Easy Airfair Trick

Guys I read something the other day that I have to pass along.  The entire article was talking about ways to score deals on the cheapest airfares.  Most of the suggestions are things you've heard before, but one thing really jumped out at me.  It basically said that you have to clear your internet "cookies" and start fresh to look for the best prices.  Or, hop on a different computer, sign in "incognito" (don't know what that means or how to do it, but the article said so) because airlines track your searches.  When it sees over and over again that you want to go to Barcelona, it knows you're going to pay anything to go to Barcelona and it will never give you unbelievable deal.  Crazy right?  And I believe it.

J.D. and I postponed our honeymoon when we got married.  We got married during the middle of his second year of law school (during spring break!  how romantic!) and knew he was headed back to school to exams so we decided we'd take a honeymoon at a later date.  Didn't know when that would be.  Almost a year and a half later he was a week from graduation in the middle of finals.  I googled "cheap flights to Paris" and a fair poped up for $425 direct round trip!  I called him (at the library studying!) and said "can we please go to Paris next week for our "honeymoon", I found cheap tickets!"  He surprisingly said yes and we flew a week later to Europe for the first time.  I've day dreamed and searched flights to Paris so many times since that trip that the internet gods know better than to give me a good deal.  I think I'm going to go to the library and hop on a public computer without my internet history and see if I have better luck! :)

What do you think?  Think there's any truth to it?!

~Mary Keller

photo by Brittany Mahood

Easy Evenings | Anna Watson Carl

You guys may remember we kicked off a new series last month - Easy Evenings - all about, just as the name implies, easy evenings with family and friends.  Evenings that are more about good friends, good conversations, lots of drinks, and yummy food.  Evenings that aren't necessarily about perfectly set dinner tables.  Today's we're sharing what an easy evening looks like to Anna Watson Carl, the voice behind The Yellow Table.  If you aren't familiar with Anna and her work, she's pretty much the perfect cheerleader for easy evenings.  She makes whipping up simple, satisfying meals for friends look easy, and she makes these types of evenings seem doable and worth it.  Heath and I pretty much had to pinch ourselves when Anna agreed to chat with us, and we can't wait to share what she had to say below!  (Details on her new cookbook below too!)

What do easy, fun evenings look like to you?
ANNA:  Having an easy, fun evening has everything to do with WHO is around the table. If I'm having over really good friends, stress goes out the door because I know they'll love me even if I'm running behind schedule with the food (which I always am!) and if the apartment isn't perfectly pristine. Must haves: Good friends, simple, fresh, unfussy food, and plenty of wine! Also: a fun music playlist, lots of votive candles, and simple, seasonal flowers are all nice touches.
Your "Go To" easy entertaining meal or signature dish?

ANNA:  For a super-easy entertaining dish, I make naan pizzas: I just top whole wheat naan flatbreads with either tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and maybe prosciutto, or with fresh ricotta and a lemony shaved asparagus salad. These pizzas take minutes to make, and guests love them.

Do you have any "Go To" entertaining pieces - a certain platter, linens, serving dish you find yourself using over and over again?
ANNA:  I love my white earthenware Vera Wang plates - super simple and elegant. I also had a gorgeous handmade platter from ABC Carpet & Home that I found at a thrift store, and after using it for every single dinner party for months, it just broke. Alas.
Do you keep anything stocked or an “entertaining arsenal” to make casual, impromptu entertaining easier?

ANNA:  Yes, I have a cabinet right by my table full of serving bowls and platters, wine glasses, serving pieces, cloth napkins, votives, and extra silverware. It's nice keeping everything in one place - makes set-up a lot easier!
Favorite Cocktail or drink to serve guests?

I'm a wine girl, so I'll always choose red or white wine over cocktails. I always love to start off an evening with a glass of bubbly :)
Favorite not so easy recipe worth mastering?
In cold-weather months, I love making a really big pot of Bouef Bourguignon or Coq au Vin.  It feeds a crowd, and makes the apartment smell SO good.  They aren't hard to make so much as time-consuming.  But totally worth the effort.

Thank you so much for participating Anna!  With temperatures finally cooling, bouef bourguignon, lots of wine plus friends sounds pretty perfect right now!  Anna's new cookbook, The Yellow Table, will be released this November!  I've already preordered one for myself, but it would also make the PERFECT gift for anyone this holiday.  Anna's book is filled with inspiration on doable dinner parties - really delicious recipes, affordable wine pairings, and practical how to guides.  Doesn't it sound perfect?  Congratulations on your hard earned success Anna!  Can't wait to receive your cookbook!

~Mary Keller

photos from Anna Watson Carl by Eric Ryan Anderson

Around Here

tacos and margs at Bakersfield | little cutie | roasting marshmallows by the fire during the TN game | BBQ festival | V's first bike ride | whole hog smoking at the BBQ festival | Sunday cornhole during the Panthers game | Virginia in her new helmet 

Happy Monday guys! Man the weekends go by way too fast. It was a really good one though so I can't complain.  Andy and I walked downtown through the BBQ festival on Friday night before deciding on dinner at our favorite spot instead. On Saturday we knocked out lots of errands before watching Tennessee lose in a pretty bad game Saturday night. We met friends to watch the panthers game on Sunday and again were SO disappointed in our team. What's going on with all our teams!?!

MK and family walked to Bakersfield for dinner on Friday and made s'mores on Saturday for the UT game. Virginia got a bicycle seat and helmet for her birthday and went for a spin this weekend for the first time. She loved it! She came by our house on Sunday and was definitely the cutest little biker I've ever seen!

Hope you guys had a good weekend!

- Heath

thoughts on French Five + MK's Picks

Happy Friday guys!  So excited we made it to the weekend!  I've got my picks for the my fall French Five below, and hope you've enjoyed seeing the picks of everyone this week.  It's been fun making a little fall list of a few things to add to the closet.  My picks plus sources below....

No1 - Buffalo Check Shirt- I've had my eye out for cute but casual things for weekends where ideally I still look a little put together but I'm super comfortable too, and I'm really loving all of the fresh plaid shirts out there right now.  They kinda remind me of the super preppy days of my childhood.  (Did anyone else grow up on super super preppy Limited Too plaids??!)

No2 - Hexagon Bangle - I think it's time I branch out of my predictable jewelry routine a bit, and maybe add something in this category.  I'm loving this new bracelet by Christina Jervey.  Seems delicate and feminine to wear on it's own, but would also look really good stacked with just about anything.  Plus, I love that the shape is less predictable. 

No3 - Pleat Midi Skirt - I'm really loving this leather midi skirt for fall and winter.  One, Heath says midi skirts are super in.  Two, black is a no brainer for me because it will go with everything, plus I feel like I can wear this to work, date nights with J.D. (even though they're super rare!), plus maybe even church??  Is leather appropriate for church?!

No4 - Raw Leather Bucket Bag - I've been obsessed with this bucket bag from the minute I laid eyes on it.  I don't love huge purses so this size is perfect for me.  Plus I just about never get purses (I've probably bought 1 in the last 3 years) so I'm thinking it may be time.  The color seems like it would go with everything too, not basic black like my usual.

No5 - Black Jeans - I'm in desperate need of a fresh pair of black jeans that actually fit.  (Half marathon training isn't exactly getting me back into my pre Virginia jeans!  and that's okay!)   I know that technically black jeans fall in the category of "staples" to always keep fresh, and my 5 picks are supposed to be fun closet additions, but for budget reasons, these need to be included in my 5 additions for fall.

So, Heath and I both have loosely been following this whole French Five thing this year, 5 purchases for Spring and 5 purchases for Fall, and guys I have to say I think I'm really loving it.  First, I don't really loooove to shop like some people do.  I like to shop, and I love pretty clothes but it doesn't consume my thoughts.  So, I like the shopping process of picking 5 new things, keeping basics up to date, and not worrying about the rest.  You can never follow ever single trend so by only purchasing 5 new things, it forces you to just pick your favorite trends.  If you've been following the French Five, what do you think?  Are you loving it?  or is this crazy?!

Thank you again to everyone who contributed their picks this week!  Thank you Molly from A Piece of Toast, Julia Ryan, Lauren of Library by Lauren Lail, Victoria McGinley, and Sara of A Dose of Pretty!  Loved seeing what's caught your attention this fall!  Hope everyone has a good weekend!  We do not have plans for the first weekend in I don't know how long, and that sounds pretty perfect right now.  Only thing on my radar is making homemade Chicken Pot Pie on Sunday evening.  What's everyone else doing?

~Mary Keller

the French Five | Sara Mueller

Next up in our French Five, the selections of Sara Mueller of A Dose of Pretty.  Her blog does just that, provides a nice little dose of pretty things.  Whether it's simple photos from her weeks around town, travels or style Sara's photos are gorgeous!

For details on Sara's selections hop on over to her recent post.  I'm loving all of her selections, particularly the Rag & Bone hat I wish was in my price range.

Thanks Sara, for sharing your pics with us! So happy to have others partaking in French Five. Check out Sara's blog for more French Five talk too. Unrelated but Sara also just took a drool worthy trip to Morocco, we all know I needed a new place to day dream about!

- Heath

the French Five | Victoria McGinley

Today we're sharing the French Five Fall selections from Victoria of Victoria McGinley Blog.  She's the brains behind this successful site design and consulting business and a super talented chef.  Glance quickly through her recipes you'll see what I mean.

A few thoughts from Victoria on her picks... 

No1 - Neutral colored sweater - There's nothing better than a beautiful sweater in the fall. When temperatures are still mild, you can wear it on its own; when they plunge, layer it with a wool coat. A sweater would always be in my 5, because in autumn I like to wear them around the house casually as much as I wear them out! A camel colored one is perfect, because it looks equally as pulled together with jeans as it does with a pencil skirt.

No2 - Sézane clutch - I can't say enough about this (French!) company. I've followed and admired them for years, and have bought several bags -- all of them still favorites. My most recent purchase? I had to have this beautifully simple black clutch. I love the mix of suede and black, and the size (and functionality -- the interior has a zip pocket and two additional pockets!) and shape make it the perfect clutch for any occasion. Consider me obsessed! (Note from Heath - Victoria officially has me obsessed with this brand too, I'm dying for a pair of their booties!) 

No3 - Boots - With some gift certificates and store credits, I recently invested in a pair of Stuart Weitzman 5050 boots, and I can't think of a better item to put on a French Five list. These boots are classic -- and for a reason. Flattering on everyone, they're both a little sexy while still looking chic and ladylike. I also love that you can wear them over leggings (you know, autumn's pajamas) and still be dressed up!

No4 - Sweater coat - This year I've been so into loose, draped sweater-type coats. I love their casual elegance and how they pair well both with casual outfits or more sophisticated ones. Buy one in a neutral color and it'll probably go with virtually everything in your wardrobe. I snatched up this one from Free People in the camel color, and I've also got my eye on this one from Banana Republic.
No5 - Moto inspired black pants - I recently bought a pair of these pants and have been loving how versatile they are. They look great with a basic pair of flats and a simple tee, or I can easily dress them up with heels and boots and a dressy blouse. I love the little "moto" inspired stitching across the knees, and the back pockets have a subtle leather detail too!

Thanks again Victoria for sharing with us today.  I'm loving camel for the fall this year so those sweaters are really calling my name.  And if you haven't already stopped by her blog, do it now you, won't be disappointed.  She's one of my favorites!  I promise you'll want to be friends with Victoria after following her site. :)

- Heath

the French Five | Lauren Lail

Next up we have the French Five Fall selections of Lauren Lail, owner of Library by Lauren Lail.  Lauren isn't technically a blogger like the rest of the French Five selections we've been sharing, but we LOVE Lauren's style.  She has a perfect "not trying to hard, but always in style" look.  Lauren is owner and curator of Library, a collection of vintage finds that she shows off online and in her Charleston studio at 1630-1 Meeting Street.  You can check out all of her finds on her online boutique here, and the five pieces she's loving for fall are below!

More from Lauren on her picks below....

No1 - Prairie Dress - I picked this dress because it was simple, but not too basic.  You can easily layer a sweater and belt over it or add tights and boots for another look.  It's a dress you can change the look of with different styling each time it's worn.  

No2 - Edie Tunic -  I love the color of the tunic and again think it would be so pretty layered over or under something for Fall since it has the longer length.  Think cropped sweater with that pretty hint of blue peaking out of the bottom. 

No3 - Troy Ankle Boot - I loved the two tone on these boots and while I normally would go for a little bit of a heel, I saw these as a great everyday/gets lots of wear addition to my 5 pieces.

No4 - Daft Pant - This pant is new to our collection this Fall and I can't stop wearing them!  They are crazy comfortable and look good styled with tons of different colors.  I love that you can wear them day to night. (Note from MK - love these!  I've been loving patterned pants lately because they make me feel instantly "dressed".)

No5 - Lim Cardigan -  A cardigan seemed necessary when only choosing 5 items, because of the layering possibilities.  This one was heavy enough to wear as a coat (at least in the South) and light enough to wear as a sweater to layer an ensemble.

Thank you so much for sharing Lauren!  Guys, Lauren always has the best, most unusual finds.  It's seriously so much fun to look through all of her vintage finds if you're looking for something that you won't find anywhere else.  Take a look!

~Mary Keller