Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Brunch Launch: Quiche & Gien Floral Bouquet


Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)
1/2 cup butter1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic1 small onion, chopped12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided1 cup milk4 eggs, lightly beatensalt & pepper, to taste1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry6 ounces feta cheese with dried basil and tomato, crumbled1 (4 ounce) jar sliced mushrooms, drained1 frozen deep dish pie shell, slightly thawed

1.  Heat oven to 375°F.2.  In large skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter, app. 5 minuets or until just soft. Remove from heat.3.  Stir in 6 oz. cheddar, the feta cheese, mushrooms, and spinach. Mix well; place into pie crust.4.  In medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour over spinach mixture, poking holes to allow the egg mixture to seep inches.5.  Bake 15 minutes. Top with remaining 6 oz. cheddar, continue baking 40 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

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Place Setting
After pulling together such a gorgeous brunch item, don't spoil it by leaving it in one of those aluminum, disposable pie dishes.  Finish it off with the perfect tart dish from Gien:

Floral Bouquet Tart Dish by Gien

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sparkling Saturdays: some of our favorite engagement rings

Welcome to "Sparkling Saturdays", our new series dedicated entirely to jewelry.  Each week we'll highlight some of our favorite pieces, as well as give you insight into the jewelry-making process and jewelry industry at large.

To start, we wanted to show you some of our favorite custom-made diamond engagement rings.  (In case you didn’t know this about us, 90% of the engagement rings we sell are custom, rather than ordered from a jewelry manufacturer; that's because we believe each engagement ring needs to be as special as its owner!).
Cushion cut center stone with tapered baguettes on the sides.
Emerald cut center stone with trapezoids on the sides.

Cushion cut center stone with micropave diamonds surrounding and all the way around the band.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Introducing Friday Fun Days!

Many of you are gearing up for your big Easter celebrations this weekend.  So, to launch our new series "Friday Fun Days," we thought we'd highlight a holiday-specific product that we've fallen in love with:

We still have a few left!  Stop by today or tomorrow to pick these felt furries up: they are perfect for a centerpiece or Easter basket!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lifestyle Thursdays: the launches continue!

Did you know that Pantone, the company that codifies our collective color palette, also predicts color trends each year, delineating the groupings by home and fashion?

Pantone's palettes for 2013 include Connoisseur, Sojourn, and Glamour.  To a tea, they all bring together rich, dramatic tones meant to evoke drama in the best sense.  (For more on Pantone's predictions, check out this article.)

Their Color of the Year also reflects a call to drama.  They chose Emerald, the deepest of the deep greens, a color which simultaneously pulls you into its depths and draws you out of yourself: energizing and calling forth creativity.  Emerald is a good color to have around.

Whether you update your lifestyle by adding a pillow, pulling in a charger for your table setting, or throwing on an emerald bead necklace, we encourage you to embrace this trend wholeheartedly.  And, of course, we'd be happy to help!  Here are some of our favorite emerald must-haves:

Tommy Hock by Saint Louis

William Yeoward hand-painted green and gold service plate, 12" diameter

Green agate, diamond, and yellow gold earrings, 2" dangle

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wedding Wednesdays

Trends, trends, trends.  People in the wedding industry spend a lot of time talking about trends.  Whole sections of magazine displays are devoted to them.  Brides could literally spend weeks flipping through all of the gorgeous, glossy photographs filled with fabulous, over-the-top ideas (even the simplest DIY ideas are truly over-the-top when photographed for these publications).

We're not complaining.  We love weddings!  We've been doing bridal registries for nearly two decades, and we can't get enough.  We pour over the magazine pages too, even though, for most of us, our wedding planning days are long gone.

So, because we love them and because we're in the "biz", we couldn't resist jumping into the fray.  Here's what we're seeing with regard to wedding trends in 2013:

*A return to tradition.  Brides are forgoing things like spa days and, instead, are opting for traditional bridesmaid brunches, for example.  Formal attire is on the rise, as are the number of brides registering for formal china.  We've seen lots of lace (Downton Abbey, anyone?), and we're loving it! 

*With regard to china, brides and grooms are registering for a "basic" dinner plate (such as a white plate with a gold band) but continue to mix and match the rest of their place settings.  For example, you could see a Rothschild Bird salad plate over a Simply Anna dinner plate over a Gold Aves charger.  Mix in a Tobacco Leaf salad plate and you have a completely different look and feel for a relatively small price!  In that sense, economy and practicality (space limitations) still drive registry choices, without ever having to sacrifice style.

We could go on and on, but we'll leave you with this fun (and somewhat contradictory) list of trends spotted by some other bloggers:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tabletop Tuesdays & Our New Series

This is the week of LAUNCH.  We're launching six new series!  Tabletop Tuesdays, Wedding Wednesdays, Lifestyle Thursdays, Friday Fun Days, Sparkling Saturdays, and Sunday Brunch.

So, to review, here is our weekly blog roll:

Monday Musings: inspirational quotes and thoughts from the owner;

Tabletop Tuesdays: tips on creating the perfect tabletop presentation plus fun facts about tabletop etiquette and history;

Wedding Wednesdays: wedding trends and ideas, from registries to jewelry;

Lifestyle Thursdays: inspirational ideas for the life you want to live;

Friday Fun Days: we highlight our favorite, out-of-the-ordinary products;

Sparkling Saturdays: latest trends from the jewelry industry plus our favorite pieces of jewelry;

Sunday Brunch: our favorite brunch recipes paired with the perfect place setting.

Be sure to follow us (look right) so that you can get our posts in your inbox.  And tell your friends!  We want to become the premiere blog spot for fine living.  See you tomorrow.  In the meantime, we'll leave you with this thought:

Did you know that in the year 1004 Maria Argyropoulina, the Greek niece of the Byzantine Emperor, brought a set of gold forks with her to Venice as part of her dowry.  When she used them at the wedding feast, she was condemned by the Italian clerics for her lavishness.  She died of the plague two years later, and one rather zealous priest noted that God was condemning her, for she wouldn't even deign to touch her food with her fingers.

As one blogger put it: "Doomed by God for using a fork.  Life was harsh in the 11th century."*

Monday, March 25, 2013

The way you make me feel

“People will forget what you said.  People will forget what you did.  But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-          Maya Angelou

I’m sure there are many people that come to mind when you read this quote.  I know there are for me – all the people that have impacted me over the years.

At the top of my list are my daughters, of course, my close friends, and, yes, my customers.  Because I’m in my store – on average – fifty hours per week, my customers have a profound impact on me. 

But more than the way others have made me feel, this quote causes me to pause and reflect on how I make others feel.  What can I do today to bless someone?  A small smile, eye contact, a ‘thank you’?  Today, I want to be a little more aware of my impact on others.

How about you?  What do you do to impact others?  Do you have a particularly impactful memory of a time when someone else made you feel good (let’s keep it to the good stories!)?  Please don’t go before leaving your comment below.

Monday, March 18, 2013

When is the last time you finger-painted?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
-          Albert Einstein

Can you believe Albert Einstein said this?!?  One of the greatest inventors, smartest men, of all time?  When I first read this quote, I thought, “that’s easy for you to say; you know a lot of stuff!”

But then I thought for a minute.  What would the world look like if we all knew a lot of facts, but had no idea how to apply them?  I think it would look very dull!

Imagination is not the same as creativity.  Creativity is an act of the imagination.  Our imagination leads us into new places, new discoveries.  Creativity – the act of the imagination – can open up new thoughts, new worlds.

That’s why I titled this post When is the last time you finger painted?  This week I thought I’d invite us to do something silly, something creative that might open up our imaginations, engaging parts of our brains that might have fallen asleep since childhood.

Let me know what, and how, you imagine this week!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

What do you do?

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”  - Aristotle 

I love this quote.  Why?  Because I’m probably the most predictable person you will ever meet.  I eat the same food for breakfast every day, I shop at the same places, I go to the same job, that I love, every day.  I live the word ‘habit’. 

I like this quote because it makes me stop and think about what my habits say about me, and, more importantly, where they will lead me.  Am I walking in excellence every day?  And, if not, what habits do I need to change?

So, my question for you on this Monday morning is this: what do you repeatedly do, and is it creating excellence?

If, after you think on that for a minute, you find that you’re not entirely satisfied with your answer, take heart!  All you have to do is change your habits, one action at a time.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

Welcome to a new series!  As some of you already know, I’m trying to take Mondays off this spring (after working six days/week for longer than I can remember, this will be a welcome respite!).  As part of my Monday sabbatical, I decided to start a new series, entitled:

Monday Morning Musings

Each week on Monday morning I’ll post an inspirational quote with a few of my thoughts.  You’re invited to join in the conversation by commenting.  Please leave your thoughts or reflections, and invite your friends to do the same.

I know, this isn’t the typical retail store blog post.  But I’m not exactly a typical retail store owner!  For me, it’s all about relationships.  And that starts with getting to know one another.  So, here are my thoughts, for the whole world to see!

My hope is that, by getting a glimpse into me, you’ll get a glimpse into my store, The Menagerie, and what makes us both tick.  For nearly thirty-five years I’ve had the privilege of serving the Austin community.  We’ve grown from a one-room shop over on Parkcrest to the beautiful carriage shop we are today (in Jefferson Square).  And now we’re expanding into social media!

Come along for the ride because, without you, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!