DIY Flowerbeds.

Moses and I have been planning on building flowerbeds for our front apartment windows for a very, very long time now.  Without a car, projects aren’t nearly as easy to just “knock out” in one day (i.e.: Home Depot to Osch and back home with dirt, flowers, tools, planters and the like).  However, after about three weeks total project time we finally finished!

Moses built the boxes in the basement a few rainy Sunday’s ago and installed them.  (Our front window cages are curved to fit planters, lucky us).  Our biggest drawback is almost always dirt.  Why oh why is it SO hard to go and buy something you can find in some variance just about anywhere?  And, having learn from planters-past, we also included broken cinder blocks on the bottom to help the boxes drain when there’s heavy water (in LA we tried news papers and a vast array of other things only to find they decompose and the flowerbed sinks).

And then it was time to plant.  Our local flower shop, Natty Garden (please, oh please look at their website via the link.  If nothing else it REALLY helps explain our neighborhood to those of you who haven’t been here in person.  It’s always such a learning experience.  It’s a lovely little shop though, very well put together and diverse plants.) and spent a few hours trying out arrangements for each box.

We had a few criteria: we didn’t want the boxes to be exactly the same, we needed some camo in the back to keep passer-bys from looking into our windows so easy and give us something to see from INSIDE (other than the bright lights of Laundry City, the Laundry SuperStore), and we didn’t want just overly delicate little blossoms.

All in all, I think we did well.  We’re now the ONLY flowerbed apartment on our block (though another up the street has some planters on their stoop and bushes), Kitty likes to try to smell the plants from her cat-perch inside and we finally have some privacy and pretty things to look at while we eat our dinner.  It feels MUCH more like home.

Next project?  Our back patio.  It gets more difficult, the warmer it gets, to believe we’ve let this one go so long…but, when we were viewing our apartment for the very first time I gazed out the back windows and thought I saw a squirrel playing in the barely-there brush.  On second glance, it wasn’t a squirrel at all, but a much more New York-appropriate rat.  Darning work gloves and picking up the early architecture of a mini-rat’s nest doesn’t sound nearly as appealing (and I get a little sad thinking about destroying something an animal worked so hard to create…I know.  This is why I can’t eat meat.)


Montauk Century

Last weekend we went to Montauk with some friends.  Moses rode his bicycle and the rest of us rented a Zipcar and met him (close) to the finish line.

Despite having lived here once before, I realize I only once ventured out of the city (by way of anything except an airplane headed for either San Francisco or Missouri) the entire time, save for one weekend jaunt to Martha’s Vineyard to meet my mother.  This time around we’ve been to the Hampton’s twice and we’re planning a trip to Philly soon, too.  I’m not sure what the difference is these days, except that space seems more important to me now.  I can only assume that’s a product of California living.  However, it does remind me of my year in France.  Having come straight from Missouri, I often found myself a grumpy, stressed-out mess until I could take a trip OUT of the tall (beautiful) buildings and efficient system of trains.

While Moses rode, I spent a nice afternoon in the car with our friends Nate and Lisa, stopping at thrift shops and garden stores.

French Girls

Petite Bateau Essentials

When I lived in France I had a “host” sister, Myrtle. Only two or three years younger than me, Myrtle (pronounced Mer-teel), was, despite the few years I had on her, far more fashion savvy, self-assured and above all, utterly unapologetic of herself than I could ever hope to be. Most of my “conversational” French came from sitting in my small bedroom (which shared a wall with hers), trying desperately to translate her low, slightly sultry screams and what were clearly (language barriers aside) insults.

On my first night meeting my new host mother leaned forward and said in her soft, broken and often impossible English what I could only interpret as: “Sometimes, if Myrtle is angry, or jealous, she steals. Make sure to lock your door and don’t leave anything nice around because she might take it.” Jarred, I did as I was told and made a mental note that French girls steal.

Myrtle never took anything of mine (that I noticed), and frankly, I’d be amazed if I Parisian girl with Madame Dior bags and Alexander McQueen shoes felt compelled to take a thing from me…(To be fair, I had just discovered 7 For All Mankind and Nordstrom in St. Louis–which Myrtle did envy).

However, on several occasions, when Madame did my laundry, I was dealt, in grand total during my duration in their flat, two Petite Bateau undershirts. Obviously Myrtle’s, but perfectly suited for my size.

To this day I’m a junkie for the brand. Utterly French, it’s so plain, so understated and fabulously un-elegant, it was the very first thing that made me feel like a “real” French girl and not just a stow-away.

True, a really “good” person would have explained to Myrtle or Madame I had been given Myrtle’s tees by mistake…but that wouldn’t have been very “French” of me now, would it?

When We First Met

Moses trip to New York, when we first met at 24.

I had my first meeting to design my wedding dress (with my friend Annie, who’s in a design program at Parsons!) and we’re narrowing down what day in January…so in light getting things a little more “official” I’ve decided to do an homage to when Moses and I first met.  We once had these photos printed out in an album, but sadly, it looks like it was lost forever in our most recent move to Brooklyn.  Fortunately, I found these recovered pictures!  So here we are through the years.

In Bryant Park, watching Steve McQueen on a blanket.

Braving a summer rainstorm to meet Joan Didion in Central Park.  Everything looks so lovely in photos.  I remember this day being trying…

Los Angeles Us, in 2007.

We totally grew up together!  It’s such an amusing concept, since I know I did quite a lot of “growing” up before I met him, too.

And, don’t worry!  I have LOTS of other fun old photos to add soon!

Quickie Mart in Santa Monica.  I remember thinking this was basically Long Beach…since I had no concept of LA yet.

Williamsburg Revisited

For me, Williamsburg is nostalgia-ville.  Once upon a time I lived in Green Point, Brooklyn and wrote for Scholastic’s kid magazines.  I took the Bedford L to work each day and said I’d leave Williamsburg/Green Point by 25 if not before, because it was gauche to be in Williamsburg past 25.  I was always interested in Green Point because it was mentioned in the movie “A Perfect Murder,” (which is a remake of Hitchcock’s “Dail M for Murder”) which I watched a lot as a kid and looked very artsy and industrial.  My apartment was none of those things, but it was cool, roomy and very girlie.  We had two floral loveseats and rose and coral-colored walls with a poster for the movie Pollyanna (which belonged to Sus and now lives on her walls in Forte Green).

I liked to eat at St. Helen’s (which I guess is now called cafe 1980…weird) for brunch and got coffee at Sound Fix and bought records there, too.

I spent weekends teaching myself to bake, watching all 5 seasons of Alias, going on runs to Queens (and while I’m sure I listened to a lot of things my mind is set on Nada Surf) and going to the farmer’s market.  I road a Schwinn single speed and was a yoga junkie at The GreenHouse, and brewed very strong, very dark espresso with a Turkish press on the stove.

Last week I rode my bicycle to Williamsburg and had a walk around the old neighborhood for a trip down memory lane…with a couple new fun finds.

I like that Ringo is being supported by all the other Beatles.  This seems true to life.

In homage to Henry, my little “step” doggie who kept mean little Viv on her cat toes for a week–a wall of King Charles.

Cool lights

And inspirational table settings (I’m always on the lookout for wedding ideas now).

Raw chocolate and hand-made stroopwafels (a Moses favorite, although he says he likes the less artisan variety sold all over a little better.  These were very cinnamon flavored) at Bedford Cheese Shop (well, bought at Bedford Cheese–photographed on my kitchen table, right before we ate them)–always a delicious trip.  I found chocolate chevre here when I first lived in New York, and while I couldn’t eat it on a daily basis, it makes for a rad dessert for non-sweet-tooth-oriented types.

My new beaded summer shoes in the sunshine while I was slathering on sunscreen to avoid my daily burn.

Devin’s rooftop view amidst grapefruit champagne spritzers.  Perfect spring day.

Oh Williamsburg…how did I ever grow up and leave you behind?

Pretty things.

(Design Boom–china installation on Great Jones)

I spent the weekend divided between design week coverage for Core77 and going to Montauk with friends to see Moses finish a century on his bike.  Today’s rainy and I’m tired, so I’ve decided today will be a compilation of pictures I’ve been saving to do…something with.

Separelli cake platters made from vintage plates and antique glassware as stems.  Featured at Design Boom.  Lovely.  The designer makes all plates at her studio/home in Vermont, a converted school house.  I wish I was there to watch the rain from a cozy cottage.

Borrowed from Stylerookie.  Pretty picture I’ve been admiring.

Anthropologie “Dipper” necklace.  I’ve wanted this forever…and it’s affordable.  I have no idea why I haven’t just bought it.

Catbird pocket watch perfume solid and Natural History blank book.

Naturally, there are tons of other things I want, too–some nice wine, lipstick I saw today…maybe I’ll make a polyvore collage.  I haven’t done that in ages.

Until tomorrow…

Lunch and Dinner

While our neighborhood certainly isn’t without it’s nice grocery and eateries it leaves something to be desired.  It always seems we’re collecting necessities from multiple spots while we’re out and I’m always without one fundamental thing.  We usually stick to a grocery store across the street for most staples, while a health food spot in Clinton Hill is reserved for organic produce and specialty veggie stuff.  Our favorite, of course, for things we don’t ever “need” but always want, is the Brooklyn Larder on Flatbush.

The “provisions” aspect of Franny’s (also on Flatbush–I haven’t been yet!), it’s our Brooklyn version of Food in L.A., which is run by a friend’s mother (and where I learned to bake professionally!).  Both have the same bread, cold goodies for take-away, gourmet beer, pastas, etc.  But Food also has a full-on restaurant going (personal favorite being brunch), and the Brooklyn Larder is more sandwiches and sides).   The Larder also has the most fabulous cheeses, including my absolute favorite, Moses’ Sleeper, by Jasper Hill Farms (creamy but still firm–perfect).

To celebrate my week free from classes we had a lovely lunch “in” with Brooklyn Larder’s tortilla potato “cake,” with spicy mayo, spring greens and rice, plus a summery lemon bar on a butter crust and a ginger Hatachino!  Yum.

To make up for a rather large scale lunch we kept dinner on the healthy-side.  I modified my traditional salsa verde recipe to thicken it up and made what turned out to be a totally delicious vegan dish with a salad.

Totally easy: brown rice topped with sauce–four tomatillos, a head of cilantro, one serrano pepper and a little onion processed and warmed up with half a can of coconut milk.  Topped with seared tempeh and served with a kale salad and avocado mash.  Perfect.

And today I’m off to cover some design week stuff for Core77, hopefully I’ll have lots of interesting things to share on Monday!