Starch Madness

March 31, 2015

After my friend Tashween threw a fantastic waffle party in January, I knew I wanted to throw a specific-food-themed party of my own. Since potatoes in any form are my favorite food—and I will happily defend them as the PERFECT food—I went with a potato party!

Here was the menu:

– Baked potato bar with chili, green onions, butter, sour cream, two kinds of shredded cheese, salsa, and chopped bacon.
– Baked sweet potato bar with butter, chocolate chips, cinnamon, pecans, and dried cranberries.
– Tator tots
– Waffle fries
– Classic potato chips with French onion dip
– Deep River Snacks rosemary and olive oil kettle cooked potato chips (I had never had these before but I wanted some fancy potato chips so I ordered these from Fresh Direct and OMG. I don’t even really like potato chips and I could have easily eaten a whole bag of these myself.)
– A batch of Southern Comfort punch (I haven’t made this in a few years and had forgotten how great it is!) along with beer.
– Grocery store birthday cake and ice cream

The menu was remarkably easy and inexpensive to put together—definitely the easiest party prep I’ve ever done. (Really, getting the apartment ready took up the most time.) We found that the tator tots and waffle fries (along with the punch) were the biggest hits. If we were to host another potato party (and I hope we do, next year!) I’d find a better way to keep the potatoes warm since people were arriving/eating throughout the afternoon, and I’d make it clearer that the sweet toppings were meant for the sweet potatoes. I’d also serve mashed potatoes and gravy and/or cheesy potatoes. But really, it was all fine! We had a really good turnout and it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong when you ply people with potatoes and whiskey, and have a 7-hour playlist that includes “Back That Ass Up” on shuffle.

I’m a big fan of midday parties for adults; I find that people are likely to come because they don’t have other party plans and aren’t as likely to be worn out from their day and wanting to stay in. And it’s nice as a guest because you still have the option to go out later…or to just call it a night and still feel like you did something social. (Note: if you do this, people may just turn it into an evening party, which is what happened in our case. The last guests didn’t leave until 11:00!)

Another idea I stole from Tashween was to create a party-themed guest Wifi name and password. (It’s pretty easy to do this through your Internet provider’s website.) So our network name was “Starch Madness” (all credit is due to Eric for that one) and our password was “tatersgonnatate.” I included that in the invite, along with this fantastic gif:

The week in review: Long hair, don’t care

March 29, 2015

This was a busy week!

By day, I was mainly concerned with the business of Kylie Jenner hair extensions; I was organizing an original project around them, and then I was wearing them myself. By night, I was running errands, working on the bar cart and dining room table, cleaning, organizing, and spray painting shit gold. It was all leading up to our potato party yesterday! And despite the fact that just a week ago, our apartment was in a completely different (and SO not ready for guests) state, everything came together by Saturday afternoon and the party was a ton of fun! (More on that, plus photos of the IKEA hacks later.) Today Eric and I are doing mostly nothing and it feels pretty great.

Other highlights from this week…

Reading

The Shut-In Economy, Medium. This articulates a lot of thoughts I’ve had about women, chores, labor, and class really well.

Invisible Bookends, A Beautiful Mess. Cute DIY project!

I could not stop staring at these amazing cooking cinemagraphs.

Two Women Discuss Forever 21’s Most Ridiculous Graphic Tees, BuzzFeed. Hilarious.

Dear Nellie Andreeva and Deadline, About Your Piece on Too Much “Ethnic Casting” on TV, Awesomely Luvvie. Just perfect.

She Sounds Smart, but Look at Her Hair!, The New York Times. Oh my god, this article made me so angry.

Writing

22 Florists Who Will Bring Spring To Your Instagram Feed

The Easiest Way To Win April Fools’ Day This Year

The week ahead…

Mainly just enjoying our clean and finally-filled-with-furniture apartment! And getting back into my gym routine; I could only work out once last week thanks to all the fake hair I was wearing.

The week in review

March 24, 2015

Yesterday I winced with each step as I climbed the stairs to leave the subway; apparently this is what happens when you spend your weekend crawling around on the floor painting and assembling furniture in pursuit of the perfect Ikea hack. Oh and lugging this cabinet up our steep-ass stoop, which was no picnic, but hot damn, it was $60 on Craigslist and just what we needed. Aside from that, there were a bunch of other home improvement tasks and errands…but by this weekend, we’ll have a bar cart and a dining room table that has a matching bench and two chairs. (Also, these are not really single-weekend projects, but I realized far too late that there was no turning back.)

Here’s what else I was up to…

Reading

I finished The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and I can’t say I loved it. I highlighted some really smart lines that I really connected with, but overall I didn’t connect with it. Also:

Negativity Online: An Essay Inspired by 20,000 Comments, Design*Sponge. Such a good piece, and lots of interesting comments. (You can read my thoughts on similar topics here and here.)

The Secret Behind Mindy Kaling’s Success Is Incredible, BuzzFeed. How did I miss this?!

This Is What Happens When Everyday Women Get Photoshopped To Look Like Cover Models, BuzzFeed. So good! I love how the photoshopped pictures look EXACTLY like magazine cover models…so glowy and pose-y.

A Conspiracy Theory I Invented But It’s Real: Elliptical Machines Lie, Gawker. I believe it. Also excellent use of “Big Elliptical.”

How Harlequin Became the Most Famous Name in Romance, Jezebel. This is just a cool and informative read!

And that old-school text message that Dallas dropped in the mail for me!

Writing

Quick Question: Do You Try To Get Rid Of The Smell Of Your Poop In A Shared Bathroom?

25 Completely Magical “Harry Potter” Wedding Ideas

These Photos Prove Exactly How Much Real Estate Photos Matter

Wanting

This coat OMFGeeeeeeeee.

The week ahead…

We’re hosting our first New York party this weekend. (It’s a POTATO party!) So one way or another, the Ikea hacks (and a whole shit ton of other things) WILL be done by Saturday.

New Newbz

March 20, 2015

New Balance Women's WL501 High Roller

Last week, I joined a gym for the first time in four years; my goal for this week was to actually go inside it and work out. After my membership was finalized on Monday, I was feeling pretty motivated to work out on Tuesday…and then I realized I didn’t really have any workout-appropriate footwear. (That’s what happens when you do yoga pretty exclusively for a few years and also are trying to pack light for a move.) So on Monday, I set out to find some new gym shoes. I didn’t need running shoes or anything too technical…just something good enough for the elliptical, power walking, group cycling classes, and bopping around town. After work, I went to New Balance, Nike, Paragon, two Shoegasms, and Athleta but didn’t find anything that matched what I was looking for, which was:

1) Mostly black (SO not my usual choice for anything but I guess NYC is getting to me)
2) Would look good with leggings outside of the gym
3) Readily available
4) Less than $80 (Sadly, this eliminated those black and white Nike Free Runs that literally everyone has. It’s probably for the best, though, since every pair of Nikes I’ve every owned has made my knees hurt.)

Ordering New Balances online is kind of a headache because there are like 23359489384 different styles floating around the Internet and even more color combos and every site carries different versions but approximately 50 percent of what you want is either sold out or $120, but I eventually went with the WL501 High Roller in black and leopard from Amazon. (I paid $4 for overnight shipping and still got a better price than I would have on Zappos!)

New Balance Women's WL501 High Roller

They actually run big (much bigger than my 420s, even though they are the same size) but I’d planned to put insoles in them anyway, so now they’re fine. I wore them to the gym on Tuesday and Wednesday. Because yes, I WENT TO THE GYM TWICE THIS WEEK and I’m going again today. I don’t even know the last time I did good, old-fashioned CARDIO before Tuesday. And on an elliptical, the cardioest, gymmiest machine of them all.

And I’ve definitely never done it in leopard-print sneakers. I am so happy about this purchase! (Even though immediately after I purchased them, I saw these and really regretted my decision. Plus there are these and these that obviously want to be worn with white jeans this spring. So just…god dammit, New Balance.)

This Must Be The Place

March 19, 2015

I’ve been following Various Keytags for a while but had never pulled the trigger and gotten myself one of their clever keychains. (Though BuzzFeed gave everyone one as part of our holiday gifts last year.) Then last month, Eric and I were at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn and spotted a keychain he liked. It didn’t look exactly like one from Various Keytags (it didn’t have their signature shape and was actually kind of…comically large, but the font was the same) but the store had other ones that were definitely from Various Keytags, so I wasn’t sure. In any case, Eric really liked it so I decided to see if Various Keytags made it in their signature size; they did, so I ordered it for him for his 30th birthday last week.

This Must Be The Place

Eric is a hard person to shop for and never wants me to spend a lot of money on him, so I figured ordering the keychain in his favorite color would be a good option. He thought it was great and I’m really happy with it too! Also, now I’m trying to decide which one I should get for myself.

The week in review

March 15, 2015

This week was really fun — probably my best at BuzzFeed so far. It’s been pretty great since I started, but in the past few weeks I’ve noticed that I’ve felt a lot more confident/comfortable in the way that just takes time at a new job. And this week just ended up being more fun than usual, probably because the nice weather and undeniable feeling of spring in the city had everyone in really good moods. Not even losing an hour last weekend could keep us down!

On Wednesday, I interviewed a super sexist doctor for a story I am working on (!!) and then spent most of my day as a hand model for a nail art shoot; hanging out with a couple coworkers and the manicurist (who is SO talented and also, like, the most fun/cool/great person to hang out with for several hours) and talking about beauty and everything else was just a blast. On Thursday, I shot a couple videos with a coworker and later had a really fun and successful brainstorming session. And Friday, when everyone seemed to be having trouble focusing (myself included), a few of us took a field trip to Martha Stewart’s new cafe in NYC for a post. Oh, and there was an Irish whisky tasting in the office at the end of the day.

On Friday night, I had to pick Eric up from the airport on and was pretty terrified it was going to be a total Cher-accidentally-gets-on-the-highway-in-Clueless moment. I’ve never driven in the city, have never driven his truck, and really haven’t driven much at all in the past several months. But I got there and navigated the airport without incident and was VERY proud of myself. When you move to a new city, doing the smallest things really feels like a victory.

Yesterday we watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for much of the day and then ventured out to Home Depot for a few items for the apartment, stopping on the way home to check out some new-to-us shops in Brooklyn. Very exciting stuff.

Buying

These light dimming sheets because the light from the clock on our DVR is actually really bright and has been bothering me at night.

Reading

I spent more time reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing this week, and less time reading shit on the Internet. (You can learn a bit more about KonMari here.) But here are a few things on ye olde Interwebs that I liked…

28 Worries That Women In Their Late Twenties Can Ditch Today, BuzzFeed. Preach.

developing a signature look: the complete guide, Into Mind. I don’t know that I have a signature look exactly, but I’m definitely moving in that direction and I’m very happy about it. I rarely buy clothes now because I’m more thoughtful about each piece, and I feel much happier with my wardrobe over all. I’d really like to get to an even more streamlined cartoon character kind of uniform look in the next couple years.

How to Program Your Mind to Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need, Lifehacker. Really good advice.

Before I go, by Paul Kalanithi. Kalanithi (who also wrote this) died this week. “Before I go” had me weeping on the subway.

Dear Madonna: I Am Not ‘Hilary Clinton,’ and Hillary Didn’t Write That, Jezebel. This is just funny/weird.

On ‘Poor Husbands’ and Two-Body Problems Part 1 & Part 2, Chronicle Vitae. Gahhhh, I just had so much rage at the system after reading this.

Girls Who Steal, Gawker. THIS IS SO GOOD.

Wet Wipes Box Says Flush. New York’s Sewer System Says Don’t., The New York Times. “The dank clusters, graying and impenetrable, gain mass like demon snowballs as they travel.” Amazing.

Writing

33 Insanely Smart Ways To Save Money On Your Wedding

This Dad Is Photographing His Daughter Dressed As Inspiring Black Women

We Tried Martha Stewart’s New Cafe In NYC & Here’s What Happened

The week ahead…

I did, in fact, join a gym last week! This week’s goal: actually going inside it and working out.

The week in review: Springing forward

March 8, 2015

After a pretty uneventful week, yesterday Eric and I took the bus to Home Goods. We had a gift card and were able to get a much-needed step stool for the kitchen (because we are utilizing ALL the cabinet space here), a wire basket for storing/displaying my vintage cookbooks (I searched the ENTIRE store for a basket like this and had finally given up when I found the perfect one in the checkout line), a set of pillows that I’m *pretty sure* where mis-marked but we ended up only kind of loving them so I’m glad they were only $20, and a set of new knobs for our nightstands. We got these because one of the original knobs fell off during the move. But I feel like magazines and blogs are always raving about changing out knobs as THE SECRET TO CHANGING THE ENTIRE LOOK OF YOUR HOUSE ON A BUDGET so I was actually kind of excited about swapping them. Turns out, Eric didn’t like how far the screws stick out into the drawers, so we may not even keep them…thus, I feel cheated out of the apartment hack to end all apartment hacks.

After Home Goods, we went to the good Target next door. (Seriously, it’s SO MUCH BETTER than the other Target in Brooklyn.) And I had a gift card to spend there too…so it was just really just a joyful Saturday. After we got home, I organized the bookshelf and unpacked the remaining boxes, which was a TASK, but the mess was making me crazy so I’m glad I took care of it. Today we walked to the bodega for breakfast sandwiches and then went to Ikea, which was a nice way to end the weekend. (God, I’m so glad I’ve reached the point in my relationship where a trip to Ikea ends in ice cream and not tears.) We got a shelf for the kitchen, curtains for the bedroom, some extra bowls, and pretty planters for the succulents/cacti I plan to get this week. (Well…maybe. Apparently, succulents are not sold year-round at Lowe’s, which is where we went first. So if Home Depot doesn’t have them, I’m going to assume this is just a New York/Texas difference. And I’ll be sad, because our apartment could use some hard-to-kill plant life.)

Other highlights from this week…

Wearing

My new sweatshirt from H&M. I went in there last weekend with the goal of finding a pink sweatshirt and found this one for $10. Win!

Reading

Lavender Latte Milkshake, A Beautiful Mess. I loved their lavender syrup (it’s SO good in coffee) so I am all about that.

The Best Restaurant in New York Is: The Tenement Museum, Gawker. I love the running joke about the tour guide being a ghost.

McCalls Pattern Behavior. This Tumblr is SO FUNNY.

My boyfriend ‘sort-of’ raped me. But I didn’t break up with him, The Guardian. “But we should not allow the justice system alone to clearly delineate for us what makes a rapist and what makes, let’s say, a garden-variety dickhead. Particularly when the outcome of not being able to talk about sort-of rapes is that, in reality, it ends up giving the perpetrators of lesser sexual offences a free pass.”

Happy Evenings at Home: 5 Things to Do the Moment Work’s Over, Apartment Therapy. Some of these are kind of obvious but I like the idea of making some of these things an official ritual.

The One Thing You Have To Do Before Buying Any Storage Container, Apartment Therapy. This is really smart and the comments had a ton of useful tips too.

When Social-Media Companies Censor Sex Education, The Atlantic. Ugh. Get it together, Twitter.

Stop Calling Children’s Gun Deaths “Accidental”, Slate. Yep.

A child left unprotected, Arkansas Times. Really good reporting.

Some thoughts on professional etiquette because some of you really need it (part 1), love.life.eat. Co-signed.

How Not To Embarrass People Who Use Your Bathroom, Apartment Therapy. Sooooo then I went and bought a bathroom trash can.

SPARK Puts Women on the Map, SPARK Summit. So cool!

An interview with Jenna Wortham, Pi.co. So smart.

Real Cold Weather Tips for Real Cold Women, Jezebel. Hopefully we don’t need these any longer but the tips are really good…definitely saving this for next year.

How To Tell If You’re Being A Crank On The Internet, And How To Stop, Deadspin. I sent this to Eric; he was not amused.

No one could see the color blue until modern times, Business Insider. WHAT.

Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you’ve likely never heard of, Salon. I read this a couple weeks ago and it’s just really good.

Amazing Acronym Alert: Joy of Missing Out (JOMO), Apartment Therapy. This is SO REAL.

A Letter to my son Jacob on his 5th birthday, Medium. I made it to the party about the pizza party before I started to sob.

As for books, I’m still reading The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing on Friday night which is a whooooole other thing.

Writing

This Grocery Store Sheet Cake Makeover Is Borderline Genius

This Guy Proposed By Sending His Girlfriend Around The World On A Scavenger Hunt (Oh, hey, ABC News, where’d you find that story?!)

19 Reasons You Should Totally Have A Brunch Wedding

How To Dump Someone (Like An Actual Adult)

Wanting

This pretty cup.

A dresser (come on, Craigslist) and some kind of bathroom storage cart.

The week ahead…

I’m mainly looking forward to getting all these empty moving boxes out of our apartment because they are taking up SO MUCH ROOM. Our landlord asked us not to put out our trash/recycling until the night before it’s to be picked up, lest they get fined, so this extremely large pile of boxes has been chilling in here for days and it’s reallllllly kind of a downer. Like, I know we’ve been unpacking, so why doesn’t it feel like it? Oh, because there’s a fucking waist-high stack of cardboard boxes in the dining room, actually.

Also, I think the time has come for me to join a gym.

The week in review: No sleep till Brooklyn

March 1, 2015

Well, we survived The Cross-Country Move Part II! And it was…well, it could have been a lot worse. But it was pretty exhausting and bad. Because…it’s moving, and moving is just always hell. 

During Part I of this move in November, a lot of things were still up in the air and the main goal was just to get me to NYC for my first day in the BF office. We only took what we could bring on the plane and didn’t do anything to prepare our house in Houston for renters. The time had come to take care of all that, so we spent the last two weeks in February packing up all our stuff for the real move and getting the house ready. Then we got a trailer hitched to Eric’s truck and loaded it up with all our shit. 

We were running about eight hours behind schedule when we finally said good-bye to Houston last Saturday. And we were taking a longer route to avoid the “wintry mix” that was fucking up the middle part of the country. (The storm basically went the exact route we were supposed to take.) The detour surely saved us time and stress in the long run, but it was still just ugh. We stopped in Pensacola on Saturday night and then hit the road at a decent hour on Sunday morning. But every time I’d look at the map to see how far we had left to go, it felt like 200 miles/two hours had been added to the total; I really started to think I was losing my mind, or that Google Maps was just fucking with me.

Late on Sunday night, we decided to just drive through the night and finish the damn thing. We ended up arriving in Brooklyn at 9:00 on Monday morning, a full 24 hours after we’d started driving on Sunday. Upon our arrival, we paid a couple of great movers I found on Craigslist to unload our trailer, we returned it to U-haul, I walked to a Dominican salon to get a much-needed shampoo, and then I came back to the apartment and we took a six-hour nap, which barely made a dent in the sleep deficit. 

It took a few days to recover from the drive and get back into the swing of things but it was really nice to get back into my routine with Eric, the dogs, and—FINALLY!—all our shit. (Which I realized is far less exciting when it’s all in bubble wrap and boxes.)

Other highlights from the past couple weeks…

Writing

Brides Are Turning Their Wedding Gowns Into Burial Gowns For Babies Who’ve Died In The NICU

24 Couples Who Honored Their History And Jumped The Broom

DIY Monogrammed Mug video

Hell Yeah, I Wear A Fanny Pack

19 Fanny Packs That Will Liberate You

What Color Are These Cookies? video

Reading*

There’s No Morality in Exercise: I’m a Fat Person and Made a Successful Fitness App, Medium. Genuinely inspiring.

Stop it with the feminist whitesplaining. Fusion. 

Drunk Moms Talk About Their Kids, BuzzFeed. Literally laughed out loud all through this.

The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit. I saved this in Pocket months ago and just got around to reading it; it’s a fascinating long read.

I also started Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl this week.

*The abridged version. I don’t have time to add everything here tonight so I’ll post a better list next week.

The week ahead…

Lots of unpacking! We had a very successful weekend of unpacking and I’m so proud of our progress. (We also managed to do some fun, not-totally-apartment-related things yesterday.) Almost all of the boxes have been emptied and broken down and now it’s about organizing the individual rooms/areas (no small task), hanging things up on the walls, and getting the things we need to finish the whole thing. Our goal is to have things looking pretty much like we’re used to by March 21.

Oh, and House of Cards

Three things about clutter

February 19, 2015

Packing is terrible for a number of reasons, but mainly because it makes you hate yourself and your life choices. Why do I own this? Why didn’t I throw this thing away three years ago? Why am I so goddamn materialistic and wasteful? WHY DID I WANT TO MOVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

clutter

In the midst of packing hell this week, I happened upon a few interesting articles about clutter and how to get rid of it. The first, The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy, was just an interesting read on how different cultures feel about clutter. Meanwhile, my friend Dallas is currently doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. And finally, this article had some really good advice on getting rid of things (even if you aren’t going through a breakup). Here are the three best tips I took away from it:

1. Take everything out (of the closet, bookshelf, etc.) first. As you go through each item, ask yourself “Does this item spark joy when I touch it?” This helps you to think in terms of what you want you want to keep, versus what you need to get rid of. It also helps with the feeling that you’re being wasteful.

2. De-clutter by category, not by location. In order, you should do clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and mementos. I actually didn’t do this with packing (I’ve been doing it by location, but have also been jumping around a lot) but last night I righted the ship and went through my closet.

3. Scan paperwork and toss the original copies. Logically, I’ve known this is a good idea for a while…and yet I’ve never really felt compelled to do it. But now that I have a great scanning app on my phone (Scanner Pro is legitimately amazing), I’m feeling motivated to try it. I haven’t started tackling the paper yet, but when I do that tonight, I think scanning some of it will be really helpful!

The week in review

February 17, 2015

Aside from flying to Houston and celebrating my first wedding anniversary, here are the rest of the highlights from last week…

Paper rose

Writing

These Women Recreated Iconic Photos From Black History

This Wedding Dress Has Been Worn By Three Generations Of Brides

Impress Anyone With This Oversized Paper Rose

 

Reading

Finally, an Answer to the “What Are You?” Ethnicity Question, Glamour (I read this in the magazine and was sort of unable to contain myself; it was so good and I related to it so much.)

The 12 Commandments of Marriage, A Practical Wedding

13 “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Quotes That Need To Be In The Movie, BuzzFeed

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life, The New York Times

What I Imagine My Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriends Are Doing Right Now, The New Yorker

11 Facts That Will Change The Way You Think About Jails In America, BuzzFeed

If Disney Couples Starred in “Fifty Shades of Grey”, Cosmopolitan.com

The Husband Did It, The Awl

Federal Prison Is Nothing Compared to the Inhumanity of Rikers, xoJane

The NYT wrote about lynching by white people without using the word “white”, Vox

7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the U.S., Mother Nature Network (Hygge!!!)

The Love Story Behind Alabama’s First Legally Married Same-Sex Couple, BuzzFeed

Anita Florence Hemmings: Passing For White At Vassar, HubPages

Radical Farmers Use Fresh Food to Fight Racial Injustice and the New Jim Crow, Yes Magazine

‘Nothing Short of Attempted Murder': A Brief History of Anti-Vaxxers, Jezebel

In Defense Of Kanye’s Vanity: The Politics Of Black Self-Love, BuzzFeed

So. You Wanna Lose Weight. Seinberg Health

This gorgeous Valentine’s Day boudoir shoot (NSFW)

And People Style Watch and Glamour. Plus more of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women.

The week ahead…

Just more packing.

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