Posted on January 20, 2013
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.
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.
Posted on November 11, 2012
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.
Posted on September 28, 2012
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.
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.
Posted on August 8, 2012
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.
Posted on July 24, 2010
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.
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.