How to Speak Southern

Easy Recipe: Parmesan Lemon Asparagus

April 14, 2016

This recipe is so easy I feel almost embarrassed sharing this, but I’m always surprised at the things that I share that resonate with people, so I figure I’ll put this out anyways. Parmesan Lemon Asparagus is a super easy mid-week side that you can whip up in a hurry and still feel fancy when you eat it. I’m all about some mid-week fanciness. With spring finally here and in full bloom, you can get fresh asparagus just about anywhere, too.

Parmesan Lemon Asparagus

1 bunch of fresh asparagus, washed and with the ends popped off

1 T of olive oil

1 tsp of kosher salt

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

1 whole fresh lemon — halve the lemon and remove the seeds, setting one half aside; slice the other half into four slices

4 T of grated Parmesan (none of the fake stuff please)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the bunch of asparagus and pop the ends off (very important, the ends of asparagus are gross and tough). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange on the foil.

asparagus 1

 Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and Parmesan and toss to coat. Spread the asparagus in an even layer.

ingredients

asparagus 2

Squeeze reserved half of the lemon over the asparagus, and then arrange the four lemon slices on top. Pop in the oven and cook for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until the ends of the asparagus are slightly browned.

asparagus 3

Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Enjoy!

finished product

Pairs very well with a bottle glass of Malbec.

Fashion and Beauty

Shopbop 25% Off Sale

April 5, 2016

Hi! Despite the heartbreaking loss of our beloved Tar Heels, Wilson and I are surviving. I’m surviving because I’m eating some particularly delicious oatmeal, Wilson is surviving by most likely having a nip or two before lunch. 

But do not despair fellow Tar Heel fans — Shopbop’s annual Friends and Family sale is here! 25% off almost everything with the promo code INTHEFAM.

Here’s some of my favorite things:

 

Shopbop Sale

 one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten

There’s some really great stuff in this sale so poke around on your lunch break. You could find just what you need to brighten your spirits and your wardrobe.

How to Speak Southern

Let’s Catch Up

March 23, 2016
pool view

So it’s been a few weeks, hasn’t it? SST had some technical issues, and since I don’t know shit about the interworkings of the interweb things took awhile. My bad.

But we’re back now, everything’s good, and SST shouldn’t crash again anytime soon. Hopefully. 

Since it’s been a hot minute since we last spoke, I figured now is a good time to catch you up on my life. While I realize there are approximately five readers now that I’ve been offline for four weeks and hardly post anyways, just humor me. Yes Mom I’m talking to you. 

2016 has been a very kind year to the Jones family. Wilson and I have grown accustomed to Savannah, and have become quite fond of her quirks and idiosyncrasies. Because she does have many. 

This is my current situation, which has become another custom in our household (apologies for the crappy cell phone pics):

birdie in bed

Mother-daughter bonding time at its finest. As if Wilson and I weren’t already obsessed with this dog, our infatuation has taken on a new level of unhealthiness of late. Birdie is just a hop, skip and a week away from sleeping in our bed with her own Tempur-Pedic pillow.

half marathon

Wilson ran a 10k race recently and scored a personal record — he’s very speedy.

three of them

We also received a visit from my two most favorite people ever — my nieces. Here they are grilling Uncle Wilsie about the facts of life.

reecie

The funny thing about little people is that they rarely stop moving for a photo, and I often wonder how Anne Geddes got those babies to sit still for all of her photos, let alone wear flowers on their heads.

the edition

I went on an impromptu trip to Miami with some gal pals and we stayed at The Edition, which was uber swanky. This was one of the outdoor restaurants, which was entangled in a beautiful mess of bougainvillea.

la piagga2

This was taken on a leisurely afternoon at La Piaggia, which was a wonderful restaurant filled with chic people getting their Sunday Funday on. They were very serious about this activity. 

boats

I visited my Mom and Grandmother in Orange Beach, Alabama — yes Alabama has a beach, and a beautiful one at that — and this was one of the sunsets.

marg

Wilson and I have taken up a new hobby — drinking homemade margaritas. Recipe to come soon.

savannah morning

Birdie and I went on a sunrise tour of Savannah a few weeks ago and were very impressed with what we saw.

hi fans

Birdie would like to let all of her fans know that she misses them and is going to make me post pictures of her more often.

Happy Wednesday!

Home Living

Four Elements of the Perfect Vignette

February 12, 2016
tea set

If you’ve been with me for awhile now here on SST you are well versed in my love for organizing. Something about it gives me an almost palpable sense of satisfaction, and once you start, you can’t stop. Or I can’t, anyway. 

Organizing comes in handy especially when creating the perfect vignette. As a small collection of items arranged together, a vignette accomplishes a few things: 1) transforms a flat surface into something visually appealing; 2) allows you to display many different odds and ends that you’ve acquired over the years; and finally 3) offers endless opportunities to arrange, rearrange, and then arrange again, letting your inner OCD freak run wild with reckless abandon.

Vignettes are also super trendy right now, and everybody is droning on and on about a damn vignette. So we should too.

Here are my key elements to create the perfect vignette:

tea set2

 1. Balance. A vignette doesn’t need to be symmetrical — although I always gravitate towards symmetry in design — but the items that make up the vignette need to be cohesive. Cohesiveness makes for a beautiful arrangement/magazine-ready look. Here the items on the silver tray (yes Mom I know that needs to be polished) are arranged neatly between the two glass hurricanes, which happily flank the two hummingbird prints above. All items in this vignette sing the same song. I think they are singing a particularly invigorating rendition of Benny and the Jets.

tea set

 2. Levels. Imagine your vignette is a stadium and that each item needs to be able to see out (or in this case, be seen) from all levels, giving each piece the attention it’s due. Arrange the tallest/largest items in the back,and then layer in smaller items towards the front in an arrangement that creates harmony. Yes items can be harmonious. Work with me here. 

coffee table

3. Grouping. Choose a variety of different items and group together. Seems overly simplistic, but not all items should go together. Choose the ones that complement each other without one hogging all of the attention. Here we have an antler shed Wilson found, some magazines, a plate, a candle, some flowers and a large fake shell. I fumbled around with them for a bit until I arrived at an arrangement that suited me.

side table

 4. Stacking. Vignettes are all about the stack. Sorry the photo is a tad crooked. Stacking things on top of one another is one of my favorite ways to organize shit together, and it’s also a great way to create a tasteful vignette.

Et voilà. Now I know all of you just cannot wait to get home to use my extraordinarily useful advice in creating your very own vignettes, but first thing’s first: pour yourself a glass of wine. Interior design is always better with wine.

Actually, isn’t everything?

How to Speak Southern

A Great Hostess Gift — Soberdough

February 2, 2016
bread 1

This past weekend I did some pantry cleaning, which mostly means that I rummaged around in our tightly packed pantry, rearranged some boxes of crackers and bags of sugar, and threw away some old food. Our pantry was host to a slew of food neither Wilson nor I ever planned on actually eating, but just kept around in the event of a nuclear fall out. Like the can of chicken and rice soup Wilson and I have owned since before we were married. Never once were we actually going to pull out that can of soup and say, yes, I cannot wait to eat this for dinner! I’ve been craving this all day! No. Instead, we keep things like this particular can of soup because it seems like an adult thing to do, like using real dish towels and washing your wine glasses by hand. The end result of said pantry cleaning was achieving about three more square inches of storage and stacking things neatly on top of one another with their labels towards the front. Hello I’m  OCD and would be an excellent grocery store stock gal. 

Anywho, upon venturing into the back depths of the pantry — does this scare anyone else? like something could be living back there that’s going to grab my hand? – I discovered this little bag of goodness:

Rosemary2_grande

via

Behold this bag of Soberdough, the easiest, most delicious beer bread that comes in a bag. And it’s only $7.95. I received this as a thank you gift a few months ago and saved it for a time when I’d entertain. Seeing as I’m a shitty hostess and hardly ever entertain, this bag sat at the back of my pantry for months until last Sunday. This bread mix was also given with a neat little box mix for sea salt biscuits, but I read those directions and it involved a rolling pin so I decided I’d wait to make that when I actually own a rolling pin. I looked at the directions for this mix and there were only three, none of which involved a rolling pin or any kneading. Now we’re talking. 

Upon further investigation I discovered Soberdough is an awesome small biz started by an entrepreneurial mother-son duo. The bag comes with all of the dry ingredients needed to make the dough — all you have to add is a full bottle of beer to the mix, combine with your hands, and then scoop the dough into a baking pan. Bake that puppy at 375 degrees for 45 minutes and out comes the perfect loaf of delicious bread. I had the Rosemary mix, which was magnificent, especially when warm.

Wilson and I nibbled on this for a few days until Wilson decided he was “no-carb” for the rest of the week so I brought it in to work for my coworkers to enjoy (no I’m not normally that nice) and they gobbled it up too.

All in all, this bread mix is a huge hit and I’d highly recommend as a hostess gift, birthday gift, or if you just want some bread for yourself dammit, buy Soberdough. You won’t regret it.

Fashion and Beauty

My Cold Weather Kit

January 22, 2016

I really despise cold weather, I really do. Living in Savannah with its crazy hot temperatures and humidity so dense you could slice a piece of it and serve it for dessert doesn’t truly bother me. I’d much prefer extreme heat to extreme cold (except when I’m sleeping) and this current cold snap isn’t doing me a bit of good.

Besides it being cold as shit, the freezing temps really do a number on my skin. I have naturally dry skin and hair and it seems nothing I do ever really makes a big difference, but I have picked up a few tricks (below!) over the years to help. I suppose you could say I’m like a lizard, except with highlights. Dry hands warm heart? 

 

Cold Weather Kit

 

 one / two / three / four / five

This Beautycounter cleansing balm is ‘spensive, but awesome. A very moisturizing way to remove makeup without the chemicals.

As far as hand creams go, I have not found a single one that stays on after washing your hands. As a bit of a germophobe I wash my hands frequently, which does not bode well for cracking. Ow. But I do love this Burt’s Bees hand cream, which I wrote about some time ago. Even though it’s a pricey $13, I’m still working on the same tube from a few years ago, so it is well worth the money.

Aquaphor is a dream for dry people such as myself. I love this lip balm (and SPF 30!) and use the regular Aquaphor often. I apply it on my cuticles and lips, and some times I rub it on my arms too.

I am obsessed with this Fresh Sugar Lip Serum. I got a sample of it with a recent makeup purchase and now it’s the first thing I reach for when I get out of the shower. And all you need is a drop — it’s thick and moisturizing without being obnoxious and tasting gross. It is eye-rolling expensive ($36) so I haven’t purchased it yet, but am milking my sample for all its worth and plan on buying it when the sample is done.

And I’ve blabbed on and on about this Mario Badescu cream a billion times, but if you have dry skin on your face, this is your answer. Get involved. 

People, it’s cold. Stay inside, put this stuff on you so you won’t be dry, and then have some wine. Go forth and prosper. 

Fashion and Beauty

Rent the Runway Sale

January 12, 2016

Rent the Runway is having a clearance sale of some its top items. Happy Tuesday to me! For those of you not familiar, Rent the Runway is a website that you can rent designer dresses, clothing and accessories from for a fraction of the retail price — it’s a great business idea and answers the awful question “What on earth do I wear?” in a cinch. But be forewarned — these accessories and clothing have all been used, so although the description says the items are “like new condition,” they are also final sale. “Like new condition” is a wide category in my opinion. 

The designer gowns are sight to see certainly, but I think the real standouts of this sale are the accessories. Check out some of my favorite picks below.

 

Rent the Runway Sale

 

one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine

Beautiful stuff right? I also love this tote bag, which I have been eyeing for some time. And those Loeffler Randall bags above are just so beautiful. Wilson, I may have done something bad. Please don’t be upset.

Home Living

Investment Piece of the Month

January 8, 2016

Oh yea remember when I used to do these? Me neither. I’m a bad blogger. It always used to annoy me when bloggers would whine and say self-deprecating things like apologizing profusely for not posting on their blog in a while, but now I understand. I do feel some sort of obligation to the three people who read this thing. Hey mom! 

Back to spending too much money investing. January’s Investment Piece of the Month is this badass desk calendar:

2016 Botanical Calendar (Desktop Calendar) | Inslee By Design

 

calendar

It’s awesome and the exact way I recommend to beat your winter post-holiday blues. Or at least that’s how I did it. That and three one dirty martinisPaying $56 (plus shipping) is ludicrous for a desk calendar, but I do believe this one will make me very happy all year long, so that’s worth it in my opinion. Just look at how pretty it is! And that cute little bamboo stand…  I also love this cell phone case and these cocktail napkinsBootyful. 

Happy Friday!

Fashion and Beauty

Need a Cocktail Dress? And An Email Blunder

January 7, 2016
dress 1

So yesterday my friend Maggie and I exchanged emails about our next trip abroad for this year (with our men in tow, of course). Last year we went to Spain and had a grand ol’ (olé!) time, and this year we’ve set our sights on Greece. Visiting Santorini is on my bucket list, and not that I’m trying to kick the bucket anytime soon, but why wait? Carpe diem! 

Maggie and I already decided on where we want to visit while in Greece, but were having one teeny problem: Wilson. As previously mentioned, Wilson is a diehard UNC fan. If given the opportunity, not only would he dye his hair Carolina blue, he would sleep on the floor of the Dean Dome every night, with or without a pillow. His dedication to his alma mater is nice, but at times it can be challenging. Like when you are trying to plan the trip of a lifetime to say, Greece, and Wilson refuses to go when everyone else would like to go because he would miss the first UNC football game of the season.

And this isn’t just any game, according to Wilson. Heavens no. This is UNC vs. UGA, two of the oldest public universities in the nation. This is THE GAME OF THE CENTURY. The time for redemption, for victory, FOR GLORY! Wilson despises UGA almost as much as he despises Duke, and for a few reasons: 1) My family loves Georgia and roots for them in a most obnoxious manner; 2) He believes Georgia fans are delusional; and 3) We live in Georgia and it drives him bonkers how much more devoted and passionate UGA fans are for their football program compared to UNC fans. We are, after all, a basketball school. 

These and many more reasons (don’t ask him unless you want your ear stained) are why we have to move our Greece trip to another time, and I was less than pleased. Maggie wasn’t overly enthused either, but is much kinder than I am and wouldn’t come outright and say how ridiculous Wilson was being. But don’t worry, I did that and then some. And then I accidentally sent the emails to him.

For your enjoyment:

From: Maggie
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 8:50 AM
To: Jones, Anna
Subject: RE: hiiiii

I’m so excited about Greece. When should we go? I liked that we came back on a Saturday after Spain. It was nice to have that day to relax before 
coming back to work.

From: Jones, Anna
Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 9:13 AM
To: Maggie
Subject: RE: hiiiii

Yea we will definitely need some time to adjust on the way back, at least a day. The problem is Wilson is messing everything up with that stupid 
UGA game. I’d like to do Labor day, but then if we leave on Labor day if we did 10 or 11 days we’d come back on the 15th, and we’d technically 
have to work on Friday… Although maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if we had the weekend to recover? Idk. What do you think?

ANNA JONES

From: Maggie
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 10:15 AM
To: Jones, Anna
Subject: RE: hiiiii

Ugh, yeah that game is messing it up! Tell him he can watch it on tv J It’d be nice if we could do it like Spain where we left the Wednesday 
before Labor Day, then took the entire next week off. I just don’t know if I can swing taking two full weeks off of work since that is 
technically our busy season. So it’d be nice to only take one full week. What other holidays are there?

 

Here’s where I really f*(&^% up.


From: Jones, Anna
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 10:53 AM
To: Wilson Jones
Subject: FW: hiiiii

I’m going to tell him he’s messing things up and being selfish. I can’t do July 4th because I have to work and after Labor Day isn’t a 
great time for me either. Let’s see how this goes.

In the meantime, please look at how gorg Amal is:
http://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/red-carpet-dresses/g4358/amal-alamuddin-style/?slide=1

ANNA JONES

 

From: Wilson Jones
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 10:59 AM
To: Jones, Anna
Subject: RE: hiiiii

Message received. Thank you.
We can go Labor Day if that’s what the three of you want to do.

Wilson Jones


From: Jones, Anna
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 11:12 AM
To: 'Wilson Jones' <wjones@programmanagers.com>
Subject: RE: hiiiii

Hehe oops. JK. Sorry. But I was really going to tell you that anyway. I hope you enjoyed the photos of Amal.

ANNA JONES

 

Wilson, I’m sorry. I’m an ass.

Here’s hoping that my stupidity gives you a laugh and perhaps makes you feel less electronically clumsy. Because I felt like a total fart afterward. My bad. 

Anywho, now for the real reason of this blog — this dress:

dress 2

dress / shoes

This is a fantastic dress by For Love & Lemons that I got on sale and then some on Shopbop. If you need a swanky dress that will make you feel fantastic, this is your answer. The only trick is getting the dress on and off — because of the delicate netting the garment could tear easily, so consider yourself warned. Trying to get this thing off after far too many cocktails used the same amount of deliberation and concentration employed by our forefathers in the creation of the Constitution. While they might say they had a far more arduous experience in doing so, I believe the effort I put forth in disrobing was worthy of an Oscar, if not the Nobel Peace Prize.

I’m still waiting on my call from the committee. Either committee.

Give me liberty, or give me dress! Or something. 

Fashion and Beauty

The Flannel Shirt Fiasco

December 16, 2015
flannel 1

I have something rather upsetting to say. I’ve begun wearing the same outfits as Wilson.

Womp.

Yes, it’s true. Turns out, guys have a very easy and comfortable wardrobe, and I’ve been quite in to that lately. My mom said she read somewhere that the longer a couple has been together, the more they begin to resemble each other. Well, it’s happening. Case in point: Thanksgiving 2015. I dressed myself in my new flannel shirt tucked into jeans, a leather belt and comfy loafers. Because, after all, Thanksgiving needs to be comfortable and, well, forgiving. I thought I’d done a fine job at both of these objectives with my outfit until I came downstairs to find Wilson in the same freaking clothes. It was like I was looking into a mirror except I’d grown a tad taller and had a Natural Light in my hand.

What the *&^%.

It’s happening, I thought. We’ve been together nearly eight years and are already beginning to dress alike. Imagine what will happen when we are together for 40 years? Will we go to the same hairdresser and I’ll say, “I’ll have what he’s having?” In 50 years, will they even be able to tell us apart? We do, after all, have the exact same hair color. Mine has just been (thankfully) chemically altered to “blonde.”

Thanksgiving was certainly a day of giving thanks, and also one of questioning my life choices. Indeed, this flannel shirt-matching-my-husband business nearly stirred up an existential crisis at my ripe age of 28. What does it all mean if we are just going to be the same… 

But alas, said crisis was averted thanks to dear ol’ Wilson. He jogged back upstairs and put on a pair of gray corduroys so I wouldn’t have a shit fit. He’s a kind soul, that Wilson. We still essentially wore the same outfit, but at least my fears of physical assimilation were quelled. For the moment. 

Now undoubtedly SST is filled with hyperbolic stories and phrases (present prose included), but this flannel shirt really is killer. It’s also 30% off too.

flannel 2

buy here

See? We really did have on the same stupid outfit. So upsetting. I’m a hop skip and three years from shopping at L.L. Bean exclusively (have you seen those deals!?) and no one will read this blog unless they want to learn how to pull off menswear and in an all-too-real way. I cringe at the thought. 

In other news, Birdie was spayed last week and has been royally pissed off ever since. I don’t think she minded the actual surgery, its the horror and embarrassment of the cone of shame she must wear for another four days that is really making her angry AF.

mad birdie

Do you see the look in her eyes? Pure unadulterated disgust. She probably thinks I look like Wilson too, and not in a good way. 

Does anyone else think their dog judges them…