Wednesday, June 10, 2020

DIY Verdigris House Numbers

Hello from the homestead! As COVID has kept us mostly home, we've been tackling lots of home projects and I have to admit: this is maybe one of my favorite DIY's ever.


I'd never given much thought to our house numbers, which is surprising, because I'm very into house number design! I just hadn't thought much about replacing ours until I had a couple packages delivered to the wrong house in the same week. Suddenly it was obvious; our old brass numbers were aged enough they blended in with our wood mailbox post.


I had stumbled upon these beautiful verdigris house numbers on Terrain, but by the time I saw them, they were out of numbers we'd need. I couldn't get them out of my head, though, and one day while we were out on a walk, I wondered aloud if I could DIY a verdigris patina. It turns out the answer is YES.

Verdigris is a blue-green patina that occurs on copper due to oxidation -- it's the reason our Lady Liberty is that beautiful green! It's one of my favorite colors, and is a natural complement to our front door color (Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue).


I was happy to find out you can buy online kits to create the patina yourself. I ordered this Triangle Coatings Patina Green starter kit, which is plenty for just 8 house numbers. For about $25, I was able to revive my existing numbers to create something totally unique!


First, I painted a coat of copper paint on each number and let it get mostly dry before spritzing it with the patina liquid, which I put in a spray bottle. The box says the process takes "minutes," and that's technically true, but I found it took hours. In some cases, I had to reapply both materials to get closer to the color I wanted.



But I got there! I loved this project because it was one of the rare times I saw something, thought "I could do that" and then was able to execute it fairly simply. Very satisfying! And it gives our house a college pottery professor vibe and that's the vibe I'm always trying to project in my life.

Monday, April 20, 2020

New Happy Hour Spot: My Porch

It's wild to think that within about 10 days of my last post, the whole world seemed to change. The threat of a deadly and hyper-contagious virus forced us into our house, where I've been discovering all those lessons learned over the 10 years of becoming "domesticated" are finally coming in handy! I haven't whipped out the sewing machine just yet, but I have made lots of bread, homemade caesar dressing, roasted brussels sprouts with honey sriracha aioli, shepherd's pie, boeuf bourguignon, brioche bread pudding and many, many smoothies.


With few places to go, absolutely no one to see and essentially no ability to make plans, I've been more anxious than ever to make our home the best place to be. So I really fixated on a wish list item that has been slipping down the priority list for six years, but finally had its moment: my dream Lutyens-style bench from Plow & Hearth for the porch. I got the greenlight to make the porch my happy hour destination of choice, where I can sip wine and wave to strangers and admire the dogs of the hood, and it's already upped our curb appeal about 1000%. 

I rounded it out with a wicker side table and cabana bolster pillows from Target and a nice, big geranium that brings me so much joy with its bright pop of red.


Like, seriously, how did we ever NOT have the bench?


From the bench, I can admire this favorite spot of the landscaping we did a few years ago with my mother-in-law. That combo of golden thread cypress, juniper and loropatelum just makes my heart sing.


In the other direction, I can gaze upon this collection of succulents that look great today and will likely be scraggly messes come fall because that's what succulents do.


The porch improvement happened just in time for my first socially distanced visitor! Melissa brought by some paper gold (a.k.a paper towels) and plopped her chair down for a quick visit. It was a delight!


And maybe because she felt bad and knew I needed something to smile about, Mother Nature allowed this one iris to bloom for the first time in a few years. I imagine that's just the schedule it's on, but I like to think it was for me. 

Next up, I'm planning a major sheet mulching overhaul of a hated corner of the backyard, and I can't wait to share more about that someday. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

I Got Hypnotized Into Buying a Rug


It's been a loooooong while since I actually updated about things happening around our house (whoops, remember when I painted the kitchen but have never posted final pictures — someday!), but we do have two new fun arrivals I had to share. One is our precious cat Freya, a 1-year-old tabby we adopted in January who is basically our obsession. The other is a new rug for the den!


I still loved the pattern of our flatweave IKEA rug but it had really seen better days. It had stains of all manner and shape. It was surprisingly hard to clean. And Sean honestly has always been wishing we had a rug with thicker pile in this room.

So when I did our taxes, I suggested we buy an inexpensive rug with some of our tax return and Sean was on board! I scoured all the usual sites, along with Facebook Marketplace and secondhand stores, and developed a crush on the Edessa Tribal Medallion rug that was on super sale. I had been really attracted to oriental-style rugs with pink, and a few of our art pieces in the living room have pink. But what sold me on this rug was that it has almost all the colors in it, so we have a ton of flexibility to change our decor or put it in a different room. Sean liked it, too, and I congratulated myself on my good taste.

But I had to laugh when I realized I have seen this rug dozens of times on the Instagram feed of Young House Love. They recommended it in a different color last year and since then, they've shared every picture people have tagged of it, calling it the "magic rug." I swear, I didn't even realize I had bought the magic rug until I'd done it! I think they hypnotized me with their Insta Stories!

We took the advantage to steam mop the floors with my trusty Bissell PowerFresh Lift-Off steam mop, and then laid out the rug and gave it a pass with the vacuum. It's a big adjustment from the modern pattern of the IKEA rug, but I'm loving it! It's not a crazy tall pile, but it's comfy under foot.


I mean, it looks so good with my book!


And it looks so good with my cat! We'll probably keep both of them.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Fashion Review: Oscars 2020

And just like that, awards season has drawn to a close! I'm thrilled Parasite took home some very deserved awards, a little disappointed Little Women didn't take home more and surprised 1917 went home with very few (it was quite good). But we're here to talk fashion.

On the whole, people played it pretty safe — a lot of white, black and nude sparkly gowns that were classic but time will tell if they were memorable. It occurred to me that many of the usual red carpet heavy hitters were absent, and without J.Lo, Gwyneth, Cate or Lupita to jolt us awake, the overall red carpet felt a little lacking. But thankfully, we were blessed with Regina, Janelle and Cynthia to give us looks to drool over. Let's review!


BEST DRESSED


In a night of many white dresses and sparkly dresses, Cynthia Erivo's Versace gown was a celebration of tailoring, draping and fit. It manages to be both sexy and classy and employs volume in all the right ways. But her accessories were the real winners here — diamond rings on diamond rings, ear cuffs on ear cuffs and a Starry Night-inspired manicure that was a tribute to Harriett Tubman. So good!

Image result for cynthia erivo manicure oscars


It's Regina King's world and we're just lucky enough to live in it. She exudes confidence and class in this ballet pink Versace with a sprinkling of rhinestones. She just glows! Again, Versace has *fit* on lock.


Natalie Portman used her red carpet power for good and had her Dior cape embroidered with the names of female directors she felt should have been nominated. Such a smart use of her interview time, and it's done in an extremely elegant way. And truly, three cheers for this perfect blunt bob and color.


Janelle Monae is giving us Star Wars couture in this sparkly Ralph Lauren and I love it, and I love her. It reminds me of Grace Jones, the only other person to so chicly rock a hooded look. I love how she plays with fashion.


This is a career best for Mindy. This shade of canary yellow is so gorgeous on her, the pleating of that bodice, the draping of the skirt — it all adds up to an incredibly beautiful look by Dolce & Gabbana. The necklace is also perfection.


Renee Zellweger knows what works for her, and white gowns on Oscar night work for her. She won her second in this extremely classic, extremely on brand Armani gown. It's a teensy bit on the boring side, but the detail work of the beading is very good; I definitely could have used some fun earrings.


Brie Larson isn't necessarily breaking new ground in this rose gold Celine caped gown, but it's a solid hit. It shows skin in all the right places and feels just right for a presenter at the Oscars.


Not going to lie, I wanted some more star power out of Scarlett, but I do like the futuristic-meets-lingerie vibe of this Oscar de la Renta. The bodice was interesting, and her jewelry was on point. I would have loved to see her play with color a little more, though; her dresses for the rest of the awards season were such delicious shades.


Charlize loves an architecturally draped modern gown in a neutral, so even though this Dior is borderline boring for her, it's undeniably beautiful. She looks like a statue they should put in the Louvre.


Rebel Wilson's gold sequined Jason Wu gown is so great! The fit and cut are so well done, and I thought on the whole she looked very "Oscars." It's also nice that she got to look so great on the red carpet knowing later she'd be forced back into her Cats costume for a bit.


Kaitlyn Dever, of Booksmart, has had a lot of fun experimenting with fashion this season and I love this modern take on your classic Rita Hayworth-worthy red gown by Louis Vuitton with modern straight hair. The blue beads on the red gown add so much interest and dimension.


Molly Sims is routinely one of the best-dressed celebrities at any of these events and I never include her because, like, it's weird for her to routinely be one of the best-dressed when she's not really in the spotlight. But this I could not ignore because this Zuhair Murad was one of my favorite gowns from the most recent couture season and I loved the unique peachy shade. So there you go, Molly, your marriage to the head of Netflix original films landed you on the red carpet and thereby, on my best-dressed list.


I mean, this guy. A velvet blazer, surfer hair and all the swagger add up to a well-dressed man.

GOOD


What if you were assigned to write 500 words and you turned in 1,200? That's the vibe Elie Saab brings to designing gowns and even though this gown on Sandra Oh is A LOT, I can't help but love it. It has everything: ruffled tulle rosettes, poofy sleeves, sequins, a metallic belt. Truly, something for everyone. It's teetering right on the edge of Too Much, and somehow, I'm leaning toward Just Enough.


On the whole, I think Gal Gadot looks lovely in her bad girl-meets-good girl black lace and pink tulle combo by Givenchy. Her face is so breathtakingly beautiful that she can carry most looks. But I will say something is off for me about the bodice and I think it's the placement of the lace in the breast area. I just found it distracting.


Geena Davis won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and criminally, they gave Eminem time for a full performance of "Lose Yourself" but didn't say anything about her humanitarian work that earned the recognition. At least she looked fantastic. Her haircut is great, and this Romona Keveza black gown has a great mix of textures to make it visually interesting. Plus POCKETS.

 Idina Menzel's hot pink gown gave me the dose of color I needed after so many white, black and neutral dresses. I do feel like something's missing, but it's a good showing nonetheless.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus is such a knockout and it's kind of insane to think she spent years in saddle shoes and floral oversized dresses as Elaine. She's spent her red carpet career celebrating simple silhouettes with impeccable fits and this Vera Wang was no exception. Her necklace was one of the best of the night.


Still not quite the perfection I want to see on Salma, but MUCH closer after so many duds. This entire Gucci look would be perfect if she lost the extraneous sleeve. Having that in addition to her very bold jewelry just makes it all a bit much, but I did love the showiness of her headpiece.


America's Favorite Kooky Wife Rita Wilson looks ready to dance in this fantastic sequined fringed gown by Tom Ford and I could see her jamming to Eminem so all in all, a good night for Rita.


I'm not in total love with the floral print on Beanie Feldstein's Miu Miu gown — something about it feels slightly juvenile to me — but the general gist and cut are fantastic.


Maya Rudolph has been trying for a long time to master red carpet style that captures her quirky art curator/modern dance teacher vibe and I think this Valentino is the closest she's come to nailing it. I have to give her major points for even attempting copper sequins, purple eyeshadow and emerald earrings.


Adorable little Julia Butters is doing the most in her oxford collared shirt with tiered sleeves and a tulle overskirt but, man, you're only a little girl at your first Oscars once and you SHOULD look like a Hello Kitty store. She also smuggled a turkey sandwich in her purse, and that's just adorable.

BEST WORST


Billy Porter's Giles Deacon Couture look was the rare look that didn't totally work for me. I'm just not in love with the print at all, but I am very into the gold feathered top. At the end of the day, I'll never be mad at him for continually raising the bar.


Similarly, I learned Timothee Chalamet does all his own styling and when you consider some of the daring looks he's pulled together, it's really impressive. This is giving me New Jersey gas attendant vibes, though, and I'm not so sure I "get it." Am I an old? Is this what it feels like?


Legendary costume designer Sandy Powell, who was nominated for The Irishman, is a cross between Ziggy Stardust and Annie Lennox and it's been her thing forever and she slays at it. This clever girl wore a cream suit and invited celebrities to autograph it — a great little meta commentary on the entire red carpet machine, if you ask me — and plans to auction it for charity. Love it. 

MOST ON-BRAND


Billie is doing her Billie thing and it's so iconic now that I'm already kind of interested to jump ahead in time and see what her next vibe will be. But for now, we can enjoy luxury Chanel pajamas with Flo Jo nails and acid green hair Billie.


Diane Warren only wears a variation of this outfit, year after year, and it is comforting in its familiar bonkers-ness.


The ultimate Knicks fan Spike Lee paid tribute to a Laker with his Kobe-inspired suit and it's so him, I can't imagine him wearing anything else.

MEH


I had really big expectations for Florence Pugh to come out and just slay me. It's her year, and her star is only rising, and I just wanted her to be my best dressed. But this 80's teal tiered satin gown by Louis Vuitton just wasn't it for me. The cut makes her look a little short, and the matchy shoes give me prom vibes. I LOVED her necklace. This isn't terrible, but it just isn't something I could ever love. 


Again, my other favorite Little Woman fired some daring shots that just didn't land for me. Saoirse Ronan did not play it safe, which I deeply appreciate, but I swore to hate baby bangs in all forms back when Courtney Cox debuted hers in Scream 3. These aren't quite that bad but they are just the wrong length for anyone.

Let's try to wrap our brains around this Gucci gown. The choice to put this burst of volume right at her midsection, but only in the front, and then pair with a periwinkle moire fabric skirt just feels bizarre. It creates a very odd silhouette, the color/fabric combo feels jarring and on the whole, this is just a weird time to get REALLY adventurous. I like some of the elements, but I just can't seem to wrap my head around it.


I have mad love and respect for Greta Gerwig, but the pairing of this olive green Dior with emerald necklace broke my brain a little bit. My eyes just want a more harmonious color pairing. Olive green is hard in general, but it feels a little dour here.


Man, Laura Dern. She usually knocks it out of the park, but this dress felt a little big lampshade, a little bit burlesque, a little bit princess and a lot of mixed messages. This Armani just doesn't strike me as particularly lovely or even memorable (in a good way). If anything it reminds me of the profound disappointment of Anne Hathaway's Oscar dress when she won.


Penelope Cruz loves a black-and-white combo from Chanel and I do, too, except when it's all you wear and it feels a little like someone just slapped some Chanel design motifs together real quick and called it a day. This feels like a cliche of a dress for Penelope Cruz.


I couldn't really drum up any feelings one way or the other about Margot Robbie's Chanel gown. The armband-sleeves are interesting, but I'm not sure if they're successful. The brooch feels like an afterthought. It's just a little blah.


Rooney Mara almost belongs in my "on brand" category because nothing is more Rooney Mara than the formula of black + cutouts + red lip + stern bun. I'm shocked Tim Burton hasn't recruited her to join his company of actors because she perpetually seems like she's about to utter Beetlejuice for a third time. This Alexander McQueen gown is interesting, and maybe an eensy bit weird, and maybe would only work on her.


Kelly Marie Tran's extra-dropped waist gown by Schiaparelli is quite an optical illusion and I'm not sure I like it. Or maybe I do? It's definitely different. The ikat patterned top feels incongruous, but also gives it some interest. Needless to say, I'm solidly on the fence with this one.


Margaret Qualley has been saddled with some of the most unremarkable looks to come out of the Chanel atelier in a long time, so I was happy to see some improvement with this ostrich feathered one. Still, the bodice gave me pause. It has a very subtle blink-and-you'll-miss-it ruffle that is so unnecessary and borderline confusing. For a moment, I thought the bodice just didn't fit properly. This dress needed some editing.


Zasie Beetz had a LOT of look going on. The choker with the slightly BDSM-inspired corset dress by Thom Brown and then...sensible slingbacks? It just seemed like a lot of personalities rolled into one. It's not on the whole bad, per se, but it's not on the whole good either.

WORST


Gotta love Kirsten Wiig and her boldness to basically dress as coral under the sea, with side boob and leather gloves, and a train. This Maison Valentino is the most, it's wacky, it's ostensibly not great, but I do love her for it.


I see a a face, maybe even Baby Yoda, in Olivia Coleman's wackadoodle Stella McCartney gown. If you picture the shoulder loops as ears and the buttons as eyes, there's definitely a creature hidden in this design. I don't think there's any scenario in which sleeve flaps like these are a good idea. Still love her, and loved her earrings.


The bodice fit of this Chanel gown on Lucy Boynton is criminal. No one's breast area should look like the visualization of a sigh. A Peter Pan color AND checkered puffed sleeves AND a high-waisted tiered skirt? Nope nope nope. On the upside, I love that she is so playful with beauty and accessories, and the pearls along her hair part are a nice touch.


What if you want the look of maternity wear without the comfort? That's how you'd end up in this Valentino gown that takes a perfectly normal black mermaid gown and then tops it with a one-shouldered blouson top that manages to conceal Catriona Balfe's figure without any of the benefits of having your figure concealed.  I cannot even imagine what this silhouette looks like from the side.


Aurora is a Norwegian singer who seems to be giving Billie Eilish a run for her money when it comes to deliberately bad hair and pajama-fit ensembles with sneakers. She basically looks like a Street Fighter avatar who does double-duty as the Childlike Empress from the Neverending Story.