Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lemons, Magnolias, and a Spritz of Cold Water

I love sweet magnolias. They smell heavenly and their colors are divine. Most of us southerners have a magnolia tree in our yard or a precious friend who would kindly let us steal a few. For those of you that don’t, a fake magnolia could be used for this project.
A few weeks ago, I needed a centerpiece for a bridal shower. So, I walked around my yard to brainstorm ideas for a simple tablescape. When my eyes landed on this fabulous magnolia (pictured above), I snatched it down along with a couple of extra leaves and got to work. Using a clear cake plate, I poured a small amount of cold water on the bottom to keep the centerpiece fresh. Then, I layered the magnolia leaves and lemons around the edge of the plate. I gently ran cold water over the magnolia while cleaning off the stem with a knife. Making sure that water on the plate touched the stem, I placed it in the middle of the leaves and lemons. This centerpiece works best if arranged just before guests arrive. To compliment this arrangement, I used two canisters filled with lemons, fig leaves, and water. I finished them off by tying blue ribbons around the middle. The simple green, white, and yellow palate worked perfectly for this occasion. The blue ribbon was used to compliment her wedding colors. I encourage you to use things you’ve grown to add that extra special southern charm. I hope you’re inspired to try an arrangement like this the next time you need one.
Happy decorating!

His and Hers

Hello, sweet readers! I hope your week is going splendidly. I love trying new recipes especially desserts. Let me start off this post by saying one of my favorite lines, "I love me some Nutella." What is it you ask? Truly, deeply nothing but pure hazelnut chocolate goodness. I am not afraid to be stranded on a deserted island because I’ve always got some with me. ☺
When I entertain, I like to have several small options for dessert just in case someone has a food allergy, is dieting, etc. Well, I decided to slap some good ole’ Nutella on some Ritz crackers and a star dessert was born. You heard it here first, these things are insanely good. This tiny little one bite item seems to be the perfect combination of salty and sweet. I named them His and Hers because of that very flavor combination. Also, if hazelnut chocolate isn't your favorite, chocolate almond bark works perfectly fine. I also experimented by melting some down and dipping half of the Ritz in the chocolate. Simply lay them out on foil to dry if you choose the almond bark option (and no, it doesn't have almond flavor). Please, for your own good, try some of these the next time you need a quick dessert. Just remember to buy skim milk to compliment them and cancel out calories.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

All Things in Elegance

Whether entertaining others or giving a special gift, it is important to let others know you care. It sounds cheesy, but small details make the biggest difference. The perfect compliment to a wrapped gift or place setting is one of these small handmade cards. I know what you're thinking, I'm so glad Faith is here to show me how easy it is! :) If you haven't already deduced how to do it, follow these extremely simple instructions to create the perfect cards for any occasion. Slide them under a crisply wrapped gift or write names on them for dinner guests. I assure you that others will notice your fine attention to detail.
You Will Need:
1.) Letter opener or in my case a fettling-knife (a bookbinding tool I own)
2.) Medium grade/weight cardstock of any color
3.) Stamp of any kind
4.) Ink Pad of any color
1.) Fold cardstock in half and make a sharp defined crease.
2.) With your fold against the outer edge of the table, use your letter opener to tear the paper in half (as shown in picture). Continue to fold and tear the paper until it is at the desired size. To give you an idea, I had to tear and fold the paper six times to get it into the size I needed. It sounds confusing but, just be conscious of your desired folded size and you're good.
3. Once you have the amount of squares you need, fold them sharply in half. Tearing the paper with the letter opener will make a feathered edge. The side of the paper that has the most feathered edges is where you should make a stamp in one corner if you're making a place card. If you're making a greeting card, stamp the card in the middle. Using the feathered-edge gives the cards a delicate look.
4.) Allow to dry and you're finished!

Hope all of you have an excellent week!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Secret is Out: Chicken Salad Recipe Revealed

Today, I'm sharing my own special chicken salad recipe with all of you. It is easy to make and fun, too! In case you were wondering, this is the recipe I use for bridal showers, baby showers, and casual luncheons. I don't normally cook with recipes unless I'm baking. My mom and I collaborated on this one to make sure it was as close to exact as possible. A special friend requested this recipe be blogged so, here you go!
1.) Four boneless skinless chicken breasts
2.) 1/2 large onion diced finely
3.) 1 stalk celery diced finely
4.) 1/2 to1 head of fresh garlic diced extremely fine (I love garlic but, if its not your thing, just go with half a head)
5.) Extra Light EVOO
6.) Kosher salt
7.) Fresh ground black pepper (none of that boxed stuff-i'm talking pepper from a fresh pepper mill-multi-colored peppercorns work great) If you don't have a pepper mill, look for McCormick grinders in the spice aisle
8.) 3/4 to 1 cup Hellman's Real Mayo or just enough to bind (nothing less than the calorie-laiden best)
9.) 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.) Preheat oven to 350. Lay a piece of foil out on a cookie sheet. Pour a small amount of olive oil on the foil and rub over cookie sheet. Lay chicken breasts out on foil. Lightly salt, pepper, and olive oil both sides of the chicken. When I mean don't make a heavy paste. Also, don't forget to wash your hands when handling raw meat. If you stop touching the meat to do something else, wash in between as well.
2.) Bake chicken on 350 until juices run clear, it is white all the way through, and internal temperature is 160 in the thickest part of the chicken. If you are unsure about your chicken cooking skills, invest in a meat thermometer. When serving guests, you must always be extra careful about food safety.
3.) While chicken is in the oven, chop celery, garlic, onion finely. Place mayo in a large bowl and add the previous chopped items. Add 1/2 juice of a fresh lemon. Mix all.
4.) When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Most often, I tear the chicken finely and place in the fridge for a few minutes before adding to my mayo mix.
5.) Refridgerate until ready for serving. Best enjoyed with Ritz crackers or crossiants.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looking Hotter Than It Feels Outside

It is no lie that summer in the south is, "Hotter than Crisco in a cast iron skillet." Well my friends, although there is no truer statement, the scorching heat is no excuse to let ourselves go when we are called to a casual outing. From lunch with a friend to a couple's shower, this simple outfit suggestion will get you through any occasion in this swelterin' weather. When it's hot out, we want to be as cool as possible. Therefore, dressing in THIN layers is the perfect option to looking pulled together and maintaining a fresh appearance. Consider layering two very thin tank tops or t-shirts with different cuts and patterns. Above is a picture of me with a striped tank in a straight cut and a racerback orange tunic on top. Even though I have my pattern underneath my solid, the orange is still visually interesting because there are outside seams around the whole shirt. Plus, these seams elongate the upper body which always helps. Another hint is to wear 100% cotton, the breeziest option out there. The only thing left to do is throw on some skinny jeans or shorts, add jewelry and a good wedge sandal. You're good to go for the weekend so, get dressed and I'll meet you at the grill! Have a great weekend and remember to work it where ever you go!
P.S. Men, I didn't forget about you. Check out these pictures of layered tees and don't forget about cotton and linen as your best choices. If you want me to really approve, go with v-necks! You silly boys always have it easier anyway. Just wake up, throw on pants and a shirt, and head out the door. Why you don't have to accessorize, fix your hair, put on make-up, and find a decent handbag, I'll never know.
Photos courtesy of

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Forget the Nail Salon

Hey, ladies! Listen to me and listen good. I've found the perfect solution to nail polish that stays on perfectly. It is called OPI Start to Finish. Rarely, if ever do I get a manicure or pedicure in a nail salon. I know for a fact that this OPI product is used in salons because I've seen it there with my own two eyes. All you have to do is paint a clear coat of the OPI onto clean nails and let it dry. Then add two coats of polish and finish off with a top coat of the same clear OPI. It works fabulously as long as you maintain the same patience it requires to sit under one of those neon dryers (I often use a hair dryer instead). This polish stays on my nails for at least two weeks. That might not be true for every woman out there, but I'm hooked. Seriously, consider trying this time and money saving item. For about $8.00 for the OPI Start to Finish and another $8.00 for some quality nail polish like OPI or Essie, you've already spent about $10.00 less than a regular manicure or pedicure (It also works great with Revlon and Sinful Colors). What is better than having your own products and using them time and time again? Check out Target, Drugstores, Sephora, or Ulta and you should find exactly what you need. People always ask me where I get my nails done and I love fooling them all! Haha! Hope you all have a great week and add this small detail to your everyday get-up! Get painting!

Images courtesy of:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Colorful Caprese Salad

Hello, again! Life has been so busy these past few weeks. It has all been fun, but the blog was neglected as I attended weddings, showers, and hosted three bridal events at my home. I have traveled all over my great state and beyond that, too. I just cannot get enough of entertaining and events. Life is hard when you're a jet setter. :) With the thoughts of delicious dishes I've had lately, I'd like you to have the recipe for my Caprese Salad. It is super-de-dooper simple. You will make it time and time again because it proves perfect for just about every occasion. One picture above is from Christmas two years ago when I cut out the mozzarella with cookie cutters ( I wanted the shapes to really stand out so, I poured dressing on top once it was served). The other picture was taken at a casual dinner party. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do! Make sure to whip up one of these very soon especially while the tomatoes are perfect!
Fresh tomatoes of any kind-usually two large ones for a salad for four people
Fresh mozzarella-available in the specialty cheese section of any grocery store
Fresh basil leaves-available at farmer's markets or in the produce section at grocery stores-NO DRIED!
Wishbone Salad Spritzer in Balsamic Vinagrette-not too heavy and not too light-I believe its the perfect combination!
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1.) Slice tomatoes to a medium thickness
2.) Slice mozzarella to a medium thickness in rounds (or you can get crafty with those cookie cutters!)
3.) Wash and tear basil leaves off of stems just before you are ready to plate the dish-don't leave these out too long in the open air because they tend to brown easily (especially here in the southern heat!)
4.) On a large serving dish, lay tomatoes out and spritz with dressing and add a small sprinkle salt and pepper. Continue to add mozzarella then basil in a layered way, spritz with dressing, salt and pepper again until the salad is fully assembled.
5.) This salad can be arranged in numerous ways, there is no "right" way to do it. Just get creative and remember, it is best when served at room temperature.