Carry On Chico

Carry On Chico

Jon Hart Chicos are great – they’re the perfect size that you can use them for lots of things – makeup, charging cords, medications – the chico is VERY versatile.  You can’t have too many of them, so that makes it the perfect gift for anyone!

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite uses for the Jon Hart Chico – a dedicated “carry on” Chico!  This is one of my best tips for traveling by air because it makes packing so much easier.  I used to make list after list of what I needed to remember to pack, and inevitably I would forget something small that I wished I had.  Now, I keep all of my favorite little “in-flight” needs packed and ready to go in a Chico.  I never have to remember to pack “all the things” – I just have to replenish anything that I’ve used up and grab the bag and GO.

Here’s what I keep stocked in my “carry on” Chico:

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  • tissues
  • ear buds
  • gum
  • Tide to go stick
  • ear plugs
  • lip balm
  • a pen (and usually sticky notes too)
  • cough drops
  • hand sanitizer
  • tea and honey

Handy, right?  I think so!  It’s actually a gift I love to give as well – and the concept doesn’t have to only be for frequent flyers.  You could fill a Chico with dance or cheerleading must-haves:  bobby pins, mini hair spray, lipstick, glitter, breath mints, etc. and hot stamp “team work” or “game face” on the outside.   You could also fill a Chico with orchestra needs:  extra strings, resin, a polishing cloth, etc.  That would be fun to stamp with “strings things”.  This would be a great idea for teachers too – they always need little “emergency kits” for the classroom… The possibilities are endless!

The Chico is available in lots of colors, and we can hot stamp a name, initials (or specific phrase like mine) in about 3 days.  It’s a great gift for $34 (and it would be even more cute if you pre-filled it with some of their favorite necessities before gifting it).  What do you think?  Who do you know that could enjoy a dedicated Chico?  Let us know – we’d love to hook you up with this clever gift idea!

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Valentine’s Day Brunch for Dinner

Valentine’s Day Brunch for Dinner

For this semester’s Barque Team get-together, I thought it might be fun to have “Brunch for Dinner”.  The benefits would be twofold – a great way for my girls to sample a few of our food products (like buttermilk biscuit mix and local jams)… and second,  I thought it would be easy to cook on a weeknight!

In this post, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the invitation, party details, decorations, menu and party favors – plus an idea you can borrow to spark great conversation at your own Valentine’s Day gathering!

brunch invite

bday mantle

vintage vtines

Since I love Valentine’s Day, I thought that would be an easy theme to work with.  I utilized my collection of vintage Valentines to add a little interest to my mantle.

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For the table, I used lots of layering – starting with a simple white tablecloth, then adding a length of sheer pink fabric (on clearance at Joann’s), followed by heart-shaped cut outs and doilies.  To finish it off, more vintage valentines strewn about (some on tiny easels) and a sprinkling of conversation heart candies.  For added ambiance, I combined a few tall white candles with strings of battery-operated, mini copper lights (a new arrival at the store).

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bday table

For each place setting, alternating pink and red napkins (folded in the shape of a heart) were adorned with a hand-lettered doily as a place card.  The talented @kelseylaineholt (check her out on Instagram!) made them for us – as well as the food/drink labels – and they really made the tablescape swoon-worthy, don’t you think?

doiliesBefore guests got settled in, everyone was asked fill out 2 “Conversation Hearts”. This idea was inspired by Darcy Miller’s new book, Celebrate Everything – and it ended up being one of the favorite parts of the evening for all of us.  HERE is a link to a free printable with the instructions, which can easily be displayed in a basic 4×6 frame.

You can download the conversation heart templates HERE and HERE – just print them out on pastel colored cardstock and cut out by hand.convo hearts

We collected the completed hearts in a fish bowl, and they later became our dinner conversation starters!  It was really fun to try to guess who each heart belonged to – and it sparked great conversation!  We learned a lot about one another (and laughed a lot too).

hearts

The menu consisted of traditional breakfast food – eggs (heart-shaped of course), bacon, sausage, turkey bacon, buttermilk biscuits (see our tips for those here), local jams from Kelle B, fruit, yogurt (with heart sprinkles), and a modified version of Bobby Flay’s Rosemary and Pancetta Home Fries (from the cookbook Brunch at Bobby’s).  To be honest, I’ve made this recipe before and it was delicious, but I must have done something wrong this time – oops!  It didn’t work out as I had planned, so it became mashed the potatoes with rosemary and pancetta mixed in – sometimes you have to improvise!

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food

We tested out a recipe from the Forest Feast Gatherings Cookbook for the bar – Ruby Mimosa Punch – and it was quite tasty!

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brunch babes napsI think a party always needs a favor, and for this one, each of the girls received a ball cap (monogrammed with the Barque logo), a box of conversation hearts, a mini jar of Kelle B Jam, and a Butter London nail polish.  I love how the personalized tags turned out too!party favorsCorny or not, the tags are true – I really do love these girls!  They’re a great bunch, and I’m so blessed to have each one of them working with me.  The best part is I think they genuinely enjoy one other too – It’s not often you can work and play together and enjoy so much laughter.

staff pic smAren’t they they cutest?

teamI hope our Team “Dinner” inspires a few ideas for your own Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Brunch, and if it does, we’d love to know about it!  Tag us on Instagram  (@barquegifts) or email us photos – we love to see how our friends and customers throw a party!

 

 

 

 

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Buttermilk Biscuit Basics

Buttermilk Biscuit Basics

At the store, we love the buttermilk biscuit mix from Callie’s.  They make making biscuits easy and delicious (plus they make a great gift when paired with our local Kelle B Jams)!

If you’re a biscuit pro, you might not need any tips, but if you’re a biscuit newbie, we want to share our best biscuit tips with you.

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First, start with our pre-packaged mix and add COLD butter.  And with a pastry cutter, keep breaking it up until it becomes crumbly in the mix.

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See those “crumbles”?  That’s the look you’re going for.  Now do the same thing with the cream cheese (amount specified on the package).

Next you want to add buttermilk.  Don’t have any buttermilk?  No problem, you can use regular milk, just add lemon juice and stir until it becomes a thicker texture and more curdled.

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Slowly add to the biscuit mixture and combine.

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It will look very sticky and wet.  Don’t panic.

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Turn the dough out on a biscuit-floured surface, and use extra mix to knead the dough gently (just so it’s not sticky).

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Now you want to carefully roll out the dough, folding it back over itself and keeping the thickness about 1/2 inch or more.

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Roll and fold, roll and fold (and turn as necessary).

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See how rectangular it looks?  That’s a good thing.

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See how folding and rolling creates layers like this?  That’s a VERY good thing – that’s where your flaky layers come from!  Next, cut the biscuits with a floured cutter and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  **Make sure that the biscuits are touching – they’re like little soldiers, so they need to stand shoulder to shoulder to rise properly – this is very important!**

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Brush with melted butter.

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And pop in the 450 degree oven.  You’ll end up cooking them 14-16 minutes, but set a timer after 12 so you keep a close eye on how brown they get (and turn around the pan if necessary to promote even cooking).

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Look at how beautifully they rise!  And those layers!  (all the heart eyes)

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Once your biscuits are golden brown on top, they’re done.

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Quickly remove them from the pan with a spatula and move them to a basket with a towel to keep warm.

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Perfection.

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Seriously.  Look. At. Those. Layers.  Aren’t you glad you took the time to make that magic happen?

Now, you just have to pop open a few jars of Kelle B Jam, slather on extra butter, and you’re all set!  Delicious buttermilk biscuit perfection.

We think you’ll love how easy (and tasty) they are.  You might even enjoy them so much that you decide to host your own Biscuit Bar Brunch?  Oh yeah.

 

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Valentine’s Day Lockers

Valentine’s Day Lockers

Love is in the air… and for our customers, we hope it’s in their mailboxes too!  This LOVE-ly locker renovation is inspired by mail for and from your significant other – no matter what you call them!

Here’s a brief behind-the-scenes of our latest locker renovation.

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Step 1:  It all begins with a vintage pink wooden chair (discovered at the Round Top Antiques Fair – score!) and a vintage mailbox (from an estate sale).

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Step 2:  Add a handful of gorgeously hand-lettered love letters (done by our talented @kelseylaineholt – check her out on Instagram).  You can’t tell in the photo, but we glued these onto a small piece of cardboard so they would stay in place.

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Step 3:  Add more letters, piled (and glued) on top of a crumpled piece of paper.

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Step 4:  Add more envelopes to the wall so they look like an “explosion” from the mailbox.

Step 5:  Step back and enjoy how cute and adorable your display is!  (Seriously, this is one of our favorite locker renovations yet – LOVE LOVE LOVE how it turned out!  Thanks Kelsey!!!)

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New Punny Valentines for 2017

New Punny Valentines for 2017

One of my favorite products to design are punny valentines, and I love to draw inspiration from my collection of vintage designs.  I found these at an antique store in Greensboro – aren’t they fun?  The fish is from the 1920’s!

IMG_5653sm(The inside of the fish says:  It’s not a fish tale that I love you)

This year, my mom came back with me after Christmas, so we did a little brainstorming session for this year’s punny valentines during the drive.  Ultimately, I decided on 5 new themes:  Texas, S’mores, Cactus, TexMex and Baking – all available on our website while supplies last.  Each package comes with 12 cards (3 of each of the 4 designs) and red or pink envelopes.

texas

smores

cactus

texmex

baking

What do you think?  Which one is your favorite?

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New Year’s Eve Lockers

New Year’s Eve Lockers

Our lockers are ready for 2017… and so are we!

We’re thankful that 2016 has been a great year for us, but we’re looking forward to even more fun in the New Year.  Thanks for all of your love and support – I appreciate you guys letting me live this little dream of mine every day!

Happy New Year!  Wishing you and yours all the best in 2017!

– Kandice