Tuesday, February 24, 2009

red-letter day...

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love,
trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity.
The order varies for any given year. { Paul Sweeney }

Don't they look incredible? I'm sure I'm biased, but every time I look at this picture I marvel at how classy and elegant my grandparents were. This picture was taken on their wedding day, sixty-five years ago today, in 1944. The photographer struggled to color the image so that my grandmother's naturally platinum white hair showed up in the print, and then layered over the lace in the dress so that it didn't look like a face just floating above the white of her dress. Whenever one of us would remark about how beautiful she looked in it, she would often remark that it didn't even feel like her because she had never had dark hair in her life.

"Love", to Our Sister, Adair and Paul. Seeing her beautiful script on the photograph makes me miss her. And how she used to put words in quotations whenever she would inscribe books or cards. Several years ago, in my birthday card, instead of writing much love, she wrote "much much" before signing her name. "Much much", Grandmother.

My grandparents met in the midst of wartime. Granddad was moonlighting with a band and during a break, he looked over to the rhythm guitarist from his drum set and pointed out this woman across the nightclub. She had this stunning silver hair and a young face. To the guitarist's doubt, Granddad declared that he was going to marry that girl. He waited all night to meet her and when he finally did, boldly asked if he could take her out the following night.

Grandmother thought him quite presumptuous. Determined to teach him a lesson, she accepted his invitation and told him at what time to call for her at her home.

When he arrived the next evening, there she was decked to the nines... with twelve of her very best girlfriends that she had invited to go along. { Just thinking about it makes me grin. } Well, Granddad took it in stride and paid for each one, showing them all a night out on the town as he had boasted he would the night before.

Granddad used to say that the best wedding present he received was running into the guitarist almost a year after they'd been married and having the pleasure of introducing Grandmother as his wife. The slack-jawed look on the man's face must've been priceless.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

saying goodbye...

Taz, the much loved American Eskimo "little man"

The house seems empty today. And when I rolled over this morning, I expected to find a white furred body snuggled cozily into my comforter and the small of my back. { It was his favorite place to sleep. }

"Oh, you have to go to work? I'll just stay here and snooze....."

He came into the family when he was five { or maybe six, they weren't sure }, a second-timer at the pound. He'd been adopted as a puppy by an elderly gentleman. When the man went into rehab for a broken hip, his children took Taz back to the pound. The local paper used to feature a Hot Dog/Cool Cat in every Sunday edition about an animal available for adoption. It was December 2003 and at the first glimpse at the picture, there was no doubt that this was a dog for me.

Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human
ever has to choose a relative. { Mordecai Wyatt Johnson }

I called the pound the moment I woke up Monday morning, and was there by the time they opened. When I hit the door, there was this flurry of motion from the kennel at the far end. A blur bouncing up and down like a pogo stick. Seems Taz knew I had come just for him. In the end, it turned out that I took him and his kennel mate, a Belgian sheepdog named Angel, home to stay.

He was the perfect dog. Never barked, never chewed, was content to go riding in the car for hours, and even came programmed with tricks. He could sit, shake with both paws, dance on his hind legs, and my favorite of all -- "a little bit louder now" speaking.

Sitting obediently I would command him to speak and receive a whispery wuff in response. As I would give the command several times more, it kept getting louder in increments. It was adorable and chock full of his personality.

"Whatcha talkin' 'bout, hmmm?"

The first spring we had him, he would often pull an escape artist and bolt out of the house. His previous owner had lived about half a mile from us, and he always seemed to try and work his way that direction. It was my birthday and I had been sick. My friend Susan had come over to visit and bring me presents and get-well essentials, only for Taz to slip through both our legs. I tossed her the keys to the family minivan and asked her to follow me as I took off on foot. I must've looked a fright in slippers and pajamas, my hair piled on top of my head and with a red nose. Through backyards and driveways we weaved until finally he grew tired or took pity on me and gave up his tour of the neighborhood. He never tried to get loose again.

Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love
than the child that lost a dog yesterday. { Thornton Wilder }

I came home last night from an afternoon of treasure-hunting and an evening of pizza and cards to find him having another series of what we had thought were seizures. He'd had his first about three weeks ago and while on the phone with the vet, she told us that there were just as many risks with anti-stroke/seizure meds as there were benefits. She advised to just keep an eye on his eating and drinking. I tried to hand feed him and it was as if he was completely short-circuited. It was heart-breaking to watch him struggle and lean against the wall for support or lower his head into the water bowl and not drink. I cuddled with him in the chair rubbing his ears and making over him while my mother called and consulted with the vet. In discussing his symptoms further, the vet confirmed that they were indeed strokes and that if he had lost the ability to eat and drink, he was only going to further decline until an episode caused a heart attack or for him to tumble down the stairs. The decision was made to meet the vet at the animal hospital. She would evaluate him and then the decision would have to be made to hospitalize or... euthanize. My brother and sister-in-law came over to sit with us. It was snowy slush and freezing quickly, so my brother drove my mother and Taz and I stayed home with Sara.

I was a wreck. Completely dissolved into the "ugly cry".

The vet confirmed that there were strokes happening one after the other that weren't evident to the naked eye and that he had lost the bulk of his sight and perception, and the faculties of his tongue. As it turned out, there wasn't really a decision to be made.

God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it
takes my dog being there,
I believe he'll be there. { Billy Graham }

My brother held him until the end, and said Taz went to sleep as he always did... front paws crossed with his head resting on them. He was the sweetest dog. The vet told my mother that with an animal as special as he was, you aren't ever really an "owner"... but just blessed to be able to share your life with them for the appointed season.

Our family was indeed blessed.

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. { Edith Wharton }

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I was reminded of a very fitting truth today while surfing Google for sentences that start with the words "Adair needs..." Heather had tagged me in a note on Facebook { more about Facebook at the end of this blog post -- stay tuned! } where you do a search for "your name needs" and share the results. Here are some that I found:
  • Adair needs no mic to karaoke. { Which is actually quite funny because I really don't. :) }
  • Adair needs shows!
  • Adair needs her pengi boshi. { Which was defined as a penguin cap, whatever that is. }
  • Adair needs the irony detector program.
  • Adair needs to be addressed.
  • Adair needs to consider certain points to plan her move.
Quite fun, isn't it? Browsing the pages of results had me laughing out loud and surprised just how many people and places are named Adair!

Which, if you're still following my strain of consciousness led me to the mention of "Daisy Adair", a feral stray dog rescued by an incredible organization, Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Randy Grim, the founder, was a man called to intervene and go after these abused and abandoned animals for the sole purpose of restoring them to health and seeing them placed in loving Forever Families. A video posted on their home page was set to the song "So Small" by Carrie Underwood, and it touched my heart. If you are local to this amazing organization and also a dog-lover, I would highly suggest you check them out as either a volunteer or a possible foster or adoptive home.

I'm the proud mama of two pound puppies { and how many of you are old enough to remember the pets and cartoon of the same name? :) } rescued from the county pound. The eleven year old American Eskimo male, who we affectionately refer to as The Old Man, has been declining ever since New Year and seems to be growing more frail daily. He's already had one stint in the animal hospital and some surgery, but there are signs that are going to warrant another big trip to the vet and possibly some hard decisions. The joy and happiness our pets bring to our lives are blessings, and boy is it hard to think of losing them.

The thing about dogs that really appeals to me is the endless amount of affection and devotion they have to offer. Regardless of how your day went, when you hit the door, they want nothing more than to greet you, love on you... and in the case of mine, curl up to the right and left of my chair as I tackle some paperwork or a chapter in my current book.

So yes, the reminder that love is all that matters after all hit home when all that seems to be talked about lately is chaos, crisis, and calamity.

And coming back full circle to Facebook, I'm going to suggest a little mutual affection and love. If you are a Facebook member and become a fan of Alice Adair's Facebook page, you will receive a voucher code for

in your Facebook e-mail. All you will have to do is search Facebook for Alice Adair and the link will appear. Just a reminder -- visiting a Facebook page does not make you a fan. There will be a link in the right hand column that you will need to click. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

Not a member of Facebook? Don't fret. I'm not demanding that you join. Simply leave a comment here and you will also receive the code!

To love what you do and feel that it matters,
how could anything be more fun? ~ Katharine Graham

Thanks for making what I do so much fun... and for reading. You are appreciated more than you know.

Have a fabulous Friday!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

back in the saddle... again.

Photo used courtesy of Flickr.

It has been a hard transition into 2009 for me.

My beloved Grandmother got to go home to Heaven in time for New Year's. In case you didn't know, I was her namesake. She had been admitted earlier in the week, but the family was called to the hospital on Christmas Eve. Needless to change, in the course of a conversation with the doctor, the world changed. It was simply going to be a matter of time. Christmas dawned after a sleepless night in uncomfortable chairs. To stretch sore joints, I walked about with the hospital with my uncle and purloined "breakfast" of juice and pop tarts from a vending machine. The next five days were full of tears and laughs, memories and music... We came and went in waves, only ever returning home long enough to sleep, shower and change clothes. Once, while everyone else was asleep, I reached for the soft skin behind her upper arm that I used to play with as a child. I turned back from the elevator the night before she passed to kiss her one last time and am so grateful that I did. My eyes prick with tears just thinking about it.

The last of the thank you notes have been sent for the outpouring of cards, flowers and food that we received. For blessings that were given as we dealt with loss. That hollow feeling that lingers and remind us that we were never meant to experience death and separation... the longing to have every tear wiped away as our loved one is ushered into the presence of the Lord.

A picture of the sunset on Christmas Day as I drove home from the hospital.

And then... right as illness was settling in, bodies exhausted and drained, susceptible to bronchitis and the cursed stomach flu ravaging Ohio, winter settled in with a fury. Prior to then, it had been content to be mild and inconsistent. But no, it decided to storm in and made itself a prominent guest. For days and weeks. And even now refuses to leave entirely. Cabin fever is not pleasant when you long to see the sun or temperatures above "arctic tundra". That silly groundhog has confirmed, for all that he is a prognosticator, six more weeks of it. I'm just grateful that my driveway is finally clear of show and a thick sheet of ice, even if the street isn't.

It looks like the bushes were crying and the tears froze as they fell.

I love how graphic this shot is. And how I lucked into capturing it.

The wintry magic fairyland of snowfall and streetlamp light.

January is behind me... and February is now looming large, even if the month is short. For it marks lots of celebrations. President's Day. Valentine's Day. The one year anniversary of Alice Adair's grand opening. The farewell to my 20's and start of my 30's -- though I have still not determined if I shall go for something quiet and sedate or an all-out carnival-esque party. And I'm back in the saddle... back in my routine. My shoulders are squared and I find myself smiling at every sunrise and sunset I glimpse {especially since Ohio only has 200 sunny days a year} grateful for the day I've had and the day that is coming tomorrow. And I'm dreaming of spring...

New product will be online next week and I'm excited to show you some darling seasonal wax angels from S.E. Townsend that should be arriving any day now. Also stay tuned as I won't let my celebrating my birthday without some sort of party favor for each of you.

Hope everyone is staying warm and well. In such a spirit, I'm off to make myself yet another hot chocolate. Grace and peace!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

favorite things...

Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.

~ Christina Rossetti

It's the season for making lists and checking them twice, for giving friends and family an idea on what it is you want or need {depending on if you prefer practical or frivolous presents}, and recalling the "favorites". That recipe of your great-aunt's, the carols you sing every year, the fresh Christmas pajamas that you receive like clockwork every Christmas Eve.

And for some of my friends, this is when they start compiling lists of the greatest movies, albums, or books released this past year. One even puts together a pictorial of the major events that have occurred in her life. Each picture bears a caption, every story a thousand memories.

So this post is devoted to a cross between all those things... and I hope you enjoy it.

First things first, however, is a great album I stumbled upon and am so grateful I picked up, if for no other reason than this song. "Winter Song" is a collaboration by two of my favorite singer-songwriters Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson and was written for the release of The Hotel Cafe presents Winter Songs. I would've loved to embed the video for you directly, but alas that feature was disabled. It is sweet and poignant, touching on loss, hope and love. Every time I listen to it, I find myself thinking of a line of poetry from Ella Wheeler Wilcox: When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.

And now, a few snapshots from my house and some of my most favorite things...

I captured this shot looking down into a large apothecary jar I filled with white buttons of all shapes and sizes, a few vintage bakelite pins, a small pearl cuff bracelet, and a deliciously tarnished silver star. I placed a large pearl choker around the neck of the jar and it fit perfectly. Doesn't it look wintery?

I love to collect vintage photographs, especially when they include dogs. When you stop to think about how expensive photography was at that time, the fact that people would choose to include their pets indicates an abiding love and sense of priority. Perhaps this would be the only image of the pet they'd ever have. This darling photographic postcard was snagged at a local flea market I shop at dawn on Sundays {I have it perfectly timed for travel and shopping so that I still make it to church on time!} in the spring and summer. The hats, muffs and wraps almost make it seem like the little girls are playing dress-up, with their beloved pup sitting prim and proper for the occasion.

Another dog photograph, this one of my grandmother circa 1925 with the puppy and outfit { complete with hat! } she had received for her birthday. The little gold frame in the forefront was a flea market treasure that is content to wait until I find the perfect image for it.

I adore monograms and engraving as found on trinkets and jewelry. The silver piece is another flea market find and is a sterling collapsible drinking cup. Love it! Another piece that makes me smile everytime I see it is the tiny bracelet that is engraved "Hoops Major". Doesn't it just sound like a character's name from some heartwarming Hoosiers-esque movie?

I am not a francophile on the whole, preferring an eclectic English/Grand Tour feel, but I couldn't resist sharing this pair that are perched on my farm table turned desk. The mother-of-pearl opera glasses are just one set from my growing collection and the jewelry box is a treasure I picked up during some retail therapy at The Green Velvet in Granville, Ohio. If you are ever near Columbus, Granville definitely warrants a visit. There is a darling cafe that has gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu just a few doors down. Not to mention the amazing architecture, quaint historic homes, and the campus of Denison University.

Something that came about totally by chance. I got a small stash of these cement angels into the shop this holiday, and treated myself to just one. But it needed something where I nestled it. A little bit of sparkle and... voila! A darling { and inexpensive } adornment from the wedding aisle of a certain mega store. A child's tiara is the perfect cherub crown. As Heather would say, "Love!"

Another auction find. It's missing some pieces and is fragile with age, but I love the idea of a homemade toy carriage with a swan pulling it. Makes me think of what darling little child once received this under their Christmas tree.

I love statuary, whether it is made from concrete, marble, bisque or porcelain. Isn't the expression on this little miss precocious and sweet? Oh, and in the background, another apothecary jar filled with large silver and gold indented Shiny Brite ornaments. { In the meantime, I've poured mother-of-pearl buttons all around the gaps. } Another pearl cuff encircles the stem and a vintage pocketwatch dangles from a super yummy chocolate silk ribbon.

Some of my favorite cameos on display. If you haven't picked up on a theme yet, I love things that are sentimental and tender. On the back of the gold pocketwatch is inscribed {in the thinest, most delicate hand ever} "Thy God Seeth Thee".

If you ever happen to be in Cincinnati on the second Sunday of the month from April to October, make a point to visit the Antique Fair in Covington's historic Mainstrasse district. There are lots of quality dealers with incredible one-of-a-kind finds. Some things can inch towards the high-end but every once in a while a bargain can be found, like this tarnished compact with a broken latch. What do a few imperfections matter with an inset portrait, hmmm?

There seems to be some sort of issue with blogger tonight, so I shall end this post here and finish it up in a second entry.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


And so begins another month, the one we count down day by day until the arrival of Christmas and then after that, through the end of yet another year. So often that countdown is filled with stress and to-do lists, a thousand different activities that require us to double-book our evenings, living our lives in a caravan from place to place so that no gift goes unpurchased, no house unvisited.

Yet looking back to the Christmases of my childhood, it is no wonder that it is still my favorite time of year and the treasure trove of some of my happiest days and my favorite tradition {which I will divulge in a moment}. But first, the backstory...

I was born and raised in Florida and for the majority of my life, my maternal grandparents lived with us. And while in my minds' eye I can still see snapshots of the house in Deerfield Beach, all decorated for Christmas, the years that I remember the most vividly are from when we moved to Orlando shortly after I turned five.

We always had artificial trees, which was fine because that meant we could have more than one and that we could put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving and leave everything up until after the New Year {but never later than Epiphany on January 6th}. Being a native Floridian, it wasn't until we moved north that I could really comprehend what the season felt like with real trees, flurries, and having a nice fire to roast chestnuts on.

Anyway, shortly after we had moved, my brother and I were each given a tiny tree that was maybe 12" for our rooms that only held one strand of twenty lights and little miniature ornaments made from wood. They were simple little things, really. Tiny angels made out of wooden shapes, the cookie dough ornaments you could have personalized at the mall with your name and the year, those little craft teddy bears and birds. There was a strict rule that the lights could not stay on once we went to bed, with the exception of Christmas Eve.

As we got older, we were able to add ornaments until eventually the trees were replaced with larger ones { 3' table top }. By the time I was twelve, mine had ornaments in shades of pink and lavender, spun glass, and an icicle garland. {I think it was just a cry for some snow!} Marshall's had dinosaurs, tin soldiers, trains and bubble lights. In fact, we both have all our childhood things packed away in storage. Just can't bear to part with them.

My mother was mostly a stay-at-home mother in those years, dealing in antiques with her best friend at a local shop. With her at the helm, the season was always magical. One year, we had NINE trees {two large ones and seven in various sizes}.

I could not comprehend that much work with two children, but between my grandmother and she the halls seemed to be decked in no time at all. On top of the trees in our rooms, there were trees in the family and living room, and a small countertop tree in the kitchen with antique glass ornaments and twisted tin "icicles". Then my grandparents had a pencil tree in their bedroom and my parents had a "memory tree" in theirs. It would be hung with the treasures of our family - a silver baby cup, my great-uncles lace baby cap, a pair of my great-grandmother's chandelier earrings - and photographs of those no longer with us. The dining room had a topiary tree with fruit and gold drops, and finally... Grandfather's favorite, the ceramic tree with the little color bulbs that sat atop the console television.

But more than any of the decorations, what holds the most special place in my heart was our advent. On December 1st, we would wake up to find that our stockings had been hung up in a corner of the living room. There was no fireplace, so each hung from the drawer of a large hutch, at just the perfect height for a five year old. I had searched online for an image of what our stockings looked like {as they are also packed up in storage} but came up empty handed.

Our stockings did not look like stockings at all. Marshall's was in the shape of a toy soldier with a large drum and mine was a soft-bodied doll complete with dark curls, dress, apron and cap. The pockets were concealed in their outfits, so if one did not notice the small plastic hooks stitched at the top so they could be hung, one might not think they were anything more than toys. In guesstimation, they were probably about 16" in size. But I digress...

Spilling out from each pocket would be long strands of red and green curling ribbon. At the end of each strand was a perfectly crafted miniature tag {at most 1/4" square} that Mother had made for each. Looking back at it, I marvel at the time and effort she took to make each one something special. Every morning after breakfast we were allowed {with supervision} to go to our stockings and pull the streamer for the appropriate day and from the pocket would emerge a treasure.

Sometimes it would be a small piece of chocolate we could have later for a snack {or I could take to school in my lunch}, or a small little trinket, or a piece of rolled paper that held a clue on where to look for something larger. I can still recall how giddy I was to look under the couch and find a coloring book about Christmas around the world and a set of those crayon pencils that were so popular in the 80's.

Every night before bed there would be an addition to bedtime prayers in the form of singing a carol or reading a Christmas story.

The Neapolitan Baroque Creche at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC

advent: n. a coming into place, view or being; arrival;
a momentous event that has been awaited;
the season including the four Sundays before Christmas

And while it is so easy to let the focus slip from what is the center of the of it all... dare I even say it, the "reason for the Season"... that's what has me humming one of my favorite carols of all. {I've included the lyrics for you below.}


O Come Divine Messiah

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

O Christ, whom nations sigh for,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Come break the captive fetters;
Redeem the long-lost fold.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

You come in peace and meekness,
And lowly will your cradle be;
All clothed in human weakness
Shall we your Godhead see.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

{ Photos courtesy of Flickr }

Friday, November 28, 2008


On Monday, I spent the day in Canton driving in a cold, dreary drizzle as I jotted from a client to a vendor and then on a quick string of errands. As I was stopped at a light, I noticed this sign off to my left, nearly obscured by the traffic.

Hem your blessings with gratitude lest they unravel.

It humbled me and got me thinking { which for those of you who know me well is not a surprise at all -- I'm a "thinker" }. Anyway... I realized that Thanksgiving, more than the traditions we use to celebrate it, is pausing long enough to be grateful for the blessings we have. From the basics to the bonuses. Too often I focus only on the BIG things and not all the minute daily things that so many in this world do not have.

Yesterday we did the "go around the circle and state what we're thankful for" before grace was said for our meal. I entered from the kitchen and somehow received the privilege of going first. There were so many thoughts in my head, so many things I could have said... that all I got out was "this season of the year". Yes, I know... it seems cliche, but indulge me the ability to flesh out what that means to me.

The Pilgrims held Thanksgiving to give thanks for what had been accomplished over the past year, of the mighty harvest and of God's provision for them and their families. I am doing the same. It has been a year since Alice Adair first previewed, not quite a week since the website launched. Our family has welcomed new additions and a sister-in-law. In the midst of all the uncertainty and the unknown in the world, there is an underlying confidence and peace deep within. And as the year draws to a close, I can actually pause a moment from all that I have to do to... rest and relax.

So it is my prayer for each of you, that you get to do the same. And just so you know -- I am thankful for each of you.

I am excited to share a recipe that was a huge success yesterday. We are a family of game players and while my aunt cooked a most marvelous meal, she had each of us bring things to snack on through the evening during rounds of games and giggles. It is simple, easy and sure to be a crowd favorite. I had wanted to take a picture of it in a beautiful trifle bowl but I made such a big batch I had to use something else at the last minute and completely forgot to snap it. {And there was hardly any left! }

Finger Salad
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vinegar of choice {white, red wine, apple -- I used apple}
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • raw vegetables of choice, coarsely chopped into finger-friendly pieces
The dressing can be made a day in advance but needs to be kept at room temperature. I mixed mine in a large canning jar so that it would be easy to shake and transport. Once all the vegetables are cleaned and cut, simply pour the dressing over the top and toss so that all the pieces are evenly coated. I used a large tupperware bowl to make the process easy.

It is probably best to consider your audience when prepping this dish, but the vegetable options are endless. Listed below are my recommendations:

Baby carrots, celery, baby corn, mushrooms, green and black olives, green onion, bell peppers {red, green, yellow and orange}, sugar snap peas, snow peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, belgian endive, edamame, cucumber, zucchini, radishes, asparagus.