Friday, December 16, 2011

Smith and Chang General Goods

My love affair with Smith and Chang General Goods (230 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City) began with a classic Hollywood meet cute. Billy and I were on our way to Brooklyn to visit my sister and brother-in-law, and as we drove towards the Holland Tunnel I caught sight of a new store and yelled, "Stop the car!" He had barely applied the brakes when I swung my car door open in a mad dash for what I knew would be the shop of my dreams. It remains, to this day, one of my favorite stores of all time.

I've always loved the concept of a General Store. They remind me of my childhood trips to Oldwick, New Jersey—the town where my parents grew up—where we frequently returned to visit my grandparents' farm. Every time I step foot into the Oldwick General Store, with its creaky wide-plank floors and small town vibe, I'm instantly transported to the magic of my most beloved childhood memories. Smith and Chang brings me back to this very sacred place in my heart.

Alex Chang and Sawyer Smith have impeccable taste. Their store combines vintage American pieces with everyday essentials for the home. It's decidedly Colonial modern in feel, evident in the mix of brand new Lodge Cast Iron Cookware and antique brass furniture hardware and accessories. The space is beautiful—full of sunshine and propped to perfection. Many of my favorite belongings have come from their store: old tack boxes which I use in my kitchen to house cutlery and napkins; old yellowware bowls that I use for cooking; an old wooden towel rack; soaps, candles, and my favorite feather-topped pen.

Like all good stores, you leave with so much more than anything you could actually buy. I always walk out the door bursting with inspiration and a sense of community. Their new website captures the essence of the store, and what's even better is that you can shop online! There's something here for everyone on your list, so shop local, hunt for treasure, and be inspired.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Musing

I just finished eating the last of the turkey in my fridge. I'm already going through turkey sandwich withdrawal—that perfect combination of cranberry sauce and mayonnaise oozing out the sides ... God. Thankfully, I wrote down my menu so I can enjoy the same mouth-watering leftovers next year.

Even though I kept things very low-key, I think my Thanksgiving anxiety always lies in the fact that 365 days have passed since I last manhandled a turkey. It's like Groundhog Day every year, and while it was helpful to have all of the recipes written down, what I really needed was some experienced advice from me to me. Something like, "Don't worry. Just think of it as a large chicken." Or, "You made the pies the night before which was pure genius. Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn, you sipped your cappuccino while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Well played."

Since I kept my Thanksgiving menu simple, I had more time to play with setting the table. 'Tis the season to be crafty! I decided to do a big flower arrangement, inspired by an old, rustic bread bowl my grandmother gave me. When I arrange flowers I love to gather different sizes and textures, all within the same color scheme. I bought the hydrangea and the eucalyptus berries at WholeFoods while I was on my Thanksgiving grocery run. Eucalyptus berries are one of my favorite go-to flowers because they look great with everything and they're very low-maintence. A few days later I saw the small cabbage flowers at the farmers' market and thought they'd work well. I bought a floral oasis and a cheap plastic container at a store in the flower district (28th + 6th Ave) so I could just rest the base inside the bowl.

The arrangement looked really beautiful on the table.

The hydrangea dried perfectly in the oasis and so I saved them for my Christmas decorations. When Billy and I bought our Christmas tree, I scooped up a huge pile of tree trimmings that were just laying on the ground; they smell amazing and look great strewn around the house. I used some of the branches, along with the dried hydrangea, to make a holiday wreath for my front door. I bought a wire wreath frame today from the flower district (now you know where to find me when I'm not teaching yoga) and some winter berries, which I thought would made the Victorian-looking dried flowers more modern and fresh.

Ideally it's best to work on a table, but I actually sat in Malasana and experienced some killer hip opening whilst I crafted. Using garden shears, cut off 12" pieces of tree branches and wrap 3 to 4 together into a bunch. Lay each bunch across the wire frame and wrap with floral wire. Repeat all the way around the frame until you've created the fullness you desire. I think a simple, green wreath is really beautiful. Last year I used eucalyptus berries with the Fraser Fir branches and I loved the different textures, all in green.

A homemade wreath lends something unpredictable to holiday decorations. It's also a feat worth celebrating, and the finished product hangs like a trophy on your front door. "I made that," you'll say! They also make thoughtful, inexpensive gifts that mean so much because the recipient will think of you every time they walk into their home.

Have fun with your holiday decorations. Making them yourself will definitely put you in the spirit of the season. Creating beautiful things with your hands is just another form of artistic concentration and self-expression. It'll be your very own crafty, holiday meditation.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Orange Spice Aromatherapy

It's getting chilly outside and my apartment windows are sadly more closed than open these days. Trading a fresh breeze for some warmth, my home starts to smell stale, what with the remnants of last night's dinner or the perfume of my beloved dog lingering in the air.

My remedy? A pot of boiling water simmering on the stove, filled with the peel of one orange, 1 t cinnamon, and a small handful of cloves. Your house will smell like a magical holiday wonderland. Staying toasty indoors has never smelled so good.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Tittibhasana is a challenging asana, requiring an ability to simultaneously expand and contract. The inner thighs and hamstrings need to be open and supple, while the abdominals, hip flexors, and serratus anterior (responsible for spreading the shoulder blades apart) all need to be on call and ready to act. This pose gives us an opportunity to practice the balance between two opposing forces, teaching us that when we connect to our center, we gain the stability to fly off into boundless space.

Component Parts:
inner thighs

protraction of scapulae
flexion of spine/hips
adduction of thighs (squeezing thighs into shoulders)
extension of leg at knee

Prep Poses:
Supine Knee Extensions - hold block behind thigh, press thigh forward into block and extend heel to ceiling to straighten knee
Supta Padangusthasana 1 + 2
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana
Cat pose into Chaturangasana
Garudasana arms
Downdog into Updog 3x - block between ankles, roll over toes
Downdog knee-to-nose, Downdog knee-to-outer arm
Parsvakonasana variation - hand on block inside foot, press knee/shoulder together
Standing vinyasa - Prasarita Padottanasana (concave spine) into Parsvottanasana into Lunge variation - both hands inside foot, press knee/shoulder together, lower back knee, option to lower forearms to blocks/floor. Repeat other side.
Rolling Vinyasa (cover mat with blanket) - Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Utkatasana, Malasana (arms reaching forward/inside thighs), roll on spine into Halasana (arms above head), roll up into Navasana, roll back into Halasana (arms above head), roll up into Utkatasana, Urdhva Hastasana, Tadasana
Marichyasana A
Baddha Konasana
Upavistha Konasana
Happy Baby + Half Happy Baby

Wrist, shoulder, hamstring, or groin injuries. Sciatica or spinal herniations.

Blocks under hands for tight groins/upper back.

Stand in Tadasana with feet slightly wider than outer hip-width apart. Hinge at the hips, coming into Uttanasana. Weave the right hand through both legs and place it on the back of the right calf. It's helpful to create the shape of a "V" with your hand by separating the thumb and index finger. Use this hand position to press forward into the calf, leveraging the right shoulder behind the right thigh. Repeat with the left hand. Breathe well, using your exhales to continue shimmying your shoulders more and more behind your knees.

Strongly hug your shoulders with your thighs, allowing you to release your hands from your calves. Place your hands on the floor (or blocks) behind your feet. Slowly begin to shift the weight into your hands and "sit" on your arms. Push your hands into the floor and draw your abdomen in and up. Walk the feet towards one another and cross one ankle over the other. Continue to broaden your upper back as you simultaneously spread your collar bones. Pull the feet against each other and continue squeezing your thighs strongly into your arms. This is Bhujapidasana.

Concentrate on the feeling you had in the preparatory pose where you held the block behind your thigh, resisting yourself as you extended your heel up towards the ceiling. From Bhujapidasana, press your thighs down into your arms, as if they were the blocks, and extend your heels forward, straightening your knees. Hold for a few breaths and observe the play between drawing in towards yourself while expanding your chest and legs.

To release the body after the pose, try these counter postures:
Restorative Bridge
Supta Baddha Konasana

Sunday, November 13, 2011

California Style

I just got back from an amazing vacation in California, where my beloved and I spent a leisurely week driving down the coast (from San Fran to San Diego)! Highlights of the trip included a motorcycle ride through Sonoma, breathtaking views on Highway 1, and an amazing birthday dinner at Chez Panisse. The change of scenery and the laid-back, sunny vibe did my soul a world of good.

What I didn't expect was to be so totally smitten with California's effortless style. Relaxed, bright, and full of texture, everything felt fresh and of-the-moment. I came back East craving a complete overhaul of my home. Thankfully, small details can create major change and so I've pinpointed some of the style elements I fell in love with on my trip.

Black and Gold

This is a picture of the lobby at the Sheraton in Santa Monica. I loved everything about the decor.

Back in NYC, I found these black and gold lamps at ABC Carpet & Home. They're also hanging at J.Crew on 5th Avenue.

The base of this lamp from Restoration Hardware is made of mercury glass, but the lampshade's gold inlay casts a warm glow and creates the illusion of antique brass.


There were succulent gardens everywhere, both wild and tame. They would look beautiful inside an apartment.

Natural Wood

The boardwalk at Pebble Beach.

I saw tons of wine barrel chandeliers on my trip. I love the modern feel of the one below from ABC Carpet & Home. You can find more traditional versions at Restoration Hardware. John Derian sells antique ones that will make you weak in the knees.

A stack of wooden cutting boards at ABC.


Artwork looks striking against the dark linen wallpaper. The textured fabric adds warmth and dimension to a room.


I saw tons of art displayed in white mat/white frame. This giant collection of black and white prints looks great against the seagrass wallpaper. You can find white-on-white framing at Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc. This is definitely the easiest and cheapest way to update the look of your decor.


Lacquer is probably one of my favorite design elements because it instantly updates a more traditional home. The glossy texture covered everything, from furniture to accessories. I bought the white tray from West Elm to store my jewelry. The ceramic bowls with gold inlay are from one of my favorite NYC stores, Ochre.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto

Today was sublime...the kind of sublime that can only be appreciated when juxtaposed with what feels like months (and months) of non-stop work. My gratitude arrived the moment I woke up and stared at my alarm clock. 10am! The sun was shining and that crisp Fall air put a pep in my step. I had the entire day to myself—no work, no obligations—and I felt relieved to have this precious time to refill my well.

I spent the afternoon in my kitchen, experimenting and channeling my energy and inspiration from the autumn weather into something I hoped would taste as good as I felt. Craving a good, earthy dish expressive of the season, I decided to make butternut squash risotto. It's still light, like the weather, but introduces the heartier tastes of Fall.

Everyone needs to know how to make risotto. I're scared, but you need to roll up your sleeves and try. You must, otherwise you're going to miss out on this killer recipe (and succumb to your limited beliefs about your abilities in the kitchen). I'm not sure which is worse.

The key to risotto is practice, patience, and faith. You need to get used to the feel of risotto—its nuances, personality, and texture—and so you should commit to making it often. The beauty of risotto is that is has hundreds of incarnations and so you can change the stock and the accessory ingredients to reflect your tastes. Patience is a virtue; it's about 30 minutes of non-stop action start to finish. Faith comes in towards the end, right at the point when you're convinced it's never going to come together and that you should quit while you're ahead. That's when you have to keep moving forward. It's just like in yoga: when you come up against a challenge, do more of the right thing.

The foundation of risotto is actually pretty simple. It's important to have all of your mise en place prepared because once you begin, you can't stop. Cut one butternut squash into 1-inch cubes and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Finely chop one shallot. Pour 7 cups of stock (your choice: chicken or vegetable) into a pot and bring to a gentle boil.

Melt 2 T of butter in a large pot or Dutch oven (note: put "le Crueset" on your holiday wish list) and sauté the shallots plus 5-10 bay leaves. Add salt and pepper. Once the shallots are translucent, add 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice and toss for 3-5 minutes. This is the moment when the rice takes on the flavors in the pot, so as you begin to experiment with risotto, you can add different herbs and spices at this point in the process. (Note: saffron would also work well with the butternut squash.)

Now we need to seal in the flavors. Add 1/2 cup of Prosecco and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed. You can also use white wine, but my Italian friend, Pietro, taught me how to make risotto using Prosecco and I think it adds a subtle sweetness, creating a lighter dish.

The rest is history. Add between 1/2 - 1 cup of the hot stock at a time, stirring constantly until all of the broth is absorbed. You will most likely end of using about 5 of the initial 7 cups of stock, but it's always good to have extra liquid available, just in case things don't quite turn out as planned. Taste the risotto as you go, testing the flavor and checking to see where you are in the cooking process. You want the rice to be cooked through but still al dente. The risotto will start coming together gradually, but by the last ladle of stock you will see the signature, creamy texture of a risotto dish. Take one last taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Add the roasted butternut squash and a heaping pile of parmesan cheese (how much, exactly, is up to you). I used vegetable stock today, but it would also taste divine with chicken stock and maybe some sauteed pancetta.

My final thoughts regarding your adventure in risotto are to draw on your experiences from the yoga mat. It's like coming up into a handstand: don't just sit there, strategizing the pose and psyching yourself out. You've gotta kick, dammit. You'll have as much fun with your failures as you will with your triumphs, so crack open a bottle of Prosecco and start cooking!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Cards

These homemade cards are a great alternative to the expensive options at many stores. I love sifting through vintage photographs at flea markets where you can find sweet, unique, and sometimes hilarious snapshots that make perfect cards for any occasion.

This one is priceless...

I buy blank paper stock and photo corners at Paper Presentation. They make hundreds of different colors, sizes, and shapes.

Tie a stack of homemade cards with a ribbon and you have a beautiful, thoughtful gift.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Beloved Egg and Cheese

Someone just recently asked me to name my favorite food of all time. That's a big question. At first I felt a surprising amount of pressure to come up with something impressive—something that would wow their pants off—but then, after I took a step back, I realized that my favorite food is actually quite humble in nature. My heart is eternally devoted to the egg and cheese sandwich. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It would be my last meal. One might say I'm a connoisseur.

One of my favorite incarnations of the classic egg and cheese sandwich is this Italian-inspired slice of perfection. It's a great meal for brunch or a simple dinner. It couldn't be simpler to make: delicately poached eggs served over garlic-smeared bread smothered in marina sauce and topped with parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Need I say more? It is beyond divine, good for the soul, and exactly what you should make when you need to smile from somewhere deep inside.

Recipe inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis

Monday, July 4, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

Today's the perfect day to enjoy a classic American dessert (and one of my all-time favorites): Strawberry Shortcake! I love this recipe because it's quick and easy to make. Chances are you already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen.

As with any baking endeavor, it's helpful to get organized. First things first: place one stick of unsalted butter into the freezer about a half hour before you're ready to start. Make sure your kitchen counters are clean (to roll out the dough) or if you're short on counter space, place a sheet of floured parchment paper over a large cutting board. Clean and cut the strawberries, to which I highly recommend you add a tiny bit of crushed black pepper and a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Trust me.

Now we're ready to start! Mix 2 cups plus 2 T flour, 1/2 t salt, 1 T baking powder, and 3 T sugar in a food processor. Cut your frozen butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture, pulsing until the butter is the size of peas. It's important that you can still see chunks of butter in the dough because when the ice cold butter hits the hot oven the water content from the butter will quickly evaporate, creating a flaky and scrumptious shortcake. If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and use your hands to mix everything together.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg into a 1/2 cup light cream. (I didn't have any "light" cream, so I just mixed heavy cream with the 2% milk I had in the fridge ... et voilà, light cream!) Add the creamy egg mixture to the food processor, little by little, until the dough comes together. Turn out the dough onto your lightly floured counter (or cutting board) and press into a flat ball with your hands. Be careful not to overwork the dough; it's not a pizza. Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll out the dough until it's about a 1/2 inch thick. Use the rim of a drinking glass to cut out your shortcakes and then transfer them to a cookie sheet. Place them in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to allow the dough to chill after having been worked and heated by your hands. I've never regarded the timeframe as an exact science, and I usually take them out of the fridge when I start getting impatient. This method seems to work for me!

While your shortcakes are chilling, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Right before you're ready to put them in the oven, brush a little whisked egg white over the shortcakes and sprinkle with sugar, giving them a sparkly crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until they're lightly golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

To serve, slice the shortcakes lengthwise and place a spoonful of strawberries onto the bottom half. Add a healthy (read generous) dollop of whipped cream and place the "lid" on top, creating a strawberry shortcake sandwich. The results are over-the-moon delicious. You will want to put on your bathing suit and dive in. Happy Fourth of July!

Recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bucks County Weekend

Bucks County is one of my favorite places to visit when I need to just get away. Besides being the home of my beloved Hamilton's Grill Room (and only an hour from Manhattan), Bucks County has tons of shops, activities, and scenic beauty to brighten your heart for the weekend.

The Woolverton Inn is our home away from home. Carolyn and Bob are the doting innkeepers of this gorgeous estate in Stockton, New Jersey. The rooms are so cozy and the surrounding countryside invites a much-needed exhale from city life. We stay in the Garden Cottage, where pets are allowed. Ellie loves the accommodations.

Also in Stockton is Phillips' Fine Wines, an experience in and of itself. The owner, Dick Phillips, is the most delightful man; he gave us a tour of the store, which feels more like a wine library with its tiny rooms and hidden hallways. My eyes lit up when he told us stories about Julia Child and her frequent visits to Phillips' when Dick was a kid (Julia and her beloved, Paul, were married in Stockton). Perhaps she came here to buy those "full-bodied young red wine[s]" with which she would make her famous Boeuf Bourgingnon ...

Right next store to Phillips' is the Stockton Farmers' Market, home to local vendors selling everything from fresh produce to specialty products. Open only on the weekends, the market is a feast for the eyes (and the stomach)!

Nearby in Lambertville I found a great housewares shop called Zinc Home and Garden (74 Bridge Street). The modern farmhouse style was right up my alley! You'll find an amazing collection of industrial and vintage pieces displayed with an inspiring dose of creativity.

When you're done with your shopping I highly recommend a walk along the Delaware River—the perfect Sunday morning activity before heading home—where you can take in the views and connect with things exactly as they are.

Perhaps the greatest part of any weekend adventure is the fact that you can arrive without an agenda. Billy and I love the aimless wandering and the process of making a new place our own. In New York I often find it hard to separate myself from the rhythm of the city, whereas in a foreign town I can be immersed in a new place and yet remain present in my own experience. After a weekend in Bucks County I feel relaxed and completely reconnected. I hope you find the same!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hamilton's Grill Room

There are those meals that are so extraordinary—the food, the ambiance, the experience—that you just have to thank the chef. I had the pleasure of thanking such a chef after enjoying an amazing meal at a charming restaurant we found in Lambertville, New Jersey. Hamilton's Grill Room is tucked away at the end of a small dirt alley, the likes of which usually appear suspect but often hide a town's most prized gems. The restaurant is perched on the banks of the Delaware River and shares its alley with a quirky yet sophisticated bar, The Boat House, where I felt transported back to a different time (think old-fashioned cocktail hour meets nautical shack).

As I walked through the door into Hamilton's Grill Room, my eyes were immediately drawn to an upside-down tree hanging from the ceiling. Creatively smothered in tiny white lights, the whimsical chandelier cast a glow over the already cozy space. It was a cold January night and I sought refuge next to the fire, warming up with a little help from the bottle of Cabernet we purchased at Phillip's Fine Wines. What I loved most about this restaurant was how it seemed to be the anchor of the community; regulars settled into their favorite tables and dove into genuine conversation with the staff, who greeted each patron with the kind of warmth you'd expect from a good friend. A fixture in the lives of Lambertvillians for over twenty years, Hamilton's feels like a home away from home.

Five months later, my genuine gratitude for that unforgettable meal led to an inspiring interview with Chef Mark Miller. I sat down with Mark at his post (and the heart of the restaurant): the grill. With only a few stools at the small island overlooking the hearth, I couldn't help but think that these were the best seats in the house. Mark agreed, adding, "I love meeting the customers. It's a great set-up." We talked about food and family as I watched him prepare for the dinner rush. I felt truly inspired by Mark because his love of cooking goes beyond the process itself. His yoga is the joy of feeding others and the communion that happens when people gather around a table and enjoy good food.

Listening to Mark describe his history with Hamilton's Grill Room, it became obvious that it was love at first sight. "I worked across the river at Martine's for a while, then someone told me that there was a job opening at Hamilton's. I met Jim and saw the way the food was prepared and fell in love ... big time." Miller's passion is palpable and has clearly played a role in catapulting his career from formally untrained cook to Executive Chef and respected pillar of this beloved restaurant.

Our interview took place during the staff dinner, which was cooked by none other than the owner, Jim Hamilton—a Broadway set designer turned restauranteur. (Jim's daughter, NYTimes best-selling author Gabrielle Hamilton, owns her own restaurant, Prune, in New York.) Mark told me that Jim uses Saturday nights to experiment in the kitchen, testing recipes for the menu. As I observed these two men interact I could sense the deep respect and fierce loyalty Mark holds for Jim. In that moment I understood why I had fallen in love with this place: it's all about family.

I asked Mark about his favorite flavor combinations, a question I was inspired to ask after watching him rub the most amazing rosemary garlic marinade over the evening's lamb chops. "Anchovies," he responded, which served as an amusing reminder to myself of how easy it is to get stuck in flavor ruts; his response caught me totally off guard as I had never considered anchovies to be a flavor! "This restaurant was built on anchovies," he explained (referring to Jim Hamilton's famous Shrimp with Anchovy Butter appetizer).

He revealed that appetizers are, in fact, his favorite dish to cook. "It's the first thing people eat and it sets the tone for the entire meal, " Miller explained. He also articulated the importance of quantity, saying, "I like to leave people wanting one more bite." Mark recommended the appetizer special for that evening: fresh artichokes from California stuffed with crabmeat. Phenomenal.

Our meal was amazing. Billy, being the true cowboy that he is, ordered the cowboy steak which was prepared in a bordelaise sauce and served with onion rings (which were replaced—thanks to the kind souls in the kitchen—with Billy's mandatory steak accompaniment: mashed potatoes). I ordered the lamb chops and each bite literally melted in my mouth.

It should also be said that the staff is beyond lovely. Everyone from the manager, Reed, and the hostess, Nancy, to the to the wonderful waiters (ask for James or Chris) went above and beyond the call of duty to make us feel at home. I haven't found a restaurant like this in a long time and I'm looking forward to cherishing heartfelt meals at Hamilton's again and again.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Anniversary Dinner

Billy and I celebrated our anniversary last week with a homemade dinner and a great bottle of wine. I have to say, it was exactly what I wanted—simple, delicious, loving—and I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend the evening.

On the menu? Mussels in white wine, shallots, and garlic over linguine. I made a frisée salad with warmed cherry tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette. Only now will I admit that I used Vegenaise in the dressing. Had I mentioned this the other night Billy would have vetoed the salad on mere principal. Hey, I've learned to be cunning in the kitchen over the years.

Give the mussels a good cleaning. If you find any open mussels, give them a good tap on your kitchen counter; any that don't close on their own need to be thrown away.

While you're boiling the linguine, finely chop 2 shallots, 5 cloves of garlic, and a 1/2 cup of parsley. Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté for a few minutes until soft. Then add the garlic, stirring constantly, careful not to burn.

Now for the moment of truth! Dump the mussels into the pot along with 1/2 cup white wine, half the the parsley you chopped, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Discard any shells that haven't opened.

Plate the linguine and pour the mussels on top. You can thicken the sauce with a tablespoon or so of butter. Sprinkle with parsley.

This meal couldn't be any simpler. You will love it. Bon appetite!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Basket

Inspired by the hope of Spring and memories of chocolate-filled Easter baskets from my childhood, I had fun dreaming up unique gifts to offer your host (or mother) this Sunday. I found this beautiful porcelain produce basket at Anthropologie (you can also buy something similar online) and decided to fill it to the brim with goodies. My very own mother came up with the brilliant idea to use shredded grocery bags as filler (genius). I can't think of a more creative way to recycle!

First I made a traditional Easter basket stuffed with chocolate from Jacques Torres. Let's be honest...who wouldn't want to receive this as a gift?

For the goddess of hearth and home, a basket filled with a bird's nest and dyed Easter eggs.

I think this collection of herbs and sea salt would be the perfect gift for a passionate gourmand(e).

Once the treats find their rightful home, the basket can be used to store produce in the fridge.

Have fun creating something personal for your host or hostess. A gesture like this—festive, thoughtful, and practical—is a genuine way to show your gratitude.

Friday, April 1, 2011


While Spring has decided to hold out on us a little while longer, I've taken matters into my own hands with some "springspiration" for my home. Sure, it may be snowing outside, but the season is alive and well inside my apartment. Here are a few simple ideas to brighten up your space.

The easiest way to capture the essence of Spring is to bring nature indoors. Fresh flowers arranged in large, wild bunches add a bit of unkempt beauty to an otherwise ordinary table or countertop. I love the gorgeous Garden Roses below (and they smell outrageous). The bowl of lemons in an old ironstone bowl add color to my black side table.

These huge pink branches make a statement and yet feel natural, as if they're growing in my apartment.

It's time to put away the wool throws and the dark, heavy fabrics in favor of fresh patterns and textures. My favorite design is Ikat—which has been a popular trend for the past few years—because it really pops against a neutral palette. I have a blue Ikat pillow on my couch that always feels new. No matter where I put it, it brightens up the room.

You can utilize color in simple ways without having to commit to a complete overhaul of your home. Choose "goes with everything" colors like red or cobalt blue (which is the color of this season, both in fashion and interior design). My red French apron hangs in my kitchen and has become part of the decor. I use the old, red-striped tea towel everyday.

I bought the blue chair from a friend years ago and I think it works well juxtaposed with the browns and lucite. I love the mix of old and new.

The last idea just makes me so happy I could scream. I think one of the fastest ways to update your house for spring is to outfit your bed with crisp, white sheets. It's like diving into a clean, blank slate. You don't have to spend a lot of money; the sheets on my guest room bed are from Target. Of course there's always linen (by now you should know about my vintage linen obsession). Restoration Hardware has a a beautiful collection of Belgian linen bedding; I especially love the big linen duvet. An all-white bed is definitely my idea of heaven.

All of this to say, don't waste anymore time waiting for Spring to arrive. Take charge of your own personal indoor climate by bringing the fresh, light qualities of the season into your home. Maybe it will even inspire warmer weather and sunnier days!