Friday, November 28, 2008

Brunch with Friends

Blurry shot of Mercury Grill decor.

Since we had friends in town last weekend for the baby shower, some of us gathered the next morning for brunch at the Mercury Grill. It was lovely to have some time to visit again and to eat a nice meal together.

These photos were taken with the purse camera in very low light, so this is just a "quick and dirty" photo essay of our time together. You're probably reading this between shop-a-thons, so I thought I'd make the post quick today, for you, of course, my blog readers that I love.

We ate some good food.

And we talked a lot. Mostly, about the economy. Sorry, it was a table of mostly MBA's. It's what MBA's do when they get together. And, of course, we had our insider, Wilma, with us, giving us the perspective from the FED. So, go out there, on this day after Thanksgiving, and give the economy and boost!

Stacy and Henry...

...and their side of the table.

Deborah, John and S...

...and the other end of the table.

Heading out...

...and saying final good-byes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks and a Happy Birthday

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. On this holiday, people take time to get together with family and friends, to reflect on their blessings, to eat good food and watch hopefully good football. On this holiday, there is no presupposition of a gift exchange, which, in my opinion, makes it better than Christmas.

In general, I am thankful for the same sorts of things other people are thankful for. I'm thankful for my family and friends, my health, my job, the roof over my head and the food on my table. I'm thankful for our nation and all that it offers us, even when economic crisis is all around us. We live in freedom, are free to practice any religion we see fit, live as we wish, and pursue our dreams. I'm thankful for this planet and the beauty of its many majesties.

I'm definitely thankful for this guy...

...and for my furry children.

I am thankful for all of my family near and far, and I wish them the very best this Thanksgiving. I miss my family in Indiana on holidays like this. I wish I lived closer to them, because I miss them so much and so often. I cherish when we are able to visit and the ways in which we remain important in each other's lives. There is no place where I feel more loved and accepted than when I'm visiting with my Indiana family. I'm reminded of a quote from the movie Garden State - I know, a cinematic masterpiece - but the quote is good: "Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place." I guess maybe that's it - all of my Indiana family and I know that same place.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life - my job, my friends and my in-law family - in Dallas, but on this issue, I'm a girl conflicted. I constantly feel pulled between loving my life here and wishing I were in Indiana. When I left Indiana for college, I really never thought I'd still be gone. But, I fell in love with this wonderful Texan, have found a wonderful job and great friends, and here I am. So, today especially, I give a shout out to my Indiana family, saying a big HELLO and I LOVE YOU.

There are so many people who are not as blessed as I am. I know I take for granted all I've been given, and I should do more every day to be a good steward of my money, this land, and those around me, to name a few. I think its equally as important on this Thanksgiving day to reflect on my response to my blessings, and do what I can to make sure that my response is appropriate.


Cheryl and her granddaughter, Alexandra.

Today is also my mother-in-law, Cheryl's birthday. So, after she fixes a huge meal for her growing family, (which she really enjoys doing and insists on) we'll stop to wish her a nice day and another wonderful year. I hope her birthday is a happy one and she has many more happy birthdays.

Today, incidentally, was also my Nana's birthday - my mom's mother - so I guess little Alexandra and I have something in common. My Nana would have been 95 today if she were still living! I miss her, and think of all the fond memories I have of her each year on this day, too.


I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day and weekend, whatever your plans. Best wishes to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In Living Color

Today's post is more about the amazing period party I was able to attend last weekend, but this time, the photos are in color.

Above, you have the two group shots from the end of the evening. Now, we'll go back to the beginning of the evening and hit a few more of the highlights.

Karen, Margaret and Me

Karen, Margaret and I met at my house to get into the dresses. S was on call to drive us if we couldn't get all that fabric behind the wheel. He worked very hard to shove us on into the truck and send us on our way. Mr. Mark was kind enough, at the end of the evening, to shove us back in the truck so we could drive home. What a sight we had to have been!

In the truck.

Yes, that is the bottom of my dress on the right. And, the bottom of Karen's dress on the left. Fabric everywhere! We got a few strange looks from other drivers. We thought about stopping at IHOP on the way home, but we were just too tired by then. It also takes a lot of energy to carry that fabric around.

Mark and Brenda waiting for their photo.

And, as I said yesterday, when we arrived, someone took our photo in the front room. While photos were being taken, people milled about, getting to know one another and checking out the costumes.

Two "confederate" couples.

That fabric, again.

Some of the other colorful ladies.

The chatting continued all night long.
(Margaret, Karen, Melly, Catherine)

It was sometimes hard to get through.

Our table at dinner.
Mark, Brenda, me, Margaret, Karen.

The centerpiece.

My food plate.

The cake table.

The cake detail. Recognize it?
If not, go rent the movie, "Gone With the Wind."

An "authentic" 1860's plastic champagne glass. Right?

Miss Melly thanking the crowd.

The guests eating cake.

After cake, before heading upstairs, we took some more photos and visited even more.

Ms. Brenda.

Miss Melly and Mr. Mark.

Ms. Karen photographing Ms. Brenda and Mr. Mark.

We did, as you know, eventually make it back upstairs for the dancing portion of the evening.

Dancing the Virginia Reel.


Notice the two photos above. The top one was taken without the flash. Please note the difference. I prefer, as you know, to not use the flash. See how beautifully golden that photo is? But, it is not as crisp because the light was low. I had the ISO up to 1600, but still, at times, with movement, I had to turn on the camera to not have blur. Some blur is fine - but all blur is a little hard to decipher!

I was using my 18-55 lens so I could zoom in and out, which doesn't let in as much light as that 50mm f/1.8 lens I like to use, but that lens is slightly magnified. And, sister, in that dress, I was not going to be getting up and down to move all around the room to get the right distance. So, I went with the other lens.

It seemed at times that just an "ooch" more light would have gotten me where I wanted to be - it was right in between enough and not enough light. Thus, I went back and forth between flash and no flash a lot. I like the no flash photo, but the flash photo also does itself justice for other reasons.

The Gone with the Wind pose of Norbert and Melanie.

Me, on the way out. Farewell.

Thanks again, Norbert, Catherine and Melanie, for a wonderful party, even for this Yankee.
And, one more time, Miss Melly, Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fiddle-dee-dee, Miss Melly Turned 50

My friend Melanie - Miss Melly, the Honoree

This past weekend, I attended a very interesting birthday party. A friend and work colleague of mine, Melanie, was turning 50. She had a lifelong dream of having a "Gone with the Wind" party. So, her husband and best friend decided to throw her one. And, we went, in costume, as instructed. The invitation read:

"Miss Melly's Turning 50. Her Youth is Gone with the Wind."

Miss Melly and her husband, Norbert, one of our hosts.

In attendance were some of Melanie and her husband Norbert's family, several sets of friends from their child's school, the PTA, church, etc, and us, the work bunch. And, of course, her lifelong friend, Catherine, who helped plan this little soiree.

Miss Melly and her lifelong friend Catherine, our hostess.

I thought today it would be fun to make the photos all look old too. Tomorrow, I'll post some other photos of the event, in color, for those of you who want to see the dresses in color. Also, as you read this post, it helps to read it with an accent out of the deep south. It makes it more authentic. Try it.

Miss Karen, Miss Margaret, and me.

S was going to go with me. Until he learned that none of the other husbands were going from work. Suddenly, he needed to then stay home. So, I went with two other work friends, Miss Karen and Miss Margaret, and we went as the three wartime widows. There I am up there, making that face again - I think it's a smile, but it looks like I'm in pain. What's that about? I digress.

Mr. Mark and Ms. Brenda

Also in attendance from work were Mr. Mark and Ms. Brenda. Mr. Mark works with us. Ms. Brenda is his lovely wife. She was a good sport and came along. In my opinion, aside from Miss Melly's dress, she had one of the prettiest dresses at the ball. It was gorgeous.

Miss Karen posing for her photo.

The party was at an old house in Plano that is decorated for the period it was built. I actually think it is probably decorated more toward the Victorian era, but it worked. If you ignore the electric lamps, some of these photos could be old. But, they aren't. ;)

As people arrived, the hosts had arranged for a photographer to take our photos on a lovely settee. Then, we mingled with the guests and checked out each costume.

Most of the costumes came from one of two rental houses here in Dallas - Costume World and Norcostco. At a rental house, you end up with the dress that fits you, not necessarily your favorite color or style. All the dresses were pretty, though.

Miss Melly was enjoying her guests.

Getting around in all this fabric was a chore.
No wonder this fashion trend didn't last!

Some of the menfolk gathering to talk.

Miss Margaret and I, enjoying our surroundings.

After everyone had arrived and secured a libation, we headed upstairs to a large room where dinner was being served.

Preparing to be seated for dinner.

It was a delicious meal, fit for a person of the 1860's. After dinner, we headed back downstairs where cake and champagne were served and well wishes were given all around.

The cake-eating scene back downstairs.

Miss Melly and Miss Karen had a chance to visit.

Then, after cake, we went back upstairs, where they had cleared the tables to reveal a first rate dance floor. And, they supplied us with an instructor who taught us some dances from the era, like the Virginia Reel.

The group lined up to learn the steps.

In between reels, there was some waltzing going on.

Ms. Brenda and Mr. Mark working on their steps.

This dancing was really quite fun. The instructor was a little exasperated at first with our, how shall I put it - enthusiasm - but he stuck it out and we were all the better for it. There weren't enough men for the pair dancing, so Miss Karen and I paired up. I was the male. In that dress. One of the real males asked me if I could put a hat on or something, because he couldn't remember which one of us was the man. If I do say myself though, we made a lovely pair.

The men left at the end of the evening...

...and the women posed for a portrait.

Rhett and Scarlett - or Norbert and Melanie - which is it?

We ushered Miss Melly's youth out with the wind, and had a great time doing it. What an experience. Thanks, Melanie, for including me. It was a great treat. But, I don't think I'll take up hoop skirts as a regular item in my wardrobe any time soon. Tomorrow-more party photos - but in color.