10.31.14 – Tag Sale

children's wallpaper

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).

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3. Lighthouse blueprint – $60 – 42 long by 21 inches.


4. Lighthouse blueprint – $60 – 42 long by 21 inches.



10.28.14 – Recent Good Reads


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?



10.27.14 – In The Kitchen – Japanese Chicken Meatballs


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. 

10.24.14 – Grocery Scouting


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.


10.22.14 – New Apartment – Dining Inspiration


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.



10.21.14 – Daily Dose of Green – Maya Lin

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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.


10.20.14 – The New Apartment: The Blank Slate


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We talked about the hallway last week, and today I wanted to share my Pinterest obsession board  inspiration board. Before I did that, I figured I would show you a floor plan and some photos since that’s the only way I ever make sense of a space online.  We’ve moved a lot in the last 10 years and while I love the fresh start offered by each apartment I tend to get really impatient and uncomfortable with the process of making an apartment into a home. At some point I just want the house to be comfortable, organized and livable!  In any case, here are some photos so you can visualize along with me:


This is my favorite view in the house – my desk currently sits between the two doors.


Dining room – we have our table right in front of the two windows.


Nice light but no views and very strange closet space – the wall is essentially a false one.  Lots of problems (no storage!) and possibilities (shaker built ins?).


Alex’s room – small but the nicest light in the house.


Lots of space but also lots of tan and pink and tile.

10.17.14 – Doodles, Mandalas, French Amazon

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I stumbled on these “anti-stress” doodle books on French Amazon after Scott Schuman posted this photo of a Art Therapy Mandalas book on Instagram (which reminded me of Leigh’s mandalas).  I definitely doodle when I’m on the phone or in meetings and had read that it’s good for your brain but I hadn’t really taken in that there is a veritable movement of doodlers out there – both in coloring books and freehand.   In terms of freehand doodling, I just came across a Zen Tangle book while standing in line at Michael’s and went down the internet rabbit hole on the subject of doodling and mindfulness, doodling and healing and basically, the idea is that coloring in a coloring book or doodling helps clear the mind.   The University of New Hampshire Health Services has a useful discussion of the spiritual and healing aspect of coloring/drawing with free mandala downloads (I told you I went down the rabbit hole!). I like the idea that there is no wrong way to draw / color / doodle.  Anyway, do you doodle? Would you buy these coloring books? This Forest Fairies book seems pretty tempting since I’m fairy tale obsessed as does Animaux Fantastiques.  PS French Amazon is a rabbit hole of its own. So much good graphic design.

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10.15.14 – Morningside Heights & A Looooong Hallway


I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our rental car, listening to The Coffee House on XM Radio, which I associate with the open road.  We’re Washington DC bound, with Alex, bagels and black and white cookies tucked in the back, visiting our oldest college friends and meeting their new baby.   Tim is driving in the quietly meditative way that I love and Alex is engrossed in his Search and Find book so I suddenly have a few quiet hours to sit here and write some blog posts. 

Since I last checked in we’ve moved to Morningside Heights and I’m head-over-heels with our new neighborhood.  Some restless part of me has settled, at least for the time being. As the last boxes head to the curb and the chaos of moving subsides, I’m spending a lot time thinking about our long (36 foot!) hallway and thought I’d get your thoughts, too. I was leafing through an Architectural Digest at the nail salon and found this image of Marcia and Richard Mishaan’s Manhattan apartment.  I like the white lacquered walls and the focal point at the end (makes it seem shorter and less narrow).  Here are a few more inspiration images of lacquered white hallways (see my Pinterest for sources):



I’m thinking of grey wall to wall carpeting with oriental runners on top. We have two professional musicians as downstairs neighbors – their music wafts up to us and I’m sure Alex’s thundering travels directly down to them as well – so I want to cushion the thundering as much as I can. I have some ideas for the end of the hallway – wallpaper maybe.  Oh and I want to change out the light fixtures, too – they are as *bright* as they appear.  Here’s the current state of the hallway with it’s slightly weird (tan?) paint.


I’ll be back this week with some posts on what I’ve been reading and some recent recipes (I got my hands on a copy of the Kitchn’s new cookbook and it’s great!).