From the Archives: Valentine’s Day

There are two common sentiments regarding Valentine’s Day:

1.) It is the most romantic day in the world and I am overjoyed to participate in it
2.) It is the most disgustingly sappy, over commercialized day of the year and I would have to be lobotomized to buy in to it

Single or attached, either of the two can apply to you. You can be a single person who lusts after the perfect Valentine, or happily coupled and eager to reject the Hallmark invented occasion. The trick is that if you are going to side with one camp, you better stick with it no matter what relationship state you are in. The worst scenario is to begin as the second and convert to the first, because then you are truly spineless.

Food Revolution Recipes 2, 3, 4

So one resolution is going well… Aaron and I are FEASTING on fresh food, thanks to Jamie Oliver’s easy-peasy Food Rev book.

Dressed Asparagus. Verdict: Tangy, delicious.

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Rice Salad. Verdict: Not as good as it looks. Overwhelmingly flavored with the roasted red bell peppers, herbs and not much else.

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Chopped Salad. Verdict: A total mess to make when you don’t have the requisite ginormous cutting board. Also the dressing was a little too heavy on the olive oil.

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Honorable Mention: Aaron’s Baked Chicken. Verdict: Tony Sachere’s, salt and pepper, lemon and garlic – the man has a gift.

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Coffee and Cigarettes

Let me preface this by saying that smoking is just about the dumbest thing you could be doing, and it should never be made to seem cool.

HOWEVER

For as long as I can remember I have had a love for sixties style and the idealized flawed creative writer type completely independent of that boring little hipster-magnet ofa show called Mad Men.

AND

Since, after years of obsessing, I bought this:

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I’ve decided my little cute 1960s writer desk would not be complete without a retro ash tray. Granted, it will only be filled with my slighlty less destructive vice: candy. Or maybe doo-dads and binder clips, who knows. Point is, it totally completes the look.

ONLY

I can’t decide which one. Help?

YOUR OPTIONS:

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Go ahead and vote in the comments.

Or if your vote is none of the above, and that I need to start working on my more pressing vice and addiction – shopping on Etsy – feel free to leave that in the comments below as well…

Food Revolution Recipe 1: Quick Salmon Tikka With Cucumber Yogurt

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After finally meeting this lovely lady for the first time IRL (yes, I made that sentence as dorky as possible) and perusing my friend Christine’s new cooking blog, I’ve felt inspired. Needless to say I won’t be cooking my way through thousands of pages of french cooking ala Julie Powell, but 10 Jamie Oliver recipes sounds like a healthy start on my new year’s goals. (If there were a Dr. Seuss, ABC book of cooking, I’d start there… Jamie Oliver had lots of pictures, so that was good enough for me.)

Next goal: learn how the heck to take those gorgeous food photos so my versions can look sort of like the ones in the book…

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Home-Improvement (Love Note to Etsy)

If unencumbered by my student-size budget and dollhouse-sized apartment, here’s just a couple of things I wouldn’t be living without…

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shabby chic coffee table by paintedcottages

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two-tone antique dresser by DragonFlysandDaisies

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sevenbc‘s antique typewriter

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octopus illustration by littlebluebirdstudios

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5gardenia‘s 1960s silver banded ombre low ball glasses

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Hindsvik‘s vintage globe lamp

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LaBrocanterie‘s coffee grinder

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“The Magic Spice Cake” print by janethillstudio

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“The Social Season” print by janethillstudio

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ceramic cupcake stand by whitneysmith

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translucent porcelain egg votives by Revisions

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custom heart pillow by cozyblue

Self-Improvement

I’ve decided the problem with resolutions is that they’re not specific enough. Things like “lose weight” and “get in shape” or even “read more” are absolutely ridiculous. They’re too vague to really even sound worth doing. I think it’s time to take the Mary Poppins approach and find the element of fun.

Some new goals for 2011 (and beyond):

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Exhibit A: eight years ago in high school, when the shirt was "new"

-Try Zumba. Consider this my last-stitch effort to get in shape. It’s the first health craze in a big long while that I’ve been excited about, and by-goly I’m gonna go with that feeling as long as I can.

-Try the shake weight. Yes, I asked for one for Christmas and yes, I know how wrong it looks. But I’ve heard it does wonders for the arm flab.

-Jog around my apartment complex nightly. The inner circle driveway around the mailboxes is approximately half a mile. Baby steps.

-Learn to silk screen. Mostly so that I can make exact copies of my favorite shirt (pictured to the left and  below) and continue to wear it until the end of time. I’ve owned it for a little over eight years, and when I bought it, it wasn’t even new (thank you, Buffalo Exchange). Now it’s pretty thread-bare, and I’m pretty sure it would take museum flag-restoration people to keep it going much longer.

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Exhibit B: Two and a half years ago, honeymoon.

-Learn to sew. Although I’ve been resisting such anti-feminist activity, going to a tailor to hem pants feels like highway robbery. And it would be nice to replace all those missing buttons on my clothes…

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-Learn to quilt. With the right fabrics, I’m convinced I could out-do Anthropologie.

Make at least 10 recipes from my new Jamie Oliver book. I’m not real big on cook books… or cooking for that matter, but this one has nice, beautiful step-by-step photography that makes it look just a little bit easier.

-Start another furniture-painting project. I found this beauty below on Craigslist tonight and am SO in love. Although I think it might be cruel to paint over all that gorgeous oak… either way, I want it.

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Getting the Knack

I fantasize about craft and home decorating projects the way most people do about future vacations.

My latest obsession?

Copying this:

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I first spotted it on Design Sponge over two years ago, and since then have become enamored with designs of its creator at Knack Studios. It’s always been in the back of my mind, and now that the holidays over, and the space I cleared for my Christmas tree now seems a void of unused wall, I’m just itching to dive into a project.

Challenge 1: Doing it on the cheap. In the past, I’ve been able to find things on Craigslist at a reasonable price – for example this dresser below, which I bought for $40 on the Austin page (and then spent another $80 in painting supplies, paint stripper, and overpriced knobs from Anthropologie….)

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Unfortunately this time, the only thing close to the Knack version I’ve been able to find so far is on Ebay for wayyyy more than I want to pay for something I could potential destroy if this all goes awry.

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Which brings me to Challenge 2: The actual doing. Aaron was with me for the first time, and it was one of those “we really could make it through anything after this but don’t talk to me for the next several hours” watershed moments in our relationship. I vowed never to work with paintstripper again, but since that time Barb Blair from Knack has begun writing wonderful how-tos for Design Sponge (and the photos by Centsational Girl make it look so deliciously easy).

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Alas, the search (and daydreaming) continues. I’ve since widened to include looking for reasonably priced old library card catalogues, which I’ve also been quite obsessed with for a while. If anyone knows where I could find either around the Houston area for under $100, let me know!