Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Survived

Just a little note to say I didn't get washed away by Hurricane Irene.

I did, however, work harder than I've ever worked. And although I'm exhausted, I'm exhilarated, too.

There are days when some of us question if what we do has any real impact...if we're good at it, or if it matters.

After spending the past two weeks answering questions and soothing my readers' fears over earthquakes and hurricanes (i'm a journalist in Hampton Roads), I can be confident in my job's relevance, and my sense of duty has never been so strong.

Tomorrow I'll tell you more about my personal storm adventures, but today, I'm just grateful to have lost nothing, not even power.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Electricity-Free Entertainment

Photo of Irene from NASA

It's possible that come this weekend, I will be hunkering down for my first hurricane. Technically, it's my second; I was evacuated from school in 2003 when Isabel hit Virginia. But this time, it's totally different.

This time, I'm a reporter and my husband works on a copy desk, so we have to be on hand to report on any news that comes out of any potential storm. Rather than make plans to go out of town for the weekend, I actually went to Target and bought nonperishable foods, a cooler, and some other necessities, like YooHoo. 

When Isabel hit, Hampton Roads lost power for about two weeks. I can't really fathom that, but if you, like me, might lose power this weekend (or any time), I thought I'd share some suggestions on how to pass the time:
  • Clean out your magazine collection. Any picture that looks pretty goes in your "future collage project" folder. Cut out flowers and put them on the wall, a la Idgie in Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • Pull out the board games!
  • Tackle that DIY project that's been on the backburner forever
  • Don't bother waiting for NanoWrimo month...start your novel now.
  • Write letters to your future children (Seriously, why not? My mom gave me a letter when I turned 16 that she had written in 1986.)
  • Clean out the closet and put together the most massive "giveaway" pile ever. Some people might need that stuff once the storm is over.
  • If you have a working CD player/iPod, take this moment, THIS MOMENT, to choreograph a signature dance. Why the hell not?
  • Master the art of curling your hair with no heat. Learn to french braid!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goal: Bedroom Makeover

Bedroom Makeover

Sean and I renewed our lease for another year and, itchy with nesting instinct and pent-up DIY urges, I have begun to consider sprucing up our bedroom.

Right now, it's a calming, albeit messy, space. Our linens are almost entirely oatmeal or seafoam-colored, which I find soothing.

Since at least 2006, I've been hounding Sean to get me or let me buy an upholstered headboard. I've watched as they've only increased in popularity, as many bloggers have made them at home, and I think I've finally resolved to do one, too! I'm pondering the Braemore Gorgeous Pearl fabric, shown above, because it has a nice mix of all the colors I'd like for the room and is feminine without being overpowering.

Also on my list of wants (but not have-to-haves): new nightstands (right now we have mismatched side tables); a bigger, authentic teak midcentury dresser; and the West Elm Draper Stripe sheets that I've literally had sitting in my "shopping cart" since they were introduced almost two years ago. Seriously, they send me reminder emails almost every day, but I'm a very cheap girl. I also would love to paint, and I love Benjamin Moore's Wythe Blue. The landlords gave the go-ahead, but we'd have to prime again before we move out. Is it worth it?

I'm not sure if any of this will actually happen, but lord knows I haunt Craigslist every day searching for the perfect dresser! I think I might be ready to tackle the headboard project very soon. The nightstands...well, that would take some serious convincing, so I might keep checking thrift stores for options I could spruce up.

What do you think, readers? Is it worth it to invest that much effort into my rental bedroom?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Feel the Earth Move

Us East Coast folks had quite a scare today, most especially in Virginia. I live about 100 miles from the epicenter of today's earthquake, a 5.9 magnitude quake. It was the biggest in Virginia since 1879. I thought I'd share my funny little story about my experience with it.

I was interviewing two people, standing on a sidewalk. I began to feel like I was swaying, and immediately thought I hadn't eaten enough at lunch. I felt a little dizzy (probably from the shaking!) and thought, "Okay, Amber, just get through this interview and then worry."

I looked down at the sidewalk and sort of stared at the bricks, looking to see if maybe something was wrong with the ones I was standing on. Nope, but I did see a shaking shadow and looked up to see that the lamppost was swaying. Not even thinking, I stepped out of its shadow and didn't say a word to the folks I was standing with!

It passed and the girl went to answer another question, and the man went to answer his phone. He wandered back and said, "This might be embarrassing, but did you feel like you were shaking just now?" I said, "YES! You, too?!" He said he did, but he thought he might not have had enough to eat that day. The girl wandered over and asked if we had felt it. She said her first thought was, "I only had two glasses of wine last night!"

I thought it was a pretty crazy reaction, sociologically. Three people enduring an earthquake, all believing they were about to pass out, and not saying a word about it.

How about you? If you live on the East Coast, did you feel it? If not, do you have any funny earthquake stories?

Monday, August 22, 2011

My New Favorite TV Show

Have you seen Louie? I've always been a Louie C.K. fan, but only recently caught an episode of his FX show and it's seriously one of my new favorites. It's self-deprecating, and funny and touching and has little hints of "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Larry Sanders Show." You can watch recent episodes on Hulu.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Best v. 70

Picture from here.

I'm seriously dying over George Harrison's outfit in this picture. Could J.Crew please make this blazer, kthanks? The shoes aren't bad either.

Sorry for the sparse posting this week...I sort of plateaued into a place where nothing was really blowing me away, I was too busy to cook, and didn't really have anything to report. Let's hope for a more interesting week to look forward to!
  • Great story about what it REALLY takes to quit your day job.
  • An experiment to find out if it really is a small world.
  • Wallpaper made of stickers!
  • A Muppets tribute album, obviously. Rainbow Connection reduces me to tears, every. damn. time.
  • A fascinating (and sad) account of a miscarriage. Seriously, read it.
  • Bookmarking this ultimate baby registry guide for the next time I need to buy a gift (nowhere close to ready for kids myself!).
  • Great behind-the-scenes look at J.Crew.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fantasizing about Fall

Summer is slipping by quickly, it seems, but fall is my favorite season so I can't say I'm devastated. Every fall, I start craving fall colors, like this mustard colored skirt from J.Crew...

and hunting jackets fit for Princess Kate, like J.Crew's herringbone tweed.

and what I used to call in 9th grade, "Felicity sweaters." Big, oversized, cuddly duvet-sized sweaters, like this one from Urban Outfitters.

Some other things I'm craving: a scarf from LemLem, an orange dress from Anthropologie, leather bow bobbie pins (also from anthro), Urban Outfitter's chain tote, ASOS high-heeled loafers (a MUST this fall) and Kate Spade's pearl butterfly studs.
Fall Fashion

Monday, August 15, 2011

Today I Like ... Architect Style

I rewatched 500 Days of Summer the other day for the first time since I saw it in the theater. I think it might be one of the most perfect romantic comedies, at least in the past 20 years, but what struck me even more this time was a strong attraction to Tom's apartment.

Tom, you might recall if you've seen it, trained as an architect and has this West Elm-perfect apartment with a chalkboard paint wall. You don't have to be an architect to like the style, which conjures machine age futurism and industrial chic. I'm always fantasizing about designing stylish man caves (I know...I'm missing the WHOLE point) and I think the perfect one would look like this.

Get the Look

Architect Inspired

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Best v.70

This week was all about "The Hunger Games" for me. If you're not familiar, "The Hunger Games" is a trilogy of books about a girl named Katniss Everdeen trying to survive in a dystopian society that replaced America. I'm way behind on this one — the last book in the series came out in September — but I'm so glad I decided to read them. I read all three in about three days, and I can't wait for the movies to start coming out in March!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wardrobe Must: A Fabulous Hat!

A better blogger would have written this post right before the Kentucky Derby, or at the start of summer before you all scattered across the globe on vacation. But alas, inspiration only strikes when it wants to, and for me, that was in the past week.

First, I watched "Now, Voyager" last week. It's a classic old Bette Davis movie that, I'll be honest, doesn't hold up terribly well, but is sort of corny soap operatic fun. In it, Bette has a makeover and the swan version of her boards a cruise looking like this:

The height of chic: a hat!

The second thing that happened is that wine club had a party and we all wore our fancy hats. I bought a black and white striped hat a few years ago from Anthropologie and it's probably one of the best investments I've made. It's seriously chic, and I can't recommend that every girl splurge on a fancy hat. Need more inspiration?

Think of Ingrid Bergman, in her downturned fedora in "Casablanca"...

Or Natalie Wood, with a sweet white hat in "Spendor in the Grass" (a seriously great movie) ...

And of course, Ms. Hepburn in The Hat to end all hats.

I took it upon myself to source some hats under $100, all good investment pieces. We still have a few long sunny days left, so splurge now and you'll thank yourself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Spy: DAV Thrift Store

Sometimes I like to vary my routes to and from work, partially in an effort to make the commute less boring and partially in an effort to see where different roads go. Today I decided to take Merrimac Trail to Route 143 and dropped into the Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store. Thrift stores are always so hit-and-miss for me, but today I spotted a few possible gems.

Among them was this $99 storage unit. I picture it with a paint job, either all one solid color, or two separate colors to emphasize the pretty molding on the doors. Perhaps lacquered black, with white trim, like this.

I spotted two ottomans, the first $25, with nailheads ...

And a nubby tweed one for $19.97. Both were in very good shape, and could be recovered.

 This old twin bed was very handsome, and the wood looked quite nice in person. It was $169 (a bit pricey for the thrift store, in my opinion), but I think it would look so lovely in a guest room. Antique beds look particularly great in really muted, Scandinavian-style rooms like this. Or, it could be painted an unexpected color, which could be especially fun in a kid's room (I'm starting to think my true calling is imaginary kid's room design, lol).

 Hidden by the mattresses was this vintage Flexible Flyer sled for $20! Fun and useful objet d'art.

And for $2.99 on the sidewalk outside the store sat this little industrial work table. In an industrial-inspired loft or office, this could be a great printer table. Spray-painted a fun poppy color, it could be a great plant stand.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wino Blind Tasting

A few weeks ago at wine club, one of us wondered if we have learned enough and developed our palates enough to tell varietals apart in a blind tasting.

Erica agreed to buy the bottles, hide their labels and be the mistress of ceremonies. Lauren, who just DIY'd an AMAZING patio with her husband, agreed to host. And all of us showed up with our best hats on.

Erica hid three whites and three reds in these elegant velvet pouches. We were given our options to guess from: riesling, pinot grigio and moscato; merlot, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz. Then we wrote down our answers, as you can see.

I found out, to my surprise, that I could accurately guess the reds, but was totally fooled by a sweet riesling that I was SURE was moscato. Obviously, I need to do more studying, wink wink.

 The boys enjoyed beer. You can see behind them where Lauren and her husband have added a koi pond and will soon have an outdoor kitchen. I told her they must feel invincible now that they've done this.

Aren't the koi beautiful? We learned koi is just Japanese for carp...did you know?

For nibbles, Lauren headed out to Bon Vivant Market and picked up a selection of cheeses and cured meats. Inspired by a cheese plate she had at The Birch Bar, Lauren put out a little dish of honey to drip on the meat and cheese.

It was delicious. Seriously.