10 December 2014

Buy Yourself Sh*t for Christmas x Warby Parker's New Collection

I'm a big fan of the treat yo' self camp.
It's your birthday? Treat yo' self to a Big Mac and a cashmere scarf.
It's your Christmas? Treat yourself to satin sleep mask and a box of those Whole Food sea salt dark chocolates with salt on top.
It's Valentine's Day? Eat a steak and buy yourself a bunch of jewelry from etsy.
St. patrick's Day and you're kiiiinda Irish? Well, you deserve a new OPI polish and some fancy wine (and by fancy I of course mean anything more than $10).

So Christmas is approaching and I have been finished shopping for everyone since before Thanksgiving. But. Seeing as I have been living in the cold, dark, post-office-less Russia, I haven't been internet shopping in ages. I can splurge a little, can't I? Do you guys buy yourself gifts? If so, what do you usually go for (food or things? Is it terrible that I usually do a bit of both?)

The folks at Warby Parker recently got in touch with me and asked if I would help share the news of their new Concentric Collection. On top of the collection being filled with light and delicate glasses, they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that is purchased (and Christmas is about a time of doing good deeds too!).

They sent me some pictures to take a look at and I thought I would share them and encourage you to splurge on yourself a bit.


I knew a girl in college who wore clear glasses. She had a really cool name and a punch of stick and poke tattoos that had no meaning behind them. She smoked hand rolled cigarettes (because chemicals) and worked at a farm-to-table restaurant. We went to a small school so I couldn't totally copy her style, but I really wanted to bum her glasses and read comic books in the quad.



When I first saw these I wanted to roll my eyes and give it a 'whatever' because sunglasses are kind of overdone to begin with it, am I right (and I say this with love because I literally always wear sunglasses)? But I like how these are kind of sci-fi and I feel like you could definitely convince a drunk baseball bro in his college frat shirt that you were from the future if you were just wearing these babies. 



Like Seth Cohen would know who you are in these.



These glasses are so Hollywood. You can roll out of bed with a white wine hangover, throw these on, grab your Balenciaga and buy a bagel, or slide them on when you're cruising down the highway in your vintage convertible on your way to go surfing. You'll look cool and chic either way.
*I want these babies*


So there you have it. 
What are your trademark 4-eyes? What'd you buy yourself for Christmas?

Are you freaking that the new Serial comes out tomorrow and we'll finally know if Adnan is a psychopath or not?!



29 November 2014

Wedding Inspo// Wedding Cake

The third installation of my wedding inspiration series. Check out my other posts on dresses and flowers

So again, I'm drawn to focuses on flower, nature, minimalism. I think the big, fondant covered wedding cake isn't for me, and I'm really drawn to the "dessert table" option I've seen on a lot of wedding blogs. I think more and more people are choosing cupcakes and multiple pies over the classic, ninety-tiered, gazzilion dollar cake, and I have to say that I like that option much more. 

Again, to each their own, but baking is a big part of mine and Ben's relationship and I'd almost prefer to bake the cakes ourselves or at least have a few different options of our favorite cakes and pies than just pick one flavor.  

Found here

I think this is the most beautiful cake in the world. The waterfall of peonies! I want to die.

Found here

This cake is so beautiful it looked like it just emerged from Neverland or something. Just came right up out of the ground.

Found here

I don't know what this is, but I know I want to eat it. 
It's like a desert, winter wedding cake all at the same time. 
Like a cake for sand-fairies.

Found here

Though the glaze on that cake makes my teeth hurt, I love the Kinfolk-ness of it all. I think I like the visual aesthetic, though if we decide to get married in the cornfield-venue, I don't know how the tree bark will fit in.
I like the lack of frosting for some reason.



Any of you already-married peeps do the multiple cake thing? Did you bake yourselves or if you didn't how'd you pick the baker? Did anyone just say screw it and do something completely different? Let me know!

25 November 2014

Lately...







Pictured
1. Get togethers with friends. Appreciating the time we all have left together. 
2. My friend Nick and I finished one of those impossible puzzles... with the help of YouTube (but in our defense, we have been working on that puzzle for months).
3. Ben and Sergey. Sergey was my first friend here. He's promised he's going to come to our wedding and I can't wait to show him America like he showed me Moscow. 
4. iPad-in
5. Bathroom selfie
6. Good-looking breakfast. 

Not Pictured
1. We've been going through our closets and drawers, deciding what should stay and what should go. I am in contact with a Filipino women's group and we're going to be donating a good chunk of our clothing, children's books (which we used for teaching), and odds and ends. I'm glad I'll be able to help out other expats who come to Russia looking for work.
2. L-O-T-S of excitement. Lots of nerves. I feel like we are constantly flipping between "yes, we're doing it! We're going home!" to "Oh my god, we have nothing prepared, what's going to happen?!" But it's good. A lot of good energy flowing through our house. 
3. Christmas! It's been a lot of fun to sit together on the couch, seeing what the other picked out for each other's family. I'm also super grateful that we are going to spend Christmas morning with my family and Ben is going to be able to meet some more of my relatives. I'm also looking forward to then jumping on a plane and heading out to New Hampshire. 
4. Planning a Thanksgiving dinner! We collected money from our friends and assigned duties to everyone--Ben and I are taking on the bulk of it because we love to cook, but I can't wait to see it all come together. 


*STOP READING NOW IF YOU ARE NOT CAUGHT UP WITH SERIAL*

5. And SERIAL. I loved reading all your comments. I knew you were my people!

Okay, but my theory has changed a lot with the latest episode. I'd say when I posted I was pretty much thinking that Adnan was a total psychopath and that SK was just being charmed by someone who couldn't admit what he had done. 
But here's my new theory: I think Jay did it and I think he did it with Jen, or maybe Jen knows, but definitely something is going on with Jen. I think he was cheating on Stephanie. I think Hae knew about it and was going to tell Stephanie (this was briefly mentioned when Adnan's lawyer was questioning Jay, but I think SK is going to delve into it a bit more later on). I think that gives Jay way more of a motive to kill Hae then Adnan being upset over a break-up weeks after they were finished. 

We know this was a two-person crime because of the car details and what not, but I think it was Jen who helped Jay and that's what she's refusing to talk about it, why her story changed in the beginning, why she came to the police station with a lawyer. She had something to hide from the beginning. He either told her, or she was there... I'm not sure about all that. 

So anyway, that's my current theory. What did you think about the latest episode? You flip-floppin too? Let me know. 

Also... I've been listening to Slate's podcast about Serial which I highly recommend. The AV Club has one too, but I don't like it as much and disagree with a lot of their theories. But here are the links if you're interested. 

23 November 2014

Leaving Moscow

Hi.

This is sort of a strange entry to write. I feel like for so long, I have been digging my feet further and further into the ground, growing out roots, feeling secure in where I was.
Not liking it, but feeling at least secure about it. Everything is about to change and it is going to change fast.

I have not liked Moscow for a long time. I felt bad about sharing that here because I know people come to my blog because they're interested in Moscow or Russia or expat life and I feel like by admitting I don't see very much good in here anymore, I've left something or someone down.

But I do not belong in Moscow any longer. I feel angry and resentful towards this city... towards it's people. It's a lot to explain (and I will write a post later on explaining more in depth about my decision), and I really want to move on from it, but I can't help the way I feel. I want out.

Ben and I were planning on leaving around the springtime. As we stood in the immigration line coming back from Moscow, he leaned onto me hard and whispered, "I hope our visas get rejected."
I pushed him off of me and stared at him.
"Don't say that! Why would you say that?"
He sighed and looked up at the ceiling.
"I just fucking can't go back."
Though I heard myself giving words of encouragement, I knew exactly how he felt. By the time we got home, we both confessed to the other how wrong Moscow was and how desperately we wanted to go home.

But we need to make money. The money to move back to Boston and start the next chapter of our lives.

We sat with our schedules, our calculators and our calendars and mapped out precisely how long it would take to make the proper amount of money we would need to start our new lives. It was a lot of money, but it wasn't impossible. We made great money! Four or five months tops.

And then the ruble crashed.

That great money we were making? Practically cut in half. Our landlords called and said they wanted to increase our rent. Our students started canceling lessons. We were hardly saving anything.

I called my mother in a total panic.

What. The. Fuck. Are. We. Going. To. Do.

She comforted me and told me she'd help me if she could. I went home and ran more numbers, sent out more requests for students and stressed.

And then she wrote me an email with a new idea: just come back home. You already have tickets for Christmas time, we have your grandmother's apartment for another few months, and you could find jobs here easily.

I felt a little skeptical. I didn't want to leave, not really. I wasn't ready. We'd worked so hard to get these visas to make this money. We already had jobs and a place to stay. I didn't want to jump.

But Ben came home and he jumped for me.

"Yes. Yes. Yes, we need to do that. Oh my god, yes that is the answer to everything."

And slowly, it all began to sink in. And then all at once I was completely excited.

We are leaving Moscow in 29 days.
I cannot even wait. 

12 November 2014

Listen: Serial

Have you been listening to the podcast 'Serial'?
It's a sister show of This American Life and it is absolutely riveting.

I discovered it on Sunday morning after glancing at an article on facebook and immediately downloaded and listened to the seven episodes (available on iTunes or on the website) that are available so far.

The concept: to tell one nonfiction story week-by-week. Kind of an experiment in the endangered art of oral storytelling.

The premise: A 1999 Baltimore teen murder case.

Who killed Hae Min Lee? 

Hae is the girl in the middle and Adnan is below her.

So, the storyteller of this podcast is the fabulous Sarah Koenig and she gets a call one day from a woman who wants her to look into this murder of a teenage girl from the nineties. The woman is a friend of the alleged killer--the ex-boyfriend of the victim, Adnan Syed. She says that he didn't do it and that there are a lot of discrepancies is the case. 

Intrigued, Sarah starts to follow up on the murder and quickly realizes that yes, there are quite a few details that don't add up. So she begins to fully investigate bringing the listener along with her. 

Here's what I like about the show:

It's a great mystery. Is this a teenage romance gone terribly wrong? Is it a poor kid being framed because of a grudge? Is it just a journalist grasping at straws and being taken by a charming sociopath? Who killed this girl and why?


Adnan Syed

Considering this whole concept is to revive oral storytelling, I'd say that Sarah absolutely nails it. I mean, you feel like you are right there with her, checking on old court documents, making phone calls to Adnan in prison, knocking on people's doors to ask them where they were one snowy afternoon fifteen years ago. There are phone calls, playbacks from interrogations, court room audios. 

You feel like you are right there. It didn't even occur to me before writing this entry to even look up what the people in the story looked like. The storytelling was enough for me.
And she is t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h. I mean, Sarah needs to know who killed Hae Min Lee. Each episode looks at a specific part of the case, every element you can imagine: cell phone records, alibis, people who knew the alibis, maps, letters, car routes, testimonies, letters. Everything.


It's fascinating. I always like to pretend I'm a detective and I have been known to follow real-life crime investigations from my laptop, creating my own theories along the way. If you are anything like that, you need to listen to Serial right now.

I have a couple ideas about what I think happened, so if any of you are listening, tell me below and we can exchange notes. The next episode comes out Thursday and it's about (in my opinion) the most interesting part of the case: Jay, the one and only aspect of the investigation that led to the arrest and imprisonment of Adnan Syed.

Check it out. Seriously. You will be hooked. Once again, you can find listen to it on their website or download it from iTunes and listen on your phone.

Then come back here and tell me what you think.

05 November 2014

Crepe au Fondue de Volaille






Fancy shmancy food bein' made over here. 

Ben has (delightfully) become obsessed with completing Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and I have been happily reaping the benefits. 

Well, maybe not totally happily (he absolutely over-killed it on my favorite breakfast dish-- eggs benedict. Don't get me wrong, I love them and he has now discovered the most killer hollandaise sauce, but jesus, we've had it like 6 times in the past two weeks!).

But really, I love it when Ben gets into cooking sprees. He's so much more daring and creative with food than me (I found a recipe for a cream cheese, parm and pesto sandwich spread and am just going to be doing that until he makes lunch again).

Here's the recipe he used if you're interested:



ever tried your hand at french cooking?
any particular kinds of cooking you particularly enjoy?
let me know, i'm dying of boredom from food.

xo,
lisa

04 November 2014

Guest Post// GROWING FROM ROOTS

Hello everyone, 

Today we have a guest post from the beautiful and delicious, Savannah from Growing from Roots. Savannah's blog is filled with simple tips on minimalism, snippets from her life at college in the beautiful Ithaca, New York, advice, and thoughts about her relationship with her high school sweetheart. 

Here's here what's in my bag post and be sure to check out her blog when you're done (links below!).


hello all! so I’ve never done a guest post before and I wasn’t exactly sure what to talk about, so I decided letting you all peek in my bag would be as good a place to start as any. I’m a big believer in the idea that you can tell a decent amount about a person based on their stuff - so here’s a bit of mine.

the bag - my madewell transport tote. I worship this thing. (also how awful is it that they released a bagillion more colors right after I bought this one? I would have bought the black. but oh well, I still love it and it’s serving me well so far).

nook hd+ - currently reading “unhooked generation” by jillian straus. wanting to read “not that kind of girl” by lena dunham, and many other things.

zumbo kiss peppermint lip balm - I switch back and forth between this and burt’s bees. this one is a bit glossier, which is sometimes nice.

clary sage essential oil - for anxiety and emotional imbalance

glasses, case & lens cloth

leather coin purse - my mom has had this thing for probably as long as I’ve been alive. I’ve inherited it and it now holds extra ponytail holders. and it perfectly matches my bag, so that was a pleasant surprise.

the wallet - black leather by calvin klein. its menswear because for some reason they tend to have more card slots. also, how obnoxious is it that we gender wallets?

keys - two for getting into my parents house, two for getting into our apartment, one for our mailbox, and my tag for the gym in our building

iphone charging cord

portable usb charger - the brand is snow lizard. this thing is a lifesaver on roadtrips and long hikes.

iphone 5 - in the ever glamorous otter box because Im a serial phone-dropper

deodorant spray - the brand is eo organic and the scent is lavender. they carry it at whole foods & similar stores. I recommend it!


tattoo sunscreen - by kiss my face. which also happens to be excellent on the face/other sensitive areas.

pen

ticket stub - from Cams show last night, intimate apparel

mini bag - I found this at forever 21 during my weekend in the city (blog post here). I just loved the print. it now holds tampons and the like.

scarf - from world market


mini tissues


Savannah's blog is amazing and she is a wonderful soul. Check her out and show her some love!
//blog

01 November 2014

Wedding Inspo//Place Setting

Another installment of my wedding inspiration series.

So as I was going through my pinterest boards and looking at different place settings and I realized that everything I was attracted to all fit a similar aesthetic: minimal, nature-themed, quiet, elegant. Like I mentioned before with my flowers post, it's not about over powering the table with the most decadent flowers I can find--I think you can make a really lovely place setting with a simple feather or flower. 


I love the simplicity. The spices, the leaves, the duality of the feather, and the name tag holding it all together.
Found here


I love the elegance in this setting as well as the casual comfort. The silverware and the plate perfectly off-balance the simple leaves and name setting. Deeply romantic and the leaves seem to make it honest.
Found here.


This setting is sweet. I like that the typeface looks handwritten and quirky. 
It's so simple and politely quirky at the same time.
Found here.


Every cool-girl wedding blog I've read says the same thing: do the family dinner. Put food on the table and have people pass it around. It promotes conversation, brings people together, looks good in kinfolk photos, etc. I just like the authenticity of this table. It's so put together and understated all at the same time.
Found found on kinfolk, somehere.


As always, please feel free to leave your thoughts and links down below. I've been loving reading all your thoughts!

Also, I think I may have found a venue! Which is very exciting because that has actually been the most difficult part of all this thus far. I don't know if I'll jinx it by doing a post on it and talking about why I'm liking it... we'll see...

27 October 2014

Thoughts on Bridesmaids

I have thought for a long time about this subject. 

This was probably even one of my first thoughts after Ben and I started discussing marriage a couple years ago. 
Sometimes, I felt a total rush and assurance that yes I did want my best girlfriends by my side when I got hitched. But most of the time, I just felt total dread. I felt pressured and anxious. I didn't want to deal with it. I'd fall asleep at night thinking about my wedding day, the people off to my side in a blurry haze of indecision. Bridesmaids. 

Don't get me wrong; I love my girlfriends dearly and I appreciate them deeply. And I understand the concept of bridesmaids and I like the tradition behind it. But every time I thought about who would actually be my bridesmaid, I'd panic. 

The thing is, I have lots of close friends, but they are all from different parts of my life. I have my sunshine blonde best friend from childhood who I spent my young years ridding bikes to Blockbuster and emptying their shelves of 80's horror films and Milk Duds. I have my high school best friend with her sun-kissed dreads and raspy voice, who, whenever we skype makes me feel like I just left her five minutes ago. I have my heavily tattooed college best friend who makes me laugh harder than anyone and I have my dearest girlfriend here in Moscow who makes my expat life feel more normal. And I have Ben's sister who is going to be my family and who I greatly look forward getting to know. And while I love them all, the idea of them all in matching dresses, or standing around me, or taking pictures together, it stresses me out. 

And not really for any reason, but it does. Maybe because though they are all close to me, they are all strangers to each other. Maybe because I feel like I will have to spend my time trying to get them to see what I see in all of them. But really, it just isn't me to be hanging out in a group of girls. 

I'll explain. 

For as long as I can remember, I have hated being in groups of girls (insert traumatic birthday sleepover story here). It just isn't me. I've always been a best friends kinda gal or a big group of party friends, but nothing really in between. 

And what are bridesmaids really for? They're who you get ready with, right? All pomp and circumstance aside, they're supposed to help you out on your big day. Well, I don't want to get ready with a group of girls. It's not me. And while I want all these ladies to know how special they are to me, I don't want to show that with dorky dresses and forced pictures. 

So here's what I'm thinking:

I think I'm going to skip the bridesmaid thing.

I'd like to incorporate my close friends into the ceremony, maybe with readings from a poem or toasts later on in the evening, but I'd really just like it to be me and Ben up there. 

This is a hard thing to back away from and I feel a bit wary about doing so. I know my friends won't mind because they know me and they'll understand, but I also feel anxious about how it will look or something. But that shouldn't be what weddings are about. The wedding should be a reflection of the couple and the beginning of your joined life together. And I don't want to spend that time feeling uncomfortable because I'm an introverted loon. 

I read stone fox bride's blog every now and then (and you should too--and follow their instagram, it's absolute gold) and the brides featured always have the most badass advice. Someone--I can't remember who--finally said the words I'd been waiting to here:

It's your day. Do what you want. If you want a gluten free cake, have it. If you want to walk down the aisle to the Grateful Dead, do it. If you don't want bridesmaids, don't do it.

Etc. 
These pretty gals are rockin' those blush dresses, that's for sure.
Image found here.

What do you guys think? Did you have bridesmaids? Will you? Was it less stress than you thought it would be? Am I going to regret it in the long run? Is it OK to just throw tradition to the wind and do whatever you want?

I'd love to here your thoughts on the matter or read about what you did. I still might change my mind, but I wanted to bring it up in this space.

xo,
lisa

22 October 2014

Brussels, Belgium pt. 2


















Another trip, another faded blue stamp in my passport. Our days in Brussels were filled with beer, sandwiches (the Belgians love sandwiches I guess?), more beer, croissants, friendly people, a way too much to drink night at the Delirium brewery, beautiful new clothes (from an Urban Outfitters which I haven't stepped foot in literally years at this point), and a new place to say we loved. 

I don't know if it's because I live in a country where even the simplest pleasantries are rare, or if it's because the people in Brussels were just fantastically nice, but I felt like I was spreading out my Midwestern-girl wings and soaking in the joys of pleases and thank-yous and smiles to strangers and cashiers and waiters and waitresses. It's addicting and both Ben and I felt a weight come over us when we re-entered Moscow. No more smiles.

Brussels was a bit like Amsterdam, a bit like all of Europe, but mostly it's own. It had a beautiful, old part of the city that we stumbled on from an amazing view from above and a really hip, new part of the city that we were lucky enough to find an inexpensive place to stay in (get ready for an upcoming Airbnb tips and tricks post). 

Things that were done:

-A quick stop at Delirium Tremens brewery turned into hours long conversations with everyone nearby. Great fun.
-I ate oysters and lobster. Ben always found it fascinating that I'd never had seafood (Midwest born for me, East Coast for him), but I hadn't. I honestly can't think of one thing besides tilapia. I always think of seafood being for rich people, but even when we went up to Maine, our campground's canteen had sea-plucked lobsters for sale for twenty bucks, but that was our beer money so we passed. I liked the oysters better, weirdly.
-The greatest sandwich of all time was consumed (picture above). Ben found a highly reviewed cafe near our place that was only open for three hours everyday. We wandered through the bizarrely quiet streets (seriously, Belgian people--why yo city so quiet in the day?!) until we stumbled on this half Parisian Tibetan restaurant and ordered small glasses of wine and a parmesan and tomato sandwich. OMFG.
-Wandered the streets talking about Russia, about ourselves. Less daydreaming these days and more of plotting. We want out and we have a deep determination in our stomachs to do so. We want to save money, we're debating traveling anymore, we want to go to Boston, to Boston, we just keep coming back to Boston. We take a lot of stabs at what our life will be like there and who we will be once we arrive.
-We discovered the joys of morning-sandwich. Definitely a thing now. 


I wish I had more insight into the museums and the galleries of the city, but we didn't go in any so I have no tips. I like walking around. I like seeing people walking around. I like finding good restaurants and bad ones. I like haggling over street art and buying small sacks of artisan chocolate. I like meeting strangers and begging them to bar hop with us. I like feeling like I really saw somewhere.

I don't know, go to Belgium and see for yourself. And don't buy any chocolate... the ones they give you with your coffee are the best in town ;).
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