Festive Fourth

Above: Table cloth, carafe, courtesy of TJ Maxx and Marshalls

In advance of celebrations on the 4th this year, I decided it was time for a much needed make over on our back deck. My goal, take it from drab and sad to festive and bright....ready for hosting some friends for cocktails and a walk down to the waterfront to watch the fireworks over the Charles.

Husband even helped me with my DIY project, making a ribbon banner to drape as a canopy over the deck and lounge underneath (inspiration found in the latest Harvard Square Anthropologie interior store display). So simple to do,  I just tied ribbon to a central hook from the deck roof and draped down the sides, securing in place with a few patriotic tacks spaced evenly on either side.

Also perfectly timed? Some decorating ideas and tips from my friends at TJ Maxx/Marshalls and an invitation to pick up some new party accessories for the 4th. I scored a bounty of goodies- from Marshalls a chic carafe and lights for the deck (the plates are from Marshalls as well but from ages ago).  At TJ Maxx I found a beautifully patterned table cloth, a few cook books and even....wait for it.....popsicle molds (entirely acceptable for grown ups!). I definitely see a lot of spiked "cocktail pops" in my immediate future.

Add some delightful candles from Stop and Shop ($1.99!), some well loved vases and tea pots filled with assorted flowers, and some pillows from indoors et viola.

These photos are the results from last nights trial run for decor and my new white apricot sangria recipe, to be tested en masse tonight when we host our friends.  Husband and I had a gorgeous night on the deck sampling our new summer cocktail and enjoying our new back deck oasis. A special thanks to my friends at TJ Maxx/Marshalls for the extra design inspiration.

Hope you have a festive fourth!


Hot Dog! Fancified for the Fourth

The hot dog is to the Fourth of July what peanuts are the baseball, turkey is to Thanksgiving, cake is to get the idea, it is a requirement for any and all BBQ's that are planned for this weekend.

In honor of our great nation, I gussied up the dog all gourmet-like. You can take many liberties with the general idea of dressing up the dog: fresh salsa, guacamole, with pickled jalapenos; chili, with melty jack cheese and green onions, or my particular favourite; caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms with garlicky aioli and manchego cheese.

The recipe is minimal effort with maximum rewards.

Pre-heat and char a hot dog in the boiler (I use the broiler for all this but you could do it much more efficiently on a grill!). Toast a bun with some butter, then layer with garlic aioli*, sliced manchego, the dog, and caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms. Return to broiler until heated through and cheese is just melty.

I served my gourmet dog along with some fresh corn on the cob, baked beans and some beers!

For even more ideas on the gourmet wiener, check out this great article from the Wall Street Journal: A Looong Way From Coney Island.

*I do like to make my own aioli, a good recipe can be found here, but when in a pinch just mix grated garlic, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard together with mayonnaise.


Chemins Blancs

Above: Chemins Blancs dress, Zara shoes, J Crew vest, Celine sunglasses, Gorjana necklace

The last leg of our recent trip to France found us in the city of Lyon for a few days. Lyon reminds me a lot of Boston- it oozes culture, history, fine dining and of course, like back home, it is teeming with students as a huge university center. Historically important for its production of silk and fabrics, Lyon still maintains a vibrant shopping scene with plenty of boutiques (independent and big brand alike) flanking the Place Bellecour, the main city square.

Just around the corner from our hotel, I discovered Chemins Blancs. Maria, the lovely shop owner, assisted me in shopping, told me more about the brand, and dished about Lyon in general.

The line itself, which became independent in 2007 and is designed by Monique Lener, exhibits the French characteristics I so love; good design, luxe fabrics, fine detailing, unique prints and classic cuts. Below are a few of my faves from the Spring look book (pretty much everything I tried on). As you can see, the dress I purchased also comes in a long version.....equally cute short or long in my opinion.

I wasn't able to find any retail information for the states online but I have an email in to the company and will update when I hear back. Until then, be sure to stop by any of their sixteen shops in France, you won't be disappointed!


Currently Obsessing

My weekly obsessions?

Warmer weather has brought on a flair for the dramatic with bright candles, colors, 
stacked bracelets and shoes.

This Virgin of Guadalupe candle from Stop and Shop for $2.99. I want them all over my 
deck for lighting up evening dinners.

Mix and match bright bracelets in tourqiouse, red, and everything else in between.
Where else? Forever 21.

Orange blush, bronzers, highlights and lips. NARS leaves me brilliantly pigmented with Taj Mahal blush.  I have quickly come to realize I can't live with out Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Sari d'Eau.

And the weekly bit of requisite shoe most recent acquisition- Isabel Marant suede heels. Heaven in fire engine red. I love them so much I even bought them a little to big, but
I figure with the summer hear and my swollen feet, no one will ever know the difference!


Get In My Closet: Jennifer Chun @ Louis Exposure & Interview

Designer Jennifer Chun is NYC based, Korea born, Ohio raised, full of Midwestern charm and warmth, and most importantly someone that you should get to know. The fashion visionaries at Louis Boston have made this incredibly easy for us by hosting the talented Chun as part of their Louis Exposure series this weekend (June 25 - 26).

Jennifer Chun's Fall/Winter 2011 line has already garnered a plethora of praise, all very much deserved. Her years of work at design houses Michael Kors, Derek Lam and most recently, Brian Reyes, where she was Senior Designer, shows in every well placed detail, each fabric choice, and the perfect color palette. 

The line itself is casual and chic, full of well tailored classics, sure to stand the test of time in any one's wardrobe. The look book is a show stopper, full of luxe faux fur, mixed with tweed, denim, suede, playful patterns, and all with a modern twist. For more on Jennifer, the line and look book, click here to check out the site.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer earlier this year on a trip to New York (more on that here) and chatting with her in advance of the event this weekend. We dished about the current line, plans for Spring 2012 and of course, 5 questions with Mon Petit Chou Chou.

What are the hallmark's of your design? I have heard it described a lot as preppy tom-boy, what do you call it?
I prefer to think of it as casually polished, though it does seem to reflect a slight tomboy edge. I take what are characteristically "dressy" pieces and dress them down a little bit, while maintaining their quality and a hint of  uptown. I never liked to feel overdressed.

What is your favourite piece from the current line?
Definitely the double breasted denim jacket, though I confess, I wear the calligraphy printed t-shirt dress the most, it is just so easy!

Any hints as to what Spring 2012 has in store for Jennifer Chun?
It will be consistent with my aesthetic, still graphic, but more utilitarian, a little cleaner for Spring.

5 Questions with MPCC:

Three dinner guests, dead or alive, you would most like to entertain?
Carine Roitfeld, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and Coco Chanel of course!

Your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Shopping- I shop for work, design, inspiration, myself. I am a shoe last purchase was the most insane pair of Givenchy boots. I can barely wear them but they are worth it.

Favourite city, place, neighborhood, in the world?
Besides New York?! Paris. My husband and I usually stay in the St. Germain. I don't have any favourite spots, the Musee d'Orsay aside, I prefer to wander the city and see what I find.

Actress who would play you in the movie of your life?
Hmmm, Keira Knightley. Not to girly but she seems substantive.

Macarons or Cupcakes?
Cupcakes. Billy's Bakery in NYC is divine. I stick with the classics, chocolate with vanilla icing.

Be sure to stop by Louis today and tomorrow to meet Jennifer in person! See you there!