Happy Holidays!

We will definitely be back after the New Year!

Holiday Baking

What is your favorite christmas cookie?

Present Idea #8: PicPads

Want to give a personalized gift this season? Check out the options at PicPads. They will take your digital photos of pets, family, landscapes, etc and transpose them onto a variety of notepads for you. These would be a great option for far-away relatives, grandparents, etc.

Wedding Wednesday: Cameo Bouquet

A reader sent in this great idea for a sweet addition to your bouquet....

Present Idea #7: Eco Totes

For the eco-conscious recipient, why not pick up a cute reusable shopping tote as a gift for them?

Socially conscious and incredibly useful, there are so many styles out there to choose from for transporting groceries, bottles of wine, and whatever else they have in mind! Click on each photo below for a link with details.

Present Idea #6: Snuggly Laptops

For the recipient who seems glued to their laptop (really, who isn't a little overly attached to our computers?), how about a funky laptop sleeve? With a pop of personality, they’re bound to please the workaholic (or blogaholic) on your list this year!

Present Idea #5: Hot Water Bottle

Ridiculously practical, yes, but a hot water bottle is a thoughtful present for a friend in a cold climate or one who keeps the heat low. I think this one (picture at left) is cute.

Present Idea #4

Help your small, yippy dog gain favor with your significant other. Put a doggy jersey under the tree and your chihauhau or shizue may begin to look much more acceptable to the men in your life.

Present Idea #3

Any dog lover will not let their furry friends go unnoticed at the holidays. There are so many cute things out there, and here are just a few ideas for them...

A cute retro inspired collar from Lucky Fiona at Etsy

LL Bean’s Storm Chaser dog coat. As the mom of a dog with a LOT of long hair, this is a life saver on rainy days!

Personalized Collar from Orvis. I have seen more and more of these at the dog parks lately. A great way to eliminate the jingly metal tags that a lot of our pups sport.

Present Idea #2

If you're looking for a gift for the man in your life who needs a little help with their organizational skills, why not try a valet tray? These are great not only as a nice gift, but as a "clean up" to a cluttered dresser-top. This one from Coach comes in a variety of colors.

Present Idea #1

A subscription to a beer of the month club (like this one) is sure to be a hit for the guy's guy on your list.

Shrimp and Grits

The description below is from the Metro Grill in Richmond. I realize this is sort of a nouveau southern cuisine dish, but if anyone has ever seen a recipe that sounds like this please let me know. I am craving it:

Shrimp 'n Grits Randolph Gulf shrimp sautéed with smoked bacon, tomatoes and basil in a sherry
cream sauce. Served over hominy cheese grits with garlic bread

Wedding Wednesday: Fall Flowers

We loved these flowers from a wedding we both attended last month. The flowers gorgeous, and they were budget friendly for the bride -- she got them at Kroger!

Tailgate Inspiration

A reader wrote in looking for a fun tailgate dish that can be made on Thursday and transported to another state for a Saturday tailgate.
Any ideas? The event is this week, so let her know!

PS ... Le Petite Blog always has such fun tailgating dishes, too!

I die...bananas

Wedding Wednesday: Creative Maps

More and more brides are enclosing wedding site maps with their invitations these days. Some are self-produced, some are from companies like weddingmaps.com or weddingmapper.com.

A company we came across, http://www.couturemaps.com/, offers a unique and kitchsy approach to the standard map. What a fun, whimsical way to include travel details for your guests!

Wedding Wednesday: Punch up the Color

A Spring '09 bride recently emailed to ask my thoughts on brightly colored wedding shoes. The mother of the bride is concerned that the bride will look back on the decision to wear bright orange heels and wonder "WHY? What was I thinking?" And yet the bride's playful side really wants that kick. I actually think the biggest concern is whether or not the shoes will take away from the dress. But honestly, are the shoes that visible unless the bride goes out of her way to show them? No. Most gowns are floor length. In terms of the shoes looking dated in 20 years, I am seeing this trend enough that I wonder if it won't become something of a norm. And if it doesn't, who cares as long as the bride really loves them? After all, what is the fun in old pictures if everything is flawlessly timeless? When children are making fun of those shoes down the road, mom can smile and think of how she felt on that day- playful, joyous, and YOUNG!

PS- If bright is too much a pale satin is always pretty.

Daisy Tervis

I adore Tervis Tumblers and when I saw these in my high school's alumni magazine I felt tempted to add to my collection. Then I realized they may appeal to some of our readers. There are all sorts of designs so even if the daisy doesn't do it for you, check out their website. If you are not already familiar with the awesomeness of the Tervis Tumbler, I am not sure how to explain. It just is. Trust me.

Wedding Wednesday: Days of Mourning

We recently received an email from a reader who is upset over her dear friend's planned September 11 wedding. As a native New Yorker, our reader is shocked that someone would celebrate on a day associated with such devastation and loss for our country. I really had to agree with her, and also found myself wondering why anyone would want September 11 as their wedding anniversary. Then I spoke to a friend who asked me if I would hold my wedding on December 7, the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. This stumped me. I finally concluded that it could be acceptable if no one from that generation would be attending.

What do you all think about holding weddings on what are essentially national days of mourning?

Wedding Wednesday: Fall in Love

Although I tend to be more of a spring wedding type of person, I did always have fond memories of a fall wedding I spotted in Martha Stewart Weddings a few years ago (I think). I have searched the Martha Stewart website in vain for pictures of said wedding, so imagine my surprise when I spotted a very familiar cake on Southern Weddings today. I clicked through the links and found my memorable fall wedding.

Color Help

I think we are all ready for a break from the frugal themed posts. Any thoughts on red and brown as a color scheme? I have posted this picture as a color visual, but would do something much more traditional. Something about the color combo seems a little...Ikea? (Not that I don't love Ikea. I am just trying to move towards a different look.)

Recessionista: Wedding Wednesday

Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me that there has been a lot more talk of small and/or low key weddings recently. When I briefly worked in the wedding industry there was always talk of it being recession proof. Now I am not so sure. There seem to be a lot of cute wedding blogs these days that focus on the small DIY type wedding. Below are some of my favorites:

The Little White Book

Snippet & Ink

A $10,000 Wedding

A Practical Wedding

The amazing wedding album from This Young House

Recessionista: Cooking on a Budget

The Wall Street Journal has had not one but two articles on budget grocery shopping in the past two days, which is an obvious indicator of what Americans have on the brain. On an even more interesting note, the ONLY stock that didn't fall yesterday was Campbell's Soup. It rose. Without further ado, some tips for eating on the cheap:

-Stop buying those pre-cut fruits and vegetables! In fact, stop buying anything that is pre-prepared for you. Say goodbye to that shredded cheese and grate your own.

-Rethink some old standbys that you may have left in your childhood, like frozen veggies and grilled cheese and tomato soup dinners.

-Explore ethnic recipes. They are often loaded with veggies, starches, and beans, which leads to our next tip...

-Be sparing with the meat...

-But don't forget eggs. They are filling and can be paired with a variety of vegetables in the form of omelets, frittatas, etc. I made a spinach and mushroom frittata last week that was good for almost a week's worth of dinners.

-Plan out your meals. There is no substitute for eliminating impulse purchases, buying in bulk, and making enough for leftovers the next day. At the same time, don't buy more than you can use only to have it go to waste in the refrigerator.

That's all I have for now. Any other ideas?

Recessionista: Target

In response to our Recessionista Post, we received some great emails!

One of them sang the praises of Target clothing.
I love Target for my basics and accessories. The quality of their clothes is pretty good and their prices are great. Plus, every month they bring in a new designer... Last week I got a tank and a sweater that I can wear to work, a shirt that I would wear when going out, and a pair of earrings all for under $50.

Lately, I couldn’t agree more, especially for items that you will only wear a few times or for trendy ac
cessory pieces.
I had been coveting this purple J. Crew sweater dress for Fall, but not loving its price tag.
On a recent Target trip I spotted this similar dress priced at $29.99. It was immediately in my cart.
For $100 less than the J.Crew number, it is totally perfect for a couple of wears in the coming months.

Anyone else have any great Target buys?

Motivation for the Day

Clean Your House in 19 Minutes

(If only I could fold and hang clothing in four minutes...)

The Plan: Recessionista

When I first heard the term "recessionista" I have to say I was a little bit offended. A lot of people in the United States are legitimately worried about the economy and their own personal financial stability, so it seemed a little...shallow...to make up a trendy term about saving money. However, it seems like we are going to be hearing it more and more. In the spirit of journalistic cooperation (okay, maybe I am being a bit grandiose here), Farrell and I are planning a post about ways to save money in the current economy. If you have any ideas for ways to remain fashionable, keep a nice house, and eat fabulously on a tight budget, we'd love to hear them. Anything from where to shop to tips for cutting corners would be appreciated. You can reach us at theplan03@yahoo.com. We'll be publishing reader tips as well as our own next week.

Reader Request: Sheets

A reader recently sent in a request that I have also often wondered about….

I have a slightly strange pet peeve...wrinkled sheets. They really bother me, but for some reason no matter what I do, when I take my sheets out of the dryer, they are always wrinkled. Is there anyway to stop the sheets from wrinkling other then ironing them before I make the bed?


Reader Response

In response to my recent post on cupcake cakes/stands, a reader sent in the following examples. Unfortunately, I do not know the original source so if there are any problems or if anyone knows the sources, please let me know. - LG

Good Time or Disaster?

Growing up in Richmond, I drove by Sunny's Goodtime Paints on a daily basis. However, I never went in the store and didn't think much about the products until recently when they were mentioned in the Katie Ukrop feature in Domino Magazine. It piqued my interest and I took a close look at the website- wow! I was amazed by some of the products featured. I am, however, skeptical of my ability to pull off even the easiest of the stencil projects. Has anyone tried Sunny's? If so, how did it go?

In or Out?

Cupcake wedding cakes...in, out, or a new classic?

PS- These are from the famous Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan.


Having recently moved from a fully carpeted apartment to a SFH that is 95% lovely hardwood floors, we are in desperate need of rugs for a majority of our home.

Does anyone have suggestions on where to purchase affordable, but good quality rugs for living rooms, dining rooms, etc?

Summer Harvest Salads

I took this salad, from the September 2008 issue of Southern Living, to a Labor Day BBQ today. It was a huge hit, and SO easy. I threw in a few blueberries that I had in the fridge to add to the fruit, and it was great.

Definitely give it a try before all of the end of summer nectarines are gone!
Cranberry Nectarine Salad
1 (3-oz.) package Oriental-flavored ramen noodle soup mix

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup hot water

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 (10-oz.) package gourmet mixed salad greens, thoroughly washed

3 large nectarines, peeled and cut in wedges

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 (4-oz.) package crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Reserve flavor packet from soup mix. Crumble noodles, and place in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake at 350° for 5 to 6 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 15 minutes). Place cranberries in a small bowl; add 1 cup hot water. Let stand 5 minutes; drain. Whisk together reserved flavor packet, canola oil, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add ramen noodles, cranberries, gourmet greens, and next 3 ingredients, tossing gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Everything Old is New Again

In our moving process, we have tried to be as frugal as possible, and have had some individuals who have generously offered to give us pieces of furniture and décor that they no longer had use for. Most of these items have required a little updating and personalization to make them our own.

Case in point, the patio furniture below that my in-laws gave us. The traditional wicker and iron furniture was in great shape, and we were so happy to have it. In looking for an inexpensive way to update it and make it our own, we took a dozen cans of black spray paint to it and added some outdoor cushions from Ballard Designs, and ta-da! We love the finished product!

Check out the before and after below.


Someone moved...

Moving announcement from Tiny Prints...isn't it cute?

Savor the Summer

As summer winds to a close I want to share my favorite recipe of the season. In case you missed the July issue of Southern Living magazine, it featured a recipe so easy and so delicious that it is sure to become a fast favorite. I have taken pictures of the finished product in my kitchen, but felt that this recipe deserved the best: a professional picture, straight from the magazine itself. Please click on said picture to go directly to the magazine's website and obtain the recipe. Still not convinced? Prep time is only ten minutes, but the admiration received for bringing this to the table will last a lifetime. - LG
PS- Can you tell I love an easy to make dessert??

Pretty Things

Where did I find these pretty jewelry stands? None other than Urban Outfitters, which actually has three web pages of jewelry organizer options.

Wedding Wednesday: Martha

I don’t think I have been inside a Walmart since the rise of Target many years ago, but Martha Stewart’s new wedding collection may just be enough to change my mind. Some of the items are forgettable, but some are actually really cute.
Online, the different lantern options look especially cute for a wedding shower or summer gathering. Perhaps a little trip is in order this weekend….

Hang Ups

As you may have noticed, things have been slow around The Plan lately. Lauren has been gearing up for a soiree she hosted this past weekend, and I have been prepping to move.
Excuses, excuses – we know.

Anywho, while planning for our move, I have come across a plethora of tips and ideas on other people’s blogs.

Here is one of my favorite tips, from Newlywedisms.

How to Hang Wall Art
My husband has a tendency to make about 5x the amount of holes needed when hanging pictures and sconces, so we will definitely be using this technique (so simple!) at our home…and save our walls a lot of paint and spackle!


Isle Do

Cute invitation that arrived this summer:

Cheap and Chic

Does anyone else out there read Domino Magazine? I have recently become a big fan of this magazine. The decor ideas are classic but still young and fresh. They are also somewhat budget friendly. I was recently excited to see that the August issue features a home from Richmond, my hometown.

The August issue also has a great article about my current obsession: streamlining the wardrobe. With a Manhattan closet measuring in at 42 inches (yep, that is 3.5 feet) and exactly 2.5 drawers, I can use all the help I can get. Click here to learn more about paring down. Happy cleaning!

Sleeping Over?

A lot of times, entertaining means not only hosting guests for a meal or a party, but hosting them in your home overnight or for a weekend. In these instances, making them feel comfortable and relaxed is of key importance.

What items do you put in your guest room and/or guest bath to make visitors to your home feel welcomed and thought-of? Or what items do you love seeing in others' guest rooms when you visit?

Sangria Blanco

I’ve recently served this sangria at a few summer events. It has gotten great reviews, so I thought I would share.

Sangria Blanco (adapted from the Food Network)
4 bottles Sauvignon Blanc

1 cup orange flavored liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau)

1/2 cup sugar

1 bunch seedless white grapes

3 lemons, sliced with rind

3 white peaches, pitted and sliced with skin

1 honeydew melon, in small cubes

1 liter club soda
Combine liquor, sugar and fruit together in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Let flavors blend for several hours. Add the club or seltzer water and serve over plenty of ice.

Wedding Wednesday

Gorgeous flowers, all from a June wedding in Connecticut: