Be the Hostess with the Most-est!

Baby it’s (finally) cold outside! And that means entertaining has moved indoors. What’s better than enjoying food, friends and family, set in your comfortable home?  My grandmothers Mamie and Dorothy were fabulous entertainers, and they had a knack for sharing southern hospitality that just made family, friends and even strangers flock to their homes.

I’m missing both of them, and so I’m sharing what they taught me to keep their memories alive. You know if I’m doing something, I like to do it grandly, and that comes directly from them.

Incorporating any–or all–of these tips will help you entertain with flair, year-round:

  1. SET THE MOOD.  Add a soft around your home with lit candles. Choose scented pillars, votives or tapers in light spice or floral fragrance, and mix them with unscented varieties. I love to place these in my kitchen, guest bathroom, on my dining room table and around my living room–and even in groups inside my fireplace! Find inexpensive options at your local big box discount store, or in TJ Maxx or HomeGoods.
  2. SET THE TABLE. When entertaining, my grandmothers felt guests’ manners rose to the occasion, so having a formally set table encouraged better table manners.  Rather than pulling out folding trays, use your dining room table to its advantage. Pull out your best china, flatware and linen–or even nicer clear plastic plates–and add an inexpensive runner if you’re not using a table cloth, and use a simple but impactful floral arrangement. Serving buffet style? Upgrade your servingware with nicer platters and utensils. (Again, you don’t have to spend a lot.)
  3. ADD SUGAR AND SPICE. Have something sweet, savory and spicy to balance your guests’ palates with a varied menu. Whether it’s classic Chex Mix, a beautiful spread of cheese and fruit, or even old school gummy bears, have something for them to snack on, and serve it in an unusual fashion, like martini glasses! Affordable gourmet snacks can be found at your local grocer or discount home store.
  4. SIP SOMETHING SPARKLY. Serve some great bubbly, whether it’s an adult beverage, fizzy fruit juice or even carbonated water (just garnish it with lime!). Have a mix of options for guests who don’t imbibe, or who limit sugar from their diet. Serve in nicer glassware! Fun cocktail napkins are a fab touch, and a chic alternative to plain paper towels.
  5. DRESS YOUR BEST, BUT FOCUS ON GUESTS. Surely you knew an outfit would be in the mix! My grandmothers loved hostess gowns, glam caftans and luxe lounge wear. Even if you’re entertaining at home, rise to the occasion and get out of your yoga pants. Try a luxe pair of silk day-to-night cocktail pajamas or even a simple lace dress. I also love to throw one of my vintage aprons on for good measure (even if the pie I’m serving is Mrs. Smith’s!). Be comfortable and cute; don’t wear anything that you’ll tug or fuss with all evening.

True hospitality is not about how much you spend on linens or glassware. True hospitality is about the effort you put into making your guests feel especially welcome year-round.

Whether you’re serving ham sandwiches and store-brand soda or a spectacular gourmet seated dinner, you can do so with grace, intention and style–and that, darlings, is the most important thing.

Check out these retailers  when shopping to entertain: Swoozie’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Target, World Market, Fresh Market and Publix. They all have gourmet sections with food, beverage and/or decor that make an impact without putting a huge dent in your wallet. (And Etsy and eBay have awesome vintage aprons.)

Platter, vase and glassware via TJ Maxx; dress via J. Crew; apron via eBay; Champagne via Moet; Sugarfina gummy candy via Swoozie’s; Table runner  via HomeGoods; Hydrangeas via Publix

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European Wax Center to open in Birmingham

european-wax-center_logoY’all. I would say words can’t express how excited I am about this, but that’s not quite true and here we are with today’s post. Since I gave tips on not shaving last month, I thought I’d go in the totally opposite direction this time for those of us are into personal grooming.

When I was in New York last year, I was dying to visit the European Wax Center in Times Square but didn’t have enough time. Other friends have shared with me how professional the staff is, how professional the environment is, and how painless the process is–all things that are important to me. European Wax Center uses a stripless waxing method, which is said to be less painful and to remove more hair at a time.

I guess good things come to those who wait, because Fortunately, European Wax Center is now opening its first location in Birmingham (Tuscaloosa has one).  The new salon will be located in the Greystone area at The Village at Lee Branch Shopping Center on Highway 280 and Doug Baker Boulevard.  Ahead of its grand opening, a  Preview Week is planned in early to mid January. During the Preview Week, guests are invited to register to receive any of European Wax Center’s body or facial waxing services complimentary. To register, click HERE.

If you’re not in Birmingham but want to try European Wax Center at another existing location, you can still sign up to experience your first wax (brow, bikini line or underarm for ladies and ear, nose or brows for gentlemen) for free. In addition, European Wax Center offers Wax Passes for unlimited waxing, students and pre-paid services that generally include a few additional services thrown in for free. Packages can even be paid for in installments.

To sign up for the complimentary Preview Week offer, register HERE. And stay tuned for more details via EWC’s Facebook page, and yes–thoughts on my first experience!

(This is not a sponsored post, and I don’t receive anything if you sign up, get a free wax or buy a service or package. I just believe sharing is caring, and this is a potentially amazing service.)

Image via European Wax Center

Watch Alexis on Talk of Alabama tomorrow!

img_9589Toss some sequins and tune in to ABC 33/40 on Friday (November 24th): I’ll be sharing some news you can use during the 9:00 A.M. hour! (Hint: Gentlemen, this one is for especially for you!)

Not in the local viewing area? You can live-streaming it by clicking HERE, or catch the video when it’s posted later by clicking HERE.

Calling all Magic City Classic shoppers!


This is not a drill.

Still haven’t picked out the perfect Magic City Classic outfit? I’ve got you covered! I’m sure you know what not to wear (ahem), so come check out this fall’s hottenst ttends instead. Swing by Macy’s (Riverchase Galleria) this Friday, October 29 for shopping, music and light bites–plus a fashion show hosted by yours truly!
The first 30 customers to RSVP and attend will receive a $10 Macy’s gift card, good for that day. RSVP by clicking here.

Hope to see you there!

Talking natural hair…

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Several of you have asked what I use to care for my  curls, and I am excited to share these tips and products with you here and on Talk of Alabama today (You can view the segment by clicking HERE.)

There is no one-size fits all approach to natural hair. You can watch all the YouTube videos and read all the blogs in the world, but you’ll still have to learn your own hair, whether you cut it all off or grow it out from the root.  You may have to “cocktail” different brands and processes to achieve the look you want, or you may be able to literally wash and go. My tips are based on 8 years of trial and error. Note: I am not a hairstylist or dermatologist. Seek professional advice before you self-diagnose or try anything to permanently alter your hair. (For example, I don’t color my hair at home. I leave that to someone who has professional training.)

Tip 1: Have a great go-to shampoo and conditioner. Using a shampoo that is free of sulfates, counteracts hard water buildup, is gentle enough to use daily and allows my hair to retain moisture is key. And because my hair gets super tangly, I need a creamy conditioner that smooths the cuticle of my hair and makes the detangling process much less painful. Try: Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo and Knot Today Leave-In Conditioner, $12 each; available at Target.

Tip: Pre-poo or deep condition as a luxury treatment.  I love the versatility that allows me to wear my hair blown out bone straight, but that has an effect on my curls. A few months ago, they were in pretty bad shape. Using a great protein pre-shampoo treatment and a rich deep conditioner strengthens my curls and gives them a little more “POP.”                       Try: Madam C. J. Walker’s Dream Come True Wonderful Pre-Wash Protein Treatment, $32 at Sephora. For deep conditioning, try Ouidad’s  MeltDown Extreme Repair Mask, available at Sephora and Ulta for $44, and in a smaller size at Ultra for $16.

Tip: My curls don’t require a lot of handling, so I stick to a Denman brush for detangling and working product through my wet hair. Using a microfiber towel to squeeze excess moisture out of my hair shortens drying time and eliminates the frizz a bath towel can cause.  Try: Microfiber wrap, available at HomeGoods, $3.99; Denman brush, available at Sally Beauty Supply, $11.50.

Last but not least:  Be gentle with your curls. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your texture to someone else’s, because every curl pattern has its own unique beauty. Since hair grows from the inside out, it’s still going to be important to eat well and drink plenty of water. Be sure to get regular trims and consult with a stylist who understands textured hair. Oh-and if you see someone with gorgeous natural hair, feel free to compliment them on it, but as a general rule: please ask before touching it!

Want to see a professional? Here are some Birmingham-area stylists I recommend:

Image via FunnyAnd.com

The Southern Women’s Show is here! 

Haute off the press release:

BIRMINGHAM (September 2016)— When the Southern Women’s Show returns to the BJCC September 29-October 2 it brings four days geared just for Magic City gals. Want to experience this season’s best fashion, food, fun and festivities for less? Check out our “sneak peek” video, and get the  Frugal Fashionista’s Guide to the show:

TGIF – Early Bird Gets the Swag. Being one of the first to arrive at the show comes with perks beyond getting first dibs on shopping – the first 100 guests for Girls Night Out on Friday, September 30 get Belk swag bags, a complimentary glass of wine (coupon on website) and then there’s the literal icing on the cake – free mini cupcakes from Gigi’s (while they last).

Reduced Admission. Happy hour admission is just $3 after 3 p.m. on Thursday, and $5 after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday for frugal fashionistas who want to power shop (and spend the extra savings on the show floor).

Taste Birmingham’s Best. Just in time for fall entertaining season, the Southern Women’s Show is filling up the Cooking Stage with Birmingham’s best local and regional chefs for daily cooking classes. The best part? The audience gets complimentary samples.

Rock Your Hair – for Less. Celebrity hairstylist Danny Moa and a talented team return to the Southern Women’s Show by popular demand. Some lucky guests will get a complimentary haircut, and all guests can purchase the Rock Your Hair line at a substantial discount of just $5 per full size product.

Ride, Drive and Receive. Women fuel 85 percent of car buying decisions – and at the show they get behind the wheel and test drive a fleet of new Chevrolet vehicles. Located in the circle in front the entrance, the Chevy Ride and Drive is back – and all participants get a tumbler and $10 gift cards from Amazon or Target just for taking a spin.

Show Bucks Every 20 Minutes. America’s First Federal Credit Union is giving away $20 in Show Bucks every 20 minutes that can be used right there at the show.

Fall for Free Sunnies. Saturday is Focus on Vision Day sponsored by EyeCare Associates, and the first 100 guests to stop by their booth space 126 receive a free gift bag containing a free pair of sunglasses and an eyeglass cleaning kit.

Gifts With Purchase. Belk is bringing in beauty experts every day of show to give guests a new look for fall or help discover a new yummy fragrance. The makeover is complimentary and each purchase comes with exclusive Gifts With Purchase.

Show hours are Thursday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.– 5 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door, $8 in advance online, $7 in advance at participating Walgreen’s, $5 for children 6–12 years old and free for children under 6 years of age (with paying adult). Special $3 after 3pm on Thursday and $5 after 5 p.m. pricing every day. For group discount tickets and more information, call (800) 849-0248 or visit http://www.SouthernWomensShow.com. Show sponsors include Walgreen’s, Chevrolet and EyeCare Associates.

***

Want to win tickets to experience the show–and see the members of Birmingham Fire and Rescue model in Friday night’s fashion show, stop by for tips and treats from Bob Syke’s BBQ, Wink Mobile Boutique and Scottsboro’s Unclaimed Baggage Center? Comment “Send me to SWSBham” here, or on any SWSxSCDD post on Facebook or Instagram and you could win!

We’re FIVE!

Happy Friday, darlings!

Time truly flies when you’re having fun…so much so that SCDD (nearly) missed its own anniversary! As I take the weekend to reflect on and appreciate all that this little corner of the Internet has accomplished, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I could not have kept this going or expanded it without the encouragement, inspiration and help you all have generously given this effort.

As always, stay tuned…the best is yet to come!

XO, Alexis 

P.S. If you’re not following us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, what are you waiting for?

This. 


Are you wearing clothes you love? Why in the world wouldn’t you? I’m not suggesting you go to work dressed like Tinkerbell-unless that is in fact your job. But why keep a closet full of things that don’t fit your body, taste or lifestyle? Who does that serve? Let it go. 

Stop forcing yourself into clothes that don’t fit, literally or otherwise. Pretty soon you might find you’re forcing yourself into other areas of your life that really don’t fit either.

Via @ilovejcrewyesido

Calling all DIY divas!

 

Whether we’re at the pool, lake, beach or just in the backyard, we all know we should protect our faces and bodies from the sun. One way to do that is to don a sun hat. They are everywhere right now, from discount to department stores. I went shopping and fell in love with a designer one that retails for $485. This hat, by Eugenia Kim, has been seen on Beyonce and is featured in  the June issues of InStyle and O Magazines. It’s absolutely adorable, but it’s NOT in my summer style budget. So one way to get “the look for less” is to harness your creativity and recreate it using less expensive, but easily accessible items.

Ready to try it?

  1. You’ll need a straw hat with a wide brim (app. $15), sequined trim ($3 per roll), a hot glue gun and glue sticks, and chalk or a disappearing ink pen (available at your local craft store for under $5). You can often find coupons in circulars or online that reduce the price even further.
  2. Place your hat on a flat surface and decide what phrase you want to embellish on the brim. While you are tracing it onto your hat with your chalk or disappearing ink, plug your hot glue gun in to let it heat up. (Pro tip: dip the metal tip of the glue gun in petroleum jelly so the heated glue won’t get stringy!)
  3. Add glue to your handwritten outline an inch at a time and working carefully,  press your sequin trim down onto the brim, adjusting it as necessary.
  4. Once you’re done, wipe away any traces of the ink or chalk with a damp cloth.

Why “DIY”? Personalizing it is fun and makes the item one of a kind! Also, consider the price. If you bought the designer version you’d spend close to $500 for a hat you may wear a handful of times during the summer months. Making your own version can be done for well under $50. So as I always advise, evaluate the “cost per wear” and determine the better deal, especially if you have “champagne taste on a soda budget.” And maybe spend some of what you would’ve saved on a super cute swimsuit or sandals!

Images via LookLive and TheGabulousLife

Tune in to Talk of Alabama this Memorial Day!

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Toss some sequins and tune in to ABC 33/40 on Monday (May 30th): I’ll be sharing some news you can use during the 9:00 A.M. hour! And this time I’ll be doing something a little different, so this is one you don’t want to miss!

Not in the local viewing area? Try live-streaming it by clicking HERE, or catch the video when it’s posted later by clicking HERE.

Xo, Alexis

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