Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Things We Did and Didn't Do

A sad song for your Saturday night, by The Magnetic Fields.


All the things I knew I didn't know and didn't want to know
that you told me just to tell me later that you'd told me so
come flooding back to me now 

Come on 
Come flooding back to me now
All the things you said you'd never say and you said anyway
The things we did and didn't do 

The things we did and didn't do
come flooding back to me now

How to Recreate an Ugly Dorm Room

If you've been to college, chances are you're familiar with the horrible dorm rooms that most students are forced to live in. If you, like me, are one of those unfortunate students, then you know how hard it is to fix up a tiny room that you have to share with another person and two sets of ugly furniture in a way that actually makes it look nice and homey. After several years of doing this, I've accumulated some wisdom in this area. Here are my tips on how to make your dorm room comfy and pretty.

First off, this is what my dorm room this semester looked like when I moved in:

Lovely, I know. All that's missing is bars on the window. However, I picked this dorm because of one reason and one reason only: the rooms had exposed brick walls. I think that's a gorgeous aesthetic--especially when compared to the normal whitewashed cinderblock in most dorms.

This is what my room looks like now, along with my tips:

First of all, I'm only showing my side of the room and not my roommate's (mainly to respect her privacy). That's an important thing to think about, by the way: you'll most likely have a roommate, and you both will have to compromise about everything, including how your room looks. I was lucky enough that my roommate was okay with us using my rug that I'd hand-painted over the summer (I'll include a tutorial for that one day soon):

Sadly, what with two desks, two dressers, two beds, and two closets, there simply wasn't much room left over for my cheap but comfy butterfly chair that I got from Kohl's. It's just sort of awkwardly sitting next to my bed, taking up room. So here's another tip: Make sure you only bring what you know will fit. Dorm rooms are seriously TINY. You can always get more stuff from home later.

This brings me to my next point: Use the space that you do have wisely. Here's a picture of my desk:

As you can see in this somewhat messy photo (oops), I use my desk to store a lot of different things. My favorite books that I brought from home and books for my classes; perfume and a jewelry box; nail polish; folders and important papers; my Mac (of course); drawing and art supplies; and even some art and framed photos. It can be hard making it not look cluttered, like it does now since it's the end of a long, busy week, since this is the surface that I use the most in my room. Usually, though, it's really not hard to make it look a little more organized and aesthetically pleasing--trust me.

One easy (and cheap) way to organize your belongings is to get a bunch of those sticky hooks and put them all over your room for hanging things up. Here, I used them to hang up one of my framed pieces of art and my most-used purse, right next to the door for easy access.
It's not the prettiest way to hang things, but it is really easy and useful. Definitely invest in some of those.

Speaking of art, the best way to make your dorm room look more grown up and classy is to hang up a few well-chosen posters or prints. I have framed photographs, drawings and paintings of my own, and framed prints hanging up all over my room to add some visual interest. Posters are another popular way to go, especially in college. I would just recommend that you steer away from the ever-popular cliche posters that every college freshman has in their dorms, usually with someone like Marilyn Monroe or Bob Marley on them. Pick something that is unique and that really says something about who you are.
Personally, I love taking Polaroids, so I hung my small collection up on my closet door to make it look less boring. Also notice how I used those cheap hooks again to hang a mirror and my necklaces.

Another important reason for decorating your room with art is that, well, a lot of things in dorm rooms can be downright disgusting and you'll just have to be creative to deal with it. Take a look at my desk chair, for example:
I know. It made me want to puke too.

For me, there wasn't anything I could do about this horrible chair (it has a rocking feature too, which is the most annoying thing ever). Usually you're just stuck with the furniture that the dorm comes with. So in this case, I used a bit of ingenuity to make my chair prettier and comfier: I draped it with blankets. 
Simple and easy--and it looks so much better now, right?

You'll also want to make your bed look nice, as it's pretty much the focal point of the room and you'll be spending a lot of time there. I decorated the wall next to mine with art that I made, and I added a comfy throw and a small decorate pillow that I made out of an old purse. Also of importance is the bedspread that you choose.
Mine is just a simple white down comforter that I got from Kmart for $15. I personally prefer the look of white beds because it always looks so peaceful and inviting. If you go for color, though, make sure to remember once again that you will have a roommate. You don't want your two sides of the room to clash horribly, so sometimes it's a good idea to compare color schemes (although you don't have to go matchy-matchy, either). My roommate's bedspread is bright orange, and her sheets are hot pink. Maybe this doesn't go with the overall aesthetic of most of my side, but I do think it looks really cool with my black and white rug. So like I said before: compromise, be creative to fix the things you can control, and overall, don't sweat the small things that you can't. It's a dorm room; they're supposed to be kinda crappy. Isn't that part of the fun?

Extra tips for decorating your room:

  • Lighting is super, super important to think about, since most dorms have really awful fluorescent lighting. Definitely invest in a cheap floor lamp (mine was $10 from Target) and also a desk lamp is a good idea, for when your roommate's sleeping and you need to study.
  • Curtains go a long way to making your room look "finished" and homey. (I'm still trying to figure out how to get mine up.)
  • Twinkle lights (or Christmas lights) are a great way to give your room a magical, pretty look year-round. 
  • Get a foam mattress pad for your bed--it'll make the ancient dorm mattress way comfier, trust me.

The Search for the Perfect Carrot Cake

Every November, I bake a carrot cake for my boyfriend's birthday. It's his favorite cake (and I might say it's mine too), and I swear he starts looking forward to it in August. I usually use the same recipe that I found via Google. Sophisticated, I know, but he's never complained. This year, though, I was thinking about looking around at different recipes to see if I can really take it up a notch. Here's a few that I found on Pinterest that are the main contenders so far:

1. This one has cinnamon cream cheese icing; perfect for fall. Plus, isn't it just so pretty?

2. This one has a buttermilk glaze added on top of the cake and under the frosting. Hmm. 

3. This one looks really good too, and easy; although I always leave out the addition of things like raisins and nuts and pineapple. We both prefer our carrot cake plain and simple.

4. This might be a good idea, in addition to the cake rather than instead of it, if I have leftover batter/icing: Carrot cake whoopie pies! 

5. And finally, I couldn't resist this idea even though I probably won't go for it: Carrot cake in a jar.

Also, I want to play around with the icing this year to make it look super pretty (more for my benefit than his, I'll admit). 
This rose-icing tutorial is gorgeous--maybe too gorgeous for a dude's birthday cake? Sigh. 

More likely though, I'll probably just do some simple texturing with a spoon, like this:

After all, I'm pretty sure he cares more about how it tastes than how it looks. 

Let the Right One In

One of my English seminars this semester is "Vampire Narratives." It's really interesting; we're studying everything from Dracula and Nosferatu to Twilight and True Blood. I've never been all that big on the vampire genre explosion, particularly not when it comes to Stephanie Meyer creations. One vampire movie that I really like, however, is Let the Right One In. It's Swedish, and based on a book of the same title. I already own the movie, but in the interest of a potential paper for my class, I read the book and watched the American remake, Let Me In.

So here's my recommendation: Watch the Swedish, original version of the movie; read the book (it's long but worth it, and a fairly easy read); skip the American remake.

You don't have to be a huge vampire fan to enjoy this story. It's mainly about a young boy who is bullied in school, and then befriends a young girl who turns out to be a vampire. Be warned, however, that the book delves much deeper than the movie into some heavy topics such as pedophilia. The Swedish movie was a great, faithful adaptation of the book and has a great mood. The American remake was basically unnecessary, in my opinion. You can check it out and form your own opinion, of course, but definitely make sure you check out the book and original movie first. You'll thank me later.

Has anyone else seen the movies/read the book?

New Fall Staples

These are some things I got at the end of the summer before the new semester started: 

A light pink cardigan ($3, random store in the mall), a black briefcase/satchel ($20, T.J. Maxx), and leopard print ballet flats ($20, Gap). 

One thing to know about me and my blog is that I'm not rich. I don't own any designer clothes, and for the most part I'm okay with that. I love vintage and thrift stores, and in my opinion there's nothing better than getting some nice, maybe used clothes for super cheap or free. Sometimes I do get jealous of bloggers with amazing wardrobes, but for now my style is on a budget. One blog that really inspired me to quash the urge to shop is Dead Fleurette. Her wardrobe is minimal, but oh so effective. It actually made me think that maybe I too could pare down my crazy, eclectic wardrobe. Maybe one day.

In the meantime though, I really do try to only buy what I need. Of course, once you have the bare minimum of basic clothing, you don't really need anymore; but in terms of building a stylish, useful wardrobe, there are needs vs. wants. I consider a good trench coat a (still unsatisfied) need, and yet another pair of colored jeans a want. I keep a list of "needs," and stick to it. I'm willing to pay a little more for those. As for my "wants," if I find something that I like that's really cheap, like that $3 cardigan, then I get it.

The bag and shoes were considered needs. I needed a good, structured bag to carry my laptop and books in this semester. I could have used any old backpack, but I wanted to look professional since I have an internship on campus. The flats perhaps weren't completely practical, some might say (I'm a recent convert to leopard print, but I'm still not ready to argue that it's a neutral), but I needed a new pair of ballet flats and I had a discount at the Gap where I worked over the summer. So I paid more for those. Yes, for me, $20 is shelling out the big bucks. And in the long run, it's definitely paid off. I wear the flats several times a week, and I use that bag every single day. The cardigan? Not so much, but who cares? It was only $3 and it's pretty.

What are some of your wardrobe staples/needs? What about your wants? Are there any other cheapskate fashionistas out there? (I'm willing to bet there are, in this economy.)

Favorite Blogs

Okay, so I lied about working on my applications. Instead, here's a round up of the fashion/lifestyle blogs that I read religiously. They're basically my inspiration for this blog.

Kendi not only has adorable fashion sense, but a hilarious sense of humor as well. 

Miss James has the sweetest little family. I love reading about their adventures (and, of course, her impeccable style).

Karla, like me, has short hair. Unlike me, she has an amazing wardrobe and lives in LA. 

The name of the blog suits her: Kelly is indeed glamorous, and so is her life. She lives in NYC and seems to have an amazing, fashion-filled life.

Other blogs I recommend you check out: 

A Cup of Jo for everything from cute baby posts to her recent NYC guide.

The Sartorialist, of course, for inspiring street fashion.

The AV Club for all of your pop culture (and snark) needs. 

For Me For You if you want to see some gorgeous photography, handmade jewelry, and more.

Gala Darling for positive self-love and tons of pink and glitter.

Scouting New York for some awesome tips on interesting, little-known places in NYC from a film location scout. 

and Go Fug Yourself for a fun time discussing the best and worst of celebrity outfits. 

I'll probably put all of these in my sidebar later, but I just wanted to acknowledge the blogs that have inspired me. Did I miss any? What are your favorite blogs?

Welcome to Decorative Gourd Season

I just realized today is October 1st. This prompted me to gleefully rip off the September page of my calendar-- one month down, only two more to go! More or less, anyway.

I don't know about where you are, but it definitely--and suddenly--feels like fall in my little college town. Yesterday it was hot, today it is chilly. Good job, October 1st.

Anyway, the main reason for this post is simply that I wanted to post this link somewhere, but I can't really do that on Facebook now that my grandmother friended me. Read it and see why. Also, read it because it's awesome.

Now, back to applying for unpaid internships!

The Necessary, Long-Winded Introduction

      Well, I'm starting yet another blog. My old blog became boring and uninspiring for me. Then I started a tumblr with the same name, but I've pretty much abandoned that for Pinterest. I'm still having fun with the latter, but I started getting the old itch to ramble and post my own photos. So, here we are.

     As the blog title is trying to imply, I have a lot of different interests that I plan on talking about here. I love art and drawing/painting; I'm an English major so obviously I love to read and write; and I'm a big fashion lover. (Not the designer name, runway show kind of fashion, but the street-style, Sartorialist, blogger kind of fashion.) I also love baking and interior design. My dream is to one day share a little New York apartment with my boyfriend that I can decorate to my heart's content (well, at least until he starts objecting to the pink and chandeliers and giant armoires).

     Until then, however, I'm stuck in boring old Pennsylvania while I finish my degree. Only a little over two months to go, and then I hope to be New York bound. Of course, that all depends on whether I can find an internship/job in publishing, not to mention that tiny, over-priced apartment. Maybe it'll be an exciting adventure? I guess we'll find out.

    Oh, I'm Kelly, by the way. And you are?