Archive for December, 2010

First Impressions

Friday, December 31st, 2010

You can tell when its not high quality.

This week I had a hard choice to make.  The leather costs came in higher than expected.  Not just a few dollars more, but 27% more.  Times hundreds of bags.  Ouch.

Wendy and I looked at other leather samples.  Of course, to get a lower price, we had to look at leather of a lower quality.  From the very beginning Wendy wasn’t happy with it.  The texture wasn’t the same.  The colors weren’t the same.  And to top it all off, we’d have to put an extra finish on it to try and fake the quality.

After crunching the number and cringing a little, I passed.

This first line a bags is so important because they are my first impression to the world.  I’m not going to start out with anything but high quality, high end leather.  I don’t want to be known as anything less!

And frankly, I’m sure you’re not expecting anything less.


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Tech Upgrade

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Today I’m getting a much needed technology update. What a great way to be ready for 2011. I’ll be back with a new post tonight. Talk to you then ! ~A

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Cheese Fondue

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

No sooner have you finished the leftovers from Christmas and its time for a New Year’s meal.  Our family likes to indulge in a little fondue.  It’s interactive, retro chic and cheesy.  What more could you ask for?  The recipe we used this year was very traditional and everyone enjoyed it.

My Mom hand graded all the cheese.  Then I mixed it with the cornstarch and created the fondue on the stove.

While I constantly stirred the pot, my sister helped by getting all our other ingredients ready.  We had bread (a few days old which I like), apples, broccoli and carrots.  Last year we had cauliflower too, but I don’t really think people like it!

Once the fondue mixture was complete my husband poured it in the pot and we were ready to dip.

Along with the cheese, we also had meatballs.  I used the recipe from Real Simple and their October Meal Project.

Great meal – festive & filling.  How are you planning to celebrate 2011?  A dinner out?  Champagne in?  I’d love to hear about your plans.

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Clothes That Work at Work

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

After reading Brandon Holley’s Editor’s Letter in January issue of Lucky Magazine I immediately turned to the article “What Works at Work”.  The way she described her own 15 piece edited work closet gave me high hopes.  I was not disappointed.

Here’s the problem with most “Work Clothes” articles and/or books.  They start with a suit!  This isn’t the life I live.  Moreover, it seems to be the life hardly anyone lives anymore.  Who can invest in a full suit when they never have a good occasion to wear one?

The article starts out with the following pages:

Then, in typical Lucky fashion, they break down each personality into specific wardrobe pieces.

The Polished Sophisticate

The Chic Pragmatist

The Boy’s Club Inductee

The Risk Taker

I’m not sure which “personality” I am, but I know I’m not “The Boy’s Club Inductee (been there done that).  Which one do you most associate with?  How’s your closet shaping up for the New Year?

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This is a Terrible Week to Set Goals

Monday, December 27th, 2010

I love this week.  The week after Christmas and before New Year’s is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  When I had a “regular” job I used work to take to off.  It was one of those weeks you could take vacation and not miss much.  People understood why you were out.  The chance of getting an “emergency” call was about 22% rather than 98.9%.

Now if you’re one of those people who likes to be in the office alone, this is a great week for your to be at work.  But it is a terrible, and I mean really awful, week to set business goals.  Don’t even think about.  Here’s why:

1.  You need to reflect. You just completed your 2010 goals.  Or maybe you didn’t.  Take some time to reflect, analyze and hopefully, celebrate.  Think about what you really accomplished.  Ponder on what you want your 2011 to look like.  Stew.  Meditate.  Breathe.  Think.  Your goals will be clearer, better and brighter if you take the time to do this.

2.  You need to get input. Your right-hand gal is in the Cayman’s, your husband is watching bowl games and even your son can’t be bothered because he’s got that new PS3 game on the 43rd level already.  People are busy right now…busy not working!  Don’t set a single goal without getting some kind of feedback.  You’ll just have to reset them later when everyone gets back in the office/back to reality.

3. You need to give people a break. I know you.  You’re an entrepreneur.  You’re thinking about your business every single day of the year.  Your mind doesn’t take a holiday and neither does the bottom line.  But people need a break.  They don’t want to hear from you with the “Oh, sorry to bug you on your holiday, but…” call or the “If you happen to be checking email, it would be great to get a quick answer on this…” email.  Your hard-working, loyal, creative, A+ team needs a break.  FROM YOU.  Give it to them.  And while you’re at it, give it to yourself.

I will admit, watching the days on the calendar count down makes me nervous.  I’d like to have my 2011 goals set, but I know it’s just not feasible.  After talking to my coach, we decided setting them the week of January 10th was the best idea.  In the meantime, I’ll look forward to giving myself a break.  I hope you will too.

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Christmas Eve: The Main Event

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

For our big Christmas Eve dinner I decided to make my own ham rather than purchase one prepared.  I picked a receive from Southern Living – Cherries Jubilee Black Pepper Glazed Ham - and was thrilled with the results.

The recipe in Southern Living


The ham was glazed every half hour for four hours.


By the end we were very excited to try it!


My family got a kick out of my "Glazing Outfit".


The ham looked very festive on the table.

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Josh’s Christmas Movie Picks

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Once all the presents have been opened, the food as been devoured and the carols have been sung.  Now you need something to keep the whole family entertained.  A movie seems to fit the bill.  But which one?  Something that will work for your Grandma, your nephew and for you.  I don’t like movies, but you’re in luck, my husband Josh loves them.  Here are his movie picks for your after Christmas entertainment.


Dumb and Dumber: A few years ago, this movie used to be on continuous repeat on TNT (edited, of course) during the holiday season. It stands the test of time with lots of physical comedy and lowball-yet-pg13 humor. Jim Carrey at his absolute best. Other Carrey comedies don’t hold up over time. Have you seen Ace Ventura recently? It’s goosebump-enducingly embarrassing 18 years later. D&D is utterly rewatchable.

The Princess Bride:  No swearing, classic story line, witty occasional humor. All attributes that are great for kids from 1-92.  Another timeless classic for me. Mandy Patinkin will never equal his turn as Indigo Montoya. Peak of Cary Elwes’ career (now relegated to direct-to-dvd stinkers and Saw rehashes).  Andre the Giant? C’mon. you want to watch this.

About a Boy: Quirky heartwarming story about a surprisingly non-annoying Hugh Grant and a dysfunctional kid/Mom combo. Toni Collette (mom) is always excellent.

Die Hard: Maybe a little edgy for grandparents. But it’s  the seminal action movie event from which dozens if not hundreds of future action movies copy-catted. Bruce Willis is a badass regular dude. And it takes place at Christmas time, so it makes the list.

Hoosiers:  Sports movie to end all sports movies for me. Simple and straightforward. They used all no-name actors for the basketball players, who could actually shoot and pass a basketball. I’m pretty sure the dude who played Jimmy Chitwood ( I always thought it was Chipwood until I looked it up) has never done anything else of note in Hollywood since.  Dennis Hopper should have won the oscar for best supporting actor that year. Love the picket fence.

Inside Man: I don’t like all of Spike Lee’s offerings. This one is a gem, and it’s been on TBS/TNT recently. Very thoughtful and suspenseful bank heist/caper movie with a unique angle. Nice performances by Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster.

L.A. Confidential: Another underappreciated movie in my opinion. Yes, it was nominated for best picture. But it is immensely entertaining and not ‘artsy’ like a lot of best picture nominees. Great cast, film noir feel without the usual gloominess of that genre. Nicely constructed, straight-forward story. And a satisfying ending (sorely missing in a lot of current movies).

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:  Quintessential goof-off movie  and generally non-offensive. I remember watching this as a kid at my friend’s house. His parents recommended it to us because THEY connected with it. Cutting class to have some good clean fun is a universal wish.

Once:  Modern take on a musical (I traditionally hate musicals). Beatifully simple ‘like story’ (not love story) with great music. I watched this twice in a row, meaning I watched it, then rewound and immediately watched it again. Never done that before.

Documentary Category - This has been a recent favorite genre of mine the past 3 years.

Murderball: My favorite movie of that year, 2005. It’s so good. Truth is stranger than fiction. Lots of emotion and such unique characters.

Spellbound: Spelling bee kids. They’re different, weird, and interesting. We all know this. But it’s great to get to know them personally and see their stories.

Wordplay: Nice succinct history of crossword puzzles and the place it has in today’s society, including the many famous/influential people who obsess over them. Also focuses on the crazy crossword geeks ala Spellbound.

King of Kong:  Unintentionally hilarious and also a poor man’s “Hoosiers-esque” (not a word) documentary about an outsider trying to succeed in the face of doubters. The ‘villain’ Billy Mitchell in this one is just classic.

Josh Macatol loves movies, the Ohio State Buckeyes and golf.  He is originally from Marietta, Ohio but currently lives in Charleston, SC where he sees fewer Buckeye games, but has the opportunity to play more golf.  He generally does not write blog posts but since his wife asked him and it was Christmas he figured what the hell.

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Favorite Christmas Card

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

We received many lovely holiday cards this year, but my favorite had to be the sewn paper one from Lauren Sanchez Design.  Lauren is a good friend and I am continually inspired by her creativity and entrepreneurial skills.  Not only does she have her own design firm, she also designs a line of handbags and is co-owner of Blue Bicycle Books in downtown Charleston.  Lauren – thank you for thinking of us.  As always, you’ve made our home a more stylish place.

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Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

When my family comes to stay for the holidays, I like to leave a little something on their nightstand.  This year I was excited to discover a chocolate bar made right here in Charleston.  Sweetteeth chocolate specializes in high quality  ingredients with unusual pairings.  Not only are they delicious, but they are packaged in beautifully illustrated wrappers.  I know my family will enjoy them.


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2010 Christmas Tree

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

After much debate, we settled on a Silver & Gold themed Christmas tree. I liked this idea for several reasons, but the biggest was that I feel like its something I can build on year after year.

I used mostly mercury glass ornaments. While they are very pretty, I must warn you, they are very heavy! We all mixed in some plastic pieces to keep the wieght of the tree down. This glass piece is a penguin (I had to get one in!) from West Elm.

I found many of my pieces at Luna Bazaar. Not only were they priced right, they came beautifully packaged and not a single one was damaged.

Even my daughter’s horse had to get on the action.  While he looks especially appropriate this time of year, he’s been a fixture in our family room for a few months now. My daughter loves him and is even brave enough to ride on her own now.

How does your tree look this year? Do you have pictures up? I’d love to see them! Send them to my email or post a link in the comments section below.

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