Thursday, August 30, 2012

Oil Painting Time!

Still life by Elizabeth Cummings, 1965

So, I have a little announcement: I've signed up to take my first oil painting class! I have a loooong list of things I want to learn: calligraphy, print-making, pastry-making, tap dance, etc. But whenever I look for classes, they are never at a time that's convenient for my schedule UNTIL a couple weeks ago when I spotted a four-week oil painting introduction. 

I've never painted with oils, and they scare the bejeezus out of me because it's a whole different approach to painting than watercolors. BUT I'm excited to try something new...who knows? Maybe I'm a secret oil painter. 

Painting by Emma Walker.

Have any of you ever painted with oils? Any hot tips? 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fall Fashion 2012 Wish List

Fall 2012 1

Isn't it funny how a string of rainy days and a whisper of wind can get you ready for fall? Summer is so wonderful and fleeting, but without fail, you're ready for it to end by September. I'm getting excited for new boots (I ruined my old, cheap pair in Ireland), wearing my Irish sweaters and enjoying my favorite season! Here are some items on my wish list:

  1. A fun patterned scarf; this $100 one is by Diane Von Furstenberg.
  2. The perfect tan blazer. Get this one for $198 at J.Crew.
  3. Take the colorful pants trend into fall with cords from Gap.
  4. Sean and I are talking about finally getting iPhones, so I'm thinking this tortoiseshell case would be perfect for fall and winter.
  5. For fall, I'm loving Essie's new mirrored metallic "Good as Gold" and the deep green "Stylenomics."
  6. These leopard loafers look perfect for a day at the library. $69 at Lord & Taylor.
  7. I'm hearing good things about Toms' new wedges. I hate the way suede looks when it gets wet, so I'd go for black.

Fall Fashion 2

  1. Dress up the casual tee with a Peter Pan collar. $75 at J.Crew.
  2. I'm really coveting the mini monogram necklace from Bauble Bar.
  3. I love the earthy fall colors in this Maggy London dress, $148 at Nordstrom.
  4. I can't wait to pair my men's Irish sweater with dresses and tights! Similar sweaters are available here.
  5. I'm feeling like denim jackets are back in a big way. This one's from Mango, but you can find them just about everywhere.
  6. I look terrible with berry-colored lips, but I'm thinking Korres wild rose balm might work.
  7. I need new boots...something like these riding boots would do the trick.
  8. I would also love these heels by Seychelles to wear with or without tights. They could be worn any time of year, but they're just screaming fall to me right now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anna Karina, I like your style

 I finally got around to watching A Woman is a Woman" last's been in my Netflix queue literally since I got Netflix in 2006. French New Wave films are so stylish and so, so very weird. It's amazing to see how, even 50 years later, they feel more forward-thinking and modern than most movies made today.

 The movie stars Anna Karina, an incredibly beautiful Danish actress, who looks like the word "gamine" was invented for her. None other than Coco Chanel gave her the name "Anna Karina" — her born name is Hanne Bayer.

 Her signature look was soft curls with volume, cat eyes and pale pink lips. Perfect.

 She could wear a hat like none other...doesn't this look like a picture of Kate Moss, except years before she was even born?

 She plays a girlish stripper hoping for a baby, torn between her boyfriend and their best friend (played by the always awesome Paul Belmondo on the left — only in French New Wave films do you find a character like that!

She was the muse of her husband and famous director, Jean-Luc Godard. Their romance didn't last, but he immortalized her one-in-a-million beauty and feisty spirit.

Get Her Look
Anna Karina Inspired

  1. Tuck a bright red blouse into a plaid skirt, or wear it over black capris. $99 at Lord and Taylor.
  2. A simple, sheer shade of peach pink, $16 at Sephora.
  3. A girlish plaid skirt, $178 at The Outnet.
  4. Wear a floppy felt hat into the fall, $35 at Swell.
  5. Tread carefully, but if you're bold, try her blue eye shadow, $21 at Asos.
  6. Get the perfect winged eyeliner with Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner.
  7. And if you're feeling bold, pump up the volume with Benefit lashes.
  8. Complete the French-inspired look with ladylike kitten heels and don't forget to curl your hair!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Best v.119

Wisdom from Promise Tangeman that I needed to read today. I've been painting a lot, as you know, and feeling frustrated about not being sure what's "my" style and what makes it mine, and also struggling with the fine line between being inspired by, but not adopting, others' styles.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Winos Tour Italy

Our wine club continued our journey around the world on to Italy, a country Erica chose to honor in preparation for her upcoming nuptials to a bonafide Italian-American. Because my favorite food group is carbs, I was pretty excited. 

Erica served up pizza margherita ...

Fettucine alfredo...

this delicious combo of toasted baguettes topped with goat cheese, fig jam and prosciutto...

and this strangely wonderful combo of drunken grapes and shrimp...

With strawberries stuffed with mascarpone!

Ashleigh brought this chocolate raspberry port that a coworker specially mixed and bottled! It was very good, like a liquid truffle.

We also had this Le Rime chardonnay and pinot grigio blend, which was a bit too spicy for my taste, but everyone else liked.

Jen visited Italy a few years ago and brought us two bottles of the same wine from the Castello Del Trebbio winery in Tuscany — one from 2004 and one from 2011. We compared both and although the older bottle really held up well, the younger one was a bit tastier.

We also sampled another chianti from La Castellina winery, and it was fruity and smooth. I'm just a chianti's so easy to drink, but it'll sneak up on you if you don't watch how much you've had!

I brought Tormaresca Neprica, a great blend of negroamaro, primitivo and cabernet sauvignon that was just the right mix of fruity and spicy.

Italian wine night was pretty much a success, as evidence by the tipsy conclusion of a mostly clothed swim in Erica's new pool! Nothing like swimming in your work clothes to finish the night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today I Like ... Wild Ophelia

I love crazy flavors of chocolate, and lucky for me, there seems to be a boom right now in creativity when it comes to artisanal chocolate bars. I like to troll the chocolate aisle at World Market and the Williamsburg Pottery whenever I get the chance, just to see what craziness is out there. On my most recent trip, I was completely charmed by the Americana-inspired flavors in the new Wild Ophelia chocolate line by Vosges.

Vosges is known for its bacon chocolate bars, which in my opinion, completely started the bacon-for-dessert trend.

The chocolate was silky smooth and the peanut butter and banana were perfectly blended, with just the occasional teeny tiny bite of dried banana. I also LOVED the packaging, which is really whimsical and has a whole story about Ophelia and her crazy ways.

Next on my list of must-try flavors: BBQ potato chips chocolate! I gotta get my bravery up to try the beef jerky bar.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Girly Art, All the Time

I paint some of the girliest art I've ever seen. It's kind of ridiculous. Here are some experiments from this past weekend. The Rihanna painting (top, obviously) was an experiment to see what happens if I pre-draw type.

I played around with some neon pink acrylic paint and my copper gouache, just letting it go where it led me. Sean came home and said, "that is BRIGHT." Yup, buddy. Sure is.

I've been wanting to do a big drippy heart for a while. I did this one while watching a pretty tragic episode of Law & Order SVU...eesh.

Developing a style is hard, y'all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Pottery + I Spy in Hilton Village

This weekend, I took some time to head down to Hilton Village in Newport News for a little treasure-hunting. Hilton Village was one of the earliest planned communities in America, with sweet homes from the 30's and 40's surrounding a block of commercial properties — the original mixed-use development. I've been wanting to go to Rooms, Blooms and More, a local consignment decor store, for a while and it did not disappoint!

I saw lots of lovelies, but my favorite was this $6.25 planter by Terrace Ceramics that reminded me so much of the covetable pottery by Frances Palmer. I've given up hope of keeping plants alive, at least not with the minimal amount of sunlight we get, so I popped a moss ball in there. Sean, of course, wondered what its purpose was. Sigh.

Down the road is Plantiques, a favorite shop of mine. I saw a lot of great stuff (which you'll see below), but I was most taken with this $12 jade-green faux bamboo ceramic vase. Very lovely and reminded me of the beautiful bamboo lamps at High Street Market. I just popped my wedding flowers in there for a sec...I promise my flower-arranging skills are a bit better than that! 

Here are some other treasures I found at Plantiques. I loved this blue Japanese tray, for $21. I thought it would look so elegant on a mini-bar, holding bar tools, or holding soaps and make-up brushes in the bathroom. It's classic, but blends great with modern pieces, as well.

This bowl/vase was so almost reminded me of an ancient chalice. It would look amazing holding bunches of green hydrangea. It was $19, I think.

At first this struck me as weird, but then it reminded me of the kind of thing you'd buy at Anthropologie for $98. It was a $25 stacking jar, with wood dividers. Would be amazing for a picnic!

There's also a seller who specializes in the antiques-with-a-twist style decor we all see all over Pinterest. The products are perfect for someone who wants the DIY look, minus the effort. The seller has paper wreaths, spray-painted sconces, chalkboards aplenty...

I thought this quirky embroidered map of the Northeast would be great on a gallery wall. I love the little coal miner in Pennsylvania!

And speaking of embroidery, I thought this one of strawberries (part of a set of 4) was quite cute and could look adorable in a little girl's nursery or in a country-inspired kitchen. I liked that the framing was quite modern and timeless at the same time.

Considering my little ceramic treasures cost less than $20 combined, I'm calling it a successful venture! Have you had any treasure-hunting luck lately? Any of you Hampton Roads residents have a spot I should check out?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Best v.118

I'm just in love with the work of artist Anna Garforth, who does all kinds of cool things like moss graffiti and this installation of masking tape on a chainlink fence. I left her website feeling so inspired! 

We're having a rainy Sunday here, so I'm excited to have a movie/dinner date with my friend Ashleigh. Also, happy birthday to my dear dad! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Translated: Lela Rose into Powder Room

Neutral Bath

I'm not sure everyone would look at this beautiful Lela Rose fall 2012 dress and see bathroom tile, but hey, I'm not everyone! I have pretty boring taste in bathrooms in general, but I think if you can afford to splurge on gorgeous tile (knowing you might get sick of it), you should do it. Here's my Lela Rose-inspired imaginary bathroom:

  1. Sconce, unfortunately appears to be discontinued, but find similar at Schoolhouse Electric.
  2. Tile, from Ann Sacks.
  3. Scallop mirror, $249 at Wisteria.
  4. Any antique silhouette will make great decor behind the toilet!
  5. Turkish bath towel, $33 at Amazon.
  6. Vintage-inspired pedestal sink, $329 at Overstock.
  7. Mocha hardwood floor by Shaw Floors.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baby Steps into Abstracts

 I've been taking little baby steps into abstraction with my watercolors over the past week. It's fun, but it goes wrong SO fast. It's kind of amazing how one wrong move can ruin it! But anyway, I thought I'd share some pictures of recent ones...I'm sure in a few years I'll think they're terrible!

 Close up. I love the bleeds. I used a dry brush for the edges.

 far away...

 And close. I sprinkled a little salt on top to get that mottled effect.

 Far away...

and close! I'm clearly into a pink/orange/purple palette at the moment.

I've always struggled with abstraction...I've worried too much about whether there's a purpose, whether it looks "right" and all that. But I'm trying to let go of that and just play with the paint. Isn't it funny how hard it is to just play?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Wheat Scones

I bought some blueberries the other day for healthy snacking at lunch time and though they were good, I just wasn't eating them fast enough. I decided it was time to sink them into some delicious baked goods...that'll get them moving out of my fridge faster, eh? I decided to give Annalise's interpretation of Tyler Florence's lemon blueberry scones a shot.

As is the ush with me, I made a couple little mistakes, but one was fortuitous: the accidental use of whole wheat flour! Just an eensy bit healthier, eh?

First, I zested a lemon and added that to a bowl of whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and stirred until the dry elements were mixed. I also set the oven to preheat at 400.

I then added 5 tablespoons of cold butter with a pastry cutter. Hot tip: when they say to cut into cubes, just do it. I always get in a rush during that part and then end up with huuuuuuuuge pieces of butter. Mix until it's just coming together.

Next add, cream and/or a cream/plain yogurt mixture. I did the latter, and I'll admit I had to add more cream than suggested in the recipe because my dough was simply not coming together. Use your best judgment!

So, the directions said to place the dough on a greased surface, then cut it into a rectangle, then two thinner rectangles, then squares, then triangles. I didn't do any of that right, ha! I just cut it into triangles by any means necessary.

I brushed the scones with an egg wash of egg + cream, and popped them in the oven for 15 minutes.

And voila! They were perfect. The directions said to pop a mixture of lemon juice + confectioner's sugar + butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Frankly, I think a mixture of the first two, without the butter and microwaving, would have worked even better. But alas.

It still made for a beautiful, delicious mess. (seriously, is that not a painting in the making?)