• Well-Collected

    My neighborhood is a diverse one. I have neighbors that were the first to move in when our sweet townhomes were built, who are now well into their 80’s, with a wealth of knowledge about the community. I have a young pediatrician, fresh out of his residency who’s presumed quiet and shy nature flew out the window one night at a cocktail-fueled dinner party. There are retired arborists from Eastern Kentucky, active local business owners, snowbirds who disappear to Florida for months on end…. I’m almost positive that each of my 50-some neighboring homes have residents with a story, with a background. None of them, however, have a home with as well-curated of an art collection as this one:

    Just inside the front door there’s a piece done in bright, saturated colors, a woman, naked in the night, faceless. It’s striking and bold, fun, and not at all what I would have expected to greet me as I walked in.

    Anne Howell grew up in Virginia, completing her undergrad at Wellesley before moving on to earn her Master’s and PhD in English Literature at Columbia. That move to New York, and her early career there introduced her to New York’s starving artists. “These people were literally starving! Living in Central Park, or under bridges.”

    What I love about Anne’s home is that once you enter, things feel collected, like they have a purpose. Her walls- which, when she moved in 16 years ago, were covered in layers of wallpaper, glued against royal-blue painted trim (“It was awful!”)- are painted in a gorgeous olive green French strie’, and the trim a bright white. Crystal light fixtures bounce light around the rooms, while her living area stays soft and cozy- lit by lamps alone.

    The first time I walked in, I was immediately taken with a large oil painting of Anne that she sat for before she started grad school. “I wanted to be in a red silk dress so that my grandchildren could see that I was…. You know…”. She laughs.

    Bookcases on either side of the doors leading to her patio are stuffed full of literature, yes, but tucked in between are tiny pieces from family photos to neon nudes. Her dining room holds her most prized piece- a Besler botanical, done in eglomise and French matting, dates to the 17th century.

    Also from that time, hung between two other pieces in her living room, is a scrap of French Aubusson. Her friend Fran, who owns an oriental rug salon in town, gifted the piece to Anne. “She knew I loved the colors.” She had it matted in silk and framed.

    My favorite piece in her home is a dark, minimalist painting of three faces. “From The Three Faces of Eve,” she tells me. “Done by a man living in Central Park.” It hangs, simply framed, above her silver tea service in the dining room. The juxtaposition is incredible, and a little surprising. “No one expects to see this in my house!”

    We walk into the kitchen, where a mural done by local artist Sandy Kimora encompasses the room. “It took her three weeks to complete. It’s based on a French mural I had seen many, many years ago outside Paris. In these murals, there’s always an ugly bird. It always has to be pink. I have so enjoyed this- when I look at it, I see things I’d forgotten. Hummingbirds, the fronds… In any mural, detail work is your secret. If there’s no detail work, to me, there is no mural.”

    On the counter in here, we find two faces- a man and a woman- framed, propped up on her calacatta gold marble counters. “I love the faces. I don’t know a thing about them other than that a friend of mine had them, and they’re fabulous. They’re done on paper bags. It makes them interesting.”

    From flea markets in Madrid to tiny shops in Japan, her pieces have been collected throughout the world. A small Japanese drawing hangs near a caricature of Greta Garbo in her den. “My son was in Japan, in Kyoto, and this little old man had a shop that was going out of business. My son told him that he wanted to buy a piece, but that it had to be old because it was for his mother.” She laughs. “I’m not sure how I feel about that!”

    From century-old family portraits in her hall, hung alongside a piece of headboard from the now-gone Milner Hotel in downtown Louisville, there are pieces everywhere. Even in her guest bath, we find a small collection. An on-glass painting of Adam and Eve from Warsaw, Poland hangs near a study in the calling to Heaven. “What makes this piece so interesting- I think- is the detail work on the dead body.”

    “No one would look at these things other than me. I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder. I wish I had started (collecting) when I was your age, but we were busy! Paying tuitions, living in New York…. It was very expensive.” That’s one reason she supported the starving artists in New York. She continues, “I’d rather have the old masters, but I go into old homes sometimes, and you just see the same things over and over. It’s like these people haven’t smiled in 40 years, and I don’t like that! I’d rather support someone who’s unknown, with something I haven’t seen before.”

    As for the bright, a-little-bit-funky piece inside her front door? “Every house should have something funny, wistful. That’s why I have this piece when you first come in. Everybody loves it! I assure you I paid more for the frame than the art, but every one loves it!” And it makes her happy when she walks in? “Exactly.”

    The only print in Anne’s home- not pictured- is a Picasso. Corps Perdu, “which means the entire body,” she tells me. All-encompassing, whole. It’s as a home should be, and- without doubt- as this one is.

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • The Trench

    Saturday, I had plans for my sweet photographer, Kyle, to come over and get a few shoots done (and share a whiskey sour or two). With temperatures here in Louisville that topped out at 74 on Thursday, you can imagine my surprise when Saturday morning, I looked up and out my front window to see snowflakes the size of grapefruit falling from the sky!

    We joke here- both in Louisville, and in Kentucky as a whole- that if you don’t like the weather, you should stay another night. It’s true…. Even tomorrow, three days after a freezing snow day, we’re expecting almost 80 degrees and sunshine! The wishy-washy weather, along with torrentially wet Springs, means that outerwear has to come in a variety of options. We all have the heavy winter coat, and most of us have a puffy, down-filled number in the closet. What I’ve found lately, though, that’s come in handy in all sorts of weather from stiff, cold breezes to sideways rain, is a sturdy trench.

    With as much time as the man and I spend in Chicago, and as undecided as our weather is here, I’ve found that this is the coat I keep going back to. Cooler days, over a dress to work, in the snow, popped collar over my hair in the rain, my trench has been in steady rotation this year.

    Water repellent, and chic as hell when tied over trousers and heels, topped with a soft knit cap (from North Face), it’s the protection I needed against a sudden winter snowfall, and the style I need to look pulled together in any weather.

    ** Burberry trench, Coach heels, J. Crew trousers, North Face cap **

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way.  all throughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • NEW LISTING! 1402 Kentucky Drive, Elizabethtown

    Cute ranch style home just behind Central Hardin High School is a blend of Elizabethtown conveinence and Hardin County easy living.  Fresh paint, new flooring, a refreshed kitchen and bath combine with large yard, metal roof, and well-maintained mechanicals offering all anyone could want in a sweet package.

    3 bedrooms, full bath, large lving room and eat-in kitchen make this house perfect for a single person, couple, or family.  Offered at $92,500.

    Brought to you by Joyce Duncan, in partnership with Tracy Olson, Semonin Realtors, Elizabethtown.

    For more information, click here.

    ** photos by Don Lehman **

  • Sweater Weather

    I find that with almost every change of season, I lean towards an outfit that stays in heavy rotation in my closet.  In cooler months, I never feel as put together as I have the last couple of years in Ann Taylor’s Coatigan: a heavy cardigan/coat combo that makes me feel polished, put together, and a little dressier than a normal sweater.

    Draped over my shoulders over a fitted black dress, or comfy over a silk tank top and black trousers, I almost always feel immediately more chic, warm, and very confident.

    I feel like I’ve almost worn this look out over the last two winters, but I just can’t help myself. When an outfit makes you feel this pulled together, there shouldn’t be a question as to whether or not you wear it.

    While the style I’m wearing above is no longer in stock, Ann Taylor currently has two other options of this genius sweater jacket available; find them here and here (on sale!).

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way. all thoughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • Galentine's Day Tabletop

    February 13th, Galentine’s Day…. A holiday that didn’t exist until Leslie Knope brought it to everyone’s attention on Parks and Recreation. I love the idea of a day set aside just for me and my girlfriends, a time to celebrate each other as well as our friendships. And, if that celebration takes place at a beautifully set table, bursting with hot pink orchids and moody ladies on the plates, well… then, so be it!

    In my ideal girls’ day celebration, I’d opt for brunch, allowing us all to sleep in in our comfy jammies and wake up to bubbly on the table! Candles lit, comfy, flowy dresses, bare feet and beautiful place settings.

    I’ve set my table with a pink mix like I’ve never seen: blue, scalloped dinner plates from Aerin Lauder for Williams-Sonoma act as a nice, clean break between the Belle D’Isle dessert plates from Anthropoligie and a shimmery, pink, textured cloth from Nicole Miller that’s acting as a tablecloth.

    Gold flatware and funky urchins from Target look happy next to vintage gold candleholders. Fete napkins from Crate and Barrel (in discontinued Fuchsia) are fluffed into olive green napkin rings. The sparkly stemware is the Dorset collection from Williams-Sonoma, which is also where I found the tiny condiment servers.

    For brunch, I’d be sure to have food as pretty as our table; perhaps a chilled soup (like this stunner from Athena Calderone for Pottery Barn), county ham benedict, or avocado toast. Of course, there’s always the option to keep it simple with freshly baked croissant, amish butter, berries and local jam.

    No matter the food, its the company. If celebrating Galentine’s Day isn’t in the cards, be sure to tell those around your that their friendship is appreciated, on holidays and always. Happy brunching, sweet friends!

    ** this post was not sponsored in any way. all thoughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • The Fur Poncho

    As it happens when cold weather arrives, I find myself without an idea of what to wear to a fun, sort-of formal event. A lover of silk shirts and Nike sweatshirts, and rarely anything in between, when headed to the Speed Contemporary Acquisitions Dinner in December, I realized that unless I went in my day-to-day workwear, gym clothes, or an evening gown, I was out of options.

    I assumed that black trousers something a little fun up top would do the trick, and after a few pops into local shops, I found what I didn’t know I was looking for: a rabbit fur poncho at Louisville favorite Rodeo Drive.

    Comfy, warm, and glamorous as all get out, at only $80, this little guy has already accompanied me not only to the Speed dinner, but to our company awards as well as the ballet. Hair up or down, over jeans or a tailored set of trousers, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful (fuzzy) friendship.

    ** this post was not sponsored in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • Dinner(s) in Indy

    ** pictured above: the cheese board, Sage Advice, and a cozy corner at Spoke & Steele **

    After 30 days of treating my body the way it always needed to be treated, losing a whopping 15.3 pounds in a month, and developing the best eating plan for myself, I decided it was time for a weekend allowance of a few foods I’d been craving, namely: shrimp cocktail and a sizzling steak from St. Elmo in Indianapolis.

    The man and I took off Friday evening to head North and pulled into the Omni Severein in downtown Indy right at 8:45pm. The last thing I’d had to eat was a superfood bowl at The Weekly Juicery at 3-ish, and his stomach was grumbling from a long day at the gym. Not wanting to pull our car back up from the valet and sprint off to our usual burger spot in Broad Ripple (we’re fans of the poutine at 317 Burger), we turned to social media to find something a little hip and a lot walkable, and were led just a block away to Spoke & Steele, tucked inside le Meridian hotel.

    Handsome- with peacock-colored leather booths, white-washed brick, and roaring streamlined fireplaces, Spoke & Steele looks like how I want my next home to look, and felt warm and inviting. As we settled in at the bar, with sweet bartenders Mary, and a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch, but will be forever known to me as Bourbon Buddy, I couldn’t help but take in the vintage-styled light fixtures, the woodgrain on the walls, and the candlelight that was coming from everywhere (seriously, almost the entire restaurant was candle-lit). This place is stunning.

    For cocktails, I settled on Sage Advice, a gin concoction of grapefruit juice, lavender bitters and egg white, foamy and beautiful, that arrived in a cut-glass coupe. B- ever the Scotch enthusiast- was a little hesitant to pollute the whiskey, but ordered Mary’s namesake beverage, There’s Something About Mary; Scotch, orange shrub, a rosemary simple syrup, and a little saltwater. While it was a sweeter beverage than he was expecting, he seemed to enjoy it.

    For dinner, we began with a leek and potato soup, which was a lot more textured than the version I’m used to at home, packed with carrots, and topped with fried bites of potato and chives- delicious! I opted for the salmon as a main, trying to stay as conscious of my intake as possible (I won’t lie- the beef and noodles looked like a fabulous choice), and was bowled over- crispy salmon, atop mashed potatoes laced with roasted red pepper, topped with browned butter, peas, and pecans. I couldn’t finish the dish, but the boyfriend did, after finishing his own steak frites- his go-to at any establishment that has it on the menu. The steak looked perfectly rare in the middle, and may have been dry-rubbed, it was so flavorful. His fries were topped with blistered Serrano peppers- a surprise he was pleased with. We split a tiny chocolate pot du creme for dessert, and B ordered a sazerac, while I opted for an espresso cortado, which Bourbon Buddy zipped by and “accidentally” dumped a pour of whisky into! As 11pm rolled around, we wobbled back to our hotel. I am confident we’ll be back to Spoke and Steele- I can’t wait to try some other menu options!

    ** pictured above: the 1933 Lounge, the shrimp cocktail, oysters Rockefeller, and the cowboy ribeye at St. Elmo **

    Saturday, after a day full of shopping and a leisurely drive past some of the city’s most beautiful homes, we changed into dinner duds and walked to the famous (116-year old!) St. Elmo Steakhouse. Crowded, full of laughter, crisp, white tablecloths, and tuxedo-clad serve staff, St. Elmo immediately felt warm and inviting. We were ushered to a private dining room in the basement, where our server, Phillip presented us with menus, opinions on favorites, and closed the doors so we could have some privacy.

    After several minutes of deliberation, I decided on my favorite pre-dinner cocktail, a French 75, while Bryan tested Pop’s Old Fashioned: a version made with Rye rather than our usual Old Forrester. We both chose to start with the famous shrimp cocktail, which came with a warning from Phillip that it had a bite, and that you’d “feel it back in here” as he pointed to that tender spot beneath his ear…. He wasn’t kidding!! Cocktail sauce as spicy and horseradish-y as I’ve ever tasted smothered four huge shrimp chilling in a beautiful silver serving dish. As much as my eyes watered (bye, bye, mascara) and my nose ran, I couldn’t stop eating it! Absolutely incredible, and a great compliment to my cocktail, though next time, I may have it alongside a dirty martini.

    For dinner’s prelude, we had the option of navy bean soup or a glass of tomato juice, and decided to have one of each- funnily enough, after a month of veggie juice, I just wanted more!! After the shrimp, the cool tomato juice (topped with a squeeze of accompanying lemon wedge) was a welcome cool-down, though Bryan said the bean soup was tasty, and requested that we cook up a pot ourselves in the next couple of weeks.

    We opted out of the traditional side choices, and instead requested the Brussels sprouts (with balsamic, honey, and bacon) and the crab macaroni and cheese. Both portions were huge, and the sprouts are coming with me to the office tomorrow to serve as lunch. I went with a 6 ounce filet, cooked to the rarer side of medium-rare, while Bryan went with his favorite cut, and the recommendation of Phillip, the cowboy ribeye, medium-rare. Both steaks were tender, flavorful, and as simple and game-y as I could have hoped for. Glasses of Malbec appeared on the table, and if I’d been wearing pants with a button, I’d have had to undo them….

    For dessert, we went with Bryan’s favorite: creme Brulee. He’s mentioned so many times over the years that his favorite culinary thing is the first crack of a brulee’s surface. He opted for a snifter of Grand Marnier alongside, while I needed an espresso to keep me awake after all that food!

    St. Elmo has a reputation for being the place where coaches and players sit to discuss a game, businessmen and businesswomen come to close the deal, and where politicians come to plan, and I can see why. With a cozy bar area, friendly and personable servers like our Phillip, and the option of a small cocktail dinner (gimlet, a house wedge salad, and shrimp cocktail?), I could see this being someone’s usual stop for an after-work moment of quiet socialization. You know that moment when you’re in a bustling, busy, and crowded place, but feel at ease, calm, and relaxed? No? Then have dinner here, at Indy’s most famous spot. You will.

    ** this post is not sponsored in any way. all thoughts and opinions are my own **

    ** photos via the Instagram accounts of Spoke & Steele and St. Elmo Steakhouse **

  • Post-Juice: 30 Days Later

    Friends and sweet readers, I’ll ask in advance for your forgiveness on the length of this post. After 30 days of juicing, several hours of support and conversation with my Cleanse Coach, and a pretty astounding change in all areas “Joyce’s Health,” I have a lot to spill!

    After 30 days of cleansing- two weeks of nothing but fresh pressed goodness from The Weekly Juicery and another 16 days of 2 juices daily, a liquid meal and a healthy, solid option, I feel like I’ve finally found my happy balance, and I’ve undergone so many changes, physically and otherwise! I’m down 15 pounds since January 2nd, my skin has never looked better, and- the biggest change- I have almost zero cravings for sugar!

    I finally sat down with The Weekly Juicery’s Cleanse Coach (and my new best friend), Chris Kent to talk about the power of green foods, ideas of “cheating,” and the dramatic change he made in his lifestyle.

    At age 27, Chris was tired. He found himself sleeping 20 hours a day if possible, and even then, found it hard to focus, staying dizzy and off-balance. No General Practitioner could find a thing wrong with him, aside from being overweight. Finally, at age 30, he decided to check in with an alternative medicine specialist, who recommended strength training and balance exercises for the neurological issues he was experiencing, but told him that all of that effort would be moot if he didn’t change the way he was eating.

    “In the beginning, there was a lot of strength training and incorporating healthier food- upgrading to organic, and making sure I had food with me throughout the day.” Working as a teacher, and music and choir instructor, his options throughout the day were school cafeteria food, fast food, and what could be found in vending machines. He found that planning, and having real food and healthy snacks on hand was key.

    While his health improved, he still found himself stressed in his career, and decided to leave the world of teaching when he spotted an ad for a juice guide at The Weekly Juicery on craigslist. “I made the decision to surround myself with health.”

    Chris found himself on the receiving end of customer questions regarding the cleanses that were offered. Not wanting to lead blindly, he chose to experience a 1-day cleanse for himself, then a 3-day…. Then 10 days on nothing except pure, good vegetable juice. According to Chris, “juicing focuses on digestive rest: After years of living on the Standard American Diet of flour, refined sugars, our bodies cannot pull the nutrition it so badly needs from what good food we do consume.” Gradually, he began to feel healthy again, and is now a walking example of someone who loves and cares for their body.

    He wakes up and hydrates every day, and begins his morning by drinking something very nutritious: a shot of wheatgrass, a green vegetable juice, or a green smoothie. From there? “I just listen to my body. Some days, I know I want more liquid nutrition like juice or bone broth. Some days, I want something hearty, like bison and sautéed veggies.”

    How does one know what their body wants? I can attest that- after the last month- you just do. This girl- the one who always wanted a donut and a giant scoop of something from Comfy Cow more than anything has been craving beet juice, spaghetti squash, a little spoon of yogurt with pomegranate seeds. There are still moments I want a donut, but now, it’s easier to focus on a healthier option- perhaps a single macaron, or a slice of Ezekiel bread with a dribble of local honey. I really do attribute that to breaking my bad food habits for a solid 30 days.

    Chris’s advice for anyone wanting to go on a cleanse? “You need to focus on your intention. If the goal is to completely clean out, go with juices. If you want to focus on getting a lot of nutrition, then smoothies, juices and (well-raised, well-cared for, nutrition-packed) food is fine.”

    While Chris still gets cravings for his old go-to dinner of choice (Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream and Papa John’s pizza), he forces himself to make a better choice, even if it’s not a complete change. If pizza is on the menu, he makes sure it’s an organic, no-gluten option with healthy toppings. Instead of sugar-packed ice cream, he’ll reach for a coconut milk version with honey. Still, though, he recommends ignoring the idea of cheat meals. “Focus on an allowance for yourself. If 95% of your time is full of nutritious, green-filled foods, then there can be an allowance for birthday cake and Downs After Dark. I try to focus on the good from New Year’s to Christmas, not the bad from Christmas to New Year’s.”

    His final advice is to know that everything is possible, and that it's possible for you. “Look at those who have transformed their bodies. If someone else can change, so can you. I know, because I’m living proof. I’ve struggled, and I’ve a little up and down, but if you have the desire to be healthy, you’ll get there. More than anything, just get started. Whether it’s a cleanse, trying something online, or joining Jenny Craig, just get started. Once you step out of your comfort zone, a path will open for you.” 

    I’ve been asked by a few folks for what my experience was like with my cleanse and- lucky for you- I’ve kept track of my eating habits, weirdness, and cravings throughout! You can find a daily rundown below.

    The Weekly Juicery offers so many options as far as juice, smoothies, and superfood bowls, but I found that my favorites over the last month were Orange You Happy (a juice of orange, green apple, romaine, beet, lemon, ginger, and lime) and Bluegrass Sunrise (a juice of cucumber, green apple, grapefruit, celery, kale, lemon, and lime). While it was a must every day of my cleanse, the Lively Lemon (alkaline water, lemon and cayenne) was too much for me- after day 10 or so, I could go without ever seeing a lemon again, but I trucked through!

    I’m planning on incorporating cleanses into my life on a regular basis, running Chris’s recommendation of a 3-day cleanse with each quarterly change of season, and a 10-day stretch during the summer. After allowed meals of a little more sugar/fat/alcohol, I’m happy to take in a 1-day. I know that- no matter what- I’m a juice convert. I’ll be a subscriber to the Juicery’s delivery program (check it out here) for as long as I can breathe and drink.

    This weekend, as an allowed reward to myself, the man and I are headed to Indianapolis. After so many veggies and liquid meals in my life, I want a sizzling, almost-still-mooing steak, preceded with the spiciest shrimp cocktail in the world. St. Elmo’s is calling my name, and so is a 1-day cleanse, come Monday. 

    The Rundown:

    Day 1- I’m not hungry at all, which I find weird. I’m actually pretty full, and was curious about the flavors I’d be drinking. Not a huge fan of almost-all lemon juice though!

    Day 2- Was a little shaky all day and kept running hot and cold. Laid down at 6:30 on the couch, got up and went to the bed to “nap” at 7, and didn’t wake up until the next morning. Slept through my 5:40 alarm.

    Day 4- MASSIVE headache all day, and it was hard to get through Pilates.

    Day 5- Back to normal, lots of energy, have received 2 separate compliments on my skin, so that’s a new thing.

    Day 10- Cleaned the kitchen after Bryan meal prepped last night and realized how much I just LOVE the smell of bacon.

    Day 12- Bryan ordered Domino’s at 10pm- thin crust pepperoni with light sauce. I had a couple bites that took several minutes to eat. Tasty, but not what I would have chosen- I’ve been craving game-y foods in the last couple of days, like veal, steaks, etc. The meatballs at Carmine’s in Chicago sound SO GOOD right now.

    Day 13- finished at the gym and walked through Whole Foods for the man to buy himself dinner. Got home and chugged a green juice, and OH MY GOD, I’M SO HUNGRY.

    Day 15- I made coconut chia pudding last night and topped with a few blackberries and pomegranate seeds this morning. Chicken broth with noodles at dinner followed by a small scoop of greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds. 2 juices.

    Day 16- 3 juices, quinoa and butternut squash for lunch, broth with noodles for dinner followed by the greek yogurt/pomegranate seeds again (this may be a new favorite sweet treat).

    Day 18- I was good all day- Nothing but green juice until I went to Speed After Hours, where they were serving Pho. I ate some of the noodles, and the broth, and afterwards, went to Rye with my friends to meet up with Bryan. There were Brussels sprouts on the menu, and I would have been happy with water, but couldn’t resist the Ricotta gnocchi with pork bolognese and a whiskey sour. I ate about half of the dish before feeling full, and was proud that I only had a singular bite of Bryan’s butterscotch creme brule. At 6am, I woke up with such terrible stomach cramps I thought I was dying. After a long time in the bathroom, and losing my dinner, I went back to bed knowing that I went overboard.

    Day 19- determined to retract yesterday evening’s damage, I started the day with an Orange You Happy, and popped into the store for refills for the next few days. I decided to try one of the bowls- blueberry/strawberry with almond milk. It was large, and eaten in two servings throughout the day. I talked to Christopher this afternoon to make him aware of what happened last night. He complimented my getting back on the train today, and suggested that in addition to the semi-solid foods, I add in more cooked veggies and lighter meats (like chicken) to start getting back to a new “normal.”

    Day 22- Checked the scale this morning, and still moving downwards. My first day lifting again. It’s funny how our bodies remember things. I used to be the only girl deadlifting- I had a huge back, and was super lean (I was also in my early 20’s, but that’s not the point). After my first set of lat pull downs, I literally felt the whoosh! of endorphins, and it’s like my muscles woke up and screamed, “YES!! We remember this!” I was famished afterwards, but still stuck to my eating regime, finishing half of a half of roasted spaghetti squash with spinach and garlic (recipe here. Omit the cream cheese and go light on the mozzarella).

    Day 23- Company awards were this morning, with a gorgeous brunch buffet. I stuck to a salad, and a few bites of scrambled egg, but did have my first cup of coffee this year. Heaven!

    Day 25- I made dinner tonight. Chicken with a sun-dried tomato cream sauce over zucchini noodles (recipe here). The man just loved it and asked that we incorporate more veggie noodles into our life. I did have a little less than a glass of an Argentinian red. So good! I made a point to dress the dinner table, light candles, and put phones away. Treating a healthy “normal” dinner like a special occasion felt nice…. It may have to become a weekend thing.

    Day 27- Brunch: A veggie hash made with Brussels sprouts, potato, thyme, garlic and shallots. I added bacon, and topped with poached eggs, instead of baking them right in (recipe here). Absolutely delicious.

    Day 28- Made chicken and dumplings tonight for a friend recovering from surgery… I was VERY proud I didn’t eat the raw dumplings. Yes, that’s a thing I used to do. My schedule today was hectic and forced me to miss a meal. I ended up having Cheerios with blueberries for dinner. Not my proudest moment. Today was, however, a lifting day, and I hopped on the treadmill for half an hour.

    Day 29- I must use all the Brussels sprouts before they go bad!  I roasted them, and found a link of chicken sausage in the fridge that I broiled up.

    Day 30- Here we are!! Juice this morning, I can't remember lunch even though it was 8 hours ago, another juice after my workout, and cauliflower fried “rice” for dinner.

    ** please, never make a huge change in your diet or attempt a long juice cleanse without the advice of a medical professional **

    ** this post was not sponsored in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise noted **

  • Cold Weather Sipping

    We all know I’m a fan of our local restaurants, especially those in Nulu. Rye, Royal’s, Feast, and Toast on Market are heavy in my repertoire, and as of lately, so is Annie Pettry’s gorgeous Decca, found on Market Street between Shelby and Campbell.

    I decided- given our insanely cold weather lately- to pop in and talk to bartender and sweet conversationalist Sam Montgomery about her favorite cold weather cocktail of the moment. I was not disappointed!

    When I inquired about what I’d be tasting, I was slightly taken aback when I was told that a butternut squash cocktail was on the menu. I love winter squash, and truth be told, butternut is my favorite, but in a beverage? I assumed I’d be sipping soup. I was mistaken.

    The Thunder Chief, developed by Decca server Randi Densford is what Sam describes as a hodgepodge of immature Brandy from Louisville’s Copper and Kings Distillery, Pisco, and sweet vermouth. The squash makes an appearance in the form of a butternut simple syrup, and the drink is topped off with burned sage.

    The color of this thing is incredible, and reminded me of perfect butternut skin- slightly orange, slightly beige, and incredibly sheer. The taste? Unlike anything I’ve ever had.

    Sweet and savory all at once, and a little more than slightly boozy (hello, Brandy!), I could see the Thunder Chief as a stand alone cocktail during a get together with friends, or a precursor to one of Decca’s incredible menu options. As for Sam? She prefers to sip one before a dinner of steak tartare with shiitake, horseradish and egg yolk.

    If you aren’t a fan of Brandy, don’t worry- try Decca’s Tommy Peacock. This gin-based cocktail with yellow chartreuse and rosemary is perfect for chilly days, and is a permanent fixture on their cocktail menu. The Thunder Chief is on the menu though March.

    ** this is a post in partnership with Decca Restaurant. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise noted **

    ** photos by Kyle Lueken **

  • Derby: 100 Days Out

    Last Derby season was one of the strangest I’d ever experienced. Instead of our usual three days at Churchill Downs (Thurby, Oaks, and the Derby), we jetted to NYC to surprise a girlfriend- our usual Derby date- who was stuck in the city recovering from surgery. Her husband helped us plan our arrival, and we were able to pull of a heck of a surprise as well as a Derby spread of benedictine and country ham during Saturday’s races. The look on my gal’s face was absolutely worth the trip- I wouldn’t have imagined things any other way. Still, only having the opportunity to wear a hat to dinner in Midtown left me wanting more, so I have the feeling this year will see me going a little more over-the-top than usual in my trackside headgear.

    I’ve begun scheming with Kate and Rachel of The Hat Girls (the official hat designers of the Kentucky Derby Festival), and know that a feather mohawk and porcupine quills will be making an appearance. I want to pull out one of my old favorites, as well, though, and realize that it has been five years since my Lucky Hat has been out of her box… 

    (the hat, and Derby night dinner at Frankie and Johnnie's, NYC, 2017)

    I always start to feel excited again this time of year- something about Louisville coming to life again…. New hotels, glittery on the skyline, extra bustle downtown, and boutiques bursting at the doors with new styles, designer dresses brought in for the season. 100 days seem so long, yet I know I’ll be betting soon!

    ** first photo by Kyle Lueken **