Tuesday, July 31

DIY Invites [a Boston bridal shower]

My brother is getting married (as if you didn't already know). His fiance J had a "real" shower in NYC, which was super fun. We decided to throw her a Boston one as well, so that the family and friends on our side of the family could celebrate with her. My sister and I made the invitations, which I wanted to share here (sorry for the poor quality of the images).

We're going with a funfetti theme, because who doesn't love funfetti? (you know I do) It'll be fun to work it into the day in terms of decor, attire, and even food.

My sister found these cool scalloped-edge cards and envelopes in the $1 bin at Michael's. The stamp is adorable, and I was able to use my embossing tool for the first time! After we stamped and embossed, we painted a gradient with watercolors. I like this method because every card is a little different. If you're not going to print them all official and gorgeous, you might as well make it organic and unique looking.

We added some dots in keeping with the funfetti theme.

For the inside, we used another stamp to keep things easy and quick, and wrote in our information. It was all pretty casual, but it's going to be a small family get-together at my parent's house, so informality is the name of the game.

We were able to find orange butterfly stamps that matched our look, and that's that!

I'll have a lot more to share after the shower in a week or two, including decorations, food, and fun.

Monday, July 30

How was your weekend?

Had a wonderful weekend. An old and great friend was in town Friday night, which meant lots of wine and good conversation and yummy sushi and the Olympics (the British are weird).

Def the best part.
Saturday meant a bit of pool time, taking care of errands, and some crafting that will make an appearance soon (I tested out my new chalkboard paint on an old mirror, and was pleased).

Saturday was date night with D- we hadn't celebrated our anniversary yet. We took a bottle of champagne and some sliders up to the roof- the weather was perfect, the view was amazing, and we even made a dog friend we named Sean Connery (I also just discovered Texts from Dog, so hilarious).

After dinner we went to Twins Jazz Club on U Street. It was such a great date place, and I highly recommend it. Music sets are at 9 and 11pm, the tables are intimate and small, lots of candles and art, reasonable drinks. We try to prioritize going on actual dates- when you live together, it's easy to come up with excuses to stay in (we can cook at home, it's cheaper to drink wine from Trader Joe's, I'm too sleepy, I don't want to have to wear pants). If you're looking for a good couples spot, this worked for us. We could still talk quietly with the band playing, and it felt cultured and mature to me.

So. what did you do this weekend?

Nothing of substance for you today. In the meantime, here is a super bright room to enjoy- I want that couch (with the pillows please).

Friday, July 27

Mixology [fruit peel jello shots]

My lovely roommate K (whom I miss terribly, since she's home for like a month planning and executing her sister's wedding) came across this recipe for pink lemonade jello shots. Made in lemon peels. I love it!

Though the recipe pretty much sucked in terms of accuracy (reading the outraged comments from readers below the recipe is hilarious), it more than made up for it in adorableness and alcohol. We had to try our own.

Problems abounded- we didn't have any lemons, it's really hard to gut limes, we only have 4 limes anyway, we don't have lemonade OR plain gelatin, will any one miss this orange, and so on. Less motivated and smarter mixologists would have just walked away, but we were on a mission. 

After much trial and tribulation, we had gutted a few limes and an orange. This was definitely the hard part. I'm thinking lemons must be easier to work with.

We used a cup of hot crystal-light-mixed-lemonade, a cup of vodka (which we chilled in the freezer first for optimal jello-ness), and a small packet of sugar-free strawberry gelatin. Mix it all up and do your best to pour it into the skins (we stood them on D's bacon plate for stability, but as luck would have it, he wanted to make bacon right after this...how ironic).

We let them chill out over night, and cut them up the next day with a very sharp paring knife. In my opinion, they were delicious. I see how lemons would be cuter, but I think in the future I'll use oranges to get more bang for your buck (and less work per shot). They're also super easy to peel.

Think of all the flavor combinations! I think I'll juice the oranges and use the juice as the base, add unflavored gelatin, and use vanilla or whipped cream flavored vodka for the booze- creamsicle jello shots!

Anyone else have a flavor combo I should try this weekend? Enjoy the summer sun while it lasts my friends.

Thursday, July 26

DIY cap toe shoes [you'll never guess what color]

...that is, unless you have Twitter, in which case you already saw a preview of these babies last week.

We've certainly all familiarized ourselves with the ever popular cap toe shoe trend, correct? Basically, it's a shoe with a different color on the toe box...I'll allow Christian Louboutin to demonstrate:
tres beautiful. my inspiration.
The cap toe shoe is a great incorporation of color blocking, and it can either spice up a neutral shoe (add some neon!), glam up a stodgy pair (metalics work great!), or just add some fun contrast.

Well, I happened to have the following pair of boring-ish black leather shoes...fake leather mind you, as they were just $10. Aren't they just begging for a more interesting color on the other side of that zipper?? I didn't want to go with a distinct color, since these are my current wear-every-day-during-commute shoes (I am NOT ruining my heels on the streets of DC), and therefore need to match everything. Wait. I have an idea. What about...gold?

So, first I layered on some regular old white acrylic paint. Doesn't matter how it looks, we're going to cover it up in a moment anyway. I tested it out, as I recommend you do as well, and though the gold went on full-coverage, I wanted to be able to use it sparingly and reserve it for the additional two zillion posts I have planned that will require liquid gold leaf...so, on with the white to give us a nice base.

I didn't tape. I just didn't think it was necessary. I have a pretty steady hand I just didn't give a hoot what happened to these shoes. Feel free to tape away if that floats your boat. Once the white dries, layer on the gold, and once the gold dries, layer on a protective application of polyurethane. It seals, waterproofs, adds some shine.

Came out decent, no? And they look even better in instagram, of course.

Wednesday, July 25

Bag it up [some craigslist tips]

Craigslist is my best friend. I don't even have a "real" best friend who would be mad to hear it- they'd probably just nod their head and agree that, in honesty, I'm pretty damn close with Craig and his lists. I've been working on this post for 5 years, and it has a lot of information, so grab some trail mix before you start on this epic journey of successful online thrifting.

I wanted to show you a rug I got a few weeks ago...yes I did just get this rug as well, but can you ever have too much rug? If you're thinking, "well yes Meaghan, you will eventually run out of floor space", you obviously haven't thought about layering rugs or putting them on your walls. For shame!

This little beauty was $125. It was a pretty typical purchase for me, but I wanted to share with you some tips I have to make your Craigslist experience a little better.

Looks like a nice kilim-style red woven rug, right? Here's a bigger image, rolled out on my office floor- it's a good size rug, 5x8:

Here are some tips and tricks, along with the real-world example of me buying this rug, that may help you out if you're a C-lister newbie.
1. It's all in the search

The Search: How you search is important. First, make sure you're in the right categories (duh). Also, what you type matters- I try to be as specific as possible ("lucite coffee table" instead of "table"). You can also exclude things from your search, the same way you do in a search engine: place a negative sign before words you want eliminated. Right now I have a search for chair. You can imagine how many postings a day that brings up: hundreds. I don't know what type I want exactly, but I do know what I don't want. So, my search is called "Chair -table -stacking -stackable -office -rolling -swivel -dining -kitchen -ikea". It's a mouthful, but since it's an ongoing search, I set it up once and let it run on its own. Easy! Keep in mind that just because you know how to spell things, not everyone else does. And just because you know what mid-century modern means, doesn't mean Joe Craigslist Seller knows what he's got. Search for all variations: mid-century modern, MCM, danish furniture, etc, so you don't limit your options.

The App: I'm personally a HUGE fan of the Craigslist app. It works like a charm and makes searching for new times, as well as checking continuing searches, a breeze. Once you type in a search, you can select categories, set filters, price ranges, and regions, elect to search titles only, and can eliminate adds that don't include pictures. Your search will give titles, prices, and a thumbnail image (if you require pictures, which I always do). Once you open a listing, the image will expand, you'll get the full written description, and you'll have email options that sync to your accounts (making it SO EASY AND FAST to email sellers). You can also star items, which will then show up with your favorites- perfect if you need to run your potential purchases by your boyfriend (guilty).

2. Get in Touch

The Email: I always email first, even if they ask for a call. I never include my phone number, last name, address, etc, even if they say the require it. I always have the title of the item in the email subject line. I always write a full email, request any data I need, suggest a visit time, and act friendly!
Great chair on craigslist! I've been looking for an accent chair for my living room, and that looks perfect. Would you remind providing dimensions?
If this is still available, I'd love to come see it either tonight or tomorrow night after work.
Please let me know what works for you- I look forward to hearing from you!
Best, Meaghan
I think people are more likely to respond if they think you are serious and send a fully articulated email. There are plenty of scammers that will send you an email saying "hi I like your golf clubs are they available?", or even just, "do you still have the item?". If you reply, they now have your email address, and let me tell ya, they will not be trying to set up an appointment to buy your golfing accessories- instead, they will be selling your email address to a sexy phone call company or some nonsense. It has never happened to me, even though I've sold countless items, but people will be cautious, so make sure you sound as legit as possible (and only respond to the legit emails if you're a seller)!

The Phone Call: This is SO not my favorite way to get in touch. I think it's awkward. If you're calling about an item that you desperately want, it's probably your best bet, since you can get an immediate response. Personally, I rely on the email option.

3. In-Person Transaction

If you are going to someone's home: get their address ahead of time and pick a specific time to come by. You don't want to drive out there for nothing. Bring a friend- you really shouldn't ever be going to someone's home alone. Not safe, just dumb. You can even ask them to bring the item outside, so you're never in their home. Be polite, shake their hand, it's going to be a smidge uncomfortable but just think how worth it it will be when that gorgeous deer head/Eames chair/oil painting/ brass étagère is yours!

Another great option is to meet in a public area, like a supermarket or convenience store nearby, but when you're dealing with large furniture or difficult-to-transport items, that's not always an option.

Take your time going over the item. Is it exactly as described? Is it in good condition? Were the photos accurate? Does it fulfill what you were looking for? Pictures lie. Below is the seller photo of my rug; compare it to my (more accurate) pictures of the rug above...it's so PINK. They don't even look like the same rug!! I happened to prefer the red anyway, but if you wanted a pink rug, now would be the time to walk away.

I used to feel so anxious when meeting with a seller that I would often just give the item a quick glance and then pay and then run...not smart. Make sure you WANT the item- it's completely reasonable to walk away if the item isn't exactly what you need. Reviewing the item closely may also give you some bargaining power- did they forget to mention a scratch or a stick drawer? Maybe you can get them to knock off a couple bills.

I almost always barter, because people expect it. They want to get rid of their junk, and if they're selling it on Craigslist, they know that they'll be dealing with bargain hunters. Unless I feel like something is a total steal, I always ask if they can be flexible with price, then suggest a specific dollar amount. I'd say 80% of the time people are willing to come down in price. If you don't want to shock them in person, you can even mention it in your initial email: D and I had our eye on a Restoration Hardware leather chair, but it was listed for $800. I emailed the seller and told him that, if he couldn't find a seller after a few weeks and needed to sell, I was willing to pay him $400 for the chair. It actually worked out- he was unable to sell and was moving overseas, and was willing to accept my offer. And that chair is BALLER.

That's all I have for you at the moment. I'll share some of my favorite Craigslist finds next week with you- trust me, there are GREAT items out there.

Tuesday, July 24

Cheap Eats [chocolate chip cookie dough]

Anyone around here ever heard of Chocolate-Covered Katie? I know what you're thinking, and no, you can't rent her by the hour. She's a health-food blogger, and she specializes in taking deliciously sinful food and making it holy.

Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookie dough, right? It's even better than baked cookies, in my opinion. The problem is that you'll eat the whole batch before you even get them in the oven, making it an ideal treat to try and turn healthy.

So, I needed to make my own version, and I remember seeing a recipe at Chocolate-Covered Katie for a healthy version. I edited the recipe a bit below (here's the original):
Cookie Dough Dip
  • 1 1/2 cups white beans (1 can, drained)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cashew butter
  • 4 tbls brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 to 3 tbsp oatmeal (uncooked)
Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a good food processor (not blender), and blend until very smooth. Then mix in the chocolate chips. Make sure you eat it right after adding the chocolate chips! The next day, the chips were soggy.

Chocolate-Covered Katie
I wouldn't say it was my favorite...in fact I'd probably rather just eat a controlled amount (HA) of regular cookie dough than a bowl of this stuff. But, it was definitely edible and a absolutely interesting- using beans as a base in place of flour and sugar is genius. It's also cheap and takes like 5 minutes to make, 4 of which you'll spend wrestling with your food processor. Check out her other recipes as well, and if you make this, let me know your thoughts!

Monday, July 23

Bibliophile [A Visit from the Goon Squad]

My only complaint is that I wish it went further.

A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)

Super short blurb for this baby:


Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

I LOVE me a novel that has interconnected but separate story lines. Most chapters are going to be focused on different characters, but the focus of the last chapter may be playing a supporting role in someone else's story- make for interesting and intelligent reading. I read that her writing style is "unorthodox", whatever that means...I enjoyed her time-hopping, seemingly-random story telling, personally. I tend to get anxiety when reading, and I hate not knowing what will happen to the characters; often I'll jump ahead a few pages to read the post-climax, just so I can relax and really digest the pages leading up to it. Her non-chronological story telling worked for me, because if I already know character X is singing her kid a lullaby in 2015 (the novel does go a bit into the future), I won't freak out when she's practically killing herself in 2008.

Like I said earlier, I wish it did more, went further, dug deeper, and any other metaphor I can think of for just adding more pages and prose. It's a pretty cohesive novel (if you give it time to tighten the many wandering strings) and a quick read too.

It's my anniversary with D today, which we will be spending...not together. Womp. We have some great celebratory ideas, however, that I'll share with you tomorrow. Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 19

DIY [a third installment of liquid gold-leaf] and some social media news

I swear (no I don't) that this is the last time I use liquid gold-leaf on a project. It's just too easy.
D gave me a tablet for Christmas. It's wonderful, but hard to find protective covers for, as it's not an iPad. All of the colorful, playful cases made by designers (I'm glaring at you, Kate Spade) are made to specifically fit the iPad, so I was on my own to make something cute.

I bought this Navitech case for $20 on Amazon- it's a synthetic leather, but I liked the rich brown color and it's made to fit my tablet perfectly. It certainly needed some highlights, in my opinion.
I whipped out my trusty bottle of liquid gold leaf and got to taping.

Similarly to this project, it's all about getting the tape down TIGHT to the product before painting.

As always, the best part is removing the tape. I do it while the paint is still a bit wet to avoid cracks.

What do you think?! I'm excited about it- it's a fun, graphic pattern, and I'm crazy over gold these days. Lemme tell ya, those little jars of liquid gold leaf go a LONG way...I bought two and still have more than half a jar left (the first was used almost entirely on the bar cart).

If you want to see my next use of gold leaf, I'm already all over it. Mosey on over to my BRAND SPANKIN' NEW TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT for a sneak peak! I know. I set up two new forms of social media this week. I deserve a medal. Or a cookie. Or a cookie in the shape of a medal. On top of a sundae.

Wednesday, July 18

some Bibliophile news

So, instead of a book review, I wanted to share some literary news.

I for one am disappointed that the Pulitzer Prize board has decided not to announce a winner in the fiction category. Over 6 months, 3 jurors deemed to be literary experts read some 300 novels and short stories- talk about grueling (and I can imagine it's difficult to mentally sort through all that prose and make clear, critical decisions). They then present 3 novels to the Pulitzer board, which consists of 18 members, who read and decide. This year, they forgot to do the second part. No one is completely clear on why, but the presentation of this honor is huge for bibliophiles (that's me), authors, and the entire publishing industry, and withholding it for any reason is, in my opinion, an affront.

One of the judges wrote an article that I read in the Washington Post. While the situation is lamentable, I appreciated this passage and her takeaway from the experience:
All three novels [The Pale King, Swamplandia!, Train Dreams] are unforgettable, and if you read them all — which would be the best outcome of this Pulitzer debacle — I promise that your sense of the possibilities of American fiction will be enlarged.

I'm considering an encore career in literary critique. Right? That 6 months sounds like my heaven.
Smolder us, Carlos.
In other book-related news, one of my favorite authors, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (he is included in my lengthy inaugural bibliophile post of my favorite literature), has released his third novel in a series I have desperately enjoyed. This one is called The Midnight Palace. Ooh I can't wait to read it. He also did an interview with Good Reads where he listed his favorite "books about books" (it's a series they do).

Don't know about Good Reads? You should! It's like a super interactive online reading list. You can mark books you've read, rate them, mark books you want to read, and write reviews. Good Reads will make suggestions for other books based on your readings and ratings (like Netflix) and allow you to interact with other readers. You can share your list with friends, too. Check it out here and we can be literary friends!
And finally, a little literary comic to advise you in the proper reading technique. Kinda makes me want to taunt a book. Regular reviews will resume shortly.

Tuesday, July 17

Link Up

Here are some things I'm admiring on the internet this week.

Check out this site for 12 (count 'em!) ways to tie a belt.

This woman re-did her entire pantry with containers from the dollar store. Looks pretty legit right?
Shop Talk showcased the gorgeous home Angie Hranowsky, and I honestly want every room.

Did you know you could use your vegetables for arts and crafts? Martha did!

And last but not least, this woman is getting paid to snuggle. No, I'm not joking, it was on CNN. I want that job. Minus the creepers that are sure to come a knockin.

Monday, July 16

The Burning House

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? I recently read about an interesting project called The Burning House. Here's the idea.

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.

A photographer (Foster Huntington) captures the items that individuals, from artists to white collar professionals to children, would take with them in a fire. He even has a book coming out, because it is superbly addicting and alluring to see what is most meaningful and valuable to others. It's also wildly personal, which might be what makes it so enticing.

Check it out at theburninghouse.com, and let me know what you think. It's one of the best art projects I've come across in ages, and I just needed to share it.

Friday, July 13

Deal Alert! [free Starbucks]

You've all heard about Starbucks' new "refreshers", right?

Go grab one fo' free today from 12-3pm at Starbucks! It's almost 2 by my watch, so shake your tailfeathers and be sure to report back.

Color Collective [yellow]

Though it's less functional, sometimes I like organizing my interior design files by color (see my ode to orange here). I'm really liking yellow lately, and there's nothing buttery about it- this season's yellows are punchy, from rich mustard to flashy neons.

The wonderful Barrie Benson knows how to work his yellow. By pairing it with darker hues, it doesn't look like a nursery school. Yellow and gray is so glamorous.


Neons are big in fashion, so why not in interiors? I feel like it's just a trend, as I can't imagine being happy long-term with a screamin' yellow, making it a great option for easily-swappable accessories (think pillows, tchotchkes).


I found so many images of yellow on chairs- might have to snag one for myself.


Does anyone have a favorite color to highlight with? I'm usually all about orange, since I love the contrast with blue (like our room), but I might make some room for golden yellow this fall. Maybe some shopping (or painting) is in order this weekend. Have a good one!

Thursday, July 12

I want to ride my...

Quiz time. What do these images all have in common?
So clearly this is one of my easier tests. I've got bicycles on the brain, as my man (and his super-woman mother) train for a 100 mile bike ride in August. Between bicycles and GMAT studying, I'm pretty much single these days.
The ride is part of a program called Bike to the Beach, which raises funds for autism research and awareness. There are rides in NYC (ending at the Hamptons), DC (ending at Dewey Beach), and a new ride in New England this year.  I'll be volunteering, as my uber-involved roommate C is on the board- feel free to reach out if you want to get involved!
Solicitation time: if you're into this kinda thing, click here to donate to the program- it's obviously for quite a good cause. I'm willing to pay just to see him get whooped by his mom.