October 2015 - The Surznick Common Room

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Surznick Reads: October 2015

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! After last month's less than impressive showing of books, we were determined to read more this month (despite our always hectic schedules.) Here they are!

Sarah's Reads!

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
From Amazon.com: "Time is running out for the Peculiar Children. With a dangerous madman on the loose and their beloved Miss Peregrine still in danger, Jacob Portman and Emma Bloom are forced to stage the most daring of rescue missions. They’ll travel through a war-torn landscape, meet new allies, and face greater dangers than ever. . . . Will Jacob come into his own as the hero his fellow Peculiars know him to be? This action-packed adventure features more than 50 all-new Peculiar photographs."

The long-awaited third and final book of the Miss Peregrine series just came out last month and I couldn't wait to read it! It had been a year and a half since I read the first two books for my book club, and I think the long gap hindered my enjoyment of this book a little bit. Slow at first, it took me awhile to remember how the second book ended. Ultimately, the story picked up, I remembered the situation, and I soon became really intrigued to see how the series was going to end. I personally enjoyed the ending, but others in my book club felt that it was a little rushed. If you've read the first two books in the series, it's definitely worth it to read this final book. This book is a little longer and I felt like there were less photos than the others, but it's still a quick and easy read. The first book is being turned into a movie by Tim Burton that is set to come out in December 2016 and I definitely can't wait to see that adaptation!

My Rating: 4 Stars

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
From Amazon.com: "In Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham illuminates the experiences that are part of making one’s way in the world: falling in love, feeling alone, being ten pounds overweight despite eating only health food, having to prove yourself in a room full of men twice your age, finding true love, and most of all, having the guts to believe that your story is one that deserves to be told."

I've heard mixed reviews about this book, but as a Lena Dunham and 'Girls' fan, I really wanted to read it for myself. I definitely liked it, but didn't love it. Most of the chapters just seemed pretty dry to me. I know Lena's sense of humor is rather dry and I typically appreciate that, but it didn't translate well in this book to me. Overall, it was fun to get a glimpse into her life that you don't get from following her on Twitter or Instagram. Most of the stories were about her life as a young girl, so someday I'd love to read another book from her about being an adult.

My Rating: 3 Stars

Nick's Reads!

Brain Droppings by George Carlin
From Amazon.com: "With hundreds of sold-out concert dates each year, over 20 albums, two Grammys, two Cable ACE awards, and more HBO specials that anyone else, George Carlin is more popular than ever. Now Carlin's New York Times bestselling book comes to paperback. Filled with thoughts, musings, questions, lists, beliefs, curiosities, monologues, assertions, assumptions, and other delicious verbal ordeals, Brain Droppings is drop-dead funny."

This was potentially the worst book I've ever read. I know many people hold George Carlin's career and comedy in pretty high regard, but I had a hard time getting through the book. It's hard for me not to sound like a prude when I say that much of what he writes in this book is tasteless, insensitive, and offensive, but it is. What was possibly seen as progressive, edgy comedy back in the 90s when this book came out, is now antiquated, backward, borderline bigoted commentary on our world. I would site examples from the book that helped me come to this conclusion, but I'd rather not.

My Rating: 0 Stars

We hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween! If you haven't yet seen our Spaghetti & Parmesan Cheese costumes, don't forget to check them out!

Sarah & Nick

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Heart on my Sleeve

Nick is probably super sick of hearing this story, but I firmly believe this coat was meant for me. I spotted it on SheIn way back in the spring, but it was sold out. I kept checking and checking, but each time, it was still sold out. I scoped around other websites and found the same or similar jackets. Sold out. Sold out. Sold out.

This coat was basically all I've ever wanted in a fall jacket, so I was starting to feel pretty defeated. Eventually I decided to email SheIn and ask if they planned on restocking it. Their answer was, "If it's not back in two weeks, we probably won't restock it." Despite this less than hopeful response, I kept checking and checking, day in and day out.

Then one day... a miracle happened! SheIn had ONE single coat in stock and it was in MY SIZE. I ordered that baby within the minute and when it arrived at my front door a couple weeks later, it fit like a glove. IT WAS TOTALLY MEANT TO BE.

The weather has been really crisp here in Pittsburgh, so I'm getting so much use out of my beautiful heart-print trench. I get compliments on it nearly every day and when I have it on, I feel like a million bucks. Those are the best kinds of outfits, right?

Heart Print Trench Coat\SheIn (exact, identical here & here but all sold out!)
Green Jeans\Old Navy (similar)
Leopard Flats\Vince Camuto via Saks Off Fifth (exact, similar)
Black Crossbody Bag\Old Navy (similar)

Unfortunately this coat is still sold out everywhere I can find it, but I've linked more of my favorite heart print items below!
xo, Sarah

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2 Year Blogiversary!

The Surznick Common Room is TWO! Happy blogiversary to us! We've had so much fun sharing our lives with you over the past two years and we can't thank you enough for following us on our blogging journey!

This second year of working on the Common Room has been a huge growth experience for us. Of course, we still have a lot to learn, but slowly we're growing our readership, figuring out who our audience is, collaborating with brands and bloggers, and hopefully bringing you content that you love!

Even though we're psyched about the future for our blog, let's take a trip down memory lane and reflect on our 1 Year Blogiversary post!

- Last year our very first project post, Wine Bottle Lights, was our most viewed post on our blog with 5,700 views and 8,900 pins.
- Today, our most viewed post is our Ping Pong Ball Lights... they've been viewed over 59,000 times. Over 10 times as many views as our most popular post last year. SAY WHAT!

- Speaking of views... last year, we had just reached 50,000 total views before our 1 year blogiversary.
- This year, we just reached 300,000 total views.

- Last year I was SO excited to be featured as the Chic of the Week on LaurenConrad.com (who am I kidding, I'm STILL excited!)
- This year, we've had the honor of being featured on BuzzFeed twice (here and here!) We're also regularly contributing DIYs to Holl & Lane Magazine. And preeeeetty soon, you'll get to see us guest post on The Home Depot Blog! Woop woop!

I hope that this post in no way comes across as obnoxious or braggy. Nick and I are completely in awe of the shift we've experienced in our blog over this past year. Sometimes it's nice to take a step back, reflect, and feel proud of ourselves. Blogging isn't always easy or fun, but it's something we still LOVE to do. Celebrating the small victories help to keep us going, even on the hardest days!

If you've been reading The Surznick Common Room since our 1 year mark, you may remember that we planned on opening an Etsy shop in 2015. Did that happen? NOPE. We had all intentions of starting a shop but ultimately decided that working full time, running a blog, contributing to a magazine, living a normal life, AND running an Etsy shop would be too much to take on.

We do still have some fun hopes and dreams for our blog, though. We hope to soon launch a newsletter where you can receive our posts by email, in addition to bonus content not featured here on the blog! We also just hope to continue learning, growing, meeting new people, and having fun!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for reading this little corner of the internet. We wouldn't be here without you!

xo, Sarah & Nick

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Our Halloween Costumes: Spaghetti & Parmesan Cheese

Every year I love coming up with couples Halloween costume ideas for Nick and I. We've been Bill and Sookie from True Blood, Danny and Sandy from Grease, and Margot and Richie from The Royal Tenenbaums. Usually our character costumes are dictated by whether or not Nick is willing to shave his beard (he's usually not), but this year I decided we should come up with a couples costume that would not be dependent on his facial hair (or lack thereof.)

I couldn't stop thinking about Nick's Halloween costume from the first year I met him in college (7 years ago now!) His friend Katelyn let him borrow a spaghetti and meatballs costume and he was an absolute hit. We decided that this year we would create his iconic spaghetti costume, but turn it into a couples costume by adding me as his Parmesan cheese!

How do we look?! Next Saturday we're co-hosting a Halloween bash with my friend Sarah and I can't wait to sport our costumes with all of our friends.

Putting together this costume was really easy and inexpensive. If you start now you'll definitely have it ready for your Halloween hootenannies next weekend!

Here's what you need!
For Spaghetti & Meatballs:
- Red sweatshirt
- Yellow (spaghetti colored) yarn
- Plastic forks
- Brown pom poms
- Colander
- Scissors
- Hot glue gun & sticks

For Parmesan Cheese:
- Green dress or shirt (I found mine at Goodwill)
- Fabric transfer paper
- Parmesan cheese logo, reversed for printing
- White fabric
- Paper plate
- Green poster board
- Iron
- Scissors
- Stapler
- Fabric glue

Here's what you do!
For Spaghetti & Meatballs:
- First, organize all of the attachments that you're going to include on your red sweatshirt. Nick's sweatshirt included meatballs (brown pom poms), spaghetti (yellow yarn), plastic forks, and plastic forks with spaghetti wrapped on the tongs. We hot glued yellow yarn around the plastic forks, but all of the other attachments were ready as is!

- Using your hot glue gun, attach the spaghetti, meatballs, and forks to your sweatshirt in a random pattern (it should look fun!)
- Next, place your colander on your head like a hat and measure how long you want your spaghetti hair to be. Cut your yellow yarn into the appropriate length pieces until you have enough to cover the perimeter of your colander, leaving room for your face. Hot glue the yarn to the inside edge of the colander.

For the Parmesan Cheese:
- First we'll make the lid! Cut a hole in the center of a paper plate so that it fits on your head securely.
- Using green poster board, measure a length of poster board that is 6 inches wide. Staple to the outside edge of the paper plate (you may need more than one piece to cover the perimeter.)

- Using remaining poster board make a circle with diameter the same length as your paper plate, plus one inch. Cut out three small circles to make your "shaker holes."
- Make 1/2 inch cuts around the perimeter of the poster board and fold them down. Add glue to the folded ends and attach to the open top of your lid. Lastly cut and glue a half circle to the top to make your closing cap.

- For the dress or shirt, print out the Parmesan cheese logo on fabric transfer paper. I split my logo up onto two sheets of paper in order to make it large enough. Make sure that the image is reversed so that it is correct when transferred.
- Following the package instructions, iron the logo onto a piece of white fabric. Cut out your white fabric along the edge of the logo and glue to your dress or shirt with fabric glue.

We hope that you love our Spaghetti & Parmesan Cheese costumes! Coming up with fun and creative couples costumes can sometimes be a struggle, but I think we did pretty well this year! What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Apple Pickin'

This past weekend Nick and I had to take a last minute trip to Lancaster. We weren't planning on being in town, but it was one of the best weekends we've had in awhile. Besides seeing my awesome mom and kitty of course, we worked on our Halloween costumes, went to a beer fest, and hung out with one of my oldest friends that we almost never get to see. We also went apple picking!

I don't think I've ever been apple picking before, but it's just such a perfectly fun fall thing to do that I couldn't pass up the opportunity. My mom took Nick and I to Cherry Hill Orchards to scope out some apples to bring home and bake into something delicious (crock pot apple cake, perhaps?)

The weather was absolutely perfect and we had so much fun together. I tried out my juggling skills (as evidenced by the photo above), however, they don't exist. I think we're definitely going to add apple picking to our annual autumn traditions. Hope you're all enjoying fall as much as we are!

 On Sarah:
Plaid Shirt \ Old Navy (similar)
Jacket \ Old Navy (exact)
Jeans \ American Eagle (similar)
Boots \ Hunter Huntress (exact)
Purse \ Old Navy (similar)
Beanie \ Borrowed from my cute boyfriend

On Nick:
Shirt \ H&M (similar)
Jacket \ Old Navy (exact)
Jeans \ Levi's (exact)
Sneakers \ Adidas Sambas (exact)
Glasses \ BonLook (exact)

Sarah & Nick