If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, launching your own business, and following your dreams, then we want to help you get started. From coming up with a business idea to developing your brand and getting your business off the ground, today’s career guide shares 3 essential steps toward becoming a bonafide #GirlBoss.
Come up with a unique idea for a business
Whether you plan to be a service provider (like a life coach, social media expert, or a consultant) or you want to get into product distribution (as a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer), the first step to starting your own business is coming up with a unique idea.
Have you ever heard the quote “necessity is the mother of all invention”? Well, it basically means – if you have a problem, you often need to be resourceful to find a solution. Ask yourself – what makes your idea new or different? How does it solve a problem or fill a need?
A good example is the invention of Spanx – the women’s undergarment line that revolutionized the shapewear industry. The founder of Spanx cut-off a pair of pantyhose one day to make a body-shaping undergarment that could be worn under pants, skirts, and dresses. With just $5,000 of her personal savings, founder Sara Blakely launched Spanx at the age of 27, and in less than 15 years since starting her company, she’s now become a billionaire.
2. Determine what your brand is about
To market a company or a product nowadays, branding is one of the marketing terms you should think about. In addition to promoting your product or service, you’re also sharing your company’s vision, mission, and culture with your target customers. Aside from creating a great logo that becomes easily identifiable and exudes your company’s message, you should also think about the colors, tone, and vibe of your brand.
When we think of Michael Kors, we envision glamorous men and women jet-setting around the globe. When we hear the words, Kate Spade, we think of fun, colorful fashion that brings out the playful girl in all of us. That’s what good branding does – it sums up the essence of a company, making it instantly recognizable to the customer.
Branding extends from your logo and website into your store (if you’re going the brick-and-mortar route) and even into your social media and marketing materials. It’s helpful to hire a professional graphic designer or marketing agency if you’re inexperienced in these realms, as they can help guide you through the process more easily.
3. Set-up the basics of your operation
Running a business is a day-to-day process. To get started, it’s advisable to incorporate your business (to protect your personal assets from any liabilities that may arise). You can hire a lawyer or just use LegalZoom.com to easily get started. Whether you form a partnership, a C-Corporation or an LLC, do your research to determine which route is best for you. They can also help you file for trademarks and patents, which helps to protect your intellectual property.
It’s also recommended to set-up your bookkeeping system and get a separate bank account and credit card (for business purposes only). Systems like Quickbooks (which is an accounting software program) are great to use, as they can grow with you as your business expands. To start with, they offer affordable online bookkeeping (which is ideal if you’re just running a small business). If your company gets much larger, you can then upgrade to an Enterprise account, which enables you to have multiple users and do all types of reports.
You’ll also need to get business cards, letterhead, and other marketing materials. A great place to start (for very little investment) is Vistaprint.com. They even provide easy-to-use templates and helpful information.
No matter what you end up doing, if you’re passionate about your idea and dream of starting a company, then follow your heart and get going! Even if you’re not ready to leave your 9-to-5 job just yet, that’s totally fine. Just start your side hustle now and in no time, you’ll be on your way to having a full-time career doing what you love, as your own #GirlBoss. For more career tips and advice, check out the Career section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
Whether you’ve listed your home or are thinking about selling if you want your property to sell for more money, start Spring cleaning. To inspire you to get organized, in today’s guide, a leading real estate broker shares 3 reasons why a clutter-free home sells for more money. Plus, learn the secrets to instantly increase your home’s value just by cleaning up and getting organized.
Sissy Lappin is a real estate veteran with 25-years experience who loves helping clients navigate the ins-and-outs of the real estate business. As a top real estate broker in Houston, Texas, she’s handled over $500 million in real estate transactions, earning her firm the #1 ranking in “Most Expensive Homes Sold” by the Houston Business Journal.
She’s also an Author of an Amazon bestselling book entitled, Simple and Sold – How to Sell Your Home Fast, as well as the founder of ListingDoor – referred to as “The Uber of Real Estate” by Forbes magazine. With her impressive list of accomplishments, she’s not only a go-to gal for real estate tips, she’s also an inspiring #GirlBoss to boot! Definitely a woman worth taking notes from.
A clutter-free home is perceived as more spacious by potential buyers
“Clutter is one of the most overlooked, most important factors that will affect whether you get your asking price or not. For some reason, buyers think clutter is contagious! If you have too much stuff in your house, they will subconsciously doubt that all their stuff will fit.”
A clutter-free home retains its value more
“Clutter can actually take off 5 to 15 percent of a home’s value, just because buyers are less inclined to make a high offer for a house that looks messy. In early 2011, two identical apartments in New York City went on sale at exactly the same time; one was cluttered and the other was cleaned out. The clean apartment sold quickly. The messy one stayed on the market for a year and sold for 15 percent less than the clean one. Trust me, this applies to any house in any town.”
“Clutter didn’t appear overnight; so don’t think that it’s going to disappear overnight, either. Take big measures to empty your home of extraneous things. This is a perfect time to purge your home of stuff you don’t need and save yourself the cost of moving that stuff to your next place.”
Reap the financial benefits of having a clutter-free home
“You can make some money while you’re at this if you use eBay or Craigslist—one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Or you can donate your excess things. If your kids’ rooms look like a toy store, tell them they can keep their favorite ten toys and the rest are going to go to kids who don’t have any toys. It’s a valuable life lesson
and a good de-cluttering strategy.”
“If you have stuff that’s non-essential but you still want to keep it, put as much as you can into storage. If you have an overcrowded room, put a chair or two in storage. Buyers will see more space and be willing to pay for it. They’ll perceive your organization—and people believe that organization is contagious, too! If you have a spacious and perfectly organized home, they’ll believe that they will live in a perfectly organized home once they move in.”
For more home organization tips, check out the Home Organization section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
From outdoor adventures in the northern California mountains of Lake Tahoe to luxurious coastal retreats in Southern California’s picturesque Laguna Niguel, here are 5 fun places to visit in California for Memorial Day weekend.
5 Fun Places to Visit in California
Whether you’re traveling with your family and friends or going solo, here are a few of our favorite vacation spots in California that offer beautiful accommodations, unique points of interest and enjoyable activities, and gorgeous scenery at every turn. Get your bags packed and get ready for a Memorial Day weekend vacation you’ll never forget!
Resort at Squaw Creek – Lake Tahoe, California
Nestled in the mountains of Squaw Valley (just 20-minutes away from the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe) lies the Resort at Squaw Creek. This award-winning luxury resort is the ultimate Northern California play place for kids of all ages (including us big kids). From spa treatments to golf, a swimming pool (with a fun-filled slide), gourmet dining, and even seasonal activities (like horseback riding and recreational activities), this hotel offers something for everyone in the family.
InterContintental Hotel The Clement Monterey – Monterey, California
Located adjacent to the Monterey Bay with unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean lies the chic and contemporary InterContinental Hotel The Clement Monterey. This upscale hotel is ideally situated on world famous Cannery Row in Monterey and is within walking distance to dozens of great restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and tourist attractions including the globally-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Plus, the restaurant at the hotel offers gourmet dining inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients that are sustainably-sourced.
The Landsby – Solvang, California
Tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley just 40-minutes north of Santa Barbara lies the quaint Danish village known as Solvang, California. Within this charming town, you’ll find a number of cozy eateries (including delicious bakeries and pastry shops), wine tasting rooms, unique boutiques, and one of the most dog-friendly upscale hotels we’ve ever visited – The Landsby. This warm and inviting hotel offers beautifully-appointed accommodations, relaxing nooks and sitting areas to nestle into, and a few great dining options (including a gorgeous outdoor patio that is lit up at night with twinkling lights).
The Crescent Hotel – Beverly Hills, California
If you’re in the mood for a little glitz and glamour, head down to the heart of luxury in Beverly Hills, California. Just a couple streets away from famed Rodeo Drive lies The Crescent Hotel, an updated boutique hotel that was originally built in the 1920’s and boasts a sumptuous breakfast buffet, a cool retro-looking design, and cozy places to wine and dine in. Check out their library to find interesting and unique books to read, and make sure to pack your camera, because there are so many Instagrammable things to photograph (like the geometric wallpaper, dazzling chandeliers, and art deco-inspired decor). Plus, they even offer a complimentary happy hour every night, which is a fun way to mix and mingle with other guests staying at the property.
The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel – Dana Point, California
If you want a tropical getaway without having to trek across the globe, head down to Orange County’s gorgeous coastline for a fun-filled Memorial Day weekend at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point. This lush oasis of swaying palm trees, colorful flowers, and unbelievable ocean vistas makes for the perfect setting for a dream vacation. Plus, the hotel offers a variety of enjoyable activities including surfing lessons, paddleboarding, swimming pools, a fitness center, and even a spa.
For more inspiring Memorial Day weekend vacation ideas, check out the Travel section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
To turn your dreams into reality, having a positive mental outlook is imperative. But beyond “thinking positive thoughts”, you need to have the drive and determination to get ahead. If you have any self-limiting beliefs that might be holding you back from achieving your goals, you’ll have to change your thoughts if you hope to make any real progress.
To help you get out of your head and break through mental barriers, today’s personal growth guide shares 3 expert tips from Author, Teacher, and Life Coach, Lori Brant B.A., B.Ed. As the Author of the inspirational book The Happiness Toolbox: Finding Happiness Regardless of Circumstances, Lori is an expert in educating people about the various ways they can find personal contentment and success in their lives.
How To Break Through Mental Barriers
1. Identify how the past may be influencing your perception today
Limiting beliefs from the past may affect your experience today and frustrate your attempts to find happiness. A belief is a thought with emotion(s) attached to it, and belief patterns form when we interpret what we experience and file it away in our memory like files in a filing cabinet.
As we decode more and more experiences, our mind creates files by bunching similar experiences together finding generalities and commonalities amongst them. These files make up our subconscious or unconscious mind, a culmination of general ways to respond to similar situations or the foundation of our perception. Some are helpful like, look both ways before you cross the street, don’t lick a frozen pole, or don’t eat yellow snow. Some are limiting, create stress and limit your perspective like, it doesn’t matter what I do, or everyone I love leaves me. Old limiting beliefs can influence how you perceive a present-day experience and potentially influence your ability to feel happy. Therefore, identifying negative limiting beliefs is the first step to finding happiness.
2. Take action to move through perceived mental barriers
Finding happiness requires action. If you are not feeling happy, you need to DO something different. Start by asking yourself the following question, “What in your life is keeping you from being happy?”
If you answered a better job, more money, someone to love me, etc. ask yourself the second question, “If I had a better job, more money, someone to love me, etc. how would I feel? Let’s say your answer is that you would feel loved, admired, challenged, and confident.
The action you need to take to find happiness comes from those feelings. What can you do right now to feel loved, admired, challenged or confident? Maybe you could play with a pet or a child, help at a food bank, learn something new, or practice a skill. Whatever you can do now to elicit those feelings is crucial to finding happiness.
3. Enjoy life’s journey without relying on external stimuli.
This last step requires finding the gifts in the moment. No matter what is happening, there is always a gift in the experience, but it requires you to open your perspective to see it.
For example, if you sprain your ankle and are unable to work, you may think that finding a gift in the experience is impossible. However, if you can dig deeper and try to find just one, you may find another. One gift may be that you don’t have to work. Perhaps another gift may be that you’ll get some well-needed rest. Finding the gifts in the moment changes how you feel and keeps your perception open to alternate interpretations and wondrous possibilities.
Finding happiness is possible if you can perceive your present experience without being influenced negatively by the past, partake in an action to move forward through perceived barriers and open yourself to the gifts in every moment.
For more inspiring advice, check out the Personal Growth section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
This post is sponsored by Trademore. While I was paid for this post, all opinions are my own.
If you’re anything like us, you love buying new technology (like iPhones, tablets, and smartwatches). But as easy as it is to acquire new tech toys, we often face the challenge of figuring out what to do with our old, unwanted devices. Fortunately, we’ve learned about a simple solution helps you Spring clean your home and office while paying you money to trade-in your old tech products.
What is Trademore?
Trademore.com makes it fast and easy for you to earn money by doing a simple trade-in on your used smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Plus, with this online trade-in program, you’ll feel good knowing that you’re being eco-friendly, as you’ll no longer toss your old or unwanted technology in the trash. Not to mention – you can finally clean out your drawers by getting rid of old tech products that you no longer use.
Why Trademore Makes Life Easier
Thanks to this easy-to-use online system, you can say goodbye to those frustrating online buyers who haggle you on pricing for a “good deal”. You can avoid the stress of taking photos and listing your items on auction sites. And forget about the hassle of hosting a yard sale (just to get rid of a few unwanted belongings).
It’s time to get smart! Just Spring clean your home and office by trading-in your old technology on Trademore.
Search for the device you want to trade-in (such as an iPhone, smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch)
Select your device’s carrier, color, capacity, and condition. If you’re trading-in a watch (as shown here), you’ll also be required to select your watch size, watch type, band color, and band type.
Once you have made all the required selections, click “Continue To Offer”.
The system will give you an offer for your item. To proceed, click “Continue To Checkout”.
The Trademore team will send you a pre-paid return label, packaging, and shipping box. When you receive these packaging materials, simply put your item in the box and send back.
Upon receipt and inspection of your item, you will be notified by Trademore that your item was received and payment will be sent electronically to you. It’s that easy!
Does Trademore Offer More Money?
The company prides itself on providing substantially higher payouts on trade-ins. For example, if you sell an iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB on Trademore, you can expect to receive $356 (versus $325 from their competitor). In addition, they offer competitive prices on a number of different technology products (such as smartphones, tablets, and wearables).
If you want to Spring clean your life this season, start by trading-in your old tech toys on Trademore.com. For more money-making and technology tips, check out the Career section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites, so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. These affiliate links are not associated with Trademore.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Olay. The opinions and text are all mine.
Protecting your skin from sun damage is one of the most important steps in any skincare regimen. Not only do UVA and UVB rays cause skin aging, sun damage can also result in far bigger problems – like skin cancer. To help you maintain healthy, youthful skin, today’s Spring Skincare Guide shares 3 simple ways to protect your skin from sun damage.
Tip # 1: Wear Sunscreen Every Day
Whether it’s a sunny day or cloudy outside, to protect your skin from sun damage, wear sunscreen every day. Because the rays of the Sun can penetrate through clouds, applying sunscreen on a daily basis is essential. This even includes long work-days when you’re mostly indoors because sun rays can even come through windows.
Since a lot of sunscreens often feel slick and greasy or heavy and chalky, choosing a lightweight moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF protection is a smart move.
That’s why Olay Whip with SPF 25 is a great option. This dreamy SPF-infused moisturizer is ideal for delicate parts of the body – like the face, neck, and chest – as it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy. It’s no wonder this product is being called the “Unicorn of Moisturizers” – its fluffy whipped texture leaves a soft, satiny finish on the skin.
Tip # 2: Cover up with a Hat & Sunglasses
If you’ve ever seen a woman with flawless skin, she’d probably tell you she rarely spends time in the Sun. For those of us who enjoy being active outdoors, staying in all day or walking around with an umbrella (like some people do) isn’t a practical solution.
Whenever you go outside for an extended period, try to cover up with a hat and sunglasses. Not only can these fashionable accessories be a fun style statement for Spring, they also serve a purpose. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can significantly reduce the amount of UVA and UVB ray exposure you get, which is potentially damaging to the skin.
Too much Sun exposure can result in skin discoloration, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and even deadly skin cancer. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative to protect your skin from sun damage.
Tip # 3: Apply Sunscreen to your Hands & Body
We often neglect our hands and body, which later catches up with us when we start to notice age spots, dryness, and wrinkles. To maintain your youthful, healthy skin, apply sunscreen to your hands and body.
A lightweight moisturizer with SPF 25 is especially ideal for use on hands since it doesn’t leave a greasy residue. Since we often wash our hands throughout the day, it’s best to re-apply your sun protection every time after washing. You can even stash a sunscreen in your tote bag or car, to ensure your skin is always protected.
My SPF Journey – From Tanorexic to Totally Protected
When I was a teenager, wearing sunscreen only happened if I was on vacation in Mexico or Hawaii. As a young carefree woman, all I cared about was looking good and having fun. I spent my Summers laying out at the pool (with the goal of getting tan). At the time, that coveted golden glow was more important to me than taking care of my skin (or protecting my skin from sun damage). My obsession with “the perfect tan” even led me to regular tanning sessions at a local salon and ultimately convincing my family to buy a tanning bed for the house. I admit the truth now – I was becoming “tanorexic”.
As I look back on my younger self, I wish I had the beauty wisdom I do now. Little did I realize how much damage those lazy days in the Sun could cause. Before things got out of control, fortunately, I caught the skincare-devotee bug in my early 20’s, which is when I started really taking care of my skin. That’s when I became interested in learning everything I could about skincare, from anti-aging treatments to acne prevention.
Whether it was through research, reading magazines or books, or chatting with a Dermatologist, the one piece of advice I’ve heard repeatedly over the years is – wear sunscreen every day. I can proudly say that I now live that mantra. Even if I don’t wear anything else in a day, I make sure to apply sunscreen to my skin.
If there’s one piece of wisdom I can offer – it’s that sun protection is an essential step in any daily skincare routine.
For more skincare tips and tutorials, check out the Skin section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Olay. The opinions and text are all mine.
Mother’s Day is nearly here, so let’s get ready to celebrate! If you’ve been busy shopping for Mother’s Day Gifts, but haven’t thought about what to do that day, we want to inspire you to think outside the box.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Outdoor Enthusiasts
For Moms who enjoy being outdoors, doing recreational activities, or staying fit, here are 3 fun ways to spend Mother’s Day weekend.
Yoga in the Vines
To start with, an outdoor yoga session (like the Yoga in the Vines class in Carmel, California) is an invigorating and energizing way to bring out your inner Warrior Pose alongside your Mom.
Picnic in the Park
Another fun outdoor activity that’s great for Mother’s Day is a picnic in the park. Pack a picnic basket filled with your Mom’s favorite foods, from tea sandwiches to macarons. Bring a warm blanket, lawn games, and a bottle of bubbly to make the afternoon even more enjoyable.
Play a Round of Golf
If your Mom loves to play around, why not grab your clubs and head to a nearby golf course?! If you’re just starting out, consider joining a group class or booking a private golf lesson with an instructor. Even if your swing isn’t on par yet, a cute golf bag will at least help you look like a pro.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Creative Types
If your Mom’s a creative type or loves DIY projects, help her unleash her inner artist.
Take an Art Class Together
Discovering your creative side and explore your talents while learning art techniques from a master. Taking an art class together is a fun Mother’s Day activity you can both enjoy.
In Carmel-by-the-Sea, California (where we’re based), there are lots of artist-owned galleries. One of them in particular, contemporary artist Mary Titus (featured above on right, next to my Mom, on left), teaches Art Immersion Classes at her studio, Titus Contemporary Gallery. In these 3-hour sessions, she shows students a variety of interesting art techniques, like using crumpled paper to make abstract designs. She also provides inspiration, guidance, and feedback to each student, helping them create artwork they can take home.
Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
Even if you aren’t inclined to make art, you can still appreciate it. That’s why visiting a museum or art gallery is a good way to spend the day with your Mom. Studying sculptures, learning the background of famous artists’ lives, seeing inspiring pieces of artwork – these are all enjoyable ways to spend Mother’s Day.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Home & Garden Lovers
Is your Mom a home-body? Does she look up to Martha Stewart or The Barefoot Contessa? Or is her favorite past time watching HGTV’s Fixer Upper? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then she’s probably a home and garden lover.
Visit a Botanical Garden
If you ever learned how many types of flowers and plants there are in the world, you’d be amazed. From vibrant annuals to evergreen perennials, a botanical garden is a wonderful and whimsical place to tour on Mother’s Day.
In addition to learning about a variety of flowers, it’s also a great photo opp for the family.
DIY Home Decor Projects
Some of my favorite activities that I’ve done with my Mom have been DIY home decor projects. From creating floral arrangements to doing succulent terrariums, getting crafty and bringing beauty into your home is always fun for Mother’s Day. For some inspiring ideas, check out the helpful DIY tutorials on Inspirations & Celebrations.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Foodies & Oenophiles
If your Mom loves to pop open a bottle of bubble, enjoys spending time in the kitchen, or gets inspired by gourmet cooking, then she’s probably a Foodie or an Oenophile. Why not indulge her senses on Mother’s Day with one of the fun activities below?
Mother’s Day Brunch
From lavish buffet brunches to home-cooked meals at cozy brunch spots, getting together for a traditional Mother’s Day Brunch is always a fun way to spend time together. Catch up over coffee, indulge in your fave breakfast dishes, and just relax (because someone else is responsible for the cooking).
Take a Cooking Class
While you’d probably say that nothing tops your Mom’s home-cooked meals, it’s always fun to take a cooking class together. Learn new techniques, get inspired by different flavors, enjoy the fun and camaraderie of doing an activity together. A few places that offer cooking classes across the country are Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.
Go Wine Tasting
From drinking Pinot Noir poured straight from the barrel to sipping Rosé overlooking a picturesque vineyard, if your Mom loves a good bottle of wine, why not take her wine tasting?! From Napa Valley to Monterey County and beyond, there are so many great places to go wine tasting.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Animal Lovers
Does your Mom have a beloved pet who she adores? Or does her heart skip a beat when she sees an exotic animal? If so, then she’s definitely an animal lover! Here are a few fun ways you can celebrate Mother’s Day with her.
Whether her dream is to touch an adorable giraffe or have a face-to-face experience with a playful otter, unleash her inner party animal this Mother’s Day with a trip to a wildlife sanctuary.
Go Horseback Riding
Whether you take a leisurely horseback ride through a wooded forest or you head out on horseback along a beachside trail, horseback riding is a wonderful activity to do on Mother’s Day. Connecting with these beautiful animals while enjoying the relaxing ride and scenic views is an inspiring way to celebrate.
Fun Mother’s Day Activities for Luxury Lovers
If your Mom enjoys getting pampered at a spa, jet-setting from one exotic destination to the next, or shopping at the finest boutiques, then she’s definitely a luxury lover. Here are a few fun ways to celebrate Mother’s Day with her.
Book a Vacation at a Luxury Hotel
Some of my fondest memories of being with my Mom have been while on vacation with her. From our Mother-Daughter trip to The Grand Hotel in Oslo, Norway to our vacation at The Absalon Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, traveling the world together has created memories that will last a lifetime.
If you want to spoil your Mom this Mother’s Day, surprise her with a vacation at a luxury hotel.
Have a Spa Day
From therapeutic massages and beautifying facials to tranquil bathing pools and relaxing hot stone treatments, having a Spa Day is a wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day together. Let your cares slip away, calm your mind, and let go of your stress and worries while you get pampered and treated in a luxurious spa.
For more inspiring activity ideas, check out this Mother’s Day activity guide on Inspirations & Celebrations. Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful, loving Moms and Mother-figures out there!
Since Cinco de Mayo is happening this weekend, it’s the perfect time to start planning the ice-cold, delicious margaritas you’ll be making for your friends and family to enjoy. To help you host a fun fiesta this Cinco de Mayo, in today’s entertaining guide, Celebrity Caterer Andrea Correale has crafted the below three cocktail recipes for a Peach Margarita, Blood Orange Margarita, and Lemon Basil Margarita that your Cinco de Mayo party guests will surely love.
Cinco de Mayo Party Cocktails
Andrea Correale is the Founder and President of Elegant Affairs, serving New York City, the Hamptons, and Long Island. Andrea has been producing custom designed, award-winning New York catered events for more than 20 years, working with such A-list celebrities as Brooke Shields, Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon and Liam Neeson… to name a few! To say she know’s how to plan a great party is an understatement.
2 parts silver tequila
1 ½ parts peach schnapps
1 lime, juiced
½ cup peach nectar
Thyme, for garnish
Peach slice, for garnish
Fill glasses with ice.
Shake all liquid ingredients in a shaker.
Pour over ice.
Garnish with a fresh peach slice and a spring of thyme.
Blood Orange Margarita
½ cup blood orange juice (fresh squeezed, if possible)
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons triple sec
½ cup tequila
Mint leaves, for garnish
Coarse salt, for rim
Place salt on the rim of two glasses.
Fill two glasses with ice.
Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker and pour over ice.
Garnish with mint leaves.
Lemon Basil Margarita
1 ½ oz. tequila
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 basil leaves, for garnish
A ½ sugar/½ salt mixture, for rim
Lemon rind, for garnish
Basil leaf, for garnish
Coat glass rim with sugar and salt mixture.
Shake all liquid ingredients in a shaker.
Pour over ice.
Garnish with lemon rind and basil leaf.
For more inspiring Cinco de Mayo party ideas, check out the Entertaining section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
[Images and recipes c/o Elegant Affairs Caterers.]
We recently caught up with Celebrity Chef Stuart O’Keeffe, during a Gourmet 3-Course Dinner he was hosting with Macy’s Culinary Councilat Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco. Aside from treating guests to a fabulous meal (during which he did a live demo showing how each recipe was made), he also entertained us with his funny stories, interesting anecdotes, and helpful cooking tips.
To inspire you to enjoy cooking and the art of entertaining, in today’s Entertaining Guide, Chef Stuart O’Keeffe shares his gourmet cooking tips, a decadent dessert recipe, and a Foodie Giveaway for an autographed copy of his popular cookbook, The Quick Six Fix.
About Chef Stuart O’Keeffe
With his charming Irish accent and effervescent personality, it’s easy to see why Stuart O’Keeffe has risen to celebrity chef status. Since landing in Los Angeles about 10 years ago, he’s since become a television regular, making appearances on Extra TV, Food Network’s Chopped, CBS’s The Talk, The Home and Family Show, and more.
We’ve even heard the buzz that there might be an exciting television project airing on the Food Network featuring him. So keep your eyes peeled (pun intended)!
I&C: How did you get started in your culinary career?
I grew up cooking with my Mom and loved it. So I went to Culinary Arts College in Dublin for four-years after high school and absolutely fell in love with it. One of my favorite classes was Larder (which is butchering), but we didn’t get enough people to sign-up, so they canceled the class, and I ended up majoring in pastries in the end. I knew pastry was more complex, so I really wanted to learn the ins-and-outs of that.
I&C: What was your experience like living in Napa Valley?
When I moved to the States, I moved to Napa Valley, where I lived for two years before moving to Los Angeles. While I was there, I worked at Meadowood Napa Valley for about 18 months. It was amazing! I had never lived in America in my entire life, so when I went to St. Helena, it had a really nice smalltown feel. So I felt really comfortable there.
I&C: How has living in California influenced your cooking style?
Everything is pretty much always in season here, so it’s easy to come up with different dishes. I get a lot of inspiration when I go out to eat, and then I think about how I can put an Irish twist on it.
When I worked at The Grill at Meadowood, there was a cheese called Humboldt Fog that I fell in love with. It gets its name from Humboldt Bay when the fog rolls in. It’s a beautiful goat cheese; a bit acidic, with a nice tang to it. It gets stronger as it goes to the rind and it has a beautiful ash that goes through it too. So, visually, it’s really pretty too.
Gourmet Cooking Tips from Chef Stuart O’Keeffe
I&C: What are your tips on making gourmet-looking food at home?
I’m a fan of a big white plate, even if you just have a starter salad on it. If there’s more negative space around the food, it makes it look like you know what you’re doing.
Make sure to wipe your plate before you serve your dish, so it looks cleaner.
When you can get edible flowers, that can be nice too, just make sure to take the petals off first.
Garnish with microgreens.
Stack your food.
I&C: How do you cook healthy, flavorful meals at home?
When I’m cooking at home, I go easy on the oils but still use seasonings. I’ll eat a ton of vegetables and protein, but go light on the carbs and super-starchy foods, especially at night. Like – a quarter cup of brown rice would go with salmon, or chicken and vegetables. For lunch, I like to make a nice Spinach salad with tomatoes, red onion, chicken or shrimp. I try to keep the starchy or sugary carbohydrates to a minimum.
I&C: What is your cookbook The Quick Six Fix about?
The focus of my cookbook is simple eating at home, with minimal ingredients and easy clean-up, and prepared in a short amount of time. I want to help people cook less in the kitchen and spend more time eating it.
I&C: What are some of your favorite recipes in your cookbook?
Some of my favorite recipes in the book are the Pistachio Salmon, the Creme Fraiche Chicken, and the Cioppino (which is great for Spring and Summer).
Fun Tidbits from Chef Stuart O’Keeffe
I&C: If you weren’t a celebrity chef, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be creative, like doing graphics or working at an advertising company.
I&C: Tell us something we wouldn’t otherwise know about you.
I’m an avid tennis player.
I&C: What inspires you to create recipes?
If I see something (like a chocolate cake on the cover of Bon Appétit), I just get inspired to make it. Sometimes I’ll see things on Instagram or in Tasty videos, which makes me want to re-create it, but in a unique and different way.
If you want to whip up a decadent dessert that’s as scrumptious as it is beautiful, then you need to try Stuart’s delicious dessert recipe below. His Black & White Croissant Bread Pudding is what foodie dreams are made of.
Stuart’s Dessert Recipe: Black and White Croissant Bread Pudding
Prep time: 6 Minutes
Cooking time: 20 Minutes
Serves: 5 people
1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3 medium eggs plus 3 additional yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar plus 1 tbsp
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 one-day-old croissants (or fresh is fine too)
5 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (70% cacao)
5 oz. white chocolate chips
1 whipped cream for garnish
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Butter the bottom of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch baking dish with your hands.
In a large bowl, whisk whole eggs and yolks, cream, and milk with the ½ cup brown sugar and vanilla extract.
Tear up croissants and mix with egg mixture until well combined.
Spoon half of the egg croissant mixture into the baking dish, sprinkle with dark and white chocolate chips, top with more egg croissant mixture, and finish with remaining chocolate. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Remove from oven. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or whipped cream.
Chef Stuart O’Keeffe’s Foodie Giveaway
To inspire you to get in (and out) of the kitchen, while enjoying the process of cooking, we’re excited to collaborate with Stuart on The Foodie Giveaway. If you’d love to win an autographed copy of Chef Stuart O’Keeffe’s cookbook, The Quick Six Fix, then enter The Foodie Giveaway hosted by Inspirations & Celebrations.
In The Quick Six Fix, Stuart shares 100 delicious recipes for breakfast, salads, soups, pasta, fish, chicken, pork, beef, sides, and desserts that will get you in and out of the kitchen in thirty minutes or less. Each requires no more than 6 key ingredients, 6 minutes of prep work, and 6 minutes of clean up. Tasty and easy? Sign us up!
To enter The Foodie Giveaway, follow the easy entry instructions listed below.
The Foodie Giveaway with Chef Stuart O’Keeffe
To be eligible to win, entrants must be age 18+. This giveaway is open to USA and Canada Residents. One (1) random winner will be drawn on May 8, 2018, and contacted via email. The winner must reply by email within 3 days by providing their mailing address and contact information. Failure to reply within this time period will result in automatic forfeiture of the prize. In that situation, another random winner will be chosen.
To learn more about Chef Stuart O’Keeffe and his tasty recipes, check out his website TastyBites.net.
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Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate all the Moms (and Mother figures) who inspire, mentor, and nurture us. Whether you’re honoring your Mom, Stepmom, Grandma, or just a woman who played a pivotal role in your life, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to remind her how important and meaningful she is to you. Since women often spend all their time caring for the people they love, why not give her a beautiful gift that will make her feel pampered and cherished.
Mother’s Day Beauty & Fragrance Gifts
To help you shop for the perfect Mother’s Day gift this year, today’s gift guide shares beauty and fragrance gifts that will inspire and delight her. From memory-evoking perfumes that will bring her a sense of nostalgia to relaxing lavender essential oils and anti-aging skin care treatments that will rejuvenate and replenish her skin.
Fragrances for Mother’s Day
The sense of smell is more powerful and moving than we often realize. Like the comforting smell of freshly baked cookies that remind us of baking with our Mom, scents trigger our memories and emotions. That’s why the fragrance brand Blocki created two sumptuous perfumes, For Walks and Sanrovia. View Blocki’s full range of perfumes in my store.
Evoking a modern, understated floral scent (with notes of violet, sandalwood, cedar, and mint) that also exudes an earthy woody aroma, For Walks was inspired by the memoir of Emma Blocki, which was written in 1872 and described her childhood walks in the forests of Pomerania.
This light, refreshing fragrance reminds me of a beautiful Spring day meandering through the woods, just after the rain has passed as the Sun begins to peek through the billowy white clouds floating above. Gazing out into the lush green forest, you could see the morning dew sparkling in the light on each leaf. You could hear the birds chirping in harmony like they were rehearsing a symphony. You could see the trees gently swaying in the wind as if they were dancing to the cacophonies of the forest. On a day like this, the woods just seemed to feel alive and in full bloom. That’s the kind of memorable moment that For Walks reminds me of.
Having grown up in a beautiful forest setting, I instantly connected with this fragrance when I smelled it. In my childhood, my Mom and I would enjoy walking through the woods or horseback rides through the trails that led from the grove of pine trees to the beach. That’s why a fragrance like this brings back delightful memories of my early years spending time with my Mom.
For any woman who loves relaxing in a peaceful atmosphere, this perfume will surely inspire her to go outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature this Mother’s Day.
Beauty Gifts for Mother’s Day
A few other great beauty gifts that are perfect for Mother’s Day would be an exfoliating lip polish (to give her soft, supple lips), a neutral-colored lip gloss (that she can wear from day-to-night), an ultra-rich moisturizer (to help her skin feel hydrated and replenished), a soothing bath and body oil, a rejuvenating body oil mist, and a convenient 2-in-1 cheek and lip tint (for busy gals who want to make life easier). If you’re looking to put together a gorgeous Mother’s Day gift basket, these are the must-have essentials that any Mom would love.
To shop these Mother’s Day gifts and more, check out the Inspirations & Celebrations Shop, which features a curated collection of our favorite products. Thanks to Decovo, you can enjoy free shipping and easy returns on all orders, amazing customer service, and seamless shopping!