Monday, August 31, 2009

I did it!

I finally painted my room! I mixed some awful pepto-bismol pink my roommate had mixed up by mistake, some light blue, and a lot of white, and came up with a pretty lavender. It's just the right saturation: not so pale you mistake it for white, but not so deep that the room seems dark. I cleaned the floor, moved my furniture into place, and hung my lamps. I feel so much better already.

Also, check out my survey at Tiny Choices.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's the Day

Back in the 5220, I used to have a room that looked a little like this: the two big sunny windows, the old wood floor, the big white bed. My bike and coffee apparatus and view were less glamorous, but as you can see, it was very nice in a sunny, white sort of way. Then I had the purple room, a little bit as seen below, although minus the octopus chandelier (sadly) and the freaky spiral headboard and the stripes.
Now, for the basement room, I'm feeling more of a dusty pink or mauve, or a faded terra cotta orange even, like the walls of this gorgeous hotel in Morrocco.
It would look great, I think, with my green and brown dressers and would look nice and romantic and cozy with the low lighting I am forced to adopt. Picture lots of candles. Some flowing exotic curtains. (although not flowing too close to the candles, as that would be a fire hazard.)
I might go a more purple route again though, but this time more lavender, like this pretty wisteria. I still have the big white bed, so I think it would look nice.
This picture is way too girly for me, but I like the color. It's just the right shade of almost gray lavender.
The walls are still white, thought, which is just getting too boring to handle. If I had recessed candle sconces, that would be quite another thing altogether. BUT I don't, so I need to get off the couch and start painting!
Not quite yet: I thought briefly about mixing up a nice green. I do love green, but there is the fear that it will be either too dark or too suggestive of mildew, my sworn enemy. I think I will stick with my green accents and go pink or purple. So far I have cleaned out a bucket and started to contemplate mixing some of my roommates old Pepto-Bismol pink paint into a gallon of white. Add some blue maybe, stir it up, see what happens? It makes me so nervous, but if I don't do it now, I never will.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Urban-Outfitters Haters Unite!

I was pretty stoked to find this post by Alyson Graves at Unruly Things about how she is thinking about cutting out excessive spending at big stores like H&M and Urban Outfitters, and to instead think more about purchases and spend at smaller, local retailers and vintage. Then she linked to the longer post by Anabela at Fieldguided. Read the comments, it's pretty interesting to hear the range of incomes and life situations that lead to similar conclusions about consumption. It's been 3 1/2 months since my post about my resolution to not buy new things unless they are responsibly made, and it makes me happy to find that other people are hopping on my "why bother with cheap crap made in sweatshops" bandwagon. Of course, full disclosure: in those 3 1/2 months I have bought absolutely GOBS of crap at Unique. I mean, really unnecessarily large amounts of stuff. I wish I had a camera or picture-taking abilities to share some of the more ridiculous items here; perhaps one day we'll do a tour of my Unique follies. And to be honest, I wouldn't have remembered that I made a "resolution" to stop buying new things unless I'd written a blog post about it-- my income can't really support much consumption no matter how I feel about it. Oops, I forgot! I broke my resolution awhile ago without thinking about it. I did buy a (one) pair of Hanky Panky undies, just to see what the fuss is all about and because they were on sale, and I felt like a high roller buying something from Saks.
Picture unrelated, but it felt in the mood of penny-pinching glamour. They're someone's family in Nebraska, I love it.

Friday, August 21, 2009


(I don't remember where I got this picture, oops)

Last night I got in bed and noticed that the air-conditioning duct above my bed was condensating. That's right. Dripping onto my bed, my carpet, everything. Appropriate measures have been taken, but I really need a dehumidifier, stat.

Update: windows closed (check). fans running (check). dehumidifier bought off craigslist (check.) room dry and smelling normal (check).

Monday, August 17, 2009

New-to-me Blogs

This awesome green painted room is from Design is Mine, another blog of pretty pictures and interior design. And this gorgeous dress, from Calypso St. Barth, I found on Follow Studio. My blog list is so out of control!
Still want more blogs? Check out Absolutely Beautiful Things, and This is Glamorous.

Trend Setting

Remember when I was all excited about espadrilles that didn't fit? I was so ahead of the curve! Now Etsy has spotlighted those very blue-and-white striped espadrilles as "this summer's quintessential shoe," and Lucky Magazine has profiled that list of "beach essentials" using the picture I posted earlier. I don't actually like much else in the list, though.

Fortunately, I found even better ones at Boden, as seen above. The heels are a bit too high for me, but they're so cute, and on sale (they're $73, way out of my price range, but still, on sale). I have last year's Boden catalogue in my bathroom for perusing pleasure. Something about the versatile separates and modest cuts strikes me as a little too "old" for me, and yet the bright colors and patterns makes it seem almost too "young" for my mother. But I don't know, maybe Boden can go both ways. They're British. They're kindof like J. Crew used to be before they got so pretentious. And also, they have someone who looks like Kiera Knightley modelling for them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


This is a mason jar fitted out with a solar pane that charges a battery that lights some LED lights with a lovely firefly glow. It's like a jar of summer fireflies without the useless insect death guilt! I want one so bad.

The website I found it at, Daytrip Society, is a store full of cute outdoorsy things based in the Bush-vacation-home town of Kennebunkport, Maine. I found the store via the cute blog Abbey Goes Design Scouting. The "main house" of the Bush compound (!!!):

Hobbit Home!

I bookmarked this amazing hobbit-like home almost a year ago, and am returning to it as I think about making my underground living situation more cozy. This adorable family in Wales built it themselves (with the help of a father-in-law) as a low-impact, eco-friendly home. I think it's perfect. Now, if only I had a gorgeous circular tree-limb ceiling and curving plaster walls...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Left-Over Fromage

I really ought to stop whining about the stuff that my landlord left in the house when we moved in. Last year when I moved into my last apartment, I found in my bedroom: one nice men's slipper (but only one! or I would definitely be wearing them, and tripping all over the place):
a huge suitcase
15 old subscription inserts for the New Yorker
an iron
two ironing boards
and this poster:
It's actually kind of a funny/cute/kitschy poster, but to look at it curling off my boring white walls in the August heat just made me feel nauseous.
Don't even get me started on what was in the rest of the house... strange condiments left over from old subletters, Scando-Slavica Supplement, about 3 modems, the dreaded cat-hair covered floor cushions, broken appliances, a backlog of (never-used?) cleaning supplies, and fake blood on the walls. At least it was entertaining.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Epic Jam-Making Adventure!

Today I made jam! It was pretty epic. First, I went to Jackson Park and picked (up) mulberries. I got a lot of funny looks while I was squatting in the dirt and hanging on tree limbs but I pretended I was a botanist. I also found several patches of tiny wild strawberries (one went into the jam) and tiny crabapples and strange spiky green fruits, as seen above. Then Claire & Mark came over with free blackberries and peaches from the farmers market where they work. After several super-sweaty hours, lots of splashing boiling water, a quick run to the grocery store for more sugar, and a big sticky peachy mess, we had three batches of peach jam and one of blueberry-mulberry-blackberry-and-one-tiny-wild-strawberry jam. Above you can see how much berry jam I made, so multiply that times four and that's how much we made altogether. They also left me one of their jars of peach jam. We used ALL of my much-maligned, carefully-hoarded collection of glass jars, which I knew would have a good purpose some day. We also felt like pioneers. And all the fruit we used was free!Ha! This is half of Jess in the kitchen. Note the messy counter. Please mentally multiply the mess throughout a house, and that's why I've been so stressed out and spacy recently.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Shoes

We've had a real Indian Summer in Chicago, but now that it's hot again I want some good sandals again. I started this post at the beginning of summer, but lost steam since I was, you know, wearing boots last night. I actually got the perfect pair of cool, cushy, strappy 70s reddish-leather sandals at Unique awhile ago, but after a week or so of sandal bliss a strap broke. I'll take them to the cobbler, but until then, I'll just be materialistic.

I have way more heels than I will ever wear and a few pairs of flats, but in terms of sandals I have only: some truly ugly turquoise rubber flip-flops with orange print on them, and some too-small red slides that say Hawaii in rainbow print on the white vinyl slide. My great-aunt gave them too me when I was visiting Wisconsin the other weekend and my good sandals broke. I had some worn-out fake suede flip-flops from Walmart that are approximately 1 mm thick on the bottom and wholly inappropriate for walking on concrete, but I lost one of them in the move. Pathetic.

I want:
espedrilles, I guess flat-ish ones, although I so like wedges. Found these on Etsy, although they were too small.
These are also on Etsy, and less cute, but the right size. Do I really need another pair of flats though?
Keds (from their Green collection) or similar simple cotton slip-ons. maybe in eyelet?

Huraches, or other flat sandals with so many straps that they are practically shoes. I found some perfect huraches at Unique but they were way too small. A co-worker has these from Urban Outfitters:and the same store also has these (somewhat boring) huraches, that I would be into if I was into Urban Outfitters. Which I'm not.

I really like flip flops that have a strap in the back. When I was in Egypt I bought some "Jesus sandals" that were great-looking but so flat that they were pretty painful to walk in. The leather soles also made them slippery. These next two are also Urban Outfitters.
Finally, I'd like to retire the plastic flip-flops, and trade them for a comfier, nicer-looking version, maybe Rainbows, that will give my feet some support. Last summer I found some Rainbows at the camp where I was staying with Zeb's family, but I was sure they belonged to someone else so I didn't take them. I found out later that they had been abandoned. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My New House!

A week ago, I moved into the house above (blurry image obviously courtesy of Google Maps). To save money, as I will soon be a starving graduate student, I'm living in the basement. It's kindof a cave: windows only on the top third of the wall, some pipes and vents projecting out from the ceiling, poor light. It's not as bad as it sounds, though. The windows are bay windows, and project out into the front yard covered in a big tree and impatients, across the street from a park. I placed my bed in front of the ledge in front of the window to fully appreciate this. Now, in the summer, the basement is heavenly cool and smells like growing things, but I fear that in the winter it will be horribly cold and damp. I have at least three space heaters, and a lot of rugs and blankets to combat this. Another problem is that the walls are plaster, and in my old apartment I depended rather heavily on being able to screw things into the wall to hang my mirror, hooks for hanging various bags and scarves, hooks for hanging ceiling lamps, etc.
Anyway, since I will be living (mostly) underground, I decided to take inspiration from desert architecture, which is often built with thick walls and possibly underground to hide from the sun's heat. Above is a home in Tunisia that was (dork alert!) used as the set of Luke Skywalker's uncle's house on Tatooine, the desert planet. Ahem. Anyway, it appears that it is now used as a rather low-budget hotel. I really like the arches, the undulating walls, the light earthy colors, etc. I remember being very impressed by the interior of the house in the movie, which I probably watched about 307 times between the ages of 9 and 14.
Here are some other interesting cave house interiors. Let's start in Spain. These houses are near Granada, which is one of the most beautiful places I've been, and apparantly Gypsies live in them.

Lesson learned? Whitewashed walls, architecturally interesting walls make underground seem brighter, in a cozy, rustic way. Unfortunately my walls have few cool niches and more pipes. But I am not feeling the cold tile floors or the metal chairs.

So, let's move on to Cappadocia, in Turkey, where early Christians carved houses, churches, and monastaries out of the unique rock formations, called "fairy chimneys" in the area around Göreme. My mom has been to Göreme, and says that it is awesome, so please look at the pictures on the wikipedia link. This picture is from an inn inside one of the minaret-like formations.
Pretty sweet. Lessons learned: I'm into natural-looking walls, simple furnishing are best, wall-to-wall colorful rugs are a good look.

Next up: actual pictures of my house, a hobbit home in Wales, and Morrocan architecture. Here's a teaser, from the blog My Marrakesh, that I think fits in pretty well with the dark/earthy/cozy/simple theme: