Thursday, September 27

Wedding Gawker (kiss your lunch hour goodbye)

Friends, don't ever underestimate the many ways your personal and professional life will mingle. I am the dumb employee and distracted bridesmaid who put a very significant work event 2 days after  a very significant personal event. Not my best.

In the work mayhem and wedding wildness, I didn't put a post together for today. Sad face. If you need a way to waste the work lunch, take a look at Wedding Gawker. It's like Pinterest, but specifically for weddings. It isn't curated, but you can customize your own viewpoint by looking at most recent, most "favorited" in the last week, most popular ever, randomized, and so on.

Take a look, and wish me luck. It's wedding only from 1:30pm on.

In other news, do a sun dance for us...although, J ordered black and purple umbrellas to be prepared, and I'm psyched about the prospect of recreating this gorgeous shot:

Wednesday, September 26

DIY painted thrift store frames

Remember all the frames I bought at various DMV-area thrift stores? Well, with J & R's wedding just days away, I managed to get them all ready for the wedding. I'll show the final images after the big day (2 DAYS!!!aoc#4R2Q8 0)(#*), but for now, I'll share the super easy (but time consuming) process for getting these babies ready to roll.

For the wedding, they were going for a rustic, organic feel in terms of material, which meant the ritzy gold look was out. They wanted classic elegance, which is why we went for ornate shapes, but they didn't want the antique-y feel. We decided that a wrought-iron look would be best, which ties into the decor of their venue (think unfinished stone work, exposed beams and pipes, clean lines, modern feel but rustic materials). I decided that black chalkboard paint was the best way to imitate the matte iron look. Rustoleum makes my favorite spray paints, so I stuck with the brand. I like the control of paint cans, and for a wedding you really can't have any drips or errors, but for anything less precious I would have gone with a spray can.

This is a three step process: clean all that thrift store gunk off (I used soap and warm water), prime every nook and cranny, and layer on at least two coats of chalkboard paint. It takes longer than you'd think, due to the frame design and drying time, but it's easy peasy work. Painting is a great option if you have many different styles/shapes of frames, like we did, because it creates that uniformity that makes things look cohesive and less Salvation-Army-rummage-sale (unless that's your thing).

Primer is a must-have people- don't skip this step. Everyone needs a nice clean canvas to work with- it would be like applying a full face of makeup without washing off the day before. Ew. Cakey, gritty mess. Primer does not need to be perfect- just slap it on there in one thin coat.

Make sure you stir the sh*t out of chalkboard paint. Seriously. For another project (coming soon!) I didn't stir well enough and ended up doing 9 (!!!) coats to get full coverage. When prepped correctly, it should only take 2.

Voila! Looks iron-y to me. I think they're such beautiful frames, and I hope they'll get some use after the wedding despite their difficult-to-fit size. Can't wait to show you all how these were used, but since 80% of my readers are family and 100% of my family will be at the wedding, I won't be the spoiler :)

Tuesday, September 25

Bibliophile: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

I thought this was phenomenal- no wonder it was Time's best book of '05. It's a little sci-fi-ish I suppose, but really it's a story of friendship and coming-of-age, albeit from the lens of the victims of this dystopian setting. A blurb:

As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now.

A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance.

Guys, it is just SO good, like a decadent dessert, except you can read this every night and not get fat. Win! The blurb is right: the story is very simple, but the narrator (and protagonist, I suppose) is so authentic and genuine. It reads as if the two of you were sitting over a cup of coffee, if your friend was hyper-reflective and sensitive and also very trusting. She'll introduce an idea, and then double back to explain why it matters, then refer to it later, all in a conversational and comfortable way. She's so convincing!

The values and issues of the book are inherently interesting, even if not from such a thorough voice: freedom, childhood, truth vs protection, forgiveness, hope, loyalty. Don't expect a ton of plot development- as I said, it's simple- but it has big heart. All I need to do now is see the movie (Kiera Knightly and Carey Mulligan, totally planning to love it).

Monday, September 24

Discover: Everlane

Everlane, a designer-duds-for-less t shirt company, is a recent discovery of mine, via my hip coworker. If you're a totally clean and classic dresser, which I've always wished I was, you're probably going to want to tune in for this one.

Here is their mentality: use the best products, create a simple, no-frills product, skip the middlemen and the traditional retailers (and skip their fees and upcharges, too). You get what would typically be a $50 t shirt for $15...not a bad savings. Considering my fave t shirts (Gap v neck pocket) are $20 a pop, Everlane is a great deal, designer or no.

So, I signed up. After signing up, I had free shipping (both ways, which pretty much means 0% commitment needed), so I thought, why not give it a try in the spirit of research for you all! You can thank me later.

The site itself is graphic, bold, and clean. The collection is well-curated, with only a few simple options. Some styles/colors will be sold out, but you can add yourself to the waiting list and get an email when they're back in stock. I wanted them now, damnit, so I ordered from the goods in stock.

Here's a classic V and a classic crew. They also have a box-cut women's shirt, modeled after a men's style. I ordered the women's v neck in small.

I also ordered their Ryan fit- it's relaxed, has a pocket, and is a different material, more jersey-like. It was $10 more, but at $25 it's still a pretty good deal. I know the slouchy t look is in, and I'm pretty sure that's what this company is going for, but I'm too curvy to wear this style (I look like a tent), so I went with the x-small in this one. 

For reference, the model here is 5'8" tall with a 35" waist...I don't know my inches, but I'm 5'6" and 140lb, so I'm bigger than her and bought a smaller shirt. Ha. 

My total order was $40. Then, I waited patiently for the arrival of my lovely shirts! The packaging was totally pared down- simple brown craft paper, simple black sticker with the Everlane logo. Chic. 

Here's an image of me in the shirts, for research purposes- again, I got the Ryan Fit (xs) in gray and the Classic V (s) in white. Sorry for the crappy lighting and messy's Monday, what do you want from me?

 The Ryan fit is just such an amazing material- it already has that slightly slouchy look, without looking like a bag (something we well-endowed women resemble all too often). Maybe I'll try it in a small as well to see how that looks? The V neck is going back, I think. You can't tell in these pictures, but it was a little bit sheer on me, meaning I'd have to wear a cami thanks. I also think it was too small.

I would definitely recommend Everlane. The Ryan shirt feels incredible and has a stylish, slightly looser fit (even in the xs)- I can't wait to buy one for D and snuggle up. And again, the price is just so low! I'd be willing to pay double for the Ryan, so I'm a happier camper with a new gray shirt. My friend J is looking into their tote bags and belts, and my co-worker R just bought one of the man totes and said it looks rustic and warn and totally legit. Let me know if you try it out, and what your experience is!

Friday, September 21

Weekend Shopping [Asos sale]

Need a little Friday afternoon pick-me-up? I la la love gold with anything tan, cognac, nude, or brown, be it shoes, accessories, bags, or home accessories. The color combo looks fresh every season, and it's classic enough in color that you can really spice up the shape and details.

Asos (pronounced A-sauce, who knew?) is having a 25% off sale on accessories, and I thought these 3 purses were so sweet. They're all under $50, so you won't leave yourself strapped going into the weekend. Let me know if you scoop one up!


Link Up.

Friday partyyyy! This is the first weekend in a bajillion that I'm actually home, and I can't wait for what we have planned: a golf lesson for me and D, perhaps some apple picking and fall cooking, a double order from Pie Sisters, a bottomless brunch with some dear friends, and an all around good time. Here are some things that caught my eye this week. Enjoy!

This is glamorous does a feature every once in awhile called Great Love Stories. It's usually famous people, artists or directors or models or icons, and their tumultuous and passionate affairs. They don't always have happy endings, but sometimes the best stories are tragedies. Check 'em out!

This weekend, have your guy check out the man aisle at the grocery store. Smart marketing or stereotypically offensive? Either way, no women allowed.

Sounds like these 5 items can tackle 40 household cleaning tasks. If the area under your sink or in your bathroom closet looks as crowded as mine, maybe you should take a look.

DC local? Check out Allan Woods, the florist (great name for that career, right?!). He has a "happy hour" every Friday from 3-7pm where all flowers are half price. I'm into that.

Slow cooker brown rice pudding over at Skinny Ms...sounds so delicious and autumnal. This is my favorite season, and the food and drinks are a big part of that.

Thursday, September 20

bachelorette party time [winery tour]

Never filled you all in on J's bachelorette party the other weekend, but I have some cute pictures I wanted to share.

J's maid of honor, her best friend from high school and college, moonlights as a party planner (or, that is, she should), so even the details were lovely and coordinated. We met early morning, but thankfully had our coffees in hand and our nails did.
The plan for the day was a surprise, so J had to un-scramble the letters to figure out what we were doing. Of course this was accompanied by a hilarious poem about the day's adventures. We did a tour of three wineries in the Hudson Valley, and used the Little Wine Bus company. They do a lot of parties like this, and you could tell- the bus was decorated, there were giveaways for the bride and party, lunch and snacks were provided at all the stops, and we could play our own music and movies (Bridesmaids, anyone??)
Once she knew where we were heading, it was time for snacks and drinks (breakfast and mimosas). We had the cutest coffee cups with "I'm with the bride" pins to wear, which everyone tactfully filled with a drink for the bus. I thought this was the funniest: we poured the coffee out of the bags, refilled it with mimosas, and popped it in the coffee carriers. That's intelligent imbibing people.

I have a ton of fantastic and fun photos of lovely ladies, but until I'm a big enough deal to just assume everyone wants their face associated with my brand, you'll have to wait. I do have a gorgeous picture or two of the vineyards, though- it stormed hard enough for us to lose power at the bar, but earlier in the day we enjoyed this loveliness.

Wednesday, September 19

DIY belt extension [leather hole punch]

Ever bought a belt that didn't fit? I have, loads of times, sometimes on purpose because the weird sizes go on sale. Alternatively, sometimes I buy a belt that I'd like to wear on my hips, at my waist, or under my chest, all of which require different lengths. Enter the leather hole punch tool (mine is from Amazon, and it costs $4.11, score!), which allows you to extend the wear-ability of your fave belts.

Looks like a torture device, works like a charm.
I'm going to give you a run down on how it works. I bought one with multiple hole punch sizes going from 2-4.5mm, and it fits every belt I have. Men may want to size up. Unscrew the arm that holds the hole punches in place and rotate it to the size you need- I figured this out by sticking it into pre-existing holes in the belt. Re-screw, so that the hole punch is in place- you don't want any slipping.

Yup, that size looks about right.
Squeeeeeze the handles together as tight as you can, and you should be able to feel the hole punch reach the other side. Once I have it all the way through, I twist the belt back and forth to be sure it's fully punched. Yes, you could do it multiple times, but then you have to worry about getting the exact placement. It's easier to just make sure you went all the way through your leather the first time around.

Do the twist.
Release the handles to get your belt out. At this point I'm almost always left with a little cork of leather, which I pull out with tweezers. It's usually not attached to anything and slips out easily. See how clean the lines around it are? This tool has worked fabulously for me, albeit the belts I've been working on have been pretty thin, genuine leather (J Crew). Let me know if you pick one up- you can do a LOT with these, I've seen bloggers use them for all sorts of arts and crafts projects.

Uncork it, and voila!
Hope you liked it! While I have your attention (ahem), you should go check out this tumblr, because her soundtrack is AMAZEBALLS. I've had it open all week and I'm diggin it. Haven't gone through the images, tumblr isn't my thing, but if it matches her music taste it's prob indie bohemian feminine awesomeness.

Tuesday, September 18

Bibliophile: The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife, Tea Obrecht

This spent a whopping 33 weeks on the NPR's best-seller's list, and damned if I know why. I wonder if everyone else read it because of the hype and finished it like "...oh." Here's your blurb:

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death.Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

I truly don't know what the point of this story was. I didn't like the narrator at all; she was whiny and self-absorbed and shared all her worst traits way too early in the story. In fact, the only part of the story I was drawn to and engaged by were the stories told by her grandfather, which came up every few chapters and were mystical and moral and creative. If pressed, I would say she's a good writer- as in, maybe if someone gave her an awesome and inventive plot, she could churn out a wonderful book, because her way with words is artistic and clear. But, like I said, I had no emotion for the bratty narrator or her unknown-to-me grandfather, who I think I was supposed to feel for from page one.

I do feel bad to be so disappointed- it's not the author's fault that critics praised this to the moon, but I really didn't enjoy it, and were it not for my conviction that every book begun must be finished I would have put it down.

Monday, September 17

DIY Printing Press

Happy Monday darlings. Back from a wonderful few days of travel, more to share on that tomorrow.

My friend G is creative, social, and a lovely host, so naturally she gets a group of girls together for "crafternoons", typically a relaxing weekend afternoon with snacks, crafts and chats. Let me tell you, this group of girls has some unique talents- some wrote, some did needlepoint, some painted, and the lady of the house used her new printing press.

Now, I've never used a printing press, so I don't know too much about it, but she gave me a basic run-down and it's something I would look to try in the future. She starts with a rubber block, and using some sharp carving tools she scrapes out the details of a design. You are working in negatives, which I can imagine makes it tricky- the areas you scrape away will be white space, and the areas you leave will be covered with ink. The design will also be reversed.

G rolled out some black ink on a piece of tin foil, and pressed the rubber block firmly. Once it was well covered, she put a piece of paper under the press, set the block on top, and lowered the press.

She used an ad from a fashion magazine (LOVE the uber-stuffed fall editions, no?!) as her guide. She said as far as stamps go, this was a relatively simple design- apparently you can do multiple layers and multiple colors. When D and I went to dinner a week or two later, she had sketched out an intricate design for the Capitol Building here in DC, and it looked amazing. I'll convince her to send over a picture when she's done with that one, but for now, such a cool art form!

Friday, September 14

Link Up.

Hi there. It's Friday- yay! I'll be seeing a Broadway play and dining out at the Plaza Hotel this weekend (c'mon story toppers, give me your best shot). If you're not as busy as I am this weekend, I'm compiled a little light reading/viewing for you below. Enjoy your Friday link up, and I'll enjoy Phantom of the Opera (swoon).

Three classic cocktails from the lovely ladies at a Beautiful Mess: a sidecar, a manhattan, and a mint julep. I think they all translate well into fall. I'll be experimenting with simple syrups, particularly of the herbal variety.

The newest edition of Sweet Paul magazine is out- can't wait to enjoy this with a pumpkin spice latte over the weekend.

For all you twilight fans...and even you twilight haters. Maybe more for you.

Super gorgeous suite of wedding printables from lovestruck. Looks like she designed and printed them all herself. Wow, I hope I can do that much when I'm getting married.

This article spurned a good deal of debate among my family and friends, who are very educated in American history. Your turn to weigh in: in a mass knife fight to the death between every American president, who would win and why?

Cheers ya'll.

Thursday, September 13

Boston Bridal Shower

So, I have been totally putting off sharing any sort of visual documentation of the mini-bridal shower we threw for J last month, but I may now be enough removed to share with you at least the inspiration behind the day. I'm actually a little disappointed- in my dismay over the way some things turned out, I neglected to take decent pictures of the few things that went swell. Oh well, lesson learned: never, ever, under any circumstances, host or hold a bridal shower in any humid-prone area, in the summer months, without AC. I swear to you that my crepe paper decorations were so soft with moisture I could have used them as a blanket...maybe, armed with this knowledge, I could have done a better job and fashioned my decor out of something sturdier, but alas, it was not to be so. And we were all so g.damn HOT the days leading up to it and the morning of, that everything kinda got thrown together and I put on my "whatever, let's do this" face and just had a good time with our wonderful (and forgiving) company and bride.

But, just because I couldn't execute it well, doesn't mean you can't utilize my research! I want to share with you the inspiration we had gathered for our funfetti-themed bridal shower.

You've already seen the invitations here, which set the tone for the color scheme, decor, and dessert. I considered making another batch of this funfetti yogurt dip, which I find DELICIOUS, but it doesn't look too appetizing and I didn't want our guests to be scared off. Instead, we utilized sprinkles (and of course funfetti cake) for other, more appealing desserts. Sweetapolita inspired us with sprinkle bark, the simplest but prettiest dessert we could find:

How lovely, right? We continued with the theme by rolling ice cream sandwiches in sprinkles, which were cute and yummy (but melted pretty quick in the Boston heat). We used rectangular sandwiches and cut them in half to be square.

Can't you picture modifying any of these amazing popcorn recipes at Chickabug to suit our theme? Colorful sprinkles and milk chocolate would be just the thing. 

For games, I thought this idea at Orange Beautiful was adorable and low-pressure for our bride-to-be. We ended up playing a similar (but younger) version at the bachelorette...details to come!

We've all seen plenty of mimosa bars on Pinterest and blogs, but I found this one at Mint Love Social Club to be particularly well done.

We also did a make-your-own salad bar. I was smitten with salad combinations like watermelon, tomato and feta, apple pecan gorgonzola, and strawberry, avocado, bacon and blue cheese, but just in case that wasn't everyone's style, we put all the ingredients out and let guests mix their own.

We had a spread of pastries and bagels, but needed to add some protein. We were going to make Martha Stewart's bacon, egg and toast cups, but didn't want to double up on the carbs. Instead, we left the toast out and made mini-quiches. 

As the decor all melted, and I have no interest in reliving it, I'm only sharing food. Eat up!

Wednesday, September 12

Make a living or a life?

My friend K sent around a New York Times opinion article entitled "What Work Is Really For". I would have preferred it to be longer, but it was still an interesting piece that can certainly spark some good conversation.

What is work for? I mentioned it in my one-week-early-Father's-Day-post, where I discussed the perhaps un-deserved (or at least over blown) veneration we show for those who "live their passion", in that it discounts those who work hard at jobs that may not be their dream position. I think that ideally, your work is in direct relation to your passion; hopefully, your work is enjoyable and provides you with a life style you value; at the minimum, it's better than unemployment. The article quotes Aristotle in the idea that work can be an "instrumental good", or an activity that is maybe not good in itself but is good for what it allows, provides for, makes possible, or achieves.

Give it a read, and let me know your thoughts. This quote below is sort-of a paraphrase from the article, that I hope to someday be able to make true.

Tuesday, September 11

Remember September

A pause in regular programming to show respect and honor the memory of those touched by the events of September 11th. If you are in the area, the Pentagon is showing large-scale art created by children who lost family members in the attacks. From the NY Daily News:

The exhibit is part of the Pentagon’s tour for visitors through the end of 2012, and includes art pieces created by more than 500 children at America’s Camp.

The summer camp was held for 10 years in Massachusetts to support victims’ families. It included children of executives, police, firefighters and others from New York, Washington and elsewhere.

Artistic Director Traci Molloy says one piece, “The Features of the Phoenix,” is inspired by mythology. The phoenix rises from the ashes to live again. Its feathers include images of hundreds of parents.

Hard to believe it was over a decade ago, no? I've heard people say that this is my generation's "where were you when Kennedy was shot" scenario, and I think there's some truth to that: no one is going to be quick to forget.

Monday, September 10

Bibliophile [Run]

Ann Pachett does it again.

Run, by Ann Patchett

After falling in love with Bel Canto, I immediately committed to reading every one of her novels. I started with Run; here's your blurb:

Since their mother's death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving, possessive, and ambitious father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see his sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children—all his children—safe.

Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you've never even met. As in her bestselling novel Bel Canto, Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one surprising and endlessly moving narrative. Suspenseful and stunningly executed, Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.

This was another stunningly beautiful novel. Her writing is just lovely- very lyrical, poetic. There were fewer "quotable" lines compared to Bel Canto, and the subject matter was not romantic, but it did deal with issues or race, economic status, and family delicately. The novel only spans 24 hours, but those 24 hours are very intense, and many chapters are memories and background information that helped shape the characters and explain, validate, or justify their present selves. I agree with many top critics in that I'd prefer if she tried to cover less ground but went deeper into each idea. Being a domestic drama, there were certainly a few cliches, but you just roll with it. I would recommend this, but if you are new to Patchett's work and want to be wowed, start with one of her other works.

Breakdown on my weekend coming tomorrow!

Friday, September 7

10 things I'm all about this week

The only reason I haven't been writing is because life has been to busy to record. It was a fun AND productive long weekend (the best kind), and a busy busy week. Here is a list of 10 things I am allllll about this week (regular posting to resume next week, I promise to never do this again no matter how much fun I'm having and life I'm living).

Me, in my old school NYC b&b right now, writing a list of things I love this week.
1. The amazing in-between weather of lingering summer and welcoming fall. 75 and sunny? Sounds like what I've been experiencing in the 3 states I've visited since Tuesday.

2. How close we are getting to this momentous occasion (prepping now to dance my face off):

3. The really cool speak easy bar that D and I found last Friday evening in Mount Pleasant. Better than the drinks (strong and inventive) and decor (cozy and dim) was the bartender (adorable and knowledgeable). And it was on Scoutmob, duh.

4. College football season! Ok, not that I really care or actively follow teams, but I experienced my first beer tower (though I only judged the race...ugh I'm so boring) because of it so it's something to appreciate.

5. Making my first appearance at US Cellular Field for a Sox game! Technically I was there for work, but I enjoyed the game and crowd very much.

6. Wandering around Chicago on my own while listening to a new playlist from my sister. Highlights include: lots of Sammy Adams, Careless Whisper, No Scrubz, and many other throwback gems. I was laughing and singing along all day (love you small one)

7. Accidentally ending up in Soho for NYC Fashion's Night Out? Well done me. Anna Wintour, you are a genius (and a fabulous dresser).

8. Making it out to Brooklyn for a lovely and long catch up with my darling R. We ate at Verde, also on Scoutmob, then I had my first 16 Handles experience :)

9. My few wonderful friends and readers who contacted me in outrage/concern/support for my lack of posts. Thank you for running interference on my laziness.

10. A baller weekend to look forward to! Manicures with my future sister-in-law, dinner with my bro, bachelorette party all day Saturday, nice long car ride back to DC on Sunday with D (hi baby! remember me? It's the girl that use to live with you). What are you all up to?

P.S. images are all obvi from Instagram. Follow me (and tell me who you are so I don't confuse you with the rando creepers) and we shall follow each other to a land of deeper friendship and familiarity! Instagram and Twitter: MeaghanGibbons. Can't make it any easier for ya folks.