Happy Weekending!

Press for Champagne
I need one of these next to my pillow. 

Happy Weekend folks. What are you up to this winter’s-still-holding-on-but-officially-spring weekend? We’ll be hanging with the kiddos and then venturing into DC to see the legendary Rebirth Brass Band with some pals (thanks for the invite Linz!). Sunday, we’ll drive up to a wedding at NYC’s Four Seasons Restaurant (cue Bauhaus geekout- I’m such a nerd for this place). Our friends’ nuptials will be officiated by the incomparable duo of one James Lipton and one Betty Fussell (cue Actors Studio and culinary geekout). I have been dying to meet the iconic Fussell since my friend Amy D. so beautifully profiled her here and here. I pretty much just want to be Betty when I grow up.

Let’s hope the snow and wintery mix weather subsides, this time of year is such a tease. What adventures are you all off to?

What I’m Drinking:

Meryl and Stuart’s Signature Cocktail: “Wedding in Springtime” which, in Meryl’s words, features “bubbly Prosecco, the Italian aperitif Aperol, club soda, and a splash of rhubarb amaro, rhubarb being a harbinger of much-longed for spring!” Sounds delicious. 
A Few Things:

An award winning app that allows us all to catalog the family story. This is cool.

Julia’s trick to poach the perfect egg.

These wedges are both gold and Dr. Scholl’s- that’s my kind of shoe. Win win.

The best and fastest way to make a delicious scrambled egg taco.

What is means to “hold space” for the ones we hold dear.

7 Super Tuscan dishes that will take you right to the heart of Italia.

Just one of the reasons that Jimmy Fallon may be one of the greatest talk show hosts of all time. Love this guy- this is awesome.

The 5 things one woman learned when she said YES to her daughter for 24 hours.

A Lavender Eye for Spring? I like it.

18 Pinterest-staged photo fails- this is pretty funny.

These flowers! Spotted on The Yellow Table- I can’t stand it, so pretty I want to eat them.

I just ordered up this pretty floral skirt for spring. I never wear skirts- giving them the old college try again.

And just to send you off to the weekend the right way, here you go and… you’re welcome.


Cin Cin good people. Happy Weekend!


{Image: Elle Decor re: Lisa Golightly}



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Her Last Dance

Frances Thomson
Frances Chapman Thomson 1924-2015

We said goodbye to our dear Meme this past Sunday. I will forever feel grateful and fortunate that I was present to share in her passing, it was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I have never been witness to someone leaving our world, a true blessing.

Surrounded and literally enveloped by her children and grandchildren, our dearest Meme went on to her next adventure this past Sunday, March 1st. She had been terribly ill trying her dammdest to recover from major surgery and was not ready to give up until that very last day. She looked me right in the eye, just the day before, recognizing me and calling me by my name, then pin-pointedly letting me know that she wasn’t able to do it. I have to love and cherish that maybe more than anything about my grandmother. She had such a fierce determination, will and spirit, she needed us to know that she tried as hard as she could and this one wasn’t going to take. If it was left to her, in strong and sound mind, there would be no contest. I don’t believe I know a soul as strong as my grandmother but at 90, her body was ready for another adventure. I truly believe that seeing us all there with her helped her come to terms with that reality so that she may move on.

The power of music however, cannot be denied. My cousins had the brilliant idea of playing her a little Frank Sinatra at her bedside, on the last day of her life as she struggled with each labored breath. The minute she heard the music, she opened her eyes for the last time, and soon began to ease into her last breaths. Always a fan of dancing to her favorite Big Band Era tunes, I think this was just what she needed. We immediately enveloped her in words of love, kisses and hugs, sending her off to her next dance. I’ll never be ready to really let go of her, she was our matriarch, our fearless leader, but I know we all take great peace and are grateful for her loving sendoff and the 90 years that she graced our world. Thank you for your love, dear grandmother. Thank you for teaching me to look at the world with an artist’s eye and thank you for showing us the importance of living life with a heart full of happiness, love, energy, excitement and a wild spirit. I love you.

Meme and Me
Meme and Me at my mother’s 60th birthday party, 2009

Frances Chapman Thomson’s Obit, as printed in the Abilene News Reporter:

Frances Thomson 1924-2015

Frances Chapman Thomson, a longtime Abilene resident, local artist and beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away on Sunday March 1st. She was 90 years old.

Born on October 10, 1924 in her family’s farmhouse in Haskell, Texas to parents Hallie Elmer and Tillie Pearl Chapman, she grew up with her sister Mildred in the West Texas town. As a child, Fran, as her loved ones and friends called her, loved riding her horse Dolly the two miles everyday to and from grade school, and sang alto alongside her father in a local Gospel singing group. Frances went on to become Lead Majorette and Halloween Queen at Haskell High- where as a sophomore, she met the love of her life, Joseph Edward Thomson. She and Joe married in Duncan, Oklahoma on July 2, 1944.

Frances and Joseph traveled across the States during Joe’s service in the U.S. Navy, her favorite spots being Jacksonville Beach and Hollywood, where they loved to dance and dine at Ciro’s and The Brown Derby. After the war, they moved to Abilene where they settled to have a family and run their business. Frances later worked as the Secretary to the Principal at Cooper High School, and in her retirement years enjoyed life as an accomplished painter, traveler, avid bridge player and lover of life, family and friends.

Frances is survived by her children Craig Thomson, Cheryl Huey, Carol Davis and Charles Thomson, her grandchildren Brian, Kelly, Tracy, Ashleigh, Mandy, Ben, Brett, Colby and Paxton, and great-grandchildren Bradlee, Peysley, Taylor, Kalia, Kai, Jake, Georgina and Thomson.


Meme's Art Studio Desk

Meme’s art studio desk just as she left it. I wonder what she was mixing her palette for next? 

My father-in-law, Jacques d’Amboise, wrote a beautiful little poem in memoriam to her passing:



                                                             Life flows, Leaves fall,
                                                     And you know its time to say,
                                                               “I love all of you.
                                                                         And go. 


We will never really be ready to let her go and we don’t have to. She lives on in our hearts, so much to celebrate and remember. It has been one of the great honors of my life to celebrate her this past week with my dearest family. I love you all.

Cheers Meme- to a life well lived.


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Dad and I

Happy long weekend dear readers. It’s my Dad’s birthday today. He would have been 72. There we are above circa 1976 in that amazing wood paneled den. Love you Dad, you will always be the coolest. Miss you and your generosity, humor, big love, wisdom and sense of adventure every day.

I hope you are all off to some fun and adventure in the spirit of this holiday weekend. We’re hanging around these parts trying to gussy up this joint. It is taking for-evah. I failed to properly estimate the time it would take me to fully unpack and semi-organzie with 2 toddlers in tow. It’ll get done one of these days… or not. In the meantime, we continue to navigate through our basement and garage like we are the All-Stars of the last season of Hoarders. We’ll throw in a bbq somewhere this weekend amidst the constant disarray. That’s sort of what life is though isn’t it. Throwing in the fun stuff amidst the chaos- something like that.

What I’m Drinking:

Le P’tit Rouqin from Olivier Lemasson. This fantastic gamay is brought to me by Ian Cauble’s new venture, Somm Select. From one of my favorite importers, Louis/Dressner, comes this terrifically acidic and food friendly but still fruitalicious Loire gamay. Strawberries, lots of flinty and clay minerality and a hint of tobacco and spice pepper this beauty. A light-to-medium bodied red that is so so good. Check out your local wine shop for Louis/Dressner imports as this bottle has already peaced-out from Somm Select and can be a bit elusive. It’s only about $20- a steal, as much of the Loire Valley can be.

A Few Things:

This cool new wine business (as mentioned above). A Master Somm’s picks straight from his palate to your front door. Well, something like that anyway. I’m a fan. I was cheering for Mr. Cauble in the recent smart vino doc, Somm and think this is a bright new venture for the now lettered MS. He’s got a beautiful Bandol up at the moment.

3 Great Foodie Memoirs- I can never get enough of these things (if I ever have time to read that is, which is never- so strike that whole comment but these do look interesting).

This fun little feature on my girl Jessica Pariseau. I just saw her in Cabaret and she is on fire kids. Go girl- one of my favorite people.

Katie Parla’s Proust-inspired Questionnaire- the subject: food writer Alec Lobrano. I’m always in the mood for a Prousty questionnaire especially when it involves food and musings upon it.

Who needs a bar cart anyway? Not me with these little ones running around, that’s for sure. This looks pretty good.

How NYC’s neighborhoods got their names. Hmm.

This terrific article written by my good pal, John Carroll. He never disappoints- one of the funniest and sharpest dudes I know.

For bougie bohemians, Mara Hoffman launches her first home collection at Anthropologie. Eyeballs and feathers and arrows, oh my. This is a little too blogtastic for me, but I do like a random eyeball here and again.

Holy Smoky Flavors- 10 Brilliant Grilling Secrets from the latest of issue of Food & Wine. A newbie convert to the wonders of the grill- I can’t believe what I’ve been missing- I was thrilled to get this latest issue in the mail as it is pretty much entirely devoted to the good sport of grilling.

A behind-the-scenes look at book cover design from the bookish folks at Chronicle.

Funny. I especially like June Squibb and Gary Oldham’s reactions.

Cin Cin ya’ll and Enjoy.


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7 Simple Things to Brighten Your Day

It’s always the little things that make a big difference in an ordinary day. I recently wrote about the pretty flowers my neighbor left me for my birthday on my doorstep- simple, pretty wild flowers in a tiny mason jar- totally made my day.

Seven Simple Things you can do to brighten up your routine:

seven simple things

1. Put your makeup brushes in a pretty used candle votive.
It just looks nice and doesn’t cost you anything- even better.

2. Hang a pretty print or inspiring photo next to your dressing area or at your workspace. 
I spied this suggestion via Cupcakes and Cashmere. I love these baby animal prints by Sharon Montrose. They have been all over Pinterest forever and still bring a smile to my face.

3. Find a bench and take a seat.
Make a point to take a walk and sit down for at least 10 minutes without your IPhone in hand. No instagramming, no texting, no pinning, no facebooking and tweeting allowed- it’s a tall order, right. Just sit and look at your pretty neighborhood or town for a few minutes, take the time to people watch and take in a few minutes of fresh air. This one is hard for me to do but I’m so happy when I do- it’s my mini version of meditation and especially good when the kiddos have fallen asleep in the stroller.

4. Pour yourself a glass of bubbly before dinner.
I opt for Cremant because it’s delicious and inexpensive for bubbly. I am partial to Trader Joe’s Blason de Bourgogne Cremant Rosé because it’s good and about $8. I little bubbly always gives you a little lift especially at the end of the day, no?

5. Send an old school handwritten note.
It doesn’t have to be a long one. It can just say hi, I miss you. Your pal will so appreciate it, I love these. I almost never do this but it’s so easy.

6. Bake cookies for a friend.
Just because. Who doesn’t like a plate of freshly baked cookies? I am digging these salted dark chocolate chip walnut cookies that I recently baked and posted in a chipwich version. The cookies alone are ridiculous- seriously the best damn cookies I have ever made (or eaten for that matter- commence pat on the back). Your friend will LOVE them. I know you may be sighing like “who has time to bake cookies”- but these only take about 30 minutes max.

7. Pick up some sunflowers at your local farmer’s market. 
I almost never do this as I consider it kind of an extravagance, I’m not sure why as they’re pretty cheap, but it really makes me happy when I have them on my dining table.

{Images: Vanity Space: Cupcakes and Cashmere, Bubbly: EscapadeBlog, Cookie: Kelsey Zahn}

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The Nose Knows

On my nightstand these days (along with Nurture Shock which I’m finding endlessly fascinating) is The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur. Tales from the head Nose of Hermés, Jean-Claude Ellena.

the nose

I’m fascinated by people who work professionally as a Nose or “Le Nez” as they call them in the mother country. As a wino, I used my nose for work as a sommelier and rep and continue to do so as a Diploma student. But a perfume Nose is an entirely different ball of wax. Sure, a winemaker uses his nose (and taste) to build his elixir, but a Nose uses only his one sense- that almighty olfactory one- to create a scent. It is kind of mind blowing to think about how a Nose can manage to maintain his subjectivity and perspective when constantly surrounded by scent. When I attend an industry tasting and have upwards of 300 sips of wine (with spitting of course), I start to lose it around the 50th sip, and that’s being generous.

These guys spend their lives in the lab in the midst of musk, floral, citrus and even gamey notes. Mind you, they’re probably hanging out in a pretty nice lab if they’re sniffing it up at Hermés or Givenchy. It’s not exactly like they’re spending their days in an office park in Los Alamos, but still.

If you’re curious about what the experience might be like, Maison Guerlain Paris offers a Fragrance Workshop where you learn from the pros in their flagship store (totally worth a visit even if you don’t do the workshop) and even concoct your own scent for 50 euros. Anne McClain of MCMC in Brooklyn also offers custom classes. The classes are taught by her and will run you a bit more for the up close and personal experience. McClain is classically trained at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery in southern France, the Harvard of fragrance education.

fragrance workshops

Here is a run down of other perfumeries and mix masters offering workshops and classes. Put it on the list- more fun stuff to do.

{Images: Getty, Beauty Gazette, Lianna Tarantin}

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A few summertime things.
A few to covet and a couple must haves:

7 Things for Summer

1. Some Honest stuff. Sunblock, bug spray (that actually smells good) & swim diapers for the kiddos. All fabulous, all non-toxic. Thank you Jessica Alba. I douse the bebes in bug spray every day as I do live in a swamp after all.

2. A 70s vintage caftan- seriously who doesn’t want this.

3. A large format beachy print- I imagine this in a white gallery frame hanging over my bed- ahhhh.

4. A lime watering can- just because it’s cute and $15.

5. A sensory overload of perfect summertime recipes- perfect pool time reading as prep for your dinner al fresco.

6. A sensible yellow slingback to go with everything.

7. A leather Acapulco chair- say WHAAAT? Love this. Bring the outdoors inside.

That’s all.

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A Beautiful Body

Photographer Jade Beall is celebrating the very part of our post-baby bodies that we are go out of our way to hide. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to be sporting a crop top anytime soon (or ever), but these photos do take the edge off a bit. Kudos to Ms. Beall, this is a worthy project. Apparently many others think so too as she’s already hit her goal on Kickstarter. I’m looking forward to seeing all of her photos.

beautiful body

A Beautiful Body Book Project on Kickstarter

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Happy Weekend!

happy weekend

Happy Weekend all! I have been a trifle bit absent this week as it is a wee bit crazy over here. It’s spring concert time for the dance program that I direct, so there is lots of drama swirling in the air. I may be a little spotty with my presence here until the end of the month, but I will try my best. We are house hunting (yay- a backyard may be in our near future) and I just have to say that we saw the craziest, scariest trinket-filled house yesterday. I kind of loved it but know in my heart that it’s bound to be a money pit. I had visions of Shelley Long and Tom Hanks dancing in my head as we walked through the house. Not the one for us. I love a project but this one would be a life’s work, not sure I’m up to that challenge with 1 year old twins. Oh well, the search continues.

What are you all up to this weekend? We’ll be watching the Tonys and rooting for my brother in law, Terrence Mann to bring home the prize for his amazing portrayal of Charlemagne in Pippin. Woot woot- go Terry. I can’t wait to see what Charlotte wears! We have a fun little dinner planned in Virginia wine country, so hopefully I’ll capture some nice moments to share. Have a beautiful summer weekend!

A little link love:

link love

1. This is a little big genius- Brian Williams does Snoop. Jimmy Fallon, you rock.

2. This essay by David Sedaris killed me!

3. I’m obsessed with this farmhouse renovation. Clean, simple and classic. I might add a dash more modern but I love it.

4. How to make your living room look larger (provided you have adjacent outdoor space)- a good tip.

5. Revealing portraits of models and their moms.

6. And I’m totally making these. Chocolate Chunk Blondies c/o the Barefoot Contessa. Come on!

Images: {Illustration: Nishant Choksi, Kitchen: BH&G, Living/Outdoor: Mi Casa Revista, Models and Moms: Howard Schatz, Blondies: Lark + Linen}



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A Day In The Life: Ariana DeBose

Currently on Broadway as Mary Wilson of The Supremes in the hit show Motown, Ariana DeBose gives us a peek into a day in the life:

A Day In The Life-Ariana DeBose

Ari, take us through your day:

My Morning:

My day always starts off with a cup of joe and some morning business.
-P.S.: as an actress, watching Crimes of the Heart totally counts as business- ha.
I’m working on my website and using the black and white fishnet veil image as inspiration.
My mom sent me this write up in my local Raleigh paper- what a nice surprise.
On my way to the 2 train, I spy some sensible graffiti art.

My Afternoon:

I squeeze in a quick photo shoot as I needed some new shots, I like how this one turned out- it’s my Mary Tyler Moore moment.
I head to the Genius Bar on the Upper West Side which I love because you don’t need an appointment.
I arrive at my dressing room to find my gown from Hilton Hollis- yay- for opening night, a huge perk of being on Broadway.
My latest obsession- Chimes Ginger Chews, they’re delicious and good for the vocal chords.
My fabulous dresser helps me restyle a dress I’ve already worn for another event.
I always pop in to stage management to say hello, we have an amazing and hardworking team.
That gooey gold lame is courtesy of the design talents of one Emilio Sosa- our costume designer. I’m the understudy for Diana Ross and I cannot wait to get into that gown.

My Evening:

A quick backstage photo op before curtain and then off to drinks with the legendary Martha Reeves and the Andantes (lucky me- another huge perk).
That’s a photo of my personal guru and master set designer, David Korins and I- he’s totally a genius.
And that’s a wrap- back uptown I go to start all over again tomorrow.

A Day In the Life

I’ve know Ari since she was a wee student of 18. Now she’s all of 22 strutting down the step and repeat with two Broadway shows and a stint on So You Think You Can Dance under her belt. Geez Louise, these young whipper snappers move fast today. She’s all abuzz on the New York theater scene and she took a few minutes out of her fun filled day to talk with us.

Did you always know you wanted to be on Broadway?

I always knew I wanted to perform. I figured out that Broadway was the place for me around age 12. The first musical I saw was Rent and there was something about that girl in the leopard coat (Mimi) that made me think I could do what she was doing.

What is your favorite thing about being on Broadway?

There are too many to count; but I just adore all the amazing people I get to meet.

What’s it like playing Mary Wilson? 

It’s fabulous to play an icon every night! And Mary had so many dynamic qualities that make it so fun to play. She was a ball of sex appeal and utter joy.

How much do you love your costumes, and Emilio Sosa- what is he like to work with? 

Emilio is so wonderful! He has such an eye for a woman’s body and how to capture the essence if each client or character. We had such a good time together with both the Mary track and my Diana understudy costumes. He worked to tailor the styles to my body and personality- makes a girl feel special!

Tell me about your training.

I trained at CC & Company Dance Complex in Raleigh, NC. I am Studio raised and grew up competing and taking class at conventions. I started taking private vocal lessons my junior year of high school and spent a short time at Western Carolina University where I took a very helpful acting class. But I am still training as we speak. I treat every job as a chance to learn something new, I’m constantly in dance class and training with my vocal coach.

What was it like being on So You Think?

SYTYCD was such a whirlwind. It was my first real audition experience and I learned a lot about myself and how to function in an audition. The show itself was just icing on the cake! I mean what 18 year old doesn’t enjoy being on TV?!

With an 8 show a week schedule and working 6 days a week, what is your perfect day off?

A day at the spa! I love to lounge in a pool with my best girls and a mimosa, throw in a full body massage and I’m set.

Sounds pretty great Ari. In your next life, you’re a…

Fashion Designer

Who or what inspires you?

PEOPLE inspire me. Every day I see something- an act of kindness, or something as small as a smile will inspire me.

Where is your favorite spot on the planet?

Austria. I sound like Maria Von Trapp, but I have never been more at peace then when I was there, the air is so clean.

What’s on your Bucket List?

So many things! I want to visit the rock of Gibraltar, climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge, ski the Alps and I definitely want to perform at the Kennedy Center.

What is something you really don’t need to do again?

No. More. Reality. Shows. It was fabulous while it lasted but I don’t need to do it again.

What are you reading and/or listening to?

I just bought Then Again by Diane Keaton. I really admire her and I’m enjoying her insight thus far and I’m currently listening to Morgan James Live: A Celebration of Nina Simone. This fierce white woman is singing for the gods!

What is your favorite personal possession:

I have a string of red beads from the 50′s my great grandmother gave me before she passed. I wear them whenever I want to feel fancy.

Favorite style or beauty trend of the season?

I’m living for this Aqua Fresh vibe this summer spotted via Marie Claire’s UK site.

aqua fresh

Any show savvy tips for looking fabulous (preferably in 10 min. or less for us moms out here with zero beauty time on our hands)? 
I love this tinted moisturizer from Laura Mercier. It’s lightweight and so easy to apply- I use it as my base- it’s FLAWLESS and sets your face up for the day.
What’s on your perfect menu?
I”m obsessed with grilled shrimp, sautéed asparagus &almonds, and Mediterranean couscous paired with a Kermit Lynch La Viarte Pinot Grigio…. Now I’m hungry!
Where do you want to be in 10 years?

That’s a hard question…. part of me would love to have transitioned into television while still living life in the city. I’m legitimately hoping that I will have gone back to school by then and earned a degree of some sort.

And last, what advice would you give to a young performer with stars in his or her eyes? 

Don’t let anyone tell you no. Go after what you want and get creative to make things happen for yourself. I didn’t grow up with money but I worked, got scholarships, and talked to as many people as I could. Don’t ever forget the power of communication. You only get what you ask for, so put positive energy out into the world and you’ll get it back!
Thanks Ari! 



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11 Ideas For The Momma In Your Life

A few things for mom that are all about her. I would love any of these things and wouldn’t allow myself to buy any one of them (except for the soap- which I LOVE- nothing like a coffee scrub first thing in the morning). Brunch is always nice too.

1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10     11

I’m also loving these cute custom cards from Scout and Whistle. I love the grandma personalization too.

A nice bouquet, a beautiful card and maybe breakfast in bed or brunch at her favorite place are always a winning combination. And if all else fails, get her a spa treatment. You really can’t go wrong with one of those.



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