Friday, March 30, 2012

Billy's Pumped Up Kicks

Billy is quite the conservative gent when it comes to buying clothes. I need to take lessons from him! His minimalism makes me look like even more of a clothes horse. There are certain brands that he likes, and he buys those time and time again. In particular, he's all about Cole Hann shoes. Give him a pair in 10 and he's good to go. Several weeks ago, I saw these men's Cole Hann sneakers at the Dillard's Dig for $64.99. I loved them, but wanted to wait until they marked them an extra 40% off.
Last night, we made a trip there to look for him a few light weight business outfits. Low and behold, these beauties were marked down to $39.00. No, not business, I know, but he loved them! The retail on these was $128.00. So, if my Marine can handle the Dillard's Dig, you guys can, too! In the meantime, I'll keep posting pics of buys until the cows come home.
Have a great weekend!
Dillard's Clearance Outlet (Better known to me as Dillard's Dig)
5901 University Drive
Huntsville, AL 35806

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Southern Scrambler

Breakfast is divine anytime of day! Here's my favorite way to scramble eggs:
1.) Two eggs per person (Four for two people using this recipe)
2.) Pepper Grinder
3.) Kosher Salt
4.) Shredded Cheddar
5.) 1/2 small onion chopped finely
6.) 1/2 carton cherry tomatoes cut in half
7.) 1/2 bell pepper chopped finely

1.) Beat eggs with a couple of pinches of salt and freshly ground pepper. Scramble eggs low and slow, no higher than medium heat. Cooking protein at high temperatures will dry it out.
2.) When eggs are almost cooked to your liking, toss in all veggies.
3.) Cover with cheese and a little more pepper and salt if you wish.
4.) Place lid on skillet and temperature on low. Veggies will soften and cheese will melt.
5.) Serve!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prince Charming to the Rescue

One bad apple ruins it for the whole bunch. In this case, two.

There is a lot of truth in that popular saying. It only takes one person to act rude or make a show, and in mere moments they’ve ruined it for everyone. Yes, the light bulb is on and you’re thinking of one of those times at this very moment. Whoops! It seems that people are still forgetting that manners are fashionable. I love fashion. Clothes, trends, and image are some of my hobbies. However, what really pulls off a great look is the innate ability to let manners be your best feature. If you look great, you need to act great, too. They go hand in hand. You cannot look your best without manners and you cannot have manners without looking your best. Insert self-exploring techniques here.

Last night, Billy and I went on a walk in a nearby neighborhood. At the same time we were walking by a home with a woman and two kids in the yard, her husband was just getting home from work. Upon getting out of the car, the husband made no effort to come over to greet his wife or kids. He just stood at the end of their sidewalk. She kindly greeted him, and asked if he wanted to go out for a drive. Hands on hips, his “WHY,” remark was much louder and more sarcastic than necessary. Sure, I understand he might have had an awful day. However, in his action to her, he has clearly overlooked what SHOULD be his top priority and solace. Hello, sir, how about you leave those feelings in the car and honor your wife who has been taking care of your children all day long? She might want to spend some time with you, buddy! Upon our return loop through the neighborhood, we noticed the man was still outside on the phone, with the woman inside. I guess that fun night on the town didn't work out. There are always those “two sides to every story,” as we all know. Still, a clear focus on our TRUE priorities is far more important than work. Men and women, take note.

Later, while I was cooking some soup, I realized that I did not have any beans in the pantry. Thus, this Julia Child want to-be made a quick trip down the street to grab two cans. While in line, the cashier gestured to me and said, “Do you see that girl over there at customer service? She will help you.” Obviously, I made my way around the woman paying and over to the counter. Out of the corner of my eye, what do I see but a younger man LITERALLY, NO JOKE, WISH I WERE LYING RUNNING to get in front of me with his cart full? Immediately, I felt embarrassed for him. I had a diva moment and a brief swoon of the etiquette expert woes. The girl at the counter went ahead and helped him, yet, when it was my turn, she was extremely apologetic. After he left, “Chivalry is dead,” came out of her mouth. Ouch.

Women are often so hard on men that their inner manly woes often ruin it for the good ones. “My man did this,” and “Can you believe he did that,” are uttered at every girl’s night. We’ve heard it all. Innately, women are more docile. Even so, how impressive is it to see a man do something kind for a woman, out of pure chivalry? I assure you, a breath of fresh air. Although we’ve got those naysayers who, “might not care,” or are “in a big hurry,” is life really too rushed for politeness?

It is a common Marine Corp saying, “The Few. The Proud.” Well, along those lines, the few tenderhearted, polite, dapper, REAL men that I know do make me proud. They open doors for women, give them their seats, and certainly let them go ahead in the grocery line. They are never too rushed to make a woman feel special. Above all, they are mature enough to treat their woman well, while treating other women well, too. For example, if the wife is in the front seat and her friend is in the backseat, he’s got two arms and opens both doors. I love these men. They are each a Prince Charming in their own unique way. Thank goodness I've got one! He is still opening car doors for me and we've been dating for eight years. It is refreshing and lovely after all this time. These kind things make me love him more each time they happen and I am so thankful. It eats me up to see people act horribly and then wonder why happiness will not come their way. Hello? Are you on the other line? How are you treating your other? How are they treating you? Do you need to step it up, work it out, or even get out? Even if you’ve been burned once, twice, or ten times, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good ones left.

Why do I find myself venting on this topic repeatedly? Because I want to see more of it, of course! Last week, I taught etiquette seminars for UNA’s business school. As I teach, I speak to the issue of society becoming more and more gender neutral. Women in today’s business world want to be seen as a man’s equal, and for the most part, frequently do not expect chivalry at work. I, however, disagree. At a business luncheon, I would love it if a man pulled out my chair for me, or helped me with my coat. These things are not flirty. They are simple, memorable, and perfect. The heart of the problem stems from society’s fear that the act of these things is too forward. In my seminars, I discuss both sides, and encourage feedback. I give tips, which like anything I say or write are just my two-cents worth. This is an ongoing issue. It is fought out in magazines, talk shows, and households all over the world. After some soul searching, you might conclude that it is a matter of personal preference. Much is, but, better safe than sorry, eh? I do not want chivalry to be dead. I want it to rise up out of the grave, and thrive in society stronger than ever. I want men to treat women better, women to treat men better, and alarming statistics on violence and abuse to go down.

A lot of my care and concern on this issue comes from bad experience. I have a parent who has never valued women and I’m not afraid to use that hardship for the betterment of others. Because of this, I expect more out of people who know better. You don’t know what you don’t know. I'm getting off my soapbox. Thus, here are a few obvious yet forgotten suggestions:

1.) Never walk in front of a woman. When taking her to dinner, around the mall, or at the park, never leave her behind. She is with you. She isn’t there to follow you around like a puppy.

2.) Pull out the chair, anytime, anywhere.

3.) Give up your seat. On the train, in a packed lobby, at a party, the man should always stand up. I see this all the time. Let any woman have it, elders first and then on down the line.

4.) Have an open door policy. Hold the door open for a woman when she enters and exits a car, building, wherever.

5.) Offer your hand or arm. A woman in four-inch heels might need help getting down stairs, out of a car, or down the aisle at an event. Flex those muscles and show her what you've got. Oh yes, love it that you did two-hundred push ups last night.

6.) Don’t be embarrassed. Although you might feel a little nervous doing some of these things, PLEASE do not. Whether your married or single, you’ll feel rewarded for the things you do than for the opportunities that you let slip away. I promise!

7.) Treat your other better than you. If you are taken or when you will be, show your significant other that you value them more than anything. Who cares if you’ve been married thirty years? Doesn’t your soul mate still deserve the best of the best?

Monday, March 26, 2012

REAL Cake and REAL Cupcake Liners

Last Friday afternoon, I made these REAL strawberry cupcakes for a birthday party. Since I started from scratch, the recipe wasn't the normal strawberry cake (pink-which is still fab). This recipe has no gelatin, pudding, cake mix, etc. Thus, curiosity got the best of me and I had to give it a try. The final product looked more like muffins. The RECIPE is from the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes. I did add five drops of red food coloring, but they still turned out brown. Personally, I loved how fresh they were. The color threw me off at first, but the taste made up for it. I also used a different cream cheese RECIPE called a Crusting Cream Cheese. I loved it, too, party because I like the ring of Crusting Cream Cheese. It was stiff enough to spread over my little cakes and did not run in the heat. Thank the Lord! How in the world I forgot to get a picture of the cupcakes at the party, I'll never know!
One last thing, THE BEST and I mean THE BEST cupcake liners you will ever buy are called Cupcake Creations. You can get them at TJ Maxx, Marshall's or Tuesday Morning. They are in a clear box and usually 36 for $3.00. They are not greasy, whatsoever. They hold their shape and leave only a few crumbles on the paper. Please start using these, they are SO worth it.
I've tried two new recipes for your enjoyment. Now, while strawberries are super cheap, go make some fresh cake! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Owl's Got Glasses

Over the past several weeks, my right eyelid has twitched constantly. It wakes me up in my sleep, drives me crazy doing homework, and distracts me when I'm teaching clients. I kept waiting and wishing and hoping it would stop. Alas, no success. I decided to make an appointment to get it checked. Better safe than sorry! I'm told that eye twitching comes from usually four things: too much caffeine, lack of sleep, too much stress, and eye strain. Whoops! I've got a few of those going on at this present time. It turns out that I do have some weakness in my right eye. It's doing it's best to keep up with my left. To assist in "stopping" the twitch, glasses were recommended. Of course, I had to have some tortise shell ones (black are pictured)! If you know me, you know I love these. I'm supposed to wear them when reading, driving at night, or using the computer. Although I wore reading glasses long ago, I had to stop due to bad headaches. Enough about me already, I'm just showing you my new glasses. When I pick them up, I'll be sure to post a picture. I'm sure checking back for that will be the highlight of your life. Haha!

Have you switched up your eyewear within the last good while? Glasses are a great accessory, especially what's on the market these days. In etiquette school, we were told, "The darker the rim, the wiser the look." Dark rims are in, and are appropriate for all ages! Here's a great website for frames, too!

P.S. I'm supposed to drink tonic water to help the twitching stop. So, if you ever get an eye twitch, remember this blog. It might help you answer the question of twitching trouble.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Greek God Love

I've recently found this Greek God Yogurt. Holy moly, the honey flavor is amazing, amazing, amazing. I make granola parfaits with a little bit of it in the morning. They are heavenly! It is not tangy, whatsoever. I've also used the plain flavor for cooking. It is very strong on its own. I've had luck finding them at Kroger and Whole Foods, so far. I know these are a little out of the range for you Florence readers, but you are likely to visit Huntsville or Birmingham at some point, right? Try them out, better yet, try to stop eating them! Once you go greek, you never go back!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another Dillard's Dig Steal

I LOVE this super soft cotton shirt for spring. It's lightweight, striped, and perfect for the beach and the baseball field! DKNY $125.00, marked down to $43.75 with an additional 40% off, $26.25 plus tax. Have I convinced you, yet?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Merry March Christmas

So...I'm really behind on things I intended to blog on long ago. Christmas? Pardon me! This was my Christmas tablescape. Total cost: $14.97. Yes, it can be done.
Large stick from yard: Free
Red Tulle: $2.40 Hobby Lobby (40% off one item coupon HERE)
Two Sheets Christmas Scrapbook Paper for Place Cards : $1.00 Hobby Lobby
Lemons: $3.00
Holly from yard: Free
White Tea Candles: $1.00 bag at Dollar Tree
3M Brown Craft Paper: $1.00 Dollar Tree
Candle Holders: 3 for $2.19 Pottery Barn Clearance
Pinecones from yard: Free
Christmas Dishes: My own-Lenox Sleigh Ride
Glasses and Flatware: Dr.K

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ulta Coupon

If you haven't been before, Ulta is a great place to shop for all things beauty. They've got plenty to go around for men and women. At all price ranges, you can find whatever you need. I'd call it Sally Beauty Supply on steroids. They even have a full service salon. If you decide to venture to one of these for the first time or on a regular basis, never go without this COUPON. It is located on their main website page, $3.50 off $10.00. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

BLT Chop Chop Salad

Diagonal Chop
I didn't want this little baby to go to waste!

It's the PERFECT time of year to make a chopped salad. Vegetables are everywhere and I'm buying them like they're going out of style. What makes a GREAT chopped salad you ask? Anything chopped, indeed! This self-made recipe is a great lunch or side to dinner. It's not complicated and it fills you right up. It has all the components of a great BLT, Bacon, Lettuce (Romaine), Tomato or Turkey, croutons for the bread and cheese to get your daily dairy! The best thing about using romaine as your lettuce of choice is that it absorbs dressing really well. This is an extremely easy calorie cut! For this recipe, I stick to the same brands of things every single time. Of course, you don't have to measure things exactly, just add or take away as you wish. I'm currently eating this salad three times a week. YUM!

Hearts of Romaine Chopped Fine (1 Large Heart makes a side salad for two, for a meal, I use one large heart per person)
Texas Toast Seasoned Croutons
One Carton Plum Tomatoes
Kosher Salt-TINY pinch
Peppercorn Medley Grinder
Hillshire Farm Turkey (optional-my lunch go-to)
Sharp Cheddar
Johnny Fleeman's Honey Mustard (I've only seen this at Wal-Mart, a good substitute could be O'Charley's Honey Mustard, really any dressing, too!)
Two Slices of Center-Cut Bacon

1.) Wash and chop romaine very finely. The best way to do this is chop off the white end first(about 1" up because it is sometimes bitter). With leaves gathered together, slice about every 1/4" until entire heart is chopped. Then, diagonally move the knife over the slices to get a fine and even texture. Cut all plum tomatoes in half.
2.) Cook and crumble bacon. I microwave mine for exactly three minutes. If using turkey, slice it, too.
3.) Leave romaine slightly damp. In a large bowl, mix romaine, tomatoes, cheese, turkey, bacon, and croutons with salad tongs. Add desired amount of dressing, a tiny pinch of salt, pepper grinds, and toss again with tongs. Final product should look light with dressing, if you wish, of course!
4.) Serve!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The White Couch

I. Had. To. Have. This. Sofa.

I bought this sofa during a President's Day sample sale at Pottery Barn. Man, oh, man, it is everything I ever dreamed it would be. I've looked far and wide for a slip-covered sofa. I thought about buying an old one and fixing it up. I shopped thrift stores and antique stores until my legs broke off. When this holiday rolled around however, the timing and price were right. Looking at how absolutely huge it is, I can't believe how inexpensive it was. Yes, really, really, literally, inexpensive. This sweet baby is 100% white cotton canvas, Made in America, and fabulously two couches in one. It can be an L shaped sectional or a standard straight length. Since I didn't buy furniture to "fit" the apartment, the L shaped is too large for my den. So, the standard straight it is. The knife edge is functioning as a corner chair. If you saw my last apartment, you've probably guessed that I'm already busy making a huge wall collage above this very couch. A blog on it is coming soon.
While people have been asking me what type of furniture I'm getting/have, the white couch love spills out of my mouth faster than I can take my next breath. I've heard, "no pets or kids" spoken many a time. It doesn't bother me that it's white. If a stain gets on it, all I have to do is unzip that section and throw it in the washer. This is a HUGE perk to me. I can "clean" the couch anytime I want. Sleek, refreshing, and shabby chic, this was the perfect couch choice for me!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Solid Design: Miranda Alexander Interiors

Just the other day, I stumbled upon a dear southern belle at Miranda Alexander Interiors. On a quaint little Decatur street sits one of the most beautiful interior design firms I have ever laid eyes upon. Calming neutrals are everywhere. From curtains to couches to candles, beauty is all you see.
The precious belle that owns this store is Miranda Alexander, of course. She's an Alabama alum just like me! Roll Tide! I found the two of us talking continuously about all sorts of fun things. We both work very hard for ourselves, trying to get the word out there and be our own brand. We want more small businesses in America, especially in sweet home Alabama. Her firm has been open since December, and is gaining clients quickly. If you want some true design eye candy in historic downtown Decatur, PLEASE check her out! You will not be disappointed in all that she has to take in. She does private consultations in homes and businesses. So, if you're in the market for that, she's your girl. I love love love people like this! Following their dreams, achieving their goals, it is truly a sight to see. Find her on Facebook or visit her on Bank Street in Decatur, Alabama.

Spring Sheen

Tights are for spring and summer, too! Look at all these great sheer patterns! Target has tons for $5.00 and $10.00. Polka-dots, florals, stripes and more, these add an extra something special to your look. Sometimes, its hard to know if bare legs are appropriate depending on your situation. If so, go with a pair of these. You'll look super classy no matter what. They are also extremely handy for super hot days. If you're like me and extremely hot-natured, you know how miserable it is to keep yourself looking polished in the heat. Stop the swooning before it even starts. These look great with summer boots, flats, or pumps. I don't recommend them with open-toed shoes, however. That's as bad as wearing socks with sandals. As my mama always said, "Some things are just not done."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hot Tea

Dear Lipton Green Tea With Honey and Lemon,

You are my secret obsession. I have two cups of you every night before bed. You are great with three Splenda and half a lemon wedge. When I first saw you in the grocery store, I was skeptical that we should meet. However, your coupon threw me over the edge and I decided to give you a chance. You have proved me wrong on so many levels. You have brought me back to real hot tea. You're not one of those fake ones that looks good but is all talk. You have calmed me down so I can sleep well. I look forward to spending time with you after a long day. My little green tea pot is quite fond of you as well. She whistles every time she sees you. I see more of you in my future. I plan to have you along at dinner parties, etiquette lessons, and movie dates. We are going to have a lot of fun together. Thanks for being you. Thanks for brewing up something special for me every single time.

Happy Brewing,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simply Soothing

"Kind to Skin?" Yes sir.

I love moisturizers. They are a must for men and women no matter what age or what skin type. I have keratosis pilaris on my face and arms. Basically, it is constant goose bumps on both of those places. It is a genetic problem, so, unlikely to ever be "cured." When I get hot or when I cry, my face gets very red. Over the years, this bothered me A LOT. I've tried everything to settle it down because the redness would be quite noticeable. It was hard for me to wear make-up without looking like a white sheet cake, almost impossible to find a good blush, you get the picture. So far, I haven't found any magical treatment except lots and lots of moisture. I am extremely religious about this. If I lay it on thick, I can tell a difference throughout the day. The more moisture I use, the softer my face feels. The more moisture I use as I age, the more it improves. If I haven't lathered up before bed or before make-up, whoa unto me.

Usually, I try a new brand every time I run out. From thick to thin, I like to experiment. I particularly enjoy Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, Sephora Brand Age Defy Moisture Cream, Neutrogena Oil-Free, and my newest fave, Simple Light Hydrating. I've gotten my money's worth out of each of these at all price ranges (from $10 $30). The truth is, moisturizing is something many overlook. You brush your teeth twice a day, right? Yes, please. Don't you need to give the same care to your skin? Yes, please. Like I always say, get on the bandwagon. Your face and I will thank you.

P.S. Target currently has a $1.00 off Simple coupon. Just go HERE

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kohl's, You've Stepped It Up!

I browsed around Kohl's late this evening and found quite a few surprises. Although I didn't buy anything, I was really impressed at the streamlined look they've got going for women and men these days. They are now carrying a "line" of Rock and Republic, a high-end denim rocker look. Also, they have a Marc Anthony line for men that is beautiful. Maybe they've had these for awhile, I don't know. What they do with Rock and Republic/Marc Anthony is similar to their Simply Vera Wang line, also adorable. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've bought clothes there. Not that there's anything wrong with them by all means, I just usually don't think about it for wardrobe. Now, I've changed my mind. Check it out if you haven't been in awhile. Plus, they offer coupons in the paper sometimes. Happy hunting!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Great Lunch Read

I adore this blog, A Cup of Jo. It is the blog I want mine to be! 30,000 plus followers? Come on! I love this post in particular because I worry WAY to much:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Valor Vintage

Vintage photos are a great decorating staple. They are featured in blogs, catalogs, and decorating magazines. You need some on your walls. Ready. Set. Search.

These little gems are hiding right under your nose. Old drawers, antique shops, and boxes are a few of their favorite hangouts. You could raid granny's house and have enough of these to open a superstore. It is very inexpensive to dig out the musty and dusty, frame, and make a giant wall collage. Then, your wall art can be as big as you want it, as tall, or as wide.

I am OCD about blank walls. I want them full of life. I want character and things that represent me. A random conglomeration of things is my idea of masterpiece. Personally, I'd rather frame twenty small pictures and make a giant collage than buy a giant picture for one wall. I'm a hodgepodge person. That's just how I roll. I like art of all sorts, but I just can't get that warm and fuzzy feeling over many store items. I want things to have history and purpose.

I found this sheet of school pictures in my basement. Dr.K never passed them out, so out the door they go. How mod? How chic? I must have these. Add a $4.00 frame from Marshall's and magic appears. They've got a brand new life in 932. It's alright to mix frames, black and white pictures, and colored ones, too. Lay your idea out on the floor to make a plan before you make you hammer in your nails. I did a massive wall collage at my last apartment and I loved every bit of it. "Easy, fun, and practical," I say. Mine won't look like yours and yours won't look like mine. They're one of a kind, folks, one of a kind.