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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.

tablescape

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.

How to Speak Southern

Southern Curb Appeal

November 15, 2013

To me, there is nothing better than for a house to have a welcoming stoop. Something to say, Hello and Come in! to your visitors. My uncle also pointed out once that it’s good to have a covered one too because it’s rude to make your company stand in the rain potentially. Our porch ceiling is painted a grayish blue to stay within the muted tones of the house.

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I love our front door. This was another crafty find of Wilson’s. He found the door frame from our local Habitat ReStore and the actual door on Craigslist. The door is made from pine which is naturally a light wood, so we had the door stained to match the frame because I like the dark stain better. Look at the beveled glass — can you believe we got it off of Craigslist? Here’s the best part — the door was $300, and the frame was $200 — now that is a steal.

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A full post coming soon once I finally finish the front porch to my liking.

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These planters add some pretty color to the porch. The actual black planters are plastic — ha! — and were $15 each from Lowe’s. Eventually I will break down and buy some nice pottery ones, but they are very expensive — anywhere from $50 to $100 for ones this size — and I wasn’t ready to commit to that just yet. I also got the pansies from Lowe’s for $7 per pot. And the little tree? It is rosemary! Each tree was $13 and not only adds height to the pot, but also smells amazing and I can use it for cooking throughout the winter. Pansies are great winter flowers as is rosemary — I’m thinking the rosemary may die back a bit, but for $13, who cares? I love ordering my flowers from the #1 Deer Park florist.

A good rule of thumb to remember when planting a pot is that you need a hanger, a grower, and a shooter. This means to give your planter that made-for-a-magazine look, you need a plant that hangs, a plant that just grows regularly, and a plant that is tall and grows straight up. This adds depth and interest to the pot. In this one, the pansies serve as both my hanger and grower and the rosemary is my shooter.

On a separate note, I have been extremely touched by the amount of support and love I have received for officially launching this blog. Your kind words mean the world to me and I so so appreciate it. I have the best family, friends and husband… love to all!

How to Speak Southern

Thank You Notes SST Style

November 13, 2013

Since I am recently married, I have been writing a LOT of thank you notes. For those of you who have not received yours yet, it is coming…

A handwritten thank you note is a very important staple in Southern culture. It is a way for one person to express their sincere gratitude to another, and to show that gratitude by taking the time to put pen to paper and creating a well-worded note. This personal touch can really brighten someone’s day, and is well worth the time it takes to do it.

stationery 2

stationery 1

This is the stationery my mom had printed for my wedding thank you notes, which matches our wedding invitation. They are gorgeous letterpress notes — a calligrapher wrote out my new name and then had it screen-printed onto the cards. I think the calligraphy really adds a nice touch.

Because I’ve been writing so many notes lately, I thought I’d share a few tips for crafting a great thank you note. Here’s three rules to follow to create a meaningful one:

1. Ensure you sound genuine when you thank someone in the note. Use words like thoughtful, appreciate, heartfelt, grateful, kind, love, wonderful, etc. to show that you truly are thankful for the gift they gave you.

2. Share a quick anecdote about the gift you received. In my case, I usually crack a few jokes about how Wilson has learned so many new things from the wedding gifts we’ve received — like that a charger is to go under a dinner plate and not necessarily always for an IPhone… You could also share how you are using the gift currently so that the person knows you actually enjoy the item.

3. PROOFREAD. There is nothing worse than sending a thank you note that has grammatical errors in it. Nothing. Once you are finished writing the note, read it in your head. Then read it out loud to yourself. If you need extra preparation, you can always type out the thank you note first, edit the copy on your computer and then write it on your stationery to guarantee it is error-free. This also prevents any wasted stationery.

Thank you notes are the perfect way to show someone you care and that you appreciate their thoughtfulness. What are your thank you note tips?

 

How to Speak Southern

Hostess Gifts SST Style

October 1, 2013

As a born and bred Southerner, I understand the importance of a good hostess gift. Whenever I go anywhere and stay at another person’s house, I always make sure to bring a thoughtful present  that the host/hostess will like, but that is also affordable. To get the biggest wow for the least amount of money, I use a little creative thinking to really make sure they feel appreciated.

One gift that I have given before was a jar of red pepper jelly, a box of nice crackers — I used Carr’s — and a little cheese spreader I found at Marshall’s. I added a note that said Spread Over Cream Cheese! and wrapped the foods in a clear plastic bag and tied it with a ribbon. The total came to $15 and it was both affordable and delicious. The Stonewall Kitchen Red Pepper Jelly from Sur La Table is a personal favorite. I gave this gift to Wilson’s grandmother “Mimi” and it was a hit. Brownie points.

and

plus a pretty cheese spreader and you have yourself a perfect hostess gift that aims to please.

Another go-to hostess gift I give is a bottle of well-priced wine with a package of cocktail napkins. These gray napkins from Caspari are some of my favorites. A fantastic bottle of red wine that I highly recommend — and often enjoy myself — is Rockus Bockus.

http://www.rockusbockus.com/images/rockusbockus_bottle.jpg

I love the label. Very cubism-meets-grape.

A blend of cabernet, zinfandel, syrah, merlot, petit verdot and — my personal favorite — malbec, it is a great tasting wine that won’t blow the bank. Retailing for about $13, this wine paired with a $5 package of cocktail napkins makes for a great hostess gift that doesn’t look cheap.

What are your favorite hostess gifts? Got any go-tos that I should know about? Let me know of any other cheap ideas that I can steal to impress my future host and hostesses. A true Southerner is a perfect host and, more importantly, a perfect guest.