Things I Like

Recently for work, I was selected (along with a bunch of other editors) to film 30-second videos for a client. We shot the videos in our office over two days, including an interview segment and a B-roll “real life action” portion.

The last time I experienced anything remotely like this was when I was in Glamour a zillion years ago, and before that when I would occasionally appear on camera for a wedding website I worked for.

So aside from that handful of times, I am not accustomed to anything even in the same realm as a life of fame. In all these cases, though, I can tell you immediately the best part: Having someone else do my hair and makeup.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. But there’s something about being able to completely put the stress of looking a certain way in someone else’s hands that puts a girl at ease.

Here are three beauty lessons I learned whilst being a star*:

IMG_8473

Let’s all take a minute to acknowledge how perfect my hair looks. That stylist was gooooood.

1. It is really nice having someone else fluff your hair for you.
I like big hair, and I cannot lie. Unfortunately, while I have enough hair to knit you a sweater with (what?), it is so painfully straight that volume is always a bit of a struggle.

BUT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THAT IN THIS VIDEO. And do you know why? Because a professional hairstylist made a point of fluffing and smoothing between almost every take. So, basically, it looked perfect every second.

A girl could get used to that.

2. It is really nice having someone else do your ponytail.
I know what you’re thinking: “Justine, isn’t the ponytail like the easiest hairstyle to do ever?”

Uh, yeah, sure. If you want to look like an amateur. The angle of your pony combined with the proper combing and backcombing to get the required amount of height and bounce is anything but child’s play.

But when you have a pro armed with (what else?) a Mason Pearson Boar-Bristle Brush? Instant magic.

3. It is really nice having someone else monitor how shiny your face is and correct it regularly.
Real talk: I have an oily T-zone. This is something I am moderately insecure about, and by the end of the day, if I haven’t taken very careful precautions, you could borrow my forehead the next time your slip-and-slide tears on a hidden rock.

The point is, at least a couple times a day I’m either re-powdering may face or, at the very least, dabbing it with a napkin or piece of toilet paper to soak up any slickness. But when you have a professional makeup artist keeping watch? I get those seconds of my life BACK, you guys. And I don’t even need to think twice about shine.

So basically, yeah, I could get used to this.

And before you even ask (family), I MIGHT share the videos when they’re done. Unless I look/sound stupid. So, what I’m saying is, no promises.

*Bahahahahahaaaaaaa yeah right.

how-to-plan-kate-spade-party

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love a theme. (Symptom of being an overplanner.) I typically plan one themed (or at least more elaborate) party a year, and since it had been over a year since my Mad Men housewarming, I was due for another.

The party would be to introduce a few of my girl friends. A while back, my friends Ashli and Nikki started a little tradition of planning “glam girls’ nights in” where we could introduce women from our different social circles that we thought would get along. I had said I wanted to host the next one, and then I set about working on the girliest party theme possible: a Kate Spade theme.

Here’s how I decorated, what we ate, what we wore, and how we celebrated.

How I decorated:
The first question my husband asked when I told him the party theme? “What the heck is a Kate Spade party?” Essentially, the theme was lots of color, stripes, and polka dots. In the invitation, I asked all the girls to incorporate stripes or polka dots into their outfits. (More on that later.)

invite

I got my invitations on Etsy from Olive & Star — because a fancy party needs a fancy invite. Plus, who doesn’t love getting mail?

My apartment is already pretty colorful, so the rest of the decor was simple. I created a rainbow canopy with crepe paper streamers, had a few balloons in the entryway for when people walked in, and created a photo wall in the kitchen using polka dot wrapping paper and some leftover streamers.

64

kate-spade-decor

I also made a few Kate Spade quote prints in Photoshop to decorate the food table, bar, and bathroom. You can download the PDFs for these at the bottom of the post.

What we ate:

veggie-rolls

Veggie Rolls, cheese and crackers, and spicy crab dip made up the appetizers.

Veggie Rolls
Ingredients:
Carrots
Red and yellow bell peppers
Cucumbers
Goat cheese

Directions:
1. Chop carrots and bell peppers into matchstick slices. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice cucumbers into long strips. Spread with 1/2 Tablespoon of goat cheese.

3. Place carrot and pepper slices into cucumbers, roll up, and pin into place with a toothpick.

Spicy Crab Dip
Ingredients:
4 cans crab meat
4 T light mayo
2 tsp chili powder
1 T hot sauce

Combine ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

For dinner, I boiled tortellini and served with a marinara (store bought…I’m only a pretend housewife, remember?) and a kale pesto.

tortellini

Kale Pesto
Ingredients:
4-5 cups kale, washed
1/2 cup pine nuts
4-5 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

My friend Cyndy also brought a salad.

me-with-cake

cake

“Naked” Funfetti Layer Cake
The highlight of the food, though, was the dessert. I want to preface this with one fact: I am not a baker. Baking is chemistry, meaning you can’t really improvise that much, and that stresses me out. I almost always mess up things I bake, and even when I don’t, there’s ALWAYS a moment during the process when I am convinced I’ve ruined the whole thing.

Like I said – stress.

I always manage to forget these things when I entertain, however, and decided that I was going to bake a cake.

Not just any cake. A layer cake. Because that’s simple.

I baked a funfetti cake from a box, but I did a few substitutions to make it taste better: add milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, and an extra egg. The buttercream I made using this recipe.

Word to the wise: Just because you’re making a “naked” cake doesn’t mean you don’t need LOADS of icing. I should have at least tripled that recipe to have had enough.

After baking the layers and trimming them to be level (another tip: freeze the layers overnight after baking to make them easier to trim/stack), I started stacking. A few spoonfuls of sprinkles and a confetti topper later, we were in business.

The drink I’m calling the PopFizzClink in honor of our hashtag. Here’s how to make it:

drink

PopFizzClink Cocktail
Ingredients:
1 oz St. Germaine
1 oz pomegranate juice
Champagne or Prosecco

Combine St. Germaine and pomegranate juice in a champagne flute and fill the rest of the way with bubbly. When making in large batches, I recommend mixing the St. Germaine and pomegranate (in equal parts) in a large pitcher to chill beforehand. Then you pour a bit in each glass and top with champagne/prosecco.

What we wore:

kate-spade-guests
Have I mentioned how much I love friends that commit to a theme? These girls did not disappoint.

Everyone incorporated stripes or polka dots, plus there was plenty of color to add to the evening. Plus, I finally got to wear the tulle skirt I’ve had in my closet for months. (Because one day I decided I needed it, okay?)

Even Bogey got in on the action. (Because you know I would not have a party without Bogart.)

What we did:
Since the evening was going to be about introducing people who didn’t know each other, I planned a few games to keep things interesting. (I didn’t want to do too many because I know some people hate party games…just enough to get everyone talking.)

Aren’t You Cute?
For this game, I gave each girl five polka dot stickers at the beginning of the party. Whenever they heard someone use the word “cute,” they were allowed to steal a sticker from them. But if they said it, whoever caught them could steal a sticker from them. The goal was to have the most stickers by the end of the evening.

Meet My Fabulous New Friend
To introduce everyone, I paired the ladies off with someone they didn’t know with questionaires. They would interview their partner, and then “introduce” them to the rest of the group. I stole this idea from Ashli and Nikki’s party because it was such a funny way to hear hilarious stories and get to know each other beyond the basics. Questions included things like “what is your job,” “what is your most embarrassing moment,” “what is your favorite place you have traveled to,” and more.

There Will Be A Quiz
While everyone was introducing their new friends, I wrote down random facts each person revealed. After we had all “met,” I told everyone we were starting a new game where they had to be the first one to identify who had said the things I had written down. Whoever remembered the most (and the fastest) won a prize.

Put a Bow On It
We didn’t end up playing this game, but I think it’s always good to have a back-up in case things start to slow down. The plan was to pair everyone off again and give each team of two a piece of ribbon. They would then have to race to tie their ribbon into a bow first — but each person could only use one of their hands. Teamwork!

At the end of the party, I also sent each girl home with a little goody bag with a face mask, compact mirror, nail polish, and a Ring Pop.

treat-bags

The party turned out exactly how I hoped. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I had fun learning new things about everyone. Plus: cake and tutus. What more do I need?

Thanks again to the girls for playing along! And a HUGE thank-you to Monica for taking most of these pictures (if you want to hire a photographer in the NYC area, let me know and I can pass along her info).

#popfizzclink!

 

Free Downloadable Kate Spade PDFs
Eat Cake for Breakfast
But first, champagne
Cocktail in her hand, confetti in her hair
She is anything but ordinary.
Coral lipstick
Dressing up begins at age five…
#PopFizzClink
She is a voracious reader…

I’m pretty thrilled to announce that I have completed the Spring Simplification List (with a couple caveats, I suppose).

BEDROOM
Move bed back

Hooks for hats and bags
Move trunk into bedroom
Hang curtains
Fix pictures over drawers

LIVING ROOM
New coffee table or TV dinner trays

Clean up corners
Map for over couch
Organize desk area
Create more organized entryway

CLOSETS
Straighten linen closet
Clean out front closet
Reorganize crawl space

KITCHEN
Get Norden IKEA table
Sell dinner table (added to Craigslist)
Clean out pantry

(The newly checked off items are in purple.)

First, the desk. Some of you will remember my post last week talking about how I wanted to spruce up our computer desk. Well, for once I actually accomplished a goal within a couple of days. (It may have helped that I had a little party Saturday, so I had extra motivation.) After a quick trip to Target, I had this:

desk-overall-1

desk-decor

Of course, with a close up of the GREATEST TAPE DISPENSER EVER.

Next, the new coffee table. I have been coveting this one from West Elm for literally two years, but I just couldn’t in good conscience shell out $600 for a coffee table. Plus, you know my thing about buying new-new furniture. (And people very rarely sell these on Craigslist, probably because they’re perfect.) So, in typical me fashion, I scoured online for something similar, preferably pre-owned.

I searched for months, as evidenced by the fact that I wrote this simplification list at the beginning of spring. Finally, a week ago I found my new table.

photo 2

photo 3

It even has a lift-top like the West Elm version! The biggest difference? I paid $75 to a guy in Brooklyn for mine. Win.

Now for the list caveats. Obviously, there are three things that have not happened yet: art over the dresser, selling the kitchen table, and finding an IKEA Norden table.

For now, I’m sticking with the table we have. It’s fine. It doesn’t provide extra storage, and I will still sell it if anyone contacts me, but I’m holding off on buying anything new for a while. So for now, this one will do.

I still have every intention of finding something for over the dresser, but I think it’s time to retire this list. Obviously I’ll let you know when I find the right thing.

Even with those little asterisks, I still feel pretty accomplished about checking off a lot of those things. Cleaning out the crawl space and finding the new coffee table have been plaguing me for the better part of a year, so it’s pretty dang satisfying knowing they’re done.

Guess it’s time to think of some more goals, huh?

I’m writing this post before the sweat has even dried from my body so you get as accurate a recall of this class as possible.

A few weeks ago, my friend Sabine reached out to me because she had semi-recently become an instructor at SoulCycle.

I had only ever taken one SC class before, and, it has to be said, I wasn’t that impressed with it. But I’m a firm believer in second chances, so when Sabine offered me a free class in exchange for an honest review on my blog, I told her to sign me up.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

The Gym
Space: If you’ve never been to SC, the aesthetic is actually really similar to Drybar. If you’ve never been to Drybar…it’s modern and uses a lot of white and yellow. Shoes are included in the cost, and water is $2 extra. One of the biggest pros to SC is its locker room. Y’all know I love amenities, and these locker rooms are fully equipped with fancy soaps, good hair dryers, hair accessories, and the various toiletry and product accoutrements you need post-workout. (Basically, FREE STUFF!) The spin studio itself isn’t remarkably different from any other spin studio. The bikes are arranged in a semi-circle around the instructor’s stage. Throughout the class, the instructor has control of the lights and music.
Cleanliness: The locker room was a little messy, probably because it was the end of the day. Everything was wiped down and sterilized though, just a little cluttered.
Attitude: Before I attended spinning classes regularly, I think I would have been a little intimidated by SC classes. Most of the people there have been going for a while, and, in general, they go hard. If you have a few classes under your belt, though, you’ll feel right at home.

The Workout
Difficulty (Out of 10, 1 being “could do it in my sleep” and 10 being “omg I can’t walk”): 9. As I said before, I didn’t really care for the last SC class I went to mostly because I didn’t feel like I got a really solid workout. Sabine’s class was entirely different. Girl makes you work. Between continuously harder “climbs” and sprint intervals that had me literally dripping sweat, not to mention a tough arm circuit in between, I had a little trouble walking down the stairs to the subway after.
Experience: Sabine did a great job keeping the energy level up, even though class was on a Friday night. Classes like this are really all about the instructor, and I liked her style of providing cues and how smoothly each interval flowed into the next. One thing I don’t always love about SC classes is that you do a lot of arm work while you’re riding, including tricep dips and pushups on the handle bars. For me, it interrupts the flow of riding a bit, but I do like ending the class feeling like I’ve worked out more than just my legs. I think this is something I would probably get used to as time went one — even this time around, it was easier. Speaking of arms, there’s a portion of the class where you slow the bikes and do an arm circuit with light weights (at least, they feel light in the beginning). Sabine will be happy to know that my biceps and shoulders were burning (in a good way) by the end of that portion. Plus, she actually played music I hadn’t heard a thousand times at every other spin class, which is a big bonus.
Afterburn: I was already feeling wiped when I left the class, and I have a feeling my shoulders will be sore tomorrow morning. Definitely tough one.

Final grade: A! I’m not sure if I can afford regular SC classes, but if I go, at least I know Sabine’s classes are worth the cost.

And, for the record, I’m not just saying all this because Sabine is my friend. If I hadn’t liked the workout, I would say something like, “It’s really great for beginners!” This was tough in the best way possible.

Thanks again for having me, Sabine!

As much as I love a major overhaul, in general, it’s not possible. (Thanks, budgets.)

Rather than mope at the fact that I’m not a millionaire (forever), I try to embrace the tweak. You may remember this was the basis of my Spring Simplification List.

Well, lucky for you (okay, mostly lucky for me), I’ve crossed a few more things off the list. Here’s the latest update (new crossed off things in purple):

BEDROOM
Move bed back
Hooks for hats and bags
Move trunk into bedroom
Hang curtains
Fix pictures over drawers

LIVING ROOM
New coffee table or TV dinner trays
Clean up corners
Map for over couch
Organize desk area
Create more organized entryway

CLOSETS
Straighten linen closet
Clean out front closet
Reorganize crawl space

KITCHEN
Get Norden IKEA table
Sell dinner table (added to Craigslist)
Clean out pantry

The new map over the couch is probably my favorite update.

living-room-map

It’s quite nice not staring at a blank, empty wall. Even Bogey likes it!

The especially obsessive readers will also notice that I added (and then promptly crossed off) a new item on the list: organizing the entryway. Now that we have the Boges and his various accoutrements, we needed a better way to store leashes, keys, wallets, etc. (Okay, so Bogey is only responsible for one of those things. STILL.) Our old front door rug also needed to be replaced because it would slide way too easily under a rambunctious pup, meaning I had to fix it about three times a day.

keys

keys-close

A new key hook, a bin for bulkier items, and a new front rug with a grippy bottom (for when games of fetch get out of hand) makes for a much more streamlined entryway.

I also finally added some more organization in the bedroom with a few hooks.

hats-hooks

By taking those things out of my wardrobe, I have more room inside for things that aren’t as pretty to display. (Looking at you, pile of jeans.)

As for the kitchen table, I haven’t sold it yet, but I added it to Craigslist, so hopefully soon.

The next things on the list I’m prioritizing are cleaning out the crawl space (so I can finally finish organizing the bedroom), updating the art above our dresser drawers, and an IKEA run to get the kitchen table replacement.

Right now, I’m on the hunt for something inexpensive to do above the drawers. I have three small frames, but I’m not sure if they stand alone very well. I kind of want to do some kind of horizontal poster or painting because I need another gallery wall like I need a hole in the head. So…stay tuned.

What home tweaks have y’all been making. And any tips for what to put above my dresser? Here’s what it looks like now for reference:

IMG_7583

Help me end the blank wall epidemic in my home for good.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe we’ve only had Bogey for less than two weeks. He’s already become such an integral part of our lives, I can’t really imagine going back to how things were before we adopted him.

10252182_934054056361_6801218929800380311_n

I think pretty much anyone who has ever gotten a puppy would agree that it’s a lot of work. I cracks me up how the things we’re experiencing parallel what my friends and family with children have told me about raising kids. I discuss sleep schedules, training methods, feeding routines, and bowel movements pretty much every single day — I don’t even bother to remark on what a weirdo I’ve become anymore. But while getting a dog has meant sacrificing a few notches on the “look how cool I am” pole, it has also meant just about everything about my life is a little bit better. (Besides, I was never that high on the cool pole anyway.)(Cool people do not use the term “cool pole.”)

We’re still learning about our little guy every day. He’s pretty much housetrained (6 days accident-free!), he’s getting better and better at walking on a leash, and he’s even starting to tackle “sit” and “stay” like a pro. We started using a dogwalker last week, and it has made such a wonderful difference in his energy level and general obedience.

I mean, it’s not all sunshine and roses. We’re still learning to sleep past 5:30. We’re still working through his teething/nipping stage. He still manages to find tissues in the trash and chew them to smithereens if we don’t catch him first.

But it’s nothing that I didn’t expect to experience when we finally adopted a dog. And the positive things Bogey brings to our lives (lower stress levels, more general contentment, an unlimited amount of snuggling) far outweigh any negatives.

Bogey and I spend mornings together. We’ll take a few walks, I might give him a bath if the weather has been especially grimy, I give him breakfast, and we snuggle before I have to leave for work. By the time I put him away (he hangs out in the bathroom until his dogwalker arrives), he’s calm and practically falling asleep anyway. Honestly, that’s the greatest way I can think of to start my day.

The more we get to know him, the more I feel like we ended up with the perfect dog for us. It’s like I’ve always said: Dogs just make life better. And that little dog makes me so happy.

I know, I know, I’m being a total mush ball. Sorry (I’m not sorry).

But, you guys. The weather is getting nice, and I have a puppy. Life is pretty good right now.