Friday, December 31, 2010

operation beautiful sighting

I've stopped following many of the 'healthy living blogs' out there, for really no good reason except for a lack of leisure reading time.

Despite this, I couldn't help but snap pics of these signs that were posted on a few Brooklyn parking meters. My first IRL Operation Beautiful signs (the movement started by Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point, who has been EVERYWHERE lately promoting her first book on the topic). They def put a smile on my face, as I'd imagine they would do for anyone feeding the meters (which won't be happening for some time - these meters were all but buried in snow).



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

pucci in the snow

And to think I almost tossed these cuties in a pre-move closet purging spree! No clue if they still make/sell them...I got them on ridiculous clearance (around $50) about 4 years ago. It took Snowmeggedon for us to be reunited.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

snow days

We're still digging out from the blizzard over here, and what a mess it left behind! I haven't seen a storm this bad in a long long time. I headed to the gym this morning and ended up knee-deep in snow a few times (thank goodness for my Hunter boots + Fleece welly socks). Highs at the end of the week are supposed to be around 50 degrees, which means lots of black puddles and slush to jump in!

Griffin loves to eat snow

Husband walking G in snow that's taller then him!

Major fail Mayor Bloomberg - unplowed Brooklyn streets

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry merry

My family isn't much for Christmas celebrations, but it's nearly impossible not to feel even a little holiday spirit. The lights, the retail buzz, the cocktails. The sparkle!

I am officially in love with Sephora by OPI's Only Gold For Me topcoat. I wandered into Sephora two days ago, swiped this over my Forever Young lacquered pointer finger, and couldn't stop stupidly grinning every time I looked at my hand. It's grown-up glitter...a combination of tiny specks and large, geometrical pieces. The consistency is gel-like, and can be a bit tricky to get on, but it's worth it. I swiped two layers over Essie Wicked (with a coat of Essie's 3-way glaze on top to seal it all in) for a moody, yet festive look. After NYE, I plan to try this over a nude polish for a toned-down, glam look.

Happy Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

latest list: things I'm loving

Happy Friday! I know everyone is freaking out about Christmas being upon us, but I'm sort of meh about the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I love walking through the decorated streets and seeing gorgeous trees in brownstone windows, but I feel like the holidays are a big marketing ploy these days. And then NYE comes, which is always so anti-climatic. Then we have to hunker down for the next 3 months until warmer weather (and vacation days) finally comes. Ok, enough with my old-person cynicism! On to my latest loves:

Essie Forever Young polish
I've finally found the perfect red for my skin tone - Essie Forever Young - from the 2008 collection. Big Spender, one of my favorite summer colors (an almost-neon purpley pink), is part of the same collection, so I'm not surprised that I love Forever Young. It doesn't have too much orange or's really a true red. The formula is highly pigmented as well...I could have gotten by with just one coat (rare when I use deep colors), but did 2 lighter coats along with Essie's 3-Way Glaze (more on that below).

Essie 3-Way Glaze
Can be used as a basecoat, topcoat, and nail hardener. I use it as a base- and top-coat. It takes a while for nails to dry when I do this, but I seriously do not get chips for at least a week (I also keep my nails super short to avoid chips). It's really glossy as well.

Free Sudoku on the Droid
What I love about this game (aside from the fact that it's a FREE app), is that you can choose from a number of levels to play at. The easy level is great for the morning commute, since I can finish the game by the time I reach my stop on the subway. It times each game as well, so you can compete against yourself. Winning the game each morning and trying to beat my time is a great way to start the day on a good note.

The one thing about Brooklyn in the winter, I've learned, is that it gets crazy windy. Especially right around our apartment, which is a block from the water. My old trusty J Crew wool gloves did nothing to protect my hands from the wind. After a bit of research, I bought these gloves from Nordstrom. They're pretty reasonably priced for a great quality pair of gloves, and the reviews are fantastic. They are super warm as well!

Angry Birds
If there is one other game you need in your life, it's Angry Birds. I realize I'm a bit behind on this craze, but I totally get it. The birds...they're angry. These nasty pigs stole their stuff, and they want it back. The pigs are all like 'come and get us b*tches!' and hide in these elaborate fort things. And the crazy birds use kamikaze tactics to bust 'em down. The sound effects are hilarious, and it's just a feel-good kind of game. It's $0.99 on the iPhone but FREE on Android phones.
Photo credit: NYT article linked above

I usually make it a point to avoid this place around the holidays because of the constant throngs of tourists, but recently made an exception to pick up some basics. I love this place! The prices are fab and the quality is pretty great. I am loving my 2 new pairs of the Skinny Straight jean (a great year-round style), and Jeggings (they call them Legging Pants) that are perfectly stretchy and pigmented with a mid-rise, smooth waistband, and all the details of an actual jean (all for a solid $19.90). They're currently giving them away on sale for $9.90 (the Skinny Straights). Oh and Uniqlo does FREE hemming. They also vanity-size like crazy, which is such a mood booster. I'm also obsessed with the Heat Tech products - my savior in this cold snap (especially the tops and socks). If you're in the market for a great stand-in for the classic Patagonia fleece jacket, they have them for men and women, for around $20. New Yorkers - run....Out-of-Towners - make this your first stop on your next visit.

Monday, December 13, 2010

wedding review: Forever Flowers, Boca Raton, FL

I've posted before on my wedding vendors that I loved (my decorator, DJ, caterer, and hair/makeup artist), and those that I was lukewarm about (my day-of coordinator). This is the first review of a vendor that I wasn't happy with. That may be the understatement of the year...I would seriously advise anyone to run far away from this vendor. Here's the story.

After the wedding festivities are finished, the last thing most people think about is flower preservation. I didn't have a bouquet in the traditional sense, but we did exchange floral garlands that were an important part of our ceremony. These aren't just flowers strung together...they're intricate creations with rose petals and metallic ribbon and thread. Ours turned out beautifully (see below), and only after the wedding weekend did we consider artfully preserving them.

Photo taken by: Milton Gil Photographers

Enter Forever Flowers. I can't remember how I found them, but they claimed to preserve flowers and create keepsakes from all over the country. We described our garlands to them, and they assured us that even though the garlands aren't typical of their usual pieces, they could create a keepsake for us. We packed up the flowers in tissue and cold packs, and overnighted the garlands to Forever Flowers in Boca Raton, FL.

Fast forward to a few weeks later. We would be passing through Boca on our way to a wedding from Miami. We figured we could stop in to Forever Flowers and nail down the specifics of our keepsake. The shop is fairly small...the main room for customers has tons of frame samples, fabric choices, and samples of work on the walls. The appointment was promising at first, but quickly went downhill. Since we had no concrete ideas about what we wanted our keepsake to look like, we turned to the staff at Forever Flowers to guide us (they did, after all, claim to be the experts at this), and got no help. At one point, my mother-in-law responded with "you are the experts, shouldn't you have some ideas about how to do this?" To make matters worse, the quotes we received were way over what was initially estimated. They offered to just give us the dried garlands should we choose not to move forward, but would not refund our initial deposit (already a sizable amount). So we decided to just go through with the piece, hoping it would all work out in the end.

Over the next few months, Forever Flowers was fairly unresponsive (in fairness, we weren't great at responding to them was pretty busy in our first year of marriage). The far worse complaint is that they kept increasing the amount we owed them! The longer this process was drawn out, the more we just wanted to give them what they wanted so we could get the piece and be done with it. When we finally received the piece (they would not ship it...we had to enlist a family friend to pick it up), they hadn't even used the right glass (we wanted super-clear museum glass). We contacted them about the mistake, and their response was to chastise us for being 'difficult to work with', and state that we actually underpaid for the piece so we should essentially either deal with the mistake or pony up more $ to fix it. Oh no they di'nt! We just said to heck with them, we'll keep it even with the flaws, and good-riddance.

The final straw in all of this? Some of the pieces from our garlands are falling off, making a sad little pile at the bottom of the framed piece. Surely, with their 'vast expertise', they should have foreseen this and advised an alternate way to display the garlands?

So, in short, we hated them! The summary of why:

1) They promised that they could work with our non-traditional it turned out they could not.
2) Their initial quote to us was way off. Expect to be overcharged. What's worse is that they ask for more money after they have your pieces, so you have no choice but to keep paying.
3) They are slow to respond, and seem to have some internal communication issues with their staff.
4) If you have something basic that you want framed, I'm sure they can do a fine job for you. Anything more complicated should be taken elsewhere. It seemed like the most complicated pieces they do are arrangements of bouquets with a picture or invitation. I know, soooo complex. But this seems to qualify them as 'artful' and 'creative' (rolls eyes). Worse is that they don't offer much guidance or advice for your pieces. Indecisive types like myself should steer clear.
5) If they make a mistake, the customer is never right. Unless you get angry and yell at them (poor Husband reached his breaking point much later then I did). And threaten to post negative reviews on every wedding-related website out there.

Sure, they can handle simple and uncomplicated. But so can your local company. Who won't overcharge you. Or leave you with a piece that's falling apart. And be courteous throughout the process. Is that really too much to ask?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In-laws and Almonds

Just back from a wonderful week with the in-laws in Miami. Weather was fab (mid 80s). We ate our way through anything and everything, which is why I've been researching diet cleanses for the past hour. I kid, sort of. But these Cocoa Roast Almonds from Emerald are no joke. MIL and SIL recently discovered them and started buying them by the caseful (apparently they occasionally go on sale at the local Publix for BOGO). Anyway, they are amazing...roasted almonds covered with a light dusting of dark cocoa powder. I think these would make the perfect midday snack, and a great alternative to the handful of candy you might normally grab (oh wait, is that just me?) They also come in Cinnamon, but I prefer the Chocolate. Buy them now!

Monday, November 15, 2010

how not to refinish a wood table, part 2

So, you did your research and decided refinishing your furniture is what you want to do. Yay! Here is my step-by-step experience for chemically stripping and staining wood furniture:

MATERIALS (most purchased at Home Depot):
*Chemical stripper (I used a fast-acting stripper that turned the paint and varnish to goo in about 15 minutes. There are environmentally-friendly and less noxious strippers available, but those take way longer to work.)
*Plastic stripping tool
*Steel wool
*Chemical stripper wash
*Wood conditioner
*Wood stain (I used a classic oil stain by Minwax, but I read that gel stains are a bit easier to work with, especially for non-horizontal surfaces.)
*Polyurethane finish (I used a Minwax Wipe-On Poly that I was really happy with.)
*Several cheap brushes
*Plenty of lint-free rags (I used old, cut-up tee-shirts.)
*Metal trays
*Metal container (or an empty and dried-out paint container)
*Sandpaper (medium-coarse in a 180-grit and fine in a 220-grit)

Make sure you are in a well-ventilated and open area (I worked on the patio and away from the door and windows). Spread a dropcloth down with cardboard on top. Wear fitted clothing and tuck your sleeves into protective gloves.

Pour the chemical stripper into a metal tray. The stripper will be viscous and gooey. Liberally spread it with a brush over a portion of the furniture to be stripped. I worked with small areas at a time. You'll know the stripper is working because the surface will begin to ripple and bubble. After the recommended application time, remove the stripper and paint (it will be a goo that comes off in sheets) with the stripping tool, disposing of the waste in the metal container. Don't worry about getting every little piece of paint will come off when you apply the after-wash. If a considerable amount of paint is left, or you did not get down to the wood surface, apply another liberal coat of stripper and repeat the process.

Once the majority of the paint is removed, you'll need to neutralize the surface. Pour the after-wash into a plastic container, and 'wash' the wood with steel wool (much like you'd use a sponge and soapy water). The steel wool allows you to really get into the surface and also remove those remaining specks of paint and finish. Repeat until the surface is completely bare and clean. Let the furniture dry for 24-48 hours before proceeding. This is what my table looked like after stripping (and adding new legs, see below):

*If you get any stripper on your skin, you'll know immediately (it will begin to burn like crazy). Run to a sink and douse your skin under running water for 5-10 minutes. Water neutralized the type of stripper I was working with, so this prevented my skin from being eaten away. Hey, I wasn't kidding...that stuff was NASTY.

*I began to do the legs of the table and realized it would be nearly impossible to remove the paint from every crevice of the curves. I ended up tossing the legs and bought new unfinished legs from Lowe's. Thanks to Husband for drilling new holes so we could assemble the table.

At this point, you should have a nice and bare piece of wood furniture. Yay! Sand the entire piece with the medium-coarse sandpaper. I'm sure this is MUCH easier if you have a hand-sander, but for my fellow city-folks, be prepared for a workout. You want to make sure the wood is raw and will easily take the stain, so sand liberally.

If your wood is softwood, you'll need to condition it beforehand. I think this is because soft wood won't take stain evenly, so if you don't condition it beforehand to fill the pores a bit, you'll end up with blotchy and uneven color. You can test for soft wood by seeing if you can leave an indentation with your fingernail on the underside. I ended up conditioning every part of the table (top and new legs), even though I think the top was hardwood.

Apply the conditioner liberally with a brush. It'll be watery and yellowish in color. After 5 minutes or so, wipe off the excess with a rag. You should stain within at least 2 hours of conditioning the wood.

There are many different versions of stain to choose from. I went with a classic oil-based stain. This is what my dad always worked with, and what was available in the widest choice of shades. I generally knew what to expect.

You can apply stain a few ways - with a paintbrush, a foam brush, or a rag. I originally opted for a foam brush, leaving the stain on for 15 minutes before trying to wipe it off. Unfortunately, the brush applied way too much stain, and it was so tacky that I could barely wipe anything off! To make matters worse, the new legs, being a different type of wood (unfinished pine), absorbed the stain like a sponge and turned a deep brown. To remove the excess stain, I ended up applying a liberal amount of stain right on top of the tacky disaster, and wiping away immediately (same premise as removing nail polish with nail polish in a pinch).

The wood tabletop was left darkened, but not nearly as dark as I wanted. So I did about 3 super thin coats, applied with a tee-shirt rag, in circles (almost as if I was lightly buffing the wood). I wiped the excess off within 5-10 minutes with medium pressure. Any light spots can be spot-stained. Each coat should dry for 6-8 hours before re-coating. This is what the table looked like just after 2 coats of stain, but before evening out the light, uneven marks:

At this point, you should have a piece of furniture that is relatively uniform in color. You'll need to apply a polyurethane topcoat to seal in the stain and ensure the piece is water-resistant and will stand up to everyday wear. I opted for a satin-finish Wipe-on Poly, which is a mix of regular poly varnish and mineral spirits. It's very thin and designed to be applied in several layers. The great thing about this is that it's totally idiot-proof (ie: the one step that I had NO problems with) and easy to apply on irregular surfaces (curves and vertical planes). It's also great for use in areas that are dusty...the surface dries to the touch fairly quickly, so you can avoid having dust settle into the wet varnish.

I poured some of the poly into a shallow, plastic take-out container. Using a tightly rolled tee-rag, I applied the poly in long, single strokes (going with the grain of the wood). I overlapped previous strokes to ensure that I was getting a uniform look. Because it's applied so thin, and in several coats (I've read people recommend anywhere from 4-10 coats), you won't get application marks and will eventually end up covering the entire piece. Each coat should dry 2-3 hours before re-coating. Before re-coating, lightly sand the surface with very fine-grit sandpaper (I think this is to remove bubbles or imperfections), but I only did this between the 1st and 3rd coats. I did 4 coats total.

Let the piece dry 24-48 hours before use. I wouldn't even handle it for at least 8 hours. I'm so happy with how our table turned out...the slightly imperfect color is awesome and gives it a handmade feel. I completed the whole project over 2 weeks, with 2-3 days of work at a time. For fun, I also stained our new Ikea Tryta bench (which comes as unfinished pine wood). Does it look like a $9.99 bench to you?

how not to refinish a wood table, part 1

I intended to blog about a table that I painted several months ago...a table that had been sadly abandoned on the sidewalk. The table is solid wood, with a double dropleaf, and pretty well-constructed. Unfortunately, some misguided soul (or marker-happy child) had defaced the surface with a heavy Sharpie. I figured the only way to hide the marker was to prime and paint the table in a clean, true white.

Fast-forward to moving day. The table had been moved and rolled around between two apartments - each time leaving a trail of white paint. Yeah, the paint was chipping and peeling off, and marking up any surface it came into contact with. I'm guessing that a lack of any protective topcoat, a heavy hand with the paintbrush, and a cheapo can of trim paint, all contributed to this epic fail. Clearly we could not use this as our everyday dining table.

After a ton of research, I decided to strip the paint off and refinish the piece with wood stain. On paper, it sounded so easy. But as these things usually go, it was one disaster after the next. Thankfully, I'm super happy with the end product, but learned a ton of lessons along the way. Here are a few tips to know in advance of attempting a project of this magnitude.

* As Emily Henderson advises, if the wood is in good condition, or if the piece is vintage, don't paint it. I tend to agree. It's a crime to cover up good wood (guilty as charged here). Staining, when done right, really brings out the beauty of the wood and makes it a unique piece.

* Estimate how much time you'll need for each step, and then multiply that by 3. At the very least, ensure that you'll have 2-3 consecutive non-rainy days for each step. Seriously. This project has taken me way more time than I anticipated. Part of the problem was that I had to do all of the work on the patio, and plan around rainy days and freezing cold weather. A garage would have made things much easier.

* Make sure you have PLENTY of ventilation. Every material, from the paint stripper, to the poly finish, is nasty nasty stuff. The fumes are strong. Even when working outside, I'd sometimes find myself a little nauseous or light-headed. If I had to do it again, I'd use a mask throughout the entire process.

* Similarly, make sure you have plenty of protective gloves. Like heavy-duty, chemical-resistant gloves.

* Don't attempt to chemically-strip unless: 1-it's a piece that has only linear shapes (as in no curved legs or intricate carvings) or 2-you have a lot of space and a hose. Getting the previous finish off is nasty need to scrape it off the piece with a spatula-like tool. You can get into small crevices with steel wool, a toothbrush, pipe cleaner, etc, but it's a huge pain. There are chemical strippers that can be hosed off after the application time, but make sure you're in a well-ventilated, open space and you collect the goo after it's been hosed off (it needs to be disposed of in a certain way or it can spontaneously combust-yikes!)

* Follow the directions on the containers to a t. Don't try to cheat dry times or application tips. Something will definitely go wrong and trying to undo mistakes (like removing an excess of stain that you didn't wipe off correctly) is often very difficult and messy.

* Temperature makes a difference. I had trouble with tacky stain that wouldn't wipe off properly, and chemical stripper that wouldn't peel up, and I think the low outside temperatures contributed to my problems. The containers state that you shouldn't really work in conditions below 65 degrees or excessively hot and humid weather.

* Don't freak out if at first the piece doesn't look exactly how you envisioned it. I was so unhappy with the look of the table until I applied the first coat of poly. Once it had that little shine and smoothness, the color and grain really stood out beautifully.

Up next: the play by play!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Latest lusts

My wishlist this holiday season is small, mostly because I've been consumed with the outfitting of our new apartment, rather than myself. I'm pretty proud of the fact that it's all things I would actually use on a regular basis...not just something gorgeous to look at hanging in my closet.

Lululemon Savasana wrap

Does this not look like the coziest thing ever? Even though it's unstructured, I could see it looking great with skinny jeans and some tall boots. Instant chic outfit, even if you're still hiding a pajama top underneath. I'd wear it to brunch, while walking the dog, for travel, in spring/summer, to keep me warm in the freezing library...everywhere! In other words, I need this in my life. The website is perpetually sold out, and I haven't had any luck with my local stores, so for now, it's on the wishlist.

Marc by Marc Jacobs crossbody bag

I realized the other day that I don't have a good everyday black bag. I have a small Andrea Bruecker woven bag, that is just too small for all-day jaunts around town, and a Botkier Trigger that is wonderfully constructed, but too heavy on the shoulders. I'm thinking a black MJ crossbody from the Classic Q line would be perfect. Currently torn between the High Schooly bag (slightly big, and do I really need the hand strap?) and the Natasha ($100 cheaper, saw it on a girl in the subway and was super cute).

Gym bag
I've been carrying my gym stuff in an old Herve Chapelier tote (like nearly every other girl in the city), but realized I may need something more specialized. Since we live out in Brooklyn now, and I work from the library part of the week, I'll need to schlep my gym stuff around with me all day. In my head, I'm picturing a medium-sized bag that can be used on the shoulders or crossbody, with a few different compartments, and easily washable. Maybe something like the Gap bag pictured, but not as shiny and cheap-looking?

FitFlop Mukluk boot

I swear, turning 30 ushered in a whole host of new health issues. My back hurts if I'm doing too much 'manual labor', I have chronic heartburn, and have achy feet in anything other than running shoes. What gives? The most comfortably shoes I own are my FitFlop sandals - they are perfectly cushioned and have great arch support, so when I found out they make boots too I was thrilled. One Nordstrom reviewer describes them as orthopedic UGGs. Ha! I would LIVE in these until spring!

Price/Source List:
*Lululemon Savasana Wrap ($118)
*Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q High Schooly Bag ($498)
*Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Natasha ($398)
*Gap Crossbody Gym Bag ($49.50)
*FitFlop Mukluk Shearling Bootie ($149.95)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Samsung N230 review

After tons of research and considering the Windows OS, RAM, keyboard size, and screen appearance, I decided to purchase the Samsung N230, which is one of Samsung's newer models. Overall, I am extremely happy with it.

I won't bore you with the specs of the machine, which you can easily find on the retail sites that sell the netbook. I will say that is a great resource if you do decide on a Samsung. Since the N230 was fairly new, I couldn't find many deals or applicable coupons, and ended up purchasing through a back-to-school sale on I used an American Express card for the warranty and purchased through for cash back.

Shipping was super fast through and they sent several emails notifying me of my order status (much appreciated - especially for such a big purchase). On first handling, the netbook is tiny! It's only 2.2 pounds and the top cover is a shiny black (picked up a ton of fingerprints, but since I planned to use it within a case, this was not an issue). I installed the new RAM straight from the package, and before I even turned the netbook on (it took less than 5 minutes). The initial setup is somewhat complicated, as you have to partition the hard drive (I believe we accepted Samsung's suggested partitioning). Next, I installed MS Office and Stata 11, but not before setting up a network with our existing PC. Husband set this up, and it appeared to be easy (Windows walks you through the steps). The great thing about having the network is that I can share files and programs quickly and on a regular basis, through our home wireless setup.

The netbook itself is easy to type on, with a keyboard that is 93% the size of a standard keyboard (and good spacing between the keys). Samsung boasted a crazy battery life of 7 hours with a 3-cell battery on this thing (and over 13 hours with a 6-cell's unclear to me whether this is available in the US just yet), and so far it hasn't let me down. Admittedly, I can't comment much on the touchpad since I use a USB mouse, but it does seem a little tricky to get used to. The screen resolution is good - takes a little getting used to - and if I have a particularly long day in front of the screen, my eyes do feel tired. On a typical day, I'll have running Google Chrome, Stata 11, and MS Word, and never feel that anything is slow (I have even opened programs beyond that and they work, despite hearing complaints that W7S only runs up to 3 programs simultaneously.

Obviously, the N230 is a dream to travel with...easily slipping into a tote bag or even a large purse. I never remove it from the case to avoid scratches and damage (although I don't feel that the machine is at all overly delicate). As far as the case, I purchased this option from Slappa. It's a tad heavier and thicker than the ubiquitous neoprene sleeves, but is water-resistant, super durable, and even has my initial on it (ha)!

At $400 retail, it's at the higher end of netbook costs, but despite the price, I'm confident that I bought a solid machine that will last for a while (unlike the pieceofcrap Dell). Don't be put off by the marketing...the Samsung website features two women sitting on a blanket in an urban park, laughing as they glance at the screen. I guess they are hoping that young professional women on-the-go will be the target here? Even though the campaign is flighty, the machine is definitely not.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Buy a Netbook

So I mentioned that I started going to the NYPL on the regular. Awesome place to set up shop for a day and get some serious work done. Even better that Husband's office is close by, so we started have regular lunches together! What wasn't awesome were the red marks and bruises left behind on my shoulders from lugging around my (godforsakenstupidihateit) Dell laptop along with papers, notebooks, etc. Not to mention the Dell started to seriously crap out on me (killing every new battery I purchased for it). At first I thought about going the refurbished route for another laptop, but then discovered the wonderful world of netbooks.

A netbook is basically a mini-computer. In the 'old days' they were pretty basic and meant for little more then email and basic word processing. Nowadays, these little machines pack a big punch, and can run even statistical software (my main use for the machine). Asus and Acer seems to lead the netbook market, with machines that are priced well. HP and Sony make the 'sexy' machines marketed to trendier peeps. Basically, every computer brand can deliver a netbook to you. So, how to choose?

First, I researched the top-selling netbooks from the last few years. Asus, Acer, Samsung, and Toshiba seemed to lead the pack. Next, I visited my local Best Buy to handle the machines and get a feel for them. From there, I made my decision based on several features:

Windows 7 Starter vs. Windows XP
In was pretty comfortable with Windows XP, and after the whole Vista fiasco, was not jumping on the new Windows OS bandwagon. I found that computers with Windows XP were, in most cases, much cheaper then those with 7 Starter. I also read that Starter can be a memory drain on the computer. However, I was swayed towards Starter when I learned that Windows XP is being phased out by Microsoft...soon they won't even offer support or updates for it! Also, Windows 7 seemed to be relatively bug-free and smooth. I decided to take my chances on the newish operating system.

To ensure that my netbook would run smoothly on W7S, I knew that I wanted to upgrade the RAM. Most netbooks come with 1 GB RAM standard. This is the available memory that the computer uses to run applications. More RAM = programs starting up quickly and multiple programs running smoothly at the same time.
A quick glance at netbook reviews show upgrades to be fairly common, even for the least tech savvy peeps. Memory is fairly cheap to buy (about $40 for new RAM through online sources like,, or and easy to install on most computers. Once I decided to do the upgrade myself, I searched for a netbook that had an easily accessed memory slot (on the back, as opposed to underneath the keyboard). You'll want to make sure that the RAM you intend to purchase is fully compatible with the computer ( makes this easy to figure out, and their customer service is helpful and quick to respond).

Keyboard size
This is where is pays to read the countless netbook reviews available online. I discovered that on Asus and Acer netbooks, the keys on the keyboard are closer together, and typing tends to be difficult (this was reaffirmed when I saw the machines in-store). There will be always be a learning curve when first using a netbook as your muscle memory adjusts to a smaller, more compact keyboard, but I wanted a quick and easy transition. I discovered that some companies, like Samsung, offered machines with larger-then-average keyboards...newer models boasted full-size keyboards or keyboards greater than 90% the size of the standard. Based on this, I focused my searching on Samsung and Toshiba netbooks.

Screen appearance
Since I would be pretty mobile with my netbook, I decided to seek out a machine with a matte screen that could easily be read in all kinds of light, as opposed to glossy screens that are difficult to read in direct sunlight (similar to my Droid Incredible screen, which I could barely see all summer).

Now keep in mind, a netbook is pretty no-frills...only some ports for the power cord, modem, and USB. To install programs, you'd have to do it over the internet, or set up a network with an existing computer and install the program from there (fairly easy to do, or so Husband tells me). But if portability is the goal, then a netbook would be perfect. Up next...the machine I purchased and a review.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Umm, hi?

Holy wow. Is it really November? My sad little blog has been sitting here without an update since the summer. I don't have much of an excuse, except for "life' got busy" and "things came up" and blahblahblah. But seriously, how fast
is the year flying by? I feel like I blinked and summer ended and the holidays are around the corner. Not that I miss the eternal inferno of the past summer...that heatwave was god-awful and I'm happy to not walk around with perpetually sweat-drenched clothing.

I originally wrote this post during some unseasonably warm fall weather, which is long gone by now (today marked the earliest recorded frozen precipitation for the NY Metro area, lovely). I had a collection of fab pictures all set to go, but really, no one wants to see bright sunny days in front of the NY Public Library or giant bloody marys garnished with Slim Jims overlooking the San Diego waterfront. It's just depressing when winter feels like it came too soon.

The bigger and better news is that we welcomed the fall with a new apartment! In Brooklyn! It's a two-bedroom with a patio. A huge patio. Did I mention there was a patio? We couldn't be more thrilled for the space and a fresh start. I have so much to share! From the few purchases we made to freshen up the place with a different look, to paint colors, to a few DIY projects that I (probably stupidly) took on...we've been learning a lot!

Monday, July 26, 2010

review: Paige Denim Jimmy 2 Jean Shorts

Paige Denim Jimmy Jimmy Jean Shorts

Retail: $129.00
Review: Perfect fit and great not-too-short length. Good quality denim. Run big.

I've been wearing a pair of $11 Forever 21 denim shorts for most of the summer. They were originally cuffed and had a 3'' inseam. I decided long before turning 30 that any shorts I donned must have at least a 5'' inseam. I also have abnormally long legs for a short person, so 3-inchers tend to look a little obscene on me. Anyway, it took all of 10 minutes to undo the hem and I had a pair of cut-off denim shorts that were the perfect length. One small problem. The stretchy denim-like material would not let go of the crease from the cuff. No matter how much heat or steam or pressure I applied, the crease remained...and the cuff inevitably returns with every wear.

When Shopbop had one of their recent (and super rare) 20% off sale items discount, I jumped on these Paige denim shorts. I ordered a 27 (my usual size these days) and a 28 (Paige has almost always run small on me, plus Shopbop's free return policy makes ordering extra sizes an easy decision). It was love at first sight. The fading is pretty perfect and the fraying is set with a row of stitching. The color is just what I've been looking for - a darker blue that isn't too deep. The best part, aside from the length, color, feel and fit? The vanity sizing! Perhaps because they are a 'boyfriend,' relaxed fit, but these run AT LEAST a full size big. I could have easily fit into a 26 (possibly even a 25), but the 27 gave the fit I was looking for. With plenty of summer left (and suffering through what feels like a month-long heatwave), I will get plenty of use from these shorts!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

review: Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser

$18 for 6 oz.
Review: Cleans thoroughly without leaving that tight, super dry feeling. Good for sensitive skin.

During my freshman year of college, a girl lived on my hall who I was envious of. I've mentioned before that it took years for my skin to finally become clear, and when I started college, my skin was a blotchy mess. She, on the other hand, had glowy, porcelain skin (along with exceptionally shiny long red hair). I remember scoffing at her great genetics when I checked out the contents of her bath caddy in the communal bathrooms - every night she'd use St. Ives Apricot Scrub (back then it came in a tub) and a generic Witch Hazel for toner. Surely these products weren't solely responsible for her crystal clear face?

Fast forward to 2010, and I find myself hunting for a new face cleanser. I had picked up an Origins cleanser for free but suspected that it wasn't cleaning well and also clogging pores. I was also interested in finding a more natural cleanser, and one that lacked too many sulfates that could irritate my sensitive skin. A quick search on Sephora's site led me to the Jack Black cleanser. Husband had used the shave cream in the past, so I was familiar with the line, and the reviews included many women who were really happy with the product. It's described as a 2-in-1, serving as a cleanser and toner (this is where the witch hazel ingredient comes in), and is made of mostly natural ingredients.

The cleanser has a milky texture to it, and produces a light lather. The instructions advise using a nickel-size amount, but I found a dime size works for me. There is a faint smell that isn't really herbal or soapy, just 'clean.' My face was left feeling clean and refreshed (even on days when I wore some makeup), but not tight in the least bit. Other cleansers that claim to be moisturizing seem to leave a film on my face, but Jack Black manages to be effective and gentle (the elusive combination, probably due to the witch hazel!). My face appeared almost glowy and radiant after washing, and any 'damage' done by the Origins cleanser has been reversed in just a few weeks.

I'm still keeping my other cleansers in the rotation (Aveeno's Ultra Calming Cream Cleanser for mornings before the gym, and Philosophy's Purity Made Simple for use with the Clarisonic or when I put on heavier makeup), but this is a great everyday choice. At $18, it's a bit spendy, but the 6oz. will probably last a while. Highly recommended!

Monday, July 19, 2010

lazy weekend

I finally had Husband all to myself for the entire weekend, with no interruptions from the work email via Blackberry. It was a much-needed break for him, and I thought a relaxing picnic with an easy summery lunch was in order. We trekked out to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, wanting to avoid the crowds (and the scene) at Central Park. What we found was just idyllic...a few couples laying out, young families playing frisbee, and a shaded spot under a newly planted tree with our names on it.

A few pics we snapped from Husband's new BB Tour. Insanely jealous about the quality of the pics as compared to my Curve, but I have the Droid Incredible coming my way, which I hope is as amazing as I hear.

First thing's first

Picnic essentials

The view

Watching the clouds go by

Thursday, July 15, 2010

simmer down

It's official...we're moving in the fall! To where, we haven't decided (staying within NYC). Moving is a huge pain for everyone involved, but it's also a great excuse to clean house, so to speak. I've been purging our closets in a big way since the beginning of the year, and am moving on to the kitchen cupboards. How much stuff is in your cupboards and freezer that is random and never gets used? For us, it's too much. I've embraced the slow cooker to use up about a pound of lentils, and am busy making old-school fruit-suspended-in-jello to get rid of the canned pineapple. Randomness!

We've also acquired tea, and don't drink it regularly enough to have a need for 10 different varieties. On one of our 100+ degree days, I had the idea of making a super strong batch of tea and sweeten it with nothing but lemonade Crystal Light. It's really tasty and refreshing and practically makes itself.

I just fill a medium saucepan with water, boil, and then drop about 10 tea bags in (pull off the strings beforehand). Steep for maybe 15 minutes, remove the bags, mix in the Crystal Light, and let the tea cool. Pour it into a pitcher, and fill the rest of the way with water. Cool and enjoy.

I don't measure a thing, but I do know my pitcher is 2.5 quarts, and I use one small plastic Crystal Light container. The tea is strong, but the lemonade takes the bite out. I guess it's technically an Arnold Palmer, but tastes way better than others that I've had. Maybe because the tea is actually brewed fresh?

Monday, June 28, 2010

love this stuff

The brew and the polish. The drink is Reed's Original Ginger Brew. The polish is Essie's Turquoise & Caicos. Obsessed with both.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 bed

I'm a bit of a lovestruck, flighty teenager when it comes to bedding. My taste runs the gamut and I fall in love quickly...stalking and hankering until it's finally mine...only to get bored and set my sights on something new. That is all to say, I'm a total duvet whore! There couldn't be an easier way to change the entire look of a bedroom! And compared to purchasing new furniture, refurbishing old furniture, or even's quick, easy, and can be relatively cheap. I know duvets aren't generally cheap, but I'm always on the lookout for a great sale, or fab designs from cheap standbys like Target. Here are a few in my main rotation:

*Quick tip - always keep the plastic zip bag that the duvet/shams originally came in. They are usually pretty durable and make it a lot easier to store bedding.

This was the set we received off our wedding registry. Understated and classic. It's been relegated to winter-only use since the duvet is heavy and doesn't breathe very well. The great thing about receiving the whole set is that we can mix and match pieces with other sets, since the color is so neutral. The bedskirt is a perfect neutral backdrop (and also impossible to switch out...who really changes bedskirts on a regular basis anyway)!

I had seen more expensive versions of this look, but found the price much sweeter at West Elm. I think we even got them at a discount. I would have loved the white, but with a new puppy (at the time of purchase), that was out of the question. The super-subtle Sea Spray color has proven just never looks dirty! One annoying thing is that the tucks do come undone if pulled (so basically anytime you sit on the bed)...despite this, ours has mostly retained the original look.

Ok, this one is a walk on the wild side (har-dee-har-har), but works if I am craving color in the bedroom. The tiger print is actually fairly subtle, and the print is so fun! I snagged this on super sale!

I'm still on the fence about this. I had a white/black phase, and decided that this print was perfect...I love the pops of yellow and the grey would tie in nicely with our bedskirt. I think Husband is still undecided about this one.

Others (not currently owned) that I just love!

DwellStudio for Target Celery Baroque Set
(So perfectly simple and chic against dark wood.)

DwellStudio for Target Birds Damask Set
(Love that pop of black/white.)

Style&Co at Macys 'Blossom' Set
(Have you been able to tell that I love all things green?)

Calvin Klein Bamboo Flower Set at Macys
(Is there a modern woman alive who still isn't in love with Carrie's bedding?)

Pottery Barn Woodland Organic Set
(So fun and springy...very girly!)

Pottery Barn Serafina Floral Set
(Bright colors in a bold print - would please men and women! I've had to force myself not to bid on this several times on ebay. It WILL be mine!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

welcome summer!

Wow has it really been a month since my last post? We went on a much-needed vaca to LA and Vegas at the end of May, my 30th birthday came and went, and now we're starting to get those sticky hot NYC days and nights. That is all to say, I've been slacking! I'm also trying to come up with a new blog title and am desperately stuck...not being able to change the title has really been a mental block for any sort of blogging. I know...excuse, excuses! I have a couple of new purchases that I need to blog as well as some reviews from our vaca. For now, this will have to do:

I spotted these in LA, and have unexpectedly fallen in love. I was never digging the oxford look, but there is something about the Joie Louie Louie loafers that is so adorable. Maybe it's the subtle, menswear-inspired detailing, or the slightly deconstructed laceless look. In any case, I think these are a great year-round shoe that I'll strongly consider if they go on sale!

Joie Louie Louie loafer ($198)
(Come in 2 colors: Caviar and a Light Brown.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

street fare

I love many things about NYC in the summer - street fairs being one of them. Any given weekend during spring/summer, several city blocks shut down to vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry, hand-dyed scarves, screenprinted tees, and all kinds of food. Now, I remember when the food at street fairs was dirt could get hand-squeezed lemonade, chicken kabobs, fries, and ritas for under $15. Times have changed, but the food is just as good (and just as fattening, so we only indulge once in a while now).

I can't ever resist the funnel cake vendor, and this past Sunday, we tried the fried Oreos too. OMG. Sinful. We classed it up by eating them on an actual dinner plate, instead of a half-ripped paper plate. Pretty sure we'll be hunting for these every single weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

recipe: Creamy 2-minute salad dressing

I love me a good full-fat ranch or buttermilk dressing! Heck, when I was younger, I used to eat salads with straight-up mayo. Those days are gone with my childhood metabolism and chicken legs, but I still find myself craving a simple, creamy salad dressing from time to time...even as I choke down a basic balsamic vinaigrette.

Enter this super simple, creamy dressing recipe. It is so basic, but so good. I usually make the recipe below, but happen to think it's fab with a little curry powder sprinkled in. I also think it would make a great base for tuna salad!

Original recipe from

* 1 t. dijon mustard
* 1 1/2 T. mayo [I substitute full-fat Greek yogurt since we rarely keep mayo around, and it turns out wonderfully tangy. Whatever you do, don't use a non-fat mayo or yogurt. You need some fat to properly emulsify the dressing.]
* pinch of salt
* pinch of sugar
* dash of fresh ground pepper [I'm pretty generous with my grinds.]
* 1 T. champagne vinegar

Whisk together all ingredients except for the vinegar until combined. Slowly whisk in the vinegar. [This supposedly makes enough for 2 small salads, but if you're like me and drown your salads in dressing, then double the recipe for 2 people. Also, I have no idea how this keeps, but it's honestly so simple to just throw together in a pinch.]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a little bit rock and roll

When it comes to wrist accessories, I tend to favor either super simple bracelets or cuffs that can stand on their own with little other jewelry. When I spotted this cuff on the J Crew website, I automatically started thinking of scenarios and outfits in which it could work. To toughen up a LBD, add edge to a white button-down and black pencil skirt work combo, or serve as the perfect accessory to that blazer and tee combo you've been wearing every weekend. It kind of gives you that I-just-threw-some-stuff-on layered vibe that you see on the super chic girls running around the city, but from a mass retailer that's accessible to everyone. Yay!

Double-Chained Mesh Bracelet ($75)

Monday, May 10, 2010

spring in the city

We've been fairly busy around, life, running here and there in the city. We've been trying to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather (although today is a chilly 50 degrees), and each other's company. [Note: These are all somewhat crappy Blackberry pics, so apologies in advance!]

Waiting in line @ Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

Visiting High Line Park (where we spotted Zach Braff!)

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge after exploring neighborhoods for a possible fall move