Monthly Archives: February 2014 oxford exchange gift guide

Today’s post is about one of my favorite places to visit when home in Tampa – the Oxford Exchange.

It’s hard to put into words a place like the Oxford Exchange because I’ve never been been anywhere else like it – it’s a commerce club, shop, bookstore, restaurant, coffeehouse, special event space and just about everything in between.

OE opened in 2012 and I was lucky enough to get a tour of the space pre-opening. I was beyond impressed. I have enjoyed an amazing brunch there, shopped in their adorable store and attended a gorgeous wedding reception – all under the same roof.

The history of OE is inspiring too. After a trip to London, the founder was inspired to design a space in his hometown where people “could meet, mingle, work in solitude, or simply pass a few moments outside of their hectic lives.”  It attempts to showcase the best of  the contemporary and the classic – which matches my taste perfectly. Some call it a large house – some say it’s a small town. Each area of the building is unique and it was built with materials from over a dozen countries including Italian marble, reclaimed white oak and leather panels on walls and ceilings.

OE also recently launched its new online store – which means even if you can’t visit Tampa and put this on your must-see list –  you can still shop their fabulous collection!

I mean, how beautiful is this place?

{Cote Bastide bath and body collection}

{Collection of handmade Terrafirma Ceramics gourmet serve ware and Fog Linen Works Napkins}

Alas, the hosting gift guide with some of my picks! Can I have it all please?

1. The Southerner’s Handbook // 2. Alpaca Throw in Firecracker //3. Tobacco and Mint Double Wick Candle // 4. Cote Bastide Argan Bath Salts // 5. Blenheim Apricot Jam  6. Large Black Serving Tray // 7.  Kimono Napkin (Blue & Taupe), Orchid Napkin Ring + Camellia Napkin Ring // 8. Teak Flatware

an apron & a sense of humor

Happy Friday!

I thought I would take some time to share with you a few “hosting horror stories” of mine (and hopefully make you laugh along the way). Every time I entertain at home, everything may LOOK “picture perfect” on instagram but we all know that “real life” is anything BUT.

I often joke that there is my “blog life” vs. my “real life” and I am sure many other bloggers can relate to this. H&T represents me pretty much to a tee – but it’s censored too – so today, I’m pulling away from the censorship a bit and sharing a few “now-funny” stories that hopefully you can relate to. These should also reassure you that while I may go a little overboard from time to time – my entertaining is not always perfect and I hope H&T inspires you to entertain even if it’s “not your thing”.

Before I begin the horror stories, might I suggest that the most important item you can own when hosting is an apron  – this also goes hand-in-hand with a sense of humor (you’ll see why later).

You might feel like a 1950s housewife or french maid for that matter, BUT aprons are absolutely necessary when running around the kitchen no matter how ridiculous your roomates/bffs/beau might think you look. These are especially important to throw on when you’re already dressed for the party – no one wants sauce or booze on your new dress or summer whites, right?

 A sense of humor is also necessary because if your luck is anything like mine, something will inevitably go “wrong”. After much entertaining in my home, this is a funny truth I’ve just come to accept. Normally when something goes “wrong” in my hosting adventures, it has to do with my clumsiness or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Alas, here are my top 3 horror stories of the moment.

#1.  My 25th Birthday Party with Shamu

This was an afternoon wine tasting party that a few of my BFFs graciously helped me host. While the party consisted of 40+ of my closest GFs who never held an empty wine glass, more pink and green than Lilly herself owned and my favorite surprise cake to date – it got off to a rocky start.


I had just purchased a new glass drink dispenser and while were early morning mixing the punch – the dispenser took a turn for the worse. There I was, halfway ready (hair still wet), stirring the drink and the next thing I realize, our entire kitchen in covered in girly punch, glass in the garbage disposal and one not-so-happy-camper (read: ME). I am still not even sure what happened but that dispenser has forever earned the name “Shamu” because the only way to describe the accident is referring to the killer whale himself jumping out of his Sea World home through the glass.

Luckily, for the most part, the kitchen counters were clear of party favor items but I stood there in shock – looked at my friends and said “no one ever make fun of me again for getting ready too early”, grabbed my keys and drove back to VA to return it. I won’t say where I purchased the dispenser because I have not had a problem since then BUT I will say that they gave me a brand new one and I am still nervous every time it is put to use. Lessons learned? Prep early so you still have time to run back to the liquor store when all your ingredients end up on the floor and all over you. Oh yes, and a wear an apron.

#2.  Summer Cookout Cabinets

Before my BFF moved out on her own (#hategrowingup), we used to throw a summer cookout each year consisting of Burgers, Beats & Booze (yes, that’s what we called it). It was quite fun and often too crowded but a tradition we maintained…even if our house smelled like burgers for a month after and we had to beg guy friends/boyfriends to help with the keg and grill for 100 of our closest friends (thanks boys!).

First, I might say that this was prior to Neat Method taking over my kitchen so the cabinets were a bit of a mess (read more on that HERE). I was completely ready in my red sundress, wedges, face on and curls in tact (NOT wearing an apron as luck would have it). I opened the pantry cabinets for God knows what and BOOM – a full bottle of olive oil broke all over me, my dress and the kitchen. Glass + olive oil is not exactly the best combination (not to mention that it’s expensive). Lessons learned? Organize your cabinets AND wear an apron.

#3. End of Summer Shrimp Boil Boozy Shakes

The last of my recent horror stories was at my End of Summer Summer Shrimp Boil (longest name ever, I’m aware). Aside from the fact that I didn’t think about how I would feasibly drain the GIGANTIC & HEAVY pot of shrimp, corn and potatoes (thankfully my roomate Courtney came to the rescue) – this evening did almost go off without any glitches, almost.

The real incident was the end of the evening where my clumsiness came into play (and perhaps one too many glasses of yes-you-guessed-it-vino didn’t help either). I was preparing dessert (Key Lime Pie Boozy Shakes), and while the shakes might of looked “instagram ready”; they caused quite a ruckus once again in my invincible kitchen.

I didn’t realize that my blender container failed to have the bottom attached or to put it simply; wasn’t put on correctly. Therefore, what I thought was a little “leak” (oh hi, milk all over my counters) turned out to be the exact opposite. When I turned the blender on..well, there went the first batch of boozy shakes – spraying all over me and the counter. This time, I was wearing an apron (guess I learned this lesson by now) and my new white dress was spared. Second lesson learned? Triple check the blender before hitting “pulse”.

That’s all the hosting horror stories I have for now, but I will be sure to make a point (if y’all enjoy these?) to share more of them as they come – because Lord knows I will have them. I guess the important thing is that I can laugh about them now. Oh and nothing went horribly wrong at Pizza & Prosecco so perhaps my luck is changing?

Have a great weekend!

Coffee & Cookies with The College Prepster

I am super excited to announce that I will be hosting a Meet & Greet event for my friend, Carly of The College Prepster, in DC next weekend!

Many of you know Carly and follow along on her blog as well. She will be traveling down from NYC to attend this event with her readers at the darling Patisserie Poupon coffee bar in Georgetown on Saturday, March 1st.

Carly is one of my favorites to visit with when I’m in either NYC or Tampa (over nutella lattes, brunches or paddleboats, naturally). She and I both grew up in South Tampa, however, we did not formally meet until she was at Georgetown here in DC. She was also one of my biggest cheerleaders/inspirations to finally start H&T and I can’t wait to welcome her back to DC!

We will have coffee & sweets and a few surprises! I don’t want to give too much away but Nico and Lala and I have teamed up again (remember, Favorite Things Party?).

Details and RSVP link are below – please join and bring friends, the more, the merrier!



We look forward to meeting you on March 1st!

Show Some Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

After posts about candy bars and gift guides, I wanted to share with you a few things that are a little different on this day filled with over-priced roses, unreasonable expectations and girls night outs.

#1. EverydayHero has put together a little something to bring the true meaning of Valentine’s Day back into the holiday; LOVE – love for the people you care most about and love for the nonprofits or charities that you hold near and dear.

They are handing out hearts similar to the ones below in places like San Francisco and New York to “show some love”. There is a blank line where you can fill out the charity/nonprofit or person you want to show love for.

My favorite charities are below with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – this was also my sorority’s philanthropy and continues to be one of my favorites to support & Cycle for Survival – an indoor cycling event that I’ve become involved with for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

You can learn more about this project HERE, including the opportunity to have EverydayHero donate money to the charity of your choice.

I have included some blank ones too and I hope you’ll also share your photos and stories of the ways you’re showing love for others on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Tag EverydayHeroUS, and use the hashtag #ShowSomeLove.

#2. Recently I learned about a new startup company in the DC area call UrbanStems. For those that love receiving fresh flowers and sending them (like myself), this idea could not be more genius. They offer gorgeous hand-crafted bouquets delivered anywhere in DC for just $35! They are all freshly cut, delivered within an hour or two and at any time or day you’d like.

So for those of you that live in DC or have a loved one that does – if you need a last minute Valentine delivery, use HELLODC5 for $5 off!

Below is the gorgeous bouquet that UrbanStems was so sweet to surprise me with last week (they are still beautiful one week later)!

#3. My favorite song, “You Got What I Need” by Joshua Radin. I love love this version and could not think of a better day to share it AND no music selection of mine would be complete without cheesy country music so “Get Me Some of That” by Thomas Rhett (can you believe he is only 23?) is also below – I think it’s pretty adorable.  Enjoy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

How-To: Make-Your-Own Gourmet Pizza & Prosecco Dinner Party

As I mentioned Monday, this past weekend was a complete whirlwind! After spending 14 hours down in Florida, I flew back to DC to host a Make-Your-Own Gourmet Pizza & Prosecco Dinner Party with a dozen of my girl friends and fabulous co-hostess, Sarah of Two Girls Two Cities.  It had been a few months since I hosted a dinner party (see my End of Summer Shrimp Boil recap here) and it was so nice to collaborate with Sarah on this fun, no-fuss evening!

If you’re the type of person that loves attending dinner parties or have always wanted to host your own, but don’t have quite the skills in the kitchen, this is the perfect party for you to host. Yes, it takes some creativity but no major chef qualities are required.

{Now before I write any further, I must give a gracious h/t to my friend, Dan, who was the original inspiration behind this “Pizza & Prosecco” theme. He hosted a party last year with pizza and prosecco and this year with Chick-fil-A and champagne so thanks, Dan!}

The Menu:

Prosecco. Salad. Pizza. Mini-Mousse. More Prosecco. 

Every guest’s place setting was complete with a personalized pizza (fresh dough that we rolled out + flour on parchment paper – the paper is KEY for transporting) and the table was set with toppings for various preferences.

Each topping station had a theme: “Cheese Please”, “Eat Your Veggies”, “Tis the Season” & “Carnivores” – we tried to accommodate everyone from the cheese-only pizza lovers to the sophisticated goat cheese lovers and meat lovers alike.



The best part about the evening was how fun it was. Seriously. Whose pizza looked the best/worst/more like a calzone was a contest. Everyone moved around the table from each topping board creating their very own “masterpiece”.

Dinner was also accompanied with a homemade salad and dressing by Sarah. For dessert, I made mini milk chocolate mousse in small pear glasses with berries and chocolate sprinkles for garnishes. Quick, can be prepared ahead of time and light. More room for bubbles, right? The girls appreciated this one.


A note about the bubbles: normally a good rule of thumb for purchasing wine or bubbly is allotting a half of bottle for each guest. This rule is better applied at large events or receptions and I am pretty keen on following it. However, with my friends and for the more memorable evenings, I throw that rule completely out the window and purchase for a village since prosecco seems to go down like water when you gather a dozen girls together on a cold Saturday night.

The Details:

When Sarah and I started planning, we wanted to make this dinner party casual but with elements of a more fancy affair (i.e. pairing pizza with prosecco). The contrast between a casual menu item like pizza and a more celebrated libation like prosecco remains one of my favorite themes no matter what type of event I am planning or hosting myself.

With that being said, we opted for a white dinner table cloth, shatterproof Go Vino flutes for the bubbles, red and white gingham napkins and mason chairs filled with moss, flowers and lights. I picked up a fresh assortment of flowers for the table and made name cards with gift tags and rosemary, which we tied to knives. The cutting boards or topping stations served as part of the center piece in between vases of fresh flowers and so did the mason jars filled with pizza cutters.


We also made personalized “pizza flags” with everyone’s initials so we could decipher whose pizza was whose once they were in/out of the oven  (be sure to take the flags OFF before baking/put back ON once they’re out- thankful for my two ovens this evening!). Overall, our idea was to keep the tablescape simple and draw more focus to the hands-on experience of making your own pizza than on the usual ribbons and bows.

 We added a few bottles of sparkling water with limes & a fresh bread basket for good measure and there you have it!

Hopefully this inspires you to host your own pizza night or just make one for yourself (I won’t judge).

Special thank you again to Sarah! She was the best co-hostess and while we were setting up, I told her how much I love entertaining but often spend the whole time running around so I never get to enjoy the evening quite as much as everyone else. She gave me amazing advice which I will take with me in all my future hosting adventures… “It’s better to be present over perfect.”

I couldn’t agree more.