Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I don't know if I have the output right now to keep up with two blogs, so for now, I'll probably be posting more at Newly Domesticated.

I do, however, have some big news:

I'm ENGAGED! Sean proposed Sunday night at his parents' house in front of some friends and family. I was shocked and baffled and stunned and delighted! It was awesome; I didn't cry, but the room definitely felt like it was spinning.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My New Calling

Okay, friends, it's that time again.

Time to vote for what my next calling might be!

for the win!

Tilly & the Wall on SESAME STREET from Team Love on Vimeo.

This made my morning. I kinda wish I still watched Sesame Street regularly. I'm pretty sure I'd be a lot hipper and cooler.
Sean and I caught a rerun of Mr. Rogers the other day; Mr. Rogers performed with the cast of STOMP! It was awesome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

tweet tweet

I'm pretty much over getting that screen every time I refresh. FAIL.

Monday, April 6, 2009

another blog

So, to document my adventures in cohabitation, I've started a separate blog called Newly Domesticated.

Basically, I've been a feral cat and now I'm being tamed. Read about it at Newly Domesticated.

Bookmark it, enjoy my misadventures. It should be entertaining, since I have no idea how to cook.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moving out

So, I'm in the middle of moving.

It's going well so far and I'm excited to move on with my life.

I am not, however, excited about my ridiculously sore body (all that heavy lifting, climbing stairs, etc.) and the bloody spot on my leg where I accidentally walked straight into the trailer hitch on the U-haul. Ouch!

Otherwise, life is good. Sean and I ate our first meal at home together yesterday — frozen pizza and leftover salad from Cheddar's ... we'll get there, don't worry. lol.

Monday, March 23, 2009

a dream deferred

Sometimes destiny intervenes, even if I don't like it.
I've been fantasizing about getting the Kartell Componibili shelving set in the bathroom for years now and I kept thinking maybe I could invest in one when I moved in with Sean.
Aside from being poor, however, it turns out there is no room for it in the bathrooms and while I think it would also make an awesome minibar, I think it's probably for the best that I shelf this dream for a little while longer (shelf! Ha! See what I did there?!)

The system is available all over the place, including Unica Home. It starts around $120.

Let no word be forgotten

I'm very excited about the venustation of my life.

The wha?

Venustation means "to become beautiful or handsome." How do I know this?

Save the Words. It's an effort by the Oxford dictionary to ease forgotten words, literally dropped from the dictionary, back into usage.

I'm not sure I was successful here, but hey, I tried and you should, too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

the modern costume for today

OMG I am so excited about this. I was dubious about the casting when I heard about it, but man does it look spot on.

Edie Beale is one of my all-time favorites. Idol may be too strong a word, but I see shades of the craziest parts of my family in the Beale family.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Madness Mayhem

This will be the second year I filled out a March Madness bracket and despite the fact that I know nothing about college basketball, I kind of love doing it. Following along is actually really fun, especially when you have money and pride on the line.

My picking strategy, however, is not based on research or knowledge or even watching any of the teams play. I pick based on which mascot name strikes me as funnier. And there are some classics. How can you root against the Zips? Or the Boilermakers? Or the Golden Gophers?

In instances when two teams with boring names were playing each other (i.e. eagles vs. wildcats), I would just picture a real cage match and decide who I think would win (the Eagle, every time).

In the end, I have the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Syracuse Orange (How cute is Otto the Orange?) playing for the big prize. But I won't lie. It was hard to say goodbye to my beloved, gelatinous, towel mascot — the Western Kentucky Hilltopper.

surprisingly cute

I'm not usually blown away by anything at American Eagle anymore, but they have some seriously cute scarves right now. If I weren't totally broke, I'd scoop them all up. Both are $19.50.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Misty watercolored memories

Where I grew up, prom was like a town holiday. Everyone started getting ready at 10 in the morning, had appointments for hair and make-up, ordered our dresses from catalog companies, had reservations for dinner, etc. We literally treated it like rehearsal for our weddings or the Oscars. Needless to say, it was very formal.

I loved both of my prom dresses, but if I had one more chance to go, knowing what I do now, I would go short and have way, way, WAY more fun with accessories. And if I were a rich girl (or a cast member on Gossip Girl), I'd totally be rocking stuff like this (mostly from Net-a-Porter).

Left to right:
1) Dress by Zac Posen, bracelet from Anthropologie, shoes by Jimmy Choo.
2) Dress by Anna Sui, clutch by Christian Louboutin, shoes by Lanvin.
3) Dress by Zac Posen, clutch by Christian Louboutin, shoes by Miu Miu.

sneak peek

Not much is happening in the new apartment just yet, but as I was unpacking some kitchen items the other day, I set up a tiny tableau.

1) The print is by Ashley Goldberg and is called "A Look Only You Would Understand." I bought it for Sean on Valentine's Day because at the time, it reminded me of us. Then he shaved his beard THE NEXT DAY. What can you do?
2) The giraffe measuring spoons were a Christmas present from my father, purchased from Anthropologie. We all agree they're probably useless, but OMG, aren't they the cutest?
3) The canister is from the Orla Kiely line currently sold at Target. I couldn't resist the pear print; my grandmother inexplicably collected pear-themed items and as a tribute to her after her passing, I decided to continue adding to the collection.

I can't wait until I have more pictures of the place, but it'll probably be a long time before it looks presentable.

today i like ...

Prop styling your own home!
I saw this post over at Apartment Therapy about the home of prop stylist Carolyn Keith and I just fell in love.

As a bonafide packrat and antiqueaholic, I love to see creative ways to make use of the treasures and knickknacks I can't seem to resist. This is tchotchkes done right.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Big things are in the mix.

Around this time in 2004, I met a boy. He walked me home. 
A year later, we started dating. 
A year after that, we agreed that we wanted to move in together.
A year after that, I had changed jobs and the timing wasn't right.
Two years after that, it's finally happening.

Nearly four years to the day after we met, I'm moving in with my best friend. 

I can't wait.

More info, and big life changes, coming soon.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

You're God's answer to Job

Screenshots from Woody Allen's "Manhattan."

I finally watched "Manhattan" last night and it was excellent. I think I actually prefer it to "Annie Hall," partially because the characters seemed much more aware of their own problems and almost apologetic, whereas everyone in "Annie Hall" is defiantly Who They Are.

The dialogue was very witty, of course, and it was remarkable how much it holds up.

But more than anything, it's the ultimate love letter to New York. It blew literally every movie that has claimed to be such out of the water. Partially for the sheer number of NY landmarks it packs it, but more so because of its style. The cinematography, the B&W, the fireworks set to "Rhapsody in Blue" — it was all take-your-breathe-away amazing, so much so that I kept pausing the movie to take these screenshots.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

bring it back, i say

Photo by the Sartorialist.

Why, oh why did men ever stop parting their hair?
It's like a shortcut to style. I've rarely met a slight pompadour I didn't like.

There was this very kindly gentleman at work named Jim who had a super stylish side part, with a slight little pompadour in the front. He was great, and I loved to imagine him standing in front of the mirror every morning, dipping his comb under the water faucet and slicking back his hair,  like he probably has for the past 40 years. 

It's a good look, and I appreciate anyone who finds something that works and sticks with it. Plus it looks even better when it gets mussed.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

today i like...

Despite all its troubles, journalism is ultimately a romantic field to enter. Telling stories for a living, playing with words, picking out type — separated from the annoyances of every day work, all are hella more interesting and fun than most job requirements.

So, that said, the romantic in me can't resist anything writer or typography themed because, c'mon, I'm a writer.

1) Memo Notebook mug, $12.95 from Fishs Eddy.
2) Type coasters, set in one of my favorites — Baskerville. $45 at Veer.
3) "N" Alphabet mug, also from Fishs Eddy.
4) Ampersand faux cufflinks. Genius design that works on both regular and French cuffs. $49, also at Veer.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

80s are back...ugh

So apparently the 80s are going to be back with a vengeance this year. Marc Jacobs showed models with full-on Her-name-is-Rio-Girls-Just-Want-To-Have-Fun make-up and Working Girl Hair.

This is all fine and dandy, of course, until it starts affecting our crotches. Look at the saggy crotch on those pants. You would have to have never HEARD of a thigh to pull that look off without unflattering bunching. Ouch.

I vote no.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And finally...

These are some special projects (with the exception of the normal old lifestyle page I wanted to squeeze in there).

A) Thanksgiving recipes from local chefs
B) A poster for a local farm team
C) The cover of the 2008 Bridal tab. I still need to save the cover of the 2009 one.

More design

These are some of my favorite A1s from the past year.

A) Michelle Obama and Jill Biden visit the area.
B) Residents fight or support construction of wind farm
C) Teachers receive these amazing grants that they can spend on basically anything
D) A story about preventing farm runoff from seeping into the rivers
E) A normal A1, but with lots of awesome art.

How I fill my days

It's been over a year since I posted pages, basically since I started designing, so I thought it was time to show ya'll what I've been doing in the interim. These are some of my favorite lifestyles and homes pages (which are my all-time favorite to do). Tomorrow, I'll post some A1 fronts.

A) A Homes story about decorating your home with branches and berries from your yard.
B) A wire story about the popular spices for 2008.
C) A wire story about fancy luggage. I didn't have much in the way of art, so I decided to whip together something that I thought would look like a children's book, in a good way.
D) A wire story about good old Lincoln. Thought I would go for presidential.
E) A story about our cartoonist's 20th year on the job. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Amazingly inspiring

Take the time to check out artist Maira Kalman's blog on the NY Times extolling the virtues of Lincoln through prose, calligraphy, embroidery, paintings and illustrations. It's truly a must-see: In Love with A. Lincoln.

On a side note, the NY Times, in my opinion, is the very model of a modern newspaper. Finding creative ways to tell stories, new storyforms, reaching out to readers, making the site more interactive — they are bolding going where no one else has gone and we'd all do better to follow their example.

today i like...

Many of the books I loved as a child were actually ones my mother saved from her childhood, including early '60s coloring books. The simple lines and sort of mod/Pink Panther-ish styling of these Blanca Gomez prints remind me of those charming old books, when super simple, clean design reigned before the wave of terror that blanketed our nation when Bratz became popular.

Blanca Gomez prints can be found at Velocity Art and Design. Most of the prints are between $20 and $30.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Do

I have a lot to do (like, a ludicrous, soul-crushing amount), but I'm having a hard time even keeping track of all of it.

I write on my hands, then forget to look.

I scribble on Post-It notes and then lose them.

I write Stickies on my desktop and they never stay there (could someone enlighten me on how to lock them in place? Mine always get lost as soon as I shut down!).

Does anyone have advice on how to create a to-do list that works if you don't use a planner (i used to swear by a planner but since I stopped being a reporter, it became one less thing to carry in my purse)?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm baaaack!

I'm back from sunny SoCal!
I traversed the OC, went to the LA County Museum of Art to see the Vanity Fair exhibit, ate at In-N-Out, Jack In the Box, Sammy's Woodfire Pizza and many other places, saw the Kodak Theater, went to San Diego's Balboa Park and partied it up with the gays at The Abbey. Thank you so much to Ryan and his friends for their hospitality during our visit!

It was too much fun to go into a ton of detail, but I think this video clip captures the vibe of most of the trip:

Fresh in Bel Air from Amber Lester on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

dedicated to the one i love

Above: Stopping to smell the roses on Valentine's Day 2005.

On Valentine's Day in 2005, Sean woke up early and went to buy a bouquet of white roses for the girls at the student newspaper. He wanted to get something special for someone though, hoping that person would get the hint, so he picked up a box of Sweethearts candy and scrawled:
To: Ambles
From: Seaken
(our old newspaper logins)
The girls came into the office and oohed and aahed when they found roses taped to their monitors. Being dense, I didn't notice the Sweethearts until much later. When I did, I asked Chanelle not-so-subtly if she got a box as well. Sean looked up and said, "No! Just you."

It was the first clue I ever had that Sean might have feelings for me. And the first time I ever saw how truly sweet he is, and humble, because he didn't want any fuss made over the fact he had done something so sweet for us girls. We started dating a little over two months later and we've been together ever since.

Friday, February 13, 2009


The first thing you need to know is that I am the kind of crafty person who is capable, but essentially lazy. I like to wander the aisles of Michael's, talk about all the projects I'd like to do someday, buy the supplies and let them rot in the corner until I move and give them away.

So that's part of why I put off rehabbing this desk for oh, three years. This was my mother's desk as a child, and in turn became my desk as a child. It's nothing to write home about style-wise, but it's a piece of furniture that holds things and I am a packrat, so I can't bear to get rid of it.

I'm always reading in magazines where they spray painted some piece of furniture and it was SO EASY, so I bought semi-gloss spray paint, four new drawer pulls, sandpaper and surgical masks. I learned a few lessons.

1. One drop cloth is not enough, especially if you've decided to do this on a snow day in your dining room.
2. Spray paint = dust. Clouds of it. Everywhere.
3. Spray paint can occasionally bubble, irrevocably ruining the facade of your desk no matter how much you try to sandpaper it into oblivion.
4. A mix of real paint (with paintbrushes) and spray paint seems to do the trick. Also, I realized after the second week of working on this project that if the paint starts to bubble, just wipe it away.

The desk doesn't look perfect, but I will say it looks newer. It also blends better with all the neutrals and white trim in my room and I've noticed that just because it is white, the room feels wider. And don't worry; I already mopped and cleaned the dining room.

Anyways, here is the new, improved desk:

Today I like...

Being the Francophile that I am, I find it hard to resist the pillows and pillow covers made by Mon Coussin, a design team comprised of Claire Eglizeaud and Paul Moreau.

Their pillows often feature photographs and drawings, bold graphics and — be still my heart — typography. I would love this combination in my living room — it's like a whole new answer to that joke, "What's black and white and red all over?" Um, Mon Coussin pillows? ** Side note: I was telling Sean the other day that when I was little, I once suggested that the answer to that joke was "A penguin after a fight?" hahahha.**

Find them, unfortunately priced by the British pound, at Bonjour Mon Coussin

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

oui, oui

I want my life to look and sound exactly like this. Maybe I can film an homage and have it shown at my funeral and at the end it can just say, "That was her life. That was her life every time."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Frank O´Hara LIVE

Frank O'Hara never disappoints. I had never seen him live or heard him, but how perfect is this? The accent, his effeminate voice, the casual cigarette, the NY taxicab honk at 1:30, the perfect poem...awesome.

This is one of my favorites, "Having a Coke With You," partly because it's perfect romance, rather than sentimentality, and partly because it does a lot of art history name-dropping.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Today, let's pause to remember the demise, 50 years ago today, of Buddy Holly — the hottest of nerds, the prototype for nerd chic worldwide and the inspiration behind Weezer's greatest video. Tears for Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nothing like a well-dressed man

TOP: Man on the street in Milan, from The Sartorialist
BOTTOM (l to r): Pocket square from
Beecroft and Bull, screenprinted ties from Cyberoptix and Revue eyeglass frames from Eyeglasses.com.

On Friday, I went with my friend Pat to help him pick out a suit for his wedding. He and his fiance are going to have a really untraditional wedding; she's going to wear a blue dress and he wanted a three-piece gray suit. He invited me because I suppose my years of reading Vogue come in handy once in a while.

Let me say, it was awesome. I had never seen such well-dressed men in my life. We went to Banana Republic, Jos. A Bank, Men's Wearhouse and the creme de la Creme, Beecroft & Bull, a Virginia-based fine clothing store. Beecroft & Bull was like mecca for me.

I have a long-standing weakness for professorial types, and this place was lined wall-to-wall with tweed blazers and patched elbows, gorgeous silk ties and pocket squares, leather chesterfield club chairs and old-fashioned shaving kits. Now, all that said, a suit starts at like, $1,200 there. But oh man, it was awesome.

Pat ended up with a classic gray glen-plaid 3-piece from Men's Wearhouse, but let me just say, I called Sean from the store and said, "We are going suit-shopping, stat."

He was like, "um...maybe when I get rich."

We can only hope!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

tragic sadness

It's one thing to mourn my industry from the inside, but entirely different when it affects my own reading.

Domino Magazine, a shelter mag from Conde Nast, will cease publishing in March, which is tragic, seriously. It was literally my favorite magazine for the past four years and now I'm wondering if I can get the back issues that I missed, because this magazine is truly that useful. I constantly flip through old issues looking for ideas.

It's rare you find a magazine you can grow with, but as my tastes have changed (along with my living circumstances), Domino has been a constant source of inspiration.

I am completely bummed about this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Mrs. Rigg

While cleaning out my childhood desk, I just found a third grade writing assignment journal with some hilarious musings. Here, I share them for your reading entertainment, complete with embarrassing spelling mistakes.

Dear Mrs Rigg,
I'm in the Cristmas play. I haft to be Dasher, and Everybody says that Dasher is Rudolph's mother. And that Dancer is Rudolph's father. But I decided that I must have devorsed him.
Your friend,

* my only assumption is that I did not like whatever boy had to play Dancer.

Dear Mrs. Rigg,
I'm glad that Clinton won. I guess the reason I didn't want to vote for Bush is because my parents have never elected a Republican before, we've always been Democrats. Let's just cross our fingers and hope Clinton can make America a better place to live.

* Okay, so I've always taken pride in my assumption that I liked Clinton because I liked him...not my parents. Um...yeah, this is disappointing.

i'm in hibernation

Around this time of year, I just give up.

I don't get out of bed because it's too cold.

I don't cook because I'm too lazy. (Though I have been reading and re-reading my cookbooks, trying to figure out what recipes scare me the least.)

I just wake up and go to work and come home and go to sleep.

But there is so much promise wrapped up in this spring that I don't even feel bad about it.

Complaint time: I haven't even gotten my W-2 yet. What the hell? I wants to be filin my taxes!

In two weeks, I'm going to California, which will be the longest and furthest I have ever traveled, my first time on the West Coast, my longest flight ever, etc. etc. etc. I am SO excited. The only bad part is that I am taking my corporate-mandated unpaid furlough that week, so I have to be super miserly with my funds.

I've already decided I'm going to limit my purchases to like, one amazing accessory I can wear for my entire life and/or something for my home that I will have always. No sense wasting cash on clothes I won't wear in less than five years.

Today was our first snow of the entire year and I am disappointed. Partially because it happened on my day off, but wasn't enough to play in, and partially because I was kind of hoping to have a snowless winter since my neighbors moved out and they took care of shoveling the walk last year.

Anyone else hoping for a snowless winter? I guess we could just disregard our feelings about polar bears, use up a lot of energy and have snowless winters for the rest of times.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

harnessing the wimsy

I really need to find a way to harness whimsy like event designer David Stark, whose team created the papier mache birds and cut-out bouquets.

I find winter really takes most ambition out of me simply because I want to stay in bed and hibernate. But hopefully this spring will get me moving again and I can try to be creative on my own, without a teacher or boss asking me to be for an assignment.

By the way, how awesome would it be to make a whole menagerie of papier mache birds? Mom, Sara: You seem like people who could help me with this project.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seth Vs. Julia

My new goal in life is to be a dancer on Yo Gabba Gabba.

In case you don't have Noggin or NickTV, Yo Gabba Gabba is apparently a show for kids that features kiddie breakdancing, Biz Markie beatboxing lessons and celebrity guest appearances. Basically, I wish I could Tivo it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

unnecessary necessities

I completely covet this $199 greenhouse from Anthropologie

I don't garden. I don't really have any need for it. But it just seems so classic, like something from The Secret Garden. And it's definitely heirloom-quality, that's for sure. For this greenhouse, I'd start growing things.

I've also talked about trying the whole terrarium thing. My mom had one when I was a kid, and it was really cool. I think I need someone to come show me how to be domestic. I have no idea how to garden or cook or sew. I wish I could hire a tutor or something.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

strange attraction

I don't really know why or have a good reason, but I think this Blu Dot console, in watermelon or robin's egg, would be the hottest thing ever. $399 at Design Public