Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscars 2011 Red Carpet Roundup

I'm back! I totally had blogger burn out last week and only posted once! That combined with the fact that I was sick lead to a week of just veggin' out wrapped up in my favorite blanket. Anyhoo, I think I've regenerated and am ready to get back in the bloggin' saddle. And what better way than to talk about the Oscars! Let's talk!

I saw Ryan Seacrest interview Gwyneth Paltrow on the red carpet and was surprised when I heard her say she hadn't slept in a week because she was so nervous for her performance that night. You could just really see in her face that she was very, very nervous. Poor thing. I must say though, it was nice to see that even a seasoned performer such as her still gets nerves. I so totally can relate to those nerves!

Here's her performance from last night, I think she did okay. You could tell she was nervous. I don't care for the song (love her song Country Strong) but I do think she has a great voice.

And now for the dresses...

Amy Adams
 L'Wren Scott and those amazing Cartier jewels
 I loved this dress! It was simple in cut but blinged out with the sequins and fit her body perfectly. Loved the gorgeous emerald Cartier jewels worth $1.3 million!

 Reese Witherspoon 
Georgio Armani Prive
When I first saw her I didn't recognize her! She always pretty much looks the same on the red carpet, nice but nothing amazing. This look is still very simple but I just love that she did something totally different. And her hair! Love the hair. I heard Erin Andrews on Good Morning America this morning say she looked like vintage Barbie- so true, she so does!

Celine Dion
Giorgio Armani Prive
I thought Celine looked gorgeous and loved this dress. She usually picks weird, quirky pieces (like the backwards tuxedo she wore in 1999) so it was nice to see her in something so simple, sleek and elegant. And to think that she just had twins a couple months ago!

Marisa Tomei
Charles James
Can somebody please help Marisa Tomei? She is such a wreck. The poor woman just can not get it right. The top on this dress sat too high on her chest making the sides ride high up into her armpits. The bottom is too poufy, weird and unflattering with its asymmetrical line. I actually saw her kicking it out from underfoot every time she walked.

Jennifer Hudson
Atelier Versace
I think this dress is very pretty and love the color against her skin BUT I just don't think this dress found its rightful owner. Mainly because of her boobs. Sorry but they just looked so smushed, flapjack pancake-y. And I know she just lost a ton of weight and good for her and all that stuff but this dress just did not work with those boobs. This dress definitely calls for a small breasted woman.

Cate Blanchett
Givenchy Haute Couture
This is Givenchy Haute Couture so maybe it's just that I'm not sophisticated enough to "get it" but I just couldn't look away from those jarring cap sleeves. I think if the dress was strapless with a halter-like top it would have, for me, worked better. I thought the top part of the dress looked like a Star Trek uniform. My husband said he thought she looked like a Teletubbie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lorain Avenue antiquing

We've been searching for vintage industrial caster wheels to go on an industrial console table we made in the Fall (a post on this soon to come) for awhile now. We've looked extensively online and have made several trips to antique shops in search of these elusive casters. On Sunday we drove up to Lorain Ave. in Cleveland (a well known antiquing area of the city) hoping we'd get lucky this time. You'd think they'd be super easy to find in this area. I mean, where else would you expect to find rusty industrial remnants and cast offs from the long gone industrial age but in Cleveland?

Our first stop was at Antique Arcade/Antiques in the Bank, an antique furniture and architectural salvage shop. It completely blew our minds how much stuff was packed into the two story shop. Every inch of floor space, wall space and even the ceiling was covered with hardware, banisters, floor grates, doors, stained glass windows and anything else you could think of. So cool! 

We found several bins of old casters but they were all much too small (we're looking for 4 or 5 inch ones). We did find a set of industrial pocket door wheels that we thought might work so we bought those for $20. The store was so amazing and definitely someplace we'll keep in mind when putting together any future projects.

An aisle of antique door knob plates and door knobs.

Old heater/vent grates. Love these but couldn't figure out
what to do with them.

Door and chairs everywhere!

Along the way we came across Suite Lorain. A 50's diner looking building from the outside, inside it harbors mid-century modern furniture and in the back you'll find...


...a huge selection of vintage clothing! When I walked back into the clothing section I literally gasped out loud! I could not believe the amount of vintage clothing. I walked up and down the aisles, taking it all in and then settled down into a rack labeled Couture. Diane Von Furstenburg, Lanvin, St. John... amazing labels.

Unfortunately, it was already 3 pm and we hadn't even had lunch yet. I was starving and weak from hunger so we had to cut the visit short. But I will definitely be going back to peruse every inch of that place and add some fab pieces to my vintage dress collection!

Racks and racks of vintage goodies!

The vintage hat and bag section.

After visiting several more shops we walked away empty handed but not disheartened! We ended up  getting a great lead on where to buy new industrial but somewhat vintage looking casters from the owners at Antique Revival, a shop that showcases industrial and architectural pieces for the home. Ultimately, I think we're going to end up purchasing new casters and then have to figure out some way to age and antique them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fun Valentine's Day facts

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. 
They must be felt with the heart. -Helen Keller

Here are a few fun Valentine's Day facts courtesy of the History Channel.
  • Valentine's Day was created by the greeting card industry to bolster and bridge sales between Christmas and Easter. He, he- just kidding. Okay, here are the actual fun facts from the History Channel.
  • One billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas.
  • In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
  • Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages but written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400.
  • The oldest known Valentine card was written in 1415 by The Duke of Orleans of France. After being captured at the Battle of Agincourt he was imprisoned at the Tower of London. The Valentine depicts a knight and a lady with a Cupid shooting an arrow at the Knight's heart. It is currently on display at the British Museum.  
  • The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful picture.

Watch the History Channel video that explains how the pagan ritual was Christian-ized 
in the 5th Century and how it eventually evolved into the Valentine's Day that we know today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The wedding of all weddings


I don't know about you but I am over the top, crazy excited about the up coming nuptials of two of my most favorite faux friends Prince William and Kate Middleton! I am obsessed and will definitely be "attending" the wedding this April.

I remember trying to stay up with my mom to watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles get married in 1981. My mom was so into it that her excitement filled the room and pervaded me. Of course I fell asleep, periodically waking up to catch glimpses of it but the one thing I do remember in full detail is that dress. That legendary, perfectly awesome 80's dress with a mile long train!

So funny that now, all these years later, here I am with the next generation of royals, waiting and anticipating the grandeur that is sure to be. A sort of full circle moment.

I just love the royals, the entire spectacle of it. The pomp, the circumstance and most importantly... the hats! I mean come on, who doesn't love a ridiculous hat with a fabulous outfit? I'd die to attend events wearing some of the hats that Kate wears. So posh, so avant-garde, so... only appropriate for royals to do. Anyone else and you just end up looking like you got a dead bird sitting on your head.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Deux chaise redux

Sorry about the title (Two chair redux), trying to work in the French wherever I can. I know that it doesn't really make sense but I like the way that "deux" and "redux" look together and how the whole thing sounds (with a French accent of course). Anyhoo...

Design Sponge has been one of my favorite websites for the last couple of years. I love that people take old, out of date things and turn them into cool, usable current pieces. It's fun to do, good for the environment and good on the wallet too! We recently dabbled in a chair makeover experiment ourselves, here's what we came up with.

I found this little gem for $11 at my local Good Will shop.

This chair was Dave's grandmother's and had been sitting in his parents basement for years. 
They were kind enough to donate it to our chair experiment.


A few behind the scenes pics:

After getting it home I ripped it completely apart throwing away the seat cushion and fabric. Next I had Dave sand and prime it and then paint it with black flat satin paint while I cut the new foam cushion, batting and fabric to fit. Upholstering the seat cushion was super simple, just align the fabric, batting and cushion and staple away. The seat back required me to make 5 covered buttons which I picked up from the craft store.

Voila! One cute, simple cane barrel chair perfect for the bedroom. Not too bad for first timers...

Truth be told though, I think the contrast of the black and the light fabric I chose is too much. I think we should have painted the chairs white like this chair from Navy Bean or I should have choose a colored fabric or fabric with black accents in it like this chair from Little Bits of Bliss. All in all I think it was a good first effort, perhaps in the Spring I'll transform them again. That's the great thing about free/Goodwill furniture- you don't have any reservations about experimenting with them!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My kind of town...

I ♥ Chicago!

We took our first trip to Chicago last June over my birthday weekend and just loved it. It was urban yet professional and very clean, I mean really, surprisingly clean! Of course we rode our favorite red double-decker bus which took us everywhere we wanted to go.

Me and Dave on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. It was really 
windy that day so the cage was blowing from side to side! :(

The famous corncob towers (Marina City)! These towers have condos on the top 2/3, a spiral parking garage on the lower 1/3 and a boat dock and marina on the bottom, river level! You can store your boat, car  and live all in the same building. The building also contains restaurants, a concert hall, bowling alley and other retail shops.

The bean! Love this thing. It's so random. Love the juxtapostion of its smooth, flowing and shiny surface against the rigid angles of the buildings behind it. It's official name is Cloud Gate and it is located in Millennium Park.

At the top of the Sears Tower (known nowadays as Willis Tower but everyone still calls it the Sears Tower) is the Sky Deck. Dave is not a happy camper when it comes to heights but he was a good sport and went with me all the way to the top- 103 floors, 1353 feet in the air!

I might look comfortable but I'm pretty freaked out! I slowly shuffled my way out to this position. Notice the little girl just hanging out, not afraid at all.  Kids were the only ones who didn't freak out or at the least take a moment before stepping onto the glass. No inhibitions at all, they were jumping up and down on the glass, laying or sitting  down and staring straight down to the street. Guess they didn't have the same visual in their minds of the glass ripping away from the building and plunging to the ground that I did. Ignorance is bliss.

Dave mustered up enough nerve to shimmy part way out onto the glass. 
(His left arm is holding onto the wall.)

Of course we had to have some Chicago style deep dish pizza. It was... different. 
Very much more of a casserole type dish than pizza. We both prefer thin crust.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

La femme boit du café.

It's been a month since I started my Rosetta Stone French lessons (read my first post about it here) and I thought I'd post an update on my progress or rather lack there of. After such a great start I knew that I'd eventually hit a few bumps in the road.

I have to admit that I have not diligently done an hour a day as is recommended by the program. I miss a few days and then cram a few lessons all in one day and end up somewhat confused. But that aside I'm still just not sure if I'll ever be able to hold a normal conversation with someone. Oh I'll be able to state the obvious like- "The boy wore a blue shirt." or "The man drove a green car.", something that will come in handy if I witness a robbery but for my intended purpose I just can't see an actual conversation emerging out of these sort of declaratives.

I know that I need to give it time and that I'm not even half way through the first level so I have no basis to even start to complain but I just feel like the method of teaching might not be the best for me. I took Spanish for four years in high school so I'm used to learning the nouns, learning the verbs, conjugating them and then putting together a sentence. I think because I learned in this way I am complicating Rosetta's "learning the way you learned your own language as a child" method by trying to break every word down instead of just putting the given phrase to the action and picture.

I Googled Rosetta Stone the other day to see what others had to say about the program. Most said that they found it effective as an introduction to a new language. That it's easy to use and easy to pick up on and learn vocabulary. But most expressed the same concern that I have and a lot of people said that they recommend using Rosetta as a side tool to a book and workbooks. (I am going to look into this, I am very much a workbook type person!)

With all that said, I can positively say that I have learned and retained a ton of vocabulary in my short time using it. It's surprising how much I can re-call and how much the image-word association really works. I actually see those pictures in my mind when I'm saying the words. I will keep plugging away. I plan to finish the entire level and then assess whether or not to purchase the next level or try something else. For now I leave you with this- La femme lit et écrit en français. (The woman reads and writes in French. Sorry, stating the obvious is the best I got right now!) Au Revoir!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Location, location, location

As I mentioned in this previous post about our Save the Dates, we have three weddings that we'll be attending this year. One in Las Vegas in June, the next in Tahoe in August and then finally one in Cincinnati in October. With each of those weddings in full planning mode I've found myself offering what little first hand advice I have on all things wedding. Recently wedding locations have been the topic du jour. Since we had initially planned on a beach wedding most people wonder how we ended up at a vineyard. It was definitely a process and here's how it all went down.

In June of 2008 we flew to L.A. to begin our search. I had always pictured myself having a beach wedding but after calling around to the two places we were considering (Shutters and Casa Del Mar) I quickly realized that we would need to look elsewhere for a site. The venues had Food & Beverage minimums of $30,000- just for the food and drinks! We planned on having a small wedding, estimating about 60 people in attendance so getting to $30K with 60 people was not going to happen, not to mention that we had not even planned on spending that much for the entire wedding much less just the food!

 Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica.
Amazing high end, beach hotel right on the sand.

 Right next door to Shutters is Casa Del Mar. Built in
the 1920's the fully restored hotel is amazing with
its Art Deco design and decor. So fab! Love it!

From L.A. we moved down the coast to Laguna Beach, hoping that a smaller town meant smaller venues and more affordable pricing for us. There were a few really unbelievably gorgeous venues right on the beach (Occasions at Laguna Village) but unfortunately most of them we deemed too "public", meaning that the actual ceremony sites were in public view or spaces therefore leaving no control over random people viewing or walking through the ceremony. If there was one thing we knew for sure, it was that we didn't want to have the ceremony anywhere where that random "fat, hairy guy dressed in a Speedo" could wander through or ultimately get caught lurking in the background of our wedding pictures. Of all the places we looked at in Laguna there was only one that we seriously considered, the Surf and Sand Resort. Ultimately we decided against it, deeming the private terrace that overlooked the ocean to be too small to hold our anticipated 60 guests. With no time left to look at locations in other cities we headed back to Ohio without a wedding site.

 Located in the middle of town, Occasions at Laguna Village
has an amazing view of the beach and ocean.

 Also at Occasions is this side terrace, to the left of the deck 
in the above picture. Unfortunately, both are attached to a 
restaurant that has a deck where they serve guests on a patio
that overlooks both of these areas. Basically, you'd be getting 
married in public and in front of anyone choosing to dine 
al fresco that evening, which in Laguna (or anywhere
in L.A.) is everyone.

The view from the terrace at Surf and Sand is incredible 
but definitely would be a tight squeeze for guest lists over 40! 
It is also located right off of 6 privates suites so you and your 
guests must book those rooms in order to have your 
ceremony there.

On wedding overload and a bit discouraged, we took a break for a few weeks. After one last round of scouring the shores of Southern California, from Santa Monica to Huntington Beach, Dave finally suggested we look elsewhere at something completely different, something away from the beach. I conceded and left the image of a beach wedding behind, opening my mind to all the possibilities. I was actually excited at that point because anything was possible!

Firestone Winery in Los Olivos, CA (45 minutes north of Santa Barbara) was one of the first venues I came across and seriously considered. I found a few other possibilities but basically Firestone was the "one" from the first time I saw photos of the variety of ceremony and event areas they had. (Read about the trip we took to Santa Barbara after we booked the venue in this post.)

Ultimately, two things sold me on the venue: the giant, old oak tree that we'd be getting married under and the gorgeous, amazing Barrel Room where we'd have dinner. So unique and different!

Dave and me under our tree!

Dinner in the Barrel Room.