Saturday, August 30, 2008

happy 3rd birthday, oden!

We just got back from the most fun-filled 3rd birthday party ever! Oden is one lucky boy to have such creative and stylish parents. 

In honor of his love for Lightning McQueen, we got him this Playsam streamliner car. I hope he likes it! 

It was so fun to see Gen, Kayce, Susan, Melodie and more. Pictured above is the birthday boy donning a batman suit and my son, Gram. I can't wait for Gen's post on the party. Everything was PERFECT, of course!

ode to maira, part 2

Thank you to quaint handmade for passing along this! love, love, love...

Friday, August 29, 2008

ode to maira

There are two other 'fantasy' blogs I have in the back of my mind at all times. The first is a play off of the Sartorialist. Instead of photographing terribly fashionable people all over the world, I would photograph terribly unfashionable people all over Nashville. Today I saw a woman dressed in very short jean shorts, loose-around-the-calf cowboy boots, a button-down pink men's shirt (tucked in), and a short fitted jacket. The whole ensemble would have been better only if she had frayed jean shorts, but nonetheless, she would have made my unfashion blog.

Which leads me to my next fantasy blog, entitled An Ode to Maira Kalman. To say I adore Maira's illustrations and sense of humor is a vast understatement. 

Several years ago, my mother- who had no idea who she was- thought her illustrations were so 'charming' that she tracked her down at her apartment in NYC. She somehow got her on the phone and convinced her to sign a slew of her (Un)fashion books, including one for me! I was a tad embarassed for my mother, but at the same time- I feel so fortunate to have a signed copy with a little illustration Maira did just for me that says 'to Sara.' (I will have to post a picture of that later).

I could think of no better way to start the weekend then with a little dose of Ms. Kalman. Above are some party-inspired excerpts from her latest book, The Principles of Uncertainty. J'adore!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

open your hearts to NieNie...

The blog world is abuzz today with a fundraiser for Stephanie and Christian Neilson. They were hurt badly in a small-plane accident almost 2 weeks ago- the pilot of the plane is dead, and the two of them are burned and injured. They are the cutest family- featured in Cookie last September, and have four children under the age of 6. Even if they have great insurance, it is more then likely that it will not begin to cover the additional expenses they will have- with two parents not working and four children to take care of.

Having been in a bad accident myself just a couple of years ago, I can attest to the positive effect the kindness of strangers can have on you while recovering. I hope you will join me in either bidding on something in the auctions benefitting them, donating directly to their PayPal fund, or sending them a card at the hospital.

Mari Copa County Hospital
c/o Stephanie and Christian Neilson
601 East Roosevelt St
Phoenix AZ 85008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

drooling, drooling...beatrice peltre

No words needed to describe the work of food stylist and photographer BĂ©atrice Peltre, aka, La Tartine Gourmande. Yum-azing.

a Party of a different sort

In June, my great Aunt Elly passed away at the age of 94. She was revered not only in my family, but by a great deal of people. She was Michigan's first female Republican chairman in 1964, which was a huge triumph- given that she was the first woman to chair any major state political party in U.S. History. She was also the national co-chairwoman of ERAmerica, a coalition that helped in the fight to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified. She died a registered Independent. Needless to say, she's set the bar high for women in my family. 

The passion she showed for America and our political system fuels my desire to be a part of the political process. I hope- whatever Party you're a part of, and whomever you support- that you will choose to be a part of the elections this November. I have been riveted by the Democratic Convention this week and can't wait to see the Republic Convention on the 1st. 

On that note, Plum Party has a great selection of election party goods- what better way to inspire participation and excitement then throwing a political fete? The political cookies, shown above, are among my favorite things.

nashville spotlight: libby callaway & flora vintage

Libby Callaway, a former NYC-er and fashion editor of the New York post, is now a Nashville-based clothing stylist and writer, and by far one of the coolest ladies in town. Libby writes two blogs: The Style Arbiter for the City Paper and Flora Vintage, which spotlights current vintage finds that she sells at Gas Lamp Antique Mall. Gen and I stumbled across Libby while setting up our own booth with vintage wares (now a thing of the past), and have adored this lovely lady ever since. Above is my latest favorite thing from Libby's vintage collection. So fun for a party!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

conran discount

I've been wanting to recommend the conran shop's great discount to you...20% off everything through August 30th...but they've disappointed me so much with my attempted buying experience, that I've been leery about passing it along. 

The website does not function well. The first time I tried to order something using the discount, I could not get the 'apply discount' function to work. Then I received an email that the discount was now working, and to try again. Which I did this evening. The discount did work- but I was appalled to see they were charging $35 to ship 3 small items- completely erasing the savings. Absurd!

It's too bad- they have some really beautiful things. If you still find some things you can't live without and don't mind the shipping costs, enter code word DOMINO at checkout (a promotion through Domino magazine).

easy goat cheese roll

A great idea from Better Homes & Gardens (August 2008). Simply press mint leaves into a log of goat cheese to dress it up for guests. I even love the presentation- on kraft paper with a vintage bakelite-looking spreader. So easy and beautiful!

Monday, August 25, 2008

out and about with Allison: a late summer party

I really can't think of a better occasion for a party then to welcome someone to town. Having people you love feel excited about a new place (whether it be a town, job, whatever) is the best gift you could possibly give them. Here, Allison walks us through this late summer party she threw for some friends to welcome them to Charleston.

From Allison, "My friends, husband and I threw a summer party at our home this past weekend for our good friends who just moved to Charleston. We had about 20 people over to our house around 7 on a warm Saturday evening. My friends and I divvied up the responsibilities of food and drink between us. With all of the food prepared ahead of time, the only responsibility I had was to bring everything to room temperature, and to make sure everyone's glasses were full. A note to self: In the future I must remember everything takes twice as long to prepare with a 5 month-old in the house! The idea was to have a relaxed party with Southern hors d'oeuvres. I wanted to create a menu that people could enjoy while talking and mingling outside on our porch, in the yard or inside our home...whether they wanted to grab a plate or just graze.

We started with a specialty cocktail made with local Firefly sweet tea vodka- a spirit distilled on Wadmalaw Island, not very far from Charleston. My friend, Kate, simply mixed it with a bit of lemonade, which made for a refreshing start to a warm Charleston evening. The vodka is also delicious straight up, but beware...for lovers of sweet tea, it goes down easy- too easy. We served the cocktail in Mason jars with slices of fresh lemon over ice. Guests helped themselves to pitchers of it in our sunroom when they arrived. 

For the hors d'oeuvres, I marinated my new favorite cut of meat- a flat iron steak- with a soy citrus marinade. The steak is not that expensive, and the cut holds the marinade very well and is almost as tender as filet mignon when done! It literally melts in your mouth. The marinade came from an old issue of Gourmet (they used a London Broil instead). I have used it on everything from shrimp to chicken. It is delicious when served with the soy citrus mayo...not too heavy, and perfect for a summer meal. We served the grilled sliced steak at room temperature on a platter with the mayo, warm rolls, and some wonderful arugula greens.

Pickled shrimp helped round out the menu- served cool or at room temperature, it is so fresh and easy to prepare ahead of time. We grabbed the shrimp from Mt. Pleasant Seafood on Shem Creek, where they sell locally caught shrimp right off the boat. I used Sara Foster's recipe from Fresh Everyday. Her cookbooks are among my favorite- her recipes are flawless, colorful adaptions of classic Southern fare. The blueberry pie recipe is also to die for! But I digress...

I also whipped up some deviled eggs and gave them a refreshing touch of tang by adding lemon zest and juice, Dijon mustard and a simple garnish of freshly chopped dill. My friend, Anne, made Southern caviar- a classic combination of black eyed peas, green bell pepper, green onion, pimentos, garlic and other seasoning- which we served with pita chips. And my dear friend, Ellie, made bite-size tomato sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise on white bread with local farmer's market tomatoes. 

Toward the end of the evening, I made my way to the porch where the din of conversation could still be heard over the music, my guests digging deep into the coolers of beer and wine...and oh, and what's that? An occasional broken glass. I don't get too worked up about the wine glasses- after all, it's not a good party until someone breaks something! And besides- this was a casual party among good friends new and old. By and by, it was a success...a fresh, simple summer gathering to show some newcomers Southern hospitality.

Until next time...Allison."

Thanks Allison for this amazing post! I'm already dying to try the soy citrus marinade. 

meet Allison

Allison Abney is the life of the party wherever she goes. She infuses every gathering she's a part of with spirit and style! This Charlestonian juggles a thriving purse business and motherhood, and still manages to regularly throw impromptu parties and dinners for friends.

Allison will be penning a monthly post called 'out and about with Allison', detailing her latest adventures in the kitchen and around town. She will share her favorite wines, party attire, music lists, entertaining tricks, and easy dishes with us- among other things. We hope you'll join Allison and the Party for all the latest!

Allison, pictured above, with her son, Sam

bonnie cashin's la-la girls

I've got costumes on the brain after watching the Olympics closing ceremony last night and searching for my son's first Halloween costume. 

Above are some clips from famous fashion designer Bonnie Cashin's 'la-la girls.' Apparently the la-la girls are 'childhood drawings' of hers that helped secure her first dream job. For more on Bonnie, check out her foundation's website. You can purchase a set of postcards with a sampling of the la-la girls, here.

Bonnie Cashin is famous for coining the phrase "Chic is where you find it."  

Friday, August 22, 2008

kirsten strecker

Food photographer Kirsten Strecker has some amazing things in her portfolio. Her work has been featured in many foodie magazines including Gourmet and Food & Wine as well as some weddings mags such as Martha Stewart Weddings and InStyle Weddings. She is also the photographer for several cookbooks, including The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook: Recipes from the Classic Cookie to Mocha Chip Meringue Cake. How divine does that sound? There's even a sample recipe on Chronicle's website for chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake bars, here. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

nashville spotlight: gigi's cupcakes

What is it with the news today? I think I'm going to have to change my home page from CNN, since I am getting depressed every time I open up my browser. So on to a happier subject...cupcakes!

A friend visiting from NYC made a happy, but dangerous discovery here in Nashville...Gigi's cupcakes. After trying three different kinds, she now claims they are better then Magnolia Bakery's...that the cake itself is more moist, and the buttercream icing, just as good. Could it be true? I can't wait to judge for myself. Near Vanderbilt, at 1816 Broadway, Suite A, 37203.

photo from flickr's becheery

update from Sara: I hate to disagree with my dear friend, but my husband and I pretty much hated Gigi's. Aside from the very friendly and happy staff, the experience was entirely disappointing. Bad lighting, bad atmosphere, bad presentation (a styrofoam cup) and the cupcakes- tasted like strange Kroger ones, to us. I promise, dear readers, I will try something myself before making recommendations from now on!

classic kid's games

These charming kids' games caught my eye- the classic illustrations are a refreshing change from a lot of what's out there for children. From Eeboo, available here