Saturday, March 31, 2012

DIY: Nightstand Revamp

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I moved up to DC with only 2 suitcases and have eventually brought the rest of my stuff (as long as it fit my my Jetta) so I have been lacking furniture for the past year. I spent 4 months sleeping on an air mattress! I know. But now that I have a real bed, I needed a real nightstand. After numerous trips to ikea, target, and a few more "expensive" furniture shops I decided I needed to DIY something to get the look I wanted. I trolled craigslist for a few days, and found this baby for a STEAL.  
What do you think? It's a beautiful solid wood piece, and I wanted something basic (and small) for my bedside table. I love that it has this cubby to display books, baskets, trinkets or whatever else I would want, and still has a drawer (which is currently housing lots of papers). So I thought about this for a while... How should I paint it? My room is painted grey with white bedding and pink curtains. Since I'm obsessed with my grey walls, and I love the monochromatic look I decided to save some $$ and paint it the same color as my walls. I also I wanted something that would blend nicely, but would still work with a new color scheme should I chose to change it in the future. I also decided to tackle a stencil. I realize it was a tad ambitious as my first project, but hey when I was 8 my mom and I re-did an antique dresser for my room. We painted it white with an antique pink for the handles. THEN when I was 14 we spray painted the handles silver... so it's not exactly my first attempt at re-doing antique furniture. I attempted to take pictures all the way through, but I missed a few steps so I apologize and please just use your imagination.

Once I settled on a color scheme it was time to execute it. But... one problem. I live in a small apartment, no porch, no garage, nothing but a sidewalk to paint on. So spray paint was out. Then I decided I didn't want to invest in any industrial sanders, so what to do? Oil-based primer my friend. Yes. Not only didn't I not have to sand the piece, but the primer was so thick the application with a brush created these lines similar to wood grain. Love it.
One coat wasn't quite enough to cover the dark color, and while I'm sure it would have been fine, it really didn't require that much paint, so here's coat #2.
Background information. I have a black and white damask bedspread. I love all things black and white damask. like... LOVE. I was going to attempt a damask flower on top, but couldn't find a good stencil and decided it was too difficult. So, what to do? After searching blogs and blogs for stencils, I finally decided on a fleur de lis. I work for a Louisiana company now, so why not? Let me tell you, thank god I did something simple, because this part was HORRIBLE. as opposed to creating a stencil, I simply cut out the shape, traced it, then taped over that (the worst part), then painted over the whole thing, peel off the tape. Done. Thankfully it turned out well, and I only had to do some minor touch ups.

Time for the big reveal... are you ready?


So cute right? I am planning on spray painting the handle white, but haven't gotten a chance to get back to home depot. What do you think???? I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Friday, March 30, 2012

{Friday Cocktail} Fancy Gin Cocktail

If you read my post from earlier you know that I have been in need of several yummy cocktails lately. Last night my roommate KJ and I headed to a local bar/coffee shop/restaurant in our hipster-hood called The Big Bear Cafe. Each of us selected a yummy sounding cocktail from their list of hand crafted concoctions. I ordered what Big Bear deems the "Fancy Gin Cocktail" It was SO good. If y'all live in DC you need to seek out this joint and treat yourself. For anyone else, you need to make this at home!

In a shaker muddle 1.5 oz Genever with some orange peel and 1 tsp cane sugar. Add 3 shakes of aromatic bitters and top off with ice. Enjoy!

If you try one let me know what you think! Hope y'all have a great weekend! I'm heading to Williamsburg, VA for some much needed R and R.

Thank God For Fridays

I mean really. This has just been one of those ridiculous weeks, and I am so glad its coming to an end. Work continues to be just... you know what I mean? I'm dealing with some BS on the home front and then there is the small matter of my car.  Let me tell you the story.

I park my car behind my row house in a small spot. Its "secured" by a gate but I use the term secured very loosely. So Tuesday morning I'm walking out the door to get in the car, turn it on and it wont start. great. my six year old Jetta with 47,000 miles is not starting. Must be the battery right? Okay, fine. I had a hectic morning on the Hill tuesday so I raced off to the metro and to the House side. Wednesday night I called  my roadside assistance to come jump it for me. Nothing. It's not the battery. GREAT. So, called for a tow truck to come take her away to some garage in town. Get a call from the garage yesterday its going to be $375 because there's a hole in the firewall and some frayed wires or something. Okay. fine. That's honestly not as bad as I was expecting. I go walk over to the garage (25 mins away) during my lunch hour to pick it up. Andy, your friendly neighborhood Asian mechanic (it was Chinatown so what else would you expect) promptly notified me I need to find a new place to park my car. RATS have decided to take up residence in my engine.

Let that sink in a minute.

RATS were living in my car. I'm disgusted, furious, and to the point of hysterics that I start laughing. The rats have apparently been eating the wiring in my car.

So I drive away, in shock at the absurdity of all of this. THEN I notice a new light has come on my dashboard. I call Andy and he tells me to come back. They have to do MORE work to fix whatever this other light is.

NOW I'm out $700 because a few rats decided they were hungry. Bitches. I mean really. I hate them. Plus I have to switch my plates and insurance over to DC where its MUCH more expensive than Arkansas (where my car is currently registered) so I can park on the street. Wonderful.

When is that vacation again?

HOPEFULLY all will go well today and the car will be done today, because I plan to get the heck out of dodge and head to visit my bff/grandma and her husband.

I have a fun post scheduled for tomorrow. Hope y'all all had a better week than me! Here's to Friday. I'll post a cocktail recipe soon!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Politics v. Policy

So far in my professional experience I've discovered that there are two kinds of people in the business of politics. There are those who love the game, the strategy, the posturing and the power, and those who love the policy. I love to watch the game, but I'm more concerned with the policy side. As of late the biggest policy issue on peoples minds is Healthcare Reform. March 23, 2010 the House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) aka healthcare reform aka Obamacare. I hope you all looked at that date, TWO YEARS AGO, and and the same reaction as I often do: health care reform is done, for now. The House repealed it in January 2011, there is no way the Senate will do the same in this Congress or any Congress in the foreseeable future for that matter. So why are we still fussing about it? Can't we focus on policies that need to be tackled NOW. Energy security? Increasing poverty? Tax Reform? that pesky nation debt that keeps getting bigger? Oops. No. Sorry, we still want to keep up this anti- political rhetoric that raises ratings and sells books. It just infuriates me the crap that people are able to get away with these days.

This week in in Washington all eyes are on the Supreme Court as they hear arguments in the Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida, aka the Heath care Reform Law. Today wraps up the final day of arguments and based on the media coverage I've seen the individual mandate part of the law seems to be in jeopardy of being overturned. Now, if the individual mandate is deemed unconstitutional that does not necessarily mean the whole law is nullified, but there is really no point in speculating. A decision will be made in time. However, you just have to flip your TV to the three networks to see the absurd spin going on right now. Just for kicks I started my day with MSNBC this morning. According to them, Justice Kennedy (the so-called swing vote) is going to support the individual mandate and vote to uphold the law. Then I switched to CNN's coverage, without hesitation their reporters are saying the mandate will surely be overturned and the law might go with it. Then I checked out fox. Ohhhh Fox. You bring me endless joy with your blatantly obvious pandering to the right. I mean  COME ON, I know people tune in to hear the rhetoric that they want to hear, but jeez. SO BLATANTLY BIASED. Fox is saying the law is going down in burning flames, this is the end of the President, he will lose horribly in November, and this is the new coming of the Tea Party Republican Movement. I'm not arguing that MSNBC isn't biased towards the left, believe me it is, but Fox's reports are so extreme they boarder on lies. Where is your journalistic integrity? You are supposed to be reporting the truth, not fostering hatred towards Americans of different opinions. I believe that one of the main tenants of the Constitution that makes our country is the fact we have the freedom to disagree. You don't have to like what I believe, but you have to respect that I believe it. Honestly, I'll respect your beliefs. We can agree to disagree, REALLY.

Okay, I've got to reel it back in. I could just get on a political tangent for hours, but back to the topic of the day.  Politics is the gesturing that gets people riled up (see my rant above), its playing a game, its the constant struggle for power, fame and money. Policy is usually what goes on behind the scenes: working with issue experts to try and improve the lives of an effected group through legislation. But all too often politics gets wrapped up in policy negotiations, and in the example of the heathcare reform of 2010 politics ended up muddling the bill and reduced the effectiveness of the policy. If you can take one thing away from this rant I hope its this:

Hate the Game. Not the player.

Oh How Pinteresting

I'm linking up with Michelle from The Vinage Apple for

I love Pinterest FAR too much. It's such an amazing time sucker. Love it, here are some of my favorite finds

Oh to dream.... God I love Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beauty Tuesday: Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

So, last week I talked about my new favorite lip product: Tarte's LipStain. But I'm all about mixing high end products with drug store ones, because lets be honest who can afford to buy EVERYTHING that you need at Sephora? Not this gal.

If you are in the market for something less expensive, that gives a good pop of color, lots of shine (but not sticky) and makes your lips feel super soft you need to check out Revlon's Lip Butter product.
I was first introduced to this a few months ago by my favorite YouTube Beauty Guru: Emily of Beauty Broadcast. *Side note, if you haven't discovered beauty guru's on YouTube get on it asap, it will become addicting, promise. Emily just RAVED about these and how wonderful all the colors are and how awesome they make your lips feels, so I knew for $5 it was something I needed to try.

One day I was at Target checking out and sitting in the bottom of my cart was a tube of peach parfait Lip Butter. I swear it was fate. I searched the aisles of the beauty department and couldn't find Lip Butters ANYWHERE, but some how this perfect color ended up in my cart. It's been true love ever since.

I've tried several colors now, because as you know I have an obsession with lipstick, but my favorite is Cherry Tart.

Its the perfect red for every day. It's definitely a statement, but as someone who is a little afraid of BRIGHT lip colors this is great.

I'm always on the hunt for new products, do you have any suggestions of things I can try?

Obsessed: Black and White Stripes

I've had a ridiculous morning, ugh.  so in an effort to make myself feel better i'm posting some of my recent pinterest finds. I'm obsessing over black and white stripes lately, especially with grey walls. So clean and simple but extremely elegant too...

Are you loving black and white stripes for your home too?

Monday, March 26, 2012

{DIY Project} Bottle Cap Art

Good Morning, Happy Monday. Again. This past weekend was one of those wonderful weekends were I slept in, didn't really do anything of note, and just relaxed. It was glorious, but I feel rundown and tired this morning, and even two cups of coffee isn't helping. annoying.
Friday night we had a few friends over to watch basketball. I am picked the Kentucky Wildcats (go SEC!) to win over UNC by 4, but UNC is out now. boo. I went to bed at 11. It was amazing.

Saturday I attempted to get up early and go to Yoga, but it was raining and grey and my bed was so warm and I really just wanted to sleep... so... I stayed in bed until 11. Then I got up and let the spring cleaning began! I have to say, we were moderately successful, but we may have to do a spring cleaning round 2. We mopped, Windex'd, dusted, rearranged and threw away a lot of random crap, but I still feel like our house is cluttered. I guess I'm just going to have to deal since I have roommates, but all the STUFF everywhere just stresses me out. Do y'all ever get that way? My roommate KJ and I have a theory that our stress stems from the "study abroad" syndrome, aka, when you have to pack your entire life into 1 suitcase for 4 months, you learn how to not need all the "stuff" and it stresses you out to hold on to unnecessary items because they're only going to slow you down when you move on. But I digress.

After a few hours of cleaning we reached a stopping point and I decided it was finally time to tackle a DIY project 9+ months in the making. I present to you bottle cap art:

Last year I made some wine cork initials (I'll show you that another time). Since we are three young ladies who like to partake in a cocktail or two every now and again we have these bottle caps that just show up on our bar. Being the crafty person I am I got to thinking what I can do with them... First I was going to flatten them and cover our freecycled coffee table, but I tried hammering 1 bottle cap and decided it was more work than it was worth. Then I was going to make a wind chime or something like that but again... too much effort. So this was the next step. Glue a bunch of bottle caps to a board and put it in a frame. PERFECT! I am beyond thrilled about it and love how colorful and fun it is.

What do you think of the final product? I am obsessed with it. For real. It was so easy to make, but took a while to generate all the bottle caps, but if you're looking for some fun DIY art I highly recommend it. PLUS besides all the beer, this was a really inexpensive project to make. Here's what I used
  • Find a frame you like (mine was from Michael's AS-IS frame section) $8
  • 1 sheet of foam board cut to size, $2.50
  • Spray paint the foam board (I used some grey paint I had on hand) free
  • Put your bottle caps down and decide if you want to use any kind of pattern (I went for a somewhat random color pattern)
  • Put hot glue on the rim of the bottle cap and start gluing in one corner and work your way out
  • Have fun with it!
Hope y'all like this, it was really fun to put together and I adore how it looks in my kitchen with my other alcohol themed art. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

{Friday Cocktail} The Cherry Blossom-tini

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom here in DC and the annual cherry blossom festival gets started this weekend!!! With the Cherry Blossom Festival starts the annual tourist season in DC. While I love living in a city where people want to come visit (only confirming how awesome DC is),  I hate all the traffic, noise and general congestion that comes with them. But I digress. It's FRIDAY!!!

I found this yummy looking cocktail over on A Glossy Life and I just HAD to share it with you. Enjoy :)
  • 1 part cherry brandy
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1/2 part grenadine
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • Cherry and assorted berries for garnish
What do you have planned for the weekend? Anything exciting?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Birchbox Find: Tarte Lip Stain Pencil

I have another confession. I'm in a long term love affair with several lip glosses. I am constantly buying them because I'm constantly "losing them" aka they end up at my desk at work and then I forget about them... For example.

Yah. I know. I have more at work than I do at home though.

They also live in my purse, where they seem to multiply.

and my car.

and my vanity (where they're supposed to live).

But I have new love who I want to introduce you to. 

This is the Tarte Lip Stain Pencil with LipSurgence. This baby came to me via my march Birchbox. If you've never heard of Birchbox you need to get on it ASAP. My bff LoPro aka the Lawfully Wedded Wife  gave me a subscription last year for my birthday and it's one of the best presents I've ever gotten (that wasn't jewelry or a car). I've been on it for almost a year now, and my Teen Vogue box this March was quite possibly the best one to date. I got a full size Essie sparkly pink polish, a set of oil blotting papers (LOVE), some fun hair ties by, a perfume sample and a full size Tarte Lip Stain Pencil with LipSurgence in joy.
I was a little hesitant about the color, because it looks VERY corally orange. I'm not a huge fan of orange lips, but it goes on beautifully and is a perfect bright pinky-coral. The texture is amazing, so soft and smooth and it smells good too :)

It goes on shiny, so you don't need any gloss. But I think the best part is it is actually a Lip stain so the color stays on for hours once the shine disappears.

It does need to be re applied after a meal, but what lip color doesn't? The color definitely makes it through a cup of coffee though, and that's a HUGE deal to me. Its a tad on the pricey side, but I promise I really think its worth it.

Have you tried the Tarte LipStain line yet? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Politics 101: Why I Love the Game

So... I live in D.C. I work in politics. I've been a Hill Staffer. I've run a PAC. I've been following Presidential elections, watching conventions, wearing t-shirts and buying buttons since Clinton won in '92 (I kid you not, and yes I was 4). I had a election watch party in 2006 in my freshman dorm at UGA, I was a fervant follower of the 2008 Presidential election while I was in Spain. If it's possible I watched the 2010 election with an even closer eye. I can recognize and name every member of the US Senate, Supreme Court, probably about 40+% of the House Members, most of the cabinet members and even some of the White House staff. Yes I have a problem. I am well aware that I am a nerd. To me D.C. is like Hollywood, but with smart people (DC is often called Hollywood for the ugly, and its probably true) I love seeing these "celebrities" everywhere you go. So... now you have a little back ground on my obsession with politics.

While I am obsessed with every aspect of the political game, I do not approve of the partisan crap that's going on across Capitol Hill and all over the country. I hate that we've gotten stuck in this intensely partisan atmosphere, and unfortunately there's no one to blame. Well... that's not entirely true, there is a LOT of blame to go around: the 24 hour news cycle, self interested politicians, social media, campaign finance laws or rather the lack there of and the rise of the "talking head" politicos that just seem to pop up everywhere. But, I digress.

I love Congress. Yes. I said it. I don't approve of Congress, but I do love it. I love what Congress represents: a group of citizens coming together in the best form of democracy to represent their home towns and improve the lives of their friends and neighbors. But that's not what Congress is any more, and unfortunately I don't know how we get back there. Congress was created by the Constitution as one of the three branches of government. It is the branch most closely related to the people. Congress truly is "by the people for the people." I'm fascinated by the Constitution and the many checks and balances it created, and I'm so proud to live in a country where our founding fathers had such ideals and foresight to create this amazing document. You as an individual citizen can create change across the country. Look at the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, even prohibition. These regular citizens got together at the grassroots level to improve the country for the better (Obviously I'm not a huge fan of the whole no alcohol prohibition thing, but still they got a constitutional amendment, pretty impressive).

Honestly I could write about it forever, but I know you don't want to hear my ramblings about why the US government is so great. But this is why I love the game that is politics. I appreciate the fact that I, as a private citizen, can create great changes across the country.

But if you've watched the news lately, read a paper or maybe gave $ to Colbert's SuperPAC you know the game is broken. But we can talk about that another day...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beauty Tuesdays: Getting the Skin you want

So I have a confession. I am addicted to make up. I blame my bff the Lawfully Wedded Wife. It started YEARS ago when we visited the Clinique counter one fateful trip to Lenox Mall in Atlanta. But during my brief unemployment last year my addiction was re-triggered with the discovery of YouTube Make up gurus. I have to say in the last year I've learned A LOT about make up, different techniques, what works for my skin and what doesn't. I do not claim to be a beauty expert or guru in any way whatsoever, but I can say that I know what I like and what I don't. I'm going to share some of those products on here with you.

The most important thing to having flawless makeup is having flawless skin. Let me start by telling you a little bit of my ongoing battle with my skin. I am very fair. I wouldn't be surprised if I got a sunburn at night. On top of that I've battled acne, SERIOUS acne for most of my teens and well into college. I still don't have it completely under control, but its getting there. I've done it all, from Pro-Active to Accutane, so I feel like I can give you some pretty solid advice here ladies. But I do want to say, this is what I've discovered works best for my fair and sensitive skin, this routine may not work for you.

1. You NEED to WASH YOUR FACE. I know, beyond obvious. Seriously though, in the morning and at night. I switch up my products based on the time of year, what my skin has been doing of late etc.
2. Exfoliate. I use a daily exfoliant by Dermatologica which I LOVE, but if I feel like I really need a scrub I use my St. Ives.

3. You Need  to Moisturize. I don't care if you have super oily skin, if you have horrible breakouts, or if you just like the tight feeling your skin gets after you wash it. If you don't moisturize your skin will freak out and produce more oil to compensate... leaving you shiny and more likely to breakout. I tend to look cakey if I layer too many products on my face, so I'm trying out tinted moisturizer and mixing my fuller coverage foundation with my sunscreen and moisturizer... so far so good.

It seems that spring is finally here for good, but before you run out into the sun (like we all do) PLEASE put on some sunscreen. Skin cancer and wrinkles are SO not worth the bronzed glow now. ESPECIALLY considering all the amazing bronzers and self tanners on the market now a days. I promise, you will thank yourself later. Or you could just be cool like me, wear a hat and like SPF 85 whenever you go out... I'm just saying... its a pretty cool look.

Do y'all have any suggestions as to how I can improve my routine?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Monday

So... I'm still trying to figure out what to talk about on this blog. Should I do make up Mondays? or just talk about what I did all weekend? oh.. or maybe a recipe? I'm still not sure, but for today I'm going to give you a weekend recap, because it was pretty awesome.

Friday I got to leave work a little early (a whole 45 minutes) and went to a MARCH MADNESS party with some of my old co-workers. It was pretty awesome, but probably would have been better had I had any allegiance to the teams playing (Missouri and Norfolk St.), but it was an epic game, and the beginning of a series of major upsets that killed my bracket (Kentucky is my final pick, go SEC!). After a few complimentary beverages I headed home to get ready to hit the town. My roommie KJ had a few friends visiting her for the weekend so once they got home and dropped their stuff we headed out for dinner and a few cocktails at Oyamel. If you have ever met me you know that I am obsessed with Top Chef. Honestly, one of my favorite things about living in DC is being able to hit up all the restaurants of the Top Chef Alum. Jose Andres is a former Top Chef Master's contestant, frequent Judge on Top Chef and employer of sever Top Chef Alum. He's the 2011 James Beard Award Winner for best chef, and his from Spain so I love him. Jose Andres owns several of DC's finest restaurants Oyamel being one of the best. It was my first time there, but I am sure to return.

On St. Patty's Day I had the highlight of my weekend (not really but it is my favorite thing to do ever) and stayed in bed until NOON. It was wonderful. I spent the rest of the day outside eating lunch, playing in the garden, etc. Then it was time for the real festivities to begin. I met a few friends at Lola's, my new favorite bar. We quickly be-friended the wonderful bartenders David and Adam, and drank Black and Tan's, Guinness and Jameson for the rest of the night. Sorry I didn't take more pictures... but it's probably better that I don't put any incriminating evidence of my debaucherous ways on the Internet.

Sunday I played in the garden some more (It's still a work in progress so I'll do a post later). Did some spring cleaning, and drank one GIANT diet coke to kill the Guinness headache.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, I just hope these mild spring temps continue. How was your weekend? Get into anything fun on St. Patty's Day?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Here's to the Weekend

Happy St. Patrick's Day Eve! I want to celebrate Fridays by posting a cocktail recipe to help you get your weekend started. In honor of my favorite drinking holiday I am going to post my favorite Irish cocktail. I was doing some googling this morning to find you all some kind of green drink and stumbled upon this recipe, who knew my favorite drink (at least this week) had a name. I present to you the Irish Buck.

The Whiskey Buck
  • Take 1.5 oz or 1 shot of good Irish Whiskey (I prefer Jameson, soley for the fact I toured the Jameson factory when I was in Dublin)
  • Pour over ice in a Tom Collins glass
  • Top with 2 oz of gingerale
  • Garnish with fresh lime wedge
Enjoy! Hope you have a great St. Patty's day weekend! I will be drinking a few of these on Saturday I'm sure. Plus the Cherry Blossoms are peaking on Sunday, so you will find me on the mall with 20 million tourists!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Blue Dog Belle Blog is Born

Hello everyone out in the blogosphere. After almost two and a half years of on and off blogging I've decided to officially rejoin the blogging world with a clean slate. I've been thinking about blue dog belle for a while now, and I'm glad we are officially launching!

Blue Dog Belle is a play on words to represent me, that's what blogs are for right? I'm a blue eyed blonde southern girl from Georgia aka a "blue eyed belle." But I'm living in Washington, DC trying to get my foot in the door as a real life political insider. I consider myself a Blue Dog Democrat. So that's where The Blue Dog Belle came from.

I don't want this to be a serious blog. But I do want to talk about what's important to me, be it make-up or politics, we are going to discuss it all. Thank you for visiting, and I hope to see you soon!

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