{a bit of} Christmas Spirit in JulyJul. 27th

dessertspreadxmas I wanted to add a few holiday photos in the House Tour category from Holiday 2014.  I like to change things up just a bit from year to year, so this is last year’s decorating.  We were celebrating the life of Dr. Thomas B. Williard at this particular luncheon.  While a more somber occasion, it was Dr. Williard’s favorite holiday and he certainly had a wonderful life to celebrate. These are a few shots from that special day.  PS:  If someone finds my knob, please let me know.  Where in the world is my cabinet knob?

diningroomxmasI did a little redecorating this spring (2015), so the wallpaper pictured is no more. The gold damask paper by Thibaut made for such a cozy feeling in the dining room, but the update is so clean and crisp.  Change is difficult but necessary after all these years.  Wait until you see the update, I think you will love it, too.

xmas roosterIsn’t this a beautiful arrangement?  It was a gift from the caters.  We used a local company Bleu and Fig and everything was simply delicious.

denxmasBloggers are so amazing at photography…as you can see I am not one of those bloggers.  I should have had the light in the corner off, but I snapped it anyway.  The den has become my favorite room to enjoy a morning cup of tea.  I will take better pictures of the rest of the room soon, but I think I managed to capture a few of my favorite holiday elements.

baconislandviewThe food was absolutely delicious thanks to Bleu and Fig.  I also had a few wonderful friends that came over at a moment’s notice to pitch in to help.  I could never have done this luncheon without them.

While holidays without Pappy won’t be quite the same, we will continue to  celebrate remembering all the while how he loved Christmas so.  In fact, one year he talked his lovely wife into keeping the tree up for an entire year.  Now, that’s what I call holiday spirit.

 

Kindest,

 

Chris

 

 

Obsessed: Quotable CardsApr. 27th

2015-01-12_1757Has anyone picked up on the fact that I am quote obsessed?  Always have been, always will be.  So it only makes sense to have the creme de la creme of cards and gifts, Quotable Cards, on board.  Welcome Home, Quotable!

“quotable was started over twenty years ago with a simple mission: to inspire through the power of the written word. recent college grads gillian simon and matt fernandes-vogel knew there were people out there like themselves who wanted smart, simple cards that just weren’t available at the time. they had an idea to quote great writers, artists, and thinkers and use their words as the foundation for the design.

quotable-an-angel-by-your-side-everything-disg-4the result is the original and incomparable typographical style of quotable. this remains the often imitated, never replicated look of the line to this day. what started as 48 black+white cards has grown into a full and flourishing range of cards, magnets, mugs, and a variety of other gift and stationery items. although gillian and matt may have picked up a few employees along the way, quotable still operates with the care, ingenuity, and personal attention of the start up it once was”.

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Since The Great Gift and Paper Co. and Susabelle Boutique is all about giving the perfect gift, I try to think about things that I would like love to receive as a present myself.  An inspirational quote sent my way on a mug, trinket tray, tote, or even a simple card sent via snail mail (try it–you will make someone’s day) is my idea of totally thoughtful gift-giving.

 

Kindest,

Chris

 

Mary Lee’s Rice RecipeFeb. 25th

photo-27First, let’s begin by giving credit where credit is due….this recipe was given to me by my life-long friend Nikki’s mother, Mary Lee.  She is the lovely, amongst this group of lovelies, just behind me on my right–I am seated in the middle.  Mary Lee is wearing the oh so stylish chunky black necklace–not only can she cook, but she can dress like a million bucks, too.

In Follansbee, the small town in West Virginia where I grew up,  families support each other in good times and bad. Mary Lee brought this rice dish to my family at a particular moment when we needed support.  The recipe has stayed in our family ever since.  I am grateful for the recipe and grateful for the wonderful people I recall each time I make this dish–and trust me–it’s often.

IMG_3277As you can see in the photo above, the ingredient list is short. Aside from a sprinkling of black pepper, this is all the recipe calls for.  Easy as easy gets.  And I like easy.

IMG_3278 Here’s what the dish should look like put together… IMG_3279  and here is what it looks like baked and ready to eat devour.

 

Mary Lee’s Rice:

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup Uncle Ben’s Rice uncooked

2 cans beef consomme

1 or 2 cans mushrooms (drained)-mushroom amount  is based on your like or lack thereof for mushrooms

3/4 to 1 stick of butter sliced

sprinkling of black pepper

 

Add rice, beef consomme and drained mushrooms to standard size glass baking dish.  Top with sliced butter and sprinkle with black pepper.  Bake at 350 for approximately one hour. Since oven temperatures vary, I recommend checking the rice after about 45 minutes to determine how much longer the rice will need to cook.

I am pretty sure Mary Lee’s rice recipe will become your go to dish for your upcoming spring and summer potlucks or dinner parties. And just as I think of Mary Lee when I make it, I hope you will think kind thoughts of me. ;)  Enjoy!

 

Chris

 

Vegetable Soup {Warms the bones}Feb. 3rd

photo-27Right about the start of February, Mid-westerners and folks in the North East are about fed up with winter.  Seriously, our bones are cold!  What better way to warm up than with a bowl of homemade vegetable soup?  Here’s a super simple, packed with deliciousness recipe handed down from my daughter Alex’s grandmother.

1.5 pounds of stew meat cut into bite size pieces (more meat if you like more meat)

1 small onion

1 small head of cabbage

4-5 celery stalks

1 box of beef broth

1 large can of V-8 juice

1-2 cans of tomato soup

1-2 bags of frozen mixed veggies

4-5 potatoes

1 stick unsalted butter

bouillon cubes (if you like a little more beef flavor)

salt and pepper to taste

Begin by cutting meat into bite size pieces, onion into chunks (not too big, not too little), celery, and cabbage (think soup size pieces for all).  Next, I  “precook” the meat in a pot of water and spoon off foam.  After removing the foam, (sorry, no idea what the correct cooking term for that nastiness is, lol), do not discard the water, but transfer meat to a clean soup pot. Add 1 box of beef broth, onions, celery and cabbage to the meat with enough of the water (full of meat flavor) to total about 8 cups (I transfer to another pot because it is cleaner to me to do that).  Let this cook for about 1 hour or so…Add 1 large can of V-8, a can of tomato soup*, a bag of frozen mixed vegetables* and a stick of unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper.  Let this cook and then judge if you need more veggies or more tomato soup to thicken it up a little.  *I added an extra 1/2 bag of veggies and an extra 1/2 can of tomato soup today, so just buy 2 bags of veggies and 2 cans of tomato soup when you go to the store…it  really is about judging what your family will like.  Let this cook about 45 minutes and then add the potatoes cut up.  If you feel you want more beef flavor, add a bouillon (try to spell that word without autocorrect) cube. I let simmer on the stove for a few hours.  Turn it off and then warm back up for dinner.  This makes a pretty substantial amount of soup–the good news is it will taste even better tomorrow!

It may take a couple of tries before you get the soup to taste exactly how you like it.  I don’t add a lot of salt so everyone can season their own–plus crackers with a little butter on top are delicious in this soup.

 

That’s it!  Stay warm and enjoy! And hurry up Spring!

 

A peek around…Jan. 7th

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Ever wonder what a long-time shop keeper’s home looks like? Please feel free to take a peek around…

williard_56Silver, sparkly and “not real” works best for me…lucky husband.

williard_51White linens and white towels–always (bleachable, as per Susabelle, aka: my mother)

williard_48Because stacking pictures is so much more visually interesting.

williard_26I love Thibaut fabrics as you will see in future posts and pictures in this house tour category.

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williard_33This is a lovely Pottery Barn desk in my bedroom; the candle from Linnea’s Lights is just the right scent for a bedroom (not too heavy or sweet); the chair is a Home Goods fabulous find and the little lumbar pillow is from Target–the colors were perfect.  How could I pass it up?

williard_41And last for this post, this is the upstairs Master Bath.  I can never get enough of the clean lines and black and white in this room.

 

More pics coming down the road.  Please come back to visit soon!

{Compelled}Jan. 26th

Have you ever felt compelled to do something?  Lately, for whatever reason, I have felt compelled to go back to doing a few things from my younger days.  The first is running.  The last time I did any running was in high school. No, not on the track team–definitely not that kind of running.  But,  I would run (maybe jog is a better word) down Main Street to my friend Tina’s house and back.  It was a good mile (big whip!) or so of pure bliss.  From waving to people driving by to working up a good sweat…it just made me happy. Maybe it was seeing the people more than the running/jogging. Either way.   If only my knees where as good as they were back then….The other “thing” that I am compelled to do is journal. I haven’t written in a journal in years.  When was the last time you wrote in a journal?  Journaling (word press has a squiggly red line under this word, so I must have made this word up, ha!) frees up my brain– it is cathartic to just get things down on paper, isn’t it?   Nothing is as bad as it seems and the good is even better when you reread your thoughts down the road.  Life ends up getting busy and the journal gets put to the side, but that’s ok…I forgive myself.    The journaling starts up again tonight (after the Grammy’s, of course) and the running/jogging…well, I will let you know after I schedule my  knee injections.

Check out our journals-NEW for 2014!

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The {GOOD} News and the not so good….Jan. 15th

The good news:  we have been so busy over the holidays–THANKS TO YOU–and we are in the process of reloading for 2014!  The not so good news:  we have ignored our little blog! But, we are getting back on track!

Have a look at the homepage redesign-just ignore the dust from the holidays–we are still doing a bit of sprucing.   We hope you will think the updates to be ever so “lovely”.  New items are being added daily and if you are in search of a sweet little something for a Valentine treat, find it here in our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide.

Have a wonderful 2014!  We are looking forward to continuing to grow and learn from our experiences– all to bring you an even better site to shop in 2014!

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‘Tis the season for {hostess} giftingNov. 13th

“Never show up empty handed”  is simple but sage advice for the upcoming party season.  Whether you are invited to a work party, dinner at the in-laws, or your neighbor’s casual get together, a well-thought, not necessarily expensive, hostess gift is such a thoughtful way to say “hey, we appreciate the invitation”.   Just a little something will go a long way to let the host and/or hostess know you appreciate their efforts to make the evening special.

It’s easy to add one of our top ten favorites to the traditional bottle of wine to take it up a notch on the thoughtful ladder.  Best of all, no need to chase all over town for something cute. Just point and click and have your favorite finds delivered right to your doorstep!

Here are our top ten favorite hostess gifts–sure to get you invited back to the next soiree:

A fun cocktail napkin to take along with a bottle of wine.

turkeytime-rxIf you know that the “annual” holiday party is approaching, be a dear an order something personalized for the host/hostess.  Order these Personalized Notepads.  They come with a “not soon to be forgotten” guarantee.

notepads_1 This darling decoupaged plate of a map of the North Pole will be sure to find it’s way into your host’s annual holiday decor.  No regifting of this little number,  for sure! North-Pole-Holiday-Decoupage-Tray For some reason, I never tire of adding more paper products to the site.  I have a love affair with paper–always have–always will.  I just don’t think you can go wrong with a beautiful mousepad notepad from our Alexa Pulitzer collection.  The empire bee mousepad notepad is fresh and will go on any desk beautifully.

Alexa-Pulitzer-Mousepad-Notepad-Empire-BeeHaving a holiday party can be a bit stressful.  Let the hostess know that it’s not what’s on the table that counts, but truly what’s in the chairs.  Fill this oh-so-giftable mug from Curly Girl Design with a gift card from your LOCAL coffee shop for an extra special treat.

cookYou know, there are just somethings we would love to have, but really just wouldn’t buy for ourselves. At least that is how I am.  I think this coffee scoop falls into that category.  Wouldn’t it be a little more fun to scoop with this rooster scoop than the plastic one?  Your host will surely agree. And just think, you will be thought of with every pot!

cockadoodle-rxInspirational coffee table books are a perfect way to say “thank you”.  This holiday inspired gift book, Be Merry,  is filled with the right sentiments, and the right reasons to celebrate the season. Simply put, PERFECT!

Be Merry-book-4842-03Certainly, you didn’t think a blog post would go by without mentioning a flour sack towel. Let’s put it this way, I could have a whole store filled with flour sack towels and paper. Not sure what I would name it– but I digress.  Here is another gift that people love to have, but settle for less.  Our Bon Appetit towel is a darling gift.  Consider adding a lovely cheese and your are all set.

-Bon-Appetit---Flour-SackTowelIt’s not really fair to assume the party thrower is always female. Is it?  And with that in mind, comes our next selection for top host/hostess gifts for 2013.  We will assume, though, that said host likes something a little inspirational for his desk.  This catch-all will be a hit! Find our inspirational quote desk tray here.

-desk-tray-for-menIn fact, here are two for the gentleman host.  This owl candle, by Patch NYC, has just the right hint of masculinity. With an incredible 72 hour burn time, this wise, old owl, would be the perfect touch for an office, bedroom, or anywhere throughout the home when floral scents just won’t do.

2013-08-08_1733That rounds out our top ten favorite hostess gift for Holiday 2013.  I hope that you are always up for a get together and that we have made it simple to show your appreciation.  Don’t forget, stocking the gift cupboard is as easy as point and click at SusabelleBoutique.com

 

Kindest,

 

Chris

 

 

Curly Girl Designs Holiday CardsOct. 28th

 

2013-10-09_0815Leigh Standley’s, creator of Curly Girl Designs, witty cards and gifts captured the heart of La Belle Maison way back in the early 2000’s when the store was just getting started.  She has a way of teasing out- with just a few lines- what so many of our hearts are thinking.  Her adorable illustrations add precisely what the words were looking for.  Sometimes I read her cards and wonder if somehow she knows me personally.

This holiday season, if you are looking to send a card that includes a heartfelt message, look no further than our collection of Curly Girl Design Holiday cards.  Here are our favorites selections for 2013–including a few new designs.   Remember, folks order in fairly large quantities, so they sell out quickly! And we ALWAYS offer free shipping on all Curly Girl products! Do you have a Curly Girl Designs favorite?

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Curly-Girl-Designs--Champagne-and-Cupcakes--Holiday-Boxed-CardsgooseCurly-Girl-Designs--Tis-the-Season--Holiday-Boxed-Cards Check out  all of our Curly Girl Design holiday cards  here. And the entire Curly Girl Collection here– we have added a few chalkboard art mugs and just a few keychains to the mix. And don’t forget to be an early birdie to get the best selection!

 

Kindest,
Chris

Fall Faves 2013Oct. 17th

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”–LM Montgomery

Isn’t it simply amazing how summer bows out gracefully to give way to the fabulous colors and scents of fall? It is an annual dance, that while I initially resist, end up loving to watch.  The middle of October seems to be upon us and it’s nearly time for us to start readying for the holidays.  But, in the meantime, let’s enjoy what we love the most about fall.

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description-of-autumnFalling leaves:  Free: courtesy of mother nature; photo courtesy of Tumblr

05956_KP1023_mWe’ve decided that a fun sweater to add just a bit of quirkiness is the shabang for fall.  Why bother with the same old tone on tone sweater set when you can spice it up with this little number from J. Crew?

2013-09-04_1418Speaking of spicing it up, let’s bring a little bit of the season indoors with this fabulous  new scent from Linnea’s Lights, Vanilla Noir.  This candle intertwines creamy and exotic Madagascar bourbon vanilla with undertones of soft woods and musk.  Yummy for a fall evening snuggled with your special someone.

4123BolbWdLBring a bit of fall into the kitchen or take this fall-infused flour sack towel along as a perfect hostess gift.  Mary Lake Thompson has been a favorite forever.

 

2013-10-10_0805Our favorite new baby hat collection would be the perfect touch of Halloween for the wee ones too small for a costume.  What a terrific baby gift for the upcoming, oops, we are just going to enjoy fall and not talk about what’s around the corner, right?

Cozy sweaters, pumpkin and vanilla everything, jumping in the leaves, and warm apple cider all add up to bring us all to one place:  home again.  And it’s from the comfort of  home that we can look out our very own windows to catch glimpses of the dance and just enjoy it.

Kindest Regards,

Chris