Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer is Underway


I know, it's been forever-and-a-day since I've posted. Life, well, you know the drill. 

On Sunday, the kids and I enjoyed the final day of the spring meet at Churchill Downs. Although, it's no longer spring, as indicated by the heat and humidity yesterday - summer is in full-force here! Luckily, my company has a suite, so it was fun to have a relaxing time with my coworkers and their kids, betting the ponies in the cool AC.
My little guy showing off his big winnings. #kentucky #startthemyoung

Churchill Charlie made a special appearance during the day. As you can see, my son insisted on wearing his cowboy boots - a true horseman. ;) 

Health update: I had another surgery in early June related to my mastectomy reconstruction. On the mend and feeling much better. I'm back at work and glad to be among the living. And, so very thankful it's not last year at this time when I was still undergoing chemo. Life is good!

I hope everyone is having a great summer, although it's flying by. Hard to believe Friday is the 4th of July!

Happy Monday, friends!

All images property of JMW A Place to Dwell


Monday, May 5, 2014

Derby Weekend Come & Gone

Well, friends, sorry it's been so long since my last post. Life has been hectic, so my blogging has not only been placed on the back burner, but completely fallen off the stove. 

Anyhoo, just a quick update. As many of you may know, this past Saturday was the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. Congrats to the wonderful thoroughbred, California Chrome, for winning the garland of roses. Good luck in the Preakness! We're far overdue for a Triple Crown winner. 

I didn't make it to the track this year, but I was fortunate to attend a special event on Derby Eve, the Julep, which benefits the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Last year I was treated at the Brown for breast cancer and I can attest that it's an amazing facility. They saved my life.


Here I am with my cousin, whose mom last her battle with breast cancer many years ago. It was great to see so many people at the event and to celebrate the many survivors on hand.  

On Derby night, a girlfriend and I hit the town, first heading to Proof at the 21C Museum Hotel. If you're planning a trip to Louisville, stay at 21C. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the top 10 hotels in the world. Just look for the red penguins and the giant, golden David in all his glory. :)


Here we are outside the hotel, taking a Derby selfie in an art installation. Pretty cool, huh? 

If you bet the ponies this past weekend, hope you had a winner!


Images property of JMW A Place to Dwell


Monday, March 10, 2014

Run Jen Run


My kiddos and I at the Run Jen Run 5k in Charlotte, NC

Yes, I've been MIA from blogger land for a while now. Just so much going on and little time to sit down and write for pleasure these days. So, a bit of a recap of recent events...

Last weekend the kids and I made the trek to Charlotte, North Carolina to participate in a 5k race presented by the Go Jen Go Foundation, an organization that supports cancer patients and their families in North and South Carolina. I learned about the foundation from my sister-in-law, who is friends with the founder and her family. And because I share the founders name, my SIL would send me Go Jen Go T-shirts and other items to keep my spirits up during my cancer treatments. 

I signed up earlier in the year for the 5k, hoping I could meet Jen Pagani, the founder, whom I had only been in contact with via email. Unfortunately, Jen lost her six-year battle with cancer on Feb. 2. 

My sister-in-law and I getting ready for the big race! I actually have a lot of hair these days, but it was so cold that morning, I wasn't about to lose my cozy-warm hat.


So, I felt more compelled than ever to participate in the race. Even after spraining my ankle just a few weeks prior  (Yes, I tripped over my kids' snow boots by the back door and fell down some steps), I was determined to drive down there. I didn't run like I had hoped, mostly walked the route, but I was so glad to have been there to celebrate Jen's legacy and be among many other survivors. And it was very special to have my kids join me, since they are two of the biggest reasons I was determined to kick cancer's butt.

On a random note, I'm headed to New York City soon for a conference and would love some suggestions on where to eat, places to visit, etc. I know the list is endless, but I'm always open to ideas, especially from my fabulous blogger friends. Suggestions?

We have "sprung" forward friends - here's hoping that spring truly is here to stay and that this long, miserably cold, snowy and icy winter will soon retire. 

Have a great week!



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wishing You a Happy New Year


Hi, Friends! It's been a while since I've posted, but as you know, I've had a lot going on. Anyhoo, thought I'd give you a health update. I finished radiation the day before Thanksgiving. No more cancer treatments! I have some follow-up doctor appointments here and there, and more reconstructive surgery in the spring, but it's so nice to take a long break from the medical vortex in which I've been caught up this past year.  (And, as you can tell in the photo above with my beautiful children, my hair is growing in nicely - I actually had a trim a few days ago!)

And speaking of this past year, it's been a doozy. But, I'm thankful to be starting 2014 cancer-free. And while I was so blessed to find myself in this boat, unfortunately there were others I knew who did not win the battle. My uncle, who was also my godfather, succumbed to cancer in the fall. It's been a tough time for my dad, aunt and cousins. Please keep them in your prayers. I also lost a co-worker and friend who had become a confidant during my cancer journey. She was a breast cancer survivor, but her cancer returned  and she lost her brave fight in November. Cancer is a terrible, terrible disease. I pray that one day it will be wiped off the face of the earth forever. 

That being said, though, I discovered the "gift" of cancer this year. I've met the most inspiring people and been the recipient of AMAZING acts of kindness. Family and friends brought me meals, landscaped my yard and cut my grass, cleaned my house, held a fundraiser for me and much, much more. On Christmas Eve, two women I didn't know showed up at my door armed with presents.  A coworker submitted my name to her church group who wanted to give gifts to a mom who had a tough year. I was beyond humbled as I read the beautiful notes from other moms I did not know, but who urged me to keep up the good fight and have a blessed Christmas. 

So, friends, I look forward to my new lease on life as I head into 2014. I will embrace this year with gusto and live life to the fullest. I hope you plan to do the same. 

Much love to all of you and happy new year, my friends!
Jen

Image property of A Place to Dwell blog



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Great Bourbon Heist



So, those of you attuned to the world of bourbon may have already heard this story. For those of you who are not, I’ll provide a little background.

In the bourbon industry, there are several spirits from which to choose. Many are distilled in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We’re pretty famous for it, in fact. One bourbon, in particular, though, is considered the Holy Grail among bourbons: Old Rip Van Winkle. (We call it Pappy around here.)

Because of this distinction, Pappy is very hard to come by. And it's looking to be even more elusive because a large batch has disappeared. It recently was discovered that 200 bottles of Pappy went missing from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky. That’s about $26,000 worth of bourbon. Two hundred bottles may not sound like much, but considering how small a batch of Pappy is made each year - only about 6,000 to 7,000 9-liter cases are distributed annually- that's a big portion. In comparison, Jim Beam sells about 7 million cases a year.

The thought is that it’s an inside job and that the bottles were smuggled out over a period of time, because Pappy 23-year is said to be under lock-and-key in a special area of the warehouse.

Now, the cynic in me first thought it was part of a publicity stunt because the revelation of the theft, and media coverage of it, happened about the same time a new merchandise venture, Pappy & Co., was launched by Van Winkle descendants Louise Van Winkle Breen (below) and her siblings. Her father, Julian, is the head of the family business. 


In addition to the new line of merchandise, the news of the heist also happened right before the launch party for Pappy & Co. at Foxhollow Farm outside of Louisville. But, apparently that's not the case and I need to keep my cynicism in check. The police are investigating and are said to have a "person of interest" in their sights. Stay tuned.

A local eatery is capitalizing on the media hoopla by hosting a five-course, "Stop the Panic" meal featuring flights of Pappy. The meal ends with a glass of 23-year Pappy, perhaps the best of the best. And, yes, I have had a glass of Pappy, the 20-year variety. Yes, it's a mighty-fine bourbon. Would I pay for a $50 glass of 23-year Pappy at the Brown Hotel in Louisville? Uh, no. But, there are plenty who would.

Have you ever tried Pappy Van Winkle? If so, what do you think? Worth the price? 


Have a terrific Tuesday, friends!


Images from Food Republic and Style Blueprint Louisville


Thursday, October 24, 2013

And the new Christian Grey is...

So, after the debacle with actor Charlie Hunnum pulling out of the screen version of "Fifty Shades of Grey," a new actor has been cast as Christian Grey. He is:



Irish actor and model Jamie Dornan. Yeah, I can live with this. 

When Hunnum was originally cast, I, like many others, was greatly disappointed. Then he dropped out of the film. In interviews, he's said that his current acting schedule and some family commitments forced him to back out of the role. Hmm. That could be true. Or the fact that fans of the series of books were so vocal over their dislike of the casting of Hunnam that he was pulled from the film. You wonder if the studio heads were concerned how his involvement would impact ticket sales. 

So, now it's Dornan alongside actress Dakota Johnson. Not thrilled with that choice, either, but she was pretty good in "The Social Network," so we'll see.

And, yes, I hang my head in shame that I've even read the "Fifty Shades" trilogy. The writing was less-than-stellar, to say the least. But, as many have said, it's not read because it's a great work of literature. 

So, for those of you who have read the book(s), what do you think about the casting of Mr. Dornan?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks


Can you believe it's been 50 years since the release of Disney's "Mary Poppins?" How I love this film. One of my all-time favorites. 


And coming in December is "Saving Mr. Banks," about how the beloved children's novel by P.L. Travers was brought to the big screen. Emma Thompson plays Travers and Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney. There's a wonderful supporting cast that includes Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Griffiths and more. (I love the shadows in the above poster.)


British actress Victoria Summer plays Julie Andrews in the film. (I think she's adorable. I'm getting closer and closer to this length of hair!) If you recall, Julie Andrews won the Oscar for her role as Mary Poppins. 

So, I can't wait for the holiday season and to catch what is already being call a lovely film about another lovely, endearing classic. 

Images from Disney and IMBD