Archive for January, 2009

Gypsy Stew

January 16, 2009

One of my mom’s amazing talents is being able to show up at my apartment and take a half box of stale crackers, an onion, and some stewed tomatoes and turn it into a feast. Okay I’m exagerating a little, but not much. One of my favorite things that my mom cooks my family calls gypsy stew. My mom just takes whatever is in the cupboard/fridge and throws it in a pot and somehow makes it taste amazing.

I’ve been cooking for a while and I love it, but with a few exceptions I cook mostly with recipes. Well today all of that went out of the window for a couple of reasons. A. I’m “financially-challenged” at the moment. B. It was -17 f when I woke up today. Am I going outside to pick up groceries???? HECK NO!

So I took out my crock pot which has pretty much only seen my vegetarian chili (to die for) and started throwing stuff in it. I put potatoes, carrots, corn, onion, heavy cream, sour cream, chicken broth, spinach, butter, flour, and a bit of apple cider vinegar in the pot. I had no idea what to expect. Well it’s heavenly, especially on an awful cold day like today. It’s light and creamy without being too rich. The little bit of vinegar really made it come alive. It’s glorious. My mom would be proud. 🙂


Cleaning out my Closet!

January 12, 2009

You know how after a period of depression or whatever you want to call it, one day you wake up and things are better? The problems may not have gone away, but all of a sudden you feel like you can handle them. There is no rhyme or reason to this. All of a sudden your problems don’t seem quite as big as they used to. Well that’s how I feel this weekend.

I woke up yesterday not only with a better attitude, but with a plan for making my life more manageable. That plan starts with my surroundings. I am ashamed to say that I had let my apartment get pretty bad. So bad that when my landlord unexpectedly showed up (he does that a lot…sigh) to check my wiring, I sort of flipped out. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I was so ashamed that someone had seen this awful mess.

I don’t even remember how it got as bad as it did. Gradually I suppose. I went through a time of being extremely busy directly into a time of feeling pretty low. My apartment certainly suffered with me.

Okay sob story is over! My point is I woke up yesterday ready to reclaim my life AND my apartment. I started with my closet because I was so inspired by that House Beautiful article. Well I did it! I organized my closet. This may not sound very exciting to some, but let me tell you that thing was so messy and full that I was afraid to open it. So anyway, it’s a small step. I still have lost to do, but it doesn’t seem as hard as it did a couple weeks ago. The new year has me feeling extremely optimistic. I hope that you are feeling the same.

Hard to see. But it's organized into bags, tops, pants, skirts, casual dresses, cocktail dresses, formals, wraps, and coats. I need to thin it down, but at least now I can see what I have in order to make the choices of what to get rid of. I also need to invest in wooden hangers!

Hard to see. But it's organized into bags, tops, pants, skirts, casual dresses, cocktail dresses, formals, wraps, and coats. I need to thin it down, but at least now I can see what I have in order to make the choices of what to get rid of. I also need to invest in wooden hangers!

Most of this I'm probably going to end up giving away. It's puzzles, board games, art supplies, and videos. That's right! Good old fashioned VHS tapes. The hampers are full of fabric remnants and yet-to-be-finished craft projects. Much of this will be SHED.

Most of this I'm probably going to end up giving away. It's puzzles, board games, art supplies, and videos. That's right! Good old fashioned VHS tapes. The hampers are full of fabric remnants and yet-to-be-finished craft projects. Much of this will be SHED.

If you want to see a REALLY AMAZING closet check out Nicole’s Closet at Making it Lovely! I refuse to post pictures because they are just TOO good and I’d like to be proud of my little achievement. But seriously go check it out!!!  🙂

New Year’s resolutions

January 9, 2009


It’s that time of year again. I know it’s a week later…but man I was sick as a dog last week. My resolutions had to wait.

We all make our New Year’s resolutions and hope for better things this year than last. I tried to keep my resolutions somewhat achievable this year. I wanted to be easier on my self in some cases and kick my butt into gear in others. I want to eat more and eat better. I want to work on defining my arms. Aaaaaaaaaaand I want to CLEAN OUT MY CLOSET!!! I got rid of a great deal of stuff around this time last year, but not enough. Also my mother is a fashion designer and owns a boutique so I have recieved what I’ve given away and MORE since this time last year. We are definitely maximalists! It’s time to purge the old stuff that I’ve been hanging onto for decades and to give some stuff to charity.

There is this TERRIFIC article in the new House Beautiful about cleaning out your closet and I thought I’d share it. It has really inspired me.



If you’re craving change, start with your closet. It holds the clues to your inner self — to all your selves. Who you are right now. Who you were. Who you dream of being. By shedding and getting it current, you’re poised to change your whole life.


Not long ago, I shed most of the clothes in my closet. I asked three questions of each garment: Do I love it? Is it flattering? Is it the image I want to project: receptive, strong, sexy? Before I knew it, my closet was 80 percent empty. There was a sense of movement in my new open space that was like ocean air drifting through. Everything felt light and fresh and clean. That night I slept better than I had in years.


You’re gripped by the feeling that there’s something more you want, but you don’t know exactly what it is. It’s a glimmer in your mind that’s vaguely pulling you forward — a deep-seated wish, a buried dream rattling around inside.What you want feels out of reach. You wonder if you’ll be able to pull it off — or if you have what it takes or if you really deserve it. You’re feeling weighed down by something that’s preventing you from moving forward.


SHED is about far more than just throwing things out. It involves 4 steps:

  • SEPARATE the treasures — identify the gems that are worth hanging on to.
  • HEAVE the trash — eliminate what’s weighing you down.
  • EMBRACE your identity — connect to who you are without all your stuff.
  • DRIVE yourself forward — explore the direction that connects to your genuine self.


1. You organize to become more efficient. You SHED to get unstuck.

2. Organizing gives you access to what’s most important to you. SHEDing is a process for discovering what’s most important to you.

3. It’s possible to get organized without getting rid of anything. It’s impossible to SHED without letting things go.


A Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential river that had washed out the bridge. So he built a solid and heavy raft, which carried him safely across to the other bank. “This is a good raft,” he thought. “If there’s another river ahead, I can use it.” And he carried it for the rest of his life. How often do we hang onto things that served us well at one point in our lives but are no longer relevant or useful? Clutter is something that no longer serves you.


Does your closet feel stagnant? Does it make you feel guilty or overwhelmed or burdened? Does it deplete your energy? It’s cluttered.


The reality is, no one lets go into a vacuum — no one lets go of anything without reaching for something else. But if you don’t know what you’re reaching for, you won’t let go. The solution is to come up with a theme. Take the pressure off yourself. Stop trying to figure out exactly what you’re going to do next. Instead, define what the next chapter in your life is going to feel like. What part of you do you want to express? Freedom? Creativity? Intimacy? Serenity? Balance? That’s your theme. When you get the right word — the right theme — it mobilizes you to move forward. It gives you something exciting to create space for.


If you do all your thinking on paper first, decluttering your closet can be incredibly fast and painless. Ask yourself: If all of this were to be gone tomorrow, what would I miss? Write your answers on a sticky note and post them on the wall. Keep referring to it while you sort and shed. The first half hour will be slowgoing until you get a rhythm going. Then it speeds up: It really takes only 3 to 4 hours, on average, to finish.


You need energy and enthusiasm when you SHED. Weekends are a good time; late nights are not. Open the windows and get some fresh air in the room. Make yourself a refreshing drink. Play music that fuels you. Now, focus. You’re going to be making a lot of decisions: You’re getting ready to cleanse.


Decide in advance who’ll get your castoffs: a charity, a shelter for homeless women, Dress for Success, your sister. Have a box or shopping bag for each organization or person you’re giving things to — and for what you’ll toss.


When you’re unsure of whether you’re ready to part with something, ask yourself: What has more value to me? This object, or the cleared space?


Arrange everything you’re keeping in a way that makes it easy to find things and put them away. Organize your closet into zones. By garment type, by season, by occasion (work, casual, dressy).


Treasures are practical or sentimental items that are worth holding on to. A practical treasure is that perfect little black dress that works for you every time. Sentimental treasures are fair game — the threadbare cardigan you wore all through college, the vinyl handbag your grandmother gave you for your 13th birthday. Ask yourself: Is this the best and most important reminder of that time in my life, or person I knew, that I own?


About 75 percent of the way through decluttering your closet, WHAM! You’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by all that open space: What am I going to fill the emptiness with? Who am I without my stuff? Your impulse will be to retrieve what you just tossed, or rush to fill the space with ANYTHING new. Don’t. This is a true breakthrough moment: It’s your chance to detach your identity from your things, and remind yourself that you are who you are, no matter what you own. The good news is that it doesn’t last long. Once you get to the other side of the panic, you’ll experience an extraordinary sense of calm, self-confidence, and freedom.


*Clothes that don’t fit, and will be out of style by the time you hope they fit again. Give them away!

*Clothes that are stained, torn, or have lost their shape. Toss ’em!

*Shoes that hurt your feet. If you’ve never worn them, give them away. Otherwise, throw them out!

*Outdated handbags, belts, and scarves. Donate them!


I can’t tell you how important it is to house your clothes with dignity. Toss those flimsy wire hangers that get twisted and mangled. It’s worth every penny to buy wood or padded hangers, quality hooks, and containers. Don’t mix styles — plastic bins for T-shirts, baskets for handbags. Keep it unified and simple. You want everything to be so aesthetically pleasing that going into your closet every day is a joy.


For more, read Julie Morgenstern’s new book, When Organizing Isn’t Enough: SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life (published by Simon & Schuster and available at Barnes & Noble;


Design Pet Peeve: Design Snobbery

January 8, 2009

I guess the biggest and most important pet peeve I have is design snobbery. I hate it. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. Do what is right for YOU. Don’t worry about status symbols or trends unless they truly make YOU happy. If you like to hang up mass-produced posters that everyone else has…DO IT! If you think carnations are the most beautiful flower in the world then…USE THEM!  If you want to fill your apartment with all Ikea pieces then NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE YOU! Drape your entire room in circus tents for all I care. As long as it makes you happy then DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!


Princess and the pea

January 2, 2009

Okay I’ve been obsessed with my living room situation for some time. Here’s a short re-cap. I’m an up and coming actor in Chicago who lives with another up and coming actor in Chicago. We are both actually doing pretty well all things considered, but our living situation is less than enviable. We live in a one bedroom apartment. The living room is both my bedroom and living space while my roommate has the bedroom.

Anyway, I’ve been obsessed with finding the right couch/bed piece that is comfortable enough for me to sleep on every night but couch-like enough that it doesn’t look like you’re stepping into my bedroom.

This is the couch/bed of my dreams. It’s called the Divan de la Princesse au Petit Pois (ie. the princess and the pea) and it is carried by the French company Carvane. This bed creates such a fantasy for me. I love furniture pieces that do that for you. They serve as a sort of escapism. I would’ve loved this as a girl and probably would’ve re-enacted the princess and the pea at least once a day. I see lovely lounging, book reading, tea drinking, and yes laptop perusing on this beauty.