Time for Tea

There are so many talented and inspiring ladies that we want to meet in our city, so Stephanie has started hosting tea parties at her house, as an excuse to invite them over and get to know them better.

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photo by Chuck Travers @ 417Home

They are a fun way to mix & mingle in a unique setting. Stephanie has a large dining table and an even larger collection of mismatched tea cups, which just invites conversation and connection.

Each party is usually on a weekday morning, and caters toward women of every walk of life. It’s not just for ladies who brunch! Mamas, Entrepreneurs, Teachers, Artists, Do-ers, Bloggers, Retirees, 9-to-5ers, you name it.

Of course there’s tea in cute cups, French press coffee, scones, and Prosecco. She doesn’t expect any of her guests to bring something, but every once in a while a quiche or a bottle of Irish Whiskey shows up. They are never turned down.

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The last tea was a small affair, twin style. Stephanie invited me (her twin sister), and a set of creative twins who we ABSOLUTELY LOVE and wanted to spend more time with. It was a quiet lovely morning, and I got to hold a brand new baby. Win win!

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Want to set up your own tea party? Keep reading for more ideas!

Indoor Picnic

The weather here in Southwest Missouri has been cold, drizzly, and not very spring-like. So for Easter Sunday this year, we decided to have a French-inspired indoor picnic. French wine, cheeses, a charcuterie board, home-made baguettes…the whole works.

Of course, we ate at the dining table, so rather than a picnic, I guess it was just French-inspired picnic-fare. C’est la vie. It. Was. Parfait.

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Book Roundup: The Cozy Cookbook

Having recently finished Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art, and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles, I realized I have a thing for cozy, story-driven family-centric cookbooks. I devour them like novels, and keep them on shelves faaaar away from the mess of my kitchen. Here are a few in my collection:

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Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook – This delightful book is divided into recipes based on color. My favorite: the hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream. GUH so good. I’m sad I’ve never had a chance to flip through her other books, Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes and Recipes and Dreams from an Italian Life. Author Tessa Kiros is also a delight to follow on Instagram!

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The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time – Hands down, one of the best books ever published. It is so inspiring, and makes me want to have beautiful, sit-down dinners with my family on a nightly basis. With contributors like Tom Hanks and beautiful recipes for the whole family, this is one of those books that’s actually very rarely in my house because I loan it to everyone.

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Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips – Stephanie is one of Ina’s biggest fans. When we found out she was doing a book signing and Q&A in Kansas City, we left our babes at home and eagerly drove up to see her. It was my first real introduction to her, and oh what a charmer. I went home with this book and have tried almost every recipe in it. Every single one of her books is ten thumbs up.

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Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses – this book is more about if you want to *start* a family (wink wink, nudge nudge). It’s a cookbook that’ll make you blush. I first read it while working at a cafe where we hosted an annual “Aphrodite’s Feast” romantic dinner. The courses all had aphrodisiac properties, and this book was our ultimate resource.

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What are some of your well-loved and well-worn cookbooks, whether you create the recipes or just love the imagery? We’d love to hear!

Mood Board: Winter is Going

Here in SWMO, the sun is starting to shine, the days are getting longer, the weather just a bit warmer. With the arrival of Spring, we are finally saying goodbye to winter. But I won’t lie. I love winter, and this one was particularly cozy. Full of family, nights by the fire, strong cocktails and hot baths, I’ll be taking some of the #hygge with me into Spring. Here are a few things coming along with me:

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That’s What She Said – Started revisiting The Office and it is so delightful. A decade ago I was smitten with Jim & Pam. Now I just want more Creed and Dwight. I rush home from a night out with friends because I want to spend it with my Dunder Mifflin friends.

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Old Books – Book Lovers’ Candle – I have a stack of well-loved library books, just waiting to be opened. And I tipsily went on a buying spree to get some old classic paperbacks that I’ll probably never get around to. Like Mrs Dalloway & Jamaica Inn. Light a candle, draw me a bath, and I’m set.

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Herbivore Botanicals – Dead Sea Bath Salts – Did someone mention bath? My body has been *hurting* lately, and my winter of flu prevention included eating and soaking in pounds of sea salt. I’ve been making my own bath salts and soaks (future post!), but I’m tempted to try this ylang ylang and vanilla soak. Ahhhhh. Light a few prayer candles and listen to some classical music, and you’ve got yourself a well spent evening.

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My avocado toast that I am currently addicted to would taste SO MUCH BETTER if it popped out of this Smeg , instead of my boring ol’ Cuisineart. (Just kidding, I love you, boring toaster. But…pale blue retro toaster!?)

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Did someone mention avocados?? And cozy socks? I’m wearing both right now!

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Are you ready for Spring or sad to see winter go?

{featured Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash}

Library Haul: Spring Break Edition

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What’s better than a mid-afternoon affogato? An affogato with new books from the library!

Stephanie’s picks this week:

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Life Unstyled: How to embrace imperfection and create a home you love

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Pretty Pastel Style: Decorating interiors with pastel shades

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Nic’s Pick’s

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Vintage Parties: A Guide to Throwing Themed Events—from Gatsby Galas to Mad Men Martinis and Much More

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The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes

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What are some of your visual treats you enjoy flipping through?

Mixed Print Book Club

In our recently formed “Mixed Print Book Club,” we try to pick books for the group that are charming, fun, and an escape from reality (for better or for worse). The group consists of mostly working women (and yes, that includes full-time mamas!), so when we have a few minutes to slip away into another world, it helps when the main characters are swoon-worthy and silly.

Our picks so far have included:

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Next Read: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel

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Attachments: A Novel, by Rainbow Rowell – Oh holy night, this is a heart-swelling, laugh-and-cry-out loud, swoony moony charming book. It’s told mostly through emails, so it reads quickly, and we guarantee you’ll be cheering by the end.

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The Rosie Project: A Novel,
by Graeme Simsion
 – This quirky romcom novel is fairly predictable but oh so enjoyable! The narrator is a man with Asperger’s, who is determined to find the perfect life partner, using a complicated set of rules and regulations. Also a quick read, and part of a series, for those who can’t get enough of Don.

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Kiss Carlo: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani – Our friend, book clubber, and surrogate sister Missy loves loves loves the author Adriana Trigiani, and has gotten us hooked. The Big Stone Gap series series is ten thumbs up! Kiss Carlo is a sumptuous throwback with beautiful descriptions and a world to definitely get lost in.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel – The book that kicked it all off! Hands down, across the board, a winner. Told in a series of emails and letters, this Seattle-set satire is funny, smart, and delightful. Plus, that cover!

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What are you reading? Interested in joining in from afar? Message us and we can set up a post for commenting on each book!

{featured photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash}

Working Girl Cake

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Cakes. Birthday cakes, baby cakes, wedding cakes, cookie cakes, naked cakes, drip cakes, vintage cakes, meringue cakes…you name it, I’ve pinned it. I have the best intentions of making Nicole and I the most grandiose, sparkling and macron themed birthday cake, but then every year our birthday pops up OUT OF NOWHERE and I just make us cocktails.

This past weekend I hosted a baby shower and I had all intentions of making the most grandiose sparkling blueberry drip cake, and then as everything else, the date popped up OUT OF NOWHERE. Bound and determined to still make a cake, but knowing I didn’t have time with my 438 jobs I currently have, I had a creative working girl solution.

I found an inspiration photo on Pinterest.

Then, I ordered (from a local grocery store) a 3 tiered chocolate cake that was just iced. No piping. No decoration. Just iced. It was $17. That is the greatest time and mess saver and I will never, ever bake a cake again after coming up with this genius plan.

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Then, I made a ganache. It’s easy. Equal parts chocolate and heavy whipping cream. Melt slowly in the microwave with 25 second increments until melted and smooth.

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Next, the drizzle. Spoon it around the edges of the cake to give it the drip look. Mine got a bit wonky on some spots, but that’s the charm of home made.

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Then, fill in the top.

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Since it was a baby boy shower, I decided to top the cake with blueberries and blackberries. Just pile them on. No rhyme or reason.

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Tada! They will think you worked days in the kitchen, when in reality, it was more like 15 minutes. And all under $25. They will love it. Here’s proof.

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If you are a more tactile, flip-through-the book kind of baker, here are some of my favorites from my home collection:

Butter Celebrates!: Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery

How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook