Wednesday 23rd April 2014
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Little box, big sound

mini boom

This little black box is a Mini Boom wireless Bluetooth speaker; a friend just gave me one, and it’s the new best thing I own. You just charge it, choose your favorite music from iTunes or Spotify or Pandora or wherever, and tote it  with you wherever around your house you may roam. Remember when you could only hear your music when you were in the same room as the speakers? Such quaint times.

Posted on April 17th, 2014 5 Comments

Cheap and chic of the week

coasters thomas paul

One day, I will feel sufficiently grown up to stop employing magazines and books as coasters and get myself the real deal. And when I do, I might very well go for this set: four butterflies on melamine, for an astonishing $18.

Posted on March 31st, 2014 1 Comment

Chef me

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Friday night’s fish chowder, of which I am unduly proud

People are always surprised when I tell them I am a good cook—which makes sense, because I rarely engage in the actual act of cooking. But in my twenties and for much of my thirties, I pretty much expressed all of my nesting instincts in the kitchen, and delighted in mastering new recipes and feeding my friends. Then I got the big job, got married, and bought the brownstone in Brooklyn—with its enormous Viking range and double Miele ovens—and stopped cooking altogether.  In retrospect, I can see that the fact that I lost one of my strongest domestic impulses the moment I became a wife should have been viewed as a sign. But at the time it just felt like the culprit was exhaustion and entropy.

In the years since then, I’ve graduated from long periods of nonstop takeout to the kind of cooking that could more accurately be referred to as “heating up”—lots of pasta, and meals pre-made in the kitchens of Fresh Direct. But my new place has a great kitchen, and this has awakened in me a desire to use it, and to learn how to be a real cook—the kind who goes into Whole Foods and fills up her cart off the top of her head. And so I shall become one, with the help of Blue Apron, a service that once a week delivers to your door all the ingredients and recipes necessary for three meals. The more you cook, the more you learn, and the more confident—and fluent in new recipes—you become. Aside from specifying whether or not you’re a vegetarian, you don’t get to choose what you get, which turns out to be a great way of stretching yourself: I never would have made  potstickers if they hadn’t arrived in the box, but now I want to try them again with my nephew Henry, the budding chef.  It’s also genius for company: my friend Craig texted the other day at the last minute to see if I had dinner plans, and it was so cool to text back and tell him I’d cook for him, knowing all the necessary ingredients were already on hand.  Some of the recipes have a lot of steps, but they’re all super-easy, and it’s so satisfying when they turn out right—which I think is one of the things I loved about cooking in the first place.


Posted on March 17th, 2014 18 Comments

Funny beautiful things

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I was conducting a deadly boring online search for full-length mirrors (my new apartment doesn’t have one, which is a little too easy to get used to, frankly) when I found a trove of perfectly delightful bamboo mirrors on the Anthropologie site.

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They’re all  apparently  from French flea markets, and no two of the 28 they’ve got up for grabs are exactly alike.

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There’s something a little primitive and almost talisman-ish about these guys, and I can’t help but think they’d make any room they were part of a happier place. Oh, how I am having to talk myself out of buying one.

Posted on March 12th, 2014 10 Comments

Another day, another Liberty print

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A friend went to Paris recently and brought me back a few rolls of this almost-too-cute-for-this-world Liberty of London masking tape. It’s part of a collaboration between Liberty and the great Paris super-boutique Merci, and it makes me wish I was a crafty sort who knew just what to do with something like Liberty masking tape, aside from the obvious wrapping of gifts. Thoughts?

Posted on March 4th, 2014 18 Comments

Department of budget-blowing candles

cire trudon1

Cire Trudon candles are fancy and French and seriously of the old school—Marie Antionette was a customer. And they are displayed in stores under bell jars, much like cheese. I always chalked that up to pretension more than anything, but my friend Stephen demonstrated their real purpose when we popped in to super-luxe apothecary Min New York while out on a shopping ramble last Sunday:  you are to sniff the inside of the bell jar, and not the candle itself, to get the truest sense of its scent. Which is still on the pretentious side, but the candles are all so divine I’m willing to let it pass. Stephen shared one of his favorites, with which I am now fully obsessed: Solis Rex is meant to invoke the halls of Versailles, and is woodsy in the best, almost sharp kind of way, with the subtlest notes of citrus. I want and I want.

Posted on February 25th, 2014 10 Comments

Need least, want most of the week

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Here’s one for all of you who deep down inside still just really miss Polaroids: the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera, which has an automatic ability to measure lighting and adjust accordingly, and prints out cute credit card-sized photos. I want it so much I am all but sitting on my hands to keep from ordering it.

Posted on February 9th, 2014 17 Comments

Small-scale redecorating, continued

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I like using cloth napkins: they bring a little extra added dignity to a meal, even if I’m just dining on cheeseburgers with one of my sticky nephews. And they’re always nicer for when company comes around, and you want to appear fancier than you maybe actually are. The only full set I’ve got are seriously ancient—as in, I got them as a wedding present and I’ve been divorced for close to a decade ancient—and so it occurs to me that it might be time for an upgrade. Something on the more durable side of things, like these from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply. Maybe a mix of a few blacks and yellows each is what I’ve got in mind.

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Wolfum makes so many spectacular napkins I honestly don’t know which I’d choose.

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Thomas Paul’s stuff is always rather cheeky, but pretty at the same time. I like the orange with the blue here a lot.

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Classic, classic and a not bad price.

Posted on January 31st, 2014 20 Comments

Print of the week

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And why not Ikat dinnerware?

Posted on January 24th, 2014 5 Comments

The mini-redo

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The past few times I’ve changed addresses, I have—to varying degrees, but always somewhat meaningfully—redecorated. There have been new rugs and cabinets, wall-mounted bookshelves, custom-made headboards, dining room tables, and the chairs that go with them (without really “going” with them, of course). There have been accent tables and Womb Chairs and visits to John Derian—oh, so many visits to John Derian—for vintage Moroccan rugs and whatnots.  It was all loads of fun but not un-pricey, and it has left me with no shortage of very acceptable furniture. So this time around I decided there was no need for another go at it: change of any sort felt unnecessary; excessive, even.

That was before I moved. Now that I’m here, I want to switch out everything. The sofa, the club chairs, even the living room lamps—which I can’t have had for more than two years, because I wrote about them here—all seem like worthy candidates for elimination. And yet stay they will, because truly, to get rid of all this very nice stuff would be a crime, and besides, it’s easy enough to throw a few new smaller-scale pieces into the mix if it’s excitement that you’re after. Like for instance: this clever planter, into which I plan to put an actual plant that I will not kill, as God is my witness.

steel stools

The kitchen counter’s got room for a couple of stools, and I’ve wanted an excuse to buy these cute steel ones from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply  since my friend Ceridwen tipped me off to them months ago.

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The one room that has worked out perfectly—and to which I do not care to change a stitch—is the bedroom. It was a delight in its old iteration, and I’ve tried my best to execute it exactly the same way over here. Sadly, however, my rather large gray nightstands no longer work logistically (blame a cumbersome central A/C unit) so I’m looking for something slightly more scaled-down. My first inclination would never be to go with a white piece for something like this—my brain’s hardwired to consider certain kinds of white furniture very teenaged girl’s bedroom and prissy—but the room itself is all whites, grays, and black, so it makes a certain sense. My official home design guru Stephen has given this one a thumbs-up on the condition that I go to West Elm first and see what the quality’s like in real life, but I’m curious: what do you guys think?

Posted on January 17th, 2014 20 Comments