Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Casual? We've Mastered That

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Casual? We've Mastered That

Article excerpt

FIRST OF ALL, I have to say, I like Vanity Fair's attitude. The paper napkin company's Everyday Elegance Contest may sound as if it's from the Martha Stewart, "why not fill an old bathtub with rosebuds and put it in your dining room" school of domestic bliss, but don't be misled. The contest, Vanity Fair explains, is actually "a nationwide search for effortless tips incorporating casual elegance" into your home.

See? Effortless. Definitely not a Martha Stewart word. In fact, I am pretty sure that, to a woman who recommends making your own gift wrap paper (10 hours to create, 10 seconds to rip to shreds), effortless is the supreme insult. Even worse than "store-bought."

But the Vanity Fair people have a realistic approach to what makes life special. No glazed pine-cone centerpieces for them! As examples of the kind of thing they are looking for, they suggest "whipping maple syrup into your butter for morning toast" and "eating dinner in front of the fireplace instead of TV."

Vanity Fair is prepared to reward tips like these handsomely. The grand prize is $25,000. There are also five first prizes ($1,000), 10 second prizes ($500) and 50 third prizes (celebration baskets: I do not know what those are, but I have a hunch that paper napkins could be involved).

Anyone can enter the contest. You have to explain, in 25 words or less, how you "make the everyday exceptional" by introducing a touch of casual elegance into cuisine, interior design, tabletop settings or entertaining. The entries have to be postmarked no later than May 31. (For more information, check the grocery store or write to the Vanity Fair Everyday Elegance contest, P.O. Box 7165, Clinton, Iowa 52736.)

Actually, I don't know why I am telling you this, because I am planning to win the $25,000 myself. My home life is a veritable riot of casually elegant living. I am just trying to figure out which one of my insoucient little tricks to enter. What do you think?

1) Don't make the beds. They never do in those slick boudoir catalogs. …

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