Fine Art Friday: Tom Blachford 

Dear Husband, Please close your computer now and do not continue on with this post. There are things here that I love and that will undoubtedly end up on your walls in the near future. I’d hate for you not to be surprised. (I’d also hate for you to tell me no and for me to have to ignore you.) Love, Your Doting (and selectively deaf) Wife

Okay good. Now that he’s gone we can move along.

I have always really loved aerial photography (see: Gray Malin). There is something about the symmetry (or lack thereof) of it all and the peacefulness of being a bit removed from the action. That is how I first stumbled upon Tom Blachford and his beautiful aerial work.







So when I heard that Tom had done another series, this time with feet firmly planted on Earth, my interest was piqued. And heavens rejoice! In his most recent travel series, he decided to capture my modernist obsession – Palm Springs!!!

Photography of Palm Springs is by no means new (see: Slim Aarons), but this series captures the city in a whole new light. Literally – moonlight. According to the artist, “Time is compressed from 30 seconds into one viewable moment. The stars blur into dashes to remind us that even seemingly immovable steel and mountains are actually spinning on a grand scale as our earth rotates on its axis, and in turn around the sun.” Okay, whatever. I just think it is so very pretty.






You can buy yourself a print from this most recent series HERE. Or you can buy me one. *wink*


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I Heart Pee-wee (and Jambi too!) 


I LOVE Pee-wee Herman.  I might have been only two when he tip-toed onto the scene (on the Dating Game!!! not joking), but I have been totally obsessed as long as I can remember.

He (still! at 62!!) has the perfect little elfin face and figure, his skin is beautiful and he has some on point dance moves. I want to crawl into his body and be him.


I mean, how sick are those platform loafers?! At 8 (when Pee-wee’s Big Adventure came out), I thought they were a bit out there. But at 38, I have to have me a pair.

{click “+” icon for direct link}

Also, I am pretty sure that his magical genie Jambi introduced me to the idea of the cocktail ring. He literally had one in the middle of his turban! (And don’t get me started on my love of turbans…) Jambi granted just one wish per day, so that means if he was my genie I would have at least ten thousand cocktail rings at this point.

{cocktail rings via Plukka; click “+” icon for direct link}

I have passed along my love of all things Pee-wee to Pickle, who has now watched Pee-wee’s Adventure 100 times and Big Top Pee-wee 1/2 times (it was bad, really bad). And we are just bubbling over with anticipation for the new Pee-wee/Judd Apatow movie – Pee-wee’s Big Holiday – to hit Netflix. Move over Piper Chapman, as Pee-wee says himself “Bowtie is the new black”.





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Simulating the Saguaro 

Yesterday it was 73 degrees out here. That is insane! It felt like a little slice of Spring Break had been delivered right to my doorstep. I spent my entire day split up between running (11 miles!) and sprucing up my patios (oiling teak, sanding off old paint, arranging furniture). It was glorious!!!

Last year, we didn’t get as much time to enjoy our patios as I would have liked so this year I am completely committed to having a perfect patio in April. And by perfect, I mean having a patio area completely inspired by one of my favorite places in Palm Springs – The Saguaro.


You knew it had to have color; there should have been no doubt. One day my dream is to have a small, modern residence in Palm Springs. It will be entirely white and will have a pool… and I will COVER it in color. Until then, I am sprucing up my own space and using as much vibrant color as my husband will allow.

{chaise lounge and umbrella: CB2, all other items: clickable icons}

What do you have planned for Spring Break? Will you stay at home or get away from it all?

For those staying at home, don’t worry, you can always get so drunk that you don’t know where you actually are. My helpful hint for having a Spring Break for under $20! You are most welcome.







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Look of the Irish 

Last year at exactly this time, I got the best news ever! And it has been such an amazing year since…  I somewhat expected to have a really rough winter given all the bemoaning I did about Cincinnati, but didn’t happen whatsoever. The gods realized my suffering and took pity.


Because St. Patrick’s Day landed on a Tuesday (today) this year, most of the celebrating took place over the weekend. I ran a St. Patrick’s themed race on Saturday (and will do another this upcoming Saturday – run run run run!!!), we saw the Chicago River dyed green and Mr. A and I went out for a rare date to dinner (mmm) and the symphony (meh).


My favorite thing about St. Patrick’s Day was reading the police blotter (thanks Tonia and Dana!) the day after. My second favorite thing was wearing my favorite Phoenix necklace out on the town. I paired mine with a tunic and fur coat (it got chilly at night!), but this necklace is so versatile you could easily wear it out to lunch.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! xoxo.





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4 Must-Haves for Transitioning to Spring 

This week in Chicago has been absolutely gorgeous. Although I loved Chicago through the winter, I do think I am having a bit of Spring fever with all this sun and warmth (I know, a Floridian thinking 50 is warm is nuts!). The most exciting part of this change in weather is most certainly the anticipation of not having to wear some item made by North Face at all times.

Because my hemlines are just itching to come up, I have been diving into my closet (and the internet) to make sure I am fully ready to present myself when Spring finally does arrive for good.

It is apparent to me that there are four necessities for my wardrobe to move seamlessly into Spring. 1) The Boyfriend Jean. So you aren’t ready to jump head first into shorts? Did you pack on a few winter pounds that need some forgiving? This jean is for you. It is slightly cropped so allows you to feel a bit free and the relaxed fit is kind to any and all sins. WARNING: They are so forgiving, that last year I didn’t even notice I put on so much weight until it was waaaaaay too late.

2) The Boyfriend Short. So it is warm enough and you are brave enough to finally show your legs again… Just don’t overdo it. We all know you’re not a preteen anymore (and by you, I mean me). Though these denim shorts are long enough to be age appropriate, they are DEFINITELY not jorts. And their relaxed fit (similar to the jean), offers both forgiveness and a seriously hip/casual vibe.

3) The Denim Jacket. It is heavy enough to offer warmth when there is still a chill in the air (imagine it over a light sweater and black jeans) but not so much so that you can’t throw it on over a sundress.

4) The Overall. This is certainly the most controversial item on the list but by far my favorite. Yes, it does take a bit of bravery to wear a pair of overalls out for the first time. And yes, some people still give you quizzical looks. But they are the ones missing out! Worn with a tiny white tank and Adidas Superstars, I think overalls can be the height of both comfort and cool.

Best news of all? All of these items (by my favorite denim brand Current/Elliott!) are an extra 25% off. Even sale items! Just click on any of the links in the post to take you to the site and enter “CEFRIENDS” during checkout (lasts through 3/16).

You can tell them Farmer AA sent you.



P.S. Current/Elliott runs SUPER large in bottoms (but TTS in tops). I usually wear a 28 in other brands. A 27 in Current/Elliott is a loose fit on me. I would recommend going at LEAST one size down.


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Room Refresh: Kids Edition 

I have never liked traditional kids rooms. Pickle’s nursery was brown and orange. And yes, I knew she was a girl. I don’t like precious. I don’t like expected. But I have always tried to play it a bit safe with her since I wanted her to feel like she had her own room and not  just an extension of my style into her space.


Well, I think my style has scored a major victory. When we moved into our new apartment in Chicago, Harper took one look at her room and stated that it was “too conservative”. I didn’t even know that she knew what this word meant! But it was certainly a magic word to me.

Now given that we move so frequently, I wasn’t about to design the custom room of her dreams. Or even get her many new items. Her artwork would stay (it was the least conservative of all of her belongings), as would the furniture (it was already a nice base) and her bedspread (too expensive to replace).

So where would I start? With my FAVORITE thing in the world. Pillows!!!


{pillow collection: Thomas Paul}

Once I had found pillows with a perfect pop of color, I then added books and a few throw rugs (in coordinating colors) that would add even more energy to the room.


{book collection: Puffin Classics, zebra rugs: Wildon Home}

After a few inexpensive additions (and a large stuffed Land of Nod Crocodile), Pickle proclaimed her room much “more fun”!


Simple success.

Now I just await the day she decides to completely rebel against me and decorate her room like Rooms to Go. The horror.


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Things I Learned from Mad Men 


As I am sure you have heard, Mad Men returns for the second half of its seventh (and final) season on April 5th. I would love to say that I am biting my nails in anticipation of this event, but I feel like it is somewhat limping into the last episodes. That being said, I will certainly remember the uniqueness and vibrancy of earlier seasons and have learned some important lessons from the show over the years.


Joan Holloway (NEVER Harris) would never fit in as a runway model and would probably be categorized by Sports Illustrated as Plus Plus-sized. But in Mad Men she has constantly one-upped stick-thin Betty Draper in the looks department. To me, Joan looked her best in the earlier seasons when fashion (60s) and her fearlessness lent itself to cinched waists and form-fitting frocks.

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In recent seasons, when the billowing looks of the 70s crept in, Joan lost a bit of her appeal. If anything, this illustrates that even when you are feeling a bit bloated, wearing a sack is never the answer.


draper bar cartWhen Mad Men started, it was completely new and fresh and everyone wanted to recreate its appeal. Most abundant have been the bar cart and glassware impersonators, inspired by Don Draper’s notorious in-office bar (left).

Sometimes, you have to know when not to mess with the magic. The real bar cart is a walnut Italian drink cart by Cesare Lacca and the glassware is Silver Band (roly poly glasses and ice bucket) by Dorothy Thorpe. Perfection.

Most recently, Waterford tried to recreate Don’s bar with their own line of Mad Men-inspired glassware. Spoiler alert: It is hideous. Waterford knows how to cut some pretty tacky stemware. Slapping silver (and gold) bands around the rim does nothing to modernize the look. It just looks awkward and totally fake.

mad men.002 - Version 3

Lessons here? Don’t try to copy someone else’s look; you’ll end up looking tragic. Buy vintage. And embrace your Dick Whitman (wink).



No words necessary. You can NEVER go wrong with some sparkle or some serious bootage. But you may have to be Sally Draper in order to pull them off together. Or Liberace.



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That’s so Clutch 

I am so over the “mom purse”. I have a six year-old, so it is not like I need to carry around diapers or whatever else babies need (I promptly forgot what babies needed the second I decided not have another one – i.e. 30 seconds after pushing my first one out).

If I am carrying a purse larger than a small citrus fruit, everyone takes it as fair game to give me as much shit as humanly possible to tote around all day. Husband included. And in the winter it is worse! I get to carry gloves, scarves, snacks, small animals, lip gloss that was once mine but has now been stolen by a small child who doesn’t know saliva/beauty product etiquette… you know how it goes.

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I am over it! Spring is oh-so-very close so I am not only ditching all of my layers, I am ditching the gigantic handbags. I never really got the appeal of a clutch until I bought one and now I cannot stop! Twenty-seven clutches later and I am still finding new versions that I just have to have.

My latest obsession is Poppy Lissiman. To be fair, I initially started off being obsessed with Anya Hindmarch. But at $650 and up (waaaaaay up), I needed to find a budget-friendly version too quench my desire.

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Poppy bags are 1/10th the price but 11/10ths the fun. (I mean, come on, there is a PIZZA ILLUMINATI clutch. Done and done.) They are even roomy enough to carry a few more things than just your phone and keys. But if you tell anyone in my family that, I will cut you.


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Feeling Blue 

I sat down three hours ago in a failed attempt to write something plucky. However, since I have been without husband and child this entire weekend, I have nothing really to whine about and therefore am feeling totally alien. I kind of miss those fools!

Normally when I am feeling blue, I will scarf down an entire bag of Fritos topped off with a can of cream cheese frosting (all class, all the time!) but I don’t even want to do that. So I have taken things quite literally and will report solely on the color.

I feel like blue has been happening for a while now. But apparently it is going to happen for a little bit longer because the Spring 2015 runways were cluttered with cobalt and teal. I’d like my roadway to include a Morgan Aero 8 as well, so I’m throwing that in for good measure.

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From dresses to nails to bags to eyes, you couldn’t throw a 70-pound supermodel without hitting something blue this season. So rejoice! You can continue to whip out your old blue and know that it is current or stock up on some new blue knowing that it is becoming quite timeless. Find some of my favorite blue bits after the jump.

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And so you know that I am still semi-myself, here is an excellent blue joke.

What’s blue and smells like red paint?

Blue paint.





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An American Boy 

I am not one you would ever call a “feminist”, given I am perfectly content with spending my nights internet shopping and my days farting around at the gym. I just don’t have the energy.

That being said, I don’t really think it is fair that so much pressure is put on women to be everything to everyone. Anything but perfection as a wife, mother, career woman, chef, homemaker, sex beast and bikini model will not be tolerated! I attempt to hit my marks in whatever categories I can, but I fall short so often it is almost funny. Whatever, at least I try.

But what about the guys? Men these days have it so easy! You’re pretty much screwed if you don’t have a good job, but for everything else, guys get a total pass. No more! I’d like to go back to the days when men were men (I guess this means I should probably act more like a lady too, but first things first.).

Meet this sweet little Butter Bean. He is 9 months old so still has hope. He is also not my child (he is my nephew!) so that gives him even more hope.

Bean happens to look exactly like my father. One of my father’s best qualities is his ability to do just about anything on his own. He is handy, he is inventive… He is a do-it-yourselfer. This is an element missing from many men in our generation, but one that can still be introduced. The American Boy’s Handy Book, originally published in 1882 and written by a Boy Scouts founder, is still as useful today as it was back then. Technically, it may just give instruction and advice on subjects like kites, fishing, knots, soap bubbles, snowball warfare, puppets and fireworks. But what it can really do is inspire young men to be more self-reliant and, as stated in the title, handy.

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The other (just as important) element in creating a true gentleman is actually dressing the part. The most exciting thing about having a baby girl was most certainly the wardrobe involved (what? it wasn’t the enema you gave yourself before going to the hospital?!). I couldn’t even imagine being resigned to dress my child in board shorts and graphic tees every day.

So when Bean came along, I was laser-focused on finding him apparel that would suit his clearly sophisticated nature. And Andy & Evan definitely did that. (Bean is pictured above in a herringbone bow tie, vest and pants from the line.)

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Andy & Evan can be found (with most pieces on sale!) at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom Rack.

Interestingly enough, Andy & Evan can also be found through a Google image search. But apparently that Andy & Evan is a gay porn duo (not kidding, not one little bit). That was a fun one to explain to my husband when he walked in on me “researching” this post.





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