A little PSA from frozen NYC: Uniqlo’s cashmere dress is amazingly flattering and so cozy without being too hot (my constant problem with cashmere) and $129. NB: My sister braved the seizure inducing lights of the midtown store with me and raved about how this could be a great holiday party dress. In my reality, I’ve been wearing it to walk the dog and school drop off. Still – hi or low, this dress is a new favorite around here.
I’ve been down the rabbit hole this last week – the Japanese organizing rabbit hole to be exact – reading and then implementing Marie Kondo’s practical, funny, spiritual guide to decluttering your home. Joanna blogged about it last week, then a friend tweeted about it and finally I saw it in front of the register at the bookstore when I was checking out. I bought it and read it in a day – I highly recommend it.
One aspect of this book that is very different from other organizing books/methods is that Marie connects to objects on a spiritual level and sees home as a spiritual place – for example, she thanks objects daily (her wallet, her worn out shoes, her sheets) for their help. While she doesn’t make the connection explicitly, I found myself thinking a lot about gratitude while reading her book and then decluttering the house. I realized I’d slipped into an adversarial relationship with my house and many of my belongings – between moving and keeping the house organized (which often feels like a losing battle / a task for Sisyphus) somehow I’d lost some sense of fundamental gratitude for the apartment that shelters my family and the objects that we use everyday. So getting back that gratitude was probably what I most appreciated about the book.
Marie warns, and I found this to be true, that her decluttering method can be emotional – there are reasons we all hold on to things long after we should have let something go. The book goes deep – for example:
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life” and “The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past … the things we own are real. They exist here and now as a result of choices made in the past by no one other than ourselves..This is why I’m against both letting things pile up and dumping things indiscriminately.”
If you’re not interested in the spiritual life of objects (no judgement here!) never fear – there is lots of practical advice in the book – from what do to with all those mystery cords that seem to be ever carried in with the technological tide to how to make the most of your closet space to how to fold clothes.
I will also note that she does not address households full of children’s toys nor what to do if you live any kind of creative life – art supplies – ideas for projects – inspiration books/papers/materials. Her advice on paper is to simply throw it all out – which might work if you’re talking about 10 years worth of phone bills, but isn’t as applicable to any kind of creative process (at least, I don’t think so). In any case, if you embark on this decluttering adventure, let me know!
As you walk down our long hallway about halfway down the space opens up (see floor plan here) into a small antechamber – the bathroom and master bedroom are off this odd little space. I love it when there are little moments of surprise in an apartment – and I think this space is perfect for a fantastical, over the top wallpaper. The suprise would be that you can’t see the space until you’re right on it – so to have it be something green and lush in an otherwise long, narrow, dim Upper West Side hallway makes me happy. Right now I’m really into the idea of having the space be almost bower-like with some sort of leafy/green wallpaper – and wallpapering the ceiling too. So if you’re standing in this spot it feels like you’re in some beautiful green garden. This Cole and Sons wallpaper is a current frontrunner – I have a sample up right now – however the colors are much more muted – almost pastel – than in the image above. I also like the floral wallpapers at the bottom – I imagine the space would be a little bit like an English garden. Given that we’re due another polar vortex this winter, I’d take a little English Garden!
Leaves, by Galerie
Lonn by Duro
Reverie by Little Greene
Traily Plant Silver – Louise Body
Wisteria, Farrow and Ball
I was searching for shoe storage for the long narrow hallway and came across these J-Me Shoe Racks in a house by Dehn Bloom Design. What do we think? Hot or not? I keep waffling. I like that they are narrow but wonder how functional they would actually be in a real house full of morning rushes and puppies.
Cleaning out the apartment to make space for … space! If you’re interested, email me at abbeynova AT gmail.com. Everything is pick up in Morningside Heights.
1. Vintage Children’s Wallpaper – Schumacher double roll from the 1960s/1970s $100
2. Marble “ice cream” parlor table – 36 inches in diameter. $250 (this is a married piece – top and bottom from different sources).
3. Lighthouse blueprint – $60 - 42 long by 21 inches.
4. Lighthouse blueprint – $60 - 42 long by 21 inches.
We’re ready in this house, watch out! PS: This is our puppy Argus, 7 months this week. As Tim says, he looks a little bit like one of the village people.
Here a few books I’ve read recently that I thought you might enjoy – the first is M.J. McGrath’s really readable mystery series set in the Arctic – I particularly like the third in the series, The Boy in The Snow. I found the main character Edie compelling and competent, so maybe you will too! The second was a young adult novel with a mystery at the center, The Good Thief – a coming of age story with a complex world of characters that left me with good book glow. What have you been reading? Any recommendations?
Last week a friend and I were talking about how we actually cook – day in day out, when we’re exhausted-by-life-it’s-a-weeknight-and-we’re-working-late recipes. Namely, our survival recipes. These Japanese Chicken Meatballs are a favorite around here – they aren’t fancy but they are fast, tasty and something that both the 5 year old and the 35 year old will eat. I like them because they are easy to double and easy to freeze (the secret of surviving any work week in my mind) and when I say they are fast, I mean like three minutes prep time and 20 minutes to bake.
Update: A few readers asked what I serve these with and the short answer is: lots of things and whatever I have on hand. I make roast sweet potato fries and sauteed cabbage a few times a month and these meatballs often end up with either of those as side dishes. This week I served with a side of pesto pasta (last night) and on a cheese plate as a finger food (tonight).
Japanese Chicken Meatballs
Adapted From It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen
1 pound ground chicken (or turkey, or lamb)
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, very finely minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I like this brand)
2 teaspoons good-quality maple syrup (I sometimes use a tablespoon of maple syrup)
1. Thoroughly mix the chicken with the salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Roll the mixture into golf ball–sized meatballs. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 2o minutes until the meatballs until they’re cooked through.
Note: Gwyneth and Julia suggest pan frying these – that would probably make them tastier, but, I need that 20 minutes of baking in the oven to do things like drink wine, start the bath running for bedtime and prep lunch for the kiddo. Also, I dislike cleaning the stove and pan after frying, especially during the week.
One of the funny side effects of moving is the coupons: you read that right… the coupons. Every day for the last six weeks we’ve been getting coupons for 10% off our purchase at Target, 15% at Blinds.com, 20% at Dwell.com, 25% at Pets.com, Pottery Barn – the list goes on. I mostly put them in a pile on my desk where they eventually expire, unused. However, earlier this week a coupon arrived from Whole Foods – $25 off my purchase of $100. Ha! I thought – free cheese! I had a little spring in my step as I put the chicken nuggets and the salad fixings and the school snacks in my cart. Maybe because I felt like I had some free money to spend – I know, I know, questionable logic and no doubt what the coupon geniuses were going for – but I lingered in aisles I usually avoid – condiments! frozen desserts! sauces! and found and bought these Zukali fire roasted Jalapenos ($7). Holy delicious! Tim’s been working lot of hours and often isn’t home for dinner, so I had a solo dinner of toast, cheese (midnight moon goat) and these roasted jalapenos, with a side of vodka cocktail and it was a thing of beauty. Highly recommend.
NB: Someone asked how spicy they are: I would say medium spicy but in a mellow fire roasted way – they have some satisfying kick but my mouth wasn’t on fire. Caveat! I did not eat the seeds! So if you want more spiciness – eat the seeds. Otherwise, just scoop them off.
This humorous take on the Ouija board made me laugh and laugh. I’m not a morning person and basically feel like this every morning as I schlep Alex to Kindergarten. “All bad days, GIVE UP, GOOD BYE!” $45 from All Bad Days. Also, as a tote.
Here’s what keeps coming up for the dining room: books, books, books and high gloss blue paint. All links in my Pinterest.
We have a radiator in a corner just like this – minus the amazing woodwork, but I would LOVE to paint the dingy pipe yellow. In fact, I really like the yellow/high gloss blue. We have yellow curtains already so that’s done!
And then books beyond books, with a dining table in front.
Dark blue walls with books AND the dining table — all in one image!
Love this bookcase wrapping around the corner.
This is an oldie but a goodie – from World of Interiors John Robshaw house, I think.
I was convinced I’d blogged about Maya Lin’s earth form sculptures before, but, after scrolling through search results on my own blog, I guess not. Well, today is the day since we rented a car and drove up to Storm King this weekend and the highlight was cresting a hill and seeing the Maya Lin sculpture “Storm King Wavefield”. Alex had been tired and whiny as we hiked across the sculpture park – he was obsessed with taking the tram instead of walking – while I wanted no part of the tram, since it was packed like a subway car with people and the whole point of a trip to Storm King is getting away from people! Alex and I were actually bickering about the use of the word “dumb” while we climbed the hill – and suddenly we came to the top of the hill and KAPOW there was this vista with this sculpture dominating the landscape – natural (made of earth and grass) and unnatural (symmetrical and ocean-like ) all at the same time. Alex persisted in his cranky for a while and I was so overcome by the sculpture that I managed to leave my phone on the grass and had to return (cutting thorough some Williamsburg Hipsters making an art film) to find it. However – this is the great part – by the time we walked down the hill, saw the Andy Goldsworthy on the other side of the pond, and found my phone – our mood had totally shifted for the better. We managed to walk the whole way back to the parking lot in good spirits, searching for good rocks and goofing around. I read Holland Cotter’s review of the sculpture from 2009 and here’s one paragraph that stuck with me:
Seen from a slight elevation, it complements its hilly setting but interrupts it. (There is, after all, something a little freakish about these slinky, reptilian swellings in the ground.) Because the work does both, it sharpens your eye to existing harmonies and asymmetries otherwise overlooked.
Cotter articulated the thing I liked best about the sculpture – that somehow the dissonance between the natural and unnatural did “sharpen my eye” and as we walked through Andy Goldsworthy’s Running Wall (located nearby) all three of us noticed details and textures of the trees, the rocks, the sky that we hadn’t been seeing the rest of the day.