Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Post Alert!

Well, I don't know if it's technically a guest post, but I am featured on my blog pal Ashley's Need Read Greed column over on One Fine Day.  Check it out!  And enjoy the other wonderful parts of her super fun and stylish blog while you're at it.

Thanks, Ashley!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gift Guide 2012: Paper Edition

Oh, you know I love this one.  Paper is my favorite thing in life, and with this gift guide I always try to think beyond "just" notecards.
A Linda & Harriett calendar.  I literally start every year with one of these.  A larger size than before and letterpressed to the hilt, this is paper at its nicest.  With designs that double as postcards.  $34
A reproduction photo of DuPont Circle from Blue Monocle.  This company makes reproduction photos and maps of places all over.  Choose a special place in the recipient's life.  from $25
An acorn notepad from 1canoe2.  This is just fun.  I love the deep green background on the cover.  You get 75 sheets and a whole lot of charm.  $13
An adventure print from Scout's Honor Co.  I love the typography and simplicity happening here.  This 5x7 size has such a nice price that you can splurge on a frame.  $12
Pony Express postcards from Rifle Paper Co.  It's really hard to go wrong with Rifle.  This is a set of 10 cards, and postage on these is cheaper than on normal cards.  It's a Christmas miracle.  $10
Striped letterpress notecards from Heartfish Press.  Stripes and letterpress?  Sold.  This is a set of six.  $16

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Guide 2012: House and Home Edition

For house and home, I like simple, useful items that don't cost a ton of funds.  This year I'm going fairly practical yet stylish, which may not come as a surprise to my regular readers.  :)

A Lotta Jansdotter square bowl by way of Fishs Eddy.  Oh, yes.  At first glance, this may seem to be a mere bowl for snacks, but think of the possibilities as a jewelry holder, coin collector, or paper clip cozy.  $16.95
A cheese tool set from Crate and Barrel.  Right now this acacia-wood-handled trio ships free.  Isn't it handsome?  For a cheese tool set.  $19.95
A nylon watch strap from The Knottery.  Did you think that this came from another retailer?  Like one that induces mass-hysteria in bloggers around the globe?  Well, this piece is half of what they charge.  $10
A set of six white restaurantware plates from tribute212.  You really can't go wrong with a classic.  These are the oxford shirts of tabletop dressing.  They go with anything and last forever.  $26
A bento box set from West Elm.  Let's brown bag it in 2013, shall we?  This makes the job much more stylish and green, with a watertight seal, reusable fork, and a sauce container.  Free shipping right now.  $22
A package opener from The Container Store.  I bought one of these about a year ago, and it has paid for itself many times over in saved frustrations.  Perfect for slicing into packages of all ilk.  $4.99

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gift Guide 2012: Etsy Edition

Who doesn't love a gift guide?  From the onslaught of magazine lineups to the buffet-like selection shown on blogs, they typically give great ideas and inspire my inner St. Nick.  As I did last year, I'm going to break up my gift guides into three categories over the next few days.  And again, my attempt is to offer a variety of options for a range of recipients, all at a reasonable price.

First up is Etsy.  It's easy and secure to shop, and you're bound to find limitless possibilities.  These are mine for this season.

A geometric necklace from SD Marie Jewelry.  It's made of brass and oxidized silver, and it's a subtle nod to the chevron trend that won't feel dated this time next year.  $35
A vanilla hazelnut candle from Oil & Wax.  Made of soy wax here in Nashville, this gem is a real treat.  I bought one a few weeks ago, and it won't be my last.  $16
A cheeky grammar print from Alphonnsine.  This piece serves as a gentle reminder and will go a long way in saving the English language in a world of text-messaging fiends.  $19
An octopus tote bag from Idiopix.  It's eco-friendly and has an octopus on it.  I feel like the octopus is the new bird.  $13.95
A bar of Stand by Your Mandarin soap from Music City Suds.  This is another Nashville original, which I love and have given before.  It's all-natural and scented with citrus.  $6
A return address stamp from Foryoo.  I love this idea for newlyweds, new home owners, or anyone with an established address.  They will, too.  $29.95

(Note: I received permission from all sellers to use their images and to link to their Etsy stores.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

East Nasty

This weekend I ventured out to East Nashville, which some folks lovingly call East Nasty.  That was really my first true visit there.  I'd eaten a meal or two across the bridge, but Saturday my pal Emily B. and I took our sweet time.  Below are some photographic highlights.
Perhaps my favorite stop was Wonders on Woodland, which is an excellent antiques store on Woodland Street.  Unfortunately, they do not have a website.  What I liked most was that this shop was highly curated.  It is not what Barb (my mom) would call a dig store.  I had office supply envy just inside the door.
Upstairs was this mantelpiece with artwork.  The one in the middle reminded me of Joni Mitchell.
Don't these chairs fulfill your every Mad Men fantasy?
This was a nice deco installation.
This pillow pretty much says it all, no?  It's an item at Old Made Good on McGavock Pike.  At this store, they take vintage items and often rework them to be quite whimsical.  They had a whole men's room, full of old hunting memorabilia, vintage gentlemen's magazines, and lots of plaid work shirts.
And it wouldn't be a complete post without a specs shoutout.  This was a super charming necklace on display at OMG.  (Isn't that clever?)

We also visited Eclectic Design + Boutique on Porter Road, where I picked up a candle from local Etsy seller Oil & Wax.  Hint: there's a great chance you'll see more on this soon.

I hope you enjoyed this min-tour through the East Nasty.  And I hope you're gearing up for eating turkey, giving thanks, and spending some monies.  Mazel!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Things That Matter

Nate Berkus is having a big fall.  I guess I should say autumn.  The other way sounds ominous.  His new home line launched at Target a couple of weeks ago, and then his new book debuted. 

In The Things That Matter, Nate takes us on a textual journey through the living spaces of tweleve of his friends/clients and then brings it on home (whoops) with a final chapter on his own apartment.  Oh, and there are lots of photos.  Great photos. 

This is by no means an original formula for a design book, but I love the message here.  If you happen to have watched any of The Nate Berkus Show (which ended its two-season, Emmy-winning run earlier this year), then Nate's touchstones are not new for you.  He is a strong proponent of having your home "rise up to greet you" with objects that are "collected over time."  He loves framed photos and African beads and books.  He believes that a home should tell the story of who you are.

I like the distinction he makes in the book that loving these things does not make us materialistic.  On the contrary, they connect us to our past, to our loved ones, and to our vision of what we want our lives to be.  Often the objects have little to do with the amount of money that was spent on them.  Some of the subjects' favorite things are simple family heirlooms, childhood artwork, and thrift store furniture.

But there's something else at play here, and that is Nate's ability to tell a story.  He begins (and ends) with his own, which includes exhilirating highs and excruciating lows, but he always deftly ties the action back to design.  I wanted to get to know all of the people he features in the book--and not just because they tend to have successful careers or blogs or whatever else.  They genuinely interested me, and each space is a different expression of who they are.  A nice way to sum up these themes is from page 19:

For me, the most successful interiors in the world are put together by people who surround themselves with objects that bring them joy.

Well, for me, this book has been added to that list.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Big Three...Oh.

In honor/anticipation/fear of a milestone birthday, I have gone to three excellent concerts in the last few weeks.  They were basically childhood fantasies come true.  Please bear with me this post.

First up was Boyz II Men at the Schermerhorn, which is just beautiful.  For those outside of Music City, let me explain.  It's where the Nashville Symphony performs.  Balconies.  Tuxedos.  Fountains.  And the Boyz turned it out.
The remaining members played all of their hits with one glaring exception.  (But "Motownphilly" is really not meant for symphonic accompaniment.  Only Stephanie Tanner's dance troupe.)  They even covered Journey's "Open Arms" with soulful aplomb.  I remember being in junior high and singing along with their album called II.  It was epic then, and it's epic now.  "Water Runs Dry" was the high point for me.

Next up was a bucket list item.  Rufus Wainwright at The Ryman.  (I need to take a minute.)
I have been enchanted by his very unique and crazy-gifted ability since the 1998 holiday season, when he hit the scene in a Gap commercial.  Remember this?  Hooked was I.

From Rufus Wainwright to Poses to the Want albums to Release The Stars, Rufus has been in constant rotation in my life.  Out of the Game, his latest release, is not too shabby, either.  His songs run the gamut from campy, addictive pop to heartfelt, chill-inducing ballads.  But they're always smart, and sometimes his harmonies and epic moments are almost too much for my nervous system to handle.  I can't say much else except that his show will hold a special place in my memory.  Thanks for going, Hol.

(Unforeseen bonus: Opener Ingrid Michaelson.  Especially her haunting cover of REM's "Nightswimming.")

And in a bit of a happy accident, I was able to see Alanis Morrissette the other night, again at The Ryman.
I really loved Jagged Little Pill back in the mid-90s.  My brother bought it first (for his Discman, of course), but I totally borrowed it whenever I wanted.  It was so unusual to hear such anger and conviction on the radio--especially coming from such a young woman.  But it was time. 

And then I was on board with thanking India, too.  I appreciate that Alanis has stayed true to her vision, and I have to say that she was the most gracious performer I've ever seen.  She kept thanking us for being there and seemed very sincere.  Her "Uninvited/You Oughta Know" combo blew me away.

Today I turn 30.  And I guess I've hemmed and hawed a bit the last few weeks.  But it's just another day.  I move into another decade of life.  And it's a pretty great one.  I'm healthy, and I'm happy.  And I'm always working on improving. 

Thanks for keeping me and my blog in mind.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Keep Smilin', Keep Shinin'

I figured that was a good title for this post, especially since I've been a terrible blogger as of late.  I'm going to try to be a bit more consistent.  For reals.

At work we've been gearing up for a big event, so that has kept me pretty busy, just like my love/hate relationship with the treadmill.  Right now I'm winning, though, so that's good.

And I've finally found a mirror for over the couch.  Here it is.  For now.

Over the weekend I went down to Franklin with my pal Anna Beth, and we stumbled upon this gem at the Winchester Antique Mall.  I picked it up for a song.  A friggin' song, I tell yaz.  And I have big things in store for it.  That will be revealed in a coming-soon post.

You can also catch a glimpse of my new cobalt blue pants, which I scored from J.C. Penney's, of all places.  Their new jcp line is pretty great and affordable.  Well, that's about all for now.  I'm going to try to be a better, specs-ier blogger.  I hope you're well.  Thanks for reading, as always!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Somebody That You Used to Know...

Remember me?

July doesn't.  It was crazy.  Much like certain farmers, I'm currently experiencing my professional busy season.  Over the weekend, I did manage to pick up a new CD.  It's Making Mirrors by Gotye. 

Yeah, yeah.  I'm late to this party.  What else is new?  Not this album; it was released almost a year ago.  I saw him on SNL a few months ago and thought that his songs were catchy, but yesterday I was shopping with my niece, and we heard his song Somebody That I Used to Know.  It stuck in my head.  Bad. 

Now I own it.  So far I've listened to most of the songs, but I keep going back to the two I had heard before.  (The other song is Eyes Wide Open.)  His music is hard to pin down--part pop, part synth-experiment, and part Stevie Wonder at times.  That may sound like an odd combination, but it works.

Usually I am not up on the latest in music, partly because I get stuck on CDs.  Yes, CDs.  It still seems like such a treat that I can listen to them in my car, even though I've had this ability for about 12 years now.  *shrug*  I have thought about doing a little blog series on some of my top favorite albums.

How have you been?  What are you listening to these days?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What'll I Do?

Heavens to Betsy.  Will ya look at that?  I don't remember temperatures this high--especially so early in our 8-month summer.  :) 

Well, y'all know that I'm not an outdoor boy, but it's still warm.  So here's what's new in my mostly-air-conditioned world lately.

Ummm.  Breaking Bad.  In preparation for the upcoming season, AMC has being running old episodes late at night, starting with the pilot.  About two weeks ago I set my DVR, and the rest is history.  I had never seen the show before, although a teacher friend (shoutout to Lana!) highly recommended it.  The show's about cooking meth, so 'highly' is a bit of a pun.  Now I'm all caught up on it, and it's excellent.  Definitely TV-14 to MA, so no kids!

And I recently visited local restaurants Sloco and The Pharmacy.  Yum.  If you're in town, you should definitely try them out.  Sloco features local and sustainable sandwiches at affordable prices.  The Pharmacy is an old-school soda shop/beer garden.  A group of friends from work met there one Sunday afternoon for lunch and a board game.  What could be better?

On that note, I'm also back to working on my fitness.  It's good for baby.

And I'm continuing to volunteer at Gilda's Club.  This July 19th I'm teaching my third crafty class there.  It's really rewarding and fun.  If you're in town, you should definitely join us! 

How is your summer going?  What's on the agenda?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DC Treats

Red velvet cupcake from Baked & Wired.  More than one person told me to avoid that bakery from the TLC show and go a few streets over for these.  Wise advice!

A few days later I had a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream from CakeLove.  This one was from Tysons Corner, but they have locations all over the area.

I also enjoyed a cookie, some brownies, and candy from various institutions, but the other standout was an insane piece hunk of chocolate blackout cake from Serendipidty 3.  It took four days to eat.
I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mr. Specs Went To Washington

Let me just say that I had an excellent trip to DC, thanks in large part to my high school friend Scott (who lives there now), his girlfriend Wendy, and blog friends Thomas from My White Shirt, Jenn from Dear Heart, and Suann from Simple Song

I did not do tons of tourist-y stuff, but that was by design.  Mostly it was about the sweet treats and shopping.  Oh, and a Joel Osteen spotting at Barney's.  Here are the results of my main tourist thing, which was a trip through the excellent Hirshhorn Museum.
You know I loves me some stamps.  This sculpture by Tony Cragg is called Subcommittee.  Clever, no?

My jury is still out on whether some of this is actually art, but it's subjective.  I get that.  This is a row of blue fluorescent lights.  Untitled (to Helga and Carlo, with respect and affection) by Dan Flavin.
The Tragic Comedians by Walt Kuhn.
Composition with Blue and Yellow.  Piet Mondrian was not one to mince words.
Neither was Alberto Giacometti.  Tall Figure.  Go figure.

I'll do another DC post in the next few days, so stay tuned.  Since that trip each weekend has been filled with family events, and the weekdays seem to be flying by.  I've been hitting up the treadmill and clearing out the DVR, so the plan is to get back into blogging more consistently very soon. 

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mr. Specs Goes to Washington

Later this week I'm heading to Washington, DC to visit some friends new and old.  And some bakeries.  And some founding-of-America-type stuff.  Needless to say, I'm pretty pumped.

Please let me know if you have any recommendations for must-see places and must-eat treats.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The New Black

After all this sweatin' and scrubbin' that's been going on lately, I decided to have what Tom Haverford and Type (A)-shley call a treat yo'self moment.  In a non-caloric manner.

The Boscia Luminizing Black Mask is a great way to do it.  What is it, you ask.  Well, let me tell you.  It's a facial in a tube.  It's a treat for the senses.  It's a miracle worker.

Maybe that's a bit much hype, but it works.  It's a black, clay-based treatment that you apply generously to the skin.  Wait about 15-20 minutes, and (no kidding) it easily peels off in contiguous sections, leaving behind a glowing, debris-free blank canvas.

It's $34 at Sephora, but it will last quite a while.  Remember that you can always sample at Sephora, so if you're curious, just give it a little whirl.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nitty Gritty

After several of my recent cardio sessions, I have treated myself to this scrub from St. Ives.  Well, it's actually called Purify Exfoliating Body Wash.  Excuse me. 

I saw it in Real Simple and figured that a few dollars was totally worth it.  And it was.  This product is formulated with 100% natural exfoliants (sea salt), and it's made without parabens and phthalates.  Bonus!

It's not too fine or coarse, so the texture is just right.  The fragrance gets a B-, but I like it more for what it lacks than what it has thrown in.  Give it a whirl if you're looking for an inexpensive skin treat.  You should be able to find it at Target, Wal-Mart, CVS, Amazon, and so on.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dah dah dah dah dahhhh....I'm losin' it!*

I had a request from one of my readers to explain what's going on with my fitness, so I wanted to share.  At the beginning of this year, I stepped on a scale for the first time in a few months, and I did not like what I saw.  I had put on about 25 pounds from this time last year, and I had to regain control.

As luck would have it, a friend at work expressed a similar goal and told me about  (That's their logo up top.)  It's a website (and a free app) that allows users to set a weight loss (or maintenance) goal; the site then produces a daily calorie budget.  You input the food you eat and the exercise you do, and it magically keeps you on track.

Y'all know that I love a sweet treat in life, but I've definitely cut those down quite a bit.  It's been a lot of turkey sandwiches, grilled chicken, oatmeal, and cereal.  And Skinny Cow.  Usually I'll have a cheat day on the weekend and indulge in a cupcake or some chocolate.  But I don't keep candy at my desk these days.

I have gotten back to the gym so far this year, too, and about three to four times a week I will power walk on that treadmill (usually 4.5 mph) for about 50 minutes.  Then most days I'll hop over to the elliptical for about 10-12 minutes.   My body has taken on a new, leaner shape, and I have to say that all this dedication has been worth it.  I'm down 16 pounds so far, and I feel stronger than I have in a long time.  In more ways than one.

*sung to the McDonald's theme...a lil' irony for yaz

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sideshow Sign Co.

Over on Valet, I spied some sweet artwork from Sideshow Sign Co., which just so happens to be based right here out of Nashville. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I love this guy's work.  From specs to twin brothers, it is so for me.