Friday, May 29, 2009

Parlez-Vous francais?

These last few days I have been doing some research for a trip to Southern France. Looking at several locations, I think I have it narrowed down to two areas, Languedoc-Roussillon, specifically the Aude Department, and Provence & Cote d'Azur. 
Languedoc offers beautiful wine country, somewhat centrally located in the southern region, and amazing medieval cities. And if you're wanting to pop up to Paris, the TGV will get you there in four hours. The town of Carcassonne is a perfect base point for seeing many other cities, but also has a lot to offer in its own right. It boasts a fully restored medieval town, sitting on the bank of the Aude River, fine dining and local bistros, as well as quite a bit of culture to explore. Just northeast of Carcassonne is the region of Minervois- perfect for the wine aficionados. You can do wine tastings and see the small, ancient towns that dot the countryside. The famed commune Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a mere two and a half hours away, if you want a truly incredible wine experience. In the Roman town of Narbonne streets are lined with cafes and patisseries, a foodie's dream come true! Narbonne is a great day trip, easy to walk the entire town, and not too far from home base. Carcassonne is also close to Montpellier, the must-see college town of Toulouse, ski resorts, the coast, and the Catalan influenced town of Perpignan. 

As for Provence, there is so much to see there as well. Just to smell the lavender fields there would be amazing. For lots of hustle and bustle, you can spend time in the city of Marseille, visit the bird sanctuary in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in Arles follow Picasso's footsteps, visit the Picasso museum in Antibes, or just relax seaside. A friend recommended the town of St. Remy as a base point. Like Carcassonne it's centrally located in its region. Here, you are within driving distance of the city of Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier, and Marseille. Some of its famous residents have included Nostradamus and Van Gogh (he committed himself here after cutting off his ear). Others like Gertrude Stein have spent holidays here. And in more recent times, you'll spot a celeb or two "hiding out" in St. Remy. The Gallo-Roman architecture is absolutely stunning, bistros are abundant, and don't forget to stop in at the chocolatier Joel Durand's atelier to see how his delicous bon bons are made. There are festivals going on in town practically year round, so there is bound to be always something to do. 

St. Remy de Provence (via French Essence blog)

Of course, if you really wanted to go all out, there's St. Tropez. Where jetsetters and movie stars populate the beaches. Hang out on your yacht by day and soak up the high-voltage nightlife in the evening. Be prepared to hand over some serious cash and show off your biggest bling. And as I recall, the train running into St. Tropez was infrequent at best. You can hire a car, but you will be sitting in quite a bit of traffic during the peak travel season. However, that may give you time to explore the gorgeous towns that surround St. Tropez. 

St. Tropez (via Style Pill)

Which location would you pick? Provence or Languedoc? Carcassonne or St. Remy? Or St. Tropez? Have you booked your flight yet? :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good Boss, Bad Times

Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science at Stanford, was interviewed for the McKinsey Quarterly in regards to how to be a good boss during a tough economy. Be it whether you're handling layoffs or paycuts, there are several do's and don'ts he mentions that really caught my attention. Namely, do not make layoffs in multiple rounds. I happen to have quite a few friends who are currently enduring this painful process. Sutton says this is both detrimental to productivity, the staff, and the staff's mental health. Watching the stress build among my friends working in that environment, I completely agree with him. Secondly, he says to give your subordinates an in depth, but understandable explanation of why layoffs need to occur. If possible, promise your employees that there will be no layoffs or paycuts for the next X amount of days. This will give them a small piece of mind, so they are not walking into work daily expecting it to be their last. And finally, treat the survivors well. It builds loyalty to you as a boss and helps keep productivity up during the trauma of letting people go. 

I was laid off back in December, but it actually had little to do with the economy. We were doubling in size as a company and consolidating the finance department. While my company treated me very well during employment and also handed me a generous severance package, I felt many things could have been handled better during the transition of workload from our team to the team in Pittsburgh. Policies changed daily to accommodate the sales department, rules that were in place to protect the company's assets were disregarded, workload was transferred to Pittsburgh then back to us when they weren't prepared for it, the hiring freeze on our team required less people to do triple the work. It was an extremely high stress work environment. By the end, no one on my team had motivation to operate at the same level we once did. Arguments would break out between our bosses and some of our teammates, as no one felt as though they were being heard. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, we were so ready to be out of there. So, I think my experience fell right in line with what Sutton describes. 

Watch the video in its entirety to get the full scope of what he has to say. It's very interesting and makes you put your boss under review. 

Do you have any good boss or bad boss experiences during this economy or other hard times in your company? Or can you share any experiences as having to be that boss during a difficult economy? It's certainly easier said than done. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day at the Vineyard

Hope everyone had a fabulous and RELAXING holiday weekend! I hauled it out to Southwest Texas to do a little work on the vineyard. We dug holes and moved rocks- it was fabulous! We camped on site and were privileged to see some gorgeous sunsets, a few rainbows, and storms roll in off the mountain. We also took a couple of quick trips into Marfa and Terlingua, Texas. What funky little towns! Below are a few pictures from the weekend. 

A storm passing by Cathedral Mountain. It finished raining just in time to see a great sunset. A little brisket and Carignane for dinner, and smores fireside, made for a lovely first evening.

The next day we were hard at work planting 500 new vines- Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc varietals. The white boxes on bamboo stakes protect the new vine for almost a year.

Of course we made time to play as well! We found an old frame and took plenty of goofy shots with it. Our fearless winemaker leads the group. You have no idea how long it took to get this right- and it still isn't perfect!

A glass of Grenache overlooking the vineyard. We surveyed our handy-work from atop a rock near the campsite and toasted each other on a job well done. Oh, and yelled at the javelina to get out of the vineyard.

Southwest Texas truly is a beautiful place to visit. Most people are surprised to see mountains and such unique plant life. The scenery is simply stunning. I highly recommend the trek out there to Big Bend or the Davis Mountains area. You'll come across some fantastically strange towns with true characters residing in them. I'm now sunburnt, sore, and exhausted, but it turned out to be a productive yet relaxing weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Renzo Piano At It Again

(via DO)
I absolutely love the city of Chicago. My mother and her side of the family all hail from the Southside, so we have spent a great deal of time in the city. Well, over the past years Chicago has made some drastic improvements: see Millennium Park and rooftop gardens. There is always much to offer in regards to culture, and I make it a point to fit a stop into the Art Institute on each visit, to see the latest exhibit. I hold the Art Institute in very high esteem. Friends, it just moved up another notch. Perusing Design Observer, reading today's post about Renzo Piano's new Modern Wing, I squealed with delight! I adore Renzo's beautifully functional buildings. Always stunning. And I have the privilege to live in a city with a Piano design residing in it- The Nasher Scupture Center in Dallas, Texas. 

This new wing is expansive and yet delicate. Julie Lasky quoted Piano in her post and applauded him for succeeding at channelling Chicago: 

Piano noted, the new urban grid aligned with true compass points (“When you look north, north is exactly what you see”); Chicago’s architecture and its occupants related straightforwardly to their sites. Strength, delicacy, lightness, rationality: Piano sought all of these attributes for his new addition and largely succeeded in imposing them. 

All I can say, is Piano has done it again. And how did I not hear about this project beforehand?!? Go to the Design Observer site to see more photos and read some of the background. I absolutely cannot wait to see his work in person. It will be my first stop next time I'm in Chi-town! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Penne Pomodoro Lakewood

I love Lombardi and his Family Concepts. Taverna, Toulouse, Cubanita, Sangria, Penne Pomodoro- I could eat at each restaurant every night of the week. Penne Pomodoro has always been a mainstay for brunching on Sunday. However, we had to drive to Snider Plaza (a whopping 15 minutes away) to get there. And with their $1 mimosas and bloody marys, it made getting home a little more difficult. 

But, now all our life problems have been solved! Penne Pomodoro has moved to Lakewood (a mere 3 minutes away)! Our little neighborhood is burgeoning with Italian restaurants, and we need another like a hole in the head, but at least we're finally getting high quality Italian. So last night we ventured over there to check out the new scene. We started with some appetizers they carried over from Taverna- focaccia and bruschetta. For an entree, I had the pizza bianca with prosciutto, which was delish! Plenty of house specials were offered, all of which sounded tasty. They are featuring gluten-free pasta and several other gluten-free items. Which is great for those who either want low-carb pasta or are actually allergic. 

Lombardi typically goes into spaces that include a patio, or at least have patio potential. Alas, this little space, does not. I was hoping for at least trattoria doors, but they're non-existent. However, this may be due to some crazy Dallas city codes, because I know we ran into several strange ordinances when times ten was being built.  I guess we'll have to make due with the mural of White Rock Lake. Or, simply walk over to the winery afterward and sit on our patio! 

The space that they went into was formerly Kitchen  1924, which received all kinds of rave reviews, was successful for a short while, then shut down. And before Kitchen 1924, it was La Dolce Vita, which actually was open for a good while. On both occasions, I felt the food was overpriced for the quality. This was especially true for La Dolce Vita- as I would have rated that food mediocre at best. So, here's hoping Lombardi can break with tradition and have Penne Pomodoro become an East Dallas institution! He's already on the right track with a time-proven template. 

Be sure to support your local businesses in this economy, when you can!

Monday, May 18, 2009

White Rock East Garden and Artist Show: A Review

We could not have asked for better weather. It was a perfect Sunday for strolling through the neighborhood, admiring the gardens. Artists, including silent G imagery, were set up in a few of the yards. The ones selling outdoor/yard art seemed to fair well, however, we only did so-so. People's focus is definitely on the outdoors and gathering ideas for their own gardens, photography probably wasn't the best fit. But, we were at a gorgeous home, in a beautiful yard, with lovely weather, had perfectly nice homeowners, and sold a few pieces, so all in all a fairly successful event. The organizers should probably try to narrow the scope to just yard art, in the interest of both the tour and the artists, next year. I do have to say, that it was nice to see the community come together. I'll keep this post somewhat short, as I'm blogging from my phone and in jury duty. Cross your fingers that I'm not selected!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Feel the Love Friday: VII

Paws in the City will be at Bo Concept, on Alpha Road, for a special pet adoption event. Come by between 11am and 4pm and help these pets find a loving home! Below is the address for Bo Concept:

5301 Alpha Road Dallas, TX
Village on the Green Centre, just north of the Galleria

I scheduled Bailey for his "big snip" today. Remember what Bob Barker said, "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered!" Well, I am being the responsible owner and doing just that, but I doubt Bailey will agree with me. Poor guy, he'll never know what hit him. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just DO it!

(photo from site's title)
Last week, I added a new link to my favourites: Design Observer. A blog with a rotating staff of contributing writers, all about design and things cultural. Hmmm...sounds familiar. :) The writers that take part in this blog are extremely talented and do a fantastic job of drawing me in on the first paragraph. Today's post by Michael Erard called "Cedars" was simply beautiful. Then again, the guy has a writing fellowship, so he should be good. There was also a post by Ernest Beck reviewing the Bklyn Designs show that stimulated a very hot debate- certainly evidence for a well written article. My Google Reader is chock-full of design blogs, but they are more about interior decorating. This one is more about design as a whole, be it graphic, furniture, art, etc. Pop over for a good read. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm One Today

Chad's niece Audrey had her birthday dinner today. She was treated to a vanilla cupcake topped with pink strawberry icing- her favourite colour! Such a princess!

When to Question "The Decider"

Obama is way smarter than me. He, his cabinet, and his team of advisors face issues far more grave than I will ever have to deal with. Watching the news about the ongoing "recession", the developing presence of the Taliban in Pakistan, among many other world crises, I don't know how the man does it. But more personally, I have a hard time discerning when he has made a good or bad decision right in the here in now. The world of finance is so far over my head. Believe me, I'm a sucker for all these sales and promotions. So when the government says we need to hand more money to the banks, then I say fine, because I don't have another solution. Just like when Bush said we needed to invade Iraq because we would find WMD's. Admittedly, I said OK, let's go. But we didn't find anything, and it was most likely a hunt for oil. And now we've realized in retrospect what a poor decision that was. Not to say that Obama is currently making poor decisions. I think only time will tell for our current President- he has so many curveballs thrown at him, he can only do what is humanly possible. So, without possessing expert knowledge about Wall Street, foreign relations, healthcare, world history, oil, the economy (both housing and business), religions, etc. how can we keep up? How can we not blindly follow the President's decisions? And do we trust our media to keep us not just updated, but explain the context behind the situations at hand? I read several online news sources a day (granted, most of the time only the front page, because I just can't handle any more Bailout or Swine Flu talk), including one and sometimes two foreign papers to find the most broad perspective. But, I still never seem to get the "how things work" answers I need most of the time. And that's probably due to the fact that there is a limited amount of space- both in airtime on tv/radio and in columns in print- and you're to be expected to already know these things. So, if you don't, where do you find out the basics? Wikipedia? Please. If you have all, or at least some, of the answers, please leave a comment!

PS. In the title I mention "The Decider" which is from HBO's You're Welcome, America with Will Ferrell. Ferrell, in character as "Dubbya", jokes that he became "The Decider" after 9-11 happened. If you haven't seen it, check it out- pretty funny (wait until the kids are in bed; bad language). 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Big Blend : Big Bend

It has arrived...the event of the season. Big Blend:BigBend! 

May 21st, silent G imagery and times ten cellars are joining forces to bring you their works from beautiful Southwest Texas. times ten is releasing a new blend from their vineyard outside Alpine, TX, while silent G is debuting their photography taken in the national park. Join us at the winery for sips and snacks Thursday evening. Below is the invitation with all the details:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Southern Open 2009: Reminder

Just a friendly reminder that the Southern Open starts today! You may recall my previous post regarding this event. Support our southern artists!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Feel The Love Friday: VI

Since we're on the subject of New York City today,  I thought I would mention my good friend and comedienne Jamie Lee. Each month, she performs for Diamonds in the Fluff, a comedy benefit for East Village Animal Shelter. The next show is Saturday, June 6th at Karma (1st Ave & 4th St). This month she'll have special guest Jeff Rubin from College! For those of us who wasted away any amount of time in our cubicles on their site (desperately looking for workday diversions), you know who he is. Anyway, if you're in the area, definitely check Jamie out- she's very funny and donations go toward a great cause! 

Happy Friday!


(photo via Flickr)

Skimming the New York Times yesterday evening, tired of reading about banks needing more money, GM needing more money, GMAC needing more money, guess what? I need more money! I saw a little article called Made In Brooklyn. This just made my heart sing! I love seeing good publicity about the arts and design coming out of Brooklyn. My short time living in Park Slope made me fall in love with the area and I can't help but support it. Starting today, the seventh annual Bkln Designs show kicks off in the Dumbo neighborhood's warehouses. Lots of local artists will be there selling one of kind pieces. A great experience to check out some cutting edge design. According to the NY Times, "A design scene is flourishing in Brooklyn." Duh! There are some great home furnishing shops (as well as fashion boutiques) everywhere from Carroll Gardens to Park Slope to Prospect Heights to Clinton Hill. To get an extensive list of shops as well as a background on the Bkln Designs show, check out the article here. And here are a couple of my personal recommendations: Linda & Harriett, they do beautiful letterpress stationary. They also have a cute little blog to check out. And the other is Scaredy Kat Cards & Gifts. Can you tell I have a thing for paper? They also have cute and unique gifts for that someone who has everything (or not). It's really exciting to see such a change of gears in the design world- fresh, young talent coming from Brooklyn instead of the City. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

For My Swedish Friend

Perusing Decor8's blog today; they were talking about this great design site called Style Room. It's an interactive site that lets you upload images and have a go at your own interior design. They have recently launched an UK site for English speakers, but it's a bit more rudimentary than the Swedish site. Check it out though for a fun, creative diversion. Sarah, this one's for you. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Own Charley Harper

For our third anniversary on Sunday, my boyfriend Chad surprised me with a beautiful tulip and rose bouquet. He also completed a honey-do, which is always a great gift, and hung some art that we acquired (and laid about, waiting for me to find the perfect spot). Chad gets a gold star! So, I finally have Flamingo A Go-Go on my wall! I am a proud owner of a Charley Harper print- and it couldn't be more my style. I wrote a post last week on the artist and the exhibition at The Public Trust. Well, I went to the show, and came home with a new piece of art. And in case you weren't sure from the title, my particular print does indeed feature pink flamingos! I guess you could say I was inspired by Coco+Kelley's post on the subject. Here it is on our dining room wall:

Also, we have an artist in the family, photographer Shawn Hannon. He gave us one of his photos stretched onto canvas. I think he needs to take his hobby to the next step! It hangs next to the Charley Harper, separated by a window. I like that they are so different from each other:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

(photo via Flickr)

You know summer is nigh upon us when Cinco de Mayo is here. So, time to break out the margarita glasses, work on your cha-cha, and get your fill on chips and queso! Don't forget to stop by times ten cellars for our own unique celebration

Pasa un buen dia!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chicks for Congo

Looking for something non-traditional to do this Cinco de Mayo? Help a sista out! Three ladies, including our very own beautiful and talented Kelly Cruse, are traveling to the Congo to assist genocide survivors and refugees. They will be providing grief counseling to families who have lost relatives in the genocide, rape and mutilation counseling, and displacement counseling. They will be hosting a fundraiser party on Tuesday, May 5th at times ten too. There is a suggested $5 donation at the door, but the girls will gladly accept any additional donations! You will enjoy the entire selection of times ten wine, as well as our local band Matt Thompson and the Eastwood Band. Please come out and show your support for these lovely ladies and their phenomenal cause! Below are all the details- hope to see you there!

Date: Tuesdsay, May 5, 2009
Time: 7pm- 'til they kick us out!
Place: times ten too 2018 Kidwell Dallas, TX 75214

Friday, May 1, 2009

Feel the Love Friday: V

Everybody thinks his pet is cute- has that certain star quality. Why not show off your pet's devastatingly good looks and Oscar worthy acting skills in a film? The SPCA of Texas presents Pet Flix! They are now accepting short films, documentaries, and music videos from across the country starring pets! Give Charleton Heston the goldfish his chance to live up to his name. The deadline is Friday, May 15th, so dust off the camcorder and bring out the director's chair! Of course, your dog will want his own trailer! There is a $10 entry fee for each film. The Pet Flix film festival will be June 7th at the Granada Theatre. What a creative way to bring animal lovers together! And there's something in it for you too! They are giving out cash prizes for Best Overall Film, Best Short Tail, and Best Long Tail.  Tickets go on sale May 4th for $15 each. All proceeds go to the SPCA of Texas. Pets will be up for adoption at the event as well. Feel the love for your pet, and help one that does not have a home. Here is the website to learn more and download the entry form.