Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cute Valentine's Day Window at Mango!

I snapped this photo of the windows at Mango in SoHo. How cute is this graphic Valentine's Day display? I love the bull's eye and arrow theme for a Valentine's-themed window. I especially like the heart-shaped end of each arrow. Cute, right? Do you decorate for Valentine's Day at your house? I never have myself, but this year I'm headed to a Valentine's Day party and am planning to bring along some decorations.

Sofa: Room & Board's Jasper

Yesterday, I stopped into the SoHo Room & Board store to take a look at the Jasper sofa. Jasper is an awfully nice couch--both attractive and comfortable, and the 'Straw' color it comes in for fast shipping is very appealing. You can also order a slipcover for the Jasper sofa for an extra $399, which is nice, and I like the 'Linen' slipcover fabric even better than the base upholstery's hue, especially for summer. However, that adds up to nearly $1,800, plus another $80+ for shipping--a lot of money. As much as I would love to invest in a great couch that will last me for years to come, it just might not be in the budget right now. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

DIY Inspiration: Wooden Spool Hooks

I often flip through the Pottery Barn catalog with an eye more to the styling than the products themselves. PB often has attractive holiday d├ęcor displays and great table setting ideas. However, today, I got an idea from a Pottery Barn product when I spied these adorable wooden spool hooks (three for $24).

Wouldn't it be sweet to turn old wood spools into hooks, pushpins or even cabinet/drawer knobs? If you don't have a bunch of wooden spools lying around, you can usually find lots of them on eBay.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cuteness: Party Animals!

Cuteness overload: How sweet are these "party animal" accessories from Wrapables? It almost makes me wish I had kids. So, so adorable!

Criteria for New Sofa

Thanks for all the input for my future sofa! I think that I will bite the bullet and invest on a "real" sofa. Here are the requirements for any sofa that's going to come live in my house:

- Long enough and wide enough for a tall adult to sleep on comfortably (74" long or longer)
- Slip covered, and preferably in a machine-washable fabric
- Natural fiber material like cotton, linen or canvas--no micro suede for me, thanks
- Under $2,000 and preferably less than $1,500
- New, some of you may argue with this, but with New York City's current bedbug epidemic, a used sofa is not on my list
- A classic, but crisp style. I want something that is neither too fussy or too contemporary.
- Ideally, it would be a sofa that isn't going to be discontinued anytime soon and that you can order a replacement slipcover for at a later date.

I remain undecided about color. I've had white sofas for years, and while everyone thinks I am nuts to have white, it's actually really easy to keep clean because you can bleach it. However, for a long-term investment, I am thinking about a natural, beige color or a gray.

Does anyone have any specific recommendations for brands or styles?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Ikea Sofa Broke!

Last night, my boyfriend was sitting on the couch and I plopped down next to him, only to hear a loud cracking noise. We looked down and discovered I had actually broken the frame of my Lillberg sofa from IKEA (see above). While it is only a $299 sofa, I am appalled that it broke under such everyday use (combined, my boyfriend and I weigh about 300 lbs.).

I'm disappointed in IKEA and motivated to buy a "real" couch this time around. However, the prospect of spending $1200+ on a new sofa makes me a little sick to my stomach. What do you think? Should I bite the bullet and buy my very first piece of non-used, non-hand-me-down and non-IKEA furniture? Or should I cheap out again with IKEA?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DIY InspirationA Sweater With Bows

Look at this simple-but-oh-so-pretty detail on my friend Allison's sweater! I love the idea of sewing simple bows onto the collar of a cardigan. Wouldn't this be a great way to dress up a thrift store find?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thomas Paul Seafarer Pillows


Okay, so I'm on a bit of a nautical kick these days. I love Thomas Paul's line of 'Seafarer' prints, especially the jute pillows. The prices range from $70 for the 12 x 16 and 18 x 18 sizes to $80 for the 22 x 22 model. If they were a little less expensive, I'd be tempted to get one of each. DesignPublic has all five pillows in the collection right here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Potato-Leek Chowder

This potato-leek soup recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Book is surprisingly delicious for such a simple recipe. Personally, I like to serve the soup topped with crumbled bacon with a nice, green salad on the side--yum!

Potato-Leek Soup
adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book

2 large leeks (white parts only)
1 lb potatoes, peeled and dived
1 T. butter
2 1/2 c. vegetable broth
Lots of freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 c. skim milk
2 heaping T. minced fresh parsley

1. Seperate and wash leeks. Sliec int 1/2 inch pieces
2. In a heavy-bottomed enamel pan, saute the potatoes and leeks in butter for several minutes, stirring the vegetables to prevent browning.
3. Add broth salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
4. Add milk slowly, and heat soup, but do not boil.
5. Mash gently with a potato masher, leaving the texture mostly chunky.
6. Stir in parsley.

Serve this soup with a sprinkling of grated cheese (and bacon, if you're a bacon-monster like me). It's also great leftover!

Update: Fruit, Spice, Nut Granola

UPDATE: I made a second batch of Gourmet's Fruit and Spice Granola. After seeing a granola recipe in Martha Stewart Living, I swapped in 1/2 cup olive oil for the butter. The results were just as good as the original and a little healthier. Here's the revised recipe:

Fruit, Nut, Spice Granola
based on Gourmet's Fruit and Spice Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 c. each dried cranberries, raisins and chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl stir together oats, coconut, nuts, salt and spices.
3. In a small saucepan melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss to combine well (I used salad tongs to toss the oats).
4. Spread granola evenly in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring frequently and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
5. In large bowl combine granola with dried fruits and cool, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours as it cools.

(Granola keeps in an airtight container, chilled, 1 month.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bright Idea: Kate Spade All Occasion Card Set


The first time I saw a box of all-occasion cards, it was at Target. I thought to myself, "What a clever idea!" However, the cards themselves weren't quite to my taste. Later, I came across Cardstock's beautiful set of 40 any-occasion cards and swooned.

My new favorite is an all-occasion card set from Kate Spade New York, at $35 for 15 cards and envelopes, this set is a relative bargain for Crane's Papers. Plus, I'm a sucker the plucky Kate Spade witticisms embossed on each greeting. As the promotional copy quips, you'll never find yourself at a loss for words.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Street Signs Underfoot In Fort Greene

Anyone else noticed these handy-dandy street signs that have appeared in the sidewalk in Fort Greene? They're all up Hanson Place and they are actually very handy, since exiting the Atlantic Terminal can be very confusing. I once had an idea that the city should spray paint compasses onto the side walks at each subway exit so people could get their bearings, this is a more in-depth solution.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Felt Garlands and Flower Pillows

Have I ever told you how much I love Purl Soho and its blog, The Purl Bee? Well, I do. I was in the shop last week picking up supplies to make crafts at a baby shower, and I spotted a cute, felt garland in the window. I snapped a quick picture with my phone so I could remember it.

Uploading photos today, I saw the garland and was reminded me to take a gander at their blog. And guess what? There were instructions for how to make your own! Oh, I love all the crafty projects that they post! And the aesthetic of the site with its cheerful colors is just too sweet.

Another favorite recent project is this idea for felt flower pillows from Molly's Sketchbook. The pillows look easy to make and I adore the richly-hued felt they are made from. What a great idea. Plus, I love that four-poster bed--pretty sure it is from Ikea.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Swoon: Soft Maps Quilts

If anyone wants to get me an extravagant gift, I'd be thrilled to own one of Emily Fischer's 'Soft Maps Quilts.' Fischer creates handmade quilts with maps of Brooklyn neighborhoods stitched onto the fabric. The line started out as custom orders only, but Fischer has partnered up with a quilter in Stamford, CT to do combination machine and hand-stitched quilts. Among the Brooklyn neighborhoods featured is the one and only Fort Greene (the quilt also features parts of nearby Boerum Hill and Prospect Heights).

Future Fied Trip: Walkway Over the Hudson

As soon as it warms up, I would love to make a trip up to Poughkeepsie to see the recently opened Walkway Over the Hudson. Today, this state park is the world's largest pedestrian-only bridge. In the past, however this was a railway bridge, as The New York Times described it, "The Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, built in the late 19th century to link New York and New England to the coal beds of Pennsylvania and the West, is a marvel of Industrial Revolution engineering. It fills the sky over the Hudson River, a muscular lattice of trusses and struts on giant footings, a survivor from a long-gone era before bridge mediocrities like the Tappan Zee."

Photo via jmenard48/Flickr.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pasta With Squid Tomatoes and Capers


I'm hopelessly in love with the new Gourmet Today cookbook. Like the yellow The Gourmet Cookbook, this tome is proving to be a reliable source of great recipes. On Saturday night I decided to make the book's Pasta with Squid, Tomatoes, and Capers. I was intrigued by the combination of squid, tomatoes, capers and of all things: raisins. Well, the unusual combo turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Plus, I was thrilled to discover cleaned squid is a very affordable seafood option at my local market.

Eat it all while it's hot, this dish loses some of its luster upon re-heating (though it was still quite good). Note: The recipe says it serves four as a first course and two as a main dish, but there was enough for at least three servings of this yummy pasta as a main.

Clever Framing Solution

For Christmas, my boyfriend gave me two antique prints, which he had framed at his local frame shop. He's raved about the shop to me before for their friendliness and reasonable prices. I was struck by this clever detail on the bottom two corners of each frame: Silicone dots to keep the frame hanging straight on the wall. Such a simple touch, but it makes a world of difference. And anyone who has been to my apartment full of crooked pictures can tell you, I should add them to all of my frames. Does anyone know what these little guys are called?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ronnybrook Yogurt... and a tip

Part of my Saturday routine is to stop by the Fort Greene Farmers Market. Every week, I stop by Ronnybrook Farm's stand to pick up a container of plain yogurt, and when I know I'll be out of town the next weekend, I pick up two. I cannot tell you how much I love Ronnybrook yogurt. It is so delicious that all other yogurt has started to taste like glue--even former favorite brands like Brown Cow pale in comparison to Ronnybrook.

Ronnybrook is a family-owned farm in upstate New York, which has been in business for 75 years. Their cows are grass-fed and able to roam freely. Knowing that they are a local, animal-friendly and eco-conscious farm makes me like Ronnybrook even more.

Ronnybrook's flavored yogurts are very subtly flavored and not too sweet. I used to buy either the maple or the maple-vanilla flavors, but one day it occurred to me that I could opt for the plain and stir my own maple syrup into the yogurt. The key advantage to this is that I can sweeten it to exactly the amount of maple I crave. Plus, it means that I have plain yogurt on-hand for cooking, which flavored yogurt is no good for.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Whale of a Percale

L.L. Bean's home catalog arrived in the mail today. It features this cute, patriotic room on its cover. I'm a sucker for red, white and blue, and if you toss in an anchor, you've got me hooked. So, at first glance, I loved this scenario. But then, a closer inspection revealed a subtle pattern. Is that a tiny whale embroidered into the sheets? Oh my, yes it is! A whale percale! L.L. Bean, I love you for this.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quilt Remnant Pillow

I scored this crazy quilt on eBay years ago for only $100, and it remains my best eBay win to-date. Most of the quilt is made from men's silk ties. I was excited when I found this tiny quilt remnant in a junk store that reminded me of my quilt, and snatched it up. For months the little scrap of quilt languished in my "to-sew" pile.

I finally got around to turning that little guy into a pillow. Here is the result:

As you can see the fabrics and stitching are very similar to the quilt.

For the back of the pillow I chose this navy and white polka dot print. If you look at the quilt above, you can see that one of the quilt sections is also a navy polka dot. Cute, right? I'm super-thrilled with how this turned out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Home Office Inspiration

Eek! I am hopelessly in love with this home office space that ran in Marth Stewart Living a while back. (I actually scanned the whole article before I realized it was online.) I'm thinking about how I can re-vamp my own space to look this tidy. I'm also debating painting my own chair red, since I won't be able to afford that fabulous Thonet one anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vintage Stool: Before and After

Isn't it amazing what a coat of paint can do? I picked this stool up for a few dollars at a junk shop. Someone had, ahem, artfully painted vine-like lines up the legs. I sanded it down and re-painted it with high gloss black, and I'm thrilled with the results.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Hidden Book Storage

I clipped this article about the renovation of a 1903 tenement out of New York magazine last year because I liked the looks of the apartment. Upon revisiting the photos, I was struck by how clever the book storage is in this apartment. Books are wedged in everywhere, but they don't overwhelm the space. Take a peek. I especially love the high shelves right next to the ceiling.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh, my stars!

How adorable is this set of Constellation Sheeting by Pottery Barn Kids? The simple blue-on-white design is based on an original watercolor illustration and features the Big and Little Dippers, the North Star, the Great Bear and Giraffe, among other constellations. To make these adult-friendly, I'd pair them with crisp white covers and shams. If I had a country house, I'd snatch these up for one of the guest rooms and paint stars on the ceiling to match.

Constellation Sheeting, $14 to $109, Pottery Barn Kids

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Schoolhouse Chic from The New York Times

This post on Remodelista yesterday reminded me about this great house that was featured in The New York Times earlier this year. Remodelista shows how to get the look of the classic bathroom in the home of designers Russell Groves and Neal Beckstedt (partners in the NY firm S. Russell Groves). For a full slides how tour of the rest of the East Hampton house, check out the gallery on nytimes.com.

I love the contrast of the crisp black and white with the more rustic elements like the old wooden crates and the driftwood lamp. The stainless steel kitchen cabinets have me thinking I might want to reconsider my own plans for white cabinetry. Here are some of my favorite images from the interiors:




Monday, January 04, 2010

Words of Wisdom From Julia

This one's just for fun: I clipped a few Julia Child quotes out of an article Food & Wine magazine this summer. Here they are along with a few others. Julia was a fount of wisdom both inside the kitchen and out.

"Life itself is the proper binge."
"I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate."
"If you're afraid of butter, use cream."
"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook."
"Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need."
"Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it."
"If cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fruit, Nut, Spice Granola


I was thrilled when my little sister gave me the Gourmet Today cookbook for Christmas (thanks, Sis!), and I've already tried two recipes from it. Another Christmas gift was a box of walnuts and almonds from my mother's cousins own trees and nearby nut farms in California. With a wealth of nuts and a brand new cookbook, I decided to make granola for the first time.

I based my recipe on Gourmet's Fruit and Spice Granola, using a little less honey and coconut because I couldn't find unsweetened flaked coconut and swapping in the nuts I had on-hand. The results are delicious. While a stick of butter may sound like a lot, you'll need it all to wet the oats. Plus, the recipe yields a lot of cereal, and you only need to use a small amount of granola with yogurt anyway. Here's the recipe:

Fruit, Nut, Spice Granola
based on Gourmet's Fruit and Spice Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 c. each dried cranberries, raisins and chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl stir together oats, coconut, nuts, salt and spices.
3. In a small saucepan melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring occasionally. Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss to combine well (I used salad tongs to toss the oats).
4. Spread granola evenly in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, stirring frequently and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
5. In large bowl combine granola with dried fruits and cool, stirring occasionally for 1 1/2 hours as it cools.

(Granola keeps in an airtight container, chilled, 1 month.)

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