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! 

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A is for…Accessorizing: Accouterments & Adornments – 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.*

Makeup Monday – Mascara, Buy the Best Brush

I love, love, LOVE mascara and the way my eyelashes look when I apply the right formula with the right brush, which I have found is the key. (For my money, nothing has ever come close to the awesome results I get with L’oreal Double Extend Mascara in Waterproof Black as a standard for everyday use.) Since I tend to play around with about 3 mascara’s at a time, depending on the lash look I’m going for, I like to try different formulas and brushes. Sometimes it’s a waste of money, though, if the brush wasn’t meant for the results I’m after…

This month Sephora  opened their Buxom® Mascara Bar which they are describing as:

“A collection of seven mascara brushes, each customized for a head-turning lash effect.”

I first read about the Lash-Bar opening in the August issue of Allure magazine. What I found most helpful about the article was the breakdown of types of mascara brushes and their results. This is the kind of information that sends Jackpot bells ringing through my head!

I have spent many 10 minuet periods of time staring at the VAST array of mascara’s out there, each one promising 100%, 200%, 500% more lashes! Or longer lashes, thicker lashes, doll-like lashes! With each new mascara comes a differently shaped brush.

Buxom® takes the guess work out of the process by breaking down the results each brush is meant to create and how the brush is designed to get these results! Thanks Buxom®! So whether you purchase from the Buxom® Bar or from a different brand, check out the Buxom® wand chart, or rollover the wand heads for descriptions on the Buxom® page,for insight into the kind of eye-fringe you’re after!

Bonus read from Allure online: 6 Steps to Perfectly Thick Eyelashes

Wishing you: Enticing Eyelashes Everyone 😉