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…

Fashion and Beauty, Home Living

Holiday Gift Guide from Small Southern Biz

December 9, 2015

Shopping small is all the rage now, and it is nice to think that your purchases are going to help local entrepreneurs. All of the below items would make great stocking stuffers and are either made or sold by great Southern businesses. Check it out!

 

Made in the South -- Stocking Stuffers

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

#2, King Bean coffee is delicious. #4, how cute are those cheese stick things? #6 this salt is actually from the coast of South Carolina and #9 this hot sauce is the bomb.

Only 16 more days until Christmas…

Fashion and Beauty

Cyber Funday

November 30, 2015

Online shopping is the greatest gift and curse to any shopaholic for obvious reasons. The convenience, expediency and ability to sip wine while shopping clearly makes it by and large much more fun and valuable to society than shopping in person. And with the gift of free shipping and returns, the world is at your fingertips.

I think Cyber Monday is what Charles Dickens was referring to when he wrote, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Before you go nuts on the internet buying up every possible deal you can (and there are plenty), remember these rules:

1. Remember your Christmas gift list. Before buying something for yourself, think about the gifts you need to buy for others. Should you be allocating your money to those gifts instead? Or conversely, if the item is a gift, will the recipient really enjoy said item or is it just a good deal and you are being a cheap ass?

2. Do you need this item? Obviously you don’t really ever need anything, but if your leather boots are looking more like something that belongs in a cattle ranch as opposed to at a casual brunch, that would be something you “need.” If you have three other pairs of leather boots already, you’re probably good to go. No need to be gluttonous. 

3. Which leads me to the third point — do you have something like this already? Or if the item is a gift, does the recipient have something like this already? Don’t let the good deals get in the way of smart purchasing.

Ok now we’ve gotten that boring BS out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. All of these items are great deals and would be perfect Christmas gifts for the special gal in your life or as a treat yoself moment.

 

Cyber Monday Sales

 

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Clearly I have booties on the brain. I bought those pointy-toed booties already ($63!) and the PJ set, both of which I’ve been eyeing for a bit. I’ll let you know how they work out. 

Sales to remember:

J.Crew 30% off everything and 40% off all the J.Crew items in this collage as well as some great other stuff too. Code MONDAY.

Shopbop up to 25% off with code GOBIG15.

Nordstrom has great sales and extra 25% off select items too.

Happy shopping!

Fashion and Beauty

Christmas Gift Idea #1 — Driving Moccasins

November 17, 2015

The holidays are almost upon us, and planning ahead for gift giving is key for staying on budget. And for staying in your loved ones’ good graces. 

One shoe that every self-respecting lady (and gentleman) must have is a driving moccasin, and they also turn out to be an easy Christmas gift too. Driving moccasins are one of life’s greatest inventions as they are the equivalent of pajama jeans in terms of comfort except kosher to wear in public and – bonus! — fashionable. Pajama jeans obviously do not fit into either of the latter categories. While primarily more casual, driving mocs are not just for driving – these shoes fit right in at home, work, or out on the town. Chameleons for your feet. 

But don’t buy just any driving moccasins for your loved one… why not design them yourself? Pick the color of the suede, stitching, and tread through M. Gemi, a fantastic Italian shoemaker. They are a tad pricey — $198 — but I think this would make a great Christmas gift.

 

Custom Moccasin - M.Gemi


shoes

M. Gemi has a great selection of shoes — love these, these and these — so go on and poke around. They make good quality items that transcend seasons and trends, which is always a good thing.

And for the man in your life, Wilson loves these driving shoes. On sale! Great color leather and very comfortable per ol’ Wilson.

More gift ideas coming soon. I’m now trotting off to find a mimosa to pour in my coffee mug. Wish me luck. 

How to Speak Southern

A Bad Case of the Why Mes

November 11, 2015
231H

Last week I had a shitty week. A shit-tay, shit-tay week indeed.

First of all, I was as sick as I’ve have been in a long time. Besides the time I had the swine flu (remember the swine flu!?!) this is the worst I’ve ever felt. Achy AF, sore throat, nasty cough, runny nose, the works. I was a real peach. And as a sudden sickness usually does, this one came on at the worst possible time. Not only did it ruin a perfectly good trip to NYC, but this is the busiest time of the year at my job, and I really did not have time to be sick. But sick I was.

And then they came — the dreaded, awful, WHY MEs!?

Why did I have to get sick now when I have a mountain of work? Why did my trip have to be ruined? Why did I get a parking ticket and a flat tire at the same time? Why did I have to feel THIS bad? WHY ME?

I threw myself a pity party of epic proportion. Everyone was invited. No one showed up but Birdie. 

I spent nearly a week in bed feeling sorry for myself. Every time I coughed my disgusting cough, I moaned. Every time I sneezed, I whimpered. I even started to tear up at the doctor’s office when they took blood because I thought I may faint. I was a sorry sonofabitch.

After taking another swig of my almost-lethal cough medicine one night — this stuff was so strong you could smell it from a mile away — I tucked myself back into bed and began to think. Thinking is a powerful thing. I barked another gross cough and recalled a story I think of from time to time.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a little sister who was diagnosed with cancer. She was 13 when diagnosed. The cancer spread throughout her tiny body so quickly and so aggressively that even the strongest of chemotherapy couldn’t quell her cancer, and she died. It was terribly, horribly, painfully sad. Still is. I can’t even imagine the pain the family went through. The looks on their faces at the funeral was something I will never forget. But before she passed away, she was a part of the Make a Wish program, and her wish was to raise enough money so that all the other Make a Wish kids’ wishes in the Charlotte area would be granted.

Let’s pause on this for a second.

A child with cancer wanted all the other children with cancer to have their wishes granted. That would make her happy. Her heart was so full and so grateful that she wanted to share her love with others, making their hearts full too. She used her situation to benefit others, and the impact she had was powerful. Giving without abandon, without thought of yourself — that is the true meaning of selflessness. If given the chance to do anything in the world, would you make that same choice? Would you choose giving to others over meeting your favorite celebrity, or going to Disneyworld, or taking a once in a lifetime trip? I cannot honestly say I would. But this little girl did. She made the choice to think big and love big, and never once did she say, Why me?

Whenever I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, I often think of this little girl. And she gives me something too — Perspective. Perspective and I have been speaking different languages for a few days now.

I share this story with you in the event you have a case of the Why Mes. It’s only human for us to feel sorry for ourselves from time to time, but it’s how we rise above these feelings that makes the difference.

After thinking about this little girl, I then made a list of 10 things I’m grateful for. This is something my sister says she does sometimes to re-calibrate her thinking and to realize just how lucky she is. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. My roomies, Wilson & Birdie
  2. My family
  3. My friends, near and far
  4. Ear plugs
  5. My health
  6. Trashy reality TV
  7. Living in the USA
  8. The pumpkin bread my mom made me
  9. My job
  10. Good chapstick

Obviously not all of these are as serious as others, and they aren’t necessarily in order (sometimes ear plugs are first, quite frankly) but these were things I was grateful for a that moment. And then my old friend returned — Gratitude. Good to see you ol’ chap. 

Life is unexpected, and changing, and, at times, challenging. But my little slice turns out to be quite sweet, running nose and disgusting cough included. And on this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to add one more thing I’m very, very grateful for — the service men and women who have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice so that I can have those 10 things for which I’m grateful. Thank you. Home of the free, because of the brave. 

Make your list of 10 things. You’ll probably realize you have many more than just 10.