Monday, June 27, 2011

Timeless Happiness.


  /ɪgˈzubərənt/  Show Spelled
effusively and almost uninhibitedly enthusiastic; lavishly abundant: an exuberant welcome for the hero.
abounding in vitality; extremely joyful and vigorous.
extremely good; overflowing; plentiful: exuberant health.


I've been thinking about the word exuberant today. I'm fortunate to know what it feels like to be exuberant, to just be ridiculously happy--in fact, there've been a few times when others have asked me "why I'm soo freakin' happy all the time." 

But as I get older (sigh), feeling thrilled-for-practically-no-reason gets a bit tougher. A little while ago, for example, I put on a song I like and started dancing around my bedroom. (I do this a lot.) As I danced, a strange thought popped into my head. I noticed that I wasn't happy enough inside to be dancing quite that enthusiastically on the outside. After all, I've danced before and felt like I was on the MOON! But it's not like I haven't had a decent day, I puzzled to myself. I've gotten work done at home, worked on laundry, blogged. 

What can I do, I wondered, to feel the kind of happiness I know I'm capable of? Is there a way to capture it at any time?

So far, the best solution I've discovered is going back to the time-tested tidbits that worked in childhood and basically throughout my life. For me, those include lying in my driveway and looking at trees and sky, eating cereal (my favorite food), calling best friends, listening to songs that carry emotional meaning, reading through old diaries and laughing, or, of course, spending time in Litchfield. 

Does this method work for everyone? Have you all tried it? I think that adult contentment is fine--clean laundry and checked-off lists--but I'd rather have that feeling I get when a caterpillar crawls across my pointer finger. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I can't stop blogging about fashion this month--which is odd, since it's the dead of summer. (But perhaps not so odd, since clearance racks are what this gal is all about!)

Last night I had dinner plans with Stefan, my friend Samantha, and her new beau. I had an incredibly tough time getting ready. Don't you hate those days? I finally settled on an outfit I felt completely luke-warm about and we left the house. 

In the car I was grumpy and lacking confidence. "I feel fat," I moaned to Stefan, who was getting more irritable by the nanosecond. Suddenly I had an epiphany. 

"I'm going to buy an outfit right now, before we go to the restaurant," I declared. As soon as we parked the car (which is an ordeal in this city) I was ready to speed-shop. It was 7 pm, so some boutiques had already closed. And it was King Street, so a few places were--ahem--out of my price range. 

I've never shopped much at Willy Jay's, but starting now, I plan to. It's a totally affordable place, and I loved the first dress I tried on! The best part is that this frock is versatile. It's a darker floral, so I can  wear it this Fall with a sweater. It's even short enough that I can wear it with jeans as a tunic! (I'm 5'9" and a half, people.) But last night, in the sweltering weather that is this summer, I rocked it with bare legs. I felt half-naked, and incredibly triumphant. 

"You look great," Stefan said. 

I felt great. It seems silly, but changing into that dress (I wore it right out of the store) changed my whole mood. I had a blast with Samantha and the whole crew. And I scored a new wardrobe item.

Sorry, old clothes. You just didn't fit the agenda. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Off 5th, Revisited.

I discovered today during a trip to the outlet mall with my gal Sarah that we're getting an Off 5th: Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet! I'm thoroughly stoked for a number of reasons.


One of my first jobs after college was working at the Off 5th that used to be in Myrtle Beach. It helped me discover two important things about myself: I hate retail, and I love fashion! Before that job I had no clue about designers; now, I constantly shop for designer deals. (Check out for more on a designer handbag I scored in NOLA for very little dough.)

I can't wait to check out the new Off 5th, and for once be the customer, not the customer service gal!

Re:Union Journal.

Friends, I am excited and pleased to share that my poem "Windows" has been accepted into Re:Union, a literary journal based in Charleston. I can't wait until the issue comes out later this summer. Until then, I invite you to check out the journal's facebook page.  Stay tuned!

New Orleans.

We got back from New Orleans a few nights ago. I've spent the last couple of days soaking in the memories, resting, and basking in the magic of the city. It was an amazing trip--hot, yes--but mostly amazing. Music, delicious food, moments with friends that I don't typically see. Everything a vacation should be.

Blues artists at the Apple Barrel Music Club. 

We walked around the French Quarter despite the crippling heat. 

Delicious beignets and coffee at Morning Call 

Stefan standing in front of DBA, a city music club. 

I can hardly wait to go back to the Big Easy, but I'll probably wait until the winter this time. There is much we didn't see. I'm sure in a city that rich in culture, you'd never take the same vacation twice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Blogging Venture!

Hi All,

Please take a moment to visit the blog (Also known as "As a Woman Thinketh") to read my first co-authored post! That's right--I've joined forces with Jhesika Menes to start writing a "Sister City Series," since she's located in NOLA and I'm in Charleston. Stay tuned for more fashion, food, booze, art, music, and more. We're ready to roll!

New Orleans 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Sister's Birthday.

Today Marie turns 26. Last night we had a wonderful birthday dinner with a few friends at Huck's Lowcountry Table, on the Isle of Palms. The weather was perfect.

Today we continued the celebration with brunch, and a walk at the waterfront park in James Island.

Happy Birthday Marie!


I drank out of one of my favorite glasses this weekend while I was in Litchfield: my grandfather's cocktail glass with the grouse on it. Every time I use it, I'm reminded of my grandfather, Philip A. Nofal, and how he's the person responsible for the fun and great memories associated with this beloved beach house. 

If it wasn't for my grandfather, our house might not have existed. My ever-practical grandmother was skeptical about the work and the cost that comes with owning a vacation home. But my grandfather, who was always up for an adventure, insisted that a house would enrich the family and bring about good times. He was right. 

Today, I barely remember my grandfather. He died when I was just five years old, so the images in my head are vague. But when I come here to Litchfield, the memories I make in the house help to build up the esteem I hold for him. So this weekend I raised the grouse glass, in memory and honor, to thank my grandfather for the blessing he brought into our lives. Inside this house many hearts have grown closer--the hearts of family members and of other loved ones. All of us have found a home within his boundless heart. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strawberries Don't Like Cold Weather, Either.

So, everyone who knows me knows that I'm not the biggest whiz in the kitchen. I can scramble an egg, but I'm not really known for my gourmet meals or desserts.

When a friend asked me to come over for dinner this evening, I tried to come up with an idea that was both inexpensive and yummy. I know! I thought to myself. I have some strawberries in the fridge! I'll cut them up and bring them over for a nice dessert. 

I got home from my afternoon at the beach, went straight to the kitchen and checked out my strawberries. Bad news--they did not seem right. I had anticipated lush, red berries, ready to be diced up and served. But these strawberries seemed hard.

I texted my friend and sorrowfully admitted that the strawberries I wanted to bring to dinner had gone bad.

"They're hard," I wrote. "Do strawberries do that?"

But the more closely I examined the berries, I started thinking..maybe they were just...cold.

"Are they just frozen?" my friend wrote. "Maybe your refrigerator is just cold."

Feeling like an idiot, I wrote back that she was right, and that the berries would be fine. At this very moment, they've been rinsed off and they're thawing on the counter while I write this blog.

So, yeah. Our fridge is pretty darn cold.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Scratch 'n Sniff.

I've become a handbag sniffer.

Don't laugh--it's the fastest way for me to check if the bag is leather or not. See, I'm a handbag fanatic; it's my definite weakness. The past few weeks I've been trying to find a new summer bag, preferably a roomy one for carrying on the plane to Nola. No luck yet.

One problem I've encountered on this search is that my taste is too expensive, even in places like TJ Maxx. It's inevitable that I'm somehow going to find the one $200 Italian leather bag and want it, eschewing the dorky canvas totes in my $25 range. Ulgh.

And lately, another problem I've run into is that, somehow, pleather bags have become chic. How, you ask? Simple--the sales associate declares that the bag is "vegan leather."

Today, for instance, at an unnamed shop in downtown Charleston, a handbag caught my eye. It was a gorgeous shade of chocolatey brown, so I picked it up and--you guessed it--sniffed it.

No cow. More like chemical factory. Yikes.


A waif-ish sales associate came over to me, seeing me assault the bag, I imagine, and asked if I had any questions. "This isn't leather, but I like the color," I told her. (Surely she didn't think I was dumb enough to plunk down that price for a plastic bag?)

She nodded. "Yes. It's vegan leather, and it's very stylish," she declared.

Okay. I understand that vegans don't like leather bags. But does that make it right to pass off a bag made of PLEATHER as something sophisticated enough for that price tag? I just don't get it.

I'm not sure if the "vegan leather not pleather" craze is going to last, but my sniffing habit just might. It's faster than hunting through all that stuffing for a materials tag, after all.

What do you think about this topic, lady readers?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friend Me.

"People are always asking me, 'How do you have all these great friends?' And I'm like, 'Dude, how do you NOT?'" 

--Alice E. Anthony

I haven't updated in a while, but I'm back. The topic I feel like musing on today is friendship. It seems simple enough, but since I've become an adult (of marrying and/or baby-making age) friendship more work than it used to be, or it should be. Let me elaborate.

I've always had an abundance of beloved pals. Both male and female friends--constantly someone to drink with, go to shows with, shoot the breeze with. Or, on a more serious note, someone to commiserate with, laugh with, and vent with. Even now, in a relationship with Stefan, I still make time for my people--and I expect them to do the same. Sadly, I feel like a lot of folks, once they settle into family life, don't make the effort as much as I wish they would. I recognize that a lot of us think that, once you have a family, the "party days" of going out with the gang are over. But I would argue that friends have more value than just partying.

Fortunately, I'm blessed to continue to have a few friends who DO value friendship the way that I do. To these friends I plan to hang tight, and as for the ones who fade into the distance with time...well, I guess I can't do much about that, since relationships are a two-way street. But I'll always be there for my people, even if we don't talk from day to day. I won't forget y'all.