Archive for January, 2011

Man, I have been blog crazy recently. Not only have I posted a lot this week, I have been embarrassingly, incessantly stalking the Petersiks (of younghouselove) while they renovate their new house.

So, I’ve decided to put up a few pics of our house (which I haven’t really done before) because I want to see if anyone has ideas as to what we can do with it. Ha! Ryan and I have been here a year-and-a-half and, if Brent has his way and we are lease-abiding residents, we will be here another year-and-a-half— definitely enough time to change things up and have enough time to enjoy it! Before I start with the picture show, I’ll say it’s amazing how much perspective you can get from taking a photograph. It’s such an incredible way to “step out” of the room and see the big picture, without actually having to leave the room.

First room…. drum roll!!!

So, here’s a pretty basic shot of our living room. I’m, generally, pretty happy with this room, given what I have to work with. We can’t paint the walls, we are required in our lease to have that awful (big) blah rug, and we have yet to cough-up $1,000 to get our sofa (which we LOVE by the way) recovered, so we are stuck with A LOT of beige.  The wicker chairs and (little) rug are hand-me-downs, as is the coffee table…  again, working with what we’ve got!

What’s so laughable in this picture is the eye sore that is the big-ass plain wall behind the couch— fortunately our couch faces the other way, so we don’t have to look at it for too long. Our original idea was to cover the walls in art, but after a year-and-a-half, the only art we have amassed is a cut-out Louis Vuitton newspaper ad featuring Keith Richards. Yes, this amazing print, which we someday hope to acquire and custom frame.


I’ve much debated it and I think I can no longer deny it: I need curtains! Any ideas on color, pattern, or texture? Initially, I’m thinking something light and airy, but that has little pops of color, maybe draws in the blue?

Moving on to the dining room.

This room perplexes me the most for several reasons. 1) We use this room for a lot of different functions: eating (obviously) but, for example, right now, I’m typing at it, and I often play guitar in here, so it’s kind of a dining room plus activities room. 2) We’ve basically taken all the pieces that don’t fit anywhere else in our house and put all of them in this room. Note the large, antique, roll-top desk in pic #1 and the full-length dresser in pic #2. Both of these are pieces that we are unwillling to part with right now because they are sentimental and we feel like they could have nice places in our future homes, but right now, I feel like they are dragging our dining room down!

I’ve toyed with the idea of painting the dining room chairs and/ or the base of our table (not necessarily to match) and reupholstering the cushions, but I don’t know if that will do much to affect the overall look of the room. Thoughts? Ideas? We also like the idea of changing up the layout to possibly get more use out of the room, but we don’t know where to start.

Last, we have our bedroom. Speaking of, I don’t think I ever posted final pictures of my headboard makeover, so you’ll get to see it… and I’m talking to you here, Mom.

Here’s a view of what our bedroom looks like when you enter it (minus the usual piles of clothes!). Note the Circa dresser, mirror, and chair!

And here are the ol’ DIY fabric art I made and baby blue— still lookin’ good!

So here’s how the headboard turned out. If it looks a little wobbly, that’s because it is. We have yet to secure it to the bed frame and we’d ideally like to saw a few inches off the bottom… this headboard is unusually tall!

We’re still trying to figure out what to do with this wall. I’ve been thinking about framing some vacation and honeymoon pics (8×10’s or larger), and arranging them in grayish frames to sort of draw in some of the tan and linen colors. Black might work, but I thought it might make this corner of the room look unbalanced and heavy compared to the rest of the room that doesn’t have much black. Any thoughts?

Well, there you have it. Most of our house. We love this apartment dearly and want to make the best use of it, so if you have any fun ideas… shoot them my way!


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Back in November at the DMB show, I was catching up with one of our friends who asked me if Ryan and I were still enjoying our apartment. We have a fabulous apartment in the middle of downtown Cville: hardwood floors, 10′ ceilings, built-in book cases. So, yes, of course we are still loving it! We can walk to almost anything we need and we only have to use our cars about once or twice a week (for errands, visiting friends, meetings, etc.).  In this conversation, he mentioned a theory that I’d never heard of but that I haven’t been able to get out of my head, so I thought I’d share it.

He explained to me a theory called the “Triangle of Happiness”— it claims that the smaller the triangle between where you sleep, work, and shop; the happier the human. But, instead of me defining it, you can read about it here— don’t worry it’s short and has a diagram!

I like to think that Ryan and I are very happy, but I decided to mathematically test exactly how happy we are! So, here are the stats:
– distance from our house to my work= .2 miles
– distance from our house to Ryan’s work= .2 miles
– distance from our house to Barracks Road= 4.2 miles

Less than 5 miles total, pretty amazing, right? There are definitely some downsides to our apartment: it’s a one bedroom, we don’t have laundry in our apartment, and our bathtub is plastic and I refuse to take a bath in it. In general, we probably pay a little bit more for some basic necessities, like groceries and personal items. We hardly ever go to big box stores like Target and favor, instead, paying a higher price but staying within a smaller radius. This not only saves on gas, but by staying away from places like Target, we avoid the inevitable Target impulse shopping— you know, you go into buy toilet paper and shaving cream and come out with half of the households department, two pairs of earrings, a sundress, some flip flops, a soy candle, and a garden stool. So, maybe we do save money in the end? Note: all of the things listed in the “theoretical” impulse shopping list above are things that I have actually purchased from Target.

I think this happiness theory is so fascinating because it so starkly contrasts the idea of happiness that I think most people have. When I think of “happiness”, the first thing that comes to mind is an image of a pure blue swimming pool by a villa in the Hollywood Hills, a stainless-steal sub-zero fridge stocked with fresh Whole Foods produce, and a pilates instructor that makes private house-calls. But, I guess, it turns out, my little routine of walking from my one-bedroom apartment to work in 18 degree weather might make me just as happy.

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Have you guys heard the predictions of orange being the hot color for spring? I sure have… and I’m kind of loving it. I suppose orange has an unusual place in my life, being the dominant school color of both my high school and college, and I should be tired of it by now, but I’m not! In fact, when I think about orange, I don’t really think about the ruddy 70’s orange of Monacan high school nor do I think of the carefully selected, perfectly replicated, highly saturated orange of U.Va. athletics. I’m loving the idea of blues and oranges together: navy and clementine, aqua and coral. Here’s how orange has been capturing my attention (and imagination) recently:

Around the kitchen.

In old sheet music.

Around the house.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with all this inspiration— maybe we’ll have to throw some kind of party so I can decorate!— but I figure it’s not a bad idea to compile the images that inspire me and draw upon them when I need them. I know a lot of people have look books or inspiration books, but I stole my idea directly from Ryan’s company, Filament, who prepared inspiration books, in tandem with the video and lighting design,  for Tim McGraw’s 2011 tour. I thought the idea of showing an inspiration book to a very high-end client was so unexpected and kind of genius. It’s risky, because done poorly, it could end up looking like a magazine photo collage on a 13 year old girl’s bedroom wall. But, done well, it can convey the entire feeling of tour, without the dreaded corporate, power point presentation or nervous blabbering that often accompanies such power points.

As for me, though, a more practical application of my orange inspiration might be in my wardrobe! Lord knows it needs some help. I found these cute orange finds this morning at bananarepublic.com.

I have to say, though, silk?!? Seriously, I am so sick of silk. I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would slap me if they could hear me (though, this would require them knowing that I exist), but seriously, who wants to go to the dry cleaner that much? I love silk tops but I end up wearing them about twice a year because I wear them once and then they sit in my drying cleaning pile for months, so I never get any use out of them. So, here’s hoping my orange inspiration will bring some nice, cotton, orange tops my way this spring.

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I’m so happy to be able to post that one of my best friends, Jenn McDaniel, recently got engaged to her boyfriend, Brodie Downs! This is a pic of Jenn and Brodie shortly after they met… I think this was taken in June of ’07.

Brodie had planned to pop the question during a trip they had scheduled to Haiti, but after snow kept their flight from getting out, he had to resort to Plan B and ended up popping the question back at home here in Charlottesville on December 26th.

Jenn and I met each other at U.Va. when I was going through rush as a 2nd year. I ended up pledging AXO, where Jenn was already a member, and we got to know each other through some common classes we were taking. Then, at the end of fourth year, when everyone was trying to decide what to do and where to move, Jenn and I figured out that we were both planning to stay in Charlottesville, so we decided to live together. Thus began, our three-year run, if you will, in River Run (the subdivision we were living in). Jenn and I did so much together those three years: walks in the neighborhood, Tuesday nights at South Street, watching cheesy chick-flicks together, NBC 29 parties, countless dinners and conversations, and everything in between. I was so blessed that Jenn could stand beside me as I got married, and now, I’m so happy to be a part of Jenn’s big day!

Note: Contrary to the title of this blog post “Jenn and Brodie!” this montage should probably be named “Jenn and Maria!”. What can I say, the groom always gets slighted!

Me and Jenn at Monticello.

Out at Mellow. One of my favorite pics of us!

And, here’s one of my favorite, favorite candid shots from my wedding. Photo by Liz Hough.

And, here’s all “my girls”– minus Mel! Love this one, too!

You can see more photos of our wedding here and here.

I know the entire celebration is going to be so joyous and beautiful… I can’t wait for the big day! Congrats Jenn and Brodie!

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I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted to post my new year’s resolutions. It seems so private… pointing out to other people areas where you feel inadequate. But, then, I remembered one of my reasons for beginning this blog. I really wanted to stop hiding, I wanted to stop worrying about what people would think if I were really myself— I wanted to be more open and more accountable to myself and other people. So, here I go, resolutions for my 26th year of life, the year 2011!

1. Gossip less. See, I told you. I’m really calling myself out on the bad stuff. I feel like I never intend to gossip— like I might just starting updating someone on how someone else is doing, but then my simple fact-telling turns in editorializing and judging, and then I end up saying things that, first of all, I don’t really mean or believe most of the time, and secondly, I would never want other people to hear me say. So, less gossiping for me.

2. Talk less, listen more. This is similar to my first one, actually, but has a different end. The first part (talk less) applies to when I am talking just to fill space, and when I do that, I end  up saying things off the cuff, things that I didn’t really think through, and I end up not presenting myself in a way that is genuine or smart. The second part (listen more) is both about how I present myself but also about how people feel when they talk with me. I read or heard something recently that explained that when you interrupt, talk over someone or finish their thoughts for them, it’s not only rude but also makes the other person feel belittled (or even angry, I imagine). I don’t want to come-off as a know-it-all, so hopefully next time you talk to me, you’ll notice a new patience in my communicating.

3. Get in shape. For reals. Okay, this one is probably the most daunting for me because there are actual, measurable results… by which, I can fail.  Even for the wedding last year, when I lost a little weight, I never really got in great shape. I’ve actually never really been in great shape. I’ve always just managed to be sort of average without ever being athletic or doing much to get there. So, I really want to change that. The past six months of been doing pilates once a week and it’s been making a huge difference in my muscle strength, and my success with pilates is making me want to add more and see if I can actually get into respectable shape.

4. Get our finances straight. Before Ryan and I even got married, we struggled with the idea of how to manage our different bank accounts. Our accounts were at separate banks and neither of us liked the idea of giving our accounts up and changing banks— we wanted the other person to do it. We did open one joint account to deposit money that we received from the wedding, but other than that we didn’t make many big financial adjustments after getting married. We kind of floundered through our first year of marriage (financially speaking, of course), alternating who was paying what bills, and we  were met with the additional challenge of me not having an income. So, this is the first year that we have two reliable incomes and we have an actual system of budgeting and saving our money. We created an account on mint.com, which I cannot recommend enough. Mint.com allows you to see all of your accounts and transactions in one place— from all different banks and credit cards— which allows you to see the big picture of your finances without anyone having to change banks. For us, this was a huge step in realizing what we were actually spending, where we were spending it, and figuring out where we can save a little. My hope for 2011 is that we can feel truly stable and not worrisome about our finances by this time next year.

Well… that’s about it. It’s a pretty tall (self-imposed) order. But, I think I can do it. All of my goals kind of hit on different areas of my life, so I can spread out when and how I focus on them. Wish me luck!

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Dodson Brunch

We had a great time this weekend with Ethan and Alli— I know what you’re thinking— haven’t they left yet? Yes, they have. But, they had to come back to Cville to pick up a few things, so we couldn’t let them get back on the road without anything in their stomachs. And, you know, there’s something else about these pictures that is different than most pictures on the blog. See if you can tell what it is!

Me with our guests.

I’ll spare you from photos of every dish but I’ll give you the highlights. We had mimosas with fresh-squeezed orange juice. And, you’ll notice the shape of that pitcher might look a little familiar. That’s because it’s an old Patron bottle that we thought we’d save to use as a flower vase, but it seems to work quite nicely as a pitcher.

We also had a spinach and sausage breakfast casserole, Cafe Cubano style potatoes, and fresh fruit. We had a such a great time that we found ourselves lingering at the table well into the afternoon and we found ourselves wondering why we hadn’t done this before.

And, look here’s a picture of me.

Does that give you a clue as to what’s different about these photos? That’s right, I’m in them! Which means, Ryan took them! That never happens!


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I was just re-reading some old blog entries and I came across an entry where I promised to post pictures of a mirror my brother had refinished for me . I really wanted to put this up, not only because I love the mirror so much, but also to show how talented my brother is. I really didn’t give him any direction on the mirror at all, except that I wanted it black and distressed looking. Everything else, he did on his own accord.

So, here’s the mirror before being treated at all. Such an amazing, raw find at Circa!

Some of the amazing detail that sold me!

And, here’s pics of the finished product.

And, more…


It’s so funny to look at the room that’s reflected in the mirror. This shows our bedroom shortly after we moved in and and it’s soooo different from how it looks now (bedding is different, lamps are different, bedside table is different, rug is different… everything!). One day, if I work up the guts, I’ll maybe do a room-by-room tour of our whole apartment, but I don’t know if I’m bold enough for that yet. I always feel like I’m just one or two design changes away from having the room exactly how I want it, so it never feels perfect or done! But, I guess that’s the fun of it.

Love it, thanks, Nick!



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