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Handmade gifts are the best, so check out the 10 Charleston artisans creating goods with a Southern accent I wrote about for USA Today 10Best and get your holiday shopping done!

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my favorite (camera) shots from the lpga kia classic

Because I am not a golfer and can’t dissect every inch of every swing, every hole, every shot the way my husband can — and does — I thought it would be better for me to share my own photo shots from this weekend’s LPGA Kia Classic. Even if you’re not a golfer, it’s amazing to watch these athletes while basking in the beauty of the Aviara Golf Club at the Park Hyatt Aviara.

And let’s all send a big congratulations to Beatriz Recari on her well-deserved win after a nail-biting finish! [Read more…]

kia presents lois and michael: a marriage in parallel texts

Michael and I have been married so long, we often finish each other’s sentences. Apparently, though, that doesn’t mean either one of us has any idea what the other one is talking about — as we were dumbfounded to discover today.

Kia had given us a 2014 Sorento to test drive, and invited us to take it on a road trip up to the LPGA Kia Classic Golf Tournament at the Park Hyatt Aviara for the weekend.

Because Michael was so inspired by the pros, he decided to leave and play a round himself while I watched the matches from the comfort of the Kia Skybox. It was the first time he got to drive the Sorento, because I had been hogging it since it was delivered.

Now, Michael is an avid golfer and has tried, for years, to get me more interested in the game. I thought it would make him happy to hear that I was having such a good time at the tournament and was really paying attention to the shots and the greens, so I decided to text him and share my enthusiasm.

This is the ridiculous conversation that ensued. (My texts are in white, Michael’s are in green.) [Read more…]

Why the Oscars Left Me Feeling Like a Grouch

Watching the Oscars has always been one of my favorite TV nights of the year. Until last night.

I was just going to chalk up my disgust over last night’s show to my raging hormones and decreasing tolerance for mean-spirited humor, but then The Onion sent out a jaw-dropping Tweet calling 9-year-old nominee Quvenzhane Wallis the “c” word (you can read it here but I’m not posting it on our site).

The Onion, which is usually very clever and on-target, totally crossed the line there and, although it’s absolutely inexcusable and they’ve since apologized, it’s easy to see how the writer could have considered it “humor,” given the sexist, misogynistic tone of the night. [Read more…]

Carly Patterson and Shannon Miller on Gymnastics, the Olympics and American Girls

I spent the weekend at the Olympic gymnastic trials in San Jose, where I got a chance to talk to legendary gymnasts Carly Patterson and Shannon Miller. Patterson is the 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion and Miller is the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history. Here’s what they had to say about the past, present and future of the sport.

Lois Alter Mark: How does it feel to be back at the Olympic trials?

Shannon Miller Women's GymnasticsShannon Miller: It brings back that feeling in the pit of my stomach right before the Olympic trials, which is just nerve-wracking and stressful. But it’s also a feeling of excitement and fun. I know those athletes are feeling excited that it’s finally here. Tonight they’ll know whether they’re on the team, and just to have that knowledge when you go to bed is such a relief. [Read more…]

World Book Night 2012 by Pamela Lear

If I had the means to give away free books to strangers every day of the year, I would do it!  There is a glow that appears on people’s faces when you hand them a fresh, shiny new book.  They get caught up in the joy of something special, eagerly flipping through the first few chapters and gently handling the crisp clean pages.

World Book Night [Read more…]

ready for the royal wedding?

My invitation to the Royal Wedding must have gotten lost in the mail so I’ll just have to get up in the middle of the night — along with half the world — to watch William and Kate get married on Friday.

I vividly remember Princess Diana’s wedding 30 years ago – it was the same summer Michael and I got married – and I’m actually happy and relieved that William has found someone who seems as down-to-earth and compassionate as his mother. I love that he gave Kate Diana’s engagement ring, and don’t believe it’s bad luck at all. I think it’s a really beautiful symbol of the love and respect he had for her, and a way to make her part of the wedding ceremony.

To get you in the mood for the wedding of the century, here are some great commemorative items:

If you can’t attend the Royal Wedding in person, simply create your own with the help of this brilliant book. Seriously, this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Fiona Goble’s Knit Your Own Royal Wedding provides you with easy-to-follow instructions to whip up the entire cast of characters from the happy couple to Charles and Camilla to Liz and Phil and, of course, best man/little brother Harry. I am only a knitter in my dreams but I know someone who could have these done by, oh, maybe the time Harry gets married. MOM!

For those whose crafting skills don’t go further than using a scissor, William and Kate Paper Dolls from Dover Press lets you re-enact the Royal Wedding – or, if you want to shake things up a little, a Royal Tiff. The book comes with seven different outfits for each of them, including William’s RAF uniform and Kate’s now-famous blue wrap dress. Dover also has a Diana, Princess of Wales Paper Doll with 31 of her signature evening dresses that were auctioned off for charity so, in your fantasy, the late princess can take her place at her son’s wedding.

You can find everything from William and Kate bobble heads to souvenir coins, china and crystal at the official Royal Wedding online store. You can even buy a sterling silver replica of Kate’s sapphire engagement ring – for only $57. Hey, maybe they should set one of these up outside of Buckingham Palace! I’m partial to the Union Jack iPhone case that screams William and Kate in red, white and blue bling, but think it would be more appropriate for me to have one that says Lois and Michael instead.

I really, really want to paper the walls of my home office with Crowns and Coronets from Graham and Brown. Designed in celebration of the Royal Wedding, this simple yet sophisticated style can be dressed up and personalized with self-adhesive jewels and colored with “Princess To Be” paint from their Colours That Made Britain Great collection. A man’s home may be his castle, but I’m convinced this wallpaper can transform my royal mess into a palace.

Stay up on all the latest William and Kate news with one of the many Royal Wedding apps from the Apple store. You can Tweet your guess about who will design Kate’s dress, count down to the big day and follow all the action at the actual event. The NBC News app features more than 300 photos and 40 news reports, as well as an interactive family tree and ideas for hosting your own viewing party.

Any princess worth her salt deserves a tiara, so I was thrilled to find this beauty from Glow Tiaras. The description alone — “a swirling tangle of beautiful silver wire, Austrian fire polished AB crystals, and glass pearls” — is enough to get you all tingly. Handmade and sparkly, it’s perfect for watching the Royal Wedding and insuring that no one disturbs you to ask for something as common as breakfast.

When Kate’s big day is over, she can store her gown on this great-looking personalized hanger by FutureMrsRedford. Handmade from rich cherry wood and special aluminum wire, this is a meaningful gift which also makes a very special photo for the wedding album.