Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In the mood for my favorite blogs, part three: Manhattan Nest

And now for Part Three of my favorite blogs series.  Find Part One here, and Part Two here.

Finally, Manhattan Nest is written by a sweet and hilarious young man named Daniel Kanter.  Daniel and his fiance Max recently bought a turn-of-the-20th Century house in Kingston, New York, which was in pretty rough shape, and he's fixing it up.  He also just bought a small cottage on the same street which he's fixing up to flip.  Daniel's blog satisfies my need to take run-down-but-beautiful things and make them pretty again.  I don't have as much energy for doing this anymore, but Daniel is younger than me and seems to have a lot more energy than I have (also, it's his livelihood), so it's wonderful to read about all of his trials and tribulations.  He does things like tearing out and rebuilding walls and ceilings, cutting millwork (apparently I like millwork), and skim coating old plaster.  I mean, cool stuff.


This is the kitchen.  I have a thing for black and white vintage-y kitchens with white subway tile.


And vintage hooks.  And original window hardware.  Source: Manhattan Nest.




I also love his laundry room.  Is that weird?  


I think it's the tile.  I love that glossy tile.  And although personally I prefer white grout with glossy white subway tile, I think that the dark grout works here - it's edgier and more masculine, and it seems period-appropriate.

He also did this little number, which I die over.


Get out.  Get right out of town.  



That wallpaper is phenom.  And all that yummy white.  White and black, black and white.  When did I become so racist?  I kid.  I don't see color.  I just see colors.  Seriously, though, this whole black, white, wood tone, brass thing is a trend.  You heard it here first!  Just kidding.  I'm probably last to the party.

Anyway!  I hope you enjoyed a little walk-through of my favorite blogs.  I have a few other favorites that I might share at some point, you know, when I'm in the mood.  Love ya!

Monday, November 10, 2014

In the mood for my favorite blogs, part two: House*Tweaking

And now, for Part Two of my series on my favorite blogs.  Here's Part One: Little Green Notebook.

House*Tweaking (which I always want to call House*Twerking, because duh) is written by Dana Miller who lives in Ohio, mother of three, former pharmacist, who is in the process of re-designing their small ranch house.  Dana also has impeccable taste, AND she just got a kitten.  So.  She doesn't do a ton of DIY projects like Jenny, but all of the work in the house is pretty much DIY.  She and her husband laid flooring and painted walls and installed Ikea cabinetry.  Dana does a series on Ikea kitchens, and has pretty much talked me into using Ikea when we re-do our kitchen.  She used Ikea cabinetry, and it looks amazing.  I'm obsessed with her kitchen and plan to ruthlessly copy it when I re-do my own.

All pics from House*Tweaking


THIS is an Ikea kitchen.  I mean, can you even?  





I love the color scheme - the black and white, with tons of wood tones and pops of red.  The vintage rugs make the space look so rich.  Dana's blog satisfies my need for clean lines and it feeds my delusion that I could be a minimalist if only I wanted to.  Also, her style is just spot on.  



This is her daughter's nursery.  It's a small room, and she painted it black.  How cool is that?  I love the Eames rocker, even though they're supposed to be uncomfortable, and that raw wood dollhouse.  The light fixture is pretty rad, too!  In fact, it might just be perfect for the small, low-ceiling'ed bedrooms at my house!  I also love the bamboo shades - she got them on overstock, and uses them throughout her house.  I think they're so fresh.

I'm also dying over her (as yet unfinished) guest bath:



Black hex tile!  White subway tile!  A black enamel tub!  Sweet, futuristic square toilet!  Black pencil trim!  I have a thing for black and white bathrooms, if you must know.  And black and white kitchens. I don't think I'll ever have as much black and white as Dana does, but I love the way she makes it work.  I'm into much more color than she is, but I'm going to steal as much inspiration from her as possible.  Also?  I'm gonna steal her kitten.


Gimme that kitteh!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In the mood to no longer be in trial mode

So, I'm an attorney.  I recently read an article on Slate or Cracked or something that said that only pretentious lawyers call themselves "attorneys."  This is wrong.  A lawyer is someone who has attended, and preferably graduated, law school  An attorney is someone who has also passed the Bar and is licensed to practice in their state.  Accordingly, I am an attorney.  Incidentally, I'm also a lawyer.  But I am never pretentious.  (Well, maybe sometimes.)

I recently started a new job with a well-respected and talented trial lawyer.  The difference between a trial lawyer and a litigator is that, as the name suggests, trial lawyers go to trial.  A lot.  I read somewhere that only 2% of all civil cases brought actually go to trial.  I think my new boss must have an inordinate share of that 2%, because we have three trials in the next year alone.  That is INSANE.

Because you know what trial is like?  I didn't until a few weeks ago.  It's a lot.  It's long, hard hours, on very little sleep, combing through masses of documents, ordering shitty lunch to be delivered to the courthouse, going back to work at 6 p.m. and not getting out until 12 a.m. or later.  It's Starbucks, and high heels, and adrenaline, and being fascinated by what must seem to others as the most uninteresting shit ever spoken or read.  It's trusting 6 people with the outcome of your case that you spent years and years working on.  It's hope, and faith, and the shadowy fears of crushing defeat.  It's objections, and "your honors"s, and hating your opponents even though you don't really hate them, they're just pissing you off by doing their job.  It's bailiffs and clerks, and trying to figure out how to get that memo that you wrote at 1 a.m. printed out at the courthouse when you don't have a printer.  It's surprisingly emotional - not in a bad way - because there's a room full of people who care deeply about the outcome.  It's consoling clients and explaining that, when the other side moved for mistrial that was actually a good thing!  Because it means that they're scared.  It's texting your staff back at the office or sending frantic emails, "WHY ISN'T OUR WITNESS HERE YET?!"  It's getting a process server to serve subpoenas on the opposing parties because they're lawyers won't accept service (assholes).  It's never seeing the sun, or your husband.  It's creeping into the house after dark, and creeping back out again before light.  It's too much caffeine, and yet not nearly enough, and hard wooden chairs, and jumping up every five seconds to root through 900+ exhibits to find that one email.  It's letting go.  It's dotting all your i's and crossing all your t's and saying a thousand prayers that your story, your case, is coming across exactly how it should.  It's staring into the eyes, (and hopefully the souls?) of the jurors and watching emotion pass over their faces.  It's guesswork.  It's giving it your all, when you're running on fumes.  It's aging five years in two weeks.  It's realizing that we could lose, we could actually lose.  It's blowing off your friends and family.  It's a food desert.  It's never wanting to see another Jimmy Johns sandwich ever again please God.  It's exhausting, and thrilling, and terrifying, with moments of supernatural calm.

And I loved (nearly) every second of it.

But now it's done, and the past week has been kind of hard.   I'm totally suffering from PTDD: Post-Trial Depressive Disorder.  What do I do with myself now?  Everything seems so boring and pointless.  We were fighting for our lives over the last few weeks.  I had a client who I believe in, whose story I wanted told, for whom I desperately wanted justice.  I had foes who were easy to hate, because they were just awful.  I had a jury who I loved.  We seriously had the best jury.  They were intelligent and engaged.  They became friends with one another!  Actual friends!  That does not happen.  And now?  Day in day out, none of that rush of excitement, none of that single-minded, good-God-how-am-I-going-to-get-all-of-this-shit-done focus.  Of course, it's nice to get more than 4 hours of sleep.  I'm happy about that.  It's nice to get home by 7 p.m. and actually make dinner.  It's nice to see my husband, I kind of forgot who he was.  It's nice to not have to wear heels for 12 hours a day.  But it was exciting.

I had no idea I would love it as much as I did.  Our next trial is in February.  It's a month long (!!!) and it's in federal court, (this last trial was in state court - in my old courthouse where I worked every day for three years).  While I like my client, I don't think I could ever love him the way I did my first client.  My first trial, my first client - it's the stuff dreams are made of.  You know, if you're a nerd like me.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

In the mood for my favorite blogs, Part One: Little Green Notebook

I read a lot of blogs, mostly home dec and cooking.  My favorites are the home dec bloggers who do a lot of DIY stuff.  I have no use for super expensive designers, or designers who hire everything out because, well, I don't have that kind of money, and I enjoy doing things myself.  While there are tons of DIY/decor blogs out there, there are a few (currently: 3) that I just DIE for.  That, when I see that they've posted a new blog, my heart skips a beat, and I may or may not fist-pump the air.  I have borderline-romantic feelings about these blogs.

My current top 3 are: Little Green Notebook, House*Tweaking, and Manhattan Nest.  I was going to include all three in one post, but it was just getting insanely long.  And like I said, I have borderline-romantic feelings about these blogs, so why rush?  I want to slow down and really savor them.  So I'm dedicating one post to each blog.  Okay?  Let's go!

Little Green Notebook is, hands down, my favorite blog on the blogwaves.  You've probably heard of it.  It's kind of a big deal.

Little Green Notebook is written by Jenny Komenda, a brilliant interior designer who lives in Arizona, loves color, has impeccable taste, awesome vision, and a can-do (almost anything) DIY attitude.  As I said in my last post, she is my spirit animal and I love her.  Jenny loves color, she's whimsical, and an incredibly hard worker.  She does it all.

I already shared a picture of her olive green bathroom (the bathroom of my dreams).  But let's just look at it again, mkay?



HOW CAN A BATHROOM BE SO GOOD?  It defies the laws of physics and stuff.

But wait, there's more.  Just look at her house.



That casing around the doorways is custom, she designed it herself.  The chevron wood floor is obviously brilliant, and I love that she mixed it so seamlessly with the rest of the flooring.  She has built-in bookcases (that she designed) with a rolling library ladder (that she found on craigslist).  I love that little yellow chair (mustard velvet with a glossy yellow frame?!), and that huge leaning gold mirror.  The way that the shot frames the entry, with the wallpaper, the library, and pulls the eye into the music room is just breathtaking.  I know that a professional photographer framed that shot, but STILL.  And the aqua in the music room... well, it's just the most perfect color ever.

Obviously, my girl has an amazing appreciation for, and talent in mixing, color.  I love color so much, and that's one reason why I love Jenny.



This is their Brooklyn brownstone (they live in Arizona now, as shown in the first pics).  The colors!  All the glorious color.  Also, those are Ikea Billy bookcases that Jenny and her parents turned into built-ins.  I'm telling you, this family has talent!  




This is a small bedroom in the same brownstone.  Instead of painting the room a light color, Jenny painted it this dark, moody green, Bavarian Forest, by Benjamin Moore.  She painted the nightstands (which Jenny made herself and mounted on the wall) and even the sconce cords, the same color as the walls so that they all blend in, which is brilliant.  The velvet coral headboard (that I believe Jenny made, because of course she did), pops off the dark green and makes me so happy.  And the moth prints.  Oh man.  Those are just cut out of a book and stuck into off-the-shelf frames from Michaels. And yet it all looks so rich.  How does she do it?  And can she move to Tampa and be my best friend and give me endless advice and inspiration?

In addition to the sheer joy I get in looking at the pretty, pretty pictures, though, I have to say that the main thing I get from Jenny is inspiration.  She inspires me so much.  I consider myself pretty creative, more creative than most.  But Jenny is in a whole other stratosphere.  And she has the talent to back it up.  I honestly don't know how she does it, and I never want it to end.

And speaking of inspiration, Jenny has the most brilliantly creative DIYs. From simple things like spray painting thrift store glass dishes to use as jewelry storage, to more complicated building projects like the Ikea Billy built-ins.



She did a whole series on how to reupholster an armchair, she DIY'ed a Sputnik chandelier using an Ikea pendant, which she recently updated, and she took a boring, ugly, ubiquitous vinyl chair and turned it into something cute with just spray paint.  Brilliant.




But my personal favorite is her DIY faux tortoise shell resin table top.



She made a table top out of resin, and it looks like tortoise shell.  Ya kiddin'?  Who does that?  As in, who thinks of that, in the first place, then attempts it, then makes it actually look good?  That is so much talent.

Jenny also helped me to embrace and love painting furniture with oil-based paint (although truthfully I haven't quite mastered it yet).  Her most recent DIY project is a folding screen with oil-based paint in glossy red and decoupaged fabric.



SHE MADE THAT.  It's magnificent.

I also love those glossy white floors, which she made out of freaking plywood (seriously), and then painted with oil based rustoleum in glossy white.  The chair is obviously genius, and that striped brass planter (she just took a brass planter and painted white stripes on it, again, because she's brilliant), is so cute.

Oh Jenny.  Never leave me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In the mood for olive green

I think olive green is the color of the season.  I mean, it is a typically fall color, but there's something about it that seems so new and fresh!  Nothing is new under the sun, of course, but I'm just loving it.  

Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook recently redid her guest bathroom in a lovely creamy olive.



I mean, are you kidding me?  The olive walls with the gold mirror and sconces, the marble (oh the marble) and the black?  Could it get any better than that?  No.  No it could not.


And then she adds coral!  And a Persian rug!  And lucite!  Jenny Komenda is my spirit animal.  I love her and everything that she does.

Then I saw this on Pinterest yesterday.  And I swear I can't think of anything else.



Olive green with pale pink.  Sigh.  Olive green with marine navy.  Oh man.  Olive green with creamy linen white and medium coral.  Wow.  Olive green with muted aqua.  Yum.  I want my whole world to be in those ten colors.  (It's also given me some great ideas for fall fashion, if you must know.)

And then there's this kids room that popped up on my Pinterest feed.  I just love how the paint is clearly olive, but leaning towards gray.  And how the baby wolf pups somehow pick up on the olive green!  



I love the rug, the hanging chair (DUH) and the general bohemian feel to the room.  I also love how the bright yellow school bus and the stacked books pop off of the muted olive background.  It's grounded and earthy, but not at all boring.

And that got me to thinking about my project du jour: the music room!  I was planning to paint the walls black or charcoal gray.  But now I'm thinking: olive!  It's basically the same idea - a dark, moody neutral.  It's not as risky as black (are black walls over?  I don't want them to be), and not as commonplace as gray.  It's edgy and yet calming.

The room itself is small and doesn't get much natural light.  That's the only thing that gives me pause about painting it dark.  But I figure, what the hell.  I like the idea of it being a cozy little nook.  That picture above proves incontrovertibly that the olive will work once we have kids.  Duh.  And if it's really so awful, I'll just paint over it.  Easy peasy.

So here's my new plan for the music room.

Music room new rug

I just ordered that rug on rugsusa.com, (quick!  It's $99 for a 5 x 8!).  The art is just an approximation of what we have - album art, cheerful colors.  I don't have the settee yet, but I plan to get it or something like it fairly soon.  Brian just got a new drumset for his (early) birthday.  It's big and shiny and blue-black, which is not my favorite color, but I'm hoping the other colors in the room make up for it.  Please God.  I wish I had the pleasure of it being done NOW (in addition to being moody, I'm also impatient.  I'm a real charmer), but it's going to have to wait.  Brian's in his last semester of law school, and he takes the Bar in February, and since he uses that room as his study space, the redesign is going to have to wait until March.  Maybe by then I can have all of the pieces and just knock it out quickly.  Let's hope.

So, olive!  Does it seem new and fresh to you, too?  Or is it just me?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

In the mood: to do the French twist

Specifically, I'm in the mood to do the easiest, coolest French twist around.  The Frenchy twist, if you will.

So, I've been growing my hair out for about seven years now (or, all my life, whichever), and it's finally gotten past my shoulders (woo!).  But with length comes responsibility.  What to do with all this hair?  When I had short hair, I styled it every day without fail.  But long hair?  Not as easy to get it up for styling every.single.day.  Which is why, of course, so many ladies resort to ye olde ponytail.  And I love a good pony, I do, but sometimes you just want more.

For a long time I've been doing the messy top-knot.  You know the one.


No source, sorry.

That was basically my daily jam for maybe two years.  


There I am!  In Paris, no bigs.


And there I am with a tiny baby with an Elvis lip-curl.  (And yes, I'm basically Zooey Deschanel.  I mean.)

But you know?  I've gotten a little tired of the bun lately.  Not on other people; I think it's still gorgeous, but on me it's become merely okay.  I'm not sure if I'm just bored, or if it's because I got a haircut recently, and I don't know, it just didn't bun up as well.  Fortunately, although the messy top knot doesn't seem to work on me right now, this new haircut seems to be amenable to other do's, like low ponytails, and chignons.  And French twists!

So, I've never been great at the French twist.  Either it looked too coifed and didn't have enough height at the crown, or it just wouldn't twist properly, and I'd end up with this slightly off-center bulge of hair that would inevitably become exposed because I couldn't get the the rest of my hair to properly cover it.  And that just won't do.  You can't expose the inner workings of the French twist!  It isn't decent!  We don't want to see how the sausage is made.  A French twist is all about mystery.  So I lived a French twist free existence for a while.

Then, in a moment of desperation, mere minutes before I had to run out the door to go to work, and I hadn't washed my hair, and the top knot just wasn't happening, I remembered this little lovely that I had recently pinned.


Source here.

For some reason I had assumed that it wasn't a tutorial, that it was just one of those Pinterest teases that link up to a mediacache page or someone's tumblr.  Honestly, I have no use for those.  I need instruction!  And it turned out that not only was it not a tease, it was an actual tutorial!  And not only a tutorial, it was a video tutorial!  Huzzah!  

And here's the thing, this is the best, easiest, cutest French twist you can imagine.  It's elegant, but still mussed and tousled.  And it's easy!  She uses two bobby pins.  Two!  I used to use an army of bobby pins and the damned thing still wouldn't work.  So, this is my go-to from now on.  It's an excellent technique, and I have a feeling it can be adapted to other styles.  So go check it out already!



Friday, September 19, 2014

In the mood to: read British murder mysteries!

Back when I was in high school, my mom and I got into the habit of reading British murder mysteries during the summer.  There's something about a Tampa summer, on a rainy, dark day, that's oddly reminiscent of England (er, so long as you're in the air conditioning).  A rainy day, a pot of tea, and a murder mystery - could you have a better time?  Doubtful.

I started reading Agatha Christie a few years ago, and I just love her novels.  I think I was suffering under the misapprehension that she was a fussy old broad, like Angela Lansbury in "Murder She Wrote."  I don't know how I conflated the two (are they meant to be alike?  Did I imagine that?).  But I was wrong!  AC's novels are well-written, they provide a delightful slice of life from the early 20th century, and I can pretty much never guess the murderer.  Also, I love Poirot.  I didn't use to like Miss Marple, but I'm getting to like her more.   Right now I'm reading "The Hollow," which is a Poirot novel. He's never wrong.

Found: here.

I find the earlier novels to be most entertaining, partly because I love reading about the 1920s and 1930s, and partly because I've noticed that after the 1950s, AC seems to lose touch with pop culture or society or whatever.  She writes about the youth movement (men with long hair who wear wild fashions) in these awkward terms that seem only to betray a real fear of change.  And while that's understandable, since I was born 20 years after the 1960s and therefore find the '60s both revolutionary and quaint, I find AC's fear of these rebellious youths to be borderline absurd.  Long hair!  On a man!  Fringe!  On a vest!  Quelle horreur!

ANYWAY.  Let's look at book jackets!  Although nearly all of the AC novels I've read have been on le iPad, the book jackets are, in general, totes adorbs.


Look at that flapper!  And all of those clock mask/hats!  I wonder what happened!


Look at that coat!  And that hat!  And those valises!  Sigh.  Air travel used to be glam.  


See, the picture makes me want to drink that coupe of champagne, but the words make me fear it.  #PSYCHOLOGY.  


And the rest.  I think "Towards Zero" is my fave cover in this little collection.  I love judging books by their covers.

I first started reading AC after listening to a Teaching Company Lecture on Mystery Literature.  The lecturer pointed out some patterns in the novels.  The detectives are usually underestimated (Poirot for being foreign, Miss Marple for being old and fussy), there are pretty much always two murders per novel, (and the detective usually prevents the third, JUST IN TIME), and the people murdered are never really likable. I've also noticed that AC loves to poke fun of then-"modern" psychology.  There's always someone in the story who proclaims that the murderer MUST be a lunatic, a psychotic!  It' must have been a "brainstorm"!  They've read about such things in the paper, it apparently makes people quite mad.  At that point, the level-headed detective quietly replies, "Oh no, this was no lunatic.  This is a cold, calculated mind at work." 

But getting back to the victims - they're never good people, they aren't likable.  This impacts the story in several interesting ways.  For one, because they're so unlikable, there are always several people who might want them dead.  That means you have plenty of suspects, and plenty of red herrings.  I personally think it helps to have an unlikable victim, because then you don't really waste your sympathy on them.  If you're all torn up over the death of the victim, you aren't really enjoying the fun of the mystery.  It's fiction, after all.  In real life, murder is horrible and sad and tragic.  But in fiction, you might as well have fun trying to solve it.  The wonderful part about AC's novels is that, as unlikable as the murder victim(s) are, the killer is always even worse!  And it's fun to be shocked over all of their plots and plans.  Of course, that being said, you do have to have sympathy for someone in the novel.  That usually goes to the young lovers, or the main character.  But sometimes not!  Sometimes ol' AC tricks ya!  Sometimes it's even a child murderer.  TRUST NO ONE.

I said before that I've never correctly guessed the murderer, but that's not true!  I did once, just recently. If it helps, I've noticed that it's always the person who I didn't even think was one of the suspects.  That's another clue for you.  Who are the suspects?  Who have you already decided definitely isn't a suspect?  Who's left?  Who's the person who you wouldn't even think of as being part of the plot?  Because that's who it is.  Every time.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In the mood for: my car to not smell like yogurt

Why, oh why, does my car smell like yogurt?  What happened, and where?  Will I have to employ my own nose like a bloodhound and find the spot where (likely) milky coffee spilled out of a Starbucks to-go cup, and took up residence?

I keep hoping it just goes away on its own, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  Living in Florida in high summer doesn't help.  Well, unless you're those little yogurty microbes.  Then the sun and heat is your jam.  Kick up the tunes and ferment, bra!

Here's a picture I drew of blueberries; blueberries that one might eat with yogurt.  Non-car yogurt, of course.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

In the mood to: make a music room

So, we have a three bedroom house, and no kids (yet).  That means we have a guest room and an office, which is super luxurious.  My husband is in law school, and needs to be able to shut out the cacophony of daily life (more like cat-cophony), but he'll be done with law school soon (YAY) and so I'm planning to turn the office into his music room.  Huzzah!

I don't have a picture of it currently, because it's seriously ugly.  But here's what I'm planning for the not-too-distant future:

It's kinda blurry,  I should fix that.

Anyway!  Mood board: dark walls (charcoal?  BLACK?!  Dare I? Are black walls over??), a small leather sofa, white Ikea Merete curtains, a vintage rug, some tree stump end tables, colorful art, a fun light, and maybe we'll hang the guitars on the walls, because WHY NOT.

I'm liking this lil' leather settee from overstock:

And by "leather" I obviously mean "not leather but some sort of plastic."  Whatever, I can't pay leather prices anyway.

In terms of the rug, I want to do either a vintage Persian, as shown above, or a vintage kilim, like so:


Found here.  To get a rug like that, well either rug, really, I'm going to have to stalk eBay like it's my job.  I'm also going to have to get over the fear of buying an antique rug online, sight unseen.  I'm not going to lie, that's a big part of it.

But the real question is this: are black walls over?  Did I miss the trend?

Friday, September 12, 2014

In the mood to have a drank

Well, I'm not technically in the mood for a drink, since it's not even 10:00 a.m., BUT I am in the mood to have a drink this evening, since it's Friday and all.  I just bought some rosewater at a Turkish market that I just discovered near my house, and even though it's September, it's still hot, yo.  Rosewater sounds like the perfect way to cool down.

I saw this little lovely on Pinterest: Cardamom Rose Cocktail.  Isn't she pretty?

Source: Design*Sponge

Or this: Cucumber & Rose Gin Cocktail.  It has St. Germain in it, which I have a bottle of at home that I'd love to use.

I'm slowly (very slowly) getting our back patio in fall-ready shape.  See, in central Florida, we don't spend the summer outdoors (unless it's at the beach or whatever).  No, it's too humid, there are too many mosquitoes, too much rain, and it's just too hot.  But fall and winter, that's when the air starts to dry out, and the mosquitoes die off.  That's living.

But, despite the fact that it will likely rain all day today, I'd like to sit on my patio after work, with my husband, drink in hand.