what i love: february

Oops, forgive me for being one day late. It’s been a busy week. You know what else is late? SPRING. Or at least temperatures that aren’t the norm in the arctics. Supposedly there’s a big frost on the way this week, but I’ll believe it when I see it. How was your February? I can’t complain about mine: we celebrated the husband’s birthday in style, I’m feeling much more settled in my job (and still love it!), and we’ve seen old and new friends. More exciting news to share: we bought hardwood floors! Ok, technically bamboo floors. We found a good sale and decided to take the monetary plunge and redo the entire main level of our house. They should arrive in a few weeks and then, God help us, we’re going to tackle installing them ourselves. I’m sure everything will go PERFECTLY and there will be no fighting or unpleasantries at all. Heh. Because of that, pretty much all of my faves this month have to do with the house. I’ve been doing nonstop research about things like building walls and how to pick rug sizes for a room. I can’t wait to see how much the house is going to change for the better. Here’s what’s making me smile this month:

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1. I read a ton of home decor blogs for inspiration, but my favorite for years has been House Tweaking. Dana and her family (Cincinnati natives) “rightsized” into a fixer upper a few years ago and she has since made the house into a stunning place to live. The bathroom above is the most recently completed room and as you can see, she has an eye for creating the right mix of warm woods, interestingly patterned textiles, and gorgeous textures. I love every room in her house and wish I could buy it and move in tomorrow (see the house tour here). For now, I’ll just have to be content with stalking her blog page daily and copying everything. Seriously, that kitchen though…

2. You know what I’m obsessed with? This Banana Republic Jacquard Cropped Tank. The husband went on an after-birthday shopping spree and this, um, somehow made it into the shopping cart too. What can I say? I HAD to have it. I might also have to have the matching skirt so this summer I can pretend it’s a super cute dress. Yes?

3. One thing our house is missing hardcore is green, as in plants. I’ve been crushing on the shiny gold planters in this adorable pin from Target (love the tiny white succulent vase and all those awesome patterns too!) and am heading up this afternoon to pick up this hanging planter…I figure we should finally use one of the seventeen hooks hanging from our ceiling. The only problem is the last time I had a house plant, I killed it. Quickly. And it was a succulent, i.e. the most kill-proof plant in the world! So help me, which plant would you recommend to the worst plant owner ever?

4. One thing I’ve noticed in my new office is that all the women really take care of themselves. Shoes are always clean and unscuffed, nails are always manicured, and jewelry is always, always beautiful. I need to step up my game, for sure. I’ve started my weekly DIY manicures (it really DOES make you feel better and more put together!) and I’m eyeing these stunning Kate Spade Balloon Bouquet stud earrings. That blush color is so gorgeous and as a spring neutral would look great with everything.

5. Remember how much I loved The Bookman’s Tale? Imagine my surprise when Charlie Lovett published a new literary-themed thriller! Of course I picked it up ASAP. First Impressions is a fun quick read about Jane Austen (ugh, I’m so sick of her but read it anyway), weaving an imagined story of how Pride and Prejudice was written with a modern-day heroine trying to protect her favorite author’s legacy. While definitely nowhere near as wonderful as Bookman, I still flew through the book and loved the main character Sophie.

What are you loving this month?

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what i love: april

This spring is killing it. For the most part it has been beautiful and my mood has lifted along with the weather. I’ve loved getting to be outside all the time (though my itchy/burny/crying eyes would beg me to stop if they could – is it possible to get adult-onset allergies?!?) and fresh air in the house has never felt better. I even planted flowers you guys. That’s huge! But one word of advice: go alone to pick out annuals ladies or you’ll end up with only flowers of a certain color scheme. Even our garden screams “geaux tigers” now. Joy.

Here’s what’s making me smile this April!

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1. I’m obsessed with this cookbook shelf and want one immediately. Where else am I going to put my oodles of perfectly coordinated Fiesta pitchers and platters and vases? It’s no secret I love white kitchens and the colorful shelf and stools of this one add in the personality and flair needed to make the space fresh and lively. In fact, the whole house is classically quite beautiful. And the navy in the back of the upper cabinets? I die. Someday my dream kitchen will be mine. Until then, bear with me as I pin beautiful picture after beautiful picture and wax poetic…

2. How adorbs is this outfit? I won’t lie, I’m wearing a slightly less cute and put together version of this today because I love it so much. All I need is white jeans! Can a short, not-super-skinny girl pull them off? I’m going to try. Maybe. Am I that brave? Anyway, the yellow is just so much fun and unexpected. I would expect to see this look many times in the next few months since my office is FREEZING even in 90+ degree weather. Always have to layer.

3. Two words: Funfetti. Blondies. Do I need to say more? I want to make these for a cookout immediately. So someone invite us to a cookout, yeah? The confetti sprinkles are so spring-like and I honestly can’t imagine someone seeing these and NOT singing along to Pharrell in their head. Oh that’s just me? Sorry. I’m happy!

4. Anyone else feel like this all the time? Maybe it’s a symptom of “impostor syndrome” or maybe it’s just growing up, but so much of the time I feel like I honestly am just making it up as I go along. And I’m kinda ok with it. This month I’ve been trying to take a few chances and stretch myself personally and professionally even though it’s frankly scary as hell and I feel all vulnerable and awkward. But on the flip side, it’s also incredibly liberating for a recovering type-a control freak to say, “I don’t know what’s going on,” and just go with it.

5. I know the newest Arcade Fire release has been out since late last year, but I’ve been playing them on repeat the last week or so because tonight we’re going to see them! I am super excited! (Ok, real talk: not as excited as I was to see Billy Joel, but it’s not everyday you get to be in the same room with your longtime musical idol.) The dress code for the concert tonight is “formal or costume.” Yeah. I can’t wait to dance my little fool head off and party hard. Party hard, but responsibly. Work still has to be done on Wednesday. How’s work on the coffee I.V., science?

What are you loving this month?

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what i’m loving: january

Anyone else got the winter blues? Yeah, me too. It’s just. so. cold. I don’t even want to think about what this month’s energy bill will be. It will definitely be record-breaking for this house. But hey, I’ve got a house so the privilege of paying to keep it warm is something to remember. The ground hog better not let us down, I think we all need spring in a bad way.

Truthfully, I’m not sad that January sped by as all the months seem to do lately. Work has been busier than I ever could have possibly imagined when I took the position 18 months ago. The sheer amount of things to do is exhausting. Thankfully, while there has been much on my plate, my non-design coworkers have been understanding and so very helpful and I honestly have surprised myself with how well I have performed. Even better is that I’ve stayed primarily stress-free, something that doesn’t come easy to me. Also thankfully, it all should end in a few weeks when hopefully I have a new partner to share my load. Here are some of the things keeping me afloat (though not making me any warmer in this never-ending frigid air)!

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1. Two words: Enchilada Pasta. Yeah. This is so good. I am constantly trying out new recipes from the web and a lot of them are failures (the recipe or me? who can ever know?). The husband has learned a diplomatic trick from my dad: after a meal that was not really stellar or downright gross, he’ll simply say, “you don’t have to make that again,” and then I know he hated it. It’s very polite, no? But this…he wants again. It is creamy (though not super unhealthy is you sub in non-fat things like I did) and delicious and makes a TON, which is perfect for leftovers. One word to the wise: the recipe as written is not very spicy or flavorful. I doubled the chili powder and cumin, salted a lot and then we both liberally dumped hot sauce on our servings. It’s perfect to warm you up on polar vortex nights.

PS: I hate the polar vortex. Anyway…

2. Can we talk about something serious here: when are boot cuts coming back? Don’t get me wrong, I like skinnies just as much as the next girl…but I really miss some good old flares. How chic does she look? It’s fabulous (though I question those shoes). I just feel like boot cuts and trouser jeans are more flattering for more women and look more professional and polished. Am I right? Maybe that’s my calling in life, to bring back to boot cuts. Give me that adorable striped shirt and a pretty red pashmina and I’m ready to conquer the world!

3. I’ve done so much daydreaming this month. The husband and I are really starting to talk about the Italy trip, even though it’s definitely not happening until at least spring of next year. Doesn’t mean we can’t dream right? (Or buy Italian wine to start “learning,” right?) This view of Positano takes my breath away and the whole set of photos is incredible. Amalfi Coast, here I come…in 2015.

4. This month I’ve found myself really being drawn to and inspired by book covers. I mean, I’m surrounded by them all day long at work and then in my free tie I just look at them all over the interwebs. It’s sick. I love this alternate The Fault in Our Stars cover by Matt Clough. The illustration work is beautiful and he’s so clever to design it double sided for both Hazel and Gus. You can see all the images here. I wish this was the real cover…I’ve pinned a bunch of other book design collections, namely these gorgeously illustrated covers and this collection that just blows my mind. The design for The Night Circus alone is better than any version I’ve seen in real life. I wish publishers took more design risks, but that’s a post for another day.

5. OMG The Following. You guys. The husband and I can’t stop. We were bored on Netflix last weekend and decided to watch the first episode because what else was there to do? It’s really good. And one episode was so scary I actually screamed out loud. I don’t even do that for The Walking Dead! In a nutshell, The Following tells the story of an ex-FBI agent (Kevin Bacon, who is great) trying to stop a serial killer who has escaped after 9 years in prison. Said serial killer has formed a cult and it’s an elaborate cat-and-mouse story full of Edgar Allen Poe symbols and all-out creepiness. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief because really, the FBI can’t be THAT bad at what they do and the serial killer can’t be THAT much of a genius mastermind, but it’s very entertaining. Love it.

{image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4}

what i’m loving: december

Well, it’s finally here…Christmas has come and gone and the final few day of 2013 is here. It’s been one hell of a year. Sometimes it literally did feel like hell. But others were sweet and wonderful and fun. While the inconveniences of day-to-day life may bring out the Eeyore in me, I truly have a great life and am so thankful for it all. I always love that we as a culture set this arbitrary date as a “reset” point, trying to forget the year before and make this new one the “best yet.” We’re finally going to lose weight and get a better job and do all the things! And trust me, I’m guilty of it too. We’re so optimistic! Whether we actually reach our goals or not, it’s such a happy and determined time, making it super easy for me to find about a million things that are making me smile. Here are just a few!

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1. 2014. Like I said, I’m not immune to the outrageous optimism that is the new year. I don’t really set resolutions, but I have a ton of goals, mostly involving the word “more.” More reading (GOOD books, not as much Stephanie Plum garbage). More writing. More learning. More laughing. More saying “yes.” More of doing what makes me happy, less doing what I feel I “should.”

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Bring it on.

2. Recently I’ve become obsessed with redoing my master bathroom. I think about it a ridiculous amount. It’s the last room on our main floor that is untouched. It’s…a sight. First of all, no matter how much I clean, it’s always filthy. Nothing seems to have been sealed or caulked correctly. We don’t have the budget right now to gut it (though that’s what it truly needs), so we’ve got to work with the gross builder-basic vanity and the boring white square tile floor. Seriously. It’s just those cheap 4″x 4″ tiles that cost a penny or something like that. Oh and did I mention that the over-toilet cabinet we currently have is a KITCHEN cabinet?!? Blech. So I’ve been scouting paint colors and replacement medicine cabinets and light fixtures. This adorable preppy yellow is where I’m leaning right now since the master bedroom is done in gray and yellow.

I’m also thinking a bright pocket door is necessary, yes?

3. I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who knows me here or in real life that I am not the best of cooks. I can bake pretty well because sweets are my life (I just got the Milk Bar cookbook – watch out people, we’re gonna have some fun), but I honestly could care less about real food, thus I don’t put much effort into my dinners. But I have been trying really hard over the last few months to make Meatless Mondays a real thing in our house. And I’ve been doing really well at it, but it tends to be just a few things like fancy pastas or some form of a quinoa salad. This meatless chili mac looks a-ma-zing and comes together in half an hour. I think even I can do that, right?

4. You guys. The movies out right now are totes mcgotes awesome. We saw American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street last week (let me tell you, WoWS was maybe not the best movie to see with your family on Christmas day…wow awkward) and they are both so great! Very different, but great. American Hustle reminded me a lot of Ocean’s Eleven because there was so much trickery that you didn’t even know was happening. The cast was incredible and it was all-around a fun movie. WoWS was, in every possible way, excessive. Sex, drugs, money…there’s so much of everything. Leo and Jonah Hill are phenomenal in it. Definitely go see both!

5. Since I started working at the library, it has become pretty much impossible for me to wear heels to work. First of all, I never really liked them anyway. But now I seriously walk so much. Not only do I walk three+ blocks to and from the bus, I run all over the damn building printing stuff and going to meetings and dropping things off to the different departments. As a result, my flats have all seen better days, and none are quite as bad as my black ballet flats. I need a replacement pair pronto and these Zara beauties are at the top of my list. I like that they have a tiny lift and seem like they have a little structure to them. And of course, they’re on sale…TEMPTATION!

Have a happy new year! See you in 2014! What are you loving this month?

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what i’m loving: november

Ohmygoodness Thanksgiving is in two days? How did this happen? Logically I know that since I’m still alive, I obviously lived through November…but it feels like it was a blur. I literally just had to open my Google Cal to remember what happened this month. Early memory loss or pre-Thanksgiving distraction? I’ll let you be the judge. Though I can’t seem to focus for more than three seconds, this month was fun. My aunt visited from out of town. I saw Catching Fire. I met Doris Kearns Goodwin (book nerd alert)! I get to run 6.2 miles on Thursday in sub-freezing temperatures! Notice I said “get.” Trying really hard to stay positive here, people. What I really meant to say is, “why am I crazy and why is my sister-in-law making me do this?”

Oh yeah, so we can eat pie!

Here’s what I’m loving this month!

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1. How crazy gorgeous is this bookshelf/hutch? I’m obsessed. Too bad it’s from a Dutch company who probably doesn’t ship to America and even if they do, would charge me way more money than I have to do so. The paneling detail is incredible and I love the hardware. I’m filing this image away in my “Inspiration for when we finally get our act together and do the lower level built-ins” folder. Wouldn’t something like this look amazing built in around a cozy fireplace? I die.

2. Mittens! I think I forgot how much I hate cold. It is miserable and it hasn’t even gotten that bad yet! My favorite gloves are starting to fall apart (sad day) and I’m in the market for some gloves or mittens I can text with. I also may or may not need to use them at work where my hands feel like ice ALL DAY, but I need my fingertips to still be able to use a trackpad. I adore the pattern on these, however, I do not adore the price. Has anyone seen some lookalikes out there?

3. Have I told you lately how I wish I could wear stripes every single day of my life? Ugh, I do. I love them so. I especially love them with this cozy sweater shrug. I just bought a big cozy layering sweater like this a few days ago and am eagerly awaiting its arrival so I can wear this exact same outfit. Too bad I lack that beautiful clutch and her amazing mani and will probably look like a big, shapeless slug. No worries, I’ll be warm!

4. A few weeks ago I chopped my hair and now have a chin-length ‘do. I love it! Kirsten Dunst (who I’ve been told is my celeb doppleganger – I think it’s the cheeks) is totally rocking it here and when I go in for a trim I might try out those bangs. She looks incredible.

5. I think you’ll sense a trend here…I’m loving hot drinks. (I really, really hate the cold.) After I torture myself by running in the dark and cold after work, when you know all I want to do is snuggle under a blanket with Scandal, I love to make myself hot water with lemon and honey. It feels so good after the cold destroys my throat and helps me warm up again. I think I’m going to have to start adding a little something extra and make some hot toddies! They look so comforting and bourbon is good for rehydrating, right?!?

PS: Sorry for the monochrome picks this month, it just happened that way. It was either that or everything looking like this:

CAN’T. WAIT.

What are you loving this month?

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what i’m loving: june

Happy summer! It officially kicked off on Friday and I hope your weekend was full of sun and (boozy) popsicles and fireflies and smiles. This is a rough first week of summer in the nerdy world: there’s major construction going on on my route home AND there’s no air conditioning in my office for six weeks. How is it even possible they can basically shut down an entire bridge and make me sit in heat for 8 hours a day on the same day? Oh well, to avoid getting too Eeyore on you (and work on my happiness project), here are a few of the little things keeping that summer smile on my face:

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1. How adorable is this DIY paper mobile? The instructions (from Oh Happy Day) make it sound super simple (a lot like the heart banners I made for Jen’s bridal shower) and while it’s originally intended for a party or photobooth backdrop (beyond cute), I would love to have this somewhere in my house as an easy art installation. Now I just need to find the perfect spot! I bet when the windows are open they look so charming, dancing around in the breeze…

2. Remember all those ideas I had about how I want my deck and future patio to look? Please scratch that and let’s make this happen, on the double! This enchanting patio is actually at Frog’s Leap winery in Napa and it might be as close to my idea of perfection as any space could be. The lights! The chairs! The STRIPES! The only thing that would make this better is an open bottle of wine…but that can be so easily remedied! This picture not only makes me want to redo my entire house – inside and out – to look like this, it also makes me want to hop on the next plane to SFO. Wine country, why must you be so far away?!?

3. Summer is the perfect time to unplug. It just feels right to get off the computer and put down the phone and really be in the world, you know? This image links to an honest (and honestly funny) article that looks at the power of unplugging and finding some sort of balance. I love this quote:

Equilibrium. The idea is that a life should be balanced, with not too much of any one thing. Work, sex, marriage, (parenthood), a social life, pleasure—all aspects of your life should be present, but no one thing should overwhelm the other. Instead of a mad dash to be it all and do it all, to work a sixty-hour week and be the perfect mother with the iconic marriage, the goal is a balance that results in pleasure. The goal, in essence, is less. (With wine.)

I firmly believe that even in our society of wanting to have it all, all the time, it’s perfectly ok to want just enough and to be perfectly happy with a calm and simple life. Like I said, summer is the perfect time to start.

4. Umm, is this not the most amazing summer makeup you’ve ever seen? Yeah ok, she’s a VS angel or whatever and is naturally pretty amazing looking, but I am obsessed with that lipstick color. And bronzer. Ok fine, the whole thing. The search to find all these products begins now!

5. So that whole trying-to-be-healthy-to-buy-a-running-skirt thing I talked about last month? Ha. … Yeah, I’m pretty sure “ha” covers it all, really. It hasn’t happened (as you may have guessed). The sugar/cookie/brownie/wine monster kinda took over my body there for a little bit. Don’t you just hate when that happens? So anyway, I need to get my sh*t together, so to speak, and find some better-for-me substitutions that don’t use things like beans in cookie dough. Umm, eww. Enter these dark chocolate trail mix bites. They look amazing, no? And dark chocolate is healthy, right? (Please say yes.) These look like a guilt-free treat that I would actually make…and enjoy!

{Unless noted, all images from Pinterest.}