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Mother’s Day Book Bundle Giveaway!

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that I look forward to every year; not just because I’m a mom and my kids love to spoil me, but because it’s incredibly important to honor the women that have made the biggest impact in our lives, our Moms. You know by now I love giving gifts, so here’s my chance to give the ultimate book selection to one of you deserving Moms out there. I am honored to call all of these talented authors my friends; I am a lucky girl!

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Here’s what you’ll win: 4 signed books from some of the most amazing tastemakers in the country. And here’s the winner’s tasty selection: my book Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY. You will also win an advance copy of Hugh Acheson’s latest book, The Broad Fork Clarkson Potter (May 12, 2015), Eddie Ross’ yet-to-be-released book, Modern Mix Gibbs Smith (September 1, 2015) and Barbara Westbrook’s newly released book Gracious Rooms Rizzoli NY .This book bundle giveaway is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for you or that special Mom in your life. I hope you win!

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About the Authors:

HUGH ACHESON is the author of the James Beard Award Winning cookbook A NEW TURN IN THE SOUTH: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen and chef/owner of the Athens, Georgia, restaurants Five & Ten and The National, the Atlanta restaurant Empire State South, and the Savannah restaurant The Florence. Hugh’s cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter in 2011 won the award for Best Cookbook in the field of “American Cooking” by the James Beard Foundation in 2012. His second cookbook is Pick a Pickle: 50 Recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks. Food & Wine Magazine named him Best New Chef in 2002 and the James Beard Foundation awarded him Best Chef Southeast in 2012. Hugh competed in Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Season 3 and starred as a judge on Top Chef, Seasons 9, 10, 11, and 12. He lives in Athens with his family.

EDDIE ROSS is the East Coast Editor of Better Homes & Gardens, producing home, decorating, DIY and entertaining stories for print, digital and video. He has been a design, decorating and food editor for House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living and Food Network. A trained chef from the Culinary Institute of America, Eddie has styled parties and table settings featured in Southern Living,Lonny and InStyle. His design work has been published in Domino,Vanity FairCountry Living and the New York Times. He also appeared in Bravo’s interior design competition series Top Design and entertaining specials for HGTV. His first book Modern Mix:Curating Personal Style with Chic and Accessible Finds will be publishedon September 1, 2015 by Gibbs Smith.

BARBARA WESTBROOK launched Atlanta-based interiors design firm Westbrook Interiors in 1992 after designing under the tutelage of Southern greats Nancy Braithwaite and Gandy-Peace. her proejcts – homes, second homes, showhouses, large-scale renovations, spas, and her persona homes have been widely published in magazines such as Architectural Digest, Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Garden & Gun, Better Homes & Gardens, and Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles. Barbara also publishes a quarterly online mini-magazine, www.workbookbywestbrook.com.

*Note You will be getting Eddie Ross’s book in late July as it releases in Sept, but you will be getting your copy before anyone else.

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Seven Sisters Style – Q&A + Giveaway

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I am excited to introduce you to a fellow Rizzoli NY author, Rebecca C. Tuite. Rebecca’s newly released book: Seven Sisters Style is fantastic! It holds a special place in my heart since my sweet and talented daughter Alex attended one of the Seven Sisters Schools.

I seriously think I was the first person to pre-order the book. Since Alex went to Wellesley, this book has her name written all over it. Alex loves style and is the quintessential Wellesley woman. She’s chic, smart, accomplished and obsessed with everything “Seven Sisters style”.

When we dropped Alex at Wellesley her freshman year, she seriously wanted to wear a dress, hat, and gloves. We should have been dropping her off in 1962 instead of 2006. No one embraced all the secret rituals and traditions more than our daughter Alex. She’s always been conservative and traditional in her style (completely opposite of me I might add). She’s the original prep. Pared down and simple and always classic. Yes, she wears only pearls.

Here’s a glimpse at one of the Wellesley Rituals – The Hoop Roll

Then: Wellesley College Hoop Roll

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And Now: Alex with her BFF Katie at Wellesley College

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I am super excited to offer, along with Rizzoli NY, a giveaway of Rebecca’s book to 1 lucky winner.{see how to sign up to win below}

I was dying to do a little Q&A with Rebecca and it seemed only natural that Alex should be asking the questions. Rebecca was very kind to answer all of her questions and her answers are wonderful. Alex and Rebecca, thank you.

Take it away Alex!

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Alex: Your book makes it clear that Seven Sisters style inspired fashion in a variety of ways. What do you think is the most important way the American college girl influenced fashion?

Rebecca: The American college girl’s influence on fashion is extraordinary and, as such, it is difficult to pinpoint a single garment or moment as their “most significant contribution” to our style history. The college girl’s influence really extends from the 1930s/40s, when she became an icon of the modern American woman; she was youthful, athletic, intelligent and she wore unfussy, smart sportswear that spoke to a new era. So, in many ways, it has been the “campus casuals” of the college girl that influence and inspire the most. Today, when you see designer interpretations of bermuda shorts, button-downs, “boyfriend jeans” rolled to the ankle, saddle shoes, monogrammed blazers; all of these found early popularity as part of the college girl “uniform.”

However, having the freedom on campus to dress as you want is, perhaps, the most important legacy of American college women. The emphasis on comfort and an active, independent lifestyle conducive to studying is something we take for granted today. We can trace so many of today’s campus staples to this pioneering group of young women. Even when I talk about the more formal styles popularized by Seven Sisters women in the book, I think that the fundamental idea that the students decided what worked best, faced down certain judgments and expectations (while upholding others), and made their own rules amongst themselves, is fascinating. Campus dress codes operate in much the same way even today, although with a few more pairs of pajama pants than was common around the mid-century!

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Alex: While all the photographs in your book are beautiful and vividly capture different style moments in American history, do you have a favorite?

Rebecca: I get asked this so much and it is honestly so, so difficult. I really adore each young woman and each photograph featured, and feel the same way about the hundreds of images not included in the book for one reason or another! I love the photograph of Jackie and JFK, with her in classic preppy campus style, and there is a spread that pairs an image of a Wellesley student ready for a formal wearing satin and cashmere, and a more recent photograph showing the very same style from just a few years ago, which demonstrates how timeless the look really is. But there is one photograph of Mount Holyoke students gathered together in a dormitory and blowing bubbles in 1945 that always makes me smile. They are wearing the best example of unfussy, classic Seven Sisters Style: Kilts, flannel skirts, crisp white button-downs, classic preppy saddle shoes, loafers and socks, crew neck sweaters and strings of pearls. But I just love the spirit of the photograph; this sense of solidarity, fun and friendship, not to mention impeccable and completely irresistible preppy style – that’s what Seven Sisters Style really is to me!

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Alex: I graduated from Wellesley in 2010 and have several fond fashion memories from my college years, including everyone on my floor sharing clothes and doing each other’s hair before dates and events. What are some of your favorite fashion memories from your time at Vassar?

Rebecca: Oh, I have so many similar memories of my time at Vassar – getting ready for the formal with the girls on my floor in Noyes (a dormitory), sharing clothes and make-up and finding great vintage pieces in sales in the Campus Center.  That’s what I loved seeing in all these photographs in the archives – there are all these shared style experiences that Seven Sisters women can still have together (even at the co-ed schools now!). At Vassar, I definitely showed up thinking I was going to channel Jackie Kennedy on campus, which was just so not the right look! So I mostly wore my usual preppy-ish staples, but I do vividly remember wearing a few favorite garments that year: A yellow and blue Crew Clothing rugby shirt (a very British-incarnation of a preppy shirt!); a gray Vassar sweatshirt that made me insanely proud, a pastel polka dot rain mac, and a pair of vintage brown boots I bought at a sale on campus for $12! And I had a black and white polka dot vintage dress for formals, with this amazing tiered ruffled skirt that I will forever associate with Vassar now. I think this is what makes Seven Sisters Style quite a nostalgic read for some alums, because there is a way in which memories really do become enveloped in the garments we wear as college students – they represent memories and experiences that are often really quite special.

Alex: You’re a recognized authority on Vassar Style. Does Vassar have a signature item of clothing? For example, Wellesley has a distinctive class beanie.

Rebecca: Vassar doesn’t have a tradition like the Wellesley beanies, actually. It does have traditions like wearing white dresses if you are on the Daisy Chain at Commencement (there are many other white dress traditions at each of the colleges), but it is interesting that one of its most “collegiate” garments was the college blazer, which reached the peak of its popularity in the mid-1950s and then was sort of forgotten. I’m working on these blazers now.

Alex: In doing research for your book, is there one preppy staple you wish would make a comeback?

Rebecca: College blazers and letter sweaters! Letter sweaters have definitely made a comeback though, much to my delight. You can find great versions everywhere, and at a variety of price points. Chloe has a beautiful one, ASOS also. In fact, my favorite one came from ebay and it was absolutely worth waiting for (I searched high and low for the perfect letter ‘R’ sweater a few years back!). The college blazers are just so incredible, and the subject of my current research. Of course you can find gorgeous preppy blazers at Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, J Crew, but I just love the idea of these classic Seven Sisters jackets making a comeback on campus and off, especially as the students themselves were so involved in designing and personalizing them

Alex: My best friend from Wellesley, Libby, was once described as someone who dressed “like Monaco royalty from the 70s.” What’s the best style compliment you’ve received?

Rebecca: Haha, that is an amazing compliment, I think I would like Libby’s style! One thing that was fun for me was when I was an undergrad, I had an office temp job, and I would often channel a different movie star or style icon in my office attire! So if someone in the office could say, “Oh, so today you’re Katharine Hepburn circa. The Philadelphia Story,” or “Audrey à la Sabrina, I’d feel quite chuffed at my little workplace-appropriate incarnation… and spend most of my shift planning the next day’s outfit!

Lately, however, my favorite shoes are beautiful pair of turquoise satin Manolo Blahniks that were a gift from my family on the publication of my book – and they match the color of the Seven Sisters Style cover perfectly! I’ve worn them for all my events and signings as a good luck charm, and it’s super fun when people notice that my Manolos match my book – it brings a whole new meaning to “matchy matchy!”

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Alex: In your book you highlight several fashion icons who epitomized Seven Sisters style in their day, including my personal fashion muse, Ali MacGraw. Are their any lesser known or forgotten style icons that today’s aspiring preps should look to for inspiration?

Rebecca: There are a few style icons I came across researching the book that were surprising (and many more that we just couldn’t fit into the book!). Diane Sawyer was a really great example for me, I loved seeing her early features in Glamour and Mademoiselle and the image in the book of her in that wonderful orange blazer couldn’t be more perfect. Martha Stewart was a featured in lots of magazines, including Mademoiselle, while she was just an undergrad in Bermudas at Barnard – if you are so inclined, you can trail through the archives for some great preppy style from her! I think it’s easy to forget Jane Fonda, too, but some of her early modeling really captures the Seven Sisters preppy aesthetic, especially the more formal side of the look that was present during the weekends. I didn’t realize how many Seven Sisters women Candice Bergen had played – I yearn for her outfits in Carnal Knowledge! And actually, one example that isn’t of a “real” Seven Sister, but is actually a film reference – Damsels in Distress, by the “preppy film director” Whit Stillman (see also, Metropolitan). You can see parallels to the Seven Sisters colleges in the storyline, actually, because the movie tells the story of a group of smart-talking, preppy college girls attempting to improve campus life in the aftermath of co-education at a formerly all-female “Seven Oaks” college. Their outfits, including cotton button-downs, sweaters, prim dresses and cardigans exude a modern, smart Seven Sisters style.

Alex: Okay, final question! Penny loafers, should they be worn with a penny in them or does it not really matter?

Rebecca:  If you want to wear your penny loafers in true Seven Sisters Style, you should actually pop a dime in your loafer! Around the 1940s-50s, a dime was the cost of a phone call in a public phone booth, so it was handy to have during those fun-filled weekends in neighboring Ivy League towns!

Students walking on campus, ca. 1970s

About the Book: The first beautifully illustrated volume exclusively dedicated to the female side of preppy style by American college girls. The Seven Sisters-a prestigious group of American colleges, whose members include fashion icons such as Katharine Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ali MacGraw, and Meryl Streep-perfected a flair that spoke to an aspirational lifestyle filled with education, travel, and excitement. Their style, on campus and off, was synonymous with an intelligence and American grace that became a marker of national pride and status all over the world: from jeans and baggy shirts to Bermuda shorts and blazers, soft Shetland sweaters and saddle shoes, not to mention sleek suiting, pearls, elegant suitcases, kidskin gloves, kitten heels, and cashmere. “[The college girl’s] contribution to fashion is as American as Coca-Cola, baseball and hitch-hiking,” announced Harper’s Bazaar in 1935. Seven Sisters Style explores the multifaceted foundations and metamorphosis of this style.

Please enjoy the Seven Sisters Book Trailer:

Good Luck on the giveaway! I hope you win this amazingly stylish book! Open to US Residents only please.
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Mother’s Day :: Wedding Season :: DIY flowers 2 ways.

IMG_2456 Hello Spring! Flowers are blooming all over Atlanta, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

In the spirit of wedding season and Mother’s Day I thought it would be the perfect week for all things floral. Megan Dunlap from Victory Blooms will also join me later in the week with her own spin on a romantic wedding bouquet. It’s easier than you think to arrange your own flowers. So if you’re hands-on and your event isn’t too overwhelming then this post is for you! If you have too much on your plate for your big day… do the smart thing and call a pro like Megan.

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Nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own events and for some special people in my life who ask me to help with their weddings. Here are two beautiful and easy bouquets to decorate your spring gatherings. These would also make lovely tabletop arrangements at a wedding.

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Let’s get started! When beginning the design process I start with spring stems, then pick a strong color theme like pink and lavender with touches of pale yellow. I am absolutely crazy about the idea of using a navy and white windowpane fabric as tablecloths. It’s fresh, bold, and chic.

For this arrangement you will need:
– Lavender
– Ranunculus
– Queen Anne’s Lace
– Baby’s Breath
– Hyacinth
– Chalkboard garden markers DIY 
– Enamel Pitcher

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Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

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Step two: place all the fillers in the pitcher. The fillers in this case are Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath.

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Step three: add in the Ranunculus and the Hyacinth, working your way around the vase or pitcher.

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Step four: place the chalkboard garden markers into the pitcher and place on your reception tables.

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The second arrangement is a little more tailored and formal. While the loose wildflowers and enamel pitcher in the first bouquet would be perfect for a free-spirited bride or party, this bouquet is a little more dressed up and classic. It’s amazing how the same flowers can be transformed with a different vessel and technique.

For this arrangement you will need:

– Lavender
– Ranunculus
– Queen Anne’s Lace
– Hyacinth
– Pink Roses

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Step one: this bouquet begins with hand arranging.* Start by gathering a few flowers in a spiral pattern in one hand, adding one flower at a time. Continue to go around and around alternating flowers until you have a nice half dome arrangement (about 6-8 inches in diameter).

Note* This is the same technique you would use to create a wedding bouquet as well.

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Step two: cut the bottom of the stems so that they are even. I like to leave about 6-8 inches. If you were making a hand bouquet this is where you would use a rubber band to secure them and then finish with a beautiful silk ribbon (more on that later this week!). Otherwise, place the arrangement into a glass vase* filled with water (as shown above).

Note* make sure you measure the height of the stems before you trim them if you’re placing this arrangement into a vase

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Step three: add more flowers once your bouquet is placed into the vase to add dimension and texture. Be careful not to overload your vase… just a couple stems will do. That’s it!

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Speaking of flowers… one of my dear friends and blogger/author Holly Becker, was kind enough to send over her newly released book from Chronicle Books , Decorate with Flowers  as a giveaway to one of of my sweet readers!

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Hope you win it! And I really hope this has helped all you brides out there, of course all these tips are perfect for all your gatherings and celebrations. For more flower arranging DIY buy my book Picture Perfect Parties, there are so many great party flower ideas throughout the book. Good luck and US residents only please!

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photos by Lesley W Graham for Annette Joseph

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Sweet Paul Book Giveaway :: Eat & Make

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As many of you know I am a huge fan of the stylist, cook and crafter Sweet Paul Lowe. I am so excited to have gotten a copy of his book upon my return from Italy.

He’s a master and last month he published his first book:  Eat & Make. There’s so much great information, super recipes and visual treats throughout his book. All the recipes are easy and super doable as are the crafts. The book is filled with color and cute illustrations! Love it! He’s been a great support to me with my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties and now it’s my turn to offer up his book in a giveaway. Take it from me you will want this book to add to your library. *and it’s a great Mother’s day gift!

Here’s a little about Paul and the book :: It began as a little blog highlighting the recipes and crafts of the Norwegian-born food and prop stylist Paul Lowe. Six years later, Sweet Paul is an online magazine followed by millions and a print quarterly sold nationwide in specialty stores. Praised by the New York Times as “ a trove of seasonal delights,” it is turning heads with its easy, elegant food and style-setting aesthetic.

Divided into Morning, Brunch, Noon, and Night, with color palettes to match, Sweet Paul Eat and Make includes breakfast dishes like Morning Biscuits with Cheddar, Dill, and Pumpkin Seeds and brunches like Smoked Salmon Hash with Scallions, Dill, and Eggs. For lunch, there’s a super-quick Risotto with Asparagus, and for dinner, Maple-Roasted Chicken and a stunning Norwegian specialty, World’s Best Cake. Rustically chic craft projects—paper flowers made out of coffee filters, a vegetable-dyed tablecloth, and a trivet from wooden clothespins—will captivate even those who are all thumbs.

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One of my favorite things he shares is his LV styling kit, I really think I need to upgrade mine 🙂

Sign up to win a copy here (US Residents only please)::

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Setting the easter table + a giveaway

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This week I am over on Annie Selke’s (a lovely sponsor of our Atlanta Workshop) Fresh American talking about setting the Easter table as well as sharing some of my favorite picks! It’s a really fun interview and you can find the sources to these pretty things over there.

I am really excited to be giving away two sets of Chevron Fuchsia napkins from Pinecone Hill to one lucky winner. US Residents only please. You can enter below. Giveaway ends this Sunday at midnight. Good luck!

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