Thursday, December 29, 2011

Finding the Perfect Purse/Travel/Book Bag

Every woman I know is never satisfied with her bag. For most women it's a never ending hunt for the "perfect" purse. We all have different factors for our bags, some like huge bags that hold everything including books/e-reader, laptop, snacks, water bottle, umbrella etc. (when I carry a large purse my partner Paul calls it my "Mary Poppins" bag.) At other times such as a night out for dinner and drinks a woman wants just a small clutch, big enough to hold her cell phone, credit card, ID and a lipstick. This seems to be confounding to men, "Another bag, what was wrong with the other one(s)?" Ahhhh where to begin to explain a woman's purse obsession.

Personally I am a purse addict. I need a closet just devoted to my bags including my luggage, totes, beach bags, purses, clutches, travel bags, book bags, wallets, coin purses etc. Ideally I like to carry a small vintage clutch in a larger bag so I can grab it and go in the evenings. Over the years I've bought some great bags, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Coach, Kate Spade etc. I also have some amazing vintage bags including Whiting & Davis, ostrich skin, Victorian carpet bags and great clutches from the 40's and 50's. But it's finding the perfect bag that can act as a daily purse, carry on bag for travel and book bag that alludes me. Until recently when I found what may be the perfect bag. For now....

I was searching for a daily purse that is large enough to hold my Nook Color e-reader and a book or 2, my wallet, iPhone, 11 inch MacBook Air, cosmetic bag, water bottle, snacks, Moleskin notepad and other odds and ends. I also wanted it to be small enough that it wouldn't look like I was dragging luggage around with me and light enough to comfortably carry it through a day at the art museum. And it has to be small enough to fit under the seat of an airplane. So the bag I am loving which pretty much checks all the boxes on my list is this Nine West bag. I stuffed it today with everything I needed for work AND an evening out and it's perfect. Plus, I found it on sale. Highly recommended for the woman who likes to carry a bit of everything and not look like a mailman.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Goodness

Hurray, my Christmas shopping is complete! My suitcase is open on my bedroom floor full of presents, 1 bathing suit, my Macbook, phone charger, pj's, a couple of cotton dresses and flip flops. Once my Kid tosses in his bathing suit and some clean t-shirts we are ready for Florida. Mom, I know you are reading this...Friday afternoon=pool and chocolate martinis.

Tonight I am heading into the city with my friend Michael and partner Paul to enjoy a Christmas party at Fernando's tequila bar and then to a great little neighborhood bar Millie's for a peppermint shot or 2. No matter where you go in Chicago, a local dive bar, a Mexican restaurant, stores, hotels, museums, L stops, the German market...there are lights, wreaths, and holiday decorations. The City is just beautiful at this time of year and Chicagoans know to enjoy it before the sludge and gray of February arrives.

So readers, before I sign off for a few days of R&R here are a few of my favorite Christmas ideas for gifts or parties.

1. Books. this wouldn't have been on the top of my list? A few favorites of mine that surprisingly many people haven't read:
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus. Haunting. What is the value of a life?
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the most beautiful books ever written.
  • The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Love his poetry. Loved that he was an Oxford man.
Other authors to gift: Jorge Luis Borges, John Keats, Jane Austen, Erma Bombeck.

2. Herb infused olive oil. When I clean out my garden in the fall I dry my herbs, buy or reuse beautiful glass bottles and give the gift of rosemary or Italian herb olive oil.

3. Moleskin. I have been using and gifting these wonderful little books for years. I have a stack of used ones in my desk, everything from the calendars to the reporter notebook to a wine journal. Perfect for travel, perfect for writers and artists, great for list makers or the calendar addict.

4. Time. I'm sure you've noticed. We have less of it than ever. Sometimes what someone needs the most is more time. Time to stop by your home for a hot meal that they are too busy or too tired to make. Time for a night out. Time for a night in doing nothing. Find time and give it away.

5. Handmade presents. This year I vowed to avoid big boxes store and gift presents made in the USA by small business owners. I was almost 100% successful. For specialty items I did buy a few items from stores like Williams-Sonoma because of the amazing items crafted in France. My favorite places to shop, Etsy and antique stores. Amazing one of a kind gifts.

What ever you are doing this year, I wish you a Harry Potter, "Happy Christmas!" Song is Carol of the Bells.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Date a Girl Who Reads?

This post is perfect. Really...I've never read a better description of girls who love to read and the special partners they need. Thanks Norah, you get us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Treasures of the Bodleian

In 2009 as part of a post graduate seminar on Librarianship at the University of Oxford, I had access to one of the World's greatest libraries, The Bodleian. During my weeks at Oxford I explored many of the College's libraries and had access to collections that many students or scholars did not. Have you ever held a book written on vellum? Or turned the pages of a book so fragile it was translucent? Truly amazing.

The exhibit Treasures of the Bodleian is free to visitors until it closes on December 23. For those of us not lucky enough to be in the UK, there is virtual access through the website as well as videos on the Bodleian's YouTube channel.

Here are a few of my favorites:
And a few videos not to miss:
To read more about my visit to Oxford and view pictures select tag Oxford at the bottom of my blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday List #21-Favorite Holiday Movies

We had 2 bitterly cold days in Chicago this weekend, not surprising for this icy City but another reminder of how nice it is during the winter to be with loved ones at home. My family, like so many others enjoys snuggling on the sofa, making a big bowl of popcorn and watching movies at this time of year. Next week my son and I will fly to Florida to spend Christmas at my parent's home with my sister, her husband and my 3 year old niece and 1 year old nephew, my aunt and uncle and the family dogs. My mom will have the pool heated for swimming, my dad will buy bait for fishing off the dock and there will be lots of Christmas cookies, seafood, chocolate martinis and movie watching.

So for today's Monday List, here are my favorite Holiday Movies. Happy Watching Readers!

P.S. Check out this list of Top British Christmas Movies from one of my favorite websites, Anglotopia. Not surprising that many of my favorite films are British.

  1. While You Were Sleeping. Starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. Not only one of my favorite Christmas movies, but a favorite film set in Chicago. Over drinks sometime, ask me about the night my friend Wynter and I met Sandra Bullock in a bar while she was filming this movie in Chicago. It's good story involving too much liquor and salsa dancing.
  2. Bridget Jones's Diary. I love the book and love the movie even more. England at Christmas time and Hugh Grant. And neurotic lovable Bridget and her kooky friends. A fun film I watch over and over.
  3. The Holiday. 3 reasons why I love this film. Kate Winslet. Jude Law. And Kate Winslet's PERFECT English country cottage which you can see here.
  4. Love Actually. A charming Christmas movie. London, great characters, love.
  5. Home Alone. Kevin gets left at home at Christmas and the adventures begin. Another wonderful Chicago movie.
  6. Die Hard. A total guilty pleasure. Everyone needs a little Bruce Willis killing bad guys during a holiday party to keep it real.
  7. The Nightmare Before Christmas. When my son was little, we watched this movie repeatedly. Tim Burton makes Christmas macabre. Love it.
  8. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I laugh just thinking of watching this movie again. Everything about this movie is perfect, Clark Griswold, squirrel in the Christmas tree, Cousin Eddie...
  9. A Christmas Story. My dad LOVES this movie. He even has the leg lamp. We have this playing on a loop like most of America all day on Christmas.
  10. Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas gives me chills.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That Phone Call

A few days ago I got the phone call every parent fears..."Mom, I've been in an accident."

My son was visiting his best friend, a football player at Indiana University, when they were involved in a car accident in the middle of the night. My son was driving his car when another driver exited a tunnel and hit them, thankfully no one was injured.

I arranged to take a couple of days off work, called a friend to watch my dog and jumped in the car to drive to Bloomington Indiana to deal with insurance, have the car towed (his car is a total loss) and bring my son home to Chicago. During the 5 hour drive my partner Paul, whose son is a sophomore at the University where my son was, arranged a hotel reservation for me in Bloomington and I called my insurance agent to start a claim.

It's funny, what you think of when you are leaving someplace quickly in an emergency. Knowing I was going to be there overnight, I grabbed a pillow, pajamas, my laptop and phone charger. And then totally random things like apples (my son loves apples). Of course I forgot cash but thank goodness for banks in rural small Indiana towns.

My son had posted a picture of the accident on his Facebook page and as a result I posted a message on my FB page that he was ok. I received such wonderful messages from around the world from friends and family happy that he was safe. It takes a village to raise a child, whether in our hometown or virtual, we are surrounded by love.