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BYOB (bag, that is!)

FLASHBAGS[1] After reading my story today in the Home & Style section on chic reusable shopping bags, former Western New Yorker Nancy S. Berggren sent me an e-mail about "Flashbags" (
"It's another reusable company that bills itself  'carry a conversation,' " she wrote, from Ballston Spa, N.Y.

Among the bags they offer: custom photo bags and benefit bags - including one for PlayPumps International which works to bring fresh water to children across Africa (former first lady Laura Bush was given one as a gift). The pump doubles as a merry-go-around and is powered as children play. One bag design is shown here.

The bags are made in Burlington, Vt. You really may want to check out this Web site.   

What a mess

After wiping the dog's paw prints off the kitchen floor for the 800th time this week, brushing against a car once again and getting white stuff all over my black coat and wondering when, just when, will we ever be able to get the dirty car washed, I think I have seen the beauty in all of this.

This messiness will end. And it will feel great.

In the meantime, perhaps we will fit some cross-country skiing in this weekend. And when we come back home and deposit our snowy garb who-knows-where, so be it!

Spring will come.

Compare notes

In my From the Home Front column today, I shared some note-writing memories, such as the "I Love You Mom" note my daughter wrote several years ago that I carry in my wallet. And, of course, the funny ones my father used to leave in my desk when he attended Open House at my school.
These notes, which often take just a few minutes to scribble, mean a lot. I've already been hearing from people about their own memories of notes they have written and notes they have received -- just to cheer, humor and inspire loved ones.

Feel free to share your own memories.

The morning after

X00253_9[1]Reaction to the gown first lady Michelle Obama wore to the inaugural balls Tuesday night?  Mixed, of course.
New York designer Jason Wu, 26, told the New York Times that the gown required eight to 10 yards of silk chiffon and many crystals to make it sparkle. And sparkle it did.

When I first saw the dress, I immediately thought "romantic." My 9-year-old daughter loved it -- like something out of a fairy tale, she told me as she headed off to bed. The more I looked at it, the more I liked it.

Here is what some fashion-watchers said:

From the Style File blog at : "It’s a lovely, fresh color for Mrs. Obama and the embellishment is quite pretty, but the full skirt could have been slightly more flattering and seemed to give her a little trouble while navigating a dance at the Home States Ball."  

Cathy Horyn, of the New York Times: "If Mrs. Obama is a different and more stylish first lady than the country has seen in a while, she proved it Tuesday with some striking fashion choices. The Wu gown was perhaps not as sophisticated as the coat-and-dress ensemble she wore for the swearing-in, but it still made a statement."

At the fashion blog: "With so many pointing to Mrs. O’s penchant for jewel tones, we thought she might choose just the opposite: a white winter that we would remember forever. Indeed we will."

A bright start

12117821H4854458[1]Golden-yellow was the color of first lady Michelle Obama's inaugural day ensemble by Isabel Toledo - whose designs she has worn before. She accented the dress and matching coat with green gloves and shoes.

The color of hope and reassurance, yellow also was the color of the cardigan she wore Monday night at the "Kids’ Inaugural: We Are the Future Concert." This topped a bright blue slim skirt and silvery-blue lace top.

During the inauguration ceremony all eyes, too, were on Malia, 10, who wore a periwinkle-blue coat tied at the waist with a blue ribbon and on Sasha, 7, who was pretty in pink (with orange scarf, gloves and satin belt with bow). The girls' coats were from Crewcuts by J. Crew, reports the Associated Press.

President Barack Obama accessorized his inauguration suit with a red tie and white shirt.

 And we haven't even gotten to Aretha Franklin's hat!  What did you think of the day's fashions?

Fashion, ladies first

12108441h48337871 I came across some interesting Web sites and fashion blogs while researching my story on Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices, published in today's Home & Style section. First Lady Style

Those who enjoy first lady style -- both present and past -- may want to check them out.

Here are just a few:

1. (a Web site "dedicated to following the fashion of Michelle Obama.")

2. (check out Women's Wear Daily's slide show of inaugural fashion ideas for the entire Obama family, sketched by designers).

3. (the National First Ladies' Library includes biographies of former first ladies).

4. (click on the "Shrine to the famous" heading.)

By the way, the photo shown here features a red and black gala gown from the Worth Collection. Its founder thinks the silhouette is perfect for Michelle Obama.

Good night, Kitty

In my column today, I reveal where our dog and cats hunker down at night -- and in the morning, afternoon and just about any other time they're ready for a snooze.

Their pet beds are fine. But, come on, in a basket on top of the refrigerator? No way.

Now it's your turn. Where do your pets like to sleep?

Completes work on time?

It's the beginning of a new year and, for many, time to think about the home projects they want to tackle this year.

Me? I'd be happy completing the ones we've started. We've worked hard to clear out and fix up our basement in recent months, for example, but there's one corner that still screams for my attention.

Why is it that we can finish 80 to 90 percent of a home-improvement or decorating project -- but not the rest?

Painting the last of the trim work. Unpacking the final box. Hanging the picture that has been propped against the wall for months.

I bet some of the do-it-yourselfers out there know what I'm talking about.