Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mama!!

Today is my mom’s birthday.

She would rake me over the coals for divulging how many candles on the cake…so I won’t. I will simply remind her she’s still ”on the right side of the dirt”, as Paula Deen says.

It is not hyperbole to say that I would not have survived this past year had it not been for Mama. She has protected me, hugged me, cried with me. She’s encouraged me, funded me, championed me.

She has taken me to magical places that I never imagined I would see. Lions and leopards. Snake Charmers. Moroccan olive merchants and Arabic rug sellers.

She has given me the strength to keep going.

She has shown me by example how to be a better mother.

Those of you who know Jane Hutchinson James will know all of the following...
but those of you who don’t have the privilege, let me tell you a little about her.

In no particular order…

She’s a terrific bridge player.

She exercises daily (almost). Walking and water aerobics. Yoga when we are on a cruise.

She loves white tulips.

She belongs to the Twentieth Century Club, where she has to write a major paper once a year. And present to the club.

She is a voracious reader. She is never without a book.

She loves New York City.

She’s addicted to crossword puzzles.

She is passionate about music, especially opera. One of her favorite charities brings opera into elementary and middle schools, in the hopes that children will learn a love of music at an early age.

If she’s sees French Onion Soup on a menu, she will order it.

She was once the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker.

She’s an avid supporter of community revitalization.

She is a planner. A really meticulous planner. Rarely leaves anything to chance. (It’s why her parties always seem effortless and perfect!)

She is always immaculately dressed. Yep, even on safari, she looked great.

She’s a licensed chalice bearer and lay reader in the Episcopal Church.

She has legs that would make a Rockette envious.

She’s a proud member of the National Society of Colonial Dames in America .

She’s a trustee of Centenary College. And, yes, she looks very dashing in her academic robes!

Her favorite meal is French Dinner on Crystal Cruises.

All things considered, she’d rather be shoe shopping.

(Mama and first cousin Suzanne)

Mrs. James, Jane, CruiseGran, Mama….whatever name she goes by, she is loved, admired and respected by so many people.

(the gang with Kris Hiers at my birthday brunch in October)

I love you, Mama. Happy Birthday! Many happy returns of the day!!!!!!!

Beautiful Rustic Bookshelves

The Improvised Life has struck again.

I have found so many creative ideas from this blog- it's one of my favorite reads every day.

These bookshelves struck me as so chic, yet rustic. Repurposed, no-frills, strong and grounded. Practical, yet whimsical.

Even after a HUGE purge, I still have an enormous amount of books. And, as much as I love IKEA, I really want something more eclectic than basic Billy bookshelves.

This look will DEFINITELY be appearing at Maison Cou Rouge SOON!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Everyone needs a Jewish mother in his or her life.

I have Nancy.

Nancy wasn’t always a Jewish mother. When I first met her, she was a Jewish American Princess of the first order. That was 1974, and we were beginning high school at Saint Vincent’s Academy. We became steadfast friends, and have remained so through time and distance.

Nancy never forgets an anniversary or birthday. She sends cards. She calls. She's been married for over 25 years to Sam, one of the nicest guys I've ever met. They are the parents of three GORGEOUS girls...Karen, Elizabeth and Jenna.

When Nancy is not being the "mom with the mostest", she's out volunteering, doing everything she can to make this world a better place, not just for her family, but for her community and the world.

And she has gorgeous nails.

Nancy lives 3 ½ hours away, in the “big city” of Charlotte, in the great state of North Carolina. We had been plotting and planning for years to get together, but life had thwarted us until last November. We had such fun, we plotted a long weekend with “our girls” (Jenna is ten months older than Alix).

So, last Friday, Alix and I piled in the car and headed north. It was a weekend of shopping, food, and seeing “Billy Elliot.”

Nancy spoiled us rotten, as only a Jewish mother can. We were fed. We were Starbucks’d.

We were driven all over town. We watched Nancy pump gas. (those of you who knew Nancy in high school know just how absurd this concept is. I provide photographic images as proof.)

We shopped. We played with rescue animals that were being adopted.

We were couponed (saving money while spending it is one of Nancy’s passions). We made new friends. We laughed. We explored new neighborhoods. (Yes, Nancy, I know you were a bit out of your comfort zone in NoDa

but thanks for trekking us out there!)

We saw the national touring company of Elton John’s “Billy Elliot” that was every bit as good as the production I saw in New York.

We had an adventure. It was grand.

And to top it all off, in less than 30 minutes, we found a prom dress and shoes.

Win. Epic Win.

ps to prove that your mother wasn't ALWAYS a cook....I show you a copy of the recipe she gave me.....

Jenna-thank you for being so kind to Alix. She had a blast and can't wait to get together with you again...SOON!

Nancy--thank you for your love and precious friendship for over 35 years. Thank you for your shoulder to lean on when I need it, the glass of wine when I want it, and the chocolate when I shouldn't have it.

You are more special than you will ever know!!!