Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things: {As Seen on TV Products}

I'm a total sucker for "As Seen on TV" products.  What can I say?  I love a good infomercial.  Since most people simply wonder if these products really work, but aren't as willing to try as I am, I've compiled a list of my favorite infomercial products that actually work.  Click the links to shop (if you dare...).


This is probably the most disputed of the infomercial product categories.  Maybe it's the unfathomable number of life-changing products?  Maybe you don't actually need your life changed for these tasks?

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter is a perennial favorite of mine.  When my husband and I lived in an apartment, we tried one of these on our balcony and got more delicious tomatoes that we could handle.  Now, we have two in our back yard and can't wait for the tomatoes to come in.

Shoes Under is great - if you temper your expectations.  It's flexible (unlike what the picture shows), so don't be surprised.  It's mostly a shoe wrangler and a way to keep out-of-season shoes together in one place rather than a Rubbermaid kind of bin.  It goes under your bed with a little effort to shove it all under, but I like that my shoes stay protected, divided into pairs, and clean for the next season.

Hanger Cascader is the best thing to happen to my closet.  I own 82 dresses - I'm as serious as a shopaholic heart attack.  Unless we devote a guest room to my work wardrobe, the Hanger Cascader is the only solution that will keep everything in one closet.

Perfect Brownie Pan is perfect.  Really.  I'm a big fan of both portion control and brownie edges, and this pan gives you both.  I've even used it to make cakes that end up perfectly pre-cut.

Quick Chop was my first product of the infomercial sort that I purchased on my own.  I got it solely for chopping onions because I hate doing it, and this little product has been a lifesaver since I put chopped onions in just about every recipe.

Perfect Tortilla Pan is amazing if you love taco salads, but don't [want to] own a Fry Daddy to make the shells.  You bake regular ol' tortillas and voila!  Perfect tortilla bowls.


Air Curler is my biggest product surprise of 2013.  I impulse-bought this yesterday and was very skeptical.  I have very thick, long hair that I already spend way too much time on to add a curling iron to the process.  I liked the idea of quickly using the Air Curler after blow drying/straightening for a damage-free curl.  It's actually easy to use, works well, and was worth the money.

Hot Buns is ridiculous looking when you pull it out of the package, but it's easy to use and gives you a simple way to do a sock bun to add volume (and girth?) to your lazy-day 'do.  Unless you have a giant head, stick with the smaller one in the package.

Turbie Twist is a product that came out back in the day (like, 90s), as you can tell from the packaging.  My mom bought me a couple of these back then, and I still have the same ones today.  They are a simple concept that lets you replace the bath towel on your head with a more wearable towel.

What's your favorite infomercial product?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wedding Etiquette for Brides

A good friend and sorority sister of mine is getting married this October, and I think I might be as excited for it as the happy couple!  Excitement over the progress of their wedding planning has gotten me thinking about weddings and has inspired me to write a three-part series on wedding etiquette.  This first part is for the belle of the ball - the bride.  For most brides, the three most difficult areas in terms of wedding etiquette tend to be (1) the guest list, (2) invitations, and (3) gifts.

Guest List
Making the First "Cut"

In my opinion, the most stressful part of wedding planning is deciding on the guest list.  People's feelings can get hurt, you can completely blow your budget with a few missteps, and there's always, you know, that person who you'll worry about having there.

Before you begin your list, look at your budget and find out the maximum number of guests you can afford to have.  Once your maximum has been determined, compile lists from your partner, parents, and your partner's parents.  Combine their lists with your own to determine a first draft of your master list.  Wedding Etiquette for Dummies suggests that you prioritize your master list by determining "the must invites, the should invites, and the could invites."  Now, using your maximum number of guests from your budget, see how far down that list you can get.  By doing this, you ensure that you invite everyone who is important to you, your family, and your family-to-be.

If you end up within your maximum for your list, you're still not required by anyone to invite the whole list.  The Knot suggests that you consider the following for the people on your guest list: "How close are you with this person? When was the last time you saw or spoke to this person? Would having him or her there on your wedding day really make or break your enjoyment?"

Dates and Plus-Ones

The official rule for dates and plus-ones, according to Real Simple and Mrs. Vandersluis, is that you should invite "anyone who is in a committed relationship, whether married, engaged, or in a live-in partnership—even if you haven’t met the other half."  Real Simple and Mrs. Vandersluis also say that "you are not obligated to give single guests and guests who are involved in more casual relationships the option to bring a date."  But, do be thoughtful.  If a guest won't know anyone else at the wedding, extending an invitation for them to bring someone is the nice thing to do.  Overall, it's a day for you, your partner, and your families.  You don't want to look back at pictures and have no idea who your guests are.


It is completely up to you whether you would like to include children at your wedding.  Often, the two major considerations for inviting children are budget and event type. Once you decide whether you will invite children, don't make exceptions.  That will lead to confusion and hurt feelings.  You can, however, invite the flower girl, ring bearer, and your partner's or your own children without issue, regardless of whether you invite other children.



In most cases, invitations should be sent out six-to-eight weeks prior to your wedding.  If you are concerned about people's availability for your wedding, you can send out save-the-date cards anytime between your engagement and your invitations.


When deciding on an RSVP deadline, consider both (1) when your invitations are going out and (2) when final numbers are due to your vendors.  Plan to give your guests at least 15 days between the invitation’s arrival and the RSVP deadline and at least one week between the RSVP deadline and your vendor deadline.  You can increase your chances of quick responses by including pre-stamped enclosure cards.  If you have not heard from guests in the (reasonable!) expected time, make follow-up calls to those guests.  You can ask your wedding party or family for help or do this yourself.


There are no real rules for your reception.  It can be as traditional or unique as you want and it can follow any budgetary needs.  Back in my parents' day, it was traditional to have "tea and Twinkies" at the church after the ceremony.  There was nothing official beyond a receiving line and cake cutting.  Now, social expectations, Pinterest, and a million wedding magazines and websites have made reception planning intimidating. 

It's traditional to introduce the wedding party, have the couple's first dance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, and a cake cutting.  Just because it's traditional doesn't mean anything.  You reception is just that - yours.  The only rule of etiquette that I feel can't be tossed aside is that you should personally greet all of your guests.  No need to stay for a chat - just thank them for coming. 


Wedding favors are popular now, and they can be anything from a box of candy to a CD of the couple's favorite music.  The sky's the limit for favors, and they are usually best when kept small.  Think of it as a token of thanks for attending your wedding.  Do note that favors are not a requirement.  You are no more in poor taste for eliminating them then you would have been in 2nd grade for not having goody bags at your birthday.  

Favors aren't a big deal, so keep it simple if you want to provide them.

Gifts and Thank You Notes

Now that many of us are getting married after having gotten settled on our own or after living together, traditional wedding gifts are not as critical.  Your registry can include anything thing you'd like - a service for 12 of fine china, a honeymoon fund, a way to contribute to your favorite charity, fun housewares - anything!  If you do decide to register, consider all price points for your guests.  Your parents will be more interested in buying you that new Dyson than your former babysitter might be. 

Thank You Notes

Thank you notes are not optional.  Mrs. Vandersluis trained me to be militant about thank you notes for all gifts and favors, but a wedding is the time when those who usually forgo a thank you note must write one.  It's best to send a handwritten thank you note as soon as possible.  This is best from both an etiquette and sanity standpoint.  Your guest feels acknowledged and pleased and you get to check something off of your considerable bride to-do list.  This isn't a bride's responsibility alone!  Grooms are strongly encouraged to write their share of thank you notes. 


Beyond the stress, the anxiety, and the many etiquette rules, your wedding is a day of celebration and fun.  Anything that goes wrong will likely be insignificant or completely unnoticed.  Don't get so hung up on the rules and the process that you miss how fun and exciting it all is!

All photos used are from my wedding and were taken by Amy Czelusniak.

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's Here! It's Here! July Haute Box Unveiling

My first Haute Box came this week, and I was really excited to dig right in!  It came in a sturdy gold tube, so I knew there was something good in there.  Here's what I got:

Silver, gold, and white washi tape along with a lucite dispenser that will be perfect on my desk.

A purse-sized notebook in gold and white with unlined paper. 

Miniature gold and white note cards with black envelopes.

Haute Papier's (owned by a fellow Junior League of Washington member!) subscription box, the "Haute Box" is delivered quarterly for $80/year or $20/box.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Recipe: Easy Quiche

This recipe is an adaptation of an old Weight Watchers recipe for Broccoli Cheddar Quiche that I got years ago.  It's the simplest and best recipe I've found for quiche, and it's easy to adapt for different quiche fillings.
Spinach and Cheese Quiche
Serves 6-8


  • 6 oz pie crust, 9-inch, refrigerated  
  • 2 tsp olive oil  
  • 1/2 cup uncooked red onion, chopped  
  • 1 1/4 cups part-skim ricotta cheese  
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese  
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard  
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary 
  • 1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste  
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese  


  • In a colander, run cool water over the spinach until it is thawed.  After the spinach is thawed, allow it to drain while you prepare the quiche filling.

  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate and refrigerate until you're ready to fill the quiche.
  • Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until it is soft, about 3 minutes. 

  • In a large bowl, add the cooked onion, ricotta cheese, cheddar cheese, egg, egg whites, mustard, oregano, rosemary, and salt.  Mix well.

  •  Fold the spinach into the filling mixture.

  •  Spoon the mixture into your pie crust and pat the surface with a wooden spoon to make it level.
  •  Sprinkle the top of the quiche with the Parmesan cheese. 

  • Bake until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Instead of spinach, you can use 10 ounces of any vegetable, or a combined 10 ounces of any other filling, like ham, mushrooms, broccoli...

Let me know what variations you try!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things: {Beauty Products}

My mom taught me to always put my best self forward, from manners to appearance.  Early on, my mom insisted on good skin and hair care, and those lessons continue to benefit me.

After years and years of "research," I've found high-quality beauty care products that I love and I know you will too.  Click the links to shop!

Skin Care 

Since I turned 28, I've been obsessed with my skin.  After lots of searching and purchasing, I've finally found what I promise are the best skin care products for normal skin and minor anti-aging needs.

Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser is not only gentle, but it gets rid of even waterproof mascara without scrubbing.

Clarisonic Mia Skin Cleansing System is the next best thing to a daily facial.  The bristles gently cleanse and exfoliate in just 60 seconds.

Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Concentrate is by far my favorite of all of these skin care products.  A drop does so much to moisturize and smooth out my skin.

Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Eye Repair can be used both morning and night.  I've noticed a difference in my crows feet since starting with this product.

Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Retinoid Pads does the job without burning.


Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Antioxident Pads are refreshing after your morning shower. They don't make you sensitive to sunlight either!

Caudalie Divine Oil is a dry oil that can be used on face or body without making you greasy.


Glamglow Mud Mask Very Sexy is the best solution for spot treatments.  You look like a monster with the black volcanic ask on your face, but 10 minutes later, you wash it off and look like a princess.

Hair Care 

My hair took a very long time to tame and beat into submission.  Now, I've found a great product mix from Kerastase that protects my color and keeps my hair flat-iron-fresh in DC humidity.  Kerastase products may seem pricey, but they are incredible and they last a really long time.

Kérastase Bain Chroma Captive - Cleanse is a building shampoo that strengthens your hair.

Kérastase Fondant Chroma Captive - Treat also strengthens your hair, but it leaves your hair soft without buildup.

Kérastase Resistance Ciment Thermique - Prime is my secret weapon against humidity.


My makeup favorites change monthly, but these have stayed my favorites for a few months now, which is like a lifetime for me.

CLIO Water Me Pls (I really debated over linking to an eBay auction for this, but that's pretty much to only way to get this Korean brand in the U.S. as of now.)  This BB cream stays on all day and even through my strenuous workouts.  It works for virtually all skin tones and blends beautifully.

the Balm Mary-Lou Manizer Highlighter, Shadow & Shimmer gives just the slightest highlight without making you look like a 12 year old.

Stila Custom Color Blush is absolutely amazing.  It looks outrageously pink, but the color adjusts to your skin tone after application.


Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner goes on smooth and is really easy to tight-line with or to make a bolder line.

Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof is my oldest standby.  I've used this waterproof formula since middle school and have never been disappointed. 

What products do you love?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recipe: Greek Sauté

Like many of my meals, this recipe came together as an adaptation of a plainer version.  The Greek flavor from the feta really makes this dish more special than your average sauté.  The spring mix can be switched out for arugula for a spicier flavor, or spinach for a milder version.

Greek Sauté
Serves 4


  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups grape tomatoes
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 10 oz spring mix greens
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta


  • Put pine nuts in a large nonstick skillet and set over medium heat; cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

  • Heat olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and onions, tossing occasionally, about 6 to 10 minutes. 

  • Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  • Add greens gradually; cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. 

  • Sprinkle with salt, lemon pepper, dill, feta, and pine nuts.  Toss to combine.  *Instead of lemon pepper, I used a slightly citrus-y pepper from Penzeys Spices, Florida Seasoned Pepper.  If you're looking for a less intense flavor than lemon pepper, this spice is a really good alternative.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Haute Papier Madness

Stationery freaks, wait until you hear this - Haute Papier (a favorite DC-based paper shop of mine) offers a subscription box called a Haute Box.  For only $80/year or $20/box, they'll send you a quarterly box of beautiful "pens, pads, coasters, greeting cards, and letterpressed goodies."  Who doesn't like that?

Sign up for one box or a yearly subscription.  I'm anxiously awaiting my first box!