Monday, November 30

holiday gifting

So much to catch up on- we've had over a week of quality family time on both sides, and I wasn't prioritizing posting. Definitely have a very simple reupholstery project coming your way this week!

Isn't this supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year? Perhaps I'm just blue coming off of a holiday weekend and an amazing, family- and love-filled Thanksgiving, but I'm feeling very uninspired. There's one thing keeping me from the holiday spirit: gift giving. Anyone else having a hard time? I just feel like most of my loved ones have everything they need, and when it comes to things they want, everyone has strong enough personal styles that I worry I'd get the wrong thing. I'm trying to be creative but have hit some blocks. Maybe I should just go with experiences? What are you doing?

If you're looking for ideas, I have a few things I can highly recommend from past giving and receiving. My slim zip wallet from Everlane (a wonderful present last Christmas) still looks fantastic. I bought myself the 750mL and 500mL S'well water bottles last year and adore them, although the finish came off of the one I use daily pretty quickly. I'd recommend the plain stainless steel one for that reason, but my smaller wood painted one is a joy every time I use it. My kindle was one of the greatest gifts ever (first from my brother, and 6 years later a replacement from D). For tea drinkers, the Everlasting Tea Bag is a good idea- I use mine every night. Get some tea to go with it! Consumables are always smart, and are often the best things: candles, booze, books that can later be donated (or read on kindle!), of-the-month clubs...but here are some things I've been eyeing for myself.
Still on my list from last year (why did I not buy this for myself yet?) is the Cuyana double travel set, for all your toiletry-carrying needs and monogramming desires. I've visited their showroom in San Francisco and can vouch for the quality of their cashmere and silk as well. I gave D a nice leather men's dopp kit (this one, I think) many years ago and it's very useful and something you probably wouldn't buy for yourself, a nice combination.

Monogramming is always a nice touch, and one place I always thing of is Mark & Graham. My brother and sister in law gifted us copper moscow mule mugs from them last year, and they came so gorgeously wrapped and felt very special. I got their catalog this week and love the tartan napkins, and these antler napkin rings. Lots of good gifts to give your holiday hosts!

I mentioned the Everlane wallet above. This year, I have their taupe street shoe on my list. Be warned you want to size up- I'm a very standard 8, but fit size 9 best. I love the modern point flat and loafer just as much. Check out the men's stuff as well!

For truly opaque black tights, the best kind there are, you want a very high denier. The commando 110 denier tights are it! Expensive for one pair, true, but I usually go through a few pair each season with holes or loss of elasticity, so this could be worth it.

Also on the more affordable side, kitchen gadgets can be great gifts. I've gifted a spiralizer (I use mine weekly) and a toddy system (ditto), and this year am hoping for these glass straws. They're made of a pyrex-like glass material, so they do great with hot liquids, thick smoothies, dishwashers, etc. Plus, less trash. Oh! I have an air-popper (for popcorn) and am obsessed. We bought this one, which is currently on sale. This salt set would be such a fun gift or stocking stuffer.
For the girl who has everything, how about a silk pillowcase? I've heard first hand that they're a total game changer. Better for your skin and hair, but also I'm picturing how cool the flip side of a silk pillow would be...this one seems super luxurious (and I love the caramel color), and this one is more reasonably priced. I have a few eye masks (cashmere, cotton, one that is removed from your eyes for flights where you need to maintain makeup), and those are also awesome gifts.

I am such an old lady. I'd like sturdy tights, things to help me sleep better please. If you have any wow ideas, send them my way please.

Friday, November 13

link it up

Friday at last. I have some very dear friends coming to town who are terrible at keeping in touch (like, the worst) and I can't WAIT to catch up for days. Our only set plans include eating and drinking and snuggling, just the way we like it. Hope you have a fun one ahead!

This is an incredible post- more the trip than the packing trips, but really all of it. Honeymoon goals?

Domino's MASSIVE gift guide, if you're thinking ahead.

Particularly for my sister, or anyone looking to get in the holiday spirit early...check this out. So great for when you're traveling!

In the same vein...Christmas tree alternatives for those with a small space. Good thing I bought one of these on super-sale last January.

I had some homemade almond butter sitting around that needed to get used, so I made cookie dough (using this recipe) and froze it (using this method). Who wants to come over for a snack?

Hoping to get a post together for next week about another quick reupholstery project I did before leaving Durham. In California all weekend, so we shall see.

Monday, November 2

goodbye to Durham

On Friday, I picked up a rental car at Raleigh Durham Airport, threw my air mattress and suitcase in the back seat, and drove away from Durham for the last time as a resident. Living in Durham, and particularly near Duke, was a huge blessing in my life. Ready for a hashtagBLESSED post?

Not to get wishy washy, because I don't, but the decision to head South with D turned out to be much better than we could have anticipated, both professionally and personally.

There is a community feel here that I haven't really experienced anywhere else. I'm confident it can be found in big cities just as easily as in small (growing!) towns, but we hadn't been lucky in that way yet. A high-rise in Northern Virginia and a brief stint on Capitol Hill didn't allow us to be regulars at any cocktail bars, to develop relationships with our favorite farmers (how bougie), and to feel like you're part of the fabric of social life.

I also think we made some lifestyle changes for the better. We did fall off cooking together, which probably won't be resumed what with our travel schedule, but we make other positive changes. I can't say we are hiking fanatics just yet, but I do think the proximity to some pretty incredible nature influenced us.

And of course, how do I quantify how valuable knowing Duke has been? I'm not sure who got the better deal, me getting this job or Dave getting his MBA at Fuqua, but for both of us we couldn't have made better, more strategic decisions to move our careers forward. Not to mention season tickets to Cameron two years in a row...

People make the place, of course, and I couldn't have shared Duke/Fuqua with better people. Making friends as adults after the friends-on-a-silver-platter experience of college isn't always easy, but the Fuqua partner community made it so. Bookclub wine nights, strolls around East Campus with tea (or something stronger), Bunco wine nights, dancing the night away at embarrassing bars and catching shows at DPAC, girls weekends in the mountains and beaches and couples getaways to Asheville, and the WEDDING of our dear friends...there are a lot of good memories leaving with me.

Ooh! And shout out to my loved ones that made it to Durham. Thank you all for experiencing Monuts with me (Vogelbut my first visit!, Rico pre-babes <3, Gin & Kyle and an impromptu engagement shoot, Cope ugh missed you, Nick to help us explore Raleigh, all of my amazing siblings, D's amazing sibling, my amazing cousin and almost-cousin ;-), DAD at cameron!! and a few other times to boot, Mr. & Mrs. Rokeach to watch with pride when D graduated, SO MUCH LOVE CAME).

And speaking of people, my person, you know.

Duke and Durham were a wonderful home for 2+ years, and while I have zero (and I mean zero) regrets or hesitation about my relocation, I do feel gratitude.

Good thing I need to be back a few times a month for in, this Thursday and Friday, and the one after that...if any of my 3 friends in Durham want to get together, lemme know.

Friday, October 30

link it up

It's Fri-yay!

We have a good friend from college getting married this weekend in Cape May, and I'm thrilled for them (and for me, since so many people we adore will be there). It's our last wedding of the season and my first weekend as a non-Durham resident. HELLO DC. Some thoughts on goodbye to Durham next week.

In case you'll be imbibing this weekend and want some literature to go along with your booze, here's the origin of some popular cocktail names.

I found this article to be heartbreaking, which I don' t think was the intent. I'm a realist in almost all ways, but doesn't your affection for loved ones supersede your initial affection? I'd leave that guy real quick....

Terry Gross is such an exceptional interviewer- I liked this interview of her for a change. Follow the Fresh Air podcast if you miss it on NPR!

To go along with my have kids/don't have kids article from last week, I present this.

Um this is incredible. I'm not a huge fan of her or her music...until she's doing incredible impressions.

Thursday, October 29

DC Digs [the mirror]

Now to show you our find. Isn't she a beaut?

Please ignore the rest of the mantle set up- we haven't decided how to style it yet.

I was skeptical about veering off from my rectangular preference, but after 4 months of looking at hundreds of mirrors, it was about time to pull the trigger. We had to drive almost to Baltimore to pick it up, but the seller brought the price down from $125 to $100 when he learned we were trekking it up to him, and took off another $20 in-person. Besides, we used the drive to jointly catch up with my sister (shout out bills!) and check out the fall foliage along 295, which was incredible.

I'm currently accepting (slash begging for) suggestions for how to hang it. We were all about the lean, but the decor on the bottom isn't in perfect shape (as you can see in the picture) and it's small enough that we would like to center it further up the wall. The brick behind is painted. We're renters, so we aren't super interested in drilling into the brick, but if it's easily patch-able (at least visually) I'd be game. Our Home Depot consultant recommended some heavy duty double sided tape, but we would need to use 60 inches to reach the weight requirement, which was definitely not going to work. Command strip hooks were also suggested, but again, most of those max out at 5lbs. Give me ideas please??

Here is something similar, albeit a bit more expensive and white. Then again, it won't have any dings or cracks. I for one think those add character, but others (ahem, D,) do not.

Wednesday, October 28

DC Digs [the hunt for a mirror]

We have been hunting for a mirror since July. Mostly on Craigslist, due to how expensive it would be to ship something so fragile off of Ebay, but I did take a look at a few retailers to see if anything would work.

First thing to decide was shape and size. We have 4ft by 4ft of space above our mantle, and I really wanted a mirror that would fill the space. Initially I wanted something huge, like dis:

But as we taped off the space we realized something this full would be very heavy visually. In such a small home, we needed to go a bit more delicate. We didn't want a round mirror, since we have a circular dining table right next to the fireplace (more on that later), and I was hoping to vary the shapes. Most of our furniture is clean-lined, tailored mid-century modern pieces, so I thought we could go a bit more ornate and feminine for this. We were willing to look at all finishes, with the understanding that I would gold leaf anything that wasn't already gilt.

Before I show you what we went for, let's see the eye candy I used as my inspiration.


Friday, October 16

link it up

CRAZY TIME for me at work. Two straight weeks in SF, with weddings capping off each weekend. I normally travel week on/week off, so back to back kicked my butt in terms of workload. Anyway, I recovered at home and will have D in town this weekend, then back to NorCal and DC for a week. Can't wait to feel the fall air in the district!

An ingenious trick for finding the best online prices.

I've never put yogurt in a slow cooker. Perhaps I need to this weekend.

“Perel’s ideas are … instantly familiar because they resonate deeply. It’s all rather terrifying in its intuitiveness and its pure rightness.” — The Observer (UK). Esther Perel's TED talks are here and here, and you should listen.

300 awesome free things.

Would love to see a Gap comeback. Really interesting article.

Opting out of motherhood. A thoughtful piece.

Thursday, October 15

DIY [reupholstered chair]

There are few things I like more than scooping up a piece of furniture or decor that has great bones, giving it a little love, and then selling it to a loving home and financing my next craigslist find or thrift store haul. Some day, this will be my full-time occupation...even if it's not until retirement.

I found this great old piece at our local Salvation Army for $10. It was super sturdy and heavy, but of course looks like an office chair with that fuzzy thick blue upholstery. I hate the blonde wood, too, but that ended up staying when I ran out of time (and ventilated space) to sand it down and re-stain.

I stripped that baby down to bare bones. The foam was in excellent condition- I swear, that blue office fabric is like a coat of armor, nothing is getting through it. I reupholstered in this pretty blue and cream linen, ordered it years ago from Jo-Ann Fabrics because I'm a hoarder.

I love how it came out- D even said we should keep it (although our new square footage convinced us not to). I sold it to a sweet couple for $180, and put all that money towards our new marble coffee table. The best home purchases are the ones financed by other home purchases that we have improved. It's like furniture-flipping.

The back is my favorite part. Cool bones, right? If this was a darker wood I'm not sure I would have let it go.

Friday, October 2

link it up

Friday again! Aren't we lucky. D and I are heading to our first of three weddings this month in Charlottesville, VA. I've never been to UVA, so we plan on checking out campus and the cute downtown area. Any other suggestions for us?

I'm sure we all remember the famous "Why Women Can't Have it All" article from the Atlantic in 2012. She did a follow up that I'm looking forward to reading this weekend.

Every year, Fortune releases their list of the Most Powerful Women in business. I enjoyed seeing these stats on where they all went to school. Sounds like the caliber of school isn't as important as continuing your education (only 9 went to ivy league schools, but almost 60% hold graduate degrees).

A new use for Yelp. Incredible.

Do you have feelings about these HBO shows? I am currently in the middle of the following shows: The Wire (love), Breaking Bad (good), House of Cards (getting worse), Game of Thrones (love), Downtown Abbey (so sweet), Revenge (don't bother it's terrible).

Price paid is different than price charged at colleges. Fun to look up your alma mater.

Wednesday, September 30

cheap eats [pumpkin pasta]

I'm lucky enough to be living with my good friends until my DC move-date of November 1st, and wanted to cook us all a nice fall meal this past Sunday. I'd seen the dish below on Pinterest, and knew it checked all my autumnal boxes: sausage, pumpkin cream sauce, apples, sauteed onions and garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg, what's not to love?

I see her recipe was altered slightly from a well-loved Rachel Ray dish, and I altered it even further based on my preferences. I doubled the onions and apples, used less cream and more pumpkin, and went for spicy sausage rather than sweet. This really is an affordable dish: $3 for a pound of sausage, and otherwise everything is a dollar or two. Here's a brief rundown of what I did:

1. brown 1lb spicy Italian sausage (I used this one), drain on paper towel
2. add 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic to the leftover sausage fat to soften
3. add 2 chopped apples in with the veggies
4. add 1 cup of white wine, plus sage and a bay leaf, and cook for 2 minutes
5. add 1 can of pumpkin puree and enough chicken stock to thin out the sauce
6. return the sausage to the pan, add 1lb cooked pasta (I used shells), some cinnamon and nutmeg, and 1/3 cup of whipping cream. DEVOUR.

Mine wasn't photogenic at all, but it sure was tasty.