My Favorite Holiday Gifts, Part 2: Women’s Accessories (including shoes)

Y’all think I’m crazy for talking about Christmas right after Halloween, but you will thank me later! It doesn’t do any good to write about good gifts after Thanksgiving…everything will be gone by then! I’m trying to help you get the jump on your holiday shopping! In my last Holiday Gifts post, I listed Books. Over the next few weeks, I will suggest my favorite gifts for Men/Boys, Women’s Apparel, Home, Travel, Stocking Stuffers, and Kids/Teens. So today it’s Accessories, including shoes, handbags, jewelry, and hats. There are so many great things out there, and I’m having a hard time with the “one for you, one for me” thing. Every time I purchase something for someone else, I want to get one for myself! Hopefully, you will find some things listed that you can add to your own Christmas list, and maybe you’ll find some for friends and family too!

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Rebecca Minkoff Leo Saffiano Envelope Clutch (above). I have one of these I carry in another handbag when I’m traveling. It’s small, and it’s the perfect clutch to carry to dinner. Available in a variety of colors from Neiman Marcus and in a lovely glitter black for $95 here. *For a nominal charge, Neiman Marcus will package your gift in a lovely gift box and bow.*

Kendra Scott Jewelry Because of the wide range of jewelry they offer, Kendra Scott appeals to all ages. Teens love the more dainty pieces. Adults love those dainty pieces and the larger statement pieces, as well. Personally, I love opals, and Kendra Scott has lots of opal pieces. I recently noticed they have Moody Mood Necklaces and Leah Mood Rings that are reminiscent of the 1970s. I’m thinking I might have to add some of these to my Christmas list for the kitsch alone. Shop Kendra Scott Jewelry here.

 

Shiny Shoes. Since I wrote a whole blog about shiny shoes recently, I thought I should include them as well. Everyone loves sparkly gifts! Nordstrom has glitter shoes in lots of different styles and prices ranges. These will make her happy! Shop all shoes at Nordstrom here.

Longchamp La Pliage Packable Tote. longchamp_tote_bag_s_le_pliage_l2605089545_0This foldable, packable tote is perfect for travel, but it’s just a great all-around tote that comes in lots of colors and several sizes. The small is about the size of a small handbag, while the medium and large work great as shopping totes or overnight bags. My daughter uses a medium for overnights, and a large for weekends away. Great for moms or teens, and everyone loves them. Prices start at $125. Get it at Nordstrom.com here.

Evil Eye Jewelry. Evil eye is everywhere this year, and it’s popular with folks of all ages. I’ve seen the evil eye emblazoned on sweatshirts (I have one!) and t-shirts, but mostly, I’ve seen lots of evil eye jewelry.  My teen daughter loves to shop at Boem in Charlotte, and they know trends. Take a look at their website to see lots of evil eye jewelry here. Their prices start at a very reasonable $15 for some eye stud earrings. Neiman Marcus also offers a selection of evil eye jewelry here. Neiman’s prices start at $98.

Camo accessories. Camo is still around, and it’s still popular! Frankly, I love camo, because I consider the green and tan shades of camo to be neutrals. But too much camo can be, well, too much. It’s best to stick with one camo item when you venture out…an accessory or one piece of apparel, but camo from head to toe is a NO. It’s easy to find accessories at a lot of different places. Forever21 has lots of accessories at really good prices. Urban Outfitters and Shopbop offer an assortment, as well. I’m not going to lie…I love the Forever 21 Velvet and Glitter Combat Boots. Here are some of my favorite picks:

And for a little more highbrow camo, there are these scarves (I love!) you can purchase from Burberry for $490 and $550, respectively, here:

Tory Burch Accessories. Ladies love Tory, and teens love some of their accessories too. This year, Tory Burch has introduced a new line of sterling silver Wishbone jewelry, and I think it’s very popular. My favorite of the Wishbone line is the bangle bracelet. Tory Burch also offers some great wristlets, mini bags, and wallets that make great gifts. See the full line of accessories Tory Burch offers here.

Rebecca Minkoff Beanies. Sure, there are lines that are more high-end. There are lines that turn heads. I have been a fan of Rebecca Minkoff handbags for a few years, and this year, I’ve become a fan of the beanies. The blocked yarn slouchy beanie hat is my new favorite. Perfect for cold weather, they’re also cute and come in cute colors. Get them for $38 at Neimanmarcus.com here.

 

Ugg Coquette SlippersI know slippers 5125-BDC_2
sound cliché, but who buys slippers for themselves? These pretty slip-ons with a lightweight sole come in an array of colors,  my favorite being a color they call Bodacious. And of course they’re comfortable…they’re Uggs! With a their lightweight, durable sole, they are super soft, and perfect for indoors or even outdoors. Priced at $120, purchase straight from Ugg.com here or through Amazon.com here.

I think there’s something in this list for every woman. And if you can’t pick just one, pick more than one! Having trouble deciding? Maybe give her the whole list! I hope my husband reads this!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s National Mac & Cheese Day

Today, July 14, is National Mac & Cheese Day! I have loved Mac & Cheese since I was a little girl. Back then, I loved Kraft Mac & Cheese, and while it will do in a pinch even now if I add some real cheese, I have my very own beloved Mac & Cheese recipe that I prefer when I have time. I used to call it Protestant Mac & Cheese, because it’s perfect for a covered dish lunch at a church gathering in the South.

I love to cook but don’t do it every day. When I do, I love to make Mac & Cheese, so today, I’m sharing my very favorite personal recipe in honor of National Mac & Cheese Day! Enjoy!

Serves 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 TBSPNs butter or margarine, divided (I always use salted butter)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 pound Velvet Pasteurized Cheese Product, cut up
  • 8 ounces Colby Cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked, drained
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed into crumbs

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Melt 3 tblspns of the butter in large saucepan on low heat.
  3. Blend in flour and salt, cooking and stirring for one minute.
  4. Gradually add milk; cook stirring constantly, until thickened.
  5. Add prepared cheese product plus the Colby cheese and 4 ounces of Sharp Cheddar, stirring until melted.
  6. Stir in macaroni.
  7. Pour mixture into lightly greased 1-1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with Ritz Cracker crumbs and remaining Sharp Cheddar
  8. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Happy National Mac & Cheese Day!

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Quick and Easy Brunch

Anyone who knows me will quickly tell you I am no Martha Stewart. I like to cook, but I’m no chef. I don’t have the attention span for recipes with too many ingredients, and I tend to be a “squirrel chaser,” i.e. I’m easily distracted.

Every now and then, though, I like to invite some friends over for a brunch. Sure, I could get it catered, but it’s a great opportunity for me to try my hand at some recipes.

As always, the key for me is the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid. When I start trying to get too extravagant, I lose control of the situation. I learned a long time ago that it’s best for me not to make it too elaborate.

I plan to host a brunch in my home later this month…a lovely, spring brunch. In the past, I’ve used plain glass or even clear plastic plates, but this year, I’m doing something different.

In the early 1940s, my maternal grandmother got her first set of Franciscan Desert Rose dinnerware. If you’re not familiar with it, the first Desert Rose dinnerware was produced in California in 1941, and it became the largest selling and longest running dinnerware pattern ever. Jacqueline Kennedy purchased some for use in the White House. In 1979, the company was sold to Wedgewood in England, and all production was moved to England in 1984. According to cedarhillfarmhouse.com, production was moved to other countries in 2000, but the entire pattern was discontinued in 2013.

It’s not a “fancy” pattern, and it was never expensive, but it’s pretty.

Over the years, my grandmother grew her collection and eventually gave it to my mother. I added to my mother’s collection over the years. When my mother died in December, I brought the Desert Rose to my house. My husband took one look at the boxes and wondered aloud what I was going to do with them. I still haven’t figured out where to keep them, but I plan to use them this spring for a brunch.

There are lots of things to consider when planning a brunch at home, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Here is what I make notes on:

*Dinnerware (Desert Rose), where to place food, what to serve, when to prepare food, what beverages to serve, music, seating arrangements, flower arrangements, and party favors.*

The brunch I will be hosting is for a school committee, and the date and time have already been decided, so that decision is off my plate.

The dinnerware/flatware/linens question is the first one you should decide, simply because you can build around that. I have some light green cloth napkins I plan to use, because they will coordinate nicely with the Desert Rose dinnerware. I plan to have all the food served buffet-style from my dining room table, so I’ve selected a table pad and a tablecloth that will work with the dinnerware.

As for flatware, I have collected several sets of stainless flatware from eBay for great prices, so I have place settings for 40 and serving pieces too. eBay is a great resource for collecting.

Music is easy too…we have DirecTV, which offers a myriad of music channels. Usually, for brunch functions, I find a jazz station to provide a light musical background.

For me, deciding on a menu for a brunch is far easier than picking a menu for lunch or dinner. I love the Hungry Girl cookbooks, because she offers low-calorie, healthy recipes for just about anything, and she has some awesome breakfast/brunch options.

For this particular spring brunch, I plan to have this menu:

FRESH FRUIT BOWL: (cut up strawberries and stir in blueberries the night before)

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HUNGRY GIRL CRAMMED WITH CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS from page 38 of Hungry Girl Clean and Obsessed (baked the night before and warmed before the brunch)

HUNGRY GIRL BANANA BREAD BONANZA MUFFINS from page 41 of Hungry Girl Clean and Obsessed (baked the night before and warmed before the brunch)

HUNGRY GIRL VEGGIE-LICIOUS BREAKFAST BAKE (recipe can be found here), assembled ahead of time and bake the day of the brunch

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Veggie-licious Breakfast Bake photo from http://www.hungry-girl.com

MY PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER’S SOUR CREAM POUND CAKE I could give you the recipe, but I’d have to kill you. That will have to remain within the family.

For beverages, I will serve coffee, water, and orange juice…easy enough. If it weren’t for a school committee, I’d also offer Prosecco.

It’s an easy-to-assemble menu. I will display the muffins on a Desert Rose platter. The Breakfast Bake will be in a Pyrex dish, and the fruit will be in a large bowl. All those foods will be on the dining room table, and I will arrange beverages on the kitchen island. I will grab coffee the morning of the brunch at Panera, and they will provide all the cream and sugar/sweetener. I will have water and juice in two pitchers.

If possible, I always recommend fresh flowers. I love having fresh flowers in the house all the time, but I get an extra arrangement when entertaining…one for the dining room table with the food, and one for the kitchen counter.

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As for seating, the group will be small enough for me to have everyone in the kitchen and keeping room off the kitchen. There is a loveseat and a chair-and-a-half, so that is seating for four people. There are four chairs at my kitchen table, and two taller chairs at the kitchen island bar, for a total of  ten. We have eight dining room chairs we can bring in as needed.

The kitchen/keeping room combo is a perfect place for everyone to congregate, visit with each other, and discuss any committee business.

When the fun is over, it’s always nice to send something home with your guests…a small token that shows you were happy to have them in your home…a party favor. In a previous post, I sang the praises of Miss Shelley’s Southern Jams and Jellies. For this particular event, I plan to have 2-oz jars of Fire Island Peach Jam and/or Apple Pecan Pie Preserves with blue ribbons around the top, because the school colors are blue and white. Everyone will love these! To see what Miss Shelley’s Southern Jams and Jellies has to offer, click here.

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Photo courtesy of Miss Shelley’s Southern Jams and Jellies Facebook page

So, if you are planning a small brunch at home that you don’t plan to have catered, this is the easy way to do it…keep it simple!

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Happy Hosting!

Kelly

***All Hungry Girl photos courtesy of hungry-girl.com or her books.***