Friday, October 9, 2015

Five Years

Today marks five years of marriage. I wish I could say we're jetting off to Paris, or even renting a yurt for a romantic weekend, but this year, life has really gotten in the way. 

In fact, I'd say our fifth year has been the toughest: adjusting to being new homeowners and all the curveballs that come with that (including a broken HVAC), dealing with all sorts of stupid illnesses and injuries, managing increasingly crazy car troubles, financial setbacks and just dumb bad luck stuff. 

But we are still so inordinately lucky, so insanely blessed, that it's hard to even take our problems seriously. Life really is sweeter when you see your best friend every day, a person who actually enjoys a nightly ritual of watching Jeopardy during dinner, or a person who gets weirdly obsessed with the performance of her fantasy football team despite truly not knowing what a tight end does. I always marvel at how much easier it is to tackle life's challenges when you know at least one corner of your life is going well. I wish that for everyone, and I thank my lucky stars to have it.

I'm so looking forward to year six, sixteen and sixty. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't share this old favorite:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Our Ultimate Basic Fall Fest

This past weekend, we tried for the second time this year to have a backyard party, this time to celebrate the new fall chill in the air. So, naturally, we had a hurricane watch and thick humidity. Womp womp! My party planning skills are seriously being put to the test, but nonetheless, we had a wonderful time.

While wandering the aisles of pumpkin beer at my local grocery store, I was struck by the idea it would be fun to have a party devoted to all cliche things of fall: pumpkin, apple cider, decorative gourds, boots and flannel. Thus, the Ultimate Basic Fall Fest was born!

I couldn't resist going all out, so I'm basically fully decorated for all of fall.

We tore through many, many varietals of hard ciders, pumpkin and maple beers. I especially loved this Harpoon Pumpkin Cider.

 On the menu was pumpkin beer and chocolate chili, Tupelo Honey's mac and cheese and I ordered sweet potato biscuits from Handsome Biscuit, a now-legendary biscuit emporium in Norfolk. I got one dozen with arugula pesto, roasted red pepper and mozzarella...

Along with a dozen biscuits topped with Edwards ham, cucumber and spicy pimento cheese. They were delicious!

 I decorated with Dollar Tree fall flowers and string lights (which fell and broke...oops).

 I'd be remiss to not give a strong shout-out to Costco's three-flavor artichoke dip. Another winner!

 We had a delicious dessert table (not pictured: a delicious pumpkin cheesecake made by my friend Lauren's boyfriend David) including mini pumpkin bundt cakes, apple cider donuts and green apple caramel bites.

 But, most importantly, I made incredibly strong and delicious Apple Cider Jello Shots and that was the real real. The shots were made of Fireball, hard apple cider and Dr. McGillicuddy's Apple Pie liquor, which is magically delicious.

And last but not least, a shot of our revelers. Despite the storm, we had a packed house of great friends from near and far and it was great fun! Already pondering my next party, maybe?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sunday Best v.256

Bananda by Brent Schoepf

Whew lordy, it's been weeks since I shared my favorite links! And not for lack of reading material...lack of free Sundays! But never fear, if you're bored at work on Monday and looking for some distraction material, I got ya:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Crazy Week at the Kennedy Casa

Not so much posting lately on my end, but that's partially because I had a crazy week of highs and lows!

The highs: Got a cute new haircut, had an amazing brunch and made a BIG decor change you can read about further down below!

The lows: Sean was out of town for nearly an entire week for a work trip to the West Coast and of course, Murphy's Law dictated that my car had to break down in one of the state's busiest intersections during rush hour when I was completely by myself. 

The good news is that the car problem was a fairly easy fix and didn't completely break the bank, and an honest-to-goodness Tow Truck Angel towed me out of the intersection for nothing. Thank you, anonymous Tow Truck Angel! Faith in humanity restored.

So, let's recap the week in pictures:
 I went a little shorter and sassier for fall! It doesn't look like much, but we actually cut off 3 inches.

Sean and I finally hung art! Almost all of our art was still in boxes and we hadn't seen it since last November. I couldn't look at the huge white wall in our living room anymore!

We changed up the mix a little bit from our old apartment gallery wall, incorporating photographs by Pat Jarrett, my mother's portrait by Clayton Singleton and a watercolor by Hampton Boyer.

Ash and I, along with my coworker Alex, went to see The Intern, a new movie from one of my favorite directors ever, Nancy Meyers. We LOVED it! We laughed, we cried, we nodded in recognition and talked about it for at least the whole next day. I would definitely see it again.

Over the weekend, I was inspired to get a lot done around the house (we have a party coming up and there's no better motivation to clean and decorate than hosting a bunch of people). I finally dragged this faux jadeite lamp and gold-striped lampshade out of my trunk after probably about 9 months of both rolling around in my trunk. So embarrassing! I bought them on clearance and then just kept forgetting to bring them inside. 

But the really exciting news is that with Ashleigh's motivation, we took the master bedroom from this...

(the previous owner's master)

Ashleigh deemed it a "forest abyss"...

To this: An oasis!! Still a lot to do in here decor-wise, but it is already so much brighter and happier and more ME than the original owners' forest green walls. 

We tested three swatches and ended up with Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, a baby blue-green with a touch of gray. It's probably one of the most cliche, most popular bedrooms colors on the market right now but I don't even care. It's my personal oasis!

We finished the weekend on a super high note with the first-ever Wine Club Brunch at Bay Local Eatery, an adorable pitch-perfect spot in Virginia Beach. Everything was on-point, most especially the jumbo sorbet mimosa with six straws. 

I had a smoked turkey, cheddar and bacon sandwich and we all split loaded tater tots, and they were bad decisions I don't regret one bit.

Needless to say, I'm happy to have moved past the car disaster (which involved a lot of borrowing rides and scheduling rentals and canceling rentals and chatting with multiple tow truck drivers) and to have my husband back home!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Emmys 2015 Fashion Review

What a strange and wonderful Emmy's! I laughed and nearly cried. I didn't have to completely lose my mind, because Jon Hamm won and Viola Davis gave an incredible speech. I would have liked to see the love spread around a little more than poured over the heads of the Veep and Game of Thrones people like Gatorade after a football game. But that's ok.

Fashion-wise, people were taking big risks, which I love to see. But how many of those risks paid off? Let's try to work out our feelings.

Best Dressed

She's back! After a two-year hiatus from fashion sanity, Kerry Washington took a risk that successfully paid off. I loved her art deco-meets-chainmail-meets Studio 54 Marc Jacobs gown that was fun, playful and still event appropriate. The sparkly epaulets are perfectly accented by her faux bob and the hem length makes it look like she's ready to hit the dance floor at any moment. So happy to have you back, Fashionable Kerry.

I was in complete love with Zoe Kazan's zany Miu Miu dress. The optical illusion of the stripes played well on screen, and it has a fantastically old Hollywood feel while still seeming young and completely appropriate for her, her role in Hollywood as a young edgy ingenue and the event itself. The styling takes it to the next level: perfect messy bob, perfect red clutch and perfect red lip.

Emma Roberts channeled full ice queen Veronica Lake and it worked beautifully. This picture doesn't do the delicate gold fabric justice, but it was beautiful on the red carpet Glam Cam. Her custom Jenny Packham could have fallen flat if not for pitch-perfect accessories and her slightly relaxed Old Hollywood hair.

Laverne Cox's Calvin Klein gown is so perfectly cut and she just knows it; you can tell from her stance that she had a look she was going for and she's completely confident she landed it. This doesn't show her neon yellow heels, which were a fun pop on the red carpet. This peacock blue is gorgeous, too.

Sarah Paulson mastered edgy glamour with this navy and jet bead Prabal Gurung gown. Her slick bob and straight line diamond earrings give the look a distinctly downtown art gallery vibe. Also, there seems to be an off-the-shoulder trendlet, and I think she was the best of the bunch.

Christine Baranski may be tied as the most snubbed actress in the Supporting Actress Drama Series category, but she is always the perfectly tailored fashionista of my heart. I love any (ahem) mature actress who doesn't slip into stodgy patterns of boring colors and boring construction and loosey goosey matronly muumuu territory. This hot pink Zac Posen would be a delight on anyone, age be damned. It's extra delightful on her.

Oh, Megan Draper. How I'll miss your utterances in French and  your seriously dramatic overbite. In all seriousness, Jessica Pare's Monse gown looks like something Audrey would have worn in Funny Face. Beautiful construction, lovely color and she's selling it like the pro that she is.

Amanda Peet has also returned from the Valley of Bad Fashion Decisions, and I'm happy to see her again! She's not acting as much these days, but is getting steady invites thanks to her hubby's gig as writer and producer of Game of Thrones. Up until lately, she's been wearing dingy nightgown monstrosities that effectively managed to make me forget the years she spent on Best Dressed Lists in the late 90s. Of the MANY black gowns on the red carpet, her Michael Kors was my favorite for its elegant yet sporty simplicity that would look good in any decade or any era.

We had a little mini trendlet of chain-straps a la Versace in the 90s, and I'm handing the victory to Taraji P. Henson in this cool girl Alexander Wang gown. I wish she wasn't playing up the sheer skirt in this picture because it actually fell quite beautifully and didn't seem quite as trashy-adjacent as it seems here. Her cutout bodice is very similar to Amanda Peet's and I liked it. The hair is what got me, though; its perfect angles have her looking like a Bad Blood vixen and she clearly felt confident and beautiful.

I'm almost on the fence about whether I actually love Maggie Gyllenhaal's Oscar de la Renta, but that shade of lilac just won't be denied. I love the pairing of navy and lilac, and although I wish the bodice fit had been a bit better, I thought it was a pretty and elegant outing. I most especially loved the accents of gold jewelry rather than the traditional staid diamonds. Perfectly Maggie.

This Superhumanly Beautiful couple just won't be denied. Even when I'm not head over heels in love with their looks separately, I am all about it when they're together. Sofia's St. John gown was a lovely shade of fool's gold and Joe's got the barrel chest of a WWII Marine. Gotta love them.

I'm On the Fence

Singer Joanna Newsom's always been an odd bird, and so the rules are a bit different for her. The more I look at her Delpozo gown, the more I like it. It's somehow managed to marry conventional elegance with 1950s construction techniques and futuristic lines. My initial thought was that the sparkly oval in the center looks like a giant brooch or a platter, but I still kind of like it for its ballsiness. The dress is having the same effect on me as her music...initially jarring and then inexplicably beautiful.

Every fashion blog was dying over Kiernan Shipka's daring Dior Couture ensemble, and I can see why. I am super proud of little Sally Draper's fashion bonafides, but while I love the New Look-meets-Tweens of Today vibe, I still think it might have been better suited to a different event. But, damn are her eyebrows on point. This is young and flirty and I might have to hand her a win, but I'm still on the fence.

 Oh, Christina Hendricks. Lo these many years, we've had our ups and our downs, but there has been one constant: I've never been 100% happy with your looks. I think I really like the art deco beading on this tight Naeem Khan number; it hits her in all the right places, and is a big departure from her typically froufrou choices. It's the overly mature hair that I think is throwing me off. I think a sleek bob or maybe even faux bob would have been a nice choice here. I can't lie: I really just want her to dress like Joan everywhere she goes, as unfair as that is.

My exact words to my husband last night about Claire Danes' Prada: "I like it! I like the edginess of the hardware and the color is nice. Although she does look like a really fancy shower curtain, and also it just emphasizes how very skinny she is and a grommet coming out of one's boob looks strange." Kudos for always being interesting, at least.

If you want to love Ellie Kemper's technicolor dreamdress by Naeem Khan, you could say it looks like a Georgia O'Keefe painting, with lovely gradations of color, a perfect fit, and just the right amount of sparkle. If you want to hate it, you could say she looks like a box of crayons or an ad for Skittles or a very fancy Aztec princess. I can't decide how I feel, truly. I think it? 

I'm pretty sure Jaime Alexander's Armani Prive gown was made for a villain on Dynasty, but does that mean I hate it? I want to hate it...the entire thing feels 80's costume, not 80's throwback and YET, it almost feels right. Especially for her role at this Emmy's, which is as the star of a heavily hyped show where she's mostly naked except for storytelling tattoos. She's got to grab attention, and this certainly does that.

I want to like Amy Poehler's sexy Michael Kors gown but the bottom hem on the bodice portion was not sitting flat and it looked weirdly sloppy on camera. I found myself very distracted by it, and I also feel like it's somehow making her look stumpy, although that might be the overboard accessorizing of black bangles. I LOVE her hair color, though, and she definitely looks hot.

My other favorite Amy was looking a little Real Housewives for my taste. Her deep blue-green Zac Posen gown was a perfectly safe first outing, and fit well and she seemed comfortable. It wasn't particularly noteworthy, however, and although I know she was going for a messy hairdo, it somehow slipped from artfully messy to looking like my hair after I mow the lawn. Heavy eye make-up always looks great on her, but combined with the rats' nest hair, it started to veer toward trashy. 

Worst Dressed
Everything about this Petticoat Junction peach satin gown felt like a misstep. It was an out-of-character misstep for the daring and gorgeous Tracee Ellis Ross, and when I found out it was designed by Zac Posen, I was stunned because it doesn't look like his work. It reminded me of something one of those Southern belles on Hart of Dixie would wear for some kind of pageant with the words "Peach Blossom" in the title. It was just a weird choice for everyone involved.

Taylor Schilling always strikes me as trying too hard to be different. For some reason, it doesn't seem organic with her; it seems extremely forced. She tries to be daring, but I've never seen her stick the landing. I like this Stella McCartney yellow gown in theory, but it truly seems to be holding on by a thread, and I imagine it is what Scuttle would have designed for Ariel if he'd had access to a parachute instead of sailcloth. The way the hem was sort of bouncing up in the back as the front held precariously on for dear life to her boob made me think this dress isn't made for movement .... which is a hardcore fashion fail. Her makeup and hair are all wins, though!

I almost didn't want to include Alan Cumming because he dresses avant-garde on purpose and, like Joanna Newsom, has an entirely different set of style rules from everyone else. But c'mon, the tailoring on these pants is just strange. It's like he's a banker on top, the Penguin on the bottom. Also, he said in his Instagram that those are fancy Crocs. NOPE.

It must be extra hard to have the last name Chlumsky, so easily giving way to jokes about her chlumsky attempts at high fashion. Bless Anna Chlumsky because she looked so truly happy to be there, so truly happy for her castmates and not at all bad. This Bibhu Mohapatra gown just really misses the mark on all fronts. The spider web of daisies against a dingy cream isn't screaming elegance; it's screaming craft project. The braided crown seems like a misstep not only for the dress, but also just for her. I think a softer updo would have suited this gown more. This amazing My Girl reunion, however, is delightful.

Carice Van Houten basically kills people with her sex on Game of Thrones and vamps around in long black sexy robes and long red wigs and looks pretty glamorous all the time. So this ill-fitting bridesmaid's gown that was surely cast off to a secondhand store seems like a big departure. The bodice is sloppy, the hem is stumpifying, it's entirely too sweet and it commits a very big offense: it renders a dynamic actress nearly invisible on the red carpet, which means someone (publicist, stylist, agent, manager) isn't doing their job very well. 

Almost all of the Orange is the New Black girls would benefit from a better stylist, but I was especially not picking up what Dascha Polanco was putting down. The color pairing of yellow and navy only serves to make me think of IKEA, the bodice fit is atrocious, her hair is falling flat and the shoes feel all wrong, too. Get her Sofia Vergara's stylist, stat. That person knows what to do with curvy va va voom Latinas.

I laughed out loud at the comic badness of Heidi Klum's schizophrenic Versace gown. Part Liberace, part Les Miserables, part Icecapades, this looks like an epic Project Runway fail and I love her for it.

 Let's acknowledge that at an art opening at the Whitney, Jill Soloway would have killed it in her polka dot suit and platform sneaks. But as she walked to the stage last night to accept several awards, she kept tugging at the jacket, clearly wishing it buttoned closed. It appeared to be too tight to fully close around her hips. It was so distracting that I was wishing a tailor would swoop in and fix it for her. So, while I like the look, I have to condemn it for being clearly uncomfortable, and if you can't be comfortable in a pantsuit and sneakers, you got problems.

 I worship Difficult People on Hulu and Julie Klausner is a soulmate, but this green pantsuit is so incredibly unflattering, dated and inappropriate, it actually made me sad for her. Where she might have been going for Liza Minelli 1970s Halston-era perfection, she landed closer to looking like one of Gladys Knight's Pips.

January Jones ALSO stepped out in an emerald green pantsuit, hers reading a little more Charlie's Angels, but nonetheless still dated and surreal and decidedly not my favorite look. She can pull off much of what mere mortals cannot, however, so I almost nearly considered this a success.

It isn't every day you see someone wearing a Vivienne Westwood patchwork dress seemingly made from Urban Outfitters curtains, but Kathryn Hahn is here to show you the way. This has a distinctly '90s vibe, which is on trend, but it just looked too much like a Maria Von Trapp upholstery couture special for me to enjoy it. 

Laura Prepon appears to be laughing maniacally about whatever spell she just cast to knock a princess on her back. She looks like a legit Disney villain in this Christian Siriano ensemble that just felt wrong for her and outdated.

I just can't imagine whatever fun house mirror or future frenemy convinced Padma Lakshmi that this Romona Keveza gown was fitting her well. It is at least one size, if not two sizes, too small. The hemline also looks a little messy, but this could have been a win with better tailoring.

And last but not least, I think it was really sweet that Retta allowed some young girls to decorate her gown with an aisle's worth of Barbie party supplies. I love her, though, and this does seem to capture some of her personality.

So what do you think? Let's duke it out!