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Friday, September 30, 2011

GIVE IT AWAY: SOMALIA

This morning I bought a pair of the cutest pink lamps you ever saw, and two decanters for my bar (don't worry, Ted, they were $4.25 each on eBay) and this was all before I went to work. It was a very productive morning! At the office, more productiveness was going on when I ran across this Op Ed in the NY Times. It's written by a poet and musician who was born in Somalia and recently went back to visit the victims of the famine.

It's hard to read. When I got to the end I was sick, both at heart and physically. I thought I might vomit. I have two small children and the idea of having to watch them die for no good reason other than lack of food is more than I can bear. I am stricken by the fact that this is happening by the hundreds on the other side of the world. But I didn't throw up. And I didn't cry. And I didn't crawl into a hole and pull it over me to get away from a world that lets things like this happen. And I didn't go looking for pretty pictures on the internet to erase the images of tiny, wasted limbs and huge, hopeless eyes. Instead, I sat up, put on my big girl pants, got my shit together, did some research, and donated $305 dollars through various organizations. There are people, many of them children, dying of hunger in the Horn of Africa right now, and there is something I can do. There is something you can do, too.





If you have had your fill of guilt-inducing soapbox ranting, don't worry - I'll be back later this afternoon with some pretty pictures of those lamps I mentioned earlier.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

BUY IT! FALL EDITION

Autumn is upon us, and you're probably wondering what clothes to buy to reinvigorate your tired old wardrobe, right? Wonder no more. I am here to help, with the seven staples that you need. These items are all classic and will likely go with most of what you already own, so mixing and matching will increase their  usefulness. Unless you have no taste and all your clothes are super ugly, in which case you should throw out everything you own and start from scratch. With these seven items.

First, go buy a white cashmere sweater. And don't spend a million dollars on one. But don't skimp either because then it will pill in like five minutes and you'll have to give it away with the rest of your ugly clothes. Here's a suggestion:



Next, you need dark skinny jeans. You do NOT need to spend hundreds of dollars on jeans. I am going to tell you where to buy your jeans, and you are going to thank me later. This information was passed on to me by T-Dawg, and I am forever grateful. Here are your new jeans:



Also, know this - you do not have to weigh 98 lbs to wear skinny jeans. Not if you wear them with boots. Which leads me to the next item in the line-up:


Now that you have boots, you need a bag. One big enough to hold your laptop (unless you were greedy and bought one with a 17" screen, which really, why?) and your folders and your make-up bag and your hairbrush and your hairspray (that's right, I said hairspray. It has changed my life. But that's a story for another day) and also has pockets for your phone and pens and stuff. Luckily for you, I have found this bag:


Because so far this is all kind of boring, you must buy a big gold watch and a chunky gold bracelet. Then you will look like you know what is "in this season" and people will like you more. I'm pretty sure about that first part, at least. 


And then, to cover it all up, a trench coat. A good one. Don't be afraid to lay out some cash for a good trench coat. Here's one from Burberry that is actually (relatively) reasonably priced:



Now before you guys go all apeshit on me, yelling about how you ain't spending no $995 dollars on a coat, calm down and listen to me. Back in 2000, I spent $700 that I could ill-afford on a Burberry trench coat, rationalizing to myself that I would have it forever. Sure enough, 11 years later, I still have it and wear it all the time. So there you go. Suck it up. Spend the money; you won't regret it. I promise. 

Looking back on this post and doing the math (not my strong suit, I will readily admit) I see that I am suggesting you go out and drop about 2K on your fall wardrobe. I should feel bad about this, but I do not. I can't go out and spend two thousand dollars on shit right now, not unless I want the next time I see Ted to be across the table in a divorce lawyer's office. But SOMEONE should! Why not you? And look, you don't have to buy everything. I mean, what, if I told you to jump off a bridge would you go do that? Well, you should, because I am always right. Just ask... Um, ask... Just forget it. Get off my back. I'm trying to HELP you! Fine. I'm going to finish this bottle of champagne now. See you tomorrow.

XOXOXO
ABC

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Monday, September 26, 2011

COASTING THROUGH LIFE

As I mentioned in the bedroom redo post, we switched the trunk that used to be at the end of the bed for the trunk that we used as a coffee table. It actually works much better this way, and is one of those things that once you do, you can't figure out why it didn't occur to you to do it that way in the beginning, but there you go. The trunk that is now being used as a coffee table is a studded leather Moroccan chest:



Although I usually have books on it so it looks more like this:



Now, I have never been much of a coaster person. I have always felt that you can divide the world into two types of people, those who make you use a coaster in their home, and those who don't. Guess which type I like better? This probably has to do with the fact that the first strict coaster user I was exposed to was my Wicked Stepmonster who went on to call me fat when I was 12 (and I wasn't fat, but really does it fucking matter? I was 12! I already hated myself!), try to disown my sister, and then once my dad died she had him cremated, absconded overseas with the ashes and it took us a year to find out that she buried his remains in the yard of the country house. Not even the back yard. The front yard. Next to the cat. I am not making this shit up. So you can see that I come by my coaster-loathing fairly.

But yesterday was the baby's third birthday (yay!) and we had a party for him and his little friends (it was a Make Your Own Ice Cream Sundae party at 11 AM. And I wonder why none of the moms at that school like me). After the party, our families stayed to watch the Eagles game, about which I will say nothing except I'm not at all sorry that Michael Vick broke his hand, now he knows a little better how all those dogs felt, and at some point during the afternoon I heard Ted tell someone to use a coaster. I almost choked right there, and loudly declared that no one had to use a coaster in THIS house, and WTF? and we don't even OWN any coasters and why was he going all Wicked Stepmonster on me? To which everyone responded that water rings were not good for leather or books and it was time to invest in some coasters.

So I did some looking around today (not, of course, during work hours or anything like that) and found some beautiful ones from Jonathan Adler:


Tell me those are not amazing and meant to be mine! Well, that's kind of a crappy photo so maybe you can't tell, but they are amazing. But alas, they are about $70 for four, and that's a little more than I want to spend, especially since we often have more than four people drinking at one time. So I went on Etsy and found these for sale here:


Which are less than 1/2 the price and I might like them even more. Yay, Etsy! However, I have yet to solve the main problem, which is that I do not believe that there is any way to ask a guest in your home to use a coaster that doesn't make you sound like a total asshole. "Um, I'm so sorry, but would you mind using a coaster?" I don't want to be that person. I want to punch that person in the face! It makes your guest feel like an unmannered boor, and makes you look like you think your furniture is so fucking fabulous that a few drops of condensation is the end of the world. You guys, I'm desperate. Is there any way to promote coaster use without coming across like a douche? Help me!

XOXOXO
ABC
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MAKE IT WORK

This post is an homage, if you will, to Tim Gunn. Whom I love, despite the fact that I no longer watch Project Runway. This is one item of many on the list What is Wrong With My Life, which also includes I No Longer Watch Glee, I Have Too Many Clothes to Fit in My Closet, but Nothing to Wear, and I Need More Botox, but Ted Says We're Broke. But I digress. My love for Tim Gunn, much like my love for my husband xanax, is eternal and with good reason. His phrase Make It Work applies to everything in life, not just a dress made out of pre-chewed gum and the wrappers it came in. So this will be a recurring post where we take what we have and turn it in to what we want. What will I be applying it to today? The bar cart situation.

After looking at bar carts till I got drunk from the visuals, and lusting after several, and going day and night with bar carts on the brain, wondering how I had survived so long without one and being pissed at my mom for not handing down a vintage bar cart (in pristine condition) to me (and not to my sister), two things occurred to me. The first was that the place that I was planning to put the bar cart is right in front of the radiator:


Which is probably not an ideal place to store vintage port, champagne, and 18-year-old scotch. One day, according to Ted, he will no longer be able to tolerate the heat in the summer and we will have to get central air, in which case it won't matter that the bar cart is in front of the radiator, but that day is a loooooong, $20,000 way off (we need two units because we have stone walls, which essentially doubles the price, OMG even I'M bored by this tangent). The second thing that I realized was that we already had a bar. I know this does not make me sound very bright, and I wish I could say that I didn't realize it was a bar until now because we use it as a linen press or something, but the fact is we use it as a bar. Well, on the inside we use it as a bar. On the outside it looks like this:


Since all the bar carts I fancied were about a thousand bucks (I have expensive taste. Nice to meet you.) and that I didn't really have anywhere to put it even if I bought one, I got home from work today and decided to channel Tim Gunn and Make It Work. Here is my new (well, sort of) bar:


It doesn't roll (sad face) and it needs more stuff on it (happy face) like liquor decanters and more liquor bottles and tonic and soda and coasters (see next post) and probably another silver tray but it's growing on me. As soon as Ted gets home, I am going to force him to make us vodka martinis, extra dirty extra olives, and after a few of those I'm sure I will love this bar with my whole heart.

XOXOXO
ABC

P.S. This Make It Work has left me with a bunch of framed photos of friends and family that used to sit on top of the bar and now have no home. What the hell am I supposed to do with these? Where are all your photos? And don't say the mantel because I'm not putting them on the fucking mantel.
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Saturday, September 24, 2011

MY BOUDOIR: BEFORE AND AFTER

OK, kids, here's the moment you've all been waiting for. You get to see the transformation that has taken place in our bedroom. Let's take a trip back in time and look at what I had to work with. Here's Ted's side of the bed:


And here's my side of the bed:


Notice the bedside tables that are not really bedside tables (they are supposed to be in a living room) and the tiny lamps, and the clothes everywhere. Ignore the 18-year-old cat who is making herself at home on a pillow on the floor. Here's the area at the end of the bed:


I know. I know. You're feeling better about your bedroom already. I bet you don't have an unused cat bed/scratching post, an unused whirlpool footbath, random hats, open drawers and piles of crap everywhere in YOUR bedroom. And if you do, then get a move on and clean that shit up! Cuz look, here are the "after" photos. After what, you ask? After buying two new bedside tables and another random table, switching the trunk at the end of the bed with one from the living room, changing the lamps for bigger ones, buying a new clock, and using some elbow grease. Here's Ted's side of the bed:


My side of the bed:



The area at the end of the bed:




Close up of my new vanity (yay!):


And a shot of the bed, made properly thanks to the lovely and talented (and just a leeeetle bit bossy) AB Chao telling me to DEWIT:


I'm not finished. You'll notice there are no photos of the fourth side of the room. And all the walls are very bare, and I'm not sure about the thing hanging over the bed. But. I love love love my new bedside tables and while it never occurred to me that I needed a vanity for all my bottles of scent and photos in special frames and a jewelry box, now that I have one I don't even know how I managed so long without it. All in all, I hope that you will take this as proof that anyone, no matter how cheap the husband limited the budget or how small the space, can change their environment. And when you change your environment, you change your life. I believe this with all my heart.

XOXOXO
ABC

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PROJECT: KITCHEN FACELIFT

In addition to my friends and relations clients (more them and the progress or lack thereof that we are making on their projects tomorrow. Tune in!) I am working on some projects here at the old homestead. One is Enter, if You Dare, another is I NEED a Bar Cart, and the one I'm talking about today is Kitchen Facelift.

When we moved into this house, we pretty much spent every dime we had on the house and the move, so all we did was remove (almost) all the wallpaper, and paint. We were lucky that although the kitchen had last been updated in the 80s, the owners did an amazing job and while it wasn't exactly what I would have done myself, it was fine. Because we didn't have a choice; we were going to have to live with it, even if it had been Harvest Gold formica and linoleum floors.

However. After two years, I have realized that I dislike the kitchen. I really dislike it. I don't hate it, but I'm getting there. I am going to be brave and post "before" photos of the kitchen as it is now. Please consider that no spiffing up was done before I took these photos, and you are seeing it warts and all. This is brave because it's going to be a while before there are "after" photos to cleanse your mind of the horror show that is my current kitchen. Here it is from one angle:


Ignore the child. And the crappiness of the photo. I am trying to convince Ted that we desperately need an SLR camera, that it is an investment not only in my "business" but in how we document our children's lives. So far he is managing to resist my arguments. Here is one side of the kitchen from the opposite angle:


Ignore the random chicken that was a wedding present from my mother's cousin and his wife. It's not a cookie jar. It's not a pitcher. It doesn't do anything, it just IS.  We call him Frank. Here's the other side of the kitchen from the same angle:


Now I bet you're thinking, "Oh, that's not so bad! What is she bitching about?" That's because you can't really appreciate the details, like the countertop, which should be called "cat barf" because that's exactly what it looks like:


And believe me, I know cat barf. A cat could actually vomit on the counter and you wouldn't know until you went to put a pot down or something and heard a squish. Sadly, I am speaking from experience. Also, the cooktop and ovens are 25 years old and gross:



Also, what the fuck do I need with two ovens? I cannot cook to save my life and have no desire to change this fact. I host Thanksgiving, so maybe one day a year I use two ovens and Auntie Ann Burr and Uncle Michael and assorted cousins come over and are forced to pretend that what I serve is actually edible. Except for the dishes that my mother prepares, it is not.

And the oven/cooktop in the top photo is vile. Really, really disgusting. And even worse is the range hood. I am going to post a picture of the grossness that is the range hood so you can all feel better about yourselves and your kitchens:


I mean, that looks like something from a kitchen in an apartment in the projects that's about to be condemned. Do I live in a crack den? I do not. I know this because there is no crack to be had for love or money in this place and I am forced to settle for wine. AND, as a sign from God, fucking disgusting fruit flies have moved into my kitchen, taken up residence in the range hood (as far as I can tell, at least) and show no signs of leaving. So the kitchen, in addition to being unlovely to look at, is now infested with bug vermin. Good times.

I don't have the money (nor, frankly, the motivation or the energy) for a gut renovation of this disaster. And it doesn't really need one - the wood floors are great, and the cabinets are solid wood and were just repainted in Benjamin Moore Linen, and... that's about all. So here are my plans for Operation: Kitchen Facelift. Replace the counter and the backsplash. Replace the sinks with undermount ones. Replace the lovely "gold" cabinet hardware thats finish is flaking off. Replace the first oven/cooktop with a new one. And as for the second oven, well, as I mentioned, it only gets used one day a year. However, you know what I do EVERY day? Drink a shitload of beverages! And you know what else? I'm really lazy! So I don't like having to walk downstairs to the fridge in the garage every time I need a frosty bev and realize that I drank the last Diet Coke in the upstairs fridge 45 minutes ago. So I want to replace that oven with an under-the-counter beverage refrigerator. Genius! (if I do say so myself).

Here is the general look I am going for:



I even have a window over the sink! Look:


The kitchen also has a breakfast nook (seriously? Did I just use the phrase "breakfast nook"? I need a drink) and I want to build a banquette against the walls and have it end up looking something like this:



Here are the elements with which I (and by "I" I mean "Gerard," our long-suffering and remarkably handsome contractor who has very blue eyes and an adorable Irish brogue) am going to make this transformation happen:

My new range!

My new range hood!

My new beverage fridge! 
(By the way, it is very hard to find a white beverage fridge. I guess manufacturers think that if you are fancy enough to have a beverage fridge, you are fancy enough to afford stainless appliances. But I LIKE white appliances. Screw stainless and those grubby fingerprints all over it all the time, no matter how often you clean! Not that I clean very often, but whatever.)
My new cabinet hardware!


My new backsplash!

And last but most important, the countertop. I have not yet decided whether to go with white/grey granite, black granite, or a sort of goldish/tan granite. So here examples of all three potential granite choices:






Feel free to weigh in on your favorite in the comments. (No, really. Comment. Please. I am dying for people to comment. So far the only commenters are my mother and my best friend and my sister and it's just getting depressing.)

So that's Operation: Kitchen Facelift and I can't wait for it to begin. Well, really, I can't wait for it to be over. And then I will post beautiful "after" photos with my new SLR camera and all will be right with the world.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

IS IT FALL YET?

I'm ready. I'm really, really ready. I am so sick of this hot, humid weather I could barf. I'm longing for cool crisp days and sweaters and tights and boots and maybe even a light jacket. Anyway, here are some outfits I've been dreaming of while sweating my ass off in this house that doesn't have central air.




Clearly I am feeling the camel cashmere and dark skinny jeans this season. And if you're wondering if those are the same boots in all three outfits, just in different colors, why, yes! Yes, they are. It's really fucking hard to find decent vegan shoes and bags, you guys! And these boots are awesome. Go buy them.

Tangent: When people ask me what I miss, they always think I'm going to say "steak" or "cheese" but what I really miss are leather goods. And I'm not even a purist - I grandfathered in all the leather goods I amassed before going full vegan. Real vegans would have gotten rid of all of that. But there's only so much I can do, and throwing out my shoes and bags and belt* was not going to happen.

Work will be crazy this fall as we head into the holiday shopping season, and shuttling the kids to and from school is an added nightmare that makes me want to hide under the bed until next summer. I have literally forgotten to pick up my child at school on especially busy days. I am that mom. Good times. But fall remains my favorite season. I love the clothes, and I love the weather, and I am going to remain optimistic (can you tell my medication arrived?).

What looks are you guys digging? What are you looking forward to this fall? Any big plans? Set any inspirational goals for yourself? No pressure. But come on, share with the group.

XOXOXO
ABC

*This is not a typo. I own one belt. But it's a good one:


I bought it on that girls' trip to Paris and it's one of the few really nice items I own and I'm not chucking it. Although I am looking in to getting someone to make me a vegan "leather" belt part in different colors.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ENTRYWAY PART TWO: WALLPAPER!

When we bought this house, every wall was covered with wallpaper. Every. Wall. And in several rooms, the ceilings as well. If you don't know how hard it is to remove wallpaper, well, me either, but the guys who did it for us said it's a real bitch. We (and by "we" I mean "they") removed it all and painted, except for the wallpaper in the tiny foyer you step into from the outside. I chose to keep this wallpaper not because I loved it but because A) it is the original wallpaper from when the house was built in the 30s, and I thought that was kind of neat, and B) we were kind of running out of money for wallpaper removal by that point and C) the room is really small and I figured it wouldn't be that noticeable. Here is the wallpaper:


We've lived here for two years now, and I have realized that A) I hate the wallpaper and B) It's really noticeable because it's like the first thing you see when you walk into the house! Duh! and C) Now that I've painted the front door green, walking in the house is like a Christmas festival. We still have no money for more wallpaper removal but I can't take it anymore. So we're replacing it. The only thing on the wall in the foyer is a gold bullseye mirror that belonged to my grandparents:


I'm not so in love with the mirror either, but it has great sentimental value what with my father being dead and all, so it's staying. Ignore the image of me in my nightly uniform of an Eagles t-shirt and lucky clover boxer shorts. Or don't. Whatevs.

Anyway, luckily for me my oldest and dearest friend from childhood, Chloe, is an artist and spent a few years designing wallpaper. So I had the idea of repapering the foyer in paper designed by Chloe. Fortunately, Chloe is incredibly talented and I love all the wallpaper she designed so while choosing one will be hard, it's the good kind of hard. OK, that sounds pervy, but you know what I mean. Here are some samples:


Belvedere by Tyler Hall


Scheherezade by Tyler Hall


Ravello by Tyler Hall

So what do you think? Does the mirror have to go? Which wallpaper do you like best? Should I just forget wallpaper altogether and paint the foyer? Why am I wracked with indecision? I'm never indecisive! What's going on? Help!

XOXOXO
ABC
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