love.life.eat of the week

13179143923_781bd3b875_b

1. Sophie Dahl’s exquisite cookbook, Very Fond of Food | 2. Nyl Skincare. Longtime readers of this space know that I love to evangelize small businesses, and I’m privileged to have met the owner of this chemical-free beauty line at one of my consulting gigs. The products are spot-on: the scrubs are fresh and heady with aromatics, the moisturizers are rich and soothing + the serum is my daily salve. As my friend Amber says, get involved | 3. If I were in the market to buy anything accessory-related {I’m not}, I’d acquire this perfect clutch | 4. Yes, these socks are odd-looking, but they seriously work when you’re weeping on a megaformer or pulsing during barre class | 5. Finally, my affection for marble has not abated. I’m currently eyeing these coasters

Sophie Dahl book image credit.

love. life. eat. of the week: home edition

12999797224_0c94a5a93a_b
Believe me when I say that I’ve been building my home for nearly two years. Since I spend a great deal of time in my apartment, my home being my refuge, I want to make it as comfortable, cozy and calm as possible. I invested in a few pieces {sofa, as I’d been living with a loveseat purchased off Craigslist for six years, bed and coffee table}, and the rest I acquired at wholesale shops and online furniture marketplaces. Yesterday, my friend Mary joked that furniture shopping is a racket, and I agreed. If there’s one thing I loathe, it’s shopping. I hate shopping. It’s stressful because invariably there’s always a better deal you haven’t found, and you never know about the quality of a piece until you unpack it on your living room floor. To this end, I make it a point to buy pieces that will last me a great deal of time, simply for the fact that I can save myself hours of scrolling through Home Depot, Overstock.com, Wayfair and other sites, deliberating over a $90 writing desk as if it was a car. Yes, I’m that obsessive.

Today, I’ll give you some insight into the four new things I bought for the new abode {I believe in the power of Amazon Prime and free shipping for household supplies like brooms, wastepaper baskets and vacuum cleaners}, as well as a peek back at the pieces I’ve acquired over the past two years.

I first purchased these bookcases a couple of years ago, and they’ve held up beautifully. For $53, this is the best deal you’ll get | Never did I think that I would be infatuated with a vacuum cleaner, however, after having a pet and having to clean up cat hair, EVERYWHERE, this bag-free version is a godsend | I haven’t yet used my loft space, other than as a means to store books, odds and ends, but I’m prepping my writing space by purchasing this sturdy and affordable chrome lamp and this desk from Joss + Main {similar desk here}.

A few years ago I asked the very talented and kind Christine White to help me outfit my apartment with the proper bones {sofa, coffee table, decorative accents}, and after having received such lovely comments on my home I thought I’d revisit her choice picks. Let it be known that I don’t like clutter or knick-knacks. I’ve very few adornments as I tend to add items to my home based on my travels. My apartment is quite sparse and I prefer it that way.

Living-Room-transformation

1. Loring Sofa in Blue. Although the sofa is no longer available, I do adore Room + Board’s selection | 2. Elaine Accent Chair + Siene Ottoman {no longer available} | 3. Two Drawer Coffee Table. Although the table is no longer available, you can find some great options here | 4. Lift Top Storage Bench | 5. High-Neck Vase, Blue Throw Pillows {although these pillows are no longer available, I quite like this, this, this, and this}, Roman Vase, Recycled Glass Jugs {on sale!}

Untitled

Second collage credit: Christine White.

if this be a home, let it be filled with light

Untitled
By the time I’m nine I know the world is a dangerous place. I’ve heard whispers about razorblades in apples, about Charlie Manson and his family. But no one is offering any clear information. –Nick Flynn

I think about a painting I used to love. A desperate woman crawls up a field. In the distance there’s a little wooden house. It’s gray, fallen to blight, like a woman who wakes one morning and realizes the years that have passed, feels her skin crumble like tissue, but the house, like the woman, stands tall, proud with the knowledge that she was once beautiful. That her face was once a map that everyone wanted to navigate and conquer.

But back to the scene as it plays out. You get the sense from how she’s leaning forward, how her hair has come undone, how her belt binds her to the ground, that reaching this home, a future version of herself, is unimaginable. All she wants is to be a girl, playing house in older woman’s clothes. All she ever wanted is to get there, but then it occurs to her that she doesn’t really know what there is. She knows the shape of it — her life stretched before her like some messy tableaux — but she can’t make out the details. Nothing’s in focus.

I’ve visited this painting quite a bit, and wondered what it would’ve been like if the woman could create a string of miniature houses — like a set of tire tracks — leading her home. One house would be demonstrably larger and richer than the previous one, and she could fully inhabit the place, lean out the windowsill, trace the dust with her hands and lay her head down on the wooden floor. As the years press on, she could shed each house like a piece of clothing, and the house would remain like a photograph, an indelible mark of the person you once were rather than the person you don’t know how to be.

Sometimes I think about all of the homes I’ve lived in over the years and all I could see are numbers on doors: 77 black, 182 white with a screen, 1256 stone, and so on. But what doesn’t make it into the frame are the insides: the color of the carpet, the furniture in each of the rooms. I can see them in pieces, but not completely, and it dawns on me that all of my homes feel like a single version on repeat, and I struggle to move forward, to shed, because I don’t know what I’ve definitively left behind.

I’ve never built a house that was a home until now. 38 years. The years.

IMG_5167IMG1231
IMG_5166IMG1231

In this house there are books everywhere. On the floor, under coffee tables, stacked against the walls and ensconced in bookcases. There is a considerable amount of blue, a few mirrors, cashmere, and linens piled a shelf high. There is a loft with a view down below. Home is a door that can be closed, allowing me to retreat, exhale, but it’s also a door that can be opened, letting the air rush in. Last week I told a dear friend that the apartment I was leaving was a form of chrysalis, a place that allowed me to change shape. I also said that this was the place where Sophie died and out of nowhere I was overcome by her loss, as if it had just happened, and I looked at Felix, my new love, and I had to remind myself my heart is large enough for both my boy and sweet girl to fill it. Friends came and helped me lug bags and books and boxes down a flight of stairs and Sarah said that this place will bring me something new. I nodded, didn’t say much, but thought that finally home is a place where I can lay to rest. A place that feels permanent.

As you can see, I’m still unpacking. I’m still waiting for bookcases to house the hundreds of books piled on the floor. i’m exercising patience because I’ve got a strict budget {ah, the freelance life!} and I can’t just run out and buy a dining table, chairs, floor rugs, chairs, lamps, and all the things my heart desires just yet. But what’s more important to me is what I create in this space, not the things I fill it with. I have to remind myself of that every day.

In this home, in the memory I’ll now have of it, is love, is food, is friendship like a cat’s cradle held into two hands. I know each room completely. From the paint on the walls to the moldings to the grooves in the carpet, to the B-list books hidden from view. I know this place. I know this kitchen. I know this love.

IMG_5164IMG1231

love. life. eat. of the week

Recently Updated1

Smitten with all things coriander, I picked up this grapefruit and coriander Paddywax candle at Whole Foods yesterday, and it is worth every single dollar. Ignite and let your couch envelop you. | This week ushers in autumn, and I couldn’t be more excited for terracotta leaves, apples, crisp mornings, sweater weather and this brioche bread. | Often I daydream about my ideal home. In it, you’d find walls of books and a kitchen large enough to gather. London-based food writer, Anissa Helou, certainly has a dreamy abode. Can I move in? | Speaking of books, I’ve been floored by the magic that is Alessandro Baricco’s Emmaus. Baricco is a writer like no other. A lyricist who manages to architect worlds that are at turns ethereal and very real, Baricco’s twist on The Virgin Suicides shows how young Catholic men are changed by sexuality and mortality. No word, no image, no idea is wasted. If you love haunting, lyrical stories, you will love this book. | On the flipside, Kinfolk’s forthcoming cookbook, The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings has my interest piqued. Although I’ve gone off on the magazine in recent months, I do love their recipes, whose ingredients are wholesome and whose photography is elegantly composed. | And finally, “having it all” isn’t about achieving the trifecta of marriage, career + children, because not all women define all in these terms. I certainly don’t. I’ve been outspoken about the fact that I don’t plan on having children, and my ‘all’ is about living the most creative, challenging, and authentic life as I can, while loving my friends, family, Felix and perhaps, one day, a gent.

love.life.eat of the week

collage451

love.: It’s no secret that I’m mad for the color blue. In blue we believe, in blue we trust. When I organized my closet this year I was shocked to find that nearly every item I owned was in some shade of this magnificent hue. So it’s no surprise that my covets this week (as I’m on a deep shopping hiatus) are beautifully blue. From Erikson Beamon’s Duchess Earrings, which are rather grand and made for royalty (too bad my ears aren’t pierced) to Shop Terrain’s Textured Burlap Tray (imagine biscuits piled high!) to this rustic soapstone Cheese Slate Board, to this darling homemade Natural Linen Napkin set I discovered on Etsy (not blue, but certainly in the dreamy aquatic territory), part of me can mentally transport myself to the sleepy shores of Biarritz even while I’m bundled up for a New York winter.

Artists + bloggers I’m loving right. this. moment.: Not*Otherwise (she preaches the truth), Nicole Franzen (her photographs are transformative) and Elephantine (her prose is quite lovely).

life.: I promise you (and myself) that this is the year where I will break ranks. And although that sounds cryptic, intentionally so, I’ve been surprised by just how much I love my French classes at the French Institute Alliance Française. Every Saturday, myself and 12 other hopefuls watch movies, play games and learn how to think in a new language. For those three hours I joke with new friends, get dramatic with vowel pronunciations, while proclaiming, Oh, we’re so French, while we’re clearly not. But for that small pocket of time I can immerse in a world that is so far removed from the one I knew and closer to the one I will inevitably know. And I also have access to the FIFA library, cultural programs and a whole new suite of possibilities, gratis! In grade school I switched out of French class because it was all too complicated, it wasn’t the language we spoke in the streets, and I’m glad to have returned to new ways to think of words. Change doesn’t happen until you leap out of your comfort zone, so here’s me, reaching for sky.

eat.: This week I’m craving a mix of the very virtuous and the very naughty. Last night I read a feature of the designer Kelly Wearstler in Bon Appetit magazine, and I was shocked that my favorite mag would publish a piece about a woman who basically starves herself during the day and has one meal at night. PSA, PEOPLE: JUICING IS SOCIALLY-ACCEPTABLE STARVATION, AND IT’S NOT OKAY. It’s okay to eat, folks — everything in moderation. So if you’re feeling the need to feast on kale check out this yummy Crunchy Kale Salad made with nuts, avocado and tahini. Surprise your taste buds with the melange of flavor in this protein-packed Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa recipe. And find morning comfort in this Barley Porridge with Maple-Glazed Almonds and Blood Orange.

Or perhaps you want to indulge in flights of almond fancy with this etherial Almond Bread Pudding or these Salted Caramel Banoffee Éclairs, or these Lemon Seed Poppy Rolls by one of my favorite foodies.

french

love. life. eat. of the week

love.: Currently I’m infatuated with Ice Milk Apron’s lovely heirloom linen napkins. My work colleague ordered a set in the mail and not only was I impressed by the heft of the fabric, but the exquisite detailing. You’ll find a piece of cotton stitched with red thread that serves as an excellent placeholder for flatware. Ice Milk’s vintage recipe cards and aprons delivered in mason jars make for a sweet gift for the holidays, which is a nice alternative to the big-box gifts and Odyssean lines.

Keeping with my bowl and linen obsession (and it’s deep, my friends), I’m also eyeing these handmade dBo bowls, and if I didn’t need a reason to jet off to Vancouver, I have one now: ceramic bowls made by Janaki Larson, sold at the incomparable grocer and cafe, Le Marche St. George (image credit). I couldn’t help but fawn over their website, which is host to pages of woven throws, simple minimalist decor and foodstuffs you just want to eat. And finally, I can’t kick my addiction to paper. It feels good and right to feel the tactile weight of books in your hands, and for this very reason I subscribed to Anthology magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to all things decor, design, culture, travel and food. And would you believe the moment I was about to hit the “Publish” button, I found The New General Store’s handcrafted platters and bowls? SAVE ME.

life.: Talley of House to Haus’ recent posts on adjusting to life in Zurich put my heart on pause and I can quietly relate. How Talley lays her heart out to bear, feels a rush of confusion over a life not planned, while at the same time a fervor for what lies ahead, warmed me. I discovered Talley’s site on a lark, and I encourage you to bookmark it because her recipes and posts are lovely.

eat.: These recipes warmed my cold, dead heart, and hopefully you’ll find recreations of these delicious eats on this space soon: Crispy Kale Salad, Pumpkin Fettucini Alfredo, Meatballs for New Mothers (although I’m not one and never plan to be, but this recipe is delightful!), and these Pumpkin Oat Pancakes made me swoon.

french finds: côté bastide + aix & terra + the usual digressions

_MG_0613
Over the years people have used the following words to describe me: bombastic, intense, gregarious, loud, funny, dramatic. However, these are people who actually don’t really know me — they only know an aspect of my personality that I chose to reveal. And although I do have a flair for the dramatic, I actually crave solitude. I prefer the sound of my own two feet on a pavement than the chatter in a cafe. In this stretch of time I can think. Vague, inchoate fragments turn into the stories I’m able to share with you here, finish a conversation with a beloved because I’ve found the right words I wanted to say, allow me to explore a kaleidoscope of a future that will one day come to pass.

I never feel alone or lonely, in fact I seek out time with myself. There are days when I just don’t want to talk to anyone; the very act of smiling is exhausting, and I can see myself performing — “putting on the grand show,” as one would have it — just to fill the pauses. Just to pass the time by. One of the most gripping scenes in English literature is the opening scene of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. You witness April’s crippling failure in a high school auditorium as her dreams of Broadway are vanquished. Her desire — for life, the very blood and sinew of it — runs hard up against truth and comes out the worst for it. In reality, she’s a terrible actress and she knows it. In the car ride home, her husband tries to console her but all she wants is for him to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Allow her to think, and he won’t even give her that simple act of kindness because he doesn’t know she needs it, doesn’t know or won’t admit that he and his wife are, and will always be, second rate. April explodes and I understand. All she wanted was quiet and no one would give it to her.

This week has reminded me of that, of my need to practice quiet even in the frenzy of a busy workday. Because do I want to remembered as the court jester? I don’t think so. What I want people to see is a woman of character. The words multi-faceted construction come to mind.

Strangely, I was thinking about all of this while aimlessly walking around the town of Provence. I vividly remember reading and re-reading Yates’ scene, and I stumbled onto Côté Bastide. The airy, minimalist shop seemed familiar to me and then I recalled procuring lotions in Shabby Chic on a day where I needed quiet. Where I needed to make my home a safe and beautiful place. The woman in Shabby relayed that the products are rarely sold in the U.S., so when I entered the store in Provence I stayed there for quite some time. I sniffed soaps, fingered cotton nightgowns, uncapped bottles of lotion and bath gel. I love these products because the are perfect in their simplicity. Fragrant, potent, efficacious, you feel luxurious when you use them. Personally, I love the orange + almond scented lotions and body oils. They aren’t pungent, but you can smell the real essence of the ingredients and your skin feels like cashmere. An insane indulgence, but a worthy one if you can spring it.

_MG_0622
_MG_0616
_MG_0612
_MG_0611

Years ago, I was watching Nigella Lawson and she talked about her trips and how she never really shopped for trinkets and souvenirs, rather she went right for the food. She purchased spices and foodstuffs that she couldn’t get in the U.K., and for years I’ve followed this practice because it felt right to me. Only purchase that which you cannot get at home. To this end, I found Aix & Terra (same day, same wandering, same strange thoughts). Provence is known for many things, however, they are famous for their lavender, truffles, figs and preserves. Touring the region of Provence, the owners ferret out recipes and goods from local artisans. Here you will find the most pungent truffle oil and salt you’ll ever lay your hands on, the most luscious chocolate hazelnut spread that makes Nutella look like JIF. I loaded up on a few items, keeping holiday gift-giving in mind.

And if you leave this post with anything, give yourself the gift of yourself. Dine alone, watch a movie without friends, take a long, winding walk.

_MG_0694
_MG_0698
_MG_0697
_MG_0696
_MG_0695

a home of one’s own: a woman has found her vision!

20110720-200920
We were gypsies who made it a habit to memorize numbers: 946, 1256, 77, 81, 27, 119, 167, 1714, 248, 949, 323, 333. Neighbors called us the midnight typhoon — we shoved cardboard boxes into vans, piled the whole of our small lives into trash bags, barreled down quiet streets — abandoning crayon drawings, polyester skirts, untouched bowls of cold macaroni, and old records in our wake. We were determined to never be what we left behind. Every door was a chrysalis. Every window a point of entry.

In the back of a station wagon, we passed time mixing up the numbers we’d memorized. Hopeful that a new home, a new life would emerge. We were fakirs, this way. And it was all fresh paint and chicken cutlets for a while, but soon the darkness slouched in. The windows would inevitably be whitewashed shut, the television in the room blared game shows into the evening, a plume of smoke rose and filtered into the kitchen, and our house would become a place where the air couldn’t get in. Where families were put out to pasture.

We never lived in a house that had two floors. We never knew the sound of cold feet on floorboards. And we never lived in a house that truly was a home.

So we lived this way, itinerant, ambivalent for longer that we probably should, until a day came and passed and we glanced about our small piece of real estate and wanted it to be so much more than what it was. Until a friend nudged us, saying, when I’m here I don’t feel you.

Fast forward to this summer, and I asked a stylish, sweet friend, Christine White, if she would take on the challenge of imbuing my apartment with the warmth, creativity and coziness I so desperately needed. In a former life, I was Christine’s boss, and I envied her effortless sense of style, the way that she can walk into a room and arrange things.

Screen shot 2012-09-03 at 1.16.22 PM

After a few intake sessions and a review of my Pinterest home inspirations, Chris created several floor plans and mood boards for each of my rooms. We went a few rounds on this because I’m notoriously difficult, particular and precise, and I didn’t want my home to resemble a Pottery Barn catalog. I wanted Celine, but cozier; I wanted pieces that weren’t easily identifiable. I wanted a home that felt cultivated rather than planned.

And I wanted BLUE. A lot of it. So much so that Chris must have felt she needed to have several BLUE interventions (i.e. Felicia, everything can’t be blue, to which I responded, Why not blue?, and on it went). After a summer of planning, assiduously reviewing and comparing everything from rugs to chairs to benches to coffee tables, and shopping trips in New Jersey, I finally have a space worth adoring. A space that reflects my evolved taste. I had such a specific vision going into this project, and coming out I felt as if I learned so much about what I like and what makes sense for my space. Did I ever think I’d have a MUSTARD anything in my home? That I’d tolerate a pattern? That I sort my books (MY FIRST EDITIONS!!!) by hue?

NO. But I have, I did, and I love every bit of it. You’ll notice that books are a big part of my space, and that every decorative object has a function. I don’t buy vases unless I can use them. I loathe tchotchkes on the level of MITTENS and MUSHROOMS, and I need to feel like I can curl up with a book and a movie without feeling I’m going to damage something.

Most of my pieces came from Home Decorators, Overstock.com, Wayfair, Target, Home Goods, West Elm, Gilt, Amazon.com, Rugs Usa, Crate + Barrel, Joss + Main, Room + Board (my sofa), which was my most significant purchase, Shabby Chic and Anthropologie (for kitchen/accents). Nothing outrageous, nothing too fancy, just simple, nice things. Most of my furniture came in at the $200-$350 range, and my splurges were my chair and couch. Chris also kept track of sales and kept alerting me about scores of options at different price points.

_MG_0064

Although you’re seeing my living room, I assure you that my bedroom and deck are coming along quite well, and my kitchen has endured a bit of reorganizing considering the HOARDS of cookbooks I own. Storage has always been an issue in my apartment (I’ve one closet and one closet ONLY), and Chris has helped me figure out smarter ways to maximize storage, while maintaining an eye for creative display.

What I’ve learned:

  • Possess the things I only love and adore, which meant parting with 300-400 books I knew in my heart I’d never read, and parting with clothes that will never fit/aren’t my style. It’s not virtuous to own simply to own, but to own to love, use and share with those who inhabit your space. Clean out, donate, give to a friend. Because of this, a lot of my coworkers are pretty tickled to own new books and my friends are really happy with their new-to-them wardrobe
  • Sort by color. I never thought I’d entertain this, and I even smirked when Chris first mentioned sorting my books by color, because I am admittedly a book snob, but she was RIGHT. Sorting my books + clothes not only allows for a smarter organization (I now know that I have a wardrobe the color of a bruise, i.e. black + blue), but for a keener sense of discovery (I use to group books by author, now every trip to my shelf is a new discovery, a new book found)
  • Mix patterns and solids. I should say that patterns give me vertigo. MASSIVE vertigo. And somehow I have patterns in my home. How, you ask? Because when I acquired my soft, coffee table, bookcase, small ottoman and bench — all in single colors — I grew bored. So much like how I consider my wardrobe — invest in the bones, or basics, and go crazy with the accessories — Chris helped me find fun in pillows, accent chairs and rugs. Not all the patterns cohere, but they somehow work in a simple symphony. Perhaps because I like geometric, simple shapes, than something wild or crazy.
  • Group by threes. You’ll notice that I group vases, pitches and candle holders in threes, and these decorative pieces all have different sizes and textures. I adore blue, so you’ll notice shades of blue glass, but some pebbled, some reflective, some marbled. Chris taught me that odd parings are interesting to the eye and appear less cluttered — especially if you have objects of varying heights.
  • It may never be what you intended it to be. Did I ever think my home would turn out like this? Well, no. The blue, I expected, but not everything else. I have loads of storage (coffee tables with drawers, benches with compartments, and mustard, askance.
  • Find love in unexpected places. Imagine my awe and delight when I received a gift from my oldest and dearest friend’s mother. Noticing that I’m in a Picasso Blue Period, she sent me a smattering of beautiful blue china. I nearly fainted after I viewed the exquisite pieces, which have now found their way as displays in my livingroom and kitchen. Never did I imagine that my loved ones would know me better than I know myself. But I’m humbled and grateful to have such beautiful, magic lights in my life.
  • I’ll post many more photos of my redecorated home soon, but check out my evolving Pinterest Home Photo Album, and I want to thank Christine White for her patience, wisdom, and for understanding my style implicitly.

    I love, love, love my home. Nomad, no more.
    sophie
    _MG_0060
    _MG_0408
    Living-Room-transformation

    Bottom image courtesy of Christine White, Court + Hudson.

    making a house a home: saturday spent swooning!

    _MG_0019
    Must you shine so damn brightly? I remember a friend thumbing through one of my books and settling on this line, saying it like sermon. We were in my apartment, a time when the evening fell from the gloaming to daylight, and we kept hitting repeat on the CD. Back then we reveled in creating melodramas. We were the tele novella kind. Although it was a time when too much wine was had and so many things done were best left forgotten, I couldn’t help but hear the edge in her voice. And years later when we parted ways, she sat across from me in a restaurant and said that being my friend was so damn hard. I moved pasta around my plate, biting my lip wondering whether I should shout or cry, and she kept telling me that my success was becoming too much for her to bear. That she felt she was disappearing into the great, giant shadow that was me.

    What do I say to this? How do I respond? I earned this, all of this. I’ve always worked for everything I had. There was no other way.

    We were in Soho and the sidewalk was uneven beneath my feet; I felt as if the ground could give way any minute, drag me under, swallow me up. The silence was painful and you could hear, amidst the frenzy of Lafayette, the click of our shoes on the pavement. The glare. The sun was so damn bright. We were squinting at things, trying to adjust our eyes to the light. Back then we were on the same subway line, and the idea that I would have to ride a train with someone who had basically told me that she couldn’t be my friend because I was too much for her to fucking bear?!, was unbearable.

    So I stepped out into the street and took a cab. When I arrived home, I walked into darkness. Lackluster walls and a couch frayed at the seams. The bookcases from an old love, an old home, stood ominous, and I sat on the floor, shut my eyes and wanted to burn it all down. Because the one place to which I sought refuge was a reminder of all of the mistakes and heartache that had come before.

    If you don’t know me, really know me, you couldn’t possibly know what this home transformation means to me. I can’t even explain it to my dear friend and decorator, Chris, because there’s no context. But I will say this, my home is becoming my shelter. I come home and I’m swathed in comfort and quiet and this, THIS, puts my heart on pause.

    The couch has been replaced with something soft, velvety and blue. The bookcases are now shorter and whitewashed. Dried lavender fills the vases on my coffee table and my cat has found a new home on my bench (Overstock.com!).

    Yesterday I went on a shopping trip and went to Home Goods, Marshall’s, Target and Home Depot. From mustard plush pillows to feather-soft towels and shower curtains to pavers for my outdoor umbrella — it feels good to bear witness, to see my home take shape and form. To not apologize for all that I’ve worked so very hard for. To feel good about the place my home is becoming and the woman I keep evolving to be.

    _MG_0187
    _MG_0184
    _MG_0183
    _MG_0181
    _MG_0235
    _MG_0108
    _MG_0234
    _MG_0079

    making a house a home: what I’m adoring, right now.

    _X5A0540.tif
    This weekend a friend told me he loved me. I was quiet as he spoke, stared at him as he told me that he’s privileged to have bared witness to my blooming — my transformation from a young woman who donned multiple masks to someone who knows when to leave a party, knows how to make a house a home. As always, his words have a tremendous effect on me because this is a friend I adore, trust and respect. This is a friend who’s seen me weather difficult times with grace. This is a friend who has been in my home and toasted my most private moments. Aside from feeling grateful to have such wonderful people inhabit my small, strange world, it reminded me of the importance of family, of having a place of refuge. It took over three decades of being on this earth to realize that having a home IS NECESSARY. Home is the expression of your heart. Home is the people you allow through your door and into your rooms, occupying your most protected space. Perhaps this is why I’ve been fixated on imbuing my space with LIFE, with LOVE, with me.

    Friends and readers of this space know that I’ve been slowly transforming my apartment into a space that exudes comfort, whimsy and loads of leisure. My work life is quite hectic, so it’s important that I come home to a soothing space filled with things, photos, foodstuffs and books that bring me extraordinary delight. Aside from finding the right furniture (with the help of the amazing Christine White), I’ve been considering accessories, magazines, books, vases, plates…accessories.

    Lately, I’ve been smitten with vintage plates, glassware that has a patina, and Euro food magazines. I’ve been collecting perfumed, handmade soaps, hand-painted plates and savvy market finds. Cloth napkins, thick, deconstructed fabrics that make for lovely tablecloths, my old first editions re-bound and preserved — these are the things that are giving me pleasure. Paging through books from 1901 and 1912 give me pleasure. Fresh flowers and the fact that I want to try to own a plant I won’t end up killing — this gives me pleasure.

    IMG_4451.CR2
    _X5A0835.tif
    IMG_4453.CR2
    _X5A0603.tif
    _X5A0633.tif
    IMG_3428
    _X5A0772.tif
    _X5A0996.tif
    _X5A0543.tif

    hello, home: covetable housewarming gifts worth the splurge!

    Diptyque Paris Roses If this be a home, fill it with lavender and life. Lay down plush rugs and hang gossamer curtains from wrought iron rods. Fragrant the rooms with blooms, citrus and a cacophony of aromatics hinting of a spice garden. Make your four walls and rented rooms a place worth coming home to.

    After nearly a decade of hoarding Domino (the cover and spread of actress Zooey Deschanel’s abode warmed my cold, cruel heart), Real Simple, and ELLE Decor magazines, shuffling from one dreary and dirty apartment to another, I’ve found a small, but inviting space I feel privileged to call home. For years, photographs and sketches were wrapped in paper, rolled and bundled with twine; expensive shower curtains and objets de art were tucked away, awaiting the moment they would make their very audacious debut.

    Come next week I’m celebrating my new home and new life with a housewarming party. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than entertaining for my dearest friends, watching their eyes light up like fire when encountering my red velvet cupcakes with peanut butter icing or my delectable pistachio pesto. The gifts they feel obligated to bring (as etiquette requires one to do on an occasion such as a housewarming party) doesn’t concern me, because the greatest gift they could possibly give me is their friendship, their presence in my new home. So when I think about housewarming gifts, I focus on the sweet indulgences, the perfect, personal touches one can bring to their home.

    Hammocks & High Tea Lavender Satchels ($20): From the artistic print to the lavender and verbena perfume, I adore these closet satchels because they immediately dispel the ubiquitous packed-in-a-box smell. Hang them from your closet rod or nestle them in your lingerie chest, and your clothes are guaranteed to smell and feel unbelievably fresh and floral.

    Diptyque Roses Candle ($60): My affection for Diptyque, the crown jewel of illumination, runs deep. I’ve always been enraptured by the line’s distinct, subtle fragrances, which warm and fragrant your surroundings, making it a worthy at-home investment. And while I typically eschew the pungent scent of most rose candles, this delicate blend of a variety of roses, renders a warm yet subtle fragrance. Diptyque craftsmen blend the wax with very rare natural essences from Grasse (the very location where Chanel’s fragrances are born!) to ensure that each candle releases the perfect amount of scent for as many as 60 hours of burning.

    If you adore candles, but balk at the sometimes hefty pricetag, I’ve become smitten with Good Home Company’s Village Lavender Candle ($20), a soy-based candle that infuses your home with its warm, inviting scents. Akin to tumbling through groves of blooms, you will find yourself settling in on Friday nights with a great flick, popcorn (my ultimate must-chow is Popcorn Indiana’s Cheddar) and a candle burning down to the wick.

    mrs. meyer's Affordably priced at under $10, Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium Candle offers a clean, cool scent to accompany you when you’re busy scrubbing into the gloaming. Earth-friendly and cruelty free, I adore Mrs. Meyer’s products because they offer gentle and effective products that won’t crack the proverbial piggy bank. From lemon verbena to astringent basil to soft lavender, their line of hand soaps, counter/surface cleaners are the gift that keeps on giving. So if you’re tired of the ubiquitous dizziness that accompanies a Clorox wipe down, opt for natural products come move-in day.

    Although I’ve been crazed with settling into my new space, I couldn’t help but race into Anthropologie’s home section. Although I find their clothing quality to price ratio sometimes questionable, Anthropologie’s whimsical, fantastical and eclectic home items always give me pause. From coasters that could forseeably be transformed into works of art to etched ombre bowls to wrought iron lamps, you can find magic from $8-$800.

    Naturally, one who collects cookie cutter discs and saves for a stand mixer, couldn’t help but yearn and splurge on the Breville Dual Disc Juice Processor ($399). A brief aside: while I was in the stages of moving and selling off my furniture, four men on varying occasions pointed to my juicer and said it was the best one could buy. Each word of praise was followed by a knowing nod that I had acquired the king of juicers. A Williams Sonoma exclusive, the titanium cutting disc coupled with the superior motor speeds and stainless steal puree disc, you could juice apples to baseball hats, seriously. In the midst of a horrendous heat wave, it’s a great privilege to come home and savor delicious, healthful juices.

    Ultimately, the greatest gift you could possibly give yourself is appreciating your great space, being humble about all that you have in your life, heart, and home, because life can take unexpected turns, objects could be lost or taken from you, and what matters are those people trickling into your home. Holding your hand as you step into a new life, a wonderful, wonderful unknown.

    Full Disclosure: The aforementioned products, save the Anthropologie items, were provided for editorial consideration.