Monthly Archives

February 2015

On My Mind, A Little Late

February 25, 2015

While its not Monday, these things are still circling around my mind this week! These chilly few days are full of spring break dreams, nostalgic music choices & some grilled cheese.

this or that? bathing suits

This or that_Bathing Suits


I stumbled upon TRIANGL pinteresting sometime earlier this winter. Everyone else seemed to stumble upon it at the same time since Victoria’s Secret now mysteriously is color-blocking on every available surface. These are a tad bit expensive so I may not even take the plunge before jetting off for spring break, but while I think about purchasing I’m stuck in a serious this or that debate. I need your help! What’s your opinion, this or that?

room for squares, john mayer

Don’t ask me why but My Stupid Mouth popped into my head some time last week. My Stupid Mouth turned into 3×5 turned into Why Georgia and now I’ve been listening an album that came out when I was in second grade and loving it. Call it my quarter life crisis.

John Mayer 2

grilled cheese dc

Do you now what I fall asleep dreaming of? A grilled cheese bar with a fully stocked happy hour. My dreams are coming true this week. I’m finally making my way to GCDC on Thursday for a friend’s birthday celebration! A birthday celebration, some beer and the Pretzel Pistrami Grilled Cheese seem to be in my future.

Spring Break Diet

Mama Said (There’d Be Days Like This)

February 17, 2015


In preparation for this project Alex Karpa and I made a list. It is a list of quotes and sentence fragments that speak loudly to each of us; they are the lines and quips that reflect how unmoored we are feeling in our current state of life. As I began to transcribe countless Pinterest quotes I kept coming back to one line that had organically floated into my head:

“Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this my mama said.”

Its a line from a song by the Shirelles and a grouping of words that had somehow become the soundtrack of my college life when I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be feeling. I typed the line quickly, and then forgot about it until Alex commented on it the next day. Right underneath the quote she wrote,“really like how there’s something both happy and sad about this.”

That was it. Alex had captured the very essence of this project, this blog and The Last Year Series in a way that I couldn’t articulate myself. This is a project of passion for both of us, and hopefully something all of you P&S readers can relate to as well.

Because there is undeniably something both sad and happy about being in a moment in your life where everything is swelling and expanding without your permission. And when that happens, we hang on for dear life to quotes and sentiments that reflect how it is we can be so excited and so damn scared all at once.

/day 47

1 of 365

On January 1, 2015 Alex Karpa started a new project. She planned to complete a lettering piece each day for the next 365 days and Instagram it accordingly. The first image showed a piece of paper with ‘1 of 365,’ and a caption that read “new beginnings/day 001.”

Since that day in January I’ve followed Alex’s progress, always double tapping the photos of slips of paper that read ‘make your place,’ or ‘all things large and small,’ because before I even spoke to her, I knew that Alex and I were playing the same sentiment over and over in our minds.

“I was feeling like things weren’t solid,” Alex said in the small, peaceful voice I had gotten to know in the kitchen of our sorority house. “I needed to find a way to feel okay with it.”

We both live on shifting ground.

Alex, after graduating in May from GW, is now living in Philly and applying to graduate programs. Her lettering pieces are reflective of how she’s feeling from day-to-day and representative of what’s inspiring her at the time. Even the days she’s frustrated and tired, she crafts a message that brings a little beauty into the world.

While this project started as something for her, it spoke to me as well.

/little moments make you big

cropped Mama Said

I’m not sure what made me write that thought down. It was some time right at the beginning of this blog adventure. While the line is inherent to P&S now, back then it was just something that I thought, and something that was really clear to me.

Little moments make you the person that you were meant to be. Little words, little sayings, little memories, little fights, little losses and little wins all pile up and build on one another until you’re a grown person about to get a job with benefits (or freelance out of the room in your childhood home).

Alex took this and made it so much more than something that only lives to follow the name “Peonies & Subtleties.” She let my little line stand among lyrics and quotes about transitions, potential and all the feelings that accompany.

Because little things are sometimes bad and sometimes good. They’re sometimes sad and sometimes happy. Little moments make your days undulate between knowing where you’re going and feeling lost in your own company.

Mama did say there’d be days like this.

/our favorite quotes

what words do you hold on to?






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Want more from Alex Karpa? Follow her on Instagram at: alexkarpa

Photos are credited to Jess Harrigan who you can follow on Instagram at: jessharrigan


On My Mind, The Long Weekend

February 16, 2015

Riding in on the coattails of a long weekend makes this week that much better:

a new project, tomorrow

Remember why I started this whole blog? If you don’t, it was to chronicle the idiosyncratic moments of growing up and becoming a version of myself that was handcrafted by my own experiences. Implicit in the word subtleties is the idea of nuances; everyday is a little bit different because I’m a little bit different. Tomorrow you’ll see a collaboration of some lyrics, quotes and beautiful hand-lettering that captures the essence of what it means to learn our potential one little moment at a time. For a sneak peak, click here.

high school friends, philly

Its taken three and half years but we’ve finally done it; my high school friends are all meeting in one place. We sprinkle east coast cities from Boston to Richmond, but this weekend we’re all gathering in Philadelphia. It was random and unplanned and somehow all of us had a free weekend. I couldn’t be more excited to see my Villa gorillas for a weekend of high school nostalgia in our last semester of college.

patience, all over

So, I’ve been going to Corepower for a little over a week now and I can say I’m falling in love with yoga. An hour of focused exercise is just what I need. Before each class the instructor tells you to offer up your intention for the class. This may be sacrilegious yoga practice, but I’m going to share mine with you. Patience. I work hard all class to focus on being a patient person, and understanding that I can’t control everything going on around me. So each time I go to my mat I’m working towards being patient about what comes next while also trying really hard to balance in the godforsaken crow pose.

SNOW, dc

This is my equivalent of wearing my pj’s inside out. If I write about the snow coming, the snow has to come right? I’m just trying to extend the long weekend just a little bit longer. Fingers crossed!

Snow Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2015

Valentins day graphic TO USE


Happy Valentine’s Day to all my P&S readers! My cards have be written, sent, and prepared for hand delivery. Now, I’m off to brunch to meet my two valentine’s Mimosa & Waffle.

I hope that your day is everything you want it to be! If that means laying in bed with a bag of chips and a good movie, I hope that you’re already queuing Netflix up. If you want February 14th to be full of surprises and red roses, I hope that your day is overflowing with gestures. If you’d like to eat chocolate all day, by all means, channel the chubby kid from Matilda on a chocolate cake of your choosing.

Whatever it may look like & whoever you may spend it with, I hope that you feel the love this Valentine’s Day.


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Write More on Paper

February 10, 2015

When I asked Lisa Rowan of Grey Moggie Press what ‘Write More on Paper,’ meant to her, this is what she said:

The people who think of you and send you stuff in the mail? Those are the people you love the most.

I would have to agree with her. Sitting down to write out a card or a letter or just your thoughts takes effort, something that not many of us dispense anymore when expressing ourselves to somebody else. True effort is not remembering to text someone, its taking that extra step. That extra step for me is buying a card and penning out exactly what it is I want to say.

For those of you who don’t know, my mom moved expat this year.

She’s 5 hours ahead and an ocean apart from me, so while I use Viber and iMessage on a day-to-day basis, I love to pick out the perfect card to send to her a world away. It was my mother who instilled in me this love of letter writing (and an even bigger love for buying adorable note cards like these). My childhood memories are sprinkled with the types of cards she was using that year or that season. Every time I’ve ever done anything with anyone else’s family, there was a perfectly picked out thank you note involved.

So, now, I write her letters. Some are just to say hello. Some are to thank her for not killing me while driving me around Oxford, England. Some, I don’t have much to say in, but rather just wanted her to see the design on the front.

I hope that when she gets a letter from me, signed xoxo, Kell, she feels like she’s reading a little piece of home.

This Valentine’s Day I challenge you to write out something for someone special.

You think they know you love them? Write it down! Tell your friend thank you for letting you order that pizza and then listening to you drone on, over slices 4, 5 and 6, about the kid that broke your heart. Leave your roommate a little note letting them know that you’ll forget about the dishes and that you love them just the same.

I write because it is more articulate than anything that ever comes out of my mouth. Perhaps you should write just because you can. 

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Grey Moggie Press Interview & Giveaway!

February 9, 2015

When you’re walking around Eastern Market on the weekend, you may happen upon a table laid out with letterpress cards that read ‘Have you tried it with bacon?’ and ‘Smile. Puppies Exist,’ among countless other funny quips and sincere sentiments.  These hand printed cards are the brainchild of Melanie Karlins, owner of the Captiol Hill-based, Grey Moggie Press.

I’ve been buying Grey Moggie Press cards since I first happened upon them during my freshman year. Just this year though, I bought a card for my roommate after she had run her first marathon and noticed that the bag the card came in read ‘Write More On Paper.’ This bag hangs over my desk because it’s a beautiful sentiment and one that I aim to emulate all the time. ‘Write More On Paper,’ tells me to take the time, to express myself, to send a card to someone that says ‘Have You Tried It With Siracha?’ just because I’m thinking of them and they love Siracha more than their mothers. 

So, while this blog is in fact not written on paper, I sat down with Melanie’s right hand woman, Lisa Rowan (Melanie was suffering from the flu to end all flus) at Grey Moggie’s quaint Captiol Hill Studio. Sandwiched in between a fledgling graphic design firm and a studio overflowing with material, I got to talk to Lisa about the concept behind handmade letterpress, the joys of expressing yourself on paper and an exciting giveaway of some new, romantic designs  just in time for Valentine’s Day. The following interview was edited for clarity.

Lisa and Melanie

(left) Melanie, Owner Grey Moggie Press. (right) Lisa Rowan, Studio Moggie (credit: Alan Kayanan)

Kelly: Can you describe Melanie’s and your role in Grey Moggie?
Lisa: Melanie created Grey Moggie back in 2008. She started printing in 2008 and it developed from there. She does all the printing and the actual designs of the cards. She is the matriarch of the brand. I’ve only been here 6 months. I came in just to be her assistant, to help pack orders and keep everything organized. I came on as a part-timer because I have my own business, so I said, I totally have spare time to work on this. When I’m not there doing my thing, I’m here keeping everything in order.

K: Where did the name Grey Moggie come from?
L: It’s a type of cat. Melanie does own a grey moggie cat. Her name is Ann Taylor. I never knew until I worked here that Ann Taylor isn’t originally from the clothing store, it’s a the name of a dog from To Kill a Mocking Bird. Ann Taylor is the [Grey Moggie] sticker.

K: How did Grey Moggie come to be?
L: Melanie started learning how to screen print when she was in law school. In law school you’re studying and it’s books all the time so she needed something that was completely different. Before she even set foot in a letterpress studio she started looking at presses online to see if she could buy one and she what that would entail. So she started doing this as a hobby, and then she was doing it on the weekends and started selling at Eastern Market. When she was working, she decided she wanted to letterpress. She was like, this is my calling. So she had a smaller press first and then she got the one she uses now.


K: Does Melanie do all of the pressing herself or do you help?
L: I don’t do any pressing yet. Actually I’m here in the studio and there are four women that help at Eastern Market on the weekends and everyone wants to learn. Melanie keeps saying that it would be great to have someone else who can do it because then it lets her do all the other business stuff and design.

K: So, does Melanie come up with all the designs and catchphrases on the cards or is that a team effort?
L: I want to say its all Melanie but there’s one that we came out with this spring… Well, I always say ‘that sounds like a personal problem,’ and so she designed this whole card without telling me and showed it to me and I was like, I’m on the card! We had to add that ‘but I want to help you anyway’ because they’re meant to be a little encouraging.  Melanie will say ‘I’m working on x,y,z card what do you think?’  Sometimes my ideas are really bad and sometimes her ideas aren’t on point. Its definitely a trial and error process. She has themes that she likes to riff on though.

K: For this Valentines day, did you expand on last year’s Valentine’s theme or did you try something new?
L: We have two Valentine’s themes and then we have a couple new ones. (Grabs giveaway). I picked these out by myself. Here’s “I love you more than yoga pants.” I figured that was appropriate. These are also really cute (grabs other card) this one says “I want to Kiss You All the Time,” and we have one that says “I want to Hug you all the time.” But some of them transcend the season! We have one that says “you are so loved,” and that can be for whenever. We have a total of 10 new cards for Valentine’s day this year.

for photoshop

K: Do you do custom orders or do you design to sell?
L: Most of our stuff is designed and then sold. Every once in awhile we get a custom order, like any of these cards we could do as print. We don’t do it a whole lot but we can. And she’s going to start doing a wedding line that’s going to launch in June. So, she’s going to be doing invitations. She’ll have a couple of designs but there will be some wiggle room for some custom stuff. So, doing save the dates and the whole thing.

K: Other than the wedding line, what else is next for Grey Moggie?
L: We’re doing a line that’s a collaboration with an artist named Marcella Kreibel. Its paintings of fruits and veggies that we’re taking and doing on the letterpress. Its really cool because they’re not going to say anything, its just going to be an image. Its going to be something that’s toally unisex. Guys can send them. They’re going to have, I don’t remember what color we decided on, I think mossy green or something. Its going to be something perfect for spring and totally seasonal.

K: When is that going to launch?
L: I’m thinking March or April. It’ll be on Etsy and at Eastern Market and we’ll send out an update to retailers, so that we know we have it. So probably 2 or three weeks after we have it’ll be in stores.

 L (continuing to answer what’s next for Grey Moggie):
So we’re also planning to do more gifty things that aren’t necessarily cards but are still in the stationary realm. Over the holidays we did coasters and gift tags. We also do lunchbox notes that are based on our milestone cards. You can just slip them in an envelope or write on the back and they’re really sweet. We want to do more of that because sending more mail is kind of our schtick. But there’s also an element of just writing more, expressing more.

K: Can explain the ‘writing more’ idea?
L: Melanie’s whole inspiration has been really old etiquette books like Emily Post. She has all these books about wedding etiquette and stuff so it’s a combo of communicating on paper plus the old way which was you always wrote a note, you always sent something. We put those together and show that that can be just as modern as everything else we do too.

K: Can you talk more about ‘Write More on Paper?’
L: I don’t even know when she started using that. She just started printing them on the back of the cards when I got here in September. I think its resonates with people. I think that this idea of writing and communicating with people is really important. I think that transcends to a lot of the reatilers we work with and a lot of the artists that we work with have an old time flare. People really identify with that. We get a lot of people at Eastern Market that will come by. They’ll buy a pack of 5 cards for 20 and then they’ll come back the next week and Melanie will be like ‘how did you go through those already?’ and they’re like ‘I had people picked out for all of those cards and now I need to send more!’  There have been times that she’s doubted that this movement is real, but it is. Its totally real. We have 150 styles right now and that’s telling.

K: What does Write More on Paper mean to you?
L: Its sort of a reminder to me that if someone’s birthday is coming up, send them a card. It takes 5 minutes to pick out a really cute card and send it to them. Its better than sending an email or posting on their facebook wall. The people who think of you and send you stuff in the mail? Those are the people you love the most.

Giveaway 2

For three free Grey Moggie Press Valentine’s Day cards fill in the form below! Free gift will include additional Grey Moggie gifts and surprises!
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Red Apron, New Restaurant #2

February 8, 2015

I’m finding that eating at new restaurants are the easiest things to cross out on the To Do List. Trying anything that isn’t Sweetgreen is a HUGE treat for me. So, when Eva and I were tasting chocolate covered pretzels with Fatty Sundays at Union Market on Thursday night, we decided to stick around and try one of the established restaurants in the space.

Red Apron Signage 2

Red Apron Butchery, also with full locations in Penn Quarter and D Street, is all about meat. With its unfinished wood walls and hipster gaggle of its all-male staff, it made me feel too cutesy to be there while way cool for walking up to the counter and ordering the Porkstrami when I finally did so.

Its one of those places that the counter at which you order doubles as a bar. On the other side of the register is the meat counter, open so that diners and customers can see whats going on in the kitchen and near the meat cases. Its here that the chef, the only employee not wearing a beanie, brings out the orders and yells the name of the diner. Needless to say, this is a satellite restaurant and its size means that he doesn’t need to yell loud.

I ordered my porkstrami (pastrami style pork, bacon, mustard aioli, sauerkraut, pork jus, housemade baguette) and sat down while Eva made hard (and important) decisions about loose meatball sandwiches and forgot to pay. While I was watching this happen the Chef comes out and yells “Emily.” Once, twice, three times he yells the name, and then I realize that we’re the only one’s that have ordered in the past 15 minutes. Hmm. Emily.

The guy behind the register catches me making the connection that I may, in fact, be Emily.

“I just got your name from your credit card,” he said.

“My name’s Kelly.”

“Oh, well, I have bad eyes.”

I smiled and laughed because it was funny and because I was thrilled that was my Porkstrami and not Emily’s.

Upon eating said sandwich I made the decision that I would be Emily, or anyone at all for Porkstrami.

Red Apron Pastrami

Eva Red Apron

Eva Eating

Red Apron Behind the Bar

Red Apron Table

Fatty Thursday with Fatty Sundays

February 6, 2015

Fatty Sundays 2

Remember when I said I was going to Union Market for a chocolate tasting? Well, it was much more than just any old chocolate tasting. I got to enjoy the pop-up for the Brooklyn-based chocolate covered pretzel company, Fatty Sundays.

The Fatty Sundays Union Market Pop Up, open this weekend and next,  is a burst of confectionary color among the market’s Americana, farm-to-table backdrop. A wall of rainbow ribbon, a DIY pretzel dipping station and flutes of champagne set the stage for this festive pop up launch.

Alongside guests were Fatty Sunday’s owners, sisters Ali and Lauren. While their pretzel designs are in Dean & Deluca and Neiman Marcus nationwide, the two couldn’t stop complimenting my plus one (Eva) on her aptitude for sprinkle color blocking. The DIY station was lost on me because I only had eyes for one topping: toffee crunch. 

I ate the free sample. I ate another free sample. I did it myself and then, without thinking, sprinkled on, you guessed it, toffee crunch. If anyone’s looking to send me a gift, send me a box of….toffee crunch.

I would recommend taking a trip to NE to check out these lovely sisters and their family recipe chocolate covered pretzels, their Valentine’s Day DIY kits or their customizable boxes. Flavors include PB&J, Birthday Cake and Banana. They’ll only be there through next Sunday, so head on over to NoMa before New York reclaims them!

Also follow them on Instagram for some chocolatey photos. I mean their bio is, “When I dip, you dip, we dip.” Enough said.

DIY Fatty Sundays 4

Fatty Sundays DIY 2

Fatty Sundays Champagne

For more sweet pictures… Continue Reading…

A Liebster Award!

February 3, 2015


What a pleasant surprise! Kirsten Brontmire of Kristen Loves Lyla  nominated P&S for a Liebster Award!

After a few minutes of Googling, I found out the Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers. The point of the award is to spread blogging love for sites that are on the smaller side.  It’s a pay it forward movement that’s meant to gain those nominated and those nominating new followers! Here’s how we go about it:

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominates you.
2. Answer the questions given by the person who nominates you.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know they’ve been nominated!

Thank you so much, Kristen. P&S readers, how about we give Kirsten Loves Lyla some reader love? Now, to answer some questions:

1. You only get to eat one food for the rest of your life. What is it?
French bread and cheese. I’m simple. I always tell my friends I could have survived just fine in 18th century France.

2. What is your focus goal for your blog this year?
On P&S I’m really attempting to diversify my editorial content and expand my readership by doing so. I want to show that I don’t only love to write, but I enjoy curating content as well!

3. What is one thing you love about yourself?
I love my big round cheeks. I’ve spent a lot of time complaining that they’re not high cheek bones, but now that I’m a little older I’ve realized that they’re my signature thing. 

4. Your proudest moment?
Getting into the journalism program in the school of media and public affairs at gw. I was so undecided for so long that deciding on a major and succeeding in getting into the program felt like a huge accomplishment. 

5. Favorite movie?
This a tie between 500 Days of Summer and The Family Stone. Both are quirky and little bit devastating. I love them for that. 

6. What are two things you hope to improve about your blog?
First, I want post more regularly and have more of a uniform schedule. Second, I want to cement my series into features that readers want to come back to P&S to check. 

7. What is the one thing you hate the most?

8. What is your dream vacation?
Traveling around Europe for an extended period of time with the people that I love. 

9. What is one thing you can’t live without?
A notebook (and a pen). If you know me then you know that I never go far without something to write on.

10. Where do you like to go with your friends?
I like to try out new restaurants all around DC

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Honestly, I have no idea. Then again, that uncertainty is exactly what this blog is about. 

Next! My 11 nominees:

  1. Lindsey of Rebhan Rennovation
  2. Olivia of Liv Laugh & Love Leopard 
  3. Erin of Styles I Like
  4. Kelsey of Fashioning Fiction
  5. Ana of Better Than Ramen
  6. Dezzie of Dezzie, Darling
  7. Yuen of the Craziest Paradigm 
  8. Angela of Cowgirl Runs 
  9. Rebeca Elena of The Glitter Diaries 
  10. Becky Neeb of her Paris Abroad Blog 
  11. Holly of Simplify Create Inspire 
  12. Kelsey of Fashioning Fiction

My Questions to the above 11 bloggers:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What’s your favorite thing to blog about?
  3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  4. What’s your favorite place to go by yourself?
  5. Coffee or tea?
  6. Can you describe your personal style?
  7. What can readers expect from your blog in the upcoming year?
  8. What are you most excited about right now?
  9. Biggest accomplishment?
  10. What’s your favorite type of music?
  11. What did you do today to reach a goal that you have?

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