Image via The Quadfather 

For all the barbecues and beach parties that make us think of Memorial Day weekend, remember the reason this holiday was created . . .


Just Add Stylist

Great news! I'm joining the menswear-focused wedding blog Boutonnieres & Bow Ties as a stylist! 

Along with blogowner and 9tailors founder Samantha, and fellow stylists Makiko and Muchieh, I'll be creating design boards for real grooms. The first one is up next week, for a groom with an upstate New York 'garden and barn' wedding this September. Cowboy boots and leather ties, anyone? Hope he's the adventurous type!

View of a Yard

Here is Houston at work, lounging like a furry orange lizard off to the right. I've been mowing every other day since the grass grows like its on a diet of Creatine and crack. I missed one week and it was literally 5 inches tall. A dangerous gamble when you throw in Houston's "leftovers."

Wood table and chairs from Ikea and red ceramic garden stool/side table from Big Lots, all for less than $150 total. 

Love the shadows the chairs make. Hello, Summer.


Bring On the Paper (And Hopefully the Green Kind)

Sunday is my and Una's 1 year anniversary!

Holy crapballs, where did the last 12 months go? Seriously, we went on our honeymoon (ridiculously amazing), came back, I quit my job in NYC, drove halfway across the country with an insane car passenger (Houston), settled in Milwaukee, started this blog, finally sold our old apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Una started a new job, I'm still in the market looking, and now we're getting ready to move out of our house into a new one. For the second time in 365 days. I think we jam-packed this year.

As the old, married couple we are (been together over 7 years), we gave each a new couch as our joint gift. Thrilling, yes. And since it came wrapped in a cardboard paper box, I'm calling it our traditional first anniversary paper gift.

Now if the lotto would come through and deliver us a green paper gift as I've requested on our registry with them, I'd say this year had pretty much gone according to plan. 

Happy almost anniversary, my fave!


Bad Decision #2958

Since Una is studying for the CFA (one week from Saturday!), I am pretty much on my own all the time. Which is okay by me, for the most part. When I was younger, I would lock myself in my room to get away from everything (such as the other 5 members of the Barrett family, plus the additional insane cat and two dogs). I've even seen movies by myself. All good, quality times with Moi. On the weekends, however, it gets a tad aggressive come Sunday. So Jon and I have developed a plan wherein I pick him up from his study locale for lunch and we have a date for an hour before his ankle bracelet starts buzzing and his evil mistress, the CFA, calls up furious and tapping her sensible-shoe-wearing foot. Greedy hooker.

This past Sunday we decided Saz's, a local ribs joint with a "large spread" brunch (per Jon's colleague), would be a good place to try. Har har. "Large spread" was, as usual, an understatement for anyone living outside the metro Milwaukee area. Let's list the items available, all for $15.95: pancakes, French toast, baked egg and ham casserole, eggs Benedict, beef stew, buffalo chicken tenders, potato pancakes, every breakfast meat imaginable, cheesy home fry casserole (not again!), macaroni and cheese, an omelette station, a fruit bar, a donut bar, bagels and smoked salmon, an ice cream sundae station complete with cookies and brownies and, oh yeah, unlimited RIBS. Plus your complimentary mimosa or champagne! 

Clearly not one for restraint, Jon opted to eat one of everything, except the omelet and bagel (but including a meal-ending homemade chocolate chip cookie and brownie sundae with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and M&Ms). What occurred later is not for public recounting. Terrified by the sight of so much food, I went with a perfect combo of: fruit salad and ribs. 

Absolutely not going near a scale, neither of us.


Letterpressers Anonymous

Someone should start a support group for people with stationery problems. Not me, as I would prefer to continue this addiction until I'm no longer allowed to. I bought a Japanese Gocco machine for my wedding paper needs (menus, welcome notes, etc.) and snapped up all of the ink and screens I could off Etsy, knowing it was about to be discontinued permanently. Still bought the dang thing. Newest discovery?! A miniature letterpress machine . . . for $150.

Repeat: $150! 

The Letterpress from Lifestyle Crafts. Sheer genius. People, that is a steal.


Must Own: ChumBuddy

Though as Jon reminded me, the Shark Council may get me for this one. (What? I'm terrified of sharks and am convinced there is a Shark Council that has a constant Amber Alert on my ocean whereabouts. The rare occasions I'm in, it's an immediate dispatch to the closest shark to get to my glowingly pale legs.) My terror, however, is matched by a ridiculous fascination with any and all things shark-related.

Many people find this humorous, including Jon, who on a vacation to Bermuda and in the midst of a swim to a distant rock, screamed shark at the top of his lungs. Just to scare me. I'm still furious and just decided he's getting cereal for dinner as payback.

Anywho, my younger sister Eliza sent me this incredible find, which I Must Own. Meet "The Chumbuddy":

Photos from

7 feet long and a steal at $199.95. Need.

Forecast: 80 and Looking Up

Attended a benefit performance of Rent last night for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin. I haven't seen the show in 12 years and . . . I cried. Again. "Maureen" (actress/performance artist) was just awesome.

It's a sunny Monday morning, the forecast is for 80 degrees and we signed a lease for a rental house in Bay View last week that is two blocks from the water.

Now if only I can find a job or some more writing opportunities, things would really be looking up.


Smell Like Kate Spade

Kate Spade's Twirl is coming out in September. And if this isn't the cutest packaging ever - New Year's Eve in a bottle! - I don't know what is.

Photo via

Poor, Poor Kelly Bensimon

That lady is on A Crazy Train of Insanity, which has officially gone off the rails, chucked the conductor (who was probably not all there to begin with) and is careening towards a tsunami meltdown. Hopefully someone with superhuman powers will regain control of this situation.

Not ashamed to admit I am addicted to this season of The Real Housewives of New York City, what my friends and I like to call "television gold." And oh man, was last night's episode a pot of hysterical deliciousness with a hint of terror mixed in.

Though nothing will ever live up to Being Bobby Brown. Hall of Fame Emmy-material.

P.S. Here's to hoping Kelly joins the rest of us on Planet Earth, especially for her children's sake. Funny for a few minutes and then sad.

Flea Market Fetch

I love Mean Girls. And this bench is so fetch. It started out as a Craigslist coffee table, which the buyer thought had great legs. A paint job, adorable Suzani fabric (the inspiration behind my own pillow fabric choice) and a trip to the upholsterer's later, voila!
Kevin Austin via

I probably wouldn't spend the money on this piece at the upholsterer's, but instead cover it DIY style. Looks great in the hall - love the poppy orange color!

88.9 Radio Milwaukee

I'm not a music intellect or elitist. Heck, I posted a song by Selena Gomez a few weeks ago and I was pumped when it came on in the car yesterday. (Yes, I sang along horribly with the window open as it was deliriously nice outside. And Jon was not there to ask me to stop.) 

I have also been known to listen to Ryan Seacrest's Top 40 on Sunday mornings. All good times.

But Milwaukee has a truly great music scene. Unknown and undiscovered bands, singers and rappers - where literally, there is great live music happening somewhere every single night. In fact, a friend told me about a music promoter here in Milwaukee (a friend of his) who said professionally it would be better to move to New York, but that the quality of music is so good here, he can't bring himself to go.

The only reason I know any of this is because someone told me about 88.9 FM, Radio Milwaukee. AKA, my favorite station. It is on in the car 99.9% of the time (except when I check for Selenas) and as their slogan goes, is "diverse music for a diverse city." Anyone and anything from Beach House to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to the Magnetic Zeros, The Shins, Jamie Cullum, Bob Dylan, She & Him (Zooey Deschanel's group), Bebel Gilberto . . . you get the idea. Eclectic. I can just feel my ears getting smarter. They will probably now require fancier earrings to go along with their upgraded education.

Some delights? Every weekday at 5:00 PM is the Five O'Clock Shadow, where two different artist renditions of the same song are played back to back. Weeknights from 6 - 8 feature new music from around the world. You hear something you like but don't know it? Check the Daily Playlist online. And the best part of all? NO COMMERCIALS. It is a non-profit station dedicated to bringing good music, and completely reliant on the support of local businesses and listeners.

Want to check it out for yourself? (Warning: you may get addicted.) They stream live all day. Visit Radio Milwaukee at:

And tell 'em I sent ya!


Sewing for Kindergarteners

I am going to have to take this sewing class three times over to feel somewhat comfortable with my machine. However, after only four hours of class time, I finally finished my pillow. Ta da!
Before you get ahead of yourself thinking it looks professional and I should probably start selling them for 500 a pop (a steal, really), you have yet to observe the 2-3 rows of stitching on one seam. Along with several loose pivot stitches, chalk marks on one corner and the fact that I could not follow my own centerpoint (marked on the inside and compensated for by moving the overlap) because cutting the dang fabric was . . . not a straight situation, let's just say. As in, I've got work to do.
The backside, or butt, if you will.
As you can see, the pillow slides into the back (nevermind those unironed bed sheets - I just can't bring myself to iron a dang bed! Where is a maid when you need one). The fabric was from Calico Corners and is a heavy-weight canvas with fringing details. I plan to make a few more of these for our bed and the guest room in coordinating patterns and colors (that way I can swap them all around when I get bored). It's not shopping when it's homework, Jon!

Pillow number one down.


Currently Insane Old Man

is chasing and cursing a college student with guitar pack on his shoulders down my street while swearing and gesturing profusely. 

Shite! ZZ Top is now walking back to his car . . . parked directly in front of my desk window, and subsequently my face pressed up to the glass. Just had to hit the carpet next to Houston, to avoid eye contact with I Know What You Did Last Summer. 

He just drove off. Situation stabilized. Good times, and not even 9 AM.


Letterpress Lesbian

All right, I don't know if letterpress is a chick, but if it is, call me a lesbian. I love the stuff. For my wedding, it was the most important and fun element to plan. I spent weeks designing my own invitations, which, coincidentally, I have now framed.

For my unnumbered birthday this year, recent bride Sam gave me a set of 25 custom letterpress notes from Pigweed Press. Here is what I concocted:

Adorable package arriving:
Note cards!
Zoom of the script. Font is a charcoal color, envelopes are apple green.
Hmm, who will be the lucky soul to receive the first of these darling notes? 

And if you don't think I'm considering mailing something to myself, you don't know me that well.


Jayson v. Custom

Remember this Jayson Home & Garden sofa that I was loving?

Check out its inexpensive twin, via Copy Cat Chic:

A few more from Custom Sofa Design -

Love the nailhead swags and turned legs on the Elodie for $799 (all prices listed for grade 1 fabrics):
Clean, mid-century lines of Ariana for $599:
Traditional Winfred for just $699:
Masculine Ambre for $699:
All photos via

You can add skirts and piping, swap steel or wood legs, change pillow filling, and even select the stitch style you'd lilke. Though you most often get what you pay for, these are incredibly stylized sofas for mere pennies (as far as furniture goes). 

Anyone ever purchased here? Thoughts?


Boston Bound

Off to my dear college friend, Sam's, wedding in Boston! I'll be straight up honest with you - no posts 'til next week. Instead I shall be visiting with my friends Red Wine and Champagne while mingling with Dance Floor and flirting with Bad Decisions, Hangover and Gin-Is-A-No-No.

Here is Sam and almost-husband Austin's cat-child, Rugby. To say he is a piece of work is similar to saying I tolerate Mexican food, and only when broccoli isn't an option.
He is sleeping on the photocopier. With his head in the paper tray. Amazing.

Always A Teenager

Here's what I've been up to for the past four days. The front hall's former life involved a mixture of "warm cream" (ahem, light peach) and white paints in various, mismatched locations, courtesy of the previous owners. Why yes, we have lived here almost 10 years, you say. But these people had so much Victorian crap all over the joint, the peach was a welcome leftover in comparison to the lavender damask wallpaper. In the living room.

Old entrance hallway:
You are correct, I am dressed as an Amish woman, albeit one with a penchant for zebra stripes. Those dang window panes took forever to sand, paint and scrape. Its evil twin is at my back. Cuz there were two. No good deed goes unpunished. Whoever said that probably offered to paint a friend's house.

Emily sanding:
And ta-da! The new and improved entrance:
Coral door, white walls and trim, with a pale 'Martha Stewart' blue ceiling (the pediment molding above the door - not original, from the previous owners, again - is not blue, its a shadow). A close-up of the interior side of the door - the exterior is black. A nice little surprise when you enter!
The light fixture, a mercury-glass star and the pale blue ceiling:
The old-school stairs leading up to the second floor - still awaiting touchups in black. Check out the wonky doors:
So, almost finished. We were meant to paint gray vertical stripes along the back stair wall, going up into the second floor hallway (those along the back are simply shadows from the balusters).

Guess I have some homework now. God! It's like I'm 15 all over again! I'll just go ahead and procrastinate on this one like I did, semi-professionally, as a teenager.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thanks for everything you've done to take care of us.

Like taking three odd children under the age of four to the zoo. I'm cranky and clearly regretting having a photo taken at this hour of the day, Emily looks terrified by? the cars in the parking lot? an animal escapee?, and Jeb - well, he's just missing a beer bottle and a bag of potato chips.
Happy birthday! Make a scene!

xoxo, DAJEJEN + Houston

P.S. Turns out I was sweating profusely at the ripe old age of 3.5,which should come as a shock to no one who knows me. Jon, this is why I have to sleep with a fan!


Shoe Steal #2

My old favorite flip flops - J. Crew Leather Capri Sandals for $49.50:
Old Navy Faux Leather Thong Sandals for $9.50:
Guess which ones I've been wearing on my feet for the past week.
And where everyone thought I bought them.

Get 'em while you can!

Red-Headed Stepchild

In typical fashion, I came home to my parent's house in Rehoboth for the funeral, assessed the interior design situation and declared that something had to be done. Repainting the front and back halls, to be exact.

A little background - my parents live in a farmhouse built in the mid-1700s (after the original property was burned down by a local Native American tribe during King Philip's War - the local chief's 'white man' name - with the colonists). Paint on the walls is the least of anyone's concerns. Uneven floorboards, slanted ceilings, a complete lack of hallways (meaning one must walk through a bedroom to get to the bathroom - really super when your Dad visits the restroom minimum twice per night), tiny bedrooms - charm my parents love, but that also has its . . . quirks.

Such as three layers of paint in differing shades ranging from cream to bright white to dirt.

So I hit Home Depot with my mother and siblings where Mom picks the paint colors and we get the gear. Sanding down the old paint begins in the front hallway.

Hah. Reality punches me in the face in the form of lead-filled paint dust (which Emily, clad in a windbreaker, snow hat and ski goggles, has smartly prepared herself for). The trim alone has taken a full day (damn you wee colonists and your little, odd-shaped doors!). The back staircase hallway now forgotten like a red-headed stepchild, I curse myself, ye olde builders and the horrendous taste of the people before us.

What I had originally hoped would take a day in a half is now guaranteed to be 3.5. Minimum. I have only myself to blame.


Happy Birthday, Una!

Now 29. Cheers to the day when my dear husband was born! Bring on the presents and cake!

And 365 days to 30. Ha ha!


Back to the East Coast

and most likely won't post for the next few days. Here is my grandmother's obituary, short and to the point (like she was, with love):

 'BETTY', 92, a longtime Jamestown resident died Tuesday. Shewas the wife of the late Max. G. Allen. Betty was a graduate of Brown 
University and served as a Lieutenant JG in the Navy in World War II. 
She leaves her children, Deborah Allen, Jane Barrett, Elisabeth LeFort 
and Michael Allen and 12 grandchildren. She was mother of the late Mark 
Allen and grandmother of the late Matthew Allen.

The funeral and burial will be private. A celebration of her life will be held 

during the summer. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to  
Conanicut Island Land Trust or to St. Elizabeth Home, One St. Elizabeth Way, 
East Greenwich, RI 02818. Condolences may be left at


Elisabeth Crowley Allen, 1917 - 2010

My grandmother Bama passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 92.5. She had a long life and has been in deteriorating health for the past two years, so it was ultimately the better, but sad, way for her.

Man, she had great hair. Below is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding - Jon speaking with Bama and my other grandmother, Meems, just before the ceremony. Bama was, oh, 4' 10" on a good day. (And Meems is about 5' 6" - apparently all in the legs). Let's just say Bama's personality rendered her a good deal taller than that.

She was the lady in charge (and she really loved Jon). She will be missed dearly.

Photo from



Hello J. Crew! I had to take a break from Jenna Lyons-land for a short while because everything, and everyone, were starting to look the same. But I am back! And my arm is ready for some candy:
Jericho Hobo for $238.00

Canvas Overnight Bag for $36.50
Flutter Flower Clutch for $128.00

 And this beauty shown in the J. Crew Collection lookbook for summer.

I say yes!

All photos via


And The Doody-Ball Teeth Return

A few weeks back I had to get an older filling replaced that had broken. Which I did. And then the pain got ten times worse. Today I finally had my appointment at a new, much more modern dentist office. (The old one stood the entire time he "fixed" my tooth, all the while warning me that if something hurt, I should let him know and he'd go ahead and re-anesthetize that region. In case he hadn't given me enough for the drilling.) Since I've been popping Advil every 8 hours for the past month to deal with the throbbing pain in my upper left gums post-filling, I pretty much assumed I would be getting a root canal. 


Turns out that tooth is the least of my worries and after being shaved down so that I don't put all of my biting pressure on it, it's on hold. Two other problem teeth showed their evil roots. First, a teenage-era filling in a tooth that once actually cracked in pieces - that one is now an immediate crown emergency. Unless I'd like to wait for it to break again and be out of a tooth completely.

Let's gamble on that one!
And no.

The second a-hole is the fault of a dentist many years ago who put a silver filling behind my top front left tooth. Which my young female dentist informed me would eventually SHOW THROUGH MY TOOTH. 

As in - you've got food on your tooth, ma'am.
Oh, THAT. That's permanent. My dentist recommended it!

So nevermind the throbbing pain that shoots up my cheek, let's just deal with the tooth that may or may not survive the next few weeks and doesn't hurt a bit, as well as the looming pirate-inspired BLACK FRONT TOOTH.

A Bad Development

An unfortunate recent discovery: Dairy Queen. 

Yes, we have these on the East Coast, but TCBY was closer, "healthier," and well, I never went to one. [Upon finding a Dairy Queen in the mall food court - I realize there are many things wrong with that sentence, but this is the Midwest, people! - I asked the cashier if they had low fat ice cream. To which she replied, "I . . . think . . . it's low fat." Believed that! Almost handed her an Oscar right there. Not.]

This first trip turned into three visits in the last 10 days. Here is Jon on Saturday, jealous of my solo ice cream delights, sampling his first Blizzard in years.

And here is the current ad campaign for Dairy Queen:

Clearly a bad development for both of us. On the plus side, the M&M Blizzard is tremendous. Una went for the May special - Caramel Brownie, with Reese's Peanut Butter cups thrown in for good measure. 

And we wonder why we've added near 10% to our New York weight? 

No, we do not wonder at all.

P.S. Lovely floor tiles in the DQ. Not.

P.P.S. Bringing the not back. Happening.


As We Say In My Family

White rabbit!

(Or good luck on the first of every month.)