Archives for category: Happiness is…
I spy golden trumpets.

I spy golden trumpets.

My parents bought an old farm when I was in high school. The barn area had masses of daffodils fanning out like the sea from land-locked oaks and magnolias. Picking yellow ‘til I was blue in the face was a ritual. I miss that annual carpet of happiness.

Daffodils are hard to pin down. The late-16th-century word for what you see above went through several linguistic twists but is rooted in the Greek asphodelos, which in turn is of unknown origin.

Daffs are sort of stuck on themselves. In a fake, self-love-practicing kind of way. Their Latin name? Narcissus pseudonarcissus. (Why, thank you, Carl.) 50% ego; 50% not.

Daffodils are sneaky. So where did these yellow-crowned, graceful ballerinas spring from? Who gave them that tenacious d-? Sources say the Netherlands are to blame. Specifically, the Dutch language: its definite article, “de,” hooked up with the affable bulb, affodil. And there you have the story of stunning, sunny glory.

This tagline's got legs!

This tagline’s got legs!

Emma Hope shoes are understated elegance. Investment pieces, not gaudy statement ones like those we’ve seen more and more over the last decade. Gorgeousness you can actually walk in and wear for hours. I love this tagline; it complements the fine workmanship, attention to detail and tactile heaven of handcrafted functionality. “Regalia for feet” even feels comfortable! I miss pretty shoes.

It is puzzling why high-end labels and cordwainers continue to ignore common sense at the expense of looking out-of-touch. Their own faddish egos are damaging their brand. A six-inch plus heel is not unique, stylish or innovative. It is fast fashion, stalled. Such lack of creativity catapults a domino effect: season after season, hyper-competitive, self-obsessed designers churn out more pairs that are increasingly sold at a discount and at steeper price cuts. This is neither good business nor brand strategy. The over-priced, ankle-twisting excess I’m referring to is nothing short of slutty, tasteless, quickly dated footwear. (Honey, call the podiatrist!)

I dare designers to come down off their stilettos! Make something to be proud of twenty years from now. Do it for us and for the archives. And ladies, while you wait, get a pair by Emma and you’ll agree: simple is usually the answer.

You say Autumn, I say Fall.

You say Autumn, I say Fall.

The yellows this season have been spectacular: Ginkgos, buckeyes, chrysanthemums, hickory trees, poplars and aspens, to boot.

The reds and purples cannot be bested: Dogwoods, Japanese maples, burning brush bushes, mountain apples and sorghum.

Orange is the new neutral: Jack o’ lanterns, fothergilla, oaks, mini pumpkin trees, Chinese lanterns, red kuris and butternuts.

Green is the hang-on color: Pines, green hubbards, magnolias, acorn squash, cha cha kabochas and jarrahdales.

Brown and black won’t be left out, either: Acorns masting and brittle leaves descending — those aerial concerts; bark and branches don’t get much respect.

And finally, white not? Casper and great white pumpkins and snowball mums stir us to what’s next.

Tie-dye foliage…none of which blues me. Now, just who will bottle this?


All-weather, all-natural, all-terrain comfort.

Given my weakness for colder weather and passion for the polar and high-latitude regions, I’m happy to report that this base, layering and outerwear line is as high-performing as the name. Close-fitting, stylish, warm, itch-free and with quality zippers. These are the pieces you’ll wear ‘til the sheep come home. Baaaaaaa!

Even if you never break a sweat or step off the sidewalk, this is wool like you’ve never seen, felt or smelled. The “Think, don’t stink.” tagline is a layering of its own kind… a meaningful, catchy and memorable phrase that adds energy and fun to the brand.

Leave it to the Kiwis to take us back to the sustainable farm and the four-legged beginnings of what’s on our own two now. Per their unique “baacodes,” I traced my light-grey top to a single ranch, Kennethmont. My dark grey top’s fibers come from four of 120 sheep stations: Lindis Peaks, Glenmore, Otematata and Waitangi. Thanks, Icebreaker, for “new-schooling” wool.

One of nature's floral water vessels.

One of nature’s floral water vessels.

Once upon a time there was a bed of flowers past its prime. On a sunny winter day walking around Agnes Scott during a break from a short course, I came across these. I think they are hydrangeas. So glad the college gardeners found the shrub’s sculptural beauty worth leaving for others to admire.

Curiosity got the best of Little Miss Etymology.  The Greek hydr- from hydor meaning “water” was obvious. But it wasn’t until I got to peering at the dark brown clusters on my screen that I connected -angea (from angeion for “vessel or capsule”) to what are actually cup-shaped seed pods.

Abelmoschus esculentus: Okra, no jokra!

Summer is not summer without crisp fried okra, the ultimate comfort food. I cooked up a mess last night. I was lazy (and hungry), because usually I’ll first coat the cut seed pods with a whisked egg and then cornmeal before plopping them in Spanish olive oil. A high-fiber alternative to buttered popcorn. Savory crunchiness. Texture is everything!

The word “okra” comes to English via the West African language, Akan. Should you be traveling the globe and get a hankering for such goodness, which also goes by lady’s fingers and gumbo, here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet of how to get what you want (note the linguistic similarities):

Brazil (Portuguese): quiabo
Czech Republic (Czech): zelenina
France (French): gombo
India (Hindi/Urdu): bhindi, bhendi or bendai
Italy (Italian): gombo or abelmosco (check out the Latin heritage)
Nigeria (Igbo): ọkwurụ
Russia (Russian): okpa
Spain (Spanish): quingombó or calalú
Sub-Sahara(Bantu): kingombo
Turkey (Turkish): sebze

Speed, sizzle and sass.

McKayla, love your daring acrobatics. Keep on flying!

Mighty vaulter.
Calm, cool and collected.
Killer technique.
Amazing amplitude,
You go, girl!
Lands and sticks it.

Edible wallpaper.

Just looking at this packaging can will me to forego the chocolate it envelops, if only for a while. O brothers, where art thy wallpaper? Founding siblings, Rick and Michael, coax out superb chocolate. Their “love affair with the spirit of craft” starts with being highly selective in sourcing the cacao beans and doesn’t end on the production floor. No siree. The bars come to you hand-swaddled in foil and paper. None is less than 70% cacao and most are above that intensity.

Their double red-headed, mast-like “M” logo befits the pair’s down-to-earth quirkiness, even echoing shared facial features. Definitely a hands-on experience. I can almost smell the factory from here.


Or is it the curb-matching tree? Whichever view you take, this specimen never holds back.

Second-hand with first-hand awareness.

It makes my day when I stumble upon verbal quirkiness. This store was called something else before, something I can’t quite remember. Will I forget it now? Despite the risk of being so closely tied to another brand, given the goods sold here, the name is superb and will have legs longer than the show or the ladies themselves.

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