Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday I'm in Love

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm really getting into the swing of this Nesting-Without-Traveling-Every-Weekend thing. And even though I'm always tempted to race off to visit the ones I love, it's also pretty nice staying at home and getting back to work around here with the "one" I love, ya know? At any rate, some highlights from the week:

Guilty Pleasure TV

I should probably be embarrassed to admit this, but what the heck: I am loving the most deliciously sleazy new show on television. Is anyone else watching Revenge? It's your classic Old Money v. New Money drama, or Family Dynasty v. Everyone Else drama, or Betrayers v. Betrayed drama. It's the Hamptons and hedge funds and popped collars and yachts. It's filmed in NC (shoutout!). It's so bad it's good. And look... you can catch up with the addictive stage-setting pilot and this week's episode online! Don't say I didn't warn you.

30 Alter Egos of Amy Poehler

 Oh, Amy. One of my very favorite Queens of Comedy. This slideshow makes me heart you even more.

Cup of Joe Guide to NYC

The perennially charming Cup of Joe ran a great series on New York this week, which included her favorite hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and more. My favorite post was on her 10 favorite shops, which left me just itching for a lazy weekend in New York with no plans, and nothing but time and money on my hands. One day, one day!

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September snippets

Here are some little snippets from my phone's camera that I thought it'd be fun to share:

Downstairs Bathroom Paint

 It's on. Ben Moore's Galapagos Turquoise, that is. Staying true to my island vibe in the kitchen (which is painted BM's Azores), this blue makes me happy, and works wonderfully with pops of red and orange. More to come on this project!

Fall Nails

I'm so into this color for Fall: Essie's In Stiches. This pic can also serve as a nail-biting update. In short, I'm doing okay. It was a rough summer (too much captive-audience driving and not enough nail-painting to deter me), but I'm optimistic that Fall's yummy colors can keep my teeth away!

Oiled Butcher Block Counters

It took me five months in this house to oil our butcher block counters, but it won't take me more than two to do it again. They look fantastic... so rich and warm. I used a bottle of butcher block conditioner that I already had for our cutting boards, and it worked like a charm. I also hear that plain mineral oil will do the job. Our kitchen continues to make me really happy. Sorry for this nighttime shot - I've gotta get out the real camera on a sunny day.

TJ and the Nats

 I don't have a National League team, so it's been really fun to cheer for the Nationals since we moved to DC. At a game last weekend, it occurred to me that besides the fact that we can walk to the ballpark and it's a young team with a lot to root for, the Presidents Race alone makes this a team worth loving. I couldn't be more on board if I was wearing a giant foam head myself.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Why are you so far away?" (she said)

I'm reading South of Broad right now, and loving it despite its initial chapters of overwrought, floral prose. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get past the insufferably long, overwritten sentences at the beginning of this book, although they did serve as excellent fodder to entertain T with dramatic readings. (Note to all writers: if a reader has to stop and gasp for air while trying to read one of your sentences aloud, it's probably too long.) Fortunately, Pat Conroy settled down the rhetoric once he introduced additional characters and stopped simply expounding All Things Charleston, and now I'm hooked.

I was thinking last night about the tight group of friends who comprise the heart of the novel, and how so many of my favorite books, movies, and even television shows involve a central group of friends who grew up together over the years. I'm absolutely guilty of romanticizing that sort of camaraderie. We romanticize what we don't have, after all, and my life couldn't be more different than the hometown experience. I'm lucky enough to have friends all over the place, from all sorts of chapters in my life, and many of these friends are as different as could be. I love that about them. If I hadn't gone north for college, I would never have met my fantastic Boston Girls. If I hadn't gone west for graduate school, I would never have met my amazing ABQ crew (or my husband, for that matter). If I hadn't followed T out to Dallas, I would never have met the Champagne Thursday girls. And now that we're in DC, we love the new friends we've made and the new life we're creating. We are constantly evolving.

Despite the knowledge that I wouldn't trade any of what I have for staying in the same town with the same people forever, I still adore wondering what that would feel like. I'll never have kids who'll go to high school with the kids of my high school crew. Most of my high school crew left town like I did anyway. I won't see my college friends at weekend football games or alumni events. Most of us live too far away, and besides, we don't even have a football team anymore. I'm not able to walk over to my graduate school pals' house anymore for breakfast, hashing out the previous night and planning how we'll take over the world tomorrow (oh, how I could use those breakfasts these days!). Heck, my pals don't even live together any more... marriage and babies and all. Time marches on and moves us farther apart geographically. We all visit and stay in touch regularly, but still.

I understand the logic of distance, but my heart can't help but pine for one endless "Big Chill"-style reunion, minus the suicide (although the drama of one person's husband impregnating someone else in the group with his wife's permission would be... exciting?). And while my choices mean I do and always will fly around a lot to see my favorite people and their offspring, how much would I love for them to all be here with me, living in my neighborhood?

Here's a song for today from my friend Ann, who is part of my "Nightswimming" memory, and in comments notes that she feels the same way I do about that song and about that long-ago weekend. Ann left the Triangle like I did and now calls Nashville home. She sent me this clip over the weekend, which immediately  prompted me to tell T to develop some Nashville clients so it'd be easier to get out there regularly. That's exactly how my world keeps getting bigger, by the way. Is it crazy that I sometimes wish it was small?

Thanks, Ann, for knowing this song would make me as happy today as it would have in 1996, sitting in your living room drinking boxed wine. I raise a glass of Franzia White Zin in your honor, and send you a long-lost hug across the airwaves.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday I'm in Love

It feels great to be back in the normal swing of things enough to do a little Friday I'm in Love action. So let's jump right in!

Jonah Hill: Skinny, but Still Funny

Jonah Hill's new physique has been freaking me out... until watching this and realizing that, no, he didn't lose his hilarity along with his midsection. I'm excited to see 'Moneyball' this weekend, by the way. Anyone else?

Happiest Space Ever

I love this. As in, if I get sick of my downstairs bathroom decorating project I may just have to start painting happy little squares everywhere.

Girl Needs a Girly Bike

I want this. Hardcore want it. "Neeeeeeeed" it. Those little orange and red stripes?!

That's all from me! I'm excited to do some nesting and have some low-key fun this weekend. Happy Friday, folks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Ones I Love

Oh, R.E.M. Oh, adolescence. Oh, sitting in my bedroom playing "World Leader Pretend" endlessly. And still, even today... how does that song know? I wished I wrote it. I still do.

And what about the absolutely brilliant "Losing My Religion," the first cassette single I ever bought. Or the way that "Driver 8" and "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" always make me yearn for a road trip, right then and there. Or the way that "Nightswimming" will always take me back to one weekend the summer after high school, when a bunch of us spent the weekend at the beach. Or the brainy-moody-sweetness of "Talk About the Passion," which gets me every time. And their last album "Collapse Into Now," released in March, that I've listened to on almost every drive down to North Carolina since I bought it.

For me, R.E.M. was the promise of What's Next. The notion that ideas and passion and dialogue and debate and pain and joy were around the corner,that I was Almost There. That college would be the best thing that happened to me, or grad school, or young adulthood, or something. That I would craft a life that found a way to match my ideals and weirdness and energy.That even if I didn't, the yearning might just be enough.

R.E.M. was like a bug bite underneath my skin, itching again when I needed it, just when I'd almost forgotten what it felt like. They helped me dream big dreams, and hope for a life that was more me than the moment was. I've figured out how to be happy in my reality, but when I listen to R.E.M., a little part of me always wonders how much more today could be something that only I could create. And because I am who I am (did you listen to "World Leader Pretend?"), I love them for that. And always will.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy is as Happy does

More and more, I find myself in step with this gorgeous print below. No one's life is perfect... but it's how we handle what we've been given that makes us who we are, and makes others someone I'd like to spend time with. What's your life philosophy when it comes to contentment?

I think this one's going to go up on our bedroom wall, by the way. I've started collecting great prints with pops of blue for our bedroom. The caveat, of course, is that I'm not allowed to do any fun decorating in that room until I tackle our overwhelming need for clothing storage/organization. Now that we've settled down from our travels a bit, doing so is finally a real possibility. And that feels pretty great.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jah Researsal

My family throws great parties. I love them for this. And by "them," we really need to acknowledge my mom, who should probably have left her CFO position years ago to open a wedding-planning business. Mimi has the vision and makes it happen; the rest of us are just her hard-labor minions. It's a lot of work... but it always, always pays off.

This year my mom had not just my brother Lane's wedding on her plate, but also his rehearsal dinner, which much like our wedding, operated as a big welcome party for all of the wedding guests at the family rental house. Lane told my mom he thought it'd be fun to have a loose Jamaican theme, with jerk chicken and a playlist of his favorite reggae music playing. That sounds like a fun party, right? To Mimi, this sounds like an opportunity for major upgrade. Midly pleasing 80 people is not enough... our family must blow their minds. After months of consultation with the Interwebs and actual Jamaicans, the party started to look a little like this:
  • A wagon piled high with chicken parts, put into jerk marinade by yours truly to soak for two days before they were cooked.
  • Gallons upon gallons of homemade jerk sauce to accompany the chicken, which involved me fine-dicing jalapeno for two hours one afternoon.
  • So.Much.Rice. cooked with coconut milk and beans.
  • Sides galore, and a long table with ten different cheesecakes.
  • The aforementioned "Love Potion #9.10.11," which was a potent and dangerously delicious Jamaican rum punch. (Did I mention dangerous?)
  • Kiddie pools full of Red Stripe... and also a Kid Craft room staffed with a babysitter.
  • Tropical-colored decorations galore. True to form, Mimi thought of everything - from lights to tabletops to banners to lanterns to... you get the picture.
And there was one more thing. One more huge, awesome thing that I hated keeping a secret for months leading up to the big night:
  • Forget the iPod. Nicole's wedding gift to Lane was secretly hiring his favorite local reggae band Jah Creation to play the party.

    (I know!!!!)

    Might I recommend clicking over to Jah Creation's website for the remainder of this post so that their music can set the proper vibe? Trust.

So imagine some of us piling into a boat after the rehearsal, knowing that when we pull up to the dock of the rental house, Lane's mind is going to blown when he sees the band there. Lane has no idea, by the way... here he is just chilin', being his handsome groom self.

And here we are nearly bursting with excitement at the big reveal that's just moments away...

As we're getting close, Lisa and I tell him that he's going to get his wedding present when we pull up. So he definitely perks up and starts paying attention. And then he spots them.

 "No way. No way! Is this for real? Nicole did this? They're here?" And Nicole runs down to the pier, and sources say their embrace might have gotten a little dusty. 

And with that, the party was on. We ate and ate and ate, and dare I say drank and drank and drank, and there was silliness and dancing and teary toasts and big laughs, and it was the perfect night.

Remember how I mentioned the danger of the Jamaican rum punch?

Additional romance alert! Lane gave Nicole her wedding present that night... and surely someone I haven't located had a camera out, right? He gave her an heirloom family ring down at the end of the pier, while all 80 partiers cheered wildly at them. It was magical. So is this ring. It's been in our family for ages, but I think it was made for her.

Such a great party. I wish we had an original Family of Five photo from this night, but this one of the three sibs serves the purpose pretty nicely. Our family rocks. Here's to another Made-by-Mimi success!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Of course this gem would land on my virtual doorstep hours after I already posted the bachelorette recap. I forgot all about this lady!

She's sort of perfect to send us off into the weekend, don't you think? Have a great one, everybody!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Night of black and gold

All week I've been frantically checking the Interwebs for the official photos of my brother's wedding to get here. There have been some (gorgeous! amazing!) teasers posted on Facebook, but the big reveal hasn't happened yet. What has happened, though, has been a slow trickling of rather hilarious bachelorette party photos. Let's jump in, shall we?

Since my sister-in-law (!) Nicole is originally from Pennsylvania and her oldest friends/half the wedding party had to travel fairly far to get to the wedding, the group decided to fold Nicole's bachelorette party into the wedding week so that everyone could be there. We settled on Myrtle Beach, about an hour south of Holden Beach, the wedding location. Our first stop was nails. Two funny things about the salon:
  1. Two straight Caucasian dudes, one 35ish and one 21, did our nails. 
  2. The salon mascot was a duck named JJ who wears a charm necklace with his name on it and gets his nails painted by the staff. Here's JJ with the salon's owner, who we think married Straight Dude #1 and is possibly the sister-in-law of Straight Dude #2.

Nicole has such a great group of girls. Eight of us had nails done at JJ's and stayed overnight in Myrtle. I knew I was the going to be the oldest of the crew, but I was apparently also "Most Barren." Eight girls here with an average age of 27... representing seven kids! Crazy.

Being barren and devoid of other responsibilities and all (kidding), I was in charge of accommodations. I found a great deal at the Anderson Ocean Club online, but you never know how these things are going to work out... needless to say, its largess and amazing views made me happy.

We piled into cabs for our first stop of the night, where the top of my dress might make you think I was wearing something pretty risque...

...until I straightened up and you realized, Nope! GRANNY LENGTH ALERT!

This group has had SEVEN KIDS, remember? (I declined to post the group shot in bikinis on the beach so as not to depress all of you.) So back to these dresses... my fellow lady in knee-length black Megan and I discussed that acquiring new "practical" black dresses that we could wear again and again would mean longer hemlines but also a longer closet lifespan. This is well and good... but couldn't I have at least hemmed a couple of inches off? And in Megan's credit, satin + strapless offers a little more vavoom than jersey scoop neck. Moving on! (By the way, that was the "attitude" shot... in case you didn't get that from the pouting.)

We had a truly terrible dinner, but who attends bachelorette parties for the food, anyway?* Another half dozen of Nicole's friends joined us for the evening, and in our group shot after dinner, our waiter decided to work for the first time all evening and pose with us. Your tip is your inclusion in this photo op, sir!

Our first stop (and last stop for some of us) was Crocodile Rocks, a dueling piano bar where we were seated front and center and the object of much piano playing-attention. Nicole was stunning in her gold sequins, and pulled on stage for things that will remain protected in the Bachelorette Code of Honor.

I love this shot of Nicole with her Maid of Honor Kristi:

Here's me, looking surprisingly bright-eyed. First, becuase we're deep into the night. And second, because I'm notorious for "are they or aren't they?" closed eyes in photos.

This recording of events would not be complete without a discussion of my dear sister Lisa. As some of you might recall, she has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last three years. So while the primary goal of our group was to show Nicole the night of her life, the second goal of the group was to enable Lisa in her need to get a little crazy. Due to her concern about appearances, I will not include the photo here of her happily drinking at the hotel while the breast pump worked away, but I do want to salute its cuteness. Never has a girl so deserved a night on the town. We asked, and Lisa delivered. Gamely.

Here's where the night ended for the siblings of the bunch. I won't get into details (Bachelorette Code of Honor and all), but suffice it to say, my sis gave the night everything she had. While the rest of the girls went dancing, I packed up my over-mommed and over-served sis and took her back to the hotel. (Lisa has no recollection of this photo being taken, by the way. But isn't she cute?!)

The next morning, a Myrtle Beach sunrise... and a whole lot of work to do back at Holden Beach to get ready for the Reggae Rehearsal Dinner. To my sis: even if your Thursday meant that you could not help me with Friday's manual labor under the direction of Mimi, I'm so very glad you had a great night.

 And to my shy and unassuming sister-in-law, you rock my world.

*Full disclosure: my bachelorette party was at Nobu.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Oops. I completely meant to blog before I skipped town for my brother Lane's wedding. But it was one of those fun/crazy weekends (in between nearly killing my paper cutter as I finished making all the wedding programs, that is). And then I ended up leaving a day earlier than planned. And then I left in my usual mad rush of To Do's and Did I Forgets.

But now that I'm in the family rental house, there's nothing to do but relax.


Weddings in this family are madness. We laugh more than most and enjoy each other to the fullest, but that's despite our labor camp pace and the exhaustion that comes with artfully completing a million tasks that together produce an effortlessly crafted look. If you were reading me back in my own wedding planning days, that will sound familiar. If you weren't, see this.

I wish I were exaggerating, but take a peek. This is the staging area not for the wedding, mind you, but for the rehearsal dinner. My mom could open a party supply store.

Today I achieved many things. These did not include enjoying our pier on the Intercoastal Waterway, or hitting the beach, or finding earrings for tomorrow night's bachelorette, but they did include dicing 30 jalapeno peppers, painting directional signs, making and bottling rum punch, putting an entire wagon full of chicken parts into bags of jerk marinade, testing a beans and rice recipe for Friday night, squeezing what felt like 400 limes, and more. So we're busy. But we're smiling. How could we not with these two in the mix?

The official wedding events begin tomorrow with Nicole's bachelorette party. Then Friday, a reggae-themed cookout to kick things off (yes really). And a wedding on Saturday that's sure to be gorgeous, mostly because my mom was involved, but for me personally because I get to walk down the aisle with my groom again.

There's so much more I wanted to write about my brother and my soon to be sister-in-law. How she found her shoes because they were profiled in the issue of Brides that featured my wedding. How great she is, and they are, and their daughter is. How happy everyone is to be here, for them.

I'll take pictures, and I'll report back. But until then, I'll be b-u-s-y. Very, very happy. But busy. And maybe also sipping quite a bit of our patented "Love Potion # 9.10.11" toasting punch for Friday. (Please tell me you get the pun. I keep telling my mom... everyone will get it, really.)

Cheers, everyone!

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