Friday, December 21

link it up

Happy Friday! It's for a song, comin to you live from the South Shore of Massachusetts! That's right, I'm a-home for the holidays and STILL willing to bring you multiple links to impressive things that others have done. 

I'm a provider.

First thing after the holiday rush, I'm getting us some new dish towels and doin it up ombre. We don't actually have any towels, and exclusive use of paper towel is wasteful, no? I'm loving the simple, saturated blue of Design*Sponge pillows...should be easy to translate into towels. Ikea here I come!

'Tis the season for holiday parties, fancy dresses, and up-dos! I honestly couldn't believe how easy this hair tutorial was, especially considering how artful it looks. Check it out- it's a video, which is the best kind for learning.

I just found this recipe today, and though I'm quite happy with the current season, it got me dreaming of summer flavors.

My friend K sent this video along, and I loved it. He's so right: everything IS amazing, and no one is happy. I thought about it on my flight home today. Louis C.K. at his best, which is pretty damn incredible.

K wins the coveted Best Forwarded Links of the Week Award (he probably doesn't know, but he's in a close and dirty competition with my sister...but she's aware enough for the both of them). Check out this image he sent (if you haven't already lost a full work day a brief lunch to searching for human climbers): it's Mount Everest in 2 billion pixels. You won't get it until you follow the link and start to toggle and zoom.

And finally, this blog is all about branding (hence the name), and tracks marketing design alterations and breaks down the "why" of logo upgrades. Immediately thought of my graphic-design-friend E.

If you're free and in the area, come visit and see my sister, AKA Jareth the Goblin King. From her mouth to your ears, do.not. get your hair cut in Europe. They LOVE the mullet-bob, and they'll cite language-barriers as the problem if you start crying and threatening to kill yourself.

Thursday, December 20

DIY [glass etching]

After hearing how easy and inexpensive glass etching could be, my friend J and I decided to give it a try. For supplies, we needed etching cream, tape/contact paper/stencils/anything sticky, foam or paint brushes, and something glass (duh). We used glass things we had laying around, since it was only a practice round. I had a few matching glasses from a November beer tasting, and J used half-burned candles. You could also wash out old pasta sauce jars for a free practice piece.

Use an ubiquitous 40% coupon for Michael's if you're going to buy the etching cream in stores. You can sign up for their app, but it's just as easy to go to their weekly ad on a mobile phone and pull up a coupon image while in store. Current coupons include 50% a regular priced item and 25% off your entire purchase, good through Dec 22nd.

First step, which we of course forgot about, is washing your glass piece, potentially with a little hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to make sure it's completely oil-free. Dry thoroughly. Next, use your sticky stuff to make a design. It would be far more detailed if we used contact paper and an X-acto Knife, but we used what we had and what we had was hot pink duct tape. I cut strips and haphazardly applied them to the glasses, like so.

Once the glasses were ready, we applied the etching cream. Some other etching creams, like Armour Etch, are incredible strong, which means two things: they work very quickly and they are dangerous. They could give you light results in just a few minutes and deep etching in 10, but you also need to be very careful about getting it on your things, including hands. Martha Stewart's etching cream (which was the only one J could find at Michael's), on the other hand, was very weak. In fact, when we washed it off after the recommended amount of time, we couldn't really see much of anything. We tried again, dabbing it on super thick and leaving it in place for half an hour, and that seemed to do the trick. It's not a problem necessarily, you just have to be patient...not my strong suit. I think this would be safe to do with supervise-able and semi-mature children/young teens, which I wouldn't say with Armour Etch.

It's hard to see in these pictures, but hopefully you get the idea. I also wonder if Martha Stewart etching cream gave us the frosted, even look we achieved. When I compare our results to those I shared from A Beautiful Mess, they really don't look that similar. I like the rustic, more aggressive look of their etched glass, but would probably prefer the evenness of Martha's brand for monogramming and classier pieces. Your opinions?

Wednesday, December 19

Bibliophile [we need to talk about kevin]

This was very, very good. And unfortunately, given the tragedy in Connecticut, rather timely.

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

I didn't know this was a movie as well, so I imagine many more of you will have heard of this than I expected. It's a disturbing but compelling attempt to understand the mind of a killer. Here's the blurb:

In a series of brutally introspective missives to her husband, Franklin, from whom she is separated, Eva tries to come to grips with the fact that their 17-year-old son, Kevin, has killed seven students and two adults...In crisply crafted sentences that cut to the bone of her feelings about motherhood, career, family, and what it is about American culture that produces child killers, Shriver yanks the reader back and forth between blame and empathy, retribution and forgiveness. Never letting up on the tension, Shriver ensures that, like Eva, the reader grapples with unhealed wounds.

It was disquieting to say the least, but brilliantly written, heartbreaking and scary and funny. I was reading it when I went to Berlin, and it was almost compelling enough to keep me from exploring Europe. I think the less you know, the better; there aren't big twists, so to speak, but the story does unfold in an engaging way. By going back to the beginning of Kevin's life, I do think it takes a simplistic view as to what makes a killer- honestly, I think Shriver is a proponent of nature over nurture, which can be a bit disheartening. But even with this overly simplified explanation for Kevin's personality, the story is so well crafted as to make it worth the read, and touches on subjects other than violence, such as motherhood, travel, familial priorities, honesty, communication, and more. I was highlighting passages all day.

As I'm sure all of you agree, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families decimated by the shootings in CT. I'm sure that, for plenty of you, the LAST thing you want to read is a book about a school shooting, but for some, it may add to the dialogue.

Tuesday, December 18

DIY [etched glass inpsiration]

One King's Lane, a great site for decor and design inspiration, had this set of glasses and decanter that I found clever (thanks J for sending the link!). We're thinking we should try glass etching now, since we could perhaps recreate this and make it more our style. We gave it a shot (stay tuned), and while it didn't come out like these images below, it was very simple and relatively easy to get right.

Here are some tips from Martha Stewart, the brand of glass etching cream we ended up using. We don't have contact paper (paper that is sticky on the back), which I think may be necessary for any intricate design, but lord knows we have tape!

I first read about glass etching over at A Beautiful Mess (yup, I knew we needed the contact paper). As with many things I try, it was easy, embarrassingly so- makes me wonder how many people avoid doing a project and never realize what a joke it is to begin with.

How would you use glass etching? I really think monograms or typography would be gorgeous...maybe huge ampersands? I've always loved the Mr. and Mrs. glasses below, but someone beat me to buying them for my brother and his new wife. Drats! While I love the gold, I bet they'd look great as an etching, too.

Friday, December 14

Link it up.

Friday again. I've been in NYC for the past two days, and am staying through the weekend to do lovely holiday sh*t with my girl R and her hubby D. Expect instagrams (can that be a noun?) on Monday and a very tired Meaghan. Boston next week and CANNOT WAIT to relax at home!

If you're not galavanting around a Christmas tourist trap, take a few minutes to follow the links below. 

My friend J sent me this one: The Hater's Guide to the William Sonoma Catalog. SO funny. He goes through the most absurd products (panini spatula, anyone?) and breaks it down with an oft sarcastic, always humorous personal addition.

I've always loved How About Orange, and here she breaks down how to make origami stars, then uses them in gift wrapping and to make a garland. Way too much holiday decor adorableness for one blog post.

This will be more useful once I have a fireplace, but until then you can practice making a stacked log   installation, courtesy of the hunted interior.

I love Bruno Mars, and I love women, and I consider Janelle Monae to be a combination of those two things. Her voice if phenom, her songs are catchy, and she has this 50's-sexy-goofy vibe. Just try not to find her awesome.

As much as I want to meet the man that wrote this, I think I want to meet the woman it was written about even more. I'm in love with this passage (thank you stumble upon).

Wednesday, December 12

[DIY] Crafternoon

I know I've shared a crafternoon craft with you once before (remember G's printing press?), but I attended another last week with the cutest ideas I had to share.

I made Christmas cards (just barely plural here, card making takes FOREVER). I used paint chips (my own project here, and all my inspiration ideas), which was fun and of course inexpensive. Is it considered recycling if you took all the paint chips to begin with?

Either way, it was fun but time consuming.

G's sister, J, and a few of her roommates were trying an adorable holiday DIY that I had to share: cinnamon stick candles! Could not have been easier, smell great, look festive and neat, and photograph really well:

All that's required is a hot glue gun, some cinnamon, and something to tie around your bundle: twine, hemp, baker's string, ribbon, etc. We would put a thin strip of hot glue on the back of a stick and apply it so it's flush with the bottom of the candle. Work your way around the pillar, varying heights and sizes for a rustic look. It can be tricky to find the last piece to fit, but like a puzzle, it is very satisfying to complete, and takes just a few minutes. Wrap it up with a bow and you're done! Here's mine in action at home, chillin with one of my favorite Slatkin & Co scents (Balsam Fir is the best, FYI).

Definitely buy cinnamon in bulk; G bought it from Amazon, where I found a 5lb bag for $25. While poking around, I found this set of 6 pillar candles for less than $6. Good reviews for a clean-burning, unscented, long-lasting candle.

Any holiday decor DIY's around your homes this season?

Tuesday, December 11

DIY wishlist

So we've shared some lovely gift ideas with you this December, but not everything can be had for nickles and dimes, so I thought it was time to bring in the DIY ideas. As I've said before, not all DIY's are money savers, but some certainly are, and regardless, it's a thoughtful and meaningful way to share some holiday love. If you're tight on cash this year and would prefer to make your gifts, here are some ideas.

How about some DIY angastora bitters? They are the workhorse of bitters and are a key ingredient in many classic cocktails. I was going to do this for this season, but you need some time (three weeks and three days, to be exact), so if this is your jam you better jump on it.

Art of Manliness had a few ideas that D forwarded to me (he's trying to get on my byline, clearly): why not make your own beef jerky? Fantastic stocking stuffer, and probably smells amazing. It's quite expensive to buy, too, so this might save you a bit. Dad, we should try this with your homemade molasses over the holidays, yes?

Everyone needs to get clean, so soap is a useful present that will last. I'm very impressed with the detailed cold-press soap making instructions over at Classy Miss Molassy, and saw her recipe for coffee-scented soap. What man wouldn't like that? Since you have to buy full bottles of oil, you'll have plenty left over to make more. Even if you don't use the rest, the cost per bar is around $1.50 for this recipe. Not bad!

That's enough for the men- why should they get all the fun? Here are some ideas for the ladies.

Why not jazz up some small bowls for your girl friend, sister or mom? I think this idea is sweet and simple, and only requires a steady hand and a sharpie to make things festive.

This is for sale from Fab via Living Social, but why buy something you can make for less? I love the sentimentality of making it yourself anyway: it says sister in morse code (aww). Lots of possibilities here. J, we should make them for our littles.

What about candles? Everyone loves them, and if you don't, you probably do at the holidays. Emily Henderson (one of my faves) does a super cheap dollar-store DIY project for HGTV occasionally, and these candles came out great. You can follow her style, or get creative- contact paper, glitter, ribbons, get the idea. Who wouldn't want these?

Monday, December 10

Deal Alert: 20x200 art sale!

Hey y'all, as an addition to my post last week on affordable art from 20x200, I wanted to share their current Bloomspot sale: pay $30 for $60 worth of art, or pay $60 for $120 worth of art. Talk about fortuitous timing. If you were loving any of the prints from last week, now is the time to pick it up!

Discover [Kennedy Center Millennium Stage]

Happy Monday! If there is such a thing.

Exciting weekend for us. Caught up with many old friends in Baltimore, attended a festive holiday party, and won our Nakid league flag football championships, all in the freak 60 degree weather we've been experiencing lately. We had a victory party at our place after, then a roomie dinner date in AdMo to say goodbye to S.

check out that trophy
More gift guides coming this week, a book review or two, and some DIY projects to get you in the spirit. For today, I wanted to share a unique date idea that D and I have been meaning to try: a free  performances at the Kennedy Center! Go early (5 to 6pm) to enjoy half-priced beers and a beautiful view of the Potomac from the terrace (you can see our apartment directly across the river, too). At 6pm any day of the week there is a free show on Millennium Stage.

Worried that you can't make the show or missed a good one? No problem: Watch live performances online or browse the archives.

If you're DC local, here is the December lineup. Otherwise, check the theatre and music venues in your own area. It's pretty common for there to be free or reduced-admission shows if you can be flexible and know when to look.

Friday, December 7

link it up.

Does anyone else think life is passing far too quickly? Here we are and it's Friday again.

For your funny video viewing, check out this hipster thanksgiving from Harvard's comedy troupe, or College Humor's latest, a Nickelback parody for instagram. I've literally taken every picture they describe.

so cool.
Ever been jealous of the amazing apartments owned by characters in your favorite TV shows? I thought this was a great idea for a post: explore the believably of some of the most famous televised homes of all time (Carrie, Liz Lemon, Seinfeld, Monica...)

what do you want more: the closet or the things inside it?
Our Sunday flag football team has been phenomenal this season: we're heading to the semi-finals and, hopefully, the finals this weekend. We're having the team over to celebrate after; if I have time, I'd love to make this cheesy jalapeno pull bread- it just screams football snacking to me.

too easy to make, and probably too delicious!
I don't consider tumblrs to be blogs. They're not. They're curated photo albums, sure, but they aren't blogs. I use to think they were a bit pathetic, but I've cultivated a respect for those that are really well done, such as Modern Hepburn. I want to meet the curator, because the images give such a strong and defined feeling, I'm sure she (he?) would be a very deliberate, thoughtful person.

I bet her butt is cold.
I may have to start watching Parks and Rec, because this interview with Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) was the funniest thing ever. And I don't even "get it" the way a viewer certainly would. It's comic genius, and it's so spontaneous! Seriously. Go read it.

I'm already giggling.
We have Christmas parties, a date night to see Lincoln, a visit to Baltimore, and hopefully a big W on Sunday for our football team. Have a great weekend and see ya'll on Monday!

Thursday, December 6

bag it up [a manly wishlist]

Today we have a manly wishlist for your perusal, from my very own D. Take it away manfriend.

Celebrity post time.  After months of anticipation, I know you're all excited for my debut on for a song.

For those of you who don't know me, you should be aware that Meaghan has been the prime assistant (she would say catalyst) in the development of my own style and the refining of my new, adult personal tastes. Unfortunately, I've found that as my tastes become more refined, they also become more expensive. But, to go with the theme of this site, there are ways to limit the cost and still find some high quality stuff if you look in the right places. This time of year is the best time to do that, both because there are people out there looking to buy you things (hey Mom) and also because there are some great sales to be had.

Here's my list of items that the men who read this blog (or the women who read this blog and date cool dudes who will appreciate this stuff) should look to pick up this holiday season:
Naturally, I'm starting this off with alcohol. You should know that Meg and I are big fans of good drinks, and the best gift I have ever received was the bar cart she made me for Christmas last year.  I suggest picking your guy up a nice bottle of rye or bourbon. They're the base of many great, warm, cozy drinks for this time of year, and you have a lot of flexibility in how you drink them (straight, on the rocks, in countless types of cocktails, etc.) I'm really hoping to pick up a bottle of Russell's Reserve Rye and a Maker's Mark 46 this year. For a cheaper but solid rye that's great for cocktails, pick up a bottle of Old Overholt for $10-$15 at your local liquor store. It's our go-to.  
And to experiment a bit with different types of drinks, pick up some different types of bitters, a couple drops of which (literally -- one or two drops) will put a huge kick in your drink. 

For the guys who are not familiar with this site, you immediately need to check out Bonobos (and follow the link to get $25 off on your first purchase). They are one of the best men's online clothing stores out there. They recently started selling in brick-and-mortar stores through Nordstrom, but their main business is online. Free shipping, free returns, no hassles. Best customer service in the market, hands down. 

For some new winter additions to the wardrobe, I'm looking at a camel-colored merino wool v-neck for work, and am looking forward to trying out their new slim fit shirt lineBonobos pants fit better than any other brand I've tried- for a business casual look that is sure to impress, try their "Falkirks". 

There's more to dressing than shirts and pants. I'm looking at these awesome gloves over at Piperlime to prepare for what might be a harsher winter than last and this pair of Chippewa boots that seem functional and attractive. And if you can't pick up the gloves, try this to keep your hands warm.

This mustache tie clip is fun and just $35, and these Ray Ban aviators are classic. Both could make good stocking stuffers.

Media is always a practical and welcome gift for your guy. I can't keep up with Meaghan, but I do try to get through as many books as I can. I tend to stick to non-fiction, and have found some really great books over the past year. The first one I would suggest is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. The book is very career-focused, but applies to any situation. It's all about the importance of being selfless in the creation and cultivation of new relationships to the benefit of both parties. It also goes into detail about ways to strategize and stay organized as you, inevitably, end up meeting and staying in touch with far more people than ever before. I work on issues related to energy and the environment, so The Quest, by Daniel Yergin, is particularly interesting to me, though still accessible: it's both a historical account and modern day assessment of energy and environmental challenges that the world will face in the 21st Century. Lastly (and this is no revolutionary suggestion), I think everyone out there should read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. The book was absolutely fascinating from countless perspectives- a must read.

If books aren't your thing, TV series are a great idea. We're currently working through The West Wing (seasons for $20, 7-season-series for under $100), and we lost hours of our lives to Homeland during the hurricane.

Last but not least, the most wanted item on my wishlist: a 1969 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

D obviously thinks he's been very good this year. Hope this helps you for your male boyfriends/brothers/dads/friends!

Wednesday, December 5

Affordable Art part dos

I shared some affordable art last month, and wanted to revisit the concept and share our experience with 20x200. You may have heard from this online art vendor before, as they're often on the deal websites- $30 for $60-worth of art, that kind of thing. D and I took advantage twice, and were very happy with the whole transaction. They also do weekly flash sales, so sign up for the emails if you're interested. We also just got a $10 off coupon in the mail yesterday...bottom line is, wait for the deals!

They do photography and fine art prints, so pick your poison. You're going to think, "Meaghan, you are the poorest curator ever", but I think I've actually culled quite a bit from the massive 1,000-print website. Enjoy!

Now that I'm traveling for work to Manhattan almost every week, I'm slowly turning into a believer. NYC rocks. This print says it all- everything is bigger, more glamorous, more possible in the big apple. Also realllllly like his "yellow dress" version. Give it to your friend who can't stand cities that shut down at midnight.

Central Park South
For your friends that need an ass-kicking (ha ha)! They have a bunch of these movement-strip prints,  elephants and horses and big cats. Very cool, graphic, modern but quirky. Give one to your Democratic friend.

We all know I love flamingos after this post, so I thought this was funny. I literally smile when I look at it, because I picture the photographer just letting this pink embarrassment of an animal walk around the studio. It's so odd. Love the use of white space. Would be so sweet in a little girls' room.

Flamingo No. 4
This photo feels like an adventure. My old roommate D would love this, I think. Bit hipster-moody but also makes me think. Dudes love art, it's what separates the boys from the men (i.e., boy hangs jerseys, unframed Godfather posters and towels, man hangs ART).

Was going to buy these two for my dad last Christmas, but wasn't sure if he even likes art. Well, he likes art- I mean, his mom is an extremely talented artist and my parents have a ton of nice prints and original pieces in their home, but this is quirky and odd and probably only appropriate in an office. Know what I mean? Me and D can put fun/strange art anywhere, but parents are a different animal.

Apart Wind Up Clock
Old Wind Up Clock

Currently only left in huge size (but wouldn't that be amazing?!?), this is the print that I bought with my deal. I love it. The colors are vibrant and the subject matter just makes me sigh and long for a cocktail with an umbrella. It's an ariel view of Portugal, one of my favorite places I've ever visited. What mother wouldn't mind a little visual getaway now and then?

Praia Piquinia
D's choice was this black and white print of the Apollo 17 descent. He really likes it, but doesn't love the orange frame we have it in, so we may need to make some changes. Either way, I'm really happy with his pick- very artsy. He's a NASA lover so the content is as special as the execution. Buy art that represents something of interest or alludes to a hobby.

What? I have a whale thing. I would do a male nursery around this print. Older sailors might appreciate this as well.
Timid Whale

This print says potential. In a symbolic way, I look at it and I think about what's next. Me gusta. Give it to the traveler.

RAF Vulcon

When I first saw this, I hated it. Now I'm kind of loving it. It's called cougar friends. I want to buy 7 of them and send them to all my best girls. Hard to think where you would hang this one, especially as I'm pretty sure D will think it's disgusting.

Cougar Friends