This One's for You, Carolyn

Loving the song "Naturally" by, yes, Disney star Selena Gomez (what? I really like the chorus):


Bringing it back to 1996! I am driving in the car with Carolyn, headed to URI to see our German friend Rheiny and probably about to get in some minor trouble. 

Holy Christmas, is this old school.


Illegal Shopping

on 1stDibs again. Some beauties:

Art Deco vase, designed by Willy Wuilleumier for French brand Marcel Guillard, circa 1927. Love the colors - definitely a statement piece for a table or credenza. 

American-made T.A. Greene for Monteverdi Young brass chandelier/pendant from the 1950s - love it! In a bathroom with a romantic wallpaper? So moody!

Mid-Century American brass firescreen - visually, an art piece while also being functional. 
1980s Henri Fernandez octopus coffee table - if you haven't noticed, I love statement pieces. One day, in our next house, I plan to design each room around one special piece - furniture, art, what have you. This coffee table is just that kind of piece. If you could work around the glass, how whimsical is this for a children's playroom? Or a beachside home? Maybe replace the top with a blue-veined natural stone, such as marble. All of your guests will take notice. Over the top, and I like it.
20th Century French Louis XVI style lantern - in an large entry way - wow. Or a cathedral-ceilinged bedroom with a canopy bed? Yes!

I barely made it past the first page this week. So many fun things!

All images via

A Sore Rear End

Tuesday was my last day at Belle Fiori! Woo hoo! 

Well, sort of.

Once Una accepted the new job, I gave myself an end date for the shop, hoping it would be enough time to secure a job while also giving me a deadline to adhere to. Dang, I wish that had worked. 

A funny thing about the Midwest (and perhaps almost everywhere that is not New York) - credentials matter utmost. Your degree, your years in a particular field, industry certifications - if you don't have the right match, you won't even be considered. All in direct opposition to my personal experiences in New York, where good references, a desire to prove yourself and do better than the next person, and a hard work ethic are often enough to get the job (you gotta do well to keep it). Let's see how I stack up:

Degree? Religious Studies. That's a no.
Internships? Require a degree in particular field. 
Level 1 jobs (which are clearly all I would qualify for)? College degree and preferably, internship experience. 
Years in a particular field? Publishing - 1.5. Fashion Pr - 1. Event planning - 2. (Excluding periods as my own boss.) 
And my age . . . for a bottom-dweller job . . . not a plus. 
AKA, Screwed. 

Oddly enough, the "worked in New York" factor is something that is often actually held against you out here. There's a funny Midwest hangup about New Yorkers thinking they're better and smarter than everyone else. And the reaction is to prove that the Midwest way of doing things is the correct way. 

Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

There have been some wonderfully kind people who have taken the time to speak with me and show me around, but the answer is always the same: I lack experience and a degree. And I'm competing with people with both. Followed by a nice, but not really that nice "Good Luck!" 

So the job search continues in virtually any creative industry that will take me. I'll keep you posted.

P.S. I'll work for free! And . . . not so much. Another funny Midwest hangup - working for free means neither party is held accountable, so the effort lacks real commitment and value for either.

P.P.S. Yeesh, I can't even give myself away.


Bonjour Couture!

No post yesterday, as I was running like a lunatic from 5:15 AM on. Snapshot of a Tuesday in Milwaukee: 

6:00 AM train to Chicago to visit the Design Center at the Merchandise Mart, AKA heaven. A local interior designer who I met through Jon's boss invited me to shadow her for part of the day as she visited showrooms and picked out furniture and fabric for her clients. Basically I was redoing my imaginary dream house the entire time, albeit with a budget that included two additional zeroes. 

Sprinted back to Union Station for a 1:00 PM train, a furious taxi ride to our parked car at the MAC (sharing a car, however green and economic, is starting to lose its novelty factor), then back to the house to let Houston out so we don't have another gift on the living room floor, and finally right over to work . . . 10 minutes late. For my last day. 

Followed at last by my "Sewing for Beginners" class (2 hours!) and then dinner at 8:30 PM. Um, good thing I am in remedial sewing. Loading the damn sewing machine and bobbin was more difficult than reading a pattern. We're making a pillow for our next class. I think I may actually learn something with this one. 

Au revoir, Francais, bonjour couture!



That stands for C.F.A. Sucks. Genius, I know. 

Una is preparing to take level two of the C.F.A. exam (chartered financial analyst) in June, known to be the most difficult of the three levels. Tests are pre-scheduled once or twice a year (depending on the level), and if you do not pass - round 1's pass rate? 34% - you have to wait one year before trying again. 

Needless to say, we don't need to drag this sitch out for two more years. Una is great at testing, but there's so much information with minute details (this level had 7 text books - ew - to be memorized in just over 5 months), it comes down to time management and preparation. As of today, there are 88,084 charterholders worldwide. 

And come just over 5 weeks, it will be 88,085* (fingers crossed!) . . . Go Jon!

[Okay, technically one more on the way to chartership.]


"Got it!"

I can't participate in kickball due to my back. One furious sprint and slide to first base and guaranteed, I'll be laid up for a week on our fur-covered floor cursing the day the dang sport was invented and sipping wine out of a bendy straw. Better to cheerlead.

Unfortunately, I've missed the last two games, resulting in play-by-play recaps from Jon at the end of the night, often accompanied by an angry fist smacking into a palm. Wednesday's game against Fecal Matter (the names of these teams are just ridiculous)? Is This A Sport's third loss in a row. However, that isn't what brought Jon home in a tizzy. 

Oh no.

Embarassed due to his previous 0 - 5 stints at bat, Jon placed himself conservatively in centerfield. An important role in outfield, but less necessary than short stop or third base. 

So he thought.

Mid-game, one of the Fecal Matter team members nailed the kickball with the force of a cannon and sent the ball flying straight to Jon, who called out, "Got it!"

Hah. Ha ha. 

If, by "Got it!," one means running backwards in a pair of ridiculously thick sweatpants, reaching your hands out to grab the incoming ball, stepping on the edge of said sweatpants, and falling straight backwards like a gunshot-tin can (as the ball bounces off the tip of your outstretched fingers), thereby allowing three more runs . . . then yes, he got it.

At the end of the game and after three more strikeouts at bat, Jon announced he was a liability for the team and "good for nothing." To which a team member replied with a smile, "Not nothing. You're good for a laugh."

Our dream of having an NFL kicker for a son is going down in flames as I type.


Nice Legs!

Love the turned legs and rounded corners on this Pier 1 dining table, on sale for $299.98.
Great price for a classic shape with a little extra flair, but not too much detailing. You can keep this gem for many years.

Shoe Steal

 Jimmy Choo "Jasmin" Heel for $495.00

Victoria's Secret "Criss-Cross" Sandal for $45.00

Available in pewter, gold, black, turquoise and hot pink.

Photos via and

An Even Easier Green Cleaner

My coworker at the flower shop (next Tuesday is my last day!) told me about this one, to be used instead of chemical-laden Pledge:

1 part olive oil
2 parts vinegar

Everyone has those ingredients in their kitchen cabinet. I plan to try it out this week. Typing by natural light as we speak - Happy Earth Day!


Thursday Forecast: Earth Day

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day! The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has created the "Pick 5 for the Environment" campaign - choose five actions that can change your impact on the world. Here are a few things you can do tomorrow (and beyond) that help reduce our mark on the planet.

1. Walk, jog, take a bus, subway, bike or carpool to work. Even just for tomorrow. Or once a week. Do what you can.
2. Make a pledge to turn off all the lights in your house when you leave. 
3. Donate to assist environmental awareness acts across the globe.
4. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
5. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
6. Switch to green cleaning products, which stop the release of chemicals into the air and our shared water systems. Better yet, make your own.
7. Plant a tree. 
8. Don't have a yard? Join the Arbor Day movement, and as a gift for your membership choose to have 10 trees planted in a forest in need. 
9. Stop littering! Just this simple act can make a huge difference.
10. In fact, hold that piece of trash! Can you recycle it? Can you reuse part of it?
11. Fill up one side of the sink with water and wash the dishes, tub-style. (Did you know washing the dishes by hand - the conventional way - actually often uses more water than a dishwashing machine?)
12. Bring a reusable bag to the supermarket or pharmacy. The less plastic and paper waste, the better!
13. Watch the thermostat. Each degree lower (winter)/higher (summer) you keep your temperature at saves 5% off your bill.
14. Work by natural light.
15. When you're at a restaurant, refuse a water refill if you don't need it. 

Check out and to learn more!


Obviously I Will Need French Shoes!

An adorable French label, available in the US - Marais USA
I am thinking . . . these:

Espadrille Wedge in Black for $92.00

And the Mercer Flat in Chestnut (love this toffee-esque color) or Nude for $52.00

Wondering if I can pull off the Oxford in White for summer ($88.00 - a steal!)

And debating the cutest pair of Mulberry Maryjanes in Suit for $58.00

All photos via Marais USA


Francais, Si Vous Plais

This evening, I begin a 7-week Introduction to French course offered at the Milwaukee School of Language. Jon thinks this is hilarious and pointless. 

Little does he know, this is Part 1 of my grand plan to have us living in a hundreds-of-years-old house in the south of France some day (situated conveniently next door to a vineyard). 

Bonjour Provence!


Special Times

Every Thursday, Una and I head over to Bootlegger's Bar for Trivia Night with four of our friends. Trivia Quizzes happen every night of the week in different bars across Milwaukee, each with various states of competitiveness. 

We had an addition to our usual team last night (aside from the 100 ACDC fans that were there pre-concert - 1) Why didn't Jon and I get our act together and buy tickets? 2) The fashion was amazing. Where else do men and women share the exact same hairstyle and its considered a good thing?). Apparently, at the bar where our Plus 1 usually goes, up to 15 teams participate. 

We have three. 

Which included last week's second place winner, a group of 3 overweight late-thirties men, whose team name was: My Dixie Rect. 

I mean, what.

Seeing as there are three prizes given each week (all credits to the bar - which promptly goes to our meal and drink tab) . . . I'd say the trivia odds at Bootleggers are in our favor. And last night, we finally got 1st place! Woo hoo! 

Special times.


Spring Lonny!

It's out again! 

A home design treat for your eyes and minds - read the new issue of Lonny mag here!

Wednesday Want

These metal accordion coffee and side tables from Urban Outfitters have great, classic lines and a neutral color - and are going for just $128 and $60 each! 

Love the animal-inspired feet with antique brass finish. A true steal that could stay in your home for years and pass for something much more expensive, thanks to their simple shapes.

Both available online only!

Update: this style of table is called a gueridon, which is typically a small, circular table supported by three columns or legs in various shapes. It originated in France in the 17th century.

Art and Interior Design in One

Emma Hack is an Australian multimedia artist and "skin illustrator." A photographer, Emma paints models into intricate, detailed backgrounds and then photographs them as part of the environment (similar in concept to Liu Bolin). Hack camouflages her muses within iconic images - such as bold Florence Broadhurst wallpapers and religious mandelas. Though her first image took 19 hours to paint, more recent pieces take anywhere from 8 - 14 hours each. I like her sense of humor - Hack still engages the invisible model with her surroundings - by artfully placing a bird in the pattern on a shoulder, arm or hands, having a model hold onto a prop (such as a cat - see below). I feel like she's winking at us through the photo.

I'm sure Una read "skin illustrator" and immediately thought Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Not that kind of skin painting. Check out some of the more elaborate illustrations she has done.

Photos via Information from



This weekend, which had started out with no plans, ended up chock full and closing out with a massive hangover. 

Friday I drove to meet one of my oldest and dearest friends, Emily, in downtown Chicago. We checked out Harry Caray's, the Navy Pier and its Museum of Stained Glass (showstopper!), and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (alternately cool and horrifying). 

Saturday = dinner at the Milwaukee Ale House with Jon consuming a flight of beer during dinner (oh, 36 ounces of beer in 45 minutes), followed by a trip to Jo Cats bar, Club Brady (where a fellow female attendee was accosted by a highly intoxicated 40+ woman, who then dropped to the floor like a plank of wood - never seen anything like it before) and lastly Nomad bar, for a totally unnecessary final drink. 

Sunday brought pain, Advil, water, an ill-advised run and Comet Cafe for a brunch of biscuits, gravy and eggs. Followed by a trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum for its "Art in Bloom" exhibit, a 3-day event where local floral designers reinterpret works of art with flowers. My boss was awarded People's Choice third place for her interpretation of Beth Lipman's Laid Table!
Photo by Journal Sentinel
Here is the amazing technology of my new phone's camera, which in this light, does show a striking similarity in form between the two pieces.
Photo by Moi

I then traversed the streets of Bay View (a southern part of Milwaukee that sits on the lake and is filled with old bungalow homes) where I visited 9 open houses. The kicker? After a dinner of grilled chicken, corn and caesar salad that did not burn the porch down, and a "bedtime" of 8 PM . . . I slept for approximately 3 hours. For those of you that know Me, AKA Pumpkin (due to the fact that I rarely see the light of anything post-midnight), this was the equivalent of water-boarding. I don't even know what that is. Some kind of torture tactic that is probably less painful than three hours of sleep when you're still hungover and PMSing. Oh yes, I went there.

Followed by the start of my very difficult workend on Monday, and closing at last with a trip to the vet for Houston . . . as I carried a literal doggie bag filled with poop from our backyard for a stool examination.

If the thought didn't make my stomach turn, I'd say I needed a drink.


That Backfired.

Jon had his personal training session last Thursday. Unlike me, whose session was run by a male treehugger in a pair of khakis with a ponytail halfway down his back and hellbent on serving me a hefty portion of punishment, Jon was set up with "Angie."

"Angie" turned out to be a tanned, professional dancer for the Milwaukee Bucks. As in the NBA.


Tricky man that he is, Jon started the session by saying, "my wife couldn't walk for days, so I'd like to take it easy." What ensued, I can only surmise, was a few pushups, a lap around the basketball court, and a lovely 30-minute coffee chitchat on the merits of "professional dancing." For when he arrived at Bootleggers bar to join me and friends for Trivia Night after the alleged workout, there was no awkward walk from soreness, no red face, no request for salves (I came prepared) - nothing but a chipper and relaxed Una.

Meanwhile, I've still got a near-empty tube of Icy Hot in my purse. I think it's pretty obvious who got the shaft in this situation.


It's Snowing Here.

Apparently peeling down the saran wrap window guards was a tad optimistic.

I mean, really Wisconsin? 

Eating Reese's Pieces mini eggs to console myself.


Forecast: Rain Boots

Thundering and downpour insanity outside. 

Photos of Cream City buildings to come once mud stops draining down the street faster than I can run. And Houston ceases to trek in boulder-sized chunks of dirt from the yard. This is a step up from the boulder-sized POOP balls that I cleaned from her toes last week. Just. Sick.

Will kickball be canceled? Still yet to be determined. A fierce league of enthusiasts.

Chic on the Cheap

I recently discovered Copy Cat Chic. The site cleverly posts beautiful, expensive and often famous home items - and where to get their inexpensive twins. Here are some goodies:

A Madeline Weinrib Zigzag Rug lookalike from Rugs Direct:

A Mecox Gardens Peacock Mirror doppelganger via Pier 1:

A DWR Rubik Round Coffee Table impostor by CB2:

A faux William Sonoma Home Anderson Wing Chair steal at Home Decorators:

Check out her thrifty discoveries here! You can see side-by-side price and photo comparisons of the real deal versus the real steal.


"Resembling Watercress"

Our dear friend Lauren, who married Jon and me, lives in Cambodia. Daily normalities of life in Cambodia include driving on streets with no apparent safety laws and with up to 6 people on one moto, Christmas lights year round, duck embryo snacks, shoulder massages for men while standing at the urinal, taxi rides where you pay to share the seat with the driver, en masse aerobics in the park, and something particularly genius, the refilling of beer after each sip.

Lauren recently sent me two photos from a trip to the grocery store, via the iPhone (hence the blurriness). The first, a delicious vegetable:
"Resembling Watercress"

The second, a food packaging ad campaign for the history books:
Please note: Skinny girls eating seaweed and laughing. Overweight chick eating potato chips and crying (click on photo to get a close-up of said tear).

Well, I'm sold.


Cream City

When I first moved to Milwaukee and noticed about 7 million signs/tee shirts/companies that featured "Cream City" in the name, I figured Milwaukee, which has great root beer, was also known for cream soda. Or that its beer was really frothy. 

Yes, I realize this was foolish, particularly because frothy beer is no-no rule number one for good brewing. Jon is thanking his lucky stars I never uttered this theory in public company. (I'm already known as the 'girl who drinks wine.' When it's available. Some bars literally only serve beer.)

In fact, Milwaukee got the name "Cream City" from the yellow bricks that many of its East Side and downtown buildings were constructed from. This particular brick was made from a clay found in the Menomonee River Valley and along the banks of Lake Michigan that, when fired, turned light yellow. Very popular as a building material in the mid to late 1800s, a majority of the local historic buildings are made from this Cream City brick, though some of these have now turned black (the brick is very porous and absorbs pollutants easily). The buildings and houses that have retained their color (or been cleaned) are truly beautiful and Una has now decided, that if we are to purchase a home, he would like a Cream City brick house. Hah. We found one within budget and it was a block from the airport.

Here is a photo of Cream City brick at its best:
Robert Patrick Fitzgerald house on the East Side of Milwaukee

I'll take some photos this week of local houses and buildings and post them later. It's a really beautiful look that is unique to this area of the midwest. 


Not Laughing Anymore

I was forced to slather Icy Hot all over my legs after my shower this morning. They're practically on fire under my jeans right now and I still can't get down the stairs without gripping the walls for my life.

Jon, of course, thinks this is hysterical.

Not as hysterical as me emailing the trainer from Jon's account to request a session of his own!

This tube of Icy Hot won't last the week.


I Laughed

Jon and I recently joined a gym close to his work, mainly so that he can use the squash courts (a lot of the gyms out here don't have them). It is, for lack of a better word, about as old-school WASPy as it gets, with the women's gym in the basement and separate areas for virtually everything except dining. Surprisingly, the space division has turned out to be a good thing (no sweaty, old men watching you on the treadmill). Upon signing up, we were offered a free consultation with a trainer.

I had mine yesterday.

"Circuit training" is actually jacked-up-on-Creatine trainer speak for "devil's paining." I cannot move. Going downstairs feels like someone is lighting a cigarette on the inside of my thighs. And forget sitting down. Yeah right. One hour of jumping rope, lunges, weights, sit-ups and various torture tactics repeated over and over with no breaks - as the trainer peppered me with comments such as, "Nope - five more to go," when I may have accidentally miscounted - equals a hangover worse than if I'd downed a bottle of Pepe Lopez tequila with a side of Peppermint Schnapp's. 

And, as just a slap in the face for fun, it appears my thighs have gotten bigger. Swollen? Furious at me? Who knows. I can barely look down to address the situation. At the end of the hour, the trainer looked at me and said, "So, would you like to sign up for regular sessions?"

I literally laughed.

Friday Forecast = leggings, a down comforter and ice packs taped to my legs and arms in style similar to Iron Man.


Happy Birthday, H-Town!

Houston is 13 years old today! And that ain't no April Fools joke.

Because it is her special day, I have already given her three treats and it is only 9:33 in the morning, Milwaukee-time. Here she is relaxing in the 60-degree sunshine on the grass in our backyard, having just gobbled up the third bone.
Pretty sure she's in heaven. Or contemplating how to procure more bones while I am out of sight. Hmm, crafty, that one.

Looking like a young Betty White, Houst! Keep it up!

Wisconsin Unconventional Sports Association

AKA, Jon's kickball league

Oh yes.

Every Wednesday evening from now until early June, Jon has a date with a kickball. Last night was the first game, which will henceforth be referred to as "preseason" or "that practice game that didn't count." Jon's team (of which I was also supposed to be a member, but due to a scheduling slipup by the kickball commissioner - correct - will have a class during game time) = "Is This A Sport?"

Being part of an important kickball team requires matching tee shirts and participating in the mandatory hangout/beer-drinking time at O'Brien's Bar before each game. Last night's opponent? Blueballs.


We arrive to Wick Field from O'Brien's and they are stretching and practicing very intensely. Their shirts have numbers. They are all very fit and in various forms of spandex. One person, who resembles former NY Giant Jeremy Shockey, is running back and forth in the outfield catching practice kicks. We later learn this is the captain's mother, also a member of the team.

The game begins. We are laughing, giggling, hah hah hah, ha ha. It's kickball! Go "Sport!" Blueballs is up first. Home run on the first kick. And for the next 9 innings and 45 minutes "Is This A Sport?" scrambles to make a catch and land on first base as Blueballs scores 18 MORE POINTS. 

We get . . . one.
Not  our game. But Blueballs's pitcher did strangely resemble this tall, bald man and was frighteningly serious.

Thankfully Blueballs, though lamely serious about the outcome of the game, does not gloat over their win. The boys, Jon in particular, are devastated over the massacre. Una laments overthrown balls, a near-catch that bounced off his chest, and a whiff kick at bat (which, in his defense, appeared to be heading into "foul ball" zone away from the plate and only at the very last second bounced right onto it) into bedtime and along the drive to work this morning. I foresee a trip to Sports Authority this weekend, followed by mandatory practice time in our small backyard with Veloc reffing.

After the game we head back to O'Brien's so that our pitcher, Brian, can speak with The Commissioner. This year, WUSA decided to separate the serious, slightly-creepy competitive teams from the teams made up of normal, non-psychopathic, "I've moved past my high school years" people by creating two different leagues, kindly named "Gold Standard" and "Remedial." 

Guess which one we're supposed to be in.