May 2015 - The Surznick Common Room

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Surznick Reads: May 2015

Happy Sunday! Here are our May books!

Sarah's Reads!

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
From "Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from 'a writer worth treasuring' (Seattle Times)."

So this was the sixth David Sedaris book that I've read, and unfortunately I think it was my least favorite. I just found it really hard to get into each essay, and they weren't as funny to me as the essays in the other books I've read. It actually took me several months to read this entire book because it was so easy to put down after a chapter/essay. But don't get me wrong - I still absolutely love David Sedaris. Nick and I saw him lecture last fall and he was completely hilarious. I loved getting to hear him read his stories aloud, so maybe the stories in this book just weren't as good? Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for short essays? I'm not really sure, but I have no plans to give up on Mr. Sedaris yet.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
From "The author writes: FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill."

Did you read the blurb above? That's pretty much how this entire book is written. I was able to follow along, and understand the plot just fine, (though, there really isn't one) but the writing is very cumbersome. Salinger has a very distinct writing style, and this book is certainly no exception. I know this is a very shallow review on my part, but seeing as I wasn't really able to get past the words on the page and start to dive deeper into the characters and their thoughts, it's really all I can give you. Overall, I didn't enjoy reading this book, and I got pretty bored at parts. Though I did enjoy a few of the witty one-liners that Zooey has here and there.

My Rating: 2 Stars

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and we hope that June treats you well!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, May 29, 2015

Shorts, Shorts, Shorts!

Shorts, shorts, shorts - everybody! This summer I am all about the (you guessed it), SHORTS!

Truth be told, in past summers I had a pretty minimal shorts collection and would rather just wear a dress. Finding shorts that fit me well can be tough. If they fit in the waist, they're too tight on my legs. If they fit my legs, they're too loose in the waist. Anyone else know this struggle?

Nick and I are going to Harry Potter World in July (!!!), so I've been slowly stocking my wardrobe with super comfy, amazing elastic waist shorts that fit perrrrrfectly and will keep me cool in the Florida heat. I love them all so much that I'm going to share those and more with you today!

one (I have these!) / two / three / four

Charlotte Russe is having a sale on shorts right now, with a lot being only $10 or $15! I just purchased a couple more pairs and I can't wait til they show up at my front door. All of the pairs shown above are under $60 and most are under $25!

Here are a couple pairs that I already have (you may recognize them from our recent Lately... post!)

Pineapple Shorts\Charlotte Russe (exact - currently $15!)
Sleeveless Blouse\Forever 21 (exact old, similar)
Straw Hat\H&M (last seen here; exact)
Rebecca Minkoff Mint Purse\Gifted to me (last seen here; exact no longer available, same in peach)
Sandals\Forever 21 (last seen here; exact old, similar)
Sunglasses\Fossil via T.J. Maxx (exact, similar)

On Me:
Blue Floral Shorts\Charlotte Russe (exact - currently $9.49!)
Sleeveless Blouse\Forever 21 (same as above)
Crossbody Purse\Urban Outfitters (last seen here; exact old, similar)
White Flats\K-Mart (exact)
Sunglasses\Fossil via T.J. Maxx (same as above)

On Mom: No idea, but she's cute, isn't she?!

Think you'll add any of these cute shorts to your closet? Let me know which ones are your favorites!

xo, Sarah

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hanging Herb Garden

Remember earlier this month when we showed you our hand stamped metal tags for our herb garden? Well we're back to finally share the garden itself! Can you guess what it's made from...?

It's an IKEA Vurm wine rack! So I guess you could say this is our first official IKEA Hack! We purchased this wine rack 3 years ago at a yard sale and have had it hanging in our kitchen ever since. The only problem was that wine doesn't stick around very long in our house, so 99% of the time, the wine rack was completely empty.

It didn't make sense to keep the rack hanging in our kitchen, but I didn't want to get rid of it either. We decided to repurpose it for our hanging herb garden and I am SO glad we did.

We only needed a few items to complete this project:
- IKEA Vurm wine rack
- Tapered drinking glasses (tapered so they stay in the rack; we got ours from Dollar Tree)
- Potting soil
- Seeds or herbs
- Beads/pebbles for water drainage
- Screws/screwdriver
- Hand stamped metal tags

We removed the wine rack from our kitchen wall where it was hanging vertically and re-hung it horizontally outside our back door. We planted all of our herbs (from seed) in the drinking glasses, added the tags, and popped them into the wine rack!

As you can see, our cilantro and basil are doing great, but the oregano and lavender... not so much. We'll see if they decide to pop up eventually. One of the really nice things about our hanging herb garden is that we can move around the plants or bring them inside if need be. We actually had a bit of frost in Pittsburgh last weekend, so we brought the glasses/planters inside overnight to keep the herbs safe.

So, let us know what you think! Is a hanging herb garden something you'd be interested in? I think it would be super pretty with some colorful flowers too. Leave us a comment and tell us what you would plant!

Sarah & Nick

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Floral Dress

Helloooooooo! It's me, Sarah! I hope you remember me after this long, unintentional blogging break. As I'm sure you inferred from our last post and this absence, we've been busy! Busy with work, busy with life, you know the drill. This past weekend I was out of town to help host the bridal shower for one of my best friends. And speaking of the bridal shower, I really want to show you the adorable dress I wore!

I purchased this dress earlier this month from Sheinside. This was my first Sheinside purchase and I'd say I'm like 85% happy with the overall experience, but 99% happy with this particular dress. The fit is perfect and I love that I can wear it for work or play.

The pattern is beautiful and the color is perfect for summer. I love dresses that aren't super form fitting and provide a little more structure. My only complaint is that I think the length got a little shorter after washing it once, but I still feel very confident and happy wearing this.

I paired this dress with my new heeled sandals (last seen here) and my minty Rebecca Minkoff clutch. Oh, and of course... my new haircut! Yep, I went short and blonde-ish for summer and I'm totally loving it.

Just for reference, I'm wearing a large in this dress. If you're looking to purchase from Sheinside, I highly recommend looking at the size chart, as it can be a little different than American sizing and actually varies from dress to dress. I purchased 4 different dresses, all large, but only 3 fit me (1 was way too tight in the chest). Overall though, I'm still pretty satisfied with my purchases.

Floral Dress\Sheinside (exact),  Heeled Sandals\Charlotte Russe (exact),  Rebecca Minkoff Minty Marlow Mini Clutch\Gifted to me (exact no longer available, same in peach),  Sunglasses\ModCloth (exact)

Have you found any amazing dresses for summer? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

xo, Sarah

Monday, May 11, 2015

Lately... (II)

This past weekend was so, so awesome (despite those pesky 90 degree temps.) My lovely mom visited us from Lancaster for Mother's Day weekend and we had an action packed couple of days exploring Pittsburgh. We only wish that Nick's mom could have joined us too, but we plan to recreate this weekend for her as soon as she recovers from a recent surgery.

Now that it's heating up in the city, we've been spending a lot more time outside, sipping drinks, picnicking in parks, going to concerts, and hanging out with friends. Here's what life has been looking like lately, as told by our iPhone photos.

Art All Night (outside) / Art All Night (inside) / Modest Mouse / PNC Park sunset

City Lights / Saturday morning coffee & errands / My favorite wall / Pizza park picnics / Circa Survive!

Pineapple shorts / Pokey LaFarge / Some mummy runnin' the marathon / Vegan chocolate PB shake (drool) / Steel City

Twinning in the Strip / Whiskey mornings / Love locks / Hot days, cool drinks

If you want to see more photos, give us a follow on Instagram (Nick, Surz). Have a great week!

Sarah & Nick

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Washi Tape Headboard

I've really been itching lately to switch up the look of our bedroom. For the past year our room has looked as you saw it in our bedroom tour, but my home decor style has changed quite a bit. What I used to think was fun and colorful in this room now feels messy and non-cohesive. We're working on changing and/or adding a bunch of things (like this DIY light-up sign and our new upholstered bench), but today I wanted to share our latest venture which has given us both giant emoji heart eyes.

We can't fit a headboard on the wall behind our bed, and it's never bothered us much, but I am kind of over the art we had hanging above the bed (this wire "Goodnight" sign and this DIY triangle art). They were fun while they lasted, but it's time to move on.

When I saw this washi tape skyline as a headboard alternative, I was like "I want you! I need you! Oh baby, oh baby!" like Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You, except I was being completely serious.

 via - also, I wish our bedroom was this light and bright!
Pittsburgh has one of the best skylines in the country, and obviously it's the place we love to call our home. I couldn't think of a better skyline to put above our bed! So we started measuring, cutting tape, putting it on the wall, and voila! We had this amazing washi tape headboard that we L.O.V.E.

Making this skyline headboard was super easy! I did a Google image search for silhouettes of the skyline and found one that I liked. I measured the wall and determined that I could fit 6 buildings that are about 6" wide with a little space inbetween. So other than that little bit of measuring, I just started taping and hoped it would turn out! We decided to keep our skyline pretty simple, but if you want to get fancy with the washi tape, you could make this as intricate as you want!

We're pretty smitten with our city, and I'm ecstatic to have a little homage to beautiful downtown Pittsburgh behind our heads every night. This washi tape skyline is no substitute for the real thing, but it'll do ;)

For more Pittsburgh-related posts, be sure to check out our magazine collage map, our restaurant passport, and of course our Best of the Burgh picks!

Sarah & Nick