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Entries in questions answered (5)

Thursday
Aug162012

Your Turn To Talk: Entertainment Achieved.

 

Photo by Madeleine Chao

Hoo, y'all are some funny people. I love getting comments, obviously, but I especially love getting entertaining, well-written comments involving possums. AND our air conditioner has been temporarily fixed, so I am typing this from the relative comfort of 78 degrees instead of 90! Thank you all so much for this -- it really made a miserable situation a hundred times better. Anyway, here are some of my fave comments from yesterday:

  • It could be worse. You could have broken AC and a recently deceased squirrel in your bathroom wall with another trying to get out by clawing a hole in the shower ceiling.

    I may or may not have bathed in my powder room sink for a couple days whilst drinking mojitos.

  • There was a brief spate of nice weather here (Oxford, UK) and after a couple days of intense sun and higher-than-usual temperatures (which means about 28C/82F) it characteristically clouded over again. And then I saw a sandwich-board proclaiming "HEATWAVE OVER!" I shit you not. And I laughed like a crazy person in the middle of the sidewalk for a good couple minutes. Heatwave indeed.

  • Oh lord, I have too many broken A/C stories to tell but the worst one was when a possum made himself a home in my attic, chewed through through the insulation and bit down on to some wiring to the compressor, ELECTROCUTED HIMSELF, and shorted out the whole system while I was on vacation last summer. Came home to find the house reeking to high heaven, called the repairmen and when they fixed the whole thing and turned it back on - brace yourself - POSSUM FUR AND BITS CAME SHOOTING OUT. OF. MY. AIR VENTS.

  • Joke from my 24 yr old sister:

    Q: How did the Hipster burn his mouth?

    A: He ate the pizza before it was cool

    Joke from my 3 year old:

    Him: Knock knock

    Me: Who's there?

    Him: Cookoo Banana

    (His joke telling needs some work)

  • My broken AC story is two years ago, on the hottest day of Mordor, our AC broke. I sat with a bowl of ice cubes in front of a box fan in the narrowest hall of the house about 6 inches away from it and read from start to finish, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

  • I grew up in south Mississippi, and worked with a friend at my dad's hardware store in high school. One August, he made us rearrange a few dozen fiberglass tub surrounds in an un-airconditioned warehouse. We have never forgiven him for this, nor have we forgiven fiberglass tub surrounds. (They didn't have much cred to begin with.)

Hee! Love you all. “HEATWAVE OVER!” makes me laugh every time I think about it. And now, as promised, answers to your questions. Some of them – like the ones about sourcing large art and decorating with confidence and rants against tab-top curtains – are things I talk about at camp, and as you know, what happens at camp stays at camp. Which means you will just have to sign yourselves up and come on. The rest of the questions fell into one of several categories, which I've helpfully put into groups for you. So let's get to it.

Food/Drink

Please describe your perfect pizza.

Wood-fired, tomato-based sauce, mozzarella, sausage, arugula, extra pepper. WHY DID YOU ASK THAT QUESTION I AM STARVING.

What is your favorite snack food?

Sunflower seeds, hands down. Although popcorn runs a close second.

Got any good drink recipes? Artsy beer recs?

My favorite recipe goes like this: 1. Put ice in a cup. 2. Pour bourbon over ice. 3. Drink all up. Otherwise, I enjoy a Greyhound/Salty Dog in the summer (vodka, grapefruit juice, salted rim for Salty Dog).

Beer recs: Abita, forever. Preferably a strawberry one with a shrimp po-boy on the side.

 

Fashion/Makeup

How do you feel about Emersonmade t-shirts? How do they fit?

I feel good about them and love them with all my heart, especially the white tees and tanks. They run pretty true to size. Sadly, they don't seem to be available anymore, but maybe EMERSON IS READING THIS AND WILL CHANGE THAT HINT HINT.

What are your favorite running shoes?

I wore Nike when I first started running, then switched to Brooks about a year ago. I love them both, specifically the Nike Free line and the Brooks Launch. HOWEVER, I have had my eye on a different brand lately. I will report back on this matter.

I want to start wearing makeup, but I've never done it and it's super intimidating to me. What's the one item that would be best to start with (either "best gateway drug" or "most essential")? Is it weird if I start using eyebrow pencil? I have very light eyebrows but when I put on eyebrow pencil they look terribly severe and fake.

I would say most essential is a tinted moisturizer or foundation – something to even everything out and hide flaws (not that you have any flaws, of course. I'm sure you are lovely.) Go to a higher-end dept. store (Do not be intimidated! The people who work there are there to HELP YOU.), tell them what you want, and you will probably go home with a bag full of samples. I do not like foundation and wear either Philosophy or Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (with SPF, natch). Eyebrow pencil: yes, but sparingly. I have the eyebrow problem, too, and I found a wax/powder combo at Target (the e.l.f. line) that has been great and avoids the drawn-on look.

How should I style/tolerate/live with growing-out bangs without succumbing to cutting them again?

This is the hardest thing to do, isn't it? Regular trims, just to shape them up, will help a lot. If you have a nice hair person they might even do this part for free. Also, having the bangs blended into your style as they grow also helps. Um, and bobby pins.

 

Interiors

What would you do about an ugly brass chandelier in a rental apartment?

I would switch it out and then put it back up when I moved. I would ask forgiveness instead of permission for this maneuver. Depending on your landlord, he/she might not even notice. I would, however, avoid electrocuting myself while doing this. Landlords definitely notice dead bodies.

When my husband paints a room, he paints the door the same color and keeps the frame around the door white. Is that something people do?

What a funny habit! It is not something people do, that I know of. I would either paint the trim the same color as the room and the door, or leave the trim white and paint all doors a uniform non-wall color (say, black).

Do you offer one-on-one design consultations?

Yes.

What would you charge, if you did?

I would charge an hourly rate.

Would you be willing to make a house call while you are in NY for camp?

Yes. Email me! (See “Contact” link.)

How does one successfully paint the Line of Doom between wall and ceiling? The one that looks different if dealing with natural vs. lamp light? Our house has those textured walls that are interesting, I suppose, but make said line all the more impossible because one cannot tape. All white? Paint ceilings blue? Hire professionals? Give up and drink margaritas until the line cannot be seen? That basically sums up all of the solutions I have considered up until this point.

With something like this, you either need a very steady hand, or you just have to accept it and move on. I would not be able to move on, so your options are: paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, which could look awesome; paint the ceiling a different, but non-white color; paint everything white; or get up there with a tiny brush and fix the mistakes like that. I vote for the first option.

Should I paint my dining/living room black and white like Emily Henderson's guest room?

Yes.

Is a cowhide rug AND a sheepskin too much livestock for one room?

Hell, no! In fact I would recommend some sort of taxidermy or antler scenario. Just kidding. Maybe.

Another thing you could do to mitigate the farm/ranch look is to bring in some less-rustic materials: a shiny mirror, a mercury glass lamp, some silk/satin/velvet pillows, etc.

Any ideas on styling around works-in-progress or entertaining while renovating?

There's no way to hide or decorate around that, so just own it, like it is a normal thing in your life. Brush it off with a, “Oh, I am just so sorry about this, y'all! You know how renovations can be.” And then shepherd everyone into the good rooms and serve them lots of cocktails.

 

Miscellaneous

Did you like Pamie's book?

Yes. Although I love all of her books, I think You Take It From Here is her best and strongest work. And that Smidge. She seems so familiar...

How do you get your photos to look so good? The whites are always so clean and so bright.

Thank you! I am a big fan of the custom white balance setting on your camera. (The manual will tell you how to do this, and it is very easy.) I am also a big fan of Curves, Levels, and Color Balance in Photoshop. In fact that is almost all I use. With the color balance tool, you can remove the red/yellow tones that sometimes show up in pictures straight out of the camera.

I'm thinking of starting a blog -- what's your biggest piece of advice on getting started?

The two most important things for looking pro and maintaining readers: 1. Your own domain name. 2. Post consistency, whether it's three times a day or three times a week. That's it. Start with that and you will be miles ahead of everyone else.

Who is your favorite Friday Night Lights character?

TAMI TAYLOR OBVS.

 

Existential

Do you believe in destiny, or do you think that life is basically random?

I believe in random destiny. Just kidding. Like Oprah, I believe in preparation meeting opportunity. And potato chips.

Thursday
Feb162012

Dewit Design Camp: Q & A

I've been practicing my moody, haphazard floral design/photography. It is HARD, y'all. (Inspired by Ariel Dearie, a New Orleans native, natch.)

Thank you all for the Camp excitement! That makes me so happy. A few of you have written in with questions, which I will answer below. And if you have more questions, email or ask in the comments.

Q: When is [city] Camp going to be?

A: Well, here's the thing. Nothing has been scheduled in any city besides New Orleans. That is for a couple of reasons: a) I've been secretly offering the New Orleans class to locals for a while, so it was very easy to fill (there are a few spots left!), but b) I had no idea if anyone elsewhere would be interested. So if you think you might be even the tiniest bit into going, email me (and it would be super-helpful if you put the city name in the subject line) or tell me in the comments so I can get a feel for the most popular cities and can schedule accordingly. Also, if you would like Design Camp to come to your city, tell me that in the comments too!

Q: Can inexperienced designers attend?

A: YES. This is for people of all skill levels, but most especially for those of you who have no idea what to do or where to begin. Because that is what I am going to show you. And it will be super fun. Also there will be cupcakes.

Q: What all will we learn at Design Camp?

A: Girl, so much. Here is the list I've got in my current syllabus (Syllabus! HAHAHAHAAAAAA.):

Basic principles and elements of design
Starting from scratch
Using and repurposing existing items
Common mistakes (DEWITs)
Putting it all together (DEWINNIT)
Styling it all up
Basic flower arranging*
Shooting interiors

ALSO:
Paint and wall coverings
Window treatments
Lighting
Furniture and rugs
Accessories
Art
Sourcing
Q & A

Q: Do I need to reserve all day on both days for this?

A: No, each day should run from morning until about mid-afternoon, with breaks for lunch and snacks. So you still have time to go home afterward, catch a disco nap, and get dressed to go out on Saturday night. I assume that's why you asked.

Q: Is there any way to schedule a one-on-one session or in-home consultation?

A: Yes, I am offering both to Camp attendees, at a discounted rate (Attendees will also receive a discount on all decorating services). These will be scheduled before and/or after Camp hours.

Q: Is everything going to be awesome?

A: Yes.

 

*Not like craziness in above photo, unless you're into that sort of thing.

Friday
Oct142011

Q and A: Your Weeds Reward.

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...
http://www.digsshowroom.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5_21_134&products_id=4800
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.
http://www.abchao.com/blog/2011/7/22/local-client-boys-room.html
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.

OH MY GOD I AM SO TIRED OF TYPING. I HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED THIS. FAREWELL. MY BOTTLE OF WINE IS EMPTY. I WILL CONTINUE TYPING IN ALL CAPS UNTIL I FALL ASLEEP. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

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.

Thursday
Feb242011

Your Questions Answered, Part II

Hank would like you to know that he turned a year old this month. We don't know when his actual birthday is, so we just say "February."

Do you enjoy gratuitous pictures of dogs? I do. Hank is such a good boy. Yesterday I got him to balance a macaron on his nose for 5 minutes.

Today we are going to knock out the rest of those questions you asked me a few weeks ago.  But just a select group -- some of your questions required such long answers that I am going to post them as entries. (Part 1 is here.) Let's go!

What’s the weather like where you live? Is your house well insulated? I only ask because you have that gorgeous porchy/patioey sort of room and a really fun garage, and I wonder how much use you get out of it. Well, it is Louisiana, so: hot and humid a lot of the time. You know that joke that seasons in the south are "Almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas"? That's about right. But the weather is mild for a lot of the year (like today it's 73 degrees), so we do get a ton of use out of the porch. Also, we have lots of fans. And no, our house is totally not well-insulated -- just one of the perks of living in a house built in the '40s.

The question is what ever happened to Greg Berlanti and you? I...I can't. It's just too painful to talk about. The breakup was horrible.

Just kidding! GB and I are still great pals and we email to express our love for each other every so often. It makes me sad that I don't get to see his sweet face all the time anymore like when I was working for him, but I make sure we keep in touch. I am not exaggerating when I say he changed my life. I don't know how to express how grateful I am to him for that. Seriously, I just got kind of teary writing that sentence. (Cheesy, but awesome!)

What is your favorite thing that Vince cooks? This is going to require a top 5. There's no way I can choose a favorite. 1. Shrimp and crab gumbo (based on my grandmother's recipe) 2. BBQ pork banh mi 3. Jambalaya (based on my friend George's recipe) 4. Ginger-chili shrimp 5. The Best Chicken Salad Ever (recipe here -- we omit the eggs, obvs) I want to start running too. Any tips for a beginner? Yay! I love it when people want to start running. The biggest tip I have is, start with Couch to 5K and DO NOT GIVE UP no matter what. It will hurt and suck and be hard and you will hate it, but one day, a couple months from now, you will realize that you can run 3 miles without stopping. Then, sign up for a race so you don't lose momentum. After that, sign up for another race. You will feel great about yourself and sometimes, superior to others. These are good things. Also, your legs will be super hot. How do you get your hair to be cute 100% of the time? I can only seem to sort mine out 60-70%, and it’s annoying. Oh, girl. Here is the dirty little secret of internet cuteness: I only post the good pictures. Today my head looks like Helena Bonham-Carter and a Pomeranian had a particularly ugly baby. This also goes for makeup. Why do you think I post so many headless pictures? So do not fret, because 60-70% sound like pretty good stats to me. My question: Is Mad aware of how well known her parents are on the Internet? Hmm. I'm not sure. I think she is definitely becoming more aware of it as she gets older, but she gets really kind of embarrassed when her friends tell her they read my blog and like my photos or whatever. Sometimes she'll offhandedly say stuff like, "Oh, I forgot you were so poppi on the Internet." So yes, I suppose she gets it, but I don't know that she really has a concept of  how very, very long 10 years of blogging is. On that note, let's talk about how awesome the word "poppi" is. God, I love teenagers. Your garage post has re-inspired me to finally get on to our own makeover of a very similar space. But, what’d you do with all the stuff? I gave 90% of it away and tossed everything else. Everything in there was either old furniture, boxes of junk, or paint cans and tools. The paint cans etc. went to the back of the garage behind the yellow doors (it all fits!) and my main man Ferrial (he is technically my housekeeper, but that word insufficiently describes his awesomeness) hauled everything else off in a truck. Will you ever post your old blog archives again? I will if I can find them. They are on a hard drive somewhere. Maybe. I would have to look? QUIT ASKING ME QUESTIONS! Do you lurk on anyone else’s blog, envying them? If so, who?! Of course! There are way too many fabulous people on the Internet these days. Lately I'm loving every last one of the people in my sidebar. (Oh, what, you thought I was going to name names? Suckers!) I’ve seen some amazing sock monkeys on your flickr page and was wondering if you made them yourself? If so, please post more details! I did, with some help from a friend. I used a pattern I found online by googling "sock monkey pattern." It was pretty easy, but stuffing the arms/legs is really fiddly and annoying. I would advise the use of a chopstick for this part. Do you think about design when you run? I do, and I’m hoping I’m not the only oddball. I think about design when I run, when I am driving home from work, when I'm in the shower, when I'm sleeping, and basically all other times of the day. You are no oddball, sister. When can we buy your book? And how do you pronounce the name of this delightful website, anyway: hash-ay or haz-hai? That is very nice of you to say. You can buy my book on the twentieth of never. Writing is hard, y'all! You say hashai like this: hah-SHY. Don't be shy, go ahead and say it.

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Tuesday
Jan182011

Your Questions Answered, Part I

Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to announce that delurking day was a success. So many of you wrote to introduce yourselves and/or ask questions! Thank you. It made me very happy. As a reward, please enjoy this picture of my brother helping to paint the garage floor. img_0964 I cannot believe how many of you came from either Pamie or TWoP. Worlds collide! Anyway, I am off to the exciting land of Salt Lake City, Utah tomorrow morning for Alt Summit -- where I will rain down mighty design awesomeness on all who dare pass before me -- but I thought I would answer a few questions before I go. This shenanigan will definitely have to be a multi-part thing, so stay tuned. Here goes: Lauren asked: If you had to wear a single outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would wear a striped bateau top, cropped skinny jeans, and Jack Purcell Converse. This is basically my uniform, Lauren. I don't think I could choose anything else. Pamela asked: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sense of style later in life, or do you have to be born with one? I seem to be missing the oh-so important fashionista gene, and lately, that’s been making me sad. When I want to make myself or my surroundings look pretty, I basically have to copy what I see on television or in magazines, or mimic what the cute girls at work are wearing. Any tips for cultivating a stronger sense of personal style at a (somewhat) advanced age? I'm no expert, but I think it's definitely possible to develop a sense of style. We're kind of all mimicking each other anyway, right? I mean, that's what I do – look at awesome rooms or outfits and then re-interpret them with what I have available to me. My advice would just be to immerse yourself in whatever -ista scene you are interested in, then fake it until you make it. Be bold. You can do it! I am Bela Karolyi! Anna @ D16 asked: Did Mad get mad (heh) at all when you did her bedroom makeover on the sly? Because I would have FREAKED OUT if my mother had touched all of my stuff when I was a teenager. Was I just a really paranoid, bad kid? She did not get mad at all. I think she was too young to be in the “don't touch my things!” phase of her life – if we had done it just a year or two later, I could see that happening. The redesign of her room has been amazing in that it really stands up, both to time and to teenagers with Cheetos and glitter blush. Nat asked: What do you do for a living? Well, Nat, it's very exciting. I am a writer for a telecommunications company. I handle internal communications, so if you recently got an awesome Employee News update, you're welcome. Phoebe asked: What is your favorite accessory for Hank? Hank has many accessories, but I would have to say my favorite one is his bright red bandanna. Or as he prefers to call it, his ascot. I am really, really tempted to have him a little jacket made like this, but I am afraid it would break his spirit. Kristina asked: What were you like as a kid? I was a lot like I am now: overly hyper, overly enthusiastic, overly spazzy. Back then I channeled all of my excess energy into gymnastics (state champ, what what!), and I read a lot of books. I was also very, very tiny, like the kind of tiny where you are still wearing a kid's size 10 in high school. Becca asked: Real Simple tells me I should try painting my bedroom a jewel tone. I am thinking a peacock blue. Is this a good idea or a bad idea? I get good light in there and the trim is white. My bed is dark gray/black (matte) and new so I am not really interested in ditching it. Other than that, furniture and accessories are pretty flexible. You should absolutely paint it peacock blue, if that is a color that makes you happy and you love it. People always say, “If I hate it I can always paint over it,” like it's no big deal, but let's face it: painting is a pain in the ass. So get a sample and live with it on the wall for a few days. If you still love it, go for it! I love peacock blue myself, and it would be TRULY amazing in a high-gloss finish (this requires a professional). All of your things – trim, bed, etc. – will look great with it. Get one bright red or yellow accessory! Megan asked: I ran a 5k last year and then kind of stopped, but I really want to get back into it. How did you initially get into running and how do you stay so dedicated to it? Do you have a preplanned schedule? Do you sign up for races to keep you motivated? I got into running a couple of years ago because I was pushing maximum density and I couldn't stop smoking. Running is really good for remedying both of those problems. I stay dedicated by having someone (my husband) to run with so I always have to be accountable, and by signing up for race after race. If you are paying that much money to do something, you damn well better do it. Plus, it's an excuse to take fun vacations: after the NOLA half we are going to sign up for a race on the beach somewhere. Stacey asked: How do you think the Saints will do 2011-12? I think the Saints will ROCK 2011-2012. They don't have the pressure of “Two Dat” on them anymore, and also, my boyfriend Drew Brees told me so. Who dat! Kate F. asked: How does it feel to be the nexus between the funny TWoP-type interwebs and the pretty, designy ones? It feels weird, but right. It feels snarky, but pretty. It feels Bunting, but Loechner. It feels cheesy, but awesome. And finally, Bethany asked: Can you and Pamie post more videos of you guys together? They’re great. Bethany, I invite you to watch this video of me and Pamie playing ping-pong. I think you'll find it ridiculous in all the right ways.

Untitled from ab chao on Vimeo.

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