Cocktail Time - Blackberry Bourbon Sour


Blackberry Bourbon Sour

One of the many Christmas traditions in my family is the holiday cocktail.  My sister always makes one on Christmas Eve, my Uncle Jim would always bring one on Christmas Day and now that Dave and I host Christmas Day at our house, we are carrying on the tradition.  Last weekend Dave's sister Amy, Dave and I were at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and we had dinner at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse.  I saw a cocktail on their menu called a Blackberry Sour and instantly knew I had to try it.  It was absolutely delicious and so I decided on the spot that I would let it inspire me to come up with a recipe for this year's Christmas Day cocktail.  It was an extremely difficult task (ha!), but Dave and I experimented to come up with a Blackberry Bourbon Sour all our own.   I'm sure a prepackaged sour mix would work just fine in this cocktail but decided fresh squeezed lemon juice was the way to go, as it would produce a fresher tastier cocktail.  I'm sharing the recipe we came up with below and I sincerely hope you try it and enjoy! 

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Handmade Gift Series - Gift #3 - Ruffle Bottom T-Shirt

The ruffle bottom t-shirt and some serious wind blown hair!


Here we are, just one week until Christmas.  If you are like me, then there are a couple people on your gift list that you always struggle with what to get.  And since time moves at lightening speed at holiday time, suddenly there is only one week until Christmas and you are scrambling to get them a gift.  Gift #3 in my handmade gift series, the ruffle bottom t-shirt is a quick and great option.  One can never have enough t-shirts...am I right?  Plus, I'm willing to bet that this difficult to shop for person on your list would love a gift that is handmade by you.  Enough of my rambling, you've got a gift to make so let's get to it!

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Handmade Gift Series - Gift #2 Sleep Mask with Do Not Disturb Pillow



Anyone that knows me well, knows how much I love Audrey Hepburn and all her movies.  Roman Holiday is my absolute favorite but I love her style in Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Oh what I would give for that iconic black dress and pearls she wears in the movie...the outfit that everybody thinks of when they think of Breakfast at Tiffany's.  In fact, what I would give to rock Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe daily.  I read a magazine article about her granddaughter a few years back and remember her saying that she still has and wears some of her grandmother's cashmere sweaters.  That's because Audrey's style was so classy and timeless.  She exuded femininity and yet so many of her styles had a tomboyish vibe...a mystical phenomenon that only Audrey herself could pull off!  Oh geez!  I am rambling...but what I'm trying to say is that Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired the second gift in my handmade gift series for the holidays.  If you've seen the movie then you will recall one of the early scenes in the movie when Audrey is sleeping with a glam and adorable satin eye mask with gold trim and cute sleepy eye appliques.  I thought that this would make an adorable gift and then thought that a cute little "Do not disturb" pillow that could be hung over a door knob would make a nice accompaniment.  I set right out to experimenting and created the attached pattern so that you, dear readers, can make the sleep mask too.  I think it would make a most charming gift for any hard working, stressed out woman you know.  It's a little reminder to take some time out every once in awhile to relax, wind down and enjoy some me time.

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Handmade Gift Series - Gift #1 The Skinny Scarf

Tis the season dear readers!  There are so many wonderful traditions at Christmastime and one of my favorites is the tradition of gift giving.  When a gift is made by hand by a loved one it is especially wonderful and heartwarming.  That is why I've been working hard on a handmade series of gifts that you can make and give your loved ones.  First up, a quick to make but oh so stylish skinny scarf!

Modeling my finished skinny scarf.

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, December 2016


Hello Dear Readers.  Yet another month has flown by and we are smack dab in the middle of one of my most favorite times of year…holiday time!  This brings much excitement and more social gatherings than festive cookies…or at least it seems that way sometimes.  However, with all the excitement and busyness comes ever mounting stress, and deciding what to wear to all these festive shindigs can just add to your tightly packed stress mountain.  Take a deep breath and relax a bit, because the December Shoe of the Month is perfect attire for any social gathering!  

Waking up to these beauties under the tree on Christmas morning would be wonderful indeed!

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Sewing DIY - How to make a table runner with decorative trim



A table runner is another great project for someone that is learning how to sew.  They are quick and easy to make and the styling possibilities are endless.  Because of their simplicity you can make many different styles and change them up seasonally.  In this DIY, I instruct you on how to add a decorative trim to the runner but you could also make a plain runner and the results are just as lovely!

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, November 2016

Hello dear readers!  How is it November already?  2016 is flying by but that's A OK with me because we are currently in the thick of Autumn, the most beautiful time of year in my humble opinion. Autumn is the perfect time to wear t-straps, the weather is cool enough to wear shoes that enclose your toes but warm enough that the exposed parts of your foot do not get too cold!  I LOVE the t-strap and wish we would see more of them.  They are an underrated champion of footwear!

I picked these little lovelies from BC Footwear for the Shoe of the Month honors for November.  You can take a closer look and snag your own pair here.  What drew me to them is the slightly 70's vibe with the chunky heel and that gorgeous caramel color of the leather.  But don't get me wrong these shoes also pay proper homage to the decade in which the t-strap first graced women's feet...the 1920's.  The t-strap first gained popularity in the 1920's as women began to wear more revealing styles showing more of their feet and flashing a little leg in all those flapper dresses.  I can picture these shoes with so many styles, a tan suede mini and an ivory sweater, jeans with a tucked in button down in a classic color like navy or black,  leggings with an oversized tunic and statement jewelry, and so much more!

The November Shoe of the month from BC Footwear is available at Nordstrom.  (www.nordstrom.com)

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A Wine Tasting Party with a Twist



This past weekend Dave and I hosted our family for a wine tasting party and a little friendly competition.  We asked each couple to bring two bottles of wine.  One bottle that we would open and taste and one that we would set aside.  Then the fun part began.  We tasted each wine one by one, took notes on what we thought and then everyone voted on their favorite wine.  We tallied up all the votes and then the bottles of wine that we set aside were the prize!  Our cousins Jen and Scott, walked into our house with 2 bottles of wine and walked out with 11 bottles.  That's a 550% gain on their investment!!!!  Not too shabby!!!

Do you like this idea and want to host a competitive wine party all your own?  Then read on, dear readers, and let me show you how we pulled it off.

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, October 2016




Boots with cozy sweaters, warm apple cider, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet, and pumpkin flavored everything are some of my favorite things about the Fall season.  So now that it's October and Fall is in full swing, I just had to pick my favorite boots as the October Shoe of the Month.

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How to Sew Flat Panel Curtains

The curtains I made for our living room.

To some the idea of sewing their own curtains seems like a daunting task but the reality is that it is something that can totally be accomplished.  In the end you'll end up with something completely custom, completely hand made and completely satisfying.  In fact...satisfying and pride inducing because, Heck Yeah, you made them yourself!  So what are you waiting for...read on for instructions and make some today!

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, September 2016

The September Shoe of the Month, an Anthropologie and Seychelles collaboration of brilliance and wonder!

Peanut butter and chocolate
Lennon and McCartney
Movies and popcorn
Snoopy and Woodstock
Batman and Robin
Ben and Jerry
Hall and Oats (threw this one in there for you Mom!)

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Shopping and Dining at The Ritz Crystal Room at Remember When

Hello, dear readers.  Today I'd like to tell you about a unique place with class, style and glamour at every turn.  The Ritz Crystal Room at Remember When located in the Historic District of Torrington, Connecticut is an antique shop and cafe on the first floor and a romantic, elegant speak easy on the second floor. 

The Ritz Crystal Room at Remember When

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Summertime Deliciousness

I tried a couple of new recipes this past weekend that were so good, I just had to type up a quick post and share them with all of you!  Dave and I have been renovating our kitchen and it's about 90% done.  We are just waiting for our new backsplash to be installed and then we get to have our fun decorating!  We love the way it is shaping up and so we decided to have some family over for dinner on Saturday night to check out the progress.  It has been one HOT summer here in Connecticut and we are currently in the midst of a string of some of the hottest days so far this summer.  Because of this, I thought it would be nice to serve up a refreshing summer cocktail.  Dave and I have been on a mojito kick lately, ordering them everywhere we go and so I decided mojitos were the way to go.  A quick search and I found these delicious strawberry mojitos on the blog Back to Her Roots.  Best of all the recipe was for a full pitcher of mojitos which was just what I needed for the evening.  What I liked most about these mojitos is that they weren't overly sweet.  The recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 cups of rum depending on how strong you want them to be.  I went middle of the road and used 1 1/4 cups of rum but I think next time I will use the full 1 1/2 cups as I thought they were a little bit light on the rum.  So keep this in mind if you want to taste the rum in your mojitos.

Strawberry mojitos...the perfect summertime cocktail.


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Sewing DIY - How to Make Your Own Tote Bag

I wanted to follow up my recent "Sewing 101" post with an easy project perfect for a first time or beginner sewer.  A tote bag is a great project for a beginner because it is relatively quick to make, uses a few basic sewing skills and is very versatile.  It is also an inexpensive project to make.  I made my tote bag using fabric squares that I got at Joann Fabrics for a little over $2 a piece!  For those of you that don't know what fabric squares are, they are pre-cut squares of fabric that are folded up and marked for sale.  You can usually find them right along with the full bolts of fabric at your fabric store of choice.

To get started on your tote bag you will need the following supplies:

1.) Five fabric squares.
2.) 3/4 yards of interfacing (Iron on or non-iron on.  I used non-iron on.)
3.) Matching thread
4.) A chalk pencil
5.) Sewing ruler
6.) Fabric Shears
7.) Straight Pins
8.) Seam Ripper (just in case)

Once you've assembled your materials you are ready to get sewing!

Step 1:  Make sure your fabric is square.  To do this, I like to line up the selvage edge of my fabric directly against the edge of my table and then line the ruler up against the edge of the table too.  This will give me a straight line to mark or cut.  I also found a great tutorial for squaring up fabric here.

I lined the selvage edge and the ruler up right against the edge of the table to ensure a straight cut.

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, August 2016

August is now a few days old and so it is time to announce The Corner of Charm and Style's shoe of the month for August 2016!  So without further ado, here are the little lovelies!







Like the July shoe of the month, these shoes were also purchased at the former Tootsies, now Mini Spa VT.  They are by a company called Not Rated.  Check out some of the chic boots and wedges they are currently offering.  I love these little charmers right here...maybe a future shoe of the month in the making!



 ...but lets get back to focus here!  I love the summery look the straw and gingham details give these shoes.  The pop of color from the yellow flower at the toe is simply darling!  These shoes are also so versatile and can be dressed up for work or date night but also look great with jeans and a cute top for happy hour with the girls.  You can also wear them for lazy days spent lounging around outdoors.

I hope you enjoy the shoe of the month for August 2016.  If you would like to submit a shoe for The Corner of Charm and Style's Shoe of the Month, then simply post a picture of your shoes on Instagram and tag it #shoeswithcharmandstyle.  I look forward to seeing the great shoes you post and maybe picking them for a future submission!

Till next time, dear readers!
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Sewing 101

I wanted to write a post for all of those out there that are thinking about learning to sew but have not yet because they don't know where to start or because they think it seems too hard.  All you need to get started is a sewing machine and just a few essentials.  As for it being hard, as a beginner myself, I can tell you that with practice and patience you will find that it's not quite as difficult as you think to create some simple but fun projects and then expand your experience from there.  

My sewing room at home.

I was first inspired to learn to sew after looking for curtains for our bathroom for two years and not finding anything I liked.  I realize that this makes me sound quite picky and a bit obnoxious...but the reality is, I had an idea of what I wanted in my head, but couldn't find anything that resembled what I pictured in my mind.  Then one day I was watching HGTV at the gym and there was a women on the "Property Brothers" making her own curtains.  Maybe it was the runner's high or maybe it was the lack of oxygen to my brain but I thought, "I can do that!"  I had often thought that I would like to learn to sew but would then discourage myself by thinking I didn't have the time or that I would just mess up any project I attempted.  I don't know what it was exactly about that episode of "Property Brothers" that suddenly convinced me otherwise but I'm glad it did.  That very night I went home and told my husband I would like a sewing machine for Christmas.  Fast forward almost eight months later with August just a day away...and my bathroom is still curtainless.  Ha!!!  But, I have tackled several other projects including living room pillows, euro shams, tote bags and my current project, curtains for our living room.  I'll tackle that bathroom eventually but in the meantime I've discovered a hobby I thoroughly enjoy.  I was lucky enough to have a spare bedroom at home that really served no purpose other than to store stuff we didn't really use, so we cleaned it out and made it a sewing room.  I consider it my happy place to destress after a long day...in fact, cheesy as this sounds I can feel the corners of my mouth turn up into a smile every time I'm in there.


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Shopping Guide - Wickford and Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Hello all!  As promised, I'm back with a guide to some of the fabulous shopping in both Wickford and Watch Hill, Rhode Island!

First up the historic and lovely, Wickford.  The shopping in Historic Wickford Village can mostly be found on Brown Street, West Main Street and Main Street.  West Main Street and Main Street connect and basically form a "T" shape across the end of Brown Street.  The shops in Wickford offer a little bit of everything, apparel, books, crafts, art galleries, jewelry and an outdoor shop with kayak and paddle board rentals.  To see a full list of the shops, click here.  We started our shopping excursion at the top of Brown Street and the aptly named Yes! Gallery was the first store we entered.  Yes!  Gallery is aptly named because I wanted to say "yes" to taking the vast majority of the store home with me!  Ha!  I'll go back to living in my dream world momentarily but first let me finish this shopping guide!  One thing I noticed about the store right off the bat was the numerous lamps they had in the store, each one more stunning then the next.  I'd say that the lamps were my favorite thing about the store.

Just one of the many stunning lamps at Yes! Gallery.



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Charming Destinations - South Kingstown, Wickford and Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Hi everyone.  I just got back from a great family vacation to South Kingstown, Rhode Island.  South Kingstown is a quiet and relaxing beach town with a casual and laid back atmosphere.  There are a variety of things to do for both children and adults, the beach, lighthouses, shopping, amazing restaurants, mini golf and lots of ice cream shops!

My Aunt and Uncle own a vacation home in South Kingstown so we stayed there, but there are many charming beach homes to rent as well as some charming seaside inns.  I loved checking out all the different homes as we drove around, from the cute little cottages to the large gated homes that sat right on the ocean.

Driving around South Kingstown at sunset

Misquamicut Beach, which is probably the best known beach in Rhode Island is not a far drive from where we stayed but we chose to chill at South Kingstown Beach.  My family and I like South Kingstown Beach because it is smaller and less crowded but still offers the big waves and beautiful views of Misquamicut.  There is a good crowd at South Kingstown as well, families with children, young couples, older couples, and groups of friends.  The water is cold at first but spend an hour or two laying out on the beach and then it feels great! 

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Style Corner - Shoe of the Month, July 2016

Welcome to The Corner of Charm and Style's first shoe of the month post!  This month I'm featuring these red shoes from my own collection.  I decided to choose them for the first shoe of the month feature because I love how different they are and because I've had more then one co-worker threaten to steal them right off my feet!  I got them years ago in Burlington, Vermont at a store called Tootsies.  Tootsies was a little boutique that sold shoes and bags in the front of the store and then offered manicures and pedicures in the back of the store.  I looked them up and they have left the shoe and bag business behind to become a spa, called Mini Spa VT.  I'm sad to learn that they no longer sell shoes as they had so many unique and sassy options but it does look like they offer some amazing spa services!
The Corner of Charm and Style's very first "Shoe of the Month"
 Style wise these shoes have it going on!  The unique shape of the heel offers comfort as well as style, I have worn these shoes walking around city streets and have never had a problem.  Also I love the red color with the tan leather for the buckle and the plaid...oh my!!!!  They are made by a company called BC Footwear based in California. 
The ruby color inspired this click your heels, there's no place like home photo.
The insole of the shoes have a message that says "Because music is my heartbeat" and it makes me happy every time I read it.  In fact every time I slip these shoes on my feet, they make me smile and I think that is what a good shoe of the month is all about.  Stay tuned for future shoes of the month.  In addition to shoes from my own closet, I plan to scour the Internet as well as feature submissions from readers. 
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DIY - Raw Edge Wood Serving Board

Making a raw edge wood serving board is a fun, easy and budget friendly DIY project.  Plus, the rustic look of it really takes your food presentation up a notch.  Style it with some fresh herbs such as rosemary, bay leaf and sage and you are well on your way to "Ooooos and Ahhhs" from all your guests.

To make the board, you will need the following:

  1. Tree stump
  2. Chain Saw
  3. Electric sander (optional)
  4. 60 grit sandpaper
  5. 400 grit sandpaper
  6. Mineral oil (available at hardware stores or kitchen stores)
Step 1:  Use the chain saw to cut the desired shape of your board.  We decided we wanted a rectangular shape for our board, however, I also had the idea of cutting several circles and using them as plate chargers. 

Remember safety first.  Wear those protective glasses!

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Father's Day Lobster Boil

This past Sunday Dave and I hosted his parents, sister and my mother for a Father's Day lobster boil.  A few weeks back, I promised my Father-in-Law a Father's Day full of champagne wishes and caviar dreams so I knew I had to pull out all the stops.  

The equivalent of a Cheshire Cat grin for my Father-in-Law!
 
When designing the day in my mind, I pulled lots of inspiration from some recent bits of deliciousness that I have experienced in a variety of places.  The menu consisted of lemon and blueberry infused water, an inspiration that was struck from the cafeteria where I work, which offers a different fruit infused water at lunch daily!  Then I pulled inspiration from some favorite restaurants of mine.  First course was a kale and shaved brussel sprout salad with warm bacon vinaigrette and blueberry cornbread complimented by homemade honey butter and blueberry jam.

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Charming Stays, Charming Destinations - Bar Harbor, Maine

Hello friends, my apologies for the delay between posts.  I created my blog and then went away on vacation just a few days later.  My vacation, however, inspired me to start a regular series with the blog that I'm calling "Charming Stays, Charming Destinations".  In the series, I'll write about places I've visited that invoke my charm and style philosophy.  First up, the delightful, Bar Harbor, Maine!

Dave and I first visited Bar Harbor together back in September 2013 and had such a great time that we decided to go back to celebrate our first anniversary.  Bar Harbor is such a great vacation spot because there are so many different things to do that appeal to a wide variety of people.  More on that in a little bit, but first I'll talk about the first thing anyone considers when they pick a destination...where to stay.

Dave and I chose to stay at the charming and welcoming Thornhedge Inn.  This was our second time staying at Thornhedge and we would stay there again in a heart beat!  Andrew, the innkeeper is so helpful and friendly.  He's an excellent resource on Bar Harbor and it's many offerings, easily doling out dinner recommendations, scenic hikes through Acadia National Park, or wonders of Bar Harbor that few tourists know about!  Thornhedge itself is a beautiful Inn, built in the early 1900's as a vacation home.  The inn has some beautiful details and is filled with many intricate antiques...you could spend hours in the inn itself just looking around.  Another great aspect of staying at the Thornhedge is the social aspect of your stay.  Breakfast is served in the dining room daily and when you go downstairs you sit at a long table and eat with other guests, while Andrew serves you delicious breakfasts like creme brule french toast and joins in the conversation as well.  Possibly my favorite part of being a guest at Thornhedge is the afternoon social hour of wine and cheese served in the lovely parlor.  Here are just a few glimpses at the beauty of this charming inn.

A view of the outside of Thornhedge Inn


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Mother's Day Brunch

Recently Dave and I hosted a Mother's Day Brunch for my Mother and his Parents and Sister.  From the moment we decided to host I began thinking of ideas to make it a special day from the menu to the details of the table scape.  We were planning to host our brunch outside in the lovely warm May sun but the finicky New England weather didn't cooperate with us. No problem though, we just moved our celebration indoors!

I really wanted to make the day extra lovely for our Moms as both have had their own set of challenges recently.  To add a bit of elegance to the table, I used my Mom's china, which I have since inherited.  (Thanks Mom!)  And of course you can never go wrong with a floral center piece so I added some pale pink miniature roses in a crystal vase...simple, elegant and right in line with the theme.


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 Welcome to The Corner of Charm and Style


Welcome! I’m so happy you stopped by to read my first post!  Let me tell you a little about me and why I’m here.  My name is Shelley and I live in Connecticut with my husband of one year, Dave, and our dog, Bella.  I spend my days working in Corporate Finance but have always been fascinated by interior design and the creative process behind it.  In my spare time I find a need to embrace my desire to create and lately I’ve been finding that desire is growing more and more.  Fortunately I have the perfect outlet to unleash this desire…my home!  When Dave and I decided to move in together, I moved into his bachelor pad and together we are working on making it a home that reflects both our styles.  We’ve been working on a number of projects in a few different rooms and I’m thrilled with the way things have turned out thus far.   

Here's some shots of some projects we've done in our living room.  It's still very much a work in progress, but it gives you an idea of what I'm all about.


I plan to do a post on how I created the gallery wall soon!

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