Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More news! Blue Light!



Further to my advise yesterday, regarding moving to Charleston, buying a house, scalding explosions, and fearlessness; I want to introduce you to something I have been working on in the small hours of morning for more than a year. 

This is Blue Light Media Studio LLC, my new business! Full service media, graphic, and public relations services for hospitality and retail in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Yes! Very exciting! I am thrilled to move my skill sets to the Holy City and grateful for the positive reception and help it has enjoyed from my old pals there. 


And, if I am slow in keeping up these pages, it is likely because I am keeping up someone else's, but you have my word, I will get back as soon as I can. Wish us luck!!!




Monday, June 4, 2012

Keepers of the flame

I logged in and approved more than a hundred comments. I missed you too. I adored them, every single one and, I'm blushing.

                                                    

Don't worry! I am the same: Fearing scalding explosions and small spaces, revering good men and linen napkins, and still willing go thirty rounds with a Hatfield or fine tequila - provided you've that good man and he knows something about a fireman's carry.

Very much the girl you came to know (like here, and also very much and really here and here). 

I had babies, as you remember. Two tiny girls, beautiful smart wily things, I am watching them like a hawk. I have been warned, by than no less than all of you, that these moments will disappear in the blink of an eye. 

And, I've been working - at everything. Harder than I ever did in those sixteen hour apparel days at 1700 Broadway, but with just as fine a view.

I want to tell you something very critical, to me, anyway. I have had eleven addresses in fifteen years. From many of those places, I went even farther afield; finding myself in any third-world nation on any given Tuesday. 

That almost feels like a confession. 

Some of it was the Navy life, more of it was a gypsy wander lust and the sheer power of being able to cut ties and move on whenever I wanted to do something else, see something else. Make no mistake, there is a lot of adrenaline tied up with thinking of the next thing and then doing it in some new, exciting, challenging place. I have never been good with the same old thing, but very good with moving on. 

My Mother considers that "moving on" thing a character flaw. I consider that I have become very good at every sort of goodbye; seen em' all. I don't think I have missed one sentiment, except perhaps remorse. Like I said, I am very good at this concept. 

But, for many reasons, that is all done. It's time to throw the suitcase out and put down roots, even though just typing those words caused me to shudder.  Meet my new home as of July: Just slightly north of Broad, Charleston, South Carolina. 


Or, more correctly: Meet my new money pit. In flood zone F: Which is where you are just sure to die if you stand there, I think, because the hurricane insurance is insane. But, worth it, to be right there, downtown and able to hit McCrady's with a 7 iron. 

For the first time since leaving my parents home at 18, I can have an address engraved on my stationery. And that is a big, big step. 

Onward, ya'll.







Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ringing



Darlings. These are for you. I've missed you too. Thank you for your notes and letters. There are no excuses. I should have written to you more often. But, sit with me for a minute, will you? You have your coffee or cuppa? Okay then, let's visit.

I've noticed recently, there are several things which wake one from a dead sleep: real or figurative.

A phone which rings at nine at night when your baby is horrendously sick and you have finally managed to get the torrent to slow enough so that she can sleep for a minute next to you, is one of those things. Even if she were well, I hate the time I have the children cuddled in their short little-hood to be infringed upon. Who doesn't? They will only be babies for about five minutes, the next thing you know they are deeming certain forks at the table, "inappropriate."

As life has progressed, I have had all those late night calls that somewhere the world was on fire and someone needed informed: In graduate school on a paramedic unit the sound of a phone ringing in the blackness of night likely meant someone's future literally was ablaze, and in my career when bombings or acts of nature occurred and it involved colleagues or our partners, then the phone would ring and ring.

The call that woke my tiny girl and I that night was not an emergency though, at least not any of the sort I've known. But it hammered the silence in a house that had struggled for it, deserved it. And it hammered a lot of other things too.

Sometimes a call is not just a call. Sometimes it is a wake up call: Your baby is sick. You choose the important thing now; take that call and allow the day to overtake the night and the sanctity of a home. Or you take your stand for the world you have made outside your work.

All of a sudden, you realize, only in theory, why the famous line in the sand was drawn at the Alamo, and you know just where yours is located.

My line is at seven pm in the evening. After that, the caller risks waking me in more than one way.

That is to say, gorgeous ones, I'm back.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Commanded by the Queen


Fascinating. In the sense that the word "commanded" does seem to make the word "invite" a misnomer of sorts, no?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

By request: Contradictions (revisited)

Originally published on Blushing Hostess Entertains on November 3, 2009 and republished now by request, Contradictions. To the long-time reader who asked for it once again - my pleasure, I am humbled.




When I think of what we have been through, you and I: All those things we endured although we quietly appeared on this page and read about God knows what besides who we really were and what was really going on in our lives: Centerpieces, sterling. It is remarkable how much of ourselves remains uncovered on both sides of the monitor.

At times, those things I am compelled to cover because they are part of my niche, sometimes make me want to bounce off the walls with boredom. Because life is so much bigger than this and there is so much more to you and I.

Have you read Martha Stewart's work? She never diverges. Once in awhile she will give an interview and there is a sign that she is deeper and greater than the sum of all her irons, garden trowels, and cakes; none of that appears on the headers of Omnimedia. When she admits to being a cougar there is an outcry because she is assumed to be one-dimensional. But she is decidedly not.

There must be a misconception, generally, about women who keep well-appointed homes and are skilled domestically. Now, I will grant that I am young and consequently having the mantle of grand dame and task master hurled upon my shoulders is not appealing for the overtones of moth balls and wool crepe I sense in the accusation. Intentionally, I have walked a fine line here and the content is geared to keep my mind away from the campor because the "hostess" subject matter is inherently mined with the stuff, only it is pleasantly tagged as "tradition". I have lived at least long enough to know a lot of this skill is what a person has been taught or picked up and has little to do with gender or social strata. Furthermore, the fact that one knows how to polish glassware and get stains out of damask does not alone make her a dyed-in-the-wool church lady.

Between myself and the twenty-somethings reading though, there is a decided gap. If they are single, they can make the mistake of thinking they are a long way from where I stand today. A well appointed life has no boundaries: Genderless, ageless, timeless. Just because we were getting away with things in our college house does not mean we were less obligated. Ours at Providence had everything it should have, only it was slapped together; obviously more geared to affording to go out than to be at home among our stuff.

Nonetheless; good girls, from good homes, and had you come to dinner, you would have been well served. Even then. In a house where, mysteriously, every time my roommate went out at night, she came home missing a shoe (and we were grateful that was all). If you knew her, you would be nodding right now at her contradictions too. She, not unlike others in that house, is a cocktail of a girl: Polished, confident, sharp-tonged, fiercely bright, well put together, and privately, one of the edgiest people I know. All the good ones are.

The other day, when I talked you about tattoos, were there ever emails (and just a reminder to those souls: Hate is monetized, so keep it coming). Then I happened to be over at blog-friend LPC's page reading about her Doc Martens. And it occurred to me that there must be a misconception that we should write from a one-dimensional perspective and accept an if-then relationship with our subject matter: If I know about china patterns and centerpieces, then, I must be a starched grand-old girl? If I married a Naval officer of an old tradition, then I must be a girl who wears twinsets and pearls and never asks for too much for herself in this itinerant life of his?

Nothing and no one is a straight line but sometimes the shade from blog trees overhead might lead some to believe the writers here might be as easily explained-away as their general subject matter. The depth, layers, and scars of the person before us have always seemed so much more worthy of investigation than their dust jackets, for me.

Moreover, if you are going to read a blogger or a magablog for any period of time, chances are you need them to have had as many lives as a cat, ridden high and crashed and burned mightily, and known a few characters who made them, broke them, loved them, and hated them. Who could stand it if they just went on and on about china day in and day out without any color whatsoever?

The people in this world of mine are good and dangerous. They live amongst these missives. Willingly. Their choice is to be heralded and infamous on these pages by virtue of having decided not to miss out on this one life, and in turn, this one page. In a sense, now that we have you, all have agreed to the shadowy explanation that is Blushing. To put perfect clarity to the thing that is me, or her, or it, would cause us all to live in the blinding light of a less than perfect reality. You did not sign up for that, neither did we or they, in many ways. So we must agree: Parts of me, us, her, belong to you. The rest is in the air somewhere.

In parts, all here kind of know Blushing. But the truth is, "she" is a little something we tolerate when keeping it real might be too out of character for the readership's tolerence. But we are all coming about.

Here, let me explain for the fifteenth time that this is both hand painted and - excitingly! - dishwasher safe! I care about it, because I need to serve food, but I am not living and dying by it. No, no. I save that drama for grilled shrimp at Safe Harbor, which I would lay down my life to protect.

Before we go any further, then, it is best for all concerned to understand that this still-young life has been lived at a furious and sometimes wild pace. Unapologetically.

Contradictions within a person are what make the ride with them worth the time, and in the end, worth the fall. Martha Stewart is no less an authority on table setting because she sleeps with young guys, LPC is no less the high wasp for her Doc Martens, and I too am no less this hostess because I was inked when I was 22.

If I told you I was anything less than green with jealousy that our men's colleagues can own up to their experiences with vigor, acceptance (in most cases), and pride, I would be a bold faced liar (as I have told them ad nausea). At the same time, I like a woman's cloak of mystery, and when it comes to letting mine slip occasionally here so that we might know one another better, it is not my favorite sensation, admittedly.

I have not a clue where the balance is but I am also not losing sleep over placing it on this page accurately.

If you judged me for classically educated of a fine home, conservative, and reverent then you have me safely right on one count.

Welcome to The Blushing Hostess. Be advised, she is a real live girl.


Photos: Temporary quarters at Jacksonville, 2009.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Glamour and elegance: The mutually exclusive age ends


If you catch me in a super market, I am asleep. Fair warning. You could gently remove that duck breast from my basket and take one solid whack at my head and there is a chance I might not flinch. It's become raaaawther mundane. Not unlike the chart-topping bore that is my dining room.

Look. I am in good company here, a lot of brilliant interior types, among them, long time friend of Blushing, Mrs. Blanding's for one; find that room a challenge. If not the worst kind. "The national disaster that is my dining room," is how she bravely referred to her own dining room, but just as easily to mine (only, more bravely, she published the photos).

Mine is in that category because it lacks imagination and the small swooshes of color and depth of texture it deserves and I prefer. It is, after all, housing the Fort Knox of porcelain, it should be treated with some reverence. Some glamour.

While that notion has been the battering ram my mind takes to that room whenever I find myself there, it was going no where. I was not in love, conceptually, with the modern notion of glamour although I knew the inspiration headed in that direction. And the old notion of glamour will only put bright rouge lipstick on an 1880 farmhouse. Mirrored tables and the like; just everywhere I look. And enough already; okay, okay, I got it. It does not spell glamour for me, and it is a toll call from there to elegance.

No apologies. I read all the interiors ink; I'm informed. Just because it is trend, no one expects me to love it. Only to tolerate seeing it all over and wishing the owners had a come-to-Jesus regarding fingerprints and Windex. Pay to play, I say.

I digress.

But then, like a raw duck breast to the temple, something elegantly masculine-come-glamour knocked me over.

The Veranda, 2011 cover is that duck breast. Dining room: consider yourself warned.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heuriger: New excuse for a lawn party



First off, you will know it by the pine bow above the door. There may never be any additional indicator. Remember that, it is critical. It is an old world signal, maybe a touch 007, a carefully guarded centuries-old remnant in part of this world. Neon signs be damned.

When you go to Vienna, and by all means, you should, you will have a great deal to do and little time to do it. You will have to pull yourself away from great music and architecture - not to mention Sacher tortes - to get loose of the city and make your way into the suburbs.

And (not that I wish to write your adventure for you), if you are sharp, you will turn up there on or after November 11th of each year and either stay for 300 days or some part thereof, and commit to getting yourself off the beaten path. Tip: If you are on a tour bus, you are already not living the dream... You will and should get lost. You need to come to terms with right this instant.



Now then. On those lightly beaten path's, truly known well only to locals, you will find heurigers; The vineyard houses belonging to wine producers where new wines are served in the year of their birth. Vienna, until recently when Madrid horned in, was the only metropolitan city that was also a wine growing region. Consequently, when oggling in downtown Vienna, you are never that far from the vine.



There is a great deal of imperial-law stickiness involved with heurigers but let's leave it at this: Vienna (Wein) producers may sell wines of the current vintage (For example: Grapes harvested in the fall of 2010 may first be served on November 11, 2010 or anytime for 300 days thereafter and still meet the criteria for "new" in Wein) directly from the vineyard houses, unbottled. An authentic heuriger will likely not use stemware but very average table water glasses or the like. Nothing about a heuriger is precious, so conquer your inner glassware princess before you pull up a picnic bench.



These establishments are not licensed as restaurants and in many ways were grandfathered into the Austrian equivalent of the food service governing bureau - gratefully.



They serve from a "communal table" or buffet, by law.


Initially, one had to provide their own food, heuringers in the modern age provide great buffets of local cuisine.

In my research I discovered the menu that follows. It's not health food, but look, if you do stay for 300 days, go easy on the meat drippings but remember, you only get one shot at life; balance. Chances are, this menu is incredibly appealing in its home and cooked by experienced hands: I'm in.

Geselchtes
Smoked bacon and other pork parts cut thickly and served with crusty bread.

Heurigenplatte
Sausage; cold, sliced pickled meat, cheese, chopped onions, sour pickles and a Laberl (bread roll).

Liptauer
Soft cheese generously spiced with paprika.

Quargel
Small cheese with chopped onions.

Saumeise
Ground meat smoked and boiled in a pig's net.

Saure Blunzen
Slice of blood sausage marinated in vinegar.

Schmalzbrot
Crusty bread spread with meat drippings.

Schweinebraten
Cold, sliced pork with bread.

Surbraten
Meat that has been pickled three weeks and then cooked and eaten warm.

Verhackerts
A spread made of minced sausage and meat.

- Global Gourmet


Locals will say the new wines always taste better under an open sky but their DNA has been refining its sensitivity to heuriger since the Middle Ages. I will take it indoors or out although the romanticism of drinking a new wine next to its vines is not lost on me either.



Austrian wines, in any environment, are glorious creatures, though I suspect they sparkle just a little more on the palate in a heuriger tasting. Roughly one-third of the regions' wines are blended, both red and white. Nearly all of it is consumed within Wein so you will likely need to go in person if you mean to taste them. The vast majority are whites which you may recognize: Gruner Veltliner, Muller-Thurgau, Reisling, Silvaner, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay (though these varietals are labelled with their local names). Reds are just as familiar: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

There is a 300 day "new" period for wines of each vintage as some wines are aged for a period and take months for release versus some of their un-aged counterparts. Conceivably, throughout the newness time frame, you may find yourself back at a heuriger on several occasions to taste new releases of different blends and varietals. Obviously then, like an vineyard or winery, the time not to visit is during harvest and press: September through early November.

Although there is a heuriger in the United States - just one by name, it is far closer to a restaurant than the heuriger's I've described here you should really just go or...

Create a heuriger on the lawn when spring arrives and serve a pile of gorgeous new local vintages and have a heaping, gorgeous buffet? Once again, not being to precious about anything, which is patently against both the concept and everything Blushing is, anyhow.

Put a pine bow on the invitation and one over the door, don't forget.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa's new rig (aka Entertaining mythical non-entities and transients)



I've put some thought into entertaining Santa this year.

This began innocently enough, with my Daughter remarking on the lit fireplace, "Be careful! You're going to burn Santa's boots!" Right on, Kid, it wouldn't hurt to light a fire under his ass.

Look, if everything said about the elf is true: He's no gentleman. I think he is the kind of guy who leaves the seat up and chews with his mouth open. I know this because one year when I was little, I suspect he did both those things judging by the trail of evidence in the house. These habits being altogether otherwordly in my Mother's mannerly kingdom, I think you'll agree, there remains no way I was wrong about the guy: He's a mess.

Further to my theory: One year he left the Barbie Dream House unassembled. He knew very well I could not follow an eight page manual partially written in French. I mean, really, guy?

Finally, he's no saint; keeps a reindeer up all night slogging all over creation in a blinding snowstorm and apparently is useless with operation of the front door.


Now, you remember last year around here, of course. The whole thing right and orderly: Jolly Old comes - chimney, what have you and then - cookie - good, scribble a little note, throw some gifts everywhere - then beat it next door.

And thank you very much.

But this house is full of girls. The women here, beginning with the one most closely in touch with the elf, feel he needs an image adjustment - er, correction perhaps. Firstly, without casting further aspirsions on Santa, we are not agreed he is a boy. We like to think he is above gender.



But if not, he is most likely a she and has refined taste in the boots that whoosh down the chimney; they are no one's buckled fire boots.



Secondly, Santa loves a note. Also, design-related books and scented glossy mags and could use a break to just kick back and flip through a few pages, you know? So, if you don't mind, could she have a bit of reading materials along with only a glass of water (she's not much of a milk drinker and she's driving). I think you note her car key here; of Scandinavian make for speed and turns in frigid cold. She doesn't believe in reindeer abuse; the modern sled has all wheel drive and Rudolph, always in shot-gun, is one hell of a navigator.


It has long been suspected that Rudolph carries the alias Pumpkin on any day but Christmas and is, in truth, a bit too porky to be alighting skyward between snowflakes.

Finally, that last myth with regards to the man: Santa has pretty thick skin but I'd be careful with the term right jolly old elf if you want anything out of the chimney arrangement this year.

Because, jolly might be pushing the issue when toys with a million pieces are involved. Maybe this elf sees a little devilish charm in this once-nightly festival of big wheels and dream houses. But jolly might be a misnomer of epic proportions. Safe to say at least, Santa can laugh at the consumer crisis that is Christmas still and the inexplicable line at Brookstone. Certainly Santa keeps amused, if not jolly.



And I don't know who you're calling old. But I assure you, Santa is not.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three little words

I know what you're thinkin'. But I don't write ballads, you know me better than that by now.

I was up on the hill behind the house today. A fiercly cold breeze made my nose tingle. I dug my hands deep into my pockets. It is undeniably that time; when those three words start to define what I know about life and family. Or at least, they do around here, on this hill, and on a few others atop which I've perched.


Emotion seems at times to be balanced on three little words. I'm not here to judge whose words are right and whose are wrong. All I know - which I have clearly established here is little and fleeting - is that there are about a million words and a lot of intonation all of this centering on the indefatiguable and highest pedstal of human wordiness - I love you.

High school is with me so vivdly in many ways. It was there I learned that a girl walking across E-Wing with a tall kid in a lettered-leather sleeve jacket, her smile seemingly the width of the span of a bridge, had heard the happy side of three words. Another girl, arms crossed at her chest, eyes to the floor, and back to the lockers in K-Wing was on the wrong side of three-word paradise. I watched the smallest things make and break; speak to your soul, define your memories, make you resolute. It still awes me what three words uttered thoughtfully or carelessly can do: Change a life, move a mountain. Or just not.

The words that those high school couples surely passed, while throwing around the optional fourth verbs -the dredded 'don't' or reassuring 'do' - can't all be wrong. After all, I have come to define a million moments with my own girls in the same terms: I love you. Certainly those three are powerful and moving, but they are anything but alone in meaning or synonyms.



This is my kid brother, who I love and because of this I know there are three words just as powerful; equally as defining and irresistible. There is no truth to "I love you," being the most moving phrase encountered by the human heart. After all, it depends on the heart.

I don't know about you, but as the family ski holiday over New Year's approaches, I know there is a phrase just as likely to cause us to move too far too fast, blaze inadviseable out-of-bound routes, carry on loudly, saying things we shouldn't, landing in a wreck of twisted humanity on our Mama's doorstep begging for help, her hot chocolate, and sympathy, all the while still arguing our rightness and swearing to even up the score as soon as we're healed.

Those three words, completely irresistible to the human heart in our world are not I love you. But they move us just the same, and as I think about it now, they are a familial translation of the same sentiment.

Race you home.




I have yet to meet the human heart that can resist it's appeal.

Here's hoping you are raced to the pile on the doorstep this season. I will meet you there in spirit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blushing letters: Workhorses and Bad Girls

Blushing,

I need the workhorse dress for the season. Will you show me?

Much love,
Stephanie

Dallas

Stephanie,

So many workhorses for so many women; with luck yours is in here. If it is the last, I will toast you tonight.

Wishing you great parties!

Warmly,
Catherine




Narciso Rodriguez








Disclaimer: The dress that follows has no business being here. It is no workhorse.



It took me a second to process it on paper because it was at once so fearlessly right and so categorically wrong: The softest black lamb skins tanned to be millimeters thin and trained into feminine movement grabbed me. Then so did the obvious presence of the closet renegade in the studio. That designer who took the country-club party dress notion and slapped it square across the face; Riotously cranking up all that baby soft leather in blackest-black, laser cutting it to shreds, and (sometime long after over-driving the fifth gear of childhood madras dress resentment) stitched it all up into something haltingly feminine but overtly bad girl.

(Note to the closet renegade: That must've felt good, huh? 'Cuz: damn.)

It is that last part which, when this dress steps into the predictably Tory Burch/ Nanette Lepore clad party it is headed to, will tip the balance between got-a-nice-dress and this-girl-needs-no-introductions. If a dress could be a good girl gone bad and come (tenuously at best) back, all the while fearlessly owning up to her scars and tendencies, this is her.

The girl in this dress prefers you not labor under misconceptions. At the split second her chin rose when the zipper reached the top of this dress, and she wiggled her hips gently to set the seams on her curves, she defined herself with perfect clarity.

While it may be no workhorse, the juxtaposition it declares for the woman in the dress is the unavoidable workhorse in her character - the "And Model of Identity" as it were - as coined unforgettably on these pages by LPC (right here). The girl in this dress came from conservative turf but she has taken it on the chin a couple of times. She has definitive texture and not just in her dress. She's packing an unburied hatchet in all that soft skin. Proceed with caution.

She can come sit next to me.