Top Tips For Girls

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I also read about this new site on DailyCandy yesterday. Haven't had a chance to get on the site and dig in, but I love the idea of a site full of little life lessons from women and for women. It's on my to-read list this week.

Tiny Living

I have been swamped at work, so I haven't really had time to post. However, I got a chance to poke around a few of my favorite sites last night. I loved this AT reader's tiny bedroom because it reminded me of my room in my first New York City apartment. My bedroom was 6 x 8, this gal's is 7 x 7. Check it out here.

CFL Lightbulbs

Friday, March 16, 2007

As a journalist, I’ve written about switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs for years, but it was only recently that I made the switch in my own home. (I was shocked to discover that my electric bill had doubled when I moved to Brooklyn.) I’ve got the CFLs in four of my lamps now, and I am waiting patiently to see if this takes a bite out of my steep utilities bill. For me, the jury is still out on the quality of the light that the fluorescent bulbs produce. The cast light is not as warm or friendly as incandescent light, but this may just be because I associate the old type of glow with every home I have ever lived in before. Don’t get me wrong, the look of these bulbs in my lamps is a far cry for the harsh fluorescent glare in my office, but it’s still not ideal. Forgive me for complaining a little. I want to do my part to save energy, but the time I spent backstage in the theater has programmed me to have very critical eye towards the light within a room.

Inspiration in Santa Monica

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Here's a little bit of color inspiration. I was in Santa Monica the weekend before last, and I snapped a picture of this great house, which was still under construction. I love the contrast between the siding, trim and gutters: Chartreuse, hunter green and turquoise are a surprising (and satisfying) combination. I don't think I'd ever seen painted gutters before, but I definitely like it. It adds a kick of color in an unexpected place. Has anyone else ever seen this done?

A new mug

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My office has one of those corporate Flavia coffee machines. When we moved offices back in December, I was annoyed to discover that the new machine made even worse coffee than the last machine and that my ceramic mug did not fit under the coffee dispensing spout. So for the last few months I have been using the provided paper cups and shuddering at the waste of paper.

Today I took action and marched over to the MoMA Design Store to buy this paper cup doppelganger by We Are Happy to Serve You. I brought it back to the office, and sure enough, it works like a charm. However, the coffee's still crap. Maybe if am persuasive, I can convince the powers that be to buy all the staffers a cute ceramic mug for Christmas this year (instead of the $20 Starbucks gift card, ahem). It'd save them money in the long-run and it would prevent a lot of waste. In the meantime, I am pleased as punch with me new mug.

A $10 Lightbox from Make

I love this idea for an inexpensive light tent you can actually make yourself
from Make. It's a mini-photo studio for less than $10! (via Design*Sponge).

Framed shelving from Living Etc.

Here's a cute idea from my favorite British shelter magazine, Living Etc.: Encase your shelving with a gilt frame for a glamorous and quirky touch. I found it in their relatively new online photo galleries, but it originally ran in the magazine last March.

A taste of summer

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Over on Blueprint’s blog, Sara Humphreys suggests a dark and stormy as an antidote to winter weather blues. (Clearly March has everyone thinking about warm weather cocktails.) For me, the summery rum drink of choice is a Painkiller. I was introduced to the Painkiller a few summers back and it’s been a favorite ever since (special thanks to the Matalene family for the introduction). Here’s a recipe from I recommend using Coco Lopez for the cream of coconut, Tropicana’s Orange Pineapple juice is already mixed for you, so if it’s available, use that, and if you’re feeling ambitious go for fresh grated nutmeg. And like Sara, I like mine strong, so go ahead an add an extra spash of rum, if you like.

Deal Hunter?

Nothing makes me more frustrated than media claiming to cover "budget" items and then showing things that I couldn't afford. Well, actually politics do tend to get me riled up, but I'm thinking more in terms of everyday annoyances. Case in point: the "Deal Hunter" at Domino has "found" some Riedel glasses for a mere $10 a piece. Yes, I love the sleek look of this drinkware as well, but I'm never going to say that it's a bargain, or anything close to a "deal."

However, there are some great resources for inexpensive and chic glassware that Domino's Deal Hunter apparently does not know about. Crate & Barrel and their sister company, CB2 are both fantastic sources for affordable glasses. The Marta glasses at CB2 is one of my all-time favorites (and a dead-ringer for that $10 whiskey glass). It's as slim as a Riedel (they are so delicate my boyfriend has successfully broken several of mine), but at almost a tenth of the price of the Riedel glasses I don't even flinch when another one meets its fate. Martha Stewart Everyday at Kmart, IKEA and Luminarc (at most big box stores), are also all good sources for affordable day-to-day glasses.

Cool Skateboard Table

I love this clever skateboard table spotted by the folks at Apartment Therapy Los Angeles. It’s like a giant designer lazy Susan! One commenter noted it is at The Future Perfect in Williamsburg. I might just have to go see it in person. And how chic are those white wheels? Love ‘em. This could easily be a D.I.Y. project for a handy gal. Note: I'm sure part of my enthusiasm is die to the fact that I was only recently given my very first skateboard and am still sort of swooning over the whole idea of being a “skater.” Yes, I am a professional adult woman who is excited to ride around on a longboard. And no, I am not a hipster.

Small space in the NYT

Monday, March 12, 2007

I had a love-hate feeling for this article in yesterday's New York Times. On one hand I was happy to see a small apartment that was actually short on space (though not truly tiny at 450 square feet), and not another 1,000 square foot "small apartment." I also wanted to jump up and cheer like a high school cheerleader when I saw the Murphy bed!

But then, I was shocked to learn that the homeowner, Eric Schneider, had spent a pretty penny renovating such a meager amount of space, and there wasn't really even mention of the place being a wreck to begin with. Worse still, The Times thought the home owner had been thrifty, noting, "The resulting renovation cost just over $70,000, thanks to clever use of inexpensive materials — chemistry-lab countertops, plexiglass panels, medium-density fiberboard for the cabinets." $70K is a lot of money. Clearly the architecture firm, dubiously named Normal Projects, isn't really geared towards what I would call "normal" peoples' budgets.

To add insult to injury, half of the pair, Michael Chen, was quoted saying this about Eric Schneider's desire for a Murphy bed, "We weren’t sure we would be able to incorporate it into something nice. It took a lot to figure out the mechanics. We used hardware parts from four different companies. We had to have every part fabricated.” Having owned a basic Murphy bed, I cannot imagine what was wrong with a basic mechanism that it could not have been the basis for "something nice." I shudder to think what percentage of the budget went to that custom Murphy bed. I’m also shocked that a contemporary architecture firm in New York thought a Murphy bed was a challenge to overcome. I would think that a firm called Normal Projects would be relieved (if not thrilled) to have a client open to clever space saving solutions, wouldn’t you?

Product Crush: Cup Holders

I am so, so crazy for these can coozies from Oriental Trading! They are so adorable. If only it was summer and warm enough to be sitting outside with a can of Pabst. Soon, enough I'll be in warmer weather with a drink in hand: thirteen days until vacation! Whoopee!

Art School: Embroidery Hoops

Friday, March 09, 2007

Here’s a great idea for affordable wall art, which I spotted on HappyMundane (Found via the Freepeople blog via Love Forever). The display is from the shop Purl, and while they have installed it as a way to showcase the fab fabric they sell, it would also be a great way to used leftover fabric in a decorative manner. And I must say, there’s something about the embroidery hoop that I just love.

Playhouse: Pee Wee

AT posted this on their Slinks: Clearly, this picture via Curbed was too good to pass up without posting.

Clever Coral

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Here's a clever (and cheap) decorating idea: painting a branch to look like coral. I saw this idea once before, so it immediately caught my eye as I flipped through this apartment tour from Apartment Therapy Chicago. Love the contrast with the aqua wall!

Duo Shower Bar

Apartment Therapy shared a great space-saving solution earlier today: the Polder Duo Shower Rod. This is one of those why-didn't-anyone-think-of-this-before ideas — everyone uses the shower rod to dry towels anyway, right?

However, as a word it the wise, I wrestled with one of these on a shoot once and found it hard to hang — get a friend to help. I think this would be a great solution for surfers who want to dry their wet suits over the tub, in that instance, you'd hang the curtain on the outer bar and make sure that the inner bar hung the dripping wet suits over the tub area.

Hooked on Storage?

The article, "Hooked on Storage," about storage space in today's New York Times is disturbing. Just thinking about people renting not one, but two or even three storage spaces to hoard their junk makes me ill. An organizing expert I once interviewed likened America's clutter problem to our country's obesity epidemic. I think this article drives that point home. When will we learn to live with less? When did spending $4,000 a year on storage space become an option?

Ikea catalog archive

Here’s a neat link from the Ikea website: It’s an archive of the past Ikea catalog covers. I was tickled to poke through Ikea’s design past. (You get to see all the covers from 1951 to 2005.) I was also surprised by how contemporary some of the 60s and 70s covers seem today, and how awful some of the covers from the 80s and 90s were. No wonder so many people sneer at Ikea!

Meanwhile, I had always thought that the SKRUVSTA armchair was a present day spin on swinging sixties style. However, there it is, right on the cover of the Ikea catalog from 1967. This sleek chair has an Emma Peel vibe, but it still looks fresh today. Judging by some of the other catalog images, Ikea has been very loyal to its designs over the years.

A not-so-little house

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Once again, my pal, Daphne, has unearthed a great article. The headline for this gem from the Daily Telegraph was "Gangster who built world's tallest log cabin," and indeed the article is about a Russian gangster who has built an enormous wooden house, albeit an uncompleted one:
Dominating the skyline of Arkhangelsk, a city in Russia's far north-west, it is believed to be the world's tallest wooden house, soaring 13 floors to reach 144ft - about half the size of the tower of Big Ben.

The house that Sutyagin built is also crumbling, incomplete and under threat of demolition from city authorities determined to end the former convict's eccentric 15-year project.
You must, must, must click on the slideshow to see the house from many angles and to behold Sutyagin's remarkable Russian hat, which I might add bears a striking resemblence to my own Russian hat (see below). If only my Russian were a little better, I bet this gangster and I would make fast friends. I mean, who wouldn't love this man, "He even built a five-storey bath house in the garden, complete with rooms where he and his colleagues could have a little bit of privacy with their girlfriends. But Sutyagin was never to complete his dream. In 1998 he was handed a four-year prison sentence, his third jail term, on racketeering charges. He says he was set up."

5 new uses for cosmetics

I'm always a sucker for new uses for old things stories (Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living excel in this particular story genre). This story from the Chicago Tribune is about five uses for women's cosmetic items, Amy Hughes, senior editor with This Old House weighs in as the expert. Dental floss, panty hose, nail polish, talcum powder and combs all can be put to work around the house in handy-dandy ways.

* Photo by Melissa Ramirez via stock.xchng

Lucky Laundry Advice

Lucky magazine got a makeover recently, and I was pleased to discover the new "Lucky How-To" section, which is still shopping-oriented, but is a little more service driven. In this month's issue there was a great little piece about washing lingerie.

I'm the kind of person who actually does hand wash sweaters and underthings, but even I learned a new trick from reading the article. Lucky's expert laundress, Araks Yeramyan, a fancy-schmancy lingerie designer, recommends placing your delicate under garments into a one-gallon jar with a lid with lukewarm water and a bit of detergent. Then you seal the container and shake it until it is sudsy, mimicking the oscillation of a washing machine, without the wear and tear of machine washing. You then rinse the garments and line dry 'em. It definitely beats my soaking in a mixing bowl method any day. Thanks to Lucky for that new trick!

Liz Is

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Has anyone else noticed the new Liz Claiborne ad campaign? All the ads are black and white photographs with the words "liz is" in a chic sans serif font. I have never bought a piece of Liz Claiborne clothing, and if pressed I would have grouped Liz Claiborne's style in with Talbots' and maybe on a good day Ann Taylor's. But somehow the marketing geniuses over at Liz Claiborne has caught my attention with these ads: They have convinced me that "liz is" something else. The look is that same Banana Republic-Ralph Lauren-J. Crew fantasy of everything looking effortless, timeless and classic, without a single wrinkle or out-of-place hair. Last night I actually went to the Liz Claiborne site to look for a shirt I had seen on a billboard (the one above), and was dismayed to see that it wasn't for sale online yet. I'll check back again to see if I can purchase it later this month. Not only is a great shirt, it would match my shower curtain perfectly (I'm kidding — sort of).

Sofa lust all over again

Rememebr that sofa that I fell in love with at Housing Works back in January? Well, Grace at design*sponge has spotted a very similar couch on eBay. It's listed at a "Buy It Now" price of $1200! I guess that $475 price tag (and no shipping costs) on the one I'd coveted wasn't so bad after all!

Is it wrong that I fantasize about quitting my job and buying old furniture and fixing it up as my full time profession? Because I do.

Home Renovation Blogs

Here's a nice article about home renovation blogs from the Vancouver Sun last Friday. I'm dying to check out one blog that was mentioned in the article called "This Old Crack House."

* Photo by
Eurok via stock.xchng

More on the miniHome...

I scanned the spread about Andy Thomson's miniHome from O at Home magazine, so you could see a little bit more of this eco-friendly house. (There's actually a bunch of great stuff in the issue, so if you see a copy on the newsstand, it's worth picking up.) Also, after checking back in at the miniHome's site, it seems that the house will be featured on HGTV in a show called "Mini and Marvelous Places" on March 23rd.

Cool outdoor rug project

Monday, March 05, 2007

Holly over at decor8 posted last week about this cool project made of astro turf from Dutch magazine 101 Woonideeen. Forget those cutie-pie outdoor carpet squares from FLOR, this is a simple and clever solution for your outdoor area. I've got a particular cement patio in mind to try it out on come springtime.

Blueprint's blog has launched!

Hooray! Blueprint magazine's blog, Bluelines, has launched. I'm thrilled that there will be a daily dose of Blueprint to tide me over between issues. And I love it that Sara posted pictures of her apartment "after" the makeover. Take a peak right here.

Denyse Schmidt

I just got back from a three-day weekend in L.A., and I am beat. Wishing I were in Denver to see this cool exhibit of Denyse Schmidt's quilts. I love, love, love Schmidt's work, so it's great to see a gallery treating her quilts like art. If you can't get out to CO, check out Schmidt's site,, to view her work or pick up a copy of her excellent book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts.

March Sales!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wow. ApartmentTherapy just posted their weekly sales calnedar, and this week is packed with great home-related sales, check it out right here. My picks from the list are these:
  • Housing Works Preview Sale Each store offers their best stuff, saved up all winter long--for a one day sale before it opens to the public
    • East Side, 202 East 77th St, March 1st, 5-8pm
    • West Village, 245 West 10th St, March 4th, 12-5pm
    • Upper East, 1730 2nd Ave, March 6th, 5-8pm
    • Chelsea, 143 West 17th St, March 8th, 5-8pm
    • Brooklyn, 122 Montague St, March 11th, 12-5pm
    • West Side, 306 Columbus Ave, March 13th, 5-8pm
    • Gramercy, 157 East 23rd St, March 15th, 5-8pm

  • Gracious Home Hardware Sale
    • Up to 40% off all Baldwin Hardware
    • Through April 4th
    • 1220 Third Ave, (70th St), 212.517.6300

Home screening at BAM

A friend just sent me an email about this screening tonight at BAM. At 7:30 they will be screening Home, a promising-sounding documentary about an immigrant’s experiences in Brooklyn. Sadly, I am hopping on a plan out to LA at 6:30 tonight and will have to miss it. If I were around, I’d definitely check out. Here’s the description from BAM’s site:
Brooklyn filmmaker Dawn Scibilia had been shooting landscapes of New York City but hadn’t committed to making a feature film until she met Irish immigrant Alan Cooke. Home follows Cooke as he finds his way through New York in both a tribute to the everlasting beauty of the city, and a harsh acknowledgment of the difficulties of living here. Into this tapestry, Scibilia weaves off-the-cuff interviews with numerous New York luminaries including Woody Allen, Frank McCourt, Liam Neeson, Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez, and many more.
There's also a Q&A with film-maker Dawn Scibilia afterwards.

Little Houses I Love

Small spaces are always a challenge, but seeing smart, well-designed small spaces gives me a thrill. And when I say small, I mean small, not 2,000 square feet, which is "small" by many people's definitions. Currently I am in love with this tiny home: the Sustain miniHome, from the Sustain Design Studio. I remember reading about the house when it still just a series of renderings and floorplans, and thinking that it sounded like a fantastic project. Then yesterday I picked up the latest issue of O at Home magazine (O being the all mightly Oprah) and saw that the publication had some great photos of both the exterior and the interior of the Sustain miniHome. I went to poke around the O at Home site for shots, but they haven’t updated the site to include their Spring 2007 issue yet. Luckily, Sustain has tons of images of the house on their site The miniHome hits two of architecture’s recent obsessions: pre-fab housing and ecologically-sound building. And at 350 square feet and about $100,000, the miniHome is an example of my favorite architectural challenge, making small spaces work and making them (somewhat) affordable. In the future, I plan to start posting regularly about “little houses” that I love (other than my own).

The Sustain site lists a “recipe” for the miniHome, which I think is an apt and succinct description of the house:

Recipe for a good idea:

1. Take the familiar - The lowly Travel Trailer
2. Build it to last, and be easy to maintain
3. Make 350 sf feel like 600 sf 3. Use only Green materials
4. Add Off-Grid, Solar and Wind systems
5. Let it run on biodiesel
6. Keyword: Multi-functional
7. Keep it extremely light on the land
8. Make it beautiful

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