Tuesday, February 9, 2016

So Long Lighthouses! Hello Green Walls!


O Captain, my captain, our fearful trip is done. This room has weathered several weeks of scraping, scrubbing and anguish to be transformed from its former lighthouse-themed incarnation. Praise be! It's hard for me to believe I even lived with a room so completely out of my character for a full year, but it only makes the makeover that much sweeter. Travel with me through the past four weeks, will you?


On New Year's Day, I trekked into the guest room, draped the bed with a dropcloth, and armed myself with a scraping knife, a paper tiger, and sprayable wallpaper remover. Some folks wouldn't dream of tackling vinyl border without a steamer, but I like to live on the edge (of reason).

After about four hours, I had something like this. The scraping completely WRECKED the navy paint job, because it was glossy paint on a textured wall and plenty came off with the wallpaper. I didn't mind; the navy wasn't the worst, but I needed something lighter and brighter.


It also spread these tiny bits of backing paper EVERYWHERE. The good news: they were easily vacuumed up.


After probably a cumulative 16 hours over 3 weeks, I finally had the room scraped clean! It sounds like true torture in theory, but in actuality, it's not so bad once it's over. Pro Tip: Have FRIENDS episodes on in the background. Joey's "How You Doin?" will somehow get you through.


Once the torture of scraping and scrubbing and vacuuming had passed, we wrestled with what shade to go with. We actually loved all three of these, but each one would set a very different tone. Ultimately, what pushed me toward Behr's Lima Green (far right) was the fact the rest of the house is so muted and I felt like I needed to venture out of my neutrals comfort zone. I ended up getting the Behr Marquee, which is the top of the line, in hopes it would mean I needed fewer coats. Ultimately, we needed 1 coat, 2 coats of "cutting in" and some touch-ups, and 1 gallon was the perfect amount.


My favorite tool for cutting in: the Wooster Shortcut brush with a flexy, flippy, rubbery handle. I love it, and it's especially great for painting trims.


Here's the room after one coat. I love the color in natural light; I'll admit in lamplight it feels warmer than I might have preferred, but it's growing on me.

Here's what we have for now: Guest Room 2.0. Much more ahead for this room, including:

  • Silhouette wall
  • DIY upholstered headboard using a headboard I bought at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $15. 
  • Maybe new lamps?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fashion Review: SAG Awards

If it's not obvious, this week has been a bear, so forgive me for posting this so long after the SAG awards show actually aired. But is it ever too late to talk celebrity fashion? I think not.

The SAG awards always seem like an opportunity for celebs to really test their limits. In past years, many ingenues have blown it by wearing their prettiest gown of the season to the SAGs and then having a major misstep at the Oscars. Others have used the occasion to wear something slinkier or sexier, and still others decide to go all in on the cuckoo. Let us review!

BEST DRESSED

I'm a sucker for a black lace dress and Rachel McAdams' gown by Elie Saab was no exception. She can be really hit-and-miss on the red carpet, but I thought this was elegant and yet relaxed. I especially liked her styling, with the wavy hair and simple make-up. It's a little dressy for SAGs, but she isn't nominated for an Oscar, so you do you, girl.
EDIT: SHE IS NOMINATED. LOL, my bad. Way to bounce back from that dreadful True Detective season!


What a foxy mama Helen Mirren is! Her sexy silver Jenny Packham dress was classy while simultaneously smoldering, and I can only wish to look this great maybe once in my life.

January Jones channeled Betty Draper and Grace Kelly in this breathtaking draped Schiaparelli gown. It has a beautiful vintage quality and she looks so happy to be wearing it, like she's challenging the New York Times to repeat that she has Resting Bitch Face.

Julianna Margulies is also one of those people who is always either my best or worst and rarely in-between, so I loved that she was solidly in my Best category in this elegantly beaded, modern white Antonio Berardi sheath. Her make-up is also so bright and pretty.

I rather liked this sultry ode to a Grecian goddess dress by Atelier Versace, but my husband thought Brie Larson looked all "twisty." LOL. I don't love the rope knots cinching on the side, but I thought she looked quite elegant and comfortable, and I like the powder blue.


Kate Winslet loves nothing more than a simple cut with little embellishment, and sometimes that makes me a little sad, but I thought this green Armani was just perfection. The neckline is interesting, the fit is on point and her jewels were great complementary pieces.


The moment the camera landed on Queen Latifah in the audience, I yelped, "SHE LOOKS GREAT!" We all know it's never easy for the curvier girls to land dresses with intrigue, but her sparkly geometric-pattern beaded gown was full of it. And it's by Project Runway alum Michael Costello! 


I have loved seeing how Kiernan Shipka (a.ka. Mad Men's Sally Draper) has evolved into such a stylish ingenue. She always makes interesting, elegant and au courant choices and I love how she manages to look youthful and girlish in this floral Erdem gown. I want to see this look at proms across the nation!


You have to respect someone who knows exactly what she should be wearing every time she leaves the house. Sofia Vergara is just such a person, but she usually plays it a little safer than this, so I have to give big ups to this Jessica Rabbit-worthy hot hot hot pink Vera Wang. I feel like waiters were probably dropping trays and crashing into each other doing double-takes over this gown.

I'm On the Fence


I'm fairly positive I do not like Alicia Vikander's Louis Vuitton gown. And then I look at it again, and I think it has this glorious 80s-meets-30s vibe and the colors weirdly remind me of early Cubist paintings and it starts to feel like it works. It's undeniable she looks sexy, and the SAG awards are a time to play a bit. So maybe I just talked myself into loving it?

On the one hand, it's Julianne Moore and she's a style MVP. On the other hand, this Givenchy definitely looks like sequined seaweed and the bandeau shape of the bodice makes her look stocky, and she is NOT stocky.

WORST DRESSED


I love love love sweet Ellie Kemper, but she is attracted to some truly bonkers patterned gowns. The first word that came to me when I eyed this fit-for-Palm Springs-pool-towel pattern was "mitochondria." This Peter Pilotti gown looks like a very graphic petri dish. I would very much like to hire her a better stylist, who can focus her predilection for kooky into better choices.

Gaby Hoffman seems bound and determined to wear horribly fitted gowns, much to my consternation. This Rachel Comey just looks uncomfortable. I am also sorry to see the cut of 1990s' formal shoes return to her feet. We should all thank our lucky stars every day that those shoes went out of style, and we shouldn't give them an inch back into our lives, lest they take a mile.


I'm not sure where I would wear an office-appropriate jumpsuit haphazardly covered in honeycombs, but probably not to the SAG awards. You're killing me, Kristen Wiig. She's such a steady companion in my Worst-Dressed list that I almost feel I should just hold a spot for her at all times.


I probably would have loved Gucci's Xanadu-perfect flutter dress on the runway, but in practice on Nicole Kidman it just looks like a discarded Legally Blonde costume. Kudos to her gorgeous hair, though.


Someone call the Jim Henson Workshop, because I think there has been a Muppet Murder. Sarah Paulson stepped out in what is obviously the pelts of Grover and Animal, and she doesn't even seem that remorseful.


God Bless Lori Petty for having the cajones to wear the JNCO-meets-S&M Barbie outfit I've been waiting to skewer all my life. I almost love it for being so unloveable. And she looks so delighted! She was giving finger guns up and down the red carpet, like some kind of post-modern Annie Oakley. I'd like more of this wackadoodle, please.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Secret Weapon: Dipping Spices


Can I let you in on a little secret in my kitchen? My flavor weapon is DeLallo Dipping Spices. I have probably used them 3-4 times for their assigned purpose, but I've used them 1 million other ways, so much so and for so long that it didn't even occur to me it's maybe not normal. When I hosted a movie night Wine Club, I served up rosemary garlic popcorn and every one was begging to know how I did it. Duh! Dipping spices.

 On Sunday, I whipped up a garlic tomato alfredo and realized I should share my secret! I've made countless pasta dishes/chicken breasts/roasted potatoes with these spices. For the alfredo, I used:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1.5 cups of cream (honestly, I eyeball it)
  • My beloved spices to taste
  • 1/2 cup Grated parmesan
  • Sprinkling 2% mozzarella
  • Pasta of choice (I used gemelli)


First, I boiled water for the pasta and once it was close to al dente, I started melting the butter in a skillet on medium high, then added the cream and the garlic/tomato spices and let the mixture reduce down until it was thick enough to coat a spoon. I then added the cheeses and whisked them until my taste test was a solid win.


Once the sauce was ready, I added the pasta and tossed to coat.


And it was delicious!!

So now you know my secret. This wasn't even sponsored; this is just legit trade secrets here, y'all!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Jams of January

Lawdy day, it's been a long while since I shared my jams. Let's not waste time on excuses, shall we, and let's just dig into what I'm digging these days.

Super Crush Jam: Oscar Isaac



I, like everyone else, was somehow immune to his charms until this year, when he unleashed his dazzling smile on the unsuspecting populace in Star Wars and his incredible disco dance moves in Ex Machina. I'm most fascinated by how adaptable his face can be with slight changes to his hair, both on his head and on his face. Plus, he's charming and adorable in interviews.

Cooking Cheat Jam: Alexia's Harvest Saute
Alexia's Harvest Saute is basically my weeknight dinner secret weapon these days. It's not easy to find (I can only seem to find it stocked in my Kroger), but it's just one of the better frozen veggie sides I've ever had. The potatoes get good and crispy and the veggies are soggy at all. It's perfect for those chicken breast, pork chop or steak entrees.

Work Lunch Jam: Fresh Express Salad Kits
Confession: I know it's bad for the environment when I buy a lot of pre-packaged food with lots of little compartments, but I'm just terrible about making lunch for work before I leave in the mornings. If I buy all the fixin's for salads, I end up tossing half of the ingredients because I was running late a couple days. So, my new favorite solution is picking up a few of these little salad kits that are the perfect size and come in lots of options so I don't get bored. I'm particularly partial to the Santa Fe Greek

Drugstore Lipstick Jam: Maybelline Creamy Matte



I've tried expensive brands and cheap brands of matte lipstick and with a couple of exceptions, they all end up drying and flaking. So I was pretty impressed with the staying power and creaminess of this Maybelline Creamy Matte in All Fired Up, a hot pink that has been helping me beat the winter doldrums. I won't lie to you: there will come a point in the night when it won't look perfect if you've been eating or drinking. But that's true of any lipstick. The colors are also super on-trend.

Snow Day Jam: Cinnamon Bun Oreos


I personally believe snow days and Oreos go together like hot cocoa and marshmallows. I try to banish Oreos from my existence when I can, but winter is my downfall. Perhaps sensing this, the fine people at Nabisco just released Cinnamon Bun Oreos, and they are pretty delectable.

What's your jam these days? I'd be remiss not to mention the week we lost to Making a Murderer, or the other week we lost to Jessica Jones. Those feel like fever dreams!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Best v. 265


Life lately pretty much revolves around scraping wallpaper off in this guest room. I can't wait to have a real reveal, although I fear we're about 3-4 DIY projects away from that. So for now, let's bask in how much this room is not covered in lighthouse wallpaper. 


I'll be working more on that today because we had a little bit of snow, which means it's the perfect time to stay in PJs and do indoor projects. If you're having a Netflix and chill kind of day, here's some links for your entertainment:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fashion Review: Golden Globes 2016

Awards season is BACK! Strap in for two months of gasps, disappointed sighs and unfortunately, a lot of unemotional blinking as we watch stars try to make a statement with couture. The Golden Globes were really delivering some "meh" fashion this year. There were so many dresses that simply didn't move me at all in any direction, which makes for a boring year in my book. Even on the "best dressed" end, I had to actually stare at some of these gowns to convince myself they could probably be called "best." And some of my "worst" wouldn't come close to ranking as worst any other night. It was a milquetoast kind of Globes, y'all. Let's hope the SAG Awards get CRAZY.

BEST DRESSED


There's a little part of me that doesn't want to give Best Dressed to J.Lo because...well, why is she even at these things most of the time? Don't get me wrong; I love her! But girl hasn't been nominated for a Golden Globe anytime recently. Who cares! If someone could be nominated for Awards Show Dressing, she'd be the Meryl Streep of it by now. Her mustard Giambattista Valli is daring, yet classic, looking like a lost Katharine Hepburn costume from The Philadelphia Story. The styling is impeccable: perfect deep burgundy lip, great accessories and sleek hair. A++


It's been a long time since I felt like J.Law was getting anything out of her all-Dior all-the-time agreement, but this futuristic spin on a classic sheath was a winner. Sexy, but still covered up, in a perfect shade of red and a diamond collar fit for Nefertiti. Her make-up looked so good on screen, I told Ashleigh she looked airbrushed. Brava!


Julianne Moore is so consistent in her derring-do and unpredictability. I love the futuristic cut of this slinky Tom Ford gown, a great shade of sapphire with her red hair. Her big chunky ring strikes the exact right note; any other jewelry would have distracted from the sparkle.


Lady Gaga's Atelier Versace black gown is so deceptively simple, but the exaggerated hips, the luxuriousness of the velvet and the beautiful sweetheart neckline show great craftsmanship. I always knew, back in the meat dress days, that these days were just around the corner: when she would shock us by showing up looking like Hitchcock's lost heroine.


Viola Davis's galaxy dress by Marchesa is pretty much my dream dress for when I film my Ginger Rogers-style dancing musical. Every girl wants to feel, for one night, like the center of the universe and in this dress, Viola is the sun, the moon and the stars.


BUT...Jenna Dewan gave her a run for her money in her similarly beautiful navy-and-silver confection, a perfectly elegant gown by Zuhair Murad.


Olivia Wilde was sexy and smoky in this Studio 54-worthy, disco-meets-Jessica Rabbit gown by Michael Kors. The most perfect necklace was the cherry (or ruby) on top. She almost always looks good, and yet I'd probably never remember to mention her if I had to name my best-dressed of modern times.


I must have a thing for Latinas in canary and mustard, but I was also smitten with America Ferrara's sexy and sophisticated Jenny Packham dress.


Helen Mirren is #flawless. Her Badgley Mischka is like the sleek older sister of Lady Gaga's gown. She looks amazing from top to bottom, from red lip to diamond necklace.


White dresses were de rigueur at the Globes, but a couple stood out to me. I loved Laverne Cox's confident choice of a simple white gown by Elizabeth Kennedy; it was the designer's first shot at red carpet fame. She makes it interesting with a dark lip and sweet updo.


My main girl Saiorse Ronan looked like the Irish angel she is in her delicate Yves Saint Laurent gown. It's sexy, but not so sexy it makes me feel awkward that I still think of her as the little girl from "Atonement."


Jaimie Alexander keeps messing with my mind in her 80's throwback gowns. This geometric Genny gown is a bit 1920's futurist-meets-late 80's holiday Barbie and for reasons I cannot understand, it's working.


I have to give Zendaya credit for making every turn on the red carpet seem fresh and interesting. Her triple-tiered Marchesa gown makes her look statuesque, and the color reminds me of rich Russian novel heroines.


My friend texted me that Queen Latifah appears to have reduced her bust and indeed, she did look so perfectly fitted and comfortable and luminous in this dress that is apparently from her own collection. Maybe she should be designing for all the curvier ladies?


I hesitated to put Rosie Huntington Whiteley's Atelier Versace gold gown in the list because it's too easy. You could probably put her in a Project Runway unconventional challenge losing outfit and she'd still look gorgeous. But I'll grudgingly admit everything is coming together for her in this dress: it somehow looks like a glamorous yet casual gown befitting an Australian.


I also grudgingly added this year's golden girl, Brie Larson, who I LOVE. Her Calvin Klein dress is fine; it's sexy and glittery and disco-ey. She won't regret it, but it felt like something I've seen many times before, and a little J.Lo at the Grammy's for my taste.

Pretty Good...Almost Great


I'm usually on board for Cate Blanchett's couture adventures, but even I had to pause over her rose-lilac Givenchy couture gown. On the one hand, she gets a pass for being who she is and looking like she is literally glowing. On the other hand, this is clearly lingerie made for a saloon cabaret, no? Her one-sided faux bob also is weirding me out a bit...or is it working? Help me decide if this is great!


When I first caught sight of Kate Bosworth's sparkly Dolce & Gabbana, I joked that she looked like a 90's Miss America contestant. She also looks like a Barbie. I don't like the details on the top half at all, but I have to admit the size and texture of these sequins have hypnotized me, and the color is much more interesting in still photos than on camera. Do I maybe LOVE it?


I can acknowledge Melissa McCarthy's liquid blue-silver gown looks a little bit like trash bag couture. It's also the best thing I can remember her wearing in ages. One change I'd like: fitted sleeves or at least cuffs, rather than these super loosey-goosey bell sleeves.


Is it weird I don't love this Gucci? I like the pleating effect for sure. I don't think I object to the color or the roses at the collar. Is it maybe Amber Heard I don't like? I can't pinpoint it, but I just couldn't put this in my "best" column. I'm thinking it's entirely personal and that in a year I'll realize I'm crazy.


Bryce Dallas Howard charmingly told Giuliana Rancic that she bought her Jenny Packham right off the rack because she didn't have any good loaner options for a size 6. That's ludicrous, and good for her! I just wish I loved it more. I like it ok. But it's not love for me.


Gina Rodriguez's navy Zac Posen gown was lovely. I love the architectural work on the bodice, and she definitely hit the off-the-shoulder trend. But at the end of the day, it wasn't a wow! I'd like to see her push a little bit more out of her comfort zone.


I'm a recent Kirsten Dunst convert. I've been generally disliking her since about 4th grade and then I listened to her very charming Nerdist interview and decided we could hang. Her Valentino black gown felt at once sexy and old-fashioned romantic. I liked it, but I wanted a little something more from it.


This is fine, I guess. Malin Akerman's Reem Acra gown is really lovely, with really beautiful details. Not memorable though. 


God bless sweet Rachel Bloom! She's so real and funny, and I was very charmed by her speech. I also think her Christian Siriano gown is a perfect first-showing for a red carpet newbie. It isn't ah-mah-zing, but it's well-fitted, a great color and on-trend.


I'm really into one of the two dresses Regina King is wearing by Krikor Jabotian. I like the sequined front one; not so much the angel cape one in the back. 

Meh

On the one hand, I like the idea of a redhead pulling off hot orange. On the other hand, Amy Adams's Atelier Versace dress is a true-blue meh snoozefest.


Kate Winslet looks great in her Ralph Lauren, blah blah blah. She also wears some variation of a navy gown to everything ever and I'm ready to be excited by her again.


Katy Perry looks like a severely constipated mannequin in this picture, and I kind of love that. Her Prada is clearly one of the most uncomfortable things she's ever worn (for a laugh, look at her got-to-pee stance in these pictures). Her hair is pure Priscilla Presley, which is cool with me. Fit is her real issue here.


Leslie Mann's Monique Lhuillier is the opposite of Katy Perry's. I don't mind a blouson top, but even she looks skeptical about whether it was a good idea. It feels like a business blouse from Ann Taylor adapted into formal wear.


In still photos, I don't mind Lily James's Marchesa gown. It's diaphanous and she looks like a young Jessica Lange. But on screen, being weirdly hit on by Jamie Foxx in front of his daughter, her boobs felt very OUT and almost lopsided because of the draping.


This Maggie Gyllenhaal 1920's wallpaper Marc Jacobs gown is a thing that happened. It wasn't the worst. It wasn't the best. I'm sure I would have loved it on the runway.


Much love for Taraji P. Henson, but this Stella McCartney isn't terribly flattering and is possibly doing very weird things to her posture. It's not bad though, and she looked pretty. Just like she needed to let a few inches out.

Worst Dressed


I mean, is this the worst? Is it so wrong to turn your bedskirt into couture? Is it a problem to wear little girls' skirts around your shoulders? This Yves Saint Laurent is almost working....and yet it made me laugh every time I saw it. Never change, Jane Fonda.

At least a couple women seemed to offer their own couture interpretations of Star Wars. Emilia Clarke didn't quite hit the mark for me in this Darth Vadar-esque Valentino gown. Use the force, Emilia. Use the force to get a better stylist.


Meanwhile, Rooney Mara offered her fancy Alexander McQueen dress interpretation of Rey, complete with the multi-pony of our futuristic dreams. I love her misery at being forced to make trade-offs in order to be a movie star. Sorry bout it. Also, I've been hating every iteration of this design since Jennifer Connelly first tried to convince me I like mummy gowns back in 2002.


I can only assume Zoe Kazan took her sartorial cues from The Fifth Element and Mad Max: Fury Road. This bandage-on-bandage chevron Miu Miu dress is doing nothing for her. I imagine she thought it would be edgy and modern; not so much.


I almost didn't include this picture of Gaby Hoffman giving terribad duck face because it's just too obvious, but then I scrolled down to see her Green Bay Packers Cheese Wedge heels and realized it was too good to pass up. Jill Soloway gets a pass for having a solid schtick, though.


Kate Hudson is really counting on her hotness selling this formal Band Aid, early aughts Michael Kors prom ensemble, but I'm not falling for it.


Rachel McAdams, you deserve better than a wrinkly pillow fabric gown. It's by Lanvin, supposedly. I'm not convinced it isn't actually a cast-off from Urban Outfitters.


I'm not sure Eva Longoria really belongs on the WORST list, but double bows? I dunno about that. Her George Hobeika dress has spirited, sweet embroidery that seems to pay tribute to Mexican handicrafts. But it also has a bow at the collar AND another one just a few inches lower. Really? There's gotta be a moment at which you take stock of what's happening: embroidery, rhinestones, ribbon, bows, trains, slits and say, "Maybe I should scrap ONE of the things happening here."


And last but not least, Taylor Schilling, you are no Liza Minelli and the sooner you realize that, the better.