Derby talk

Derby Day
Derby day at the Highbury Pub

I should have posted this sooner, but to be honest I was kind of pouting that Bodemeister didn’t win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. I think he ran the best race and was by far the strongest horse in the field, but he still lost. Unfortunately he just ran a little too fast–I doubt any horse today could keep up that pace for a mile and a quarter. I guess I’ll just add him to the list of very good horses who came up short on the first Saturday in May. At least all horses and jockeys came back safe. I do wish that I would have kept I’ll Have Another in my exacta strategy, instead of changing to Union Rags at the last minute. I sure would have liked to win $300.

But whatever, next up is the Preakness Stakes on May 19. I’m looking forward to that day especially because it’s also my 5th wedding anniversary. Dirk and I were married on Preakness Day in 2007, the day that Curlin redeemed his Derby loss and took home the black eyed Susans. Maybe Bodemeister can do the same thing.

I almost forgot to give a shout out to the my hat designer, Lisa Hatch. She has a studio in downtown Milwaukee and she does great work. Look her up if you are interested in a custom design.

Kentucky Oaks

Kentucky Oaks
Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day

Kentucky Oaks
Dirk and Lori at the Kentucky Oaks

Tomorrow is the Kentucky Oaks! This is a race for 3-year-old female horses that takes place the day before the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs will be decked out in pink, and many of the attendees wear pink dresses and pink hats. Last year, I attended the Oaks for the first time. I wore a vintage Escada dress that I purchased at local Milwaukee boutique, Lela, a bright pink hat from Macy’s and matching Tory Burch shoes.

The signature Derby drink of course is the mint julep, but the Oaks cocktail is called the Lily — in honor of the blanket of pink lilies awarded to the winning horse. Here is the recipe. Cheers!

Oaks Lily

1 oz. vodka

1 oz sweet and sour mix

3 oz cranberry juice

splash of triple sec

Once the ingredients are mixed, place the Oaks Lily in a tall glass with crushed ice, add a straw and garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.

Invasive species

Yard work is taking over my life lately. I can’t even call it gardening. More like a brutal battle against invasive species, and I’m definitely losing.

Last week I tried to pull up some garlic mustard that is growing on our steep slope. I walked down into my neighbor’s yard and tried to climb up the hill, rather than down, so I wouldn’t fall. Unfortunately I didn’t realize the “forest” is filled with every thorny tree and plant imaginable. I did manage to pull some garlic mustard, but mostly I just ended up sliced and diced from head to toe in the process.

I had no idea what kind of trees were stabbing me, so I did a little research. I’m still not 100 percent sure about the one species with 2-inch long menacing thorns (maybe hawthorn or black locust?), but I did learn that I have a major buckthorn problem. As in, buckthorn trees are covering most of the hillside–I think there are probably hundreds of them. There’s no way I can tackle a problem this size without professional help. I did cut down about five wheelbarrows full of small saplings, and then I sprayed them with Roundup, but I didn’t even make a dent. So now my question is should I just abandon ship and let nature take its course, or forge ahead? Stay tuned.

Garlic mustard
Garlic mustard

C2E2

My husband and I spent the weekend at C2E2, the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, which took place for the third year at McCormick Place. While it’s no Comic Con, C2E2 still attracts a large crowd and even a few famous faces. Celebrity sightings included Shia LaBeouf, Val Kilmer, John Barrowman, Sean AstinĀ  and Anne Rice. But the real entertainment in my opinion is always seeing what people wear. Seriously, C2E2 is a fashion event and the attendees get very creative. Many of the costumes appear to be handmade and are very well done. The show offers an opportunity for people to show off whatever they are into — from superheroes to Disney princesses, and even Lady Gaga. We dressed up as Chuck and Sarah from the recently departed NBC show Chuck, which was really fun and pretty easy to pull together. I’ve included a few photos of some other creative costumes for you to enjoy.

Dressed up at Sarah and Chuck at C2E2
Alien

The Tardis, from Dr. Who

The Rocketeer
Captain America

Characters from the tv show Archer

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Kitchen remodel

We negotiated a great deal on our house, but it was in desperate need of remodeling. Most of the house was decorated with wall-to-wall mauve carpeting and pink paint or ugly wallpaper. And the master bedroom actually had rainbow-colored shag carpeting! Obviously, this all had to go. As new homeowners, our remodeling budget was pretty limited. We needed to prioritize, which meant new beige carpeting and freshly painted walls — but I had to live with the kitchen for a little while.

Fortunately the ancient gas stove broke down while it was still covered by the home warranty, so we were able to replace it for nearly free. The stove’s equally hideous and outdated twin sister, the refrigerator, is still alive and kicking (maybe I should try kicking it). In the near future, we want to replace the countertops and add a glass tile backsplash. But for now, baby steps. Just last week, we had a new tile floor installed by Flooring Brokers Inc. Wow, what a difference! It really makes the room feel brighter and larger. The old tile, which may have been original, circa 1978, had an ugly faux wood-grain look. I’m so glad that it’s gone!

Kitchen, Before
Kitchen, After

Marni for H&M

I know, I know…I’m supposed to be saving my shopping money for Paris…sigh. I have to confess, I already fell off the wagon. I didn’t even make it a week. Apparently I have no willpower. But it really wasn’t my fault! I went down to Chicago on Monday with my husband, so he could get fitted for a made-t0-measure Gieves & Hawkes suit. Honestly, just talking about British tailoring and looking through books full of fabric swatches made me swoon. My defenses were down.

After his appointment, we stopped in at H&M on Michigan Avenue. This is the only H&M in the Midwest that features their special designer collaborations. I’ve always figured these collections sell out immediately, so I have never even tried to get anything (a friend of mine waited in line for hours to shop the Versace for H&M collection). But, I thought, the Marni for H&M collection just came out last week. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find something. Surprisingly, a lot of pieces were still available. I tried on and rejected several of the printed dresses. But then, jackpot! There was one silk colorblock dress in a size 4. It’s a classic style with bright, bold colors and a bow in the back. I couldn’t resist. As you can see, Frieda Pinto looked amazing in it at the collection launch party. And to top it off, I even found a pair of silver Versace for H&M shoes on sale for $20 (original price $129!) I’m still celebrating, and I can’t wait to wear my new dress.

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