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Charleston Entertaining Holiday Tables

How to Create the Perfect Moody & Rich Holiday Table with Blake Sams!

December 23, 2018

We’re finally settled at home and are getting into the Christmas spirit.   December was an amazing month packed with our final weddings of the year, lots of travel and a few nights at home which were spent over the dinner table with friends.

Gregory Blake Sams is a well-regarded wedding planner and designer here in Charleston.   I was initially drawn to him because of his eye and style which I admire so much and am fortunate to call him a friend.  I love spending time with him not only because he makes me howl with laughter but because I always learn something new — whether he introduces me to a new china pattern,  plant, room arrangement or family history, he has an encyclopedic mind, is so talented and a treat to spend time with.

What a privilege it was to snap a few photographs of this holiday dinner party he set in his home.    I had to ask him how he did it — he makes it all look so easy !!   Read on to hear more about his inspiration! We’ll be trying to lay a similar table on Christmas day…

I love how rich and lush this table is; it mixes classic pieces with fresh, unexpected touches.   Tell us how it came to be!

I love playing with my grandmother’s china and silver and by layering unexpected pieces (like malachite), the table feels more current.   The theme was “lush” and “abundant” — it was intended to be a decadent night, and it was!   The holidays is the perfect time to spoil your loved ones, and we mixed in lots of fresh fruits (locally sourced and some from Trader Joe’s), with sensational, vibrant and fluffy flowers.

We started simply by rearranging some furniture —  we wanted the table to feel cozy and intimate, and a large green velvet sofa provided the perfect banquette.   We pulled a chocolate Belgian linen as a moody but neutral tablecloth and then gathered every silver candlestick in the house, along with several beautiful estate pieces from our friends at Croghan’s Jewel Box, as we felt the room should be lit only by candles.    The vintage malachite placemats pop well against the Ginori plates — a classic. We then layered in compotes and vessels full of fruits, berries, and exotic date palms. The central arrangement which stretches throughout has an ombre pattern which makes the table feel original.

What principals do you always follow when setting the table:

Set it, walk away, come back and take one thing away!

What are fun dinner party activities for the holidays ?

I am in love with these pass the parcel oranges — every layer reveals a fun present, joke or surprise…. The  perfect relief after a few heavy courses and a bit less expected than a cracker!

How do you mix florals and fruits, do you watch out for certain color combinations:

It’s always a balance of size, scale, and color.  For this arrangement, it was important to stay with those rich ruby tones, so the pop of orange citrus and date palms looked beautiful in the dark room. I always think it is important for fruit and flowers to be placed in a way that it would grow in nature.  Things that hang down should hang down etc.

Do you have a favorite holiday cocktail?

I consistently enjoy a Manhattan over the holidays! We always keep a well stocked bar here at the house and office so that every guest can have what he or she wishes!  We’re all about making people feeling their most happy and relaxed.

And we did! xxx!!!

Charleston Holiday Style

Three Wedding Guest Looks for Spring!!

May 15, 2018

As a wedding photographer, I always really enjoy seeing what the guests wear to the wedding — obviously the bride is the star, but I think it’s a really fun occasion to dress up and for everybody to feel their best together!  We’re attending two weddings as guests this summer and I am already plotting away.   Of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off a few teaser pieces from our favorite local store, Hampden.   This first pink number is so floaty and etherial — it’s so comfortable and really fun to wear; if you have to attend a black tie event this spring/summer,  I highly recommend!

I especially love that the cutout back back makes the piece feel more womanly and flirty, and the waist band really pulls you in so that you have a defined waist.

This next look would be really fun for a lunch or more casual wedding.  I love how it feels preppy English 70’s and was so easy to wear.  A fitted top and a flair skirt is such a flattering combination in my opinion; this is an instant feel good outfit and I would wear the pieces separately a lot, too:

Last but not least is this little Zimmermann dress which is universally fantastic and could be worn to a number of events.   Wrap dresses are a staple for me, and even though this one felt shorter, it didn’t feel uncomfortably so at any point because the bottom is so flowy rather than tight/fitted.   I really felt great in all three of these and have linked to a few more options below!  xxx

Holiday Style

Mother’s Day Pressies !!!!!!!

May 3, 2018

I have always loved celebrating my mother on Mother’s Day.   She is my best friend and while I want her to feel spoiled and seen every day, I have made the effort to mark the occasion since I was little.  One year when I was about six I decided to hide her nail scissors and then wrap them up and give them back to her.  Another year I made her a pie (I ate all the crust before I gave it to her though so she wasn’t too pleased with me).   One year I made her a doll out of straw.   Luckily, as I have grown up, my resources have also grown and I have been able to make up those early years with lots of pampering treats, from baskets of beauty products to beautiful coffee table books and of course, lots of flowers.

Our most memorable mother’s day (in my opinion) was right after college.  I had moved back into my mother’s apartment for 8 months before moving to California and of course once I crossed the country, I missed her SO much.   When I couldn’t stand it any longer,  I decided on a whim to take the redeye back to New York for the holiday weekend, a complete surprise to her.  I remember knocking on the door at 7 AM and really scaring her — she was SO shocked to see me standing there, she burst into tears.  I haven’t seen her cry very much in my life.  It was very special.  We ended up playing tourist in our own neighborhood, walking through the park and having lunch on the sunny sidewalk outside a café.

This is my second mother’s day and if you ask me, last year’s didn’t really count.  I had just finished a destination wedding and was so exhausted, I ended up sleeping most of the day.   It’s not to say that both Will and my mother didn’t spoil me, they did, they were amazing but, it will be really fun and exciting to wake up with our son this year and to feel energized.

I think of mother’s day as an occasion which is really just about “resting” “pampering” and spending time with your littles, or your mother, and if you’re lucky, both!  Sadly though, I decided to write a post about fun present  recommendations and I really just want everything now so…. WILL… IF YOU’RE READING THIS, here are presents for each side of my personality:

“DOMESTIC GODDESS” + MISC. HANDBAG:

I really love everything here.   HIGH CAMP GARDENIAS are a must!  They are the most amazing present (seen left) and are much better suited to perfuming your house vs. sitting on the table but I adore them….

 This Maria Christofilis Fleur 09 candle is INCREDIBLE and so perfect for summer nights.  Candles are my #1 and this one is to die, really.  Next, you guys know that I am a fan of India Amory block prints and these cocktail napkins are a no-brainer and a great intro to the brand.  Over The Moon just launched product and I have included both this divine scrapbook (perfect for a new mom) and the stationary.   Matilda Goad pastel beeswax candles — how can I describe my love for thee?? I spend way too much time filling my cart with these beauties.  And the beaded bag was an irresistible compliment to the color scheme and conveniently is sitting in my shopping cart…Will..

“STILL GOT IT / LOVES TO BE PAMPERED”:

I love the idea of filling up a toiletry bag with pampering goodies to deliver to a mama in the morning.   Let’s see…this toiletry bag is a MUST, the overnight cream I am dying to try, love a good cami, my favorite soaps (also love this rose  one) and this clean beauty highlighter is my every day go-to.  Last, the lavender body oil for the bottle alone is a YES PLEASE!

“RESORT WEAR ENTHUSIAST”:

Alright I am a sucker for “resort wear”.    Both of these hats are classics.  Here is the pink, and the larger frayed.   I live in sarongs in the summertime, love a gold necklace, these hart earrings are super sultry pink/brown and the round bag I might have already purchased…so HMD, self!   Hope that you guys like these things too!!!!!! AND HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY IN A WEEK + TO ALL! XX

Charleston Entertaining Holiday Style

Joyful Easter Table

March 30, 2018

We love celebrating the Easter weekend.    We aren’t particularly religious but it is always a time that reminds me of family and it’s a holiday that my mother did such a phenomenal job of marking, even through college she would send me some Easter treats (and this is saying something as she’s not the most organized mom — in a good way!).     This year, we’re excited to prepare an Easter basket for our little Boy with a big rabbit stuffed animal and some eggs with dried fruit in them; boring I know but, we’re trying to hold off of lots of sweeties for now, he’s only 20 months!   We’re spending the day with our great friends which I know will be a lovely treat.   To kick off the weekend festivities, we held a little Easter-inspired dinner at home, full of fresh spring flowers and lots of beautiful brown farm eggs as decoration.

I love these placemats,  a great friend forwarded them to me a few weeks ago — she knows me so well!   Between the colorful pattern and the flowers, I decided that the table was busy enough and decided to keep it clean with a crisp white linen tablecloth, freshly pressed napkins, etched glass and crystal.

I rarely stack a napkin on a plate (I favor the old fashioned triangle under the fork method when at home) but I thought it added a nice layer here, particularly with these delicate blue flowers on top.   It also made our white plates feel more special.  I picked up this skirt today and LOVE it — I had been eyeing it for sometime and will reveal more ways to wear shortly, I can already think of a lot of opportunities for it to come in handy…

We’re so thrilled that Spring has finally arrived, I think we have been holding our breath getting through the last dregs of winter here and suddenly the city is in bloom.   I hope that everybody has a lovely, joy-filled weekend with friends and family, more soon. xx

Charleston Entertaining Food France Holiday Home Photography Style Tables Travel

Highlights of 2017!

January 8, 2018

I know I am a bit behind the ball getting this highlights of 2017 post out so late; truth is, I didn’t think to sum up our past year because we have been busy planning for 2018.  I so loved reading everybody else’s round-ups though, and I thought it might be fun to share some of our highlights and unseen footage from this past year, particularly as this year was our first on the blog and it’s great to see a bit of an evolution and review all the types of topics we covered !

We kicked off the year at Palmetto Bluff (just a few hours south of us) with our new friends who had just moved to town!  It was amazingly warm in January and such fun to cruise around on bicycles and explore.

I didn’t launch this blog until April but before then, I released a series of Fine Art Photographs.  We started with a series of flower studies in pinks and peaches and were blown away by the response. 

We enjoyed lots of warm weather earlier in the year, and were lucky to spend much of our winter outside in beautiful balmy air and sunshine.  Charleston in the spring is my absolute favorite, there’s always something in bloom!

We headed to Harbour Island to create our second Fine Art series in March.  We stayed at the Ocean View Club (which we loved and hope to head back to this spring).

We introduced lots of topics on the blog:  gardening, DIY, and photography tutorials to name a few…

In late May, we headed to France via NYC for the entire month, it was divine and most of my favorite photographs from the year were taken in this period…

Back to the States in July (and for my 30th!)  — we headed to Napa twice for wedding season….

Most of July was spent beating the heat at home.   We added this screened in porch last fall and were so grateful for it.  We spend the majority of our time out here, from breakfast to long cozy dinners.

And then we were off to Marth’s Vineyard and St. Barths in August.

Home just in time for a bit of fall weather and of course, lots of holiday decorating!

We headed to Portland, Oregon briefly for a family wedding — what a beautiful city!! We absolutely LOVED it there!

And back home to rev up for the holidays.   We were particularly proud of our trunk show at Hampden — some of our pieces are still up!

xoxo Hope you enjoyed seeing our highlights of 2017! Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

Charleston Holiday Style Uncategorized

HOLIDAY LOOKS WITH HAMPDEN CLOTHING !

December 8, 2017

I am so excited to release this project that we worked on with Stacy from Hampden Clothing.  I had been thinking about posting about my favorite holiday looks on the blog when I decided to turn to expert stylist Stacy (owner of) Hampden Clothing here in Charleston.  I admire Stacy’s ability to dress women.  She understands female shape, clothing cuts and personalities.  Everything that she put aside for me fit well.  I have watched her do this time and time again for friends here in town.   She is an amazing stylist and can even do it from afar!  I recently was lucky enough to peek into her process and to see that she can send whole boxes of clothes to customers in other states with PDFs of how to wear them — pretty spectacular!!  Enjoy the movie and see the looks broken down below! xx

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing
Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing

Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing


Holiday looks with Hampden Clothing


Holiday looks with Hampden ClothingHoliday looks with Hampden Clothing

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