Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Best v.246

Picasso, in disguise

I worked for a large chunk of Saturday, so I'm treating myself to some lazy time before I get to housework and chores, like laundry and yardwork. My Mad Men addiction is still raging, and I'm loving rewatching the series knowing how it ends. If you're treating yourself to some lazy time, too, here's some good reading:
  • One of the best farewell columns you'll ever read.
  • Jenny Lewis recreated her childhood roles for her new music video. I'm jealous they didn't call me because I'm a Troop Beverly Hills superfan.
  • Tips to limit thigh chafing. Let's be real here, folks!
  • The incredible synchronicity of Beyonce and Duck Tales.
  • I'm totally over the blogger trend of "decluttering"...especially since it's those bloggers who have devoted their careers to celebrating the acquisition of stuff. So I loved this ode to clutter.
  • An oldie but a goodie: the most badass wishes made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  • Some ideas on how to do family friendly work policies right.
  • It's all in your name.
  • Play with your food when you make gummy Legos!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Makeshift Patio Set

I realized I still haven't shared any pictures of what we ended up with for our deck! Ignore the icky deck boards...we know they need to be stained like whoa, but we need to get a day that is not as hot as it's been on the days we've been off.

Anyways, We spent a LOT of time debating the merits of various outdoor sets. I really wanted a modern and fun look, and unfortunately most sets are black and beige. Nothing to write home about. Then I really fell for a powder-coated aluminum set at Home Depot but kept waiting to pull the trigger because white outdoor furniture sounded like a lot of work to maintain. I got hit with the idea that we might be able to put together a more fun and unique set with separate items for the same price range (about $500) and set to work.

We ended up with a super marked-down patio table from Target called the Bryant that has a very modern look of weather-resistant faux-wood and a metal border. Combined with sale prices and my Target Red Card discount, this bad boy ended up being about $142. 

I searched high and low for the right chairs, debating the merits of armchairs and wicker and all that, and ultimately went with the Poinciana metal chairs from World Market. I bought these when they were marked down to $49 each. I was debating getting end chairs that are armchairs, but I think I'm going to go pick up two more of these chairs instead. The pop of coral is so fun and adds a sculptural element. I think they look quite nice with my mod white planters.

Finally, I skipped a colorful umbrella knowing I would be getting colorful chairs and picked this beige-and-white striped umbrella up from Bed, Bath & Beyond for $40 (after I used a couple gift cards...otherwise it would have been $120 for the umbrella and the base).

All told, our makeshift patio set has cost us less than $400! 

We had our first guests for dinner on the patio on Friday night, and had skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and a twist on caprese/bruschetta with peaches instead of tomatoes. So good, and such a fun pop of flavor!

And to top it all off, I made the rose sangria that Melissa served at Wine Club and it was so, so tasty and easy to make. I can't wait for more summer nights outside!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Best v.245

The amazing Angelica Huston, working the hell out of jewelry by Alexander Calder.

I've been having a blissful Memorial Day weekend, filled with a mini Mad Men marathon, swimming, barbecuing and some time in the sun. It will be awful when we all have to go back to work!
  • Have a $1,000 day in Paris for $100.
  • I've been saying this forever. I'm in the in-between generation when it comes to technology.
  • John Slattery says an easy goodbye to Mad Men.
  • A new look at Appalachia through photography.
  • The birth of bees.
  • Find out what your name might've been back in the day.
  • Another classic Clooney prank is in the works.
  • So cool! Printmaking with simple household gelatin.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Stockley Garden Decor Spoils

Every fall and spring, I trek out to the Stockley Gardens Art Festival looking for inspiration. And every year, I buy nothing, except maybe a lemonade or — big spender! — a pair of earrings. But this year, I went through the booths quickly like a girl on a mission because I regretted passing up the opportunity last fall to buy one of these copper loop candlesticks by Tracery 157. I picked up this gorgeous verdigris candlestick that ended up being an almost perfect fit for my dip-dyed candles from North Carolina. I love how the modern form, combined with the decay of the copper, makes it look like an artifact from the future. Very cool.

I also fell in love with the ceramics of Butternut Press and couldn't resist this ceramic dish with an ouroboros motif. For now, it's just resting in the living room, but it might be hung on the wall someday, or hold rings and jewelry. I love the organic shape, especially. Perfectly imperfect.

That's it for recent art acquisitions in our house; what I REALLY need to do next is actually get some stuff framed and hung!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

BBQ Sammies and 80s Jams

I love traditions, which is part of why I love spring and summer in our region so much. I just love knowing it's time for wine fest, beer festivals, beach days and one of our longest-standing traditions, the Portsmouth Beer, Band & BBQ. We've been going for at least five years, and the event has only existed for 7!

Here are a few pictures from our fun night:

Erica got a Fujifilm Instax camera, which prints the cutest little Polaroid-style pics. This seems like just the kind of thing I need/don't need at all!

Wine Club represents...minus a couple folks, of course.

Me and my best gal pal.

We danced our butts off to the '80s tunes of The Deloreans, ALWAYS a good show. Next up: O'Connoroo, a beer fest at O'Connor Brewing (although I think I might have to miss for a work event), and the Newport News Greek Fest. Our May festival season is winding down!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wine Club's Sangria Night

Our friend Melissa hates to have any foreign objects corrupting her wine, so it's only natural she ended up hosting our wine club's first Sangria night. We decided to have a delayed Cinco de Mayo celebration with sangria and Mexican food while watching Gone Girl. Deception + Wine + burritos = perfect ladies' night!

Melissa first greeted us with glasses of white wine with lemon slices and mint leaves, a refreshing start to the evening. We agreed that if you choose to do this, let the mixture sit for about an hour and muddle the mint a little bit for maximum flavor.

Her daughter is our honorary Wine Club member...she joined us with a wine glass of water and we even taught her "Cheers!"

We dined on our three favorite foods: cheese dip, salsa and guacamole.

And I cuddled with my favorite little lady!

But things got REALLY exciting when we tried Cup of Jo's recipe for rose sangria, which was absolutely delicious. I can't wait to serve this up at future summer gatherings! Melissa's sweet husband went and picked up food from Burrito Perdido for us and that was equally scrumptious.

These are the faces of people who really love Chambord in their sangria.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Best v.244

It's the end of Mad Men, you guys. My favorite show, possibly ever. It's the show I was always waiting for, and I've just been wallowing in grief but enjoying to the TV marathon quite a bit. I think once it ends, I might actually keep rewatching. In case you need a distraction on this hot, hot Sunday, here's my favorite links of the week:
  • From TED talks: the best body language tips for a talk to go over well.
  • I can't even explain it, but this video about an engaged couple aging with makeup made me cry!
  • Why you should start doing things alone.
  • The best advice column about finding a passion I've ever seen.
  • The true culprits behind deflategate.
  • If you watch Game of Thrones and you think like I do, here's some theories on how on Earth Grey Worm is gonna have sex.
  • David Letterman, shameless flirt.
  • Bleachers delivers an awesome Kanye cover.
  • Famous folks' favorite Mad Men moments. (My top 3? When Don and Peggy have the night alone at the office; the Lawn Mower incident; and when Don & Betty have sex at camp.)
  • Spots in Europe where a degree can be earned for much less than in the U.S.
  • Frida Kahlo's incredible wardrobe.
  • Our terrible emails acted out in real life.
  • And ICYMI, the incredible moment The Edge took a tumble. I laughed and laughed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Updated Adventures in Gardening

It's been a while since I've posted an update on the state of all the green growing things around our house. Anyone who's gardened even a little bit knows it's a real living, breathing thing that changes every single day, so many of these pictures already don't show how it really looks these days.

On the porch, I have a couple pots of annuals for color, and I turned those metal orbs you see everywhere into planters that one of these days I hope to hang. This one holds pothos neon, a great houseplant and I love its neon green leaves.

In my other metal orb, I potted some oxalis that was on clearance at my local garden center. I LOVE oxalis for its deep purple leaves, clover shape and the beautiful looseness of its stems.

The previous owners looooooved them some hostas. I like hostas, but I don't love having them be the main landscaping feature of both the front and back yards. They are more than pulling their weight though...look how big they are here! They're already even bigger, so I think I'll definitely have to divide them during the off-season.

A few weeks ago, we discovered crawdad holes in a couple spots in our yard, especially where water tends to collect. Sean stomped them down to mow the lawn and I haven't seen any new ones, but it definitely gave me flashbacks to playing in my grandma's yard as a child and trying to hop over every single one of the crawdad holes that dotted the whole lawn.

My sweet friend Melissa gifted me with this rose bush that I planted and then it promptly lost all its petals. Womp womp! Please pray for it that I don't completely kill it!

On the side of the house, we had beautiful phlox (no longer in bloom) and a calycanthus shrub. 

Calycanthus is also called "sweetshrub" and its sweet-smelling bark and flowers have been used in perfumes. I haven't noticed a ton of wafting perfume, but it does smell good if I get very close.

I made a point to hit the annual Heirloom Plant Sale at the Hermitage Museum and picked up all the elements for this pot: both green and purple sweet potato vine (one of my favorites!) and two types of coleus. They are so beautiful!

About a week or two ago, our clematis vine finally bloomed and it's truly magnificent. I'm grateful the previous owners planted some fun surprises so there's been something nice to see almost every month. Still plenty of surprises to come!

We also have yellow iris, which are not my favorite, but one of these beautiful bearded irises popped up for a just a day or two (we had some rainstorms) and it was gorgeous.

I also love the fig leaves on our little baby fig trees...

And this bush suddenly burst forth with white blossoms last week! So pretty. I don't know what it is though...

Any guesses?

I have bulbs I need to plant, but I'm still not even really sure where to put them. I definitely want to see what else pops up this summer before I start really planting. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Smartmouth Street Party

Festival season continues marching on in Hampton Roads! This past Saturday, we ventured out to the Chelsea area of Norfolk for Smartmouth Brewery Street Party. Local breweries are one of the best community development trends in years; I love that they have the ability to create a community in corners of the city that can really use it.

I sampled their hefeweizen, saison and maibock and all were delicious!

Ash and I took the tour, partially to escape the heat and partially because we were genuinely interested! We peeked inside the giant copper pots in which they boil the barley...

We wandered down an aisle of big tanks in which the beer ferments...

And we even held samples of hops pellets and cracked grain in our teeth! It was interesting and fun. The coolest tidbit we learned? The name of the brewery came to the owner after he heard an NPR interview with Kathy Griffin when she said her granny used to call her, "Little Smartmouth." I related to that!

The beer events don't end there. Also on our upcoming social calendar:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Best v.243

The Barefoot Child, Mary Cassatt

For the second week in a row, I almost forgot to post my Sunday Best! No good excuse except that I've been enjoying reading on my Sunday afternoons and when I get into a book, there's no greater feeling than falling down the rabbit hole. That said, here's a rabbit hole just for you: my favorite links of the week!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Wine Fest 2015: Spring Social Season Has Started!

This past weekend was what I consider the official launch of the spring social season: Wine Fest! It's funny how just being in a park having a picnic with friends and drinking wine can make us so excited and happy, but it really, really does.

 We feasted on fried chicken, artichoke spinach dip from Costco, Melissa's amazing pesto penne and strawberry yogurt pretzels.

 We recruited strangers to take group pictures with us.

And we wore our cutest spring outfits. It was a day of fun and revelry, finished with dinner at our favorite favorite, Luna Maya.

Here's what's coming up next on the local social calendar:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fashion Review: Met Gala

When it comes to the Met Gala, I'm a big believer in throwing the rule book out the window. The whole point is to celebrate the artistry of fashion, so bigger, bolder and more dramatic wins the day as far as I'm concerned. Now of course, that doesn't mean some of the outfits aren't straight-up laughable (obviously) but if the Oscars call for the most gorgeous, elegant, serene fashions ever, the Met ball calls for GUTS.

My rubric is a little something like this: 30 points for drama, 30 points for dressing to the theme of the exhibition, 30 points for accessorizing and 10 points for confidence. If you don't dress to the theme, I'm automatically mentally deducting 30 points. I'm no minimalist when it comes to the Met ball, so if you're not dressing for drama, there's 30 points.

DIVA Status

The internet had a field day with Rihanna's outfit, making completely LOL-worthy comparisons to Big Bird, an omelette and a giant pizza. But for the event, this was perfect. The minute I saw it, I was like, "GIRL GETS IT." The whole point of the Met Gala is to have fun with fashion, to be bigger and bolder than anywhere else, and I had to give her super kudos for living it up large. The outfit was designed by Chinese designer Guo Pei, which is also worthy of super kudos. 

Karen Elson's outfit read a little more Russian princess than Chinese empress to me, but I loved it just the same for all the same reasons. Perfect drama, perfect accessorizing.

I fear Sarah Jessica Parker might have swung a little too far on the theme, and her headdress is definitely more costume than fashion, but I gotta give it up for her commitment to being the ballsiest, year after year.

Best Dressed

I am a broken record when it comes to complaining about Kristen Wiig's seeming aversion to color and attraction to dowdy, boring dresses. So when I saw this shot of her looking resplendent in the evening's color, as rendered by Prabal Gurung, I was so delighted. She looks the best she's ever looked, period.

Just about every Chinese actress was in attendance, and they all did their home country proud by wearing modern takes on traditional motifs. My favorite was Zhang Ziyi's elegant white gown, with pretty details on the skirt and lovely red flowers on the cheongsam neckline. She looked luminous.

Lizzy Caplan looked like pure glamour in her dripping satin Donna Karan atelier. I would have never in a million years guessed this came from Donna Karan, but the draping is pure DK and I'm in love with the beading detail. Fringe earrings are where it's at, too.

Rose Byrne's sexy Calvin Klein reminded me of the delicately beautiful red lace envelopes used for Chinese New Year, wrapping her up like a pretty package! She almost always gets it right and makes it look easy.

Helen Mirren has perfected the art of looking sexy while looking demure. Her laser cut Dolce & Gabbana was perfectly on theme, and she accessorizes like a pro.

Amanda Seyfried's Givenchy Haute Couture doesn't exactly call to mind China, but it was interesting, delicate and a gorgeous cut for her.

I was in love with the beading and cutwork detail on Jessica Hart's Valentino. It reminds me of the fine work of cinnabar carving, so it was perfectly on-theme without being costume.

George and Amal win for my best dressed couple. I mean, c'mon. Her Maison Margiela looks like a gown for Wonder Woman in the best way.

I love people who have the capacity to always surprise, and that's Cher. Wouldn't we all have expected her to be wearing SJP's headdress, and yet here she is, looking sleek as all get out in Marc Jacobs.

From the waist up, Dianna Agron's Tory Burch dress is a boring been-there-done-that, but the lovely cranes were a nice scroll-down surprise.

Michael Kors did an amazing job referencing the Chinese cheongsam silhouette in a modern way on this glimmering gown for Kate Hudson.

I don't know if Kerry Russell's Altuzarra was on-theme per se, but I want to be buried in it, so that's saying something.

A few different people on the red carpet tried to do dressy pants, but none did it better than Sienna Miller in this sparkly fringed Thakoon ensemble. I looooooove her earrings so much.

Zendaya Coleman has proved to be a smart risk-taker on the red carpet this year, and her custom Fausto Puglisi sun-themed gown was the perfect mix of daring, interesting and age-appropriately youthful.

Close, But No Cigar

Vogue predictably loved Chloe Sevigny's JW Anderson outfit, but I predictably was not feeling the ensemble. I think the dress on its own works, but the styling of the accessories and hair were feeling way off to me.

Like the rest of her family, Kendall Jenner went for sexy rather than interesting. Considering she's halfway to being a supermodel, I thought she could've found something more exciting for this event than this (still lovely, just boring) Calvin Klein sheath.

The internet made lots of jokes that Anne Hathaway looked like Princess Leia in her hooded Ralph Lauren. I thought it was close to the right vibe and reminded me a little of L.A. Confidential, but it felt a little precious and could've used some interesting accessories or a more daring make-up look.

Katy Perry's Jeremy Scott graffiti-inspired dress was just OK to me. It's fun and cheeky and not boring, but it also felt out of place. I'm all about dressing to the theme, guys. 

In any other scenario, I'd say Elizabeth Banks looks amazing (although WAY too tan), but her turquoise Michael Kors just felt off the mark for the Met Ball. I guess she wanted to really have a sexy moment, and I guess I can respect that, but doesn't this feel more Grammy's or MTV Movie Awards?

I'm pretty convinced Dior hates Jennifer Lawrence and the feeling is mutual. She never looks happy in their outfits and they never do anything for her.


 Warning: unpopular opinion coming. I'm awarding a worst-dressed three-way tie to Beyonce, J.Lo and Kim K. because I think they all missed the damn point. It's about celebrating fashion and being daring, but I don't feel like any of their barely there sprinklings of feathers and sequins and gemstones really qualifies as Fashion. I've seen it before, and seen it from them, and showing 90% of the body doesn't equate daring in my book. It's also super predictable for all of them. Take a page from Cher and surprise us!

Selena Gomez's Vera Wang just fits terribly. It makes her look wide and lumpy, which we know is not the case, and for some reason she looks over-accessorized even though she really isn't. It's just not quite there for me.

Linda Evangelista once said of the supermodels, "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." Well girl, I'm guessing that ain't the truth these days.  This is a lumpy, wrinkly mess that doesn't make sense considering she's still got it. She needs to work those designer connections from days of yore because she rarely sets the red carpet on fire these days.

 There's nothing wrong with the elements of Olivia Wilde's Prada gown, but together, this is a hot mess. Way too much look, not particularly on-theme, and not particularly interesting as a whole.

I don't really know who Constance Jablonski is, but if she's just going to wear what Rachel Greene used to basically wear to work on Friends, I doubt I'll ever remember her.

And last but not least, Dylan Lauren came in a sparkly tee and tulle skirt combo that appeared to have been bedazzled by a four-year old. The fit is doing nothing for her figure...hike the skirt up just a few inches and BOOM, already a million lightyears better, but still a total miss.