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Archive for November, 2012

Cocktail Culture – the demise of the dinner party

The New York Times published this article today regarding the demise of the dinner party and in the same breath the demise of good manners. I would hope that the dinner party isn’t going to way of the hand written note and men holding the door for women. But as we know I’m old fashioned.

I think a lot of people get caught up in the idea that a dinner party has to be a five course extravaganza that includes great expense and clean-up. In an Internet and all about me world this is a common misconception that feeds into many women and mom’s thinking they have to be “perfect”. Perfect is not being June Cleaver. Perfect is being a good host, sharing a meal with your friends or family and feeling good about yourself when it is over. My belief is you can still entertain in a traditional way even in times like these. People will appreciate the salad and entree you provided. And even more importantly, they will appreciate you, your family and your kids.

The famous New York hostess Nan Kempner used to have famous Sunday Suppers that included spaghetti with red sauce she cooked herself. The entree of spaghetti was her signature. Uber chic, right?

Always so chic

So find a signature dish that is yours. It doesn’t have to be something you thought up. It can be your favorite dish or the favorite of your spouse. Get good at it, tweak it, make it your own. And then cook the hell out of it, add a salad and wine and you are good to go.

Personally, I always enjoyed the Basil Chicken Hash from Barefoot Contessa. I’ve blogged the recipe in the past but it translates to most people’s tastes. I served a salmon dip and salad with it. That’s it. No big deal. The entree makes a lot of food, tastes great and every one is happy. Plus, how chic is it that the recipe is a take on the chicken hash served at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball?

My friends complain that they never get to go anywhere because of their kids. I always repeat the stories of my parents having dinner parties at home after we went to bed. These parties occurred specifically so they could have a social life without us. Smart thinking. Good time management. No baby-sitter needed.

You can still entertain at home and it not be a burden. You can use the china and the crystal on a weeknight if you want too. And even if you are still wearing jeans and a sweater when your guests arrive, nothing is chicer than having a wonderful time in your own home after NOT sweating in the kitchen.

Red lace, Holiday dressing and shopping my closet

I’ve gotten several invitations to Christmas parties that are work related and have been unsure what to wear. One party is a touch on the fancy side its been leaving me in a quandary. This season I’m not to keen to buy much since I’m doing things other than shopping at this time. But while perusing my closet I looked at this dress.

First time I wore it in Nashville in May.

My Kate Spade lace dress is from the summer and I feel it might be an option. Yes, technically, I bought it in the summer and wore it to a rehearsal dinner and a wedding already. But I love it and I believe if I wear it with black stockings, black patent heels and a black pashmina I can get away with it at a Christmas party. Or do the nude stockings and nude heels a la the Duchess.

I’m not a stalker. I swear.

Lace is so in right now for dresses. Personally, I love lace and would wear it all the time. Casual or dressy it just adds that touch of something extra that I like. We can thank the Duchess for the lace trend though and there are tons of options and price points to choose from for the Holidays. I did include a knock-off DVF below if you look closely because of the price. I also included a pretty lace blouse that would be pretty with tuxedo pants or just a black pencil skirt. And then since we repurpose everything, white jeans and espadrilles on the Fourth of July.

Recipe – Special K Loaf

Sounds totally weird, right?

Looks kind of weird too.

A vegetarian delicacy

I’ve mentioned before that my extended family are Seventh Day Adventists and I was raised a vegetarian. Obviously, there have been some detours for me since I’m a recovering meat eater and now a Presbyterian. One of the remnants of that life are these recipes that no one has ever heard of before that I absolutely love. Special K is just a casserole that me and my sister have to have on Thanksgiving and eat with relative frequency during the rest of the year.

The casserole is vegetarian but its not healthy. It’s like how in the South macaroni and cheese is a vegetable. You might as well be eating bacon when compared to this recipe. But goodness, its good.

4 eggs

4 cups Special K cereal

1 large container of cottage cheese (1 lb 80z)

1 medium onion finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1 stick margarine, melted

2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 packages George Washington Golden Seasoning

Mix thoroughly and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

The only thing you really have to pay attention to is making sure the pecans and the onion are finally chopped because it really affects the flavor of the casserole if you don’t.

My fiance and my sister’s husband both like the casserole (relatively) for meat eaters. I think its definitely an acquired taste for people who didn’t grow up in a non-meat world. But if vegetarian is your bag and you want something that doesn’t taste ultra-healthy like many vegetarian dishes can taste then you might like this.

Cocktail Culture – Bar Apps at Home

I like to go out and I go out a lot. But let’s be real, restaurants are getting more expensive, schedules are packed and sometimes you just want to be at home. All my friends have small children now and times are different. So, the question is how to still re-create some of your favorite restaurant items at home so a glam time can still be had by all?

Well, my favorite involves a bag of Kettle Chips and a block of bleu cheese.

I LOVE chips and bleu cheese. The first time I ever had them was years a go when I first moved to Atlanta and began going to the Buckhead Diner. This appetizer is kind of retro now. But it’s still decadent and treat and I think a welcome respite from puffs and mushy carrots for some of my lovely friends.

Here’s what you do. It’s rocket science, trust. ;) Buy a bag of Sea Salt Kettle Chips and a block of bleu cheese. In this case I bought a block of Publix brand cheese but we all know Maytag or Cowgirl would be so much better.

Spread the chips on a plate and heat them to the point where they start to sweat a bit in the microwave. Just heated a bit but not soggy. Soggy will come with the cheese.

Then heat the block of cheese in the microwave. It doesn’t take much and you want to still have some chunks.

I pour the heated cheese all over the chips and go from there. But me and my friends can be little piggies. You might be more lady-like and dip. But what’s the fun in that?

Oink

(Sorry for the iphone pics. Doesn’t do it justice.)

The chips are good with chopped tomato and green onions. Another friend like bits of bacon on hers.

Add every Mom’s or (childless Aunt’s) favorite, white whine, and you have got a lovely play date. Or a fun cocktail hour appetizer to share between you and yours.

I definitely love my two minute appetizer that gives me the feeling of a good restaurant while being at home.

Veuve Happens!

Love bubbles

Working out – back to the mileage goals

Everyone has their preferred exercise routine. Mine revolves around cardio and Pure Barre. About a month a go I decided I was going to change it up and do the Insanity videos because it was hard for me to get to Pure Barre classes with my schedule. I’ll be honest, that never happened. Instead I took a straight up break from working out and substituted it with mostly fun and going out. Those actions aren’t something I advise with the holidays coming up. Luckily, I don’t eat that bad and count calories so reversing the damage is reversing booze bloat for the most part. There is a meds/possible gluten issue with the bloat problem too but that’s boring and for another day.

I could definitely tell last week it was time to get it together and get back on the treadmill and back to class. One, for my brain and two, for my ass. Sunday I started running again and can already tell a difference. Let’s be real, it takes a lot stay in any kind of goal territory when it comes to weight and the way you look. The world and life are always throwing food and cocktails in your face and sometimes we all give in. I’m at an age where I have to make my weight and fitness goals a priority or things can get quickly out of control.

There is a famous quote that says “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” A lot of people get all up in arms about the quote and try to make it out as a negative/anna type thing. How about this instead?

“Nothing feels as good as looking healthy and fit in your over priced (but loved) Lululemon.”

Here are my two favorite pieces from Lululemon to run in and take Pure Barre classes in. And no the pants aren’t Wunderunders. And yes, I always buy the pieces in matching colors in real life. If you ever have questions about fit and sizing please let me know. Personally, I think the built in bra in the top is straight up God’s gift to me and my small boobs. Nothing moves. Ever. It’s awesome.

Lululemon favorites


Yoga top
lululemon.com

Activewear
lululemon.com

Personal Styling – Mama Social

I’ve done personal shopping and styling for people on and off for people for at least 12 years. It a hobby more than anything. But it can be fun. My best customer is my Mom though. I do most of her shopping and putting together her outfits for events. She’s got good taste so its not exactly hard.

She contacted me on Monday that she wanted me to go out with her and add some basics for to her wardrobe this weekend. There is the age issue now. Not dressing to young but still looking stylish since most people think she is ten years young than she is and she still wears a 6-8 which we can give her golf claps for accomplishing.

I was thinking about some items that might be added to her closet. I know she needs some new sweaters and flats. She’s got colored denim taken care of from earlier this year and would like to focus on fun slightly dressier looks to go with jeans. Her life revolves around family events, her farm and not work in an office anymore. Mom is conservative with a fun side.

I’ve begun looking around at sweaters for her and the flats she requested.

Here is an outfit I know she will like and be comfortable. She tends to like sparkly nails and to be able to use her Chanel collection when she is back in Atlanta so I included options I know she owns like the bag and the jeans.

(No payment is received if you click on a link.)

Styling for Mom


Style Crush – Poppy Delevingne

I love an ice princess. I also refer to these people as Alfred Hitchcock characters doomed to die but that’s for another time.

Currently, I love British It Girl Poppy Delevigne. So hot. So stylish. Ultra thin.

I’m sure she’s an Anna Wintour fantasy come true.

But her style is really where it’s at. And British cool can never be replicated State-side. Sadly.

You can follow her on twitter here.

And read more about her style in Vogue UK.

Don’t you just die?

I will never be an ice princess. As a brunette with ultra-pale skin there is only one thing I will be, A VAMPIRE. In name only of course.

Play Date with my Sister

Last Friday I had scheduled to go to lunch and Pure Barre with my sister. But I had an emergency with work and ended up only being able to go to lunch and Hobby Lobby. Neither of us had ever been exposed to the joys of Hobby Lobby till the past couple of weeks and now we are OBSESSED. Like want to roll around in glitter and tie giant bows around ourselves love it.

We are both in suburbs more often than not now, so the restaurant options are limited. But there is a really good Greek dive near the house that I enjoy and she loved too.

Spanakopita FTW

Then it was off to Hobby Lobby and contemplating wrapping paper and glue guns.

I found this ridiculous mirror. It would be so fun in a certain tween’s bedroom don’t you think?

Slightly over the top and tacky but the Dolly Parton in me loves it.

I’m wearing a J.Crew skirt that I had taken in to fit. I’m sure you’ve seen it everywhere and I wear it all the time. If you wanted your own here is a Factory option available on eBay.

The Hobby Lobby purchases were wrapping paper and bows to wrap presents for B’s twin nieces and his brother.

So cute. Nothing better than a Tiffany bow to finish off a gift.

I think the birthday tags are to cute.

I still worked sparkle into the bow for this guy’s gift.

It was so fun giving the gifts. Honestly, I think they liked the wrapping better than what was inside the boxes.

We had so much fun during those couple of hours. We are going to Pure Barre together on Friday and then lunch at our Mom’s so definitely looking forward to another adult playdate.

Daytrippin’ – Cash and Carry at the America’s Mart

My future MIL called me the other day and asked if I wanted to go spend the day at the cash and carry show at the America’s Mart downtown. I was first like, um that would be fiscally irresponsible. And then I changed my mind to it would fiscally irresponsible re: Christmas presents not to go. So I took the day off and headed downtown at yesterday morning.

I was rather excited about going because it had been approximately ten years since I had been in the Mart. I’ve never got to make any purchases in the past. My experiences were working in a showroom during an off-time doing visuals or attending regional meetings for a former employer. Or when I used to travel for work a lot I would get stuck on MARTA with show attendees crushing my ribs on the way to their respective hotels. But I digress.

It was rather crazy. I looked at a lot of the name tags to see where people were coming from. Lots of Middle Georgia or just over the line in Alabama or South Carolina. My future MIL has been going to these events for thirty years because of her different side businesses and originally a large store she used to own in Buford.

I was able to get some Christmas gifts for family members and for B’s daughters. I was looking for bang for my buck type items. I spent just under $150 on some really great deals that I’m quite pleased about and can’t wait to go to Hobby Lobby and pick out my gift wrap color scheme for the year.

But I wanted to show you some of the madness through grainy, wobbly iPhone pics. There was plenty of junk that I didn’t partake in. No need to buy crap.

Loads and loads of what I would think of as disposable watches. Large faces with lots sparkle.

Some of the larger options looked rather good. And uber cheap.

Smocked Holiday clothes for all the little girls in the South

There were some really nice options in this sea of silver.

These entertaining items were going like hot cakes.

We shopped for other people till we just about dropped. There were quite a few food vendors with dip mixes, jellies, bbq sauces, etc. to buy. I think I tasted everything there was to taste. I thought this was reasonable since I hadn’t eaten any breakfast.

We did walk up a couple of blocks to Rays in the City to meet B for lunch. Then this happened.

Iceberg lettuce and bleu cheese. I’m the picture of health.

After lunch we went back to the Mart, got of our things out of holding and into my car. Then we went to some other floors that had a few showrooms open. The highlight was going in the vendor who sells Elizabeth McKay. It was all I could do to not buy ALL THE SAMPLES. Truly, heart breaking to leaving with nothing. But I got to see the summer things and died over all of it.

MIL goes to all the shows so its now on my calendar to spend a couple of days downtown with her during the January show. I was spinning my wheels yesterday going is there anything I can sell in this economy because OMG, THIS IS SO FREAKING FUN!!!!

But you know what I won’t be selling? These.

Bubble necklaces for everyone!