Friday, June 29

Words are free [young at heart]

I love both this image and the message. Sometimes i get stressed thinking about all the absolutely perfect ideas there are out there for family photography, as so many involve extensive planning and foresight. When done right, some pregnancy and family photos make me melt. I'll have to do some pretty serious Pinterest scouring before I plan on babies.

So, answer the question: how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are? Older? Younger? Are your factual age and your inner spirit in complete harmony?

Thursday, June 28

Bibliophile [The Passage]

The bibliophile strikes again.

The Passage, Justin Cronin
The genre of The Passage was a bit of a departure for me- I suppose you'd call it suspense, or horror, or books-that-contain-vampires. It is an extremely long book (I think like 700 pages? It's hard to know these things when you read on the Kindle). Here's your blurb:

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Stephen King said it was "enthralling", but he would, since the premise is basically the exact same as his novel The Strand. It's a good story, a story about "a girl who saves the world", by the author's admission. The first third of the book you will love, no diggity no doubt. It's well written, engrossing, confusing enough to keep you turning pages, and packed with character development and plot action. After that, you're going to feel a little let down (at least, I did). I read the whole thing, and I did enjoy it, but it's like fast food: totally love it all the way through, maybe not worth the calories (or hours) once it's gone. I remember enjoying myself- D will tell you I read it voraciously- but when I was done I felt a bit empty and like maybe I should read some classics to get over my light-reading hangover. I'm being kindof negative here, because I read the whole thing and enjoyed it...maybe it's more like a roller coaster than fast food- it's totally thrilling when you're on it, but don't expect it to be a philosophical or intellectual endeavor, or as satisfying as a long conversation with your best friend. Kinda reminds me of Hunger Games in that sense.

Anyone else concur? Or think I'm a moron with no literary sense?

Wednesday, June 27

Cheap Eats [funfetti yogurt dip]

Adventures in Food did something adventurous. 


Take 3 parts Funfetti cake mix, 2 parts Greek yogurt, and 1 part cool whip. Stir, eat with graham crackers. Love life.

It's truly super yummy, and not AWFUL for you, though I wouldn't call it a health food. Use 0% yogurt and fat free cool whip to keep calories and fat low.

One tip: if you're going to add sprinkles (duh), do it at the end. K and I made this Friday night, watched an episode of SVU (gripping!), then came back to eat it. When we stirred it, we realized the sprinkles and melted, giving us a gray mix that my friend J called wall spackle. Tastes great, looked like putty. From now on, sprinkles go in at the end.

Tuesday, June 26

Animal Hide Rugs [do or don't?]

Do you find animal hides utilized in interior design to be inhumane?
Jan Showers

Or do you dig the interesting shape, gorgeous pattern, and natural look and feel?

Decor Pad
Is there a difference between decorating with animal hide rugs and having a pair of leather boots? Or displaying deer antlers? Or eating chicken? Or decorating with peacock feathers?

Jan Showers
On some level, it shows respect and appreciation for a gorgeous animal. On other levels, it may perpetuate the inhumane treatment of animals or the poacher-like mentality of killing a living thing to selfishly claim just one part of it.

Cow Hide Rugs
My roommate said, if you're going to kill a cow to eat it, why not take it's hide? It is true that using animal skin has been a part of the human condition always, for clothing, shelter, and even decoration.

Decor Pad
I really like the visual appeal of an animal hide rug layered over a natural fiber rug. Guess who has a natural fiber rug but lacks some animal skin lovin?

E J Interiors
I have a teensy search going on via ebay. If I find one I love (there are options between $100-$200), I might ask for one as a birthday present. Mom's got a gorgeous fur coat, so I'm hoping she won't turn her nose up or disown a heartless daughter for longing for a little cow hide?

Architects for Life
I think these images really display how versatile animal skin rugs can be. Some rooms are modern and sharp, some are traditional and cozy, some are formal, some are casual, all are beautiful.

So? Any varying opinions? I see it everywhere in the design world, but I only saw one in person just this weekend. Isn't that true of many design trends? I see chevron so often online I want to DIE, but have never visited a friend's home and been inundated with zig zags galore. But back to the skin: yes, it looked opulent, and yes, it sparked my new obsession.

Monday, June 25

The Windy City

Ahh, the windy city. Did you know that's not related to the epic wind? Chicago was labeled the windy city after the blustering politicians and movers-and-shakers who were campaigning hard for Chicago to be the location of the world fair. Interesting little tidbit for your Monday morning, courtesy of my co-worker.

Anyway, my new job will be bringing me to Chicago about twice a month. And guess who knows nothing about the city? This girl.

What's the real difference between O'Hare and Midway? Is it smarter to take the metro option to and from airports? I'll always be staying in the loop, probs on the Magnificent Mile. Any good thrifting or vintage shopping downtown? Amazing out-of-the-way art galleries? The best-thing-you-ever-ate? Something not to be missed that only an insider would know??

I've been to Chi town once before: last summer, D and I and some friends went to a concert in Milwaukee then drove to Chicago for a weekend. We did Taste of Chicago, so I've tried many of the big-ticket restaurants, and I've seen Millennium Park and the bean (though I'd happily go back for free concerts/movies??). We caught a game at Wrigley Field, too. Other than those few experiences, I'm a newbie.

Please, if any of you have anything cool, unique, or beloved to share about Chicago, hop to it. My future weekends are in your hands.

Friday, June 22

Words are free [life is movement]

I love when comedians are insightful. Like a dog on it's hind legs. 

It's cheesy, but I agree with this mindset. I want to constantly be moving- sometimes backwards, mostly forwards, always active.

Now can you please keep it down? He has a very important call to take.

Have a great weekend! I'll be happy to come home today after a crazy week. D's dad is visiting for a little father-son golf competition, and we have a great barbecue planned. Enjoy the sun!

Wednesday, June 20

DIY gold-dipped bowls strike again!

Well look at that.

Gold-lipped Platter, Open Sky
Are any of you familiar with OpenSky? It's like many other deal websites (Gilt, Ideeli, etc), where curated collections from industry superstars (think Bobby Flay for grilling, Genevieve Gordon for interior design, Cynthia Rowley for fashion, Kristin Cavallari for dumb shit) are sold on the "cheap". That's debatable, but it's still a pretty cool site that I check out every once in awhile.

The lovely Emily Henderson is currently selling gold-lipped platters and dishes. Hers are probably covered in something better than liquid gold leaf from Michael's...but still. It's exciting to see a project that I've done (read about my version) being sold for mucho dollars elsewhere, especially by a designer I SO admire.

Feel free to sign-up for  OpenSky here- I've bought a few things before. Our wine decanter with the ice-cube tube in the middle (you can see it on our bar cart here) was through an OpenSky sale. Happy shopping friends!

Tuesday, June 19

Bag it up [June Birchbox]

Since I love my Birchbox, and get one every month, I thought I'd start doing reviews (see my post here for more background on the wonder that is Birchbox). Quick rundown: for $10 a month, you get 4-5 high-end beauty products to sample. If you like what you get, you can buy it from Birchbox using points that are awarded for submitting reviews of the products/referring friends.
There it is in all it's glory. Let's go over the details, shall we?

The John Varvatos cologne smells like what my dad uses...not a bad thing, but also not how I want D to smell, ya know? They're really pushing their man-box's cool, but it's double the price of the woman's version.

The tili bag is for your 3oz or smaller liquids while traveling. Well, I suppose you can use them for anything, as they're really just pretty printed zip-locks, but they're marketed as such. Even if money grew on trees I couldn't imagine paying for nice looking disposable bags, but I'll use the one they gave me.

The Masqueology mask I'll be using tonight. I don't have huge pores to begin with, so I'm not sure how much it'll do...but I think face masks are so relaxing, and I love getting them in my box.

The one-step bronzer from stilla is cool, especially the packaging and design- the cremes are wrapped around and look like a double helix or a tornado. A little goes a long way- I think I'll use this as a primer when my current one runs out (also from Birchbox). Primers are great for evening out skin tone and keeping facial oil in check, and this one dries to a matte finish. Nice!

The self tanning wipes are the same as Tan Towels- tanning solution on a wet wipe, pretty much. I haven't used this yet, as I'm in an epic tan battle with my friend T and we agreed "no tan towels", but my roommate used one. She didn't like it as much as Tan Towels- she needed to use 2 to cover her whole body since it dried out quickly, she had a streak or two, and she felt like it didn't get her as dark. However, it's a lot cheaper: Tan Towels are $24 for 5, but these are $15 for 8. I watched the Birchbox video on how to use them, and they recommend moisturizing before use, which I'm sure would help with it drying out, and to apply in a circular motion, which would take care of streaks. So maybe this product is awesome and my roommate just can't read directions?

The lip stain is interesting. I have trouble with lip stains- they give a deep matte color (my favorite kind!), but they can be hard to apply evenly. This product solves the problem by going on like a gel, then dries to a stain finish. SO much easier than regular stains, which go on like a highlighter. This is buildable too, so you can get more color by layering.

Damn good box this month. I'll use everything (except the cologne). Are any of you Birchbox junkies? Does anyone use other versions of the monthly-beauty-mailing trend? I'm happy with this one, but I know there are many versions out there!

Monday, June 18

Potential Office Plants

As I said last week, office plants are wonderful. Think about it: the average american spends 52 hours a week at work (yuck), and we all work until at least 65...that's a whole buncha time. Might as well spend it somewhere lively and visually interesting. Studies have shown that plants in the office can reduce stress and improve mood, can filter the air and reduce pollutants, and can make workers more productive and also more creative.

Plants are typically listed as full-sun, partial-sun, or shade plants. I need a full-out shade plant, which can survive with only artificial light if they need to, but you may be lucky enough to get a bit of natural light. You want something low pollen/low allergen too, or else you're the butthead making all your cube-mates sneeze. For that reason, I'm going to go ahead and forgo any flowering options. To avoid mold, replant in indoor potting soil, which is more resistant. Also, make sure that the soil becomes fairly dry between waterings, as moisture can obviously lead to mold. 

Here are some plants I'm considering. I'll probably end up going with whatever my local hardware store has on hand.

Inch Plant, or Wandering Jew
Odd name, pretty plant! I like how the leaves form flower-like shapes, and it seems to be a good size.

Asparagus Fern
Is this creepy looking? I think it looks like tentacles...don't want to worry about THAT coming over my shoulder while I'm busy excel-ing.
Snake's Tongue
This is apparently a top pick for filtering the air of pollutants. Nice!
Jade Plant
These babies live forever and are EXTREMELY hardy. Good to know.

Boston Fern
Love the name, love the look. It has a playful shape and is pretty dense.

Spider Plant
Love this one- great mix of colors and a robust shape.
Weeping Fig
Not sure if I like the rubbery looking leaves...if I'm getting a real plant, I want it to LOOK real, you know?
Aloe Vera
This can do double duty: make your office nice, soothe your sunburn. Aloe is a type of cactus. Some cacti would do well in an office, but some, like succulents, require too much sun.

I'll be traveling Monday through Friday this week, so no point in purchasing a plant this weekend, but within a few weeks or so I'll have to pick one up. Any ideas? Votes on the above?

Saturday, June 16

Fashion Poses [just for laughs]

I found this guys post, "How to pose like a fashion blogger", to be HILARIOUS.

Isn't it funny to think about? We see these poses all the time, but it never registers for me how hilarious they look.

This dude is a "straight male fashion blogger" and writer. I kinda wish he was my best friend, because I think he'd make me laugh with all his snarky-yet-on-point worldly observations.

Go check him out and maybe we can convince him to be our friend together.

Mixology [Weekend Cocktails]

There's a lovely guest post (by Roxy from Cup of Te) over at There Comes a Yes, and I'm just smitten with this image below. What colorful cocktails, so beautifully arranged!

Hop on over to read the full article, or click here to see 107 gorgeous NYC cocktails and recipes. I'll be trying the El Peppino Fresco this weekend for sure...any concoction with cucumbers is a friend of mine.
I'm going to a Dave Matthews Band concert tonight. In a party bus. With 20+ people. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 15

Classy or sassy? Affordable summer dresses

My brother's lovely fiance, J, is on the prowl for shower dresses. As a bride-to-be, there are so many engagements for which you have to look cute. Engagement parties, engagement photos, showers, bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, after-the-wedding-brunches, and the list goes on.

It got me thinking that the entire spring season is really one party after another, calling for cute but appropriate styling (if grandma is going to be there, save the Jolie-leg-slit and the J.Lo-navel-bearer for next time).

Here are some dresses that I'm admiring this season- I found so many that were more expensive and amazing, but I'm trying to shop for items that will have a low cost-per-wear...I think that's what TRUE value is. Yes, my Michael Kors watch was expensive, but I wear it every day and it will run for opposed to the almost-as-expensive party dress that gets two wears. Ya with me?

I really loved most of the Trina Turk collection for Banana Republic (and loved their cocktail party release too)! This dress fit me well, but I'm hoping to catch it on's $130 and there are only a few sizes left online, but my local BR has TONS of these dresses, so check in store. Here's one of my favorite fashion bloggers in the dress!
Trina Turk Dress, Banana Republic
Comes in white too- for $65? Forget about it. I like the sequins in demure colors. If you're of the mindset that the bride should wear white to every engagement, this one in white would be bachelorette-ready.
Asos Sequin Dress
This is the most expensive dress I'm posting at $165. I think it's amazing. Also comes in pale pink.
Chiffon Maxi Dress
Modcloth is a great option if you want a dress with that retro vibe. I've ordered a few pieces from them over the years and I'm always pleasantly surprised with the quality. This one's just over $50, and I find the strap detailing to be unique.
Summer It Up, Modcloth
This one has great reviews as being sexy and classy, so what's not to like? I usually go to Anthro for quirky but well-made pieces, but this dress proves they can do demure classics just as well. $140 isn't bad for such a versatile dress.
Rouched Column Dress, Anthro
The pleating on the top of this dress is adorable, and I love a defined waist. Would need to be jazzed up with accessories though.
Loft Pleated Bodice Dress
This JCrew number is sweet and summery, and comes in bright green and lavender as well. Hard to tell in this picture, but it's eyelet lace. Under $100.
Ella Eyelet Dress, JCrew
Bright and playful coral and a good balance of lots-o-legs and covered up top. A bib necklace or longer bauble would jazz it up. ShopBop is always a win in my book.
Scuba Dress, TopShop
Love the peacock colors in this Dorothy Perkins dress, $70 and work appropriate.
Feather Border Dress

This baby below is under $50, and comes in baby pink as well. The back is fun, check it out at Asos.
Asos Dot Dress
Great color, great midi-length, and pleats and silk are definitely in. Make sure to undo one button...gotta be ready to party.
Midi Pleated Dress, TopShop
This thing is ADORABLE. I love peplum (but only if you're super petite, like J). They have this in black (sexy) and hot pink (fun) as well as this cream. I like that it hints of professional-sexy, right? It's less than $70.
Asos Peplum Dress

Thursday, June 14

Office Plant Inspiration

We all love the outdoors, no? I appreciate seeing green. Big trees, little plants, delicate blooms, hearty bushes, it's all good. Plants, and anything from nature really, can be calming, and having some living, oxygen-producing thing around is healthy, right? 

If you remember this post, I adore me some succulents. However, they need too much sun to survive in my department's cubicle jungle. 

I've been thinking I should get a plant for my office (by office, I mean cubicle). I need something that doesn't need too much light, and as I travel a LOT (and am forgetful), it can't need too much water either. I'm going to do some research, but wondered if any of you have a nice little healthy plant that's doing well indoors?

Here are some lovely offices with thriving plants.

Design Sponge
Marion House
So, in that second to last image the plant may be in the room behind the office...but still, that space is incredible. I would get mucho mucho work done there.

Maybe I'll just go all the way. If green is good, I'm the best! Now pull up a bush and lets get some work done. Watch out for my roooohoooots! (that's for you J)