Toss some sequins, darlings!
I’m excited to share that I’ll be contributing to SheKnows.com as one of their “Experts Among Us”! My first post will be published next month! SheKnows.com is a “community that inspires and empowers women to explore and pursue their passions,” and I’m so thrilled to be a part of that. Don’t worry: this blog will continue to let the good times roll. There will just be one more place – in addition to AL.com – where you can find the fabulosity!
Thanks so much for your support, and for coming along with me for the fun!
Image via SheKnows.com
Sad news this morning.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Titi Branch, who passed away in an apparent suicide on December 4 according to the Washington Post. Ms. Branch co-founded Miss Jessie’s along with her sister Miko, and the two helped revolutionize natural hair care. They made natural hair look fabulous; I remember looking at their ads and articles and wondering if my hair could look that great by itself. Their hair care line started in Brooklyn but now can be found on shelves nationwide at Target, Walgreens and Walmart, among other locations.
The circumstances regarding Miss Branch’s passing have not been reported. However, there are resources for those who have lost a loved one to suicide (or who may be contemplating it personally), including the Crisis Center’s Crisis Line locally or via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Images via MissJessies.com
Raise your hand if you ever attended and Ebony Fashion Fair extravaganza. I miss this experience…and after having spent a semester researching Ebony, I miss it all the more. It was a social occasion that called for one’s finest ensemble-including one’s fur coat-and it presented an opportunity to see haute couture up close, something rare in Mobile and Pensacola.
Ebony Fashion Fair was the brainchild of Selma-native Eunice Walker Johnson, who was educated at Talladega College. It began in 1958 as a fundraiser for a New Orleans hospital and grew to travel to over 200 cities, raising millions for charities in the process. To see some of the glamour for yourself, the Chicago History Museum has a traveling exhibit entitled “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” It’s currently in Atlanta through January 4, 2015. It features pieces from Valentino, Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Dior, Emilio Pucci and Givenchy.
You may have heard the news that Kathy Griffin will replace Joan Rivers on E!’s Fashion Police. Brad Goreski will replace George Kotsiopoulos. While I enjoy Griffin’s sense of humor, I think this was a missed opportunity to diversify the cast. The Ebony Fashion Fair made diversity visible on and off the runway, and I believe Mrs. Johnson was ahead of her time.
I’m in love with J. Crew Factory’s puffer vests (see HERE and HERE), and they look so cute with denim, leather and even skirts. Plus they have pockets, which are great when you have to streamline your purse to meet stadium restrictions on large handbags. (Our local J. Crew Factory store is located at the Outlet Shops of Grand River in Leeds.) A crimson lip can be your finishing touch.
I’d stay away from layering an infinity scarf over this, or wearing it over a denim jacket – the point is not to look like Marty McFly. Instead, I’d choose a chambray shirt and statement necklace. Add flat boots, a light crossbody bag like this one from Coach and your favorite gameday button and you’re done! To get more mileage out of it, try pairing it with a dressier pant, patterned sweater and heels (as J. Crew Factory styles it below).
You could also try layering an oversized cardigan, a fur vest* or even belting a long scarf over your outfit to achieve a similar effect (InStyle shows you how HERE). An added benefit as you enjoy tailgating or dress for seasonal occasions: these options all camouflage food babies!
Roll Tide and happy shopping!
Images via J. Crew Factory, Lids and Coach
*Beware the faux fur ones appearing either totally lackluster/dry or super shiny; it’s a dead giveaway that they’re fake.
One of the redeeming graces of the weather getting colder is entertaining moves inside where it’s warm! Whether you’re gearing up for a round of dinner and cocktail parties, hosting a girl’s night in or an Iron Bowl extravaganza, it never hurts to plan ahead to ensure things run smoothly. With that in mind, I caught up with Charla Draper, whose blog Chow Chow & Soul (CC&S) is “culinary dish for those who relish food, recipes, entertaining and more.” Ms. Draper has a wealth of experience: her first job was working in the Kraft Kitchens, and she also worked as food editor at Ebony and Southern Living (which brought her to Alabama!). Having grown up on Ebony’s Date with a Dish feature, I was really excited to speak with her.
The inspiration for CC&S: “I enjoy cooking and sharing food information. There are so many things people enjoy eating or remember eating as they grew up. If people don’t continue to cook those things, they’ll be lost recipes. It’s great to eat out, but it’s always good to know how to make something yourself.”
Her specialty: “I really have always enjoyed baking. My mother is a great pie baker; I’m trying to fine-tune my pie baking skills. One of the things I always do for my family is make the yeast rolls. It’s kind of therapeutic to knead that dough. When I first started, my grandmother was the yeast roll baker, and I was able to make them with her maybe twice.”
Draper had her grandmother’s recipe but it was missing a key element her grandmother hadn’t written down. Once while she was baking them, her uncle came by and just happened to say that Draper’s grandmother would “score the dough across the top and then fold it in half” which helped the final product turn out successfully.
Draper uses tested recipes that she’s developed herself or that come from reliable sources. She advises cooks to use a timeline when preparing meals (you can find a great one on her blog by clicking HERE).
Here’s how you can successfully execute your next event.
“Try to select things that you’re familiar with,” Draper says. “If you see a new recipe you’d like to try when you’re going to entertain, make sure you have enough time to run through it. Don’t do it the first time when your guests are coming.”
Draper recommends going about your preparations in an organized manner. Read your recipes completely, make your grocery list and when you get home from shopping, get all your ingredients out and measured at the same time. Then you can begin preparing your dishes.
When it comes to serving your meal, surely your guests won’t be served directly out of pots or aluminum pans, so consider the presentation. Invest in some nicer serving dishes, which can be found at your local Target or Wal-Mart, or even stores like TJ Maxx. Draper recommends picturing how you’d like your appetizers and the entrée and side dishes to look on the plate, and even labels her serving pieces with Post-it notes beforehand as reminders.
“Will you have food out when people arrive, or will it need to be put out after your guests come? Think through it,” Draper says. “I try to set up the table 24-48 hours before company arrives. For sit-down dinners, you can set the table and pick up a plastic drop cloth and just cover the table, so all you have to do is take the drop cloth off before your event.”
She recommends being ready for your guests 30-45 minutes before they are due to arrive. She says one of the best investments she’s ever made has been to hire help for her parties.
“It could be a formal service that supports restaurants and caterers, or simply reach out to a culinary school to see if they might have students available to execute while you’re entertaining,” Draper says.
“Sometimes these services will do everything for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to see if you can get some help in terms of serving and opening the door so you have a chance to interact with your guests,” she advises.
If you’ve given yourself plenty of time to prepare your meal, you should also have plenty of time to set the mood. Create a welcoming atmosphere in your home by lighting candles, using floral arrangements and playing well-chosen music. Prepare and chill your beverages – have one yourself, you deserve it! – and give yourself time to relax and dress before your guests arrive. But what if they ring the doorbell early?
“It can be a challenge when people arrive too early,” Draper says. “If they arrive before things are out, get them involved. Ask them if they can put this or that on the table. You might not have them involved in the cooking. But always be a gracious host.”
You can read and view more of Charla’s excellent tips via Chow Chow & Soul. She is also a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line® spokesperson, sharing her expertise along with other culinary professionals at 1-800-BUTTERBALL. The line is open all day, every day this week through 3:00 p.m. December 25.
Ugh. Where to begin? (Click on each photo for a closer look!)
Zendaya: Gold lame is chic, but this look loses something in the execution. Who wears a bikini top a with a trench coat? And that’s far too much hair on any one person’s head. This fabric is gorgeous; I would’ve loved to have seen it worked into a sheath or cropped top and skirt that fit the star’s sporty style.
Uzo Aduba: That hair and that dress (with cheap-looking fabric and styling that do her silhouette no favors) are both “NO ma’ams.” Sleeker hair and a more refined fit would’ve been better options. If you’re going to choose something that’s a bit inexpensive, steer clear of anything that makes it look gaudy, like sparkly accents.
Neyo: No comment. #opencasketsharp
Star Jones: Sigh. She is entirely too fabulous for these shorts worn with pantyhose. I think she looks amazing in artfully draped, or ruched sheaths with some structure to them. I could’ve even seen Ms. Jones in a voluminous, high-low ball skirt with a crisp white blouse or even a cropped blouse showing just a hint of skin at her waist. That shape would’ve still drawn attention to her legs, but in a more sophisticated manner.