Thursday Night's Alright for Fighting

Yeah, I am not very inspired this week.

So I paid the bills this morning. I feel very happy about the fact that it is done and that I have the money to do it.

I also filed my taxes today, although I tried to file them last week but Turbotax had to wait for a form from the IRS. They didn't get the form until today. Those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that I blame George W. Bush for this.

Also on my "W" list this week: Domino magazine is no more. Conde Nast has shuttered my absolute favorite magazine due to the economy. And you are exactly right that I blame George W. Bush for that. Further, Home Depot has closed the uptown design center due to the economy - Bush's fault. All in all, W's popularity rating here at the Bee Charmer's has plummeted to new lows. I don't ask for a lot but couldn't I just be allowed to read my magazine and shop for floor tiles in peace? Am I reaching for the stars here?

I had dinner with my dear friend over at Cantina 1511 on Monday night. Their guacamole is quite something. The Bee Charmer has turned into a bit of a guacamole whore lately so, needless to say, I had a good time. The margarita didn't hurt, either.

On the way out I had to stand there and wait because my friend cannot leave without going to the ladies room. While waiting and talking to another friend I had a close encounter with the Ex - who we call "The Love Maker" for reasons that are unimportant. He was with Mrs. Love Maker. That was really no fun. His head was bigger than I had remembered it.

It was awkward. You'd think that at some point love gone wrong might get less complicated, but it doesn't seem to be working that way for me. I have anger toward him, probably because I didn't tell him off properly when we broke up. I was trying to be an adult about it but maybe there is something cathartic to be said about spewing venom. He's just so smug and judgmental and I wish he would get his comeuppance.

I am also annoyed that I did not look like my most fabulous self. I looked ok but when one imagines these situations, one always appears as one's most fabulous self. And there I was with no lipstick on. What a drag.


Bean Smoochies

You may have noticed that I have two Pembroke Welsh Corgis that I call Beans. There is a story behind this: When Finn was a baby, he was the exact shape, size and color of a butterbean, so that's what I call him about half of the time - Butterbean. Then Lola came. Naturally, she became Lola Bean and all of her personality traits began to be attributed to her Beaniness. Now she is Lola Bean, Miss Bean or, most often, the Bean or my Bean.

This is my Lola Bean being cradled and having her face kissed. She hates this. However, I require certain sacrifices from her and one of them is that she has to occasionally be cradled and have her face kissed. So there. When I see pictures of her like this I think that she is either a lot bigger than I perceive her to be or I am smaller than I think I am. Maybe some of both?

This is Finn in his Halloween costume. He went as a pig. If you knew him, you'd see the appropriateness of this. My father was horrified that I would dress up his grandpuppy in such an embarrassing outfit.

Lola went as a bumblebee. She was nothing but cute.


We're Gonna Be in the Hudson

This is just the damndest thing I think I have ever seen.

It is also an amazing testament to one man's skill, experience and ability and a humbling reminder of God's power and His grace.

Thank God for the lives of the people on this plane and for the people who rushed to rescue them on Thursday. What a truly miraculous blessing for us all.


I didn't mean to go to the 60% off sale at Bob Ellis.

But then, you know, I went in just to "look". And, in my defense, I wanted these shoes last summer but I DID NOT buy them. I said "no", "these are too expensive" and "I'm being good". But now they're on SALE. So I bought them.

I also got some Stuart Weitzman booties, because they were also on sale, and I have needed some booties for a really long time and I looked other places and couldn't find what I wanted.

I also tried these on for fun:

They were just about the most gorgeous thing ever! Totally and completely impractical and overpriced, but it was so much fun to wear them for 5 minutes!


Law Life

When I started this blog, I thought I'd write a little bit about my work life, but as time has passed, it has just never come up. Truth be told, there is nothing exciting or particularly interesting about the practice of law, at least in my opinion. I would really love to be one of those people who is engaged and enriched by her profession, but I practice law so that I have the money to decorate my house. I don't live to work, I work to live.

The other thing is that, well, I can't talk about my clients because the Bar frowns on that sort of thing. And I can't talk about the Defendants that I go up against because it might make them mad and the Bar frowns on that sort of thing. And I don't want to talk about the people in my office because I really like them. And I don't want to talk about the judges and the court personnel because I think it's tacky.

You can see my dilemma here.

To mitigate this issue (there's a legal word for ya) I figure that something funny or interesting will happen around the courthouse from time to time or there will be some legal event in the news that I will feel concerned, annoyed or amused enough about to comment on. But nothing has come up yet.

What's that? You don't believe me when I say practicing law is less than thrilling?

Here's a typical court day:

First, the venue:

I went to court last Monday in Concord, North Carolina.

Downtown Concord is sort of like Brigadoon to me. I am never quite sure where it is or if it will be where I last looked for it. I always count just locating the Courthouse as a personal triumph. You can imagine how happy I was when I found the Courthouse and found a relatively close parking space. Parking is another big issue in going to Court. It's actually a pretty easy proposition in Concord, which is a lovely little town.

The Fashion Report:

I wore black pants and my nifty red shawl-collared jacket buttoned up the front and no blouse on underneath it. Yep, I was in Superior Court in nothing on but a red jacket and a red bra. I'm a little rebel! I also wore my Monday-go-to-Court shoes. They're black patent leather. They have a buckle on the toe and a spike in the four inch heel. They set off the metal detectors in most counties. I kinda like that about them. Just as an aside, I always feel like an Easter Egg in Court. It's mostly full of middle aged men wearing black, brown, blue or gray and women in blouses and sensible shoes. I don't have any interest in sensible shoes, I think blouses are optional and I look terrible in gray. So I wear red, pink and green to Court. Deal with it.

What I did and how I felt about it:

I had a motion on of no consequence with an unrepresented defendant on the other side. She quoted a lot of scriptures in her Answer and then stood there and lied her butt off. I will say that I am annoyed by all the lying that I see in Court. The ease in which these people lie and don't seem to care about doing it is part of the problem in America. It doesn't seem to bother the judges at all, which is the other side of the problem and I just don't understand how the judges could not care. But they don't. Anyhoo, I did my thing, the judge took it under advisement and I came back to Charlotte. Do you sense my bitterness and pessimism regarding the "system"?

What I did for the rest of the day:

Basically, I sat at my desk and signed things for the rest of the day. I also refused to talk to people on the phone because once you reach a certain experience level in the practice of law, you can refuse to speak to people on the phone. It's a small perk, but I take advantage of it sometimes.

How's that for excitement?


Spring Flowers

I know. It's only January. As we have previously discussed, I am in winter denial.

As you may have noticed from the pictures of the house tours, I buy a lot of fresh flowers. I am blessed to have a nice flower selection over at my Teeter and I take advantage of it. This weekend, they had some really good looking tulips and so for ten bucks, I got some beautiful pink tulips for my bedroom.

If you don't take the opportunity to purchase fresh flowers for your home, you should really think about it. These blooms have been such a nice pick me up on what turned out to be a pretty gray day.


A Fragrant and Pretty Thing

I had a challenging day at work today and I was feeling a little down when I left so I swung by Neiman Marcus on the way home and picked up a Jo Malone candle. I know they are ridiculously expensive but I wanted to splurge a little and I thought that a sweet smelling candle wouldn't be a bad way to go. I got the "Wild Fig and Cassis" candle and the sales lady assured me that it would "burn beautifully". And so far, you know she is right!


This and That

My power was out when I woke up this morning. I could not do my hair, I could not make coffee, I couldn't even get my car out of the garage. Now, it is well known that there is no such thing as natural beauty and this is especially true here at the Bee Charmer's house. Beauty must be created every morning and the creation of beauty requires electricity.

The upshot of all of this is that I was late for work.

Not to have my fun plans for the day upended, I had lunch with my colleague and male girlfriend, Bobby G. Do ya'll have any idea how much I love Bobby G? Well I do. He is my friend.

I stopped by the liquor store on the way back to the office and picked up a bottle of cognac. I went with the Remy Martin Fine Champaigne Cognac VSOP. I will say that the cognac selection there at the Park Road ABC Store left a little to be desired. I poured a little in the snifter when I got home from work two hours ago and so far I have had 2 and a half sips. It warms your chest, let me tell you. It is an acquired taste so I am acquiring. I can't say that I am loving it so far, but I don't hate it. It is beautiful in the glass and the glass is also very beautiful. I am quite the little cosmopolitan cutie, no?

I also scheduled a plumber to come over here next week and give me an estimate for putting in a line to my steam dryer. Right now, it won't steam and I really want it to. Hopefully, the cost will not be prohibitive. I never thought I would reach the point of personal growth where I would voluntarily spend money on a plumber, but we have indeed gotten there.

The highlight of my day is that my next door neighbors (whose multiple cars are always in the way because they use their garage as a storage area)have finally put one of their cars into the garage! Perhaps the homeowner's association has let it be known that they are going to start towing (as well they should). This has been my pet peeve with them since I moved in because they make it difficult for me to use my driveway. I comply with the rules and I think everybody else should, too. So there. Anyway, it's progress! Maybe? Hopefully.....

I am off to the Teeter and the bookstore and the gas station. No matter how much I talk about the cognac, ya'll know it is really all about the diet coke and right now, we are out of it.


Feeling Gifted

You may have noticed that I didn't mention all the Christmas presents I got this year. That's because I asked for gift cards so I could buy stuff for my house.

I ordered things for the two as yet undecorated rooms in the house, and as fate would have it, everything got here in the past couple of days. I want to show ya'll, but these rooms are not finished, so bear with me.

First, we have a nifty new headboard for the twin bed in my third bedroom. This turned out even better than I thought it would. Thank you Mom and Daddy! Now that the headboard, bedding and side table are in place, I think this room is going to come together pretty quickly, so stay tuned for a full tour in the near future.

And here we have a glimpse of my master bathroom. Basically, I moved into the house last March, put my stuff in the cabinets and have not really touched this room since. It is builder's beige and blah. However, a couple of weeks ago I think I finally got a bead on the direction I want to go in here. As a first step, I bought this big, fluffy white bath rug from Crate and Barrel. Now I realize that buying a white rug isn't exactly bold, but ya'll don't need to be snarky about it. Big thank you to my sister for the gift card from my happy place!

I am going to follow up on both of these rooms in the future, so stay tuned.

My Personal Tragedy

I live in a city with no Ikea.

Did you hear that?



I know, I know.

It's opening in February. People are planning parties.

Does that help me today?

I really don't think so.

My office needs to be redecorated, but I can't do it because Ikea isn't open yet.

My third bedroom needs to be finished but I can't do it because Ikea isn't open yet.

Ikea. Isn't. Open...... Yet.

Ya'll know I am bitter about this.


House Tour Part VII

Here's a shot of the staircase in the house. I sort of started this type of gallery by accident in my old townhouse and was really amazed by how people responded to it when they came to visit. It takes a "nothing" space and turns it into something interesting.

Over the years I have started collecting black and white photos and some of them are hanging here. I also like to collect photos when I travel. It seems more substantial than buying tshirts and tchotchkes, they are easy to pack and they bring back memories of the trip.

Here is a shot of the two pieces hanging in the hallway when you enter the house. The bottom one is called "Times Square: The Night Fantastic" by Lillian Bassman. When Elle Decor profiled Monique Lhuillier's home, she had the same print (albeit a real one)in her living room. The one on top is "Her" by Troy Plair, a photographer in Washington, D.C. I collect a lot of Troy's work but this is the first one I bought and it is one of my favorite things that I have ever had. Here's a closeup:

There is something that I find absolutely classic and elegant and feminine in this photograph and I think in many ways it inspired the whole house.


Beans on Patrol

When they are not napping or looking for food, they keep an eye out for Hottentots and delivery people.

House Tour Part VI

Here we are in the kitchen. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. I was worried that it would be too dark, but it gets a lot of light from the dining room and from the sun room.

Here we have a view from another angle. I have an enormous amount of kitchen tools in the crocks on the right. I have a bit of a spatula fetish.

And finally, here is our little dinette, complete with bent plywood zebra chairs. My dad hates them. I got Marilyn on a trip to New York a few years ago. Her placement in the new house was a source of great discussion prior to the move. We like her in the living area.


Lush Life

Yesterday I talked a little bit about what I think one fundamentally needs for one's home. Today I'd like to talk a little bit about bits and pieces that go into creating a truly comfortable and luxurious home. I have come up with at least five things that I think one should have to make your home that much more special and enjoyable, for yourself and for others.

First, a good IPod player. I have a Klipsh IGroove and I find it to be just short of perfection. It is small, portable, tucks away without much fuss and has BIG sound. Big enough to fill the house if I want it to. Music is so important to our lives. It transports us as few other things can. Having your music playing in your house is an everyday comfort and luxury to be savored.

Second, good lamps and just as importantly, good lamp shades. The Bee Charmer is known for her poor eyesight and absolute aversion to overhead lights. There is a reason overhead lights are used as torture devices. Therefore, I am something of a lamp fanatic. I have good lamps, cheap lamps and vintage lamps throughout the house. They furnish utility, create warmth and add personality. No matter where you get your lamps, for heaven's sake get yourself some decent lamp shades! I love the ones from Restoration Hardware and I have to say that they appear on all my Target lamps. The other thing that goes with this, of course, is the light bulbs. I cannot stress to you enough how important light bulbs are. When I moved into my townhouse the recessed lights in the kitchen contained normal bulbs and when I turned them on it was like a dungeon in there. I replaced them with the GE Reveal Bulbs and now it is if I have a skylight. What a difference a little thing makes!

Third, a good bottle of bourbon in the cabinet and a good bottle of vodka in the freezer. You should always have bourbon. It's pleasant, it's substantial and it is Southern. Enough said. And there are few things that cannot be improved by the addition of ice cold vodka.

Fourth, the absolute best set of cookware and kitchen knives that you can possibly beg, borrow, buy or steal. I have a couple of sets of cookware, one stainless and one non-stick, thanks to my dear friend who worked for the lovely people at Calphalon and Hooked. Me. Up. I also have a gorgeous and heavenly Le Creuset french oven that my parents got me for Christmas a couple of years ago - it's "kiwi", in case you care. Talk about love!

Fifth, half and half for the coffee, good olive oil for the salad, kosher salt, Dijon mustard, white lily all purpose flour, caffeine free Diet Coke and a jar of Newman's Own Vodka Sauce in the kitchen. Philosophy shower gel and a big scrubby puff in the shower. Downy scent-free fabric softener in the sheets. "Auntie Mame", "McLintock!" and all six seasons of "Sex and the City" on DVD.

I mean, come on, a girl could do worse!


Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat

One of the most wonderful things about the web is the enormous amount of free entertainment and information that it provides. One of my happy discoveries this year was Apartment Therapy, a blog that concerns itself only with the living arrangements of real people. It is a never ending source of inspiration and information and I feel truly happy just knowing that it is out there.

For the past few weeks they have been doing a year end roundup of their most popular posts of 2008. One of them struck a particular chord with me as it devoted itself to listing what someone - and I really don't know who - considered to be the top ten things that one needs in one's home. This really got me thinking because my home is my passion. What do I believe are the things most necessary to have a truly comfortable home? Well my friends, here it is, The Bee Charmer's guide to comfort at home. I couldn't do ten but I got it down to fifteen.

1. A large, comfortable chair.
2. A sturdy couch, long enough for napping, covered in soft and durable fabric and of classic design. Don't be cheap or trendy with the couch, ya'll. Nothing is more prominently placed or gets wallered more than a couch. And stay away from the loose cushions. You MUST trust me about this.
3. A decent set of white dishes with minimum service for 8 but 12 is better.
4. A decent set of stainless steel flatware.
5. 100% white cotton sheets, with a minimum thread count of 350.
6. Cotton bath towels, properly laundered (quit it with the fabric softener!)
7. Appropriate light bulbs. GE Reveal Bulbs in EVERY SINGLE SOCKET. Anything else is hooey.
8. A decent coffee maker and large, thin, porcelain mugs.
9. Books
10. Flowers
11. Art
12. A comfortable quilt.
13. The best mattress you can possibly afford.
14. A large, round dining table.
15. A clean bathtub.

The other thing I like about Apartment Therapy is it's constant discussion of quality at every price. Living well does not mean spending a lot of money. My white dishes came from Sam's Club almost ten years ago. I bought them when I was poor and their cost (I think about $125 for the set, which serves 8) was a big splurge for me. But they are classic and they are beautiful and they are still in the cabinet. My towels are from Target. One large, fluffy, all cotton bath towel is usually on sale for $8.50. They are fabulous, they wash up well, and you just can't beat the price. The point is that living well is not only for the rich, it is for everyone and there are a whole lot of people who do it, and don't do it, every single day.

The next thing I have to say on this subject is tied into the last item on my list, which is a clean bathtub. Clean is a big deal to me. Not operating room clean. Not "I can't go have fun with you dear friends because I am cleaning my house" clean. Whatever you are blessed enough to have can and should be well taken care of. Taking care of your things reminds you of their value and everything looks better when its clean. To me, a comfortable home is one that is clean and well organized.

One last thought and that is this. Leave some empty spaces. Don't rush out to fill in gaps with things that you don't really like and that don't really serve you. Be discerning and wait for the "right" thing for your home. Buy only what you love. It will always, always work.

Photo by Peter Canclini.

Resolution Number Three

I want some more Love this year. In all it's forms.


Resolution Number Two

It's New Years, my friends and the Bee Charmer's thoughts have turned, once again, to liquor. I don't know what it is but New Years is the one and only time of the year that my little self darkens the door of the liquor store and this year will be no exception (if my mother is reading this, she is particularly aghast right now).

Part of this compulsion is, as I have said, my never ending desire to have a perfectly appointed home. I live in fear that someone will show up and want something alcoholic to drink and I won't have any to offer. The exception to this is gin. If you want gin, you'll have to bring it yourself because I think it to be vile - can't stand the smell of it, the sight of it, the thought of it and it will not be in my liquor cabinet - ever. But I digress... The point is, that I take stock of my liquor cabinet on New Years and think about filling in the gaps. Thus, if Victor Laszlo ever busts up into my kitchen, I can and will be able serve him a champaigne cocktail.

The second part of my liquor store trip has to do with a yearly resolution that I make to drink more. I know this is an unlikely resolution so let me clarify. I enjoy a social drink from time to time. I find liquor particularly pleasant. Lots of people occasionally enjoy a nice glass of wine after work and I wish that I could. However, I usually do not drink enough to justify opening a bottle of wine. One glass and the rest of the bottle ends up turning to vinegar. Also, I have a problem with wine making my head hurt. Therefore, having never been much of a beer drinker, I have always had a fondness for liquor. Having said that, there isn't anything particularly romantic or chic to me in the thought of coming home and doing a shot of Wild Turkey. What I need is the vibe and the sipability of wine in a liquor bottle.

For the past few weeks, I have been reading about Cognac and I feel that this might be the thing I have been looking for. You know, challenging day at work, come home, get out my snifter (yeah, I am gonna have to buy some of those, too), pour myself a nice cognac and nurse it for a few hours. According to Cognac drinkers this is very enjoyable. It's also very French, so all the better.

Therefore, I am heading off to the ABC Store to procure myself some cognac. I am also picking up some bitters, even though I don't know what they are for, I have been assured that they are handy for mixing any number of drinks, so I figured, what the hoo. I'll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, if you want a drink, just stop on by.
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