Friday, March 30

Have a Breezy Weekend!


Hope you all have a chance to kick back and have some fun this weekend!  My friend Kirk is in town tomorrow, so I'm going to try to show him some of my favorite spots, which are essentially all restaurants.  I have my fingers crossed the rain holds off... New Yorkers can be an angry bunch when the umbrellas come out.

Sunday, I have plans to load up my iPod with some newer tunes, like Tennis' newest album, check out this dress at J.Crew and bring home some spring plants for the apartment.   

P.S. My sister is coming to the Big Apple next week for 5 whole days!  I already have reservations for Sarabeth's and we're hoping to get in some good spring flea markets on next weekend.  I can't wait to have a partner in crime in the city!

Photo Credit: unknown

Floral Shorts & Stripes


This lovely lady makes me want to go out and buy some floral shorts to go with my vast collection of striped tops.  And buy a bicycle.  And move into an apartment with a place to store a bicycle.

I was so excited when I saw the first signs of spring because my typical winter uniform (jeans, chambray top, boots) is really starting to get played out.  Now it looks like we've still got a few more weeks before I can tuck my boots away for good and get out the flats and sandals.  Spring, hurry up please, if only to save my style and my sanity. 

Photo Credit: The Daily Muse

Built-Ins

Can you believe this transformation, found over at Design Sponge?  Beth of Six Orange Carrots and her husband turned their unsightly closet into a beautiful built-in... for only $110!


They found a woman who was giving away a built-in on Craigslist for free, bought new handles on eBay for about $35, and bought drywall, drywall tape, drywall nails, and other various materials for the project for about $75.  


Aren't built-ins such a hit or miss feature in a home?  I've lived in some rentals with hideous built-ins and they quickly became the bain of my existence.  When done well, though, they can add the perfect amount of character and functionality to a space. 

P.S. I'm a little confused about the rainbows and disco ball... Please try to appreciate the built-in despite the poor surrounding design choices. 

P.P.S. Remember Simone's built-ins in her breakfast nook?  Another built-in I would love to recreate. 

Photo Credit: Design Sponge

Wednesday, March 28

Oh, Hello You Lovely Little Thing


The time is now, my friends.  If you continue to read on, you will find the very best chocolate chip cookie recipe known to man.  A few months back, Kate Miss of For Me, For You posted this recipe and after whipping up a few batches myself, I have to say they are pretty damn hard to resist.  As in, I inhaled about 25 or so in a two-week span.  Behold, the cookie. 

Ingredients

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content, such as Ghirardelli
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing

Directions

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well; then set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients slowly, and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop – mine holds about 3 fluid ounces, or about 1/3 cup – scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Photo Credit: For Me, For You

Tuesday, March 27

Cursive New York

If there's one thing I love, it's finding little knick-knacks that add some flair to your home or wardrobe.  I'm on a permanent search for interesting jewelry, bowls, cards, vases...  anything that's small and affordable.

As I was walking through Grand Central Terminal this weekend, I came across Cursive New York, a perfectly curated shop specializing in cards, stationary, and all around knick-knacks (I picked up some hand stamped magnets for our refrigerator).  It's the perfect place to pick up a teeny tiny gift for someone, and I love that they feature smaller designers. 

Here are a couple of my favorite finds, which you can purchase online.





Photo Credit : Cursive New York

Today's my Day!


Do you guys shop online for clothes?  I'm always so hesitant to buy because it seems like a hassle to ship clothes back, wait for the refund, and fork over $7 just to try something on.   But yesterday, I spotted this little vintage looking sweater on The Daily Muse and threw my online shopping theory out the window.  Unfortunately, they were sold out of nearly every size, including mine. 

I pouted and sulked and considered drastic weight loss to squeeze myself into a size 2.  This morning, I looked back just admire it once more and found not only did they have my size back in stock*, but they were having a 20% off, free shipping, free returns promotion.  Hallejujah!  The clothing gods spoke, and they wanted me to have this for spring. 

Fingers crossed it fits because I'm already very attached.  It's the type of piece you always hope to find when rifling through a vintage store, but never do. 

*Many sizes have sold out since this morning, just FYI.  Hurry if you like it!

Photo Credit: Boden USA

Thursday, March 22

Listening Library: Little Dragon


It seems like Sweden has been producing some pretty wonderful musicians lately, no?  One of my favorites is Little Dragon, led by Swedish/Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano.  They appeared on two tracks from the Gorillaz's Plastic Beach album a few years ago and have also collaborated with TV on the Radio, so you might recognize their sound. 

Their debut album, Little Dragon, came out in 2007 and instantly became a cult classic.  But it's their most recent album, Ritual Union that really gets my toes tapping and my hips shaking.  Usually R&B and futuristic tunes aren't my thing, but somehow they blend the two genres beautifully.  Have a listen below!


Tuesday, March 20

Alas, Spring Cleaning!

Is there anything more satisfying than a good spring cleaning?  Truth be told I could organize all day, every day, but when that first sign of spring rolls around I want my home to feel particularly light and clean.  In honor of the first day of spring, here are some ways to reduce the clutter in your home and get yourself ready for a fresh and relaxing spring.



Kitchen
  • If you live with roommates, get as many as you can together so you determine what food can stay and what can go.  Remove contents from one shelf at a time, wipe up spills and check if anything has spoiled. 
  • Buy storage containers that are transparent and match.  Transfer grains, cereal, etc. into the containers to extend their shelf life. 
  • Get rid of odors.  Usually I find that just wiping down the refrigerator with cleaning solution will get rid of any lingering odors, but just in case, you can get baking soda or spread coffee grounds on a tray and place it inside your refrigerator for a few hours.  You'll also need to mop the floor and deodorize your food disposal and trash cans.   
  • Sweep and mop the floor, sort dishware, and donate any kitchen gadgets or serving ware that you no longer use.


Living Room
  • Swap out your heavy blankets for lightweight ones.  Before putting your heavy blankets in storage, wash or dry clean them to remove any stains that would otherwise sit for months. 
  • Remove throw pillowcases and toss them in the wash.  You'd be amazed how much dirt and germs sit on throw pillows year-round. 
  • Move around your furniture and vacuum or sweep underneath your couch and coffee tables.  Remove cushions from your couch and use a hand-held vacuum to get crumbs out of the crevices. 
  • Clean all wooden surfaces, baseboards, and windows. 


Bedroom
  • Turn over your mattress to distribute the wear evenly.
  • Replace your sheets and blankets with lightweight options and store your linens by slipping the fitted sheet and flat sheet into the pillowcase. 
  • Wash your pillow.  Even if your pillow is made of down, you can generally still machine wash it.  You'll get rid of any lingering bacteria and odors. 


Bathroom
  • Go through all your cosmetics and beauty products (shampoo, nail polish, lotion, soap).  Honestly evaluate if you will ever use them and discard anything that is expired or not useful anymore.
  • Take a look at the medications you have on hand.  If anything is expired, get rid of it and make a note to replace it at the drugstore. 
  • Make a list of any first-aid kit items you need.  Are you out of things like band-aids or aspirin?  It's best to take one trip to Target and stock up than to have to run out when you're not feeling well. 
  • Scrub the toilet, mop the floor, and clean out the bathtub.


Home Office
  • Go through all your files - paper and electronic.  Toss anything that you no longer need and sort everything so it's easy to organize throughout the year. 
  • Sort through all your books.  If there are any you don't plan on reading again, give them to a friend, donate them to a shelter, or sell them at a secondhand bookstore. 
  • Use a computer cleaning solution to wipe down your computer monitor and spray the keyboard to remove any dust and dirt.  You'll prolong the life of your computer by just removing this dirt. 
  • Toss any pens, markers, etc. which have dried out.


    Closets
    • Try every piece on and only keep clothing that fits your body and personal style, is well-made, and is appropriate for your age and lifestyle.   Make sure your socks have mates, your shoes are (relatively) clean, and your clothing is folded and displayed appropriately.
    • Bag everything you are going to donate and/or sell and take it that day.  If you let it sit around for weeks, you'll be more inclined to put pieces back into your closet which don't belong there.  
    • Make a pile of clothes that you like but that need some sort of attention.  Fix them that day! Even though it might seem like a large initial investment, it doesn't make any sense to wait until you need something to send it to a tailor.


      Storage Rooms & Outdoor Spaces
      • If you have an attic, basement, or garage, remove your stored items and honestly evaluate their usefulness.  Are you holding on to some things you will never use again? 
      • Organize your items into weatherproof bins to protect them from flooding, heat, etc.  
      • Sweep and scrub all decks, patios, driveways, and walkways and wash outdoor furniture. 
      • Change out light bulbs in your outdoor fixtures and clean the glass.  

      After all that hard work, open all the windows, put some flowers in a vase, and sink into your new, cozy place.  And invite some friends over!

      Photo Credit: Martha Stewart

        Sprucing Up the Place


        As a renter, there's only so much you can do to spruce up what you're given.  It's tricky to make any permanent changes, like installing a new countertop or replacing old lighting fixtures, because a.) you're investing in an apartment which you do not own and b.) if the changes you make are so great that they increase the value of your apartment, you could face increased rent when you go to renew.  It's a vicious cycle. 

        When I stumbled upon these decorative window decals from Emma James, I thought this is the solution for those renters who are stuck with an ugly view!  At just around $100, you could turn a dreary window into a focal point.  Plus, when it comes time to move, just remove it and reapply it at the next place.

        Photo Credit: 2jane

        Monday, March 19

        Oimei Co.


        Look no further for the perfect interior pick-me-ups. Oimei Co. is a socially conscious home accessories company devoted to empowering women in developing countries. 

        Founder Aimi Duong and her team fairly compensate women for their textiles and help introduce their products into new markets so they can support themselves and their communities can flourish.

        Sometimes fair trade products can lean too far to the hippy-dippy-trippy aesthetic, so I always find it refreshing when a company like this comes along.  They seem to honor the traditional artistic culture in the developing countries they serve while producing beautiful, modern products.  Win-win.



        Photo Credit: Oimei Co.

        Weekend Wrap-Up


        I hope everyone had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.  I have my fingers crossed that the temperatures stay in the mid-60s and 70s, because I don't want summer to come too soon.  As far as I'm concerned, we pretty much skipped over winter entirely and I certainly hope we don't skip spring too. 

        It was pretty wonderful to see so many people in a happy, carefree mood.  Laurent and I went to a hole in the wall for breakfast on Saturday (my pancakes were $3.50!  Those are midwest prices!) and headed to Central Park.  We kind of forgot the St. Patrick's Day parade would be going on down by his work, so we got swept up in the green fever once we exited the park.  I loved seeing so many cute senior citizens in their traditional Aran sweaters.

        On Sunday we got a chance to head over to the Upper West Side's Riverside Park and grab ice cream at Emack and Bolio's.  But best of all, I picked up these cute kicks, squeezed in two yoga sessions, found some plants that I think I can keep alive for longer than a few weeks, and managed to make some kick-ass chili and cornbread.

        Successful weekend!

        Photo Credit: West Elm

        Friday, March 16

        Have a Carefree Weekend


        What are you up to this weekend?  I'm going to the park to read more of Diane Keaton's book, Then Again, and I'm taking a restorative yoga class on Sunday night.  The practice is an hour long and you only do a total of six poses... It's such a relaxing way to wind down after a busy or stressful week.

        Daylight Savings Time came just in time, right?  My mood has changed so much with this extra hour of daylight!  Now there's plenty of time to head out to the park after work or walk around the neighborhood. 

        Is it too early to start filling our apartment with plants?  I've been dying to get some pretty greenery in here, but our last round of plants died because they were sitting directly above our radiator...  That's studio apartment living for you. 

        Enjoy yourself this weekend!

        Photo Credit: unknown

        Washi Tape


        I love this washi tape from tokketok.  This is such a beautiful way to present flowers, and since the tape allows you to bypass a card, you could spend a little extra on the flowers or pocket the savings.

        I truly have no idea how to navigate through or purchase anything from this site, but if I could find this tape I would buy it. 

        Photo Credit: {frolic!}

        Thursday, March 15

        New Renters


        Do you ever wish you could see what new renters have done with your old pad? 

        In 2008, Apartment Therapy had a home shoot at Mason and Serena's lovely little beach home. 




        This month, Refinery 29 went back to the same home and documented what new renters, Rachel and Jay, have done with the place. 




        I love, love, love both couples' design aesthetic.  Both are artist/architect duos, and it really shows in their home.  Don't you dream of just hanging out in that bungalow for a lazy week?

        Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy and Refinery 29

        Little Gift Ideas

        I saw a few fun gift ideas around the web this week...


        For teachers... these adorable yellow sandals with rulers on them!  Maybe not the best idea for recess, but they're cool nonetheless.


        For writers... these edible scrabble tiles.  I can't vouch for the taste factor, but the idea is cute enough. 


        For the cyclist in your family... this ivy bike lock.


        For your cool daughter, niece, best friend, whoever... this Orla Kiely bathing suit.  Isn't this about as hip as one-pieces get?


        For anyone heading out on their own... this custom stamp so they can make their own stationery and send you updates about life! 

        Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

        Tuesday, March 13

        Picking out a Little Buddy


        A few years ago, my friend Julia and I bought her nephew one of his very first stuffed animals.  He carries it everywhere and I'll admit it warmed my heart when I received a photo of him cozying up with his little buddy.  Now that her sister is expecting another little one, the pressure is on to find an equally adorable option for baby #2.

        Seriously, the pressure is ON.  Mediocre stuffed animals will fall by the wayside, but there's usually one that sticks with kids well into their formative years.  I packed mine with me when I headed to NYC, and I have no plans of giving it away anytime soon. 

        Aren't these adorable options from Etsy's Forestblue Factory?



        Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3

        Saturday, March 10

        Living Plastic Free


        In 2010, Taina Uitto made a commitment to live plastic free for an entire year.  She tracked her experiences and gives tips and alternatives on plastic-free life on her Plastic Manners blog.  You can also see a few tips on Apartment Therapy

        I know it's a huge undertaking to give up plastic for an entire year, but I think she has some great tips you can incorporate into your everyday life.  Each week, I'm shocked how much recycling Laurent and I accumulate.  Usually by day three, we've filled up our recycling bin and things are starting to overflow!  Recycling is great, but refusing plastic in the first place is even better.  I'm hoping to become more conscious of that in the coming months to help out the environment and avoid the dungeon-like recycling center in our apartment building.  Seriously, it's a scary place and I try to avoid it at all costs.

        What do you think?  Are there some plastics that you could never give up?  It's hard when so many companies are lax about their packaging! 

        P.S. Have you seen Seventh Generation's new laundry detergent bottles on shelves recently? 

        Photo Credit: BC Living

        Friday, March 9

        Have a Sunny Weekend!


        Have a wonderful weekend!  Don't forget to spring forward on Sunday.  What are you going to do with your extra hour of sunshine? 

        I'm so excited to have an extra hour of daylight to go for walks in the park.  Usually when I wrap up work around 6:00- 6:30 and the sun has already set, and I'm a little hesitant to go to the park by myself.  Now I don't have any excuses to lay around and watch TV.

        Laurent and I are headed to Bloomington tonight to celebrate his grandmother's 90th birthday.  I can't wait to be back in my college town, plus we already have a hiking adventure planned! 

        Photo Credit: A Well Traveled Woman

        Thursday, March 8

        Listening Library: Down To Business


        Remember how I said that Kate Miss of For Me, For You is my musical doppelganger?  Well, she's done it again.  I checked her blog the other day and saw she recently highlighted Frankie Rose, who I've also been listening to a lot lately.  And, she crafted Down to Business, a mix to help you be productive.  It has some of my stand-bys like First Aid Kit, David Bowie, Supertramp, and Ratatat.

        Turn it up, dance around, and get in some spring cleaning.  This will get you moving!

        Wednesday, March 7

        Smallest Legal Apartment


        I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love a good small space.  It's always inspiring to me to see what people can do with less, so I was pretty intrigued when I heard that housing developer, Patrick Kennedy, had developed the smallest legal apartment allowed by California code.  The teeny space is about 160 square feet and includes a full bath, a queen bed, and space for a few friends to have dinner (which converts to a guest bed!).  Check out the video here to see some of his inventive ideas.

        The place is completely functional, but I think I would miss having the ability to decorate with my own furniture.  What about you?

        Want to see some small spaces with real style?  Check this out. 

        P.S. Laurent and I measured our apartment today and it's a whopping 250 square feet! People have dog houses bigger than that, but I love it. 

        Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

        Tuesday, March 6

        Off We Go!


        Laurent and I are on va-ca-tion!  We're looking forward to a little dose of ravioli and Friday Night Lights tonight and we have plans to finally go to Ess-a-Bagel together tomorrow morning before our flight. 

        I think I over-packed slightly, but I really tried to stick to my packing instructions.  It's hard when you have such varied activities planned.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we'll be hanging out with my family, and Saturday and Sunday we have hiking and birthday celebrations planned with Laurent's family in Bloomington.  Plus, I fly directly to Boston for a work conference, so I had to bring some dressy attire for that.  Tricky packing job, I tell ya. 

        Most important things in my suitcase: Ticket to Ride and Kenny's Juicy Twists Licorice.  They're both equally addictive for the Newkirk family.

        Photo Credit: Sorakeem

        In the Kitchen: How to Brown Bag It Well


        Grabbing lunch out can become incredibly expensive, and I think it can get pretty monotonous after awhile.  Most people have a half hour or hour to get a bite to eat, but I've found most of that time is spent battling crowds and weighing your options.  As warmer weather nears, try packing your lunch and then you can spend more time enjoying your food, reading a book, or going for a walk on your lunch break.

        I work from home, which means I don't technically bring my lunch to work, but I have started to eat in more often and use my leftover time to do something productive. 

        Here are a few tips:
        • Make it special. Sometimes packing your lunch can feel pretty ho-hum, so try to find inexpensive ways to add some excitement to your lunch.  If you like sandwiches, consider adding fresh basil, tarragon, or arugula.  Swap out mustard for pesto or hummus and trade the white bread for a pita or bagel.  Bring homemade lemonade or cookies if you need a little pick-me-up. 
        • Prep the night before.  Mornings can be rough, so it's best to prepare your lunch, or at least part of it, the night before.  If you're taking leftovers to work, put them in a to-go container the night before so it is ready to go in the morning.  Need an alternative to the brown bag?  Laurent has this Box Appetit container from Black and Blum and it's compact and it never leaks. 
        • Bring healthy, bulk snacks to work.  Depending on what type of job you have, you can probably take a little break in the morning or afternoon for some fruit, pretzels, or a granola bar.  If you have a lunchroom at your office, see about leaving a bag of fruit there.  When hunger hits, you'll reach for fruit over a Snickers bar from the snack machine.  You'll be healthier and by the end of the week, you'll have a little extra cash in your pocket!
        • Calculate your savings.  Tally up your grocery bill one week and compare that to eating out for a week.  When you see the savings, you'll be motivated to stay on track.  Either put that money directly into savings or put it towards a reward you've set for yourself, like a weekend trip.  You'll be amazed how quickly you can save $500 by just eliminating eating out a few days a week. 
        • Get out of the office!  Bringing your lunch to work during the colder months can be a drag because it often means you end up staying in the office for your lunch hour.  If you find this happening, go for a walk and then eat your lunch.  You're allowed an hour break, don't feel like you have to keep working through your lunch break just because you brought your lunch to work. 
        Yum, who's hungry?

        Photo Credit: That Kind of Woman

        Monday, March 5

        Weekend Wrap-Up


        Forecast, schmorcast.  The weather was great on Saturday, so Laurent and I hopped out of bed early-ish with the hopes of gettings scones and tea at Alice's Tea Cup, but there was a two hour wait.  Next time we'll make reservations... 

        Instead we found a cute little coffee shop, Cafe Noi, and strolled down the Upper East Side until we hit Grand Central (that's 51 blocks!)  I was in dire need of an active day after being cooped up in our apartment throughout the rainy week and in dire need of a beautiful bag...  I scored this one at Urban Outfitters with Laurent's discount and it's got me pretty pumped for spring.  For those wondering, employees at Urban Outfitters get to give their family members and one significant other (that's me!) an employee discount card, which is good at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, and BHLDN.  Pretty great, huh?

        We took a long subway ride out to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is described by the National Park Service as a "sanctuary for wild birds and other native species".  Neither of us could identify a single bird, but it was great to just be in a quiet setting for a little while.

        Speaking of taking a little trip... we're heading back to Indiana on Wednesday to see our families!  I can't wait to be back in my hometown for a little relaxation, board games, and family time.  Will you be in Indianapolis or Bloomington this week?

        Photo Credit: unknown

        Friday, March 2

        Listening Library: Frankie Rose


        I hate to say it, but approximately 80% of my new music suggestions these days come from songs played at Urban Outfitters.  Laurent heard a few tracks from Frankie Rose's new album - Interstellar- while he was working, and we've been playing the rest of the album pretty frequently ever since.  Frankie Rose was part of some pretty amazing groups before going solo, including one of my personal go-to's, Dum Dum Girls

        I wish I had heard more of her solo work before this week because she just played a show in Brooklyn in February, but I imagine she'll be adding more shows soon as Interstellar was just dubbed "Best New Music" from Pitchfork

        Enjoy!  It's pretty hard to not get up and dance around like an '80s Brat Packer during this song. 


        Photo Credit: KCRW Music Blog

        Have a Comfortable Weekend


        What are you up to this weekend?  The forecast is pretty bleak for Saturday and Sunday here in NYC, but I'm hoping just throw on some sweats and go for a walk through Central Park tomorrow morning.  Working from home (mostly from my bed) can eat up my energy sometimes, so I really look forward to getting outside as much as possible on the weekends. 

        Plus, I have my heart set on trying out some new-to-me restaurants I saw in New York Magazine, so I'll need a little exercise to justify the inevitable weekend gorging.  If you're planning a trip to NYC any time soon, I've found the New York Magazine Critic's Picks are pretty spot-on, and they review restaurants at all price points, so you can get a great meal on the cheap. 

        Enjoy your weekend!

        Photo Credit: That Kind of Woman

        The Perfect Hallway Rug


        If there is ever a time when I have a long hallway and a few extra jingles in my pocket, I will find this rug and make it mine. 

        Photo Credit: From Me to You

        Thursday, March 1

        Penny Wall


        I'm usually not a huge fan of copper, but this project featured over on Design*Sponge has been on my mind for the past few days.  Doesn't it add just the right amount of texture and color to their little bar area?  I imagine they were able to complete this project for under $50, and it adds so much interest to this little space.

        Photo Credit: Design*Sponge
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