Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I'm Listening To: Charli XCX 'Boom Clap'

My husband has been playing Charli XCX's newest album, Sucker, on repeat in the car all week long.  One of the best things about Charli XCX is that she sings pop with some punk-rock inspired edge and she performs with an all girl band. This week I thought I'd share the most popular song from her latest album, "Boom Clap" (also on the Fault in our Stars movie soundtrack).  


Friday, February 27, 2015

ABM Book Club Discussion: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


In January the A Beautiful Mess Book Club read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I opted to read the novel first even though there's a movie version of this book because skipping to the movie would feel like cheating.

Even though I come from Kansas, I haven't done very much traveling to the deep south, but this book painted a very intriguing and enticing image of Savannah, Georgia that's made me want to visit this city and see if the characters and places really do exists (FYI: My favorite character was the Lady Chablis because I enjoyed her attitude and sass).  

Book Club Questions:


-  Did Jim kill Danny? And while we’re talking about Jim, is he a sympathetic character at all? Is he funny and charming, or more deceiving and dark? 
Danny was no saint and appeared to have many flaws (struggles with drugs and anger), but I think that Jim became jealous when Danny began seeing the art student and the pair may have had an argument which lead to Jim killing Danny. 

It's easy to be sympathetic towards Jim because Jim is so funny and charismatic in addition to being smart, powerful and a pillar in Savannah's community, but I also believe Jim also had a dark, oppositional and secretive side. We're able to see Jim's oppositional side in the way he displays the Nazi flag in the window to disrupt the movie crew from filming his house. Jim also casually uses his status and wealth to turn over antiques, get better accommodations in prison and get his needs and wants met both in and out of prison. It's not so difficult to conclude that Jim easily could have manipulated the young, poor, recovering addict Danny into committing crimes for Jim in addition to becoming his lover. I think the most brilliant part of Jim's character is that Jim demonstraits many qualities reminiscent of Descartes evil demon , and is even able to manipulate the reader into considering Danny's murder to be justified.


-  Do we have a sense for what is good and what is evil in Savannah? My eyebrows are raised, and I’m not sure what’s what. 
I think that part of the reason that the author introduces us to such a vibrant and quirky cast of characters is to make us question what is good and what is evil. Some people might be quick to judge Lady Chablis as evil because of her sexual orientation, but she seems to have a great relationship with her boyfriend and didn't seem remotely evil to me. 

In this story, I think Jim is the representation of evil because he is so powerful, wealthy and charismatic that he is able to get away with murder.


-  Do you wonder how much Minerva really knows?  
Yes. I was skeptical of Minerva's style of magic throughout the book, but in the end she did get results. 


-  This story makes Savannah seem like such an insular and closed city. Could this story have taken place anywhere else?
I don't feel like this story could have taken place anywhere, but it could have taken place in any insular and isolated town or city. 

-  Lastly, how much do you wish that Luther Driggers' glow-in-the-dark goldfish worked?  
Glow-in-the-dark goldfish would be so cool! I guess I'll have to just settle for watching nature programs with bio-luminescent fish.

Have you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or watched the movie? Feel free to add your thoughts on them below.

Next the A Beautiful Mess Book Club is reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It was a quick read and I'm already finished so check back soon for my discussion.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Virtual Paintout: Bangladesh

For the month of February The Virtual Paintout is taking a look at the country of Bangladesh. It was great to explore a country that had such an abundance of vibrant color! I had a really difficult time narrowing down a specific location to sketch, but in the end I chose this image because I liked the juxtaposition of vibrant color in the trees, the boys shirt, and the store front contrasting with the color of the ground and corrugated metal on the house and shop.

Chittagong, Bangladesh
6 x 6
watercolor, watercolor pencil, pen


Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: BBC Funny Valentines- Matt Berry narrates Wild Love

This year the BBC produced a series of "Funny Valentines" short films for the BBC iPlayer for Valentines Day. My husband's favorite short features Matt Berry (of the IT Crowd) narrating a nature film called Wild Love.

Warning: This clip contains naughty language.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

What I'm Listening To: Interpol Live @ The Roundhouse- Pioneer to the Falls

I've been a fan of the band, Interpol, since their first music video for the song Obstacle 1 first premiered on MTV's 120 Minutes in 2002, but I had never seen the band live until February 7th when I saw the band at The Roundhouse in London and it was amazing! Check out a clip from the show below:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What I'm Reading: Not That Kind of Girl vs. Yes Please


In November and December 2014 the A Beautiful Mess Book Club selected Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl and Amy Poehler's Yes Please. I was really pleased when I found out that these books were selected for the book club because 1) I loved watching Lena Dunham on Girls 2) Even though I haven't been a huge fan of Amy Poehler's comedy, I respected the positive impact she's made for women in comedy and her book had good reviews. Naturally, when I approached these books (in audiobook form) I expected that I would prefer Dunham's book to Poehler's because I've been more drawn to Dunham's TV and movie work, so I was surprised that I felt like I had less in common with Lena after reading her book, but I gained an even bigger appreciation for Amy Poehler after reading her book.

Thoughts on Not That Kind of Girl

I think that I expected the book version of Lena Dunham to be a more relatable, down-to-earth, toned-down version of her character, Hannah, from Girls, but instead I felt that Lena was just as neurotic and privileged (if not more so) than her character and so I found it difficult at times to relate to her.  

Topics I could relate on:
  • Struggles with body image and self-esteem
  • Finding a career path
  • Staying in a dead-end relationship for too long
  • Fearing death
  • Feminism
Topics I could not relate on:
  • Sharing a bed with a sibling from childhood through the teen years.
  • Sharing a bed and cuddling with strangers throughout college.
  • Having artistic parents with ties to the NYC arts scene.
  • Lack of appropriate social boundaries.
There were some topics I could relate with, such as the calorie counting during high school, but I felt like she took a lot of things to the extreme (i.e. pages and pages of calorie counting lists) to the point where I thought she'd lost her mind. In summary, I thought I would like this book, but I guess I'm just "not that kind of girl" (pun intended). 

Thoughts on Yes Please 
Amy Poehler's narrative style had the tone of an older and wiser sister or best friend which was like a breathe of fresh air following Lena's preachy/ whiny tone. The celebrity cameos  throughout the book made reading the book feel like party. As I mentioned before,  I'm not really a fan of Amy's comedy endeavours but, after reading this book I gained more respect for Amy Poehler as a woman, mother, and comedian. 

Things I liked from this book:

  • Amy's willingness to talk about a time she handled a situation poorly and admit she was wrong (namely, the time Amy performed an SNL skit as Dakota Fanning and referenced Dakota's upcoming film, Hurricane Mary, which was based on a true story).
  • The celebrity guests.
  • Amy's childhood Christmas story where her brother Greg wakes her up and Amy says "Let's go wake up Greg and see what Santa brought us," and Greg gets wide-eyed and says, "I AM Greg!"
  • Amy's stories from her improv and SNL days (like how she met former SNL co-host, Seth Meyers).
  • Amy's 'take no crap' attitude. 
  • The chapter where she volunteered in Haiti.
  • Favorite quote: "Treat your job like a bad boyfriend."

If you're looking for a fun, comedy read and you can't decide between reading Not That Kind of Girl or Yes Please, I'd recommend that you stick to watching Girls on HBO and read Amy Poehler's Yes Please.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Kinmen Island

I love how The Virtual Paintout has encouraged me to explore and sketch far off places that I would have never considered or been able to visit in real-time. I decided to sketch another location from The Virtual Paintout archives. This time I explored Kinmen Island "*which is part of a small archipelago administered by Taiwan. Administratively, it is Kinmen County of Fujian Province, Republic of China (ROC). The county is claimed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) as part of its own Fujian Province's Quanzhou Prefecture"

Kinmen Folk Cultural Village
6 x 6
watercolor, pencil, marker, pen

I spent the most time on this Virtual Paintout sketch to date as this drawing took me 3 weekends (and a few weekdays) to complete. I decided to omit the mother, father, and baby from the sketch because I thought it would give the image a stronger narrative. 


*Quote borrowed from The Virtual Paintout website

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The 4-7-8 Rule

image link
My new favorite health trend is the 4-7-8 Rule, a breathing technique that can help you reduce stress and anxiety, reduce cravings, lower your heart rate, and help you fall asleep quicker.

The technique is simple:

  • Breathe in for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breathe for 7 seconds
  • Breathe out for 8 seconds
I've already used this technique when on the treadmill to lower my heart rate and I've caught myself using this technique at work after some particularly stressful moments. 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Steve Carell, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert try to 'Break the Internet'

Last week The Daily Show shared a #tbt (that's "throwback Thursday" for you social media noobs) post on Instagram claiming that they attempted the Kim Kardashian 'break the internet' photoshoot first by showing these images of Steve Carell, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert from 2001.



Happy Valentine's Day/ President's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Gothenburg, Sweden

This is the last Virtual Paintout inspired drawing that I completed in January. In September 2014 The Virtual Paintout explored Gothenburg, Sweden. When I first started exploring the region on Google Maps, I thought that I would be drawn to scenes from Haga, Gothenburg's hippest neighborhood, but nothing was jumping out at me. So I was fortunate when I found this image near the coast that was just screaming to be captured.
"Down by the Sea"
Gothenburg, Sweden
6 x 6
watercolor, watercolor pencil, pen, marker

I spent 2 weekends on this drawing (as opposed to just one) because I became frustrated that I wasn't capturing the rocks just right.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- County Kerry, Ireland

I was on a roll with creating sketches in January, so I decided to look at another location from The Virtual Paintout archives. In October 2014 The Virtual Paintout explored County Kerry Ireland. I found that this region had many great castles and landscapes to choose from, but I wanted to paint something a little different. When I think of Ireland I think about bright colored pubs juxtaposed with lush green scenery, so I was happy when I found this street view in Dingle, Ireland (I'd also like to add that I thought the name, Dingle, was very fun to say). 

"Dingle Street View"
County Kerry, Ireland
6 x 6
watercolor, marker, pen


Sunday, February 8, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: The Saved by the Bell Reunion

Were you a huge fan of Saved by the Bell? I was positively obsessed with the show when it aired in the early 90's (I even owned the Saved by the Bell board game and had my very own Zack Morris Barbie doll), so I was thrilled when I found out that Jimmy Fallon recently hosted a surprise Saved by the Bell reunion. 


I totally caught all of Saved by the Bell episode references and I was amazed that the cast looked like they haven't aged a day since the show ended.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What I'm Listening To: 'Gold in the Air'- Jesse Woods

I recently started watching season 4 of Girls on HBO and I have been loving the music that's been playing during the credits thus far. 'Gold in the Air' by Jesse Woods plays during ending credits of the episode called Triggering (season 4, episode 2). I love the dreamy, nostalgic quality that the song has that is also carried on in the music video below. Happy listening!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Valentine's Day 2015 Gift Guide/ Wishlist (hint, hint)

Valentine's Day is fast approaching so I thought I would put together a little gift guide of things that I wouldn't mind receiving for Valentine's Day.


Valentine's Day Wishlist 2015


  • I'm on the hunt for the perfect comfortable yet sexy undies. So far I've been trolling Amazon's reviews and True&Co. for ideas, but I'd love some suggestions/ recommendations.
  • I'm over due for a new set of PJs and while I like Eberjey's PJs (pictured above), I'm more likely to purchase Target's cheaper version.
  • I've been obsessing over Kate Spade and Baublebar jewelry. I tend to favor Art Deco and kitchy jewelry, but I don't wear them out very often. I'd like to incorporate some more minimalist jewelry to see if they'd get more wear.
  • I still love Lush products (see previous post)!

I'm still trying to scramble together some plans to celebrate the holiday with my husband. I love the idea of taking a mini-vacation and staying in an exotic AirBnB location, but I also like the idea of spending extra time in my PJ pants baking cookies, drinking cocoa, and watching movies on Blue-ray.

What are you Valentine's Day plans? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Favorite Red Carpet Looks from the 2015 SAG Awards

Awards season is upon us, and the most recent awards show was the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards). Even though it seemed like Birdman was dominating the show, I think these ladies dominated the red carpet:


Kiera Knightley wore my favorite outfit of the evening. I still can't get over it! The color and shape of the dress worked very well on her and I love Love LOVE her ear cuff!
Keira Knightley in Erdem

I thought Julianne Moore's pretty green gown complimented her light freckled skin and ginger hair quite nicely. I think Julianne should wear this color the time.
Julianne Moore in Givenchy
I had to mention Lupita Nyong'o's look because even Jared Leto couldn't stop staring at her. The print and cut of the dress were lovely and the dress flowed well as she walked the red carpet. Plus her make-up was perfect! I don't know about you, but I'd give my blessing to a Lupita/Jared Leto hook up. My only misgiving about that is that Jared Leto wouldn't be with me.
Lupita Nyong'o in Elie Saab
Who wore your favorite outfit at the SAG Awards. Are you getting excited for the Oscars? Let me know in the comments below.

images borrowed from The Huffington Post

Monday, February 2, 2015

He's a Cold-Hearted Snake, Look Into His Eyes...

I know the Altuzarra for Target collection came out ages ago (in September 2014 to be exact), but somehow the photo I took of me modeling my Altuzarra for Target snake print tee got lost in the shuffle. 

shirt: Altuzarra for Target (try ebay)
cardigan: ancient from JC Penny (similar)
pants: Ann Taylor Loft (similar)
snake print socks: Target

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel Reviews

This weekend a friend of mine asked me if I had read the Amazon UK reviews for Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel, and when I said "No" she asked me to immediately check it out. The reviews were hilarious!

The moral of this story: DO NOT PUT ON KNOB AND BOLLOCKS. You can read all of the Veet for Men reviews on Amazon.co.uk

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