what i love: january

OMG January is over? We’re already 1/12 through 2015? Gah. Life please slow down. Life is pretty great right now. My new gig is going so well, it’s almost a certain husband’s birthday (we can’t sneak away for a mountain cabin escape this year sadly, but I do get to bake a cake!), and Suits is back on. When Harvey Specter is back, do you really need anything else? I didn’t think so.

Here’s what I’m loving this month:

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1. Don’t you love this fire pit? I am longing for a mountain or lake getaway rightnow. I think I’ve been feeling this particular brand of wanderlust for months now. But no dice. For now. We’re supposed to get snow this weekend (thankfully not like the East coast got this week, only a few inches) so I could totally fake it with a cozy staycation, right? Everyone (Nico included) chills in pajamas in front of a fire with bad-for-you snacks and lots of spiked hot chocolate! Not quite as picturesque as the scene above. Sigh.

2. Speaking of fires, this fireplace and mantel is basically my platonic ideal of a fireplace and mantel. I want to jump into my computer and move into this house. The stone work is so gorgeous and I am dying over a floating chunky mantel these days. You better believe it’s happening in our lower level later this year. In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say everything in that picture is happening in our lower level later this year…luckily for me, here’s a diy version of the mantel. Even I can do it? Sure.

3. This cold, bitter weather has me craving everything hot and/or spicy, but I’m getting a little tired of the same old, same old soup. Enter this Thai Noodle Bowl. Look at those red pepper flakes! I want red pepper flakes on all the things. This Asian chicken noodle soup is quick and healthy, perfect for spicing up any old Tuesday night. Do it now.

4. Ok, so you know how I was disappointed by my unmet expectations of The Hangman’s Daughter? The Husband and I went to the library on Monday (I actually get to go to the library in my free time — it’s so fun when it’s not work!) and the cover of The Brothers Cabal popped out at me. You guys. It’s exactly what I wanted The Hangman’s Daughter to be. It’s full of dark, gothic, dry British humor and mystery galore. The brothers are a necromancer and a vampire and the author-as-narrator works so well here. It’s number four in a series and I already can’t wait to go get them all. I’m hooked.

5. Since I’ve had to enter the adult world and dress up for work, the rest of the time I have been all about some cozy, chic layers. I want to wear sweaters and wraps and jeans all the time. This look is pretty much what you’ll find me in anytime it’s not 9-to-5. Unless, you know, there are yoga pants around.

What’s making you smile this month?

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sunday brunch

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If we were having brunch today, you’d probably laugh SO HARD at the ridiculous smile I have on my face when I tell you all about my new job. It’s so great. Everyone has been so welcoming and the work is fun. Does liking bank work make me a corporate schmo? Eh. Sorry I’m not sorry. It’s certainly a different world from what I’ve been used to, but I am enjoying being part of a large team and actually having a designer to learn from again. Oh and bank holidays. Yeeeaaahhhh I’d probably also be telling you all about my plans for tomorrow, including sleeping in, watching tv in pajamas all day, reading, cuddling with the dog…you know.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I am obsessed with the Netflix show Peaky Blinders. Have you seen it? Ermahgerd I love it so much. We watched the two seasons in less than two weeks (would have been less than two days but the husband enforced a mandated rationing — boo). Imagine Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey having a glorious love-child and you’ve pretty much got the gist of Peaky Blinders. The Blinders are a family mob in England after WWI who run a gambling circuit and various other illegal activities and it is great. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch this:

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If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that any attempt so far at trying to be healthy in 2015 (I didn’t set any resolutions, but I’d always like to have a little better habits and the new year is a good time to start fresh) has failed. Miserably. I’ve been running really consistently 3-4 times a week, and that’s really awesome in this cold we’ve had, but besides that…nada. Zippo. And food? Uhhhh it’s best not to go into it. Anyone have any tips for getting back on track? I need Amy Poehler’s advice here, the doing of the thing is the thing, not the talking about it.

If we were having brunch today, I’d tell you that I am so over this winter EXCEPT that we haven’t really had any snow. Can we make a big storm happen? Preferably on a weekend so I don’t have commute stress? Cool.

If we were having brunch today, I’d ask you if you’ve seen any of the Oscar nominees and if you have any recos. We’ve seen The Imitation Game and Birdman and I thought both were excellent films. Michael Keaton was especially brilliant. I want to see a few more before the Oscars, namely Boyhood (I’ve heard it’s great but very long) and The Theory of Everything and I guess I’ll eventually see American Sniper,  though I am generally not a fan of war movies. In general, this was a great crop, right?

Your turn! How’s life with you today?

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what i love: december

Happy new year! I remember last year around this time I was so SO ready to be done with 2013. It was not my favorite year. But 2014, despite its ups and downs, was a sweet year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ready for a fresh start. Next Monday brings me the start of my new job and like everyone, I find the beginning of the year always bringing me the desire to make better habits or lose a few that aren’t serving a purpose anymore. Thank you for sticking with me along the way this year and giving me a special place to celebrate my own particular brand of nerdiness. I love all you nerds and have great plans for this space next year.

I wish for you a very fun (and safe!) end of 2014 and the crisp, hopeful turning of a new leaf in 2015. Here’s what’s making me smile lately:

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1. How much do you love this diy panel wall? Because I am amazed by it. Actually by the entire room makeover. It’s gorgeous and I’m obsessed with that gray and those antlers. I secretly want antlers in every room…but only if they’re fake. I’m thinking they’ll look great in our lower level, yes? (Help me convince the husband!) Anyway, the paneling gives the room incredible character and elegance. I was about to say it looks easy too, but knowing my diy skills, that’s better left unsaid. Or left to the professionals.

2. You guys, the cozy season is upon us. ALL I want to do is cuddle under a million blankets with cups of tea and a book and my pup. Seriously. I had a five day weekend over the Christmas holiday and I didn’t wear pants with zippers the ENTIRE time. It. Was. Bliss.

3. And yeah, maybe I went on my yoga-pant-binge partly because in less than a week this casual girl is entering a corporate office for the first time. All of my design jobs have been in jeans-friendly offices and trust me, my closet was not ready for this change. I have been pinning corporate capsule wardrobes like a fiend and buying pretty much every trouser and pencil skirt and sensible heel I can get my hands on. I am particularly obsessed with ShopBop’s ultimate workwear wardrobe. It is the perfect reminder than a few key pieces can be remixed in the most creative and beautiful ways. The husband is glad for this as the post-Christmas bank account can’t take much more shopping.

Also, I need that polka dot blouse. RIGHT NOW.

4. Anyone else have an extra delicious Christmas? Yeah, the yoga-pant-binge helped me ignore my cookie-and-wine puffiness too. While this year I refuse to beat myself up, I know the husband and I need to clean up our food game in the new year. Last week we tried this steamed salmon and veggies in foil recipe and it was ridiculously easy and delicious. The veggies (went with tomatoes, red onion, and zucchini with a little olive oil, s&p, and parsley) were perfectly steamed and the salmon was surprisingly tasty. Definitely a quick and healthy dinner to add into your rotation.

5. A week or so ago, I stumbled on David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College called “This is Water.” If you haven’t read it or heard him speak, please, please take a few minutes to do so. The text is written here but this video is well worth the listen to hear it as he spoke and to see the fun designer-y (technical term) animation. Since I found it, I have listened to it a few times, whenever I’m feeling a little negative or annoyed, and it instantly perks me up (and it makes me cry, ok?). It reminds me a lot of The Happiness Project because it’s main theme is that we have the power to choose our thoughts; we have the power to be annoyed by traffic and crowds at the grocery store and the monotony of daily life, or to choose to find meaning in the small moments of life or in how we help others or in choosing to be light instead of heavy. I hope it inspires you to be a little lighter and choose more positively.

Happy new year! Let’s make it a great one!

[images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

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}

nerdy guide: sick day soothers

Last week the husband and I were hit by a terrible cold/flu/plague that left us both feeling pretty pitiful. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like spending NYE shivering from a fever (especially when you’re the one hosting!). Luckily (unluckily?) we were hit at the same time so we got to spend a sick day wallowing in misery together. The flu is quickly making its rounds all over the country, and while OTC drugs go a long way in making you feel almost-human, there are other household items that seriously help too. The “comfort food” items of a home, if you will. Here’s what soothed us on our sick day:ngw_sickday

throw | tea | humidifier | trashy books and movies | slippers | chicken noodle soup recipe (even better if someone else make it!)

Here’s hoping that the flu passes you by!