Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Itty Bitty Kitchen Fire

Well, I officially know how to use a fire extinguisher now.

Let's back up. I've been struggling a little to adjust to my circa-1981 kitchen and the original oven/stovetop. As readers know, I only learned how to cook in the past five years on a brand new oven, so I certainly am still learning the quirks and rhythms of this one that's older than I am! On Saturday, I learned the hard way that the front burner gets hot...REALLY REALLY hot...faster than I expected.

I was home alone making stew, and after finishing all my prep work, I was finally ready to brown the meat. Usually, that means I've heated some cooking oil (vegetable, typically) on high heat to sear the meat quickly, then simmer with broth. I put 3 tablespoons of cooking oil in the pot and turned the burner on to mid-high heat. I turned my back to do something else while I waited for it to heat up and then I heard a crackle sound. I returned to the oven to see the pot was engulfed in flames that were getting bigger and bigger, climbing up to the microwave mounted above the stove.

You always wonder how you'll react in moments like that. My split-second thoughts were:

  1. Omigod we're about to lose our house and it's up to me to save it.
  2. Can you put out an oil fire with water? Maybe I should try to move the pot across the kitchen to the water source...that sounds like a bad and dangerous idea.
  3. I should Google this...WAIT THERE IS NO TIME TO GOOGLE THIS.
  4. I could try the fire extinguisher.
I now know that apparently the best thing to do is to cover the pot back up with its lid, if it has one, to extinguish the flames. Believe it or not, this is my first kitchen fire ever, so that option didn't even occur to me. So instead, I grabbed one of our fire extinguishers, pulled the pin and after a few minutes of struggling, squirted dry chemical ALL OVER THE DAMN PLACE. I put out the fire, but damn if I didn't also make our entire living room look like the surface of the moon.

For the first few seconds, I was relieved the fire appeared to be out, but then the smoke began to spread through the house like a dense fog. I made my way across the house to the fire alarm, which was now blaring, and could not find the button to disarm it. I was starting to cough and even though I was pretty sure I had extinguished the fire, I decided I could no longer be inside the house and, to be better safe than sorry, I called 911. Another first!!

My former stock pot, now an endless black hole.

It seemed like the fire department sent the whole calvary and they used their super industrial fans to clear the smoke, which was very helpful because we don't even have any fans. I kept it together until Sean arrived home from work and I burst into tears as soon as I saw him. Only then did I realize how truly scary those few minutes had been when I really didn't know what to do or what would happen to our new home.

The nice firefighters were all very kind and one said that if I hadn't used the fire extinguisher and had instead just waited for them to come, they would have been removing our charred kitchen cabinets from the walls. Luckily the only real damages were my pride and my stock pot. That thing is dunzo.

A thick layer of dry chemical. Yay!

We proceeded to spend our ENTIRE Saturday night cleaning dust from every corner of the kitchen and living room. We deep-cleaned in a way we have never cleaned! The firefighters said we'll be finding that dust for years, and although I'm sure they're right, the idea of that kept me motivated as I vacuumed and cleaned my way through the night. 

It was such a small fire, but it was still super shocking, and now I am really, really unsure what to expect with this oven. The firefighters said nothing appeared to be wrong with it...it just got really hot really fast and "shit happens." A watched pot never boils, but I tell you what, I'll be watching everything like a hawk!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fashion Review: SAG Awards 2015

The SAG Awards are an interesting no-rules awards show. Some actresses dress it way up...maybe too much so; others see it as a chance to take some serious risks, and others (like Meryl Streep) toss on an LBD from the back of the closet and call it a day. I was impressed to see a lot of risky moves, but I wasn't sure how many I thought were really successful. Can't fault a girl for trying, though! Here's my round-up of who knocked it out of the park, who gave it a good college try and who needs a new stylist, stat.

Best Dressed

 Felicity Jones looks like a modern-day Audrey in this modern, yet pretty Balenciaga. The neckline is gorgeous, the color is perfect with her peaches-and-cream complexion, and the gown feels completely appropriate for a nominee at a union awards show.

 Gretchen Mol is on the 1930s-set Boardwalk Empire, so I thought her frothy platinum Dennis Basso gown was a great choice. She's always had a vintage vibe, so dressing old Hollywood works very well for her.

 Julianne Moore's green Givenchy looks kind of boring and prom in this picture, but the beading was really pretty on screen. It fell like fringe, and nothing looks better on a redhead than green.

 After having such an insane misstep at the Golden Globes, I was heartened to see Keira Knightley manage to balance pregnancy chic with edgy hair, make-up and jewelry. This Erdem gown is romantic, the color is gorgeous on her and it's sexy without being inappropriate.

 Reese has been loving very simple and clean dresses this season, no muss, no fuss. It suits her and only sets off her Grace Kelly good looks. This Armani gown is a great example of good tailoring and just the right amount of embellishment. I also thought her make-up was especially killer.

 Major kudos to Uzo Aduba for rocking a color, pattern and texture that I pretty much would hate on anyone else but somehow works perfectly on her. Her Angel Sanchez seemed to match her spirit and personality, and it's always fun when that happens.

 I just love the colors happening with these two, as a couple. By herself, Camila Alves would look good, but kind of safe. But together, they look like a magic icy jewel tone Las Vegas in the 60's couple and it's working for me.

 I would probably hate this dress on anyone else, but this formal Zac Posen sundress works for a folk-singing harpist like Joanna Newsom. It's happy and pretty, and appears to have a tie-on cape? I'm diggin it.

Honorable mention for the hottest couple there. Dayummmm.

Good-ish...Maybe? I don't know, really.

 There were several dresses that I liked about 80% and Maggie Gyllenhaal's Thakoon was one of them. She's extremely unpredictable on the red carpet, which I enjoy, and I thought this sort of disco sexpot dress was fun and unexpected. BUT. It's not exactly flattering to her cleavage from this angle. I'm still calling it a win, though, on accessories alone.

 On literally ANYONE else, I would wonder what crack pipe they were smoking when they decided to wear a sheer curtain under a man's tuxedo jacket. But for some reason, Emma Stone's Dior Couture gown almost seems to be working. A big part of it is her confidence and pitch-perfect accessorizing...a bold red lip, red nails and edgy ear cuff made it sing. It almost seems like her role as Sally Bowles on Broadway has rubbed off a little, and that's not an entirely bad thing.

 I'm always bitching at Jennifer Aniston to stop wearing really basic black dresses and zhush it up a little, so I can't complain about her vintage John Galliano sex machine gown. She looks very hot to trot, and I was (as I'm sure many male viewers would agree) captivated by the suggestive necklace. BUT....the dress feels a little 90's J.Lo and I'm honestly not sure if I actually like the pattern at all.

 I really, really want to like Julianna Margulies' Giambattista Valli gown. The color is a slam dunk. I like how it plays with volume. I like her hairsdo, and her cuff bracelet. The fit is great. But I feel like the draping of the folds seems almost half-hearted, like Valli said, "ughhhhhhhh I guess I could pin this here, or something." You could store basketballs in the sides of her dress. The glimpse of sideboob also makes it look like her chest is trying to make an escape through her armhole, just trying to get some breathing room wherever it can.

 This neckline is seeming very trendy this awards season, and I certainly like it. I think I like this Marc Jacobs gown in every way except the Army-style belt. It's throwing the whole thing off for me and feels incongruous. I'm guessing that's how it was presented on the runway, but so many things that look awesome in the context of a runway presentation just look awkward in real life.

 I honestly don't know how I feel about Lupita Nyong'o's Elie Saab gown. Kudos to her for taking a risk. I don't usually have a problem with sleeves or stripes or flowers. I think the colors look nice on her. I just feel like it isn't quite working; it almost looks like a dress from a couture line inspired by Beetlejuice.

My first thought when I saw Rosamund Pike's Dior gown was that I love a good trapeze shape and that it was a vast improvement from her ill-fitting Golden Globes gown. Then I thought it looked like a duvet cover from Anthropologie. Then I thought it looked like a duvet cover from Anthropologie covered in bath loofahs. But still, I think this is a step in the right direction.

Deja Vu

Naomi Watts appeared in her simple Balenciaga gown and I said...

I didn't like it on Julianne Moore in 2010...why would I like it now? AMBER NEVER FORGETS.

Worst Dressed

 Amanda Peet seems to be striking out more and more lately. The design of this J. Mendel gown is just doing her bust NO favors. I would dare say the majority of us look moderately okay to terrible in strapless gowns, but it doesn't help when the design of the gown divides your boob area into a variety of strange geometric shapes.

 I cannot even explain why, but the bodice of Anna Chlumsky's Escada gown reminds me of a model of female anatomy. If it were maybe any other colors, it might work. The cut is okay, and the fit is great, but the pairing of oyster and rust was giving me serious Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica vibes.

 Being a large-chested lady myself, I sympathize with the plight of 16-year-old Ariel Winter, who is quite well-endowed at a young age and probably really doesn't know what the hell to do with those things. Still, she's been dressing too mature for YEARS now, and I'd love to see her get a stylist who knows how to accentuate her curves without dressing her like she's 47.

 I don't know who designed Christine Baumgartner's gown, but I can only assume it's a valentine she whipped together herself from a series of nighties.

The Big Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch also came dressed as an ugly valentine. Hers was created by Pamela Rolland. It's probably satin or taffeta, but it looks like painted paper on the bottom. Not good.

 JULIA. I thought we talked about this last year! Formal catsuits are not how we're going to handle the aging process. Someone get her on the phone with Helen Mirren, ASAP. If Jennifer Aniston (45) can walk around all hot-to-trot with necklaces dangling between her boobies, Julia Roberts (47) doesn't have to wear sexy courtroom onesies.

Poor Lady Edith is also a repeat SAG carpet offender. Her Vionnet looks at best like a very fancy sheer zebra stripe envelope and at worst like a spring roll with little shrimp inside. I think she was going for edgy and ethereal, but it just has me craving Thai food.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Best v.231

David Rathman, from the Morgan Lehman Gallery.

Well, this weekend is all about house stuff. I'm prepping to paint the dining room and living room, but had a little mishap yesterday that threw me a bit off schedule. More about THAT later! For your Sunday distraction, here are my favorite links:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Spy: Pink Rugs, Iron Pigs and Glass Grapes

It's been a LOOOOOONG time since I had the luxury of wandering around my favorite antique mall, but I had a little time on Monday to visit my old stomping grounds — the Williamsburg Antique Mall. Here are some interesting little items that caught my eye:

 This fancy antique match holder could be fun to have around wherever you most light candles (even if that happens to be the bathroom, lol).

I'm a sucker for jadeite and these maple leaf plates, 4 for $22, seemed like a sweet addition to any table.

These inexpensive column pulls could spice up any old bathroom cabinet or wardrobe. $5 is a steal for something so unique and fun!

I thought this antique secretary was just modern enough to work in any decor, and for $195, it was really reasonably priced. It dates to the early 1900's.

This metal target bearing the Friendship 7 would be a fun $20 graphic addition to a gallery wall. 

This chrome industrial stool could be a fun perch for a cook in the kitchen, or a great piece at a drafting table or desk. It was $70.

I have a weakness for interesting candleholders. This French Art Nouveau chamberstick, $39, seems like a romantic addition to a nightstand.

I was wishing I had room for these black and white porcelain nesting bowls, $20. They would make popcorn and chips look so fancy, or could be great planters for bulbs. 

I have a newfound love for pink oriental rugs, so this one was singing out to me! $245, and I'd estimate it was about 4 x 8.

A fun piece of art for a girly room...a 1960's ballerina painting by a Betty Dolman for $80.

I thought this modern two-tone dresser was very handsome. It's $275.

We honeymooned in San Francisco, so this tall skinny print caught my eye. I passed it up (not wanting to break a set of three), but it would be a very interesting shape to incorporate into a gallery wall. 

 I have one of these Egyptian inlaid bone and mother-of-pearl boxes and I seriously gaze at it when I'm in my bedroom. It's just one of those pretty little things you'd never regret buying, and for $16, it's much more interesting than your average jewelry box.

One of the weirder items I spotted more than once: a white pig statue. Could be a fun/trippy thing to have lurking in your garden, but at $95, I'm thinking that's something you buy if you truly have everything else you could ever want.

Unlike the rest of the decor blogosphere, I'm not that smitten with glass grapes, but in case that's something you've been hunting for and you're in the Hampton Roads area, they had an entire table of them! They certainly are pretty...just not my particular tchotchke cup of tea.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Best v.230

I've had a busy work weekend, so I'm very much looking forward to NEXT weekend, when I have almost no plans! It's funny...when you're young, you want invitations; when you get a little older, you just want a break. Here's some favorite links of the week:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wine Club Discoveries

Wine Club launched into 2015 this week at our house! We all brought random bottles of wine (no theme) and I completely failed to document any of them. So, I thought I'd just share the two items that generated the most excitement:

1. I ran into Harris Teeter to buy some popcorn kernels and strolled by the bread sample area. When I saw that the day's sample was a merlot boule, I did a literal double take, backtracked, took a bite and ordered the bread immediately. The flavor is subtle, but it's definitely present and when paired with their store brand of merlot and cheddar spread, it is a SURE party pleaser. Six girls decimated that entire loaf in four hours.

2. Erica brought this pearly vodka wine called Viniq that looks like a straight-up galaxy in your glass (photo stolen from Lauren!). It's a fusion of vodka, moscato and "natural fruit flavors" but it reminded me of the way generic grape-flavored drinks tasted in the 90s. It was so fun to gaze at its sparkles, though!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"I'll Make It Fit": A Story of IKEA Failure

On Monday, Sean and I ventured to IKEA to stock up on some new house essentials, like bookcases, a kitchen cart, shelving and other little doodads.

Have you been to IKEA? I didn't grow up near one, so the first time I went, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! It is heavenly...for the first two hours. And then somewhere around the first bend of the "marketplace" downstairs, it turns to this:

We were fading fast by the time our cart rolled into the warehouse, where you pick up a million boxes to take home and somehow turn their contents into the dream house rooms you saw in the showroom section. Our wish list included the Billy bookcases, the Hemnes daybed to trick out our additional guest room, a pair of Kallax shelving units for Sean's man cave and a kitchen cart, PLUS shelves for the walls. We knew it would be a stretch to fit all of it, so we started with our first priority: the bookcases.

Sean took one look at the boxes for the bookcases and informed me there was no way they'd fit in our car (a crossover SUV with seats folded down). I didn't believe him, so he literally took one of their freebie measuring tapes out to the car to check. Let's just say I was wrong, and my Evil Stepsister tactic of "making it fit" was not going to work.

At this point, after realizing we'd driven 2.5 hours for this purpose and spent nearly 3 hours in the store already, I had a mini panic attack and my brain cells all shut down.

So What Did We Do?
Our options, as we saw it were:

  • Go home with what we could fit in the car and plan to come back with a UHaul, which would probably add about $300 on top of the purchases.
  • Go home with what we could fit in the car and try to find a generous friend with a bigger car who would make the trek with us...again.
  • Go home with what we could fit in the car and shell out approximately $240 ($199 flat rate shipping + $40 for IKEA associate assistance) to have an IKEA associate pull our items from the shelves and ship them. The max IKEA will ship from a store is 4 hours' distance...and we fall just in that margin.
We ultimately opted for the last choice and decided to go ahead and get everything on our wish list since we know it won't ever fit in our car no matter what we do. It still felt foolhardy and dumb, but every piece will make our home much more functional and having it delivered saves us a lot of headaches.

HOT TIP: If you do have it delivered, you can save on service fees you'd be charged online by going to the store and physically picking up what you want, paying for it and then marching it straight to their shipping area. If we'd been available, we could have had our items delivered within just 2 business days, but we weren't going to be free! Good to know, though, right?

It was definitely embarrassing and frustrating to realize our items wouldn't fit, but I think we landed on a great alternative option and learned a little in the process. Now, we just have to actually build all this stuff!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guest Review: The Men of the Golden Globes 2015

Note: My dearest friend Bret pointed out I always leave out the mens' fashion and I admitted I usually run out of steam just getting through the women. So, he graciously is providing his commentary today on the real eye candy of awards shows! 

Hi there, Blogisphere! Since I noticed our dear friend Amber left us deprived of any rugged masculinity and I know our thirst is real, I took it upon myself to supply us all with some Man Candy commentary!

Best & Hottest

Best Dressed: Matt Bomer just seems to have everything, does he? He is extremely charming, talented, gorgeous (Dem eyes! Dem cheekbones! ), can sing, has a successful husband, gorgeous kids, and is now a bonafide award winner! His Globe was much-deserved and his speech was heartfelt AND funny. His perfect Ralph Lauren suit was just the icing on the cake. I do love a blue-eyed man in a navy suit.

My Favorite Husband Award: Eddie Redmayne. Full disclosure: Eddie and I had to cut our honeymoon short so he could attend the awards since I kept telling him he was going to win. He was soo…wait? We’re not married? This is all in my head? Aaaaanyway…I love his style. The former Burberry model just knows his body type and how a slim suit should fit. He always looks classic, English, and with just a touch of the dandy.

The Dream Date Award: George Clooney. George never looks bad, does he? I was disappointed his tribute clips didn’t include Roseanne (where I feel he peaked).

Never Change Award: Paul Rudd. Let’s all just take a big drink and enjoy this non-aging wine. Even if he did button his jacket incorrectly (it’s sometimes, always, never!).  

Shave Already!

Jake Gyllenhaal: Jake and I have had words about him being all beardsy all the time, but whatever, I can’t stay mad at him when he looks this dapper with the perfect break in his pants. (Pants Break is a show I’m currently pitching to VH1). 

Jared Leto: Listen, we all saw the impressive crotch grab shots a while back and we’re ALL in love with Jordan Catalano, but that beard , fishtail braid, white Lanvin combo have put out that fire.  I still can’t decide if he takes photos of Julia Roberts to the salon or she of him. 

Matthew McConaughey: Alright, Alright, All wrong…I don’t have a problem with his deep eggplant Dolce & Gabbana. In fact,  he always wears fun and interesting menswear and is never dull, nor overly splashy either. I just pray this beard/hair is for a role. Did anybody else notice his Foghorn Leghorn accent while presented? Maybe he’s gone full Day Lewis on us?

Middle of the Road

Channing Tatum: Let’s all be honest, we’d all let him stain our sheets with all that self-tanner.  His Dolce & Gabbana tux has the perfect stance, making him look tall and muscular, not that that’s super hard. ChanChan never has much fun with his suits, but who cares since we all prefer him in his birthday suit anyway.

Common: Un-Commonly handsome (I hate myself for that joke too) in Prada! I don’t generally groove on the black tie on black shirt game a lot of the mensfolk seemed to be doing, but I too am having a moment with lapel stick pins!

The Newcomer We Want to Party With Award: David Oyelowo and his Dolce & Gabbana 3-piece disco! Let’s face it, this man was terrific in two darkly heavy movies this year, so why not liven things up at “The Party of the Year?" My inner stylist would pair such a sparkly suit with boring black shoes, but I can’t ever knock fun footwear!

The “That Guy!” Comeback Award: J.K. Simmons, you look terrible! JK, Simmons, you’re the best! (I know, I’m a hack).

You Just Do You, Boo

Alan Cumming- Noted kook and bon vivant Alan Cumming missed the mark entirely with this Calvin Klein blah-fest. I adore him and love how he never plays by the rules, but honestly who sees a beige on beige tuxedo and goes “Yes! Fun! That’s it!?” Eli Gold would shut this down so fast!

The Twee Award, Wes Anderson: From the not formal gingham to the purposefully askew bow tie, he is the most Wes Anderson-looking. I swear if you asked someone what Wes Anderson looks like the words gingham and askew bow tie would be in the description.

Bill Murray: That Party City clip on tie was directly out of their New Years' remainder bin and that double-breasted waistcoat does not even remotely fit, but he’s Bill Murray and does not care nor does he need Iyanla or us to fix his life. You are a treasured hoot, sir!

Special Award for Humanitarian Efforts in HotAss Husbandry

Keith Lieberthal aka Mr Margulies! He’s a lawyer, not in the spotlight, but let’s all just enjoy him. You see ladies, it IS possible to have it all!

Did I leave your fave out? Who would you let get it? Feel free to send me pics @brayet on the Twitter!