Thursday, July 31, 2008

and speaking of fashion...

what did you all think of kenley’s win on last night’s project runway? was her dress inspired or kind of crazy?


my take: i think it’s really cool. the judges were right: there’s an ‘80s ungaro-meets-lacroix (or balenciaga spring/summer ’08, as daniel vosovic wrote in his blog) aesthetic to it, but, as nina garcia said, all the elements somehow come together. i like it. don’t get me wrong: not everyone can wear this; in fact, most can’t. but i like the colors, i like the fact that she took a risk, and i especially like those green shoes the model is wearing. in fact, i like kenley.

other looks i thought were pretty great: leanne’s (yay!) and daniel’s. i think daniel might go far; so far i’ve liked everything he’s sent down the runway.

who was your favorite last night? what do you think of this season’s crop of designers so far? (frankly, i am already sick of suede talking in the third person and blayne adding “licious” [ugh!] to everything he says – but still, i can’t turn away!)

(image via bravotv.com)

loving: little { white } dress from sublet.

fact: i wear a fair amount of black.

fact no. 2: a fluffy white cat lives with me. see below.

you can see where this is going, right?

this morning, for example, i threw on a black tunic, jeans, a ruffly, cropped, pink cardigan and my favorite mint-green wedges. i decided to eat lunch at my apartment, and the second i got home, the cardigan and shoes came off and the cat hair came on – all over my black tunic. needles to say, my lint roller and i got intimately acquainted before i headed back to work. sigh. (it's ok. i still love my cat.)

anyway, you can imagine my delight when i stumbled across this gorgeous little white “alison” dress from sublet – an eco-friendly clothing company – via sprig, a web site devoted to everything gorgeous and green. the dress incorporates all of my favorite things: an empire waist with contrast detail, stunning pleating and pockets. it’s fully lined (yay) and made of organic cotton and bamboo (double yay). i covet this dress, you guys, even if it’s not appropriate for work. and on top of it all, if i owned it, i could scoop oscar up in my arms and not have to worry about clouds of cat hair puffing off him and onto my ensemble.

at only $150, it’s a steal, too.

oh! and be sure to check out sprig’s slide show of their picks for summer’s best little white dresses – their fifth pick comes from sarasota-based juno & jove!


(lwd from sublet via sprig; image of oscar by moi.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

true.

i came across these jessica gonacha prints the other day and just had to share them with you. aren’t they sweet? i want to buy a bunch of different ones and hang them in my home somewhere on a clothesline the way jessica did in the photographs. and i love the messages on the prints – they’re something we all need to hear every once in awhile, right?

in addition to prints, jessica’s shop is filled with notecards, pillows and even a set of hand-printed cloth napkins, which i love. i’m really into hand-printed things right now – so much so that i think i want to start making my own, which is why i ordered lena corwin’s new book, printing by hand. ok, ok, full disclosure: i’m the kind of girl who gets really, really excited about a project and then stops just short of starting or finishing. (i talked about making my own patterned key racks for months and they never materialized…alas.) but hopefully this gorgeous book will motivate me to get moving. or printing.

(photos of prints and napkins via jessica gonacha; photo of lena corwin’s book via amazon.com)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

hot child in the city.


it's hot, you guys. the dog days of summer are certainly here, and in southwest florida that means 90-plus degree temperatures (with a heat index of, like, 100) and heavy rain every afternoon. translation: hot and sticky. i got home from work this afternoon after a very pleasant excursion to the ringling museum and laid on my bed in front of the air conditioner for a good 45 minutes.


luckily, it's summer and things in general are slower, so i can indulge in 45-minute veg-out sessions and not feel as guilty about it as i would in the fall and, say, i was running late to an event or a cocktail party. and when i think of the slow, sun-drenched pace of june, july and august, my head is filled with images like these alberto seveso paintings. they make me feel like i'm in a pool looking up at a beautiful sunny sky, or on the beach gazing at a sparkling horizon at dusk. i love the washes of color and would kill to own one of these myself. perfection.


(images by alberto seveso; discovered via the always inspiring oh joy!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

the next food network star + an awesome recipe.

did you guys watch the next food network star? i didn’t get into it until the third or fourth episode, but then i started to find myself curled up on my couch every sunday at 10 p.m., waiting to see who would be eliminated. the cast of characters – at least, after the initial eliminations/weeding-out process – was interesting, and unlike last season’s top chef, i really wasn’t sure who the winner would be. in fact, i truly thought that little kelsey was going to be a finalist or take the whole thing – until she got eliminated, that is.

still, the top three represented a broad range of personalities and cooking styles. lisa was by far my favorite – maybe because she was the only woman, maybe because i thought she had great personal style (cute haircut, cool clothes) – and she was the one i was hoping would win it all. i certainly would have watched her show; i think she’s an awesome cook. the sabayon she prepared for her pilot looked delish.

aaron (the winner – sorry if i’ve spoiled it for anyone!), the hospital catering chef from camden, n.j., was my next-favorite contestant, and i liked him a lot, too. his vegas commercial certainly turned the tables in his favor, and i think his show, big daddy's house, will be fun to watch. plus, his huge smile is infectious and his reaction to his victory was super-heartwarming. i’m more than ok with his win – in fact, i’m very happy for him.

and as for adam, the third finalist, i was pretty much hoping he wouldn’t win. he didn’t seem all that different from some of the current food network personalities, and his antics (tripping when he was giving his presentation to the coast guard, serenading martha stewart, etc.) really grated on my nerves. cookingwise, i thought he was all right—and to give him some credit, his pilot wasn’t bad. but i’m glad he didn’t take it, although i know a lot of people probably wish he had. and to that i say, to each their own. a lot of people hated lisa, too, but i thought she was great.

what did you guys think of the finale? did the right person win? and did you happen to notice that rachael ray seems to have a lot of clout over at good ol’ food network? from her big cameo in the nfns opening credits (it was much larger than any of the other food network stars’) to the fact that the contestants did segments on her talk show and filmed their pilots on her studio set, she certainly seems to be the golden child – even more so than bobby flay, who hosted the whole thing. i like her, but wow.

and now, to change the subject a bit, i have to mention that my lovely friend s.’s 29th birthday fete on saturday was fantastic. i got to see some of my best college friends, who i miss dearly, and the party was relaxed but lively – perfect. s. and his sister put together a great spread of food to nibble on – vegetarian sushi, hummus, tabbouleh, dumplings – and i whipped up a carrot cake that was really good. i mean, not to toot my own horn or anything, but i was pretty proud of that thing. it wasn’t overly sweet or overpowered by carrots, and the ingredients were ones you’d have in your pantry already. i got the recipe from foodnetwork.com (see? there’s the connection to the rest of this post!) – it’s one of emeril lagasse’s and i highly recommend it. click here to check it out. oh, and the photo above is of shun getting ready to make his wish. clearly, he was thinking very hard. (that’s me holding the cake – it had trick candles/sparklers and there were a few moments when i thought my face was going to catch fire. yikes.)


hope you all had lovely weekends, too.

(photo of contestants above via foodnetwork.com; photoshopped by moi.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

un, deux, trois...friday!

a little friday survey fun for you -- and me. it's been a crazy-busy week at work (today included), so i thought i'd end it with something easy. this weekend i'll be celebrating my dear friend s.'s birthday (he's 29!) with some of our college friends; it should be a good time. i love birthdays.

anyway, until monday, my loves! here goes the survey:

  1. what are the last 3 things you purchased?

+ new sunglasses
+ new lip gloss
+ a new cropped cardigan

2. what are the last 3 songs you downloaded?

+ “in your atmosphere (live),” john mayer
+ “free fallin’ (live),” john mayer – such a good cover
+ “everyday people,” sly and the family stone (thank you, definitely, maybe opening credits)

3. where were the last 3 places you visited?

+ nyack, new york
+ philadelphia
+ scranton/allentown, pa

4. what are your 3 favorite movies?

+ amelie
+ big fish (although i can’t watch this without crying, so i generally don’t. even so, it’s amazing.)
+say anything (there are SO many more, though).

5. what are your 3 favorite possessions?

+ my kitty cat, oscar wilde.
+ some vintage clutches and necklaces that belonged (well, belong, but she gave them to me) to my 92-year-old grandmother
+ a painting that hung in my grandparents’ house up north. love.

6. what 3 things can you not live without?

+ my friends and family + cheese. no, seriously.
+ e-mail (is this sad?)

7. what would be your 3 wishes?

+ i love sarasota, but i’d really like to go live somewhere new (new york, san francisco, paris) sometime soon. at least for a little while.
+ become a household name (as a writer, people, not as a reality-tv star who puts leeches down my pants).
+ to be a little more financially secure. goal for this year? definitely.

8. what are 3 things you have not done yet?

+ been out of the country (i know, i know…next year, ireland, though? maybe?)
+ gotten married (although i’ve already picked out the most beautiful wedding invitations – i found them on design*sponge yesterday, and even though they're a diy project, i plan on copying. see above. and below.)
+ and on a more immediate scale, i have not yet decided what carrot cake recipe i’m going to make for my friend s.’s birthday on saturday.

9. what are your 3 favorite dishes?

+ heidi’s pea dumplings (and heidi’s pea dumplings in a simple soup of yellow split peas and herby broth, topped with chives and parmesan cheese – yum!)
+ giada’s creamy artichoke soup
+ ina’s mac and cheese

10. what 3 celebrities would you want to hang out with the most?

+ natalie portman (i’m picking female celebs i’d want to, like, go shopping with – boys are a whole different story!)
+ amy adams (who just got engaged, people.com tells me, yay!)
+ john krasinski (ok, forget the no-boys thing: i couldn’t not put him on this list, because i love him. would like to use these wedding invitations for our nuptials.).

11. name 3 things that freak you out.

+ roaches. yuck.
+ weird noises late at night.
+ grasshoppers. uugggghhh.

12. if you could describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?

+ creative
+ bubbly
+ kind

13. name 3 unusual things you are good at.
i don’t know if i’m good at anything unsual, but here are three regular things i’m good at (aside from writing/editing):

+ baking
+ knitting
+ crossword puzzles

14. what are 3 things you are currently coveting?

+ right now, i’m coveting a starbucks iced nonfat vanilla latte and a croissant from c’est la vie, the little french bistro downtown. it’s almost lunchtime.
+ this great little gray dress i saw at target. i’d pair it with my cute yellow flats and a big bag. at a mere $20 bucks, i think it’s coming home with me this weekend (i’ll post a link when i can find it.) + a pedicure. i pretty much wear flip-flops year-round (although not to work, of course), and my feet are showing it right now. also, an eyebrow wax. it’s been a little while. i'm just sayin'.

15. what 3 bloggers would you like tag? i think erika at in(side) the loop said it best: choosing people to tag makes me feel like i’m in middle school and picking teams for p.e. all over again (fyi, i was always chosen last – i didn’t “blossom” until high school). so if you want to do it, feel free!

again, have a fantastic weekend, everyone – the last one in july, can you believe it? xx.

(images above via design*sponge)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

definitely, maybe.


have you all seen the movie definitely, maybe? i saw it in theaters and then watched it on on demand last night, right before project runway (how many times can i type those words this week?) came on. it's a great little movie -- well-written, well-cast, well-paced. plus, i love the fact that it's set "low" in new york; in other words, there aren't a lot of sweeping aerial shots, but there are quite a few detailed street shots. (since i, sadly, don't live there, i'm not sure how accurate they are, but i still love them.)

anyway, one of my favorite parts of the movie is when isla fischer's character, april, tells ryan reynolds' character, william, that she collects used editions of jane eyre, hoping to find a version that she lost that had an inscription from her late father in it. ("every time i read [the book], it means something different," she says -- such a true statement.) there're a couple of shots of her shelf of jane eyres, which got me thinking: if i was going to collect versions of one book, which one would it be?

tough question, right? i'm not sure i can't narrow it down to one, but here are my top five choices:

pride and prejudice, by jane austen (of course)
persuasion, by jane austen (read wentworth's letter to anne in chapter 11 and tell me it doesn't make you melt into a puddle)
jane eyre, of course
to the lighthouse, virgina woolf
the little prince, antoine de saint-exupery

and you?

the perfect bedroom + other thoughts on design.

since i’ve been living on my own for almost two years now – i know, it’s so not long at all, but at the same time, it feels like forever – i feel like i’ve evolved in a lot of ways: as a 20-something single girl, as a writer-editor, as a human being. and the evolution is ongoing (otherwise it wouldn’t be an evolution, right?) – i’m not super-afraid of change and i’m excited to see where the second half of my 20s takes me.

one of the most interesting things about living on my own has been coming up with my own design aesthetic. when i first moved to sarasota, my little studio apartment leaned pretty heavily toward the shabby chic (or maybe just shabby) look: wicker furniture i’d had in my bedroom since i was little, a hand-me-down rattan sofa, pops of pink everywhere. rachel ashwell’s shabby chic line for target became my new best friend. and i really liked that style for about the first six months – until i realized i was sick of pink in my home and decided to go for a beachy theme: a palette of blues and greens with “oceanic” accents (a plate of shells i collected from the beach, for example) and modern furniture from ikea, mixed in with some thrift-store finds (a great lamp – thanks, mom) and my parents’ old loveseat, which has a great shape and is covered in a pretty – albeit slightly worn – mint-green fabric. now, for the most part, i feel like my apartment is somewhat cohesive, as opposed to a weird amalgam of stuff.

still, i’m not 100 percent satisfied – and that kind of makes me happy (in life and in work i always want to strive for more, cliché as that sounds), because it allows me the opportunity to constantly scout new things, which i love. in fact, my friend k. just closed on her first home and, when she was giving me the grand tour, i found myself drawing on things i’d seen on decor8, oh joy! and design*sponge, for example, and thinking about how i would decorate each room – from paint color to bedding. (k., if you ever read this, i think your house looks fabulous and i’m so proud of you for buying it.)

but i think if i was in possession of the bedroom above, i would be 100 percent happy. i need new bedding; looks like i’ll be hunting for rich, saturated blue with pops of bright yellow (i am having a yellow moment, as i said, after all).

(styling by carolyn quartermaine; photo via oh joy! )

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a thousand julys i hope you'll find.


just a quick, happy, summer-themed list of things i’m loving right now (interspersed with great images from the sartorialist.)

+ eggplant fries from a little sarasota restaurant called the bungalow. di-vine with their yummy dipping sauce.
+ these lamps (via at:la).
+ my newly rediscovered miseducation of lauryn hill cd...takes me back to the days of yore!
+ my air-conditoned apartment.
+ my cat, oscar. always.
+ my reality-tv trinity: project runway, ashley paige: bikini or bust, what not to wear. (coming in fourth: jon & kate plus 8. tlc: you rock my socks. bravo: you, too.)



+ avocado sushi rolls and seaweed salad.
+ my upcoming birthday (august 7!).
+ yellow and bright pink. and purple, too.



+ modern, clean-lined furniture with bohemian-chic accessories.
+ florida rain. heavy and every afternoon at about 4 p.m.
+ summer movies – sex and the city, mamma mia, the dark night (going to one – if not both – of the last two this weekend).
+ edy's new creamsicle-y ice cream: orange sherbert with vanilla ice cream.
+ easy-peasy, throw-'em-on-and-go dresses (preferably with gladiator sandals).



+ beach colors in my home.
+ my short hair (and, with that, dove's go fresh energizing shampoo. i ran out of my beloved bumble and bumble simply seaweed stuff and needed something quick, so picked this up. it's citrusy and lovely and it really does pick me up in the morning.)
+ shiny lip gloss.



(all images via the sartorialist.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

like buttahhhh.

i’m not going to lie: it’s been face-meltingly hot here in florida over the past couple of days. i like to be cool in general (you can always put on more clothes, right?), so i have my wall unit on pretty much all the time from may-mid-october (but don’t worry, it clicks off when it hits a certain temperature, so it’s slightly more eco-friendly than expected). this weekend, particularly sunday, was killer, though. i was out and about for a good portion of the afternoon and when i got home and trudged up the stairs with my bags, i expected to be a hit with a wave of icy air.

instead, i was hit with a wave of bewilderment. “is my air working right?” i wondered. sure, it wasn’t hot in my apartment – but it wasn’t instant-relief-giving cool, either. alas!

turns out the air, which i’ve had problems with before, is totally fine – it’s just that hot outside (and i’m apparently just that big a baby). in fact, as of 9 p.m. it was still 89 degrees. yuck.

anyway, after a lot of complaining to oscar (...yes, my cat) and an hour spent laying on my bed in front of the a.c., you’re going to laugh when i tell you what i made for dinner – or think i’m nuts. a cool, leafy salad? nope. some gazpacho? um, think again. a veggie burger? negatory.

i made potato gnocchi. with brown butter and sage sauce.

yep, it’s probably one of the richer things you can eat on a hot night – but it’s comfort food, and it’s what i craved. not to mention it’s incredibly easy and really delicious. also, i’d eaten pretty well all day, so i didn’t mind having a butter sauce, which i don’t make super often. i picked up some organic, store-bought gnocchi at whole foods and adapted my version of this dish from one i’d seen giada de laurentiis make on an episode of everyday italian. it was delicious; the sage immediately infused the butter with a great flavor and scent, and it was perfect with the mild gnocchi.

a quick note: after reading heidi swanson’s fantastic cookbook, super natural cooking (my kitchen bible, seriously), i agree with her assertion that using good-quality organic butter makes a huge difference. this recipe is a great place to showcase that difference.

potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage sauce

1 portion fresh or frozen potato gnocchi (about 13 pieces, according to the package i bought)
~2 tbsp. unsalted, good-quality butter
a couple of fresh sage leaves, to taste

gently wash sage leaves; set aside. in a medium pot, bring enough water to cook one serving of pasta to a boil. place gnocchi in pot and stir until it floats to the top, about 2-3 minutes. remove gently, with a slotted spoon, and plate. meanwhile, while gnocchi cooks, melt the butter in a nonstick saucepan and add sage leaves, allowing the butter to be infused with the sage flavor. cook butter until it’s brown (this won’t take long, so watch your pan), then remove from heat and drizzle over the gnocchi. sprinkle with grated nutmeg, serve immediately and enjoy.


p.s. totally unrelated, but you have got to read this. if it doesn't make you laugh, i'll give you a cookie. i promise.

(photo above: i forgot to take a picture of the gnocchi, so i thought this photo, by andy sewell [via design*sponge] would suffice. so summery, no? anyway, next time i make this dish, i'll snap a pic.]

Monday, July 21, 2008

more { project runway } chatter!

oh, project runway, how i love you. whether i'm ooh-ing or cringing over the stuff that your contestants send down the runway, laughing at the stuff that comes out of michael kors' ("slutty, slutty, slutty!") or tim gunn's ("holla at your boy!") mouths, relishing the drama in the workroom or looking wistfully at the new york city streetscapes, you never fail to amaze and delight me. i am so glad you're back

while it's too early for me to pick my favorites (even though i am disappointed jerry went home last week instead of stella), there are several designers whose progress i'm eager to track. this season, in particular, there seems to be at least one guy hoping to follow in christian siriano's footsteps, at least in the catch-phrasey sense (blayne with "girlicious"), and plethora of sweet-looking dark-haired girls (leanne, kenley, emily, jennifer).

from the latter group, i would say that leanne is probably at the front of my radar, especially since i just discovered, via a blog comment, that she has an etsy shop, aptly named "leanimal." her creations are sweet and feminine; in fact, i may stash a little cash and purchase that "holy bajeezus" dress sometime in the near future. here are a couple shots of her confections.




and in regards to the boys and the rest of the girls, i'm excited to see what wesley (loved his yellow one-shoulder dress) and daniel (of the blue plastic cups) have to offer. korto, too; her yellow kimono-sleeved dress was gorge (i'm having a yellow moment right now).

ok, that's it for me on project runway for now, at least until thursday. if you want to read more about this season, click here; to check out leanne's etsy shop, click here.

p.s. i did a wee bit o' frugal shopping this weekend and picked up the items below: a cropped pink ruffle cardigan from the gap for $10; a berry-colored t-shirt from target for $5; hee-yuge sunglasses from aldo (against the advice of my friend k.; whatevs, i like them even if they make me look a touch bug-eyed) for $12; clinique almost lipstick in black honey for $14; and a real simple "to do/to buy" fridge pad for $6 (i love crossing things off my lists). lots of little things that i'll really use for not a lot of money. i'm happy.


p.p.s i made potato gnocchi with a brown butter and sage sauce for dinner last night, and it was delicious. i'll post the recipe and a few photos sometime later this week, since it's been awhile since we've had a foodie post!

(photos above: "holy bajeezus" dress, "gezane" dress and "bernadine" dress all via leanimal.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

it's the weekend!

it’s finally friday, my loves, and i couldn’t be happier. i am a firm believer in the idea that the first week back from vacation is the worst week ever – not only are you (usually) dreaming of where you were and wishing to go back, you have to catch up on all the stuff you missed while you were gone (bills, work, etc.).

anyway, i don’t have many plans for the weekend and i couldn’t be happier. i want to go see mamma mia, but who knows if i will. i really want to go to the farmer’s market, but only if i get out of bed and dressed on time. and after hearing lots of people talk about the wondrousness of sarasota county’s beaches this week, i kind of want to take a long beach walk, as well – but who knows if i’ll actually get there (i’m not great in july and august’s super-heat; clearly, i’m living in the wrong place). my point is that the next 2.5 days are looking gloriously unplanned and full of possibility, and i love it.

the only thing i'd love more? cruising around in a pair of karen walker's killer shades. those blue ones are pretty great, no? and the brown – perfection.


have a fantastic july weekend and i'll see you monday.

(images by karen walker.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

a merry mix of things.

a random sampling of the thoughts that are swirling through my head and the stuff that’s crossing my path right now.

+ one of my very best friends is getting married, and i am thrilled to be her maid of honor. a big, love-filled congratulations to mel and joe, one of the happiest couples i know. expect to see a sprinkle of wedding-planning posts ‘round these parts from now until the big day next fall.

+ i’m pleased to report that i read an entire book (then we came to the end) while on vacation, and i’m three-quarters of the way through another (all we ever wanted was everything). i’ve also taken to doing new york magazine’s back-of-the-book crossword puzzles. this is going to sound weird, but since i basically get paid to read all day, more often than not i absolutely don’t want to do it when i get home. it’s kind of refreshing to rediscover the pleasure of reading novels for fun.


+ after reading sfgirlbybay yesterday, i am desperately wanting a pouf of my very own. preferably in aqua, thank you.


+ this “lowercase” scarf from little factory makes me swoon. WANT. i will have that in my possession when it’s restocked in september – i just can’t decide whether i like the white (so striking against black and gray) or black version better. i think that since i gave the white its own parenthetical, i’ll probably go for that one. love. need.

+ an iced grande nonfat white chocolate mocha from starbucks rocks my socks on rainy afternoons. it’s the perfect pick-me-up. it’s also 310 calories (kind of a lot), but it fills me up and gives me the boost i need to get through the rest of the workday and the preparation of dinner.


+ and finally, let’s talk last night’s project runway. what did you all think of the new crop of designers? grace blogged about the designers' new abode on wednesday – thoughts on that? oh, and a quick note: i’m probably going to be posting a lot of pr entries on thursdays now, seeing as it’s one of my favorite shows. i’m so happy it’s back and that we don’t have to wait until winter for new episodes.


(photos: self-portrait of mel and joe via color me crafty; pouf via sfgirlbybay; scarf via little factory; project runway apartment photo via design*sponge.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

my thoughts exactly.

i am a busy girl at work today, so i’ll today i leave you with a quote by one of my favorite poets, wallace stevens, and some pretty summery pictures by one of my favorite photographers, jen gotch.

the summer night is like a perfection of thought.”

what quote or photo speaks to you right now?

oh, and ps: project runway premiere tonight!

(all images above by jen gotch [click to enlarge]; photoshopping by me.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

clothing revelation (revolution?).

full disclosure: i am not good at cleaning out my closet. i wish i were one of those people who is all, “buy one thing, donate one thing,” but, alas, i’m not. and come to think of it, i actually don’t know anyone who is. that’s not to say that i don’t accrue a goodwill pile. i do. i just do it more slowly than i should, and it takes me forever to get around to bagging it up and dropping it off, because i’m constantly rewearing items that i (attempt) to toss.

take, for example, a black-and-white empire-waist dress i bought last year. after two or three wears, i took a long look at myself in the mirror and realized that the dress wasn’t nearly as flattering as i originally thought. in fact, it was pretty ugly. sometimes i’ll buy a dress that doesn’t look good with flats but that morphs into something special with heels; this dress was exempt from that. it made me look perilously pregnant, which i am not, and it was an odd length to boot. so i tossed it in my goodwill pile, resolved that my find would go to an someone who looked better in it than me.

until i was scrambling for a work outfit a few weeks later and spied the hem of the dress sticking out from under a heavy, oversized sweater i’d added to the goodwill pile. for some reason, i thought it would look better on me than it had before, and i pulled it on and scurried out the door. needless to say, it didn’t look better, and it was relegated to the pile again as soon as i got home, never to emerge again. but the point is, this is a pattern with me. i am constantly digging from my pile, which is why nothing ever gets taken to goodwill and why there is a gigantic heap of clothing sitting in the far corner of my kitchen area.

but sunday night, i think i had a breakthrough. i arrived home with a freshly laundered basket of clothes (thank you, mom and dad) and realized that i didn’t have enough hangers for everything. so i began to ruthlessly edit my closet, tossing items that i hadn’t worn in over a year or that i just wasn’t thrilled with anymore. it hurt to give some of them up, but i kept reminding myself that there’s a reason i haven’t worn them in eons. i even found myself laughing at some of the stuff i’d kept – i.e., a pair of cute pinstriped pants that fit in the waist but that are far too short. i still have some more stuff to go through, including shoes, but i’m confident that by the end of this week i’ll be lugging a couple of hefty bags to my neighborhood goodwill.

this confidence is bolstered by a great article i read in the current issue of domino. in it, writer cynthia kling hires a pair of stylists to help her pare down her wild wardrobe, and the result is pretty inspiring. kling tosses a lot, then learns how to buy pieces that go with clothes the stylists allowed her to keep and applies the age-old adage “buy a few timeless, high-quality pieces and accessorize instead of accruing tons of cheap crap” to her shopping philosophy. it’s a very french principle, and one that i plan to adopt, starting now. i need new earrings, anyway.

how do you all edit your closets?

(photo above: yes, that's my goodwill pile.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

back in business.

hello, hello! i’m back from my glorious eight-day vacation feeling appropriately relaxed and refreshed – no small feat, considering the amount of anxiety i had leading up to my departure on the fourth. (long story short: i was freaking out about visiting pa./my family for the first time since my grandfather’s funeral in april, but everything turned out fine, if more than a little bittersweet.)

anyway, i know i promised to write more than i actually did, and i apologize for not doing so. but i’m back with a full week of posts, and i thought i’d start with a quick recap of the past week – a weekly, if you will, as opposed to a daily.

friday-sunday: arrive in scranton, pennsylvania (yes, home of the office). spend lots of time with my grandmother, aunt and uncle; catch up with my dear friend s.; watch several fireworks displays from various vantage points; eat a lot of crap (oh, edy’s orange dreamsicle ice cream, you are too good) but chalk it up to feeling better after a rough week.

monday-tuesday: head to nyack, new york, where my dancer aunt is directing/choreographing children’s theater and renting a great carriage house right on the hudson river. spend monday morning curled up in a comfy armchair at starbucks, finishing my book (then we came to the end, by joshua ferris – so good). meet up with my aunt at lunchtime, then spend the rest of the afternoon shopping. head back to my aunt’s apartment for a little while before meeting up with my uncle, who’d driven in from scranton, for dinner at a fantastic outdoor restaurant on the hudson river with a great view of the tappan zee bridge. fireflies abound; i bubble over with excitement because i never see them here in florida and they just add to the night’s beautiful dusky glow. after dinner, hit up a local bar (yes, with my aunt and uncle – they’re cool) and down a really strong drink. sleep like a baby that night; drive back to scranton with my uncle tuesday morning and spend the day alone at my aunt’s house there, sleeping in, going through her amazing makeup and clothing collection and playing with her three kitties (ladybug, odette and odile). s. comes over and we sit on the front porch for awhile (one of my favorite summer pastimes), then i meet my uncle at cooper’s, a local hotspot, to have dinner and say goodbye, because i’m heading to allentown the next day.

wednesday: wake up early and go visit my grandmother at her assisted living facility to say goodbye. dissolve into tears as i’m driving back to my aunt’s; i love my family dearly and hate leaving them. pull it together enough to realize that i still have half of my vacation left and head to a great outlet mall to meet the fabulous b., with whom i’ll be staying the rest of the trip. pick up a pretty purple top at the gap outlet and a divine pair of bright yellow flats at the banana republic store. yum. arrive at b.’s house around 5:30, grab dinner at a little pizzeria and then drive to a local festival, where b.’s husband, a sound engineer, is doing the sound for his friend’s band. enjoy being outside in the lovely weather and walking around the festival, which is a throwback to my childhood, for sure.

thursday: b. and i head to philadelphia for the john mayer concert that night. the concert is actually in camden, new jersey, but our hotel is smack-dab in the center of rittenhouse square, an area filled with great shops (everything from h&m to burberry) and restaurants. i can definitely see myself living there. we make ourselves look pretty for johnny, as we call him (we’re obsessed), and, after a walk around the area and a bite to eat, head over the ben franklin bridge to the concert, which is amazing. our seats are incredible and john plays a full two-hour set while looking hot (see picture). drive happily back to our hotel post-show with ringing ears and hoarse voices. sleep like babies on the hotel’s super comfortable beds.

friday-sunday: after a late wake-up, b. and i head back to her house in allentown and spend the rest of our time together just hanging out, which is so nice and relaxing. she drops me off at the airport on saturday, and i tearfully say goodbye and then fly home, wishing the vacation was longer but happy about all the things i got to do. stay with my parents on saturday night (they'd watched oscar and i’d flown out of the orlando-sanford airport), then head back to sarasota on sunday night.

so there you have it – my vacation in a nutshell. i should also note that i am now physically unable to sleep past 11 a.m. without experiencing a sleep hangover– that didn't stop me from sleeping until 10 or 10:30 every day, but i remember the collegiate days of yore, when i could sleep until 12:30 or 1 without a second thought. oh, and i also had an interesting experience while unpacking clothes last night, which resulted in my to-donate-to-goodwill pile growing another foot (i have to bag everything up and take it in this week), but i’ll write more about that tomorrow or wednesday. until then, my loves.


(photos above: dinner view on saturday night; nyack public library; the view from our hotel room window in philadelphia (love the "love" sign in the window); a photo from the john mayer concert. all photos by me except for the fantastic one of john (hello, lover), which was taken by b.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

the infamous car wash story.


what i’m about to share with you is perhaps the most horrifying thing that’s ever happened to me – and also the funniest. i can barely get through telling this story without laughing hysterically; i’m sure the same thing will happen as i type it out. and let me preface it all by saying that i am a smart girl, i promise. i did well in school, i do well at work, i’m fairly street smart (although you’ll probably disagree with me after reading this) and i’m generally not in la-la land; in fact, as close friends will tell you, i obsess over details to a fault. so with that being said, i give you…the car wash.

it was a spring sunday in 2005 – my senior year of college. i was at my parents’ house for the weekend because i'd dropped off bff b. at the orlando international airport, which is about 25 minutes from mom and dad’s house (it made more sense to stay at home since i had to pick her up, too). i was driving b.’s car and thought i’d take it through one of those automated car washes, since it had been sitting in the driveway under one of my parents’ trees and there was a lot of pollen on the windshield.

so on my way to the airport i stopped at a gas station/car wash, got gas, paid for the wash and drove on in. after the rinse cycle was finished, the dryers came on and then, after a moment, the flashing green light telling me to drive forward did, too. so i drove forward, happy to have done something nice for my friend and looking forward to seeing her after her weekend away.

but the automatic door didn’t budge.

you know what door i’m talking about, right? the one that slides up after you’re through with the car wash? yeah, it didn’t move. but i didn’t think anything of it; in fact, i figured that the dryers probably weren’t completely finished yet and i’d moved forward too quickly (…you know, in spite of the green lights). so i sat there for five more minutes, and then i pulled forward a little more. the door still didn’t move. (keep in mind that the dryers were still on and that there were people in line behind me.)

at this point, i’m wondering what’s going on. so i whip out my cell phone and call my mom, who – understandably – is not too impressed. “you just drive forward,” she told me. “the door will lift when you get close enough.”

but i had driven forward and the door still hadn’t lifted – i didn’t want to get that close to it, especially in my friend’s car. what if it swung backward and shattered the windshield? so i decided to sit there for another five minutes in the hopes that the door would magically open and i’d be free. i can’t even imagine what the people behind me must have been thinking.

nor can i imagine what went through my mother’s head when i called her back again with the same complaint. “i don’t know what to tell you,” she said, probably wondering why she was spending money on my college education when this was the result. “is there someone there that can help you?”

well, that finally struck a chord with me. but how was i going to get someone to help me from inside the car wash? i decided to take matters into my own hands, and i am not proud of what i did next – but for the sake of the story, i’ll tell you.

i got out of the car.

while the dryers were still on.

and then i walked into the gas station, where i asked the teenage attendant if there was something wrong with the car wash.

a few notes: car-wash dryers are strong machines. i had to literally hug the wall of the car wash and inch my way out into the light; it felt like i was in the midst of a hurricane and my hair looked like a bird’s nest by the time i finally got outside. to the gas station worker’s credit, he didn’t look at me and (a) run away or (b) burst into hysterical laughter, like i probably would have. he just gave me an odd look and said, “there’s nothing wrong with it. you have to pull real far forward.”

scraping up the last shards of my dignity, i smiled brightly, squeaked, “ok! thank you,” turned on my heel…and walked back into the car wash. yes, the dryers were still on. yes, there were still people behind me in line. yes, i was completely mortified. and no, even after all that, i still didn’t pull forward far enough for the doors to open.

while telling this story aloud the other day, i mentioned that there’s a good chance i may have gotten out of the car wash again, and although i don’t remember doing that, i may have just repressed the memory. but let’s pretend i’m not that much of an idiot and only stepped into the gale-force dryer winds once instead of twice, ok? thanks.

thank god i didn’t call my mother back again; she probably would have killed me. instead, after sitting there for another couple of minutes (bringing the grand total of time spent in the car wash to almost half an hour), i got frustrated enough to pull farther forward.

and then the door lifted, rays of yellow sunshine streaming through the windshield. i have never been so glad to see the florida sun in all my life.

happily, i got to the airport on time and managed to meet b. in the waiting area. but i decided to wait to tell her the car wash story until we were on the road; telling it right after it happened felt like pouring salt in a fresh, super-embarrassing wound. but as just as we got to the car, b. stopped, cocked her head, and asked, “what happened to the license plate? it’s sort of…bent.” (thank you, car wash.)

to which i rolled my eyes and replied, “oh, do i have a story for you.

so there you have it. the infamous car wash story. read. enjoy. laugh at my expense. just remember: next time you’re in the car wash, make sure you pull far enough forward.

the end.
(photo of pink elephant car wash via puuikibeach on flickr.)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

the roundhouse.

this post seems appropriate on the heels of yesterday’s “why i love sarasota post,” especially since one of the things that i didn’t put on my list is architecture. sure, sarasota boasts more than its fair share of $6 million-plus waterfront med-rev monstrosities (to each their own, i say, but the med-rev look isn’t my style), but it’s also home to some incredibly significant modernist buildings, many built by paul rudolph, whose sarasota school of architecture style is well-known. (click here for an interesting article on his iconic riverview high school, which is going to be demolished at the end of the 2008-09 school year. so sad.)

anyway, the point is that there are many architecturally notable buildings in sarasota, and i can’t think of a house more special than the one i stumbled across yesterday. built in 1960 as an art school and studio, the current owners purchased it in 2005 and turned it into a mid-century mecca. i think you’ll like the results; i am a fan of all things green, a sucker for a spiral staircase and a lover of lush landscaping, all of which this house has. the only thing i could do without is the carpeting/rug in the living room, but again, to each their own. oh, and i should mention that the house is currently for sale again (for $699,000)! maybe someday i’ll get to see the rest of the inside; for now, here’s a little peek to whet your whistle. enjoy!

{ tell me this isn't an amazing house. one day, oh, one day i will see the inside. love that landscaping. }

{ can't go wrong with a green, brown and white color palette -- one of my faves, for sure. }

{ the pool looks so private -- the perfect place for a relaxing dip. }

p.s. i'm off on vacation tomorrow, so no post, but i'll be updating sporadically with a daily and another home tour, plus probably a little something extra. if you're looking for good reads, check out the lil bee, cup of jo or the sartorialist. plus, you know, every other link on my blogroll is fabulous, too. yay!

(photos of the roundhouse via sarasotamagazine.com)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

why i love sarasota: a list.

yesterday was an intense day, to say the least. i’ll just leave it at that. so today i thought i’d post something happy, something that you, dear reader, might actually refer to should you come visit the quaint little city that i call home.

so here goes. ten reasons why i love sarasota – even when it’s 95 degrees outside.

  1. beach, beach, beach. oh, beach, i love you. from lido to siesta, turtle to longboat, you are magnificent and i worship you. my favorite times to dig my toes into the sand? summer nights after 6 p.m.; anytime on sundays from october-april. don’t forget to wear your 'screen.

  2. the shopping. st. armands circle, siesta key village, westfield southgate mall, main street…there are some great little stores here in sarasota. my faves? the main street trio: lotus, stitch and samba.

  3. the restaurants. if i had it my way, i’d never cook; i’d just go to a new restaurant every night. for breakfast, try c’est la vie (main street) or the broken egg (southside village). for lunch, the sarasota olive oil company is one of my favorite stops – the paninis are delicious and they make great iced coffee; yoder’s, an authentic mennonite restaurant located in an authentic mennonite section of the city, is also amazing (save room for a slice of butterscotch cream pie). and for dinner, i’m partial to mattison’s city grille (main street), canvas café (laurel park), café epicure (main street), blasé café (siesta key), cork/the bottle shop (st. armands circle) and the old salty dog, which boasts some of the most spectacular water views you’ll ever see. it’s located on city island right before you hit longboat key. stop by selva grill, ceviche’s rooftop bar or siesta key oyster bar (skob) for an after-dinner drink. there are many, many, many more, too, you guys. this town? it’s restaurant mecca.

  4. the arts. from theater to the opera to the symphony to tons of galleries, sarasota has it all. the john and mable ringling museum of art is definitely worth a visit. so is marie selby botanical gardens. (confidential to my future husband: let’s get married there.)

  5. the drive up longboat key to anna maria island. try to time this so you do it at dusk, when a golden glow falls over everything. you’ll see sweet beach houses on one side of you and the glittering gulf of mexico on the other.

  6. sarasota news and books. this little independent has a great selection of titles, friendly employees and a café. you’ll see a whole range of humanity outside, from college kids to senior citizens with their dogs to businesspeople reading the paper. i love it.

  7. burns court cinemas. this tiny movie theater, nestled in quaint burns court, shows some of the best new indie films out there. you can order beer and wine with your popcorn and tickets are cheaper than they are at “regular” movie theaters. love.

  8. the mix of people who live here. from young 20-something professionals to corporate go-getters to retirees, sarasota is not the city where your great aunt mary comes to retire, contrary to popular belief. i'm so happy to always be meeting people around my age who are out and about.

  9. the parks: bayfront, laurel, the one under the ringling bridge, etc. if you go to bayfront park, stop by o'leary's, in the marina jack complex, for a strawberry daiquiri and a basket of really delicious, just-greasy-enough curly fries. yum.

  10. ok, so this may be a bit of a cop out, but it's worth repeating: the beach. the beach, the beach, the beach. love.

what's your favorite thing about your city?

(photo of boats at marina jack/bayfront park by moi.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

songs of summer.


my dear friend t. and i had a a girly movie night/music-swapping sesh at my apartment on saturday night (complete with pizza and coldstone! mmm), and it got me thinking a lot about music. soundtracks are as important to summer as reading lists, i think. below is a sample of what's on repeat on my ipod.

"speed of sound," coldplay (i have a very specific memory attached to this one -- see below.)
"viva la vida," coldplay
"green," brendan james (more late spring, but i count it as early summer, too.)
"running on sunshine," jesus jackson
"insensitive," jann arden (another memory-specific song. more on it another time.)
"crazy love," van morrison (because what's more romantic than summer love?)
"summer girls," lfo (such an oldie but goodie!)
"the boys of summer," ataris version
"summer of '79," ataris
"back to you," john mayer
"suspension," mae
"du wop (that thing)," lauryn hill
"always be," jimmy eat world
"chase this light," jimmy eat world (really, the whole chase this light album is fantastic.)

and now for an explanation of one of the songs i noted above:

"speed of sound": picture this, if you will. it's about 11 p.m. on july night in northeastern pennsylvania, circa 2005. i'm 22 years old, about to graduate from college that december and feeling alternately invincible and terrified of the future, which translates into an unquenchable nervous excitement. the sky is clear, the moon casting a pale glow over the stillness; the weather a brisk 70 degrees. i'd been driving home from a coffee date with a friend and had lowered the car windows, loving the rush of the breeze as i whipped around corners and down hills. as i turned onto my grandparents' street, the first strains of this song began to play and i turned up the volume to the point where i felt the song surround me. as i slid the car into its spot in front of my grandparents' house and opened the door, the music swelled ("if you could see it then you'd understand..."), and i turned and saw my favorite boy in the whole world (and my grandparents' neighbor) sitting on his front porch with his mother, their faces lit by fat scented candles, and smiling at me as i got out of the car. a rush of emotion surged through me -- the quiet night, the perfect weather, the music, this person who i'd been infatuated with since i was 13 -- and from that moment on, i knew i would always associate that song with that night, that moment. and i do.

tell me: what's on your summer playlist? what summer songs mean the most to you?

(photo above from bohemiangirl on flickr.)