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Monday, August 29, 2011

CAN I FRESHEN THAT UP FOR YOU?

I want a bar cart. I really want a bar cart. I NEED a bar cart. I actually can't believe that I don't already OWN a bar cart. It's in my WASPy blood! I should have INHERITED a bar cart, for fuck's sake. But I didn't. And while Ted is going to be appalled that there is yet another item I have decided is essential for the living room, I can tell him where to lay the blame: squarely on Daniela, the lovely and talented lady behind Aesthetic Oiseau. I was living quite happily, sans bar cart, until I read one of her Friday Crush posts that discussed the bar cart that she is lucky enough to own:


Nice, right? Well, I have found a bar cart that is sufficiently similar and it must be mine. It's from a great site called Society Social and it looks like this:


I can already see it in my living room. Of course, I'll also need plenty of cut-glass decanters and glasses to put on the top shelf. Here's what I'm picturing:




The only thing is, once you've filled the decanters, how the hell do you remember which liquor is in which decanter? Luckily, my mother is here, and this is the sort of thing, along with how to set a proper table and whether or not your coat should be shorter than your skirt (it shouldn't, ever, unless it is a car coat), she knows about. So I asked her, and she said "Well, Mother always used to have these metal tags that hung on chains around the necks of each decanter."* And sure enough, you can get pewter decanter hang tags:


And thus avoid any drinking confusion! Well, any confusion about what liquor is in what decanter. The tags won't help you with other types of drinking confusion, like whether or not you should e-mail your high school prom date, if you should sing along loudly with the music playing at the party, or if your husband is being a douche or you have just had too much to drink. For that kind of confusion, you are on your own.

XOXOXO
ABC

*As you can see, I come by my WASP heritage honestly.
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SUNDAY SNEAK PEAK: ENTER, IF YOU DARE

My entryway must be transformed. But as the space is small, and my husband is thrifty, said transformation is proving a bit challenging. This is what it looks like now, from the front door:


My goal is to replace the black table with something longer and hopefully even more shallow, although that's hard to find. The current table is from Ballard Designs and is only 13" deep, but even that is a bit intrusive in the narrow hallway-type area between the stairs and the door. The Chinese painting that hangs above it was a gift from my mother-in-law and therefore cannot be replaced. Or even discussed. My first idea was just to find another black table that was longer, but then I saw this at Ikea and just about died. You see, one of the things that drives me crazy, or crazier than I already am, is all the shoes lined up against the wall. So if I got that thing, I could stuff the shoes in it too. And it's (prepare yourself) only 8" deep! I know! The drawback is that it will likely look like it came from Ikea, and therefore somewhat hinder the whole "entry-into-a-gracious-home" look for which I am striving. And it doesn't go AT ALL with the other furniture, which is actually kind of nice. Here's the view from the reverse angle:




See? That table belonged to my grandmother and the mirror is an antique and was a wedding present from my boss, and I love both pieces very much, and I'm not just saying that because my grandmother's dead and my boss is my boss. I swear. And I feel like a tacky, MDF/particle board/whatever schlocky shoe holder is kind of going to harsh my buzz.

The other thing that has to go is the lamp. It's fine, but it get dirty. Really dirty, really fast, and is practically impossible to clean, even for normal people who know how to clean things.



You can't really tell from this crappy picture, but the glass is basically fucking disgusting. So here's where the sneak peak part of the post comes in, because I have found the entryway lamp of my dreams. I was tempted by this beauty from Pieces:


But Ted pointed out that it was 3' tall and also too expensive (I know, you're shocked). Then I spotted another lovely item from Oly Studio:



But when I saw a capiz-shell beauty from SoHa Living, I knew it was the one:

Of course, Ted thinks this one is also unreasonably priced, so I'm saving up my pennies until I have enough in the "Project Perfect Home" bank account to buy it. Meanwhile, any help in the long, narrow, black console table area would be greatly appreciated. Hope you all had a great weekend and managed to stay dry and keep the lights on :)

XOXOXO
ABC
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GIVE IT AWAY

This is the part where I help you give away your money. What's that, you say? You barely have enough money for yourself, let alone extra for shelling out to anyone else? I get it. I do. But here's the thing: You've got to give it away to keep it. I truly believe that in the universe, the more you pay it forward the more good things will come your way. Plus, you'll have that good feeling inside that you get when you've done something nice. And good feelings tend to work their way outwards, making you look good as well as feel good. Before you know it, you will be a gorgeous do-gooder filled with light and love! Trust me! To help you get started, here are four excellent programs that are deserving of your dollars.

Number One: City Critters

These worthy people help find homes for all the stray and abandoned cats and dogs (mostly cats) of New York City. I have personally gotten two cats from them, and when we got married, instead of giving out some lame favor for people to throw away the second they got home, we donated a big fat check to City Critters.


Unfortunately, Ted felt the need to explain to our guests why there were no favors, so he printed up photos of our cats that said "Instead of a favor, our mommy and daddy have made a donation to City Critters." I am not kidding. He referred to us as the cats' parents. And didn't even use the (very slightly) less irritating "mom and dad," but went right for it with the incredibly twee "mommy and daddy." I was obviously mortified, and tried to put the framed photos where no one would see them. Anyway, give them money! Save cats!

Number Two: Puppies Behind Bars

This group runs a program where prison inmates train puppies to be service dogs. This is obviously helpful for all the special-needs people who can benefit from service dogs, but it has the added bonus of helping in the rehabilitation of the prisoners.


Now, convicted felons may not be high up there on your list of people at whom to throw money, but we are all better off when rates of recidivism go down and former inmates become contributing members of society. So give them money! Help animals! And special-needs people! And convicted felons! Whatever!

Number Three: Hand 2 Paw

Animals in shelters are brought together with homeless teenagers in Philadelphia, the city where I went to college and met Ted, and where I can imagine it really sucks to be homeless. The animals get cared for, and socialized, so that they can one day hopefully be adopted. The kids get valuable job training, and also benefit from making emotional connections with the animals.


Whatever your views on felons, you have to have a place in your heart for teenagers who don't have a place to live. So give them money! Help homeless animals AND homeless kids!

Number Four: Dogs Deserve Better

This last one is particularly close to my heart, as I am an animal lover as well as an Eagles fan. This has been tricky to reconcile ever since the Eagles hired dog-murdering Michael Vick as their QB. Dogs Deserve Better actually BOUGHT Vick's mansion where all his dogs were kept, tortured, murdered and forced to fight, and are turning it into a sanctuary for abused dogs.


Vick, in another attempt to rehabilitate his image, has voiced his support, which makes me hate him about 1% less than I did before I found out about it. At this rate, in about 200 years I won't hate him at all! Yay! Give them money! Help man's best friends that were abused by same!

OK, enough preaching. Give money!! That just slipped out. Sorry.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Monday, August 22, 2011

COST-CONSCIOUS "COUTURE"

There are two new collections arriving soon and I am determined to get my hands on some of the pieces from both. First, Karl Lagerfeld for Macy's. I adore Chanel, but let's be honest - owning much of the real thing is not going to happen for me in this lifetime. So I am thrilled that Karl has condescended to design a line for Macy's. These are the items I most desire:





Top of the list is that dress with the exaggerated white collar - I have no idea what it will cost once it hits the stores, but it must be mine! The rest I will be content (barely) to admire from afar. Have you seen the whole collection? Check it out here at fashionista.com. What are your favorites? Share with the group in the comments!

The other upcoming collection that has me on the edge of my seat is the Missoni/Target collaboration. I dream of owning a Missoni rug; I am lucky enough to have one skirt by the designer. And the line for Target is lovely - I covet most of the clothes, but am aware that I can't come close to pulling most of them off. Here's what I love the best:





When it comes to choosing between these items (if I am lucky enough to find any of them available online, considering the mad rush that will surely overwhelm Target.com), I will have a hard time deciding between the scarves and the bowl. Take a look at the whole collection here, also courtesy of fashionista.com. What are you drooling over? And should I go for the scarves or the glassware (or both)?

XOXOXO
ABC
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

SUNDAY SNEAK PEAK: TATTOO YOU

OK, maybe not you. But definitely me. I have three already, and am planning two more. I thought we could take a look ahead at the next one. I will be adding to this which is already on the inside of my left wrist:


It's the symbol of my zodiac sign (Sagittarius) in a circle. I was inspired by my friend Adriana, who has two small tattoos in the same place. Here are Adriana's tattoos:


And here is Adriana herself:


While getting a tattoo in the same place that she has one did not make me as beautiful or as kind as Adriana, or give me her rockin' bod and amazing wardrobe/shoe collection, I do love it, and am going to get another one in a color. Here's what I want:


It is the symbol for the Sanskrit word Ananda, which means joy, or more specifically, the joy that is inside you. I love this for many reasons. I often need to be reminded that there is joy, not only in the world, but inside of me. And I have two other tattoos in other places that are the symbols for love and peace. So with joy, I'll have a hat trick of good feelings with me all the time.

(It has been pointed out to me that this symbol sort of resembles the one Prince chose to replace his name, and certain friends have inquired as to whether I'll be going by "Video Producer Formerly Known as Ann Burr." The answer is no, I will not.)

So this week, Theresa and I will be heading back to Tattoo Me in Dobbs Ferry (yes, there is a tattoo parlor in Dobbs Ferry, and no, I have no idea how it stays in business) to visit the hot 20-year-old tattoo artist named Matt who, alas, has a girlfriend and so is not tempted by the likes of me and Theresa. But he's hot and funny and really nice, so we flirt with him anyway. Lucky Matt.

As for why Theresa is coming, I barely go to the bathroom by myself, let alone to a fucking tattoo parlor. You should have seen the guy who was hanging out there the last time we went - he had tattoos all over his entire body, including his face, and was pounding Budweiser tall boys at 11 AM. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it WAS a weekday. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm just jealous my lifestyle doesn't allow for such behavior. And he turned out to be totally nice.

If I were Ted, I'd be semi-concerned that I was going to end up married to someone with a sleeve or something. But he seems completely cool uninterested. WTF is that about? I bet he's having an affair.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

MONEY AND MARRIAGE

They say that money is one of the big things that couples fight about, and I can see why. For one, what people believe it's appropriate to spend on is such a personal thing. Some people will walk 30 blocks before "wasting" money on a taxi, while others will hail a taxi in a second, but spend 4 hours in a laundromat doing their own wash rather than drop it off and "waste" money paying someone to do it. Those are both, I realize now, very New York City examples of money spending, but whatever. You get the idea.

So when two people combine their finances, it is bound to lead to issues. I guess there are people who are totally in sync, or who have so much money that where to spend and where to save isn't even an issue, but Ted and I are in neither of those groups. Ted's philosophy when it comes to spending is summed up here:


Except instead of "panflute" substitute, well, pretty much anything at all. Unless you are talking about dinner at a fancy restaurant or a ski trip. In which case, spend away. Whereas my philosophy can be explained thusly:


And by "stuff" I mean something to show for my money, not the memory of a meal, or jet lag. You can see where we might have some conflict. So what to do? Well, every time Ted gets the credit card bills in the mail, he comes home and screams at me to "Stop spending money!" I make the point that food, gas, and children's clothes are not things for which one can barter, and he responds that no one needs 24 throw pillows for the living room couches, and it devolves to his accusing me of stealing from the boys' college fund (although from what I can tell, they both seem quite average, if not a bit dim; no need to worry about paying for Penn) with every lamp I buy, and me shutting down into surly silence. Eventually we make up, and then repeat the whole thing the next month when the credit card bills come in the mail.

Until now. Ted and I, with the help of anti-anxiety medication on my part and sheer patience and willingness to listen on his part, are trying to figure out what we fight about when we fight about money. Because it isn't just about the money. It's never just about the money. In our case, it's about security.

For Ted, security means money in the bank - the ability to provide for his family, a safety net in case of a disaster, future education for the brats. His dad was laid off a few times while Ted and his sister and brothers were growing up, and while they made it through the hard times just fine, he is still haunted by the prospect of joblessness.

For me, security means a fully and beautifully furnished house. Growing up, I moved five times before leaving for college, and no matter how long we lived somewhere, there were still unpacked boxes lining the walls. Two years ago, Ted and I moved into a house with which I fell in love at first sight. It's the first place I have ever lived that feels like home and I want to make it perfect.

Now that we know what we are really fighting about, it's gotten easier. The other night we actually had a calm and really almost pleasant discussion about the possibility that we might need new couches (we do), and how much they might cost (a fair amount, if I get my way), and when might be the appropriate time to make said purchase (after Ted gets his bonus, if he has his way). And we came to a compromise. I can live with our current hand-me-down couches with their cheap slipcovers for a while longer, and he can accept the fact that in the spring, we are going to lay out a chunk of money for some nice new ones. Until then, I'll cut back on buying pillows* and he'll try some meditative deep-breathing exercises before he opens the credit card bills, and at night, we'll sit together on the couches we have:



And watch Miami Vice on DVD and realize we are lucky to have as much as we do. Especially when it comes to each other.

XOXOXO
ABC

* and lamps and curtains, although you can see from this photo that we really need new ones
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

MEET THERESA


This is Theresa, AKA Terry (the worst nickname ever, which I am proud to say I made up and now people actually use all the time) or T-Dawg (which I also made up, is obviously awesome, and no one ever uses), and one of my all-time BFFs. One of my current projects is helping sort out her living room. I have no photos of what it looks like now because she won't let me post any, but suffice it to say that currently Terry is the proud (not) owner of a La-Z-Boy sectional recliner sofa in a lovely shade of poo brown, a rug that's so boring I can't even remember what it looks like, and gold-ish curtains that she loves but needs to let go of. Because they are ugly. Sorry, T-Dawg, but laying down some hard truth is what I'm all about, and I think you are ready to hear the truth about those curtains. There is also clutter, an unfortunate lamp, and other messes that need to be addressed. We are planning a lovely new look, with grey walls, white furniture, new curtains, a reading nook where she can relax, and enough colorful, creative touches to satisfy Terry's whimsical, boho side.







Theresa's life is also a tad disorganized at the moment. Hard to imagine for a woman who gives 100% at a full-time job, another 100% to two small children and a husband, and manages to balance the whole shebang with the grace of Audrey Hepburn. It's no wonder that ol' T-Dawg sometimes feels like this:



So we're working on that mess, too.

XOXOXO
ABC

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

SUNDAY SNEAK PEEK

So I've decided Sunday will be the day that we look ahead, together, at what's comin' down the pike. Today I'll be discussing my upcoming bedroom makeover. I know what you're thinking - why am I making over my bedroom? If I'm on here bragging about how I can help you with the mess in YOUR life, MY life must be perfect right? Well, sadly for you (and me), that is not the case. I am taking a different approach, one I learned at the touchy-feely, but at the same time very-hard-core therapeutic boarding school my sister attended for several years in her teens: Lead by example.

To that end, we will start with my bedroom. Which is now pretty much a disaster, but a superficial disaster. That means that the bones are fine - the furniture is good and the rug is... OK, well, the rug is gross, but Ted is cheap and thinks that the old rug from our 4 year old's former bedroom is fine, even though it has marker stains all over it and isn't the right size for the room. But mostly what's wrong with the room is fixable - new curtains, more surfaces, different bedside tables, that sort of thing. So I'm fixing it. And  while I will benefit from a nicer bedroom, you, dear readers, will also benefit. How, you say? Well, I am going to post before and after pictures. The "before" pictures will make you feel superior and good inside because your bedroom looks so much better. The "after" pictures will at first make you sad and jealous, but then you will realize that if someone who is fairly lazy, has a full-time job, two whining brats, a very cheap and unsympathetic husband, and several mental disorders can do this, so can you! And then you will be inspired and motivated and my work here will be done.

To that end, I am going to post a picture of my new nightstands (that have not arrived yet but should any week now not that I'm counting the minutes). There are two pictures. This one is of the bedside table I wanted:


This one is the one that I got:


Now, I don't want to hear any crap about how the one I got is nowhere near as nice as the other one. I am fully aware of that, thank you. I am also aware that in many circles, the store at which you can buy the "expensive" one, Z Gallerie, is referred to as a place that provides "inexpensive options." I shudder to think how they would refer to the website where I found the "cheap" one.

Here's the thing. I am married to a person who thinks that the $35 Target bedside tables we currently have are fine. And I am trying to stay married to this person. Marriage is about compromise. See? Leading by example. Good times!


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

MARMALADE, THE NEIGHBORHOOD CAT


When we decided to move to the country, I decided to get another cat. As we already had three cats, my decision was met with a marked lack of enthusiasm from Ted. He is not a 4-cat person. He is not, truth be told, really even a 3-cat person, but we got the one cat while we were living in The Commmune and another right before we got married. Then my mother called up and said that she was not running a hospice center for cats and I had to take back the 18-year-old specimen with half a face that I had rescued back in the 90s and foisted upon her few years back. So that's how we ended up with three cats, and I only got that last one by Ted by explaining that Princess was sure to kick soon, and we would be back to two cats.

But then we moved to the country. And as far as I'm concerned, one of the only reasons to move to the country is to have a lot of cats. So I got another one at our vets, which runs a cat rescue operation. This last one we called Marmalade and she was, quite frankly, the best of the lot. The first one is kind of mean, and the second one is overweight and neurotic and sometimes pees on the couch, and Princess, well, she's 18 and has half a face. So we all loved Marmalade (don't worry, animal lovers, she doesn't die, you can keep reading). My older son loved her so much that he called her Honey Mine Kitty and followed her everywhere.

But Marmalade was very much an indoor/outdoor cat, in that she liked to go outside for long periods of time. But she was home most of the time, and always at night, until one night she didn't come home. I spent the entire night thinking she was roadkill, but she sauntered in the next day looking like a million bucks. After a few more overnight adventures which included setting off our neighbor's alarm so the cops came to his house at 3 AM, ending up in another neighbor's Hav-A-Heart raccoon trap, and going to the pound after being picked up by the police, we got her a collar, tags, a microchip and kind of got used to her staying out overnight.

Well, fast forward six months or so, and this is the current situation: Marmalade comes home every few days, has a snack, hangs out for a while, and leaves. She is, as far as I can tell, the neighborhood cat. Everyone loves her, and feeds her, and there are probably several other houses that don't have two small children screaming at her all the time where she prefers to be. So she's really not our cat anymore, though we love her just as much.

However, the second cat peed on the couch one too many times and I had to pawn him off on my sister. And Princess really isn't looking too good these days. So really, we're likely to end up a 1-cat house any day now. Which is just what Ted wanted from the beginning. Lucky Ted.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

INSPIRATION

A colleague of mine has this on his office door (he blogs for a living) and every time I walk by it makes me laugh. Partly because of the finger-puppet-looking characters, and partly because it made me want to start a blog. I was like "Yes! I DO have nothing to say, and I SHOULD blog about it!"

Luckily for the American public, I managed to motivate and find the most incredible, talented, beautiful, sweet, smart and kind web designer in the world, so no one has to suffer any longer without knowing my innermost thoughts and dreams, or having access to my incredible gifts and talents. If there is anything you like about the way this site looks and works, Alyssa Yuhas is responsible, and everything you find annoying was probably a specific request from me.

So this post is basically a big THANK YOU! Alyssa, you are the best and I promise not to send you any more crotch shots.

XOXOXO
ABC


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PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF

It's 2:00 AM and I've never done this before so I'll keep it short. Stick around and we'll have fun. I can almost guarantee it.


XOXOXO
ABC
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