Happy Hour 06.15.17

"Our weekends begin on Thursdays...And you ain't seen nothing yet."--Erk Russell

I've seen a lot of bloggers post life updates and recaps in a regular "coffee date" type of post. I really enjoy reading those kinds of things, and while I've recently graduated to Gilmore Girls level of coffee consumption, I don't really enjoy coffee dates; I'm much more of a happy hour kind of girl. Therefore I present to you, Happy Hour: a semi-regular life update type of post here on the blog, featuring a delicious new cocktail recipe! 

Recently, I've joined the local Junior League, learned how to play Bridge, and have just overall been enjoying our new home and town. CJM and I are settling into a schedule, finding a church, and enjoying being on the same work schedule which is the first time that's ever happened in our 5+ years together. I hosted the Junior League summer social and it was so nice to have some girlfriend time again! Our home has been perfect for warm-weather get togethers, especially since CJM built this beautiful U-shaped bench for our screened in porch. The shorter pieces are movable, so we can take them off the porch and onto the patio if we wanted. He's been doing a lot of woodworking, and has been filling lots of orders for corn hole boards! 

It's been nice to have multiple weekends in a row with little to do, and to just stick close to home. I know that will quickly come to the close once summer is over; I'm pretty sure we have a wedding to go to every other weekend in September and October! But I'm looking forward to traveling again and seeing friends I've missed for so long. 

Last weekend, my grandparents came into town to visit and I cooked my first ever low country boil. While it turned out delicious, I now understand why having a giant stock pot is such a necessity. I ended up passing the bag of crab boil seasoning back and forth between the two pots of shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage, because I couldn't fit it all in one pot! But it turned out really yummy, and it was nice to try something different. 

image via
Friday night we had dinner at one of our favorite places in town, Company Supply. It was perfect weather, so we sat outside. I enjoyed their featured seasonal cocktail, the Bee’s Knees. Of course I picked it because of the gin, duh! It tasted like equal parts gin and tea, with lots of lemon. It would be super easy to recreate at home! I'm looking forward to enjoying lots of delicious drinks on the back porch this summer!

The Bee's Knees by Company Supply in Dublin, Ga. 
-Hendrick's Gin
-Earl Grey Tea infused with honey
-Fresh squeezed lemon juice

What I'm Reading

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Sometimes life is to hard, heavy, and overwhelming. While one of my favorite escape is watching terrible TV, I've been working at picking up books to lift my spirits more frequently. It's odd to have moved to a town that doesn't seem to have a book store, but thankfully, I've got Amazon Prime to meet my fix almost immediately.

This summer, I've been focusing on favorites. Whether that be new favorite authors {I'm looking at you Liane Moriaty}, favorite actresses, or favorite people; it's definitely been a deciding theme.

To get started, I breezed through Lauren Graham's Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls. I've always adored Lauren Graham first in Gilmore Girls, and now as I'm working my way through Parenthood {it's amazing; go watch}. She writes just as she seems as her characters: witty and fast, and also hilarious. I loved some of the behind the scene peeks into her life and her shows.

I'm currently laughing through I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster. I've also read her book Pretty in Plaid a few years ago and loved it. Funny, real, and engaging. Similar in style to Celia Rivenbark, but a little bit cleaner perhaps. I appreciate her love of the 80's, her dogs, and lists. It's kind of like talking with my mom, honestly. She's also a hoot to follow on Facebook!

Next up is Truly, Madly, Guiltily, by Liane Moriaty, which was one of last summer's hottest titles. I never quite made it over to TMG, but am looking forward to a long weekend to dig into it. Last year, I fell in love with Liane's easy reads like The Husband's Secret and The Hypnotist's Love Story.

What are you reading this summer?

Home Tour | Living

Long time no blog, huh. I guess I have a pretty okay 'excuse' as we have been extremely busy working on the house and figuring out where everything needs to go! In the last month, CJM has also started a new job, we've thrown a couple of get-togethers, and spent a lot of time with family and friends. It's been good to have a little break from the social media world; I mean, I only posted on Instagram like once a week a couple of times--crazy!

But back to the house: it's in no way done {I still occasionally have an internal debate about repainting the living room...again...}, but we're getting to a pretty comfortable level of done-ness. I'm sure it will be a few years until we feel everything is final once we do some bigger projects like replacing the roof and counter tops. I still need to hang pictures and art, but once our giant wedding canvases came in, the room really came together. By the way, I order all of my canvases from easycanvasprints.com ; the most amazing prices, quality, and quick shipping around!

And yes, I love gray. I'm planning on adding some natural pops of color through plants and floral arrangements, but I like to add things a little at a time and let them marinate for a while before I add anything else. I'd really love a lantern collection to add to the fireplace area with some big white candles; I am definitely a candle-aholic!

One of my favorite pieces in the living room is the antique buffet that has been in my family since the early 1900s. There is a matching china cabinet in the kitchen, and my mom still has the original dining room table in her house. Besides being totally functional and where I store all of my cake stands, silver, and large serving dishes, it's absolutely beautiful! Everyone compliments it as soon as they walk into the room.

Over the summer, I'm planning on sharing the kitchen, dining room, master bed and bath, and our outdoor living spaces. Stick around to see the rest!

Palmetto Cheese Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp and grits is seriously one of my most favorite dishes. It must be my South Carolina roots. It’s also become one of my favorites to cook because it’s pretty quick and very easy. One pot? Yes, please!

In recent years, we’ve worked to create new family traditions as our family structure has change. It’s hard to change things that seemed perfect the way they were, but sometimes what comes from the change is even better than the original! One of my favorite new traditions is our seafood family style dinner on Christmas Eve. We’ll have crab legs, shrimp, and shrimp and grits, with all the delicious fixin’s and sides you can imagine.

I like to consider myself a student of Sandra Lee and her semi-homemade ways. This shrimp and grits recipe is just that. Be sure to get a big can of quick grits, but not instant, for this fast and delicious recipe.

Cook four to six slices of chopped thick-cut bacon in a large pot, then set aside. Saute a generous amount of minced garlic in two tablespoons of salted butter in the pot. Add a pound and a half of raw chopped shrimp once the garlic is browned. Here’s where you can play chef: either add Old Bay seasoning to your shrimp if you prefer a smoky flavor, or red pepper flakes if you like a spicy kick. I prefer the red pepper flakes, personally! 

Cook the shrimp until light pink, and remove from pot. In the same pot, add eight cups of water, four chicken bouillon cubes, and two cups of quick grits, and cook per package instruction. Slice and add a pound of kielbasa to the cooking grits. When the grits are done cooking, add a container of Palmetto Pimento Cheese and the previously cooked shrimp to the pot. Allow all to melt and blend together nicely, before serving in a bowl topped with green onions and chopped bacon.

This is definitely a “best the day after” kind of dish that warms up well! It’s one that can be tweaked to please the cheese or spice level of those enjoying it. Enjoy! 

First Anniversary Gift Ideas

I am having the hardest time wrapping my mind around the fact that our first wedding anniversary is this weekend. It's come up so fast! And while I spent years, literally, planning this once in a lifetime event, I have to admit that April 2017 snuck on my kind of quick before I realized I needed to start thinking about an anniversary gift for my husband!

First anniversary gifts are traditionally paper, but the modern gift is a clock. The clock can seem to be much easier than finding the perfect paper gift, but there are so really unique ideas out there for both! First up, a classic wristwatch. Something simple, yet elegant, and timeless...like your love...*insert eye-rolling here.* But for reals! I classic watch is something that can be worn daily, can withstand the test of time and trends...like your love...  I'm really loving this gold one by Daniel Wellington. My husband loves his Daniel Wellington watches, and this one for the ladies is just a little bit fancier than the original ones, which I really like a lot.

A pocket watch might be a great gift for a traditionalist. It can be personalized and engraved, and eventually handed down to future generations. These could also be great groomsmen or Father's Day gifts, too.

For the paper, there is the classic and much beloved embossed stationary. This is a great gift for guys and girls; with a new last name, the bride's monogram has probably changed, and this is more than likely a gift your guy doesn't have. I think it's important for every man to have a set of stationary for the occasional thank you note or love letter!

A custom painted bridal bouquet portrait is probably my most favorite idea. Have an image or feature from your wedding day painted {on paper!} is a unique way to fulfill the paper 'requirements.' It's a one-of-a-kind way to remember one of the biggest days of your life.

And finally, custom paper coasters--how fun are these?! With different designs and logo options, these could be updated annually, seasonally, or during different walks of life. I love using our custom crested cups from our wedding around the house, and this just takes that personalization to another level.

Four Years a Blog

Surprise! The blog is four years old! Who knew the blog birthday would end up being at such an exciting week of wedding memories, too. To celebrate, I wanted to share a few things about myself that you may or may not know, as well as a few of the most popular blog posts for those who are new around here! 

The top four most popular blog pasts are: Invited to Party {a Pinterest success!}, I never thought I'd write this blog post, Bridal Portraits, and Being a Bride: Lauren. I love that these are the most popular because they were truly lifetime memory milestones for me. Invited to Party displayed the amazing bachelorette and bridal shower invites designed for me by my bestie. This shower and my bachelorette weekend were two of my favorite wedding memories. 

Sandwiched in the middle is the moving to Dublin announcement, and  the post previewing my bridal portraits. Big deals, and big days for me. Deciding to move was hard. Deciding to marry Christopher wasn't. Both were happy times that had special, unique challenges associated with them. One thing the blog does for me that I'm so thankful for is the chronicling of my life: the good, the bad, the scary, the exciting. Highs and lows, life is definitely a roller coaster {which is something I love...roller coasters that is. And life, too, of course!}

The fourth most popular post of all time is my bridal feature on sweet Lauren! Not only has she been a blessing to me as a sweet social media/blog friend, but she's been a warm smile for my own mother when I have been many hours away, and I'm so thankful for the fate that brought us together. If you'd like to share your own unique wedding or pre-wedding event, send me an email and I'll share the questionnaire! 

Now for a few things about me that you might not know....My dream concert would be Rod Stewart and Fleetwood Mac, followed by Hootie & the Blowfish. I love all things sweet, but will eat sour candy until my tongue hurts. I have really terrible print handwriting, and write almost exclusively in cursive. I dream of traveling to Greece someday {my people! Maybe...}. I love the smell of cold in the freezer section at the grocery store. I love roller coasters, but am terrified of heights. My biggest fear is definitely snakes, followed closely by pretty much anything else without legs. My hidden talent is making my eye squeak similarly to how people can squeak their arm pit. I also taught myself how to do that flower thing with my tongue. 

I love the Backstreet Boys, cake, gin, and hot dogs. I'm not really a shoe person. I collect clothes, deviled egg plates, tubes of lipstick. I bite my nails, and can fall asleep almost anywhere. I love trashy reality TV {have you seen Mama June?!}, hot fudge sundaes from Dairy Queen, and pictures. Instagram is my favorite social media platform, and Snapchat is probably my least favorite. I sleep with too many pillows according to my husband, and drink four cups of coffee each morning for breakfast. 

So to help me celebrate four years of sharing my little life with the world, would you do something for me? Would you help me grow the blog in one {or all!} of four ways?

1. Like Starting Out Southern on Facebook
2. Follow me on Instagram @piperellice
3. Follow me on Twitter @piperellice 
4. Subscribe to get email notifications of new posts and other updates {box to the right of this post!}

Your support not only encourages me, but also the awesome brands I've been so lucky to work with over the last year or so! I love hearing from you, and have been surprised so many times lately with new friends and acquaintances reaching out and letting me know how much they enjoy my content. Always feel free to leave a comment, share a post you enjoy, pin an idea, or chat me up!

Emily Ley's Simplified Planner Review

New job means it's time for a new planner, right? With a totally new and ever-changing schedule, I was struggling with scheduling which is something I hadn't experienced before! Last fall, I picked up a great $7 planner from TJ Maxx that was great for the price, but wasn't cutting it any longer. I'm a former die-hard Lilly planner kind of girl, but was ready to branch out to something new. I also write down everything, down to memories like first kisses and anniversaries, so I knew I needed a lot of room to write since my planner is also my diary. 

After some research, I decided on Emily Ley's Simplified Planner. I'm currently spending my evenings working through her book "Grace not Perfection" which is all about embracing simplicity, and celebrating joy, and thought a planner focusing on the same things would be the perfect fit! After Instagramming some fresh and fun office supplies, including my new planner, I got a lot of requests to do a review on how I've enjoyed it!
Similar in size and weight to the standard Lilly planner, I love how customizable this planner is. There is a page for every day which features an hour-by-hour list on the left side, and a "To Do" list on the right side. The bottom quarter is broken up in two sections for dinner planning and notes. The top of each page also has a brief inspirational quote that I look forward to reading daily! Additionally, there is a monthly spread with a month "To Do" list, and tabs dividing each month up. I also ordered my planner with my monogram, as well as a green magnetic page marker

It's so helpful to me to keep two separate lists each day of events and meetings, and actual tasks that need to be completed. With the focus being daily, it's easier to keep track of items that might not get done each day and transfer it to a more manageable time frame. 

picture practice

Last weekend, I spent the day in Statesboro hanging out with friends and enjoying the spring day. My Statesboro family had asked me to take some family and senior pictures, and I was thrilled and honored to practice my "fancy camera" skills. Kalli is a tried and true pageant princess, so she's super comfortable in front of a camera which made my job a lot easier.

It was great practice for me, and I'm so glad to still be taking part in their special family moments! 

c e l e b r a t e

Happy Birthday, Layla Claire! My first furbaby is finally four years old. Layla is a black maltipoo. She weighs eight pounds {always, no matter how fluffy her hair gets or how chunky my brothers claim she has gotten}, loves to kiss, play with her ball, and loves her mommy! She is such a joy to have in my life. I love how excited she gets every time I come home, how she snuggles so tight against my back every night, and how funny she is when she 'fights' her big sister, Samantha. 

To celebrate, I treated the girls to a puppy-approved ice cream party of whipped cream and sprinkles served in vintage ice cream bowls. They were a little suspicious at first as they're rarely ever given people food {although they've been known to sneak a quesadilla or two off the coffee table and into the bed...Layla...} but they seemed to enjoy their afternoon treat! The girls definitely liked the plain whipped cream better than the usual pet store birthday treats I find; I'll have to think of something for Samantha's birthday in August!