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Friday Eats: Graduation Fare

May 21st, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Well, I’m not surprised to say that Martha Stewart and gang have outdone themselves again!  There will be tons of recipes in this post to cover a broad range of palettes, from fancier get-togethers to backyard simplicity still bursting with flavor.  These recipes are from blogs and sites that I adore, and trust with all my culinary endeavors.  Good luck!

These recipes are the perfect complement to warm summer days and good friends and family gathering around for special occasions.

Prosciutto and Basil Crostini, image courtesy of Martha Stewart

Prosciutto-Basil Crostinis.  I’ve made my fair share of crostinis, and they’ve all been more difficult than this recipe appears to be.  The prosciutto and basil combination alone should make your mouth water.  Crostinis are also great with combinations like roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, brie and apple, goat cheese and olive tapenade, and the combinations go on for days.

Shrimp Cocktails.  These are not rocket science.  Really, I promise.  But they are easy, a great cold appetizer, and of course, perfect as a finger food.  You can pair the shrimp with a traditional cocktail sauce, or infuse it with other ingredients, like mango or jalapenos, to make it standout.  Or for a savory, grilled version of shrimp, try Emeril’s Lemon-Herb Grilled Shrimp.

Try your hand at an Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Pecans from Ezra Pound Cake.  She (yes, “she” not “he”… her name is Rebecca, actually) has a really neat story behind her blog and her recipes have never steered me wrong.

Rosemary Fried Chicken, image courtesy of Martha Stewart

And to round it up, this Rosemary Fried Chicken from Martha Stewart is a slight twist on a classic favorite for any summer get-together.

I hope for those of you who are celebrating big with graduations (or maybe just little, personal picnics and fun), have a wonderful weekend!

DIY: Graduation Party and Favors

May 19th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Cupcake flags, image courtesy of Marthastewart.com

There are so many things to make ready for a graduation party.  From food to favors to decorations, all the while dealing with the fact that your graduate may be leaving home for the first in a few short months, or may be moving onto a full-time career in just a few days.

So because this is kind of a big deal, we’ve gathered a few different resources for you to celebrate in style!

First off, DIY pinwheels in your graduate’s school colors.  To decorate the lawn, show some school spirit, and ensure that no guest fails to recognize the right house for the party, these are a great and simple way to add some flair.  This DIY is actually featured on Style Me Pretty, Abby Larson’s wedding styling brain child.

Next, we have two great DIY’s from Martha Stewart, including cupcake flags and a graduation banner.  Some people still opt for cakes, but for parties that are on the go and include a younger audience, cupcakes are the perfect sweet to add to your celebration.  These cupcake flags can be made at home, just using your printer, some glue, and toothpicks.  And the graduation banner is a must!  Making your own allows you to experiment with different fonts, colors, and sizes to fit your venue.

Cake Pop Caps by Bakerella, image courtesy of Bakerella

And finally, the DIY that takes the cake… a really cute and fun-to-make idea from Bakerella.  It was months ago that I first stumbled upon Bakerella’s site and was totally confounded by the projects she undertakes and shares with the world.  These candy cup caps are a great project to involve family and friends in, and will be a standout item at your grad’s party.  And, if you are looking for a more challenging project, you can try her cake pop caps (same link).

So start making!  And check back with us to get a special Friday Eats on some wonderful food for your graduation party.

DIY: Chalkboard Plant Stakes

May 17th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Chalkboard Plant Stake, image courtesy of Design*Sponge

If you’re challenged at identifying plants like I am, raise your hand.  It’s ok if there are people around you… just raise your hand anyway and tell them you’re stretching.

I can’t tell the green of a vegetable from another, let alone a plant from a plant.  And herbs?  I have no idea… the only way I know that I’ve got cilantro in hand instead of Italian parsley is by smelling the leaves.

But fortunately, the creative minds over at Design*Sponge have done it again.  These people are serious about their chalkboard paint and they are all about planting and growing vegetables at home.

Now that we’re in planting (well, even some are harvesting) season, these plant stakes are great… You can eat as many popsicles as you want (or you can steal a handful of tongue depressors when you’re at the doctor’s) and paint them with chalkboard paint.  Then just write away and identify your growing greens without ever second guessing what they are.   It’s also nice to eliminate those little plastic ones that you see in planters sold at stores.  Just make sure you buy a water-based, non-toxic brand of chalkboard paint for this project!  For the full how-to, click here.

Friday Eats: Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

May 14th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Have you ever used the box mix to make pancakes?  You know, the kind that you just add a little water to?  Yeah, been there and done that.  But this Friday Eats is about inspiring you to wake up a little earlier than 11:00 tomorrow morning and try your hand at making some pancakes from scratch.

For me, cooking and baking from scratch has become a bigger part of my lifestyle and sometimes it’s way easier than the preconceived notions we might have.  Part of the reason why I’ve switched to making pancakes from scratch is due to none other than Joy the Baker.

I mean, look at these pancakes.

Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes, image courtesy of Joy the Baker

So, if sometime between tonight and Monday you’re able to squeeze a few extra minutes into the kitchen, you can come out with a plateful of these.

Milk Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes, images courtesy of Joy the Baker

For full recipe, please visit here.  And a full-stomach thank you to Joy for sharing a perfect weekend recipe and these eye candy photos.

Featured: Roula Rallis

May 12th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Scarlet Blouse by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

You could say that Roula Rallis’ new venture is a product of fate.  A gradual building of small pieces of time and opportunity, adhered together by a relentless knowledge that talent should not be wasted, and excitement should not be forgotten.  We are proud to feature an interview with Roula, who is one of our newest clients and has a story that is inspiring to anyone who is lingering between pursuing their dream or putting it off for just one more year.

Having begun a few months ago, Roula has started small (continually growing!) and proven that it is possible to work a day job, stay married, and pursue your first love, all the while blogging about the adventure.

Interview with Roula Rallis:

Beth: First off, tell us a little about yourself.  Where are you from and what do you do?

Roula: I am married and live in the New Hampshire area. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Colby Sawyer College. I work for a Health Care Management company as an Operations Project Manager.

B: When did your interest in fashion begin and why did you not pursue it as a career (if you don’t mind me asking)?

R: My interest in fashion began from a very young age. My sister and I used to dress up in my mom’s clothes and pretend we were models walking the runway. Growing up I also had the opportunity to spend many summers over seas in Europe. My summers abroad exposed me to cutting edge trends and cultures where people pride themselves on how they dress. It was always really cool to come back to the states wearing fashion trends that were 2 or 3 years ahead. (This was before the internet).

I decided not to pursue a career in fashion because I thought a business degree would give me more opportunities and the experience needed to start my own business.

B: When did you start sketching and outsourcing your designs?

R: I think I was 16 years old when I really started to sketch clothes and outsource their design. My first design was for a prom dress. My grandmother sewed it for me and I remember feeling so proud when people admired it.

Apple Blossom Blouse designed by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

B: Was part of your desire to outsource designs because you wanted to wear your own fashions?  Do you design because you see voids in the fashion market?

R: Yes I have always loved wearing unique clothing that no one else has.

I design because I really enjoy doing it even if I don’t make any money from it. There is something to be said in this day and age about learning a craft that allows you to work with your hands. It feels great to be able to take a piece of fabric and mold it into something that wasn’t there before.

B: You talk in your blog about two catalysts that caused you to seriously pursue this venture.  You say, “Two things: realizing that I had officially lost my Kefi (the Greeks define Kefi as someone’s joy or passion) and coming across a random business card for sewing lessons at my uncle’s pizza place.”  How did you know that you would find your Kefi by pursuing your own business (albeit still small) in fashion?

R: I actually did not know that I would find my Kefi from starting a business. I’m a total planner so this was a nice surprise. All I knew was that I really enjoyed being creative and I felt that I had lost that part of myself (because there are no creative opportunities in my line of work). Once I started my sewing lessons I realized I had tapped into an existing passion and from there everything else seemed to fall into place.

B: What has been the most intimidating part of actually branching out and sewing your own designs, as well as publicly selling your clothing?

R: That I have no real sewing experience (I have only been sewing less than 2 months) and I know I have a lot to learn. That the designs that I think of in my head I can’t execute yet. For now I rely on basic patterns and modify them to make them my own. My goal is to eventually feel confident enough in my sewing skills to create my own patterns. For now I like to think of myself as a sponge I am continually soaking up as much sewing knowledge as I possibly can.

B: Where does your inspiration come from and who are some of the fashion leaders and icons who you look up to?

R: I get inspiration from everywhere and with anything that has color, texture or print.

A few fashion icons/leaders that I look up to are Diane Von Furstenberg because I love her use of contemporary prints, Michael Kors because his designs always flatter a woman’s body, ABS because I think it’s amazing that every year he takes couture Oscar dresses and re-designs them so they are affordable for the masses.

Bird Blouse designed by Roula Rallis, image courtesy of Roula Rallis

B: How would you describe your style and design?

R: I would describe my style as a mix between traditional and contemporary. I love clean and simple lines with romantic touches that make a woman feel chic and feminine. There has to be a good balance between classic and trendy. My motto is that less is sometimes more–you don’t want the clothes to wear you, you want to wear the clothes.

B: You also mention on your blog that in the process of buying your sewing machine, you had to promise to use it and not let it “collect dust somewhere in the basement.”  Do you ever feel, especially now that you’re up on Etsy and have the new blog, that there is a chance the work you are so charged about will not continue through this year?  I think one of the biggest challenges to new ventures is getting burnt out or bored.  How do you feel you can overcome things like that now that you’re already moving full speed ahead?

R: No I don’t think there is a chance that the work I’m doing will not continue through this year  because this is my dream and I am committed to setting reasonable goals and expectations for myself and my new business. For example a few goals I have in mind for the next 6 months are to attend at least 2 local craft fairs/festivals, present my designs to a handful of local boutiques in my area, and begin sewing off of my own patterns. I know it takes time to build something and I’m willing to put that time in.

I believe I will overcome the risk of getting bored by continuing to love what I do and by making sure the work I am doing is challenging.

To see Roula’s work, you can find her on Etsy, here.  And, you can find Sewcialite on Facebook, here and the blog, here.

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