Monday, June 30, 2008

i keep on fallin'...

well, amazon dropped a pleasant surprise on my doorstep this weekend: the books i ordered last wednesday! i'd selected the "free super-saver shipping" option when i placed the order, and then cursed myself when i got the delivery notification, which informed me that the books would be arriving sometime around july 8, which is smack-dab in the middle of my vacation. so imagine my surprise when i got a shipping notification on thursday and the books showed up on my doorstep on saturday. yay! now i have two glorious hardcover books to read next week. i'm excited.
i'm also excited about my new gryson for target bag, which i picked up on saturday while on a furniture-shopping expedition with my friend k, who just bought her first house (!). i'd been coveting the bag for months, but couldn't bring myself to pay the $50 it cost, for some reason, even though i've bought articles of clothing that cost way more and that are of much cheaper quality. anyway, i finally got it for $25 -- half off! and in my defense, i needed a new black bag because oscar chewed on my other one and there are little teeth marks all over it. despite two friends' lukewarm reaction to it, i love it. i'm a big-bag person; i think this will be great for work and for toting around all the random stuff i carry with me. here's a link to the bag on the target web site; i think it looks like it costs way more than $50, especially in person. oh, and fyi, practically everything there is on sale. get thee to your local target immediately!

and now for a story about shoes from target. random, but semi-related.

i have an affinity for heels and wedges. whether i’m able to walk in them or not, i will always prefer a heel to a flat (with the exception of flip-flops, but that’s something else entirely). every may or june, i buy a pair of strappy wedges at target that are guaranteed to last me until at least august, at which point the ankle strap will fray and finally break, and i’ll go on a hunt for a new, more fall-and-“winter”-appropriate pair.

last summer, i was thrilled when i scored a pair of nude-colored wedges for something like $10. they fit perfectly, the breaking-in process didn’t hurt at all and they made me feel great. the only problem was that they were sky-high and i didn’t so much walk in them as i did totter. but i was able to plan some great outfits around them, so i didn’t really care.

until, that is, i came to work one hot july day of in one of my favorite green skirts and a brown top, wedges securely strapped onto my feet. i got up at about 10 a.m. to bring a job jacket to the art department and stopped, as i often do, to talk to one of our graphic designers. then, as i turned to walk back, the toe of my wedge caught the floor and i fell. but oh, dear reader, i didn’t fall forward – i fell backward.

thankfully, my head didn’t hit the ground and – also thankfully – the floor was carpeted. but i landed in cockroach position – i.e., legs straight up in the air. and i also landed right next to the desk of one of our new designers – an attractive 20-something guy who i'd probably unconsciously dressed up for that day (c’mon, we all do it). it’s a minor miracle that he didn’t see me fall and that i was able to scramble to my knees before he turned around to see where the resounding thump he’d just heard had come from. however, the rest of the art department had seen the entire wipeout (and my underwear), and to this day i can still see their reactions: mouths forming perfect o’s, followed by hysterical laughter when they realized i was ok. and i laughed, too; i mean, it must have looked hilarious.

anyway, you’d think that would teach me to put away the wedges for awhile, but no—after a day or two in flats or lower-heeled shoes, they were back with a vengeance. this time, i paired them with my favorite yellow smock top and dark green ankle-length pants. i was proud of myself for walking carefully all day and not so much as tripping once.

and then i got up to have my supervisor sign my time-off request, and as i turned to walk back to my desk, i felt the toe of my shoe catch – again. i immediately flashed back to the earlier scene in the art department, and some little part of me, even in that, “oh, shit, i’m about to fall!” moment, thanked god that i was wearing pants that day – although the thankfulness quickly disappeared as i dropped to my knees. at that point, i thought i was done falling – but nope, i lost my balance again and continued to the ground, eventually ending up boob-crushingly flat on my stomach, arms splayed out the side, legs bent at the knee, wedges akimbo. i could hear my supervisor and two of our other co-workers gasp and rush to see what happened; as i sheepishly stood up and dusted off my pants, cheeks flaming, i managed to squeak out an, “i’m ok! i’m ok…,” and then laugh and say that it was the second time i’d fallen in those very shoes.

to which my supervisor, who is a wonderful woman and who is also my mother’s age, gave a deadpan reply that still makes me laugh: “well, honey, if you see us on the floor like that it’s because we’re having a heart attack!”

it wasn’t long after that second fall that the ankle strap broke on that particular pair of wedges, and i gladly tossed them to the back of my closet, where they’re awaiting life in a garbage bag the next time i get enough motivation to clean out old clothes and shoes. i see them every so often when i’m digging for my last clean pair of underwear (a cue that it’s laundry day) or for an elusive gym sock. you’d think the memory of them would deter me from buying new wedges this year, but no – today my feet are ensconced in a great, super-strappy brown pair that, admittedly, make me feel much more balanced than last year’s – and are a wee bit lower in height, too. old habits die hard, huh?

and p.s. i certainly wouldn’t object to a pair of these, even though i’d probably break a bone in them. to quote the inimitable carrie bradshaw: "hello, lover!"
p.p.s. if you think this story is funny, it’s nothing compared to the time i got out of my friend’s car in the middle of a car wash drying cycle because i was convinced the car wash was broken. but that’s a story for another time.

(first photo above by moi; second photo via piperlime.)

watch this. seriously.



just like the last youtube video i posted, this one (via thelilbee) will definitely make you smile. if you're not interested in watching the "making of" part, stop at about 2:31. oh, and in case you're wondering, the song that's playing is called "heartbeats," by jose gonzalez. here are the lyrics. you'll want to read them, too.

another post is coming up soon. xx.

ps: happy anniversary to my mom and dad!

Friday, June 27, 2008

mememememe!

1. what did you do 10 years ago?
wow. 10 years ago i was...just about to turn 15. it's so weird that i can say "10 years ago i was doing..." and actually remember whatever i'm referring to. crazy. so, anyway, 10 years ago i would have just finished my freshman year of high school and probably would have been excitedly preparing to go to pennsylvania with my family -- just like i'm doing right now. only this year i'm going solo.

2. five items on your to-do list:
--safely transport the pea dumplings i made last night to my boss' house for the swill party (read: wine tasting) she's having tonight. hope she has something with which to steam them.
--take a shower and make myself look presentable. maybe straighten hair.
--take out trash.
--call a couple of people back. (confidential to my friends awaiting callbacks: the fact that i am not great at answering my phone does not reflect how much i value our friendship. promise.)
--figure out oscar's medicine situation when i'm away.

3. snacks I enjoy:
mmm...i love yogurt, especially stonyfield farm. also, fresh fruit (bananas and raspberries especially). and chocolate, of course.

4. what would you do if you were a billionaire?
pay off all of my debt (student loans, credit cards, car) and my family's (mortgages, etc.). give a bunch to charities (children's foundations, animal rescue organizations, cancer charities, alzheimer's research foundations -- all things that have affected me in some personal way). and, of course, shop, buy a hybrid car, probably upgrade the living situation, etc.

5. places I would live:
new york. san francisco. paris. ireland.

6. jobs I have had:
cashier at schlotzsky's deli. cashier at my friend's dad's pizzeria. cashier/bookkeeper at office depot. editorial intern. and now, writer/editor.

7. bloggers I am tagging who you will enjoy getting to know better:
not tagging anyone, but feel free to fill this out -- and let me know if you do!

* * *

hooray! it's friday! i'm so happy. tonight i have a work party at my boss' house, and i'm not really sure what the plans are for the rest of the weekend, which is kind of exciting. (i may just stay in, something i haven't done a lot of lately.) then next day is a four-day work week and i'm off on vacation for the whole week after that. i hope you all have a fantastic weekend. xx.

p.s. i saw a post on bluelines about the blogger's "summer essentials kit," which included havianas, margaritas and neil young's harvest album. i have to say mine would be pretty similar: flip-flops, the coconutty smell of sunscreen, the ocean, a margarita for sure, a really great book and maybe the mountains of pennsylvania thrown in for a week for good measure. tell me: what's in yours?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

loving: dearpony.

yes, it’s true: two “loving” posts this week, and one of them is actually not j.crew-related! this second one comes via the genius blog poppytalk. jan always manages to find wonderful things, and after clicking on the link for etsy seller dearpony in one of her recent blogs, i immediately let out a delighted little “ooh!” and started thinking about whether i could possibly afford to to blow some money on dearpony clothes.

by way of a little background, dearpony is run by tracy fillion, who also co-owns the cool-looking canadian shop very hush hush (read more about it – and tracy – here on poppytalk ). she uses a lot of recycled materials and organic cotton to craft her line of silkscreened clothing, accessories and toys, a practice i totally support. tracy’s clothes just scream (or do they whisper?) “summer” to me; there’s nothing better than a june day spent running around in easy, pretty things like these. some of my very best childhood memories revolve around sitting on my grandparents’ front porch in pennsylvania in july, sipping sweet tea in a soft t-shirt and feeling utterly relaxed; and looking at tracy’s stuff – particularly that white t-shirt – takes me right back to those days...and nights. i’ve put together a couple of images that i found in her etsy shop, but as of right now only the green top is available. it’s $89 and made of organic cotton – click here for more info and sizing.

(white t-shirt, yellow dress, recycled-leather hip pouch and green top all via dearpony.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

let them eat cake.

as a burgeoning foodie/wannabe chef (yes, it's true, sometimes i pretend i'm a host on the food network and "instruct" my viewers [read: oscar] how to prepare whatever i'm making), i love the "in the kitchen with" column on design*sponge. with the exception of one meat dish, i haven't yet seen a food post that i've looked at and thought, "nah." the food always looks appetizing.

but, sadly, yesterday was the first time i actually got around to trying one of the contributors' concoctions. oh, sure, i'd come close when grace posted delicious days' sunny saffron brioche recipe, but the level of detail (i thought) the recipe required was a little scary. so i settled for being content with just looking at the beautiful photographs -- until, that is, i discovered bonnee sharp's rum cake. (i knew i'd end up making this sometime this week!)
this cake requires ingredients that you probably already have in your house. its base is yellow cake mix (i used betty crocker's super moist version) and instant vanilla pudding. after beating in eggs, oil, rum and water, you pop it in a bundt pan and let it cook for about an hour. the glaze is just as simple: butter, more rum and sugar. after drizzling it over the cake, bonnee suggests letting the whole thing sit for at least two hours, so that the glaze really sinks in and congeals, making the cake deliciously moist. it's a foolproof recipe and, after making it last night, one that i would highly recommend when you need to whip up something special in a pinch.
you can see my version of the cake in the photos above; while i admit that i'm not the neatest baker (or, uh, the best photographer), the finished product more than made up for my messy kitchen and any little spills. i'm going to take a huge chunk to work tomorrow because allowing a whole cake -- especially one this good -- to sit in my kitchen is not a good idea. i think my coworkers will be happy, don't you?

loving: yes, more j.crew!

anh-minh, lucky small-footed woman that she is, posted a pair of lovely child’s-size j.crew flats on her blog a few days ago, and i let out a little squeal of delight when i saw them. unfortunately, the grown-up equivalent of the flats isn't quite as pretty – but the heeled version totally is. i know i’ve posted a lot of j.crew items in the “loving” category lately, but to me the clothes are the epitome of summer and these "penelope" peep-toes really make me smile. they're almost spectator in style, and the range of colors is really lovely – i especially love the red-and-cream and the green-and-orange. can’t you imagine wearing these with a sweet little seersucker dress like the one above?

p.s. stay tuned for a second foodie post coming up a little later.

p.p.s. i caved and bought two of the books i mentioned yesterday on amazon: then we came to the end and all we ever wanted was everything. i was going to get petite anglaise, too, but i decided i wanted to purchase at least one book on the list from a bookstore. my wonderful friend s. and i love having coffee together at borders when i visit pennsylvania, so i figure i'll get it when i'm up there next week.

(photos via jcrew.com).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

summer reading.

i’m getting ready to go on a much-needed eight-day vacation next week and i couldn’t be more thrilled. while i won’t be traveling anywhere super-exotic, i will be visiting some of my favorite people in the whole entire world, and i can’t wait. i’ve found myself feeling a little snappish at work – and in general – lately, and i think getting out of florida’s oppressive heat and into a totally different environment will really calm me. and if you’re wondering about the usual daily posts, never fear: i’ll be taking tons of pictures and posting at least once or twice, including a special photo tour of a home that’s very near and dear to my heart – not to mention drop-dead gorgeous.

so now that we’ve established that, i’d thought we’d talk about i subject that i haven’t broached much on this blog: books! i feel a little shameful that there are only two posts in the “books” category here on { PMiTG }; after all, i’m an editor by trade and reading is as much a part of my genetic makeup as my limbs. i’m making my way through elizabeth gilbert’s eat, pray, love again – why? see the above mention about feeling snappish – but since i’ve read it before, i’m ready to move on to something new. claire messud’s the emperor’s children, which i’ve heard is wonderful, is next on the list, but it’s summer – i feel like something light and beachy. here’s what’s on my wish list (and what will probably end up on my nightstand – book-buying is a compulsion of mine). tell me what’s on yours!

petite anglaise, by catherine sanderson. caroline campion, glamour magazine’s books editor, says that this book chronicles sanderson’s life after moving to paris – detailing how she “fell in love, had a baby, lost her job, found a lover and saw her high-end soap opera life even become international news (i can't explain, you must read). best of all, diving into her book is like stumbling upon a very juicy diary that you don't have to feel guilty about reading.” ooh la la. (ps: sanderson also writes a blog.)

all we ever wanted was everything, by janelle brown. campion also recommends this one, about a los angeles-based magazine editor who falls upon some hard luck (a breakup, credit card debt, etc.) and “has to make a change that will bring her – and her family – back from the brink.” sounds interesting and i just love the title.

american wife, by curtis sittenfeld. although this doesn’t hit bookstores until sept. 2, i will absolutely be pre-ordering it. sittenfeld is one of my favorite writers and her first novel, prep, is one of my favorite books of all time. her writing has an ease about it, and her way of making otherwise-commonplace details seem interesting is really remarkable. american wife, according to sittenfeld’s web site, is about fictional first lady alice blackwell, who “on what might have been one of the most significant days in her husband's presidency, considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the white house—and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, ‘almost in opposition to itself.’” i can’t wait for this one.

then we came to the end, by joshua ferris. it’s no small feat to be named one of the 10 best books of 2007 by the new york times book review, but this novel was. the times describes it as an “acidly funny first novel set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.” sounds good to me; here’s the review if you want to read it. (ps: ferris, as the picture in the review shows, is cute.)

so there you have it – my top picks for summer reading based on various reviews and articles. i’m sure more will be added to the list. again, please share with me what you’re reading.

(photo of bookshelves above via design*sponge; second photo, my own stack of books with bird accessory, taken by me. )

Monday, June 23, 2008

the weekend: a recap.

what a random -- but fun -- weekend it was.

after a long day of work on friday, i headed out to dinner at yume sushi with some of my girlfriends. i'll be honest: the sushi at yume isn't out-of-this-world stellar. though my seaweed salad was yummy, the avocado roll i had was comparable to the pre-packaged one i pick up at whole foods -- in fact, i think i may prefer the whole foods version. the rest of the table -- who ate actual fish -- agreed; the girls enjoyed the white tuna rolls but thought the rest was kind of mediocre. but a couple of cocktails on ceviche's rooftop bar, mixed with the sultry june weather, made us forget all about our mediocre dinner experience.
saturday morning and afternoon consisted mostly of sleeping way in, watching tv with oscar (above) and some errands, but on saturday night i ventured out (in the pouring rain!) to see forgetting sarah marshall at the parkway 8 cinema on lockwood ridge road -- which charges, i kid you not, $2 for movie tickets ($1 before 6 p.m!). granted, the movies play there a month or two after their initial release, but who cares? the $2 ticket more than makes up for that. the judd apatow-produced movie was a bit long, but jason segel, who wrote the script, was great as the main character and i laughed -- geuninely -- a lot of times. mila kunis and kristen bell were good in their respective roles, as were jonah hill, paul rudd and jack mcbayer. and much like apatow's knocked up (one of my favorite movies), the crude jokes were balanced with some touchingly real emotional moments. not the best film i've seen lately, but i'd certainly pay more than $2 to see it. if you plan on netflixing the dvd, here's a.o. scott's new york times review; he says all of this much more eloquently than i can. and if you're in sarasota, definitely check out the parkway 8.
sunday i woke up to a very weird smell wafting through my apartment, and after whipping up a yummy breakfast (scrambled eggs, a waffle and good coffee), i spent most of the early afternoon doing dishes, sweeping and mopping to try to get rid of it. (you're probably wrinkling your nose right about now; in my defense, there's a good chance that the smell could have been coming from outside. but it's completely gone now, at any rate.) then, after a quick run to the grocery store, i morphed into italian matriarch mode, standing over my stove and stirring a pot of homemade tomato sauce while oscar slept on the floor near me. if you're wondering how i could possibly stand heating up the kitchen like that in the middle of june, i'll tell you: the recipe was authored by my culinary icon, heidi swanson, and literally took five minutes to cook. here's my rundown, with a link to heidi's recipe afterward: heat extra-virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes and a little bit of sea salt over medium-high heat; add a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and continue heating until sauce simmers; remove from heat and add sauce if needed; and stir in the zest of one lemon, which adds a surprising flavor to the dish and makes it feel considerably lighter. make sure to read heidi's recipe, though; she talks a lot about ingredients and it's always a pleasure to read her posts. i spooned a generous amount of the sauce over some whole-wheat pasta shells and topped the whole thing off with a dusting of parmesan cheese and a little more lemon zest, as you can see in the photo above. (oh, and be warned: if you're a spice wimp, like me, this sauce definitely has some kick to it, but it's still delicious.)

so that was the weekend, and now it's monday. there's no real point to this post, is there? it's sort of an amalgam of several categories. i'll have some more specific, less random posts coming up this week, but until then, have a wonderful monday and tell me: what did your weekend consist of?

ps: i'm trying to convince myself not to make bonnee sharp's fantastic-looking rum cake, but i have a feeling that it may just pop out of my oven on a quiet night this week...photos and a review to come if it does, of course.

Friday, June 20, 2008

pasta and potatoes and peas, oh my.

i mentioned yesterday that i had an upset stomach after a, um, melange of interesting food choices on wednesday. in the interest of full disclosure, i should probably let you know what exactly i ate so you'll fully appreciate the recipe this post contains. it started with some vegetarian sushi from whole foods, followed by an entire bag of (organic! does that make them better?) potato chips (consumed in two sittings), followed by a coffee yogurt, followed by pasta with a creamy tomato sauce and a chocolate ice cream bar. then yesterday, after waking up late, i consumed a cup of disgusting work coffee (seriously, it was like mud and required a lot of creamer and two sweet 'n lows to even become drinkable), another coffee yogurt, the grossest, squishiest banana ever (i didn't realize it when i started eating it!), and half a cinnamon roll. needless to say, it's no wonder i felt yucky for the rest of the day. i think the banana is what really put me over the edge; the texture made me queasy and unnerved my already-full stomach. i drank a ton of water to try to wash everything down, but when i stood up i swear i literally heard my stomach go "glug." not fun.

so i skipped lunch, trying to calm my stomach, ate a handful of pretzels and an all-natural strawberry-banana smoothie for a snack and realized, when it came time to make dinner at about 8 p.m., that i needed something substantial but healthy -- i.e., nothing creamy, buttery or overly salty. and that's when i remembered a feature in real simple's may issue about farm-fresh dinners. the sweet pea and potato pasta had looked especially good to me, and i had most of the ingredients in my pantry, so i immediately got to work prepping the meal.

now, i realize some of you might be reading this and saying, "pasta with potatoes isn't exactly a light meal." you're right. it's not. but i like i said, i had all the ingredients on hand -- except the scallions called for -- and i'd been itching to try the recipe. plus, when i started cooking, i told myself that i would eat a normal amount of the pasta, not the amount a 17-year-old boy might consume.
so i cooked two yukon gold potatoes in simmering water for 10 minutes, added a bunch of frozen organic peas to the equation for the last two minutes, cooked up enough pasta (i had whole-wheat shells; you can use whatever you want -- real simple suggests fettucine) that would guarantee me at least two days' worth of leftovers, drained the pasta and potato mixture, combined them in the still-hot potato pot, drizzled the whole thing with good olive oil, sprinkled salt and pepper over it all and then grated some fresh parmesan cheese on top. it was delicious -- simple and filling, and i stuck to my promise and ate a normal-size portion. i'm actually glad i didn't have the scallions on hand; though i love them, my unsure stomach and i thought the dish was fine without them. and like i said, i have leftovers. real simple suggests adding salad dressing to the cold pasta and eating it for lunch; i'll probably forego the dressing and just eat it plain.

i'm telling you all of this backstory because i'm trying to change the way i think about food. i'd really like to cut way, way back on the sugar and processed stuff and start cooking -- and by cooking, i don't mean microwaving -- as much of what i eat as possible. i think i owe it to myself. and after yesterday, my stomach does, too! i'm also telling you this because the real simple article emphasized farm-fresh food and many of you have access to local farmers' markets on saturday mornings -- so if you want to make this ultra-comforting pasta, you can head to your market and pick up fresh peas, potatoes -- even pasta.

here's the link to the official real simple recipe; the photo above is (the leftovers from) my version if the dish. bon appetit and happy weekend, everyone! see you monday. xx.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

gotch-a!

i wasn’t sure what i was going to write about today; as i sat at my desk last night, tapping my index finger on the “j” key of my laptop and listening to thunder rumbling outside, i thought maybe i’d do a thursday quote – one that i came across while rereading eat, pray, love last night and that i thoroughly appreciate. (i’ll save that for another day. i have something much better for you.)

i woke up late this morning. really late. 8:33 late. yikes. my reaction when i saw the clock was like something out of a cartoon: eyelids fluttered open; red clock numbers came into focus; mind processed what was going on; mouth yelled, “oh, shit!”; body leaped out of bed and raced to the bathroom, leaving only a cloud of smoke behind. poor oscar, who was asleep in his scratch lounge, looked at me like i was nuts. i slicked my hair into a nub of a ponytail, pushed my non-shampooed (read: kind of greasy) bangs to the side, slapped on a headband for good measure and threw on some clothes: a purple blouse, jeans and my favorite green wedges. after tottering across the street in the rain (my umbrella was in my car, thank goodness); i managed to sneak – shamefacedly – into my office by 8:54. by 9:30 i was sipping a cup of (bad, bad) office coffee, responding to e-mail and crossing things off my to-do list, but i still felt totally thrown off my schedule – augmented by the fact that i ate a very strange mélange of foods for “breakfast” after a very strange mélange of foods for dinner last night, which in turn resulted in some weird stomach action at about 1 p.m.

so imagine my happiness when i discovered the fabulous jen gotch – photographer extraordinaire and author of the fantastic “my polaroid blog” – via oh joy!. jen’s images were exactly what i needed on this dreary gray day – hauntingly pretty and soft. the kind of photos that make you look twice, and the kind of photos onto which you immediately impart your own meaning. i can think of 20 different associations that come to mind when looking at her “white balloons and a light switch” (below) photo. don’t you love that?

ps: california-based jen also writes a food blog, “becoming a foodie.” a multitalented girl, for sure.

(all photos above by jen gotch.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

hot hot heat.

as promised, here are my top five beauty picks for summer 2008. now, we all know i love makeup – even the packaging thrills me. my aunt, a makeup collector if there ever was one (though, interestingly, she doesn’t wear much – maybe the love-of-packaging thing runs in the family) has a huge tote bag next to her sink that’s filled with products, and every summer i spend at least one evening in front of the mirror – usually pre-going-out-to-dinner – playing around with the various lip glosses, cheek stains and eyeshadows. it’s fun.

that said, the summer heat can cause a lot of makeup-related issues. cream eyeshadows can crease, mascara can run, foundation can cake or fade away. i find that a lighter touch for everything – hair products, skincare, makeup – is key, so with that in mind i’ve compiled what i think is the perfect summer makeup/skincare/haircare wardrobe. the only thing missing is the eye makeup – but maybe you can tell me your favorite eye makeup. me, i’m partial to maybelline’s great lash mascara, a little highlight on the brow bone and on the inside corners of the eye, and not much else.

[clockwise from mid-left: fresh soy face cleanser (fresh products are fantastic; i visited their store in greenwich village a few years ago and fell in love – try their lemon-sugar perfume if you need a light fragrance); benefit dandelion blush (the perfect summery pink); clinique black honey almost lipstick (a universally flattering shade – seriously); sally hansen natural beauty “your skin” makeup (created by carmindy of what not to wear fame – she uses it on the show and it looks great); and finally, bumble & bumble simply seaweed shampoo and conditioner (i use this every day – it’s light and smells wonderful). click on the image to enlarge, if you’d like.]

now it’s your turn – what summer – or year-round – beauty products can you not live without?

p.s. i would be totally remiss if i posted this without making mention of sunscreen as the ultimate summer beauty product, but i’m hoping that by now it’s so ingrained that we absolutely must wear it if we’re out in the sun that it can go without a picture. (fyi, i use the highest spf banana boat makes.)

happy birthday, mel!

[this photo (taken last fall) pretty much sums up our friendship: she is fabulous, i am crazy, she puts up with my antics.]

happy, happy, happy TWENTY-FIFTH birthday to a fabulous friend, the best roommate ever and an all-around fantastic person: mel! here's to 25 more years of friendship. xoxoxoxox. expect cupcakes when i see you next!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

organization: how do you do it?

i am someone who really enjoys a clean (as opposed to…dirty? ha! you know what i mean), well-edited house. there’s something so appealing to me about minimal clutter, beautiful groupings of objects and, well, a lack of junk and dust everywhere. my love of the now-defunct blueprint magazine and its organizational tricks is well-documented, and i thoroughly appreciate real simple’s tips for lifestyle organization (seriously, if you can make a six-page spread on laundry interesting, you’re a-ok in my book). being in control of my space makes me feel physically better; in fact, i often do a “clean sweep” of my entire desk before beginning a new project at work (this started during my junior year in college when i had to write big papers, and it often happened at 2 a.m.; sorry if i ever woke you up with my paper shuffling, mel!).

[jinnie lee's beautiful workspace.]

that said, “organized” is a word i would not use to describe my personal life. walk through my apartment door on any given day when i know someone’s not coming over and you’ll find a mess. to clarify: my apartment is not dirty; it’s messy. i throw my clothes everywhere, i leave my makeup bottles all over the vanity, there’s generally a stack of dishes in the sink and i try to avoid doing laundry until i’m out of clean underwear.

[trine's home is a favorite of mine. i wish my dressing area looked like this. actually, i wish i had a dressing area.]

however, i recently did a major house clean due to an impending apartment inspection and i’ve somehow managed to keep my clothes in the closet and my lotions and potions in the medicine cabinet. it’s interesting how much better i’m functioning; i now want to put my clothes away and stack my magazines neatly. my apartment is my home, my nook, my place where i can let the stress of the outside world fall away and zone out with a book or the blue light of the television. i should keep it as neat and clean as possible so my mind can be neat and clean, too, right?

[nicole's home = a constant source of inspiration.]

right. i’m just not sure how long this newfound organization will last. so i ask you, dear readers, for your organizational tips. my friend k., a teacher, tells me that i should put away 20 things – socks, paper, anything – each night. i’m on the cusp of my 25th birthday, i know i need to live like the successful young woman i am. so i implore you – please share! xx.

(photos above of some of my favorite organized homes: trine of ferm living’s vanity area [via design*sponge]; jinnie lee’s desk [via sfgirlbybay]; nicole’s bedroom [via apartment therapy: chicago].)

happy birthday, patrick!

[a totally goofy photo of my free-spirited, guitar-playing, now-20-year-old brother.]

though he doesn't read this (...i don't think), i have to wish my wonderful brother patrick a happy TWENTIETH birthday. i guess he's not my "little" brother anymore, huh? patrick, i love you and i hope you have a fantastic day. xoxox from your big sis.

Monday, June 16, 2008

just another manic monday.

after a good, long (but emotional) weekend and two cups of jitter-inducing coffee this morning, i am back to work and busy today...so i leave you with this picture of my (beloved, adorable) oscar, who is sitting (well, sleeping) exactly where i wish i was right now, especially since it's rainy and gray outside: in bed, avec book (i picked up a copy of claire messud's the emperor's children this weekend and am excited to get started). more to come tomorrow. hope you all had wonderful father's day weekends. xx.

Friday, June 13, 2008

just kidding! one last thing...



this (discovered via a cup of jo) will make you smile, i promise (mel, i'm looking at you!). watch it through to the end. i would totally hire this guy, wouldn't you?

have a fantastic weekend and see you monday.

restaurant reviews + happy friday!

i thought i’d kick off the weekend with two local food-related posts (one pricy, one a great value) in case you’re in the sarasota area and looking for a great meal this weekend – or you want to take your dad someplace special.

restaurant no. 1: derek’s culinary casual. located in sarasota’s rosemary district, this chic spot boasts calming décor, an open kitchen and a corner location in one of the city’s most up-and-coming areas (check out the sarasota olive oil company just down the street for great paninis and the best chai in town). my friends k., t., s. and i headed over last friday to take advantage of derek’s prix fixe savor sarasota choices, but – with the exception of s. – we all ended up ordering off the regular menu.

now, as many of you know, i’m a vegetarian, and sarasota is filled to the brim with small, independently owned eateries that often offer limited, meat-filled menus. derek’s is no exception – but when i asked if there was a vegetarian option, our waiter immediately informed me that the shrimp and prosciutto broth could be removed from one of the dishes with no problem at all. yay! the result? a very well-seasoned, hearty dish of carmelized onion agnolotti, sweet peas, asparagus, young green beans, wild mushrooms, shaved pecorino romano cheese and what i think was arugula. and i have to give derek’s points for knocking down the price of the dish by $10 – with the shrimp and prosciutto broth, it was listed at $27; my veg version was $17. a classy touch and a nice surprise for me and my wallet. t. and k. split the non-vegetarian version of the dish and loved it, and s. ordered off the savor sarasota menu – her dinner included a shrimp appetizer, a main course featuring ribs and a giant onion ring, and yummy chocolate mousse for dessert. oh, and we all drooled over the cheesy buns that were served at the beginning of the meal – perfection. throw in some well-edited wines and you’ve got a recipe for a great dinner. for my working-girl budget, derek’s is a little bit pricy – all of the entrees are $15 and up – but the skill and care used to prepare the food is evident. derek’s culinary casual, 514 central ave., sarasota (941) 366-6565.

restaurant no. 2: bangkok. this is the cheaper of our two restaurants, but what you save in dollars at bangkok, you make up for in the quality of the food. i’m not going to lie: i’m a thai-food snob and i’m incredibly picky about it. yellow curry with tofu is my favorite dish of all time; if a thai restaurant makes it well, they’ll win me over.

bangkok’s grip on my thai-food-loving heart is unrelenting. my friend t. (not the same t. who i dined with at derek’s, by the way) and i make almost weekly pilgrimages to the place, and the waiters know us by name and by order. while t. alternates between pineapple-fried rice and red curry with shrimp or tofu, my order never changes – like i said, yellow curry with tofu all the way. (call me boring if you want, but i just can’t switch.)

my favorite non-sarasota thai places feature yellow curries that are much more peanut-based than bangkok’s, which is a lighter color and more lemongrass-y than others i’ve had. without a doubt, though, bangkok's yellow curry is the best ever. it’s dotted with chunks of potato, mild yellow onions and cubes of perfectly cooked tofu, and served with fluffy white rice. i order mine medium-hot and i always eat the entire thing; i’ll often pair it with a cup of hot green or jasmine tea. my meal never adds up to more than $12, and t. and i are always full and happy when we leave. if you’re looking for yummy thai, then i highly recommend bangkok. it’s worth the drive from wherever you are. bangkok restaurant, 4791 swift road, sarasota (941) 922-0703.

that’s it for me – and this l-o-o-o-ng post – today. happy weekend and father’s day, everyone! see you on monday. xx.


(image above via anthropologie.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

summer fashion picks.

i’ve been writing about lots of home décor-related stuff lately, so i thought it might be time to switch it up and talk about something different. tomorrow i’ll have a review of the fancy restaurant my girlfriends and i ate at last friday, as well as a review of my favorite local thai place (a sort of high/low thing, if you will), but for today i thought we could take about…fashion!

summer, for me, has been in full swing since memorial day. it is hot-hot-hot here in florida and it’s probably not going to let up until october (ah, the price we pay for mild winters and six months of perfect weather). and that, for me, means light, breathable fabrics, flip flops and bright colors. i’m about to start work on a project that, if it goes well, i’ll share with you sometime in july and that will be somewhat related to this post. so in the spirit of that project (am i being cryptic enough for you?), i thought i’d share my summer clothing wish list – the five pieces i would love to have in my wardrobe right now. also? i’m not taking price into account, hence the term “wish list.”

[clockwise from top left: printed top (how soft does that look?) from my new favorite store, bird; “chellah” bag from anthropologie (if anyone wants to buy me a birthday present, this bag is at the top of my list!); simple, not-too-short, beat-the-heat navy shorts from gap; brown and yellow “kinzie” flats from j.crew; printed dress (would look perfect with a wide brown belt and gladiator sandals in brown or metallic) from bird.]

is there any fashion item you’re lusting after? remember, price isn’t an issue. ooh, and next week i’ll do a “top five summer beauty products” roundup.

see you tomorrow! xx.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

etsy love.

yesterday i was clicking through my usual blogroll and enjoying catching up on what’s happening on each blogger’s site. i hadn’t read poppytalk for awhile (the shame!), so i was a happy girl as i scrolled through jan’s recent posts, eventually clicking on the link for the newest poppytalk handmade market.

i was an even happier girl when i discovered olive’s beautiful pillows at the market. bright, cheery pillows are something i know i desperately need in my apartment, but i’m really picky and refuse to pay more than $30 for one. so imagine my joy when i realized that not only are the olive pillows incredibly whimsical and cute, but almost all of them are under $30 (and many of them feature a bird theme, which i love). i plan on ordering one as soon as possible. and for those of you who want something other than pillows, olive also makes cute pouches, purses, pot holders, greeting cards and even paintings. the girl is talented.

here’s a link to olive’s shop – but in case you want to search for her on etsy yourself, be aware that her shop name is spelled “o-i-i-v-e,” not “olive.” i wouldn’t want you to miss out on her adorable creations.

(photos via olive’s etsy shop; photoshopped (badly) by moi.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

pink walls: what do we think?

as you all know by now, i’m a renter. i love my studio apartment – it’s small, yes, but it has wood floors, tons of windows and it actually sort of feels like there’s two rooms instead of one giant space, thanks to some nice wall architecture by whoever built the building back in 1926.

that said, because i’m a renter, i’m not allowed to paint the walls, which are a generic masking-tape color that i, uh, don’t love. i’ve hemmed and hawed over whether i should ask the landlord if i can paint anyway, so long as i promise to repaint before i move out, but that doesn’t seem worth the trouble, and wallpapering isn’t an option, either. so, needless to say, i spend a lot of time daydreaming about my dream wall color.

[i realize that this is less pink than fuschia, but i kind of love it with the white accents. i would like it only in small, concentrated doses like this, though.]

for a while, most of my stuff was pink-themed and shabby chic. however, about a year ago i got totally sick of that and moved to a slightly more modern blue and green theme that’s inspired by my favorite urban outfitters chair. i really love it; since i live near the beach, it seems appropriate, and the colors are soothing, not headache-inducing (like the too-red wall i had in my bedroom at my parents' house). long story short: i was glad to lose the pink – at least in my home décor – for awhile.

[i like this softer color, but this is too much pink.]

but recently i’ve been seeing a lot of pink walls in the various blogs and design mags i peruse (domino has a whole page devoted to the color in its june/july issue), and i’ve been wondering if, when i live in an apartment or house i can actually paint, i’ll go that route, too. the pros: the lightest pinks are actually pretty close to white; when coupled with the right lighting, they create a flattering glow; pink is just pretty, especially with white. the cons: the girly factor and, well…i mean, it’s pink.

[if i were to do a pink room, i'd do it like nicole. love that astrid chair from anthropologie.]

so what do you think? would you ever consider pink walls?

(first two photos above via dominomag.com; third via making it lovely.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

sunday, bloody sunday.


i am a bit of a magazine whore. i admit it. i am. i think i've mentioned that i get approximately 10-12 magazines delivered to my mailbox each month -- everything from vegetarian times to new york. and i read them all. there is something in every single magazine that i connect to, and i love that.

glamour is my favorite of the whole group. after outgrowing sassy and seventeen, it was the first "grown up" glossy i turned to, and i've never looked back. hopefully one day i'll be lucky enough to have my own office on its floor in the conde nast building, but until then i'll be content with lovingly flipping through the pages.

that being said, marie claire, which was given to me as a gift by my dear friend j., is quickly creeping up my "favorite magazines" list. it has great variety -- everything from fashion to books to health -- and its articles are well-written and often rather cheeky; the authors really have their own voice, something i very much appreciate. i was especially happy to get the july issue -- the cover story was about sex and the city: the movie -- and immediately plopped down on my sofa to peruse it. the sex and the city spread was wonderful, of course, but it was another article that really caught my eye -- about sundays.

yep, sundays. as in, the seventh day of the week (or the first, depending on how you look at it). "beating the sunday blues" was the title of the piece; written by mc articles editor lauren iannotti, it was about the pressure sundays apply to the "overachieving single gal." as i read -- skeptically at first, but soon nodding in agreement -- i appreciated the fact that the article emphasized the idea that we OSGs need a break. sundays don't need to be scheduled; they don't need to include brunches with friends, trips to the gym, runs to the grocery store or the idea that a whole litany of things need to be accomplished. "am i just dangling a bunch of shiny plans in front of myself -- look over here! a tennis date! -- so i won't see what's right in front of me? myself, my life?" iannotti writes.

she goes onto say that sunday should be the oasis, not the bane, of the week, and i agree. while i spent most of my sunday cleaning (thank you, semi-annual apartment inspection), not reading domino like i thought i would, from now on i'm going to try to take iannotti's advice and make my sundays something to look forward to for the pure fact that i don't have to do anything. how about you? what did your sundays entail?

ps: the title of this post? probably the article title marie claire was trying to avoid. ah, well.

pps: laugh if you want, but as i type this post (at 10 p.m. on sunday, actually; i love that blogger lets me schedule posts now), i'm having a bit of a carrie bradshaw moment. the night is calm and black, i'm sitting at my antique writing desk, and the light in my apartment is soft. this, truly, is the perfect way to wrap up a sunday. (photo above, of carrie's apartment, via hbo.com.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

it's friday, i'm in love.

and it’s june, too, you guys! can you believe it? i can’t, and said so to a co-worker today. the first week of june is over. crazy. however, this also means that i’m that much closer to my eight-day july vacation, and i couldn’t be happier about that. friends, fun and an escape from the dreadful 95-plus-degree florida weather – joy!

anyway, as is becoming custom on friday, i think i’ll leave you with some random thoughts and links. i hope you have a wonderful weekend; i’ll be back on monday with something pretty and new.

+ if you’re local, get thee to one of the restaurants on this site. savor sarasota restaurant week is over on sunday, but until then you have the chance to sample $15 three-course lunches and $25 three- (sometimes four-) course dinners from some of the area’s top eateries. i’m hitting up one of them tonight; not sure which yet, but i’ll be sure to report back on monday.

+ a new discovery for me, but not for the rest of the world: nicole’s wonderful blog, making it lovely. not only is the site well-designed (lovely, if you will), but her home is gorgeous and her dog is adorable. read. love.

+ the june/july domino is out…yay! i plan on spending sunday curled up on my couch with it and oscar, watching whatever romantic comedy happens to be on tbs and drinking iced green tea in my pajama pants with the air conditioner on. doesn’t that sound nice?

+ discovered via oh joy!: this great soap giftbox by skinny skinny. it’s in the shape of a book and it’s filled with soap – what’s not to love?

+ if you haven’t, and you want to, go see sex and the city: the movie. it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but as one blogger wrote, it’s packaged like it’s a gift to fans, and it is – undeniably entertaining. if you want to check out my personal review, you can click right here; i’d give it a solid “b” grade.

that’s it! have a wonderful early summer weekend. xx. (image above from one of my favorite movies ever, big fish.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

sex and the city: the movie.

{ warning: post contains spoilers. stop reading now if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want any details revealed! }

as i grow into this blog more and more (blogging is like tailoring clothes, i think; you keep tweaking it until it fits just right), i keep thinking of new features i’d like to add. one of them is movie reviews. i am no film critic (i’ll leave that to my fave reviewer, a.o. scott of the new york times), but i do enjoy film, despite the fact that i don’t see nearly as many movies as i’d like. so from time to time i’ll post reviews of movies that i’ve seen – the first being sex and the city: the movie.

after hemming and hawing about whether i should wait to see the movie with one of my girlfriends or just quench my desire to see it and go alone, i decided to do the latter. so, armed with a too-big coke and a bag of popcorn, i settled into my seat for the two-hour-and-25-minute film. here are my impressions.

my intial gut reaction was that i really enjoyed the movie. i had an emotional response to it, and while i didn’t cry (i’m not a big movie crier), i did feel my lower lip start to tremble a couple of times. i enjoyed seeing how the characters’ lives had developed since the end of the series and watching their various plotlines unfold was interesting to me. with the exception of charlotte, who seemed to get short shrift and who was the victim of a really bad joke, i was invested in their stories. in fact, samantha – who was my least favorite character on the show – was my second-favorite character in the movie. i really appreciated her evolution.

my second reaction was “hello, clothes, bags and shoes!” this movie is packed to the brim with costume changes and couture and product placements. i know that’s sex and the city’s thing – it made manolo blahnik a household name, after all – but as one reviewer said, louis vuitton could practically be credited as a cast member. i would be a total hypocrite if i said i didn’t enjoy it, though. pat field is pretty magical in the way she puts together outfits, and i thought the girls looked great throughout the entire movie.

{ spoiler warning! } the one issue i have with the film – and it’s a major one – is the way carrie’s and big’s (excuse me, john james preston’s) story was wrapped up. after the whole wedding scene (kudos to sarah jessica parker for some great acting there, by the way), i was surprised the film ended the way it did. additionally, one of the things i most enjoyed about sex and the city was that it put a positive spin on single womanhood. the message throughout most of the series was that being unmarried can be empowering, not scary and sad. so why end the movie with a marriage? why not keep carrie and big together, but end the movie after the middle of the scene in the closet? i don’t think it would have hurt the film’s integrity and it certainly wouldn’t mean that carrie loved big any less.

so there you have it: my take on sex and the city: the movie. i was going to post one sentence about a couple of my favorite scenes, but i’ll do that in the comments so i don’t spoil anything else for anyone. i’m most curious to hear what you thought about the movie. did you love it? hate it? did miranda and charlotte deserve more exposition? what did you think of jennifer hudson’s character? share!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

little orange house.

i stumbled across these pictures today and just had to share them with you, especially in light of the last post about bright colors. this little home is full of them, from the cheerful orange exterior to the great interior details. i’m not crazy about the green kitchen, which you’ll see below, but the rest of it is perfection. i’d move in right now if it had $299,000 worth of change to spare! (yep, it’s for sale.)

love, love, love the bright orange paint and the sweetly landscaped front yard. also, how cute is that mailbox? this house is like a little neighborhood oasis.

aren’t the decorations great? and very appropriate for the house, which i believe was built in 1913. i covet the chair in the corner and i think the green-washed wood floors add a lot more character than regular brown wood ones. i wish there was a shot of the sofa from the front; the details on it look gorgeous.

another great shot of the living room.

the black and white tile in the dining room is one of my favorite things about this house. they, and the door-like panels jutting out from the walls, in combination with the dark wood, really make this room special. plus, how great are the two chairs? i like that the room is antique-y without feeling stuffy.

like i said before, i’m not crazy about this kitchen. there’s too much green (look at the way the paint reflects off the already-green floors) and i really feel like investing in new cabinetry would do a lot for this room. however, color and cabinets aside, i do appreciate the details: the row of glass bottles on the shelf above the stove, the pretty silver appliances, the hello kitty thing to the right of the sink, the kitchenaid mixer in pistachio (my dream appliance in my dream color). there’s so much potential here.


when i find photos like these – or even when i’m reading something – the way i gauge how much i like them/it is whether or not i want more. in this case, i do want more: more detail shots. a shot of the bedroom. a shot of the back yard. this such a great space; i hope that it finds an owner worthy of its quirky character. and i hope, too, that you enjoyed this little home tour. see you tomorrow – i’m going to post my review of sex and the city: the movie. (today’s photos via sarasotamagazine.com.)

more inspiration.

so after yesterday's very well-matched, "adult" (not in that way, you dirties) interiors, i thought i'd switch things up today with a bit of eclecticism. my goal for this summer is to whip my apartment into shape; though i feel like i've started something good, i have quite a ways to go until i'm truly happy with my tiny space (starting with some curtains on the windows would be great, no?). and while yesterday's interiors (specifically the jessica helgerson photos) reflect my ideal house, today's photos reflect my ideal apartment. i feel like the two are the difference between being in my 20s (apartment) and being in my 30s (house), if that makes any sense.

anyway, you're probably like, "shut up, meg, get to the pics," so here we go: my inspirations for my summer o' decorating. brief caps (and credits!) follow the pics, a la the photo post on monday. hope you enjoy. xx.

this living room belongs to victoria (aka sfgirlbybay). i love the way the framed photos/paintings are grouped on the wall and how the white is cozy, not sterile.



with the exception of the black fireplace (which i actually think adds tons of character, it's just not my taste), this is pretty much my dream bedroom/living room. i want to incorporate a lot more color (orange, pink) into my little home, a la these curtains and bed linens. (photos via d*s.)

the sneak peek feature on d*s is one of my favorite ways to troll for home inspiration. i bookmarked andy beers' portland living room when it was first featured on the site; i love the way all the knickknacks are arranged on the mantle and in the fireplace. that mirror is pretty great, too. (photos via d*s.)



anna's blog, door sixteen, is one of my favorites. i love seeing the progress she's making on her home renovations; she's totally my do-it-from-scratch-decorating icon. i particularly love her living room (it's clean-lined and uncluttered but warm) and the above arrangement in her kitchen. perfection. (photos via d16.)

and finally, some local inspiration. i posted this photo a few months ago, but i thought it was appropriate for this entry, too. i love the pops of color in this kitchen, particularly the green chairs and the red tea kettle, and would totally love to have a kitchen this colorful. (photo via sarasotamagazine.com.)


ps: stay tuned for an extra post...a home tour coming up tonight at six!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

loving: brown and green.

i'm having a total green moment, as i mentioned a few posts ago, and it was illuminated for me while lazing around my apartment on sunday and watching the dress my nest marathon on the style channel. the show, which stars designer thom filicia (of queer eye fame), has a pretty simple premise: ugly homes and apartments are completely revisioned by filicia, whose aesthetic i almost completely agree with (he could go a little simpler in some instances, i feel, but hey, he's the designer, not me!). also, all the subjects are women in their 20s and early 30s, so i feel like i can relate to them in terms of where they are in their lives. dress my nest actually deserves its own "loving" post; it's a fun show and it comes in manageable half-hour bites, so you're not sitting in front of the tv for an hour going, "come on, thom!"

anyway, one of the makeover subjects was a girl named karess who lives in a one-bedroom apartment that's not dissimilar to mine (minus the fact that i don't have a bedroom). it was a tiny but cute space, with wood floors and incredibly sparse furnishings. thom had her pick a couple of personal items that were significant to her; from them, he drew inspiration for his design. here're two photos of the living room, courtesy of mystyle.com (sorry they're so grainy):


the color, as you can probably tell, is not true-to-life, but that's ok. i really like the brown, green, cream and champagne color palette -- this room makes me want to slap a coat of chocolate brown paint on my walls and pop it with green pieces.


so do these, which grace posted on design*sponge last week. my jaw dropped when i saw these photos; they are absolutely beautiful and they also feature deep brown, white and great pops of green.





see? perfection. for now, i think i'm going to stick to my palette of greens and blues, but if i ever feel the need to overhaul my apartment, a dark brown, green and white palette is going to be how i do it.


what color palettes are you loving right now? share!