Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Put a little spring in your step

Happy Leap Day!

 I started off the day with the idea of taking a picture every hour. However, I quickly became frustrated with how boring photos of conference calls and computer work can be. Even my attempts to head out at lunch were marred by dreary weather. So, I focused on the next best thing...putting the LEAP back in Leap Day. I love that I have enthusiastic coworkers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Party of one


I silently began cursing my friend Conor when I saw that he linked to the New York Times article, One Is the Quirkiest Number, by Steven Kurutz. After a week of lovely weddings and the Night Circus (more on this later in the week), I didn't think I could take an article on how I was dooming myself to a life of solitude by living alone (the word 'perils' is in the subtitle). Luckily, the gist of the article was that (1) living alone can be awesome and (2) you may develop some unique habits that may be hard to break. The ladies of Sex & the City referred to these habits as "secret single behavior", but I like how one of the interviewees refers to it as behavior developed as a result of "living without social checks and balances". Ha!

This piece got me thinking about whether I have my own quirky, single behavior (short answer: um, yes). I was able to come up with a few tics that can likely be attributed to the fact that I live alone. Here's a little peek behind the curtain.

- I check in every room and closet when I get home. Hello...hidden serial killers.
- On most weeknights when I'm home, I may cook dinner and watch TV in my slip.
- If I get out of bed in the middle of the night, I tend to (literally) leap back in.
- I have a special relationship with the snooze alarm. I've been known to keep hitting it for up to two hours.

Not too weird, right? I'm not too worried about getting stuck in my ways. The right person can get me to leave the snooze alarm behind ;-)

P.S. You know you've been blogging a long time when you feel like you might be repeating yourself.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Crafting a new space

One of the things I worried about most when moving into a new space was the loss of my built-in craft area. While my old apartment was small, I was lucky enough to have a built-in desk that made for a perfect place to hide away all of my craft supplies. Even though I was gaining more space, it's not like I would have an extra bedroom/office/craft room (leave a girl to dream). Enter the filing cabinet...

 new craft "space"

If you know me at all, you know I'm obsessed with things that have multiple drawers (I will own a library card catalogue one day). My solution came in the form of a tall filing cabinet being tossed by my office. Free? Industrial? Yes! I was a little worried that it wouldn't properly blend in, but I was happy to be proven wrong. In fact, it's one of my favorite corners.

My type collection graces the top, and there is the beginning of an inspiration board happening on the side. Open the drawers, and you may find things still a bit messy, but it's coming along.

just my type

inspiration bits

anatomy of a craft drawer
(ribbon, vintage bias tape, crepe paper for that spontaneous party, vintage photos and bowties, 
a print by Rar Rar Press, blank canvas, etc.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rules of engagement

first dance

I am such a sap at weddings, and Saturday evening was no exception. I went with Ravena to Ish and Clement's wedding, and true to form, I was fighting back tears at the walk down the aisle, the first dance, and during the speeches. It really was a lovely wedding. I never thought I'd be that big of a fan of navy, but I really did love how she used it.

The bride harassing Vena for wearing 5 inch heels.
Ish harassing Ravena about wearing 5-inch heels. 

I'm probably jinxing myself here, but watching others get married definitely helps me narrow down what I do (and do not) want as part of my future ceremony. I thought I'd share a few of the fun rules I've come up with. (smile)

1. No photos during the ceremony. In my world, wedding ceremonies are meant to be intimate, and I want everyone to be present and in the moment. Watch the bride walk down the aisle; don't scope her in your little screen. No photos taken with your point and shoot, cell phone, etc. I'm so serious about this that I'm tempted to confiscate them at the door. The photo rule does not apply to the reception and/or cocktail hour.

2. Rule #1 includes professional photography. I realize this is likely to be seen as a bit crazy, but it goes back to my wanting an intimate ceremony. I find professional photographers and their flashes really distracting during the ceremony and know that I wouldn't be able to ignore them. Plus, how many people display photos of the actual ceremony? The professional photographer will have free reign any other time during the event.

3. Late people won't be allowed in. In fact, I won't really have ushers so much as bouncers.

4. Pre-wedding cocktail hour (or maybe a shot bar...haha). Might as well get folks nice and loose from the get go.

Am I alone on my weird photography rules?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hang in there

Hanging in there.

We made it to Friday! You have no idea how happy I am about this. I'm ready to pack up and get the weekend started. Lots of planning on this weekend's horizon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

List: Blogs I'm digging

Packing makes me silly
Me, sporting some of the random items I ran across while packing.

I realized the other day that it's been a while since I shared some of my favorite blog reads. I don't know about you, but there are those blogs I skim quickly, ones where I only read certain regular segments, and those that I devour immediately. The latter category includes the people who I secretly wish would post more, if only to feed the minor addiction I have to what they have to share. I need to remind myself to share a few of these reads every now and then because I totally get all self-satisfied when I get my friends hooked on someone new.

So, without further adieu, here are a few of the blogs, etc. that keep me eyeing my Google reader.

Shutterbean: Tracy has a little bit of everything, and I love it. The recipes she posts always look amazing, and I'm a huge fan of the juice and adult beverages she shares. I generally need a little bit more than recipes, however, and Tracy delivers with regular life updates and a weekly list of her finds around the Web. I might be even more smitten with the Joy the Baker podcast, which she co-hosts with Joy the Baker. Every week I end up laughing to the point where that embarrassing snort sneaks out (seriously, listen to the episode where they talk about uncomfortable knickers). Have I also mentioned we share a love of stripes?

That is all.: Ashley's a local girl with great taste! Her VA is for Lovers series is a must read, particularly if you live in Virginia or plan on stopping by soon. Sometimes I find we've been haunting the same places and other times I discover something new to explore in my state (i.e., pie). Perfect. What I love more, however, are her makeup posts. I've always loved makeup, but over the past decade or so (let's blame it on working for an environmental nonprofit) I've gone super natural. I'm good with this, but I've also been telling myself for the past couple of years that I want to start experimenting with makeup again. Ashley is super inspiring. Her reviews and tutorials are the just the kick in the pants I needed. Things to check out - the YouTube channel she launched late last year.

andrew and carissa: Beautiful photos, video, and lots of soul. Following their adoption story totally melted my heart and made me question whether I am doing enough.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Search for Stars Hollow: Staunton, VA

The first thing you notice when you get to Staunton is the way the buildings nestle into the surrounding hills, followed by lots of amazing old shit*. The second thing you quickly learn about this adorable town is that the locals pronounce it Stan-ton (and they will harass you if you say it wrong).

 tick tock

A potential Stars Hollow can't be judged by adorableness alone.

Antiques are all the rage Towering

These people are serious about their history. A group of concerned citizens banded together in the early '90s to save this city from being bulldozed in favor of a major highway and a potential mining operation, and thank god they did. Instead, this Shenandoah Valley hub has pretty much anything you'd be interested in. Art? Numerous galleries. Theater? They're home to the Blackfriar's Playhouse, the only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. There are also the requisite number of antique stores (which I've managed to avoid...cute town tends to equal pricey vintage) and plenty of history, including but not limited to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the Frontier Culture Museum.

wall space Windowpane

There is also plenty of the good stuff - coffee, restaurants, nature (lots of good people in local government making good things happen for the rivers and trees). Staunton has all the small, local stores covered, including stores for clocks, party, books, music, cameras, hobby, and many more.

Guys, this may be the closest Stars Hollow hit I've come across! They even have an ongoing campaign to save a local bridge. Flabbergasted.

*Honestly, I couldn't resist. It's the first thing that came to mind, and I have been promising to keep it real. ;-)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gatsby girl

I know a lot of winter babies, and this girl is no exception. We celebrated Scarlet's 32nd birthday in style this weekend, Gatsby style. Not a lot of photo documentation of this night given the low lighting. Trust me, more people were there. :-)


The evening started with classy beverages reminiscent of the 1920s at Claire's at the Depot, a cute spot in downtown Warrenton housed in an old train station, and ended at the local Irish watering hole.

 Claire's at the Depot

Steven gone Gatsby Scarlet on her 32nd

This last series of shots is my attempt at a 1920s hairstyle. If you guys know me, you know I specialize in using a flat iron and pulling my hair up in a bun. Luckily, I was saved by a $5 curling iron from Wal-Mart and a little inspiration in the form a Clara Bow. Curly hair, dark smoky eyes, and what turned out to be an awesome tube of $0.93 ruby lipstick by NYC. hair there

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Train travelogue, final notes on my journey

You may remember a little (*cough* 53-hour) train trip I took from DC to Texas in December. I've been waiting until I sorted through some of my video to write more about it. Of course, if you follow me on twitter, you probably already saw my train travelogue. I took a similar trip a few years ago and loved it. It should then come as no surprise that I went into this trip completely romanticizing the journey.

Maybe it was because I'm almost ten years older or perhaps because the train was a lot more crowded, but it didn't turn out to be the inspiring trip that I expected. Despite the unexpected, there is always so much to take away. I've grown to love the Texas countryside after years of craving mountains, greenery, and trees.

I didn't realize it until I was midway through my trip, but one of the things I like most about trips like this is people watching. Trains are chock full of a variety of different characters. As I watched the way they interacted with each other, it occurred to me that I was developing plot lines around this not-so-merry band of travelers.

Spending as much time as possible in the observation and cafe cars, I left myself open to random conversations with my fellow travelers. The conversation that will stick with me most is an early morning chat over coffee with a Chicago nun on her way to West Virginia to visit her sister. Her demeanor was infectious, and her stories of bear spotting and dancing at midnight in a meadow are the reason I'd consider doing it all again.

Some of my favorite notes (made to myself on my phone) include:

"Love gained and lost. Plaid pajama pants. Smoke break relationships."

"In real life, people who hook up aren't always attractive. The unfortunate and downtrodden also seek solace in each other."

That last note might seem a little harsh, but you weren't witness to the things I was during the witching hour in the observation car.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bathroom redecorating on a budget

Bathroom corner

One of the nice things about moving is the ability pare down and start anew. I am enjoying figuring out on which walls to hang certain pieces (and what to cycle out for a bit). My bedroom is currently pretty sparse considering that I had very little in the way of official bedroom furniture (save for a bed) in my previous apartment. I crave real wood, vintage pieces and am refusing to rush the process.

Another room that I'm focusing my redecorating efforts on is my bathroom. I had my eye on a white ruffled shower curtain but couldn't bring myself to pay what both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie were asking. I'd rather invest money in fancy bath and beauty products than in a shower curtain. Luckily, I stumbled across a $20 version* of the shower curtain on Amazon one night.

Armed with the shower curtain I wanted, I focused on making my dreams of a winter white bathroom a reality. Enter my second hurdle. Attractive bathroom accessories are difficult to find. Everything looks the same and is overly priced. A simple tumbler** was $12.99 when purchased in the Bath section. Something similar, when purchased in another section, is half that price. This is why, when I ran into friends while shopping at Target on Wednesday night, I was in the kitchen section. Bigger selection, prices more reflective of the quality of the item being purchased (I may have grabbed my soapbox while standing in that kitchen aisle).  I walked away (very pleased with myself) with the items pictured above. The ceramic ramekin is perfect for holding sundry bits and was about $3. I think the latte mug, which will hold my toothpaste, etc., was a dollar more.

Are there things you're willing to get creative with? Should everything be about quality?

*The quality is definitely fitting something you'd pay $20 for; however, it suits my needs.
**A cuter, even fancier tumbler can be found at Anthro for around $8, if you're in the market.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pajamas, brunch, and a relaxing weekend

Conor with yarn

This weekend was such a relaxing treat after last week's move and unpacking fiesta. Some of the group came over for Allie's last night in the states. Conor popped a bottle of wine before we headed to Rio for dinner (I'll spare you the protracted debate around eating at the restaurant or getting it to go). We all wound up back at my place in our pajamas, watching Bridesmaids.

pajama party
Ravena cracking up at me getting on Conor for playing with my balls of yarn.

The next day we managed to get in some shopping, brunch, and internet time before I dropped Allie off at the airport.

Lou Lou

Brunch was at one of my favorite places, Community Canteen. I played around with the Super 8 app on my iPhone and shot a little piece of our meal. I struggle with what to do with random snippets of video, but I like the idea of little video diary entries.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Letters of love and wisdom


With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I was touched by this letter John Steinbeck wrote to his son in 1958. I've highlighted some of my favorite lines.

via Brain Pickings, via Letters of Note

"New York
 November 10, 1958
Dear Thom:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Almost normal

Terra's a lot of help!

I finally got everything moved!Thanks to some stellar friends (yes, even Terra) we made quick work of it. I even survived an insanely busy January at work. Hopefully this means things can get back to normal around here. In the meantime, here are a few corners of my new home.

Current bed. Check out that natural light!

Thank you, @anthropologie, for the lovely hooks.