Posted on | December 3, 2013 | 23 Comments
It’s about this time of every year when all the insane holiday shopping starts. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and millions of gift guides. It’s just too much. The point of the holidays is family, friends, food, cocktails, love and laughter. Gifts should simply be an extension of that. Let’s not over think it, folks. They don’t have to be expensive or huge. I’m a fan of gifts that surprise and delight the receiver. That’s really all a gift needs to do. So I present to you: Random Gifts of Fun and Joy.
I was contacted by the lovely people at Uncommon Goods which is an amazing company headquartered in my very own home of Brooklyn, NY. I’ve been a fan of Uncommon Goods for as long as I can remember, so when they asked me about working together I jumped at the chance. My mom got the catalog when I was growing up and I would marvel at all the unique novelties. As a business, Uncommon Goods is one I am proud to support and to feature here. They make a point of featuring artists and designers, half of their products are made by hand, a third use up-cycled or recycled materials and almost everything is made in the USA. Wow. It’s always refreshing to see a company that is striving to make a positive impact in addition to turning a profit. (Are you listening, Wal-Mart?)
Besides being a thoughtful company, they also sell really interesting, whimsical things. In fact, they specialize in the exact type of holiday gifts I have been talking about. The kind of gifts that are just delightful to give and to get. So, when Uncommon Goods offered to send me some of their products, I decided to select my favorite things from their gifts for $50 and under. These are perfect for anyone on your list and I’ve included my own unique way to instantly personalize them. You know, if you feel like you want to go the extra mile.
And now for the fun part: Uncommon Goods is giving one lucky Old Sweet Song reader a $50 gift card so you can do some of your own holiday shopping. They have a great selection of stocking stuffers”. Or screw it and get something for yourself. No judgement.
Here’s how to enter:
- Join the Uncommon Goods mailing list
- Leave a comment here weighing in on your favorite item from my picks.
I’ll be selecting a winner Friday, December 6th. Good luck, y’all!
A huge thanks to Uncommon Goods for sending me these products free of charge so I could try them out myself before recommending them to you.
Posted on | November 22, 2013 | 3 Comments
I’ll be spending actual Thanksgiving in Virginia with my man and his family and this is only the second Thanksgiving I’ve had without my mom ever. So obviously I’m flying home to Atlanta today, for some pre-Thanksgiving (and late birthday) celebrations with my hometown posse. Here’s a quick breakdown of my epic 10 day Thanksgiving adventure.
Friday: Arrive in Atlanta. Take my nephew to see Macklemore.
Saturday: Run(ish) a 5k. Have a pre-Thanksgiving/Late birthday meal with family/friends at my mom’s house.
Sunday: Have yet another pre-Thanksgiving meal this time with my dad and step-mom and fam.
Monday: I’ll relax and work in ATL Tuesday: Fly to Richmond. Kiss my boyfriend.
Wednesday & Thursday: Virginia with my man’s family.
Friday: Take the train to DC for a fun-filled weekend.
Phew. How’s that for an action packed holiday?
I won’t be required to do too much cooking for my second and third Thanksgivings. I”ll be providing back-up, clean-up, moral support, etc. But for pre-Thanksgiving at my mom’s we’re having 16 people and I’m in charge of cocktails (obviously), appetizers and a side. Here’s my game plan.
Cocktails: Old Fashioneds and French 75‘s
Appetizers: Sweet Onion Crack Dip from White on Rice Couple and Siracha Maple Crackers from The Cookie Rookie
Kale Salad: No recipe here, folks. I’m going rogue in an attempt to recreate the near perfect Kale and Quinoa Salad from The Ace Hotel Palm Springs.
Okay, enough about me. What are y’all making?
Posted on | November 21, 2013 | 10 Comments
Last month when I was at Camp Mighty I identified five goals I’d like to accomplish over the next year. Perhaps the most pressing of these was this:
Turn 35. Not lose my shit.
Listen, I don’t know why birthdays make some of us ladies emotional, but they do. And maybe it’s nonsensical and silly but 35 feels like kind of a big deal. I have to check a whole new age bracket. I’m not with the young people in their twenties anymore. No, now I’m grouped with the fifty year-olds! I have no idea how that happened because I still feel like one of those young twenty year-olds. But the good news is this… I had a really wonderful birthday celebration that extended over several days and was the perfect reminder of how many awesome people I have in my life. One week ago I did turn 35. And I did not lose my shit. I was cool, calm and collected. I looked 35 square in the eyes and I said “bring it on, yo.” Okay, I didn’t really say “yo.”
- Start mentally preparing 3-5 months out. Start saying your 35 long before you are. That way you can get used to the idea gradually. Also you can have a couple of mini-freakout leading up to the big day.
- Have a minimum of three separate birthday celebrations in your honor.
Here are mine:
1) a surprise neighborhood bbq tasting tour planned by my man complete with cards at each stop.
2) a ladies only dinner with closest friends and plenty of margaritas
3) a proper birthday party with all my pals and a disturbing amount of old fashioneds
4) a pre-thanksgiving/late birthday dinner this weekend with my ATL gang
- Don’t look 35. (This is slightly unfair since you don’t get to determine your genes. I got lucky in this department. Thanks mom and dad!)
- Don’t act 35. (See massive and soul crushing hangover following said old fashioneds)
- Be generally happy with where you are in your life. Truthfully, forget everything else I said. We all know this is the only one that matters. I’m a lucky lady with a wonderful life. (and pretty good hair and a nice boot collection). Things are looking pretttttty, prettttty good ’round here. Alright 35, let’s do this thang.
Posted on | November 19, 2013 | 6 Comments
Two weeks ago on a Wednesday morning, my alarm went off at 6:50am and I dragged my sleepy ass out of bed and into my running shoes. Yes, I went for a run and it was my first run in five months. Actually, it was a run/walk mix and it was only slightly painful. It didn’t take long though for me to be reminded of the things I do love about running. It’s easy. No, not the actual act, that part kinda sucks, but the prep is easy. You don’t have to worry if the gym is open or what time spin class starts. You can go for a run pretty much any old time. And I love taking a break from the soul sucking interior of the gym and getting outside into some natural beauty. My fave Manhattan running sites the West Side Highway and Central Park have been replaced by the far superior Prospect Park which is looking extra amazing as the leaves change. I once said “you never regret a run” and I still believe that very much. I’ve signed up for a 5k this weekend and a four mile race in about a month. I’ll never be a marathoner, thems is the facts. But I’m happy to be back, Running. I kinda missed you.
p.s. I have to be honest. Sometimes I feel like a fraud using the terms “running” and “runner.” If anything I am more a jogger.
p.p.s. My friend swears by the Galloway Method? Has anyone tried it?
My running essentials (clockwise from top right):
Nike Air Pegasus I’ve been running in these for almost a year. I have a different color combo but I may order these for obvious reasons.
Old Navy compression leggings – I pretty much buy these in bulk. Can’t argue with the price.
Reflective Personal Item Belt (let’s be honest it’s a fanny pack) perfect for your house key and some cash for a coffee run afterwards.
Couch to 5K Training App – I used this training guide to work up to my first 5K. And now they have a fancy app and it will talk to you over your music.
Map My Run – A good app for keeping track of runs using GPS. Also it will give you distance updates during your run which I like because it remind me that I’m making progress.
A Running Jacket – I received this Lulu Lemon jacket as a gift. It’s pretty great (and necessary in this climate) but in the interest of transparency I probably wouldn’t have paid for it myself because Lulu Lemon can get a little nutty with their prices. That being said, it is hot pink.
Tata Tamer – The Tata tamer is the best sports bra I’ve come across (bonus point for a fun name). They aren’t cheap but that’s one thing I am totally willing to pay a Lulu Lemon markup for.
Posted on | November 15, 2013 | 8 Comments
[image via \ Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves via Getty Images]
This definitely isn’t a sports blog, or even a baseball blog. It’s a me blog. But if you’re at all a fan of me you’re well aware of my affinity not only for my hometown of Atlanta but also for the baseball team I grew up on, The Atlanta Braves. Earlier this week, my team made a big announcement. In 2017, our team will relocate from downtown Atlanta to the suburb of Cobb County. They will leave a stadium they’ve played in for only 20 years and the area where they’ve played since relocating from Milwaukee in 1966. Like so many people in Atlanta have done before, they will leave the city and move out to the ‘burbs. I feel betrayed by a team I have loved for so long and I feel depressed by the state of affairs in my city.
When my boyfriend heard the news his reaction was simply “it just feels so Atlanta.” And sadly, he’s right. Atlanta has long been a city divided and this move just shows nothing has changed. And perhaps it never will. I was born and raised intown, in one of Atlanta’s greatest neighborhoods, Inman Park. My parents were some of the first gentrifiers. When they first made the move people called them crazy but they did it anyway and for that I cannot thank them enough. Growing up intown meant we lived near poor people and black people and homeless people even though we were none of those things. I grew up aware of other types of people and this instilled in me an acceptance and tolerance that I am fortunate to have. I believe it is important to be around people that are different than you. I think it is our only hope of breeding some tolerance and understanding. And now that I live in New York City, these beliefs have gotten stronger. Sometimes I’ll be on the subway and I’ll look around and realize I’m the only white person. If I ever have kids I hope they can grow up in a place where they’ll be exposed to other types of people. I think it’s perhaps one of the most valuable things my parents did for me.
So obviously this Braves move isn’t just about a fancy (and wasteful) new stadium or about a team moving ten miles north. To me, it feels much bigger and more personal than that. It’s about the clashing of races and classes that has long plagued Atlanta. There’s a reason those of us Atlantans who grew up intown are so fiercely proud of that fact. Because so many other people ran away and moved out to the suburbs to be around a bunch of other people exactly like them. Maybe they were uncomfortable or maybe they were scared but either way it drew a line in our city; intown and out there, us versus them. I grew up thinking they were the bad guys. And perhaps the pivotal thing that solidified my destiny as a city lover/suburb hater was learning as a child that this faraway place known as Cobb County (the proposed home of the new stadium) had voted to keep MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation service, from expanding into their county. Even to a child the message was so clear: Cobb County wanted to keep certain people out of their county. And now the Atlanta Braves, the team I love so dearly, are moving to that exact place and I can’t help but feel like they’re joining ranks with the bad guys.
I have never been quiet about my love for Atlanta. I want so badly for it to be a “real” city and our intown baseball team whose stadium sat in the shadow of our sky scrapers was a huge help in furthering that cause. Turner Field felt like a vital part of the heart of a city that needs all the help it can get. Cities don’t just exist on their own, they need support and effort from people, businesses and organizations. I wish more people understood this, especially those making the decision about where the Braves play. Moving our team to Cobb County feels like a final blow against any chance Atlanta had of ever becoming a city again.
As a born and bred intown Atlantan and a Braves fan through and through, my heart is broken. I can’t imagine being able to forgive this. Maybe things will looks different in three years. For now, I’ll just share this fitting personal piece I wrote about my late older sister.
As always, thanks for reading.
On Most Summer Nights
by Amy Ferguson
Even though biologically Michelle was only my half sister, it never felt like that. I’m not sure what my parents said or how they handled it, but there was never any question; we were just sisters.
And having an older sister like Michelle meant growing up faster. I knew all sorts of bad words and dirty jokes long before any of my friends. I listened to the uncut version of Two Live Crew “Banned in the USA” and saw every single Porky’s movie. Michelle sometimes forgot I was nine years younger. We drove around in her white CRX listening to her amazing signature mix tapes. She took great pride in her unmatched ability to perfectly curate and order the songs. She decorated the tape cases with detail and precision. She even had a special set of “mix tape pens” that were specifically for this purpose. I marveled at the cases adorned with her perfect handwriting, which was especially beautiful in the jewel-toned ink color schemes she put together. We went out to eat or to the record store or anywhere Michelle decided to take us. She never wanted to be alone and I made the perfect sidekick.
The summer that I was 11 and Michelle was 20 would go down as one of my favorites. That was the summer Michelle taught me to be an Atlanta Braves fan. We went to a game almost every night. The Braves were awful that year but being at the stadium at night, the smell of the grass, the heat, the lights illuminating the diamond; it was that summer that my love for baseball and my love for my sister and for my family and my hometown became inexplicably linked.
On most summer nights, Michelle and I would find ourselves at the stadium. We always sat in the same place, right by the bullpen. The usher befriended us because there weren’t many regulars and because he had a crush on Michelle. It was around that age that I began to comprehend the power she had over men. Not only was she beautiful, she could cast a spell on them and they were rendered useless. She always had guy friends who were totally devoted to her and clearly in love with her.
Atlanta Fulton County Stadium where the Braves played from 1966 – 1996 [image credit]
“Oh look, it’s old man shuffle pants…” I said, pointing up a few rows where a crazy old Georgia redneck, a fellow regular at the games, was arriving. We had lovingly nicknamed him “Old Man Shuffle Pants” due to the way he shuffled around in his weird man sandals. He wasn’t even old.
“Aw, good to see you, buddy.” She smiled and gave him a point and a wink.
One of the players warming up in the bullpen kept staring at Michelle. She was smiling and waving. This went on for several innings until finally he approached the edge of the bullpen and handed her a ball. She laughed and thanked him and showed me. It was signed in blue pen with his name “Francisco Cabrera,” and he had drawn a little heart above that.
“Oh my god. He totally likes you!” I squealed. Inevitably, there were moments when I showed how much younger I really was.
After the games, we would stand by the parking lot and wait to watch the players leave. Because the Braves were the worst team in baseball, there were never more than approximately 11 other people out there. That night, Francisco saw us and walked over.
“Hello,” he said smiling at her. His accent was so thick and it completely surprised me.
“Hi.” She answered, “thanks for the ball.” She giggled in a really cute way and he was putty in her hand. They talked for a while and he got her number. On the walk back to the car in the sweet Georgia summer heat, she was laughing and smiling and cracking jokes.
It turned out Francisco was not the love of Michelle’s life. I only remember them going on a couple dates. And I’m pretty sure it came out that he had a wife and kids back in the Dominican Republic. Two years later, when the Braves had suddenly gotten good, it was Francisco, the back up to the back-up catcher, who came up in the bottom of the ninth and hit a line drive that drove in two runs and won the National League Championship, sending the Braves to the World Series.
It lives on as one of the most exciting moments in Braves baseball and as a beloved piece of folklore in our family history. I mean, not everybody can say her sister dated an Atlanta Brave.
When Sid slid. [image credit]keep looking »