Moonrise Kingdom Is Eye Candy

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I went to see a sold-out showing of Moonrise Kingdom on opening night at the Union Square theater, and I don't regret a minute of the waiting in line I did to get into the theater. I've long been a fan of Wes Anderson's movies, and this is my favorite of his films so far. Watching Moonrise Kingdom I was totally absorbed in the story of Suzy and Sam's romance. While watching other Anderson films, I've occasionally been distracted from the story by clever sets and perfectly composed scenes. Here he strikes a perfect balance between his stylized world and telling a unique and compelling story. Don't worry, this movie is still as wacky as Anderson's previous films, and the sets, costumes and art direction give you lots for your eyes to feast upon. Plus, the acting is top-notch. I was especially impressed with Bruce Willis, who plays a police officer on the small island. Go see this as soon as you get the chance, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Unexpected Garden Inspiration

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lately, I have gardening on the brain. I've spent some time working on my building's front garden in an effort to make it look a little prettier and less like a backdrop for Where the Wild Things Are. In my experience, once you start thinking about your own city garden, you start to notice all the other more attractive outdoor spaces around the city.

On Sunday, we went uptown to see my husband's family, and I was struck over and over again how nice the small gardens, planters, tree pits and window boxes are on the Upper East Side. Part of this is surely due to the wealth uptown, but it also shows that the folks in those buildings care about their green spaces -- even the smallest patches of green were gorgeous.

Inspiration for my own outdoor space came from an unexpected source: The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on 79th Street. The building features built-in planters on either side of the staircase leading to the building's entrance. I loved the mix of blooming annuals (aren't those pansies sweet?). I also liked  how the perennials like the ivy were spread out in the planters to give the design some architectures. The overall effect was thoughtful, yet still a little wild and whimsical.

Farro, Pea Shoot and Goat Cheese Salad

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Right now, I'm having a little love affair with farro. I made this Farro, Pea Shoot, and Goat Cheese Salad from Whole Living magazine last night, and it was a delicious, fresh recipe. I changed the proportions slightly using a little less grain and more than doubling the pea tendrils for a more veggie-centric recipe, but stuck to the recommended proportions for seasoning and accents. However, it ended up being a pretty pricey little side dish with $2.50 worth of peas, $2 worth of pea tendrils and about a dollar's worth of goat cheese -- not to mention the pantry items like almonds, lemon and farro.

I also make Gabrielle Hamilton's Braised Chicken Legs with Shallots and Vinegar, which appeared in House Beautiful magazine. It came out all right, but there was definitely something off about the proportions -- too much liquid for the braise, I think. If I were going to make it again, I'd pre-mix the vinegar, cider and stock and then add it to the pan so that it came halfway up on the chicken, rather than dumping everything in according to her instructions.

Super Natural White Beans and Cabbage

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This week I've cooked three more recipes from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day and I continue to find it an appealing cookbook (it also won a James Beard award!). Last night we cooked up a strawberry salad and a ravioli and broccolini dish for friends and on Monday, I made her recipe for White Beans and Cabbage, in order to use up a half a head of green cabbage we had in the fridge. It's a rich-tasting-yet-healthy meal that costs very little to make. I can't explain it, but the resulting dish has a deep, almost buttery flavor to it, despite the fact that there's no butter involved.

Here are my recipe notes: I added freshly ground pepper to the dish, and if I were making it again, I'd add a dash of hot red pepper flakes to the pan with the shallots. I was sort of lazy with my cabbage slicing, for even cooking, be sure to shred your cabbage uniformly and finely. The pan got quite dry near the end, so I drizzled some additional olive oil over the beans to keep things from drying out too much.

White Beans and Cabbage
From "Super Natural Every Day"
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces (1/4 pound) potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into tiny cubes
Fine-grain sea salt

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 cups cooked and cooled white beans, or 1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and a big pinch of salt. Toss, cover and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Be sure to scrape the pan and toss the potatoes once or twice along the way so all sides get color. Stir in the shallot and the beans. Let the beans cook in a single layer for a couple minutes, until they brown a bit, then scrape and toss again. Cook until the beans are nicely browned and a bit crispy on all sides. Stir in the cabbage, and cook for another minute, or until the cabbage loses a bit of its structure. Serve dusted with Parmesan.

Read It: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A few weeks back, my friend Daphne turned my attention to the New York Times' review of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. It sounded like a good read, so I downloaded it onto my Kindle for future reading. I started reading this book on Wednesday and finished it on Monday despite a very busy schedule in between: It was just one of those books you can't put down (it's also one of those books you are sad to have finished once it's over because there's nothing left to enjoy).

Cheryl Strayed's memoir tells the tail of her more than 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Coast Trail, and the shortest summary I can give is that it isn't an easy journey. I read somewhere that this was a "likable version of Eat, Pray, Love," and while I might somewhat agree with that statement, it doesn't seem fair to lump it together with a book that many people would never consider reading -- this book is one I imagine anyone could enjoy, not just young women. Strayed's prose style is instantly likable and an draws you right in. I regret not having bought a hard copy of the book so that I could lend it to all my friends. If you have a chance, get your hands on this book this summer.

Design Hunting on Newsstands

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pssst... New York magazine's Design Hunting is finally on newsstands. And yours truly has two articles in the issue! I am super-honored that my two stories sandwich a first-person piece by the one and only Murray Moss. I'll post some of the pages from the issue early next week. In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful weekend.

I'm looking forward to running the Brooklyn Half Marathon for the third time tomorrow -- wish me luck!

Kips Bay Show House: DIY Ideas Part 4

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite DIY ideas from this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House:

This clever idea is one of the simpler take-away ideas from this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Designer Bryant Keller adorned the upper part of the stairwell with a collection of antique mirrors. THe grouping is arranged to mimic the ascent of the steps over which the mirrors hang. I like how Keller chose to mix different shapes, sizes and wood tones for his display. The lower half of this stairwell was wallpapered in Scalamandré's famed zebra print, but my shots didn't turn out very well (below).

Kips Bay Show House: DIY Ideas Part 3

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite DIY ideas from this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House:

The new fabric collections from Missoni Home at Stark were the inspiration for this groovy bedroom was designed by Coffiner Ku Design. While I loved seeing all the Missoni prints, I loved the whimsical detail of the cloud cutouts hung over the bed most of all. The designers based the shapes on the clouds from traditional Japanese prints.

You could recreate this look by cutting cloud shapes from plywood or MDF using a jigsaw. Add coat of white paint and some mounting hardware, and you'd have your very own clouds under which to dream. This could be super-cute for a child's bedroom, don't you think?

Mimic Coffinier Ku's shapes or look to woodblock prints, like this one by Katsushika Hokusai below for inspiration for your own cloud forms.

Kips Bay Show House: DIY Ideas Part 2

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This week I'm sharing some of my favorite DIY ideas from this year's Kips Bay Decorator Show House:

Another great project idea from the Kips Bay Decorator Show House was this clever photo wall in a room by Raji RM & Associates. Designer Raji Radhakrishnan created this mural especially for her room in the show house. The image is a photograph of the painting 'Andromache and Astyanax' by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, which Radhakrishnan snapped on a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Radhakrishnan then had the digital photo blown up to make a custom wall covering.

Radhakrishnan didn't list her printer on her source materials, but a search online reveals that there are several companies that will gladly turn your digital photos into wallpaper murals ( and were two that came up when I searched).

Radhakrishnan also included a blown-up photograph of a chapel on the facing wall, but it was less interesting to me. The photograph of a place just seemed like a big photo, while the enlarge photograph of the painting was intriguing because it captured the texture and signs of wear on the painting (notice how you can see the subtle creases in the canvas?). Below is a shot of the full painting, which measures just 52 x 67-inches, on display at the Met (photo: Flickr/peterjr1961).

The Boat House, Lambertville, NJ

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Friday night we went down to visit our dear friends who live just outside of Princeton, NJ.  My friend had planned for us to go to Lambertville, NJ for dinner and drinks. After a big, delicious dinner, she insisted that we head to a local bar, which surprised me, since it was getting late, and she's pregnant, so often tired. If it had been just any old bar, I think she would have gladly headed home, but I think my friend knew that my husband and I would really love this particular place, and I am so glad we got to spend some time there.

The Boat House sits off a main street in what seems more like an alley than a proper road. Approaching from the dark, nearly silent streets, it was lit up and seemed inviting. Inside, the two-story structure is a nautically-themed bar that is covered floor to ceiling in seascapes, model ships, flags, paintings of boats and all other manner of sea faring paraphernalia -- it's maximalist decor and it is awesome. I didn't have a camera with me to take photos, but I managed to find a few online. (The image of the exterior above is from Lifestyle Maven; the shot below is from American Public House Review.)

The Boat House doesn't serve food or clever cocktails: There's beer in bottles, wine by the glass (nothing fancy), hard liquor and your standard bar mixers. My husband was a little disappointed not to be able to order a Dark and Stormy (no ginger beer), but I have to say, I was a little pleased and surprised by the no-nonsense bar offerings.

The upstairs part of the bar is where we found a corner to sit, and we were lucky enough to be joined by the bar's owner, Jim, who is an acquaintance of our friends. Jim, who I would guess is now in his late 70s or early 80s, was a high school history teacher, who opened the Boat House as a side project, so we would have something to do in the summers. Jim is responsible for the bar's home-y decor and for each and every piece that adorns its walls (and ceilings!). He shared some stories of a few of the pieces, and it made me want to come back and hear about each and every object the he could recall.

The above image of the corner in which we sat is from Flickr/lakewentworth; the three images below are from Amy of M-Dashing, who was apparently as smitten with the bar as we were. I'll definitely be back -- next time with my camera in hand!

Kips Bay Show House: DIY Ideas Part 1

Monday, May 14, 2012

Every year, I look forward to visiting the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, and this year the show house has a decidedly different feel. Instead of the usual Upper East Side town house, this year's "house" is staged in two penthouse apartments of a new high-rise building overlooking the Hudson River. While much of what is on view at the Kips Bay Show House is out of reach for most people's budgets, there are always a few ideas to steal from the exhibition. Over the next few days, I'll share some of my favorite DIY ideas from this year's Kips Bay Show House.

The show house opens to the public on Wednesday, May 16th, and all proceeds benefit the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club. Kips Bay Decorator Show House at The Aldyn Residences, 60 Riverside Blvd., New York, NY

This lovely little room (above) was created by the muralist Chuck Fischer. While hiring Fischer is almost certainly out of my budget (and my mural painting skills are a far-cry from Mr. Fischer's), I could easily recreate his clever bulletin board closet doors (below).

To create the bulletin boards, Fischer cut two pieces of foam core to be slightly smaller than the inset panels of the two closet doors. Fischer then covered each panel in a textured, natural fabric (leftover from the custom shades he'd commissioned for the room), taping the fabric to the back side of the foam core. The foam core is mounted onto the doors using velcro.

I loved Fischer's inspiration boards for the variety and whimsy of the images, but also for the push pins! He used what appear to be plain-head gold upholstery tacks and flat red thumb tacks for a fresh combination -- proving that style is all in the details.

Hillman Fasteners 40Pk Red Thumb Tack (Pack Of 6), $3.90,

Upholstery Nails - Plain Head, Pack of 100, $10.50,

For a little bonus DIY inspiration, I snapped a quick photo of Chuck Fischer's blazer cuff. Don't you love the look of a rainbow of buttons in place of the usual matching set? Fischer said he bought his jacket with the buttons in place, but you could easily recreate this look on any plain, navy blazer. It's a fun, unexpected detail.

A New Favorite: Bar Corvo

Monday, May 07, 2012

I know I said I was taking a break from blogging, but I had to share w few words about a new restaurant I discovered this weekend. On Friday night, my husband and I ventured over to Prospect Heights for dinner at Bar Corvo, a new Italian restaurant from the owners of al di la. We arrived early enough to avoid the Friday night crush, and enjoyed a very pleasant meal. There's a lot to like about Bar Corvo: The prices are reasonable (entrees top out at $18), the atmosphere is charming, and the food was delicious. Every single bottle on the wine list is priced at $29 and every glass at $7.50, making it all about what you want to drink, not how much it costs.

We ordered a special shaved asparagus salad with slivers of parmesean cheese, toasted hazelnuts and a sherry vinaigrette to start; for entrees we both opted for pasta: A squid ink noodle with octopus, hot red pepper, lemon and mint and a lasagna cooked in its own crock, with a distinct flavor of rosemary to the bolognese. We skipped dessert, but Bar Corvo's dessert menu is a straightforward affair with just two choices (chocolate bread pudding or panna cotta). We'll definitely be going back, and I hope their garden is open soon. If you live in the neighborhood, you should definitely check this spot out, and even if you live further afield in Brooklyn, it's worth the hike, especially since it is so friendly on the wallet.

Photos: Patch, Grub Street,, Yelp

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