Saturday, December 31

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year everyone...  Hope next year brings you everything you wish for!

Does anyone have any New Year's resolutions?  I have a few things I've been working on lately that I want to carry over to the New Year.
  • Keep in touch... Since I moved a few hundred miles from home it's more important to me than ever to keep in touch with the people I want to.  I've been trying to call more often, write more often, and send (small) birthday presents when possible. 
  • Unplug more often... So much of my free time is spent watching TV or surfing the web. Hopefully this year I will take better advantage of the NY Public Library.  So far, I have to confess that I've mostly been renting DVDs. 
  • Become an awesome adult... I've had some serious meltdowns since graduating college and I imagine a few of my friends have too.  I hope I figure out a better system for managing my finances, cooking, cleaning, and exploring this amazing new city I'm in.  
  • Buy better shoes... Last summer I was experiencing terrible pain in my feet and I just couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  I went to the doctor only to have him pick up my shoe and bend it in half lengthwise.  I know it's a silly resolution to have, but I have a strange, wild attraction to unsupportive shoes.  Give me a piece of cardboard with a little fabric drapped over and I'll buy it.  Recently I purged all the crappy shoes I have and my goal is to slowly replace them with well-made, attractive, supportive shoes.  Happy feet in 2012! 
  • Brush my teeth more often, wash my face regularly, shave my legs at least once a week, etc... I am not a particularly clean person. 
Photo Credit: Unknown

Friday, December 30

The Marshmallow Test

Have a Playful Weekend!

Would you look at this pup?  What is there to possibly not love?

Hope everyone has some fun plans for this weekend!  I'm still fighting off the flu, so I'll be relaxing until tomorrow night.  All 4 seasons of Felicity are streaming on Netflix, but I'm a little afraid my memories of the show will be tainted if I rewatch it as I was 10 years old when it started...  But Keri Russell is my style icon and then there's that whole Scott Speedman thing. Whoa baby. 

Louis C.K. Hates Twitter, Punches a Dog in the Face

Thursday, December 29

So True, Tina Fey

Photo Credit: The Karina Chronicles

Listening Library: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Oh man, Nancy Wilson's got it goin' on.  Anyone have exciting plans for NYE?  Laurent and I got tickets to the Comedy Cellar and I've got some fancy new shoes!  Excited to ring in 2012 with a few laughs. Oh and if you copied down the recipe from yesterday I made a few corrections, so I would suggest recopying it. Sorry!

Wednesday, December 28

In the Kitchen: Red Lentil Soup

Looking for an affordable meal option for the winter?  I recently made this red lentil soup and it got rave reviews over the holidays.  Depending the deals you can find at your grocery store, this meal can be about $1.50 per serving and it is SO delicious.  The recipe below will make about 6 servings, but it freezes well. YUM YUM YUM.

1 container of vegetable stock
1 to 1.5 cups of red lentils (depending on how smooth you want the soup to be)
1 8 ounce container of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of marjoram
1 small sized white onion
1 large carrot
1 clove of garlic
1/8 cup of fresh parsley (about a handful)
2 cups white cheddar cheese
1 loaf of Tuscan bread
canola oil for cooking

Peel and dice the carrot, onion, and garlic.  Put the carrot and onion in a deep soup pot with a little vegetable oil and cook on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, stirring every minute or so.  Add the garlic into the pot and continue to stir the vegetables until the onion is translucent and the carrot is pretty soft.  This usually takes another 5 minutes or so.  Add the thyme and marjoram and let them sweat for a few minutes.

Turn the heat up to high and pour in the vegetable stock, red lentils, tomato sauce, and chopped parsley.  Stir for a few seconds so all the ingredients are incorporated together.  When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down to low.  Let simmer for about 45 minutes or until the red lentils are cooked throughout.  You should only have to stir once or twice while the mixture is simmering. 

Add salt to taste (you'll need a decent amount if your vegetable stock doesn't have any salt added).  Top with grated white cheddar cheese.  Warm up the bread and serve on the side.

Back to NYC...

Well I'm back in NYC after a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time at home.  My family shared some great meals, played Taboo, watched movies, went laser tagging, and took advantage of our new ping pong set.  I was hoping for a few more days, but now I'm looking forward to New Year's Eve this weekend. 

Unfortunately I've started to come down with something, so it looks like I'll be staying in for a while.  Isn't it the worst when you start to get sick and your eyelids feel so hot?  I'm planning on nursing a 32 ounce Gatorade while watching a movie under the covers tonight and maybe ordering takeout. 

Wishing I had something like this set up in my apartment for sick days...

Photo Credit: Rockstar Diaries, Sorakeem

Into the Gloss

Have you heard of Into the Gloss?  Emily Weiss started this blog in 2010, where she interviews people about their beauty routines - what kind of makeup they use, where they get their hair cut, what kind of perfume they wear.  Some of the interviewees spend a fortune on products and treatments, but most have some great, affordable suggestions.  It's worth checking out if you want a little beauty inspiration...

If you're looking for some basic makeup products,  here are a few of my favorites.   

Boots Stay Perfect Foundation - Cream:  The only foundation I have found that stays on all day without being too heavy.  I also loved Laura Mercier's tinted mostuizer, but $42 a bottle is a bit out of my price range. And by a bit, I mean it's well out of my price range.

Kiehl's Tinted Lip Balm - Hue 58B:  I loooove Kiehl's packaging.  I'm not quite sure why because on the design spectrum it falls on the uninventive end.  But there's something nice about how Kiehl's packaging is so simple in comparison to a number of products you would find at Sephora.  This is actually the only product I've tried, but it's exactly what I was looking for: a jazzed up alternative to ChapStick.  The 58B color is perfect for everyday use and doesn't dry out my lips.

Tarte 12 Hour Blush - Dollface: Blush is the best product for a makeup novice like myself.  I went to Sephora, tried on a few shades, and found this gem.  One compact lasts forever (I've had mine for two months and have barely made a dent in it) and this shade is light enough to not look garish, but dark enough to make me look healthy (I'm allergic to the sun). 

Eco Tools Brush Set: I know this is a character flaw, but I hate having a mismatched set of pretty much anything.  My mom got my sister and I these brush sets for Christmas a few years ago and I love them!  It comes with a blush brush, an angled eyeliner brush, a concealer brush, an eyeshadow brush, and an eyelash comb/eyebrow brush tool.  Plus, if you want to add any tools, Target has add-ons that match the original set.

ChapStick- Classic Original: Always and forever, we've got a life of love that won't ever change... The most glamorous of all beauty products, the one the only.

Ten Thousand Villages Makeup Bag:  I usually keep my makeup in a set of Anthropologie bowls, but if I'm going somewhere, this is the makeup bag I use.  It's washable and the proceeds go to a great cause.  I can't find it online anywhere, but I bought mine at Global Gifts in Bloomington.

Sunday, December 25

When Parents Text

My mom is one of my favorite people to get text messages from because they are always so entertaining.  She usually limits her texts to a few words, all in lowercase letters- but recently she sent "My next question is WHERE'S YOUR XMAS IDEA LIST?".  I'm not sure at what point she learned to capitalize letters, but I just imagined her furiously typing out that message and it made me laugh... 

Laurent got this book for my parents for Christmas, full of funny texts sent by parents.  Some are funny due to their absurd content, while others are funny because parents seem to get carried away when they start to get the hang of texting - overusing acronyms, inventing emoticons, sending multiple texts within a short period of time.

A few of my personal favorite submissions (probably because they remind me of things my dad would say if he knew how to text):

Photo Credit: She is Too Fond of Books

Merry Christmas!

Isn't this picture from LIFE magazine great?  If I could have a dog in our building, I would have hoped for one this Christmas. Maybe next year... 

Hope you all unwrapped something wonderful this morning!  

Wednesday, December 21

Tiny Ass Apartment

Note: This is not our apartment, just a cute tiny ass apartment.  Please also note that I am not fond of the rug choice.  However, I would gladly take the rest of it.  

Before I moved to NYC, I spent about 40% of my summer days looking at apartment design websites, trying to find ways to maximize our little studio.  I think we've made great use of all the 350 square feet we have, and despite such small living quarters Laurent and I have managed to fit all of our belongings (fairly) easily.  All it took was a small purge at the very beginning and a trip to Ikea of all places to find the perfect couch and bookshelves to fit our little home.  Plus my dad made the most amazing desk to fit an otherwise useless nook.  Seriously, words can't do it justice and unfortunately I don't have my camera here. 

I only found the website Tiny Ass Apartment, which has creative ideas for cramped living spaces, plus the author is pretty entertaining to read. 

The article NYC's Smallest Apartment Just Got Smaller also gave me some perspective.  Check out how small this space is! 78 SQUARE FEET!

Here are a few apartments that look great despite a lack of square footage.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Exercise Enthusiasm

If I had a workout room or locker of some sort, I would love to hang this print.  Isn't this guy awesome with his sweatband and tube socks?  This is the mentality I always start with when getting back into an exercise routine.  Sometimes I actually say something like "Okay- let's go" or "And we're off!" in my head when I go out for a run.  Embarassing, but true. 

Unfortunately, my optimism usually fades after about 10 or 15 minutes.  I just prefer to wear a normal bra and when an activity forces me to wear a sports bra, its appeal instantly diminishes.  I hope there are others out there with the same feeling...

Photo Credit: Marc Johns

90 Years Young

This video is a few years old, but it's new to me... Check out this awesome couple, married 65 years! Fran and Marlo walked into the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and ended up entertaining the lobby.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, December 20

In the Kitchen: Pesto Scrambled Eggs

NOTE:  This is not what your receipe will look like... While it will have eggs and scallion, your eggs will be green and your toast will be pita.  All the photos online of scrambled eggs with pesto were too unappetizing to put here!
As we get deeper into winter, it will become harder and harder to roll out of bed in the morning.  Usually I sleep in until the very last minute, and the prospect of food is usually my only real stimulus. 

Laurent and I used to go to a restaurant in Bloomington called The Green Bean, where we discovered the best simple breakfast around.  I just found out today that it recently closed, so in honor of its passing, I will share with you a recipe for our favorite Green Bean meal - a breakfast pita with scrambled eggs, pesto, and scallion.


2-3 large eggs, depending on your hunger level
1 heaping tablespoon of basil pesto
1 handful of chopped scallion (2 full stalks)
1 plain pita (preferably with a pocket)
2-3 pinches of salt


Place pita in the oven to warm while you cook your eggs.  Scramble eggs* on medium heat until they are just undercooked, then add the pesto, chopped scallion, and salt.  Make sure the pesto gets incorporated throughout and that you don't drench the eggs.  They should be a very light green.  Continue to cook for about 30-60 seconds and then turn off the heat.  Take the pita out of the oven, form a pocket and put the egg mixture inside. 

*I've recently become an egg cooking master!  Laurent taught me a little trick that I had never thought of before... Crack the eggs, making sure the yolk breaks.  Let sit on the skillet for about a minute or so, until the bottom layer is cooked enough where you can peel back the outer edge with a spatula.  Tilt your skillet so the runny egg on top runs to the edges and hits the skillet directly. Let that sit for 30-60 seconds, then scramble everything with a spatula.

Matchbook Magazine

I haven't jumped on the e-reader train yet because I'm pretty partial to a paperback, but I have found a great online magazine.  You get the thrill of flipping through the pages with the $5 fee and the subscription cards falling out all over the place. 

Matchbook is a wonderful monthly online magazine on its eleventh issue.  Inside you'll find all the typical fashion magazine contents- shopping guides, interviews, house tours- but it also offers interactivity that a typical magainze can't.  For instance, if you see an advertisement for a dress, you can hover over it and you'll see a link to that company's website.  Enjoy!

Note: If you're looking for a new blog to follow, this is a great place to find interesting blogs.

Photo Credit: Matchbook

In a Packing Pickle?

Every time I go to pack I tell myself the same thing: I will not overpack this time.  And yet, each time I always do.  This Christmas, I am determined to pack as lightly as possible because instead of taking a cab to the airport (for $45 each way!) I'm taking the subway (which means going up and down two flights of stairs, plus going though a turnstile each time) and then the bus to the airport (for only $2.50 each way!).  And then I'm putting that $85 I'll save right in my figurative piggy bank. 

So here are a few tips to help you pack for the holidays...

1. If you can, buy a suitcase with 4 wheels.  My parents got me a new suitcase for my birthday and it has made traveling so much easier.  I once bought an L.L. Bean duffle bag that could (and has) easily fit a full-sized adult in it.  Unfortunately, it did not have wheels.  Unfortunately, I stuffed it full and took it on a 2-month trip to Australia.  Unfortunately, the ground transportation was a 15 minute walk from the airport.  Unfortunately, it happened to monsoon the day I arrived at the airport. 

2. Take the time to make a travel tolietry case, and keep it stocked in between trips.  Buy a small tolietry bag and a set of empty travel size bottles.  I think it's better to buy empty containers because a.) you can fill it with the exact products you like and b.) in between trips you can refill your bottles instead of tossing the half-empty bottles. 

3. Lay everything on your bed that you plan to pack before putting it in your suitcase.  You'll have a much better idea of what should stay and what can go.  I like to match outfits before I leave to make sure I'm maximizing the room in my suitcase.  Say a sweater only matches with one other thing, ditch it.  Everything in your suitcase should be able to be worn at least twice, with the exception of a fancy Christmas outfit. 

4. Remember that we live in the 21st Century.  Almost anywhere you go for the holidays will have a computer and a washing machine.  Sometimes I pack without remembering this fact and end up with twice as much as I need.  So for instance, if you're going to be gone a week, you do not need 7 pants of pants, 7 shirts, 7 pairs of underwear, etc.   

5.  Be realistic about your holiday plans.  I have plenty of clothing that I would love to wear over the holidays- fancy dresses, new jackets, cute tights.  However, if my Christmas this year is anything like my past 22 Christmases, I will wear a dress once and the remainder of my trip will be spent in my comfy-cozies, hanging out with my family.  (If you are unfamiliar with the term comfy-cozies, it means anything that you would wear during a 6 hour movie marathon, i.e. sweaters, leggings, wool socks, pajamas). 

6. If you have more than 2 of any of the following, you have packed incorrectly:
  • Bras: One nude and one dark colored bra will get you through a week.
  • Jeans: A single pair of jeans should be sufficient, but if you're having decision anxiety, pack one dressy pair and one casual pair.
  • Shoes: A pair of boots and a pair of nice shoes will be sufficient.
  • Pajamas: Why would you need multiple pairs of pajamas?
  • Coats: Most people can get by with one jacket, but Christmas can be tricky because sometimes you will do a physical activity (sledding, football, etc.), but you also might need a coat that is appropriate for church or a party.  In this case, I think packing two coats is fine.  However, if you pack three coats, you are going into crazy territory.

7. Pair down your carry-on considerably.  Your carry-on should have just a few things: an oversized scarf (which can double as a blanket or sound barrier from a crying child), a book, a wallet, a cell phone, an iPod, and a snack.  I try to only travel with my laptop if absolutely necessary.  Again, refer to tip number 4 if you're afraid to travel without your laptop.      

8. Wear your heavy stuff on the plane.  If you're taking a bulky sweater or a coat, wear it on the plane so it doesn't take up too much room in your suitcase.  Plus, if your suitcase gets sucked into the dark airport luggage abyss, you won't be freezing for a week. 

9.  If you're having a hard time parting with something for a week, just imagine how embarassing it is to be the last person on the plane trying to shove an overstuffed backpack into the overhead compartment.  Imagine how much you start sweating on your upper lip from all the stares and how somehow your midriff will always become exposed when you reach your hands above your head.  Now, remove that extra pair of shoes you were planning on taking home with you...

Aren't you excited to be that effortless traveler, strolling through airport security and baggage claim with ease?

Monday, December 19

For the Host...

Want to bring a hostess gift to a holiday brunch or dinner?  Here's a cute way to say thank you without spending too much.  Head over to {frolic!} to download the PDF, or design your own and attach to the inside of a 5" cast iron skillet. 

Photo Credit: {frolic!}

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Okay, time is ticking and some of you still haven't gotten all your Christmas gifts yet.  There are so many tricky people to buy for... but I put together a last minute gift guide for the ladies on your list and all are under $50.

Nice Pajamas
Most people don't invest too much in pajamas, which is odd because you sleep in them every single night.  I just got this J.Crew sleepshirt a few weeks ago and I love it.  I imagine I will soon have the cost per wear down to a few pennies because it is so darn comfy.  If you buy through tonight, you'll get 30% and you'll still have time to get it shipped before Christmas.  FYI: If you buy this particular item, I would order one size down.

2012 Calendar
Want to buy someone something you know they'll use?  A calendar will be used everyday for a full year!  Plus, this one is handmade and only $20.  You could get it as a stocking stuffer without breaking the bank. 

Cozy Socks
If you're going to get someone socks for Christmas, make sure they're interesting and more special than your standard pair of socks.  I got these Smartwool socks for myself recently, and I wish they came in a dozen different colors.  Smartwool socks are the best: thin, but so warm!  Other suggestions: Happy Socks, Hansel From Basel, and Wigwam.

Magazine Subscription
This is the best very-last-minute gift.  If you realize you forgot someone on your list, head to the bookstore and pick out a magazine or periodical suited to their interests.  I think it's best if you buy the current edition on shelves and then let them know you've paid for the year.  That way, they have a little something to open on Christmas day, and they'll be excited every time a new issue arrives. 

Personalized Stationary
I am a bit biased because I love stationary, but this set from Rifle Paper Co. is just so nice.  You get to pick a face that looks similar to your gift recipient, a font, and a color scheme.  If you have a newly married couple on your gift list, you can add two faces. Plus, you might even be on the receiving end of a handwritten note!

Abbotts Caramels
The best Christmas gift, ever.  We get them in our stocking every year and it's the highlight of my year.

Sunday, December 18

Listening Library: Woody Allen Tunes

Looking for a way to get through the workweek?  Kate Arends of Wit and Delight made this mix, with hits from Billie Holiday, Carmen Miranda, and Benny Goodman & his Orchestra.  All the songs appear in a Woody Allen movie, and it's so interesting to hear the songs outside of the context of the movie. 

Gotta love that photo.

Photo Credit: Wit and Delight

Why We Broke Up Project

Have you heard of The Why We Broke Up Project?  Min Green and Ed Slaterton recently wrote a novel about their relationship and ultimate breakup, and set up a tumblr where people could submit their own breakup stories.  I'll admit I wasn't terribly interested by the breakup posts.  Most were pretty similar to one another and fell into one of three categories: a.) we were too far apart b.) he/she never really loved me c.) he/she was cheating on me. 

However, there was one exception that made me laugh out loud...

"You don’t know the difference between you’re/your, to/two/too, or they’re/there/their."

Haha!  Maybe that seems a bit extreme to you, but I think poor grammar would be the kiss of death for me as well.  I imagine (and hope) this wasn’t the only issue in their relationship.

Photo Credit: Housing Works

Friday, December 16

Have a Relaxing Weekend...

Hope everyone has a chance to sleep in all weekend and watch some movies under the covers. 

A few things on my agenda...
  • Stroll through Venture to gather Christmas wrapping material tonight
  • Catch up on Parks and Recreation.  Wasn't last week's episode great? 
  • Listen to more records on our new, beautiful turntable!  I know nothing about sound quality, but I'm enjoying having this bad boy in our home.  Hopefully we can bring out the Nat King Cole...
  • Go to the Chelsea Market for brunch and book browsing (and Anthropologie browsing if I'm lucky)
  • Try on these Tretorn boots
  • Grab a veggie hot dog from Good to Go Organics

Plus, Laurent and I are going ice skating sometime soon!  I was hoping for Central Park, but they close pretty early on Monday, which is the only night Laurent has off.  Looks like we'll probably head to Bryant Park.

Photo Credit: unknown

In the Kitchen: Holiday Drinks

Just a couple festive drink options for the holidays.  I would like to say I'll try the cocktail, but the sparkling drink just sounds so much easier.  Also, you're out of luck if you don't like cranberries.   

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 ounce Charbay ruby red grapefruit vodka
2 ounces Champagne
1 ounce cranberry juice
1 ounce black currant juice

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve sugar into 1 1/2 cups water. Add cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain, discard liquid, and place cranberries on a tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Chill vodka, Champagne, and juices, then mix in a champagne glass. Garnish with skewer of 4 or 5 frozen candied cranberries. Reserve the rest for another drink.

1 1/2 ounces Blackberry Puree
2 ounces white cranberry juice
2 to 3 ounces sparkling water
1 sprig mint, for garnish

Place blackberry puree and cranberry juice in a champagne flute. Add sparkling water to fill. Garnish with mint.

Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

Thursday, December 15

December Deep Clean: Kitchen Edition

My favorite part of MTV Cribs was always the refrigerator reveal.  Who cares about cars and in-home movie theaters?  Show me a clean, freshly stocked refrigerator!

If you're having guests over for the holidays, why not take a little time to rid your refrigerator of the spills, odors, and overcrowding that have inevitably occurred since your last cleanup? After all, you will need some room for holiday leftovers.

Here are a few tips I've accumulated...

1. If you live with roommates, get as many as you can together so you know what can stay and what can go.  I lived in a house of 5 girls in college, and it's pretty hard to determine on your own which things are still edible, especially if they're in sealed takeout boxes which you're terrified to open.  Sorry Becca about that new mayo that I threw out...

2. Remove contents from one shelf at a time.  I like to remove all the food from my refrigerator in small batches because once I get going with a scrubbing sponge, things can get crazy.  Real crazy.  Remove one shelf at a time, wipe up spills and check if anything has spoiled. 

3. Don't forget the refrigerator door.  For some reason, every house I've ever lived in accumulated an enormous amount of condiments, all of which sat in the refrigerator door.  It's so easy to clean out the fridge and forget about the 30 or so bottles of salad dressing that are leaking and the Miracle Whip that has gone bad (note: Miracle Whip has always gone bad.  If you have this in your fridge, go ahead and throw it out regardless of the expiration date, as it is inedible at any stage).

4.  Buy storage containers that are transparent and match.  For some reason, lids and containers will never end up in the same place at the same time.  When you are rushing to pack a lunch or pack up leftovers, you will inevitably find a container with no lid or vice versa.  If you buy a set of storage containers that have uniform sized lids and varying sized containers, you will never have this problem.  Also, make sure they are transparent so you can quickly see what you have in your refrigerator at any time.  This set of jars from Weck would be perfect.

5. Find a way to actually see what you have.  There are so many great options to help you see what you have in your fridge.  Move the shelves around, buy an egg crate if you always seem to forget about eggs - whatever it is, develop a system to make sure that the food you buy doesn't go bad before you can eat it. 

6.  Get rid of odors.  Usually I find that just wiping down the refrigerator with cleaning solution will get rid of any lingering odors, but just in case, you can get baking soda or spread coffee grounds on a tray and place it inside your refrigerator for a few hours.  I once saw an article that said the best way to get rid of odors is to take a sock, fill it with activated charcoal, and place it in the back of the refrigerator.  While this might work, I highly recommend not putting a sock of any kind near your food. Where do people come up with this stuff?

Photo Credit: {frolic!}

Style File: Michelle Williams

I was first introduced to Michelle Williams when she entered Dawson's Creek as troublemaker and promiscuous teen Jen Lindley.  Turns out she also appeared on such '90s gems as Step by Step and Home Improvement before landing her breakout role alongside Katie Holmes and James Van Der Beek.  While Holmes grew up to marry a certified nutcase and Van Der Beek settled into a string of made-for-TV movies, Michelle Williams has become a successful, award-winning actress.

Michelle Williams is a great example of someone whose style improved after having a child.  I think some women really come into their own when faced with 5 or less minutes to themselves in the morning.  A few years back, she wasn't really on my radar, but now I frequently find myself coveting her perfectly functional and fashionable wardrobe filled with peacoats, jeans, simple dresses, and flats.  And, more often than not, I also wish I was as stylish as her 6-year-old daughter, Matilda.

I'm sure some of you are saying "What?  She's not just a mom, she's a celebrity mom - of course she can look good with that kind of money and free time." Well to that I say a.) there are plenty of celebrity moms who look ridiculous b.) Michelle Williams is consistently photographed out and about with her daughter, so I think she is a pretty average parent and c.) yes, some of her pieces of clothing are probably very expensive, you win. 

Ah, what a pretty lady.

P.S. Did anyone else cry uncontrollably at the series finale of Dawson's Creek?  Holy moly.

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Listening Library: Oh Yes, It's Ladies Night...

Looking for a Thursday pick-me-up?  Kate Miss of for me, for you posted this mix with songs from Mirah, Billie Holiday, Bonnie Raitt, and First Aid Kit, and I've been playing it on repeat.  Most are solo female artists or all female bands, but a few are bands headed by women.  Enjoy!

Oh and in case you've never used 8Tracks, you don't need an account and you can listen to the mixes for free.  So get on it!

Photo Credit: for me, for you

Wednesday, December 14

Spencer Studio

Isn't this idea beautiful?  Artist Lauren King takes vintage photographs and draws what she imagines to be just outside the camera's view.  If you are a gifted artist, it would be lovely to collect old family photographs and attempt this. 

Photo Credit: Spencer Studio

Burning Down the House

Growing up, my dad taught my sister and I that a candle is the single most dangerous thing anyone could have in their home.  While this is a bit of an exaggeration, it was probably true for our house.  He was living with three women who took fire safety rather lightly.  While we didn't have any weapons or sharp objects, my sister and I would regularly leave a flame unattended for hours on end.  My mom also caught the armpit of her favorite sweatshirt on fire leaning over the dinner table, so you can see why he was concerned...

So for many years, I was able to resist purchasing candles with ease.  This wasn't much of a sacrifice because, with rare exception, most scented candles smell terrible.  Here are the rare exceptions I've found: 

I've never bought the Ambre candle because $44 is a bit too steep for me, but it smells amazing.  Also, I can't recommend the perfume enough (also $44, but the cost per use is much lower).

In case you're in the mood to dance around, here are some accompanying sounds for this post: Talking Heads, "Burning Down the House".

Photo Credit: Barker and Stonehouse

Tuesday, December 13

DIY Gift Tags

In case you're looking for something to spruce up your gift wrapping, Angela Hardison created two free downloadable PDFs Joy To The World and Peace on Earth.  She printed them on 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper and framed them, but I think they would also be great if sized down and printed as gift tags. 

To do so, just save whichever PDF you like and when you go to print, select whatever size paper you will be printing on.  I would recommend printing on a natural colored cardstock so the ink doesn't run and your tag is sturdy.  Then just punch a hole in the corner, write a note on the back, and attach to your gift with a piece of twine or ribbon.  Easy peasy lemon squeasy.

Photo Credit: Angela Hardison

What in the What?

I would like to take the time to thank the universe that a.) This recipe found its way to me and b.) I will soon be at home with my parents who have a spacious kitchen and do not judge my eating habits.

Cookies ‘N Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies

1 box Brownie Mix
1 heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream
1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled or room temp)
1 box Oreos
Eggs & Oil (as called for by the brownie mix)

Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray. Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do not add the water. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to combine. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish, layer with Oreos, then top with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the back of the box.

Looking at this up close is kind of making me sick to my stomach, but I think the feeling will pass...

December Deep Clean: Closet Edition

I edit my wardrobe frequently.  As in each month I take every single piece of my wardrobe, spread them out on my bed, and evaluate whether each piece deserves to remain in my possession.   I try to do this by myself because closet evaluations with friends are not nearly as fun as the Sex and the City movie makes them appear. 

One “fun and refreshing” closet cleanout with my friends Alli and Julia quickly turned into a “why is there no secret attic access in my closet to hide this (second) pair of cut-off jorts from the harsh glares of these people attempting to ruin my life?” closet cleanout.  I think we ended up doing more harm than good that day...

Here are a few tips to have a successful and enjoyable closet cleanout:

1. If you are completely at a loss for what works and doesn’t work in your wardrobe, ask a friend or family member to help.  They might not agree with you on everything, but at least you can get a second opinion and go from there.  Otherwise, I suggest going it alone

2. Turn on some music and take everything out of your closet, dresser, etc. Every. Single. Thing.  Including things such as:
  • Athletic apparel. Why is it that people tend to hold on to XXXL shirts they got for free at a walkathon in high school?  Trust me when I say they will never be right for any occasion.
  • Underwear.  If you are female, you have probably gone to Victoria's Secret and redeemed a coupon (or ten coupons) for a free pair of plain, boring cotton underwear you never wear, even on laundry day.  Don't worry, you are not alone. 
  • Socks.  If you have ever laundered your socks, you know you're missing the mate for at least a few pairs. And if you're in some weird state of arrested development, you might still have toe socks from grade school.

3. Try to look how you normally would look.  For instance, if you never wear your hair wet, don’t try on your clothes after just getting out of the shower, or vice versa.  Everything you try on will look off and you will be more prone to giving away something you actually do like.  Oh and, if you don't own a full-length mirror, first of all - why not?  You're an adult.  Second, you need to buy one now.

4. Try every piece on and only keep clothing that fits your body and personal style, is well-made, and is appropriate for your age and lifestyle.   This is the tricky part... I think most people struggle with at least one part of this equation, if not all parts of this equation.  For instance, I often lean toward clothing that fits my personal style, but not my body type or vice versa.  Or I skimp on a sweater, only to find it tearing a few wears in.  Try to recognize patterns and avoid them the next time you go shopping.

5. Bag everything you are going to donate and/or sell and take it that day.  Do not take things out of the bag once you have made your decision.  Whenever I do this, it reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld where George eats a chocolate eclair out of the trash.  He got what he wanted, but was anyone really better off? 

6.  Make a pile of clothes that you like but that need some sort of attention.  For instance, if you have a pair of pants that needs to be hemmed, take it to a tailor that day instead of letting them sit in your closet unworn.  Even though it might seem like a large initial investment, it doesn't make any sense to wait until you need something to send it to a tailor.

7. Write down what you need and don't need in your wardrobe.  Next time you go shopping, try as hard as you can to stick to the list.  When I last cleaned out my closet, I realized I didn't have any sort of rain jacket, so instead of buying the things I normally buy (striped shirts, oversized sweaters, printed socks), I bit the bullet and bought a trench coat.  Not only is it awesome, it serves a function that none of my other clothes can. 

8. Enjoy the clothes you put back!  It's amazing how you actually can survive with a small wardrobe, as long as it is filled with things you actually like and wear.

Go forth and cleanse your closets!  There are many donation drives going on around the holidays, or you can always sell your clothes if you're in need of some jingles. 

Photo Credit: IMDB
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