Archive for November, 2010

Green, Blue & Other Choices

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

A little business before we get to the post…

The first package from China waits on my porch.

Yesterday, my first real package from China arrived.  It came to the door like any other delivery, with no more fanfare than a doorbell.  But as I found the package on my porch and my eyes went to the return address I could feel my breath catch when I saw the word “Shanghai”.

All the hardware pieces came packaged like this.

After carefully cutting the opening, I removed each piece as if it was a precious artifact.  Seeing it all laid out in front of me was a big moment.  It was a moment I’d imaged when planning this new career.  “Oh, I can just see myself pouring over leather samples.”

And now, it was a real.  I’m litterally sitting here staring at several varations of one color.  Looking at the grain.  Discussing the merits of the quality.  Wondering about price.  And most importantly, deciding what a laptop bag owner would most like to have.

So please, take make 3 second poll at the top of this post.  You never know when your vote will show up in a bag.

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Cyber Monday Deals

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Ready for the shopping season online?  Here are some of the best deals today from my favorite shops.

Beauty

Bobbi Brown – Three free deluxe samples with any purchase.

philosophy – Free gift valued at $100 with any $85 purchase.

Ulta – Free sample bag (choice of three) with any $35 purchase.

Department Stores

Amazon – Lighting deals all day long – check back for the latest as others sell out

Target – Load of deals in every department

Macy’s – Free shipping on orders over $75 plus lots of “Web-Buster” deals

Clothing & Accessories

Ann Taylor – 40% your entire order using code MONDAY at checkout.  Holiday attire anyone?

Cinda b Bags – 35% off the entire site and free shipping.  Check out this Southern gem.

Cole Haan – 40% off one full priced item.  Wow!  Plus 20% of all sale items.

Flight 001 – 30% their whole store of travel accessories.  Get something for yourself too and make that trip to your relatives more bearable.

Gap Family – Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, and Athleta are all over 10% your whole order today.

Intermix – When I need a trendy item, this is where I go.  15% off any full priced item.

J. Crew – 25% off all men’s and women’s sweaters

Kate Spade –  25% off all sale products.  Some great deals here!

Land’s End –  Special savings on their St. Nick’s Picks including a cashmere turtleneck.

Library – Local Charleston clothing hot spot is offering 30% off your entire order.  Enter code CYBERMONDAY at checkout.

Piperlime – 20% off your entire order.  Shoes!  Go!

Puma – 20% off your order

Rainebrooke – 20% off all pink laptop bags using the code MONDAY – great gift for the girls in your life!

Stella & Dot – Free ring with any purchase of $99 or more.  Check out local stylist Chrissy Rowell’s site for the details.

Talbot’s – 25% off your order in stores and online.

Home & Paper

Crate & Barrel15% on almost everything.  Stock up now.

dodeline design – Modern and fun stationery from local designer Sarah Early.  15% off the whole store with code CYBERMONDAY.

Layla Grace – Beautiful gifts all women would love – not only home goods but clothing for women and children too.   25% off with the code holidayjoy.

Pottery Barn – Free monogramming & shipping and holiday products

Rock Scissor Paper – Free gift wrapping on any mug purchase and free shipping on orders over $50

William-Sonoma – Free shipping on over 500 items

Kids

Fisher-Price – Use code BT2010 to get 20% off your entire order.

Land of NodFree shipping using the promo code: FROSTY. Also, don’t forget to check out their Elves Unite Twitter account for holiday deals throughout the season.

Laura Lorraine’s – Tons of deals on adorable hair accessories for girls.  Ordered 40 clippies myself and was thrilled!

Little Twig – 40% off all bath products and free shipping on orders over $50.  Great gifts for kids.

Pottery Barn Kids –  Free monogramming and shipping on several items.

Toys R Us – Thousands of items on sale.

Serena & Lily – 20% off many of their favorite gifts.

Technology

Apple – Small savings on accessories including several designer cases.

Best Buy –  Deals on everything from TV’s to musical instruments.

Travel

Caesars Palace Las Vegas – 20%-40% off room rates.  Book now and thank me later when you’re enjoying the Forum Shops.

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Thanksgiving 2010

Friday, November 26th, 2010

A few shots from our day…

Fun cocktail napkins from Target.
My husband did an excellent job cooking both potato dishes.
Punch Glasses
Savory Stuffing
Purple shoes to go with her purple placemat.
The Turkey

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  We all certainly have much for which to be thankful.

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Have An Easy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Thanks to my friend Janet Caldwell for introducing me to this image.  Its perfect for today!

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Yes, That’s a Cabbage

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The timeline of Thanksgiving tasks has begun.  As you know, I like to get my table set the night before.  Here’s how it came together.

Martha Stewart posted this photo on her blog from her home at Halloween.  Besides being oddly envious of her purple glassware, I liked the idea of a purple pattern.

I started with these placemats from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

 

Then I found a purple patterned napkin in the outlet section (yes!) of Crate and Barrel.

 

My centerpiece is created in the same hues as the napkins.  Also, I wanted to add vegetables as a nod to traditional cornucopia.  Yes, that is a cabbage.  And actually, its my favorite thing in the arrangement!

 

Close up of the other side -

 

And with that, the table is ready.  Are you setting your table tonight?  I’m happy to have mine ready to go.

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The Show Must Go On

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Interior Fabric Texture

In the midst of all this Holiday Hoopla, real work must still go on.  To me, its one of the most stressful things during this time of year:  Trying to live your “normal” life and keep up with your tasks while still getting all the extra things done.  But woman cannot live on turkey alone, so the show must go on.

Wendy sent me leather pictures last night.  (Her Wednesday morning).  I have to say, I was very, very pleased.  The goal is to do the first season of laptop bags in three colors and I think from the 15 or so samples I can have at least three wonderful options.  Remember, even though these will come out in April, they are the Fall 2011 collection.  That should give you a good hint on what the color pallet might be.

Also last night, she sent me dust bag and intererior fabric samples.  Looking at 50 shades of the same basic color can make you go cross-eyed.  I’m anxious to get the samples in my hand so I can make the final call.  In the meantime, having choices is always a good thing.  (This holds true for just about everything, by the way.  Ladies, make sure you have choices.)

The next contact I have to make is the customer broker.  This is the person that helps you get your goods into the United States.  The most frustrating parts are the fees involved.  Taxes and shipping are (as my father likes to say) enough to knock your socks off.  Time to revisit the budget.  Let’s just hope I don’t get it mixed up with the brining recipe.

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Thanksgiving Kids Table

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

On Thursday, our kids table will be filled with four young ladies.  Three of the girls are our good friends and neighbors.  The fourth is my 19 month old daughter.  Since they all are VIP’s in my world, I wanted to do something fun for their Thanksgiving table.

At first, I couldn’t get these adorable owls from Rock Scissor Paper out of my head.

Then, I saw these cute turkey shirts from my friend Christy Wing.  They are available through her store, the Shining Wings Boutique.

Of course!  Turkey.  It is Thanksgiving after all.  With those two images in mind, I made turkey placemats using each one of the girl’s favorite colors.

The youngest is Pretty in Pink.

The middle daughter’s favorite color is purple.  She even has purple glasses which I must tell you, are fabulous.

The oldest daughter loves blue.

And my daughter doesn’t have a favorite color yet, so I picked her pattens in yellow and green.

I used clear glass plates so you could still see the turkey faces.  (I may rethink the grape juice with the white tablecloth!)

Each girl will have a different deck of cards to keep them entertained.

The full place setting looks like this.  Ready for mashed potatoes!

I added a centerpiece with walnuts and a flag in each color.

The final table ended up looking like this.  I hope the girls enjoy it!

How is your Thanksgiving planning going?  Are you packing up for a trip?  Vacuuming the guest room?  Today I’ll be trying to beat the crowds at the grocery store. Let’s hope there’s a nice bird waiting for me.

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Three Thanksgiving Tricks

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Planning your Turkey Day meal?  Here are my three tricks to make sure dinner goes off without a hitch.

Slow Cooker Stuffing

1. Slow Cooker Stuffing

There is a lot of debate about whether or not to stuff your turkey.  I vote no – the turkey takes longer to cook and its harder to figure out if its done.  Use this stuffing recipe instead.

I like it for several reasons.  The stuffing turns out beautifully and tastes better than any other I’ve had.   It saves time in your oven and a burner on your stove because it utilizes the slow cooker.  Also, it fills your house with an enticing aroma so when guests open the door they’ll say “Mmmmm, it smells so good in here!”

The harder/more stale the bread the better.  Buy a baguette a few days before and then cut it into cubes the night before.  Start the recipe first thing in the morning and it will be perfect when the bird is ready.

Green Bean Casserole doesn't make the cut.

2. Simplify Something

Is there one recipe you make because you are “supposed to”?  For me, it was the green been casserole.  I don’t especially like it and its filled with extra calories.  Two strikes for a vegetable dish and its off my table.

Instead, I make fresh green beans seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of butter.  Easy, tasty and you can have at least one truly heathy thing on the table.  What dish can you make easier?

Pillsbury Pie Crust

3.  Pre-Made Pie Crust

A few years ago one the best bakers I know told me she uses a pre-made pie crust.  I’ll let you in on the secret too.  The best crust out there is Pillsbury’s Refridgerated Pie Crust.

There are plenty of times to experiment and perfect your made-from-scratch crust.  Thanksgiving just isn’t one of them.  No need to even tell your guests you didn’t make it yourself!  Just keep your mouth full and nod during the compliments.

A note of caution:  You aren’t the only one who knows the pie crust secret.  These babies sell out quickly!  Grab them at your store now before they’re all gone.

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Notebook Hunt

Friday, November 19th, 2010

I can only keep track of one or two notebooks.  Right now, I have a cavalcade of legal pads with notes from all kinds of projects.  This does not work on many, many levels.

Miquelrius DCK Notebooks

Of course, you already know I can’t just go down to the local CVS and buy any old notebook to be my one and only.  It has to be good-looking!  After a long hunt and asking for lots of suggestions, I’ve got the vast field narrowed down to three choices.

Miquelrius – DCK Colours Notebook 4

$7.99

Pros: Recommend by my team at Stitch Design Co, light, four-color section in each notebook, priced right

Cons:  Not in love with the colors

Mini Binders

Russell + Hazel – Mini Binder

$16 for the binder plus $10 for paper and $12 index dividers

Pros: Beautiful colors and design, a binder system would be easier to expand and achieve

Cons: Expensive but tempting, a binder could be too bulky to carry around

EcoSystem – Large Author

$18.95

EcoSystem Notebook$18.95

Pros: COLOR!  (I love it), nice large size for tons of note taking and list making

Con: Does not easily divide so I may need to get more than two

***Aspirational Notebook***

This is the notebook I’m saving for when I make the big money.  It was recommended to me by Kristin Appenbrink, an editor at Real Simple, so you know its got to be good.

Graphic Image

Graphic Image – Leather Goatskin Notebook

$92

Pros: Would be proud to pull it out of any Alesya Bag, beautiful and versatile metallic color, refillable

Con: Price

So, which one do you like the best?  Do you have a notebook you love?  I’ll let you know my final choice shortly.

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Thanksgiving Planning

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

View from the front lines of Thanksgiving prep.

When I got married, I decided it was time for me to take over hosting one of the holidays.  After picking Thanksgiving, I panicked a little and contacting the best chef I know, Barry Berkowitz.  Here was his advice to me:

Thanksgiving Dinner is like a battle that’s won or lost before it’s even fought. Preparation is everything. Fix the number of guests as early as possible. Plan the menu & review recipes a week in advance. Shop 5 days out. Thaw the bird over time in the fridge (if your turkey’s frozen). The day before, clean your place settings & lay out all serving dishes/utensils.

Thanksgiving day, do all your prep EARLY, so that final cooking is a snap. It’s SO much better to prepare the dinner in an organized fashion, when every element is ready to go.

This really helped.  Cooking, I wasn’t so sure I could do.  But planning?  In my sleep!  Here’s how Barry’s advice has worked for me over the past five years.

1.  I have a Thanksgiving Shopping List saved on my computer that I use every year.  Of course it gets tweaked for number of guests and new dishes, but at least I have a great starting point.  A week before I take it out and see where I stand.

2. I have a cleaning service to come in 3 days before.  Spending the extra money saves me a ton of stress.  Also, I’m able to save my energy for what people really care about, the meal!

3. My table gets set one or two nights before.  Its actually relaxing to spend the extra time to make sure its right.  Plus, when you wake up on Thanksgiving morning and walk into your dining room its a huge sense of relief to see one big task done.

T-minus seven days until the biggest meal of the year.  Are you ready?

Barry Berkowitz is Vice President of Digital Marketing Solutions at Infogroup Interactive.  In his vast circle of friends he’s known as a chef, gourmet food connoisseur, and life of the party.  When I got married, he sent me a lovely set of measuring cups which reside in the convened top drawer of my kitchen today.

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