It's the Month of Invitation Shopping Parties!

I have recently been invited to two different shopping parties - a CAbi party at my sister-in-law AG's house and a Stella & Dot party at my friend MF's house.  Both of these are the types of parties where you go to someone's house for cocktails, appetizers and shopping, and they sell things you can't find in stores.

Here are the two items I purchased at the CAbi show I went to:

I bought this top in a bigger size so I can wear
it as a beach cover-up.  I loved the flower detailing.

I'm picturing wearing this top with white pants in the
summer or with jeans in the spring.  And maybe I'll add a brown or
gold belt to give it shape. 

The Stella & Dot party is coming up in a couple of weeks.  Here are some of the pieces that I have my eye on.  Now I just have to patiently wait for the party date to arrive.....
Stella & Dot

Stella & Dot by insandouts on Polyvore.com

Great Bag for Spring!

I had this deep orange-colored J.McLaughlin "printed Aken tote" bag on my Christmas list and Santa came thru!  I think this is a perfect bag for anytime of year, especially spring, and mine even fits my laptop which makes it so versatile.  And I was just in a J.McLaughlin store a couple of weeks ago and saw they now have this bag in other fun patterns too!


Sunday Afternoon at the MFA

Friends of ours, ND and KC, have a membership to the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and they invited PRG and I to go to the MFA with them yesterday afternoon.  We had a great day together and I really liked the work by one artist in particular, Jim Lambie.  He works with colored electrical tape in playful patterns and designs and, in the below MFA installation, he used cut up painted furniture and glittery purses on a wall - so crazy that his patterns are made of tape.  Talk about an accent wall or floor!

What I saw yesterday at the Boston MFA

Here are some other Jim Lambie installations: 

From the MoMA, 2008
From the Tate London, 2003
Courtesy Anton Kern Gallery, 2003
Also courtesy of the Anton Kern Gallery, 2003.  
From the Mizuma Gallery, 2006
This is an image of a Gramercy apartment that belongs to Tim Nye of the Nyehaus Gallery


Loving Milly's Spring 2011 Collection

Milly's 2011 spring collection is full of navy mixed with orange/coral -- my favorite color combination!   Here is a sneak peek:


Happy Valentine's Day!

My friend LW just sent me this e-card from Paperless Post - so cute!
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  xo


Great Gifts - Recent Finds on Etsy

I discovered Etsy.com last year as I was browsing the web looking for custom stationary products and now I'm obsessed with it!  Here is a description about this site and, for all of you artisans out there, you might want to consider posting your handmade goods on this site too!

{From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia}:Etsy is an e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies. These items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks and toys. Many individuals also sell craft supplies like beads, wire, jewelry-making tools and much more. The vintage items on the site have only one rule to follow: they must be 20 years or older. These items range from old boots and ice skates, to dresses, hats and scarves. The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee of $0.20. It has been compared to "a crafty cross between Amazon and eBay", and to "your grandma's basement".

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with every seller whom I've purchased from and here is a sampling of some of the various items I have bought from Etsy in the last few months.  I've made sure to note where you can get each item - happy shopping!

Devon Baer Designs:

Here are the starfish earrings I bought...
and you should check out all of Devon's
great tunics and belts.

Devon and I worked together to create this custom necklace I
wore on my wedding day.

MonkeySee Boutique:

Here are some of the monogrammed luggage tags I had made for some friends.

Anders Ruff Custom Designs:

I worked with Maureen from Anders Ruff to
create these thank you cards we put at each of
our wedding guests' seats.  I gave them the wording
I wanted and described the look I was going for and
in less than 24 hours they created these for us.

Here is a sample of the custom table name cards
Anders Ruff created for our wedding.  Each table name card
was the name of a different San Francisco neighborhood
since that's where PRG and I met.


Here is a sample of the baby shower invitations
I purchased for my sister-in-laws baby shower.  And
they even made me sailboat envelope sealer stickers to match.

Say Your Piece:

Here is the custom ring dish we purchased from SayYourPiece
which our flower girls used to carry our wedding rings down
the aisle.  (I've whited-out our names above if you're wondering
why it looks a little funny.)
The Preppy Ladybug:

Here are the custom monogrammed note cards and address labels
Shannon at the Preppy Ladybug created for me which I used for all of my
bridal shower and bachelorette party thank you notes.

Here's a sample of the sailboat ornament I gave
my sister and brother-law since their new baby boy
was born right around Christmas time. 

Loved this!

I went over to my brother-in-law (JG) and sister-in-law's (AG) house for dinner last night and I had to take a pic of AG's outfit because I loved the color combination she chose!  I thought you would like to check it out as well -- don't you just love the turquoise and fushia worn together?


Wedding Feature

Our wedding was featured on the Party Resources blog today!  Thanks so much Kate!  xx


Wine on a Dime

Let me preface my first wine post by saying I'm not going to use the following words in my postings regarding wines:   jammy, legs, bouquet, flabby, spicy, woody or tannic among others.  This is due, in part, by the price point of the wines I will be judging, and also because I just want to keep it real.

Whenever I walk into a liquor store, I grapple with making the decision:  beer or wine.  Having lived in the Bay Area has made me love wine.  Being a dude has made me love beer.  I've usually gone for beer based on the price point but, to even the playing field, I've decided to venture into the $15 and under wine category.

Let's start things off with a phenomenally-valued vino.  Even though Trader Joe's is best known for it's Two-Buck Chuck, I recently discovered this great wine for only $6.   It rivals any $15-$20 bottle of wine and, because of its price, you can bring 3 bottles of it to a dinner party instead of 1.  That means 3X the fun.  I would choose the 2008 Trentatre Rosso all day over a six-pack.



Food OR Fodder?

When you think about Super Bowl Sunday food, you often think about "dirty" food like nachos with the works, chili, potato skins, 7 layer dip, etc.  However, since the New England Patriots lost and my interest in the Super Bowl is minimal at best, I've decided to spend a little more time cooking a more refined dish this year.  After about a half hour of prep and about 1+ hours of cooking time, we'll have Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon ready to go.

Beef Bourguignon

Copyright Ina Garten, All rights reserved

Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 15 min
6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can (2 cups) beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:

  • Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley



Great Gifts

I know how hard it can be to try and think of the perfect gift for someone, especially if you don't want to spend a ton or if you're pressed for time!  To help mitigate the stress that can sometimes accompany gifting, "Great Gifts" will become a recurring feature on my blog where I share gift ideas I have come across as well as some actual gifts I have received to help you with your brainstorming.

To start it all off, here are a couple of cool map-related gift ideas I have received lately:

My friend MO gave me this "East/West" tote bag when I moved from San Francisco to Boston...brilliant! You can get your own map tote bag here.

My husband (PRG) and I met in San Francisco and we received this awesome framed print as a wedding gift from our friend MF - what a perfect momento to celebrate the city where we met!  You can order your own here.

Luxe for Less

I was looking thru Pottery Barn's catalogue a couple of months back and fell in love with their mirrored side tables!  However, I unfortunately didn't fall in love with their price so my hunt began to find similar-looking mirrored side tables for less.  My hunt ended once I spotted these at Pier 1 Imports for less than half the price and now 2 of these puppies have found their new home next to my bed.

Pottery Barn's for $399 each:

Pier 1 Imports' for $179.99 each: