31 March 2010

Decorating Inspiration; To-Do to Da Apartment

I am on a big budget and of course, living in a rental apartment is to some extent somewhat transient, so decorating is a bit tricky. Especially when your living room's decor only consists of this:Cycling store/garage a living room does not make. Mind the stuff in the lower right hand corner, that's for recycling/Salvation Army.

First, I needed to figure out what the heck to do to my couch - as you can see in the photo, its brown with cream piping but those pillows are really ugly. I hate them, but they came with the couch. Not one to turn down free throw pillows.

Thankfully, I still read the Perfect Palette - not only are her inspiration boards great for weddings, but also for a newbie decorator and fair-isle knitting junkie like me! Thanks to her, I FINALLY figured out the perfect color pallete for my living room: brown, latte, ivory and shades of aqua/turquoise/blue to give it a bit of pop. Woo!

So now I have my color palette, I can slowly but surely turn this living room into a cozier space. According to my results on a design quiz I took in real Simple's March issue, I am a Cozy Casual/Sophisticated Chic combo, but more on the Cozy Casual (re: Pottery Barn) end of things. The kind of couch I have helps.

During an impromptu visit to Michael's today with my mom (she needed to pick up ribbon to make her godkid's Easter candles with for the anastassi, or midnight mass) I picked up some fake blue hydrangea (because I'm on a budget and I kill succulents, for pete's sake) and sorta arranged them in the tall glass vase that my wedding bouquet came with.
Total cost? $10 for the flowers, the vase was free, and I used some extra ribbon lying around just because. The ribbon is a really bright green, but with so many neutrals in the living room, I needed something bright. Seems like a bit of green is popping up, at the AAS conference this weekend, I picked up Liza Dalby's new book in hardcover for $10:
I love the idea of "coffee table" books and changing it up once in awhile - I have a few Japanese/Chinese art books and plan to change it up a bit.

We also need to change our rug - it has so many spots from spilled food that we cleaned up with the Tide To-Go pen but its pretty blah. The Aussie picked it up in his last moments of bachelorhood and while it's serviceable, its gotta go. Rugs are pretty pricey but I finally found one that works perfect with the color scheme I want: the DwellStudio for Target Floral Block Rug:I'd get it in April or May, but since we have Italy coming up, I am on a shopping moratorium (minus the Sheep and Wool festival in Maryland this May with my knitting group) till after August 19. But for the size, the price is good. Still need curtains - those I know will be in aqua. I already found the fabric for the pillows - its cream jaquard with an aqua damask print - at my local fabric store.

As for the walls - painting a rental is quite risky, and we have these gorgeous moldings; after staying with my friend J in Philly (whose apartment is GORGEOUS) I was inspired by her walls - her apartment has the walls in cream, but the moldings in bright white, so they stick out more. I really liked it a lot and remembered that when my dad fixed our bedroom, he had cream and white paint.

I proposed the idea to The Aussie and he seems all for it (heck the paint is free), we just need to find some time to do it. Unfortunately, our landlords did a crap job with the painting when we moved in. I'd also like to redo the kitchen - the walls cream, but our built-in cabinets white. We also need to put new lino tiles in the kitchen.

We are still on the lookout for a semi-affordable tv stand that is not from IKEA; any suggestions? Where do you look for design inspiration on a budget? I recently discovered Overstock.com's home section and it's fantastic; I am also planning to to a "travel/city" themed gallery wall once we move the tv back across our couch (it's in the corner since its not mounted to the wall but on our coffee table. I want that corner back to make a reading/knitting nook with a small armchair and my pharmacy lamp).

29 March 2010


Ravelry came up with this new option to share projects with people outside of the site (because in order to see them, you need to be a member; I like this security feature, but I still would like to share my projects, too!).

So, I am testing this link out: my Rattlesnake Creek socks were finished this past Friday and I am SO HAPPY with them! They are a bit snug, but blocking them will help. I wore them too and showed them off to all of my coworkers (the last stitch was knit during my break). Handknit socks feel so nice and squishy and soft on my feet. What do you think?

26 March 2010

A Roman Honeymoon

After months of hemming, hawing and a month-long moratorium on the phrase "Italian Honeymoon," I finally have some news to report.

The Aussie and I are FINALLY going on our honeymoon! Viva Italia! Buon Viaggio!

This means that number 10 of my 26 Before 26: - Go to a country/area of the United States I haven't been to yet - is complete! Cross that one off the list.

Long story short, we weren't sure if we could go, then the Tax Man came in and the fact that the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are really ruining the Euro helped - the plane tickets are cheaper now than they were a few months ago.

We fly into Venice on Aer Lingus via Dublin on 8/12 (10.5 year dating anniversary!) stay till 8/13, and make our way down the boot: Florence from 8/13-8/15 and Rome from 8/15 till 8/21.

Little Sister's Italy expertise (she lived in Rome for a year) will be called in for this trip, especially for transportation; she only paid 15 euros as opposed to $65 to go from Rome to Venice so going local and avoiding tourist stuff will definitely pay off. That, and I want to try and squeeze a day trip to Capri, since we can't get to Ravenna.

The Aussie just booked our tickets and I got the confirmation email - woo! So excited! We definitely know where we are going to stay in Rome, but does anyone have any recommendations for Venice and Florence?

19 March 2010

Looks Like It Will Stay on the Rack for Now

Thank you ladies so much for the comments! But it turns out, I won't be getting the dress. For now, at least.

I technically already have a dress for this party: the ink-dot dress from J.Crew. It's navy blue and white and really versatile: I've worn it already to my bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, a birthday/grad party and will wear it again (with my Carolyn espadrilles, this link is the exact color of them) to a backyard engagement party this June.

When The Aussie spoke to his mother about the party and how I needed to get a dress and he wear a suit and we needed to get a gift (we thought this was a formal party, you see), his mom said that I can wear my "navy polka dot dress" (she likes it alot).

The point of the "Black and White" attire note was to make sure that the guest of honor - his godfather - stood out amongst the guests. I think he doesn't know that this party is being held.

But when you get an invitation to a party and it says "Black & White" attire, don't you think it's a formal one? As in the evening? Or early afternoon into early evening?

Well, not when it's 12:30pm in the afternoon. Sigh. I will keep an eye out for that dress - maybe I can try to get it on sale or at least, I won't be in that much of a rush to get it. That gives me a bit of time to lose some more weight that I gained from PTWS (post-traumatic wedding syndrome).

17 March 2010

Wanted: A Little Black Dress

Confession: I am 25 years old and I do not own my own Little Black Dress.

I have this black and white dress but its more of a day dress; this lack of the LBD proves a problem when you and your husband are invited to his godfather's birthday party out on Long Island at a fancy catering place, and the invitation says, "Black and White Attire."

A lot of things ran through my head when I read that and I will not repeat those here.

I don't do black and white. It washes me out like no tomorrow. Heck, I don't think I own anything black in my closet, except for my suit (which for some may come as a shocker - this New Yorker does NOT wear black).

I have two options: either suck it up and get a black dress, or not go.

This dress is making my decision a wee bit more difficult. The not going decision that is. Because this is a black dress that I actually like (pigs have flown!):It's the optical illusion dress from Anthropologie. Reviews of the dress have been pretty good, saying that curvy, chesty gals (like me) fit the bill for it. I love how it mildly screams Mad Men too.

Now my question for you sartorial ladies: would this be a dress that you could also wear to a wedding? I have a wedding in June 2011 (my godsister's) that I am going to and in the name of economy, I will get this dress if I can reasonably wear it to the wedding.

14 March 2010

My Dad Is the BEST Dad Ever

Because this morning, he woke up early, picked me up at 7am and drove me to the Target out in College Point for Liberty of London at Target.

On the way, however, he mildly chided me for getting him out of bed and schlepping him over when he said, "Missy, you need to learn how to drive. SOON." (Working on it, dad...)

I have had my eyes on these kinds of prints since Fall 2004 when I stumbled upon the Liberty of London store on Regents Street in London; I was able to pick up really affordable neck scarves in Japan in their bright prints. Great with a white tshirt and simple shorts with sandals during the summer.That said, I discovered while I was running around Target in circles, I can only really do Liberty prints in small doses. I tried on a few of the dresses, and wasn't really impressed with the fit. Also, I saw that the threads on the shirts started to fray even while they were on the rack. Not going to spend money on things that are already short of falling apart.

So, I focused my efforts on home goods and accessories - my dad and I got to Target at 7:40 and waited in the parking lot. At 7:59, I bolted out of the car (not like there was anyone there, really) and was the second person in the store. My first aquisition? The Stick Umbrella in Mark Pink:
Hanging off the door in the entry hall of my apartment.
Detail of the pattern.

The minute I saw the umbrella in the previews, I knew I needed to get it - I had an umbrella very similar to this when I lived in Japan. It was polka dots, survived numerous bike rides (I would stick it through the rear fender on my bike as I zipped around Kyoto in case it rained), I left it outside on my bike and brought it back home with me - only to have it stolen one day in the library when I was in grad school. I miss that umbrella. Now I have a really good replacement!

This was in the accessories section the minute you walk into the store, so I grabbed it. There were only 3 and as the morning wore on, people kept on asking me where I got it. Sold out within 15 minutes of the store opening.

I saw the pillows and the bedding and while the prints were nice, again, for me it really didn't suit. In terms of my personal style with regards to decorating, I'm more of a DwellStudio kind of person. That, and I have a brown couch and none of the pillows matched.

Those were gone within half an hour, too. The bedding kept refilling during the day. No matter. I had bigger fish to fry.

That fish were rainboots. The Poppy Pink rainboots to be exact. After I grabbed my umbrella and tried on and rejected the dresses, I was out on the lookout for rainboots. My Tretorns cracked, and I promised a friend that I would get the boots for her too.

Little bit of a problem: they were not out on the shelf. Turns out, the Target out in College Point was really unprepared for the (small) onslaught of Liberty-obsessed women dragging their husbands/boyfriends and in my case my dad (like The Aussie would really put up with these kinds of shenanigans, my dad likes to shop) so very few things were out on the shelf.

So my dad and I waited. I told the Target people that I am on the lookout for the boots.

We waited some more. My dad retreated to the Starbucks while I continued my loop through the store. While I looped I picked up the following goodies:
Two each of the Dunclare Pink and Black small acrylic tumblers.
I have broken all of our water glasses, so these were a cute replacement.
The Dunclare Pink small tumblers were sold out by the time my dad and I left.
I don't know the name of this print (it's not even online) but I liked this acrylic tray alot. I saw it in the shopping cart one of the Target employees was using to bring stuff out to shelf - people were already picking at the shopping cart while he was unloading. I like it because it has a nice print, but it's subtle. I got this for the living room. Detail of design.Lotus and White Flower Candle - it smells HEAVENLY. I originally had the Sweet Grapefruit
but went back to the display as I waited for those rainboots and swapped it for the
Lotus one because again, the shelves were not fully prepped.
Apparently, this is supposed to be for the garden (the picture in the label shows it stuffed
with leaves, but I use it as a really awesome and adorable hamper.
The Aussie and I needed a new one BADLY).

At some point during the proceedings, I even took my cart, left the empty shelves that I was keeping guard (seriously, it was that mildly crazy) and had breakfast at Starbucks. Unfortunately, by the time we left, the employees still didn't put put the teapots and the ceramic mugs and didn't even have those in their stockroom, so I was a bit disappointed.

My poor dad took it all in stride (and kept commenting to me in Greek his astonishment at how all of this stuff is practically gone within 20 minutes), and kept himself occupied by looking at the grills in the summer/garden section. Even he got in on the Liberty fun when he saw the watering cans next to the grills and asked if we should pick one up for my mom. We got her the one in the Dunclare black pattern.

And then the boots finally arrived. I was waiting with one other woman who had her cart stuffed with pillows; this English lady came by with her cart (later on in the morning, we were both there since 8am) and was oohing and aaahing over the pillows. She saw my umbrella, peered into my cart and said, "That's ALL your getting??!?!?!?!" I like Liberty but small doses work for me. I didn't want to get stuff that I barely needed just because it says Liberty on the inside tag.

Did I ever mention that while my dad and I got to Target at 7:40, the boots finally came at 11am? We waited three hours for rainboots! I can't beleive I did that. Still, I promised my friend I would get her the boots and I got her the boots.
Like? I'm a bit iffy on them, but they are growing on me.

The funny thing was, everyone started to crowd around the boots section, and I noticed that there was only enough room on the display for 1 boot per size. So my evolving tactic was to let the Target people know (politely and graciously) that I am looking for a 9 and 10. I pretty much made myself known, since the employees that were on the "Great Liberty of London for Target Rainboot Search of 2010" saw me at oh, 8:15 in the morning when I asked for them in the first place.

So the one employee who knew the sizes I needed was holding the boxes, and walking down towards the display was short of accosted by other girls asking for the sizes. Her response, was "We only got five pairs for the entire store, and these are marked for that lady over there [me!] because she has been waiting patiently since 8am."

And with that, my dad and I got the boots and hightailed it out of Target. My dad also picked up some cucumber and parsley seeds for his garden in the backyard, which guarantees my mother using her new watering can (she loved it!) a lot this Spring.


Did anyone have a chance to check out Liberty of London? I read online that the pop-up store here in NYC sold out and is already closed!

12 March 2010

Finally, A Place Where I Can Get A Bike With a Basket

I REALLY want this bike if I am ever able to sell my Trek 7200 Hybrid step-through bike with both seat and front-wheel suspension (any takers?):It's from this new bike company called Public. Their idea is to create European-style bikes for the American market. My reaction? HALLELUJAH. I've been looking for a bike like this to zip around the city with in a flowery skirt and cute shoes (pipe dream really - I'll settle for bermuda shorts and a cute shirt with my Superga sneakers. I've ridden a bike in heels and those little suckers make you slip even while you're still sitting on the seat, unless you have clips. The pedals also chew the bottom of the shoe).

It's a bit wrong of me I think that I am more concerned with upgrading (or downgrading, depends on how you look at it because I have to admit, the Trek is really really good with those potholes) my everyday bike instead of building up my "Spandex Glory" cycling skills so I can get a carbon fiber bike (again, unless I get a kick-ass job anytime soon, another pipe-dream).

And really, who wouldn't want to buy a bike from a company that has bunnies photographed along with the bikes?

08 March 2010

I'm SUCH a Doofus

I get to work today at around 8:15 in order to tidy up any last minute admin duties - pick up my rosters, copy some stuff, etc. I needed to to this this morning because my classes start at eight am tomorrow and i won't have time otherwise (it also means I finish at 2pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, woo!).

So I go to my mail folder and get my stack of paperwork. But there is something wrong here...my rosters say T/Th from 8:00-10:15 and 11:45-2:00 but my schedule from the English department says M/Th from 9:15 to 3:45? And I have a DIFFERENT class? Oh. My. God.

I almost run to the English department thinking, "Oh NO! I have a class that starts TODAY in less than 45 minutes and I don't have a syllabus or ANYTHING!"

Turns out, the schedule was the one for my class that got canceled for the winter term. It said "Fall II 2010" very clearly on the top.

Brain fail, clearly. And already at the start of the semester? Oh, joy.

06 March 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'm Cycling, Tomorrow

Today is a gorgeous day! So will tomorrow - which means The Aussie wants to ride his bike. Lately he has been whining that he really wants a Madone as opposed to the Orbea bike that he has; I'm just shaking my head and reminding him that we already have THREE bikes in our apartment and no room for a 4th. He is not going to mount another bike on another wall in our living room. I have plans for said wall.

The Aussie is dragging me along the ride as well - although I am doing it a bit begrudgingly and with a few conditions:

1. Not 50 miles in one shot
2. Not over 15mph
3. We do not ride over the 59th Street Bridge to go home.

The main reasons for these conditions is that I am a bit out of shape and more importantly, I'm still getting used to my clipless pedals. When you ride over the bridge from Manhattan into Queens, there is a slightly steep incline, then you coast down at around 30mph into Queens (and oncoming traffic). Not the best idea when I am locked into my pedals in case something happens.

Granted, I won't look like an idiot this season, since I have said shoes and pedals.

05 March 2010

"A Modern Greek Drama"

The economic crisis in Greece is something I've been keeping an eye on, if a bit tangentially. Colbert has a slightly humorous take on it (watch out for the "modern Greek drama" line, its hilarious!)

03 March 2010

26 Before 26

One of the blogs I read, Slice of Pink, did this really neat thing where she listed 30 things to do before she turned 30. She inspired me to create my own list of things to do before I turn 26. Wish me luck!

1. Visit the Guggenheim museum
2. Visit a Long Island winery
3. Make 10 different cupcakes (1 for each month left in the year) from Cupcakes Galore
4. Master 4 of my favorite childhood recipes: Pastitsio, Avgolemono with Chicken (my kind of chicken soup) Karidopita and Galaktobureko
5. Knit a sweater
6. Lose 10 pounds - and keep it off
7. Go to one of the yarn/wool/craft festivals (Maryland Sheep & Wool)
8. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and back
9. See another ballet besides The Nutcracker
10. Go to a country/area of the United States I haven't been to yet
11. Hiking somewhere in the Catskills or Bear Mountain
12. Go to a trivia night/quizzo at a bar
13. Decorate my apartment
14. Ride in the Tour de Brooklyn, Tour de Queens, or complete a century ride - since my first one ended up with me in the ER.
15. Go to the Chelsea Flea market on weekend
16. Submit my master's thesis to scholarly journals
17. Have a dinner/cocktail/wine & cheese party for no reason whatsoever and go all out (invitations, outifts, the nice dishes, etc.)
18. See a movie at the Ziegfeld theater
19. Go eat Indian food in Jackson Heights
20. See live Greek music
21. Learn how to sew
22. Go to a museum exhibition (or 2, or 3...)
24. Spin my own yarn (and not just practice spinning)
25. Apple picking
26. Print out and create/finish my London and Japan photo albums; create a wedding album.

Bonus Points:

a. Get my learner's permit
b. Go to one of the Australian-cuisine restaurants on the Lower East Side
c. Knit a throw blanket
d. knit something with handspun yarn
e. read a new book for each month left in the year
f. Update my recipe box

02 March 2010


When I opened my email this morning, imagine my surprise when the talented Chloe of English Tea Paperie sent me a message via Facebook. Turns out, I won a gift certificate for my own personalized stationery! Woo! I have never won anything via Facebook or the blog giveaways, so I'm really excited about it.

Now the question is, what design to choose? There are so many of them! After going through the site several times, I ended up with this one:This is the 3 Sailboats notecard from the Nautical Themed line. Like the card, I have my name in the Copperplate font in Kelly Green. I wanted something that was classic, but fun at the same time and this definitely did the trick. Thanks, Chloe!

01 March 2010

Long Time No See

Hello all. It's been awhile. The weather is getting nicer here, and Spring is definitely in the air. I am still on vacation and a bit bored out of my mind. However, that doesn't mean I have not been preparing for the new term for next week:
Grammar terms. Gotta review them, and take a test tomorrow at my job. But, to make it more fun for me, I used my brand new Staedtler pens in Spring colors. I LOVE color pens, and these seem like they definitely do the job of grading, color coding and general doodling and in fine point (.3mm).
I also got a new notebook in Spring Green to take notes for my lesson plans in - going to teach remedial/basic writing (2 courses) this semester using Greek Myths as readings. It's going to be fun and challenging. Apologies for my crap handwriting though, as I am wearing this:Good thing those pens are ergonomic. People ask me what happened to my wrist and I tell them that this hat happened to it:That picture was taken while it was drying over a dinner plate. The pattern is called Selbu Modern and it was my first complete fair-isle project. The colors are navy and what looks like orange in the photo, is really coral (navy and coral is one of my favorite color combinations).

It took a whole season and one more episode of The Tudors to finish it, but I knitted for 6 hours straight on both Saturday and Sunday (total of 12 hours) last without taking substantial breaks. Very, very bad idea.

The muscle strain started when I tried to knit the Fiddlehead Mittens. This was all last week; I didn't get the brace till last Friday and since I'm lefthanded it was just a bit worse. I've been wearing it 24/7 and will do for all of this week; I will also not knit a stitch this week. Next week, I'll start knitting very slowly with the brace on and see how it goes. Kinda hard to not knit when all of this amazing yarn has been arriving in my mailbox these past few weeks:

All of the yarn is hand-dyed, the "Starry" yarn has a bit of sparkle to it. The dark blue I'm planning to make a shawl with, "Starry" I'm thinking of something for my baby godsister, the MadeleineTosh a cowl of some sort, and the rest are socks. The last yarn, Three Irish Girls actually has bamboo in it. It's soooo soft.

The colors in the pictures are pretty true to real life, thanks to a new camera that The Aussie got me/us for our 10-year dating anniversary. I've been playing around with the Manual feature, though the kitchen light is horrible and that is why the picture of my hat looks more orange than pink.

I'm so sad that the Olympics are over. I loved the whole campy set with Michael Buble singing along to some song about maple leafs. These Olympics were pretty good. This month is the World Figure Skating Championships and while I do not have cable, I do have Universal Sports.