Reading Material

With a longer commute these days (I went from a 10 minute walk to a 35 minute, subway & bus trek; arguably not the worst commute in the world) I’ve found myself desperate to have a book to read in the mornings and afternoons. I get so absorbed in whatever I’m reading I have ever since I was a wee little thing.  The other morning on the bus, I had my nose buried so deep I almost missed my stop! However, I’ve been lacking the time or energy to go to Barnes & Noble to buy a huge stack of new books, because I get so overwhelmed by the selection and I have no idea where to even start (I’m one of those horrible people that totally judges books by their covers).

Knowing I’d need something more substantial to read every day than my facebook newsfeed on my phone (don’t hate), I scanned my massive (IKEA!) bookshelf for hidden treasures I hadn’t read yet. I came up with these three:

Dry, by Augusten Burroughs

I bought this years and years ago with my dad on a whim. I must’ve been in early high school, and I don’t think I fully understood the premise of the book (more than likely I didn’t even read the back cover). Soon after bringing it home, I discovered it was the author’s account of his battle with hardcore alcoholism. I must’ve wrinkled my nose with displeasure, and relegated it to the bottom of my bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t read fluffy, beach-reads all the time, but at 16 “heavy” for me meant re-reading Catcher in the Rye for the 10th time. I’m glad I held onto this book though, because it was a really incredible read. Parts of it made me really uncomfortable because it was so painfully raw and honest, and it’s one of those books where you wish it wasn’t all true. It reads like fiction and is thoroughly engrossing. I finished it in a week only reading on the bus each day.

Loving Edith, by Mary Tannen

Apparently this book is harder to find than the lost city of Atlantis (dammit, way to ruin my analogy!). I picked this up in a used book shop so long ago I don’t even remember when it was, but the book shop is long gone if that is any indication. Again, one of those books that was decidely out of my age range when I picked it up, but my dad wasn’t going to ever say no to buying me a book (0r, well, anything, to be honest), so it came home with me and sat on my bookshelf for over 10 years, moving from apartment to apartment to apartment, making the cut every time I donated a box full of books to Goodwill or the library’s used book store. And just like “Dry,” I’m really glad I kept this one. It’s quirky, it’s touching, it was easy to read. The characters were all relatable and it was a sweet story.  Plus, it’s rare! You can’t even search for it at Barnes and Noble.

 No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July

Look, I’m going to be honest with you and admit that I bought this because it was bright yellow. I’ve been in my “yellow phase” for a while, and have accumulated a collection of things in varying shades and degrees of utility: a Pantone coffee mug for the design nerd in me, a cable knit scarf, an American Apparel hoodie, an umbrella, galoshes, a vase, a lamp, a lampshade, a tray, a clock, tights, two shirts, a cardigan, a clutch, and probably a dozen other yellow things. I love me some yellow. Having heard good things about Miranda July’s writing, I picked this little number up. It’s just okay. At certain parts it just tried too hard. But it’s yellow, and for that, it is wonderful (clearly, The New Yorker book review isn’t going to be pounding down my door anytime soon).

I’m running dangerously low on decent reading material! Any suggestions, kiddos? Come on, help a book-nerd out. Bonus points if it’s yellow.

Friday Five

In a feat of spectacularly disasterous uncoordination, I managed to fall down a flight of stairs while carrying a laundry basket on Sunday night. I spent the better part of Monday in the Emergency Room, leering at other patients, comparing ailments, eating vending machine Pop-tarts, being x-rayed, recounting the embarrassing tale of my fall a million times, generally feeling sorry for myself, and ultimately being strapped into perhaps the most unnattractive orthopedic shoe of all time and hoisted into crutches (crutches!).

I suppose I should consider myself lucky, and not only because being laid up for two days meant I was home and in bed for the all day America’s Next Top Model marathon on Tuesday, but because my injury was about as small as it could get in a tumble of that magnitude: I broke my big toe. Not my wrist, not my neck, not my ankle. I fell down a flight of stairs and all I got out of it was a broken big toe, a bruised ass bone (that’s the technical term), and a deflated ego. Granted, the toe is twice the size it should be and purple and black and spends all day and night throbbing to the point that I think the nail is going to go flying off from the pressure. But it’s still the retard equivalent of getting mugged and having the assailant only steal a chapstick. Kind of worthless, when you think about it.

I briefly considered making this week’s Friday Five just a picture of 5 healthy, un-broken toes, but was pleasantly surprised with all of the free time I had in my gimp-tastic state to browse the web for something (anything) to take my mind off the insane pain. I’ll admit that sometimes hangnails make me cry, but I’ve broken both my arms before, at least 4 other little toes, and my wrist, and none of those breaks hurt nearly as much as this one. Not to mention that the inability to put weight on one of my feet is severely cutting into the amount of time I am able to Flamingo-stand for fun. That, and I had a trip to New York planned for today through Sunday, and I had to cancel everything and fight for refunds from both the hotel and the bus. Instead of wandering the MoMA’s new photography exhibit tonight as I’d been planning and looking forward to for weeks, I’ll likely spend the duration of the weekend in some sad fetal position with my right foot stacked on pillows and buried underneath an ice-pack. Lame!

Anyway, enough griping. Here are 5 things that are making me happy this week:

Lion ‘Cola’ hard candy, from Japan

I picked these up on a whim while standing in line at this amazing Asian supermarket last weekend (before my ungraceful Assride through Stairville) and they are delicious. If you’ve never been to an Asian supermarket, GO. Go now. They have everything you could ever possibly want in a grocery store (400 different types of teas in one aisle, directly across from bins of dried mini shrimp) and the prices are phenomenal. I’ll admit I took a gamble buying chicken from a place that kills fish to order, but I survived, it was delicious, and more imporantly, it was cheap. Ever wonder where all the Mochi Red Bean ice cream (<3<3<3) is hiding? In the freezer section, next to the frozen eggrolls! Oh, there’s also the extra-special bonus of being the only non-Asian person in the place. But anyway, these candies. They taste like artificial soda, are the size of chiklets, and fizz in your mouth. They also have 60 calories a piece, so go easy on them. And don’t buy them from Amazon; that is a total ripoff. I think one pack cost me under $1.

Travelcard Cushion, from Ashley Allen

My obsession with not only London, but the London Underground, is insane. I have travelcards from all of my trips, some saved as mementos, and some used as bookmarks. I love the Underground map (I have this poster hanging framed in my apartment, this tea-towel, and this card holder). This pillow, at the equivalent of $48, would round out my collection nicely. Everything is measured in centimeters overseas, and I’ve never been that good at math (maths, if you’re British) anyway, but a quick google search tells me the pillow is about 11 x 9″. Not too overbearing. I think it would look perfect nestled on my dark gray sofa.

Marcel Marongiu’s Apartment, from Marie Claire Maison via Desire to Inspire

I don’t know why I’m surprised that the french designer has a gorgeous Parisian apartment. This house tour is years old, but I’ve only just stumbled across it now. Doesn’t it just take your breath away? Can you imagine the views of Paris he must have from this place? I’m really digging on those antique shutters used as a room divider, and that small gilded mirror above the chest in the corner is making me all sorts of happy. I bet you the floor boards creak just a little bit when you walk across them. Hey, Marcel, avez-vous une petite amie? Appelez-moi!

Canon Powershot SD1300, from

I bought this camera a week or so ago when it was on sale for the fabulous price of $109 (it still is through Best Buy!). At 12mp, it exceeds my giant Nikon DSLR, and fits in my pocket. I bought it with the intention of taking it to New York this weekend, and adding a new, convenient little camera to my collection, but now all I take pictures of is my jacked up toe situation. I’ve been documenting the bruising every day. I took my nieces to the playground on Saturday and was able to shoot on ISO 80 with amazing results. Indoor shooting is a little difficult, because the camera seems to always need more light. So far, though, I love it. Coupled with an $11 8gb memory card, the whole thing cost me $120 (gotta love Amazon’s free shipping!).

Deux Lux ‘Decker’ satchel in Coco, from Bluefly

In a Tramadol-induced haze, I stumbled upon Bluefly the day they were having an extra 15% off handbags. I’d been lusting after this bag for a while, and the price was finally right (a lot of things are right when you are hopped up on pain killers). If it sucks in person, I can always take advantage of Bluefly’s easy returns and get mah money back. I don’t think it will have to come to that though, because I have pretty high hopes about this beauty. Not that I can use it for a while, because thanks to ye olde crutches I am relegated back to weilding a backpack like a middle-schooler (further cementing the fact that I am indeed an 11 year old boy), but knowing I have a bag that requires full ambulatory motion to carry is certainly going to serve as motivation to heal faster.

Not too much on the agenda this weekend thanks to my lame extremity, aside from pathetically hopping around, wishing I was in New York. What supercool activities do you guys have planned this weekend? Take care, kiddos!

Friday Five

Wow, apologies for the 10 day lapse in blogging. I’m sure all 3 of you were very concerned over my absence. Fear not, dear readers! I did not succumb to food poisoning by way of the dasterdly Shamrock Shake, nor let my body waver to the mystifiying powers of daylight savings (which I still contend is a crock of shit, and someone else agrees with me!). That last part is only half true. Daylight savings is fucking my shit up in the worst way.  More than the time it inspired my dad to coin the term (of endearment) “bitchmuffin” when I had to ask him a million times to explain “springing ahead”. Couple that with a new job (going well so far!) and a new commute, and I make for one sleepy specimen at the end of the day.

 Sadly, the lovely dress from Zara in this post  had to be returned; in a battle of fashion and wanting to prevent a Lindsay Lohan-esque display of my top shelf, fashion lost. It put up a good fight, though. I hung the dress on the back of my closet door, lest I ever forgot how beautiful it was, and fought with myself to wait just one more day before returning it. I hope that somewhere, there is a Medium sized woman adoring that dress the way it deserves.

 All of these things have combined forces inside of me to create a venerable Captain-Planet-like mood of suckitude, the likes of which not even old, youtube’d seasons of America’s Next Top Model could vanquish (Cycle 2!).

The only solution, of course, has been to drown my sorrows the best way I know how: mass consumerism and vapid materialism! And out of all of it, I’ve started a new blogging recurrence: The Friday Five. Let’s take a peek at 5 things that have been tickling my fancy this week:

Ordinal Dresser, from Anthropologie

Nevermind that it is a cool $1000. That dresser will be mine. It is like my soulmate, you wouldn’t understand. Plus, I know 2 people who work for the company, and after a hefty 40% employee discount, that baby could be mine for “only” $600. I wouldn’t even put clothes in it. I would just stare at it all day and sing it lullabyes at night. What? That’s not weird.


Collected Mirrors, from Anthropologie

Anthro you are killllliiinng meeeee. Even though I’m convinced you are on crack for thinking it is okay to charge nearly $700 for a collection of old mirrors I’m pretty sure I could find at a flea market for under $30 total if I tried hard enough. I don’t think my pale visage is even worthy of being reflected in this lovely set of mirrors though, which is inspiring  some really fun Snow White moments for me (“YOU, ERIN, YOU ARE THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL”). Actually, I want everything in that entire room.

Bud Vases, from West Elm

D’aww. How tiny and cute! It’s no secret I love pretty much everything from West Elm, but these darling and affordable little frosted glass bud vases are especially high on the list right now. I want a couple of them in the light blue, amber, and maybe gray. Of course that would mean filling them with beautiful buds, not the faux-flowers I buy from IKEA.

Shopper tote, from MrPS on Etsy

I have been in love with this bag for over two years, ever since I saw the tea towel version of it in the Museum of London giftshop on my last trip across the pond to visit my family. It’s so sweet and cheery, reminds me of London and my family, and like any good canvas tote it is perfectly utilitarian. I could take it to the market to buy groceries, or carry my laptop in it (whenever I get a new one), or use it as an everyday bag. The possibilities are endless! The only thing that is throwing me off is whether to get it with the screen printing in blue or red. Decisions, decisions. At $19 a pop, I might just have to get both.

Woodland Print Duvet Set, from Pottery Barn

I’ve been a fan of my all white duvet and sheet situation for quite a while. It’s totally relaxing, extremely peaceful, and given the small size of my studio apartment, it doesn’t clash wildly with the rest of my furniture. But this duvet set is making me forget all about that. It’s so sunny and bright! What a perfect duvet set for the spring. Of course, I might have trouble falling asleep on sheets that loud, but what is a little more sleep deprivation in the name of quality home furnishings?

Well, that’s all for this week’s Friday Five. Have a great weekend, kiddos! What are your awesome weekend plans? I’m helping a lovely lady celebrate turning 25, and seeing my fabulous little nieces off to Disney World.  And trying not to spend any money.

How I Saved A Lamp

I apologize in advance for what will be the longest blog post I’ve written to date. I like to keep things short and sweet around here (for the most part), but this is going to be a long one (that’s what she said). Remember this post about my desk, and that little lamp I said I’d write about? Here goes.

Two or so months ago, I had the biggest WPP (White Person Problem) ever. I desperately needed a new night table lamp. (Other examples of White People Problems include not being able to decide where to go for brunch, having too much fuzz from your cashmere sweater on your peacoat, not getting enough foam in your latte, etc). My WPP was a doozy. I liked the look of these lamps from West Elm, but was not interested in spending $100, even if sometimes I sleep with a night-light on because, in the words of Shel Silverstein,  I’m Reginald Clark and I’m afraid of the dark (so please don’t close this book on me).



I just loved the sphere bases and the long, tall shades. I figured I could find something similar for a fraction of the cost if I just tried hard enough. I probably spent a good two days scouring the internet high and low for options. After hours and hours and hours of searching, somehow, I found this:

Sears Ceramic Table Lamp

I realize you may be looking at this lamp, and looking at the West Elm lamps, and wondering what I was on at the time that I decided this was an adequate starting point. I also admit that it isn’t anywhere near as pretty as the West Elm lamp, and that it may in fact, be the most unpretty lamp of all time. But I’m one of those unflappable optimists, who sees promise in even the most lost of lost causes, and I saw that ceramic sphere base and thought I’d hit paydirt. I saw potential. And at that price (it was actually $12 when I bought it, now it’s gone up to a still-manageable $15), I couldn’t turn it down.

It arrived, and it was even uglier in person. I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of it. The base was perfectperfectperfect, but the shade was just guh-ross. Cheap material, awful proportions, wasn’t even tall enough to hide the top 1/2″ of the 60W bulb I put it in, and was just bringing the base down by being so fug. Still, I was convinced I was on the right path; I’d found the perfect base, now I just needed the perfect shade. The search began.

I did what I usually do, I default to IKEA. IKEA rarely lets me down. I could go on and on and on about IKEA, but I’ll reserve my insane love of that store for another time. To try an mimic the height of the shade on the West Elm lamp, I immediately thought of these shades:

IKEA Skimra shade

In black. For now. At $5 a pop I could easily change my mind and go for another color later on, depending on how many design iterations my apartment goes through. The only problem was, the metal frame inside the shade was way too big for the neck the lamp. Like, comically wobbly. It went right over the neck and the switch to turn it on, and just rested on the base itself. Like so:



I became disenchanted and decided to just set the whole project aside. Clearly I do not share the same “never give up” attitude of say, Christopher Columbus, or that dude the movie “Rudy” was based on.

Then I saw this little number, from Crate and Barrel, and decided that it would be a waaay better (and easier!) night table lamp.


Hoopla Amber Table Lamp


It’s sold out now, unfortunately for you, but is still available in two other colors. I got mine on mega-sale, and fell in love with it the moment it arrived. I relegated the ugly lamp to the corner of my apartment behind my tv, and tried to console myself by saying things like, “You did the best you could,” or “It was only $12 anyway,” but it gnawed at me for weeks.

Then one day, I had a flash of brilliance. Knowing that I had my heart set on both the base from Sears and the shade from IKEA, there had to be some sort of Frankenstein creation I could make to realize my dreams of the perfect lamp. I even had the perfect spot for it: the sad, dimly lit corner of my desk. I examined the shade and decided to rip out the metal frame that gave it shape, since that one fit perfectly around the neck of the lamp base.


I was on to something! There had to be a way to jimmy-rig one shade frame to another, and create some monster shade frame. I was well prepared to take the entire thing to Home Depot and find some ridiculous way to connect the two, when, in futzing around, I slid the IKEA shade right over the over frame with it attached to the neck of the base. It fit like a glove!



Many apologies for the shallow-focus blurriness of this shot. At first glance it seems disorienting, but this is actually a picture of the inside of the shade, looking down to the base of the lamp. You can see the IKEA shade sitting snuggly inside the original, gold wire frame . It’s a tight enough squeeze that it doesn’t wobble at all, and it looks pretty perfect from the outside; you can’t even tell there are two frames inside.


Look how sexy she looks, all lit up and cute.

And there you have it. For $17 and a pretty simple fix, I have a sweet little desk lamp and a seriously long blog post about it. It fits way better on my desk that it would have on my night table, and every time I turn it on I get a little surge of pride.

What fun/interesting projects have you tackled? I’d love to know!

Six Beauty Products I Can’t Live Without

You know that scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, when the one guy says to Steve Carrell, “I mean, look, dude. You think this was an accident? All of this right here? Premeditated, partner. You gotta highlight your attributes, like a diamond in the rough.” That’s my approach to making myself respectable to be seen in public. The difference between what I look like when I wake up (swamp monster) and when I leave my house in the morning afternoon (less-swamp monster-y) is substantial. I think the most accurate representation I could give of what I look like when I wake up is this little gem from Hyperbole and a Half:

I mean, my hair is darker than that, and I don’t have a blue blanket, but other than that, it’s what you will find if you sneak attack me at any hour of the day earlier than 10am.

And when I leave the house to go do fun things like spend money I shouldn’t be (it is terribly unfortunate I live less than 3 blocks from an H&M, a Zara, and an Anthropologie), I manage to look like this:

That’s pretty much spot on.

Premeditated, partner. And I couldn’t do it without these 6 beauty products:

1. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser – I have finicky, sensitive, vampire-pale skin. It reacts poorly to pillowcases and towels that aren’t washed frequently enough, certain laundry detergents, the weather, hormones, and I’ve even had to change shampoo like 10 times because inevitably my skin would rebel and break out anywhere that my hair touched my face. I’ve tried a million different and expensive face washes, but either they were too drying or too irritating. I’ve been using this for about 2 years with great results. It has the consistency of watered down lotion (or you know, when you fill an almost-empty bottle of conditioner with water to make it last longer) and it is scent free. It feels filmy and creamy going on, and it isn’t harsh at all and doesn’t sting, so at first, you can’t even tell it’s working. But it leaves my skin so soft and fresh, I’ll never use anything else.

2. Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Stick – As I said, I’ve tried a lot of the products in this line, and I think this is by far the most effective for me. Even with using Cetaphil, I’ll still get an obnoxious little blemish here and there. I’m human, and I eat more sugar than is food pyramid approved, it’s bound to happen. And when it does, I use this bad boy. It’s expensive, at $9 a tube, but you only need a dab or two at night before you go to bed. It’s like magic. Also, helpful hint: the wand won’t be able to get all the gel at the bottom of the tube eventually, but if you stick a Q-tip it you can!

3. Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 – Growing up, my mom used (and still uses) the Clinique 3-Step skin care system. The bar soap in that line was awful for my skin, and the liquid version wasn’t much better. While I started trying other face washes, I kept using the astringent (why they call it “Clarifying Lotion” is inexplicable, the stuff is like nail polish remover for your face) and the 3-Step moisturizer. The astringent is great. You just wet a cotton ball with it and wipe it over your face after you wash and dry it; it’s kind of horrifying but oddly satisfying how gross the cotton ball looks after you clean your face with it. You’d be surprised at how much gunk is left on your skin even after washing. This stuff gets rid of all of it. Not going to lie, it stings like the Dickens, but it’s that kind of good burn that means it’s working. However, it is too drying to not follow up with a moisturizer, which is where #4 comes in.

4. Clinique Even Better Moisturizer – Clinique’s standard yellow moisturizer was great for almost my entire life, but within the last year or so, it started making my skin like an oil slick. I felt like that poor kid you probably all had in your high school, whose forehead could be used as a spot-light for the high school production of Annie. But I had been using Clinique for upwards of 10 years, and I was more ready to blame the oiliness on a change in my body’s chemistry rather than break my loyalty to their products. Enter Even Better Moisturizer. By far the most expensive thing I put on my face (except for when I bathe in angel’s tears, obviously) at over $40 a tub, but this stuff is amazing. It’s paste-y and smells like sunblock since it has SPF 20 in it, but it’s worth it It has a serum in it that evens out skin tone and reverses damage and dark spots from previous blemishes over time. It’s magic in a jar.

5. Covergirl Lash Blast – Don’t hate me because I buy my mascara at CVS. But if you want to hate me because the paltry $8 I spend on a tube of this stuff comes in $20 under what you might spend on a shittier alternative from Sephora, and mine never clumps or collects under my eyes in black patches by the end of the day, then go right ahead. The brush on this thing is intimidating; it’s large and in charge, but it gets every single lash and makes them look amazing (if I do say so myself. And I do.)

6. Softlips Vanilla Lip balm – If you knew me before the age of 18, you knew that I had a collection of roughly 400-600 lip glosses. This is not a gross exaggeration, this is an actual figure based on actual amounts. I was more obsessed with lip gloss than a 13 year old girl is obsessed with Justin Beiber (pop culture reference!). One time, my dad’s old office was having an employee art show, and everyone who wanted to be in it had to create a 14″ x 18″ shadowbox. My dad suggested I make “an artful display of lip balm” since I had so much. Well, I’m older now, so while you won’t find Dr. Pepper flavored Bonnebelle Lip Smackers in my bag, you will find this incredible skinny little tube of SPF 20 lip balm. It’s light and does exactly what the name suggests, gives you soft lips.

That was perhaps the most I’ve ever talked about my skin care routine.  If you read through all of that, congratulations. I fell asleep about halfway through.

What are your skin care secrets, kiddos?