Saturday, September 21, 2013

I DO Want Some Scrubs

Y'all know that I love a face scrub.  Recently I picked up this one from St. Ives that has been on the market for a long time.  Actually, the original has been around a while, but this version is updated.  Now they've left out parabens.  Tah dah.  

It is a bit gritty, but I like that.  Plus, you can't beat the price (around $4-$6, depending on where you buy it). It smells rather nice, too.  While I plan to stick with the Kiehl's, this one is a nice reinforcement--for my skin as well as my wallet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Five Things

Inspired by Meredith's post over on It's Like This, I thought I'd share five tidbits about myself that you may not know.

1. I am rather skilled at cracking eggs.  It's one of my hidden talents.  Nary a speck of shell escapes my watchful eyes or nimble fingers.  Egg whites only?  No problem.  Bring it.

2. If I find a song to be funny, then it gets added to this internal list of go-to, pick-me-up tunes.  In fact, it's my main criterion for non-ballad songs.  Favorites include "Potential New Boyfriend" by Dolly Parton, "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner, and "Stay With Me" by Rod Stewart.  Oh, and "Barracuda" by Heart.  The more dramatic, the better.

3. I hate Lucite furniture.  Hate.  I get it.  It's "modern" (sarcastic quotes) and doesn't take up visual space.  But it seems like such a dust and fingerprint magnet.  People tend to throw a damn Phillipe Starck Ghost Chair in a room and call it done.  My initial reaction is always this thought: Oh.  How clever!  I can't help it.  Then I think: You just spent $300 on a piece of molded plastic that's ugly as homemade sin.  Congrats!

4. I have a twin brother.  And in the ways that we're different, we're so different.  But I'm coming to realize that the older we get, the more we have in common.  Friends who have known us for many years now swear up and down that we have the same sense of humor.  That's hard for me to see, but sometimes it takes a third party to point out these things.

5. It's a rare day that I don't quote Home Alone, Clueless, or something from The Golden Girls.  Rare.  Like I often follow a food order with I'm not drivin', a la Kevin McCallister.   These are fine examples of entertainment media that I can count on to make me laugh, regardless how many times I've seen them or how accurately I can quote them.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gone Girl

Thank goodness that although I may be a bit late to the party, I didn't miss it entirely.
Honestly, it's hard to even begin to write about Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Last weekend I absolutely ripped through it.  Like disregarded my regularly scheduled programming and library run, ironically enough.  Someone at work had warned me that this is not the type of book to casually read before drifting off to sleep.  Or over the course of a couple of weeks.

Check and check.  This book is intense.  Hmm....maybe that's not exactly the right word.  It's definitely a page-turner, but that seems too weak an adjective.  It's basically astounding.  How's that?  

I read hundreds of pages at a clip.  It's a little over 400 total, in case you're wondering.  But it didn't seem like it at all.  This is the story of Amy and Nick, a young, married couple who has moved from posh New York City to small-town Missouri to care for his ailing parents.  Although they put on a good front, the pair's marriage is in ruins, and pretty early in the story, something disastrous happens.

This novel is organized like few others I've encountered, moving from his point of view to hers, and told through dialogue, diary entries, and teen-girl-magazine quizzes (just bear with it).  It's more than a mystery or a thriller, I think.  It seems to be a razor-sharp study into the lengths a person could go to really teach someone a lesson.  You just have to decide who that someone is in this book.

I'm not going to give away too much more, except to say that this is a must-read.  You'll be in for some memorable characters, twisted storylines, and even a few (dark) laughs.  As my friend Rachel would say--run, do not walk to get this book.

An example entry from Amy's diary (page 169) reads as follows:

I've got a calendar, and I put hearts on any day Nick seems to love me again, and black squares when he doesn't.  The past year was all black squares, pretty much.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

American Beauty

No, not the movie.  Although it's one of my favorites.  But the book--by Thom Filica.  I mentioned it whilst reviewing another of his books.  
This one is a bit different because it's not a bunch of before-and-afters.  Instead, it's one big makeover of a classic but weathered house by the Finger Lakes.

After the first few sentences and photographs, I was hooked.  Hooked, I say.  And not just for the lake/fishing pun.  I tore through several chapters and followed along on the years-long journey that took Thom through refreshing this maison d'Americana.  (I just made that up.  It's not real French.)

Throughout the book and, of course, the house are several unifying elements.  Natural.  Nautical.  Local.  Decidedly unfussy.  If I had the resources, I would love to do a house very similar to this one.  Like that Thom, this one would put grasscloth on the walls and original hardwood on the floors.  I'd make symmetry a silent partner in my scheme.  The lighting would be thoughtful.  The powder room would be dramatic.  (There'd be a powder room.)  I'd hire awesome and native contractors and architects who could keep the original vision of the place.

Like before, though, Mr. Filica gets a little bit self-promotional.  Who knew he had partnerships with companies that offer lamps, floor coverings, furniture, fabric, artwork, curtain hardware...  By the end the text gets a bit repetitive, too.  After 200 pages, I remember that the planks are run that way to invoke the feeling of being in a boat.  I remember that the stone around the fireplace inspired materials in other rooms.  And so on.  But they're really great ideas.  And this book is definitely worth a browse.  Try to catch it before we're in full-on summer mode.  It's definitely a cooler-weather book.

Here's what Thom thought of the house while planning its design (from page 54):

I was reminded of the beautiful librarian who takes off her glasses and lets her hair out of the bun and suddenly she's a looker.  It's the same woman.  She's just revealing who she really was to begin with.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not So Fast, Alligator...

Has it really been over a year since my last ad post?  Le sigh.  That brings us to Lacoste.
Obviously there's some specs appeal to be had here, but I took the time to tear out this page, scan it, e-mail it to myself, color-correct it in Pixlr (thanks, One Fine A!), and post it here...whew...because just look at that tag line. Unconventional chic.  

What's so unconventional here?  It's a Caucasian man and woman wearing solid-color polos--that cost about a C-note each.  And they're sporting glasses (albeit super-cool ones) that are not really too hard to find.  

Did I miss something?  Lacoste, are you being cheeky?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pre-Spring Cleaning: Kitchen

I spend a fair amount of time in my kitchen, especially on the weekends, when I tend to bake up some treats.  Through the week the microwave gets in on most of the culinary action.  It's always nice to take the time to tidy up the workhorse of the home, though.
On the daily I use tea tree all purpose spray cleaner from Common Good because it's eco-friendly and smells nice.  Usually it takes just a few sprays, which sit for 3-4 minutes, and then a quick swipe of a towel.  Ketchup dots, rogue powdered sugar, and toasty crumbs are drawn in like magnetism.
For the pots and pans, which I don't trust to the dishwasher, I use method's clementine-scented dish soap to get the job done.  Grease is no match for this stuff.
If I need just a teensy bit of abrasion on a cookie sheet or roasting pan, I turn to the power of baking soda.  It's super cheap and green.  (In fact, I just use boxes from my baking cabinet that are not so fresh any longer.)  Drip a bit of warm water on the surface of the dish, sprinkle generously with baking soda, and rub with your fingers.  Tah dah!

You can also use baking soda to clean the sink, faucet, and stovetop.  A quick lap with the vacuum, and I'm done!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Family Fang

After my recent design book reviews, I decided to shift gears back to the ol' novel.  As some of you may have seen on Ashley's weekly Need Read Greed post a few weeks back, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson was on my list.
I have to say that I had such great hopes for this book.  Just look at that Wes Anderson-esque cover.  And it's primarily set in the Nashville area.  What could be better?  

The first two-thirds of the story kept my attention pretty well.  Parents Caleb and Camille Fang spend much of their children's youth setting up "art" in which their whole family creates some type of public spectacle to get a reaction from onlookers.  They're famous.  They're revered.  And they're terrible parents.

As the kids (Annie and Buster) grow up to pursue their own interests, a series of random events brings them back to their Tennessee roots.  And things just get more random from there.  Seemingly more lost as young adults, "A" and "B" struggle to comprehend their childhood while moving forward and being autonomous.  

The book is not without its fun moments and decent storytelling vignettes, but overall this plot just did not do it for me.  I kept waiting for something really stellar to happen, and it never did.  However, it definitely made me revisit my ideas about what constitutes art.  (The performance pieces described within the chapters don't make the cut for me.)  Although worth a lazy-day read, I won't be picking this one up again or strongly recommending it to others.  Based on a very quick Google search, it appears that Nicole Kidman is starring in and producing the movie adaptation, coming soon.  I'll probably Redbox it.  :)

Sample quote from the prologue:

Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art.  Their children called it mischief.  "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their daughter, Annie, told them.  "It's a lot more complicated than that, honey," Mrs. Fang said...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pre-Spring Cleaning: Bathroom

I'm in the midst of a no-spend first quarter yet again, and so far I give myself a grade of B.  A must-have night of skee ball at Dave & Buster's plus outrageously expensive gummy bears do not a resolution make.  Whoops.

But that got me to thinking about a quote I read somewhere.  Or I may have seen it on a rerun of The Nate Show.  Anywho, it goes something like this...It doesn't cost much to have a clean home.  I know this sounds awfully trite, but think about it.  You're hopefully following a regular cleaning regimen as it is, so you're already investing in cleaning supplies, even if they're minimal.

Not much is better than walking into a clean, fresh-smelling, and tidy place.  I know I've blogged about it before, but Sundays are typically my day to make this happen.  And I try to do so in the greenest way possible.  I thought I'd start a new lil' series about pre-spring cleaning.  What better place to start than the ol' bathroom?
I have oft proclaimed my love of method.  And these three products are some of my favorites.  I (try to) use the daily shower spray every time I step out of the shower to keep mold and mildew at bay.  The ylang ylang fragrance is quite nice, and it makes the whole room smell so fresh and so clean, clean.  Don't forget to spray the shower curtain liner, too.  It really does make a huge difference.

I use the antibac toilet bowl cleanser about every 2-3 weeks with a scrub brush.  And the bathroom cleaner spray is handy for the sink, faucets, and countertop.  
That spray, along with a plain ol' toothbrush, is also good to use as follows.  Pull the drain plug in the sink; spray the stopper, basin, and faucet.  Let it soak for about 5 minutes, and then use the brush to make everything sparkle.  Run hot water to rinse.  
About once a week I use these Scrubbing Bubbles flushable toilet pads (with reusable plastic wand), just to keep things hygienic.  (Does anyone remember Ally McBeal and the guy who liked a fresh bowl?) 
When I start to see pink and black spots creeping in to the tub/tile, I douse them with a bit of this Lysol Bathroom Cleaner.  Let stand for about 10 minutes, and use a heavy-duty brush.  Turn on some hot shower water and rinse clean.  Ahhh.

I also empty the bathroom trash and run the vacuum over the bathmat and floor.  Tah dah.  Sometimes I'll spray some glass cleaner on the mirror as well.  That's really about all it takes.  Normally I'll put in a load of laundry or some other chore while the cleaners are soaking and doing their thing.  I hope this little guide helps you scrub-a-dub.

What are some of your favorite products?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thom Filicia Style

It seems that I've been on a design-book kick as of late.  First there was Nate, and then came the Novogratz edition.  Now we have Thom Filica Style.  This book debuted in 2008.  I found it whilst trying to reserve his latest book (American Beauty) via public library.
Divided into two main parts, this book first covers the process of decorating and then moves into case studies.  The process section includes Thom's ten tips in detail (ex. "There's truth in the texture"), ten different moods that rooms can have (like organic or refined), and ways to pull everything together.

The section with case studies is very similar to the other books I mentioned in the sense that each one begins with the clients' wish lists and floor plans.  However, this time there are minimum 'before' photos.  The budget is not really mentioned.  

This is not my favorite design book, but it's definitely worth a read.  Thom has nailed that sometimes-elusive classic American style.  He's a bit self-promotional, showing his own homes and product lines throughout the book, but I never got the sense that he was pimping himself out in an overt way.  As with most other media, this one is a great source of inspiration and offers practical tips.  

One of the best takeaways is Thom's list of can't-miss Benjamin Moore paint colors:
A quote from page 190 gives a great idea of Thom's philosophy:

Design that's authentic and that fits your lifestyle is a gift.  The real luxury is to have an interesting life.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mini Field Trip: Shop(pe)s on Fatherland

On a tip from my Twitter friend/fellow Music City enthusiast (see his blog called Experience Nashville) a few pre-Christmas weeks ago, I headed back over to East Nashville to visit the Shoppes on Fatherland (Street).  These shops (I kind of hate that Old English spelling) are small buildings, all in a row, in a very unassuming part of town.  They sort of come up out of nowhere.
The first stop was a bath and body place called Pretty Pretty Pop Pop, which specializes in eco- and animal-friendly products.  
The store has a very clean but lived-in aesthetic.  If that makes any sense.
Here are some of their house-brand candles (by zodiac).
Lip balms, anyone?  I had to refrain from buying anything.  My pal Kate did not.
The next stop was Moxie, which showcases a mix of new and vintage items for the home and for giving.  They had some great toys, candles, and furniture.  If only I'd had the space to house the awesome mid-century couch and chair set that they had.  *sigh*
We also popped into High Garden Tea.  As you can tell from the picture, they're serious about their tea here.  It was meticulously decanted and stored alphabetically.  

Now, I'll admit that I was not completely bowled over by the whole experience.  Some of the shops seemed a little out of place.  It would be akin to sneaking a Hershey bar into a box of Godivas.  (There was a lack of consistency and quality is what I'm trying to convey.)

Overall, though, the stores that got it right more than made up for the others.  I'll definitely be going back...after my no-spend first quarter.  It's that time again.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Warby Parker Class Trip: Nashville

I'm so far behind on this post that it's not even funny at this point.  But alas--it must be shared.
A few months ago: Imagine my autumnal surprise to learn that Warby Parker, my beloved buy-one-donate-one purveyor of reasonably priced specs, was doing a "class" trip around the country.  And Nashville was one of the destinations.  (In case you haven't heard, we're the newest IT city.  Not like internal technology.  Like the shiz.)
They converted a schoolbus into a rolling optical library and took it on the road.  Locally they stopped at super-buzzworthy custom denim store Imogene + Willie.  See how they turned the front part of the bus into a chalkboard?  Maybe a bit overdone in interior design by now but super cool on a dang schoolbus.

See how they had all the specs lined up, just ripe for the pluckin'?  It was like heaven.  
They even had library cards to keep up with the frames you like the most.  Then there was a photo booth right outside the bus.  My coworker/friend Candice had gone with me, and we definitely cheesed for the camera.
 While I was right there, I decided to go into Imogene's, which now has a permanent Warby Parker try-on boutique.
The main part of the store has excellent style.  They have rolls of denim up near the ceiling, next to dozens of custom paper patterns.  (They make jeans to order.)  It's a bit pricey for me but a fun store nonetheless.

As if I could not have been more in love with WP at that point, I came home a couple of weeks later to find the following on my doorstep.
And inside....
What in the world could be better than a specs-y Santa sugar cookie?  I pretty much lost my mind at that point.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home By Novogratz

Do you know the Novogratz crew?  It's a husband/wife design team, and they happen to have seven kids.  Yes, seven.  I had always seen listings on HGTV for their show and thought that it was some real estate/staging show that would not hold my interest, so I skipped it for a while.

One day I caught it, and it was like Touched By A Kardashian (in the sense that it sucks you in).  They live in New York and design some super cool spaces.  All this is not to say that their style is my style.  It's not, but I do appreciate it.

In their book Bob and Cortney N. show off some of their proudest design moments, job by job.  It's very similar in layout to the latest Nate Berkus book, but this time the budget and actual expenditures are included.  If you watched the most recent season of their show, then you won't get too many visual surprises from this book because they use spaces from most every episode.  It is nice that they can write where they sourced some of the pieces, though.

Although I will soon return this volume to the library, I'm glad I took the time to read/look through it.  Their style is way more colorful and kooky than mine, but they really do think about things like audience (i.e., kid/pet-friendliness), scale, and budget.  It's a refreshing change.  Sample quote from page 175:

When everything matches perfectly, a room can look as if it was copied straight from a catalog.

I don't see this as a bad thing, but I guess it depends on what catalog you prefer.