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The Gallery Wall

This has been on my to-do list for years…YEARS! In every apartment I’ve lived in, I’ve always wanted to create a gallery wall. Quirky, effortless, intimate–I just love them. In my current bedroom, I have super high vaulted ceilings, which begs for some vertical-climbing artwork to create visual interest. I finally gave the ol’ gallery wall a go, and love the results!

I still have some tweaking (leveling, sanding/repainting the empty frame and adding something to it!), but already like what I see:

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From left: cardboard taxidermy┬á, honeymoon photo of my parents, Nate and me, horseshoe, Smead family crest, engagement photo of Nate’s parents, vintage shot of 72nd and Broadway in nyc.

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I haven’t decided what to put in the empty frame. I think it would be a bit cheeky to hang mistletoe, but would that look out of place come February? I definitely want an object…I’ll have to go treasure hunting in my mom’s basement later and see what I can find!

Would you try a gallery wall in your home?

xo

C

40 Books to Read Before You’re 30

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A couple weeks ago, a Buzzfeed list of the “65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s” circulated Facebook, and I have to say I was seriously disappointed…Not just in the choices on the list (or not on the list), but that anyone would accept Buzzfeed as a credible source on must-read literature! That’s like asking the Queen of England to create a list of the funniest fart jokes or Honey Boo Boo Child to recommend diet and exercise tips. This is NOT a knock on Buzzfeed– I love a good list of the “16 funniest lies you can tell a child” as much as the next girl–but basing your summer reading list off their recommendation? Ludicrous!

Now, what makes my list more trustworthy than Buzzfeed’s? Well, for starters, He’s Just Not That Into You didn’t make the cut. Oh, and you’ve probably already read half of these books. That’s the point–if you’re pretty damn close to 30, you should have already come across many of these reads because they are cultural pillars of our society. I must note that I do not like all these books, in fact there are several I would say aren’t even “good”, but they should be read.

I must admit that I found this process to be tortuous. There are books I spent hours reflecting on, and still regret not putting on the list (Wurthering Heights, The History of Love, Harry Potter!), but I wanted to condense it to just the essentials. I’d love to hear your feedback, though–what would you have skipped? Added?

In no particular order…(Click on the title to go to Amazon to read a description/order)…

Fiction

1. The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

3. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

4. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

6. The Giver, Lois Lowry

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein

9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

10. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

11. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

12. The Princess Bride, William Goldman

13. Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

14. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

15. East of Eden, John Steinbeck

16. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

17. Slaughterhouse V, Kurt Vonnegut

18. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

19. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

20. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

21. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

22. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

23. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

24. The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay

25. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

26. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

27. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

28. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

29. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

30. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

31. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth

32. White Teeth, Zadie Smith

Non-Fiction

33. The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

34. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

35. In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson

36. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond

37. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

38. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

39. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

40. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt

Currently loving…

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Pellegrino. Until very recently, I abhorred sparkling water. Thanks to living in Europe, I am now fully aboard the bubbly water train! Can’t get enough!

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Tortoise Comb. My best friend Lauren sent this to me in a Christmas package of whimsical goodies. I feel so fancy detangling my wet strands using this comb, and I love how it looks sitting on my vanity. So luxurious–Thank you, Lauren!

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L’Oreal Revitalift Total Repair 10 Serum. I have switched from the night cream in this range to the much lighter serum, and my skin is much happier.

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Bright nail polishes. These punchy colors compliment my (faux) tan perfectly! Writing work emails is much more pleasant with happy hued digits.

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Blooming daffodil bulbs in my kitchen. Although the temps have yet to rise above freezing here in Copenhagen, these delightful flowers at least cast the illusion of springtime…

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What are you loving this April?

xo

 

Cheap & Chic Valentine’s Treats

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about grand gestures, but simple pleasures. I think there is nothing cuter than a clever pun when artfully paired with a small treat. Last year for Valentine’s Day, I gave my co-workers old-fashioned cokes and bags of spicy chex mix, and then tagged them with home-made “love notes”:

DSC00586“I am SODAlighted you are my coworker”

DSC00587“You spic up my life”

In my current job, I actually do something like this for my 13 employees every three to four weeks to show my appreciation and keep their spirits up. Even though the treats are small, I take the time to pair them with a homemade sign, and as cheesy as it sounds, it really is the thought that counts. So this Valentine’s Day, let your friends, colleagues, and loved ones know you’re thinking about them with one of the ideas below (I never thought to take pictures of them, d’oh! But leave your email in the comments if you would like me to send you the tag templates I’ve created.):

-a bowl of grapes–Thanks a bunch for all you do!

-lemon and orange flavored Pellegrino–You sparkle brighter than any star.

-After Eight chocolate mints (similar to York peppermint patties)–We were mint to be. [For work, I wrote, “Our team was mint to be.”]

-roasted almonds–I’m nuts about you!

-mini quiches–You are eggcelent.

-chocolate chip cookies–You are so sweet!

-pink lemonade–You tickle me pink!

If I wasn’t “the boss,” I would give out scratch-off lottery tickets with a love note that said, “I hope you get lucky!” this Valentine’s Day, but, alas, I don’t feel like getting sued for sexual harassment…

Do you give out Valentine’s Day treats?

Easy DIY Art

Listen, I would never call myself a “crafty” person. I don’t generally see garage sale items as they could be, with a simple staining/sanding/decoupaging. But every now and then inspiration strikes, and the result is somewhere between summer camp kitch and grade school junk, which is just fine with my shitty rental with all white walls that I’m not allowed to paint.

So this whole thing started when Nate proudly returned from taking out the trash with this in hand:

A HUGE glassless frame. Ohhhhh, the potential…I immediately picked up the wrapping paper you see above, a water-color blue with tiny silver windowpanes. It reminds me of Lake Michigan, sigh. I removed the backing and wrapped it tightly, securing with glue (tape is hard to come by in Denmark, otherwise I would have used that).

Then, I started saving toilet paper rolls. Seriously. I figured the perfect place to hang an amateur DIY piece of art was the crapper (pun intended), and the perfect medium would be toilet paper rolls. After a month or so, I felt I had enough, and I started smooshing and cutting the toilet paper rolls into 4 even rings.

Next, I stole some colored paper from work, and cut strips to line a little less than half of the rings. I didn’t use glue or anything, just creased the paper to hold securely.

Lastly, I started gluing the little leaves onto the blue wrapping paper from the bottom up, aiming to build an organic looking plant of sorts.

Ta-da! And it looks so cheerful hanging in my tiny all white bathroom with oddly exposed pipes:

Perhaps you can tell that this project cost less than $7 and took less than 30 minutes, but for bathroom art I’d say it’s pretty much perfect. (And if any guests ask, I’ll tell them one of my elementary students made it…)

xo

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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My top 10 picks for Moms this Mother’s Day. Click on the link to go directly to website and “add to cart.” And don’t forget to write a card! On paper! With a pen! It’s literally the least you can do, considering the woman shared her body with you and all…

1. A subscription to More magazine (a personal favorite of mine):

2. A pretty pitcher and artisan teas to ice this spring:

3. Clinque Body Butter

 

4. Windowsill Herb Box Kit

5. A Casual Spring Dress (in a universally flattering style and color)

6. A Kindle (the original)

7. Cute and Comfy Wedge Sandals (She’s probably a size 7 1/2)

8. Silvery Grey Lightweight Throw

9. Mini Cuisinart Food Processor

10. Home Is Where the Heart Is–State Wall Art

 

xo

 

April Favorites

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The products from my pantry/closet/medicine cabinet I reached for and enjoyed the most throughout the past month…

1. Harney & Sons assorted Iced Teas


These are brilliant. As you can see from the above picture, the tea bags are huge. You brew a super concentrated tea base–just 2 cups–and then add another 6 cups of cold water to your pitcher (or in my case, a giant Ball canning jar). These iced teas come in peach, raspberry, green and black. All are lovely, and I particularly love that the raspberry is an herbal infusion (meaning there are no actual tea leaves in it) so I can have it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and not worry about getting sick.

2. Cerave SA lotion

Like approximately 50% of the population, I have keratosis pilaris–those tiny red bumps on the back of my arms. The only way to get rid of those dreaded bumps is by using an alpha hydroxy acid to slough them off gently. This lotion is the best over the counter option. I’ve been using it every single morning and every night I don’t use my self tanner in an effort to get smooth skin by tank top season!

3/4. Batiste Dry Shampoo and L’Anza leave in Trauma Treatment

I’m really trying to improve the health of my hair, which means two things: washing it less and protecting it pre-heat styling. I use the Batiste dry shampoo in between washings, and it is hands-down my all time favorite dry shampoo. It’s cheap, smells great, and not at all sticky. The L’anza is absorbed very well by my parched hair, and yet doesn’t weigh it down at all–which is somewhat miraculous considering how fine and thin my hair is.

5. Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum

Spring allergies have destroyed my poor eyes. I have tiny red sores on the corner of my eyes from constant tearing and rubbing, and my lashes are brittle and dry. This nightly serum has helped my lashes 100%. Not only are my lashes appearing thicker and stronger, but my mascara lasts at least fifty percent longer. While I don’t think this is of the Latisse caliber, it certainly is making my lashes as lush as they can be.

6. The Best Blemish Treatment

Every September and April, my skin breaks out. I don’t get those tiny, easy to conceal blackheads or whiteheads–oh no. My acne announces its arrival days in advance as a deep achy spot that slowly emerges, is about the size of a pencil eraser (or larger), deeply painful, hangs around for a week, and then sloooooowly fades. In other words, THE WORST POSSIBLE KIND OF ZIT. The only thing that keeps me from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge when this happens? My very own blemish treatment. I liberally cover the offensive spot with a thick dot of cortizone cream, and then slap on a waterproof bandaid (Nexcare is my favorite because–I swear–they are invisible enough on the skin to run basic errands in!) This is nearly as powerful as those expensive cortisone shots celebrities get in their spots on red carpet days. Do this two nights in a row and your blemish should be history. (I even made Nate try this method earlier in the month and now he is a convert, too!)

7. Vincent Longo Liquid Canvas Dew Finish foundation + Neutrogena Healthy Skin bronzer

My new Holy Grail foundation, this Vincent Longo formula is pure perfection. It goes on perfect with just a few swipes of your fingers, and is totally undetectable on the skin. Furthermore, the SPF is an added layer of protection for my super sun-sensitive skin. This range comes in several shades, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you are looking for a very sheer yet buildable foundation, I urge you to check this out. The Neutrogena bronzer adds just the right amount of tan glow to my cheeks and doesn’t have the chunky glitter most bronzers are loaded with.

8. Danskin for Walmart Sport Bra with Foam Inserts

 

OBSESSED. This is the best sports bra. Ever. The removable foam inserts give your girls a little extra boost AND protect from–ahem–headlights. The back is mesh for maximum breathability. And guess how much this cost. C’mon, guess. TWELVE DOLLARS. I need to order approximately 6 more.

9. White River (via Marshall’s) Gold knock off Sperry’s ­čÖé

From Ann Arbor to LA to San Francisco to Manhattan to the Boogie Down Bronx, I have LIVED in these shoes the past month. They are comfortable and cute, and seem to go with everything. The metallic gold keep them from feeling too preppy. If I find another pair I would totally snatch them up for after this pair dies.

10/11. Baja Shrimp OPI nail polish & stacks of slender rings

All month I’ve been loving this hot coral nail polish. It is the perfect rainy spring day pick-me-up. And I’ve been very into stacking tons of mixed metal tiny rings on several fingers.

I really can’t believe it’s already May! This is a packed month with Cinco de Mayo/Kentucky Derby, Mother’s Day, my brother’s 30th birthday (!!!!), my boyfriend’s birthday, and Memorial Day all back to back. I guess I’ll sleep in June?

xo