Wednesday, July 31

discover [poach it]

**Update: When I tweeted this blog post @PoachIt, they asked which lamp store I wished they would support (the incredible OneFortyThree). They quickly added the shop. The definition of great customer service, responsive and nimble.

It has just come to my attention that many of you may not know what Poach It is, and for that, I am sorry.
Basically, Poach It tracks anything I want to buy and sends me an email when it goes on sale. So I can stalk an item for months without investing any time, then swoop in and pick it up on sale. You add a "Poach It" button to your bookmark toolbar, similar to the "Pin It" button for Pinterest. When you find something you want to track, you click the button. Poach It will pop up and offer you any coupons for the site, or give you the option to follow the item. Then, I get an email when the price changes or when an item comes back in stock.

I use it at Rugs USA on overdyed orientals, at Modcloth on a sweater I loved, on a fouta from Overstock, on my dishware from Crate and Barrel, on art prints from everywhere, and on makeup at Sephora. If you're flexible on WHEN you buy, it can save you money.

Let me give you an example: I bought a Zara dress in-store for $69.99, and I loved it, but didn't need it for any special occasion.  I decided to track it online just for fun. When it dropped to $59.99, I ordered it online and returned the one I'd bought. When it dropped to $49.99 within two weeks, I sent customer service my shipping order and requested a price adjustment. With very little effort I saved $20. (Would have been smarter if I just started the process with tracking and waited for the rock-bottom price, but you get the point.)
It hasn't worked at a few shops (that incredible independent lamp store, for example), but you'll be hard pressed to find many sites outside of their domain. Let me know if you snag anything on the cheap!

Tuesday, July 30

succulents don't suck

This post is an overdue follow up to this post.

So as you saw, succulents need proper drainage so the roots don't rot from sitting in water. I bought this tin planter covered in bark from the Container Store for $1.99 (the bark had fallen off so it was on clearance, nothing a little Gorilla Glue can't fix). I drilled one hole in the middle, used my rocks from the previous succulent set up on the bottom, then layered on soil and the plants.

To you, this is just a picture of green succulents. To me, it's a sign of rebirth. I was completely shocked when they came back to life as if they'd been hibernating. Seriously, don't throw out your succulents, they are amazingly resilient.

To catch any excess water, I used an upturned Tupperware top that lost it's matching bottom. Reduce reuse recycle people. It's relatively inconspicuous, but I'm looking for a more sophisticated approach.

Monday, July 29


I spent some time this weekend updating my blog in small but hopefully helpful ways. Main edit was getting my DIY projects in order- which, let's be honest, is the only thing on here valuable to anyone I don't share DNA with.

Feel free to visit some greatest hits, like the bar cart, tripod lamp, all things gold-leaf, a few wedding projects....reupholstered chairs to come this month, so stay tuned.

Gold-leaf Bar Cart
Ikat Tripod Lamp
State Art
Covered Matchboxes
Massive Wall Art
Wedding Table Numbers
Chalkboard Mailbox
Etched Glass (project 123)
Wooden Frame
Tribal Wooden Serving Spoons

cheap eats [kale chips]

I wish there was more to this than there is. Really, kale chips are the easiest thing in the world to make. If anything, maybe this post will inspire someone else who was putting off giving it a try by showing how truly simple it is.

Wash and dry your head of kale, then rip it into 2"pieces. Similarly to roasting other vegetables, like potatoes, you want the kale pretty dry so they crisp up. I used a VERY little bit of olive oil, and the second time I made them I just sprayed them down with Trader Joe's coconut oil. Heaven in a aerosol.
Whichever you prefer, toss or mist your kale with some oil, and throw some salt and pepper in there for good measure (just a teaspoon please, this is supposed to be healthy). Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees, flip, and bake for 15 more and you are donezo. Take a picture for insta and start eating. I squeezed some fresh lemon juice on mine after, just for a little kick, and there are some really fantastic sounding variations out there, mainly by using an added spice or mixing a flavor in with your oil. Here are some ideas from Martha to get you started:

  • Kale Chips with Kick: Add a teaspoon or two of Sriracha sauce to the oil before tossing with kale and baking.
  • Lemon Zest Kale Chips: Finely grate lemon zest over the kale chips as soon as they come out of the oven.
  • Soy Sauce-Kale Chips: Replace half the oil with soy sauce, and cut back on salt, for some savory, umami flavor.
  • Double-Healthy Kale Chips: Sprinkle with nutrient-rich nutritional yeast. (Okay, this one might be veering back into the "hippie food" category, but trust us, it's delicious! The chips taste nice and cheesy)
  • Chile-Lime Kale Chips: Mix a bit of chile powder in with the salt, squeeze lime juice over kale chips when they're hot out of the oven.
  • Friday, July 26

    link it up

    YAY my favorite day of the week. It was a quick one for me, I think because I've been so active in my evenings rearranging things and organizing now that D is gone. I happen to be in Durham as you read this, so I can't really complain about the "distance".

    Up for debate: are millennials really the worst generation, or is this just lazy journalism? And to make this more fun, it's a cartoon. Yay for info-graphics!

    This incredibly generous artist is giving away one drawing every day for a year. You have to be the first to comment on Facebook though, and people comment within a few seconds. It's pretty insane.

    Are you one of the others?

    The coolest product ever, from Rust-Oleum. I already use them for their spray paints, so why not for everything else? Seriously, go watch this (and then buy stock in their company). (you can't do that, they're privately traded, my roommate and I just checked).

    Did you know Rent the Runway sells their dresses? It's like going to the best consignment shop ever. Things are final sale, so I personally wouldn't risk it on apparel (I'm a serial returner), but I have my eye on this and this. Too bad we just passed my birthday...early Christmas present perhaps?

    Enjoy your summer weekend everyone.

    Thursday, July 25

    DIY [an updated jewelry display]

    So, this project from last year was in dire need of an update. I've really liked having my earrings on display, as it encourages me to wear more of them. Many are gifts, so I like being reminded of my generous loved ones, too. But, the strings were drooping and the whole thing looked a little ragged after a year. I guess that's what you get for using a $1 place-mat as your primary material. Oh well.

    I made cork bulletin boards for my freshman year of college by wrapping scraps of my mom's vintage fabric around 4 thin squares of cork board, purchased from Michael's. once I laid the fabric down, I used a hot glue gun to secure thin white trim, called French Gimp, which looks like this:
    Great stuff. I used it in my soon-to-be-revealed upholstery project too, it's relatively cheap and easy to work with, and gives any project a finished edge. 

    I've kept the cork boards in storage since college, since D and I didn't have a use for them, but I broke them out a few weeks ago to use for my jewelry. I braided some red and white bakers twine to make a thicker string, and tied it between pushpins, like a mini-laundry line. I hung my earrings on that, and voila! Free and the work of ten minutes. I like the much cleaner look. For my studs, I just push them back into the cork, and they stay put.

    Sorry for the crap bathroom lighting. At least it's not a mirror selfie!

    Wednesday, July 24

    discover [Teil Duncan]

    Have any of you heard of Teil Duncan before? She's a semi-abstract artist that just crossed my radar last week, and I'm smitten. I really like her use of color, and her loose way of treating the setting. I've always liked abstract art, but sometimes feel hesitant to purchase because it seems so...random? Like a child could create it accidentally. I understand there is a process and a consideration of color and scope and mood, and that the art is often very intentional, but it's hard for me personally to justify $1k and up on splatters. Luckily, Teil lets me enjoy the random, quick, effortless feel of abstracts with a concrete subject and theme.

    She does series, like most artists, including beaches above and nudes below. I really like both.

    I would love, love LOVE to comission her to do a painting. She did this one below for a couple's save the date. I'm blonde, maybe I'll just find a debonair brunette to marry and poach this one? (kidding)

    Everybody loves a good cow print. Check out her blog, which has links to her store and more.

    Tuesday, July 23

    how to do Vegas and LA on the cheap [grocery trips, airbnb, and general restraint]

    I had such a good vacation, friends. It's hard to be back at work after the whirlwind adventures over the last two weeks- Vegas, to LA, to NYC, to NC. Definitely been an emotional and jet-lagged week, but I'm feeling good and savoring the memories.

    Before we begin, here are some guidelines D and I try to stick to, until we're millionaires and rules don't apply. Afterall, we're still ballers on a budget for now.

    1. What do you really want to do? Go do it. I'm not embarrassed that D and I love fancy cocktails, thrifting, free things, beautiful views, and ice cream more than 17th century art and 10-mile hikes. Yes, vacation is a GREAT time to try new things, but save yourself some money by prioritizing. Don't pretend to care about things that aren't you, as it's a waste of precious time and funds. Own who you are (even if you are booze-hounds who O.D. on frozen treats and like dusty attics filled with treasure).

    2. Only eat out for one "real" meal a day. Indulging in just one spending-more-than-five-bucks meal a day while on vacation keeps your calories in check and your wallet happy. One of our first stops in Vegas was at the liquor store for cheaper booze than you'd find at the bars, and our first stop in LA was at the grocery store to get fruit, veggies, and granola to eat for breakfasts/lunches. It's not as exciting, but you shouldn't be eating belgian waffles followed by gourmet sandwiches followed by steak dinners and ice cream anyway.

    3. Shop around for the best rates. This applies to lodging, restaurants, and activities alike. For hotels, remember that location is important, amenities probs not (you won't spend much time in the room anyway). More on this below, but in Vegas the cheapest room rates are ALWAYS on the hotel's own website. In LA, Air B'n'B saved us a boatload of cash. I did so, so much research on neighborhoods to visit, housing options, restaurants at the right price point, and more so that our trip was intentional and within our budget. Put the time in beforehand, you'll be less stressed throughout and will avoid over-spending.

    4. This one should go without saying, but you should be saving up before, keeping some semblance of a budget, and exercising restraint after the trip. A well-kept budget can't handle a $1,000 whopper every time you decide to go out of town, so make sure you're planning ahead and cutting costs elsewhere to afford your getaway. No one likes stressing during the trip or feeling guilty afterwards and tainting those beautiful memories!

    On to the trip!

    the only negative I saw in Vegas (haaaaa!)
    Vegas Vegas Vegas. I "get it" now, and I'm already saving my pennies to go back. Here's what you do in Vegas, if you're me: get iced coffee, lay by a trashy pool bumping house music all day, tour the casinos, shower and admire your tan, get dolled up, go see cirque, eat a fancy dinner, gamble, make best friends with the craps table, drink, go home with your love. I can see how you wouldn't want to do it for long stretches of time (D and I kept commenting in awe of the people who live and work there full-time), but it was just so damn fun. Most importantly, it's an opportunity to wear the clothes that would be inappropriate in any normal setting.

    white floral trash
    We kept Vegas cheap by eating fruit and granola bars for lunch (not exciting, but healthy and cheap), not drinking until it would have an impact (as in, no solo pina coladas at the pool, but feel free to go crazy when it's time to hit the club), and finding deals for dinner and shows (or Cirque tickets were on discount (check Living Social, Groupon, TravelZoo etc), and we went to one of the trillion mid-priced restaurants by top chefs, rather than splurging on their fanciest offerings). 

    this sink is ready to party Vegas style
    Everywhere sells booze, so stock up and drink for cheap before you hit the clubs! Or, get free drinks for hanging out in the casino. Since the hotel website had the best prices for lodging, we booked via to get rewards but then did a price adjustment. Saved us some moolah.

    makes me think of Wiley Coyote
    Next, we rented a car and drove to LA. I enjoyed the ride; D, not so much. We took the cheapest rental option, which happened to be a mustang convertible. BUMMER.

    D and I enjoying our windswept hair
    Since gas prices are so high in LA, we went with the pre-paid fuel option, which saved us almost $.50/gallon. Make sure to do your research to decide whether you should fill up on your own or let them take care of it for a fixed price.

    look to my right, and I see the Hollywood sign
    After the drive, we went straight to the Rose Bowl flea market. I've been dreaming of going for the last few years, ever since I got into blogs and interior design, as it's such a great source for some of my favorite designers. I didn't buy anything there, but I'm so, so glad I had the experience of being there. After that, we headed up to the Griffith's Observatory, which may be one of my favorite things we did (plus it was free). By then we were starving, so we went for our one"real" meal of the day (breakfast was quick and cheap from DD's in Vegas, lunch was an apple and granola bar).

    use the flat bread to pick up the meal!
    We indulged in Ethiopian food from Meals by Genet (found out afterwards that she's been on Best Thing I Ate on Food Network), which is my first foray into Ethiopian cuisine. I'm now in love. It was also significant that I finally understand some of the food passages from my beloved Cutting for Stone- now I know what injera is and how to eat stew without utensils! Apparently DC has the largest Ethiopian immigrant population, followed by LA. We rolled ourselves home after a huge meal and were ready for bed.

    sunset at Santa Monica Pier
    We used airbnb for our hotel, which I highly recommend. It's like couch surfing, except you pay and are way safer. People can list their apartments to rent out for as short as one night or as long as a couple months. You search based on price, neighborhood, privacy, location, and more. The hosts are all reviewed, so you know what you're getting into. Our host was a total star- she left us cute hotel-size toiletries, tons of towels and beach gear, a clean, quiet space, access to a working kitchen, and even off-street parking (which we paid an extra $20 for). It was $75/night for the two of us for an amazing location and a very nice apartment. The whole process was worry-free and extremely convenient.

    beach day
    Santa Monica was a wonderful place to stay. It was easy to head into LA from there, and we spent a day doing west LA/beachy things, which obviously was very convenient. We were at 7th street and Broadway, which was very quiet and safe while still being easy peasy walking distance to the beach, pier, 3rd street promenade, and more.

    the best thing to hit my coffee world since cold brew
    One of my favorite things to share with you: this amazing sea salt and caramel iced coffee from Dogtown Coffee, right on the beach in Santa Monica. It was so good I went back the next morning. It's caramel iced coffee, topped with frothed cream mixed with sea salt. May sound weird, but it was just amazing. I plan on recreating for my next guest, which I believe will be my sister in two weeks. Ready, M??

    Greek pizza
    D makes fun of me, but one of the most important parts of vacationing, and experiencing a new city, is trying the local flavor. I research almost obsessively- if any of you are planning a trip to LA, I have a 4-page, single-spaced Google Doc I can share with you of restaurants and activities you can choose from. I may take it too far, but it allowed us to eat at the best, and best priced, of LA, including Village Pizzeria in Larchmont, above (we missed sandwiches from Larchmont Wine and Cheese by 2 minutes, darnit!)...

    I asked permission before I snapped
    ...and drinks at Misfits...

    looking into opening a snow cream franchise in DC, stay tuned...
    ...and snow cream from Blockheads...

    D doesn't understand where to look...#takemoreselfies
    ...and many flavors at Sweet Rose Creamery, just to show you a few faves. Again, a quick trip to the supermarket and access to a full kitchen through airbnb saved us money every day and made our splurges feel like earned indulgences.

    The Getty, best free art museum EVER
    Other awesome things we did include visiting the Getty (could spend HOURS here, make sure you get there early as it closes at 5, also free)...

    watch out for the legendary freaks
    ...checking out the skate park in Venice Beach (free, duh)...

    ...and thrifting in Fairfax (Goodwill, Council City Thrift Shops, Inheritance, and Tini, to name a few, free to window shop but let's be real). I'll show you what I picked up in another post, it's getting late and this post is long enough.

    LA/Santa Monica makes me want to buy a Maison Gray of the pier to remember our trip by...$250 for a photograph ain't THAT bad, right D? With all the money we saved, I think we can afford it :)

    Friday, July 19

    link it up

    Oh my friends. I don't know how to convey the satisfaction I feel with my little Vegas/LA vacation. D and I had just the most fun. I have an absurd amount of pictures, like 200 or something, mostly of food (he accused me of only being about "imbibing", both food and drink, on vacation). I will share next week. Also have some big DIY's, like my first full-sized reupholstery project. Joy!

    Sad but interesting piece: when your mother says she's fat. I've heard the insights before, but this is well-written. I can't say I relate, as my mom has always been teeny, but I liked this piece nonetheless.

    JV, you're good with thread. Can we make these? I think they're gorgeous, and I have a spare face I picked up at a thrift store, but I can't afford the price tag (story of my life).

    How much do I love this glamorous, functional apartment of one of my fave celeb designers? A bunch. I want to go drink a Manhattan there.

    Were you recently dumped? First off, sorry. Second, go read this hilarious but helpful post about redecorating to help move on. I'll take any excuse, really.

    I always like their posts, but this one in particular had me laughing (and you know I'm all in for a drinkable breakfast, helloooooo Vitamix). Go make some boss sauce (KP, I can see us calling it that).

    Friday, July 12

    link it up

    I'm a lucky girl for the month of July. After a lovely almost-week home for the 4th and my birthday, I now head to the West Coast for a little adventure with D. I'm heading to Vegas tonight for the weekend, and will leave bright and early in our Ford Mustang convertible rental car (men) for LA. Hoping to get there in time for the Rose Bowl Flea Market (literally a lifelong dream of mine to attend, freaked out when I realized we'd be there for the right weekend). We'll be in LA until Wednesday, when I head to NYC for work and D beings to pack up his half of our life/belongings for b school. I return to DC Friday, we load up the U-haul, and we move him on down to Durham. 

    Changes are a-comin for me, that's for sure.

    Want to improve your boring old instagram photos? Check out this app.

    Never a bad idea to prep an Elevator Pitch, and I'm really liking the interactive builder from Harvard Business School.

    Really enjoyed this: the 30 most creative social media marketers. Good to see the Obama campaign,  Duck Dynasty, and Oreos all in one place.

    From that artice: did you know Allstate's Mayhem has a facebook page? It's an extensive timeline of all the mayhem he's caused. Hilarious.

    This made my jaw drop: woman shows half her face with makeup, half without.

    Thursday, July 11

    bag it up [birchbox]

    It's been awhile since I've done a Birchbox post, and things have been GREAT lately. Every time I get close to canceling, they totally blow me away with a stunning month that keeps me hanging on. Here are a few favorites of the last few months. Have any of you sampled new beauty or healthy products lately?

    Mirenesse Glossy Kiss lip pencil- this was a wonderful find, especially if you're into lip color. It's a soft pencil with strong, buildable color. Make it matte by blotting between and after applications, or leave it shiny for non-sticky color all day. It's really easy to reapply, too. I always get annoyed when I have to take it all off and reapply after lunch or a drink, but with this you can just color in any faded areas and keep goin. They did a video on how to use it best.

    Marvis Toothpaste- Only the greatest toothpaste EVER! Mainly because it's packaged so beautifully. What did you expect? There are a few different flavors that come in other colors. I've always dreamed of having this out in a guest bathroom for a luxurious touch (and to make it last longer due to infrequent use...let's be real, $10 a tube is pricey).
    Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo- I'm not sure what makes a dry shampoo gentle vs rough, but this sprays on strong, blends in well without any powdery residue, and kept my locks oil free all day. I suppose Psst is cheaper and gets the job done, so I won't necessarily be switching from my tried and true, but that's the beauty of Birchbox for me: sample upgrades of my usual products, some to replace oldies and some just to feel glamorous for a day.
    Amika nourishing hair mask- I love getting deep conditioners in my Birchbox. It's not something I use every day, and there are SO many products. That combination keeps me from buying them on my own, but I love trying out my freebies. This isn't too heavy or intense to use frequently, and it deep conditions while smelling great. I've been using it with the clarifying oil shampoo I got a different month, and I like the mix.
    COOLA Classic Cucumber Sunscreen- Classic, strong sunscreen for your face that smells like cucumbers? Sign me up, summer is upon us!