Friday, December 30, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

Well, it's almost over.  2011 is coming to a close. The year was filled with a lot of emotions, a lot of decisions, a lot of heart-felt lessons, and a lot of changes.  In fact, it was a life-changing year.  It was a year in which I had to spend a lot of time focusing on myself, often with mixed reviews on what I saw.  Now I'm ready to start looking outward in 2012 and giving back.  But before I put down my resolutions for 2012, I want to reflect on 2011 as the clock winds down.  In 2011 . . .

~ I ventured out into the world alone for the first time in a long time
~ I fell in love with the other half of my spirit
~ I learned what it means to love and to forgive
~ I climbed to the tippy-top of Africa and became part of a new family
~ I needed friends and they taught me how to be a better one
~ I faced my biggest fears, and survived.

It was quite a year.  I hope all of you darling Kichaas can look back and feel blessed by the year that is about to end and full of hope for the one that is about to begin.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where is Everybody?

It's that funny week between Christmas and New Year when everyone seems to be out of the office.  No one is on the train.  There are hardly any cars on the expressway.  No long lines at Starbucks.  It's pretty nice.  Maybe it's me, but this is exactly the time when I want to be at work -- when no one else is.  Call me anti-social, but I never schedule this week as vacation time.  No phone calls.  Just a few spam emails.   I really like it.  

So what did I accomplish today?  Well, I finished all of my online compliance training for the year.  I also made several trips to the shredder, leaving me with an almost clear desk.  I actually stopped at 3:00 PM for tea and a scone.  I organized my emails into separate, chronologically ordered folders.  I fielded one substantive question from a poor guy sitting in our Kansas City office.  I organized one conference call (and I'm absolutely sure everyone else was in their pajamas).  I created a new Pandora radio station (Ella Fitzgerald jazz).  I found new covers for my iPhone and iPad here, and a new coffee sleeve for all those grande mocha non-fat lattes I'll be ordering in 2012 here.  I think that was a pretty successful, civilized work day, don't you Kichaas?

Are you working this week or returning Christmas presents that didn't fit (and picking up some new goodies on sale)?  I'd love to know.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Now that the guests have all left, now that the presents have all been unwrapped, and now that Santa has delivered everything on your list (by the way, that sweater looks lovely on you), it is time to start writing those thank you notes.  I don't know about you but I used to dread this task as a kid.  Now I look forward to handwriting a personal note on some beautiful new cards that I find each year.   I love the look of letterpress stationary.   So clean and crisp.  That's why I love these ladylike letterpress notes created by Kirtland House Press.  Don't you agree?

Kerrie Kirtland, the proprietress of this noteworthy establishment, finds inspiration in all things vintage and retro.  She mixes her own ink (she uses soy ink and recycled fibers) and puts her delightful touch on every card, note, announcement, calendar and print she produces.  She's also a fellow Chicagoan!

So order a  bundle of these gorgeous notes here and get writing Kichaas!


All images Kirtland House Press

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Preparations

It's finally here.   I've been running around getting ready and doing some last minute shopping.  So here's my Christmas wish for all of my darling Kichaas:   Whether you are busy preparing the holiday meal for family and friends (here are some pics from my holiday lunch at the Four Seasons with my best girlfriends -- I just loved the gingerbread hotel they created along with the sugar snowman) . . .

 Or admiring all the glitter and bows in the stores . . .

Or tying the last ribbon, signing the last card, and hanging the last ornament . . .

Try never to forget the true meaning of the day.  Allow yourself some time to actually feel love and peace.  Rejoice in the company of family and friends.   Spread some joy.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

O Winter! ruler of the inverted year, . . . . I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness, And all the comforts that the lowly roof Of undisturb'd Retirement, and the hours Of long uninterrupted evening, know. 
-William Cowper

Image here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All About Love

Image here

It's all about love this holiday and I love love love this dress by Alice + Olivia!  It would be perfect for a beautiful, black tie holiday or New Year's party.  Almost makes you feel like your floating up, up, up with the stars.  

Add these gorgeously simple Valentino shoes and this delicate Sydney Evan Love ring (isn't it cute?!) and I'm in Heaven!  So pretty.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Ever Happened to Brandy Alexanders?

When I was growing up my parents would throw a Christmas party every year.   My parents didn't entertain all that much, but you could always count on neighbors, my dad's work colleagues, and all the church folks coming by sometime during Christmas week for Ralphie and Rosie's holiday blow out.  And what do I remember most?  The blender buzzing in the kitchen kicking out Brandy Alexanders by the pitcherful!  I remember this because even as a tiny tot no bigger than Tiny Tim I was allowed to sample the cold, sweet, ice-cream-like concoction.  It was considered a real treat to get a sip of the "grown-up" drinks being passed around.

It's Christmas week this week and my mom just called to say she was getting ready for the annual holiday party tomorrow.   I asked if Brandy Alexanders were being served and she said "Oh no!  We haven't served those in years.  They kind of fell out of style."  That got me thinking.  Whatever happened to Brandy Alexanders?  They were so, well . . . holiday-ish!  What a cool retro cocktail!  Don't you agree?

I for one have decided to conjure up some cocktails of Christmases pasts this year and Brandy Alexanders will be served on Christmas Eve.   Here's Rosie's recipe if you'd like to try them, too.


For Four Servings:

  • 4 tablespoons brandy
  • 4 tablespoons creme de cacao
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Dash of cinnamon 

Whirrr everything up in the blender.  Divide equally into 4 glasses and top each one with a dash of cinnamon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Love Story With The Shoe Story

"I bet you got your shoes on Bourbon Street." "Best place for 'em," I said, and kept right on walking.
  -Claudia Lynch

Shoes are one of the things that make life worth living.  Admit it.  We all have one or two sinful pleasures (you know you do!) and shoes are one of mine.   Few things can brighten a bad day better than a fabulous new pair of shoes.  Shoes make you happy.  Shoes make you feel confident.  Shoes make an outfit.  Particularly if they are Shoe Story shoes.   These wonderful, unique handmade shoes are the creation of Esti Drori Hayut.  

Esti's story is like the fairy tale shoes she designs.  She is a multi-medium artist who has worked for many years in photography, painting, and jewelry design.  But she always had a dream.  A dream of one day designing shoes.

After trying her hand at it for a while, she discovered that her grandfather and uncle, who did not survive the holocaust, had designed and made shoes in Romania.  Their shoe workshop had once supported the family.  So it seemed meant-to-be.  This family story inspired her to continue working on her own shoe story.  I think she's done a beautiful job.

Esti makes her custom shoes by hand in Israel and sells them at her Etsy shop.  Definitely worth stopping by and adding your little part to the story, don't you think?


Photos by Esti Drori Hayut

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Last Word: Calling All Book Lovers!

Happy Friday Kichaas!  For the last word on the last day of the week I want to introduce you to the wonderful literary artwork of Jennifer Tatroe.  Ironically, it was while I was using an iPad that I fell in love with the treasures she creates with vintage book pages.  Her Etsy shop, Palimpsestic, is full of sweet creations made with ordinary materials.  And of course . . . JANE!  The minute I saw this garland made from a 1966 copy of Pride and Prejudice I knew I would be hooked!  So sweet for the holidays!  Not to mention the writer dice below, also featuring words torn directly from Pride and Prejudice.  Little pieces of inspiration.

This literary holiday garland was crafted from a 1969 copy of A Christmas Carol.

But holiday decorations are definitely not all this shop has to offer.  Collage art of the most magical kind is here.  Check out the little inches.  Charming little pieces of everyday art put together in a whole new way.

And Jenn's larger collages contain true pieces of history and vintage ephemera.

What would a literary artist be if she didn't create art to treasure and take with you?  These beautiful bookmarks are original collages made with paint, decorative paper, tea bag filter paper, scraps of ribbon and vintage pieces of Shakespeare and Jane.

 So special.  Just perfect.  Enjoy.

Learn more about Jenn here and don't forget to check out her blog here.

Have a wonderful weekend Kichaas!


All images by Jennifer Tatroe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Kichaa!!

Today is the birthday of a very special Kichaa and today's post goes out to him.  For you Kichaa, I will give you the the greatest gift anyone could give another person, I believe in you.

Happy Birthday to you -- and many more.

Let Them Eat Cake!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What Kichaa Loves: Earth Angels Toys

I have been a long-time fan and customer of the fabulous Earth Angels Toys.  Meet Jen O'Connor, the wonder woman behind the idea and the shop.  

Jen is a lover of art, antiques and all things handmade.   Hoping to share what she loves with others, she started Earth Angels Toys back in 2000 as a way to showcase the talent and original artwork of contemporary female artists like Jennifer Lanne, Dara DiMagno, Laurie Meseroll, and Ashley Carter, just to name a few of my favorites.  Take a look . . . 

I love the beautiful paintings of Jennifer Lanne, who recently has teamed up with her husband (a blacksmith) to co-create some wonderful mixed media art.

And what about the lovely, vintage-styled, wearable creations of Dara DiMagno?  I own one of her beautiful necklaces.  It attracts compliments every time I wear it (so I wear it a lot!).  A real statement piece.

Then there is Laurie Meseroll's Mud Cakes.  I love the folk art feel of her mixed media art.

And since it's going to be a winter wonderland out there soon, take a look at the magical crowns and creations of Ashley Carter of Goldbug Studio.

So take a peek at all of beauty and talent that Jen has collected at her shop-- just in time for the holidays and just in time for her holiday sale, which starts today (December 14) and runs for only a limited time (just through Friday, December 16).   And don't forget to check out Jen's blog here

Happy shopping Kichaas!  


All images Earth Angels Toys.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Little Weekend Sparkle

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope your weekend was lovely!  I spent a little time this weekend putting some of that holiday sparkle around the house.  I used to be a decorating maniac.  I was one of those girls who collected enough ornaments to pack on two trees.  In true Type A form, I usually stressed everyone out (including myself) as I directed (make that demanded) the perfect placement of each and every one.  This year, for many reasons, I'm taking a step back -- no, make that a couple -- no, make that dozens of steps back.  No tree.  No lights.  No overdoing it.  No reserving an entire weekend to decorating and then feeling like I'm behind on everything else and definitely NOT in the holiday spirit.

So, after one trip to Whole Foods Market, and about 20 minutes rummaging through the basement, here's what I came up with.  Flowers, greenery, paperwhites, a little sparkle, and Santa.  I've collected Santa figures since I was little.  The pudgy guy below was my very first, received from my uncle for my first Christmas.

Here's some more of the flower power -- LOVE the smell the paperwhites!

And for my tree this year, I'm just using an old bottle dryer that I already had out on display.  No ornaments.  Those are handmade gift tags that I just couldn't give away (is that horrible?) and spools of yarn.

And here's the sparkle, in a couple of bowls on the coffee table, on the mantle and hanging from a door.  

That's it.  It was all up and done in less than two hours, leaving time for a hot toddy, a hot bath (with one of those candy cane fizzy bath bombs I picked up at Whole Foods while I was there) and Christmas in Connecticut

So I'm feeling pretty good for a Monday, Kichaas!  How did you spend your weekend?  I'd love to know!