Easter Dinner, or: Cooking Is For Suckers

Here is what an Easter Basket for a girl teenager looks like. The basket itself must not be too cutesy or twee; candies must be of a Twix-or-higher quality -- but not too high, because that's gross; any and all forms of sparkly makeup are encouraged; feathery Mardi Gras masks optional but accepted.

After we all ate a bunch of candy and applied glitter eye shadow, my family arrived for a lovely and low-key Easter dinner: crawfish and beer on our porch. It was so easy and good that I have hereby declared it a tradition.

Of course, even a lowly crawfish dinner can be styled.

Vince Chao made his "famous" cocktail sauce. Miller made the beer.

And the Lord made the crawfish.

The weather was a little overcast, which contributed to the cozy porch-time feeling.

Good? GOOD.



As I said before, last weekend I was in New Orleans for Mom 2.0 Summit. I co-hosted an entertaining panel with the lovely and delightful Helen Jane, where we talked about quick and stylish entertaining, and demonstrated a few tips for making your snappy appetizers look real pretty for your blog. We also served wine. We also made a lot of jokes about nuts (see above).

HJ, who is much better prepared for these kinds of things than I am, has put together a little recap of the photography tips we shared, here. And if you are interested in the slideshow we used, see here. Thank you for your cooperation.

I stayed in New Orleans a few extra days to do some local-client-related work, and finally arrived home Wednesday night. But as Vince, Eliza, and I had signed up a while back for the Crescent City Classic, I found myself in the car again two days later, headed back to NOLA. Which was fine with me -- we took the opportunity to do some poolside lounging at one of my fave hotels. Like ladies (and gentlemen) of leisure.

If you have never had a Pimm's Cup poolside at the Windsor Court in New Orleans, well, I urge you to rectify that situation immediately.

These two think they're pretty fancy. We ended up not leaving the hotel at all until race time the next morning, which was also fine with me.

The race itself was exciting and crowded and hot and ended with free Abita. Our times were all terrible, but who cares? We got fun times and nice tans.

The upshot of the previous weeks of hedonism is that I now feel kind of puffy and gross, so today I am starting a week-long detox. This cleansing diet will include lots of water and tea, and things made with kale and raw almonds, and probably rage and despair.

I'll be back tomorrow with an Easter recap you won't want to miss! (Just kidding. It will mostly be pictures of crawfish.)


Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

I went to New Orleans for the Mom 2.0 Summit. And the only photograph I have for you is this one -- of my strawberry shortcake, which I ate at Commanders Palace, and enjoyed TOO MUCH, two days after the Mom 2.0 Summit -- until I get myself together and upload the pictures from my camera.

Please forgive me. I am in a New Orleans haze and am trying to recover. I will return soon with actual entertainment and information.


Advice Column #3: Hateful Buntsy Decorates Her House

Sars writes:

Dear AB,

I need some color counseling for my living room and library.

Ideally, I'd like something in the grey family. The dining room connects to these two rooms and is done in Benjamin Moore Silver Fox, so something in that family would be perfect. I'm willing to go pretty dark/dramatic, but the living room only gets a few hours of morning light, and the library gets mostly bleed light from the dining room on the south side.

I'd like the color to complement the window treatments -- but a contrasting color that goes with the table or the sofa is fine too. (The sofa needs reupholstering, so if your plan requires a new color for the sofa, I'm with that.)

The deepest wrinkle: I think you will tell me to demo that storage unit there in the middle and make living room and library/office into one big room. I would love to do that! But then I would have to replace the floor...like, all of it on the entire level of the house...and I don't know for sure that I can afford to do that.

So! Can you please advise me on *two* color stylez -- 1) one if I leave the storage unit where it is, and leave the two rooms as two rooms; and 2) one if I rip the beast out, get a new floor, and reimagine it as one big room?

Please don't hate me for cramming two questions into one, as you will please note that I have already taken many of your design orders (Jonathan Adler light fixture FTW!).

You're the chicest,
Hateful Buntsy

Dear Hateful Buntsy,

I can see from your pictures that you have done a lot of work on your place. I love the new light, the rug, and the lack of clutter in your living room! I can also see that we may be at the point in our relationship where I have to put my foot down on that storage space. (The other day Pamie emailed me about the project we're doing on her new place in Silverlake, and when I wrote back with my thoughts, she responded, "Are you this mean to all of your clients?" YES, Camel Riboy. Yes, I am.)

So, my Pretty Lady, just as you didn't hesitate to dock me when I went over deadline on my recaps (and I loved it when you loved my recaps!), I will not hesitate to tell you that option 1... is not an option. You're being docked, Missy. Deco docked.

The storage space has got to go. First of all, it is blocking all of your light, and secondly, it is a 3-foot deep area of nonsense in the middle of your peaceful space. I know you are concerned about the floors. There are definitely affordable options for you. My immediate thought is to have the entire bottom floor leveled and replaced with an affordable wood or laminate (laminate can be cute, y'all don't judge!), but another really good option is to lay something over the existing floor. And that thing is called Marmoleum. It comes in a ton of different colors, is eco-friendly, and besides looking awesome, is affordable AND can be laid over wood.

Look! You can get it in black and white chevron!

You will obviously need a good contractor to come in and tell you what will have to happen to the floor before you get that new floor, but I am certain that this will work for you and be so cute that your visitors will not be able to stand it. So get that sledgehammer out and start tearing down that storage space.

Now that we've got that settled, let's talk paint colors. If you love gray, as I do, you have so many options. You really can't go wrong whether you've got a big/small/bright/dim space, as long as you choose the right value and temperature. Here are three gray options, in light, dark, and darker, but they are all pretty warm grays, which is my preference. Cooler grays tend to go blue or violet, which I cannot deal with. I did not ask for a purple room, GRAY.

A warmer gray will look cozy in the morning, at noon, and at night with lamps on. Always use flat paint (or eggshell if you are concerned about pets/children/scrubbing!).

For your place in particular, I would paint every wall in the house one of these colors. Then I would paint every door high-gloss black. I have done an amateur rendition in Photoshop of what this would look like.

Your doors/walls/floor now:

And after:

OK, so I replaced your small frame with a Meredith painting, but you get the point. It doesn't take much to make a big difference. That yellow tile is an example of the Marmoleum you could have.

Now that we have conquered the big issues, let's move on to smaller ones. You say you are amenable to re-covering your sofa? GREAT. I have suggestions. How about a neutral-colored velvet? West Elm sells cotton velvet for a pretty good price -- but if you think that is too much, you can always find deals at your local fabric store. Velvet is luxe and durable and pretty cat-resistant. And, neutral colors, yay!

For your sofa in particular, I'd have it piped in a cute color, including the buttons in the tufting. Coral is nice, and will go with all of your orange accents. Or, remember when we got those cute skirts a few years ago at the mall in Monroe? That fabric would be cute, too. Or, yellow! Who hates yellow? Not me. (Yellow not pictured.)

Not that you need it (you do.) (buy this stuff.) (just DO WHAT I SAY.), but it never hurts to update your lamps and accessories. Now, these lamps are a little bit $$$, but they come in a bazillion colors and look far more expensive than their actual price. I demand that you get two immediately.

And finally: accessories. Buy two of these tables, and place a lamp on each. Then hook yourself up with a couple of fun-ass throw pillows ("fun-ass" is a technical term). The large tray is for the middle of your coffee table to replace your existing tiny remote/book/TV Guide vessel. You may not can buy this specific one since it's in Mets-ish colors, but you get the idea. Table from Elle Decor for Kohl's; turquoise pillow from CB2; tray and leopard pillow from Furbish.

As for what will happen to all your things when you remodel... well, that is what upstairs rooms are for. And I believe you have a room that is not being used right now since it looks like a child murder closet, correct? That is where the tomato costume goes.

I hope all of these ideas make you happy, Hateful Buntsy. I'll be checking back with you soon to see what has happened.

xoxo ab


Roundup: Etsy Edition

Friends, I have exciting news. Today I am Guest Curator over at Etsy, where I dreamed up a fabulously mod party pad. Hooray! Now you say it.

In honor of this honor, I have created a spring-like roundup for y'all, made of items from Etsy. I am always into super-bright colors in small doses, but this year I am really feeling good about a more muted palette of brights. Very soothing. Very pastel. Very Easter bonnet.

Herewith, I invite you to enjoy this muted collection of Etsy beauty.


Clockwise from top left: 1. Modern Stripe Bottle Vase 2. Giclee Print 3. Double Braid Necklace 4. Wooden Pastel Eggs 5. Aedriel Originals Tapas Plates 6. Boat Fabric

In other news:

The sentence "If you look in the dictionary under 'muffin top,' you'll find Pamie" is no longer an insult. Yay, OED! (PS, I totally stole that line from one of Pam's Twitter friends. Thank you, person who is more original than I am!)

Also, your friend and mine, Sarah Bunting (aka Hateful Buntsy), is holding her yearly Donors Choose contest. Get your generous asses over there and join in the fun!

In sum: Etsy! Rainbow! Pamie! Giving! YAY.