Dress: JS Collections c/o Belk. Earrings: Banana Republic (old). Shoes: Stuart Weitzman. Sunglasses: Blinde, similar pair. Necklace: My Grandmother's ring. Cocktail Ring: Melinda Maria (new fav). Other Rings: Tiffany and custom by Diamonds Direct. Bracelets: Jook and Nona, Stella & Dot, my Grandmother's.

I couldn't have been more delighted than to have worked with the fine folks of Nourish for this first time food collaboration on the Queen City Style.  It was kismet right away when they contacted me about this fun project.  What could be more fashionable than eating healthy, gorgeous food?!  I knew I wanted the colors of the foods to do the dictating, so when deciding what I would wear for our little soiree, I let the rainbow of freshness lead me to it.  A quick trip to the Occasions Department at Belk where this vibrant orange sheath caught my eye, and it was Bon Appetit from there!  Whether or not you're too busy to cook, but you enjoy eating out of this world flavorful healthy meals, take a look at Nourish's offerings.  You will love it.  I promise. 

Thank you oh so much for reading!  


PS-Would love for you to take a look at my new website here!

A Merry, Merry Feast!

Happy Day after Christmas Everyone!  I hope yours was wonderful.  Mine was.  It is such a busy day for everyone, and such a whirlwind. All of the preparation... it all happens so fast, and the day comes to a close, it seems, before you can say "Merry Christmas!"  Being with friends and family is a treasure.  Life is so dear.  Through the tough times, and every single one of us faces them in our own fashion, we all have so many blessings for which to be grateful.  I am so grateful for all of mine.

Did I just go all Barbara Walters on you or what?

All that mushy stuff aside, I am abso-freaking-lutely exhausted.  It is all self-induced, so I got no one to blame but myself, but I'm not even blaming myself, because I do love this kind of self-infliction.

Me, Self-Inflicting

Did anyone say  "Do you like to entertain?"  Does it get dark at night??  And, when it comes to this stuff, I ain't missing a single stone.  Yes ma'am, they are ALL right-side up. I know there are plenty of you out there who are just as nutso as me.  But in all seriousness, I do love to entertain, and I love to cook.  And, I looove to set a beautiful table, and what better time than Christmas to do it?  So, here's my table on Christmas Eve.

It's funny.  We have a perfectly suitable dining room, yet I still prefer to just put a leaf in the kitchen table.  We cooks know everyone always ends up in the kitchen no matter how hard we try to keep them OUT of the kitchen.  I suppose of all rooms, it most feels like home, and I am happy to oblige family and friends for just being with us.

I set a table using a variety of bright green dishes and chargers by VIETRI in pattern Foglia.  The founders and owners of this company, sisters Susan and Frances Gravely, and mother Lee Gravely, are long time family friends of my mother's family. I've always loved the rich colors and textures of VIETRI tableware.  I own several pieces in another VIETRI pattern, but I chose this one specifically with Christmas in mind.  I love the brightness of the green and the textured edges of each piece.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve and Maple-Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I use my everyday plates which are a simple, easy to go with anything, cream china by Williams-Sonoma.  Click here to see them.  For the pop of red, I accessorize with deep cranberry red linens, also from Williams-Sonoma, and throw in the touch of holiday sparkle using gold leaf napkin rings from Pottery Barn.

Fond D'Artichauts Aux Champignons

I love my Edward Wine & Water Glasses, also by Williams-Sonoma.  Click here to see.  Come to think of it, all of the pieces are wedding gifts in VIETRI, Williams-Sonoma or Pottery Barn, all of which you can get right here in the Queen City.  Belk carries an array of VIETRI patterns.  Click here to search Belk.  I feel like current day society is a lot less formal on a day to day basis, so I registered for more casual pieces.  However, I do enjoy hosting a shower or party for someone, in which case I just borrow all the dressier china, glassware and silver from my mom.

Sesame Ginger Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

What do you think?  For you cooking enthusiasts, below is the dinner menu with links to the recipes, or a description.

  • Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
  • Maple-Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Fresh Cranberry Fruit Conserve
  • Marinated Sesame Ginger Pork Tenderloin stuck with fresh ginger and garlic cloves.  Most wonderful man in the world is in charge of any dish that involves meat, since I only eat it in the way of fish.  Basically, he grills the pork first on high heat to char the outside just a bit, then turns down the heat to low-medium, and continues to grill for about 20 minutes.  Easy, inexpensive and delish!
  • Fond D'Artichauts Aux Champignons.  Fancy name, huh?  This is a casserole dish of artichoke bottoms smothered with marinated mushrooms, light cream and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  I make this a lot, because it is so delicious and SO easy.  Fresh lemon juice.  Two cans artichoke bottoms, 2 lbs sliced mushrooms, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup light cream (I use fat free half and half), LOTS of fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle shrooms with lemon juice. Heat butter and saute shrooms for few minutes.  Arrange artichoke bottoms in buttered dish.  Pour shrooms over and sprinkle with cheese.  Put under moderate broiler and heat until cheese melts.  Serves 8.

Here are a few more images of some festive table settings.

This next one is by the very talented Eddie Ross.  There is nothing he does that I don't absolutely love.

Click here to see more images from this table setting.

And last, but certainly not least, I had to share with you a couple images of my friend Heather's table from her Christmas party this year.  When it comes to parties, the girl does NOT hold back on her table setting!

Did you serve for your holiday meal anything of which you are exceptionally proud?  I would love for you to share with me some of your favorite holiday recipes, and I would REALLY love to see your holiday table!

For the love of entertaining in the most fabulous holiday style, Whitley

Exchanging Calories, I mean Cookies!

Recently I went to an annual cookie exchange at my girlfriend Suzy's house.  In preparation of the evening o-sugar-high, each guest is assigned to bake six dozen cookies.  For the third year in a row, I haven't quite been able to plan ahead with my delivering of some amazingly fabulous knock your socks off cookie, but I think I've followed through on something at least acceptable.... Oh heck, they were down right tasty!

This year, 24 hours before the party, I was thumbing through my cook books.  My mother recently hosted a party and sent home a doggy bag with a few leftover goodies in the form of a deliciously concocted bar of chocolate, nuts and oats.  So, I decided I wanted to try to figure out just what I was eating.  I studied that little cookie bar to no avail... tasting, looking, touching, smelling... I knew there was something else in there.  Then it hit me... caramel!  So, I conducted an on line search and arrived at these oh-ho-delic Caramel Oatmeal Bars.  Warm and cozy lovin from the oven!...

Best of all, that lil' bar of Heaven was super quick and easy to make... oh, I'll be making them again.  

Suzy and her fam recently renovated her cozy abode located in one of my favorite hoods of the Queen City, the down to earth, uber chic neighborhood of Elizabeth.  I intended to share with everyone thoughts and photos from the evening, but I now have to share with you additional photos of her to die for, oh so stylish living room.  For me, probably one of the prettiest rooms I have laid my eyes on in a long time.  Amazingly fun for the palette, yet refined and clean, and possessing just the perfect strain of tension. Suzy worked with local designer 

Bronwyn Ford

 to create this niche of utmost desire. So, here are a few pics from our fun evening of calories (I mean cookies), vino, fellowship and holiday cheer.

Just look at these lovely ladies. Do they look ready for cookies or what?

Aren't these the most handsome little Santas you've ever seen?

And they seem right at home with the decor.  

A little female fellowship is always good for the soul.

Would you look at those cookies!  These are good for my tum-tum.

 And here's the living room.  Seriously.  I cannot stop looking at it....

My husband noted the symmetry of  the square edges, and then there are the flowing draperies.  I explained to him I think this is a mindful way of creating the perfect amount of tension in a room while using great restraint.  I also love the scarcity of knick knacks.  I feel like the colors and movement in the draperies do the work of accessorizing more than just the windows.  Gosh, I love it.

A view of the cozy fireplace.

The room seems so spacious and offers plentiful seating. So, here are some pics of the all delicious delectables!

Little almond candy canes.  So cute!

The hostess made these from a childhood favorite recipe book.

Little tiny sugar cookie Christmas wreaths!! How much more festive can you get?

Each one of these bite size babies was a different flavor.  Easy to pop = trouble!

Simple Goodness.  Takes you back to making cookies for Mr. Claus himself.

Our friend Campbell just returned from her honeymoon in South Africa,

and she brought home the recipe for these super delish coconut concoctions .

Jam Thumbprint Cookies by my personal fav, Ina Garten.

These are my chocolate walnut caramel bites.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Amazingly flavorful!

My take home loot!

Wine consumed prior to departure, of course. Please let me know if you would like the recipe to any or all of the above tasty treats!  

For the love of sharing the love in great style, Whitley