Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! I hate Halloween. We’ve been over this before, but in case you’re new here, Halloween is a holiday meant for people who aren’t afraid of their own shadow and who don’t have to sleep with a night light at almost-26. Thus, Halloween is not a holiday for me. Sure, I like the candy and…no, that’s it. But there are more appropriate ways to deliver candy than with spiders and mummies and ghosts. Flowers and butterflies, perhaps. But just because I go all bahumbug on Halloween doesn’t mean I haven’t had some seriously awesome costumes in my day, because I have. And I think this year’s was pretty good, too.

Even though my French Immersion class was postponed last Saturday until the middle of November, I had already lined up my costume for a party we were going to that night that was more than semi-related. It was both was less involved than my lobster costume of last year, seeing as though I only had to steal a fake mustache from my friend Aisling and a scarf from my mom, and very obvious given who I am. It should not shock you in the least that I had the following in my possession:

In case you can’t figure it out…

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Oh, Fitz.

Fitz had a vet appointment on Friday night after work. He was overdue for a few of his shots, and had been scratching and biting at himself so badly we were convinced he had fleas, despite being vigilant with his flea meds (no fleas, just skin allergies, poor thing). We also went because he’s, and I’m being polite, insane. I’ve mentioned it before, but seriously, the dog becomes possessed when he’s outside and is a whining, screaming ball of anxiety. We’ve tried a very expensive trainer, coins in a can (that worked for like a week, and then all the shaking in the world couldn’t get his attention if he was howling at another dog), and we’re at our wits end. How can something so cuddly and quiet and sweet inside (well, until his toy gets stuck under the rug and then this happens) turn into a raging crackhead outside? The vet took one look at him while we were still sitting in the waiting room and Fitz was screeching his head off because OMG THERE WAS A DOG IN THE ROOM, and after a quick discussion in the exam room, offered us Prozac. Yes. Prozac. As in, my dog is medicated because he has anxiety issues.

It’s not going to be a miracle drug, but we should see results within 2 weeks and hopefully we’ll be able to walk him and have him respond to commands like “Sit,” “No bark,” or “NO, DON’T EAT THAT DORITO.” As it is, he’s so hypervigilant and anxious outside we have no chance of redirecting him out of that state. Prozac will get him there. The vet had no qualms about giving it to us, either. Some dogs are just crazier than others, especially ones that spent the first 7 months of their life in a shelter. Who knows what happened during that time to make him as, um, colorful as he is now. We just know he’s a good dog who has the potential to have a successful walk around the block without both him and me wound into a tight knot of anxiety. Still, really ridiculous that I now have a prescription account at Walgreens under Fitz’s name.

How was your weekend? Everyone staying dry out there? I’m home from work today because public transit shut down at midnight last night.


from here

Last night, my work’s Philanthropy committee (of which I am an active member) held an event at a bowling alley in support of PEP, Programs Employing People, which provides job training, vocational skills, socialization, art classes, and community programs to over 300 adults with physical and mental disabilities a year in Philadelphia. I actually suggested it as an event because I’d had Boyfriend’s surprise birthday at the bowling alley last summer and fell in love with the place. It’s a little hidden gem. The bowling alley is 6 lanes and a BYOB facility, which meant that all 40 people who showed up from my work (huge turnout!) got to bring their own beer, which meant that as the night went on, people got a lot more intense about bowling. I beat Boyfriend handily, thank you very much. The committee organized mystery basket raffles and a 50/50, and we all got dressed up in costumes. We managed to raise over $1000 in donations for PEP, which is incredible. The rental fee for the alley worked out to something like $4 a person/hour for the 4 hours we had the place, with shoes and games, and all the money goes right back to the organization. I bowled 6 or 7 games on 2 lanes, and this morning my back is killing me and my feet are sore, but I don’t even mind. I had such a good time, and it was so much fun.

It also meant that I didn’t have time to prepare a Friday Five or anything for today. I hope you understand! We got home just after 9:30 last night after taking down all the decorations and cleaning up the mess, which, as most of you know, is well past my bedtime. Therefore, I’ll leave you with that beautiful shot above, which pretty much sums up the weekend I hope to have: quiet, spent writing, with a nice mug of tea. Unfortunately, the 6-hour French Immersion class I signed up for was postponed due to a lack of students who signed up (WHAT?! Who doesn’t want to take a 6 hour French class on a Saturday??!) so my weekend opened up. We have a Halloween party tomorrow night (I’m so excited for my costume!) and a friend Boyfriend hasn’t seen in 10 years (from Australia!) is coming to stay for a bit. What are you guys up to? Have a good one, kiddos! I’ll leave you with this hilarious video Boyfriend sent me:

Gary Oldman in Paris

I should preface this by saying this post is what happens after you sit on the sofa too long, scouring the internet for content, and aided by perhaps more gin than is normally acceptable for a Wednesday night by yourself. I’ll also say that this is the sequel to the “Gary Oldman Eating Macarons” wonderfulness that occurred on Twitter (here and here) when I realized that there are no available photographs of my supreme celebrity man crush eating macarons on the internet. Go to Google right now and search “Gary Oldman eating macarons.” I’m the first SIX RESULTS. I’m so proud!

Anyway, last night I realized there were no photographs of Gary Oldman in Paris. You know, my two favorite things in life. So I decided to rectify that situation the best way I know how: Photoshop. This whole thing took me 20 minutes from start to finish, lest you think I spent hours cropping him out of pictures and pasting him onto Parisian backdrops. My Photoshop skillz are apparently un-addled by things like “gin” or “sanity.”

ENJOY.  Also, I’m sorry.

Oh, Gary Oldman, you shouldn’t have! Bringing me flowers in Paris. Vous êtes un gentleman!

Sometimes in Paris, Gary Oldman stands moodily in the doorway of his bedroom. Il est tres pensif.

He looks so natural, non? Il n’est pas concerned with the midget people around him.

Quoi? You don’t sit outside at a Parisian cafe in the rain in a tuxedo? Vous n’avez pas vécu!

Imagine walking into your building one day and seeing Gary Oldman just standing in the hall. Excusez-moi, monsieur.

If you had a window seat with a view of La Tour Eiffel, you would sit in it, too. Don’t judge him.

Sweet lord. I’m glad I at least entertain myself.

Quick Bathroom Makeover

No, not for me. I know better than to undertake multiple construction projects at the same time. Let’s just finish up one room before we move on to another, yes? Yes. But I do have my eye on the powder room, and hopefully we aren’t too burnt out on home remodeling after the downstairs is complete that we’ll have the energy to tackle the small, 5′ x 5′ room. I think that’s actually being generous. It might even be 4′ x 4′. It’s tiny, and only has a (too low, out-of-the-box-from-Home-Depot) vanity, and a toilet. It’s sort of “my” bathroom, as it’s where I get ready in the morning, dry my hair, do my makeup, and generally make a mess.

I want to lay new tile flooring (with white grout. For some reason the builder was a huge fan of dark gray grout, gross), paint the walls a (surprise!) bright white, and install (double surprise!) a floating white vanity from IKEA. It shouldn’t be a labor intensive project (says the girl who doesn’t lift a finger to help), and it also shouldn’t cost too much. Boyfriend estimates it can be done over a weekend, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a weekend in this calendar year. I might be asking too much.

The most fun part about remodeling is redecorating afterwards. So here’s the theme I’m going with once the bathroom is complete. Everything adds up to about $180, which isn’t bad at all. It’s probably equal to the cost of the paint and the flooring, but who cares when everything looks so cute?

1. Towel / 2. Soap dish / 3. Hook / 4. Candle / 5. Trashcan / 6. Soap / 7. Toothpaste / 8. Tumbler / 9. Toothbrush

I’m basically looking for any excuse to buy that Swedish Sea Salt Soap and yet another Capri Blue Volcano candle. I’m in love with that soap dish, trash can, Octopus hook, and glass tumbler. So pretty much all of it. I don’t brush my teeth in the powder room, but who can resist the pretty packaging on Marvis toothpaste? I might start.

A Hidden Bookstore

I’m not sure where I first heard about Brazenhead Books, the secret bookstore in Manhattan, but I was reminded of it yesterday and decided I had to share. Michael Seidenberg moved his bookstore, Brazenhead Books, into his apartment after the rent on his space in Brooklyn quadrupled. It’s inspiring to hear someone talking about doing what they love solely for the sake of doing it. Michael says, “If it were all about money, there’s just better things to sell. I could just sell crack. That’s a much better business.”

One day I’m going to look him up in the phone book and visit. Imagine the stories this guy has. I can’t think of anything better to surround yourself with than stacks and stacks of books, secondhand or new. It must be a joy (albeit a bit constricting) to wake up and wind through rows of your favorite books. My dad had a huge collection of books, paperbacks, art books, anthologies, everything. They were stacked 4 deep in his apartment. I think that’s what I love most about this story of the hidden bookstore: it’s something my dad would have done in a heartbeat, and the whole romantic aesthetic of towering stacks of books is so reminiscent of his apartment and of him. Really, who doesn’t love books? As someone that averages buying a new book a week, I’m raising my hand on this one.

And now, obligatory pictures of dreamy, cramped bookstores.

Little Goodies

I was Little Miss Susie Homemaker this weekend: I mended a ripped sweater sleeve, gave a windowsill a nice coat of bright white paint, did tons of laundry, and took out all the trash. I’ve lamented before that our house gets so little natural light, and the only place to take great pictures is right in the window. The windowsill was looking a little, um, gross, and hadn’t been properly painted when the builders were finishing up the place, and thus was a sad shade of off-white and a ton of dirt had settled into it. I grabbed a paintbrush and the leftover can of Behr off-the-shelf white we’d used downstairs on the mouldings in the guest room and went to town on Saturday morning. It’s seriously amazing what a coat of paint will do.

Once I had my clean white backdrop freshly painted and dried, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of my newest little goodies. I’m on the moo.com mailing list, and a few weeks ago I got an email with an offer for 100 free mini moo-cards, all I had to do was pay $5 in shipping. Sold! I’d been itching to get business cards for this ole blog, but wanted to wait until I settled on a header image I didn’t secretly hate and wasn’t going to change within a few weeks. Everything fell into place when I got the email and I decided to go for it. I ordered them last Saturday and they arrived on Friday. I am in love.

Yeah, I photoshopped out my last name and cell phone number. Not trying to attract any crazies. Aren’t the cards just adorable, though? They are made from heavy matte card-stock but are still slick and smooth. They’re tiny, not full-size business cards, and I’m pretty sure you need glasses to read the back, but come on. If any of you want to make your own let me know and I’ll forward you the email offer.

Boyfriend was home for a total of 36 hours this weekend before hopping on a crack of dawn flight to the west coast Sunday morning. We scored a last minute reservation to a new restaurant in town, Vernick, on Friday night and got to sit at the Chef’s Table, looking into the kitchen. I had the best cocktail I’ve ever tasted (muddled pear, vanilla bean, Champagne, and Brandy) and we stuffed ourselves on the most delicious food we’ve had in a while (homemade mozzarella and mango, grilled shrimp and avocado, parmesan custard, miso halibut with clams). The bonus of sitting at the Chef’s Table is that the kitchen prepares dishes for you, compliments of the chef. It was super romantic and made the weekend feel a little less bittersweet.

Boyfriend also brought me home a little something.

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Friday Five

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t watched, but the Project Runway season finale last night was FLAWLESS. This was my favorite season so far, it was the most entertaining and had the best designers in my opinion, and I was very happy with the way it all turned out. In fact, the finale was the highlight of my week in television. Lauren, catch up and then we can gab about it.

This week’s Friday Five is a bit of a smörgasbord without a cohesive theme. I only used the word smörgasboard to pop some umlauts into your day. You’re welcome.

 1. Poster / 2. Duvet set / 3. Book / 4. Socks / 5. Bath Salts

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Like a Picture

After a 3 month hiatus (ahem), “blanket & a candle” is back! I’ve been dying to do a Like a Picture post on this stunning photograph ever since I pinned it a few months ago. I was worried (and still am) that I wouldn’t be able to do the vivid, gorgeous colors justice in just a simple blanket and a candle. The full-size of this photograph of mountains in the Eastern Congo by artist Richard Mosse is worth checking out, as so much gets lost when you shrink it down. Sure, it’s a treatment done during post-processing (unless there really are hot pink trees somewhere in the world outside of The Lorax), but I don’t really mind.

1. Blanket / 2. Candle / 3. Photograph

I’m back to my old ways and exclusively using Lands Downunder blankets for this series. I’m not even sorry. They are the softest blankets in the world and come in a plethora of colors, all suitable and ready to match to any given photograph. I did just buy two new throw blankets from West Elm recently (they were on sale AND I had a coupon, obviously), but I love the pop of pink and couldn’t find an equivalent from them. I love the way the hobnail on the glass of the candle almost looks like little mountain ridges. Or maybe that’s just my weird brain.

Art Heist

photos via Peter Dejong for The New York Times

Here’s a little (likely unsurprising) tidbit about me: I love a good art heist. One of my favorite films of all time is The Thomas Crown Affair (the Pierce Brosnan one, also has a phenomenal soundtrack), in which a priceless Monet goes missing. Obviously, I love Oceans 12, the best and most underrated movie in the series, which has some of the most magically conceived art heists of all time (I point your attention to this scene. The Nightfox!). There’s also The Score, with Robert DeNiro and Ed Norton, which focuses on a Montreal museum heist of a French artifact. I just finished reading Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty” which winds through the New York art world from the early 90s to present day, and gets into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of 1990. Art heists are fascinating to me, not because I want to undertake one of my own one day (I lack the stealth required to pull off even a surprise birthday party, let alone robbery), but because art is something that is supposed to be shown off, shared, admired, discussed, displayed, enjoyed. And if you go to all the trouble to steal it, you can’t do anything with it. You can’t sell it, you can’t hang it up in your dining room, you can’t even tell anyone you have it. I wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it without overwhelming guilt.

So when I read yesterday that the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam had been the victim of an art heist this week, my mind started spinning. Seven works were taken, including 2 Monet’s, a Gauguin, and a Picasso among others. How did this happen? How does it keep happening? Just two years ago there was a heist at the Paris Musee d’Art Moderne, when a Picasso and  Monet valued at $130 million were taken and have yet to be recovered. Christ, the Mona Lisa was even stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and was missing for 2 years. Here’s a staggering list of famous art heists in the last century.

What do you do with stolen art? Where does it go? I understand the allure (maybe not of Picasso, but I’m not going to get into it other than to say I was 3 years old when, at an exhibit in Washington D.C., I loudly announced “THIS IS DRECK” and stormed out) but I can’t wrap my head around the actual act of stealing something so well-known. Movies like The Thomas Crown Affair, Ocean’s 12, and The Score make it all seem so slick and fabulous, but the reality is much more sinister and grim. At least to me. What do you think? Fascinating or boring?