Stop What You Are Effing Doing and Appreciate

wearitoutmemphis

imagePlease take a moment to appreciate these trainers from Sam Edelman. That’s right, Sam Edelman made freaking cool hip-hop inspired shoes. They are the perfect combination of urban chic and girly glamorous. Observe: the camouflage detailing on the side panel is calf hair. We all know I am not above offing an animal in order to accessorize well. Also note the pop of lime in the back heel. I die. They’re perfect.

These bad boys would look amazing with skinny jeans, a fun slinky skirt, harem cargos, the sky is the limit. You can find them at Peria in midtown Memphis, and they come in GOLD, too.

* Special thanks to the designers at Sam Edelman for pulling the giant conservative sticks out of their a**es.

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Hosting Like a Boss for the Holidays

Note: I do not mean “boss” as slang. I am not some B grade rapper.

I mean boss in its literal sense. A boss is effing busy, no? I am boss to some, and my days are cra cra. So when a boss has to act as a host to friends, family or coworkers during the holidaze, things can get really chaotic. Tantrums can get thrown, schedules fall apart, speeding tickets can get handed out, and one is left with no other solution than to buy some tragic three day old shrimp cocktail package from Sam’s Club.

Here is some soapbox advice for my boss b*tches: you are a boss because you do not compromise quality. You are a leader. Therefore, you should dress as a leader, behave as a leader, date as a leader, and friggin entertain like a leader. Don’t dress like an a-hole. Don’t get hammered in front of disproving audiences. Don’t bring around some lame significant other with an attitude (in fact, dump him. Merry Christmas, I just saved you $ on a present). But most importantly:  DON’T BE A CHEAP, ILL-PREPARED D*PSHIT WHEN YOU ARE HOSTING.

WWAD?

WWAD?

When in doubt, think WWAD: What Would Anna Do. As Chief Editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour is THE boss. I mean look at her. She is dressed like the ultimate glam holiday b*tch with that fur collar, pop of red, and those layered necklaces. I die. But more importantly, I KNOW that the devil may wear Prada, but she ain’t hitting up Costco after work when she entertains. My God, that would mean the end of my world as I know it.

Anna definitely farms out her catering and has some trembling, verbally-abused intern oversee it. But believe me: the outcome is amazing and looks homemade because she probably had a Michelin star-winning chef at her house making it. Unless you are that baller status (you’re probably not), you should make at least something on your own, and have some variety. Depending on the guest size, I’d have one dip or cheese plate, one stackable finger food, one cookie or desert item, and one signature boss dish. Make your standout signature item. It shows you give a sh*t. Here is a small cheat sheet on how to fake the rest (if you must):

 

Dip/Cheese:

Guacamole and chips from Las Delicias: Many Memphis grocers (Miss Cordelia’s, select Krogers, Fresh Market to name a few) carry this local brand. It is amazing and very fresh, and the chips are like crack.

Asiago and artichoke dip from Amerigo: You will have to call this in and tell them how many you are feeding. Make sure you request plenty of the toasted focaccia bread, too. So darn good, and so unique.

Cheeses from Lucchesi’s Ravioli and Pasta Company: Located on Sanderlin, this place has been an entertaining staple for east Memphis for years. Click here! They have a page on their site that pairs wine with available cheeses. It’s just that easy.

 

Stacked Bite:

(You will still have to put forth minimum effort of construction. Get the eff over it, lazy.)

Smoked salmon and crackers from Whole Foods: Grab a box of entertaining crackers, a small tub of sour cream, a package of smoked salmon and some fresh dill. Tear small pieces of salmon and place on crackers. Then add a tiny dollop of sour cream. Top with a small top of fresh dill. Now go take a nap because that was so tough.

Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese on crackers with bacon crumble from Kroger: It is CRUCIAL you use Tom’s Tiny Kitchen pimento cheese, available at Kroger. It is by far the best and can be passed off as homemade. Spread that on a cracker and top with REAL bacon crumbles.

Fancy- Ass caviar and pumpernickel stack from Fresh Market: Fresh Market is running a special on their caviar. They ALSO have bite-sized pumpernickel loafs by the entertaining crackers. Spread sour cream on a piece of pumpernickel then spoon a tiny bit of caviar atop that. Garnish with dill and serve with champagne, and that’s a panty dropper.

 

Cookies/Dessert:

Seasonal chocolates from Phillip Ashley’s Chocolates: Click here for hommie’s website. This shiz is the real deal. It also makes a great host(ess) gift. He is located on Cooper in the Cooper/Young District.

Ooey Gooey cookies from Lucchesi’s Ravioli and Pasta Company: Again, this place is a no-brainer for entertaining. These cookies are a hit every single time.

 

Boss Standout Item:

photoThis is where you become creative or at the very least show some damn ingenuity. Pick up a 4Memphis or click here  and check the recipe section (shameless plug). See this tasty galette? Click here to learn how to make it. It’s super easy.  You can even cheat by purchasing a roll-out pie dough and it will still be amazing. I made this one with fig, cranberry and orange marmalade. I also salted the rim and added pecans. This satisfied both sweet tooths and savory fans alike.

Your standout item should also be easy to serve and should not be messy. No one wants something spilled on their silk. It is probable that they are juggling their plate and a cocktail, too. Something that can be divided easily and creates little “goo” is ideal. NOTE: if guests are not seated, chili and soups are not a wise choice.

 

In addition, have ample red and white wine as well as one signature cocktail. The cocktail can be as easy as champagne with a splash of St. Germaine, cranberry juice and a sugar cube. Sound expensive? It can be, so if you can’t afford to do it right, don’t effing host. duh.

 

Ho Ho Ho

-Stephanie

 

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Weekend Jam for the Lonely

imageIt’s that time of year where there is a bout 9 million gatherings and functions to attend. Literally everyone has an opportunity to attend some sort of holiday function somewhere. I mean even if you are the biggest misanthrope the world has ever seen, you can ball up in a bar this weekend, clad in your holiday shiz and be effing merry.

Instead of whining about another holiday function filled with cheap wine and Costco hor d’ oeuvres (or whining about not having any friends to invite you to aforementioned), I recommend putting yourself together and going and listening to some amazing music. What music? Where, you ask? Like I don’t give you the best instruction ever:

Friday, December 12:

Graham Winchester CD Release Party (Buccaneer Lounge) 10 PM

I truly believe that Graham Winchester may be some hyperactive being from another planet. As one of the most talented drummers to ever come out of Memphis, Graham and his solo album have been highly anticipated among music lovers in Memphis for sometime. Graham, nephew of acclaimed singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester, will be banging it out at the Bucc tonight with none other than Minivan Blues Band and Devil Train. That should give any reformed hippie a tear of nostalgia. There is a butt ton of talent that will be all loaded into that crazy bar that could very well ignite by simply striking a match. It’s that skeezy. Loves it.

Saturday, December 13:

Justice Naczycz and Mark Akin (Otherlands Coffee Bar) 8 PM

I don’t know much about Mark, but Justice was the front man for the forever missed Secret Service. That was back when I was sneaking into places with a fake ID just so I could watch him rip his shirt off and jump around and act like he was going to beat the shiz out of someone. I don’t know how that high energy translates into what he’s doing now, but I do know he is very talented and has a rapier wit. I hope he never succumbs to frills and keeps his music garage and unique. Definitely worth checking out.

Minivan Blues Band (Young Ave Deli) 10 PM

If you missed these guys playing at the Buccaneer the night before, you can catch them at the Deli. If I had to make a guess, I would think that they named themselves “Minivan” because they may or may not resemble someone who would creep around in a van with a sign saying “Free Kittens to All Children. Crawl in the Back”. Despite appearances, these guys have been hitting the music scene hard for a very long time and seem to better with age, like some rapey Pinot Noir. Very jammy. Very fun.

Ghost Towm Blues Band (Blue Monkey) 10:30

I stumbled upon this band while reviewing a different band at Lafayette’s one night. These lumberjack look-alikes are about 8 feet tall and have quite the stage presence. Playing instruments made out of old cigar boxes and other ridiculous household items, this band is truly amazing. I ended up reviewing them for my column instead because they were so soulful and so earnest on stage that I was enthralled. You should wade through the what can be sometimes bizarrely eclectic crowd at the Monkey and check them out.

The wonderful thing about these dive bars and music locales is that no primping is required. Jeans and non-pretentious clothes are encouraged; however, should you be going after a holiday deal, all forms of attire are welcome. That’s just how midtown rolls.

-Stephanie

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It’s Monday, and You May Be a Basic B*tch

Basic: (noun) An adjective used to describe any person, place, activity involving obscenely obvious behavior, dress, action.

Unsophisticated.

Transparent motives.

This is how Urban Dictionary explains “basic”. This new term is not a stretch from the Webster definition, which includes basic meaning “not including anything extra.”

I can simplify the term “Basic B*tch.” It’s someone that lacks originality.

Being basic is, unfortunately, incredibly easy to do in the South. Memphis does not foster new and unique retailers, styles and lines because there is a compulsive motivation for the women to all look alike. Every woman that wants to fit into the higher socio-economic prototype may feel compelled to carry the same bag and wear the same jewelry. When did a sea of Louis Vuitton bags and David Yurman start defining local style?

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Bitch is Obvi Basic (Louis V not pictured) Courtesy of Elliot Tebele

 

Before you leave a nasty comment defending your expensive gear, note that I can appreciate good quality items like aforementioned lines. Many of the women I love fall into some of these habits of buying. I’d be a liar if I said I don’t do it from time to time. However, let’s all really be honest: women in Memphis buy the same things because we want to fit in. Individuality and bold expressions in fashion are not typically appreciated. For example, look at our formidable young ladies in college at the University of Mississippi. Instead of the ladies (again, not all, but many) exploring personal style, individuality and being playful with fashion, they fall in line. I find it very difficult to even tell some of them apart.

Webster defines “style” as “a distinctive manner in which something is done, created or performed.” If your style is not distinctively you, you have no personal style. Your style is basic.

Why are the creative juices not flowing as heartily here? Has affluence thwarted individuality? Would kids getting cut off encourage some individuality? I don’t have that answer. But I CAN tell you how to break the basic cycle.

Buy expensive or designer bags for quality, but make the piece unique.

Go for that LV or Chloe, girlfran. Just don’t get the tired piece everyone has. Even better? Do your homework and research up-and-coming labels or designers that make beautiful and high quality products and buy that. They reflect you, not the masses, and you can be ahead of the curve instead of riding the fashion rut wave. Designers like (click names for links to websites) Bizi Buenos Aires (for the younger or quirkier ladies), Jaunt Accessories, Hemsley London , Kika NY and Sevda all have high-quality gear that is JUST NOW getting recognized. All of them have extremely unique structure, interesting color palettes and modern textures to choose from.

Sevda "Melissa" tote

Sevda “Melissa” tote

 

Sell your dated or basic shiz and invest in local costume jewelry

Cindy at Kittie Kyle, Renee at Lavish, Carmen at Social and Julie at Lansky’s are a few examples of local boutiques that carry great local jewelry. Local Designers like Cheryl Pesce, Becca Belz and Myrna Halpern can be found at spots like these, and they all make unique and beautiful pieces that are one-of-a-kind.

Montage Line by Myrna Halpern

Montage Line by Myrna Halpern

 

Dress for you, not for them

Research for other style blogs that have authors who reflect your tastes. Branch out of Southern territories, too. I love Sara Strand and Hallie Daily.

If wearing a cheap-o handbag that looks cool makes you feel cool, you should certainly wear it. Scared to try a bold lip because the mean girls don’t wear it? As my delicate-as-a-rose mother would say, “Piss on them.” Indeed, wear it because it is FUN and YOU, personally… not basically.

 

-Stephanie

 

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It’s The Freakin’ Weekend

And I could not be more thrilled.

After all of this yoyo-ing in temperature, getting a magazine out and the drizzle ruining my suede, girlfriend needs a barrel of wine to unwind. I’m gunna take a wild guess and assume you’re over the work week, too. Her are some things to blow off steam and keep you occupied this weekend (and how to dress appropriately):

FRIDAY

Grizzlies vs. Spurs (FedExForum) 7 PM:

So Gasol may be out, but I am definitely in. We have had a great season thus far (minus a couple of hiccups), and so the FedExForum is packed on the reg for home games. I am always a fan of wearing Grizz gear UNLESS it is a weekend game and I want to show out. Wear navy to the games: it’s the color of the season, plays nice with most other colors, and it’s a Grizz shade. I like pairing navy with winter white and lighter neutrals. Check out this bag from Peter Nappi. She’s available at Oak Hall, and she plays nicely with all colors, and whether you are casual or churchin’ it up a bit.

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Tool Box Bash for Habitat for Humanity (Great Hall of Germantown) 7 PM:

No one wants to play the dress-and-stockings game when it’s rainy outside. You could NAIL this event in a cute jumpsuit or trouser and jacket combo. You could be supa froggy and rock the blazer sans tank or pair with a peep of lacey bra.

 

Jumper, Emma Watson

Jumper, Emma Watson

 

Chic Suit, Margot Robbie

Chic Suit, Margot Robbie

You can find great jumpers and menswear separates at Lori James in the Regalia Center. Don’t feel like shopping/Santa sucked you dry? Raid your closet and pair a nice pair of trousers and a blazer, wear sleek hair and a bold lip. Look at you; you’re ready ta go!

 

SATURDAY

St. Jude Marathon:

If you live in midtown or downtown, I suggest you cancel plans out of walking distance, because this race is a day-ruiner. I have bought some sparkling rose and plan on waving at runners/making them wish they were day drinking instead of running. However, there are some great brunches available on a Saturday. I suggest midtowners make it to The Beauty Shop in Cooper/Young or over to Local on the Square if you are on that side of the fence. Layfayette’s on the Square also has brunchy stuff available, and they have great entertainment, too. Downtowners should elbow over to the Majestic Grille and drink a Majestic Mimosa for me. All of these locales offer a great view of the overachievers running.

I would go a bit more casual so you don’t look too bourgeoisie against all of that LuLu Lemon and Brooks Running gear (wait….. that’s all bourgie, too). Peridot is a new cute place on Cooper next to Strano, and they have super cute and AFFORDABLE sweatshirts and sweaters, much like the one worn by my December covergirl (shameless plug):

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Think riding boots, jeans, flannels, vests, and chunky pieces. You will need to be comfortable, because it’s lots of work watching others work out.

 

SUNDAY

Go To Church. You Probably Need To Repent.

 

-Stephanie

 

 

 

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Gifts for tha Chickenheads in Yo Life

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone (thank Zeus), and chances are you still haven’t finished shopping for Christmas/Chanukah/Festivus/Ullr Feast/Whatever-Pagan-Ritual-You-Support. Fear not: I have found the CUTEST gift idea for cooking enthusiasts, White Elephant, and host(ess) gifts (yes, you should ALWAYS bring a gift to a party, whether it be wine, food, or small token of appreciation. You’re not being invited to a frat house party, you loser. The host put time and cash into having your a** over. Don’t be that trash that shows up empty handed. Bring a damn host gift. But I digress….)

Kellyn Gowen is the owner of Crafty Chicken, and she makes the cutest custom aprons, bibs, and gift sets EVA. Kellyn gets my full support because she started making bibs and aprons as a means to fundraise for disability awareness. She is a gracious soul, loyal to her Memphis community, and I am honored to promote her. HOWEVER, it is when I saw a little girl being gifted this cute apron this summer that I nearly fell out:

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The gift was presented with a cute Le Creuset rubber spatula and cookie mix or something of that nature. I mean, this is SUCH a cute idea to pair with an Easy Bake oven from Santa (Zeus, whoever). She also makes bibs for the kiddies, and they come in 3 different styles: modern, traditional and kerchief. What makes Crafty Chicken’s stuff unique is the FABRIC. Yea, it durable, but it’s FUN. Check out this bib for a boy:

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Amazing, right? But her shiz is not exclusive to babies (because Lawt knows I don’t have nor want one in the foreseeable future). What I ADORE about her half apron design is that the belt is a chic obi belt. This detail may seem trite, but it’s FLATTERING. It gives the wearer a defined waist AND protects trousers/skirts/dresses when playing hostess. See that cute synergy right there?

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Adorable, right? And, again, she has a whole mess of fabrics to choose from! And all of the aprons have pockets to store cell phones, recipe cards, whisks, emergency vodka airplane bottles, etc. Here’s a cute full apron for the menfolk:

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And she even does reduced-priced Mommy/Daddy and kiddie sets!

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Perfect for the entertainers/aspiring chef’s in your life, the wares from Crafty Chicken are precious and extremely affordable. These are made locally, and they are from the heart. Check her out at http://www.craftychicken.com/ and order from her. Ho Ho Ho and whatever.

 

-Stephanie

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Um, yea, #GivingTuesday

Believe it or not, this bitch tries to stay involved in the Memphis community. You see, when I spend all of my paycheck on things like leather leggings, pony hair pumps, dinners with the girls, expensive vodka and cash for bail, I am left with a 1/8 tank of gas and a shallow feeling. That is why I find great pleasure in giving back to those who are not as healthy as I am or who do not have certain resources available to them. It’s the Memphis way (or it should be).  This is my home, dammit, and if I want to feel safe and sweet living here, I have a responsibility to do something about it. Likewise, I have found that I prefer to surrounded myself with like-minded people and frequent their businesses.

We all have our favorite causes, so I am not here to preach for one or another. However, as someone who knows many retailers and restaurant owners, I do have strong opinions on with whom I will spend my cash (like I mentioned earlier: my cashflow is less of a flow and more like a self-induced draught). I know I am leaving some off, because there are many local business owners that do great things for Memphis. But the following places of worthy of your money, and I will tell you why:

Erling Jensen’s

EJ2aDelectable, yes. Pretentious, sometimes. Good-hearted owner, always. I had Erling (or his better half) make me a lasagna for a boy I care about very much. This boy is a St. Jude patient and is fighting osteosarcoma. His ALL TIME favorite food is lasagna, and as Erling specializes in French-inspired fine dining, lasagna is not his forte. But when I was casually mentioning this boy while at diner there one evening and how his birthday was approaching, Erling enlisted his wife to make her signature lasagna for me to give to him.  His wife drove the lasagna up to the restaurant for me to retrieve it, then gave me heating instructions and a hug. I may add that she doesn’t know me from Adam; she just wanted to make someone’s day bright. It of course was delicious, and an act of kindness like that will not be forgotten.

 

 

Kittie Kyle

img_7074No, I am not trying to brown nose one of my favorite local retailers: Kittie Kyle’s owner is Cindy Gambrell, and this woman is super involved. She assists with the Memphis City Beautiful campaign and about a dozen other local initiatives. However, for a recent photo shoot, I came to her with a unique request: I wanted to use Madonna Learning Center’s students as models for my fashion editorial. If you are not aware, the Madonna Learning Center is a school for children and young adults with learning disabilities. I do not think I have ever seen Cindy so excited about a shoot. She wasn’t nervous her garments would be damaged (turns out the students there are more mindful changing than many of my regular models). She wasn’t concerned that the model wouldn’t depict her clothes beautifully. In fact, she jumped on the bandwagon, knowing the concept was beautiful, and the opportunity to make a young girl squeal with delight, get glammed up, be a model for a day and then see herself in a real-life fashion spread is PRICELESS. This woman has the most unique and beautiful clothes; she also has real perspective on what is it is to be impressive. Check the fashion spread in Decemeber’s 4Memphis. 

Strano

10614346_1389688984619748_9001278096220247658_nI can not say enough kind words about Josh Steiner, the owner and Chef of Strano. This is a new Sicilian-style restaurant located on the corner of Cooper and Young. Now, we all know that new restaurants are very touch-and-go, with budget nightmares, high turnover, crazy food costs, etc. New (and old) restaurant owners will pinch a penny and cut corners, but not this dude. Nope, he buys his produce from local CSAs, and that is not only good for local economy, but great for his guests’ health. He greets EVERYONE with a smile, which is why I camp out at his bar and drain as much wine as I do. As I do eat (booze) there on the reg, Josh and I have a great rapport. He even let me and my over-served girlfriends come into his kitchen and burn sage to ward off bad ju ju (long story). But what REALLY got me is when I came to him in a fuss because I needed more food for a St. Jude function. He supplied me with a ton of pizzas, and then he sent his assistant chef out to me with them. The man gave me the boxes and some very tender words about life and loss where young people are involved. Strano is THAT PLACE to go be a regular and get that homestyle warm-and-snuggly feeling. Also, the food is incredible; just don’t go on a diet.

The Second Line

10171632_791982080840222_5335532488621607967_nForget all of the (albeit deserved) hype around Kelly English. Blah blah his food is awesome. We KNOW that. The dude is majorly talented. But he is ALSO a huge fan of being way involved in the community. When he isn’t opening a gazillion restaurants and winning awards, he is organizing HUGE events for causes like Le Bonheur. The man can guilt the biggest culinary talents in the country into coming together and showing off for one another to pull off one of my favorite local events: Le BonAppetit. But Kelly doesn’t stop there. He let me rope him into going onto televised news and challenging him for my Memphis Love Challenge (4Memphis.com/MemphisLove), and he had some great words to share about what it means to be a Memphian and to care about the community. He also is constantly supporting other local restaurants and chefs instead of being weirdly competitive (because..DUHHHH… there can be more than one bad a** restaurant in town). I have not approached him with a weird charity-minded scheme yet that he hasn’t been open to, and for that, I will always be grateful that he lives in my city.

Gibsons Donuts

untitledGibsons has made the official “Best Doughnuts in the Country” list according to half a dozen publications. However, it is owner Don DeWeese’s attitude that makes his place so popular. He remembers every face; he has something to say to every customer; he may even throw a doughnut at your head. But what you may not know is that he provides our University of Memphis athletic teams with doughnuts. I have also seen him give free doughnuts to cancer patients, the elderly, and literally a dozen charities for charitable functions. All I’m sayin’ is that the man must really be selling some serious bearclaws to afford all of the charitable giving he does. Also, his wife Rita is a literal SAINT. She sits and reads to underprivileged children on the reg because it “gives her a sense of purpose and fills her heart.” I mean this place is so on it that it makes me smile just driving by the store. Go and get your sugar high there.

Think you deserved to make this list and didn’t? That is EXACTLY why you didn’t make this list. These men and women are unsung heroes. They are known for their trade, and only through direct encounter do I know how large their hearts are. They don’t Facebook it (unless I make them for the #MemphisLoveChallenge). They LIVE kind deeds, every single day. They just truly love the city and want it to prosper as their businesses prosper. It’s like paying it forward. So go blow your cash at these places. Lawt knows that I do.

-Stephanie

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