We Heart Carbs

We still have two more days before New Year's Resolutions (read: diets) start, so in that time, I would suggest trying these rolls from Paula Dean. I discovered them on Perry's Plate, one of my favorite food blogs, and whipped up a batch on Christmas Day. Although mine were not the prettiest, they sure did taste good!

The Art of the Thank You Note

With the holidays passing by, my list of thank you notes to be written is methodically being attended to. I am a big believer in the handwritten thank you note, even if it is preceded by an email or phone thank you.

Someone sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal today, which is worth a read. I appreciate Parker's sentiment: "The thought behind the thank-you should be equal or greater than the thought that went into the gift."

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a wonderful end to 2009.

Farrell and Lauren (both in New York!)

Christmas Classics

I am sitting here thinking about which modern Christmas movies might become classics over the years. While I love Love Actually, I think it may be a bit risque...

My front runner is The Family Stone. What do you think? While you contemplate this, please be amused by this picture of our city tree. And yes, that is a La-Z-Boy chair. Apparently it is a deal breaker : )

Sorbet Prosecco Cocktail

We've been on a brief hiatus!

With some well-deserved time-off approaching, we'd like to share an easy, festive cocktail that is sure to please at any holiday gathering.

Sorbet Prosecco Cocktail
Prosecco or Champagne of your choice
Sorbet of your choice (mango is featured here)
melon-baller or cookie dough scoop
champagne flutes

Scoop generous balls of sorbet into the bottom of the flutes. Top with chilled champagne and serve.
How pretty (and easy) are these?!

Ancient Etiquette

While reading Madness Under the Royal Palms by Laurence Leamer (very good, by the way) I came across a reference to the practice of crossing out one's name on stationery. I had a vague recollection of this but couldn't put my finger on the reason for it. After a bit of research I found that it is an old custom demonstrating to close friends and family that you, and not your social secretary, wrote the note. While a lady may be "Mrs. Charles Smith" on her stationery, she may also be "Aunt Poodie" to her niece, in which case she would strike a line through her formal name and sign Love, Aunt Poodie.

So my question is this: When does tradition become silly? (Or in this case pretentious, unless you do have an actual social secretary, in which case Congratulations!) And at this point if you are striking your name are you staying true to your upbringing or blindly following said tradition?

Furniture Dreaming

Wendy Gee, my favorite store in Larchmont, NY, introduced me to Maine Cottage furniture and I've been obsessing over the website since I found out we might move again. The neat thing about Maine Cottage is that 90% of the product is made in the US. Everything is designed to mix and match, and they have a wonderful selection of blues and greens in particular. If you like a beachy/coastal decorating style then you will like their furniture and accessories. And the best part may be that there is a flat rate "white glove" delivery service which includes assembly and removal of all packing materials. Sign me up!

Cyber Monday

Is anyone else's email inbox blowing up with sale emails today?

So far this morning, the highlights of mine include....

40% off entire purchase and Free Shipping at Ann Taylor (code: MONDAY)
20% off all sweaters and Free Shipping on orders over $150 at J. Crew (code: HOLIDAY)
20% off your online purchase and Free Shipping at all Gap Inc stores (Gap, Banana, Old Navy, Piperlime, etc) (code: Monday)

The list goes on and on! Any good deals coming through your inbox for Cyber Monday?

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

We have greatly enjoyed reading all the blog posts about favorite Thanksgiving foods. Because food may be our favorite topic, this has inspired some enthusiastic discussion, particularly regarding stuffing. One of us likes moist stuffing, while the other prefers the stuffing that overflows out of the turkey and becomes crispy. And oyster stuffing? How did we not know about this at all? Cumulatively, our favorite Thanksgiving foods include appetizers of all sorts, homemade rolls, sweet potatoes, and wine. What are your favorites? Do you have specific requirements for traditional fare, ie, crispy stuffing?

(Above is an unflattering picture of me discovering that I had served myself an enormous portion of mashed turnips thinking they were sweet potatoes- ewwwwww!)

For Good Measure

How fun are these kitchsy measuring spoon sets from Anthropologie? They'd be great stocking stuffers!

The Registry II

Since completing my registries, I've been really interested in looking at other people's registries, both for what they request and what they receive. This was taken to a whole new level today when I discovered that you can view Khloe Kardashian's registry online. If you watched "The Wedding: Keeping Up With the Kardashians" (this is what happens when one is unemployed and it's raining), you already know that her registry is surprisingly traditional (at her mother's insistence), and that Khloe was appropriately shocked by the cost of everything. Despite insisting that her friends could never afford to buy her a $700 silver place setting (I found that really likeable), she did end up receiving this $6,200 10" tiger :
I guess you never know.

Creative Gift Giving: Element Bars

Looking for a holiday gift for the hard-to-buy-for person in your life?
Try a gift card to Element Bars. This interactive website allows you to build your own energy bars, with a combination of countless ingredients. What an original, interactive gift for the health-conscious person your holiday list.

Wedding Wednesday: Diet Dilemma

Over the summer I was at a dinner party helping myself to a second piece of delicious coconut cake when the girl to my left pointedly asked how my wedding diet was going.


First of all, how rude is that?

Second of all, I did not plan to diet. I always said that I wouldn't be the girl who stopped eating 12 months before her wedding in order to drop two sizes. Unfortunately, my metabolism seems to have hit that late 20's slow down right around the six month countdown mark. Interestingly, women everywhere (including at the doctor's office in Manhattan, where strangers don't interact!) have started whispering that you magically lose five pounds in the last few weeks before your wedding, even if you don't try! Can this possibly be true? Did this happen to any of you?

Regardless, I am hedging my bets and eating five small meals per day. However, if I run into that girl at any more dinner parties, I am going to eat three pieces of cake and tell her that I just lost those five pounds because of good genes.

Lightened Up Fall Cooking

With cooler temps on the way, comfort food is on my mind.

This recipe for Greek Pasta with Meatballs from this month's Cooking Light did not disappoint. It was a savory, creative take on classic spaghetti and meatballs, and who does not love melted feta cheese (late night College Inn feta breadsticks, all you UVAers??)?

I made a few modifications, like subbing in reduced fat feta, but either way, it is worth a try! If lamb is not your thing, try making the meatballs with ground turkey or lean ground beef. The photos on Cooking Light's website are a little more appetizing than mine, but I promise it tasted, great!
While the meatballs were in the oven last night, I also whipped up a batch of White Bean Soup with Gremolata for lunches this week. It is a great option for a low-cal, low-fat lunch to take to work.

Dream Door

When I lived in Cincinnati I loved to go to a store called Khakis in Hyde Park Square. Khakis had a wonderful Dutch door and I always thought the owners were lucky to be able to spend their working days in such a pleasant environment. I hadn't thought about that door much until today, when I saw this house tour featuring the picture above. A Dutch door is definitely back on my dream house wish list.

Birdseed Monogram

What a cute idea for an eco-friendly outdoor wedding or party!

Fall in Full Swing

Looking for an easy Fall dessert? I'd highly recommend these Real Simple pumpkin cupcakes featured over at le petite blog. They are SO easy to make! I used my own recipe for cream cheese frosting, but the one they recommend looks great, as well. We topped with candy corn for Halloween weekend, but these would be great through Thanksgiving with any festive topper you might like.


Start Your Week Off Light

In the fall, when football dominates my social life, I like to eat lightly on Sunday nights. Tonight we had a chicken Caesar salad with this delicious dressing from Great Food Fast:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup reduced fact mayo
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 anchovy files, coarsely chopped
1 small garlic clove

I use regular mayo and add a little anchovy "juice" (from the can) to the mixture. The recipe says to combine all ingredients in a blender. If this isn't convenient, drop the garlic and just whisk the rest together. The result is a very thin but flavorful dressing.

I Love Your Style

I recently read an interview in Vogue with Amanda Brooks that inspired me to pick up her new book, I Love Your Style. As I get a bit older I've been somewhat lost about how to dress. The realization has set in that what looked cute 10 years ago (do jeans, gray New Balance sneakers, and layered t-shirts count as a "style?") may look sloppy, cliched, or even frumpy right now. I can't emphasize how great this book is. It doesn't bore you with a list of items everyone should own, and it acknowledges the work it takes to develop personal style. I think I am leaning towards a blend of Classic and Minimal...

Back to reading : )

lululemon pants

Has anyone tried lululemon workout pants?

After having them recommended by a few very fit friends and reading about them in various media outlets, I decided to give in and make the purchase. The Groove Pant did not disappoint - even with its hefty price tag, as far as yoga pants go. As promised, they lifted in all the right places and just feel good to wear. Each pair is reversible and there are so many cute colored band options! They seem to have customer service down pat - offering free hemming of pants purchased in their stores.

After buying into the hype and spending more than I would like to admit, I would still recommend these to anyone! Order soon and enjoy free shipping until November 15!

Anyone else have one of these?

A place where you never get it together, no matter how clean the rest of your home is. This is mine. It sits right next to me. In case I ever need a sailing trophy, three brass candlesticks, and a necklace at my disposal.

Cleaning Question

I have recently tried to switch to wooden spoons and it hasn't been an entirely successful attempt. First of all, I have to say that I don't love the way they feel. Maybe the ones I have need a little more mineral oil. The other problem I've had is getting them clean. I know you aren't supposed to soak them, but I have a real battle going with the remains of a thick potato soup that doesn't want to leave my spoons. Am I completely nuts or does anyone else have these problems? Do most of you use wooden cooking utensils or other?

Where is Fall?

Here on the East Coast, we have been having especially cold and rainy weather these past few days, and it looks like it will be staying for a few more.

I am about one raindrop away from ordering myself a pair of these to help make the wet weather a little more fun!

Tailgate Dessert

Someone brought these yummy Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars to our tailgate this weekend, and they were a hit! I would highly recommend trying them....even if cheesecake is not your favorite, the honey and cinnamon flavors are amazing!

2- 8oz packages of cream cheese (softened)
2- packages of crescent rolls
1.5 cups sugar (divided 1 cup & 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick melted butter (8 tablespoons)
Mix (with beater) cream cheese w/ vanilla and 1 cup sugar. Spread 1 package crescent rolls in 13x9 pan, pinch free edges together (should blend together once in the oven). Spread cream cheese mixture over crescent rolls in pan & cover w/ remaining package of crescent rolls. Mix 1 stick melted butter w/ 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Pour on top. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Drizzle all over with honey. Cut into bars. Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Dinners

I recently read a blog where the writer talked about her favorite redneck dinner. All her readers chimed in with comments about their favorite version of this (Kraft mac n cheese, Coke, etc.). I can't remember where I saw it, but it reminded me that for many of us, a quick and easy dinner is a few steps below Easy Sole Meuniere. For me, casseroles are generally the best recipes to throw together (especially ahead of time), but I'm only feeding two and we really don't want to eat anything three nights in a row. Below is a play on a casserole that involves virtually no fresh ingredients (so bad) and is perfect for two people. If you want to share a recipe like this, please email us at theplan03@yahoo.com.

Shredded Chicken Casserole
  • Poach two chicken breasts until done (10-15 minutes). I add 1 tbsp butter, a crushed garlic clove, and a chicken bouillon cube to the boiling water.
  • Grate about 6-8 oz cheese of your choice while chicken cooks.
  • Shred chicken.
  • Mix chicken, 3/4 of the cheese, and 1/2 jar of salsa together.
  • Layer in a loaf pan alternating mixture with Tostito chips and jalapeno slices (as desired), with remaining cheese on top.
  • Bake until hot.

Goodbye, Gourmet

How sad is this news? It is a sad, sad day for the publishing industry when Gourmet and two prominent bridal magazines are shutting their covers once and for all! First, the loss of Domino last year, and now this!


We are thoroughly enjoying the onset of Fall here in Charlottesville. We just hung up our Halloween wreath (black feather wreath from last year's sale at Pottery Barn and initial from Anthropologie, front door circa 1971) and pumpkins are on this week's shopping list!


Tonight I am craving this, maybe with blue (bleu?) cheese dressing instead of ranch. And maybe I would leave off the shredded cheese, because that would be healthier.

The Truth

As our blog ages, we are moving away from being so strict about content and letting some of our other interests in. One of these interests is a...study...of pop culture. Like many of our peers, we devoted a fair amount of time in college and our early 20's to J Simp, LC, and, eventually, debating whether not Brody is a decent person because of how nice he is to LC, or if LC just inspires niceness in otherwise sketchy people.

We are amazed that these people are still around. They just keep getting older and we stay the saaame aaaaage. Isn't that how it goes? To prep for the season premier of both The Hills and The City, we will revisit Heidi and Spencer's wedding episode. Oh Heidi. You really were a swan princess.


We can't believe it is almost October!

If you are looking for invitations for an upcoming Halloween bash, check out the supply at Tiny Prints. As low at 99 cents each, these cute designs cannot be beat!

Wedding Styling

I was flipping through Town & Country Weddings yesterday and came across the prettiest pictures from Olivia Chantecaille's wedding. (This picture is from an interview with her over at Darcy Miller's The Bride's Guide.) It may be hard to see in this picture, but what caught my eye is the way she has both a flower and a veil in her hair. I don't think I've ever seen a bride styled this way- generally you see a flower or a veil- and I think it's quite nice. Also like the front tied sash and, of course, the gorgeous material of the dress.

We Die

For these Fall lovelies from Anthropologie....

Frayed Bouquet Top

Button Duo Dress....


I'm sure many of you know about this sale, but I just picked up a duvet cover at Pottery Barn for a great price. If you have your eye on any of their bedding, head over to your nearest store. Stuff that is "sold out" online may still be available.

Wedding Wednesday: Calm Before the Storm

People have been asking how wedding planning is coming along. I say it's going well and that I'm not very stressed, which is true. I think I'm very lucky to be able to use established vendors who are low-maintenance, and the reception will be at a hotel (easy easy easy, both for you and your guests!). Most of my personal touches are confined to the welcome bags, which means I am not obsessing over tons of details. My mother has been very nice about taking care of a lot of the vendor research and communication (thanks mom!).

Inevitably the response is that this is the calm before the storm, and that the last few months are going to be bad. So blog readers, please share what unexpectedly stressed you out the most in the last months or weeks before the wedding. (My first guess is the seating chart...)

It's baaaaack....

Candy corn season is upon us. At Target today, I think I counted 5 different varieties, not including those little orange Mellowcreme pumpkins.

Fall is here!

Classy Guacamole

My husband's cousin shared this awesome recipe recently. I served it at a cookout this past weekend and one of the boys called it "classy guacamole," which I guess is relatively true! I meant to take a photo, but it was gobbled up pretty quickly. Give it a try for your next dinner party or tailgate; it does not disappoint!

Avocado and Goat Cheese Spread
1 ripe avocado
3 1/2 ounces goat cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 dashes of hot pepper sauce
3 oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
garlic salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mash avocado with a fork until smooth. Add goat cheese and mix until creamy in texture. Add in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with crackers, pitas, baguette, etc.

Wedding Wednesday: Blame it on the Alcohol....

"It" being the blown wedding budget. How many of you chose the flat per person rate for alcohol at your wedding? How many of you paid per drink? How did it work out? Did you estimate correctly?

Hello College Football

Cupcakes to celebrate college football's kickoff weekend, made by an acquaintance in Atlanta:

Fall is Here!

Well, not officially, but the college football season is! We know some schools kicked off their season last night, but UVA's home opener is tomorrow against William and Mary. Farrell will be rooting them on in person in Charlottesville with lots of fun tailgate pre-partying, while Lauren will be travelling down South for a wedding.
Whether you are tailgating, grilling out on the deck, or celebrating some other way, have a great long weekend!

Sharpie Pens

I admit it, I LOVE school/office supplies. This time of year, I always wish I someone to do back to school shopping for!

I am super-picky about pens and am always excited when I find something I like. When you are out this weekend, pick yourself up a few Sharpie Retractable Fine Point Pens; they're amazing! Almost enough to make me want to go back to class and take some notes....almost.


In these last few weeks of summer, we have been trying to make it a priority to get to our local weekly Farmer's Market. After picking up some lovely figs on Saturday, we decided to try Cooking Light's Ginger-Garlic Chicken with Fresh Fig Pan Sauce (for some reason, CL doesn't list the recipe on their site, but it is on page 141 of the July issue, as well as on this external link). It was SUCH an easy recipe and so delicious. We served it as recommended - accompanied with grilled carrots and bok choy.

And speaking of Cooking Light, who doesn't LOVE their new reader-friendly format that debuted this month?!

Take Them a Meal!

With so many of our friends having babies lately, we have been doing a lot of dinner-bringing to new parents. Take Them a Meal! is a fabulous website we recently discovered that simplifies meal coordination. Whether you are organizing for new parents, someone who is ill, or a grieving family, it handles the scheduling of meal preparation and delivery. The coordinator simply enters in an easy password and selects the days the recipients could use meals. Then, they can email out a link to everyone participating and individuals can sign up for dates, list what they are going to bring (great for avoiding 5 lasagnas in a row), and reference details like preferred delivery times and allergies/food preferences. The day before your assigned evening, you'll get a reminder email recapping all of the details for you.
Why didn't I think of this?

Wedding Wednesday: April Flowers

This past weekend I went home to Richmond to talk to three different florists about my wedding flowers. Because many of our guests are coming from the northeast, I knew I wanted something very "springtime in Virginia." One of the reasons I chose an April wedding date is because there should be lots of seasonal flowers available. Hydrangea, tulips, daffodils, freesia....pretty. (Yes, I would describe my style as "classic.")

I stuck to my rule of only interviewing three vendors, which I HIGHLY recommend. We saw options in the low, middle, and high end of our budget range, and by the last meeting I was happy to be done.

My meeting with Joie from Flower Girls was really exciting. Joie is a Williamsburg native (like me!!) and around my age. She has a background in art, which really comes across in the creative way she approaches floral design. She was also just a really nice person and I think I would trust her completely. If you have any sort of flower needs, definitely check out the Flower Girls website for more information. They also handle corporate accounts, container gardening, and residential delivery. Even if we don't go in that direction (still waiting for the proposal, everyone cross your fingers that it's in budget!), it was great to meet Joie and see the pictures of the weddings where she and Kristi have worked their magic.

Thank you!

A big thank you to Spice and Sass, who gave us a blogger award! We hope you'll enjoy reading her blog as much as we do! (We're currently dying to try her New Orleans Barbequed Shrimp.)_

Summer Salad

The recession garden has been producing tomatoes in amazing quantities lately. In an attempt to not let any go to waste, we have been getting creative with tomato-centric dishes lately. This dish, adapted from a Whole Foods recipe, is one of the best we have tried. You could substitute in any fresh herb for the mint - basil, etc or goat cheese for the feta, depending on your preferences. The photos were taken before I added the balsamic reduction, but you get the idea!

Easy Recipes

Does anyone else have Everyday Food: Great Food Fast from Martha Stewart Living? One of my friends invited me to dinner this week and used it to make the most amazing prosciutto and green pea linguine. The book is fun to flip through, and the recipes are easy and organized by season. If you're busy or in a cooking slump (aren't we all?) or a bit of a novice in the kitchen, this seems like a great purchase.

Wedding Day Details

If you have a Paper Source store close by, make sure you check out this upcoming event! Those of us who are a few hours from the nearest store (sniff, sniff) will have to live vicariously through you!

Mad Men Returns!

Our household was so happy for the return of Mad Men with last night's Season 3 premier! Did anyone else pour a classic martini and tune in?

A Bun in the Oven!

How cute are these baby shower favors one of our friends recently put together for a shower she was throwing?