Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Michelle Armas

My favorite art that I have picked up in the past year has got to be from Michelle Armas, a painter  based out of Atlanta.  I picked up prints of Blarney, Trellus, and a canvas of Hadrian; Blarney and Hadrian seen below and above in my dining room.

There is something so free about her work, or perhaps I mean freeing.  It feels entirely organic and is easy to get lost in (I would know. It took me MANY visits to her site to pick out my purchases).  But looking at them as a group, it's clear her aesthetic is purposeful and her talent is incredible; I am seriously in love! 

My favorite is Dark n' Stormy, pictured above, and the next time I have a spare $1800 lying around, watch out, 'cuz its gonna be mine!  Wouldn't it be incredible up against a deep charcoal or black wall?  Or maybe navy?  So many good choices!  If y'all want to find yourself in a similar dilemma head over to her shop at: http://www.michellearmas.bigcartel.com/.  But don't say I didn't warn you!

Also, follow her blog at http://armasdesign.blogspot.com/, also listed on my blog roll.  As a new blogger, I really appreciate her voice and honesty (and of course looking at her pieces in progress)!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Tale of the $15 Burberry Raincoats

Today is a pretty gross, rainy day in New York and after 80 and sunny in Florida this weekend, it is especially painful.  The one saving grace is that I finally have a chance to break out one of my beautiful tan Burberry raincoats to shield myself from all the yuck outside.  "Burberry raincoat?  Emily, you are a broke child who eats peanut butter and nutella sandwiches for lunch everyday.  How do you have not one, but two Burberry raincoats?"  Well, if you must know, it is a beautiful, slightly morbid story. 

So my parents are new transplants to Sarasota, Florida, the old people capital of the universe (except for my parents who are just pushing 30).  I'm not sure if you know about this, but old people have this horrible habit of dying and leaving homes filled with a lifetime of stuff for their families to sort through.  This is where the morbid part of this story comes in.  Well, consignment shops have popped up all over Sarasota to battle this epidemic-sized problem of old people dying.  These places are ripe for the picking, and I would know because my mother usually drags me to about 50 of them whenever I visit.  This past weekend was sort of lackluster in terms of finds, but I guess after two Burberry raincoats, everything sort of dims in comparison.

Alright, back to December.  My mom and I are perusing through the clothing racks at one of our favorite consignment shops and she calls to me.  "Emily, look at this!"  I think you can guess that she was holding a beautiful tan Burberry trench with the glorious price tag of $15 written on it.  I tried it on and it was one of those kismet moments of pure joy; it fit perfectly.  Unfortunately, there were also stains ALL OVER IT: pen stains, and what I am hoping were spaghetti sauce instead of the possible blood spots.  Now we have a dilemma.  What to do?  BUY THE $15 BURBERRY RAINCOAT.  An employee came over at this point to gush about how nice it looked and dropped this other little nugget of information into my lap.  "Can you believe there are two of these?  I can't believe they haven't been snatched up already!" Excuse me? 

There was another!  It would seem that a woman with deep pockets and beautiful taste (most of Sarasota) had passed away and her foolish or downright stupid family members dropped these two beauties off for my specific enjoyment.  I tried raincoat #2 on and low and behold, some higher power knew I was in desperate need of a win and this second coat fit even better than the first!  And with less pen stains and no blood/spaghetti sauce!  Dilemma 2: What do I do now?  BUY TWO BURBERRY RAINCOATS.  My mom very nicely offered to take them to a dry cleaner and send them up to me in New York after they came back.  A few weeks later I was blessed with two almost new, relatively stain-free beautiful Burberry trenchs thus concluding the tale of $15 Burberry raincoats. 

I am relatively sure these will go down as the greatest deal in the history of history.  And boy do they look good; a homeless man on the street called me gorgeous which I am attributing to my snazzy new coat. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sometimes you just need to laugh...

Excerpt from Tina Fey's Bossypants

"But I think the first real change in women's body image came when JLo turned it butt-style.  That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty.  Girls wanted butts now.  Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them.  And then, what felt like moments later, boom-- Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired.  And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.  Ah ha ha. No.  I'm totally messing with you.  All Beyoncé and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful.  Now every girl is expected to have:
Caucasian blue eyes
full Spanish lips
a classic button nose
hairless Asian skin with a California tan
a Jamaican dance hall ass
long Swedish legs
small Japanese feet
the abs of a lesbian gym owner
the hips of a nine-year-old boy
the arms of Michelle Obama
and doll tits
The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.  Everyone else is struggling."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sideboard Love

It sure didn't look like this when I found it.

I didn't know it was possible to love a piece of furniture this much.  And the fact that I was the one who refinished it?  Not to tout my own horn, but this is like the cherry on the cake of my furniture restoration (and I get to keep it)!  So, I have no before picture because this is a bit of an older project but let's start from the beginning.

I was perusing Craigslist one day at the office and knew that I was looking for some sideboard-type thing for the entry in my apartment.  I remember clicking on this specific post because it was a sideboard for $40!  Even shitty sideboards in NYC are at least $100 (don't even get me started on the ridiculousness that is NYC used furniture)!  So I clicked through and what did I find?  Boy, was it ugly!  Not dark wood, not light wood, but that blegh stain in between with disgusting brown tile work on the top.  But this piece had a very redeeming quality. BRASS. I am really into brass. I'm pretty sure it is the inner 5 year old in me, but give me something shiny and I'm sold. Out went my email hoping to beat the rest of the 8 million people in NYC.

I heard back and set up a meeting the next night, and I'll write more about this later, but there is a very interesting line that you dance around when responding to Craigslist ads (my quick advice: go with your gut).  So when I arrived at the very nice Clinton Hill apartment building where my goldmine was lying in wait, I realized what kind of Craigslist meeting this would be.  Adorably, the buildings residents have created a garden committee for their building and their block and they were selling off unclaimed furniture from their storage room to raise money for the plants.  Right?  I did say adorable.  I was met outside by the man from my email and several little old ladies with garden trowels.  We journeyed deep into the depths of their basement and I found it, just as gross and brown as in the photos, but it had potential!  Not only was the brass INCREDIBLE, but the gross tile was not in fact tile (I had horrible images of hammers and chiseling away grout in my head)!  The tile was the weird 70s stuff that looked like tile but was actually just a heavy piece of something set into the wood, thus making it easy to pop out and get rid of all in one fell swoop! That alone would have been a win.

I came back the next day with my good friend Jill and her trusty Subaru and slid this puppy into the back.  With some help from my favorite 18 year old roommate, we got this badboy inside and promptly dropped it in the dining room.  And there it stayed, parked unceremoniously waiting for inspiration to strike.  But something else struck first...Sandy.  Right before Hurricane Sandy I was visiting Massachusetts and my mom very wisely suggested I grab some paint before I left "in case" I had a day off from work.  Why are moms always so freaking smart?  Well, I had five days off, and for the first two of 'em I definitely wasn't going outside.  So I painted. And painted. And painted.  And then poly'ed.  But that was it!  Other than the poly's smell (god bless you Benjamin Moore fumeless paint) this was an easy project that had probably the most striking transformation of any of the pieces I have worked on.  So Hurricane Sandy for me was a week of Breaking Bad episodes and lots and lots of blue paint; I felt extremely lucky.

A Thing of Beauty.

After several scrubbing sessions with the brass (sea salt and lemon juice works wonders) it was time to deal with the top.  After my triumphant tossing of the gross tile work, it was just a big, gaping hole taunting me everytime I walked out of my apartment.  The mirrored furniture trend is very in right now, and it seemed like the logical solution, so after a quick trip to my local glass shop I was ready to (finally) cross this project off the to-do list!

I love the history that an old piece brings into a home, not to mention that I was happy to find a solution without needing any cheap IKEA cardboard.  I hope you're all inspired to find your own brassy goodness in the entrails of Craigslist.  Get to it!  And let me know if you need any help!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Skincare Routine

So I will preface this post by saying that I think skincare (and for that matter, haircare and makeup) varies significantly for everyone.  That being said, I have tried a lot.  Like a lot, a lot.  And I think for all of my peers reading, its important to start now when our skin is still relatively awesome because one day it won't be.  But let's pretend like science will make crazy advances before we need to worry about that.
Skin Care Regime
1) I start off with the Clarisonic Mia and boy, do I ever have a lot to say about this.  This is a relatively new purchase for me (about a month) but I think it is the single greatest thing to happen to my skin ever.  No joke.  I bought mine from Sephora and it.is.awesome.  I decided to go with the most basic model (and this coming from someone who always orders up).  I think I made the right call.  The technology is in the scrubbing brush and I really don't think the extra $100 you could spend on the Pro model makes a difference.  The scrubbing brush is the same on all of them, so you are essentially paying for design and the addition of a "Body Brush," to which I say, use the freakin' face brush that's $100 less on your body! 
So you push the button and the brush automatically turns on for one minute of scrubbing goodness!  I start on my forehead and work down and it usually takes me two minutes to get all the way through.  It's cordless and waterproof and the charger is magnetized (so cool!) so after about a week, I just attach it to the charger for a night and I'm good to go for another week!
2) When using the Mia, I use Arbonne's Clarifying Wash Acne Medication, pictured below.
I got turned onto this stuff by my Aunt Diane and I would say it's the second best thing to happen to my skin (ousted only by the Mia).  Just put about a dime-sized amount in your hand and and rub it all over your face.  Then I let my Mia work it's magic! And if my glowing recommendation above didn't convince you, you can definitely just use your hands with this stuff.  Just rub it on your face, wet your hands and rub for about a minute in a circular motion and then rinse. Voila! 
3) Next I use a toner and I would say this is probably the most individualized skin care step.  Toner, often alcohol-based, can really wreak havoc on your skin if it doesn't work with your natural oils, so this unfortunately is a trial and error process. 
Right now, I'm using Burt's Bees Tomato Toner but I'm also a big fan of Arbonne's Clarifying Toner Acne Medication from the same product line as the wash above(http://www.arbonne.com/products/beyond_basics/toner.asp).  So whatever you choose, just grab a cotton ball and soak that puppy in the product of your choice and go to town all over your face and neck! 
4) And last but not least, moisturizer!  Another tricky one, because the wrong moisturizer can really break out your skin.  Again unfortunately, this is another one solved by simple trial and error.  When they make a skin care line that works for everybody, I'll let you know...but I can guarantee it'll cost a small fortune. 
Currently, I am loving Clinique's Moisture Surge Intense Cream which I got initially as a sample from Sephora.  It's a little pricey at $50 but I was lucky enough to find it for less than half of that at the Estee Lauder Company Store (a significant perk of law firm livin' is the private shops I have access to; anybody in the NYC area let me know if you want to take a trip with me!).  This stuff rules and teeny tiny bit goes a long way.  A really long way...I think I'll have this for at least 6 months! 
And just to be clear, this is the "Intense" moisturizer for "Very Dry to Dry Combination" skin which is definitely not me, but moisturizer is supposed to moisturize, right?  But if you have really oily skin they do have a less "intense" version, pictured below.  And I would say you can't really go wrong with either.

So that's it!  I do that in the morning when I am just waking up (a very effective alarm clock) and after all my makeup is off at the end of the night.  I will say I do get the occasional stray blemish, but very rarely and I think the longer I keep up the routine above (like I said, I've only been using all of these products together for a month) the better my skin will be! I hope this helps you or at the very least was interesting, but let let me know if you have any questions.
I will being doing another run-through for hair care products and makeup as well so stay tuned!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Four Agreements

I'm not really sure where I found this, but at the beginning of a very rough winter I posted this somewhere I would see daily and it's become an important part of my thinking. 
1) Be impeccable with your word.
2) Don't take things personally.
3) Don't make assumptions.
4) Always do your best.
I am not ashamed to admit that I have a horrible time with number two.  For some reason, my kneejerk reaction to anything negative is that it is somehow my fault or someone is doing something directly to spite me.  Silly and not useful for actually solving the problem at hand, but that is how I see things sometimes.  Anybody have any more agreements they would like to add?  Any that you struggle with?

Design Files

So Emerald may be Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year but there is something about a brilliant blue that spans the ages.  The photo below is one of my current design obsessions. Seriously.  Sometimes I'll catch myself staring at it mindlessly...it may or may not be my computer background at home. 
The juxtaposition between the blue and the hot pink desk (a DIY project with a West Elm Parsons desk), the Asian-inspired lamps with the hewn wood shelf. Wow. I'm into it! And I am consistently impressed with the red stools with the pink desk combo; it's definitely not something I would have thought to pair together, but like everything else here, it just seems to work. I think the takeaway here is that good design moves beyond "accepted" categories and color stories.  Oh, and just to really show how cool this woman is, The two chests of drawers are IKEA hacks.  Really?  People's creativity is amazing sometimes!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

So Here Goes Nothing!

"So here goes nothing!"  My Mom always used to say that and it seems fitting in this situation.  This blog has been developing in my head for some time now and as I am considering some serious life changes, now seems like the time to begin.  I titled the blog Egregiously Em both as a description but also as a reminder.

Egregious: (adjective) 
        1) Outstandingly bad; shocking
        2) Remarkably good
        3) Outrageous

I think all of those things are a pretty accurate description of me, even number one.  And most importantly, I am happy about that!  That being said, I sometimes need to remind myself of that, both the definitions and the fact that I'm OK with them.  It has been nearly a year since I graduated from college and it's been a tough one.  But things are starting to look up and I'm thinking about some changes in the future.  I want this blog to be a place to showcase my projects, my style, things I like and things that are taking up space in my head.  I hope you stick around and that you can glean something from my musings.  

So here goes nothing!