Be Back Soon | Istanbul

Apologies in advance for a little blog break that we're going to take while we enjoy a few nights away in Istanbul!  This trip was kind of a spur of the moment decision we planned a couple months ago, and we're so excited!  J.D., Heath, Andy and I are all headed there for a long weekend.  Virginia's enjoying a little extra attention from her grandparents and great grandparents while we're away, and I'm sure she's thrilled!

We'll be back soon with lots of pictures to share!  Have a good rest of the week, and Happy Labor Day everyone!

~Mary Keller

Istanbul's Blue Mosque

Photo Diary | Litchfield

A few weeks ago our family spent the week together in Litchfield, SC.  It's one of our favorite places, we all have such wonderful memories of this place through the years and this year didn't disappoint.  I put together a few pictures below if you're interested...

The first few days we had a good bit of rain so we stayed indoors and relaxed.  We did manage to sneak out to the beach for a few afternoon snacks though, that cutie and her goldfish have my heart!

Took a lot of walks on the beach...

 Went swimming with mommy.

And of course played in the swimming pool at the beach.

We kept our meals super easy with things like barbecue, hot dogs, shrimp boil and crab cakes.  All were delicious and easy enough to throw together quickly after coming in off the beach, essential for vacations.

Lots of playing in the water and snuggles with her cookie (my mom).

 That little cutie LOVES the beach you guys.  It's the cutest thing you've ever seen to see her little legs start kicking immediately when you head down to the water.  She's definitely a water baby!

One tradition we have continued is a big breakfast one morning.  It's really the best, those are homemade biscuits, local tomatoes and the best sausage and grits ever!  Special thanks to our good family friends, the Plylers, for always cooking this delicious breakfast for us.

Sweet girl had so much fun playing in the sand one morning she had to strip naked and take a dip in the ocean.

With MK's birthday being late August we always celebrate in Litchfield with the best coconut cake from Kudzu bakery.  If you're in Litchfield, Georgetown or Mt. Pleasant you HAVE to try it!

One of my favorite parts of the beach isn't the beach oddly enough.  We have a large area of grass right out front of our place and in the evenings we set up corn hole and croquet and have the best time playing lawn games.  And this year we had a really cute audience too!

We truly had such a wonderful time and hated for it to come to an end.  It was a really special year because it was our first with Virginia.  I'm looking forward to watching her grow over the next few years down there. It's a really special place for us.

- Heath

Around Here

travel documents | Virginia in her new radio flyer | a good mail day including this leopard Clare V. beauty | packing for Istanbul!

Happy Monday guys!  Hope everyone had a nice weekend.  We're getting ready for an upcoming trip so we didn't do much.  MK and I officially started training for the Thunder Road half marathon this weekend and treated ourselves to a burger afterwards, whoops.  Virginia got a new tricycle and we took it for a spin on Saturday afternoon, she loved it!  Overall we did a lot of packing and organizing, pretty lame but necessary.  Hope you guys have a good week.

- Heath

Happy Friday

Happy Friday guys!  We made it to the weekend and I'm so excited!  It was my birthday week this week so J.D. and I kicked off the weekend a little early and went out for a birthday date last night, but now I'm just ready to relax and have a quiet weekend!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Dinner Lab giveaway we hosted with Goldmine Journal and Comfy Cozy Couture!  Congratulations to Elisabeth Springer!  Elisabeth was selected the winner of the membership giveaway!  To everyone else who thought Dinner Lab sounds awesome but did not win, Dinner Lab has offered this promotional link for $20 off your first event after purchasing a membership.  If you're in Charlotte and decide to attend, let us know because Heath and I will probably be there and we'd love to say hi!

Have a good weekend everyone.  See you Monday!
~Mary Keller

p.s. did you catch this brussels sprouts pasta recipe that Goldmine shared this week?  I think it's on my weekend menu!

image by Jeff Thibodeau

Artist Update | Lulie Wallace Textiles

I'm sure I'm not introducing anything new to you when I talk about the work of talented Charleston artist Lulie Wallace, but I just had to share some of her work with you guys because she's launching her new fabric collection today and it's gorgeous!

Lulie has been around a little while now, you may have seen some of her cheerful work at Anthropologie in pieces like this and this. So cool right?! Today she's launching an entire new line of tablescape paintings, fabrics and prints and has a show (open to the public) at Mixson Pool and Racquet Club this evening to celebrate.

I've loved the sneak peeks she's shown us on Istagram here and here so I can't even imagine how gorgeous the entire line will be all together. Also fun fact - I had the pleasure of meeting Lulie last year when I picked out my Teil painting, they're neighbors at Redux studios in Charleston, she's just as bright and kind as you can imagine from her paintings. She gave us a tour of Redux and honestly could not have been more hospitable! Really looking forward to what's to come with this talented lady.

- Heath

All images via Lulie Wallace 

Easy Evenings | Megan Gilger of the Fresh Exchange

We're so excited to be kicking off a new series on the blog called Easy Evenings!  We pretty much live for easy evenings with friends and family in our real life.  Of course dinner parties with perfectly set tables, matching flowers and linens are always wonderful, but what we really love and want to highlight are those evenings with tables full of delicious food, wine flowing, maybe a few casual flowers and candles flickering.  We want to show off that dinner parties do not have to be perfect to be memorable for guests.  It's better to drop the goal of perfection, and instead just get in the kitchen and invite guests over. 

First up we have a really awesome Q&A with Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange to share.  Are you guys familiar with Megan?  Her blog, The Fresh Exchange, is always an inspiring read.  See below for lots of great thoughts and ideas on what Easy Evenings look like to Megan.

What do easy, fun evenings look like to you? 
MEGAN:  Gather those you love. Have great music. Ask each individual to bring something to make the dinner come together whether it be flowers, candles, a dish, their guitar, or a special cocktail for the night. Getting guests involved makes it seem more communal and takes pressure off of you as a host. People will feel much more a part of the night and it will be memorable for years because everyone will have a memory of what each brought along for the night. 

Your “Go To” easy entertaining meal or signature dish?  
MEGAN:  I always make sure there are healthy and smart options that are easy to make on hand. I eat mostly a vegetarian diet and do not eat a lot of dairy so I love bringing my Kale Salad with Tahini dressing to events. It is always a hit with everyone, the healthy eater or not and it takes little to no time to prepare. 

Do you have any “Go To” entertaining pieces – a certain platter, linens, or serving dish you find yourself using over and over again? 
MEGAN:  White Dishes. Nothing is easier than having white dishes. It sounds simple, but if you look at nearly all of our simple evenings there are only 1 or 2 where we use anything other than white. The reason being is if it breaks it is easy to replace, it highlights the food, and it is easy to mix and match so guests can bring their own white plates if you don’t have enough for the evening and it still looks uniform. If you don’t have white dishes, collect them at Goodwill, Thrift stores, Garage Sales, and even clearance sales. They don’t all have to be the same and in fact when they don’t all match it looks really neat and it creates a fun talking point for the evening. I have a stack in a closet of 24 plates I tuck away for dinner parties. 

Do you keep anything stocked or an “entertaining arsenal” to make casual, impromptu entertaining easier? 
MEGAN:  Ball jars and candles. I have 2 boxes of ball jars that have been used for anything from glassware for the evening or votives. I either collect them cheap or buy them if I see them on sale. Candles are best from Ikea. The price cannot be beat. I also order cloth napkins from restaurant stores so they come in bulk and like $.10 a piece. It doesn’t have to be ridiculously unique to be special. 

Favorite cocktail or drink to serve guests? 

MEGAN:  We are on the White Whale Bold Mixer kick. We love it because it is fun, interactive, takes little to no work as a host, and you can just ask different guests to bring one of the liquors. Each bottle has enough to mix 8 cocktails. It is a simple 1-to-1 ratio so it is a easy for guests to make on their own and you don’t have to buy tons of ingredients and be bar tender for the night. 

Favorite not so easy recipe worth mastering? 
MEGAN:  The best showy but amazing thing to master is Paella It feeds a ton of people, feels communal, and everyone can bring an ingredient to toss in. We have served our’s at multiple holiday parties and dinners using in season ingredients and every time it is a hit! The process is tedious and takes some chef skills but if you can get this one down you will be the hit at your next backyard party. Serve it up in the summer over an open fire and all your friends will be talking about the party even if you eat on paper plates. 

Thank you so much Megan for sharing!  I'm jealous of your stash of 24 white plates for dinner parties, and love the tip on buying cloth napkins in bulk so inexpensively!  I've been a little intimidated by Paella (we actually just considered and nixed it for a couples shower recently) but I think it may be time to give it a go!  Can't imagine anything more fun than paella over an open fire in the backyard!  Thanks again Megan, and come join us for a White Whale cocktail if you're ever in town!

~Mary Keller

All images via Megan Gilger of The Fresh Exchange

Brand Love | Sézane

I can't believe it's taken me this long to share this brand with you guys. We've been following Sézane on Instagram for a while now and it just occurred to me I should share. Their feed is so dreamy, it's equal parts gorgeous clothes/accessories and shots of Paris. Sounds wonderful right?!

I originally discovered Sézane from Victoria's blog and have debated multiple purchases since then. I think a pair of their booties may end up on my fall five list.

I love how simple each piece is but they all have just enough edge to make them interesting. These black pumps are somehow not so basic if you ask me and I think I probably need this dress. Isn't everything beautiful?

- Heath

All images via Sézane