Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Next DIY

Well, it's official, Pinterest is a huge time suck.  But I still kind of love it.  I found this DIY that I'm planning to try soon after I order some of these awesome anchor charms to use as clasps...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Bed Makeover!

My bed makeover is finally complete and I absolutely love it!!!  I got a fabulously comfortable king sized mid weight down filled duvet and covered it with DwellStudio's Chinoiserie design - a bit of a splurge but I just can't get over my obsession with the print.  The IKEA lights that I already owned have proven to be the perfect reading lights and my new sateen sheets (I got charcoal grey and aqua colors) are all smooth and awesome feeling.  The curtains are cheapie cotton sheers from World Market and I plan to dip dye them at somepoint so they look like the Anthro curtains I was craving but couldn't afford, and I enhanced the windows with these awesome branch tie-backs.  I may even go all out with some ball fringe!  The painting over the bed is one of my originals from college.  Paired with my combo new dark wood and vintage teak furnishings, my bedroom is slowly but surely coming along!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Fashion - Eh

Well I think Billy Crystal is a fantastic Oscars host and I was happy to see him back on stage last night.  The winners were about what I expected - my list of movies to watch has grown as a result: The Artist, Iron Lady, and Midnight in Paris are going to make their way into my queue as soon as they're available.  The Cirque du Soliel performance was pretty awesome.  And my friends and I totally cracked up at the Bridesmaids award presentation where they drank when someone said Martin Scorsese because we had been joking about that very thing ourselves!  Overall, though, the whole thing was a bit underwhelming, including the fashion.  There were definitely some pretty dresses, but no truly fantastic looks (Last year was definitely better, and I think Anne Hathaway as host did a lot for raising the fashion bar as well).  Here were my favorites of the evening:
Jessica Chastain's dress was pretty, but I think it was really her overall look (hair and make up) that pushed her to the top of my list.  Emma Stone continues to hit home runs.  Louise Roe's dress was just so unique!  I loved that Maya Rudolph flaunted her curves, and the color and embellishment were so pretty.  And Gwyneth was just so simple and classic, which totally works for her.  Still, no major head turn-ers...
My favorite hair and make-up appearances were Natalie Portman (she is just gorgeous in general), Jessica Chastain (I only wish I could pull off that hair color - SO STUNNING), and Tina Fey.  No jewelry, purses, or shoes really snagged my attention this year (still salivating over Anne's Brian Atwoods from last year, though...)
The one thing that can be said for the Oscars, is the after parties tend to have fashions that are comparable to the actual awards.  This year I was particularly taken by the choices of Nina Dobrev, Claire Danes, Cameron Diaz (this color is so much more flattering on her than the ivory dress she wore to the awards), and Zoe Saldana.  Still no major stunners, but some pretty choices...

(all images from

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have a Lovely Weekend!

I don't really have much going on this weekend - game night with friends on Saturday and other than that the plan is sleeping in and finally doing my taxes (come on big money!).  In the meantime, I've caved in and finally applied for an invite to Pinterest - I'm sure this is going to be a total time killer for me, but I've already found one adorable idea that I plan to try out with my cousin's little girls when I head back to Florida in March: a fairy jar!  (don't you dare steal this one from me before I get out there Caryn!)

Fairies in a jar DIRECTIONS: 1. Cut a glow stick and shake the contents into a jar. Add diamond glitter 2. Seal the top with a lid. 3. Shake.  So cute!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Real or Fake?

My favorite features of my new apartment are the vaulted ceilings, huge amounts of natural light, and as I've mentioned previously, the fireplace.  Now that I've gotten my house into pretty much fuctional order and the fireplace is no longer surrounded with boxes, cords, and general fire hazards I'd love to start using it (once the temperature is no longer 70 degrees outside, that is...).  My big decision now - do I go with messy but authentic wood or do I cheap it out with fake, but easy, gel canisters? 
The midwest girl in me screams for a "real" fire with wood.  It's what I grew up with and what I love about a fireplace - the huge flames, the scent of wood, and the crackling sounds.  But realistically, how often would I use it if forced to haul wood up to my 2nd story apartment and then deal with the mess/smoke/splinters?  Plus there's the time and effort of tending the fire once you start it.  I found a somewhat natural looking "fake" option online that got decent reviews and I'm definitely tempted to try it.  The canisters are less of a loose cannon than wood (i.e. easire to control), there's no mess, no tending.  I'd just get to enjoy it.  But it wouldn't be real...

What do you think?  Should I "sell out" and actually use my fireplace with the gel version or hold out for the day I eventually get my butt in gear to buy wood and do it the "real" way and only let it get minimal useage???

(images from here, here, here, and here)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Favorite Desert

Last night, after a full week of not cooking a thing, I decided I needed to step it up and move away from take out and frozen meals.  I whipped up a quick meal of farro with chicken sausage, sauteed onion, zucchini, and broccoli, and a drizzle of a butter wine sauce (actually way easier than it sounds and super tasty!).  While I was on a cooking spree, I decided to go for broke and make some desert as well, this coconut rice pudding that I had mentioned briefly in a previous blog post.  It was DELICIOUS!  It is already gluten and dairy free, so I can't wait to make it for my dad, who is gluten and lactose intolerant!  And if I had substituted agave nectar and vanilla bean for the sugar and vanilla extract, it would have been processed-sugar free (i.e. desert for an elimination diet)!   Actually, if I'd also used brown rice (which would probably affect the consistency a bit), it would even be somewhat healthy!

Coconut rice pudding
3 cans coconut milk, 14 oz. each (I used light, boxed coconut milk and measured it out)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened)
2/3 cup arborio rice
3/4 tsp salt
Dash of vanilla extract

Combine everything except the vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and then simmer gently for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pudding thickens up considerably. Once the rice is cooked and the pudding is thick, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract

It's really easy - hardest part is making sure it doesn't boil over (I failed here, mine boiled over twice....) and remembering to stir every so often.  I'd also be tempted next time to include some add-ins a la Alton Brown's recipe, spiced with cardamom and sprinkled with raisins and pistachios - yum!

(image from here)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dress = Kidney

B and I went to the Galleria mall yesterday while her hubby J was in a conference and then we all headed out to dinner together.  While wandering around the mall I FINALLY, after wanting a pair foerever, got around to buying myself a pair of Hunter boots!  They're purple and I love them!  I got them in Neiman Marcus and, while floating on the high of my awesome purchase, decided to wander around the store some more.  On the 2nd level I came across this dress and it was instant love.  Too bad I'd have to sell a kidney to actually buy it...  I'd say I'm pretty familiar with high fashion and since this dress wasn't by Chanel, Gucci, or Fendi and it wasn't shot through with 24K gold thread or even a long ball gown, I have trouble seeing where a $2,300 price tag was even considered, let alone chosen!  Ridiculous! (but gorgeous....)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Awesome Austin

Last weekend I went to Austin for the first time and I absolutely loved it!  I drove out on Friday to see my former roommate R and stayed the weekend with her at her boyfriend's house.  The town as a whole has an overall pretty young population - the city was crawling with good-looking, hip 20 and 30 somethings.  And R's boyfriend T seemed to know almost all of them which made it even more fun!  He and R, plus on occasion his roommate, were awesome tour guides and the more they showed me around and pointed things out the more I fell in lust (it's only been one weekend, so I'm not sure I can jump in with "love" yet, but I have a feeling it's in the cards) with the city.
First of all, I can't get over the vintage vibe in the city - literally old signs that look like they're straight out of the 50's and 60's (I have a feeling a lot of them actually are) for awesome restaurants and bars.  And you know how I love me some vintage.  We started out on Friday night at a bar called Doc's where the bartenders were, unfortunately, not so familiar with the recipe for a gin gimlet.  From there we snagged some pizza (I hadn't had dinner yet, just alcohol.  wasn't going over so well...) and VEGAN CUPCAKES!  The whole city is chock full of restaurants that cater to people with specialty diets and Ms-Egg-Yolk-Free-Me was totally digging the fact that I could order cupcakes and french toast without worrying about migraines!  After food we then headed to a bar called the Hangar, where T knew everyone, and that doesn't mean just 7 or 8 friends, the bar was seriously packed with his gigantic group of friends and they were all really friendly and fun and dancing all over the place.  It was a blast! 
The next day, after sleeping in, we hit up Congress Ave. again in hopes of exploring a bit.  Unfortunately the rain dampened those hopes, so we got some tasty food at Snack Bar followed by some Peach Habanero ice cream at Amy's (so good!) and then headed back to the house to chill.  That evening T's friends were hosting a concert at Club De Ville where we saw Gobi and then proceeded to do some more bar hopping and dancing.  After returning back to the house sometime between 2 and 3 we decided to play board games, which didn't cease until 6 am!  I'm telling you, I had a blast with everyone I met!  Yesterday we hit up Torchy's Tacos for a late lunch (I got fried avocado and chili pulled pork tacos and they were pretty darn tasty!) and then R and I did some vintage store hopping where I picked up a plaid button down shirt with a frilled neckline for $5 and an INCREDIBLE black dress for $30!

Bottom line: Austin rocks and I'm totally going to have to go back!

(images from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  Must remember to take my own pictures next time...)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Short post today - I'm writing from the ISS Mission Evaluation Room as I "support" a Russian EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) that is happening as I type.  I use the term support lightly as I'm still learning my new system (Environmental Controls) and so I'm not exactly useful at this point in time.  It's pretty entertaining, though, listing to the translator on the loop detailing verbatim the feisty banter between the two Russian Cosmonauts currently floating around outside of the space station preparing the ISS for new components that are on their way!  Learn more about the current EVA here.

(image from here)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Home Manicures

While I am a total UV gel manicure convert (it lasts 2 weeks - that's right 2! - without chipping!), spending $30 every couple of weeks for a manicure gets a bit cost prohibitive.  And now that I've spent a bunch of money on my new apartment, plus the fact that I got a call from my property managers for my Florida townhouse telling me I need to buy a new dishwasher (grrrrr - stupid tennant is getting on my nerves!), money is even less likely to be growing on trees in my near future.  I've got a huge stockpile of nail polishes at home anyway, so I decided to put them to good use.  And with a few new products I've discovered, I have actually managed to maintain a presentable home-made manicure going on 3 days now!  Here's how:
1. Wipe your nails down with nail polish remover to take off any old polish and remove oils and dirt from the nails.
2. Buff your nails a bit to smooth them out.  I use one of these.  You don't need to go crazy, just a few quick swipes on each nail. 
3. Wash with soap and water to remove dust.  Dry completely (if you use a towel to dry your hands, make sure you don't pick up any lint/fuzz on your nails)
4. Apply base coat.  I think this is where I went wrong in the past when my nailpolish would chip within hours of application - I never used to use base coat.  I hunted around for a good one and found Essie Ridge Filling Base Coat and it seems to be working quite nicely.
5. Apply 2 coats of color.  Make sure you let the first coat dry before you apply the 2nd.  I went with an opalescent grey/black on all of my fingers except for my ring finger on each hand, where I applied a super duper sparkly gun metal glitter (one of those new nail trends - I plan to experiment with nail art next).
6. Apply a top coat.  I found the mac daddy of all nail top coats, called Seche Vite.  It's smells like the strongest most pungent nail polish ever (i.e. not eco-friendly), but it gives nails a thick yet quick drying shellaced finish.

I suppose you should probably push back and trim your cuticles too, but since I have the horrible habit of picking at my cuticles, this was kind of a moot point for me...

Also, I did start getting very minor chips after the first day, mainly because I think of my nails as tools.  To fix I dabbed at the exposed nails with the appropriate nail color until the chips were filled.  I let dry for a minute or so and then applied another coat of the Seche Vite.  I've been doing this before bed as the top coat dries really fast so I don't have to worry about sheet marks.  It is a super quick fix and has prolonged my manicure for an extra 2 days!

(top image from here)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rest In Peace Whitney

I've always been a Whitney Houston fan.  I have these fantastic memories of my cousin C and I carrying around our little Fisher Price tape player with the attached microphone when were were somewhere around 5 years old, with our Whitney Houston cassette on constant rotation, belting out impromptu concerts for our extremely supportive family members (I can't even imagine how they sit through that once, let alone multiple times...).  Our personal favorite was "Greatest Love of All", which in hindsight is a fantastic song for little girls to be singing, and to this day I know every single word of the song:
I also used to play the records on my parents turn table all the time while I did my chores around the house.  I knew every song on her self titled debut album and the follow up album Whitney.  And then she actually did a pretty decent job acting too!  I loved The Bodyguard (I had the VHS tape and the cassette of the soundtrack...), and a little later on she played the fairy godmother in an updated version of Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and I still have that VHS tape on my movie shelf (note to self - find VHS player on craigslist).
 She was just such a huge part of  my childhood and I can't believe that she has passed away.  I spent pretty much all day yesterday watching her old music videos (I've always said the best thing to come out of the 80's was the music, the hair and fashion was just so wrong...) and tearing up a bit.  Although she had many publicized personal issues, she will forever hold a place in the heart of every child of the 80's as one of the best voices of her time, if not the best.  Quite a legacy to leave behind...

Friday, February 10, 2012

WD-40, Miracle Worker

Last night I headed over to B's house for an impromptu art night where we created a project found here that we've been wanting to try for a while.  It was slightly tedious glueing the crayons down and the hair dryer I used wasn't quite strong to effectively melt the crayons enough unless on super high power, which then blew the melted wax everywhere.  Eventually I got the effect I wanted, and I'm pretty thrilled with the result.  Compare my version above to the inspiration piece below:
 I love how thick the color is on the inspiration version and the colors stand on their own a bit more.  I'm pretty sure the thickness is attributed to the heat coming out of the hair dryer melting the wax a bit faster and the lack of airflow preventing the bleeding effect I got.  Although I kind of like the bleeding effect too...

Anyway, the super powerful airflow that I needed to actually melt my crayons that caused the bleeding also caused the colors from the ends (pink and purple in my case) to fling hot wax droplets all over the workspace, i.e. the upholstry on the kitchen chairs and my clothes.  Hot wax is not fun to remove from fabric - you only get so much from scraping because the liquid wax absorbs into the material.  Enter WD-40 - miracle tool extrordinaire.  Just spray a little on and scrub with a paper towel.  Voila - the crayon magically disappears!  Of course now you have to scrub out the oily-smelly WD-40 residue, but this is much easier than dealing with melted in wax...

Feeling the art thing lately, so I'm hoping to spend at least part of my weekend drawing/painting/crafting and I'm pretty excited about it.  Do you have anything fun planned?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spending Hiatus - Easier Said Than Done

Over the weekend I spent WAY too much money on stuff for my apartment (picture frames, shelving, storage containers, cord containment strips, etc).  This also included an awesome new stereo that I decided to splurge on.  My old one was a 90's monstrosity - a relic from high school that wouldn't fit nicely (or look good) on any acceptable surface in my home.  But I really wanted to be able to play music while I do all my decorating upgrades and cleaning around the apartment, and I wanted to be able to play it from my iPhone.  So I got this awesome vintage-y looking one from Target:
I certainly don't regret the purchase, but it pushed my weekend expenditures to over $400 - ouch.  So since my fridge and pantry are fairly well stocked at this point, I have enough ice cream to make it through the week (very important), and my bank account has reached my "I must stop buying everything I want" point, I decided to completely and totally halt all spending, on everything, for the remainder of the week.  Naturally it is at this point that I discovered a number of "buy it now or it'll sell out from under you" things that are causing some serious battles in my brain.  For example, JSC has an online "swap shop" which is basically like craigslist withouth pictures, and there's a juiceman juicer for sale (and I've been wanting one) for only $40.  Also these:
I'm sure a number of you find these sneakers to be hideous - I do like to push shoe boundaries - but I'm in love with them and I'm pretty certain, based on the blog responses to Kate Spade's new line of floral patterned clothes/shoes, that they're going to sell out fast.  Sizes 8 and 8.5 are already gone...
My favorite lasercut paper artist has also recently repopulated his etsy shop with new designs.  And they go fast too.  My current favorite is this one, which reads: "Can We? Shall We? One day very soon, let us go away together just you and me. Can We? Shall We? Call in sick one day and travel to the sea and hold hands all day. Can We? Shall We? Eat our sandwiches on the train, get drunk on fresh air and come home tired and never tell anyone.... Ever"  I love it!  And I really want it for artwork in my bedroom.  Grrr.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Me Encanta El Gato Gomez

I have recently discovered a new artist whose works are a fantastic combination of whimsy, mid century modern, and space.  It's SO me, right?  Even better, her original pieces (i.e real paint, pencil, etc on canvas - not copies or prints) are actually super affordable too!!!  El Gato Gomez produces artwork made with gouche, acrylic paints, and colored pencils and sells her work on ebay - so you only bid what you think it's worth.  Which I did.  The beauty you see above is the original piece that I purchsed for my art wall for a mere $125 (some of her works go for less too).  I'm ridiculously excited about it! See below for a few more examples:
These are pictures from her "futuristic" archives, which are my personal favorite.  She also does some architecture based pieces and some really cool abstract work that's all very reminiscent of the 50's and 60's atomic, mid-century modern era:
If you love her work as much as I do, check out her ebay store to bid on a piece for yourself.  The availability is constantly changing as every single one of her paintings gets purchased the first time it's posted and she keeps right on re-stocking.  Here's a sample of what's currently for sale.:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Love of Nutella Continues

Seriously, chocolate and hazelnut are the worlds greatest flavor combination and the reigning king of this orgasm of the taste buds is Nutella.  Other brands may taste better, but none are as easily obtained and affordable as this delicious spread.  A fantastic addition to this flavor profile: banana.  And so with no further ado I give you the greatest, easiest recipe ever - banana nutella popsicles.  I'll give you a moment to understand the full implications...

And I'm totally not lying about how easy it is: Put six peeled bananas and 1 cup Nutella in a blender or food processor and whirl it all up until smooth. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or the old dixie-cup-with-a-stick-in-it and freeze.  Voila!

In other Nutella news, I actually found a website developed to recipes utilizing Nutella.  Be still my heart.  I haven't fully explored it yet, so more to come...

(image from here, where there is another variation on this recipe)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Super Bowl

This year's Super Bowl certainly didn't disappoint!  The game was good, the halftime show was pretty impressive (Loved Madonna's egyptian-esque headpiece, but could have done without the pom poms.  Still can't believe she's over 50...), and there were some really great commercials.  I did a quick round up of my favorites:
1. Elton John Pepsi - the shoes, oh the shoes!
2. The M&M stripping commercial - you go red!
3. Children of the 80's - we are the new super bowl commercial demographic - I don't know if that's awesome or just makes me feel old - I mean look how old Ferris Bueller is now!  Also, did anyone else spot He-Man?!
4. Seinfeld vs. Leno - awesome!
5. And finally, while I found the beginning of this one was amusing, the end of it just kills!  You go Betty White!
Honorable mentions go to the ETrade speed dating baby and Doritos' dog bribe commercials.

(top image from here)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kick Boxing Kicked My Butt

I took my first cardio kickboxing class yesterday and I can barely move today - seriously, I look like an 80 year old just before her hip replacement when I try to walk on the stairs...  I found this gym on a living social deal, and it's super close to my apartment which is nice, but I'm pretty sure the instructor is out to kill me.  I'm also pretty sure I'll be thrilled with the results a couple of weeks down the road once I've taken a couple more classes and the soreness wears off, but right now I'm just kind of hoping I don't have to move anymore for the rest of the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, my grand plans include wall mounting my tv over the fireplace and making my signature guacamole for a Super Bowl party on Sunday (I'm cheering for the Giants because my family is originally from NY and my grandpa is a HUGE fan!)   Do you have any fun plans?

(pictures from here and here)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Space Imagery Trifecta

The International Space Station, Chicago, and the northern lights, all in one picture.  Amazing!

(image from nasa imagery online website)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Go for the Gold

I've developed a new obsession with gold dipped, gold coated, gold plated, etc.  If it's gold, I'm all about it.  I've found a number of ideas for gold covered items online that I'm thinking will make perfect DIY projects.  Check them out:
These are little 2" diameter gold leaf "seed" pods that I found on a newly discovered home decorating flash site that I love called Joss & Main (you need to be a member to view, but it's free).  Since they're so tiny and only come 10 to a set for $50, and I'm thinking I want to hang them all over a wall in my bedroom, it just isn't worth it to buy them.  But they look easy enough to make, right?  I'm thinking paper mache, matte white spray paint, and either gold spray paint or gold leaf.  Definitely a little time consuming, but I think they'll make an incredible statement as wall art in my bedroom!
This is one I've been wanting to do for a while.  I found it on one of the blogs that I frequent, HonestlyWTF, which is where I've gotten a ton of other awesome DIY inspiration as well.  This project looks ridiculously easy and I have a huge collection of glassware that I'm planning to gild as soon as I find some time.  My friend H and I were actually talking about making this one a girls' craft night project!
And finally, although I'm generally not a fan of decorating with real animal paraphanalia unless it is shed naturally by the animal (i.e. deer antlers), I'm really not a big shark fan.  In fact, they terrify me and I think the less sharks in the ocean, the better.  So the idea of using a shark jaw and giving the gold treatment isn't at all horrifying to me and I think the result looks pretty awesome.  Not sure where I'm going to come across an affordable shark jaw, though.  (p.s. there's no way I'd actually buy from the artist that inspired this project either.  He uses real 24k gold and it's ridiculously expensive.  His work is really pretty, though...)