Dang, y'all are a question-asking bunch of fools. I am happy to tell you that I have crossed a ton of things off my list since Wednesday, and I am no longer in the weeds. I have just a few things left to do, so I'm more like in the... carefully-manicured lawn, let's say.

Anyway. Enough about me. To the questions! (PS, I just opened a delightful bottle of wine, so let's see how that goes.) Questions are in reg, my answers are in bold. Here we go!

My question is--- what are your desert island makeup items? With a special focus on lipstick (for both everyday and partay lips)? I guess technically on a desert island what you would really want is sunblock, but you get the drift! Your makeup always looks cute, and I want to know the secrets!!
October 12, 2011 | Amanda

OK, in no particular order: Philosophy's Hope in a Tinted Moisturizer (It moisturizes! It tints! It has SPF! Yay.); Lorac blush in Desire (the perfect "I am so freshly naturally rosy!" shade); Nars cream eye shadow in Corfu; Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl (perfect red for me); Nars lipstick in Funny Face (perfect pink for me). That is basically all I wear, although sometimes I will put on mascara. I don't have a favorite of that -- do y'all? I wear everyday lips the same as party lips, so I can't get into that, although I do hear good things about Lipstick Queen's "Medieval" shade.

How can I get more time for myself?
October 12, 2011 | Rhonda

Oh, Rhonda. This sounds like a question for Lin Chao. Too bad she's not here anymore. BUT IF SHE WERE, she would tell you: "You want time for self? You make time. You tell family, friends, acquaintances that you busy on Thursday afternoon. You have husband and kids? You say, "Hey, family. Mommy will be back in three hours. Have fun. Order pizza." You have kids, but no husband? You save up $20 for babysitter. Then you go to some place you like: park, coffee shop, bar, library, Sephora. Or go with friends! Your choice. Turn off phone. Turn off brain. You get back when you get back, and you don't feel guilty about any of it. Lin Chao out."

 Also helpful: take up some sort of exercise. Nobody can get upset with you for IMPROVING YOURSELF. I find running really good for this, since it takes at least an hour and at the end I have a calorie deficit which I make up for with a cheeseburger bonus.

Are you watching/what do you think of Hart of Dixie?

I *want* to like it, I do, most especially because it has Jason Street. (Also Summer Roberts and Deshawn Hardell from that time when Brandon had to tutor a basketball player.) But it's just not *quite* there.
October 12, 2011 | Elizabeth

Am I watching? Of course I am -- have you not noticed the character named Anna Beth? The show was created by my friend Leila Gerstein, whom I love and adore, so I'm totally in the tank for Hart of Dixie. And also, of course, Jason Street. And Vince's crackhead dad, who is now the charming mayor! But while I love the show, I will tell you the other one I am obsessed with, and that is Revenge. Little Amy Abbott is all grown up, and she is MAD. I love it. Bangs of Retribution!* (In a terrible moment for me as a recapper, I realize that Eyebrows, who I hated on Everwood, is now one of my favorite characters on The Vampire Diaries. Oh, our fickle allegiances! (Also, Ian Somerhalder is from Louisiana, so we are obviously best friends.))

*TM Joe Reid

Who/what are your three favorite design bloggers or design blogs?
October 12, 2011 | Kimberly

Man, this one is hard. I read a LOT of design blogs. But off the top of my head, and without cheating by looking at my Google Reader list, I would have to say: I Suwannee, Design Crisis, If the Lampshade Fits, Little Green Notebook, Bryn Alexandra, Nick Olsen, Caitlin Creer, and Abigail Ahern. Um. That was more than three, I guess.

What online source do you recommend for a good-lookin' sofa or chaise that is also in a lower price point? Style- I drool over this, but unfortunately it's out of my pricerange...
October 13, 2011 | MontanaJen

Well, I don't consider $2K a lot anymore for a sofa, but that is because I have been assimilated into the decorator borg, which doesn't bat an eye at $10,000 custom eight-way hand-tied silk-velvet-covered WHATEVERS. But I would suggest a couple of things for the budget-conscious: 1) scour Craigslist and/or estate sales for a piece with good bones, and have that sucker reupholstered in your favorite fabric, or 2) Check out this company, which I have never personally used, but hear good things about.

G'day AbChao,

I am about to transplant my family (husband & 4 young kids) to Charlotte, NC from Brisbane, Australia. Which house (furniture & decorating) items do I need to take with me from Australia (in my shipping container) that will be irreplaceable in the USA......and which items from Aus should I ditch as they simply can't compare in quality, look & price to what I will be able to get in the USA?

On a totally separate note, can you please explain to me the penchant for American families to dress their family identically or according to a set theme for a photo shoot or special occasion? At present, exchanges at my house often end up with the following thinly veiled threat....."if you do that again, I'll dress you all the same, take a photo & post it on facebook!" This is working a treat for me, but I am concerned I may have to follow through once we get to there.
October 13, 2011 | Marita

I cannot tell you about what to keep or not keep from Australia, as I am not familiar with their furniture/decor, but I do hear that they have really good shelter magazines, so maybe subscribe to those before you go and you won't have to pay a bazillion $$$ for an overseas one.

The American family photo thing: It is abhorrent, is it not? And yet I admit that I have fallen prey to its identical seduction: I see a photo of a super-cute, adorably tanned family on the beach, all windswept and wearing white (it's ALWAYS white), and I'm equally charmed and repulsed. Also, my mother made me and my brothers wear white shirts (white!) and jeans for a "casual" photo on the bayou once, so I'm also a victim. I have no idea why we do this. I am just saying, one day you perhaps will wake up and have a sudden urge to make it happen for yourself. And I will be here for you.

Ok AB settle this for me, I remember you once saying something about people always buying houseplants that are too small... Yesterday I stood in a nursery for like 20 minutes trying to figure out if each plant I was looking at was too small or too big or juuuust right. It was some serious Goldilocks shit.

Are we talking like 3-4 ft? Help?
October 13, 2011 | Madeleine

All I am saying is, when you're at that nursery, don't buy the cheapest plant in the tiniest container so you can get two of them or whatever. Buy a solo medium-sized, or large-sized one, put it in a nice pot, and water it so it doesn't die. (This mostly pertains to inside plants. Outside is different, because sometimes you have to buy a flat of one-inch stupid pansies or whatever, and then have your ne'er-do-well brother plant them in clumps in your beds for $20. But that is only a hypothetical.)

Also: never buy anything called "Majestic Palm" or "Money Plant." They will die immediately, which is why they are huge and nurseries sell them for eight dollars. Because they grew in a special greenhouse, with grow lights. Like marijuana.

Do you think you'll ever go back to a "traditional" full time job? Also, I have no idea what I want to do as a career, I have a degree in French (which I can basically no longer speak) and law. Suggestions on what I should do?
October 13, 2011 | Ryan

I will never, if I can help it, go back to a traditional full-time job. I can say this now, six months out, but I was a terrible corporate employee. I hated the rules, I hated the schedule, I hated the fluorescent lights, I hated the expectation that I would hang up pictures of my family in my cube, I hated the fact that I had to work on a dumb Windows machine that USED INTERNET EXPLORER, and I especially hated that I wasn't excelling at what I was doing. Now, I did mostly follow the rules, and I left my company on extremely good terms due to the fact that the people I was working for were UNILATERALLY AWESOME, but no. I would never go back.

I love your degree in French and law. I want you to move to France and become some sort of legal worker for the government. Like Paul Child! Do it. It's not too late to get that language perfect again.

My question is a fashion one - do you think women need to stop wearing "fun stuff" at a "certain age"? I saw your one post where you were wearing (if I recall correctly) something like a slouchy sweater, shorts, grey and white striped kneehigh socks, and wedge sandals. It looked really cute and figure appropriate. But do you feel there will be a time when you don't think you can wear such things? But then I think of people like Betsy Johnson who are "older" but in great shape and still wear crazy stuff.....thoughts?
October 13, 2011 | JFTB

OK, so I was wearing that outfit for the photo, but I would never wear it to, like, the grocery store. It would maybe be fine in another city, but I live in a small town where people see me and then report back to my mother on a regular basis. And that outfit would have been ridiculous in April in Monroe in the frozen vegetable aisle. So, yes, I think there is an age where you need to tone it down with the crazy socks and ripped t-shirts and start investing in some nicer wardrobe items. And that age, for me, is 35. So you probably have a ways to go.

How do I get over my fear of wall colour? I tend to go to the beige/grey spectrum and decorate with pops of colour, but I LOVE the bold colours I see in friends' houses. What's an easy transition from my bland walls to something more exciting? Start with a bathroom? One accent wall? Or just suck it up and dewit?
October 13, 2011 | Stephanie

There's no easy transition. You have to paint a swatch, search your soul, and decide if you're going to take the leap. If it turns out horribly, that's OK. It's a pain in the ass to repaint, but it is totally doable. However, yes, I would start with a smaller space. Much easier to fix if you hate it!

What percentage of items that you purchase for your home and your clients actually come from North Louisiana? Are there any secret local spots for great furniture finds that you are willing to divulge???
October 13, 2011 | JEM

I buy a few things from local shops and estate sales, of which we have many, but a huge percentage of the things I buy come from the internet: eBay, etsy, Craigslist, and good old fashioned chain stores like Crate & Barrel and West Elm. It's really a crapshoot: sometimes the sales are good, and sometimes they aren't.

Did you ever want to continue writing for TV after being a writer's assistant on Eli Stone, or was that a one-time thing from your life list?
October 13, 2011 | Leigh

It was never an item on my life list; it was just something really fortunate that happened to me. I would go back to TV writing if a) it were a Greg Berlanti show and b) he would let me decorate everything. I love, love, loved TV writing, but I was certainly not a natural, like your Wendy Mericles and Pamela Ribons. It was very hard work for me, so I would need to have that decorating part to make me feel like I was actually contributing something. (If you must know, I was really very good at dialogue and really very bad at stories.)

What's your favorite mixed drink for colder weather? Share a recipe!
October 13, 2011 | Maggles

Our cold-weather standard is the hot toddy, which I learned from my grandmother, and it goes like this: Heat up some bourbon. Squeeze in some lemon and honey. DRANK IT.

Got any tips on making rudimentary style boards for my house? Like, what programs do you use? How do you select a color scheme or general style for the room? My current style is "clutter," and its driving me and my husband up the wall. I'm attempting to learn how to deal with it.
October 13, 2011 | Marie

I use Photoshop for every design board I make. I wish I knew how to use more advanced programs, but I don't. However, I can help you with the clutter problem. 1) Take everything out of the room. Everything. ALL OF IT. 2) Put ONLY the things you love and/or need back in. 3) Store, trash, or donate the rest. 4) Invest in a dumb amount of containers to organize the things you keep.

Every time I dust the mini-blinds in my house, I hate them more and more. What do you recommend for window coverings (to work with the curtains I already have)?
October 13, 2011 | Julie

Bamboo shades (check pearlriver.com or overstock.com for just about every width/length available). They look great under curtains, like you planned it that way. Just make sure they are hung just below the curtain rod and are a little bit wider than the window.

How do you style a bed? I just got my first house (yay!) but I have lived there since May and I am so overwhelmed with decorating/arranging that I haven't done much. I bought a beautiful slate grey linen sleigh bed from Restoration Hardware and know it had the potential to look beautiful (and it is made correctly thanks to your Dewit) but I haven't bought anything to match it because I don't know where to start. Pillows? A throw? Mixed Textures? Color options? HELP!
October 13, 2011 | Kimberly

I style a bed like this, in order of importance: fitted sheet, flat sheet, pillows, coverlet, shams, throw blanket, throw pillows. Obviously, you have to have sheets/pillows. So that's done. Then, if you want, you can place some decorative shams in front. They can be standard size or Euro size, whichever you prefer. Then, you'll maybe want a quilt or coverlet to sit atop your sheets. Finally, perhaps you will choose a complementary throw pillow and blanket to finish it all off. That's basically it.

This winter and spring I will attend many, many symphony concerts with my boyfriend and his parents. What should I wear? I'll head to the concert hall straight from work most times, so I would need to transition an outfit from day to evening. (Also, it'll be cold and snowy.)

This string of dates is staring at me with narrowed eyes, daring me to look put together.
October 13, 2011 | Megan

Megan! I want you to invest in that wardrobe stalwart, the Little Black Dress. You can accessorize that shit from here to Tuesday. A colorful scarf in fall! A blazer when it gets a little cooler! A pair of adorable tights and your cutest coat in winter! Necklaces. Bracelets. Pink shoes. Whatever. You can't go wrong with this item, and if you do it right, nobody will notice that you have worn it 37 times. For your purposes, I suggest something expensive, sleeveless, and conservatively cut. I've worn an LBD from J. Crew dozens of times, with different accessories, to many compliments, and no one has ever known my secret. (They do now, I guess.) So, go. Spend your money on that LBD, and reward yourself for your intelligence with a couple of cute/cheap accessories from Forever 21.

Sounds like you got triple sat. What kind of restaurant did you work in? Favorite horror story?

Also any after pics of this room yet? Loved the inspiration board.
October 13, 2011 | brandy

I actually only worked as a waitress for about a week, but it SCARRED ME, and now I regularly tip at least 30%. So, you are welcome, servers of the world, due to my tragic experience with the lady who made me carry not only plates, but plate chargers UNDERNEATH the plates.

That room will be done and ready to photograph before the end of this month, so stay tuned!

Who would win in a fight, Gus Fring or Dexter? I say Gus.
October 13, 2011 | The Dorkier Elizabeth

Are you joking? Gus Fring, OBVIOUSLY OH MY GOD WHATEVER. Even with half a face, he would adjust his tie and HE WOULD KNOCK. (To get candy for Halloween.)

Rental apartment with wall-to-wall sad, beige carpet: what to doooo? Is layering an awesome rug over wall-to-wall carpet acceptable?--and if so, what kinds of rugs would work best?
October 13, 2011 | Em

Rug layering is not only acceptable, it's downright trendy. Smaller, differently shaped rugs work best: round, shaggy, cowhide, etc. But if you have an amazing antique Persian from your grandmother or something, do not hesitate to lay that thing down over the carpet.

Ok. So I have to say that from afar, your house partays with friends seem like a big 'ol blast. Every party I've hosted or been to lately ends up being a dud, or inevitably leads to us playing something like Celebrity to ratchet up the fun a notch. Which is to say, "not at all." What are some party tips or things you've done with party guests that are not to be missed. And yes, the more booze involved, the better. Also, a steady stream of lunacy and laughter doesn't hurt. Thanks!
October 13, 2011 | Jen Farhat

Jen, we have only one trick, and that trick is this: buy way too much wine and ABP. You know what that means? ALWAYS BE POURING. Put someone in charge of filling your guests' glasses (like, this person literally goes around filling glasses with his or her never-ending bottle of wine), put another person in charge of fun music, and you will have a rip-roaring party before you know it. You think our parties are good because we are all interesting people? NO. It's because we make everyone drunk. A lot.

How about some decorating ideas that are cheap but have BIG impact?
Please don't say paint... The walls are painted - now I need stuff. Cheap stuff. Thanks!
October 13, 2011 | MP

I'm sorry, but you're going to have to hire me for this one. And I don't really like your attitude.

I originally found you through Tomato Nation...
So, how did you meet "Hateful Buntsy"? Was it TWoP?
Let's have a story from way back when...
October 13, 2011 | MPagain

Oh Lord. OK. I will tell it. The first time I met Sarah Bunting was in 2002, in San Francisco, at a thing called JournalCon. That is when we had blogs, but called them online journals, and talked about our feelings and emotions. We met over a dual love of Marlboro Lights, and never let go. I'll let Sarah tell it, from her OMG NINE YEAR OLD ENTRY:

I know for sure it's totally fine when AB puts two fingers together, waves them, and jerks her head towards the door. Oh, thank God. Smokers. My people. We stand around on the sidewalk and bitch about traveling and bitch about hills and bitch about having to stand around on the sidewalk, and we giggle and dig each other's company and AB met Matthew Perry and it's totally fine.

And then Sars's bag got stolen from the only bar in SF that would let you smoke and then I am pretty sure Pamie bullied her into hiring me to recap Everwood for Television Without Pity and then I loved it when she loved my recaps and then she was here when Madeleine was in the hospital and she wouldn't ride bikes and we called her "Hateful Buntsy" and the rest is history.

How awesome is your friend George? Is it true that he once saved the life of a small Cajun boy by prying him from the jaws of a 27 foot alligator? Have any of your other friends been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize?
October 13, 2011 | Not George

My friend George is so awesome that when I bring up the alligator, he merely says, "Aw, sha, that poor Cajun boy, I hope he is used to using his hooks for arms now," and then he fixes me a bourbon and we play darts. He has not actually been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but he does have a degree in religion, which should qualify him for something beatific.

If you'd never had a baby and are now re-married to the sexiest man in three counties (parrishes), would you try to have a baby? (ohyeah, pretend yer 42 also)
October 13, 2011 | julia

It's "parishes," and I would try to adopt a black baby, like Meredith and Derek on Grey's Anatomy, because black babies are the least adopted in the whole country, and that is a true fact. What? I can't be influenced by the networks? YOU SHUT UP.

My question: what should I layer under this cool Moroccan rug in my living room? (I'll email you photos directly.) It's a tiny ass living/dining/entry in a lovely bungalow, but as tiny ass as it is, the rug still seems too small for the living portion of the room.

The rug is unlike any other I've seen--oatmeal wool with brightly colored yarn and thread woven in here and there. My friend, Katie, brought it back from a Peace Corps stint in the Atlas Mountains. More careful people probably wouldn't let their dog and toddler run amok all over it. But I do.
October 13, 2011 | Alex

I didn't look at your pics, but I don't have to: you should layer a giant jute or seagrass rug under your cool Moroccan rug. Please see Heather Armstrong's living room for inspiration.

About to get married in New Orleans ("destination wedding")! Where do I need to go? What do I need to eat and drink? What is a good "meet-up" bar for friends arriving Thursday night?
October 14, 2011 | Stella

I don't know where you and your friends are staying, but I am assuming it's somewhere near the French Quarter, so I would say: if this is a destination wedding, y'all all need to be on Bourbon or Decatur street the night before. It will be nuts, and kind of smelly, but you will have a good time. If you are into singing, take yourself to the Cat's Meow (Bourbon/St Peter) and try to not get booed off the stage. (I have been only ever booed off the stage.) If the regular tourist places aren't your thing, please direct yourselves to Jean Lafitte's (Bourbon/St Philip), which is a) the oldest bar in the city, b) far down on Bourbon, kind of away from the grossness, and c) not as ick as the others. I would also recommend that you get yourself to Parkway or Mahony's somehow for the poboys and beer. Order the gravy fries. There is also an amazing bar at the edge of the Quarter which serves the most amazing drinks ever (especially Sazzys), and whose name I can't recall, but if you are really serious, email me and I'll try to figure it out.

How many coats of Krylon did it take to paint Marlo's crib, and how long did it take?

I'm having my first in March and have my husband's baby dressers to use (in a dark brown wood that goes perfectly with these http://tinyurl.com/esoule -which I plan to use on the wall), so I am thinking of buying a crib and getting all spray-painty on its ass.
October 14, 2011 | Page

It took around nine cans of Valspar spray paint from Lowe's in the color called BUMBLEBEEEEEEE! I wish you and the nerves in your fingers good luck.

My daughter's room is SO tiny, I mean like maybe 8x10! It is hard for her to keep it neat and she complains all the time that it's so small she "can't breathe" in there. Do you have 1) any tips for good/cheap storage options (girlfriend has 20 pairs of shoes!) and/or 2) techniques to make a tiny space seem larger?
October 14, 2011 | Becky

I would direct you upwards to the advice I gave Marie. PS, that is too many shoes for any person to have.

Who makes your favorite comfortable heeled shoe that isn't - as my husband would say - "buttug"? I already have some Cole Haan nike airs and a pair of Borns. what else... I need some new ones and I bet you know...
October 14, 2011 | netrez

I feel that you meant non-heeled shoe, as Cole Haan and Nike Air doesn't generally make high heels. But whatever, I will tell you both: My favorite non-heels are Rainbow Sandals, Converse Jack Purcell, Nike Free 5.0, and Tieks ballet flats. My favorite heels are, without peer, Kate Spade. They are usually $$$, but they are always beautiful, comfortable, and complimentable. PS, I love "butt-ug" and will be using it in the future.


Also I have somehow messed this thing up so that all of the links I did went away, so if you want links, you are just going to have to wait until tomorrow because I am going to bed GOOD NIGHT.

AuthorAB Chao