Tuesday, May 27, 2014

blis Gift Boutique - An Uptown Charlotte Gem!

So apparently this is the month where I feature cute local shops? I'll take it! Last week I featured a super cute etsy shaped based in NC that sells custom koozies and tote bags perfect for events and weddings. This week I'm featuring my favorite gift store in Charlotte, blis. For those of you that don't live in Charlotte, have no fear, my gals Whitney and Susan (a mother-daughter duo!) can ship their goodies anywhere you want them to go! If you happen to be in Charlotte, blis is located uptown on the 2nd floor of Founders Hall - they are definitely worth a trip (or many...)


blis sells the perfect gifts - anything from affordable but trendy jewelry to baby shower gifts,  candles and housewarming gifts and entertaining items galore. Do you need a cute hostess gift? Check out blis for a cute serving dish, tea towel and cookbook combo and they'll wrap it right up for ya! 



Personalized wine glasses? Donezo. Unique Wedding gifts that kick a traditional wedding registry's arse? They totes have 'em. Oh, and it's all expertly displayed, styled and ripe for the picking!

If you're looking for a new Instagram account to follow (and who isn't?!) follow @blisuptown on Insta...


 

...for cute pics of new products and Whitney's adorable twin girls! 

I even love blis so much that I wrote an article in the latest issue of Todays Charlotte Woman Magazine featuring the mother-daughter duo and their cute uptown shop. You can pick up a hard copy of the article at Harris Teeter or other local locales (can I say local locales?) or you can read the online version HERE on page 13.




Just look for this article, written by moi! 



I'm excited to keep writing for Todays Charlotte Woman Magazine to feature entrepreneurial women in the Queen City. I'm working on another article for their July issue that I'm really pumped about! 

In other news - it's basically summer which in Charlotte, NC means I'm already cranking up the AC in my car and sweating profusely for most of the time I'm outside. Just keepin' it real peeps. 

Happy Hump Day tomorrow!


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Best Guacamole Recipe. Ever.

I'm suuuuuper pumped today. First off because I've got some new events in the works - yay! Secondly because I've got some styled shoots coming up - double yay! And thirdly because it's about to be a long weekend - 3 glorious days of being outside, having cocktails and eating. This tired lady needs a rest! 

I'm also extra excited because my no-fail guacamole recipe was featured on Bon Bon Rose Girls lifestyle blog today just in time for your Memorial Day BBQs and bashes.
 You can see the full post and recipe HERE!




To find out what ingredients and kitchen tools makes my guac so fantastic and why I leave this big ole avocado pit in it, you'll have to jump over to site and check it out. 



Here's a hint: I use a potato masher. Mind. Blown. Am I right? Again, you can find the post in all its glory HERE.

I have to give credit where credit is due and say my love of guac came from my BFF Kalle who got me on the guac-train in the first place. She's also a guac-aholic and taught me my first recipe which I've been tweaking and twerking (kidding about twerking, just wanted to use it in a blog post) until I got it just right. It's like goldilocks and the three bears, but with avocados. 

 My wish for everyone this long weekend is that I hope you all get some sun (with SPF on of course) bc if you're anything like me, lord knows you need it. Cheers to a happy weekend! 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Customized Koozies, Tote Bags and More!

Happy Hump Day! I'm finally coming up for air after a rain-soaked work event took up all my extra time last week. If you have ever wondered what its like to plan an outdoor event on the same day that a mini tornado rolls through town (complete with several inches of rain and flash flood warnings), just ask me. I can tell you all about it in full, stressful detail. It all turned out really well and we had a surprisingly good turnout after springing for a last minute tent and valet parking, but I gained a few late nights and grey hairs in the process. 
As to be expected in the life of an event planner - it's a risky business :) 

I'm going to take a turn from rainy outdoor events to a super cute Etsy shop. A few weeks ago I was aimlessly wandering around Blacklion which is a Charlotte based home decor and furniture store that houses different vendor booths. I came across this super cute shop featuring printed bags, mugs, greeting cards and more. I was lucky enough to meet the shop owner, a sweet gal named Lesley and we got to chatting. It turns out that Lesley makes gifts that would be perfect for weddings - anything from bridesmaids gifts to koozies to save the dates. Or you can pick up her items for a special gift for someone. So if you're in Charlotte you can check out her booth at the East Boulevard Blacklion and if you're not you can check out her products on her Etsy site.  

I feel like I could get some reaaaal good use out of this funny mug. It just makes me laugh and somedays is totally necessary...



I absolutely love these bags for and engagement or wedding gift for a couple that is getting married. You can customize these for any state or city!




I also love these monogrammed bags would which be cute bridesmaid gifts with each bridesmaids initial.




Koozies are always popular at weddings. Lesley can customize koozies for your big day, bachelorette party or any special event! I love these ones below - Let love brew...this would be perfect for a beer loving couple!




And I love these state koozies SO. MUCH. Adorable!




Considering how much I love lattes, I would love to receive one of these adorable thank you notes in the mail!



As you can tell, Lesley is a talented designer so check out her Etsy site (or her Blacklion booth if you're in Charlotte) and if you don't see a design that suits your needs she can probably whip one up for you! 


I know you will love her stuff as much as I do! Have a great day! 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flower Friday: How to enhance a place setting

For this weeks Flower Friday (and if you're interested in seeing the past Flower Fridays, you can find them HERE and HERE) I took a simple $3 bouquet of what might look like "filler flowers" to enhance a neutral place setting. 



 I may have mentioned it before, but if there was a job that entailed of only creating small tablescapes for dinner parties I would totally be on board. There's something so fun and intimate about personalizing a dinner for just 6 or 8 people. Basically, if anyone needs help with their tablescape design just call me. 

Step 1 on this super simple place setting is to buy one bunch of filler flower like the yellow Aster I have featured. And no, I didn't know this was called Aster until I bought it. 





Cut your flowers using floral shears. (And yes, floral shears are completely worth buying - they cut the stems so much easier than dull scissors.) 



Cut a few small sprigs like so...




...and lay a single sprig or even a couple on your napkin. The neutral napkin color and yellow Aster would be a perfect combo for a rustic tablescape.






Babys breath has a bad rap but I think it can be adorable if used right (ahem see below and HERE for another shining example of Babys Breath gone RIGHT). 




Instead of doing a napkin band that wraps around the plate, you can always just fold the napkin on the plate like the photos below. Honestly, playing with napkins is so much fun. Also, when did I become such a loser who liked to play with napkins in my spare time? #NerdAlert


  

I also used around a bit of kitchen twine I had in my pantry from that one time I made a fancy roast chicken...




... and I tied my flower around the napkin which turned out pretty cute. Again, think free and easy! 




For this edition of Flower Friday I used neutral colors but this would be so cute for a spring table or a Mothers Day brunch. I'm picturing pink roses or a yellow Lilly. Now I want to experiment with more napkins and flowers...again, I'm just so darn cool these days. 

Happy Mothers Day to you if you're a Mom or an expectant Mom - I hope you feel loved and appreciated on Sunday! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lemon Squares

If you're in a mid-week slump, I've got just the thing for you. I'm talking about buttery, lemony, sugary goodness ...



... in the form of Lemon Squares. I made these for my moms lemony-themed birthday dinner I featured last week, but they would be the perfect treat for Mothers Day (since it's coming up this Sunday and all). Or, as I mentioned above, just as a mid-week treat because why the heck not. The full recipe link is at the end of the post, but here are some step by step photos for your viewing pleasure. (All photos by moi, btw.)

This recipe is pretty easy, but you do have to use your food processor. If you happen to have a small (but lovely) condo like I do, then your food processor is stored in a completely inconvenient area so you'll have to deal with that. Ugh. (First World Problem - Hi, I don't want to get my modern-day food chopping machine out from its inconvenient storage place.) Anywho, cut up cold butter (2 sticks - it's gettin' serious now) into small cubes and mix in with the dry ingredients until it makes a dough. The recipe called for a sticky dough, but mine wasn't particularly sticky so don't worry about that.



You'll need to press the dough with your fingers into a greased foil-lined 9 by 13 pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. It should look like the below picture:





You'll then mix all your wet ingredients together, including your lemon juice and lemon zest. I highly recommend two juicing/zesting kitchen tools: 

1)A juicer - seems silly, but it's really not because it gets all the juice out of a lemon easily and makes sure no seeds fall in to your batter. Plus I got this juicer for like $5 at Marshalls. Anything for an excuse to bargain hunt at a Marshalls, ya feel me?







2) The second tool is the Microplane zester. This was on our wedding registry (ahem, 5 years ago) and it still reigns supreme in my kitchen. I like to zest my lemon over the microplane grater into a bowl to avoid cutting myself. The microplane blades don't play around - in other words, they are shi-zarp. 




Your batter will be a mild yellow color and have noticeable zest pieces in it (see below).
Pour the batter on top of your crust and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the center isn't too jiggly. (I hate that word - jiggly. Ew).





Take out your deliciousness and sprinkle powdered sugar on it because at this point, why not add more sugar?



I definitely recommend putting the lemon squares in the fridge for a few hours because a) it's easier to cut cold and b) in my humble opinion, it tastes better cold. 

Aren't these delish looking? They are buttery, tart and just sweet enough that you can have just one. (Or two...)





Can we talk about this buttery crust? It's as good as it looks, I promise.



Here's the recipe link and info:



Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 45 min
Serving: 16 bars

Crust 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting 
pinch of salt 
2 sticks butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing


Filling
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar 
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 9x13x2-inch pan.
Make the crust by combining flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture.  Press the mixture into the prepared pan.  You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners’ sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon juice.  Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.
I hope you enjoy your very own lemony goodness this week!