August 2016 - The Surznick Common Room

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Surznick Reads: August 2016

We are pretty ashamed to say that this is the first Surznick Reads post ever where we didn't read any books. I know, I know - reading has been slow for months and we thought for sure we were going to get back into the swing of things soon, but it just isn't happening (for now.)

So today we thought we'd share some of our favorite book-to-movie adaptations. When parsing through our bookshelves we found that SO many books we've read have been turned into movies, so these are just a few of the best. If you haven't read/seen these, we highly recommend you check them out this fall! In no particular order...

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (Book/Movie)
From "A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to 'redeem' him, the novel asks, 'At what cost?'"

An intense but awesome story. Reading the slang takes a little while to get used to, but once you do it's a great read.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (Book/Movie)
From "In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild."

One of our favorite non-fiction books of all time. This is an awesome, though heartbreaking story. The movie is equally as fantastic.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (Book/Movie)
From "A young man arrives in the Ukraine, clutching in his hand a tattered photograph. He is searching for the woman who fifty years ago saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Unfortunately, he is aided in his quest by Alex, a translator with an uncanny ability to mangle English into bizarre new forms; a 'blind' old man haunted by memories of the war; and an undersexed guide dog named Sammy Davis Jr, Jr. What they are looking for seems elusive - a truth hidden behind veils of time, language and the horrors of war. What they find turns all their worlds upside down..."

One of my favorite movies (I prefer it over the book, actually, but both are great.) The movie stars Eugene Hutz, singer of Gogol Bordello. You can't go wrong.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (Book/Movie)
From "In American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis imaginatively explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other. Patrick Bateman moves among the young and trendy in 1980s Manhattan. Young, handsome, and well educated, Bateman earns his fortune on Wall Street by day while spending his nights in ways we cannot begin to fathom. Expressing his true self through torture and murder, Bateman prefigures an apocalyptic horror that no society could bear to confront."

Warning: This book is GRAPHIC. And may make you want to throw up a little.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Book/Movie)
From "The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant."

I don't know which I love more, the book or the movie. Both are so, so good. The cast in the movie is phenomenal. Read it, then see it. You will love it.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Book/Movie)
From "It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl. This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life."

Part of the reason we love this story is that it is SO PITTSBURGH. They eat at the places we eat and hang out at the places we hang out. We love it. The movie is better than the book, in our opinion. If you had to pick one, see the movie.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (Book/Movie)
From "In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters - beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys - commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life."

I read this book in early high school and for awhile claimed it as my favorite book. It still holds a special place in my heart, as does the movie. Oh, the Lisbon girls.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (Book/Movie)
From "Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line. In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances."

I read this book within the past couple of years and hailed it was one of my new favorites. Nick Hornby has a new #1 fan. The movie is not as great as the book, but with stars like Aaron Paul and Toni Collette, it certainly isn't bad.

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich (Book/Movie)
From "Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.’s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind. Their small blackjack club develops from an experiment in counting cards on M.I.T.’s campus into a ring of card savants with a system for playing large and winning big. In less than two years they take some of the world’s most sophisticated casinos for more than three million dollars. But their success also brings with it the formidable ire of casino owners and launches them into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas with its private investigators and other violent heavies."

A true and fascinating story. You've probably already seen the Kevin Spacey movie, but reading the book behind it all is so worth it. As someone with a math degree, I found the book so interesting and started wondering if I could count cards myself (probably shouldn't say that.)

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (Book/Movie)
From "In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles - as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary."

The movie starting Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie (Academy Award winner for the film) is pretty well known, but the book it's based on is a great read.

And a bonus! These books have movie adaptations being released later this year or in 2017 and we can't wait to see each of them. The Glass Castle is one of my favorite books of all time and I'm sure the movie starring Brie Larson is going to be fantastic.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Book/Movie Trailer)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Book)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Book/Movie Trailer)

Have you read or seen any of these? Which are your favorites/least favorites? Any you recommend we check out?

Sarah & Nick

Friday, August 26, 2016

Summer Hair with Jen Atkin x Chloe + Isabel

This may make some people cringe, but I haven't had my hair cut at all in a year and a half (though I do have an appointment to get it chopped off tomorrow.) I've just never been a "hair person" - one of those people that makes getting a haircut a priority, or styles their hair on a daily basis. In the summer, my go-to style is almost always a top knot, as the thought of having my long hair even touch my neck in the tortuous humidity is not an option.

After so many months of wearing my hair pretty much the same way, I'm a little bored with it. It's too hot for blow dryers and curling irons, but it needed a little something outside of the ordinary. When Chloe + Isabel reached out to me and asked if I wanted to try any of their new products, I jumped at the idea of checking out their new line with Jen Atkin. I've known the name Jen Atkin for a long time - she's the hairstylist to the stars with clients like Chrissy Teigen, Gwen Stefani, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Katy Perry... the list goes on.

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Jen Atkin x Chloe + Isabel is full of beautiful, dainty hair accessories that are perfect for my long hair today and will be awesome with my short hair come tomorrow! I picked out three pieces - the Wishbone Pin Set in Rose Gold and Gold, the Small Crystal Pavé Fan Pin Set in Gold, and the Ponytail Clip in Gold (what can I say... I like gold!)

When my hair's not in a top knot, you'll often find it in a quick and easy side braid, with the rest pulled back into a low bun. I wore my hair like this to a concert last weekend, but added some fun details with the Small Crystal Pavé Fan Pin Set. The set comes with three pins so I spaced them out throughout my braid. Aren't they a cute touch?

For a fun updo using the Ponytail Clip, I braided my hair and secured it with a small rubberband. Then I folded it up on the back of my head and secured it with the ponytail clip. Unfortunately my hair is too thin to use the ponytail clip to secure a ponytail, but I love the way that style looks - super sleek and chic.

Okay okay, I know I said I was bored with the top knot, but it's seriously my go-to and how I wear my hair probably 5-6 days a week. It's quick, it's easy, it's cute, it gets the hair off my shoulders... maybe I shouldn't chop my hair off tomorrow after all (just kidding!) When I wear my hair on the top of my head, I always have wispies that fall down in the back. I usually secure them with my other Chloe + Isabel barrettes (read about them here), but have been switching them out for the Wishbone Pins. Aren't they fun?

All items c/o Chloe + Isabel

The Jen Atkin collection has so many other awesome pieces. Check out the lookbook and learn more about the collaboration here! Have you checked out Chloe + Isabel yet? I wear Chloe + Isabel pieces every day and love them so much. Share your favorite pieces with us in the comments below!

xo, Sarah

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Buffalo Tempeh Chili

Finally, we're back at it in the kitchen, working on some delicious recipes! Moving into our new home has of course been busy, but to be honest, we've been settled for a little while and there is only so much take out one can eat (as in I can eat SO much take-out.) But seriously, it feels good to work a bit in the kitchen on some delicious and hearty recipes. This one was a bit of a cheat though. The very first recipe we ever shared back in 2013 was Buffalo Turkey Chili. A lot has changed since then (like we don't eat meat anymore, and we don't use my iPhone 4 to photograph food for the blog, thank goodness) so it was high time to give it another go.

This recipe is pretty straight forward, but it is oh so delicious! I'm a huge fan of anything buffalo flavored, and the tempeh really steps up as a fantastic meat sub for this dish.

print recipe

Buffalo Tempeh Chili
This hearty Buffalo Tempeh Chili is perfectly spicy, full of flavor, and all vegan.
  • 1/2 lb. (1 package) Original Flavor Tempeh
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Cup Diced Baby Carrots
  • 15 oz. Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 15 oz. Tomato Sauce
  • 1.5 cups Buffalo Sauce
  • 15 oz. Red Kidney Beans
  • 2-3 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
1. Cut your tempeh into small cubes (about 1/2-1 inch).2. In a medium skillet, heat a few tablespoons olive oil and add the tempeh. Fry until golden brown on all sides, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.3. In a large pot, heat olive oil and add your peppers, onions, and carrots. Saute until the onions are translucent and the veggies begin to soften.4. Add the tempeh and kidney beans (drained.) Saute together for 5 minutes.5. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain), buffalo sauce, and seasonings.6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.Serve this with some corn tortilla chips for a perfectly crunchy spoonful, or top it with some delicious blue or cheddar cheese!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings

I love this chili. There is just something about the buffalo flavors and eating a bowl of something warm that make me long for fall weather. It's soon, and I cannot wait!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, August 19, 2016

Our Favorite Podcasts (Vol. 2)

Since posting our first podcast round up almost a year and half ago, our love for the medium has not faded. We still keep up with our old standards (99 Percent Invisible, Song Exploder, Millennial, etc.) but so many new podcasts have piqued our interest too! We've decided it's high time we share an updated list of what's been playing on our daily commutes. 

Sarah's Picks!

1. Young House Love Has a Podcast - One of my favorite DIY/home decor blogs is Young House Love, co-written by John and Sherry Petersik. When they decided to stop blogging a couple of years ago, I was totally bummed to say goodbye to one of my favorite blogging families. While still keeping up with them on social media, I recently saw that they had started a podcast where they talk design, DIY, and life with each other and with some awesome designers/bloggers (Emily Henderson, anyone?) Whether you already love these two or you're newbies to YHL, give this a listen and you won't regret it.

Listen To: Episode 8 - Three Pro Bloggers Get Real About Sponsored Posts

2. Anna Faris is Unqualified - What's not to love about Anna Faris? She's hilarious, smart, and seems so down-to-earth despite her celebrity status. When I realized she started a podcast where she and other celebs give people unqualified dating and life advice, I was intrigued. Her show, co-hosted by Sim Sarna, is funny and fresh compared to other celebrity-guest podcasts. The advice isn't terrible either!

Listen To: Episode 16 - Ellen Page

3. Sword and Scale - Many of us love a good true crime story. We were hooked on Serial, then Criminal, then Making a Murderer, and now I needed something new to try. Sword and Scale has been around for a few years but I discovered it when googling for a true crime podcast. I've listened to nearly 40 episodes in the past few months and I'm hooked. Each story is different, fascinating, and a bit disturbing.

Listen To: Episode 3 - Female Serial Killers

4. Shailey & Katie - I've been following Shailey Murphy and Katie Day on Instagram for a few years. Based in Springfield, MO, I discovered their feeds through their connection to blogs like A Beautiful Mess, Skunkboy, Smile & Wave, etc. (turns out lots of creative people come out of a tiny town in Missouri!) When I learned that they started a podcast, I listened to it on a whim, but found myself wholeheartedly enjoying it. Their show is like hanging out with two best friends - they're hilarious and unprofessional in all of the right ways.

Listen To: Episode 4 - Katie Day Lost 70 Pounds! (And Shailey ate 736 M&M's. Slow clap for her.)

5. Planet Money - I'm sure you've at least heard of Planet Money (it's an NPR podcast after all!) It's one of my favorite shows to listen to. The stories are quick (about 15 minutes), unique, and so interesting. The name Planet Money could scare you off, but it's not like listening to a lecture in economics class. It's real life stories that kind of have to do with money, like "How to Make it in the Food Truck Business" or "The Fondue Conspiracy." I think my favorite part is that each episode is such a small investment of time. Give it a try - maybe you'll learn something!

Listen To: Episode 538 - Is a Stradivarius Just a Violin?

6. Lady Lovin - If you're in your mid-twenties like me, you probably spent your high school years obsessing over Laguna Beach. If so, I'm sure you'll remember Lo Bosworth, best friend of LC. Since the Laguna days, Lo has gone on to write a book, start an award-winning blog, and now host a weekly podcast with two of her best friends, Jilly Hendrix and Greta Titelman. Each week the Lady Lovin gals talk life, business, health, etc. and bring in awesome guests along the way.

Listen To: Episode 14 - Women who Rule with Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder & CEO of Birchbox

Nick's Picks!

1. Gilmore Guys - Anyone love Gilmore Girls? Then you're going to LOVE Gilmore Guys. This one is by far my biggest time commitment, and has been my #1 favorite podcast since starting it over a year ago. There really isn't much to it; 2 guys, Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe, take apart the TV show Gilmore Girls episode by episode, scene by scene, pop-culture reference by pop-culture reference. It is an absolute hilarious must-listen. Fantastic guests, live shows, never-ending riffing, and great insight into the television and comedy industry make this the most crave-able podcast on my list.

Listen to: Episode 101 - Pilot

And we saw them live last year in Washington, D.C. - read about it here!

2. Mortified - My weekly dose of ridiculous and embarrassing hilarity. This podcast is live recordings of people reading aloud their childhood writings (mostly diaries, love letters, etc.) to audiences of complete strangers. The episodes are pretty short, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always endearing. It makes for a great quick and easy, satisfying pick me up. 

Obviously, I don't do quite as much podcast listening as I used to (or as Sarah does), but all 8 of these podcasts listed above are super solid and extremely worth your time. Please share below some of your favorite podcasts so we can discover even more!

Sarah & Nick

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Orange Chair Makeovers

If you've been following the blog or my Instagram for a couple of years, you may remember these orange chairs we took from the abandoned house next door, that just so happened to be owned by our former landlord (yes, you read all of that correctly.)

In a nutshell, our landlord was cleaning out the house next door to sell it. I saw these chairs that had been sitting in a dusty, dirty, abandoned house for 20+ years and said "MINE, ALL MINE!" We loved the midcentury design and were willing to look past the bad shape they were in, in hopes that we could revitalize them someday.

There was no label on the chairs, except a small metal plate on the bottom of the seats that said "Directional," which didn't really yield us any Google results. Then Brynne from The Gathered Home featured them on her blog and did a little research herself. Turns out they are in the style of Norman Cherner Side/Pretzel Chairs. We're thinking Directional may be the brand/designer? Either way, chairs of this style are worth a pretty penny. It was a good score.

Fast forward two years. We've worked on the chairs intermittently over the past couple years but it was never a project we sunk our teeth into. Ultimately we knew we wanted to showcase the pretty wood as best as possible (no painting) and we wanted to reupholster the seats, but keep them orange. Basically we wanted the chairs to look similar, but just nicer and in better shape.

So finally, when we bought our house and decided to create a music room for Nick, I knew that these chairs would look beautiful against navy blue walls. With a purpose in mind, we set out to get the chairs completed, and here they are!

We started by completely disassembling the chairs and giving them a good cleaning. We used aluminum foil to remove the rust from the legs and then spray painted them with silver/metallic spray paint. Nick sanded down the wooden bases and patched up all of the wood that was broken off or peeling. We stained the wood in our go-to Minwax Early American (which we also used on the legs of our record shelf.) Finally, we reupholstered the seats with this fun orange fabric from Jo-Ann. It feels like we brought these babies into our apartment forever ago, but they're finally, finally done!

The chairs have been such a great addition to the music room and we love the complementary blue/orange & dark wood vibes going on in there. That's one more thing checked off the music room to-do list - almost done!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, August 12, 2016

What's New in Sarah's Closet

As the end of summer approaches, so many stores are offering sales to get rid of their summer stock. We shared ModCloth's sale a couple of weeks ago, of course there was the Nordstrom #Nsale, and right now two of my favorite places to shop, ASOS and Forever 21, are offering great deals on summer and fall pieces.

I haven't purchased any clothing since before we moved and my current closet was feeling really boring to me. I've been slowly refining a style that I love, but a very small percentage of my closet interests me anymore. So it was time to curate a wardrobe with new items that I love and say goodbye to pieces I no longer care for.

Below we've rounded up all of the items new to my closet in case you're interested in taking advantage of these great sales too!

ASOS (Up to 50% Off Clearance)

Forever 21 (BOGO Free Select Sale Items)

See anything you like? I already received my ASOS order and loved everything except one sweater (not pictured!) The pinafore runs pretty small so I need to return for a size or two up. I can't wait to receive my Forever 21 order - that blush scallop top is so dreamy. Have you snagged anything from either of these sales? Share with me below!

xo, Sarah

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lately... (VII)

Hard to believe it's been nearly four months since our last Lately post! For the past week and a half, our lives have been consumed by our cute as hell KITTENS! It feels like we've been their parents forever - they've truly made themselves at home here and we couldn't be happier. Make sure you're following along on Snapchat and Instagram to see more of the kitty cuteness (@sawissinger & @nmalburg.)

Like the rest of the world, we've been spending all of our free time wrapped up in the 2016 Summer Olympics. It's hard not to get completely invested in each event, but gymnastics holds a special place in my heart. I wanted to be Dominque Moceanu SO BADLY as a child and my gymnastics fever hasn't gone down with age. I may be a zombie in the morning after staying up until midnight every night to watch, but it's worth it. Go Final Five!

Last week the newest issue of Fine Living Lancaster magazine was released and our blog is featured! As a Lancaster native, I feel especially proud and excited to be included in my hometown magazine. If you're local to the Lancaster area, be sure to pick up your copy!

On the home front, renovations have started to slow down while work and regular life picks up! We're still working on the music room, but we can see the finish line on the horizon! For new readers, Nick is a music teacher by day and teaches private instrumental lessons after school and on the weekends. Our music room is Nick's home lesson studio where he teaches, plays music, records, etc. We just need to finish the floor trim, add some art, new curtains, and we're done! We can't wait to share the complete before and after with you soon!

Other than all of that, we've been spending as much time as possible with friends and family. We've gone to concerts, pizza fests, vintage shopping, happy hours, bourbon tastings, brunch, and more! While fall is my absolute favorite season of all time (and I can't wait for it's arrival!) I love how easy, casual, and fun it is to spend time with friends in the summer.

We hope that you're enjoying your August so far! This Friday we're heading to a pre-season Steelers game, which is going to get me more excited for fall than I already am. What have you been up to lately?

Sarah & Nick