Fall & Football

It’s the first cool Fall day in Louisiana & a huge day of SEC collegiate Football! Life is so good in the South!

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Preparing for a day of food & fun with friends (of which I will include in future posts)!

Maybe it’s a Southern thing, maybe it’s a Louisiana thing but today we will be made happy by a crisp breeze, smoked meats, huge pots of savory gumbo, craft beer, raucous tailgating, babies in school colors, boots & scarves, cheering & backseat coaching.

It bears repeating: today, life is so good in the South.

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Thirsty Thursday – Bottles & Bubbles

I was inspired by an assignment in my Blogging University, Blogging 101 class¬†to do a Gallery post and so I snapped a few pics of last night’s Kenner Food and Wine event at Chateau Country Club. I know this “Thursday” post is going out on a Friday, but since the event happened on a Thursday, I think I’m safe ūüôā

Last night’s event was a mash-up of several areas of my life: held in the city I work in, attended by people I work with, hosted by the wife of the Mayor I work for, worked by friends of mine and friends I haven’t seen in years. Proceeds went to a regional¬†foundation¬†and ¬†local restaurants and wine distributors offered unlimited¬†¬†delectables and vino. Merriment was the order of the night and an amusing (albeit hot & muggy) time seemed to be had by all.

It’s the kind of event that’s happening all the time but can be easily missed by excuses of weeknight, other obligations, poor weather, etc. which is a shame because the excuses are never as rewarding as the attendance.

So here are a few (iPhone) pictures in hopes of inspiring you to attend a fun, neighborhood event and support local businesses, charities and people!

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Tables of wine lined the outdoor pool area. Tastings and info of all were provided by knowledgeable reps.

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Team Gleason glasses echoed the love of city & Saints in attendees’ hearts.

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The space was awash in a cool color palate of lighting.

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Friend and rep, Rene (right)

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Arguably the most popular table…the CHAMPS!

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I drank many glasses of Perrier-Jou√ęt but when that ran out, this cuvee’ and rose’ were both excellent!

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The “almost” sister-in-law and wine rep, Celeste (right) *side note* I LOVE this girl!

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Exceptional example of smart social media branding. Clean, classy, simple! #KWFE

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The aftermath: abandoned tables and empty bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Make Merriment, Live-it-up with Locals, Care for Charities!

 

Readers, what’s a local or charity event you attended that you’re so glad you didn’t miss out on?!

 

 

 

Women’s Words Wednesday – Battling the Breast Bomb

10176194_10203967596003305_5942656178842187111_nIt’s October 1st which means it’s time to Think Pink, Go Pink, Touch our Ta-Tas, Save Second Base…

Kenner Ribbon

Employees of Kenner City Hall Photo: Barry Sprague

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started a month long fundraising campaign today at my work; making a giant pink ribbon out of employees, donning our pink shirts and raising almost $2,000 for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in only one day! It was…well it was inspiring.

 

More inspiring still…the women who were there that were quietly cancer survivors, or relatives of cancer survivors, or friends of cancer survivors. My grandparents and relatives have survived and died of cancers but that’s another time, another post. Today’s words belong to the women who have endured, who have fought and lived, who have believed at the end of hope’s road. This post is their testimony.

 

A few of the favorites I found:

 

When you’re told:

Sheryl Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Seuss

OK, technically a guy, but a worthwhile message.

When you’re in it:¬†Melissa Ethridge

When wisdom comes from the funniest people and humor from the strangest places:

Christina Applegate Gilda Radner

Your triumphs: Robin Roberts
Olivia Newton John Giuliana Rancic

When it’s your loved ones:

Cynthia Nixon

The only women, and men who can understand the fight with breast cancer, or any cancer, are the ones who have gone through it and the ones who have loved someone who has. There are so many wonderful, inspirational quotes, memes, songs, or speeches that you may read or hear this month and a dozen or more ways to locally donate and volunteer. I suggest starting with finding a breast cancer survivor or supporter and hearing what they have to say. See where that conversation takes you.

And, please dear readers, start this month and

Brush up on Boobies!  

A helpful guide to self breast exams!

Bonus read: Sometimes it’s not a shared fight. Sometimes Breast Cancer creates silent suffering. Read¬†Not Another Tall Blog ‘s poignant post about¬†her mother’s decision to keep her cancer a secret.

B is for … Bargains: Better Buds Bash

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We’re into the second month of the blog and the second letter. For the month of September, B’s theme is going to be “Better” in a ¬†series of posts about simple ways to do things better. Brilliant!

Today’s do-better theme,¬†Entertaining and Dinner Parties:

 

 

Entertaining:

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  • Presentation is key –¬†When setting out food for entertaining, remember the old adage – We eat with our eyes first. I know that a good part of my presentation OCD comes from my event planning days, but those were valuable lessons learned.¬†No-one sees the container the food comes out off, just the plate they take the food from – The lesson here is to go with the store brand or an alternative, cheaper option when possible with the food and serve it up in an eye-appealing way.
    • I love me some Water Crackers but at upwards of $4 a box, they’re a bit more than I want to pay for a snack “accessory”! There are many tasty alternatives like rice-crackers that come in several¬†yummy flavors (Whole Foods 365 are delicious) and usually retail closer to $1 a box. Less expensive, crusty bread sliced in a basket looks rustic and inviting next to a cheese plate & a loaf can go for $1 from the grocery.
    • Wine in a box has come a long way in taste and quality over the last decade, offering award-winning wine at “bulk” prices, which is what you’re looking for when serveral bottles are likely to be poured. Black Box is a personal favorite of mine and several of my girlfriends. Just because the wine comes in a box doesn’t mean it has to be placed out for spigot use. Decanting that box wine makes for a lovely presentation and can enhance¬†the taste through aeration and temperature; red wine will be kept at room temperature and white wine decanters are designed to keep the wine chilled.
  • Sharing is caring – As much as I love a visually appealing spread, having not yet become the recipient of a bridal registry, I’m lacking when it comes to presentation dishware. Buying them would throw my entire budget, however I know friends who do very well with thrifting for them. My suggestion, borrow from relatives, other friends, or even the friends you are hosting. Make the effort to collect from them in advance of the party and return the dishware washed and with a short “Thank You” note soon after. The small effort to collect and return equals huge payoff for a fabulous table setting.
    • Or skip the fancy dishes all together and place plain dishware on a clever table topper! Pinterest in full of “chalkboard table” ideas!
  • A little bit $$$ a lot of $ – When planning entertainment dishes like snacks, apps, small bites, ¬†remember a rule of thirds. For every one pricier item, have two lower priced items, and make your pricier items only up to a third of the entire spread.
    • I love cheese and love, love, love a cheeseboard. Probably because I could sit and eat the whole thing! (Don’t judge) As much as I would like a cheeseboard full of Humboldt Fog¬†and Roquetfort, I’m balling on a budget. Following the thirds-rule, I make sure my¬†board has plenty of less expensive items on the spread: grapes, carrots, olives, nuts (drizzle with oil and cajun spices, toast in oven for a few mins for extra pizzazz),¬†slices of¬†delicious and inexpensive sharp cheddar, and let’s not underestimate the wonders of a block of store-brand cream-cheese with a pepper jelly on top.
    • Whole Foods has a basket of cheeses in the cheese department that’s¬†filled with¬†the odds-and-ends of the cheeses; the “last piece” basket. The pieces are usually no more than $5. Rummage through and pick out a few pieces. Spot these around your cheese board for variety and interest.

 

Dinner Parties:

 

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  • What’s growing = what’s cheapest –¬†Though we live in a magical world of year round produce where you can get strawberries in the dead of winter, the most economical selections are those that traveled the least distance and are in season. Make sure to plan your meal around what’s growing to cut costs and ensure a superior product.
  • Shop with your eyes, then with your wallet – Grab the grocery publications or check online for the sales they are running. Plan a menu around that. This rule also applies for drinks and snacks for a dinner party.
    • If hummus is on sale, for instance, I will usually reduce or forgo the cheese plate for hummus and veggies. Delicious and easy frozen meatballs on special? You bet they’re going in a small bite dish for a party or as an app for a dinner!
    • This is also a great way to get pricier items on the plate. If it’s a rare occasion when crab claws are on sale, just one or two on each plate can really fancy-up the meal of a small gathering.¬†Asparagus can be pricey but I love to scoop it up when it’s on special.
  • Good food is good food, period – Many people assume, because they are having company over, they should serve “only the best” to their guests. While I agree your guests should get the best you have to offer, what you have to offer should fit your budget.
    • Can’t afford to serve everyone steak? Go for a more economical cut of meat, like flank steak and serve it in a creative way (try it atop the Triple Threat Salad) or make beef stroganoff with inexpensive stew meat (Bonus: it can be made in the slow-cooker before the party).
  • No leftovers zone – Be reasonable with yourself about how much to serve your guests. Remember that restaurant sizes are not a good guide for serving sizes and that you will not be providing guests with to-go boxes. While second helpings are nice to offer, how many of your ¬†guests do you¬†anticipate¬†having them? If you have served snacks before a dinner party meal, your portion sizes at dinner can be smaller; same if there is a starter, salad, dessert, etc.

 

In Sum: Plan for the sale and the season. Follow the thirds rule and aim for the inexpensive. Presentation over brand-name and  delicious over expensive.

And the most important thing to remember is the reason you are feeding…to gather everyone together for good food and a good time! It’s about company and memories, so¬†concern yourself more with being a gracious host/hostess than a well-to-do one!

Bidding you Blissful Bashes! 

Fun Facts Friday – B is for Baking

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Last Saturday morning I decided to combat the bleakness of the rains pummeling against my windows with the warms smells of baking and coffee.SAS.M3

 

 

Wild-berry "protein" muffins

Wild-berry “protein” muffins fresh out the oven!

I made myself some wild-berry “protein” muffins. ¬†Now before you go giving me any undue credit, I used a mix…but, as I often do when making food, I¬†did change up the recipe and add a few of my own ingredients. That’s usually easier to do with cooking than baking, given the exactness required more often¬†¬†in baking recipes but I find muffins to be pretty forgiving.

 

Fun story: In high school Home Economics class my group put all the melted butter listed for the recipe in our orange muffin batter. While the muffins were baking we went to prepare the topping and realized the butter was meant to top the muffins with. There was a slight panic in the eyes of four plaid-clad young ladies! What happened to the muffins, you ask? They came out looking perfect! We melted more butter, topped them with zest and sugar and got rave reviews for our super moist creations! HIGH-FIVE!

For Saturday’s muffins I just substituted vanilla protein powder for the milk and added more spice¬†with cinnamon and nutmeg. ¬†I added some flax too, just for a bit more nutritional value.

Making Muffins

I love my well worn muffin tin. It reminds me of fond times chatting over morning muffins with roommates and my sister.

September is a new month and so it’s time for a new letter: B! Inspired by our new letter and morning muffins, our first FFF¬†is all about baking.

 

Encyclopedia.com defines baking as:

 two culinary processes: cooking by dry heat in an enclosed oven and making up flour-based goods (breads, cakes, pastries) that are cooked by baking. By extension a baking day is devoted to making breads and cakes and includes the idea of a batch bake or tray bake made up in quantity for cutting into smaller pieces.

and lists the occupations of the trade as the baker and the pastry chef:

the baker using yeast to make breads and the pastry cook producing delicate pastries and cakes.

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Bakers and Pastry Chefs have a patron saint all their own; Saint Honore. Honore was a Bishop and, fittingly, French. When Honore became Bishop, a woman baking¬†didn’t believe it and to prove¬†he was indeed Bishop, a piece of her bread was placed in the ground and grew into a tree. Celebrate on May 16th by baking with fruit from trees, like a lemon pound cake!

Saw this helpful hint on Today I Found Out:

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And an found article from Wise Bread to help crack the code! Buy Better Bread!

Color Coding Bread

One of the first things I helped my mother bake, cake. My mom was incredible and made all the cakes for my siblings and cousins. She was a master of themes and icing, creating everything from an army battle field to a Care Bear.

Cakes come in all shapes and sizes now but were traditionally round and here’s why:

Cake Cake Cake

Find out about the history of cakes from Weekend Notes!

This symbolizes the cyclical nature of life, the sun and the moon, which is probably the reason why we have cakes during important events; highlighting that we are embarking on a new journey in our life-span.

Ancient breads were also round, typically fashioned into round balls and baked in shallow pans. In the 17th century, cake hoops made from metal or wood were increasingly used.

Now everyone together, you know the song…“Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake-Cake”

Know who the Guiness World Record holder for the world’s largest brownie is? All American Cooking does!brownies

It’s¬†Something Sweet BakeShop in Daphne, Alabama who used¬†¬†432 eggs, 216 pounds of sugar, 108 cups of flour, and 27 pounds of chocolate,¬†54 pounds of butter, to make the¬†234.2 pound confection! Sounds like just enough chocolaty deliciousness to satisfy my sweet tooth!

I hope these fun facts have preheated your desire-to-bake-oven! Click around on the links for more fun baking facts and tips and check back on SAS for upcoming baking ideas. Remeber, baking should be like these facts, fun! It doesn’t have to be from-scratch to count either. Slice-and-bake cookie? Yummy! Box cornbread? Yes, please! Cake from a mix? Make mine fun-fetti!

So my dear readers, whether you’re an oven ¬†novice or a pro,

Blissfully Bust-out some Baking! 

What’s your favorite thing to bake or favorite baking tip? Let us hear it below!

Woman’s Words Wednesday – Audrey Hepburn

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Iconic. Enduring. Outspoken. Audrey!

For this second installment of WWW I am sharing the words of a woman who grew from an ingenue to a fashion icon to a humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn. Many of her most famous quotes are clever but thought provoking.

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The first quote to share, a personal favorite, is cheeky and wonderful all at the same time. I’m right there with Hepburn in her love for pink (pink nails are clicking the keys as I type), laughter as a legitimate fitness routine and smooching as a legitimate pastime! The playful quote goes on¬†with words of empowerment and encouragement. It runs the full gambit, just like Hepburn.

 

 

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If Hepburn were alive today I think she would take a #NoMakeup selfie¬†and use this quote on her Instagram feed. She may add the hastag #Eliza to reference one of her most famous¬†roles (and her best in my eyes) in My Fair Lady. Hepburn’s¬† character ¬†is seen as gorgeous¬†after transforming her image and speech, but in the end it’s her spitfire spirit that wins over the hearts of those around her. It’s her true-self shinning through that makes her the most unforgettable.

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With today’s voyeuristic tendencies towards sharing¬†images online and the difficulties of online and in-person bullying facing them, I believe many young women could benefit from¬†Hepburn’s words.

 

In this quote, Hepburn again references real beauty coming not from the airs we put on, but the grace we put out.

 

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Hepburn did not just talk-the-talk, she also walked-the-walk and used her celebrity to encourage others to do so as well, becoming  a special ambassador to the United Nations UNICEF fund. Through her work, Hepburn aided children in  Latin America and Africa from 1988-1993.

 

As Hepburn’s words inspire us to, live a life full of love; love for yourself, love for others and love for the world beyond your own.

Wishing Women a Wonderful Wednesday!

 

 

 

The cosmopolitan humanitarian born Audrey Kathleen Ruston passed away on January 20, 1993 in Tolochnaz, Switzerland. (Her IMDb bio)

A is for‚ĶAccessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments ‚Äď PART 2

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¬†Social_media_fashIn PART 1 of SAS’s Accessory blog¬†I talked about some tips and how-tos of accessorizing with accouterments and adornments.¬†¬†In this PART 2 I’m sharing some tips on why boutiques make ideal places to find accessories, inspiration and shopping assistance.

 

Tip 1: Use Social Media to your Fashionable Advantage

One of the smartest ways to expand your fashion knowledge and know-how is to follow the Social Media sites of fashionable people and shops. I always recommend choosing the sites of local or online boutiques. Most boutiques only carry one or two size runs of each style. The low inventory ensures well selected pieces and a less likely chance that your outfit will be on someone else at the same event. Following their social media sites means you can keep up with their inventory and snag something you love while it’s still in store.

Boutiques are known for carrying on-trend, of-the-moment inventory. Since accessories are the easiest way to update a wardrobe without breaking the bank, find trendy  accouterments and adornments at boutiques and incorporate them with your own clothes with help from social media.

Tip 2: Make Friends with Boutique Associates

Another advantage of boutique shopping is¬†the associates that work at them. In general, boutiques are the place to find associates who want to be surrounded by fashion, love to read about and research what’s trending and want to dress up-to-date; they’re not just “working in the mall” for an after school job. Associates at boutiques are more accustomed to helping¬†a customer pick out an entire outfit than, say associates at some department stores. So window or internet browse some local boutiques then go into the ones who best reflect the kind of style you have or want.

Get to know the associates and let them get a feel for the looks you’re after¬†so they can¬†help you pick pieces to update your closet.

 

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Have a fave place to shop? Follow them on social media and be the first to see what they have in store and how to style it!

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Styling tip: Follow IG posts of local boutiques for inspiration and make friends with the associates for in-store help!

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Make sure the places you shop have knowledgeable associates. The fashionable girls of Haus131 show off their fabulous arm candy!

 

Tip 3: Dress IN your Comfort Zone & be willing to step OUT of it

When you are first shopping a boutique and becoming familiar with the staff, dress in a style that most epitomizes how you like to look on a daily basis and best represents what can be found in your closet. In this case though, skip the accessories. By dressing in a style you’re most comfortable rocking, you allow yourself and the associate a jumping off point.¬†Like I demonstrated in Part 1, a few accessories¬†can make clothing¬†appropriate for various occasions.

Instead of purchasing one whole head-to-toe outfit, work with the associate to select which accouterments and adornments they would suggest to transform the look you have on, thus what could also transform what you already have in your closet.

 

 

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The always fashionable owner of Haus 131 Miss Katie Rae Bowen

 

The key to a on-trend, chic and well stocked boutique is an owner with a excellent sense of personal style who cares about their shop and clients. A great local example is a lady who is beautiful inside and out, Katie Rae Bowen, the owner of Haus 131. This New Orleans native who just got back from meeting some of her fashion faves at Magic in Vegas, is passionately making her boutique dreams come true in bigger and better ways each year.

 

 

Find her at her shop at ¬†5517 Magazine Street,¬†New Orleans, LA 70115¬†where she personally curates her inventory to make sure Haus 131 is “a¬†boutique that¬†provides individuals with a style that is exceptional¬†and suitable for any lifestyle or budget”. Katie Rae has a personable and inviting demeanor so be sure to chat her up when you visit the shop and find out what’s the latest in the Fall fashion scene or how to incorporate trendy pieces into your current collection.

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Talk about a girl who knows her adornments! Katie Rae made these marvelous necklaces and has them on sale at Haus 131. Pick her brain about what she would pair them with, then get one of your own!

 

 

 

Follow Katie Rae and Haus 131 for styling ideas, inventory sneak peaks, sale announcements and much more!

 

 

So remember: Follow for Finds, to Accelerator your Accessory Aptitude then Buy at Boutiques!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Pictures from Instagram and Haus 131 logo borrowed with permission. Logo and images are the representations of Haus 131 and associated sites and not directly affiliated with SAS.*