I’ll admit, I’ve always been a bit of a hippie. I use canvas shopping bags on my trips to the grocery store, I will never waste a veggie or fruit (I freeze them before they go bad for smoothies!) and I not-so-subtley used to post notes above my sorority house’s trash cans saying “Please Recycle”. I’m most likely not saving the world, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction, right? Reduce, reuse, recycle, everyone!
It’s probably no surprise that I’m an avid farmer’s market shopper. When I first moved to Charleston, the Mount Pleasant farmer’s market was about 50 yards outside my front door. I remember the first Tuesday that it was open: I jumped for joy and told the girls at work that I had to leave right at 5:00 to make it to the market.
I can be such a dork about my veggies.
You’ve heard the saying and seen the hashtag, “Shop Local,” but do you do it? Sure, I personally may not have the budget to shop in the local Charleston boutiques (TJ Maxx is more my haven), but I can shop local for my produce, and it has it’s benefits.
8 reasons to shop the farmer’s market:
1. It’s budget friendly
Pop Quiz: How much would large carrots, strawberries, and red tomatoes cost at the grocery store? Organic produce would cost you about $15 and if you’re anything like me, you will have to find 30 different ways to cook potatoes so they don’t go bad before you eat them all. Last Tuesday, I bought a bundle of large carrots, local James Island strawberries, and 6 red tomatoes for $7.25. Good enough for me!
2. Farm-to-table freshness
Produce can take weeks to get from the field to the store. Farmer’s market produce comes straight from the field to the selling table allowing it to be bought at it’s peak for flavor and nutrition.
3. Clean eating
How many people have jumped on the clean eating bandwagon? Though most grocery stores now offer an organic section, organic produce comes at a cost. Skip the processing and preservatives.
4. Put those Pinterest recipes to good use
If I’m experimenting with a new recipe, I will ask the farmer’s market stand attendant (sometimes the farmers themselves) what is the best way to store/cook/reheat the specific item. Most of the time they will tell me their favorite food pairings as well!
5. Never over-buy
Living on my own does not always mean I’m able to shop for one. For example, it is a painful task to try to figure out how to make use of an entire bag of red potatoes. I just don’t eat them that often and yet I seem to need them for a recipe every other week. The farmer’s market allows me to buy the 3 potatoes that I need, instead of the entire bag.
6. Think outside of the produce section
A lot of markets will have food that won’t be in the grocery store – like 10 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes!
7. Find local vendors
Most farmer’s markets have more than just produce. It’s a great place to shop local for honey, bread, pasta, seafood, and even cheese. Supporting your local economy has never tasted so good!
8. The inexpensive date night
Clear skies and the smell of zucchini in the air! Okay, it may not be the most romantic place on Earth, but a lot of farmer’s markets can certainly be creative. My local market has live bands, hot pretzels, and snow cones that I just can’t get enough of! Grab a quick bite and some sunshine while you enjoy the live music.
How do you define style? Google defines the noun as “a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.” But come on, isn’t style way more than that?
Some of us dream of Clueless Cher’s revolving closet of the 90’s – bound forever to fashion forward magazines and the styles found in local boutiques. Others focus on style at home – form, function, and originality. There is an entire multi-million dollar industry focusing on this word. Style. It’s quite overused, wouldn’t you say?
Let’s remix this baby. Redefine style and what do you get? Confidence, originality, trend-setting, unexpected combinations, courage, poise, unique details, and ultimately, a defined design.
As a designer, a pet peeve of mine is to see inspired works overused in the industry (chevron, you poor thing…). Skilled designers are emerging daily, but who’s to decide if they have this newly-defined style or not? I’ll tell you one thing, The Blush Label nailed it.
Meet sisters Christie and Mary, the design duo and creative directors of happy hour and home. The two may not have revolving closets, but they dream of a day when the linens in their homes would be as colorful and lively as the clothes in their closets. Posh patterns and layered color combinations rule the scene in their works. There is a sophisticated chicness that overtakes you into a sea of tropical color combinations.
They have formed a brand that truly embodies style. I spoke with Mary to get the label’s full story: where they started, who they’ve become, and what advice they have for women entrepreneurs.
Try not to drool, okay?
Tell me about the Blush Label. Who are you as a company? What do you stand for?
“The Blush Label is a home decor and entertaining accessories company based in North and South Carolina. We’ve designed our line to be functional and affordable with a bright color palette. Since we launched our line, it’s been important for us to stay true to our design aesthetic and to our affordable prices.”
How did you start? Who had the “big idea” and when did you know it was time to say “let’s do it.”?
“We were on a trip to Puerto Rico in 2012 when we decided to start the business, but it took us two years of prep work before we even launched. Starting a business doesn’t happen overnight! We launched a blog first (Things That Make Us Blush) to make sure there was a market for what we wanted to do, after that we decided to go for it.”
What challenges did you have in your first year? How much did self doubt play into things, if any?
“There were a lot of challenges and of course, there still are! But the important thing is to always stay true to yourselves and true to your customers. We’ve had glitches in the system and orders take longer than expected, but those issues happen when you’re a small business. The important thing is how you deal with those issues that will set you apart. It’s important to believe in yourself – always. We can’t stress that enough. There are times when we’ve doubted projects or product lines and they’ve ended up being huge for us. The important thing is to try and to not take it personally if a particular product doesn’t do well.”
You started with cocktail napkins. Why is that?
“We launched our business in phases to ensure that we weren’t overwhelmed when we first started. It was a decision that worked very well for us. If you’re starting a business, test the waters with what you can handle first and then expand from there. Doing that will help you refine your processes in small increments along the way.”
What other product have you designed since the cocktail napkin?
“It wasn’t until High Point Market that we realized how many products we now offer! Decorative pillows, coasters, place-mats, glassware, serving trays and silk scarves.”
What makes you different from the other entertaining retailers?
“What makes us different is our design aesthetic and pricing. We offer quality products at an affordable price in bold color schemes, and we also design everything in-house – you can’t find it anywhere else!”
Tell me about your individual styles. How did you merge those? How do each of your strengths play into The Blush Label?
“Christie’s style is more bold like Kelly Wearstler, but mine is a little more classic. I love the classic blue and white scheme with pops of color. One thing we do agree on is our love for gold – we aren’t big on silver finishes. Everything in our line was originally inspired by our father’s native Puerto Rico. The island is oozing beautiful, bright colors and we’ve incorporated those in our products. We also love to travel so while we were in the Amalfi Coast last year, we decided to bring in some of the colors we saw during that trip as well.
We each have different strengths, and we’ve divided those up to help our brand. Christie is the Creative Director so she designs everything and builds our product portfolio. I head up the business side of the company and handle our accounts, finances and PR. We both take on a lot, but we’re very supportive of each other in our areas of the business. We are constantly communicating, which is key for us! We hold FaceTime meetings three times a week to keep us on task.”
What goals have you accomplished as a company or personally at this point. What goals do you have for the future?
“It was our goal originally to make this into a full-time career for both of us and we’ve accomplished that, which is huge for us. Starting a business and working on it while having a full-time job is incredibly hard. There are a lot of late nights and early mornings, but as long as you have the drive and desire to make it happen, you can.
As a company, we’ve grown leaps and bounds within a year of launching. Our product portfolio has grown and we continue to open new accounts with great customers, stores and designers from around the world. We plan to continue growing from here by increasing our presence in the marketplace.”
What advice do you have for young women looking to start their own brand?
“1. Stop doubting yourself and go for it! We’re lucky to have each other to lean on when we hit a rough patch. Some entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of having a business partner (especially one from your family) so it’s important to always stay motivated.
2. Listen to the women who have done it before you. We met the founder of a well-established and fast-growing company the other day and her advice was on point for where we are in this stage of business. They’ve been there before and know what it’s like to be where you are in your stage of business.
3. Use the feedback you receive to improve your product. We did this after our first market and it helped us immensely with one of our product lines. Don’t take the feedback as someone being negative – use the feedback to your advantage to improve your line. This can be difficult since there are some products we’re attached to, but take a step back and really listen to your market.
4. Read! There is so much amazing material out there. Newspapers, blogs, magazines, editorials, etc. – stay informed about what is going on in your community and the marketplace.”
What’s your best seller?
“Coasters and glassware – we can hardly keep them in stock!”
What’s your favorite piece?
“We both love the pineapple rocks glasses! The Bombay Scarf is another one of our favorites.”
Shop my favorites:
See more of The Blush Label online and on social media:
As we transition from winter to spring, many of our surroundings start to hold a new perspective: flowers start to bud, fire pits start to burn, shorts and sandals are dug out of the closet, and the sun sets a little sweeter. It’s easy to get in the mood for spring fashion trends and waterside cocktail hours that can last until dusk.
There is, however, one thing in particular that I have trouble transitioning: my lunch. I go from soup to sandwich to salad and back again in the winter. It’s about time somebody (anybody!) came up with some new lunch box ideas! So here I go: my recap of one week of lunch box goodies.
Day 1: the blt lettuce wrap
romaine lettuce (whole leaves)
cherry tomatoes (diced into quarters)
bacon (precooked or homemade)
mayo (or substitute low-fat sour cream)
Spread mayo on a full lettuce leave. Add tomatoes and bacon, wrap, and enjoy!
Day 2: broccoli salad
raw broccoli (chopped into small trees)
red grapes, sliced in half
dried cranberries (you can also substitute dried cherries or raisins)
cooked bacon (I used my leftovers from day 1!)
white wine vinegar
a pinch of sugar
Combine chopped broccoli, red grapes, almonds, dried cranberries, and bacon into a bowl. Add just enough mayo to lightly coat the ingredients. Top with a pinch of sugar and a drop of white wine vinegar. Chill in refrigerator before serving.
Day 3: the hummus pita delight
pita bread or sandwich thins
hummus (original or try a flavored hummus)
feta cheese crumbles
Spread hummus on pita bread, top with cucumber and feta cheese crumbles. Serve as an open-face sandwich.
Day 4: tomato basil sandwich
2 slices of bread (Italian bread preferred, or a toasted version of what you have on hand will work!)
mozzarella cheese (I buy mozzarella as a block and cut fine slices)
1 large tomato, sliced
basil and spinach leaves
Toast your bread until crisp and then brush lightly with olive oil. Create your sandwich by stacking the basil and spinach leaves (1:2 ratio), mozzarella, and tomato slices. Season with a pinch of garlic-pepper before closing with the top slice of toasted bread. Prepare ingredients the night before work for easy assembly at the office.
Day 5: pb & banana sandwich
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 banana (sliced)
crunchy peanut butter
What’s that saying…an oldie but a goodie? This was definitely a Friday treat for me! I paired this savory sandwich with a fresh apple and skim milk. It’s like I’m a kid again!
If it were up to me, I’d have a Starbucks barista awaiting my sleepy-eyed self Monday through Friday. Each day I would wake up and decide if I was craving a non-fat latte or a iced passion tea. The choices would be endless! Unfortunately for me, I live in the reality and such fantasies are only saved for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. I guess you could say I’m a diy-er at, well, everything… including my morning caffeine.
Let’s break it down a bit. If one were to order a medium/grande sized coffee four times a week at Starbucks (~$3.00/drink), he or she would spend $12.00/week, $48.00/month, $576.00/year on coffee. WHAT?! My Mint budgeting app is not liking the sound of that… So, rather than spend “the big bucks” on my morning energizer, I make it at home.
1 skinny vanilla iced coffee coming up!
Here’s what you’ll need:
cold coffee (non-flavored) – 3/4 cup
almond milk or soy milk – 1/4 cup*
vanilla extract – 1 tsp
agave syrup as a sweetener – to taste!
*Add more or less to taste
1. The night before: Make a cup of joe and put it in the refrigerator (it will last about two days)
2. The morning of: In a glass, pour coffee, almond/soy milk and vanilla extract. Add agave syrup to taste. Stir
3. Add ice and enjoy!
Substituting almond milk for regular milk or creamer can save loads on your calorie and fat intake. It is also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, iron, fiber, zinc, and calcium. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that is low cal (21 calories/tsp!). The natural sweetener is sweeter than your standard sugar, so many feel that they need less in their drink. Bonus: you’re getting more water than hot coffee because of the added ice!
St. Patty’s day is usually filled with fried Irish goodness and washed down with green beer – and I’m not complaining. Yum. This year, gain your Irish bar crawl strength with a stomach full of some healthy grub. Introducing the Vanilla-Mint Green Smoothie by 3 Boys Unprocessed.
This double layer smoothie is packed with nutrients and greens. Add chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidants. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 frozen banana (peeled and sliced)
1/2 cup of light coconut milk (canned)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
Green Mint Layer
1/2 frozen banana (peeled and sliced)
1 and 1/2 cups fresh spinach
10-15 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup coconut milk
Blend vanilla layer in food processor. Pour into serving glass.
Blend green mint layer in food processor (no need to clean it first). Pour into serving glass on top of vanilla layer.
Garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.
The health benefits of this smoothie are out the window and sure as hell beat that dyed beer you’ll be drinking. Mint not only helps with digestion, it can also promote weight loss and better skin. Spinach (as we’ve learned from Popeye The Sailor) strengthens muscles and eyesight, as well as helps maintain blood pressure. It’s a win, win.
Since 2011, Toby Keith has hummed his way into Party City stores of America with his oh-so-lovely single, “Red Solo Cup.” Throughout college, it didn’t matter what you were drinking out of, but rather what you are drinking. A red or blue solo cup was the norm. My friends and I would throw in a plastic Lily Pulitzer cup at times just for a little style, but most of the time, no one gave a damn.
Since graduating and working in the events world (and becoming oh-so-much more sophisticated 😉 ), my opinions have changed. It kind-of, sort-of matters what houses those college-mixed drinks. I noticed that it had become a pet peeve of sorts when I went out for a cocktail and had my champs brought out in a wine glass. Nit-picky? Maybe a little, but I knew it was served improper – what a buzz kill, ladies!
So as I pour myself a glass of red wine (a stemless glass, to be specific), I’m going over the importance of the right glass: which pairs with its drink of choice, which to serve to guests, and which will make you look like you know what you’re doing in the drink-making department. A little glass-ology, if you will!
Let’s start with the essentials: Red vs. White Wine vs. Champagne
Red | Typically red wine glasses will be a bit taller and have a larger bowl than white wine glasses. In general, reds are bigger and bolder wines so they require a larger glass to allow all the aromas and flavors to emerge.
White | Most white wine glasses have smaller bowls and mouths. This reduces the area of contact that the wine has with the air (in scientific terms, reducing the rate of oxidation).
Champagne | Champagne glasses, or flutes, are the most thin of all the wine glasses you will use. Every girl loves her “bubbly,” and this glass, my friends, will keep it there. The less oxidation it gets, the longer your champs will bubble.
Favorites that I have at home:
Cocktails: Rocks vs. Neat
Let’s get some terminology down here: a neat drink is a single, unmixed liquor, served without being chilled and without any water or other mixer. On the rocks referes to liquor poured over ice. Both can be served in a rocks glass. A drink served neat can also be served in a martini glass.
Where to get the goods:
With a new craft beer emerging daily, finding the right glass can be a toughie. The most common glasses you may recognize are the mug, pilsner, or pint glass. Other choices include the snifter, tulip, or weizen, but the list can honestly go on for days. These specialty glasses are a bit harder to collect. I like to keep some Charleston pints and tall boy (usually pilsner or weizen) glasses on hand in case I’m ever serving beer.
Frozen Cocktails & Fan Favorites
Here’s where you can have a little fun. I’ve picked out the best specialty mugs, goblets, and frozen-drink favorites. Your Moscow Mule has not been forgotten!
We’re a week of away from the most loving day of the year. The boys will buzz to the flower shop and swoon their lady with scented beauties, a candle-lit dinner, or a heart full of chocolates. The girls will have an extra excuse to wear their favorite shade of pink and brag about how precious their bae is.
If you’re in a relationship, there is a bit of an expectation for the 14th. If you’re not in a relationship, there is a different kind of expectation… most involving a girls night-in, drooling over Ryan Gosling, Harry Styles, and Liam Helmsworth (Me me! Yummmm), all while popping bottle after bottle of $10 pink-label champagne. Am I right?
Well cheer up buttercup, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be such a drag. There is plenty of love to go around (#talkprettytome), and if you’re lucky, that love is coated in a festive cocktail and scalloped Valentine decor (from Michael’s craft store at 40% off – a steal!).
Here you go, girls. My favorite Valentine’s Day (or any day, really) cocktails for date night or a girls night-in. Choose your fancy. Make a large pitcher for multiple guests, or mix one on your own!
2 oz. citrus-flavored vodka
.5 oz. gin
1 splash simple syrup*
1 splash fresh lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Ganish with cherry. Serve in a martini glass (or a rocks glass if you don’t have a martini glass on hand).
*Simple Syrup Recipe: mix 1 part water and 1 part sugar (i.e. 1 cup of both) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Your mixture will be grainy at first, then cloudy. Your simple syrup is ready when the concoction is completely clear.
For Glass: Lime wedge and course salt (or sugar!)
1.5 oz. tequila
.5 oz. peppermint schnapps
.5 oz. grapefruit juice
2 tsp. simple syrup
Rim old-fashioned glass with lime and salt. Fill with ice. Shake remaining ingredients with ice. Strain into glass.
.75 oz. vodka
.75 oz. Campari
5 oz. chilled Champagne
Garnish with an orange twist
Shake vodka and Campari with ice. Strain into chilled champagne flute and top with Champagne. Add orange twist.
Hi Blanc Blog readers! Let me begin by introducing myself before you think I’m a crazy blog hacker – my name is Luisa from Peaches To Pearls. It is such an honor to be able to be a guest blogger here today. Isn’t Miss Tarah just ridiculously talented? And adorable. And witty. Okay Okay you get it – I’m a big fan!
To tell you a little bit about myself – I am currently obtaining my Masters in Clinical Nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. I am passionate about food (ALL food- I don’t discriminate! Except pickles. I hate pickles.) and affordable fashion. Everything you find on my blog is purchased on a student budget!
Today I want to share with you a little bit about my #eatpretty15 challenge. Before I scare you away, please understand that I am not your typical healthy-nutrition enthusiast. My favorite meal is a juicy burger and I hate kale salads. BUT I do believe in moderation. I believe that you don’t have to starve yourself to be pretty and you don’t have to give up everything delicious to get skinny. I do believe that you should have more good (healthy green stuff) in your daily diet, than bad (greasy French fries). So hopefully I have gained your trust and you are dying to know what exactly this #eatpretty15 challenge is all about.
I believe that you don’t have to starve yourself to be pretty and you don’t have to give up everything delicious to get skinny.
For the next 5 weeks (January 12 – February 15), I will give you a challenge. The name of the challenge came from an amazing book I read last month called Eat Pretty, by Jolene Hart, where she gives detailed information on how food affects our beauty. Each week’s challenge has been inspired by her book and by the physician/dietitian recommended Mediterranean Diet.
The challenge is not meant to be impossible or extremely difficult. We are already in week 2, so if you want to jump on in please do! Here is the breakdown of the weeks:
Depending on how much of a challenge you want, you can do this two different ways:
Method 1: Do one week at a time. Do as much as you can handle and one weekly challenge at a time.
Method 2: Do each weeks challenge, then carry it into the following week. For example, you would go all 5 weeks with only drinking water if you did this method. This is very difficult but if you are up for the challenge – YOU GO GIRL!
This challenge does not have the sole purpose of “cleansing” your bodies, like for example- a week long juice cleanse. This challenge is to get your body healthy by incorporating exercise and clean eating. Cleansing will naturally happen with your new clean eating methods.
Every Friday for the next 5 weeks I will present you with the weeks challenge. Along with nutritional information, I will also give you a few recipe ideas to get you going for the week. Remember to incorporate Pinterest and maybe even make a special board just for the challenge! Join in on the community of women who are doing this challenge by using hashtag #eatpretty15 on your pictures via social media.
If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Although I cannot give you an individual meal plan, I can help answer any questions of what you can and cannot eat.
I’m going to end my post today with my favorite healthy dessert. This recipe is allowed this week because it’s naturally sweetened by coconut and does not have any processed sugar. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Thanks for stopping by and reading along today!
Coconut Banana Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
1/4 cup of chia seeds
1 cup vanilla almond milk (can also use coconut milk)
1 ripe banana
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup roasted coconut chips (Trader Joes)
1 sliced banana
1/4 cup granola (leave this out to make this gluten free)
In a small blender, add almond milk, 1 banana, shredded coconut, vanilla extract and sugar. Blend together until smooth.
In a small container add liquid mixture in with chia seeds.
Soak overnight or for at least 4 hours in refrigerator
Top chia seed pudding with sliced banana, granola, and toasted coconut chips.
A quality bar cart does not come together overnight. It does not come together with one trip to Target, C.Wonder, or Pier One. The best of bar carts are an eclectic mix of gadgets cultivated over time: a jigger that never got used in college, a vintage mermaid bottle opener I found at a thrift store, cocktail napkins I created for the event designer, Tara Guerard’s Life is a Party pop up shoppe… to name a few.
When you’re on a budget, super-studly bar accessories fall low on the shopping list. I’ve collected some of the best bar finds out for under $25 (most are under $10!). Trust me, you can’t beat these prices.