Professionally Polka Dotted

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

Blouse: J.Crew Factory Ruffle Cami // Blazer: J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer // Skirt: J.Crew Factory (old) – similar: White House Black Market Mixed Dot Pencil Skirt // Heels: Jessica Simpson Callie Heels in Nude Patent // Lipstick: Estee Lauder – Candy Shimmer 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted a 9-5 look, oops. Truth be told, my content brainstorms have revolved mostly around recipes and cocktails. In the last few weeks, my stomach’s been bigger than my closet. It’s great because before this, I was in a big ol’ kitchen slump but also bad when my clothes are a bit more snug than I’m okay with. I’m at it again, even in an outfit post, I go off on a culinary tangent. Back to clothes.

Polka dots are a good pattern to breathe life into work wear, especially offices with conservative dress codes. I added some color with a ruffle collar blouse, though I do have a habit of pairing my navy blazer with cream tops. I’ve had my J.Crew Schoolboy Blazer since 2009, it’s definitely an investment piece that will last you season after season. Right now, I’m relying on my navy blazer as an early fall jacket before DC gets into those cooler temps and we have to bundle up.

Finish the look with my very favorite nude heels that I swear by and you are 9-5 ready in minutes. A simple outfit for those mornings when you’d rather hit snooze than peruse your closet.

P.S. I haven’t been wearing heels at all lately so the balls of my feet weren’t amused in the slightest about a day spent running around the city in pumps.  Sole Serum sent me a sample to try and boy, am I (and my feet) happy they did! Within minutes, my feet were pain-free and it felt like I hadn’t just traipsed around DC in my heels. You apply two pumps of serum to where your dogs are barkin’ and gently massage in the serum. Wait about 60 seconds for the serum to dry and slip back into your heels. In 10 minutes, instant relief for your feet! The serum fits discreetly in my tote, it’ll be great to have on hand when I start wearing heels every day again. 

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

^ Spooky ghost hands for Halloween!

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

Professionally Polka Dotted ft. J.Crew Factory - DC Girl in Pearls

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Fried Pickles Recipe

Fried Pickles Recipe - DC Girl in Pearls

I’m a pickle girl, plain and simple. I can easily finish a jar of pickles all by myself in one sitting. And I’ve done it…more than once. A weekend stop to Eastern Market isn’t complete without a visit to the “In A Pickle” stand. Pickles + puns? They know the way to my heart.

Their hot ‘n spicy pickles are my favorite and while I’ve added these pickles to salads and used the brine in a Bloody, I realized the other week I’ve never fried them. That is a crime against my taste buds and it was time to rectify that promptly. No deep fryer? No problem! Just grab a big pot and some vegetable oil and we’re in business. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ingredients

Pickles (I used the hot ‘n spicy kind from “In A Pickle”)

Vegetable oil

1/2 cup, flour

2 teaspoons, Cajun seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons, cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon, salt

1/2 cup, water

Fried Pickles Recipe - DC Girl in Pearls

Directions

1. Slice pickles into chips, pat dry on a plate using paper towels.

2. Fill a large pot with at least an inch of vegetable oil. Heat over a medium-low flame for 5 minutes. Test if the oil is ready by dropping a dollop of the batter into the oil. If bubbles immediately form around the batter, the oil is the right temperature.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and salt. Add the water and continue whisking until smooth.

Fried Pickles Recipe - DC Girl in Pearls

4. Drop the pickle chips into the batter and, using a fork, thoroughly coat the chip and scoop out of the bowl (don’t spear the chip with the fork).

5. Place the pickle chips into the oil for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon.

Fried Pickles Recipe - DC Girl in Pearls

Ranch dressing is arguably tied for first time with ketchup for World’s Favorite Condiment. And for good reason: it goes great with everything, particularly fried pickles. But for those of you who also hail from Western New York (hi!), you’ll know about the wonders of Bison French Onion Dip. This dip is a must on football Sundays and is a wonderful way to eat your feelings after a harrowing Bills defeat or a last-minute victory like yesterday’s.

Several months ago, I spied Bison French Onion Dip tucked into a corner in the dairy department at Wegman’s in Fairfax and I immediately ran and grabbed several French Onion Dips. No shame, no judgement.

I had a hunch that along with Ruffles and pretzels, fried pickles could be added to the list of snacks only made better by Bison dip. The magical properties of Bison dip held true and it was pure caloric bliss. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be living on quinoa, veggie burgers and vegetable soup for the next week.

Fried Pickles Recipe - DC Girl in Pearls

Photos by Caroline Holman

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Chairish Retro Inspired Design Board

Since I can remember, I’ve always loved vintage and retro pieces. Chalk it up to watching a lot of Happy Days and Laverne + Shirley on Nick-at-Nite. Or reading Molly the American Girl’s books over and over again.

My love for retro aesthetic usually leads me to digging through consignment and thrift shops, searching for buried treasures. Sometimes, I need a quick fix of design-induced happiness. And that’s where Chairish comes in handy.

Chairish is an expertly curated source for designers (or below-amateur designers like me) with a love of vintage, unique furniture and wonderfully kitschy decor pieces. It’s an online market and app for selling and purchasing vintage items. Not to mention its name is a pun and I think we all know how I feel about puns.

In my 550 sq. ft. space, there’s zero room left for furniture. But, as my 9th grade history teacher once said: “Just because you’re on the diet, doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu.” And the menu is serving up this incredible butterfly wingback in turquoise velvet.

Back home in New York, I loved curling up on our wingback, that is when my dad wasn’t claiming the territory. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying a good book wrapped up in a blanket. If I had the space, a wingback is first on the list.

Keeping the blast from the past party alive, I’ve picked some accessories for my new favorite accent chair:

Chairish Retro Inspired Design Board - DC Girl in Pearls

Wingback Armchair in Turquoise Velvet // Telephone Bank // Embroidered Throw Pillow – Fireworks // Ginger Jar Lamp // Royal Worcester Oval Baker

I think we can all agree the telephone bank is just too cute for words. The little guy needs a happy home on a side table or mantlepiece, perhaps perched on top of a stack of coffee table books. This embroidered throw pillow brings fireworks to any neutral palette. Or go color-crazy and nestle this pillow among a rainbow of throws?

I adore ginger jars but I’m familiar with the blue-and-white toile variety. The green lamp is a fun veer from the usual and a white lampshade can only make the green hue pop even more. In this case, it is easy to be green.

The oval baker might just be my favorite piece of this roundup. I’m forever looking for cute bowls and trays to keep my earrings  in one piece. Or you could use this baker on your entryway table to keep your keys and mail sorted. The gold tinted baker might just find a forever home as a centerpiece for your dining table with a vase full of bright, cheerful blooms in its center.

Is there a piece from Chairish you love? You can check out their beautiful collection of accent chairs here! Even if you are like me and your place is filled with furniture, there’s nothing wrong with taking a virtual stroll through the vintage shop. Have a great weekend!

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FEED Supper: Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

In case you missed yesterday’s post, today is World Food Day. FEED Projects asked me to help spread the word on their goal to provide 1 million meals for children in need and inspire people to come together and share a meal. It’s not too late! You can donate right here, every little bit helps. Just $1 can provide TEN meals for a hungry child. Please take a moment.

For my meal, I rummaged in my kitchen and realized I had all the trimmings for Southwest stuffed peppers. My family used to make stuffed peppers but I always much more interested in the mixture inside the pepper than the pepper itself. But my taste buds have changed and now stuffed pepper is now on the list of things I eat. Mostly, I can’t resist any opportunity to break out my jalapeños and cumin.

And for those of you who want a Thirsty Thursday post, your cocktail will be served soon! I’m not going to leave you high and dry, so to speak.

Ingredients

Olive oil

Salt + pepper

Yellow onion, 1 cup chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 jalapeño, chopped (and seeds removed)

1 can, yellow corn

Several cups, halved cherry tomatoes

1 patty, Trader Joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burger (crumbled)

1 packet, Trader Joe’s Frozen Cooked Brown Rice

1 cup, cooked quinoa

1 teaspoon, cumin

1/2 teaspoon, oregano

Pepperjack cheese

Directions

1. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a skillet over medium-low heat.

2. Add chopped onions and stir.

3. Add jalapeño, corn and minced garlic. Stir for about 2 minutes.

4. Toss in Trader Joe’s Frozen Cooked Brown Rice and the prepared quinoa. Stir to thoroughly mix.

5. Crumble Trader joe’s Quinoa Cowboy Veggie Burger over the skillet and stir.

6. Add the halved tomatoes, cumin and oregano. Stir and let mixture sit for about 5 minutes.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

7. Slice the peppers in half and remove seeds.

8. Brush insides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scoop mixture into peppers.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

10. In a baking dish, place the peppers and cover with tin foil. Let them bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

11. If so desired, take the peppers out and place a slice of pepperjack cheese on top. Place back in the oven and remove once the cheese is bubbling and/or browned.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

Sidebar: I got my inspiration to write “FEED” in cheese from my uncle. Growing in a big family, we would all get together for Taco Night. Us kids would tell our uncle what we wanted in our tacos and to keep the orders straight, my uncle would create our initials out of cheese slices. Pretty genius, right?

The tradition stuck and according to my parents, we went to a Mexican restaurant when I was about 5 or so and I was very confused why my taco did not have a big “L” on it.

I’m so excited to help spread the message about FEED’s awesome mission. How excited? I think these dancing peppers speak volumes (click the image below!). Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

And now for you patient souls…

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

Ingredients

Tequila

Trader Joe’s Lime Margarita Mixer

Frozen mango chunks

Southwest Stuffed Peppers + Mango Lime Margarita

Directions

Combine tequila and margarita mixer to desired level of strength.

Instead of ice, add frozen mango chunks to keep your margarita chilled.

Cheers, and for those of you who donated, THANK YOU!

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FEED Supper: Share A Meal

To commemorate World Food Day, which is tomorrow, FEED Projects is organizing suppers for people to come together and truly share a meal.

FEED Supper - DC Girl in Pearls

Founded by Lauren Bush Lauren, FEED raises awareness and funds for school feeding programs. You may recognize the iconic FEED bag but did you know the sale of one bag helps feed one child for an entire year? I grew up very fortunate and never had to worry about when my next meal would be. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were a part of my daily routine growing up. But sadly that’s not the case for every child.

My mother, until her retirement in June, taught learning disabled and emotionally disturbed students in Buffalo. Many of my mother’s students were eligible to receive free breakfast and lunch at the school, and several confided to her those were their only meals of the day. It breaks your heart to hear a 14-year-old shrug and casually tell you their kitchen is empty, because to them that is their reality. But you can help make a difference in their lives.

Just $1 can provide a child with TEN MEALS. Think about it. Ten nutritious meals a child can enjoy and they don’t have to go to bed with an empty, growling stomach.

In today’s hustle and bustle world, it’s easy to take sit-down meals for granted. I typically eat breakfast and lunch at my desk and dinner is usually me sitting on the couch, sitting at the dining table means I’m watching Netflix. Actually sitting down and enjoying a meal is a rarity in today’s crazy, nonstop world. So I’m asking you to do two things.

1. Please donate to FEED. Every little bit helps to provide a child with the food and nutrition they need. Skip Starbucks or your afternoon snack-run to the local convenience store. It’s good karma and there is no greater feeling than helping a child in need.

2. Take time out of your schedule either today or tomorrow to share a meal with a friend. If they live out-of-town, FaceTime or Skype. Snapchat your meal. Think about FEED’s mission to encourage people to truly share a meal and do it. Tweet @FEEDProjects and tag #FEEDSupper with photos of your meal.

I’ll be sharing my meal and a cocktail with you on Thursday. Thank you to all those participating and donating! A child in need thanks you, too.

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Letter Menu Display DIY

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Ever since last week’s party with Food Should Taste Good, I’ve been bitten by the entertaining bug. Thankfully, between Halloween, football, Thanksgiving and my birthday, there are no shortages of party opportunities!

Mod Podge generously sent supplies to create Halloween entertaining decor and I decided to create a project both whimsical + practical. I know, it’s crazy to think about those two adjectives in the same sentence but hear me out. Last weekend, I thought about having menu placards for my dishes but well, time escaped me and it just didn’t happen. But I love the idea of menu displays to give your spread some pizzazz. So let’s get started DIYing some letter menu displays!

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Supplies

Mod Podge High Temp Mini Mod Melt

Mod Podge Mod Molds

Hot glue gun

Sponge brushes + Q-tips

FolkArt multi-surface acrylic paint, orange + purple glitter

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Instructions

1. Load the Mod Podge High Temp Mini Mod Melts into your hot glue gun. Fill in the letters corresponding to your menu. I might have gotten a little carried away and created some additional sayings : )

2. Wait 10 minutes and then pop out the letters. Remove any stray hot glue strands.

3. Paint the letters with the FolkArt multi-surface acrylic paint. I used the sponge brush to paint and the q-tips for touchups. Let the paint dry for at least an hour.

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

Letter Menu Display DIY - DC Girl in Pearls

For more Halloween decor inspiration from Mod Podge, check out these tutorials and keep the party goin':

DIY Faux Sugar Skulls with Collage Clay by Mod Podge

3 DIY Decoden Cell Phone Cases with Mod Podge + Dollar Store Jewelry

Plaid Blog – Introducing Mod Podge Modeling Clay 

YouTube Mod Melt Spider Webs

Plaid Decoden Pinterest Board

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This post was sponsored by Mod Podge®. All opinions and product sentiments are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support DC Girl in Pearls!

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Monogram Monday: Vineyard Vines Monogram Tour

Vineyard Vines Monogram Tour - DC Girl in Pearls

Mark your calendars for this Saturday, October 18th! The Vineyard Vines Monogram Tour is arriving in Georgetown. If you spend $150, you’ll receive a monogram on one item you purchased. With their cute fall arrivals, Vineyard Vines makes it almost too easy to spend money!

The stripe + polka dot sleeve detailing on the Becket Chambray Button Down is absolutely perfect, the fact it also makes a surprise appearance on the inside of the collar is really just the icing on the cake.

My big weakness at VV though is their Shep shirt, mine has been a staple in my closet during cold-weather months. Layered with a button down, it’s an easy look for running errands or just lounging around on a lazy weekend afternoon. Do you like the anchors? Perhaps you’re more of a stripe gal? Or ready to take a wild on the wild side with the famous Party Shirt?

P.S. Don’t forget about all the amazing sales happening today!

J.Crew Factory: 50% off entire site with code OURBDAY

Piperlime: 20% off with code FALL20

Madewell: 30% off with code OHFALL

Ann Taylor: 40% off entire purchase

LOFT: 50% off entire site with code OURTREAT

Williams-Sonoma: 20% off with code SAVE20 

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Weekend Fun

Hi, guys! Remember me? Yesterday’s post was postponed but that’s okay because I’ve got a fun little giveaway for a lucky reader a little ways down. We have a lot of ground to cover in this post so let’s get this show on the road!

First up, skincare + my new lifesaver:

Beauty

Trader Joe's Skincare Routine - DC Girl in Pearls

Trader Joe’s skincare products are the answer to your budget beauty prayers. Each item above costs about $7 and will last you several months. The jojoba oil works wonderfully as a makeup remover, it completely wipes off all of my eyeliner and mascara. In the evening, lightly dampen your face with a splash of water and then squeeze a couple of drops of the jojoba oil onto a cotton ball. The jojoba oil also works as a facial cleanser, it might seem counterintuitive to use an oil as a cleanser, particularly if you have oily skin like I do, but I swear your skin will feel luxuriously soft. Bonus, your hands will benefit from the oil. It’ll definitely help ease the dry cracks the winter inflicts on my hands.

Trader Joe’s face wash with tea tree oil saved my skin during the summer. You know how some people absolutely have to brush their teeth the moment they wake up? That’s how I feel about washing my face. Like I said, my oily skin leaves me eager to cleanse and get all of that mess off my face. Trader Joe’s face wash removes the city grime, dirt and oil without over-drying my skin. I always feel clean and just refreshed after I use it.

I have pretty fair skin with several beauty marks and melanoma runs in the family. So I take sun protection pretty seriously. In the morning after I’ve washed my face and showered, I apply Trader Joe’s Enrich facial moisturizer and let it sink in as I blow dry my hair. Once that happens, I apply my makeup. TJ’s moisturizer has an SPF 15 and blends easily into the skin without feeling greasy and like I have another layer of something on my face. It also lasts forever: I’ve had the same bottle for about 5 months and I use it everyday.

Sole Serum for Aching Feet - DC Girl in Pearls

I once read Mariah Carey wears heels when she works out. Well, I’m clearly no Mariah Carey because as soon as I can, I kick off my heels without a second thought. You’ll be more apt to catch me in my Jacks, riding boots, ballet flats or sneakers.

The other day, I had to wear heels for the first time in several weeks and wouldn’t you know, it was for a lot longer of a time than I’d anticipated. By the morning, the ball of my foot was incredibly sore to the touch and ached with each step. I silently cursed my heels for their mutiny.

Sole Serum sent me a sample to test out and wouldn’t you know, I’d experience this ghastly betrayal from my pumps several days later.

Sole Serum to the rescue!

You rub the lotion into your foot when you feel a little pain, it takes about a minute to dry and starts working in 10 minutes. The tube can be easily tossed into your work bag or keep a tube at your desk in case of emergency. There is nothing worse than an aching foot in the middle of a work day (or really any day), Sole Serum was a lifesaver for my foot pain. And the best part? It’s a bargain at $29.50!

Wait no, this is the best part! Sole Serum is 30% off with code Fall30. Talk about swept-off-your-feet exciting ha!

Okay, you’ve been super patient about this giveaway….

Weekend Fun + Giveaway 

Just when you thought the Food Should Taste Good fun was over, we’re coming back for more! Food Should Taste Good is generously offering two tickets for you and a friend to go to Taste of DC and Heritage BBQ at Taste of DC this weekend!!! The tickets are valued at $100 so you can take that money and direct it towards those Columbus Day sales (keep reading after the giveaway for a list). Please note this giveaway is only for DC people and will be a FLASH GIVEAWAY (i.e., the contest will end at 6pm). You can enter to win via the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll select 1 winner at random. Good luck and hope to see you there!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Columbus Day Weekend Sales 

It’s not shopping, you’re stimulating the economy. So enjoying these sales is a patriotic service to America! And there are some really awesome deals here: 

J.Crew Factory: 50% off entire site (ends 10.12) 

Piperlime: 20% off with code FALL20 (ends 10.13) 

Madewell: 30% off with code OHFALL (ends 10.13) 

Ann Taylor: 40% off entire purchase (ends 10.13)

LOFT: 50% off entire site with code OURTREAT 

Williams-Sonoma: 20% off with code SAVE20 (ends 10.13)  Happy shopping and let me know if you’re going to Taste of DC!   

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Beige + Pink

J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

Top: J.Crew Factory Ruffle Popover // Sweater: Gap Merino Sweater // Pants: J.Crew Minnie Pants // Vest: J.Crew Factory Quilted Puffer Vest // Shoes: Sperry Topsider – similar // Jewelry: J.Crew Factory Multistrand Pearl Necklace // Tote: L.L. Bean Leather Handle Boat and Tote II // Mani: Essie – Sandy Beach // Lipstick: Revlon Colorburst Lip Stain – Cherish

 It’s rare for me to wear pants. When it comes to work, I am a pencil skirt or dress girl all the way. I will fight pantsuits with every fiber of my being. There are some women who rock them, I’m just not one of them. On the weekends in the fall and winter, I’ll break out my favorite pairs of pants because even with riding boots and thick tights, skirts sometimes just can’t cut the chill. I had a rude morning awakening last week when I checked the temperature and it say 62. The sun was deceptively sunny and I strolled out of my apartment decked out in my favorite skirt ready to conquer the day. I was met with what felt like an Arctic blast and promptly did a 180 to change. And grab a warmer scarf. I had 2.5 cups of chai tea that morning to warm up, no joke.

J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

My black J.Crew Minnie pants have been a constant in my closet since 2009. They have just the right amount of stretch and at the time, I was pretty hesitant about wearing leggings as pants so these pants were the perfect alternative. If you’re leggings-wary, Minnie pants are sleek, are easy to move around in and are thicker than the average pair of leggings. They also tucked nicely into my Hunter wellies.

 J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

J.Crew Minnie Pants - DC Girl in Pearls

For this look, I layered my ruffle popover underneath an ultra cozy Gap sweater and tossed on my favorite larger-sized pearls. With Sperrys, this look is great for weekends but if you swapped the Sperrys for black heels or ballet flats, it’d be a cute look for your 9-5 life. Leopard ballet flats would also look incredible with the camel color sweater!

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Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Over the weekend, I popped my apartment’s entertaining cherry. My place is tiny, like postage stamp tiny, so I always figured I couldn’t really host proper parties at my girl pad. Oh, how wrong I was…

Between football (college + NFL), Halloween and Thanksgiving, there is no shortage of parties and get-togethers in the fall. I partnered up with Food Should Taste Good (remember the delicious, calorie-free stuffed banana pepper dip?) to share my tips for fall entertaining. I am in no way, shape, or form an entertaining guru and hostess whisperer. But if I can play hostess without setting off my obnoxiously-sensitive smoke detector in my teeny apartment, so can you!

My guests were set to arrive at 4 and at 3:20, I finally was able to wash my hair. I quickly ironed my outfit and silently scolded myself for not being better at remembering to iron my clothes immediately after I clean them. When my guests arrived, my hair was still half-wet. Martha would’ve been proud. Stay tuned for the real kicker at the end of the post : )

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

They say the devil is in the details, so I’m going to walk through the little things that pulled all of this together. I already talked about my drink name tag DIY so let’s start with decorations and work our way through the spread. Trust me, you’re going to want to stick around for all the food porn.

Decor

While I was looking for a post-college job, I worked at Paper Source in Georgetown so naturally, it was a no-brainer to pay the shop a visit for some decor inspiration. After tearing myself away from the card wall (There were at least 30 cards that applied directly to my life/the lives of my friends), I picked up their Small Die Cut Fall Leaves and items for my drink tags. Using washi tape, I taped the leaves to my wall above the beer cooler so they appeared to be gracefully cascading.

The rest of the fall leaves were scattered in between the dishes to keep this theme train goin’.

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

I’m a big fan of using what you already have, a great party doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. I scouted around my apartment and relocated a couple hardcover books to the dining table. Layering the books added dimension to the spread and the books’ colors fit in nicely with the autumn leaves.

Going on “use what you have” theme, I repurposed this old flower windowbox to keep the beers cold. I lined the inside with a garbage bag, poured in ice and added the beer. Bonus: the clean-up was a breeze!

Trader Joe’s had mini pumpkins (99 cents) and gourds (69 cents), I practically had to stock up. I arranged the gourds in a favorite vase and spread the pumpkin love across my dining table and side tables. A bunch of bright sunflowers are the finishing touch on the spread.

Drinks

I could probably count on one hand the things I know about beer. I know that Natty Light is widely considered undrinkable and that Marylanders love Natty Boh. Blue Moon battered fish fries are insanely good. Shocktop comes served with an orange slice. And, oh yeah, beer to me tastes like liquid pretzels. Love pretzels, strongly dislike the taste of beer.

But I wanted to have beer on hand for the guys at the party and I picked Sam Adams in both the regular lager and the seasonal pumpkin ale.

As for the womenfolk, I supplied the ingredients for apple cider mimosas so they could determine the strength of their own drink. Or I ran out of time and couldn’t mix the mimosas before my guests arrived. Draw your own conclusions. Visit again on Thursday for to hear more about my feelings on apple cider + mimosas! Being an upstate New York, I have so many feelings about apple cider.

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Food

I can pretty much hear you all exclaiming, “Thank God! Took ya long enough to get to the good stuff, Lauren.” When I was picking my menu, I wanted to create dishes that would complement Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato and Olive chips. I said it before in my last Food Should Taste Good post that I’m not a fan of sweet potato. But these chips won me over and I’ve been brainstorming how to add them to more dishes. The olive chips are a flavorful experience and were an incredible addition to my Greek salads. With these ideas in mind, I set out to create a menu that would complement these flavor palettes and filled with fall comfort.

First Dish: Pulled Pork (sides: coleslaw and candied jalapeños)

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Until Sunday, I never used a crockpot. So now I need to think of another culinary “Never have I ever.” Growing up with a fireman for a dad, slow cookers were a big no-no. The idea of a meal cooking while you (gasp) were out of the house?! Sacrilege and blasphemy, folks. But the happiness of others depended on the pulled pork. I really had no choice, you guys. My hands were tied.

Food Network’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe was incredibly easy to follow and was a big hit, meaning there was absolutely none leftover. My dreams of pulled pork desk lunches quickly went out the window. Funny story about the pulled pork: once it was done cooking, I was a bit hesitant about actually shredding it. I realize it’s foolproof but still, this was all uncharted territory. Standing in my apartment were 2 Texans, 1 Alabamian, 1 Tennessean, 1 North Carolinian, 1 South Carolinian and 1 Connecticutian. Take a guess who ended up helping me with the shredding? The Connecticutian. That’s right, in a room filled with Southerners, it fell to the Yankees to prep the pulled pork. The irony is almost too great.

The sweet potato chips combined with the pulled pork, coleslaw and candied jalapeños made a delicious BBQ version of nachos. Funny enough, the candied jalapeños were a last minute decision to make them, even though they take at least a day to make since they have to marinate, but were the least high-maintenance item on the menu. They were wildly popular and I’m going to have to bring them back into regular rotation for fall and winter.

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Second Dish: Greek “salad”

To go with the olive chips, I created a quick Greek salad of sorts. Halved cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, julienned fresh basil leaves and a comical amount of feta are all it takes. Side note: I brought the leftover Greek “salad” as lunch yesterday, goodbye, sad desk lunch!

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

Third Dish: Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese

Fall Entertaining with Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls

 

Photos by Caroline Holman

Okay, so I went for the comfort jugular with this dish. I dare you to name a dish more comfort foodie than mac ‘n cheese. I’ll wait while you think of one but you won’t because mac ‘n cheese is the end-all, be-all of comfort foods. It’s the Big Cheese, so to speak.

I’ve been itching to use Trader Joe’s Langostino Tails in a recipe and this seemed like as good a time as any to give Ina Garten’s Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese a whirl. Ina, you saucy minx you, you’ve done it again. I apologize for thinking mean thoughts about you while I furiously grated the Gruyere and willed my guests to arrive fashionably late. You know it’s a good mac ‘n cheese when the Southern contigency in my living room had several helpings each.

Crumbling the Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips on top added a wonderful crunch, I was a happy camper. Especially after a couple apple cider mimosas.

I had an incredible time hosting this get-together and bringing my friends together for an evening. With all the hustle and bustle, it wasn’t until I had cleaned up, gotten into my pjs and went to take off my makeup before bed that I realized with a start: I never got around to putting on my makeup. I was so busy with party preparations and then too busy enjoying myself surrounded by good friends and good food that the thought of putting on makeup went completely out the window. And guess what, no one said a single thing of it.

Now that’s one heck of a party!

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This post was sponsored by Food Should Taste Good Chips®.  All opinions and product sentiments are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that support DC Girl in Pearls!

Food Should Taste Good - DC Girl in Pearls