Posts Tagged ‘FYI’

There are a few particular things that have made my May that much more delightful. Not only is the weather finally changing to something I can get on board with, but these few little things have put a smile on my face this month. No, I’m not endorsed by any of these companies, but I wouldn’t be opposed to whoring myself out for a nominal fee (did I really just say that?). I digress. Behold, my May lovelies.

I’m not the girliest girl I know, but I have to gush over the new OPI nail polish that I bought the other day. I was having lunch near a great nail shop in Charlotte and decided to pop in and spend a few bucks on something to dress up my toes a bit (remember that nicer weather I was talking about?). I decided on a great shade and was about to pay the owner of the shop when he started into a spiel about a recent trade show he had attended. Apparently, OPI has some cutting edge technology that makes their newest colors ultimately chip proof and able to withstand the steaming breath of a fire-breathing dragon. I politely said “yeah right” and went on my way because, really, what polish is actually chip proof? Well, I eat my words. This stuff was amazing! I had the same application on for over 3 weeks and the stuff just wouldn’t budge. I think it’s made with bullet proof material or something – seriously, ingenious. Consider me sold.

We were recently in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest and I did something I rarely ever do – I bought something for myself while on vacation. Yes, ladies and gents, I am my father’s daughter and I am infinitely cheap frugal (sorry, Pops). I love to browse shops while on vacay, but I can never summon up the nerve to buy something that I don’t really need. Now, put me in a Banana Republic outlet store and we have another story, but for some reason I never buy anything for myself on vacation.

On this trip, I grew up a little. We were walking around the French Market and I was totally smitten with this ikat scarf. Normally, ikat fabrics in interiors makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but in scarf form? Yum. See the growing I’m talking about?

If you don’t know about Izze drinks by now, you need to jump on this delicious bandwagon. I’m not a soda drinker, simply because I have a hard time drinking something can literally eat through furniture varnish. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like some carbonation like the next person. Take my love of fruit juice and throw in some sparkling water, and you have Izze. I’ve only tried a few flavors so far (and plan to try them all) but I’ve gotten a bit stuck on the sparkling clementine. It’s my happy place. I even bought a four pack with the sole purpose of photographing them for this post, but I plowed through those suckers before I could even find my camera. I love that they’re simply fruit juice and sparkling water- no other additives. Deeeelish.

And this is what I like to call a tease. Remember our vibrant green den? I tweeted a while back that I had a sudden urge to paint the whole house white, and luckily my husband was (somewhat) on board with my shenanigans. I’ve been slightly hooked on the show Sarah’s House recently, and I finally figured out why her rooms always appeal to me – her love of pattern/texture and her lack of overwhelming color. Duh, right? I’m a huge fan of vibrant fabrics with fun patterns, but I was always apprehensive to bring them into our home because we had such bold wall colors. The light bulb finally clicked that I should tone down the overall colors in our home so my favorite pieces (ie. fabrics) can really be the stars of the show. We’ve painted our kitchen and den so far, so I have a few ideas of how to pump up our neutral boxes and bring in some fun and colorful fabrics. Get excited!

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This month’s Real Simple issue has had me thinking quite a bit about how best to sum it up. Because this issue, unlike any other, is a bit more special. It’s the mother of all RS chronicles – the 10th year anniversary issue. Now, when this gem popped up in my mail box, I gasped at the number 10 on the cover. 10 years!? How many issues does that mean I’ve missed!? Obviously I haven’t been reading this since I was 16 (come on, I’m not THAT lame) but if I would have had the foresight or wisdom in my teen years, I just may have been devouring the early issues of RS and learning tons of tricks for my more sophisticated future self (ahem). Nonetheless, this issue does a great job of summing up the last ten years for me – and I’ll do just the same for you.

This issue focuses on TIME. The time that RS saves all of us by their little tricks and tips. The time that is more organized and efficient thanks the articles within. So for this round-up, I’ll forgo the standard summation of my 3 favorite articles and give the 10 best tips that are scattered throughout this huge issue, so all you lovely people can save some time on reading the whole magazine. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyways?

Sidenote: Real Simple commissioned some well-known designers to design custom clocks for their time-centered issue. Pretty neato, huh?

1. Apply nail polish on the bottom of your metal shaving cream bottle to avoid any rust stains forming on the ledge of your tub.

2. Use an old toothbrush to remove those pesky pieces of corn silk from your corn on the cob.

3. Use hair conditioner as your shaving cream. You’ll eliminate the extra bottle in your shower and save a little chedda’ as well.

4. Hate hand washing your fancy sweaters and waiting days for them to dry? Pop them into a large salad spinner and pull that extra water out in seconds.

5. A brightly colored wallet is easier to spot in a messy handbag, saving you precious moments on searching for the darn thing.

6. Not only is green tea packed with anti-oxidants, but it also freshens your breath. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

7. Store each sheet set in one of the pillow cases. This will make your linen closet look neater and make finding things a lot quicker.

8. Light hard to reach candles with raw spaghetti strands.

9. To keep brown sugar from getting hard as a rock, throw a few marshmallows in the bag.

10. Use your lemon zester to mince garlic. A heck of a lot easier than using a knife.

All tips courtesy of Real Simple – like I’m really that clever myself. :P

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I’ve been kidnapped…

You may or may not have wondered where I’ve been recently. I’d love to be revealing some exciting news that has kept me out of blogland, but it’s nothing quite like that. I’ve literally been sucked into a world that I fought for months to stay away from. And despite my best efforts, I have to say I’m quite a fan. A very embarrassed, ashamed fan, to say the least. What is keeping me at bay you ask?

TWILIGHT. Ugh, you read that right. I finally gave way to the persistance of my coworkers, friends and family (I really had it coming from all sides) and agreed to read the Twilight books. This started about a week ago, and I’m just now coming to the end of the 4th book. Which is almost 800 pages. 700 of which I’ve read in 4 days. While working and trying to maintain a normal lifestyle. Can we say obsessed much?

Yep, I’m addicted. I am a self-proclaimed Twilight fan, and I’m here to air my dirty laundry so you don’t think I have dropped off the face of the planet. After this saga is over and I’m not longer spending my days thinking about vampires and werewolves and monster babies, I’ll be back. And better than ever. As always, since every post MUST have a picture, get a load of some pretty eye candy, courtesy of yours truly (no vampire pictures will be included. Promise).

All Images Courtesty of Flickr

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Slacker Gift Ideas

In the spirit of all things Christmas, I’m here to throw you last minute shoppers a bone. I know that everyone can’t be like me and have their presents well before Christmas eve (or like my co-worker that had all of her shopping done by July), but I also know that slacking is quite the art form. Heck, some people wait until Christmas Eve to purchase their presents (*cough* my brother *cough cough*) and manage to find that perfect something at Walgreens. But, in case your procrastination has left you puzzled on what to get your special someone, you’ve come to the right place. Since the hubs and I spend our holidays in Florida and try to keep our luggage down to a minimum, we decided to celebrate Christmas this weekend and exchange our gifts to each other.  I was quite impressed with our gift selections – not only because we both enjoyed them, but because he gave me quintessential “girl gifts” and I hooked him up with some classic “guy gifts”. I felt that any slackers out there that are searching for some ideas could definitely benefit from us overachievers. So without further ado, our Christmas bounty!

Even though my husband might not scream “macho” to most (sorry honey, it’s true) I felt that his gifts this year were certainly manly enough to appeal to the masses. Case in point: a tool box. Honestly, what guy isn’t obsessed with his tools? And ladies, this is really a gift for you as well. I took our crazy unorganized tool bag and turned it into a svelte, sleek and organized tool box that made my guy’s heart sing. Win win, right?

Of course, the classics are always there – video games and music. I bought Scott an extra Wii remote so we now have a complete set for when our buddies come over for a bowling tourny. I also gave him a hard case for our new iPod classic – basically, any iPod accoutrement is a stellar gift for most lads.

Another fail safe? Books and movies, baby. Scott is the king of puns (aka the Punisher) so I bought him a little joke book to fuel his arsenal. I might be hurting myself with that one. I also couldn’t quite resist a copy of Wayne’s World, only the best comedy of the early 90s (and possibly all time?). You could also supplement this one with “The Hangover” or some other manly flick (ie. not “The Proposal” – sorry ladies).

Ahh, now for the lady gifts. My husband did quite a nice job this year, and I think any woman would be pleased as punch to receive these gifts. Can we say massage? I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t love a massage. And what goes perfectly with a relaxed lady? Well, pajama pants of course. And not any pajama pants, but super duper warm pj pants for this cold blooded soul. Love it.

Another classic? Jewelry. I so luckily received this necklace made by JessLC, a fellow blogger and crafter of lovely pieces of jewelry that I’ve been coveting for quite some time. I also got some divine twine, a great little accent to any craft project, from another fellow blogger and designer of all things Whisker Graphics. I know everyone might not understand the allure of twine, but this was a favorite gift. Check out Whitney’s blog for all the fun things you go do with this little gift! If your lady is anything like me, she’ll get giddy over little things like twine and stationary – how easy is that for a gift?

How about the rest of you? Any foolproof gifts this season? Or are you thanking me 10 times over for saving you on your last minute Christmas gifts?

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I’m Just Mad about Chevron…

Recently, I’ve been seriously digging some chevron patterns. I keep on seeing bold, chevron patterns popping up in catalogs and design glossies and they’re just begging me to jump on the chevron bandwagon. I recently added this ironing board cover to my “buy me this” list and I’m thinking that this little guy might just need to jump into my laundry closet. How great is this bold, yellow pattern?

And how about this fun chevron pillow? The stripes are nice and thick so the pattern isn’t too busy – a common complaint of my loveable chevron.

Even one of my favorite retailers has hopped on board with their own stab at a black and white chevron rug. Even though the black and white is such a strong contrast, I can’t help but love it. I’m thinking a rug and curtain combo in my future – I’m just living on the freaking edge, aren’t I?

There are even tutorials online to create your very own Chevron fabric (for upholstery, curtains, etc.)…

… or creating a chevron patterned top to your desk (or any other furniture piece – think sideboard or media cabinet!)

These bold patterns are popping up everywhere and making me itch for some zig zag pattern in my life. Any patterns or trends out there have you begging for more?

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Lovin’ Lonny

So, I may be the last person in the blogosphere to write about this new online magazine, but I felt it was my due diligence to share the love with my readers that aren’t seasoned blog stalkers like myself. In the absence of such great magazines like Domino, etc., a little bud has emerged on the internet that almost makes everything better. Lonny is an online magazine that is the brain child of a former Domino employee and her photographer friend who decided to fill the shelter magazine void that’s missing in today’s rocky economy. They compiled this first issue in their spare time and with the help of friends, and it’s pretty darn fantastic.

Shelter magazines prove as such a great resource for ideas and inspiration, and I can’t get over the loads of great interiors in this inaugural issue. Can we get an amen for this office above (with the cute pooch, of course)?

Or this lovely gray dining room with those insane Chippendale style chairs? I’m not a huge red fan, but I’d down those suckers in a hot minute. As of now, Lonny is free for the lookin’, so go check it out! It’s a great source of pretty pictures and interesting articles that are sure to get the gears turning in your decorating head. Enjoy and happy weekend!

All images courtesy of Lonny mag.

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Local Love: Round Dos

After my first post on some favorite Charlotte spots, I realized that I unknowingly neglected two gems that Scott and I absolutely love and would have a hard time living without in the Queen City. I’m sure after this post, some other favorite spots will pop back into my brain, but for now I thought I’d share the goods about these two lovely spots. If you’re not from Charlotte, feel free to comment about a favorite spot in your town for others to read about! Share the local love!

1. BlackHawk Hardware. Our one and only, the cream filling to my oreo, the I-can’t-belive-I-forgot-about-them-the-first-time – our beloved Blackhawk. Blackhawk may just seem like any other Ace Hardware store, but it’s so much more than that. Ask any Charlotte local, especially those that have their roots here, and they’ll rave about this little hardware store. Not only does it have everything you could possibly need for home renovations projects, but it also has a huge kitchen/entertaining section, as well as a bath/hardware section that hosts the best selection of hardware and shower curtains in town. No joke. The variety of product, as well as the cost, is the best we’ve found. Although the fresh popcorn when you enter is certainly a favorite of mine, the amazing staff at Blackhawk is our favorite part of this place. When you step into a big box hardware store, it’s difficult to find someone who actually knows what they’re talking about – but not here. Every single staff member can tell you exactly how to fertilize your plants or install a garbage disposal in your kitchen. One employee actually gave us a month-by-month list of what to do to keep our lawn fertilized and healthy all year. No joke. Handwritten too. If that doesn’t scream small town charm, I’m not quite sure what does.

2. Pasta & Provisions. Another absolute favorite spot of ours is Pasta and Provisions. This little pasta shop is tucked away off of Providence road, and we probably would have never known it was there if we hadn’t heard such rave reviews about it. They offer all kinds of homemade pastas, sauces, dips and spreads, as well as cannolis, grilled veggies and fresh meats and cheeses. It’s what I can only image a real Italian butcher shop might be, even though they were playing “Thriller” the last time we went there. Our favorite part about this place is their raviolis. They have at least 20 different options, and they’re the only place in town you can buy sweet potato or jalapeno raviolis. Oh, and they’re delicious. They typically have samples of their homemade spreads and fresh made breads for you to try, and I’ve fallen in love with every wonderful spread I’m taken more than my fair share of. Everything they serve, including the atmosphere, is just awesome. Can you tell I’m a fan?

The hubs is hijacking the laptop this week and heading down to Florida, where I’ll be meeting up with him for some quality time with the in-laws. That being said, I’ll be on a bit of a blog-hiatus until next week. Hope everyone has a great week and even better weekend!

Images yoinked from Blackhawk Hardware and Pasta & Provisions.

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Is it just me, or are holiday decorations coming out a lot sooner now a days? I noticed that my neighbors had already put up Halloween decorations last week, and it was only the beginning of September! I then took a trip to PetSmart and noticed that the store was overflowing with dog costumes and Halloween themed dog goodies.I have to say that Halloween isn’t necessarily our holiday of choice, probably because I’m married to Father Christmas. We start busting out the christmas carols at the end of October and keep the party rocking until New Years. It’s tough to fit in any other holidays when we’re so emersed into a single event. Even though it’s not my fav holiday, all this Halloween goodness in my face preempted me to click on a link about a dog related pumpkin carving.

Better Homes and Gardens has downloadable stencils that you can get of your favorite pooch to carve on your jack-o-lantern this Halloween. Now, Scott said we’d risk being “those people” if we had a Charlie shrine of a pumpkin, but I just couldn’t get over how cute these are. I mean, come on, who isn’t wild about their pooch and wants his face carved onto the front of a vegetable? I know I do. If you feel like getting a head start on this spooky holiday, grab a knife and pay tribute to your favorite pooch. Because around these parts, we’re all about the pup. Who wouldn’t be with a face like this?

P.S. I think I’ve finally exhausted the amount of posts I can relate back to my dog. I am officially lame.

Image courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

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Local Love

While I’m on my proverbial soap box, I might has well take a moment to give a shout out to my homedogs. Every town in America is full of great mom-and-pop shops that give a little something extra over your big chain stores, and Charlotte is no exception. I try my best to shop local as much as I can so that I boost my local economy and give warm and fuzzies to those small businesses that do the same for me. Here are some of my favorites from the Queen City. If you’re not from Charlotte, please share a fav local spot that others might benefit from if they’re traipsing through your town!

1. Common Market The Common Market is a great little gem in Charlotte that just recently opened a second location in South End. While they’re not your typical “market” that carries everyday groceries, they do have a fantastic selection of hard-to-find wines and beers, along with tons of little trinkets that could be given as gag gifts. They also host free beer and wine tastings on certain days of the week, along with free music. And by free, I mean you can get your drink on and the locals working the place are more than willing to let you stay for a good long while. Plus, their lunch sandwiches are incredible, so it’s just about my favorite market in town. Common Market definitely has that small town, wanna get to know you feel. My favorite thing about this place is that they sometimes put a customized stamp on your receipt that makes you smile for the rest of the afternoon. Now, what big box chain store does something like that?

2. winestore. We all know that there are a billion different places to buy wine in Charlotte, but this spot is a favorite, despite the fact that we rarely make it there. Winestore is actually owned by a friend of a family friend, so I should be hustling my bootie over there more often to help a brotha out. Not only does this store house some fantastic wine choices for all price ranges, but their interior design is super awesome. Can I get a holla?

The special thing about winestore is that they have their wines categorized by events. You can stop by if you need a wine for a “hot date” or if you’ve recently been “laid off” – winestore has everything perfectly organized for each clever occasion. Genius, right?

3. King’s Drive Farmers Market. Although one of the many farmer’s markets in Charlotte, this one is our personal fav. It’s open 3 days a week and has some of the best veggies we’ve spotted in town. It’s a bit smaller than some of the other markets around these parts, but the smaller size makes things more manageable and easier to navigate. They also have a great selection of plants and flowers if you’re looking for something other than fruits and veggies. This place only takes cash, but that kind of makes me feel like I’m in a small town, grabbing some fresh fruit from a local farmer. Which, I basically am, minus the fact that this market is a hop, skip and a jump away from Uptown Charlotte. Scott and I frequent this market when we’re wanting to have a veggie night and we’re never disappointed with the product or the price. Happy shopping!

images yoinked from winestore, common market, google, and yours truly

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Tilt me, Shift me

As I’ve stated waaay too many times on this blog, I am by no means a photographer. Or a photoshop wiz. But I like it. A lot. And so does my husband which makes us two peas in a pod. I read a lot of photography blogs and have noticed a cool technique that a lot of my favs have been using recently. After some research and more blog browsing, I saw that these photographers are taking part in “tilt-shift photography”. If you’re a photographer reading my blog, don’t bother reading this as I’m sure I’m about to butcher your art. But if you’re a laymen like me, check this out! Tilt shift is a technique that blurs portions of the image with the use of a special lens, putting more focus on the predominate feature in the photograph. These special lenses cost a blooming fortune, but they can actually tilt (rotation of the lens) and shift (movement of the lens parallel to the image plane), creating some pretty interesting imagery.

Scott found a photoshop tutorial online (shocker! our new favorite thing!) and we got to cracking on creating a faux tilt-shift effect on some of our own photos (like this one from Santa Monica). Sure, the effect isn’t quite the same as the professionals, but it was fun nonetheless acting like we were creating something awesome on a lazy Sunday morning. This is our attempt at an example of tilt-shift miniature faking, or smallgantics, which takes a picture taken from a high vantage point and makes it look like the scene is a miniature model. My favorite book growing up was The Borrowers, so I’m slightly insane for all things mini. Miniature shampoo bottles, David the gnome; you name it!

We did the same effect (well, Scott worked his magic and I very enthusiastically watched) on a picture from a Panthers’ game we went to a couple years back. It’s like we’re giants in a little world of tiny football players!

We also played around with another picture of Santa Monica. We learned that people really add to the miniature affect, but as an example of plain ol’ tilt-shift, we think this one looks pretty rad (albeit fake). Any fun photo tricks you’d care to share?

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