Sunday, December 30, 2012


Hope everyone had a wonderful, happy, safe holiday spent with loved ones!  We had such a great time in PA and NY and although I love to travel and be with my family, it's kind of nice to sleep in my own bed. 

We took our time driving up to my brother's last Saturday and woke up early Sunday to go to church w/ them.  My parents came down and we all got to see Mr. B and my cousins John and Rachel in their Christmas performance.  Afterward we had my mom's side of the family Christmas gathering and it ended up being a really nice day so the kids broke out the lax sticks and had a throw around.  After lunch and presents we went back to my parent's house but stopped at Candy Cane Lane on the way. We were absolutely exhausted so we slept in a little bit on Monday and the girls went sledding during the day.  At night we played a fun game of Mexican Train and my aunt and uncle came over for a bit.

Christmas morning was low-key until the kids came over.  Miss C got an American Girl doll and lots of fun accessories.  Mr. B was really into his Lego's this year.  T got lots of monogrammed stuff and lots of AOPi things and a Tory Burch bag, KJ definately had a Hello Kitty Christmas.  Cosmo and the girls took great care of me and bought me the big lens for my camera.  I was THRILLED and couldn't wait to try it out!  After lunch the kids (and Uncle Cosmo) went sledding again and we shot off some guns (Mr. B got a .22 for Christmas and let everyone shoot off a couple of rounds).  Pop got out the pistol too.  KJ was very, very accurate with the .22 and T did better with the pistol.  As girly-girly as my girls can be, they also like getting down and dirty.  It's so funny.  I swear, KJ looked like Miranda Lambert with the .22 in her hands. 

We headed out to NY bright and early Wednesday morning and ended up spending the night at my mother-in-laws because the weather had gotten pretty bad.  We also did a trip down memory lane and showed the girls our first apartment, our first house, my parents old house and our high school.  Thursday we made our way into Mid-town and spent a wonderful, wonderful day doing the touristy thing.  KJ made us all go into Chanel, Dior and Michael Kors and was dying to go into Tiffany.  Cosmo ended up buying his girls trinkets at Tiffany -- hey!  It's all about that blue box!  We did Rockefeller Center, Times Square, FAO Schwarz, a little walk through the Park, the windows on 5th Ave, Bryant Park.  You name it, we did it.  Friday morning we went to The Cake Boss's bakery in Hoboken and the original plan was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and have pizza at Grimaldi's.  It was a little colder than we thought and spent more time than we had anticipated at the Freedom Tower.  On our way home we stopped to take some pics in Battery Park and got some gorgeous shots of the Statue of Liberty at sunset.  No matter how many times you see Lady Liberty, it's still a thrilling sight.  You can't NOT take a picture.  Gets me every time. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It's been an emotional week -- still cry like a baby every time I see something about Newtown, CT (and I'm proud to say I did two of #26Acts so far).  I get frustrated like everyone else i.e., "Why?" being the obvious question but I also question why a CT soccer-mom needs a couple of assault rifles laying around her house?  Listen, I grew up in a family of hunters.  I grew up with our family vacations planned around deer season (and yes, I do know the difference between bow season, doe season and buck season).  Fortunately my dad wasn't a big turkey hunter.  I've shot guns (in a completely controlled environment), both of my girls have had pistol practice (again, on hundreds of acres of private family property).  My brother and I knew where my dad's guns were and we had absolutely no desire to "play" with them, show them off to friends or even touch them.  When I married, my hubby was invited to get his license and hunt with his new family.  He politely declined.  Just not his thing.  No big deal.  His choice was respected and honored.  Hunting is taken seriously in my family and gun ownership is no joke.  I'm also very frustrated that the shooter (can't even say his name) was such a freaking coward and took his own life.  When I heard the coroner speak about the victims and said that they had been shot multiple times each, I looked at my husband and said, "That MotherF**ker."  That was the first thing that popped into my head and it was the only response I could get out of my mouth. 

And now comes the great gun debate.  I do not think that armed officers at school are the answer.  We need to stop this behavior, this mind-set before we get to this point.  We need to do better as a nation in the way we help those with mental health issues.  We need to stop bullying.  We need to get our children involved in sports or healthy hobbies.  We need to teach our young children the joy of charity.  Get them out from in front of the XBox and violent video games.  And we need to stop the sale of assault rifles.  They are not manufactured for target practice.  They are manufactured for killing. 

One of the first things I did after the events in Newtown was put out a general post on FB thanking each of the amazing teachers my daughters have had over the years.  I have always felt blessed to be in this school district and have always been secure in the knowledge that my girls were safe and protected while they were in the classroom.  That FB post isn't enough.  In addition to #26Acts, my early New Year's resolution to myself is to be kinder to and to be more patient with people . . . .  People I don't know, people I do know, people I do know and don't particularly like. Might even forgive a few people who weren't particularly kind to me or my family.  I will be more understanding, more supportive and will encourage and praise people for their accomplishments.  I will be more giving of my time. 

On Monday we had a girls night out party at my house for a friend who won full custody of her children and is moving to Switzerland.  While I will miss her terribly, I am so very excited for her and this wonderful adventure she's about to embark on.  I also very proud of her.   She maintained her cool during the entire grueling process and never spoke poorly of her ex.  I also feel that her victory in the courtroom is a victory for all single mothers.  Without her ever having to say an unkind word about him, he got the middle finger in the end and I think it's awesome!

Then, on Tuesday I had lunch w/ a dear sweet friend who has serious health problems and had to take a medical leave from his job.  Tore my heart in two to see how fast he has deteriorated.  His body has completely failed him but his mind is sharp as a tack. 

So, I've basically been crying since last Friday when I first heard the news about Newton. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

And I think we've got it!

My home is officially decorated for the holidays.  I promised myself I wasn't going to do to much this year and keep things simple.  Yeah right.  The only thing I didn't do was my second tree.  Everything else was status quo -- dining room decorated to the hilt, living room, mantel, kitchen, etc.   

I always try to mix things up whenever I decorate and this year I was really into red, silver, white and snowflakes.  And glitter.  Lots and lots of glitter.  You can never have too much glitter! 

Living Room: 

Please notice whose stocking is going in the wrong direction

Sofa Table near French doors

Coffee table in Living Room -- love guests that leave their flower arrangements behind!
Dining Room: 

Buffet ready for this year's Christmas party with friends!

Cosmo & The girls bought me the Snowmen painting years ago and it is one of my most favorite Christmas decorations! 

Love my Santas!
I have no idea why this photo of the baker's rack won't rotate.  You may need to tilt your head or spin your computer around  :-)


Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Media Day

Trying to stay busy today and not put on the news or read the paper.  Like everyone else, I'm trying to understand what happened in CT yesterday.  I don't know if we'll ever know.  I couldn't stop crying at work and when I got home the floodgates opened up.  My two girls are older and of course this type of thing can happen any time, any where.  However, yesterday my thoughts kept going to my sweet niece and nephew.  They are far, far too young for my brother and SIL to have to talk to about this.  I kept thinking about C mostly.  I kept thinking how could anyone want to hurt that beautiful little angel (and yes, I jokingly refer to her as WitchFace but she and everyone else knows it's said with nothing but pure love).  I called B and C on my way home from work yesterday and just really needed to hear their voices.  They are super excited about Christmas, singing in their church's Christmas choir performance, about seeing Grammie and Pop and seeing us and candy canes and everything else that little kids should be exited about.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And I think we're done!

House looks great!  Tree is up and totally decorated!  Whoop!  Whoop!  Although, I do think it's time to invest in a new tree.  When we lived in NY, MD and OH we always had real trees.  However, the year after my grandfther passed away, we decided we needed to go artificial (my grandfather passed away in mid-December.  We left Cincy and drove to PA for the funeral and on to NY for the holidays and came home after New Years.  When we got home, every single pine needle had fallen off, the tree was basically a stick and all of my ornaments slid off the bare branches and crashed on the ground).  So, we've had this tree for about 15 years now and it's started to get a little wonky looking. 

It's not this bad looking (see photo below) but it is starting to look a little Charlie-Brownish.  There seems to be some big spaces in between the branches and I try to fill the void.  Martha Stewart said to hang ornaments farther back on the branches to "create depth" so that's what I did with plain silver, red and green glass ball ornaments. 

Still have to finish setting the dining room table.  I can do that this weekend, no worries.  I'm having some friends over Monday night and haven't planned my menu yet so I'll do that this weekend, too.  I'm thinking fondue! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Growing Old . . . Gracefully

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” ~ Robert Browning

According to my husband and children, there is nothing less attractive or more pathetic than someone trying to hold on to those last vestiges of youth.  

ves·tige/ˈvɛs tɪdʒ/

1. a mark, trace, or visible evidence of something that is no longer present or in existence: A few columns were the last vestiges of a Greek temple.
2. a surviving evidence or remainder of some condition, practice, etc.: These superstitions are vestiges of an ancient religion.
3. a very slight trace or amount of something: Not a vestige remains of the former elegance of the house.
4. Biology . a degenerate or imperfectly developed organ or structure that has little or no utility, but that in an earlier stage of the individual or in preceding evolutionary forms of the organism performed a useful function.
5. Archaic. a footprint; track.

Enter Demi Moore.  Man, she's looking more and more like a hot mess and really just needs to get a grip.  She's a beautiful woman with an incredible body.  But somebody needs to slap her with a dose of reality and remind her she's not 25 anymore.  She needs to dress and act a little more appropriately.  I'm not saying she needs to lay down and die but what happened to growing old gracefully?  Hello?  Can anyone say Sophia Lauren?  Michelle Pfieffer?  Julianne Moore?  Sela Ward?  Brooke Shields?  Sandra Bullock?  Elisabeth Shue?  Sharon Stone?  Lauren Hutton?  Candice Bergen?  Laura Linney?  Marg Helgenberger?  Jodi Foster?  Robin Wright (AKA Princess Buttercup)? 

“And the beauty of a woman, with passing years only grows!”  -- Audrey Hepburn

“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.” -- Jules Renard

You don't stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” -- George Bernard Shaw
"It is a rare and difficult attainment to grow old gracefully and happily."  ~ Arnold Palmer

"The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully."  ~ Eric Hoffer

And finally, this gem from Roger Moore (this is probably the one I most identify with!).  I've accepted the fact that I'm getting older, I've accepted the fact that I can't turn back time and I've accepted that there have been and will continue to be changes to my face and body.  However, I also accept age is just a number and it's what I feel on the inside.  What's most important is how I deal with it.  And everyone deals with it differently.  I plan to stay RELEVANT. 
"You can either grow old gracefully or begrudgingly. I chose both." ~ Roger Moore

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's beginning

to look a lot like Christmas in the Cos Casa!  Got the tree up late yesterday afternoon.  Lights and the angel are on but no ornaments yet.  We had such a busy weekend we just ran out of decorating time!  Dining room is 90% decorated and I'm tweaking the living room.  This year I've decided to go with a Red, Silver & White theme throughout the entire house.  One of the problems of having lived in several different homes (including a couple of transitional, short-term rentals along the journey) is that what looked good in one house, doesn't look good in another.  Our house in NY was the most contemporary house we had lived in -- a lot of glass and brass (don't judge!  It was 20 years ago!).  The house in Cincinnati was a little more rustic (not "country" but definately the most "homey" house we've had -- stone fireplace, wood mantel, medium wood cabinets in the kitchen and all the baths, parquet floor in the foyer, wood trim everywhere, etc.).  This house is what they call "traditional" -- white mantel w/ marble surround, white cabinetry, light baseboards and moulding, etc. 

So, I've decided to streamline and just go with a theme that looks good in each room.  My dining room linens are red with white snowflakes.  I have silver placemats and other than my Christmas china, all of the accent pieces in the room are red, white or silver with a snowflake motif. 

My mantel this year is kind of sparse (I prefer the term "simple elegance) but KJ isn't a fan.  I've got a lot of white taper candles, red glass and mercury glass.  KJ said it looks like a menorah. 

While the these are not photos of my house, below is some of my inspiration for this year's decor: 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Army / Navy Game

Good football day in our house yesterday.  While everyone else in the South was mourning the loss of SEC Saturday's, we were enjoying the Army/Navy game.  Unfortunately, BFrench got a little hurt early in the game but Navy was still able to "sing second" which is the most important thing. 

So incredibly proud of this man.  He is so humble, so unassuming and incredible leader on and off the field: 

And then, to top off an incredible win, an incredible senior season and an overall outstanding career at Annapolis, B jumped into the stands while the alma mater was being played, dropped to one knee and asked T to marry him!  So exciting!  We kind of knew it was coming but wasn't 100% sure and certainly didn't know how he was going to actually propose.  How romantic and how wonderful that it was caught on camera! 

And while we were all excited for Brye & the Navy win, Trent Steelman broke my heart.  No lie, I sat on the couch with tears rolling down my face every time they showed him on TV. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Poof! Proof!

So incredibly excited about this year's Christmas card!  I luv, luv, luv it!  It's hard to get the four of us together and even harder to find someone to take a decent photo!  I found this printing company on Facebook and didn't even realize they were here in Birmingham (love to shop small!).  We all look cute in the photo and the layout/background is perfect! 

We have a family photo session scheduled for Sunday but that is more of my Christmas presents and will not be used for a Christmas card.  I've been wanting a professional family photo for a while now, particularly before T went off to school.  We were off in a million places this summer and we could just never get it done.  We (Cosmo and I) just can't agree on a location.  I think we're more of an urban, gritty family and I'd like to go to Morris Ave or maybe Sloss Furnace (sounds weird but it's a really neat place).  Cosmo wants a field or trees or something like that -- the Preserve, Ross Bridge.  I guess it will depend on the weather and what we all decide to wear. 

I've got a couple of ideas but again, I guess it just really depends on the weather and what we feel like wearing that day: 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Had KJ's choir performance tonight which was very nice.  Unfortunately, it was like 75 degrees out.  In the evening.  And the school gym had to have been a least 100.  Very hard to get in the holiday spirit when people are passing out from the heat. 

Have had a very, very busy week and the weekend is going to be just as busy.  Had a nice dinner last night at our friend's restaurnt.  Had the big client luncheon at work today.  Everything went great -- food was amaze-balls, the decor was gorgeous and our staff always goes above and beyond.  We rotate the responsibility each year and it was my turn again.  2010 was my turn and the Sunday before the luncheon, I rushed to FL to be my father's side after "The Event."  So I planned everything but missed the actual luncheon.  Last year was MM's turn and back to me this year.  Thank God, no "Event" this year. 

Although Hoover is playing in the big state championship game tomorrow night on the field at Auburn we've got plans and won't be able to make it.  So you know your school is kind of a big deal when your principal has a meme trending on Twitter: 

Tomorrow T heads home Yay!  Yay!  Yay!  KJ has a b-day party in the evening and Cosmo & I have a party with friends from work.  Saturday, I have a haircut appointment in the AM and we have a party with our lax family Saturday night.  Sunday we have fanily photo plans. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Finals, Finally!

Holy Cow!  I can NOT believe my baby girl is finishing up her first semester as a college student.  It truly does feel like just yesterday we were packing up the cars and driving off to Oxford excited about all the wonderful new adventures awaiting her! 


I found this sweet, sweet lady on Etsy who makes AOPi / Panda cookies had them sent to T for finals week.  The timing couldn't have been better -- T is still trying to get over the flu, Sunday was initiation and today started finals.  She loves getting mail at college and was so excited and surprised to get her box of cookies!  Last week I sent her a box of tissues, some chap stick, some Vitamin C, etc. the minute she told me she wasn't feeling great.  My mom sends her Starbucks cards in the mail and my sister-in-law is great about sending care packages.  T said she feels so loved when she has something in her mail box!


Yay!  It's official!  The moment everyone has been waiting for (OK; maybe not EVERYONE, just those of us who still believe in the fairytale) . . . a royal heir! 

So, what will Prince William and Duchess Kate name their baby?   Whatever they choose, the royal baby name will surely become a world-wide sensation.  Will it be traditional;  i.e., Elizabeth, Victoria for a girl?  Diana as a middle name?  George, Charles or William for a Boy?  Spencer as a middle name for a boy?  Or will they go trendy?  London perhaps?  Could they be influenced by Britain's other royal couple, Victoria and David Beckham?  Harper for either a boy or girl??  My favorite is "Princess Buttercup."  Inconceivable! 

Personally, I think they're going to have both Elizabeth and Diana in there some where.  It would be a beautiful homage to Will's grandmother whom they both seem to adore and of course, a nod to his mother Diana.  If it's a boy, I could totally see them going with Phillip, his grandfather, as either a first or a middle name. 

From Pamela Redmond Satran at the baby-name website Nameberry, here are her top predictions for the royal baby name:

Albert or Alfred – Two similar names with positive royal histories, Albert was the beloved consort of Queen Victoria while Alfred was Alfred the Great, the 9th century Anglo-Saxon king who defended England against the Danish invasion. While Alfred has the edge on royal stature, it gets demerits as a trendy favorite, thanks to the character Alfie on the popular show The Eastenders.

Alice – The name of Queen Victoria’s second daughter, the princess who shocked her mother by breastfeeding her baby. Alice is a sweet and pretty classic that is currently considered ultra-stylish in Britain, where it’s in the Top 50.

Arthur – Arthur is one of our two boy favorites for the royal child, with a legendary history as well as contemporary fashion status. In addition to leading the Knights of the Round Table, there are many notable Arthurs in literature (Miller, Conan Doyle), science (Clarke), and sports (Ashe). Queen Victoria had a son named Arthur.

Caroline – With the Duchess’s mother named Carole and Prince William’s father Charles, the royal Caroline would be a logical choice. Although the most recent Queen Caroline was the object of scandal, the strong family connections may transcend its history.

Charlotte – Like Caroline, Charlotte is a feminization of Charles, a perfect choice for a future queen. Charlotte was the cultivated wife of George III, who also had a daughter named Charlotte. This elegant royal name is appealing to a wide range of parents today because it sounds feminine yet grownup, sophisticated yet lush. With Victoria, our top choice for a royal princess.

Eleanor – The powerful Eleanor of Aquitaine was the wife of Britain’s King Henry II, with whom she had eight children including a daughter named Eleanor. Not without controversy, she is nevertheless a strong female historical figure whose image is appropriate for modern times.

Frederick – Since Freddie is a currently popular nickname name in the UK, a little Prince Freddie would go down very well. The name Frederick has been dotted throughout British royal history—it was given to the son of George III—and so sounds properly regal in its full form.

George – The frontrunner for a royal boy name, George was the name of Queen Elizabeth’s beloved grandfather, the king who led Britain through World War I. The meaning of George is the humble “farmer.”

Leopold – One of the sons of Queen Victoria, Prince Leopold was named after a favorite uncle of hers. Though it sounds a bit stiff and Germanic, it is one path to the popular short form Leo.

Matilda – An outlier choice, Matilda has an ancient royal history and also is a nod toward Australia. The related Maud, another long-shot possibility, was the name of the youngest daughter of King Edward VII, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria who went on to become Queen of Norway.

Philip – Philip is the name of the baby’s great-grandfather, wife of the reigning queen. While Philip, which means “lover of horses,” is a dark horse candidate for first name, it’s a likely choice for one of the baby’s three middle names.

Victoria – One of the most likely choices for a girl, Victoria is the name of one of the most famous queens in British history, who ruled through most of the 19th century. While embodying history and strength, the name continues to feel contemporary. But don’t look for her to be nicknamed Tori.

Here are the most popular boys' and girls' names in the UK last year, according to

1. Oliver
2. Jack
3. Harry
4. Charlie
5. James
6. Joshua
7. Alfie
8. Thomas
9. Jacob
10. Ethan

1. Lily
2. Emily
3. Isabella
4. Sophia
5. Isabelle
6. Sophie
7. Olivia
8. Ava
9. Chloe
10. Isla

PS.  T was "this" close to being a Sophie.  Not Sophia, just Sophie.  My mother had an Aunt named Sophie and thought it would be a wonderful way to honor our Polish heritage.  I liked Sophie alot but Cosmo did not.  And, it didn't sound very nice w/ our last name.  However, I was able to get "Ann" in her name so I'm still carrying on the family tradition. 

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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

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