Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

In the final days before Christmas, many are scrambling to find last minute gifts, waiting in lines, creating grocery lists, and trying to figure out how to split 48 hours amongst all of the family members and friends. If you are starting to feel a slight case of Hum Bug coming on, here are a few ideas to get yourself back in the holiday spirit...

Elf on a Shelf is all-the-rage this holiday season. These tiny (slightly creepy) elves are sent by Santa to watch over your children (or husband, wife, roommate, mischievous pets) throughout the holiday. According to legend, they scamper back to the North Pole each night to tell Santa all the good or bad things you did, then they party in your house while you sleep. You kids wake up to find them in a new place and position each morning. Of course the Internet has provided us with a plethora of amusing, inappropriate and downright NSFW images of these Elves the morning after...but here are some PG ideas I happened upon.

Ugly Christmas sweater parties have become a little overdone, but it's only because they are SO MUCH FUN. Suggest an ugly Christmas sweater day at your office. Wouldn't be great to see your boss walk around in something like this (hideous homemade sweater below) all day?! Yes, you can even make your own if your the thrift store and your mother's closet have already been cleaned out.

Send a Christmas card that you put some serious thought into. These beautiful embroidery kit antler cards are unique, beautiful and let the recipient know that you spent A LOT (depending on how good you are with a need and thread) of time on it. You can look for a kit at your local hobby store or just cut your own cardstock, grab a paint pen and your sewing kit and kick back with a class of eggnog and start crafting.

Throw a holiday party! It doesn't have to be large, just a few friends, music, drinks and some decorations. It's the perfect way to get your brain in holiday mode. And if you are going to hostess, you might as well do it right with a very fabulous apron by Haute Hostess (made in Arkansas). 

Girls aren't the only ones who know how to throw a proper party. One of my favorite hosts (and amazing chef) just so happens to be male, and he would look very, very fabulous in this chic apron with a pocket square.

Give a gift someone will really love. I know it's tempting to reach for your gift closet, but isn't it so much more fun (for both of you) to give someone something unique and unexpected. Here are a few locally-made treasures that may be perfect. 

For the Fashionable: Custom initials cast from recycled bronze by Lauren Embree Jewelry

For True Blood and Twilight Fans: First Bite necklace by Dimestore Diamonds

For the Horror Film Buff: Call me twisted, but I love this zombie ornament!

For the Nerd in Your Life: Movie posters and creative prints by Little Rock designer Matt Owen.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Out on a Limb

Last spring, Graham and I took advantage of one of the perks of writing for a magazine — trying things you would normally never do. Through AY, I've had the opportunity to swing from rides at Silver Dollar City after eating "succotash"; shake the white-gloved hand of Al Green; fly on a private jet to Nashville to watch a band showcase; and sip cucumber water in the waiting room before a massage at the Alluvian Hotel Spa in Mississippi. None of those things prepared me for the challenge of flying from the trees — 50 feet (that's like a five-story building!) above the ground — at the Branson Zipline and Canopy Tours at WolfeCreek last spring.
We, of course, picked the worst day possible to zipline. It was early March, drizzling and around 40 degrees. After debating for an hour or so that morning on whether or not to bail on the trip, we finally accepted our fate and headed out to Wolfe Creek. 
The $4 million Branson Zipline facility was very impressive. This “walk along the tree line” is perfect for those who have a lust for the illusion of danger, but relish in the assurance of absolute safety. After getting acquainted with our guides and our gear, including a harness and helmet, we were transported to the top of Wolfe Mountain to begin our adventure.
We traversed our first suspension bridge, which consisted of slats of wood with a perforated covering — so we could see the ground below us moving further and further away. The bridge, held together by ropes, led us to the first zipline tower. 

Graham on suspension bridge

One of our two guides went ahead of us to the next tower and signaled he was ready for the first of the group. Rather than give Graham the opportunity to watch me scream and kick as I flew to the second tower, I opted to “man up” and go first. 
Not only do you have to step off of a 50-foot tower with nothing but the ground below you and nothing holding you to the zipline but a metal clamp, you also have to walk up three stairs located right on the very edge of the platform to take that first step off. After ascending the tallest three-step staircase I’ve ever climbed in my life, I hooked myself onto the zipline; gave it about 15 good tugs to make sure it was going to hold; asked the second guide waiting to send me off, “Are you sure this is safe?” about five times; then took a deep breath and went against everything in my being screaming "Don't jump!" and stepped out into the air.

It would be impossible to explain the exhilaration of sailing through the treetops of the Ozarks, watching the ground speeding across well below your feet, unless you have experienced something like it. The thrill and the lingering possibility of danger, combined with the shrillness of my screams and laughter echoing through the beauty of nature was incomparable. You really must try it … I cant’ wait to get back! Here are some photos from our trip. To read my full write up in AY Magazine click here!


With our awesome guides

We visited Wolf Creek in the cold, rainy early spring. This is what the grounds look like now. Beautiful! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

DIY Halloween Decor

Halloween has always been a favorite holiday. I love dressing up for any occasion and, on Halloween, those who choose not to participate in the festive spirit are the odd ones out. Aside from the careful selection and assembly of my costume ... 

Dia de los Muertos with Graham 2010
... one of my favorite Halloween activities is decorating my home. This year, I kept a few of my favorites — fake spiderwebs, orange lights and skeletons — and tried a few new ideas; some were successful some not so much. 

Webs, lights (real dogs) and fake rats!

 Graham and I invested hours in a project that I found on the Country Living website that looked absolutely amazing and easy to make. You print a template of a bat shape, buy black felt squares (about 25 cents each), cut out lots of bats then duct tape them to your house. Easy, right? Graham got creative and even cut out different sizes of bats to make them look like they were ascending into the night. We stuck them all up on the house and marveled at our work for about two hours ... then they all fell off. The felt wouldn't stick to the duct tape. The idea is great, but I think if we had added a dab of superglue between the bats and the duct tape it would have held up. Try it and let me know!

Fake bat fail

The bats failed, but the Trash Bag Ghosts were a major hit. Graham's 3-year old daughter helped me out with these spooky decorations.  

Trash Bag Ghosts
White or light-colored plastic grocery bags
Small or medium sized trash bags
Trash bag twisty ties
Permanent markers
Masking tape

What to Do
Rip a bag off the roll

Stuff it with about four old grocery bags

 Twisty tie ghost's neck and draw faces

Tape 3 feet of string to ghosts' heads

Tie to tree branches

Have fun!

... and when Halloween is over, just throw your Trash Bag Ghosts in the recycling bin.

Here are some other ideas I found online and haven't gotten around to trying yet. If you do let me know how it goes!  

I love this, but don't have a staircase. AND I found paper mouse silhouettes at the Dollar Tree, so that pretty much eliminates ALL the work on this project!

Mouse Motel: so easy, even I could probably carve it.

Heebie Jeebie factor is through the roof on this Egg Sac decoration. I love it though.  

A few cut branches, pumpkins and fake blackbirds and this idea could be really eye-catching.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Didn't Come to Paint

With the first game of the college football season just days away I was inspired to spend some time scouring the Internet for some gameday essentials. While you can find almost anything in "Razorback" — from pewter wind chimes to satin, hog-emblazoned draperies and wallpaper border — I decided to highlight a few of the more functional (and tasteful) items to enhance your gameday experience. WPS!

Vintage Razorback gear is back in a big way this season. I love this men's shirt at Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville.

One for the ladies at Scarlet Shop in Little Rock.

Brand new t-shirt design by AR State of Mind. Genius.

 Just another place to display your Hog pride. Get it here.

This old school Razorback pendant and chain made by Erin Lang is the perfect eye-catching gameday accessory. 

These red Tom's are hand painted by Sara Wallace. Order a pair of Razorback shoes through her Facebook page. She also accepts custom orders if for some weird reason you aren't a Razorback fan.

I had to add something for the little ones. Jeanne Sterner in Mena, Ark., makes these diaper covers complete with an adorable little Razorback tail growing out of the back.

Yes, this is what you think it is. It's a Razorback meat-branding grill tool, perfect for making your mark at the next tailgate.


Of course it comes in a hot dog shape, too. Do you think they are idiots or something?! Purchase them here.

I couldn't leave this Hog Toaster out. It is fantastic, and so functional. Seriously.

This Razorback Red lip gloss is a delightful (and essential) creation by Bellissima


I saw this one and immediately placed my order. This is my official new Razorback shirt for the season!

For more ideas on ways to go Hog wild check out the September issue of AY Magazine! And to see my picks from last season read "For People Who Say Things Like 'Hog Nation'" here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Southern Invasion

I went on a much-needed vacation to New York City this month and did tons and tons of walking, shopping and exploring. While the city was so much fun and there were endless things to do, I recommend you go … but wait until the fall. Seriously, the fantastic invention of air conditioning has not yet embedded itself fully in New York life. It was hot, people. Yes, hotter than Arkansas. Here are some snippets of my adventure. I highly recommend you try them all! 

Not Grimaldi's pizza, but still delicious.
My tour guide/boyfriend lived in New York for 8 years, so he had a lot of things on our to do list. First was walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and eat at his favorite pizza place, Grimaldi’s. The walk across the bridge was beautiful and the coal-fired brick oven pizza was the best I tried, and definitely worth the half-hour wait for a table. 

 Next, we walked down to The Fulton Ferry Landing pier at the foot of Old Fulton Street. This pier is one of Brooklyn’s most historic sites, marking the location of the first ferry service between Brooklyn and Manhattan in 1642. You can find engravings of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” poem and eat delicious all-natural ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. 

You have to visit the American Museum of Natural History… especially if you have kids. You could spend all day learning about space, dinosaurs, the human body and more. 

Midway through our trip we escaped to the Catskill Mountains for a friend’s wedding at the Onteora Mountain House, which was built as a retirement home by the late Richard Hellmann, owner of Hellmann Mayonnaise and now serves as a beautiful bed and breakfast/wedding facility. This relaxing getaway was a little taste of home as the area was strikingly similar to the Ozarks. Nothing to do but put our feet up and relax before we went back to battle with the city. 

The High Line is in the process of being transformed into an elevated park and walking path. It was originally constructed in the 1930s to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. It sat in disrepair for years, but now features landscapes of meandering concrete pathways, plantings and gardens, fixed and movable seating, lighting and more.

And, of course, no trip to New York is complete without a sweaty walk through Central Park.