November 29, 2011
Although I have this strange secret love of airports, I really do not enjoy spending time in the air or in the car. Yet, I travel quite a bit. And it is exhausting.
This next month is shaping up to be a doozy. With a work trip to Atlanta, and car trips currently planned for Pennsylvania for 1) my college girlfriends’ Christmas gathering, 2) my High School girlfriends Christmas gathering, 3) our Neff Christmas, 4) the Siegrist gathering and 5) the Good family gathering, that means numerous back and forths. Yes, we’re used to it, but is that really the best way to relax and soak in the Season with my kids and Rob?
I’m caught trying to be the good daughter, the good niece (who makes it to every reunion), the good employee, and, oh yeah, the good wife and mother who’s not completely crazed and crabby because of all the packing and unpacking she’s doing.
With aging aunties and uncles, there is a level of importance to these functions that is often unspoken. Yet I also know it takes a toll on the time that my little clan has together, just us.
Frankly, I don’t yet know what will come off the plate…..or will I again try to do it all?!
November 28, 2011
How convenient! Cyber Monday. As if a stampeding herds of human cattle on Black Friday weren’t enough! We now have another great marketing invention (born in the reality of an emerging habit and cultivated in the petri dish of “what makes American shoppers tick.” There were no fewer than 10 emails in my Hotmail account when I woke up this morning, all of them offering a wicked deal today. Even the hotels points programs aren’t missing a beat, offering me a special rate on my next stay…if I book NOW.
Materialism aside (my mother-in-law informed all her children over Thanksgiving that we are very materialistic; note to self), the reality is that we all have shopping lists, people for whom we need to buy (including the mother-in-law), and a budget with which to do it. So, whether or not you’ve waited til today to check out your favorite online shopping destinations, first go make your list, then at least give online retailers a shot. My favorites for working moms who undoubtedly are managing “THE LIST” for the household……
- AMAZON! Rob and I signed up for Amazon’s Prime program this year. Yes, it costs $80 but with Christmas, the last minute needs, and our — ehem — struggle with instant gratification, it is more than paying for itself for us. We have quite literally bought everything from a massive table saw (that had to be delivered in an 18-wheeler) to… well, duh… books. Amazon is also great for LEGOS, as we have several Lego obsessed children in the Klause/Joss clan.
- Ten Thousand Villages! I’ve talked about Ten Thousand Villages numerous times on this blog. After joining the Board of Directors last year, I tested out the online store for Christmas 2010. Not only were the small jewelry items I purchased perfectly wrapped and protected, but the home decor items came beautifully packaged with small tag descriptors that told a story about where each item originated and the artisans who helped to create it.
- Victoria’s Secret — Even if you’re not gearing up for the big Fashion Show this week, and in spite of the fact that telling all your Facebook friends what color bra you wear is so 2009, Victoria’s Secret continues to be where I like to get my girly on. Lately, my obsession has been pajamas. I have at least 4 sets of PJs from Victoria’s Secret– nothing X rated (much to Rob’s dismay), although one set is leopard print. My SIL over at BigRedKitchen might be the recipient of some new jammies this year. This usually stylish, hot mama revealed to me that she has been wearing the same moumou/t-shirt to bed for 10 years.
- Lilly’sKids — yes, you read that right. Christmas sweaters and kitschy decor aside, the Kids section of Lillian Vernon really has some adorable, personalized items, especially for girls. I’ve bought personalized gifts like sleeping bags, roller suitcases, flip flops, beach towels, water bottles and pencils. And it is actually PROOF that I took the time and ordered in advance to get my niece’s name on everything! And let’s face it… PotteryBarn took this good idea and perfected it even more… Lilly’s kids is just a heck of a lot cheaper.
Clearly, there are no earthshattering sites here. This Mama could use some new ideas but these have served me well over the last 5 years! My goal this year is to actually uncover some new online gems to help me complete the list… (more on that Excel sheet later!)
Happy (Cyber) Monday!
January 12, 2011
When was the last time I really explored (let alone even wondered about) the process or story behind any of the things I consume, wear, even give? I will be the first to admit that I’ve become way too accustomed to relying on a few mass retailers for holiday (and post-Christmas sale) shopping. For me, it’s Target, Nordstrom (so much so they’ve offered me a Personal Shopper – eek!), BananaRepublic. It’s a good bet that most of what I have purchased came through mass production somewhere, likely China.
But even as I look at the full year ahead of me, as I teach my children to think about the concepts of consuming, creating, giving, I really need to do a better job myself — even if in little ways — of living an appreciation for others’ small stories which may help us to think beyond ourselves. I know of one very good place to start. It’s the retailer Ten Thousand Villages and its specific mission is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries and connecting them to our markets in meaningful ways.
Having tried it out for Christmas, I see they also have some great post-holiday deals. I found some earrings for my Sister in Law who wanted some hoops and gifts to replenish my gift box (of things I love and want to have on hand to give as small gestures of friendship and thanks). Here are the beautifully etched earrings I found from Indonesia. They tell a story of the APIKRI artisan group, located in Indonesian cities known for craft production.
Ten Thousand Villages actually provides not only a photo of the artisans, but a bit of their stories . Even though I will never know their life, Ten Thousand Villages connects me to them in a small way, perhaps to better appreciate their human experience.
Next post… I will explore some of my other Little Finds at Ten Thousand Villages.
December 24, 2009
Finally, tonight we’ll be still and reflect on the miracle of Christmas. We’ll celebrate with Rob’s family here in our home. Another year nearly complete, another unfathomable array of blessings, not least of which are health, family and freedom. It is health, right now, which is particularly close to mind, brought home to me through the ongoing ups and downs around my mom and my aunt’s health. Perhaps our dear friend Jeff Peck said it better than I ever could as he and Marcie face down Hodgkins Lymphoma in their son Riley. Their last several weeks remind us of the vulnerability of our humaness and the ultimate goodness of God. I am in awe of their courage, grace under fire and humility….Below, is Jeff’s journal entry today…
“I spent a lot of time listening to the words of the Christmas music we played at home today while waiting for Riley to come home. I am stunned as if I was hearing it for the first time, at the absolute miracle of my heavenly Father sending His son into dire circumstances to grow up and become the suffering servant and sacrifice for my sins. As a parent, we continuely ache to subject Riley to treatments that cause him pain, which he doesn’t completely understand, but that will result in his healing. The love of God is just beyond words. So, please drink deeply from the well of joy and glad tidings that is Christmas–emmanuel, God with us.”
February 11, 2009
Living in Washington has me a bit jaded, I suppose. Even though my husband goes to work every day to a place of great prestige and power, which some have only seen on television, we often do the requisite complaining about his commute and hours. For shame!!!
Why this mea culpa? I was called to account and to a renewed respect for this place called the White House this week, not through any Christmas party visit, after-hours WW tour or presidential press conference, but through C-Span, which has created the most comprehensive and beautiful documentary of “the People’s House.” From the descriptors of Washington’s (who never inhabited the House) plans to pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt’s (first only female reporters allowed) press conference, to the first ever video of the 3rd Floor Coolidge Solarium and a peak into Laura Bush’s yellow oval room, it is a fascinating and top-notch exploration.
It seems every president, including our current one, wants to be like Abe. The references to President Abraham Lincoln were ummatched in this documentary, punctuated by the recent refurbishing of the Lincoln Bedroom to match the style of the room when he inhabited the White House. How amazing and fitting now, as tomorrow we mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
The C-Span documentary crew had few restrictions placed on their exploration; only a few Mansion spots were off limits apparently — the swimming pool and the Presidential Master bath (come on!) but other than that, most of the House was fair game, even the Chocolate “factory”.
For the C-Span show, you can see the trailer here, but we bought the DVD for $10 and I plan to buy many more to give as gifts. Now, if you want a close up tour from 2008 Christmastime, “A Red, White and Blue Christmas”, go over to Big Red Kitchen and see Rob and Robin touring the public rooms of the House.
You can always book the public tours, but when the wicked-cool West Wing tours open up again with the new Administration, we just might know some insiders….
January 2, 2009
The past two days, in the middle of the afternoon, i could just not wake up… Felt lethargic, not sick, just sluggish. Then it dawned on me. i have not had my coffee. Now, i’m not particularly proud of the fact that i need that pick-me-up, but given that i make several coffees for myself every day, at home or at work, i know that’s what it was. Which leads me to the best news all season (aside from Christ’s coming of course), and that is this thing of beauty which arrived at the House of Klause….
The new IV drip.
THANK YOU RON LUSSO (aka Rob’s cousin)….Since Ron closed his big fat italian restaurant a few years ago and the espresso machine has been sitting in Uncle Cliff’s basement collecting dust, we have coveted (there i said it) the machine. Finally, at Thanksgiving, Rob visited the Boston Lusso crew and thanks to Robin and Dan, and their big *&% van, they brought it back for us! Rob set up it at the bar in the basement and hooked it into the water supply. Ching! Works like a dream…..
I think we’re actually saving money on Starbucks coffee because we’re making one espresso and Americano at a time.. vs. a whole pot of coffee that ends up getting “old” much too quickly in the lame pot in the kitchen…
Come on over for a cup o’ the best Joe in Virginia…..