Thursday, November 28, 2013

What Am I Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving Lovelies!

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I know you are going to see lists of things that people are thankful for today, but I thought that I would compile my own as I've never actually put one onto paper before - not that this is 'on paper', but you get where I'm going with this.

I find myself taking a step back quite often to appreciate how lucky I am.  I may not be where I envisioned myself at this point in my life, and there are still plenty of things I want to do, see, and accomplish, but I acknowledge that I have a good life.  A very good life.

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What am I thankful for (aside from the fantastic vintage photos above), you may ask?  In no particular order, I am thankful for:

-The fact that I have my Oma in my life.  That she is happy, healthy, active, and self-sufficient and has more love to give (and gives it freely) than anyone I've ever known.
-My mother and my sister who I love unconditionally and who love me the same way in return.
-My warm, cuddly little Port.  While he can be incredibly needy and I have forgotten what it is like to own my own lap (the second I sit down, he makes it a point to commendeer it!), this little ball of fur is the most loyal, affectionate, trusting, smartest cookie I've ever come across.  He's also incredibly handsome.  No, I'm not biased.
-An incredible group of friends.  People who sometimes know me better than I know myself, who I know are there for me through anything, and people I love and support regardless of circumstance.
-The absolute best neighbors in the entire world.  Two people who will watch Port when I'm gone, who will spend an ENTIRE Sunday running to two Home Depots in an attempt to help me hang curtains, and who will bake cookies from scratch and pick up the absolute BEST macaroni and cheese when I am sick.

And a few other items.  Not as sentimental, but things that make life absolutely fantastic!
-The smell of freshly brewed coffee
-The smell of rain, the sound of a good downpour, and how deeply I sleep during a storm
-The smell of jasmine and gardenias on a warm summer evening
-The feel of fall in the air
-Being up to watch the sun rise (and then going to bed)
-Watching the sun set over the ocean
-The sound of popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly
-The first night of sleeping on clean sheets
-Warm towels on a cold winter morning
-Laughing so hard and so long that I am in physical pain
-People who say please and thank you
-People with elevator etiquette
-The open road on a solo road trip
-Sleeping in and spending an entire day in my pajamas
-Having a glass of wine and dancing around in my kitchen
-Finding a fabulous pair of heels

The first few are obvious and most people will list similar things in their top five, but what seemingly unimportant things are you thankful for?  Those are always the fun ones!  I've left many items off this list either because I didn't want a list 87 pages long, but also because I didn't give myself a lot of time to sit and really think about this list.  These were the items that first popped into my head.

Perhaps it's good that I know I've missed things since that means I have new material for the next list of things that I'm thankful for...

I hope you all take a few minutes to really think about the things you are thankful for today.  And that you do so more often than just one day a year.  As many things may not be going exactly as planned, there are far more things that we can all be thankful for than not.

Now to get back to making the dishes I'm bringing to my Mom's for Thanksgiving Dinner.  I wish you all a fantastic day with family, friends, good food, and good wine!!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

This Charming Dame Lesson 7 - Wear Pajamas

Pajamas?  How dreadfully outdated.  Boring even.  Oversized T-Shirts and sweat pants or boxer that's the ticket!!  Right?  Wrong!

Oh Kittens, I don't know why it's taken me so long to write this post, because this one idea - the idea of pajamas - was one of the main drivers behind starting The Vintage Project.  I'm not sure how many pairs of pajamas I am personally responsible for being sold in the last year, but I'd say it was rather significant.  All through the fall of 2012, I was waxing poetic about pajamas to anyone that would listen and I was pretty surprised when other people were getting excited about pajamas as well!

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Now that we're FINALLY getting winter weather in Southern California, it's only fitting that I mention pajamas here.  Are pajamas strictly for cold weather?  No.  But the majority of the ones I own just happen to be.  This might have something to do with the fact that I had my Grand Pajama Revelation in the fall and immediately went to my dresser and threw out most of my T-shirts and pants I'd been sleeping in post haste and began purchasing pajamas.  Yes, I was one of those people that had lost the inclination to dress nicely for bed once I began living alone.  Since no one was going to actually see me, I didn't give much thought to what I was sleeping in.  Ashamedly, I had regressed to wearing ratty old T-shirts and sweat pants full of holes to bed.  And whenever I saw myself dressed for bed, I felt terrible about myself.  Even if you don't have company in bed, knowing that you take absolutely no pride in what you're sleeping in is pretty detrimental to how you feel about yourself as a woman.

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Classing up your nighttime ensemble is an easy way to feel better about yourself.  There's simply something romantic and classy about the idea of sleeping in actual pajamas.  But somehow, I had just associated them with a different time, and I know for a fact that I'm not alone.  How foolish are we?  To think that pajamas, of all things, are out of our reach!  I'm not sure exactly how the shift happened for me, but I'm incredibly embarrassed that it took me so long to get the memo.  Le sigh... 

Kittens, what have you been wearing to bed?  Perhaps you aren't as terribly lazy as I was, but ask yourself, are you happy with your ensemble choices when you turn in?  You don't need to go as far as matching pajamas with your significant other - although, how cute are Lucy and Ricky?!?  (PS - a man in pajamas??  That's the ticket!!)  No, you can (and in my opinion, should) be pulled together all on your own.  If you still aren't on board with the idea of pajamas, these incredibly fabulous ladies might bring you around to my way of thinking!

See, Lucy doesn't need Ricky for her pajama set to be fantastic!  (She probably didn't even need Fred the puppy, but he certainly was adorable!)
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Jean Harlow looks divine - even amongst all the mess!
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Carole Lombard's geese approve of her plaid pajamas.
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Sophia Loren does a little reading before bed!
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See how fabulous the pajama set can be?  I picked up four pair last winter while Victoria Secret was having a pretty spectacular sale which included free slippers.  Yes please!  The leopard print and polka dots are The Dreamer Flannel Pajama (though neither of these designs seem to be available this year), the black is The Afterhours Satin Pajama, and the grey is The Sleepover Cotton Pajama.  While the Sleepover pajama is ultra light-weight, most of my light, summer pajamas have come from Target and I LOVE them, so you don't need to spend much on your pajamas if you don't want to.

If full pajamas aren't quite your thing, there are plenty of night shirts out there for you to chose from.  Or you could always pull a Holly Golightly and simply wear a tuxedo shirt!

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With her sleep mask and fabulous tasseled ear plugs, Holly is super glam while sleeping!  You can either accessorize like her, or you can simplify like Marilyn.

While it may appear that she's sleeping in the nude, she's not.  She famously told reporters, "What do I wear to bed?  Why, Chanel No. 5 of course."

Really, the choice in what you wear to bed is your own, but please, do something for yourself and toss out the T-shirts and sweat pants riddled with holes.  You'll be glad you did!

Wishing you a beautiful night in beautiful pajamas!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ten Thousand Pageviews!

Yes Kittens, you read that right!  This little blog is trucking right along...we just hit ten thousand pageviews!!!

I am incredibly grateful that you keep dropping by for a visit!  And on this particular visit, I say we celebrate in true Vintage Project fashion by popping a bottle and doing a little dancing!

When I think of people really letting loose, I think of the 1960's.  May I submit for your consideration, Exhibit A.

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And Exhibit B.

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And Exhibit C.

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Exhibit C looks suspiciously like The Twist.

And this looks suspiciously like Conway Twitty, Chubby Checker, and Dick Clark getting down and doing The Twist themselves.  FUN TIMES!!!

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The Twist that we all know and love and attribute to Chubby Checker was actually a cover of the Hank Ballard and the Midnighters song.  Dick Clark heard the song and tried to book them on American Bandstand, but they were unavailable, so he brought Chubby Checker in to perform it.  It was such a hit that Clark suggested that Checker record his own version and the rest is history!  (I strive to be educational and informative.)

The Twist as a dance is obviously interwoven into the song's history, and as the song reached Number 1, the dance became a full-fledged craze and took the world by storm!  When he was on American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show, Chubby Checker taught the move by telling the audience "Just pretend you're wiping your bottom with a towel as you get out of the shower and putting out a cigarette with both feet."  Doctors warned of back injuries and religious institutions warned of deteriorating morality - which means it's super fun!

"We're gonna twisty, twisty, twisty
 Til we tear the house down!"

For those of  you who haven't heard it in a while, or those of you from Mars who have no idea what I'm talking about, please behold the magic of Chubby Checker!  This song automatically puts me in a fantastic mood and makes me start moving!!

And if you needed further proof that no one can have a bad time dancing to this song, here it is.  This video of people twisting is pretty spectacular!

And who could forget one of the most iconic scenes from 1990's cinema?

So let's twisty, twisty, twisty, but leave the house in tact...we've got a lot more Vintage Project goodness ahead of us!

Here's to the next ten thousand views!  Imaging all the fun we'll have before we go dancing again!!
All my love - XOXO!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All Aboard the Green Smoothie Train!!

Good Morning Lovelies!

How did you start your day?  I started my morning the same way I have for the past week and a half.  With a green smoothie.  So L.A., I know, but I think I'm finally a convert to this whole green smoothie thing.

While I haven't been as successful with eating clean consistently as I'd like, I've been back on track for the past few weeks and in adding green smoothies to my morning routine, I'm finding it easier to stay on track throughout the day.  It might be psychological, or it might be that inundating my system with something so densely packed with the good stuff only makes it only want more.  Whatever the reason, I foresee this becoming a permanent thing for me.

There have been many benefits associated with green smoothies, they're super easy to make, and if you haven't tried them before, let me assure you, they can be incredibly tasty!!

The only downside, is that you have to make sure you're always stocked up on produce, because you will use a lot.  And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!  I went through two of these large tubs of organic spinach between the smoothies and as part of my salad mix for lunch!  While I'll be changing things up (really there is no limit to what you can put together), I've essentially perfected this first incarnation.

My mother gifted me a Magic Bullet and I've put it to VERY good use!  While one of the selling points of the Magic Bullet is that you can put things into it, blend it, and go, I tend to make things more complicated than they need to be, so it shouldn't be surprising that that's not exactly how things go for me.  I wanted to blend certain things and found that the individual cup just wasn't big enough to accommodate everything.  But I will say - the Magic Bullet truly is no muss, no fuss when it comes to clean up.  Which makes me super happy!

So, I've established a really great little system.

I fill three of the containers with two stalks of celery, a pear, a banana, and one and a half of them full of baby spinach (using as much organic as possible - except for the bananas, there's no point in getting those organic).  Instead of any type of milk, yogurt, or water, I brew a few cups of green tea and use that as my liquid.  I love green tea and who couldn't use a few more antioxidants??

 As each individual cup is finished, I dump the contents into a bowl.

After all three cups are done, I add a few drops of Stevia to bump up the sweetness and give it a good mix.

And then ladle the mixture back into the little cups.  It ends up being about two and a half containers full.

I do all of this each night so that I can have the one that's half full while I'm getting ready in the morning and take the other two to work.  I enjoy one while I'm catching up on email once I get there and give the other to a friend who doesn't have a nifty little Magic Bullet just yet.  And we're both feeling fabulous!  She's not a fan of celery or raw spinach and she loves these.  So, there's your endorsement!  I can't wait to try a different incarnation next week!!

Did you drink your veggies today, Lovelies?  I highly recommend you try it!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brunch 11.10.2013 - Actually Making Good On "We Should Get Together Soon!"

FIG, Santa Monica

Hello Kittens!

Lately, I've been seeing more and more people starting to vilify social media.  There are many reasons why people are starting to take part in social media fasts, but a longstanding gripe has been that many of the friendships and relationships are merely surface level.  Personally, I've never truly agreed with that sentiment.  We live in an age where social circles are far-reaching and the demands of people's day-to-day lives don't make it possible to stay in touch with everyone in person, over the phone, or via personal emails (can you imagine how much time you would be spending with your email account?!?).  Social media makes it easy to keep up with people who you value, even if that means you haven't seen them in years.  

I personally love social media for the ability it affords me to continue fostering relationships from afar.  And while I don't actually have the time to get together with everyone on my Facebook newsfeed or the means to fly across the country to visit with friends who no longer live locally, that does not mean that I don't care about how they are doing or that they matter to me any less.  I will be the first to admit that I have thrown the "We should get together soon." around a lot.  Not that I don't mean it - I do.  I wish that I could get together with everyone I've said it to, but many times, it simply doesn't work out that way.  So, I was super excited when my friend Karin and I were actually able to make it happen.  Yes, we had to plan it a month and a half beforehand, but we finally met up last Sunday - the first time in about two years!

While I posted about how the day ended, I didn't share how the day started...with Karin and I having Brunch!  We had decided to meet up for the most important meal of the week and while I was open to driving south into Orange County where she lives, I was very excited when she told me that she needed to be at LAX to pick up her husband at 2:00.  That meant that we'd be dining in my neck of the woods!  I started searching the West Side for Brunch places that looked good and came across FIG in Santa Monica.  FIG is located inside the gorgeous Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows.  
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I have been to the Fairmont Miramar twice before for work-related activities, but didn't realize that FIG was located inside until I followed my GPS and pulled into the driveway.  Once you drive around the beautiful tree, there is simply no way to forget this place.  Located at the corner of Wilshire and Ocean, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it's absolutely stunning!

This tree, a Moreton Bay Fig Tree (I wonder where the restaurant got its name....) was planted in 1879 by the original owner of the property, a Senator John P. Jones.  It now measures 80 feet high and 120 feet wide!  That's a big tree!  This might look familiar to those of you who have seen the movie Calendar Girls.

The hotel is beautiful and the restaurant is equally upscale and chic!

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FIG is just off of the fabulous lobby of the Fairmont Miramar that the who's who of Hollywood have graced over the years.  Greta Garbo lived here for more than four years in the 1920's, Jean Harlow lived here in the 1930's, and Marilyn Monroe took residence in the 1950's...not a bad pedigree.  But it's not just glamorous ladies of the silver screen that have taken to this place over the years - I'm betting many political strategies have been discussed in these rooms.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, President John F. Kennedy, President Bill Clinton, and even Charles Lindbergh (not a President, I know) have stayed here.  And I'd bet money that all of them, at one time or another ate at FIG.  Why?  Because it's fantastic!

Let me start talking about Brunch by acknowledging that what I'm about to say is sacrilegious.  Karin and I decided to meet at 10:30 because breakfast is only served until 11:00 and the Breakfast menu was far superior to the official Brunch menu that replaces it at 11:00.  So, in this rare instance (probably the first instance ever), I chose breakfast over Brunch.  By admitting that, I risk having my Mistress of Brunch designation stripped from me in a rather violent manner.

One of the things that drew me to FIG was not its location (I didn't realize it was in the Fairmont Miramar until I got there), but the fact that the menu is created around local, seasonal ingredients.  That was something that was beautifully illustrated with my Fritatta Verde.  The fritatta was simple - filled with asparagus, broccoli, herbs, and topped with a divine Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa.

It was delicious!  Although it needed a bit of salt, which was easily remedied with this ADORABLE mini salt tub (I have no idea what to call this little thing, so just go with it...).  But seriously, how cute is this???

Karin ordered the Santa Monica Breakfast.

 Judging from how clean her plate was at the end of the meal, I'd say it was pretty tasty.

From my MANY Brunch experiences, I've found that while people tend to want savory dishes, they at some point eye the sweet side of the menu.  So, the best course of action?  Order a sweet plate to share.  And FIG had a FABULOUS option.  The Hazelnut Waffle with Frangelico-Banana Compote and a Nutella sauce.

To. Die. For.

It was a FABULOUS Brunch in a fabulous setting with delicious food and amazing, beautiful company!

So Kittens, even if it's not convenient right now, I strongly encourage setting a date in the future the next time, "We should get together!" comes out of your mouth (or gets typed by your fingers).  You'll be so glad that you did.  Yes, I know it's not always feasible...but do what you can.  And if it just happens to culminate with Brunch, all the better!

Happy Brunching!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Fabulous Sunday Ritual...Finally!

Good Evening Kittens!

I had planned to post this oh, about eleven months ago, but I haven't been able to do so honestly until now.  Yes, I suppose I could have posted whatever I wanted and really, if it had been a complete fabrication, no one would have been the wiser.  But that's just not my style.  So I waited...and waited...and waited until I could do so honestly.  And the day has finally arrived!!!

(In case you didn't follow - that day is today.)

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but when I started The Vintage Project on January 1, 2013, I thought it would be fitting to have a Sunday Ritual.  I love traditions, but it seems that most are relegated to holidays or birthdays or other such occasions that come around quite infrequently.  That's not what I was interested in...we've all got plenty of those.  With the fact that I 'live my life in crisis mode' (a phrase coined by perhaps my most fabulous Lady, Stephanie), I've always wanted to be able to end my week in a truly fabulous, decadent, and relaxing way.  The prospect of having both a productive and indulgent weekend seemed like a pipe dream.  It was truly my Moby Dick.  I somehow never felt like I was able to fully come down from the previous week and my weekend enough to be recharged to do it again.

My story is not unique.  I'm not the only one with a lot of stuff going on or the only one that feels like they can never accomplish everything on their list.  But nonetheless, it's been driving me crazy.

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I'm not sure what happened this weekend exactly, but without planning it, I was finally able to have the Sunday that I've been hoping for the past eleven months!  The stars aligned and it was pure magic!

I had Brunch scheduled for Sunday and it was very probable that we would end up back at my place afterwards, so on Saturday, I slept in, cleaned the apartment, and got my nails done.

Sunday's Brunch was fabulous (most on that in my next post), but earlier than what has become normal for me as I was more impressed with their breakfast menu and they stopped serving that at 11:00.  Which meant there would be no dilly-dallying and that we needed to be punctual!  We finished Brunch at around 12:30, came back to my place for about an hour to finish catching up, and then I hit the grocery store to stock up on a pretty ridiculous amount of produce.  I was back home by 3:00.  Seriously?  Seriously.  I was shocked too!  Perhaps there is something to be said for getting up early...

A little while later, I pulled out a (I'm ashamed to admit) rather dusty mat, popped in a yoga DVD for beginners, and did a decent job of getting closer to the zen I seem to be continually searching for.  I recently purchased a few yoga classes in Playa Del Rey, but feel like I need to get myself acclimated with the basics before I take myself to a class.

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As I was well on my way to complete relaxation and decided to pour myself a glass of wine, light a few candles, and draw myself a hot bubble bath to really push myself to the bliss that I was so close to.  I shall post at some date in the future about the FANTASTIC little cubbyhole in my bathtub that a wine glass fits perfectly into!  It's pretty spectacular.

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Once my body felt like complete Jello, I pulled myself from the bath, slathered myself with lotion, and applied a mud mask.  If I hadn't still had to make dinner, I would have topped the very fashionable look off with some cucumber slices over the eyes, but if skipping the cucumbers is good enough for Lucy, then it's good enough for me!

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I poured myself another glass of wine, quickly threw together my Mexican-Style Quinoa, and enjoyed an incredibly peaceful evening knowing that I'd been productive (cleaned the apartment, ran errands, got my nails done, went grocery shopping) and also indulged myself more than I can remember doing in a very long time.  It was so incredible, that come hell or high-water, this will be happening every Sunday!  Alright, I'm open to slight variations as long as the day ends with me feeling as good as I did last Sunday....

We all have the tendency to put other people and other things before ourselves and it feels really good to put yourself ahead of everything else, even if for only a few hours once a week.  It's okay to be selfish.  Especially if it keeps you sane!  Do you have any rituals that you've established just for you?

Let's raise a glass to small traditions that put a smile on our faces!  Even better if that glass can be raised while in the tub!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kind of Obsessed with Caught a Ghost?

Good Evening Lovelies!

Like the first week of every month, the last few days at work have been especially heinous.  My reality has been long, long hours at the office staring at spreadsheets only to still take work home with me (super glamorous, I know).  Thankfully I've had some amazing tunes to get me through!

Recently, I discovered a band that, if I'm being honest, I've become kind of obsessed with.  I have essentially had their tracks on repeat for the better part of five weeks.  OCD?  What's that?

I find myself in the minority of my generation in that I am not plugged into the pipeline of new music, and for the most part, I'm okay with that.  An ex-boyfriend referred to me as an Old Lady many times over in reference to my love of old music (and cardigan sweaters).  There are many reasons why he is an ex, but the fact that he could not appreciate my love of jazz, blues, soul, and standards is merely one of them.  How anyone cannot appreciate the music of a bygone era is beyond me.  Yes, there are current bands that are producing some really amazing material, but most contemporary music (in my opinion) lacks the emotion and the soul that used to be commonplace.  That is not the case with Caught a Ghost.  They. Are. Amazing!

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Caught a Ghost, is "an old expression.  Musicians used to say you caught a ghost if you gave a good performance.  Like you were possessed."  That is how the genius behind this project, Jesse Nolan, explains the band name.  And the logic behind the name gives you some idea of what you are in for.  There is very little about this band that doesn't somehow tap into a very honest, beautiful, hip-shaking musical place.  There is a very strong influence, inspiration, and connection to Motown, but every aspect of their neo-soul look and sound feels true to themselves.  There are no gimmicks, there is no cashing in on a lie.  This is real.  And it's absolutely beautiful.  

I first discovered them when I heard a phenomenal cover of the Sam Cooke classic "You Send Me."  It gave me chills and stirred something inside of me.  And I was instantly hooked.  See for yourself.  Tell me you don't have a visceral reaction to it.  I dare you.

I played this track for my mother and she enthusiastically gave it her approval.  Since she is from the generation of the original, I think that's a pretty strong endorsement.  And now, in listening to Sam Cooke do this song, I find it somewhat lacking and honestly...kind of hoaky.  Blasphemous, I know!  There just doesn't seem to be much feeling behind it...something the Caught a Ghost version has in spades!

Understandably, after discovering this song, I immediately went to ITunes and downloaded everything I could get my hands on from this band (which admittedly was not much since their only EP was released in early 2013 and I'm sure I'm not the only one eagerly awaiting a debut album).  I downloaded their two singles and their EP, Nightworks.  Unfortunately, in trying to grab a link for you guys, it appears that the EP is no longer available for download anywhere - I am truly sorry to lead you on this way.  But there is some good news - you can still purchase the You Send Me cover and also the No Sugar in my Coffee single.  Which are fantastic!!!  (For the record, if I don't have sugar in my coffee, "it makes me mean, Lord, it makes me mean" as well.)

While you may not be able to currently download their EP, you can most definitely still find the videos on YouTube.  For some reason, I can't get the video for Hold Out to post, so you'll definitely want to look that one up on your own, or just follow this link that I thoughtfully placed here for you.  And to make things a little easier for you, here are their other videos.


Time Go

Sleeping at Night


And while the music is fantastic and Jesse Nolan is undeniably incredibly talented, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the fact that he is also super dreamy and can rock a suit like nobody's business.

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I seem to have TERRIBLE timing as this band is currently on tour and played LA on October 26.  That's right, I missed finding out about the show by about a week!  And to make matters worse, by the time they tour again, I have the feeling tickets will be much more difficult to come by.  Good for them, not so good for you and me.

If you are anywhere on the East Coast, you might still be able to catch the last leg of the tour as they are currently in Birmingham and will end the tour in Washington, DC on November 16.  If you make one of the shows, PLEASE let me know how it was, and know that I'm super jealous!

Happy Listening, Lovelies, I hope Caught a Ghost resonates with you as it has with me.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Book Club Hiatus

Hello there Lovelies!

This is usually the time where I reveal the new Book Club selection, but we're going to deviate from the normal program this month.

The Vintage Project Book Club has fallen a little behind.  And when I say The Vintage Project Book Club, I mean Bridge and myself.  With my schedule and the fact that Bridget, you know, got married, we've slacked a little bit when it comes to Book Club.

So we've decided that we are going to take November to catch up on Book Club meetings and finishing October's selection.  We will be back on track for December.  Join us, won't you?

Please Stand By!