May 31, 2010

Monday music, vol. 18: Summer Vacation

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

You may have thought that Britney, Christina and Justin were the first to record albums after their stints on The Mickey Mouse Club (MMC), which ran from 1989 to 1994... but if you thought that, you'd be wrong. Does anyone remember a little group by the name of The Party? Don't lie. You know you had the tape (and a crush on Damon).... orrrr maybe that was just me.

Tune in, groove on, bust out, people. Happy Memorial Day. Let the summer begin!

May 28, 2010

happy holiday weekend (and a shorts update)

Memorial Day weekend is here! Woohoo! I hope you all have a happy and safe extended weekend. (Don't forget to take a moment to remember what the day is really about.) I'll be relaxing with my family and perhaps partaking in some adult beverages.

Oh, and an update on the shorts situation: I took a trip to Old Navy last night and tried on those Perfect Khaki Shorts (5"). I headed straight for the gray pair I had seen online... but you know what they don't show you online? They have BLEACH MARKS on them. Like, intentional, "I'm cool because my shorts look worn and old" bleach marks, under both front pockets. I was seriously annoyed, especially because ALL of the other colors were free of bleach marks. I ended up getting a purple pair (not shown online), which I really like, and they were on sale for $15, but I'm still perturbed.

This is NOT the look I'm going for.

(Okay I'm exaggerating a little bit. They didn't really look like that. But still, someone remind me why this is a trend?)

Anyway... happy weekend! Stay safe!

May 27, 2010

I gave away all my shorts

Sometime over the course of the last year, in one of my "I haven't worn this in forever so it's going to Goodwill" moods, I got rid of the two pairs of shorts I owned that aren't running shorts. No, I hadn't worn them in a while... but now I'm completely short-less! It took a 95 degree day on Wednesday to realize this. Oops.

While I normally prefer to wear skirts over shorts anyhow, I think I should still pick up a comfy pair or two to get me through the summer, especially since I'll be spending a lot of time down the shore this summer at my mom's new beach house. (Here in the Philadelphia area, "down the shore" is our way of saying "going to the beach." It's just how we do it around here; don't ask me why.)

I am definitely not a fan of denim shorts. I have just never found a comfortable pair, so I usually go for lighter-weight fabrics for those super hot days. I like these Havannah shorts from Fossil, and I like that the pattern is a little on the dressier side... but I'm not sure the number of times I'd wear them justifies the $58 price tag.

I'm short (5'3" on a good day) so finding the right length is key for me when it comes to shorts. I don't need anything riding up all day, thankyouverymuch, but anything that gets too long just looks silly on me. These Perfect Khaki Shorts with a 5" inseam from Old Navy might actually be close to perfect, and I like the neutral light gray. Plus, I can definitely handle $19.95.

While not as practical and classic, these Heatwave shorts from Anthro are damn cute and perfectly nautical. But again with the $58 pricetag... are Fossil and Anthro in cahoots?

Where do you find cute, inexpensive shorts that get you through the summer? (Oh, and I'm going to say it: I think capris are stupid. I just don't like 'em anymore. So please don't even try to talk me into them.)

under the stars

Have I told you how much we love the town we live in? I've lived here, in the same apartment, for almost six years now; Nick moved in with me after two years. We are within walking distance of some fantastic little restaurants and bars, there are some nice little shops and small businesses that we like to support, the people are friendly, and it's just a very happy little place to live. We're a quick 25-minute drive to Center City Philly, a mere 15 minutes away from the airport, and convenient to pretty much everything we need. Now that I work from home, it's not unusual for five or six days to go by without me needing to drive my car anywhere; I can walk to Trader Joe's if we need groceries, and we pretty much never go to a restaurant that requires that we drive there. Why bother when everything we need is right here?

The summer before we got married, they started doing "Dining Under the Stars" on Wednesday nights: the streets are closed off to cars and become filled with tables from all the restaurants, filled with jovial diners. Last night, it was just too gorgeous out to sit at home while we could hear the murmur of the crowd around the corner, so we blew our strict dining-out budget and took advantage.

It was like a bit of happiness and love for our town all rolled into one perfect little evening.

We love this place.

May 26, 2010

app magnets

Oh my. These are just too cute. And about 90% of the people I know are going to need them. (Because I truly think only 10% of my friends and family DON'T have an iPhone. Yup, we're all that nerdy.)

tomatoes = productivity?

Staying productive when working from home can sometimes be a challenge, especially when I'm working on projects that aren't necessarily for a client, but are more self-assigned. I recently discovered, which employs the Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes of work, then a five minute break, and after four "tomatoes" a longer break. Every time you complete a "tomato" and hear the alarm, you log what you worked on, so it's really great for accountability.

Using is what motivated me to have a day free of social networking one day last week. I realized how much time I was wasting on Twitter and Facebook and I needed a break to increase my productivity! For me, it also does double-duty — I need to track my time when I'm doing work for clients, and this way I have a reminder to log what I work on for every 25-minute increment (instead of remembering at 4pm that I should have been tracking my time for the last 7 hours. Oops).

May 25, 2010

missed connections

Have you seen the blog Missed Connections? It's where artist Sophie Blackall posts the beautiful and whimsical illustrations she creates based on missed connections websites. I love the stories and imagery she creates from each snippet she finds.

You can buy some of her work in her Etsy shop.

May 24, 2010

Monday music, vol. 17: Paradise City

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

This song never fails to remind me of three things:
  1. my husband "air drumming" at the beginning of the song (we do it every time we hear it)
  2. the scene with William Lichter in Can't Hardly Wait
  3. my brother and sister-in-law's wedding (they recessed down the aisle to this song — it was so "them"!)

Buy this song here.

bet your bottom dollar

I think it's time I share with you all the secret to my marriage. Well, maybe it's not the only secret to staying happy and minimizing conflict, but as equally stubborn Leos, it is one that Nick and I use often, and it works like a charm. It is...

the dollar bet.

That's right: whenever Nick and I disagree over a fact-based matter, we bet a dollar that one of us has the right answer. If it's something that IMDB, Wikipedia, or Google can clear up for us, we bet a hundred cents, and all arguments cease. We break out the iPhones and when one of us wins (ahem, usually me), the other can't argue — he just has to hand over a buck and wallow in his wrongness. We even bet a dollar on the racing Septa bus competition (Red! No, blue!) that is shown on the jumbotron at Phillies games. It's silly, but I have to say that winning a dollar is the ultimate satisfaction, because you have something to show for your victory. And believe me, we each like to gloat when we prove the other wrong. We're very mature.

I only wish that when we started making dollar bets (years ago... I don't even know how long we've been doing it), we had started keeping track of who wins each bet. I am pretty sure I'd be in the lead...

What's your method for squashing disagreements?

May 20, 2010

i'm alive.

Hey guys... sorry I've been so quiet this week. I have been a little preoccupied with work and feeling a tad uninspired on the blog front. I'm going to take a little break until next week, when I hope that my blog juices will be a-flowin' again! Thanks for sticking around while I take a breather :)

May 17, 2010

Monday music, vol. 16: Here Comes the Sun

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Spring seems to have finally arrived in the northeast (after some back-and-forth "is it winter or is it summer?" confusion). Here comes the sun.

May 16, 2010

yummy (and easy) taco soup

Some fabulous people we know had a beautiful baby girl on Thursday. We had the opportunity to meet her today (she is really cute!) and we packaged up some easily reheat-able dinners that we brought over for the new parents, knowing that they might be a tad too busy to cook in the coming weeks.

One of the meals we made was taco soup — I found the recipe ages ago on, and Nick and I really enjoyed it when I made it before, but we had since forgotten about it. I like it because it's not quite as heavy as chili, but it still has a similar kick to it. It makes 9 servings, so we packed up a few containers for our friends and saved a little for ourselves for dinner tonight. It's delicious, super easy to make, and doesn't dirty a lot of dishes. (This feature is of particular importance to my husband, the designated dish washer of our household.)

Taco Soup
found via, modified by me

1 lb. lean ground turkey

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes w/green chilies

1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies

2 11 oz. cans corn (not drained)

2 15 oz. cans dark kidney beans (not drained)

1 pkg. taco seasoning

Optional toppings:

Tortilla chips

Shredded Cheese

Sour Cream

In a large pot, brown ground turkey over medium heat. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, green chilies, corn, kidney beans, and taco seasoning. Bring to boil, and then simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring often. Serve and enjoy. Garnish with chips, cheese, and sour cream, if desired.

Serves 9

We added a little shredded cheese but skipped the chips and sour cream — still delicious!

ETA: obviously, this recipe could be made with fresh vegetables as well (which would cut back on the sodium) — but if you're low on fresh veggies and time, canned items are a great solution.

May 13, 2010

yes, I NEED it.

This sweet polka dot swimsuit reminds me of one I had as a little girl... and I really do NEED another bathing suit before summer arrives. Really, I do!

via J.Crew

Handmade Nation

image via

Last night I attended a screening of Handmade Nation, an indie documentary by Faythe Levine about the craft movement. I bought the book by the same name last year, but seeing the artists' stories played out on screen was delightful and re-inspiring.

If you are an independent artist or interested in pursuing a craft, I highly recommend seeing this film to get your creative juices a-flowin'. It's available on DVD or there are screenings nationwide. Or, pick up the book!

image via Handmade Nation on Flickr

May 12, 2010


It's a yucky, rainy day here today. I'm just going to keep looking at this pretty photo and hope that a real rainbow will show up with the sun when it comes out later. (Please, sun?)

photo by Livia Cetti, found via Oh Happy Day

May 10, 2010

how to make grocery store flowers look like a million bucks.

Let me begin by saying I greatly admire the work of florists. I do. And I love my mom a lot. But when I'm buying her flowers for Mother's Day (and living on a budget), I can't fork over $50 for a pretty bouquet of something that will die in a week. Just. Can't. Do it.

I have always been a fan of buying grocery store flowers, but of course you don't get the same beautiful presentation in a Trader Joe's bouquet as you would with a professional florist's bouquet. Something about that price tag on plastic secured with a rubber band... just not doin' it for me. Fortunately, if you're resourceful, you can make grocery store flowers look like a million bucks in five minutes.

What you'll need:
  1. grocery store flowers — I bought two bunches of sunflowers from Trader Joe's ($4.99 per bunch of 5)
  2. brown postal wrap — I'm still working with the 75 square feet ($2.50) I got last Christmas!
  3. scissors — I used pinking shears to add some character with the zigzag effect
  4. ribbon or baker's twine — I used green and white baker's twine
Step one:
Remove the store packaging from your flowers and trim the stems (if necessary). Arrange flowers however you'd like and secure your arrangement in place with a piece of twine tied in a bow around the stems.

Step two:
Cut a piece of postal wrap — I cut a piece about the length of the flower stems (from the bottom of the flower buds). Any longer and you won't be able to see your flowers peeking out when they're all wrapped up! And, in case you're like me and can't cut a straight line, I fold over my paper and crease it where I want to cut it, then follow along that crease with my scissors. Works like a charm.

Step three:
Line your flowers up along one side of your postal wrap (with the cut edge at the top of your bouquet if you used pinking shears). Gently roll your postal wrap with the flowers to the opposite side to create a cone-like shape with the wrap. Make sure the bottom of the wrap is more tapered as you roll it to achieve the desired effect.

Step four:
Wrap a long piece of twine around the middle of your postal wrap a few times and tie a bow.

There you go! Now that looks way better than flowers wrapped in plastic, doesn't it?

Monday music, vol. 15: If We Ever Meet Again

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

Most of my selections for Monday music are older songs that bring back happy memories for me... but this one is a little different. I heard this song a million times last week, and it put me in a good mood each time — t's poppy and certainly nothing groundbreaking, but it makes me want to dance. I'm sure I'll be sick of it in another week or two, but for now, I like it (and the video is delightfully cheesy). Enjoy!

Buy this song here.

May 9, 2010

happy Mother's Day

Aren't moms the best?

my mom and me, circa 1984

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

May 7, 2010

Luren Jenison

When we have our own house someday, I'd love to paint some sort of mural in a tucked away space, or maybe my home studio space. I'm earmarking this amazing piece for inspiration; the cross-stitch effect is genius and I love that it doesn't require the entire wall to be covered with the design. You could have little bits and pieces of the design throughout the room.

May 6, 2010

losing it

In addition to Couch to 5K and trying to eat better lately, I've also been tracking my calories with the (free) Lose It! app for iPhone. My friend Emily told me about this app months ago, and I tried it once (and then forgot about it... such is sadly the result of most of my "get healthy" attempts), but recently felt inspired to get back into it. I'm almost two weeks in and I am finding that it really is a great way to keep track of and stay accountable for what I'm putting in my body.

I say that Lose It! tracks calories, but really it does much more than that. Basically, you set goals for yourself (to lose, gain, or maintain your weight), and based on your age, gender, and height, Lose It! tells you how many calories you should consume each day to reach your goal.

Based on my stats and the fact that I want to lose 1 pound a week, I am allowed 1,325 calories per day, assuming I don't exercise at all.

Every time I eat something, I log it into the app; there are many common foods stored in the database, or you can add your own food and nutritional information if there is something you can't find. I eat a lot of the same things (because I'm picky and a creature of habit), so over the first few days, if there was something I couldn't find in the database, I took a minute to add it myself. I added the food, the calories, the nutritional value, the serving size, etc., and that information is now stored in the app for me.

images via Lose It!

I also log all of my exercise into the app. There are many different forms of exercise in the database that you can choose from, and you can choose how long you did an activity and at what difficulty level to determine how many calories you burned. The more calories you burn, the more your daily calorie budget is. (So if I burn 300 calories one day, I now get to eat 1625 calories on that day and still keep up with my goal of losing 1 pound per week.) It's nice to see my net calories decrease after I've worked out, so I can eat a bit more that day :)

image via Lose It! — clearly you know that it was not I who ran for an hour. Ha!

If you create a Lose It! account, you can also view all of your data online, in addition to viewing everything on your phone; the online information seems to be even more extensive. Call me crazy, but there is nothing like a good chart to get me excited about making progress with my weight loss goals. Logging on to the website to see a nice little pie chart of my meal calories for each day makes me just a tad less upset about not allowing myself that giant bagel loaded with delightful cream cheese. (Sorry... ignore my drool. Oh, bagels. Cream cheese. Yummm.)

images above from my personal Lose It! account

As you can see, I've become quite a big fan of this app. I definitely pigged out a lot less last weekend knowing that I had to log everything into Lose It! when I was done. So far, I have lost two pounds, and I'm not gonna lie — I get a ridiculous sense of satisfaction when updating my weight in the app. Ahh, it's the little things in life that keep me happy...

Has anyone else tried the Lose It! app? What are your thoughts?

May 4, 2010

thank you!

Oh my! Feedburner tells me that 600 of you now subscribe to Claremont Road. It's truly an honor to know that you're reading my lil' old blog every day. Thank you for making this blogger a very happy girl!

May 3, 2010

Monday music, vol. 14: To Be With You

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a pick-me-up song with the hopes of helping you begin your week on a positive note. Happy Monday!

I almost forgot about this song... until my friend Colleen recommended it for Monday music. It's the kind of song you put on repeat over, and over, and over again.

Buy this song here.