook. Carolyne suggests that if expensive paper is out of your reach, then try using white freezer wrap or butcher paper to wrap your presents in, and to splurge, instead, on beautiful ribbon. She also removed the faux fruit off an old wreath and tied that to the ribbon. This is very clever, and indeed a nice way to dress up your packages, and to save some money in the process. Since I’m in the South I even like to use pinecones that are plucked from my own yard.

Picture from Carolyne Roehm's Winter Notebook

I have used just basic white paper the last two years-- I actually bought Crafty Kraft paper from Michael’s retail store. The first Christmas morning, after Michael had wrapped some gifts, his mother popped into the room and said she had some paper upstairs in her wrapping room (she’s very lucky—although it does share space with her washer & dryer). He told her he had it covered, since I had already trained him. Later, when she saw the finished product, she was complementing--how pretty! In the end, I was happy because I saved some money and I still had a nice pretty package to give!

The nice thing is you can use the paper year-round, and you don’t have to worry about snowmen paper, although if you have tiny tots at home, you have to have a little snowman paper. For Valentines Day, of course, just add a red ribbon or for Mother’s Day, you can do pretty light blue, sage green, or pink silk ribbon (unlimited possibilities). So, since I have plenty of Crafty Kraft paper left over from last year and the year before this is one less thing I have to buy! So I am off this morning to fetch some pretty red velvet ribbon!

Picture from Carolyne Roehm's Winter Notebook

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gifts For The Avid Gardener!

After watching several episodes of Clean House , I sometimes try to stay away from giving my girlfriends home décor accessories--unless I know exactly what they are looking for. I have fears of watching this show someday and seeing one of my friends uttering how this was a gift from their beloved friend, the antique lover. I would hate to see one of my friends display a piece just because they felt obligated. Giving home décor accessories to even a close friend is very hard So after a lot of trial and error, this is what I have come up with! I will use my buddy Cruella for this analogy.

Cruella and I spend a lot of time shopping with one another; therefore, we know what each other likes and dislikes. In fact, we have even rub off on each other. We both love French and English antiques, but not all French and English antiques. We both love interior design but not all interior design. And we both love to dabble in cooking and we both love gardening-- her even more so then me. In the past, I’ve have given Cruella accessories for her house-- Papier Mache boxes, Papier Mache coasters--basically I could not go wrong in the Papier Mache department (Cruella loves Papier Mache, in case you could not tell). Now I like to give her books on design, cooking, or gardening, as I mentioned in my Dear Santa blog. However, a couple of years ago, I decided to give Cruella something different--I was out antiquing on a small budget and came across this prissy looking jewelry box. When I picked the box up, I thought oh, this looks like Cruella and the price is right, I’ll get it! Dresser set items have always been more in her field, after all, I sold French iron junk! Once opening the gift, Cruella cries out, in her always bubbly, passionate voice “Thank You, I love it”! And then she told me she was going to store her bedroom’s TV remote in it. Basically, the worst gift I ever gave her! I don’t blame her for wanting to throw the box underneath her bed.

I felt bad because she could not return it! The box had come from an antiques mall and not Stein Mart. I realized I should not have jumped into uncharted waters when I purchased it. I did tell her to sell it, after all, how could she go wrong? Note, this is what I learned-- knowing that Cruella spends from March to November in her yard, I can assume that she is truly an avid gardener. So why not give her something she could use that did not cost a lot but something she would probably not buy for herself! So a gift were I did score was Smith & Hawken 's garden tools – Cruella tells me that she keeps them on display in her kitchen- I was pleased. Hey I wasn’t even going for a home accessories, just a nice tool she could have for her yard.

Smith & Hawken 's Trowel

Smith & Hawken's Garden Essentials Gift

So for all your gardener friends try Smith & Hawken-- a few nice planting tools with a seasonal plant placed in a box with tissue. You can even throw in some nice garden gloves. Or you can just purchase a lemon or orange tree, or rosemary wrapped in burlap with a pretty ribbon.

Smith & Hawken's Women's floral Gloves

Rosmary Topiary

Just add a red bow!

A gift that Cruella always scores high in --is a gift subscription to Southern Accents to your truly!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gifts for the Women (Mothers-in-law) Who Have Everything!

Buying presents for your mother-in-law, or for the woman who has everything, is never an easy task. My mother-in-law, for instance, is no exception; she is very hard to buy for-- she has everything, and now she is becoming a minimalist–if that makes sense! This leaves my husband, Michael, and I with very few choices. In fact, I believe the best gift we ever gave her was not a gift for her, but for her husband (his father), a hi-tech gift that Michael (her son) had picked out in a spit second – Tivo! Before his dad got hisTivo, my mother-in-law made it crystal clear that under no circumstances did they need such a fancy hi-tech gadget, that cost $16/month as well, and would do just fine without it.

Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving holiday. Her son was messing around with her Tivo and messed something up to the extent that Desperate Housewives did not get recorded! He was warned never to go near the Tivo ever again, or be prepared to be left out of the will! So now she can’t live without her Tivo--she is totally independent and can now program Dancing With The Stars by herself! Since her son is now out of great gift-giving ideas, he leaves it up to me. So here it is:

My mother-in-law loves birds—she has decorated her home and cabin around them. She has bought every gadget you can possible name to keep the squirrels away from her bird feeders. The huminingbirds always stop by in the fall to say hello to her, and to fill up for their journey to Brazil. So yes, over the years I have added things to her bird collection. Being the antique person, I have given her old bird prints, old bird tins, bird soap, et cetera et cetera! This year I’m thinking Bird Songs –I looked for this book over mother’s day last year and I could not find it-- so I’m prepared this year! Now, not only will she be able to look at the beautiful illustrations, but she learn the songs as well!

Bird Songs

Bird Songs Fom Around The World

Next, I’m thinking a throw—what woman who has everything could not possible use another throw? I personally like the herringbone or chenille throw from Restoration Hardware and they have been marked down.

Also, earlier this year, in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living --I thought this was a beautiful mohair throw. As always, depending on budget, I think both are very nice.

Picture Martha Stewart Living (mohair throw from Yves Delorme)

Finally, one can never go wrong with beautiful stationary. Being a Southern Belle my mother-in-law always writes nice thank-you notes, never misses friends, families or daughters-in-law birthday or anniversary--so she can always use this!

Stationary from Kate's Paperie

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gifts for the Host or Hostess

There is an article in the November issue of Domino Magazine “What can I Bring”, about making recipes for your holiday gatherings and gifting the dish to the hostess.

Here are a few things that I thought would make nice hostess gifts and you don’t have to break the bank. I was in Atlanta this past weekend, and after squeezing in some antiques stores, I had a little time left to cruise by Crate & Barrel. After all, it’s just around the corner from my in-laws (I do have to take advantage of situations like this—unfortunately, no Crate & Barrel here in Nashville).

While on the lookout for a few entertaining dishes, I stumbled upon this Village Square Baker for $14.95. A few years ago while doing an antiques show, I was next to a lady who was selling oven-to-table bakeware imported from Budapest. She was quite popular that weekend. Yes, all of us normal antiques dealers were all very envious! This past summer on our way to one of Lucilla’s soireés and running very late, I decided to make brownies. Anyway, leaving Michael home to pull the brownies out to bring over to Lucilla’s was not a good idea! He cut them immediately, messed them all up, and showed up with two brownies. So I bought two of the Village Square Bakers—one is going to Lucilla, and the other one is going to my neighbor Sandy, who loves cooking and anything Crate & Barrel.

Still in Atlanta, I stumbled upon Sur La Table --Rolle had me working hard this past weekend for his Scottie cookie cutter. Sur La Table is slowly opening stores in the southeast and they have just recently opened a store at Perimeter Mall. I’ll admit, I’m not a big cook—I found the pots that I have in the fields of England. While in Charleston and living the simple life, Michael and I had one copper pot to do all of our cooking in. And I took that from my inventory! (Actually we had four but the huge copper pot leaked and Michael told me to get rid of it-- I would have no part of that, it looked good with my other two pots) Anyway, over the last few years I have been able to add a few more pots to my collection. I don’t actually own the Le Creuset cookware, so I have never used them. But I have heard through the culinary experts they are wonderful. So this is what I’m thinking, for all the dinner club people who take their dinners and cooking very seriously, the cute petite stoneware casserole pot for $15.00 each would make a lovely party favor. And they come in beautiful colors. You could also do individual place settings with them.

There is the two-piece rectangle Le Creuset stone set for $29.95, or the 4 piece set for $49.95. You can split the gift sets for different parties you attend or keep one for yourself. :)

And if your really feeling generous, I thought the French oven was priced well for $79.95. If you arrive with that plus a bottle of Bordeaux --I’ll bet you’ll be invited back very quickly! Actually, I think they all make nice gifts, and your host or hostess will love you for the thought. Unless you’re my mother–in-law and have sworn off cooking. However, I have something, I think she will like –more on that later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dear Santa!

Since I love books, I love to give them as gifts as well. To me, books make great presents especially, if you really know that person and share some commonalities. Following are a few books that I will be giving to a few close friends.

First on my list are a few cookbooks that were released just this past year. Personally, I enjoy nothing more than waking up on a weekend morning (when I can beat my hubby to the TV) to watch The Food Network--Paula, Ina, Giada, and Nigella.

One thing I always like to do is ask other people who their favorite Food Network star is. Just this past weekend, over Thanksgiving dinner, I asked my mother–in-law‘s good friend who she liked to watch. Her response was Giada, and her reason was, “ she’s beautiful”! Yes, she is beautiful, and when she first started I loved her kitchen, with the open shelving and colorful, beautiful cappuccino maker! Being a design nut, I do watch for things like that. But I have to say my all time favorite has to be Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa. I even kick Michael off the TV to watch Barefoot Contessa. To me, Ina would be someone you would love to have as a good friend or neighbor--a very delightful person. I have a few of her cookbooks and I always return to them on a regular bases. Her books are full of information for basic delicious recipes.

Ina came out with a new cookbook this year, Barefoot Contessa At Home. I have a very good friend whom I think would really enjoy this book, and, yes, I’m still missing this particular cookbook as well. So Santa (Michael) if you’re reading this, take note! I’ve already made her roasted shrimp Orzo, and it was easy and very good. When the word “gourmet” is uttered from my hubby’s mouth, I’m pleased!

Nigella Express

Another thing I like to do is read cookbooks. So when I discovered that my neighbor, Sandy, loves to read cookbooks, I was thrilled. Since Sandy kept my hydrangeas alive while I was away this summer, I bought her Nigella’s Feast as a thank you! I have caught Sandy skipping on my blogs. so I can say that I may get her Nigella Express. I discovered Nigella back in 2001 while I was over in the U.K. watching the BBC. I still remember her show from then-- to me it was Sex And The City meets the food world, quite hip with good looking food. I was very excited to see her added to the Sunday lineup!

Next on my list is Inspirations From France & Italy, by Betty Lou Phillips. This would be for Cruella – Cruella and I both have a love for antiques and decorating, so she is always fun to buy for! Cruella loves decorating books, she loves Betty Lou Phillips, and this is a new release that I don’t think she knows about! Another book I’m thinking about for her is Bunny Williams ' Point of View. I have Bunny’s An Affair with a House and always enjoy reading what a grandmaster designer has to say and I know Cruella does too!

Inspirations from France & Italy

Bunny Williams' Point of View

And if Santa is reading! I would love to have Living With Dogs-- which came out a few years ago. How I missed it I don’t know. Funny, Rolle asked for a little Spaniel brother yesterday!

Living with Dogs

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rolle's Christmas Wish List!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to think about Christmas. One little guy who always makes my list is our basset hound-- Rolle. As I was making out my list, I thought I would go to the little guy myself to see what he wanted from Santa this year--this is what he shared with me. I’ll let him take it from here.

I want food! Preferably meat and cheese! If Santa is running low on these, then here are some things I think will do just fine: first on my list are doggie treats from Harry Barker. A few years ago Mommy did a Christmas show and purchased Harry Barker treats to sell as gifts--because she says some folks just don’t buy antiques around the holidays. I was so happy when she bought too much. I was able to reap the rewards from what she couldn’t sell. I can vouch that they’re yummy and come in flavors like bacon and peanut butter in cute little sealed jars. What canine wouldn’t want them?

Harry Barker

Cat Treats from Harry Barker

Also, Since my Harrods dog leash is all faded, and my Harrods dog collar has long been lost in my grandparents woodsy backyard, I would like replacements for both! Mommy won’t be traveling across the pond anymore, but she can order this online at Harrods but she better do it now--she tends to procrastinate!

Harrods Dog Collar

Also, Martha Stewart doggie coats are very cute and stylish, but after eating all that turkey at Thanksgiving, I’m afraid it will make me look fat. Plus, Mommy has not mastered the art of sewing (a requirement for these)! Perhaps this would be a good gift for my buddy Elliot the Pomeranian around the corner!

Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart

Most importantly, I want a new bed! My Ralph Lauren quilt is starting to lose it’s stuffing, and it does not go with Mommy’s decor. Mommy’s been looking through lots of catalogs, and all the beds have huge price tags, and they’re not even stuffed with down feathers. I’ve overheard Mommy talking about Target, and I think they have excellent choices for canine bedding and bedding for my neighbor-- Elvis the cat. (I can’t forget the cats!). I’m sending Santa to Target!

This Bed is a good size for Elliot!

Finally, after pouring over old issues of Martha Stewart with my Mommy, I’ve instructed her to make shortbread cookies for all of our human neighbors and bone biscuits for my canine friends. She couldn’t find my breed as a cookie cutter, but since I met a new friend, McDuffie a Scottish Terrier, she got a cute Scottie instead. Mommy said this is where you can find the cookie cutters Coppergifts or Sur La Table – great selection, she thinks!

Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

Merry Xmas! Rolle

P.S. Mommy & Daddy please make a donation to the Humane Society and please bring me home a little English Spaniel brother named Henry! Don’t ask- I just like the name.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Girlfriends Guide To Antiquing!

With the holidays now here and with everyone trying to get their homes ready for much expected company—I thought I would share with you some things that I discovered over the years.

Up first, Sterling—Sterling was one thing I never really stocked as part of my inventory. This is because I recall being at one of my first fairs and an Englishmen told me people were very particular about their silver. So not having a huge amount of time to take a crash course in sterling nor money—I just left the sterling for other dealers to stock, and I stuck with my French junk.

A few years ago I was on a mad search for sterling—I don’t really recall where I was living at the time, but when I saw this bathroom I knew I wanted all the beautiful sterling, and, of course, the bathroom itself. I thought I would start small by tracking down the sterling, so off on one of my many missions I discovered Brice and his beautiful stock of sterling. I have bought a few things from Brice over the years. Last year for Xmas I was searching for vintage sterling frames for presents--one for my Mother-in-law and one for the Hubby to give to me. I rang Brice up and he did indeed have them. The only thing I had to do once arriving in the ATL was pop into the store to get them.

Courtesy of Southern Accents - Came from my file, as you can see.

I bumped into Brice and I was able to take some pictures of his current inventory. Brice keeps all of his sterling; it’s the only thing he carries—just sterling, (no silver plate), at Antiques and Beyond.

Trust me, you cannot miss all of his beautiful sterling. His prices are excellent!

Ladles -I'm Thinking for Hostess Gift!

Girlfriends Guide continued tomorrow!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Back To Atlanta!

While exploring around Louisville this past weekend I was wondering what Atlanta would have looked liked if General Sherman had never have burned it during his march. Atlanta still has it’s share of great neighborhoods--Ansley Park, Peachtree Battle, Morningside, Inman Park, Grant Park, Old Brookhaven--although I still wonder!

Anyhow, I am off to Atlanta and one of the things listed on my iternary this weekend is IKEA. Most of you would think this was no big deal. However, coming from the antiquing business, if I so much as reveal this to any of my antiquing sorority friends, I will instantly become ousted and banned as a trader. My buddy, Cruella, who has vaguely heard of IKEA said she would go with me the next time I was in town. However, I know she would become very bored very quickly when she discovers there were no 19th century tole trays, papier mache, imari, Staffordshire ,etc.

Actually, IKEA had just opened in Atlanta when Michael and I were making our pit stop back on Peachtree Road a few years ago. So I had plenty of chances to pop in, however, 14th street Antique Mall is located across the street. Since I always have limited shopping time I have to make choices. One must block out the entire week to get through IKEA and it’s a good thing they have those meatballs! Perhaps they may want to think about opening a hotel--must be in their plans!

After buying our house earlier this year, I was on top of my ladder I heard a knock, it was a lady in her late 30's or early 40's with silver hair. I opened the door and the lady introduces herself, her name was Sandy and she lived next door. She said she was just coming by to say hi and wanted to see what we had done so far. I gave my new neighbor the tour of our cottage and the first thing she said to me after our five minute tour “let’s high tail it to IKEA”. Yes, our house is small but I’m in need of some storage things. I’m glad Sandy gets the IKEA catalog - what are neighbors for!

M y second trip to IKEA was just this past summer – My first IKEA purchases!
1. Lack table- $12.99 – Tired of lamp on the floor in my bedroom; can’t go wrong for this price!

2. Signe rug -$2.99 – For canine Basset hound’s doggy door.

3. Sota glass jars 3 @ $2.99 = 8.97 – for food art in kitchen.

Total IKEA Purchases $24.95 not including tax

Plus --Husband’s meatballs while waiting for me and his mother to shop $10.99

Grand Total $35.94

My buddy Steve from Bristol in England was over last year telling me what wonderful things he had with him, and that he had found all his great English antiques relatively inexpensively. I asked him what his secret was and he told me--IKEA! He said they had just opened up a IKEA store in the U.K. and all the women were camping in their cars overnight to get in. Sounds like they need to open up a campground too! Overall, as my Italian neighbor Lucilla said, IKEA has it’s purpose! I could not agree more!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Exploring Louisville!

Since most of our weekends this year have been spent working on our house -- dealing with plumbers, electricians, carpenters, wallpaper installers, and landscapers, the Hubby and I decided it was time to pack up Rolle, our canine companion who now goes everywhere with us, to get away for a few days. This past September we were going to go to St. Simons, but with the heat wave going on we decided to stay put until the temperature cooled down – Rolle hates the heat! Needing a few days away and not wanting to contribute to The Home Depot’s stock price any more, we decided to head to Louisville, Kentucky.

Churchill Downs

We invited our snooty friend, Watson, whose travel decisions are made with the sole objective of maintaining elite status with airlines and hotels. Watson has taken day-trips to Rome, weekend trips to Bangkok, and generally tries to fly as far as possible as often as possible so he can easily get first class upgrades on demand. Why Louisville, he asked? Well, it is less then three hours from Nashville, we’ve never been there before, and last year I recall it was on Queen Elisabeth’s itinerary while touring the states, so why not!

When Michael and I decide to take a trip we never plan or do research, - from a three-day quick get away to a two-week excursion. We wait until the day we are leaving to grab our books and ask our friends for recommendations. Our strategy is simple, we will either study over cocktails on the plane or if we’re driving, the passenger will read about what we should be doing. The one who has done his research usually determines what we are doing and where we are eating and staying, and usually this is me! This time I did start a little earlier, two days before and I had read that Louisville was 2nd in the nation with having buildings, houses etc. registered as National Historic Landmarks, after, of course, Boston - I was most excited after reading this and thought we would be in good shape! Following are just a few highlights:

Churchill Downs - Friday morning after several cups of coffee at the hotel, Michael and I headed to Churchill Downs, home of the world famous Kentucky Derby. This was my first time ever at a racetrack! Plus it’s not just a track, but also a very historic track, the weather was sunny, warm, and beautiful-- what more could one ask for. Since we were not giving our money to The Home Depot and plumbers this weekend we decided to give it to horses --with the minimum bet of two dollars per horse with ten races the whole day, why not? After all, how much could we lose! Needless to say, the racing form was foreign to me –so I picked according to the odds or the horses’ names. After winning one dollar and forty cents, I quickly realized going with the most popular ones won’t get you to far. Michael was doing much better then me he won ten dollars and forty cents!

By the end of the day, out a hundred dollars, my dreams of paying off our house and buying our Charleston peninsula home were diminished. The good news was we did win enough for a round of drinks and a few hot dogs. Lucky for us they were having special prices for happy hour Halfway to Derby party!

On Saturday, Michael and I were going to do the Kentucky Derby Museum tour but we decided to stay where all the action was and bet some more! All the books I read recommended it. Also, there that day was a local Millinery designer for the Kentucky Derby. I picked up a card from her C. Kevin Swansey Sheila Nobles 502-796-0003. Beautiful hats! Michael told me to get one, but I figured the only place I could wear it was my garden, and my neighbors were already impressed enough with my J. Crew hat! Perhaps next time.

Hands down if you have never been to Churchill Downs, I highly, highly recommend it. It is a true American icon!

Sunday, one thing I always love to do is walk through old neighborhoods and look at stately grand old mansions and gardens, plus this gives us a chance to walk Rolle-- he likes it too! Cherokee Triangle is located on the East End of the city. A wonderful old neighborhood with grand old houses. On the other side is Bardstown Road- filled with old bookstores, pubs, bistros, wine stores and antiques shops. This is where Michael and I headed to for our third morning cup of java, our evening dinner, and our coffee after dinner.

Mansion in Cherokee Triangle

Having spent a day and a half at the track, I was not leaving until I squeezed in another antique shop -Louisville Antique Mall located in a 19th century cotton mill. A huge antique mall filled with real antiques and collectables. It takes awhile to get through it, so plan accordingly. Also note antique malls are generally open on Sundays where as smaller shops are not.

After arriving home late Sunday afternoon, I discovered my New York Times that my neighbor, Sandy, had placed on my porch. On the cover of the travel section was an article, Bourbon & Bluegrass - On the road in Kentucky in search of two American originals. So I’m clipping this article to send to Watson (snooty friend) to see if he is in need of any more frequent flyer points!

Overall, what more could one ask for in a short weekend, learning a little history, seeing some beautiful thoroughbreds, and discovering some great antique shops. Well Done!