Monday, December 13, 2010

series continued hostess with the mostess

Okay, time for another hostess gift category as part of my Hostess with the Mostest mini-series. This week it's all about beeswax! Candles, that is.

I like to give pretty jarred candles or a bundle of tapers. They can be pretty pricey so every time I find a sale, I like to get one for me to use and one to give.  One of my favorite brands of candles is Archipelago and One Kings Lane often has them for a discounted price. In fact, they are featured TODAY! If you are a member, check them out. If you aren't, please feel free to accept my invitation to join.
 Archipelago candles are really pretty and come in great packaging. Their classic soy candles are the best and they come in SO many yummy scents.

Some other favorites of mine include Votivo:

And Illume:
And most recently, I've discovered Illume's line at Target called bella. For everyday use, I like Capri Olive & Lemonwood and Mandarin Woods. But they also have a wonderful holiday scent called Winter Berry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cut the Cheese!

One week closer to the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011! This time of the year is filled with parties and get-togethers - plenty of occasions that call for a little "thank you for having us" hostess gift. Last week I started a little mini-series on great hostess gift ideas. Each week I'm featuring a different category of hostess gifts that I keep on hand for any last-minute needs. Last week was all about VINO. This week, perhaps you'd like some cheese to go with that whine..I mean wine :)

Let's face it, as many times as wine is given as a *go-to* hostess gift, cheese is offered by said hostess as a *go-to* party hors d'oeuvre. Whether it's a cheese tray straight from the grocery store or a gourmet selection of aged fancy cheeses accompanied by fruits and nuts, there is usually cheese to be found. No, I don't actually keep CHEESE on-hand (well I do but it's for eating, not for gifting). But I do keep cheese accessories! If you are giving one of these items as a gift and you have time, go to your local cheese counter and pick something up to go with it!

My favorite cheese markers are these from Pottery Barn. My little cousins gave them to me at my bridal shower - they are dishwasher safe and even come with a pen!

I also like these cheese markers from Crate & Barrel. They are inexpensive, they go with everything, and you can write on them to label whatever cheese you like. These are dishwasher safe too like the PB ones- you can't beat that!

Is that made with cow, goat or sheep's milk? These animal markers need no explination. Available on Etsy from Pepper Sprouts.

Also available on Etsy are cheese markers made from vintage silver flatware.
There are several sellers who carry these in all sorts of cheese varieties. I'm sure you could even request a special kind if you don't see what you like! Try Wooden Hive.

And get a load of these BEAUTIFUL (and Eco-Friendly) handcrafted cutting boards! Made by David Wolfgram of EcoHardwoods.

These Slate Cheese Boards are another great option instead of a wooden cutting board. The Cheese Knives pictured here are my favorite. I have these exact ones from Crate & Barrel.

[SIDE NOTE: I am superstitious like woah so I don't give knives (or scissors) as gifts if I can help it. I was raised to believe that giving knives (or scissors) as gifts symbolically *cuts* the relationship with the person you give them to (or receive them from). The good news is you can counteract the bad ju-ju! Just PAY the person who gives them to you (or get paid if you are giving the gift). A single penny will suffice, it need not be full price or a large sum, but the act of paying for the gift means it wasn't a gift and the relationship is safe.]

I'm planning to do a little Christmas shopping after work and before I get back to my ottomans. You can bet I'll have my eye out for hostess gifts too. Hopefully I can behave myself and not do any personal shopping while I'm out!! Okay, maybe a few new holiday decorations won't hurt!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm ready start talking about C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s! I've been avoiding it like the plague. Not avoiding Christmas, but avoiding the Christmas talk. It was just too soon for me. Now there's less than a month to go(aaaaaahhhhhh!) and I'm finally ready.

We've decided not to put up our tree this year *gasp*. It would take up waaay too much space and it's kind of a pain-in-the-butt. Somehow I end up putting it up, taking it down and putting it away all by myself. Since our apartment is so small (well not really, but compared to our old place it might as well be a shoebox) and our BIG tree (yay for Garden Ridge! Which is BACK in Richmond and totally worth the 2 hour drive from DC) is tucked away in storage, Executive decision: Have a Charlie-Brown tree this year. A REAL, small tree. Did you really think I was going to have a Christmas (not just any old Christmas but our first Christmas as a married couple) without a tree?? Um, NO.

But it has me thinking and dreaming of how to decorate a tiny little tree...
I used to decorate my tree in pink like this one before Chris and I moved in together. Somehow, I don't think he would appreciate the color choice this year!
This one can be planted after Christmas is over! I love this idea for a child's first Christmas. They get their own special tree that can grow up big and strong in their own backyard! My parents planted my first Christmas tree and I can still see it when I drive past our old house!

Depending on the size tree we end up with, our foyer table might be a good spot for it. Or I might do a boxwood tree (made from clippings) and put it there instead.
And this one is pretty - I'm a sucker for color-themed trees even though I love all the colorful and sentimental ornaments. (That's a post for another day)

And just because I can't resist...
Here are just a few BIG tree pictures that I love.
I'll stash these ideas away for next year =)

 (pictures via here and here)

One down, One to go!

I stayed up entirely too late last night (or early this morning if you want to be technical) doing this:

But, once I started I just couldn't stop. It's a disease. I didn't think it would take as long as it did! And I completely destroyed my hand (owie). And I still have a second frame to do! ...But in a few days it will allllll be totally worth it when my ottomans are finished!! Can't wait to show you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hostess with the Mostest


How many of you are like me, and feel the need to bring a hostess gift with you to a dinner party or a get-together? You probably either agree, or you may read that and think I'm Martha Stewart on steroids and I always bring a gift with me when I leave the house, but that would be very very wrong. We do, however try to always bring something with us when we are invited over - but that "something" varies depending on the situation. When we visit with friends we see all the time we usually bring beer or wine, or if dinner is involved - a side dish or dessert. But friends we don't see often or if it's an actual "dinner party", sometimes it's necessary to present our hosts with a token of our appreciation for their hospitality.

Now when you couple that with two very busy schedules and multiple circles of friends, there is sometimes a last minute rush to grab a gift and head out the door. So it is for this reason that I have taken a queue from the master himself (Colin Cowie) and I keep a few hostess gifts on hand, ready to go!. Colin suggests that you keep these items wrapped and labeled with sticky notes so you don't forget what it is. ~Genius!~
So, what kinds of things do I keep on hand to give as a gift? Obviously nothing personalized since I'm never sure who is going to get it. And by the same token, it can't be anything too personal or taste specific. There are 6 categories of gifts I have in my "gift closet" and 6 weeks until New Years'. So, I'm turning this into a MINISERIES! I'll feature a different category each week from now until New Years, with lots of ideas for you all. This week's category: Vino! I thought it was a great item to start with since it's typically the most common hostess gift to give.

Generally you would give a red or white, but sometimes it's more festive to give a bottle of champagne instead. Now I LOVE me some bubbly, but not everyone does. A great option? Asti - Spumante. It's a sweeter alternative to dry champagne. The best brand? Martini + Rossi. Anywhere from $10 - $18 depending on where you go. (Yay, Costco!)

For times when you can get away with giving just simply a bottle of wine, its nice to dress it up with a gift tag.  You can get a stash that are personalized with a message from you and just slip one over top of the bottle neck - good to go! And if you don't know a lot about wines or you don't drink the stuff yourself, how great are these wine tags from Papermash?!

You can also dress it up with a pretty gift bag. Go with a gift bag from a card store, or go multi-purpose with a wine tote. It's a gift bag for your wine but is a gift all by itself that can be used over and over again. I love the Built NY wine koozie totes. These are especially great if you're giving a white wine that needs to be kept cold. If you're going to keep one on-hand and you're not sure who will end up receiving it, try a basic black or even red.

A pretty bottle stopper is another great option. You can get these anywhere! I try to keep my eye out for them when I'm out. I love these from Pottery Barn

Some other wine accessories are a fancy bottle opener like the Metrokane Rabbit.
Or try the Vinturi wine aerators - they have one for red AND one for white!

With the holidays coming up, you'll most likely know of parties and get-togethers in advance so you can be better prepared with a gift picked out just for the recipient. It's fun to give something more personal and specialized during the holidays. You don't necessarily have to spend a ton of money on these gifts either. I'm going to be working on some DIY gifts this season to keep my budget under control. I tested one out last night and I can't wait share with you!

Stay tuned for these DIY money-savers and don't forget to check back each week between now and New Years to see what else I've got stashed away in my "gift closet"!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Then and WOW!

Happy Friday, everyone! I thought I'd do something a little different today.

Harry Potter is in theaters today. I was planning to see it sometime this weekend but I certainly don't want to be "that girl" - ya know the one that won't stop coughing?? Very annoying. (btw, I'm at home with bronchitis). I was watching some of the footage from the London premiere of the movie and noticed Emma Watson's new super pixie short hairdo - adorable! And yet grown up. Come to think of it, little Emma is quite grown up (as is the rest of the cast).

Take a look at Ms. Watson then and now:

Emma has quickly added herself to my list of fashionistas. Combine her look to my love for Burberry and you have quite a campaign. I love her ads for the brand. So... in honor of the big HP premier - let's take a look at the fashion bombshell known as Hermione Granger....I mean, Emma Watson.

Totally Gorg!

Oh! And I picked a winner for the CSN giveaway, click here to head to the original post and to find out if you won!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Don't Forget... enter my FIRST giveaway! Today is the last day! A $35 gift certificate to CSN can be yours, just go here and leave a comment. Make sure you are a follower of my blog. Then check back tomorrow to see if you won! 
Side note: I'm sick at home right now with bronchitis (boooo) but I'm snuggled up in my favorite blanket (yaaaayyyy!)
Which is on SALE right now at Pottery Barn!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Simple Color Quiz

What color is your personality?

Just a little something fun for this yucky rainy Tuesday afternoon.
I don't know why but I love taking online quizzes...especially when they are related to fashion and design. Maybe it's because I come up with the answer first and then I take the quiz to see if I was right (or if they got me totally wrong! ...happens sometimes.) I didn't really have an answer for this quiz to start with and I thought it was very interesting. You can go here to see what your results are!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Timeless or Trendy?

I've been preparing to start a couple of new regularly featured series here at City Southern. One of them on PATTERNS. I've done a few posts on patterns already (like this one on zebra), but there are just so many out there that can be used in design (both good and bad!).

Then, today in blogland, I read a post about stripes over at Three Men and A Lady. The question is - are you still loving stripes, or are you totally OVER the trend?
The post was talking about being over striped walls but still loving a nice wide stripe on this pair of wingback chairs. And, it got me thinking. Thinking about trends and patterns that some may think are old and tired and some are just discovering. You see this in all forms of design. Trends take a while to make their way to the masses and by the time they get there, the trend setters have moved on to something new! Fashion is old as soon as it comes off the runway. Wedding trends are tired before you are finished planning the event. If you want to be on the cutting-edge, it's only the 'edge' for so long. Plus, isn't the point of being on the edge is to do something no one else is doing yet?

So the question remains, how do you stay fresh and new when decorating your home but make it LAST long enough to enjoy it until you can afford to redo it?! You have to be able to mix the classic and enduring styles with the trends to get the best of both worlds. Use classic things in a new and unusal way. Or use trendy things to accessorize. And if you get bored easily like me and you are constantly changing things up, use trendy items in ways that can be changed out easily and inexpensively!

So, stay tuned for the new series. And enjoy these photos of STRIPES. You be the judge...are these stripes classic or trendy? Are you tired of seeing stripes? Is there another trend you're ready to say goodbye to?

all images are via decorpad
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