Wednesday, December 31, 2014

southern hello dolly bars

tomorrow my sister is hosting a dirty 30 themed shindig for her boyfriend's birthday, I'm going to bring my hello dolly bars. the food she has planned sounds amazing, and she's agreed to share it with me so be sure to stay tuned!

I was introduced to these southern hello dolly bars over ten years ago by a dear old friend. they are easy to make and delicious - don't be scared if you don't like nuts or coconut, all the flavors merge together to create pure yumminess. I make these bars all the time, sometimes I will leave out the nuts or coconut on half the pan if someone is very particular (my dad, mostly). this is the first time I've used parchment paper - life changing. not only does it cut down on the messy cleanup of the pan, but it also made cutting them into squares infinitely easier. enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

chili cheese baked potatoes with extra crispy skins

a baked potato for dinner on a cold night feels like a luxury since there's no way I could normally spend over an hour (cook time) making dinner during the week. I love eating the whole potato, skin and all so I coated the skins to make them extra yummy and crispy. we topped the potatoes with turkey chili and cheese (and butter of course). add red wine and voila! easy, delicious, and healthy dinner.

Monday, December 29, 2014

homemade pizza + game night

sundays usually mean homemade pizza and watching homeland for us [finale last week!]. this sunday, my sister and her boyfriend came over to make pizza and watch football with us. after watching the falcons lose to the panthers, we played some new games I got for christmas including jenga and hedbanz.

lately I've been wanting to have games on hand to play when we have friends over, so I asked for some for christmas. I also received battle of the sexes and uncorked under the tree. jenga is a family favorite - hedbanz was new for me, although I've played the app version... this game was super fun and a bit challenging too.

I can't wait to play the other games soon! there are still a few more games on my wish list: battleship and hungry hungry hippos for now. what games do you love to play? I'd love to add them to my list. all in all, it was a relaxing and fun night in with yummy food and great company. xo, lam

Saturday, December 27, 2014

moscow mule

after spending most of the day running errands and exchanging sizes on christmas gifts, etc... one can really work up an appetite for a cocktail. my sweet boyfriend gifted me moscow mule copper mugs for christmas and it's prime time to break them in! moscow mules were all the rage this year, with almost every restaurant adding this cocktail to their menu... I mean, they're everywhere. oh and those napkins... we scooped them up at target today for only $1.

Friday, December 26, 2014

repurposing holiday centerpieces

christmas came and went, and it was a beautiful day for our family! we exchanged lots of presents and ate too much food... I definitely overdosed on brisket and macaroni and cheese. the good news is that we did get some cardio in as a family ;)

I enjoy bringing fresh flowers to our family get-togethers and usually leave them behind for my parents. this time, I got to take the arrangements home and did a little floral refresh to mix it up. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

home for christmas eve

we always kick off christmas eve [and every other family get together for that matter] with lots of champagne, followed by tons of cooking, present wrapping, and catching up. we like to have casual little plates for christmas eve before our big christmas feast the next day, our traditional favorites are chili cheese dip, pigs in blankets, veggies and dip, sausage balls, shrimp cocktail, iced sugar cookies, and more. this year, we also tried some new recipes including s'mores cookies and a tomato pesto jam jar. afterwards, us 'kiddos' get to open our annual new pair of pjs and unwind the rest of the evening. sharing the sausage ball recipe below - every time I make these, people ask for the recipe... enjoy and merry christmas! xo, lam

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

a key west christmas

aside from amazingly warm weather in december, key west also boasts lots of sights to see and things to do in a small area - most places are in walking/biking distance depending on where you stay. my favorites this trip included the key west butterfly conservatory and fort zachary beach. if you have the option to rent bikes, I highly recommend it.

best beach: pick up cuban sandwiches from courthouse and deli and head to fort zachary, the undisputed best beach in the keys (bring money for the small entry fee)

must see/do: the key west butterfly conservatory, the southernmost point for an obligatory photo, hemingway house if you're interested, key west artisan market, try a beach yoga class

eat/drink recommendations: casa marina for a key lime 'casa colada' by the beach at sunset, la te da for a yummy fish sandwich and an abundant mimosa menu, green parrot casual dive bar, grab fresh fish from fausto's or the fish market and whip up a batch of gumby slumbers (1 cup each: coconut rum, spiced rum, orange juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice) for a fun night in.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

pomegranate martini

this cocktail is to die for and easy to make, which is really all you can ask for in a martini especially if it's been a long day. try to have just one... it's nearly impossible. i've been known to shake up a half serving for just a wee bit more.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

small surprises - coworker gifts 2015

something about the holidays makes me want to spread cheer to those I'm thankful for in the office. every year, the gift list gets longer and finding a cost effective, semi-easy, and unique gift gets slightly more difficult. some sweet treats circulating my office this year:

mini-bags of red lindt truffles
treat bags of peppermint cookies
homemade peppermint bark

all fun and delicious ideas! last year, I gifted mini pretzels dipped in chocolate and sprinkles in mason jars. while they were adorable, they definitely were a labor of love in the kitchen. this year, I bought small red apple pie scented candles - removed the labels and replaced them with custom holiday labels from tinyprints. they were a hit!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

giving back to the community: always in style

this year, I've been fortunate and thrilled to serve on a rotating annual philanthropy board at work through the sara blakely foundation. our team is finally reaching the end of the journey, meaning we have the chance to award the beneficiary organizations and start to make a difference in the community! one of the organizations we chose is the YMCA eastlake youth and teen center in atlanta, it was a tough and rigorous process over the past year and we are all really looking forward to the hands-on volunteering to come in the future - these young ladies are so incredibly talented, confident, and bright! they are truly an inspiration.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

holiday happenings in the city

for me, the holiday season is about two things: giving and celebrating! i love doing both of these things and love to see the excitement and the rush of the season with everyone around you giving and celebrating in their own ways. highlights this month have included the annual adopting of an angel from the salvation army christmas tree, donating to the atlanta youth tennis education foundation through a pay-it-forward initiative at work, attending a large philanthropic company meeting based on giving, and of course, more holiday parties than I can count. we've had neighborhood parties, company parties, friend parties... and I've finally tried both drybar and heat lounge for blowouts ;) we'll head to key west next week to enjoy some r&r in the sun before returning to atlanta for christmas day with my fam. 'tis the season! xo, lam

Thursday, December 11, 2014

square one

with a background in business and marketing, I have worked in retail and automotive with an international scope and a passion for people and product focused brands. my interest in design was sparked from years traveling all over the world, observing cultural interpretations and nuances represented through design on the streets, world class hotels, and even in shopping malls. design and inspiration is everywhere.

I now live in atlanta, georgia with my husband and our cat. I love design and entertaining, all things beautiful and comfortable, southern hospitality, and whipping up a few things in the kitchen. I believe that every day is reason enough to break out the fancy china. I'm so glad you're here and thank you for following along.

are you a like-minded blogger or brand with a collaboration opportunity? let's chat!


map key
gold: been there, done that!
brown: on the bucket list
star: lived there once upon a time

Friday, November 28, 2014

setting the thanksgiving table

this thanksgiving, we had thirteen people over to my parents home to celebrate. we served our usual menu highlights: twice baked potatoes, brown sugar carrots, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, broccoli salad and turkey from the alford family. dessert options included pumpkin cheesecake, carrot cake, chocolate chess pie, and strawberry rhubarb pie. I also tried a new punch this year - which was delicious, served in my grandparents' vintage champagne glasses for an added touch... try it here: pomegranate champagne punch

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing thanksgiving this year - so many reasons to be thankful. I love floral accents and below I'll detail how I made the tablescape, it was so impactful for the amount of money I spent (less than $50 total!). 

a few words of wisdom... if you plan to use a grocery florist, don't procrastinate. I bought the flowers several days in advance and had to ask the florist to "look in the back" as they were totally out of white hydrangeas. also, be flexible. I originally only wanted white hydrangeas - since that was impossible due to selection, I improvised by adding green blooms and it turned out even better. lastly, remember to keep thanksgiving separate from christmas if it's important to your family. I wanted to succumb to the numerous fir garlands which would have been so much easier, but finding the boxwoods at home depot was the icing on the cake. in my family - we don't start to celebrate christmas until after thanksgiving, so that detail is quite important! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

dallas [dress hunting] weekend

I took a quick jaunt over to dtown the weekend before thanksgiving to celebrate my best friend's birthday and engagement. the weekend was packed full of wedding dress shopping and socializing. we hit 4 bridal boutiques in one day - the mother of the bride packed a tailgate for us to nosh on sandwiches and mimosas between appointments. that evening, we all met at a local pizza bar in downtown mckinney for live music and dinner. I always love spending time with these special people and I can't wait to see the happy couple tie the knot next year. xo, lam

my best friend is getting married!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

united arab emirates

I trekked out to dubai for a work trip with no idea what to expect, in terms of culture. everything seems brand new, except for "old dubai" which is only 20 years old! dubai has so many malls and retail developments- dubai mall, mall of the emirates, festival city, mirdiff, the beach, etc. 

trip highlights include the burj khalifa, burj al arab, art shopping at madinat jumeriah souk, zaroob for lebanese food, sunset at 40 kong, and a camel ride in the arabian desert! I still can't get over how good the food was in dubai, we even ate at zaroob twice in five days... couldn't get enough of the fried cheese, hummus, and man 'oushe.

to see: light/water show at burj khalifa (have dinner at souq al bahar and watch the light show from the balconies), burj al arab, the beach retail development

to do: 
-shopping at dubai mall and mall of the emirates (indoor skiing, anyone?), check out sauce boutique for a local vibe, visit a modern souk (market)- madinat jumeriah (gallery one was my favorite shop).
-sign up for a desert excursion to experience dune bashing, camel riding, and authentic local cuisine.
-visit dubai miracle garden, an over the top botanical garden (it wasn't open while we were in town).

to eat: zaroob and cafe bateel for upscale fast food, el sur at the westin, teatro at the rotana

best souvenir: dates from bateel's, perfume made in UAE, art, or gold from a local souk

the burj khalifa

Friday, September 19, 2014

sedona, arizona

my family decided to visit sedona to see our grandparents and celebrate my dad's birthday. we hadn't been to sedona since we were kids and it was beautiful to appreciate as an adult. highlights included pizza at pisa lisa, montezuma's castle and well, tlaquepaque (enjoy a prickly pear margarita at el rincon), and the V Bar V petroglyphs. we also hiked cathedral rock, which was gorgeous and also quite a challenge, I didn't make it to the top! on our way out, we stopped in my dad's college town for our favorite burger joint the chuckbox. all in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing trip. if you haven't been to sedona, you should add it to your list! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

girls getaway: key west

every year, my college girlfriends and I try to plan a trip. highlight trips include napa, san antonio, nashville, NYC, and more - this year we chose key west, florida. we had a wonderful weekend catching up, basking in the sun, and living it up on duval street!

to see/do: live music at duval street bars, aqua for a drag show if you're into that, relax poolside at the casa marina
to eat: for a special dinner on the beach, make a reservation at latitudes (hint, boat ride involved) or literally eat with your toes in the sand at sun sun

Friday, August 15, 2014

sydney and melbourne, australia

after my trip to indonesia, I headed to sydney for the next stop on my work trip. when I look back on australia - breathtaking is the word that comes to mind. highlights of the trip included dinner at the famous iceberg's on bondi beach and cocktails at sunset on the 36th floor of the shangri-la overlooking sydney harbor. if you're visiting sydney, both of those items are a must-see. the downside is that I only had an iphone as a camera and these shot don't nearly do the view justice. 

after sydney, we headed to melbourne for a few days before heading home. before you get too jealous, I visited during the dead of winter and although it was too cold for me to get in the water, there were plenty of wild surfers out in bondi beach!

to see: iceberg's bondi beach, blu bar at shangri-la sydney for a cocktail. both of these places are amazinggg.

to eat: altitudes at the shangri-la, prix fixe 5 course meal - carrot course and gnocchi meal was amazing!

to shop: australian department stores- david jones and myer

to stay: hotel lindrum in melbourne

best souvenir: real australian "uggs" [hint, they are not made in china], wine from new zealand, lanolin beauty products like lip balm [such as lanolips] and body lotion, if you're a tea fan - check out australia's largest tea shop T2 tea and their beautiful accessories

the gorgeous sydney opera house

freshly shucked oysters at cocktail hour

amazing views from altitude at the shangri-la + the best gnocchi I've ever had
36 floors above: altitude and blu bar

bondi beach, you can see the iceberg's pool to the left below and the restaurant to the right

a rainy run around hyde park

hotel lindrum, melbourne

several photos via respective websites, hotel lindrum and iceberg's

Thursday, August 14, 2014

jakarta, indonesia

last year, I traveled to the philippines, singapore, and malaysia and didn't make it to indonesia (so close right!). I finally made it to jakarta this year before hitting australia for the first time afterward. 

there's a large islamic influence in jakarta with prayers over the loud speakers in the city. there was a mosque at the base of my hotel and also a booming loud nightclub, which combined made for quite a 24/7 buzzing experience. the people were all very nice and the malls were pristine. we had a beautiful press event and my first trip to jakarta was a success. we closed out the trip by visiting an asian reflexology spa just before my flight. I'd never had reflexology before and now I'm quite a fan!

en route from south korea to jakarta

the view from my hotel gym - nightclub to the left and mosque in the center

indonesian desserts at tesate plaza senayan - mango, coconut, and chocolate crepe-like treats with coconut ice cream, called serabi solo

Friday, July 4, 2014

fourth of july: vero beach

if it's fourth of july, you'll find me on a beach. normally, I'm in the panhandle of florida but this year we took a trip to vero beach, florida to visit family. it was nice to try something different and explore a new city for me. we spent the weekend soaking up rays on the beach, boat, and golf course.

happy hour hot spots: trattoria dario (limoncello martini was delish), blue star wine bar
golf: the club at pointe west

Sunday, May 18, 2014

double date weekend in the big D

it was my turn to visit my best friend in dallas since she'd come my way twice recently. stephen and I made a weekend of it with my best friend and her [now] fiance! we went to a spanx store opening, katy trail icehouse, rangers baseball game, played tennis at our high school courts, and of course made a pit stop at taco diner at the shops of legacy. 

stephen and I even went to see our childhood homes since we both happen to hail from the big D. so thankful for such a great best friend and the great state of texas!

spanx store opening at northpark centre with founder, sara blakely

Monday, April 28, 2014

wedding bells in houston

one of my favorite college friends tied the knot this weekend in houston. we stayed at the most beautiful spot, hotel icon downtown - a former bank built in 1911 that's been converted to a posh hotel. the original vault remains intact. the bride had quite a few portraits snapped inside the hotel and I'm sure they will be outstanding. 

the wedding was so elegant with personal nods to both the groom and bride, I loved their signature drinks for cocktail hour. the food and music were sort of a spanish fusion, elevated and unique. so happy for this couple and the bride who is meanwhile pursuing med school! get it girl. xo, lam

Friday, April 11, 2014

adult easter egg hunt

there's a lot of nostalgia for me around easter since we are all grown 'kids' now but none of us have kids of our own yet. easter egg hunts were so much fun growing up, even with a little bit of healthy competition!

since we had company joining us for easter this year, I wanted to plan some fun activities to get everyone up and mingling outside to enjoy a beautiful spring day. I love the winter holidays like thanksgiving and christmas, sitting around a fire or the christmas tree indoors - but there's something about spring holidays that leaves everyone invigorated for the warmth and promise of summer to come. an adult easter egg hunt is the perfect way to welcome and entertain your guests and family members, as well as the perfect way to celebrate the spring season.

since we had 10 people participating in our hunt, everyone was assigned a color - they could only pick up their specified-color eggs. I originally did color coding because we had a few under-21 folks and didn't want them to accidentally get an egg with a mini bottle of liquor. color coding actually made the hunt more challenging and fun, and helped to make the hunt last longer - I would now say that color coding for an adult hunt is a must.

I scooped up tons of colored eggs in bulk from target (around 12 eggs per person, 1 color per person), and the baskets and grass filler came from the dollar tree. you can save so much money if you are smart about buying certain things at the dollar tree in advance especially for an event like this- for example the baskets and filler were great quality; however, the plastic eggs were not. be selective, shop early, and you'll end up with a great high-low mix of seasonal items.

we also set up corn hole in the backyard - all in all, it was an enjoyable day outside and was really fun to watch adults scrambling around the backyard to find their eggs! wondering what to fill your
eggs with? 

san jose mission // san antonio

we headed over to san antonio for a bit of a family reunion for my grandmother's surprise birthday party. when we lived in dallas while I was in high school, we sometimes took weekend trips to san antonio and we always stay at the westin la cantera. we stayed at our old stomping ground again this time, years later. we had a great time surprising our grandmother at the hotel and then headed to dinner as a big group in a private room at paesanos 1604.

 everyone knows about the riverwalk, the alamo, la cantera, etc... but the san jose mission is a definite site to see as well! over the weekend, we explored the san jose mission - "the queen of the missions" which was built in the 1700s. the mission is a huge compound with elaborate detail and sculptures that demonstrate the self sufficiency of the community at that time, including a restored gristmill. the mission recently underwent a $2.2M historically accurate renovation that was completed in 2011 and was absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

bonjour paris!

what a [work] trip! the day before our flight back to atlanta, we received notice that our flights were cancelled unexpectedly due to bad weather in atlanta. this gave us a whole extra day in paris to actually get out and do some exploring! along with eating more croissants than I could count, luxembourg gardens was a new stop for me. I also saw shakespeare and co. bookstore (buy a book - get it stamped) for the first time and found some fabulous black boots. until next time, au revoir paris. 

meringues as big as your face in all colors!

luxembourg gardens