These are a bunch of my favorite things — Part 1: Shopping while everybody else is watching The Game

Note: This is Part 1 of a continuing series about some of my favorite things that you need to know about so they can be your favorites, too. Check back frequently for the latest–and share your favorites, too.

 

There’s this Big Football Game (remember that you can’t say “Super Bowl” unless you’re an NFL team owner or actually playing in the game) coming up. Then, in a few weeks, Massive March (basketball) Madness happens. So because of these important televised Sports-Ball Games at which your people request your couch presence, you’ll probably be spending more time in front of the TV–you know, that big screen on your wall you keep forgetting to dust because you’re snuggled up in bed watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” And even if you’re a passionate I’ve-worn-my-team-shirt-for-12-straight-days fan who notices all the things–or you’re a casual observer who only REALLY pays attention when there’s a chance Alabama will get the @#$% beat out of them–it’s difficult to completely 100 percent focus on every single play 100 percent of the entire game. Sometimes you need a break–something quiet & unobtrusive that won’t earn you side eyes from those who frown on game-time side chatter.

Solution? Shopping on your phone.

Sure, you could do something like sit there & read a book or knit a sweater or grade some papers. (Wait, CAN you knit a sweater? Because if you can, you totally should do that, anyway.) But doing something that’s so obviously NOT watching the game is a bit I’ve-got-more-important-things-to-do-thank-you-very-much rude. Of course you could use your phone to play games or check email or engage in a Twitter war while everybody else debates an offside call. But those things take focus & concentration, too, and may cause you to be that person who looks up & asks plaintively “What happened? Why is everybody yelling? What did I miss?” Don’t be that person.

Shopping on your phone, on the other hand, is the perfect watching-but-maybe-not-so-much activity: You’re engaged enough to participate in game commentary but you’re also doing something nice for yourself. Win-win. Which–fun fact–is completely unlike the Sports Ball you’re (supposed to be) watching.

So, for your Big Game Day sort-of-watching pleasure, here are three of my favorite online boutiques. These are for mainly women’s clothes & accessories because that’s mainly what I shop for. I’ve got several other favorites, but these are simply the ones where I’ve recently spent waaay too much money because there’s so much cuteness & so many sales that I thought of first.

  • Lemons and Limes Boutique–Owned & run by the amazing Wendy Knight from her home in Loveland, Ohio, this is the place for fun & affordable jewelry, stylish yet useful handbags and unique items from her own product line, Lauren Lane. Double-stud earrings? Mix-and-match stretch bead necklaces? A purse you really & truly can wear five different ways? Lemons & Limes had them first. And now you can, too.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: Wendy has the best subscription shipments, grab bags & mystery auction boxes. The. Best. Even if you think you don’t like surprises, I guarantee you’ll like these.
  • Prep Obsessed–Best friends Nina Vitalino & Corey O’Loughlin started their boutique in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, six years ago … and shopping has never been the same. Known for their colorful Florida vibe, the two entrepreneurs & their hard-working team offer curated collections of Spartina, Simply Southern, Corkcicle, All for Color & other classic brands both online & in their store.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: New gotta-haves go fast, so don’t delay clicking “Add to cart.” (I NEVER hesitate.) However, Corey & Nina restock whenever things are available, so wait-listed items usually get fulfilled.
  • Tag Online Boutique–Julie Knight, of Cincinnati, couldn’t find an online clothing boutique that offered style & fit at accessible prices, so, four years ago, she started her own. “TAG” stands for “Trendy, Affordable & Gorgeous”–and everything she sells on her website meets that promise. Shop here for dresses, outerwear & separates–Julie was the one who introduced Magic Pants to the world.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip:  Join the Tag Facebook group for discounts on new releases, fabric info & to see items modeled by women of different sizes.

Each of the hundreds dozens one or two times I’ve shopped these boutiques, I’ve been amazed at the helpful customer service & quick shipping times. Each of these businesses is run by women–women with families & in some cases women with other jobs. Each of these boutiques gives back by helping individuals who could use a boost & by contributing to non-profits that help others. It’s win-win-win-win. Again, please don’t say that during The Game. The purpose of any sports ball is one–and ONLY one–win. Only in shopping can there be many winners. True story.

cropped-cwcslant1.jpgP.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like the Dark Adriatic Blue.)

Cold-y Toddy!

Get it — Cold-y Toddy? See, we live in Mississippi where most people — unless they wear Mississippi State‘s maroon and white — go around saying “Hotty Toddy” instead of “Hello! How are you today? Fine? Great! Me, too.” You also know we live in Mississippi because everything I write about begins with football and because I know — doesn’t everybody? — that it’s 58 days until the first SEC football game of fall 2015 , which non-coincidentally also is Nick Saban‘s first 2015 effort To Take Over the World. He won’t rest until it’s done.

However, Nick Saban did not enjoy a shot of freshly made Toddy this morning, as I did. I’m assuming he didn’t, anyway. At least I can safely suppose that he didn’t drink a shot of fresh Toddy this morning that was made by ME.

Coffee on Windowsill

Toddy is the name of a company, brewing process and also the coffee itself. In 1964, a chemical engineering graduate named Todd Simpson discovered the age-old technique of cold-brewing coffee to produce a liquid coffee concentrate. He developed and patented a convenient way to make the concentrate, and the family-owned and -run business is still in Fort Collins, Colorado, 51 years later. While potent and silky strong, liquid coffee concentrate is less acidic than coffee brewed with hot-water methods. You can reconstitute the concentrate with hot water at a ratio of 1:2-3 for a steaming cup of morning wake-up, but that’s only for wimps who are afraid of the real thing folks who don’t like their coffee bold and complex. No, don’t waste your Toddy trying to recreate … you know … actual coffee, because Toddy’s true genius reveals itself in cold coffee drinks. That’s when its smooth richness combines with creamy milky sweetness over ice cubes for one perfect summer-afternoon refresher.

Toddy is easy to make at home. For about $40, you get a clear glass carafe with white plastic lid, a white plastic brewing container with removable handle, a 412hSp3lRXLrubber stopper, two reusable filters and the instruction guide/recipe booklet. Put the stopper in the hole that’s in the bottom of the brewing container, dampen a filter and put it over the stopper, place the container over the decanter, layer coarsely ground coffee with fresh cold water in the container (measurements in instruction guide) and let sit for 12 hours. Pull the stopper out, and when the concentrate stops dripping in the decanter (usually only a minute or two), remove the container, top the decanter with the lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. But it won’t stay there that long.

Here are a few Toddy hints I’ve learned over the years:

  • Make it at night to enjoy a fresh shot in the morning.
  • Buy inexpensive whole beans and grind them/have them ground at the store on the coarsest setting possible. You’ll wear out your nice at-home burr grinder by doing a pound of beans at one time.
  • Don’t use flavored beans. The added oils will gum up the filter.
  • Lay in a supply of filters and stoppers by ordering a bunch at once.
  • Either clean the decanter, lid and brewing container in the dishwasher or simply rinse and scrub with hot water to avoid soap residue.
  • The cold-brew concentrate makes an impressive gift. Pour some into a wide-mouthed glass canning jar with a two-part metal screw-on lid (trying to avoid using the patented “Mason jar”) and add a burlap bow. I’ve actually never done this because I only thought of it just now, but it sure sounds like a nice idea.

So the next time you’re in Mississippi and somebody yells “Are you ready?” at you, reply with “Coldy Toddy, gosh almighty!” and see what happens. No, really, don’t do that. Just say “Roll Tide.”

Good things — Mississippi football & grandbabies

coversOh my goodness. I don’t know about you, but things have been CRAAAZY around here lately. For one, my husband right now is the most important person in the state of Mississippi. Well, one of the most important. Well, OK, an important person. (And, of course, to me he always is the most important person everywhere. This commercial message brought to you by the institution of marriage and soulmate-age.) Why is this, you ask? What has 10624932_10203004590851939_4174530144616862315_nhe done to bring such fame and fortune? Of course, those who know John L. Pitts are not surprised to discover the extent of his influence, but lately he holds in his hands, literally, the story that is shaking up everything IMG_4031anyone knows about football: namely, that the two teams his newspaper, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, in Tupelo, covers — Mississippi State and Ole Miss — are in the top 10 in the AP poll. And, as of right now this very minute, they are no. 1 and no. 3 respectively. Pretty amazing. And now there’s Heisman talk? All I know is that for the past few weeks, my sports editor husband has been working pretty much 24/7 to cover this national story for his local readers — not easy. But, as always, he’s excelling. Of course, this could explain his recent encounter with a deer, on cara heavily traveled road less than a mile from our downtown. I really don’t like to think too hard about this. And what’s even stranger is that my Republican-voting, NRA-supporting, Obama-criticizing husband went and bought a new car that’s synonymous with all he makes fun of: a Prius. It’s the mileage, you know. And the anti-deer capabilities.

Grandson no. 3!Well, those are not even the most exciting things to happen to our family lately. Our third precious grandbaby-boy got born last weekend. Older Daughter and son-in-law did an amazing job of completely un-medicated childbirth in a hospital suite dedicated to a natural and drug-free experience. She is a warrior mom, through and through. I did un-medicated by accident with Younger Daughter (Me: “I really think that we need to go to the hospital now.” Husband-at-the-time: “No. You can’t be that close to pushing yet.” Folks at the hospital as soon as we got there: “Get this woman to delivery stat!!!”), and there’s something to be said for it — now that I’m 28 years away and have pretty much forgotten the details. And speaking of totally awesome Younger Daughter, she now shares her birthday with her third nephew, which is the second shared birthday in our family. I think we’re on a roll.

SEC football fashion — because, yes, you are supposed to dress up

2013-10-29 17.05.52If you live anywhere in the 11-state region of the hallowed ground known as the SEC, you know exactly what this photo means. And if you don’t know, you’re in luck because I’m going to tell you in one word: Football. This. Is. SEC. Football. Because we girls know that an SEC football stadium is the biggest runway of them all. New York Fashion Week? Yeah, that’s nice and all, but an Alabama football game trumps any designer’s catwalk any day. I know that dressing up for football games is sort of a Southern thing that some folks may unflatteringly link back to so-called Southern belle-ism, but I prefer to think of it as a way to be stylish and comfortable and show team loyalty all at the same time. And another excuse to go shopping. So it’s all good. (And, please, y’all give Vanderbilt some time. It’s a rebuilding year, you know.)

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Football & Artistic Friends

Creative, artistic, super-nice people. Don’t they just infuriate annoy inspire the heck out of you? Jaylene Whitehurst, of Corinth, Miss., is one of those folks. She is a painter, storyteller, poet and counselor. Energy and compassion are her native languages. She sees the world differently from everyone else and Jaylene Whitehurstknows how to make you see it differently, too. And she does it all in that lilting-yet-deceptively soft Southern-woman voice that greeted the damnYankee officers who broke into the finest home in town and found the diminutive hoop-skirted lady of the house pointing Daddy’s hunting rifle at them. But if it were actually Jaylene in this situation, after she had their attention she would put the gun down and gently led the DYOs in a heartfelt discussion about why they felt it necessary to break into her house and steal her food and wouldn’t they rather just go back to their homes in Ohio or wherever and live peacefully? And they would say “yes, ma’am” and be out the door and on their horses and headed back north with no strong grasp on what had just happened to them. That is Southern women. Luckily for us, Jaylene lives in the 21st century and can spend her time painting instead of Protecting Her House Against Marauding DYOs. An exhibit of her endlessly fascinating work is at the Crossroads Museum, in Corinth, and on Saturday she invited friends to meet her there for a gallery talk. I know nothing about art but I’m constantly amazed at how artists can create something out of nothingpainting detail. Jaylene uses texture and collages (that’s what you call layering things on top of other things, right?) to tell her stories. I especially liked this piece, where she used buttons, doilies and clothing patterns from her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother along with flowers from a poster she’d designed a few years ago. This work is more than a family tribute, though. It explores our fascination with circles — a fascination that connects people throughout time and all over the world. That’s the power of art, I think: gently nudging you to think about mandalas, crop circles, rose windows and Jung while looking at vintage buttons and old crocheted doilies. And footballs. Because after the gallery talk, the group ate lunch at a downtown Thai restaurant but I had to go help Vanderbilt win its bowl game. That makes five of seven SEC bowl wins, with optimistically six of eight after tonight. We shall not speak of the Recent Unpleasantness.

Happy New Year!

If my New Year’s resolutions were to watch football and stake out the coziest corner of the couch, then Jan. 1 was a success — although my beloved SEC took a hit as both LSU and Mississippi State LITERALLY dropped the ball(s), leaving Georgia and Vandy to represent so far. Now, since I am lazy lucky enough to work part-time in places that sensibly close during the holidays, it’s back to work for me after a two-weeks vacation. My family had a super Christmas. Hope yours did the same. I did discover that my children are sneaky — Older & Younger Daughter conspired to give me an iPad for Christmas and kept the secret (after bringing husband JP into the loop)  ever since Black Friday, when my son-in-law apparently was conscripted to stand in line for it after Older Daughter came down with the flu. And you know I try not to be materialistic and to believe in the simple things of love and laughter, but the iPad is THE BEST THING EVER. Ever. It only leaves my hands when it’s time to finish leftover Christmas cookies. Also, husband JP took note of my Amazon wish list and I now have a gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired business-card holder and a lotion warmer that is the most luxurious thing ever and makes me think that perhaps a towel warmer is next. And then my mom gave us a monogrammed doormat, not knowing that JP only tolerates the open-scrollworked metal one we have now because although I think it’s the coolest doormat ever and totally says who we are as soon as you come to our front door, it does leave rust marks all over the porch’s concrete floor. So everybody was happy. And that’s a pretty good start to 2013.

A Blue-and-Orange Graduation

You know this is a completely objective and un-biased blog — except when it comes to the Smartest and Most Adorable Grandbabies Ever in the Whole World, of course — and just because I recently went to an Auburn-themed graduation party and had a wonderful time does NOT mean I lean that way. Although it’s a proven fact that Alabama fans are THE MOST obnoxious crowds and Nick Saban is THE MOST inscrutable coach. Because here in the Heart of Dixie, you have to choose. There is no middle ground between THE MOST annoying folks in the conference and Auburn. See? In my state, even a graduation party brings out the football in us. I mainly wanted you all to see these fun and creative decorations, such as the crepe-paper streamers that honor the ailing Toomer’s Corner trees and the cute and delicious graduation mortarboards with blue and orange accents, but now I’ve worked myself into such a state that I need another cup of coffee. Anyway, congratulations to Older Daughter’s nephew-in-law on his graduation from not-Alabama. He’s a smart and talented young man who will do great things. War Eagle!