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I have always had a passion for interiors, architecture and designers with a clearly defined signature style. I believe in the South we have a simplicity in home design. Yet, in the simplicity there is a rich and thoughtful detail that helps give nod to the care and craft that went into each selection. I love the craftsmanship of a wooden door and the inclusion of a farmhouse sink.

Ellen & Portia Elle DecorSouthern Homes

This week’s #southernchat is focused on the Southern Home and all the goodness and richness that goes into our Southern style. I am so thrilled to have a special guest, M.K. Quinlan, Senior Style Editor at Garden & Gun Magazine. When I asked her if there was an approach she’d like to take to the Southern Home concept, her answer was so much more thoughtful than I could ever have hoped…

MK Quinlan Garden & Gun“Lately I’ve gotten stuck on this idea of “slow-style.”  It’s a play on the slow-food movement, a way of considering your personal style – whether in your home or your wardrobe—in a manner that is authentic to the person you are and the place where you’re from. There’s no science to it, but I think combining heirloom pieces with new purchases that have meaning to you is a good place to start.

My least favorite thing in the world is walking into a home that has been “designed”—each piece of furniture new, fabrics perfectly color-coordinated, family photos stuffed in drawers. It doesn’t tell me anything about the people who live there. This is the danger of hiring an interior designer and not including your personal tastes and opinions in the design process.

In the South, I think we’re able to rise above this more than most because of the value we place in our personal history, and because the home is about so much more than “looking pretty” to us. It’s about entertaining and letting people into your life.”

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I have never thought of the Southern Home in such a way, but it truly describes the Southern way and my own personal approach to decorating. I have been collecting and curating pieces for as long as I can remember to slowly build my home into the unique interior it is today. The story behind each piece is truly inspiring, when you step into someone’s home, being able to learn the history behind an item is even further rooted in our art of storytelling. And, if you know me well by now {or if we’re friends on Pinterest …}  you know my own personal Southern home style is most certainly barn chic.

I know you’ll enjoy chatting with M.K. as much as I have on this topic, so be sure to join us Monday 4/15/13 at 9:00 PM EDT for this week’s #southernchat! Also, be sure to follow along with M.K. on Twitter at @GGBelleDecor and on the Garden & Gun Style Blog – Belle Decor – that she pens.

#southernchat:  The Southern Home (RESCHEDULED TO: Monday, 5/6/13, 9:00 pm edt.)

Q1: What key elements define a Southern Home (interior & exterior)?

Q2: What elements in your own home are Southern-inspired?

Q3: Who are some of your favorite Southern designers, architects, or artists for the home?

Q4: What home accessories & furniture companies are your favorite to shop for curating your Southern home?

Q5: What questions do you have for M.K. about about “Slow-Style,” Garden & Gun or her Southern home?

Images: Garden & Gun / Elle Decor / SJP Home

Nothing more graceful than the curtsy. Nothing more noble than the bow.

Two wonderful heirloom touches that are almost all but forgotten in our modern world of today, the curtsy has held up with the ballerinas of our world, while the bow is still a proper form of greeting among Asian cultures.

A lovely gesture for any host would be to entertain the idea of bringing back the graceful, dance-like moves that women & gentlemen practiced in another era.

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Entertain with grace. IceMilk Aprons.

As the Easter holiday fast approaches, bring some holiday spirit and decor into your home or at your Spring gathering while still keeping it tasteful and classy.

I believe there are few things that make a statement more than an arrangement that includes a single color palette and a collection of similar objects. And the same is true with my favorite Easter display. A gathering of beautiful chocolate Easter bunnies, each with a different pose and size proportion, but all with the delicate detailing and features that make them unique.

The rich chocolate brown color makes for a lovely grouping, whether making a centerpiece display, the highlight of each place setting or simply on a foyer side table making for a grand and unexpected entrance into your home.

Enjoy their beauty & simplicity, just don’t be surprised if one or two disappear to hungry hands before the holiday is here!

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As wedding season gets into full swing, IceMilk Aprons provides a meaningful gift idea for brides-to-be.

Amidst the wedding registries and bridal showers, a monogrammed gift provides the perfect way for new brides to celebrate their new initial. With two custom monogram styles, IceMilk Aprons allows you to mix & match to suit the new brides personal style & taste.

Aside from the monogram detailing, an apron makes an ideal statement gift for new brides, who will be soon settling into a new home, with new kitchen gear, new meals to cook and a whole host of reasons to entertain. She will be sure to get a good deal of use from her lovely new apron gift.

Last but certainly not least, each IceMilk Apron comes with its own “Heirloom Kit” which includes blank recipe cards, Heritage Tag, and Apron story card. Imagine this gift coming from a new mother-in-law, welcoming the new bride the family with a stack of family recipes and a lovely new family name monogrammed apron. What a special heirloom gift to be treasured for years to come.

And of course, IceMilk Aprons gift packages make a lovely gift for bridal parties as brides are racking their brains on what to get their closest friends in thanks for their support & lasting friendship.

Shop online at www.icemilkaprons.com

A delightful way to entertain, pleasing to the taste buds and the easy on the eyes is the beautifully packaged Bonne Maman preserves. And no, if this is your first reading of our blog, not all our posts are quite this literal!

I have long been a fan of Bonne Maman, even before having ever tasted it. I am simply in love with the simple labeling, not overdone with the pictures & illustrations that clutter the other jams on the shelves. The almost rustic look reminds me of roadside jars of jam and reinforces for me the freshness and goodness of the product.

A wonderful choice for entertaining, as you won’t have to search for a lovely bowl to put the preserves in, but instead can just set it out to display for all to see and devour. What a delight to have such an under-produced product line the simple shelves of the Super Market today. And keep a watchful eye, I’ve noticed it in nearly every magazine’s “pantry-shot” lately as the photo stylists seem to eat it up as well. Literally.


I have always loved the simplicity and amber sheen of a fresh jar of honey – but only recently have I really come to enjoy the taste. And now it seems to be everywhere!

With its beauty honey is a sure bet for entertaining. I think most people (at least in the South) are familiar with the wonderful Savannah Bee Company line. Simply beautiful packaging, so distinctive & elegant, but still with a raw, rustic edge. Pretty much anything from the line makes a beautiful hostess gift when invited somewhere (always bring something!)

And I couldn’t help but share this amazing recipe from another wonderful blog I subscribe to Sweet Paul. His recipe for brie, fresh fig & honey is simply the most beautiful thing to display – and I actually made it over the holidays so I can attest that it is just delicious! And the photography on his blog is just beautifully done.

Honey, I do hope you enjoy!

moistcakeI learned something interesting recently from my friend April about a very wonderful entertaining secret that is sure to revolutionize your next cake-baking experience.

There is a super-secret secret to ensuring your cake is moist and fresh as can be when it is served.  Bake your cake just as you normally would. Allow the cake to cool in the pan, and then carefully lift out of the pan and wrap completely in an air-tight Saran Wrap covering.  Place the cake packages in the freezer overnight.

The next day, unwrap the cake and frost as normal. Ready to serve up nice and moist for your crowd!  And the best part, it gives you a day or two of advance prep time!

brunchOne of my most favorite entertaining stories is that of the Ladies Sunday Brunches that I used to host. Always prepared with the staple items on hand, I’d extend the standing monthly invitation to my friends, and to any friends they wished to bring.

Each person would be in charge of bringing one dish – some would bring mimosas and bloody mary’s, while others came with frittas and quiches, salads & fruits, desserts & muffins & breads galore!

A wonderful way to meet new ladies, taste new recipes and entertain. Best of all, everyone is involved in the experience and feels a part of the brunch by bringing their own dish to share. My only request is that each person share their special recipe. The day after, I always send a “thanks for coming” email and share the collection of new recipes with the group to try their own hand and making some of the new delights!

Proper entertaining in your home calls for a proper table setting!

I found this wonderful set of illustrations on the Emily Post Institute’s website, showing precisely the way you should set your table – from Basic to Informal to Formal affairs.

Click to learn more from THE authority on etiquette – and be fully educated in the time for your next soiree!

The surest way to appear to have mastered the art of entertaining, is to always (yes, always!) be prepared to entertain.

An impromptu cookout, a neighborly visit, or a last-minute “lets meet at your house” can easily leave you feeling inhospitable without properly being prepared for a gathering.

The secret ingredient to making you stand out as a host is all in the details. Things don’t have to be elaborate, just thoughtful.

Here is a quick checklist of things to keep on hand to ensure you can whip up a

celebration for almost any quick gathering!

Cocktail napkins – consider a monogrammed napkin with your last name initial

Wine – always have at least one red & one white (chilled) on hand so guests can choose. consider something that stands out, either from a vineyard you traveled to, with a funny name or label that is meaningful to you in some way, or simply something different that you can introduce to someone who doesn’t know anything about wine.

Drink – Get a nice bottle of water or gourmet lemonade and keep it in the fridge for such occasions.

Crackers & Cheese – again, keep it simple, yet impressive.  go for a cracker that has some pizazz, such as herb infused or sesame seeded type that looks earthy. and a cheese that requires little to no preparation – like a small wheel of brie that you can keep on hand to quickly whip out.

Herbs – grow an herb garden – there is nothing better to add garnish than fresh herbs. Parsley to garnish the cheese & cracker plate, mint to garnish a dessert or drink, cilantro, thyme, sage, lavender – just a handful of plants can make a world of difference.

Something Homemade – Of course not everyone has fresh baked goods lying around at any given time, but having something homemade on hand to offer your guests is always a treat. I prefer keeping a jar of Grandma’s homemade chocolate sauce in the fridge, with some vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer, with a mint leaf for garnish!

The Presentation – At the end of the day, it’s all in the presentation. be sure to have some unique serving dishes, cake plates, bowls, glassware, etc. on hand to make a good presentation. Flexibility is key. A simple tablecloth for a patio table & a jar of candles goes a long way too.

Signature – Find a signature something to fit

your entertaining style. Maybe it’s a food, a game, music, a treat or a goody bag – but find something that you can call your own & be known for it.

Would love any other wonderful tips you might have!

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