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How to Speak Southern

A Great Hostess Gift — Soberdough

February 2, 2016

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:



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.

Home Living

Comfortable Entertaining

May 21, 2014

One of my favorite things to do is plan something fun during the work week. When I graduated college and entered the work force, most likely the hardest adjustment I made as a working adult was learning that I couldn’t go out and party-hardy on Tuesdays anymore. Or any day during the work week, for that matter.

At UNC, Tuesdays were THE NIGHT to see and be seen, much to my mother’s astonishment and disapproval. Our disgusting yet amazing college bar Bob’s hosted a smashing party dubbed DJ Night every Tuesday, serving up cold Bud Lights for $2.50, endless opportunities for flirtation and general drunken tomfoolery.

Had an exam on Wednesday at 9am? Who cares. It was Tuesday and therefore we went to Bob’s to drink and dance to a laptop hooked up to loud speakers. My priorities were on point. Some of my fondest — and dimmest — college memories were created at Bob’s on Tuesdays, including meeting my dear husband, Wilson. A setting so romantic it rivals even the most poignant Shakespearean love stories.

The fall from the wonderful, comfortable cloud that was college to the cold, hard ground that is adulthood was made all the more crushing by the elimination of school-night partying.

But then I discovered that adults party mid-week as well, they just do so on a more appropriate level. My heart leaped with joy at the first invitation to a mid-week dinner party, held at a friend’s house and consisted of eating frozen pizza on the floor. It was spectacular. While I’ve exchanged the college tradition of slamming vodka drinks with grain alcohol at 10pm with moderately chugging sipping a bottle glass of Malbec, I’m happy to report that partying during the week is still great fun and Wilson and I do it all the time. 

Like last week’s grill session that served up this casual-cool table setting.

long table

The deliciously perfect weather provided the ultimate backdrop for ol’ Wilson and I to have some great friends over and cook some shiz on da grill.


These Skyros plates + these Caspari napkins + these rattan chargers + these cheap matelasse placemats from Marshalls + these pretty blue glasses = easy outdoor dining place setting. I cut a few sprigs of rosemary to put on top of the napkins to keep them in place because it was a tad windy. And for a little flair.

plates upclose

Upclose table 2

Wilson’s mint julep cups make an appearance again. If you don’t have some already, invest in a few. They are very useful.

place setting

I love the cutlery from our wedding registry. It’s pretty, heavy and goes with everything.

overhead view

Upclose table

Simple. Beautiful.

rocking chairs


left side of the table

When a friend asked Wilson and I if we wanted to go on a double date a few weeks ago, I ecstatically cut across her, exclaiming, “How about Tuesday!?”

Some things never change.

Home Living

SST Vietri Picks for Summer Entertaining

April 25, 2014

Big things are poppin’ over at the SST offices. And by offices I mean my bed.

I am oh-so excited to announce that I will be covering the preview of Vietri’s Spring Warehouse Sale next Thursday. Happy May Day to me! From live blogging to instagrammin’ it up, I will be on-site in action for the fantastic madness that is the Annual Warehouse Sale.

Today is a good day!

For those of you who may be Vietri Spring Warehouse Sale newbies, this thing is the bomb. Held from May 3rd to May 5th at Vietri’s headquarters in Hillsborough, NC, the sale offers MAJORLY discounted Vietri specialties in its fabulous warehouse.

No they don’t serve wine…

To get you super excited for this awesome sale, I’ve pulled some of my favorite Vietri pieces to help you effortlessly entertain your guests this summer, all for under $100.


Summer Entertaining by Vietri

Summer Entertaining by Vietri by annabjones featuring vases


1. This vase is a gorgeous color and height — I’m imagining a big beautiful bunch of white hydrangeas beaming from its rim.

2. Great pitcher for some iced tea, lemonade, or a John Daly.

3. My favorite color on a cute little turtle. Turtle time?

4. Great plates, great price…

5. I realllllly like this bowl, it would be perfect near the bar with some cashews in it. Men congregate around the bar and love snacks.

6. I also reallllly like this dishsalads on salads on salads

7. The is the perfect platter for a delicious summer fish recipe.

Because I just adore all of you and so does Vietri, we are partnering up to give away the below vase from Vietri’s new Alabaster Glass Aquamarine line of dinnerware to a lucky SST reader. Told you today was a good day.

vietri vase

Just do one of the thingys on the giveaway and BOOM! You’re entered to win this vase, all thanks to Vietri. And me of course.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information on the Vietri Spring Warehouse Sale, visit the website here. You know I love a good sale.

Also Tory Burch is having a Friends and Family 25% off sale using the promo code FRIENDLY until Monday. I’m doing some SST picks tomorrow so be on the lookout… #dontgooverboard #rememberyour401k

How to Speak Southern

Entertain Like a Pro: Setting a Southern Table

April 9, 2014

The cornerstone of what defines a Southern woman is the ability to entertain — the gift to welcome guests into your home and make them feel comfortable, confident and refined, all the while serving unbelievably delicious food and a constant flow of drinks so they leave happy, full and drunk. This, my friends, is the art of being a perfect hostess.

Being the perfect hostess is so important. I strive to be one, but often my anxiety and OCD get in the way, followed by being overserved by myself, the hostess. It’s an interesting thing to watch. Regardless of my inability to master this art, it never hurts to try, and try we must.

The art of being a perfect hostess, begins, no doubt, with setting the stage for a terrific party, and nothing sets the stage better than a beautiful table. A beautiful table can be constructed many ways, but there are a few steadfast elements that every table must offer to augment the party and, ultimately, solidify your position as the hostess with the mostest. And Southern woman extraordinaire.

Let’s discuss.


The first thing every table setting must have is a flower arrangement of some sort. As stated previously, I prefer lower arrangements for home entertaining because they are less obtrusive and ostentatious, but large flower arrangements can be amazing in their own right, too. Here I used a large square glass vase and shortened the tulip stems to create a snazzy display. To make the tulips stand at attention during their party duty, I put pieces of clear tape across opposite ends of the vase, creating a grid of sorts to help hold their little heads up.  It’s a great trick I learned from Martha Stewart years ago. I’m not kidding, I used to watch her as a child. Explains a lot, actually. I should’ve taken pictures of this but didn’t, sorry, so just leave your questions in the comments section if you have any… 

I also used small pewter mint julep cups for a little arrangement of roses — this is an easy trick to do all over your house, regardless if you have mint julep cups or not. Just use a pretty glass cup or mason jar and arrange a few flowers in the container for display in a bathroom, on a bedside table or on a barcart — anywhere that needs a little surprise color and happiness. This is also very cost-effective because you can buy one bunch of flowers and display it all over the house. Perf.

Another recommendation to keep flower costs down is to buy whatever type of flower is in season as they are usually cheaper and available in larger amounts. Flowers can get expensive so quickly — $50 for two dozen roses? WTF? — so it’s important to know your flower budget ahead of time and stick with it.



The second ingredient for a perfect tablescape — I despise when Sandra Lee uses that word, but it really captures what I’m trying to say here so what the hell — is an illumination element. Here I have used three different types of candles — mercury tea lights, classic sterling candlesticks and contemporary glass holders — to add height and interest to the table. Candlelight is the best light, second only to the first break of dawn — I’m very light-sensitive and appreciate good lighting — and makes everyone infinitely more sexy under its flickering beams, therefore every party must have candlelight. Turn off the overheads and bring your sexy back, my perfect hostesses (or hosts!) to-be.




Using a variety of serving pieces is another key to a great table. Mixing regular silver platters with cake stands — used here for some pretty veggies — with other crystal and non-formal pieces makes for a gathered, collected look. You don’t always have to use just sterling — mix it up with integrating glassware and gold pieces to achieve a table that Southern Living would be proud of.



Lastly, make sure you put the plates, utensils and napkins somewhere near the table, but not on the table. This may seem a bit obvious, but there really is nothing worse than a major traffic jam in the buffet line because your slow neighbor is taking his sweet time balancing his plate, fork and bourbon drink when you are trying to get your grub on. Just sayin’. Separate the eating accoutrement from the actual food itself and your table will retain its beauty and ability to conduct traffic.

While on the subject of food utensils, it’s always a good idea to prepare foods that don’t require forks, knives or spoons. Everyone loves a good amuse-bouche, so save yourself the annoying dishwashing later and make everything pop-in-your-mouth-able. A good hostess should entertain their guests, not clean during the entire party.


Now that you are properly equipped with the tools to create a perfect tablescape — grrr Sandra Lee why did you put that damn word in my head — you should pour yourself a cocktail for a job well done. You deserve it.