Friday, September 28, 2012

Wardrobe Essentials: The Structured Handbag

Earlier this summer, the sight of a British royal carrying a particularly smashing bag caused such a spike in online traffic to its manufacturer's website that it crashed.  Since then, sales of the brand's bags have increased 58%.  Who is this trend-setting royal, you ask?  Kate?  Pippa?

The Queen has been carrying Launer London bags for decades, but the rest of the world is only now feeling the love.  Why the sudden infatuation with the top-handled structured bag (a.k.a. the pocketbook, a.k.a the church purse)?  Try one on.  Go ahead, we'll wait.  Notice the chic-ifying effect.  Your newly improved posture (Mom would be proud).  The take-no-prisoners look on your face.

Yes, nothing says, "I am perfectly capable of running an entire empire, thank you very much," quite like a structured bag.  You may not want to drop $1,057 on a bag just like Lizzy's, or (Lord help us) several times that on the Grand Mammy of them all, the Kelly bag, but fortunately you don't have to.  You can find one at every price point. 

My personal favorite bag in this category is Louis Vuitton's (sadly) discontinued rendition, the Malesherbes. 

This bag was produced in several great colors (this bag looks particularly great in blue and yellow).  I picked up this one (below) a few weeks back for a song from a consignment shop.    

These bags look fantastic with Fall clothes, so stash your slouchy oversized hobos for a few months and embrace the lady-like look! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flea Market Finds

On the third Sunday of any given month, you're likely to find me at the Long Beach Antique Market.  Although the die-hard (and flashlight-equipped) junkers rush the gates in the pre-dawn darkness, I prefer to wake up with some coffee before arriving at a more civilized hour. 

Even on the rare day when I come home empty handed, I still get great ideas from the vendors who set up their stalls so beautifully.  Here are some photos from previous visits.


Although there are plenty of bargains to be found, this little guy was priceless.

I'm always on the look-out for embroidered linens.  On my last trip, I was thrilled to find a pair of "crinoline lady" pillow cases.  The Merry Dog approves.

For the Long Beach Antique Market schedule and admission coupons, click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Red Beans and Ricely Yours

It's officially fall, and even though the temperatures have not dipped appreciably here in the land of Windemere, I'm craving some "stick to your ribs" meals.  I love a meal with a history - one that reminds you of your grandma, even if she was such a bad cook that she burned the toast every morning.  In New Orleans, this dish was traditionally made on Monday, i.e. "wash day" for most women.  Wash day may be a thing of the past, but red beans and rice on Mondays doesn't have to be!  This dish improves after a day in the fridge, so make it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and serve it on a hectic Monday night.
A few notes before we begin.  If your grocery store is like mine, you will find both dried red kidney beans and smaller dried red beans.  Ignore the name of the recipe and get the kidney beans.  The red beans just won't mush up the way you want them to.  If you can get your hands on them, use Camellia Brand beans.

1 lb. dried red kidney beans
1 lb. Andouille sausage, sliced
1 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
5 ribs celery, diced
4 garlic gloves, minced
Cayenne pepper, to taste (I use 1/4 tsp. to start)
Creole seasoning, to taste (I use 2 tbsp. to start)
Hot sauce, to taste (use your favorite - I prefer Crystal)
6-8 cups water
1 lb. smoked ham shanks
2 bay leaves

Rinse and pick through the beans.  Place them in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak for an hour.  Drain the beans and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a heavy pot and cook the sausage until brown.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and saute for 7 minutes.  Add the garlic, cayenne, and creole seasoning, and saute for 30 seconds.  Add the ham shanks, beans, and bay leaves.  Add enough water to cover. 

Bring the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes.  If needed, add water to keep the beans covered while they're being cooked.  When the beans are done, mash some of them against the side of the pot.

Serve over boiled rice with a side of cornbread.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Hello and thank you for stopping by!  Please join me as I talk about the joys of vintage china, monogrammed silver, and flea market finds.  Along the way, I'll pass on my best cooking and entertaining tips.  I look forward to talking with you!
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