Thanksgiving would not be complete without a recipe from my good friend Callie (pastry chef for Frank Stitt’s 4 phenomenal restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama)…or without sweet potato casserole!  Enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving y’all!


                      Image courtesy of Southern Living

Call me crazy, but the one dish I look forward to at the Thanksgiving table is not the turkey or the dressing – it’s sweet potato casserole, or really, sweet potatoes in any form.  My mom’s Marsala cranberry sauce comes in a close second, but for me, it is always hard to beat sweet potatoes, especially when paired with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Growing up, we always had to split our casserole down the middle: one side was topped with a cinnamon-pecan crumble to suit the adults, and the remainder was concealed by puffed, golden marshmallows for the kids (and my nut allergic grandfather).

For authentic Southern fare, I always turn to Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s The Gift of Southern Cooking, and their sweet potato casserole is delicious.  Peacock writes, “To Yankees it may seem more like a dessert, but the sweetness is a good foil to a salty ham or a pork roast, and the dish is traditional at the holiday table.”  And for those very reasons, this casserole has earned its place at our Thanksgiving celebration.

5 lbs. small sweet potatoes (about 10)

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 ¾ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup light-brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups milk, heated


1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. salt

8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the sweet potatoes and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1-1 ½ hours or until they are very tender. Remove from the oven and cool briefly, then peel.  Put the peeled sweet potatoes in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed to begin mashing them.  Add the butter and beat until it is absorbed.  Add the salt, nutmeg, honey, and both sugars and mix until well blended.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the heated milk and mix until incorporated.  Pour the mixture into a greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

For the topping, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a mixing bowl.  Use your fingers to work the chilled butter into the mixture until it resembles oatmeal with some pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.  Stir in the pecans.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the sweet potatoes and bake for 30-45 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the sweet potatoes are set but still loose in the center.


SEVENTH GRADE, a monumental time for many reasons…transition to the Junior High, making new friends, harder classes & most importantly it was time to start dressing like a ‘cool teenager’.  For my generation this included Paris blue jeans, Steve Madden platforms, butterfly clips, skants (skirt + pant), 3 Dot & Michael Stars tees, along with many, many other tragic combinations of “trends”.  All of this being said the ‘it’ place to purchase these trends & more was Laura Kathryn boutique in Crestline Village (a suburb of Birmingham, AL).  I remember begging my parents to take me there before 7th grade dances to get a fashionable new dress…and of course every purchase was made complete with the fact that it was from Laura Kathryn.  Today Laura Kathryn remains a hub of fashion in the south, recently made more fashion forward by new owner, Leslie Pittman.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Leslie to discuss fall trends, fashion designers & her story that brought her to Laura Kathryn.  Walking into the store I was taken aback by how much the store has changed since those 7th grade days…the feel is much more modern yet still ‘homey’.  I especially love the way the store has a gorgeous partition behind the front counter allowing the shopper to admire the clothing in the various nooks & crannies, it’s like an adventure if you will…

Leslie now that fall is here (in the south it is just now becoming cold enough to wear sweaters & such!), what are your favorite trends this season?

Hmmm…I’ll begin with accessories, I would have to say ankle boots, truly everyone needs a pair!  They go with EVERYTHING from skirts to jeans.  I guess I’m on a boot kick because I would also definitely advocate purchasing a pair of over the knee boots & flat boots.  Clothing styles I adore right now include lace, embellishments like sequins or studs & lastly draping, as long as you wear it with a proportional bottom (draped top + skinny jeans).  Then color-wise I think shades of amethyst are very important & work well with every skin & hair color.  Here are my favorite examples of these trends from Laura Kathryn:

From left: Cynthia Vincent; Corso Como; Frye; Winston

From left: Tibi lace blouse; Hype embellished top; Splendid draped top

From left: Owner Leslie Pittman sporting THE color of the season, amethyst; Rebecca Taylor embellished blouse

What’s on your holiday gift guide?

For acquaintance or hostess gifts I would suggest the ever popular Hanky Pankys, which come in a variety of fabulous colors & prints, Star Luna t-shirts & patterned tights from Michael Stars.  For that big present it’s all about the statement this season from a statement jacket, like this one from Hunter Dixon, to statement jewelry.

Although I’m sure you love everything in your store, if you had to pick ,what are your favorite lines at Laura Kathryn?

I personally love wearing Tibi, Alice & Olivia & Rebecca Taylor but Ella Moss, Liquid & Susana Monaco are favorites of our customers. 

Are you vying for any new lines for spring?

We are very excited to be getting quite a few new lines!  Joie, Alexis Bittar jewelry (one of my personal obsessions!), Ella Moss Swimwear & Frock by Tracy Reese to name a few.

What is your ‘go to look’ for a holiday party?

I have 2 favorite looks for this holiday season.  One being opaque tights paired with a fabulous print or solid pop of color dress & a statement heel.  The second being a satin tuxedo pant with a festive top (not to be confused with a holiday sweater/vest/blouse, Southern Femme does not approve of the wearing of anything jingling, singing, fuzzy or adorned with snowmen & candy canes) and of course a statement heel.  All that being said the best way to step up any look is confidence!  Remember that fashion is a state of mind, you can wear anything you put your mind to, have fun it’s just fashion!

Leslie I could not agree more with your last statement, fashion is all about fun & confidence!  On that note let’s switch gears, tell me about your background, what led you to purchasing Laura Kathryn?

After graduating from Southern Methodist University I moved back to Birmingham & started working as a sales associate at Laura Kathryn.  From there I moved to store manager, then buyer, then eventually owner!  It is such a surreal experience but I’m loving taking this landmark boutique & applying my own vision to every facet from the store’s decor, to the clothing lines we carry, to the events we host.

Speaking of events, any holiday promotions or events we should know about?

This year we are doing a wish list for our customers.  What this means is if you come into the store before Wednesday November 25th you can fill out a wish list of items in the store, along with a list of your ‘elves’.  We will then take the initiative to email your wish list to your elves, whether that be your parents, boyfriend, friends, etc.  Throughout the month of December we will be doing special discounts for your elves so you get exactly what you desire for the holidays.

Now for something fun, if you could have any celebrity represent Laura Kathryn based on her style, attitude, clothing line choices, who would you choose?

That is a hard one! (some time passes…) I would have to say Katherine Hiegel!  Love her.

 I ❤ LAURA KATHRYN.  GO VISIT THE STORE LOCATED AT: 61 Church Street, Birmingham, AL.

Le Chateau de Chantilly, situated in the Ile-de-France region of France, is renowned for its sheer beauty; I believe you can see why!  Not only does the chateau mesmerize visitors with it’s grandeur & history, but also the 16th century structure houses the country’s largest art collection outside of le Louvre!  Le Chateau de Chantilly is one of the many attractions in Chantilly, a petit city located conveniently outside of Paris.  Other desirable sights in this charming city are Le Musee Vivant du Cheval (the only living/working horse museum in the world), Hippodrome de Chantily (horse racing track) & a world famous polo club…not to mention Chantilly creme & lace!

Chantilly Racecourse…love the Hermes signs!


Besides the obvious fact that I adore France, why am I focusing this blog post on the city of Chantilly?!  Well this Thursday November 19th, the Birmingham International Center is hosting a night dedicated to this French wonderland.  Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau while listening to special guest, Steve Sirls of the American Friends of Chantilly, speak about living & working in this historic & picturesque city.  So take a break from your busy schedule & culture yourself with other Francophiles, art lovers, winos, food lovers & polo players!


Where: Birmingham International Center, 1728 5th Ave North, Birmingham, AL 35203

When: Thursday November 19th 5:30-7:30 pm

How: Register online at www.bic-al.org $7 per person (contact Kali for more information 252-7652 )




Doree Window Montage 

Gorgeous & festive window displays at Doree Boutique in Downtown Homewood


Last night sitting on the front row of the Doree Fall Fashion Show was quite delightful I have to say!  Since I moved back to Alabama 3 1/2 months ago I’ve assisted in styling 6 fashion shows & although being behind the scenes gives me the most amazing adrenaline rush, I have not had the pleasure to actually watch any of the shows.  So when I was invited to attend Doree’s Fall Fashion Show & 4 year Anniversary Party I was thrilled to have a break from dressing models, hemming pants & piling on accessories. 

Doree has recently moved into a new space in downtown Homewood & let me tell y’all it looks wonderful!  Her new store is much more spacious & ‘homey’ feeling, while still maintaining a vivacious & chic atmosphere.  The store was buzzing last night in celebration of the boutique’s 4 year anniversary with well dressed women & men admiring the wide array of holiday dresses, fabulous booties & platform stilettos, along with an assortment of designer denim-all 20% off with proceeds going to benefit the Humane Society.  The fashion show was hosted beneath a Bryant Park-esque tent complete with DJ, white patio chairs & of course fashion loving people everywhere!  Below are my favorite looks from the show….


Doree Fashion Show Men's Looks

The on trend yet still classic looks that the men sported, all clothing from Shaia’s



Doree Fashion Show Favorite Looks

Many of my favorite trends for fall were shown on the runway including ruffles, goddess style draping, glittery sequins, a pop of color, splicing & statement accessories like motorcycle gloves & layered necklaces.



Gabrielle Chanel-Richard Avedon

                 Photograph of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel (left) by Richard Avedon

Everyone knows the name, Coco Chanel, but I feel like there are few (including me avant seeing the film!) that actually know the intense & heart wrenching story that lead to the design power house that is CHANEL.  When I saw that the film, Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel) was actually playing at a theater here in Birmingham, AL I was tremendously ecstatic for many reasons…1. Audrey Tautou, my favorite actress since she appeared in Amelie, plays the spirited Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel 2. I am obsessed with fashion & 3. J’adore anything French, hence the perfect movie pour moi!  Enjoy the trailer (en englais) & then make sure to admire the phenomenal fashion that Karl Lagerfeld designed for the Spring 2010 Chanel Collection.




Chanel Montage 

Chanel Spring 2010 Collection-all my favorite noir looks from the updated ‘Little Black Dress’ to the classic Chanel boucle jacket (images from WWD.com)



Chanel-Peasant Chic Montage 

Chanel Spring 2010 Collection-my favorite ‘peasant chic’ looks (images from WWD.com)

Lucy Southern Femme of the Week

Who: Lucy, a graphic designer & artist (she designed my Southern Femme logo)

What: She is wearing an H&M shrunken blazer, an American Apparel t-shirt, Levi’s jeans, a Gap belt & Vialis booties from Barcelona.

Why: It can be challenging pulling off menswear items- like a blazer & Levi’s-but Lucy has done it with perfection!  I admire that every time I see her she exudes her own personal style, which is a rarity let me tell y’all!  The way she fearlessly mixes colors & prints, from the pink in her belt to the yellow stripes of her tee, her ensemble is a unique take at a girl’s night out look.

I heart Gio & Garance Dore

I heart Gio & Garance Dore 2

Giovanna Battaglia: Italian, fashionable, gorgeous, chic, elegant, phenomenal hair whether curly or straight, dressed head to toe in designer pieces…basically all in all the woman I aspire to be, if only I could be transformed into the Fashion Editor of L’Uomo Vogue & a former Dolce & Gabbana model… Well until then I will seek inspiration from her impeccable ensembles.

Above are only a few of Giovanna’s looks that I admire daily when styling myself (aka getting dressed every morning) but I wanted to focus solely on the photos of ‘Gio’ taken by another one of my girl crushes, Garance Dore.  If you have not checked out her fashion illustration/street photography blog do so now…absolutely breathtaking!  The Parisian dates Scott Shuman aka The Sartorialist, another favorite street style blogger of mine.

How to channel ‘Gio’:

Option one=menswear trouser+cozy sweater or tee+statement heels

Option two=girly skirt (pencil, flared & flirty, A-line)+feminine blouse embellished with bows, lace, ruffles+textured tights+booties or statement heels

**add do not fret even Gio repeatedly wears her favorite pieces, she just reworks them to create consistently beautiful looks**

For a final ‘Gio’ touch add a hodge podge, if you will, of accessories ranging from layered watches, long strands of necklaces & a signature ring….

Gio ring garance dore


                        Merci Garance Dore pour ces photos!