Constantly fascinated by the world around me. I've got the dreamer's disease... and I believe that a truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

I spend most of my time reading, writing, cooking & planning my life on Post-It notes. Music, wine, food, art & travel are my favorite fuel; spending time well wasted.
I began writing this blog because I think that every day we have something to be celebrated, shared, something that sparks creativity, inspiration & ideation.
Although I'm quite optimistic, I'm more judgmental than I'd like to admit. Here's to overturning assumptions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

René of the Day // 6.29.11 // The Daily

I do René of the Day. Crossroads does The Daily. Last year my friend Becca encouraged me to sign up for this email subscription that provides inspiration for topics to include in your prayers and insight on Bible verses and thought-provoking content each morning. 

Today's thought was really pertinent to me. It was titled "Just Enjoy Work." It read:

God, replace my worries with contentment in the work you've set before me. Help me find joy and satisfaction in my work.

I love and enjoy my work. It's nice to have a refreshing reminder of how lucky it is to have a job that makes you happy and that it should never be taken for granted. That it has been earned and should be appreciated. Even -or especially - on 10+ hour stressful days. Beyond career, I think this applies to other aspects of life, even as simple as yard work or volunteering experiences. When working towards any goal, it's important to reflect on how the effort betters our community and world and that all participation is imperative. And how blessed it is to have the ability to serve and learn. This email influenced my thoughts today and I will continue to keep this in mind while I whistle and work. 

If you'd like to receive emails like the one mentioned above and from Crossroads and The Daily or learn more before you sign up, click here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

René of the Day // 6.28.11 // Smash

Super awesome gift I have to share - *Smash Journal. I received this for my birthday about a month or so ago and have been pondering the possibilities of what I can stick inside the pages of this incredibly fun, unique and convivial book. The pages vary with gorgeous and vintage-inspired images, practical spaces for to-do lists (hello, SO me!), spaces for photos, highlights of today, lists of "some kind of wonderful and crazy" things you've seen, experienced, tasted, heard or smelled... It's like a carbon copy of René of the Day!

I also received neat stickers to use that say things like "makes me happy" and "someday..." Again, so René. I'm so ruffled to start piecing together what to include on each of the pages. It would be a wonderful gift to fill the book with photos and mementos to give as a complete gift. I've torn out a pretty page with a big slice of pie that says "You're my sweetie..." for my latest post-weekend thank you note to MR. My mom and my aunt are very creative scrapbookers so it's neat that they found a way for me to do it with my own style. For now I'm literally smashing photos and things between the pages until I get the time to glue it all down and organize my thoughts.

*Smash has a blog with more products and ideas to check out:

Monday, June 27, 2011

René of the Day // 6.27.11 // Get 'em Gators!

The Florida Gators play the South Carolina Gamecocks in the College World Series tonight. I'm not watching - I don't have cable and I don't have time to sit in a sports bar all evening but I'm still rooting for my Gator guys!

This is Game 1 of the finals and the Cocks are standing champs... MR's sister was a great college athlete at USC so I'm hoping to have a little dirt to rub in her face this weekend in the name of good fun ;) My co-worker who sits across from me is also a South Carolina alum so it's always a trip to mess with each other, too - I like to make chomps at him. I love how many SEC fans are in our office - literally heard the countdown to football season is 17 weeks today. Wild.

And because everyone always asks why I'm a Florida fan, I can explain. My family is from Gainesville. My grandparents moved there by way of Massachusetts then upstate New York as my grandfather worked for GE - their final move brought them to Cincinnati in my dad's final years of high school. He grew up at The Swamp and even though he's worked for UC for over 20 years, he still says "Baby, you have to cheer for where your heart is and mine's still down south." Since UC wasn't much of a football team until recent years, I'd adopted Daddy's Gator pride that I grew up with. One of the best games I've ever attended was when UC played Florida at the Sugar Bowl on New Years Day in New Orleans - who would have ever thought those two teams would play each other?! And God bless it, I miss Tebow.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

René of the Day // 6.23-26.11 // Put-In-Bay!

Just returned from a great weekend in Put-in-Bay with some of my best girlfriends from UC. It was really enjoyable to get away and relax for a few days - it was a blessing and a curse that I didn't have reception on my BlackBerry or iPhone all weekend. It's nice to be off the grid but it's also a little frustrating since I'm so used to being able to check emails, the weather or shoot a text to someone. But I think it really forced me to live in the moment and appreciate the company I had. Like Becca's mom said, it may be one of the last trips the girls can take together as we've started our careers, getting married, buying houses and planning to have families.

I was stoked that our first meal was at Pita Pit at BGSU - seriously, when is Cincinnati getting one of these?! It was my favorite spot for post-bar grub whenever I visited friends at OSU. The ferry ride over was a very wet and wild start to the trip... the boat rocked roughly and we got hit with some pretty big waves. Every splash made us scream and laugh and we got a little damp - but it was fine because we had cold beer in our coozies!

We began with a wine tasting at the Put-in-Bay Winery at the Doller Estate. We tried a variety of different wines and shared all around. It was beautiful in the little gazebo on the lawn - a random couple bought us a few glasses of chocolate wine which was sort of like alcoholic chocolate milk - glad I tried it but not likely to ever order it.... After our tasting we walked to the Boardwalk then had dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant called Pasquales Café. The food was really tasty classic Italian but I was so STUFFED! We had a few beverages in our room and then went to the Beer Barrel, home of the "world's longest bar" - 405 feet long. The Menus, a rockin band from Cincinnati, was playing - they change into crazy outfits and put on a great show. We agreed we'll have to go see them back home. After their set we went next door to Mr. Ed's and the lead singer Tim came up and chatted with us. He's good people. He recognized us from dinner and we promised to come see them again the next night. The band at Mr. Ed's was less than entertaining but the crowd was buck -- a woman older than and much larger than my mom was flashing her chest as she danced - we were all shocked and grossed out. And her friend had her pants around her knees as they applied a fake tramp stamp to her back. Security just looked over and said "That's nasty." In Cincy, ole gal would be in the back of a cop cruiser! Just not right. We would have been drinking for free all weekend if we got a dollar for each time someone asked if we were a bachelorette party. We said we should have brought the stuff from Lindsay's in Louisville and faked it LOL

Friday morning the weather was less than desirable. It was cold and drizzly and Lori, Lindsay & I walked to the new PIBeanery for a cup of coffee... we had to form a game plan to enjoy the day despite the crummy cold rain. We went to Rita's Margarita's on the Boardwalk overlooking the bay and Lori and I introduced the group to their first bloody mary's. I loved them - the mix had crab and shrimp chunks and the right amount of spice and garnishes. I think they prefer mimosas but I'm excited they got to give it a shot. Julie had researched the island activities and had coupons to ride the train around the island - it was a really good time. We learned so much about the tiny community - there's no doctor or hospital; only 2 restaurants stay open in the winter and only 400 residents stay year-round; groceries and RX are flown in by plane. We stopped at Heinenman's Winery, the original vineyard on the island, and did a tasting. I've found that most small midwest wineries have very similar wines - most are quite young and sweet which isn't my preferred taste but the group really liked it so it was nice. We walked over to the Boardwalk to see the pirates arrive since it was Pirate's Weekend - whatever that meant. A few actors came over on two small boats and shot some cannons... a bit underwhelming but I'm sure it's pretty neat for kids to see.

Had a blast having happy hour in our room and walked to dinner at Goat, which we'd heard great things about. I love the perch tacos - local Lake Erie fish. There was a chocolate shop and museum downstairs so we stopped in for dessert. We went to see The Menus again then saw The Webster's, another Cincinnati band whose lead singer works at the radio stations with Julie, at Round House. It was a really neat bar with a huge rotunda and the band plays up behind the bar. I ran into Calvin & Haver and was bummed that I couldn't call to meet up the next day w/o phone service.

Saturday we had gorgeous weather - finally! And the population on the island practically triples for the weekend. We walked to a different little coffee shop that was also an incredible bakery then it was a full out pool day at Mist - the pool with waterfall and swim-up bar at our hotel. It was straight out of MTV Spring Break 2003. We had a damn good time people watching - it reminded us a bit of a reality show with the ultra-blonde girls and bikinis in heels and muscly guys gyrating all over the place. The DJ was good and we met some fun strangers... we laid out almost until dinner time. Becca & I had both been really stoked to swim up to the bar and I'm glad we braved the cold water to hang out for a bit. The drinks were surprisingly cheap, too! A ton of people had big plastic Ohio State O's with long islands from Mr. Ed's and they were happy to share :)

For dinner we went to the Upper Deck which was a nice restaurant overlooking the bay. Matt's friend Sean's friend Doug's parents (uh, yeah) had raved about this place and their lobster mac & cheese at Sean's med school graduation in May so I had to try it - it was delicious. Julie, Becca & I walked to the little ice cream shop and had some really tasty key lime pie with graham cracker hunks. We'd also wanted to ride the little carousel all weekend but didn't have the chance. We were all fairly tired from the sun and didn't want to be hung over in the car so we popped into this tiki bar with near swings and a sand floor then the Put-in-Bay Brewery which I believe was just a bar, not really a brew house and headed home to rest. Exhausting fun weekend.

The one major issue was the disgusting mayflies! They were EVERYWHERE and latched on to everything. They flew around like the Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and the girls would scream and swat at them lol I think everyone would have enjoyed a bug-free environment much much better - none of us are sure if we'd ever go back but it definitely would not be at this time of year. Since there isn't a beach area, it's easy to do all you'd want to do over a long weekend but it would be best in late July or August when the weather is warmer and more predictable.

I'm really happy to have had the opportunity to finally visit this island that so many Ohioans speak of and to relax and catch up with the girls... it's always fun to see how much more you learn about people you're already close with when you travel. And I can knock one more place off my bucket list :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

René of the Day // 5.19.11 // Email Award

So one perk of working with a former screenwriter on "Two and a Half Men" is that he never leaves a chain of emails without entertainment. In a moment of tense project management, he broke through with this comment and it practically made my day:

"I'm glad we're at least saying 'thank you.' When we lose our courtesy, we lose our humanity. If we can't be polite, we might as well be tree frogs."

Perhaps this would have been the last thought that crossed my mind when blazing through creation of a microsite submission page, but this is why he worked on a team with Charlie Sheen and I did not. Dare I say, winning?

René of the Day // 6.22.11 // Table Topics

By nature, I ask *a lot* of questions. Sorry if it drives you bonkers, but that's just me baby. I like to learn and always want to know more - call me nosey, hard to deny. Thus, Table Topics give me an excuse to ask rarely relevant, always interesting, absurd and totally irrelevant out-of-the-blue questions with merit. I hate to admit I forget who first told me about this phenomenal little crystal cube but I thank them from the furthest corner of my heart.

These fun conversation starters were a catalyst for MR and I after we met and started chatting on the phone long distance. We'd been playing 20 questions but after a few weeks, you begin to run dry on things to ask on the fly. There was so much to get to know about each other but the cards sparked great conversations, made us laugh and definitely took away any nervousness or tension. Cute, huh? ;) Some questions dive pretty deep while others are shallow as a parking lot puddle and just make you laugh. I'd highly recommend them for long distance phone calls, road trips or ice breaker activities. It's neat to hear what you can learn about people you already know fairly well. I even used them for the role of Table Topics Master at our Toastmasters meeting at work. 

Example questions from my set, the Dinner Party Edition:

If it were necessary to add two countries to the U.S. which would you pick?

Would you rather your home had a pool, a tennis court or a rose garden?

What's the best way to deal with stress?

Are you old school or new school?

Where is change needed in your life?

If you could only take one cd for a cross country road trip which would you choose?

I bought my box - the adorable brown and Tiffany-blue damask image below - at Poeme, the darling stationery store on Hyde Park Square for ~$25. Visit to see sample questions or order your own! I'd love to collect some of the other versions; there's a wide range of topics from kids to adults, family oriented to naughtiness. They also have an iPhone app now for $2.99 - might be perfect for this weekend's road trip with some of my best girlfriends from college!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

René of the Day // 6.21.11 // Special Gift

I've done a bit of spiritual seeking in the past year. It began with the Freedom series at Crossroads last spring. It was a heart-changing experience and a really wonderful time to re-connect with old friends and learn more about myself. That level of introspection can work wonders... I truly think it was a contributing factor to beginning my relationship with MR - we met just weeks after the sessions wrapped... and I had been stubborn on staying single for almost 3 years until then. 

I digress... I've learned a lot about God and my relationship with him in the past year. My mom and aunt Christine (Kiki) have listened as I've shared what I've learned and they also know that I am an absolute bookworm and holidays never pass without a book wrapped in pretty paper. Last Christmas, I had one last gift to open - a big orange book titled "The Handy Religion Answer Book." It was a very thoughtful and exciting gift - and per family tradition, I cracked the front cover to read the hand-written note that is always scribed into gifted books... And tears started to well in my eyes. The note was written in my deceased grandmother's perfect script. I was astonished and confused... She died in August 2007. But I remembered, we have two floor-to-ceiling book shelves filled with her books... old illustration books of Cincinnati, books on architecture, art and cooking (we have such similar interests!) My mom and Kiki had come across this book and knew I would love it.... It was an incredibly special gift.

I've been reading through it the past few days and was reminded of that story. MR is a loyal Catholic young man and is one of few I know my age who attends regularly and is a parishioner, even though he's grown up and moved away from home. I find that very admirable. My other grandmother, with whom I was very close, was Catholic and I always wanted to learn more to be like her. I am a heathen though - lol - I have never been baptised. So I'm learning more about Catholicism as I consider going through RCIA... I have a few good girlfriends who have done it and are doing it now so I am blessed to have them to consult for information as I explore. I'm looking forward to seeing where the Lord and my heart take me... and I'm sure grandma Dolores would be absolutely pleased. (See if you can read the note below.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

René of the Day // 6.19.11 // Happy Father's Day!

Here's to that ole Southern boy who lives his life for his little girls... Daddy, thank you for teaching me to toughen up, to earn my keep, never quit, to cheer for the Florida Gators and for putting me through college. I would not become who I am without your guidance, support and wallet ;)

I love you - Happy Father's Day SEB!

Funny story about this photo... I called to wish him a Happy Father's Day and we chatted about his weekend and his great golf game (3 pars, a birdie and shot 85) and I told him what MR and I were up to in Cookeville. He said he saw the photo of the Soapbox Derby on my Facebook page - and also a picture of me on some guy's lap with a beard - he knew it wasn't MR and guessed it was one of his buddies... I had no clue what he was talking about. He isn't very tech savvy so I guessed he was looking at someone else's page and didn't realize it. Ten minutes later he called back - it was the photo above, of himself in my profile picture for Father's Day! LOL The old fool didn't even recognize himself HAHA... I suppose it makes sense - he just shaved that beard a few months ago for the first time in 25+ years.

René of the Day // 6.18.11 // Fall Creek Falls

Fall Creek Falls
iPhone photo doesn't do it justice.
For perspective, the tiny white specks by the pool are people.
This weekend, I felt like I was in Hawaii – in middle Tennessee. MR’s small town of Cookeville doesn’t offer a wide selection of entertaining activities so we often flee to Nashville but this weekend we decided to stay put. Friday was a nice night on the deck, grilling burgers, drinking wine, talking and listening to music. Saturday is stormed on and off but we went to the 10th annual Cookeville Soapbox Derby – pretty cool! MR’s co-worker’s daughter had the coolest car on the drag and won third place.

Sunday, I made a frittata for brunch then we ventured 40 miles to Pikeville, TN to hike to Fall Creek Falls. Although I love a good workout on the humps of Mother Nature, I expected to park and walk an eighth of a mile to an overlook like you do at most state parks. Horrible assumption.

 First we looked at Cane Creek Falls, which the plush summer foliage made hard to view; we planned to hike down to the bottom – the amazing thing about this park is all of the falls have beautiful pools to swim in. But after the rest of our adventure, we put the kibosh on that idea. Cane Creek Cascade was pretty… and the rope bridge was very Indiana Jones-esque – I had to scold MR not to jump, shake or touch me as we scurried across. It felt a bit janky.

Then we plowed straight up into the woods for a couple mile hike in the middle of the thick woods. It was a hot as a hornet and huffing and puffing! I mean, I could not believe there wasn’t any sort of disclaimer about this trail – it’s no stroll through the woods. It was a hefty hike! We came to an overlook and again the view was covered by trees. MR walked forward and I sat to rest – I did not hustle up here for this! Ten minutes later he came back looking for me – a few minutes further there was what we had needed in the first place – a parking lot and an overlook. We clearly came the wrong way – but just getting to where we parked was like the twisty turns of the moonshine routes in the hollers – I thought we’d fly off the side of the mountain at any turn. This park is so pristine - I didn't see any litter or what appeared to be human wear except for footprints on the trails. 

The view of the falls here was gorgeous... 256 feet of two thin and steady streams of white water - the highest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi. We took it in then decided to climb down to the bottom pool. And I thought the last trail was treacherous… it was steep, jagged, slippery rocks the entire way down. It was beautiful and I couldn’t believe we were in Tennessee… we had fun manuvering down and then sitting on a big boulder enjoying the view and cool mist watching people swim – next time we’ll have to plan for that! I could have sat there all day; it was so peaceful. And it was quite romantic - albeit our sweatiness and the strangers. The trek back up was bloody hell – we were both sweating like high school wrestlers running laps in garbage bags – and you had to be ever so calculated with your footing or you’d slip. I never thought we’d make it back up – and then back through the woods and across the bridge. God dog! I will say it was worth it but today my buns and ribs are so incredibly sore and tender.

My friend Meredith just told me that the original un-animated "Jungle Book" movie was filmed here and the pool is shallow but in a small area it's around 20 feet deep and he had to hit the exact spot when he jumped off the waterfall!

I love how we’ve gone on these little adventures and sought out amazing things in this small and simple part of the country while MR is on this work assignment for a year or so. I laughed and told him it will be sweet to look back on in 10 years. 

Suspension Bridge that begins the hike to the falls

Cane Creek Cascade

René of the Day // 6.17.11 // Scavengers

Friday I roamed Cincinnati on a work-related scavenger hunt. The goal was to be inspired by our city and capture photos linked to points that earned my team a victory of second place! We stole a Segway (sort of), took over the stage on Fountain Square, learned that everybody cha cha’s, hijacked a bus at the Freedom Center and scarfed a coney and a gyro with a flying pig at Findlay Market – all in a day’s work.

My Inspiration Team is a phenomenal group and we had a great time strategizing which places were worth the points and navigating as we laughed and snapped some incredible shots of Cincy. I was so impressed with the ideas and challenges the other teams took on and the whole day was an exciting adrenaline rush.

I’ve shared some of my favorite photos:

Assasinated president (50 pts) + yoga pose (5 pts) + handstand (5 pts) = awesome!

Posing with a local celeb – Jean Robert = 50 pts

Winner of Best Optical Illusion – Haley kissing Jim Tarbell in OTR

It’s really neat to work for a company that is so inspiring, creative and motivated to provide great experiences and outlets for its employees. Everyone had so much fun and I would dare say we all learned a little more about our city! Every month I wonder what the next team will come up with – and it just keeps getting better and better. Now, I’m tempted to re-tool this scavenger hunt and challenge some friends to another round – GAME ON!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

René of the Day // 6.16.11 // Mad Men

Practically every time someone asks what I do and I say I work at an advertising agency, they get quite excited and ask, "Have you ever watched 'Mad Men'?" I don't have cable and I rarely have the patience to sit still through an entire show so my answer was always, "No, I haven't, but I've heard it's phenomenal!"

A gal who's also lived in my building for about 5 years played the above scenario with me a few weeks ago and insisted that I stop by to borrow the DVDs and dig in - and so I have. I've tried to watch an episode a night during the week... once I start a series, I do get hooked.

It's neat to see how some client situations are relative even 50 years later... and I can certainly relate to Peter Campbell, the junior account executive, at times. I love how Betty Draper always has the most lovely tone of voice and it makes me so upset to see her relationship and pillow talk with Don - and then see him canoodling elsewhere. I mean, isn't January Jones just an absolute vision???

What's perfect is that by the time I've completed the DVDs, the next season that everyone has been waiting on with agony will be on TV - so who knows, maybe I'll have to bite the bullet and get cable after all? Pouring myself a dirty martini, leaning against my tufted headboard (quite like that of the Draper's) and watching my next episode. It's getting rather juicy with the Nixon/Kennedy race.

René of the Day // 6.15.11 // Featured Friend: Emerlu + SENATE

Disclaimer: Honest to goodness - I didn't plan to post so many "Featured Friends"so often... I just happen to have some incredible people in my life and when they deserve recognition, they get it NOW, dammit. ;)

I had a hell of a time last night with my friend Emily... we've been close since Mr. Partin's sixth grade social studies class at Loveland Middle School. She'd come over after school and we'd make peach oatmeal or order LaRosa's pizza and eat it on my bedroom floor. In college, we both spent the summer of 2007 interning in NYC. Em lived in the NYU dorms above Union Square and I lived in the East Village. We'd walk the 10 or so blocks to each other's places and check out the dive bars in between... and one of the coolest things I did that summer was the Live Earth concert with her at the Giant's stadium - talk about an amazing show - Damien Rice & David Gray, Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Alicia Keys, Roger Waters to name a few. A truly unforgettable day.

After college, Emily moved to Santa Rosa, California to join AmeriCorp - I admired her so much. I dreamed of joining the Peace Corp and scared myself out of it by thinking I'd come home at 26 without a connection to my friends, single forever, jobless and broke. After two years of incredible connections with her students, countless amazing photos of the vineyards and all the beauty the left coast has to offer, she moved to Portland. A year later and she has completed her Masters in education - super proud of her! Emily is a sensational dancer, intuitive photographer, is wonderfully artistic (she made me the painting hanging in my apartment, pictured in the album linked in the Live in Hyde Park! post) a skilled writer and a great friend - I can be more goofy with her than anyone I know. Since college, we have continued hand-written correspondence - letters, postcards, photos, even as we communicate via text, Facebook and email. Her parents still welcome me to dinner at their home and her older brother Clint has become a good buddy to grab a beer with at the local pubs around Hyde Park.

Although I miss having her here, I think our friendship is so special because of how we stay in touch and our visits when she comes home to Cincinnati a few times a year. I can't wait to visit Portland - hopefully this fall.

Last night I took her to OTR to see how our city is transforming and that we may not be Port of Land but we have some cool places popping. First we had a beer at The Lackman then hit Senate for another beer and a bite. Em is now a vegetarian so the hot dog named after my pal Dan Korman was perfect for her - red callini bean & Turkish lentil sausage with sun-dried tomatoes, shaved fennel, arugula and goat cheese was perfect. I loved the Lindsay Loahn (who she happens to be obsessed with, ha) - all beef hot dog with arugula, goat cheese, caramelized onions and balsamic - and truffle fries with aioli, of course!

Our outstanding meal at SENATE

So cheers to Emily - and many more years of friendship and letters and laughs!

Em & I lunching at the famous former Tavern on the Green in NYC 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

René of the Day // 6.14.11 // Live in Hyde Park!

Two blocks from Hyde Park Square! I've lived here for almost 5 years (in August) and I absolutely love the location and building. It's a quiet, affordable and charming building from the 1930s. I've placed nearly 10 friends into my building and their neighboring properties over the past few years so my landlord gave me a call to tell me we have two vacancies. I give their information to people all the time so I thought I'd knock it out with a blog post.

One of the coveted studios is finally open! Like my apartment pictured here, it's $375/month with A/C, heat, water and gas included; my Duke energy bill is generally $12 month. Can you believe that?! It's clearly a great deal. And I love the unique built-in desk, drawers and cabinets in the closet hallway. This apartment is currently vacant.

There is also a one bedroom that will be available August 1. It has an open floor plan with a full dining room, large living room, bathroom and bedroom, plus a balcony. Rent is $600/month with the same inclusions.

All outside doors are locked, can buzz guests in and all apartments have gorgeous hardwood floors. Parking for the building is easy on the street or you can usually grab a spot in the lot behind the building. Pets are welcome and there's a side yard that's perfect for pups!

If you're interested, call Mike at North American Properties (formerly Jackson Advisory Group) at 513.602.2469. Let him know René filled you in - unfortunately I don't receive any incentives but I did tell him I'd put the word out. Happy house hunting! :)

‎"Everyone should have a big room they can go to. By living in one room, you eliminate a lot of worries." - Andy Warhol

Monday, June 13, 2011

René of the Day // 6.12.11 // Né Loves Ray

My love began back in 2006 when his smoky voice sang the song "How Come?" in the fashionista-fever movie, "The Devil Wears Prada." Even then, I was two years behind the album release... I Googled the lyrics and my cousin Elise bought me his CD for Christmas. His warbles became soothing for relaxing with wine in the bath or background studying music in college. I always buy CDs impulsively in line at Starbucks and bought his latest, "God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise" and continued to fall in love with listening...

When I saw he was coming to Cincinnati, I marked the date on my calendar and hoped to find a friend who's heard of him and would like to go... My birthday was a few weeks ago and MR had a surprise gift that he knew I wanted but hadn't asked for and had a second part that I would get with time... intriguing... some of the girls thought it was a ring (I knew better!) He got me tickets! Originally the show was on a Thursday so he thought he'd come up and take me - but it changed to Sunday so the "second part" was choosing a friend to ask to come with. 

So Andrea also likes Ray! We arrived at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion (he packed the house by showtime) at 5:30 because they were holding a free craft beer tasting! Four tastes for every ticket; she just had one so I enjoyed 7 little cups of brew. Some I'd had before (Brooklyn Summer Ale, Sierra Nevada Summerfest) but I really enjoyed the last one I sampled - had a creamy taste and was really nice and refreshing... then I had a horrible headache from drinking margaritas and dark beer and eating Pit to Plate BBQ in the sun all day at Elise's graduation party before heading straight to the concert - luckily his music is so chill. What was also awesome was my friend Emily just got in from Portland and was coming so I got to see her and her brother Clint who's also my buddy and their parents who are great - was a fun surprise to catch up with them before the show. :)

The show was outstanding - I'd never heard Brandi Carlile but she was really fun... and the Secret Sisters were a little duo that are just that from Alabama and sang some old country - felt like honky tonkin' in Nashville! Ray even brought them on for 2 songs - that says something, to really highlight your openers in the main show. What a great guy. I missed that he didn't play some of my favs from his "Trouble" album but his voice is incredible - he's practically the only singer I've heard play live that sounds just like their studio recording. Pretty neat. He wails on the harmonica - just love his jagged mix of modern folk, classic country and alternative rock - totally unique. And he attracted quite the diverse crowd... Bummed that MR couldn't make it but Andie & I had a great time, so glad I was able to go. 

This is one of my fav songs and it hits home with MR right now as this year+ of long distance grinds on us the weeks between our visits... (Quite sad he didn't play this.)

"Forever My Friend"
Who am I to tell her
Who am I to play god
Who am I to think I can go it alone
Something tells me girl this is bringing you down
Something tells me this is bringing me down
We've been through some changes
Always seem to hold on
Lately it feel like you can't take anymore
Something tells me girl this is bringing you down
Something tells me girl this is bringing you down
Forever my friend
Forever my love
Forever the woman that I'm thinking of
I just think if we keep our hearts together
Just think if we build on this trust that we have for one another
Baby we can make this last a lifetime
Who am I to tell her
Who am I to play god
I don't know just what's for real anymore
Something tells me girl this is bringing you down
Something tells me girl this is bringing you down
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right
Maybe it's the last thing you want to hear me say
I just think if we keep out hearts together
I just think if we build on this trust that we have for one another
Maybe we can make this last a lifetime
Forever my friend
Forever my love
Forever the woman
That I'm thinking of
I just think if we keep our hearts together
I just think if we will build on this trust that we have for one another
Maybe we can make this last a lifetime

Saturday, June 11, 2011

René of the Day // 6.11.11 // Featured Friend: Elise

She's actually my cousin - but of course, my friend too! Today she graduates from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Spanish with a focus in photojournalism and public relations. Here's to wishing her great success in her career and building on her passions - very proud of you, Lisey Belle. When I graduated, I placed her into my hostessing job at Carlo & Johnny and also gave her a lead for her internship with the Cincinnati Reds so if I can help her with her job search, I'm happy to! Follow her on Twitter at, or check out her photography here or read her blog, Belle Bombshell here. Our grandmother would have been so proud of our family's fourth Bearcat alum!

Congratulations, Elise! :)

Cubs vs. Mets at Wrigley Field - visiting our fabulous Aunt Kiki.
One of our fun sports vacays in college - who can forget the Sugar Bowl in NOLA?! ;)

René of the Day // 6.10.11 // French Strawberry Torte & Friends

Isn't this French Strawberry Torte from The BonBonerie absolutely divine? Last night I had a delicious dinner at Stone Creek Dining Company with my mom and her cousin Colleen and two of her friends, Janey and Amanda, who have become good friends of ours over the past few years. It's quite hard to schedule an evening for the 5 of us to get together but it was successful! First of all, the bottle of Coppola Claret I shared with Mom was so nice - well balanced with fruit, smooth tannins and I loved the tobacco aroma. I ordered the Applewood Bacon Wrapped Salmon with lime teriyaki glaze and napa slaw and had to have sweet potato fries with aioli... it was all fantastic!

After dinner, we went to Janey's new home (well, we've been trying to find time to celebrate the new home for a few years lol) and it was so adorable; she is the most gracious hostess. She has fantastic taste; I felt like I was walking through Pottery Barn with great pops of color. And I had some serious kitchen-envy of her cool backsplash and Sub-Zero fridge. The best part was her stinkin' cute little red head Elise came down to say hello in her ladybug pj's.

We enjoyed wine and the cake by candlelight on the screened in patio and it was just so nice to relax, chat and laugh - they're all hilarious, successful and gorgeous women and I hope to learn from all of them for when I'm a wife and mother. I am so blessed to have such strong, smart and funny women in my life to model myself after. I truly wish we can find the time to see each other more often. Cheers, ladies!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

René of the Day // 6.8.11 // The List

Those who know me well - and many who do not - know that I love food, wine, cocktails and dining out. Forget shopping, I'll go broke enjoying five course meals and drowning in bottles of fancy port. I always keep The List of the restaurants I'd love to try and persistently plan adventures with my appetite to cross places off The List. So today I, René, will share The List publicly. If you see a restaurant you'd like to explore with me, please, leave a comment - let's go! If I'm missing something, please, leave a comment so I can add it to The List. These are all Cincinnati spots. (The national list includes Girl in the Fig, The Stinking Rose, Per Se, Charlie Trotter, Daniel, French Laundry & Ad Hoc to name a few...) The two most recent escapades have been to Nicola's and China Gourmet. And so it goes:

The Celestial (Currently without liquor license; won a bet against MR on NYE so I have earned this!)
Quarter Bistro
Tano Bistro
York St. Café
Fork Heart Knife
Iron Horse Inn
Argentine Bean
Golden Lamb
La Poste Eatery (Have a Groupon!)
Chez Nora
Ollie's Trolley
Cincinnati Dinner Train (Making plans for this with MR & friends)
The Painted Fish
A Tavola
Skinny Pig
Turophilia (Aistream Quesadilla trailer)
Stuffed on Vine

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

René of the Day // 6.7.11 // Sleep Sweet

Must have these! I have searched for ages for seersucker sheets and I kindly pick up my dear old lady neighbor Betty's magazines/catalogs and drop them by her door, but sometimes I tend to flip through on my walk up the stairs... after drooling through the Williams-Sonoma catalog, I came across these absolutely wonderful, darling bedding dreams!

I think the texture would be divine... I had silk sheets but they slipped off the mattress corners every night - I still  use the pillowcases though, as my friend Rebecca Rose's gentile Southern grandmother says, they prevent wrinkles. Plus, you always experience that cool flip-side of the pillow effect with them.

Unfortunately, the look does not suit my earth-toned apartment, but someday they will look just lovely in my beach house, I'm sure! ;) Would they not make the perfect place to lay your pretty little preppy head?

Love them too? Buy them here!

Monday, June 6, 2011

René of the Day // 6.6.11 // All the Buzz

Read all about it! The tiny town of Cookeville, TN, where MR currently resides, was in USA Today this morning.

"Tennessee: Cookeville - Putnam County deputies who responded to a 911 call about a 'loud machinery noise' in the area discovered that the caller and his wife were bugged by cicadas. Cpl. Joe Davis said no cicadas were arrested. The cicadas are part of a population that emerges every 13 years."

Really?! I'd like to see cicada-sized hand (um, wing?) cuffs if they did attempt to arrest insect wildlife. Tell you a little something about the fine city of CookeVegas?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

René of the Day // 6.5.11 // Wishful Thinking

I like to think I live simply. In my efficient studio apartment, with my Toyota Yaris... I don't go tanning or regularly have my hair or nails done. I do like to indulge in a great meal or drink but generally, I get by on the necessities - I don't have cable and I pick up wifi from Hyde Park Square. But the other day I was thinking I cannot wait until I have a house (as I've thought since college as I browse real estate listings when I'm bored)... It is nice to just make a phone call when the toilet leaks and to have someone else picking up the tab for the AC. But I truly yearn to be a homeowner for the following things:

-Washer & dryer 
I haul my laundry to my parents in Loveland a few times a month because the industrial sets at my apartment cost $1 to wash and to dry and they leave my clothes rough and not smelling clean - ick.
-I don't always mind doing them; it's fun to play in the water and it's a good stress reliever. But it's time consuming and I'm sure a Whirlpool could do a better job getting caked-on food off of my Le Creuset than I can... 
My car is left to the elements (except in the work garage) and it would be incredible to have a winter without shoveling and scraping or a summer without burned butt cheeks on hot seats - le sigh.
How convenient it would be to open a door for Findlay to let himself out and run around! The process of leash, stairs, etc is quite annoying at times. And also to be able to grill outside rather than on a George Foreman! 
-Bigger kitchen
Speaking of the tiny George Foreman, I have 4x2 feet of workable counter space... I do make some fantastic meals in this tiny kitchen but to have space to bake and prep would be fabulous.
-Larger closet & chest of drawers
It's impossible to keep all of my clothes in the small space; I trade out seasons in my old closet at home. And although I could purchase a set of drawers, it would look out of place so I use two 3-drawer Rubbermaid sets inside my closet. And hell, even just a separate living room and bedroom would be nice!

It will be at least a year and a half until I have an abode that fulfills these wishes but until then, I am content in my cute little 1930s space with built-in desk, hardwood floors and a 2 minute walk to the Square. It's the little things...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

René of the Day // 6.3.11 // Chivalry

The first thing that comes to my mind is manners - or men. Gentleman, that is. But that's not quite what this post is about. But I must say, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world because my gentleman friend, MR, is quite the chivalrous young man. Car doors are opened even in sweatpants, chairs are pulled out, he always walks on the outside of the sidewalk and the list continues (don't gag at me.) When I hear that "chivalry is dead" I shake my head... and I believe you cannot necessarily blame the man, but his parents for failing to raise him to be a gentleman. It is a learned practice. But I disgress...

What about being chivalrous in general? You get immediate results from being warm, thoughtful and understanding. Instant gratification of a job well done - a good restaurant makes you a good person who puts others needs first. It inspires questions over judgment. Working in fine dining restaurants as a hostess has made me accountable for these actions. And I'm highly disappointed when I meet people who fail to thank others or take the time to show manners or consideration. Knowingly practicing insincerity builds misconceptions.

Anthony Rudolf, the GM of Thomas Keller's renowned restaurant Per Se in New York City says, "Warmth, compassion, humility and care have become a commodity" - I agree. "Attitude over ability; with time, experience and repetition ability will grow; in order to achieve greatness it needs to be fueled with the right attitude and embrace it when you see it in others. Actions are only as good as thoughts." And I urge you to create "thank you" moments and let others see your genuine generosity.

Take a few minutes to watch this video of Anthony Rudolf's speech at TedXEast - it's always a great decision to become more mindful of the way we interact with others. I believe you will benefit more than you would assume, even if you cannot fully relate to the hospitalty industry example - I'm sure you've dined somewhere and experienced great service and the way it made you feel, or have had a horrible experience and wondered how they didn't know the way it was perceived.

What is TedX?
Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

I had the opportunity to attend TedXCincy in the fall on behalf of Soapbox (see my badge below) and it was incredible and inspiring - if you ever have a chance to attend a TED event, GO! Or just watch some of the incredible presentations on YouTube. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

René of the Day // 6.1.11 // Framing It Up

I have torn many a spread out of magazines for inspiration. This morning I found a few pages folded in the stationery drawer of my built-in desk as I chose which thank you cards to use from my collection to write to my lovely co-worker friends for my birthday gift (loose walnut green tea and t-sacs from Coffee Emporium!)

It is so tickling to look back at the ideas I've pulled and to find that I still love them and cannot wait to incorporate them into my home some day - I tell MR that all I need is a big house and an endless decorating budget and I'd be a happy little clam! (Someday.)

Below is a shot of the 3 pages I came across, two from an Ikea catalog (left & center) and one from Pottery Barn (right). I adore the menagerie of framed work. It can be difficult to create a collage that contains unique but complementary photos and art. On the left, the painting with the bright pops of color contrasts so incredibly next to the black and white photography. On the right, I love the stacks of books (I do this in my apartment), the big monogram "N," the art matted on burlap, whispy flowers blocking small areas of the spread and the iron track lighting, illuminating it all.

Some day (key word here, right?), I'll have a huge sample book to build from :)