Monday, October 31, 2011

#Trending: alphabet earrings

There are tons of personalized jewelry options out there right now, but I like these by boe earrings especially for their simple design and versatility.  Don't limit yourself to your initials, get weird with it: FU; AM; PM; NO.  And if you have multiple piercings, the possibilities are even greater: WTF, OMG; LOL.

Sadly, with my standard lobes, I'll have to stick to a single pair.  God, mom, why wouldn't you let me be cool?

Friday, October 28, 2011

DIY vampire pumpkins

Every year around Halloween, grocery stores around the city put out pumpkins just begging to be carved.  As any of you city dwellers know, outdoor space is at a premium for most of us.  Outdoor space that's precisely the perfect climate for a cut pumpkin.  In my case, living on the ground floor makes pumpkin easy targets for nocturnal creepy crawlies.  Rats, people.  Regardless of your neighborhood, all cities have them, and I'm unwilling to spend my time carving a pumpkin only to see gnaw marks on it the next morning.

But these mini fanged pumpkins from Martha Stewart are ideal for small apartments.  There's no unattended candles or risk of pumpkin vandalism, and they stay fresh even indoors.  Plus, the whole project should take you well under ten minutes.

What you'll need:
  • Mini pumpkin, preferably white
  • Plastic vampire fangs (available at seasonal costume shops, but I found mine at the drugstore)
  • Red tipped sewing pins or map tacks
  • Paring knife
  • Spoon

Cut a rectangular opening in your pumpkin with your paring knife, using the vampire teeth as a sizing guide.  This should go without saying, but be careful!  The pumpkin can be quite slippery once it's cut.
Scoop out and discard the seeds to prevent mold growth.

Insert sewing pins as eyes.  (Aaaaahhh!)
Slide teeth into pumpkin's opening.
Better than Twilight.  (I want my two hours back.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The coast is the most

Check out these fantastic prints from design team Orange & Park.  The company founders and Southern California natives David Klinker and John McCauley combine their love of topography, typography, and the ocean to create silkscreened maps highlighting areas along the coast.  My favorites are definitely the continents and the one of Manhattan--the font itself is used to delineate borders.  Look, Ma, no lines!

For specific neighborhoods, visit Ork Posters for another (and more extensive) collection.

images via Orange & Park, compiled by me

Monday, October 24, 2011


Halloween is this weekend, and even though it's my least favorite holiday, I came across some Paper Source stationary and couldn't resist.

In the past, printing my own cards has been a breeze, but this time, from the original black envelopes and smeared metallic pens to a template mess (resulting in a card graveyard and some intense engineering, scotch tape, and curse words), the whole thing turned out to be a glittery fiasco.  Just like Halloween.

Damn those gel pens.  Damn them to hell.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Be mine: Walking Dead print

Can't find the original source, despite much googling.

via Pinterest.

Monday, October 17, 2011

DIY neon letters

A few weeks ago, sucked into a black hole of blog daisy chaining, I stumbled onto Weekday Carnival, which, despite its English title, is written entirely in Finnish.  I noticed a small image on the site's sidebar under "Koti" (or "home," as I found out thanks to Google translator), featuring a white letter R in safety vest orange relief.  After a frustrating half hour searching the site for "neon kirjain R" for a larger photo--thanks again, Google--I settled on using this wallet size as the basis for making my own neon/white initials (and a set for my roommate.)

You'll need:
  • Unfinished wooden letters (I used these, but you can pick them up from most craft stores)
  • White acrylic paint
  • Assorted neon acrylic paints
  • Acrylic sealer, in matte or gloss
  • Assorted paint and sponge brushes
  • Newspaper to protect your work surface
  • Wood filler (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)
If the letters have any large nicks or cracks, add a little wood filler to the gaps, let dry for an hour, and smooth over with sandpaper.  A few of my letters had rough edges, so I lightly buffed the edges, but this step is optional.
Next, using both types of brushes, paint the entire letter with white acrylic paint.  Apply about three to four coats, allowing drying time between each layer.  Don't forget the sides to provide a base for easier application of the neon paint later.
    When you are finished covering the letters in white and they are completely dry, paint the sides with the neon paint, using a fine brush for the edge detail.  The bottled acrylic is typically a thinner consistency than the stuff in a tube, so be prepared to apply five or more coats to attain an even, saturated finish.  You can use a blowdryer to speed up the drying process.
    Touch up any mistakes with the white paint and a fine brush.
    After the letters are painted and completely dry, apply a coat of matte or glossy acrylic sealer to all of the sides in a well-ventilated area (preferably outside).  Let dry overnight on wax paper.
    Display as the Finnish would.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Chess pie

    I don't usually have much of a sweet tooth in spite of my love for baking, but today, I had an epic brownie craving like you read about in Epic Brownie Craving Weekly.  The last dessert I hankered after this much was crack pie, so I decided to combine both flavors.

    Remember crack pie?  Meet its cousin from below the Mason-Dixon line: chess pie.  Chocolate chess pie to be exact.

    The recipe calls for frozen pie crust, but I'm all like, "whatever, frozen pie crust."  Instead, I made one from graham cracker because it only uses butter, not shortening.  If I'm going to fire up the oven (and my apartment) during Indian summer heat, it had better smell like butter.

    And chocolate.  I love the scent of baking brownies, and since chess pie has a similar fudgy texture, I decided to make a chocolate version by adding a few ounces of the good stuff to the filling.

    Note: I used a basic recipe for the crust but eyeballed a little extra because my tart pan is a little bigger than the standard pie dish.  To make chocolate chess pie, simply add 2 oz. chocolate (melted in a double boiler) to the melted butter before combining with the dry ingredients.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011


    I've owned Bose in-ear headphones since my brother gave me my first pair as a Christmas gift in college.  No competition beats their sound and comfort for the same price.  So in the past four years, even though I've gone through as many pairs, I can't bring myself to change brands despite the non-disposable expense.

    At this point, I'm fairly familiar with the Bose warranty and return process, most notably with their somewhat protracted e-mail correspondence.  So now that pair no. 4 has decided that only my right ear deserves to hear 2004 Gwen Stefani, I was inspired by a friend's article to take another route and contact the company through Twitter, @BoseService.

    And how'd that work for me?  Let's just say that if you own any products by Bose (and you should), their Twitter team's general efficiency and real-time, human responses are reason enough to create your own handle.

    I want to give a huge--and completely personal and unendorsed--shout out to @BoseService, the official Twitter CS account for Bose, for their lightning fast help in resolving my issue and replacing my set.  Take note, other companies, this is what phenomenal customer service is all about.

    Technology!  There's nothing like it!  Nothing in the world.

    This post is in no way sponsored or promoted by Bose.  This is just me, singing praises for awesome service.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    DIY hair ties

    As I've mentioned before, a lot of my projects revolve around overpriced items that I either can't or won't purchase.  These elastic hair ties from Shopbop are the perfect example.  They're comfortable, stretchy, and don't mark or break my hair.  And for $45, I can receive 18 elastic scraps, at $2.50 per piece.  Oh, but they "can also be worn as bracelets!"  Talk about multitasking!  You can take my money AND patronize me too!  Shopbop, I thought that we were friends.

    Sephora sells a similar set at $8 for 8, but I've got them all beat at around $0.13 per incredibly easy-to-make tie.

    What you need:
    • A few yards of fold-over elastic band, 3/4 - 1" thick (any fabric store will carry this, but I got mine here)
    • Ruler
    • Scissors

      Measure and cut the elastic in 8-10" increments, depending on the thickness of your hair.  Mine is lamentably on the thinner side, so I can get roughly 3 loops around my ponytail from an 8" tie.  Experiment to see what works for you.

      Fold your now cut elastic in half and make a loop. 

      Pull the ends through the loop to form a simple knot, leaving approximately a 1" tail.

      Tighten the knot and repeat all of the steps with the leftover elastic.

      Never be without overpriced hair ties again.

      Thursday, October 6, 2011


      I'm not a big fan of one-price-fits-all sites where every item costs the same and new styles are released each month.  But I have to give it up to the Olsen twins and their T-shirt club, StyleMint.  Or really, their marketing team.

      Apparently, the twins record a monthly video for a "T Moment" contest, and October's Halloween short is both entertaining and interactive.  The video features six trivia questions, and each correct answer gets you one letter closer towards the six character promotional code for 15% off of one item.  But the real reward is the accompanying white girl/Robert Palmer backup victory dances MK & A perform after each question, masked as characters from Batman, South Park, and Star Wars (complete with Starbucks light sabers).  In leather midis and black ankle boots, of course.

      And though it's unlikely that the Olsens will actually get my $29.99, at the least, they deserve a high five.

      Tuesday, October 4, 2011

      Color me convinced

      No one can do a neutral palette quite like Calypso.  Except maybe Vince.  And Calvin Klein.  Theory, too.  OK, so a lot of designers can make an appealing neutral palette, but Calypso's actually has me rethinking all of the bold colors everyone is chirping about for fall.

      Calypso St. Barth, Winter 2011

      Monday, October 3, 2011

      Cinnamon Raisin Bread

      Fall has been playing hard to get for the past few weeks, and even though it's my favorite season, I'm getting a little tired of the games.  After alternating wool sweaters and denim cutoffs in one week alone, I decided to force Mother Nature's hand with this cinnamon raisin bread recipe from the Kitchn.  The smell of baking cinnamon is fall.

      But of course, Mother Nature got the last laugh.  She always does.  Just as the loaves were rolled up and rising, a storm began and the power went out.  You see, I was visiting my KitchenAid mixer parents in suburban Maryland, where electricity is disrupted by light rain or say, a sneeze.  By the time the lights came back on a little past midnight, the loaves had overproofed, puffed up like the Michelin Man over the sides of the pans.  I did my best to carefully nudge them back into shape before rushing them into the oven...only for the power to go out again, halfway through baking.

      As a result, the bread tops got too much heat and were a little darker than I'd like (I'm choosing to blame Pepco for this).  And then I didn't take photos of it until the loaves were more than halfway eaten (again, not my fault.  Pepco.), which is extremely upsetting because looks are the most important thing.  Remember that, impressionable children.

      But what's on the inside supposedly counts too, and the inside happened to be delicious fluffy white bread, loaded with moist raisins and molten cinnamon sugar.  Which is important too.  I guess.