Dining Room Changes

And as dizzyingly as it came, Valentine’s Day has passed. Le sigh. Having already gone out to celebrate at our favorite Italian BYO in the city on Saturday night (in a move to avoid the V-day insanity that no doubt plagued all restaurants last night), Boyfriend and I had a yummy home-cooked meal for two last night. Well, for 3. Fitz definitely thought he should get in on the action. And I can’t blame him, because we made fondue out of crazy delicious cheese (one had two X’s in the name, which got yesterday’s song back in my head) which made the whole house smell delicious, and dipped in crusty bread, red peppers, apple, and pear. It was so good. We used the electric fondue pot my brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas a few years ago, and then watched “Moneyball” with Brad Pitt. Not, you know, with Brad Pitt because that would make for one awkward Valentine’s Day.

Dinner was made more special not only by the dozen long-stem red roses Boyfriend brought home (he clearly is unfazed by flower-cost-inflation), but because we were eating at our NEW (old) dining room table. The table is my dad’s old drafting table, so while it’s new for us, it’s definitely easily over 30 years old.  We officially made the switch over the weekend, so we’ve had breakfast and dinner a few times, but this was the first important meal.

As promised, here are some before and after pictures of the whole shebang:

This is the bar set Boyfriend had previously. It’s really beautiful dark wood, and very well made. It’s perfect for a bachelor, which he was when he bought it. It also happens to fit the space perfectly. We don’t have so much a dining room as a dining space, an area situated between the living room and kitchen. I really didn’t have any major objections to using it, I just kind of wanted to drag my dad’s table out of storage and give it some proper love and attention.

Thankfully, we have an entire, huge room downstairs adjacent to the guest bedroom that is empty that Boyfriend and his dad are planning on turning into a bar area. His dad is super handy and built a custom wine closet and marble-topped bar for his other son, and this table and barstool set will not only match the decor in that future bar space, it will make more sense to use there. That’s a huge undertaking, that room, and I’ll definitely keep you posted once things get underway.

I should also give thanks for the fact that Boyfriend is perhaps the most agreeable human being on the planet and is very hands-off when it comes to decorating/design. When I said, “Hey! We’ve only been dating for 5 months and I don’t live here but let’s paint your bedroom dark gray!” he said, “Cool!” When I said, “Hey! We’ve only been dating for 5 months and I don’t live here and we just painted your bedroom dark gray yesterday, but let’s paint your bathroom blue!” he said, “Cool!” When I obsessed over the pendant light from West Elm he gave me free reign over changing the ceiling fixture out. When I bring home blankets and throw pillows and magazine baskets and old maps of Paris and decorative vases and candles that smell like macarons, he immediately says he likes them and compliments my design aesthetic. If I were maniacal I might test his patience and bring home something truly hideous or borderline ostentatious just to see if he would snap, but to find someone that not only lets you do whatever you want to their house but likes whatever you end up doing is like a gift from the Relationship Gods and I’m not trying to mess with it.

So given that we were switching the dining room table out for something much lower, we’d need new chairs. This sparked a crazy search for reasonably priced dining chairs that were both simple and attractive. I considered buying replica Bertoia wire chairs, but the fear of waffle-butt kept me at bay. I’ve always loved these Emeco Navy chairs, but at over $450 a pop, they just weren’t a realistic option.

Enter Overstock.com. Purveyor of cheap-priced home-goods, provider of my coffee table, patron saint of $2.95 shipping, regardless of what you’re buying. I found these white metal side chairs and decided they were similar enough to the Emeco chairs without being direct knock-offs that I wouldn’t feel bad about buying them. Where the Emeco chairs have 3 back rails, the ones from Overstock have 4.

Obviously there are minor quality differences between these and their inspiring originals. But they were $111 for a set of 2 when I bought them, and I had a coupon from Overstock for 10% off furniture with free shipping. Which means I got 4 chairs for the price of less than half of ONE original. And they came in boxes almost as tall as me, fully assembled, for free. When it comes to shipping furniture, that’s unheard of. Oh, Overstock. I love you so.

So with the chairs purchased it as time to reassemble my dad’s drafting table. That took us some time because obviously it didn’t come with instructions and Boyfriend and I were left to our own devices trying to figure out which knob unscrewed which beam and how the hell we were supposed to lower it from drafting-table height to dining-table height.

The height is controlled by two beams that sit in between the legs that make up the base, and when the table is lowered as low as it will go, those beans are lower than the base of the table. Which means it can’t sit on the floor or balance. Our options were to saw a few inches off the beams to make them lower than the legs so the table was usable, or just not use it. After some tears and some persuasion from Boyfriend that he wasn’t literally hacking my father’s memory to bits with a hand-saw, I relented. He took off about 3-4″ from each beam (in between the two angled legs on the base) and viola! Dining room table.

Please ignore that there are only 3 placemats. IKEA failed me for the first and only time in recorded history.

The chairs are surprisingly comfortable, but I ended up added gray chair pads from IKEA to add some extra padding.

The table was my dad’s main drafting table. He painted at it, sculpted at it, worked at it. There are marks, scratches, dings, paint drops, and even finger print marks on the underside where he must have put his hands while using varnish or sealer of some kind. It is far from the brand-new surface of the bar table we were using, but to me it is perfect.

And I can’t imagine a better place to eat.

Tuesday Tunes

Happy Valentine’s Day! For those of you who already wished me a happy holiday yesterday, your obligation to say it again today has been lifted. Unless, of course, you really wanted to, in which case who am I to stop you on this, The Most Ridiculous Holiday of the Year!

I thought I’d make this Tuesday Tunes a set of romantic/moody songs to mark the occasion. And in doing so, the idea popped into my head to pair the songs with some matching images. And no, I didn’t photoshop lamps into any of them. If you were hoping for it and I’ve now totally shafted you out of a Valentine’s Day present, I sincerely apologize.

Sade. Does it get any more romantic and sweet than this song? Does anyone else remember it from an episode of Sex and the City, from the Carrie & Aidan years? In case this needs to be said, I’m Team Aidan, and I hate Big.


Including this song might not make sense, but I defy you to listen to it and not feel your heart race, and not want to listen to it again. It’s super moody and fairly sensual. It reminds me of dark, rainy afternoons and poorly lit bars. What’s more romantic than a scene out of a noir novel, right?

from here

source unknown

one of my favorite photographs ever, from here

source unknown

On a more somber note, by now everyone in the world has heard that Whitney Houston passed away over the weekend. I was planning on doing a full post about her incredible music next week, but I couldn’t let Valentine’s Day pass without mentioning one of her songs. Besides, what’s more romantic than a girl asking to dance with somebody who loves her?

 Happy Valentine’s, you wonderful, beautiful ladies. I love each and every one of you.

Valentine’s Day

Happy Monday! I want to give a belated “Happy Birthday!” shout-out to my lovely friend Annie. The Pia Posse, spearheaded by über-generous Tina, arranged to have a bouquet of wildflowers waiting for her when she got home from vacation yesterday. Happy birthday again, my dear!

How was everyone’s weekend? I had a big dining room switcheroo on Saturday that involved a lot of sweating and even breaking out of a hand-saw. Thankfully, no one was injured. I’ll have lots of pictures of the before-and-after on Wednesday for you!

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, but Tuesdays are generally reserved for music around here, I thought I’d do an early round-up of some cute heart-themed items in honor of the occasion. Because, come on. Who doesn’t want to wear a pair of underwear with Peanuts characters on them?

 1. Tote bag / 2. Card / 3. Sweater / 4. Ring / 5. Mugs / 6. Undies / 7. Nail polish / 8. Scarf

I know that Valentine’s Day is one of those divisive holidays that separates people faster than an argument on politics, but I happen to fall into the “love it” camp. Maybe it’s the limited edition pink & red m&ms, maybe it’s the fat baby cupids, who knows. All I know is that my brain sees little red hearts and becomes dizzy and euphoric. Can you imagine how woozy I would be if my nails were painted in bright red glitter? Couple that with an adorable red heart ring, a heart scarf, a heart tote bag (I have one of these from Alphabet bags with a giant serif “E” on it, and the thing is a champ. Sure, it gets dirty and you have to throw it in the wash, but I’ve had it for over 3 years and it’s still going strong; impressive, for canvas),  and a candy heart sweater that has French on it? You guys. I wouldn’t even be able to stand up. Couple that with a nice cup of tea (rose, obviously, for the holiday) in a mug that is one half of a set which, when put together, makes a cut-out heart, and a thoughtful hand-designed card from Rifle Paper Co., and you’ve got yourself one cheesy Valentine’s Day. Just the way Hallmark intended.

Where do you stand on Valentine’s Day? Love it? Think it’s a marketing ploy created by a greeting card company? Do you secretly love it even though you wish you didn’t? I’d love to know.

Friday Five, Flowers

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner (what is happening to the time?? I’m still full from Thanksgiving!) you’d have to be blind to miss all of the commercials and talk of flowers. Not just any flowers, but roses. Red, long-stem, overpriced roses. Don’t get me wrong, I love roses, what girl doesn’t? But the fact that they are like twice the price on one specific day is so bothersome. If you ordered a dozen roses a week after Valentine’s Day, they wouldn’t cost anywhere near as much. What a brilliant marketing move, that the flower industry has convinced billions of people that roses are to Valentine’s Day what turkey is to Thanksgiving (ugh. I’m not kidding, the mention still makes me feel like I have a food-baby). It’s a total scam, it’s unfair, but I’m guilty of buying right into it and being one of those girls who still loves Valentine’s Day roses. Sue me! I’m human, and perhaps more materialistic than most other, normal, restrained humans.

But Boyfriend and I just booked a vacation for the middle of May last night (you can see our seat assignments over on 365) and in the interest of not being frivolous with money in the next few months (I’ll pause why you laugh hysterically) , there are several alternatives to the crazy-overpriced bouquet of roses. For this Friday Five I picked my 5 favorite flowers, all of which would be gorgeous for V-Day, or any day of the year.


1. Craspedia/Billy Balls / 2. Blue Orchids / 3. Hydrangeas / 4. Peonies / 5. Tulips

Craspedia, the lovely little yellow button flowers, have been popping up all over the design world. They might have even had their peak, but I still love them. They’re adorable. And surprisingly impossible to come by. There are tutorials online to make a felt version, but I’d still love to get my hands on a bunch of the real thing. Same with blue orchids. Impossible to find in real life, readily available online in bunches of 100. These are generally given as a sign of sympathy, but have you ever seen a more gorgeous shade of blue in your life? Let me answer that for you: no, you haven’t.

Hydrangeas…where do I even begin? These were the first flowers I ever really fell in love with. I love the varying shades on each individual leaf, and how they almost look like millinery flowers, pinned in the middle with little round pins. Peonies are decadent and gentle at the same time. So wonderfully French, and these look gorgeous even when they start to die, because the petals fall off as these giant, soft fronds. Plus, peonies are so large that you only need a few in a vase to make a real bouquet.

And then of course, tulips! Beautiful, perky, cheerful tulips. Chi posted a picture of a stunning bouquet of red ones earlier in the week, and it made me want to run out and buy a bunch immediately. I forgot how quickly flowers liven up an entire room.

This weekend I’m doing a little dining room re-design, so hopefully I’ll have tons of pictures to show you next week. What are you up to? It’s supposed to snow here tomorrow, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Fitz is super excited at the prospect, because he thinks snow is a delicious frozen drink made just for him.

Oh, and for where I’m going on vacation? I’ll be doing a reveal this afternoon over on 365. Any guesses? Annie guessed Sweden, and Chi guessed London, and while both of those are very much at the top of my list, they’re not the right answer.  Have a great weekend, lovelies!

The Hollywood Issue

As a long-time Vanity Fair subscriber, I’ve become more of an obsessed lover than casual reader. I love all of their features and generally agree with all of their politics, and they manage to strike the perfect balance between serious, think-piece articles, and really indulgent and glamorous pictures of celebrities and obscure royalty partying. Theresa and I have shared our love of the Proust Questionnaire at the back of every issue; I flip to it immediately when I get my hands on the new issue. I wait every year with breath that is bated for the Hollywood Issue, which includes a multi-page cover spread of all the hot young up-and-coming starlets, and a bigger focus on the year in entertainment inside. Annie posted a photo on Instagram of her (first ever!) copy as she was waiting for her flight to Geneva, and, brimming with jealousy, on my commute home that night I silently prayed for my copy to magically appear in my mailbox when I walked in the door. And IT DID. Powers of magical influence: ACHIEVED.

The cover was shot by renowned photographed Mario Testino (his first time with a Hollywood Issue, isn’t that crazy?), was styled after the old Hollywood glamour of a different era, and features plenty of pretty, young actresses. One of those pretty, young actresses happens to be Rooney Mara, of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” who has managed to climb the ranks and attain the position of My Number 1 Girl Crush (sorry, Clemence Poesy). This behind the scenes video of the cover shoot is super beautiful and just makes me skin all tingly.


I posted this on 365 last night, but can we just take a look at how stunning she is? Come on with that Louise Brooks hair-d0. Rooney, you’re killing me. I would have taken 11 different versions of just her on the cover, no offense to the rest of the ladies.

Made Me Laugh

I saw this and instantly cracked up. How much do we all need a copy of this print for our walls? Answer: a lot.

 from here

This is especially apropos considering that yesterday I was given a Liebster Blog Award from the lovely Tina at Colourliving. Liebster is German for “beloved,” which just makes the whole thing even sweeter. The Liebster Blog award is a “pay it forward” honor that recognizes your favorite, smaller blogs (ones with less than 200 followers) and once chosen, you get to bestow it on other bloggers. Tina got to pick 5 blogs, and she graciously chose me (woo!), and the rest of our little Pia Posse (xoxo): Theresa at InspirationCooperative, Annie at Insideology, Chi at Carousel, and Lauren and Still+Life. And now, I get to pick 5 blogs to pass along the award to:

Congrats, ladies! Now go nominate your own 5!

I got to thinking about when I first started blogging, almost a year ago to the day, and how much things have changed in the that time. I’m now writing to an actual audience instead of just my mom (sorry mom, you still count!), and I have this amazing group of blog-friends who I can’t wait to “see” when I get up in the morning. Blogging has given me back my love of writing, and thanks to blogging I’m once again carrying a camera around everywhere I go. I’ve said it before and it hasn’t gotten any less cheesy, but I couldn’t do this without you guys. I also couldn’t do it without any of this stuff:

What about you? What are your staples for blogging? Every time I sit down to post or catch up on other blogs, I’m surrounded by almost all of those things (which means that yes, I do go through an inordinate amount of pretzel m&ms). I’m so bummed Apple stopped making the white macbook. Mine is less than 8 months old and I’m already stressing myself out about 3 years from now when it stops working and I can’t replace it with an exact replica. It’s my third white Apple laptop, having gone through 2 previous iBooks in my day before upgrading to an iMac. I still have/love/use that computer, but let’s be honest: being able to sit in bed and blog is one of my favorite things in the world. I realize how lucky that makes me.

Tuesday Tunes

I stopped into AC Moore, craft superstore, yesterday for a work errand and as I was standing in the checkout line, Ace of Base “Don’t Turn Around” came on through the store’s stereo. You guys, it was the most special moment of my young life, I’m pretty sure angels stopped what they were doing to bless me with that experience. I mean, seriously, Ace of Base? When was the last time you heard an Ace of Base song playing in a store somewhere? Obviously my powers of musical influence have farther reaching implications than I realized. The ego trip I am on right now is intoxicating. What are the odds that I drag Ace of Base out of their grave and back into the spotlight and a week later they’re back in rotation in hobby stores around the country? Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

I don’t want things to get out of hand, so I’m going to scale it back for today’s Tuesday Tunes. Unfortunately for you, this means no Lamps-on-Hands. I’ll pause why you cry it out.

Better? Good!

I’ve been listening to this song by highly controversial, love-to-hate chanteuse Lana Del Rey for a week straight on repeat. It is just so good. In case you don’t know about her by now, she’s the girl who took the blogosphere by storm last fall with her self-made music video “Video Games,” and with her puffed-up lips and doubtful authenticity, and who, more recently, had an awkward appearance on SNL for which she will likely never live down. A few years ago, she was plain jane Lizzy Grant, a singer-songwriter with a failed attempt at a music career. She reemerged last summer as a self-styled “gangster Nancy Sinatra” under the portmanteau of Lana Del Rey, with a vintage glamour so heavy that everyone’s first reaction was to judge her harshly. “She’s too sexy!” “She’s fake, her whole persona is fake!” And I mean, come on. Has no one heard of the train-wreck, brunette-Italian-Catholic-schoolgirl-turned-platinum-blonde-“artist”, meat-dress-wearing creation that is Lady Gaga? In a world where we apparently only want our female singers to be hot not talented (see: Britney Spears, Katy Perry, every other female entertainer ever), people were launching a backlash against Lana Del Rey for playing the game too well. The music industry is oversaturated with talentless starlets prancing around in bikini tops that squirt whipped cream, let’s allow some room for someone who is genuinely interesting, if not entirely genuine.

My friend Tom wrote an eloquent defense of Lana Del Rey on his blog, and a few days ago my best ex-roomie Lyndsey posted this song on Facebook, further solidifying why we are friends by comparing Lana to a mix of “Bette Midler and Fiona Apple.” If that isn’t the most spot on definition of her sound, I don’t know what is.

You can listen for yourself and draw your own conclusion.


I’m beating a dead horse by even talking about her, I think.  I know this is a bit heavier than photoshopping a lamp onto an ex-Neo-Nazi’s nether regions like I did last week, but seriously, tell me you can listen to that song once and not want to hit replay the moment it’s over. Not possible!

What’s in Your Bag? pt 2

Aaand it’s Monday again. I don’t know how this keeps happening! First it’s Friday night and I’m at a bar drinking whiskey sours and then wham! I’m waking up Monday morning to my alarm, all four of Fitz’s legs pressing into my back and the sound of his snoring filling up the room (also, dude totally needs a bath because he’s starting to smell like Doritos). I’m told that this sensation of time flying by only gets worse the older you get. I become less excited about being 25 every day. Somebody’s got a case of the Mondays!

To counteract my fussiness, I’ve compiled the submissions I received for the “What’s In Your Bag?”/”Match the Blogger!” game. There are 4 entries, and they are all really interesting. I love seeing what you guys carry around and how organized you all are! Okay ladies, let’s take a peek:

Love that wallet….and the tube of red lipstick!

The bag might be a giveaway. But lady, you had me at your Lego Hermione keychain. (How did I not know you were a Harry Potter fan??)


 Kudos for including a grocery list! I swear by that Rosebud Salve for chapped lips in the winter, too.

Those gloves are fierce! And I love that you carry an iPhone and an iPad. Go Apple!

Think you know which bag belongs to which blogger extraordinaire? Ready to see if you’re right?

Read more

Six More Weeks of Winter

In the United States, we have many, many odd, wonderfully confusing traditions which, to the rest of the world, seem both bizarre and stereotypically American. Gorging ourselves on turkey and stuffing on the 4th Thursday in November to remember our rampant and institutionalized slaughter of the Native American people and to give thanks for all the flat screen TVs we have. Thousands of rednecks gather in a stadium and chug beers to the point of oblivion while watching shiny cars drive in really fast circles over and over again; in the South, NASCAR is a religion. Every New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, large (“straight”) Irish and Italian men dress up in exuberant outfits of sequins and feathers and compete in coordinated dances to string music with hand-decorated floats with more sequins and feathers behind them down Broad St. We call them Mummers, and no one questions it.

But perhaps weirdest of all is that society as a whole abandons all previous meteorologic framework on February 2nd, and bases the duration of the winter season on whether or not a groundhog sees its shadow. Take a second to read that again. And not just any groundhog, no no, but rather one particular groundhog-cum-weatherman named Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil is so popular, in fact, that 15,000 idiots get out of bed at dawn to see him. There is even an advertising campaign for the Pennsylvania Lottery that features a groundhog named Gus, “the Second Most Famous Groundhog in Pennsylvania.” It’s really strange.

Every February 2nd, men dressed up like Ebenezer Scrooge gather round some poor groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and hoist him in the air after he emerges from his hole. If he “sees his shadow” the prediction is there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it means Spring will come early.  Apparently, Phil is always right, even though he’s only not seen his shadow 16 times in the past 125 years. No even bats an eyelash. Nevermind that it’s been in the 60s the past week, the enormous squirrel says MORE WINTER.


So what’s a girl to do? Apparently we’re going to be stuck with winter until the end of March, which means no cute, colorful spring-y clothes. I have so many sleeveless tops I’d love to wear but I don’t radiate enough body heat to pull it off if the temperature is below 90. I saw the headband below at Topshop and fell in love with it (I even tried to include it in my Wear in the World guest post over at Theresa’s blog, but it didn’t work), and it immediately made me think of spring, Phil be damned.

1. Headband / 2. Pants / 3. Top / 4. Cardigan / 5. Bag / 6. Shoes / 7. Sunglasses / 8. Lipstick / 9. Nail polish

For those of you in warmer climates, just know how grumpy I am that you could pull this off whenever you wanted. Though I have to say, spring or not, I don’t think I’m the kind of girl who could ever pull off this much color without feeling like people were pointing and laughing. What about you?

Oh, and foreign friends, please do not judge me too harshly for being American after this post. I’m just as embarrassed as you are.

What’s In Your Bag?

Happy February! The month of January flew by, didn’t it? I successfully completed 1/12th of my 365 Project by shooting and posting 1 photograph a day for the entire month. This surprises even me. I think the fact that I put myself on the line by making this project public is causing me to take it, you know, seriously. One down, 11 to go.

To kick February off, I have an analogy for you. This post is what would happen if this post from Tina and this post from Theresa got together for one magical night and had a baby. Basically, I have been obsessed with a Flickr pool called “What’s In Your Bag?” for YEARS. It’s like a compulsion, I cannot stop checking out what people post. If you hadn’t guessed, people take a photograph of the contents of their bag and add it to the group. It’s fascinating and totally feeds the voyeur in me, seeing what hundreds of random strangers carry everyday. Sure, there are really boring ones, and lots of shots by teenagers with Hello Kitty sketchbooks, and even the occasional photograph containing a handgun or knife (??!?!), but there are some real gems in the nearly 15,000 photos in the pool. Fifteen thousand! Obviously it keeps me occupied. I love ones where the picture is not only thoughtfully styled, but there is just enough shown to make me wonder about the owner.

Here are some of my favorites: 

 from here

from here

from here

 from here

So, obviously I couldn’t resist doing my own. I’ve done two before:

winter 2009

summer 2010

But now that I’ve been the proud owner of a new MBMJ Hillier for 2 days, I felt like it was time to do one more:

winter 2012

Not included is my Canon, since I was using it to take this picture. My mom bought me this galaxy scarf for Christmas, and I think it adds an interesting touch to the otherwise perfect bag. You guys, it is PERFECT. It fits under my arm without any issue, even over my peacoat. I’m carrying the exact same amount of stuff as I was in my last bag, but the weight difference is staggering. I don’t even notice it on my shoulder, whereas before I was getting horrible pains in my shoulder blades from the concentrated pressure. Pay no attention to my cheese-tastic smile in my work ID. (Also, Dracula is getting scary. Van Helsing just made his first appearance!)

Okay, ladies. You knew this was coming: I want to see what’s in your bags. Come on! Post a picture in the comments if you’re feeling up to it. Feel free to edit out things like receipts and gum wrappers and such. Or your handgun, whatever.