Gratitude and Attitude
I have a little "daily quote" posted to the "wall" of my "office" at work (an open air cubicle pod). It is from an old "funny thoughts for women" daily calendar that a work friend of mine, Dana, gave me as a Secret Santa gift years ago. I dutifully ripped away each day's little piece of paper for a year (chuckling along the way) until December 29, 2009, when I happened upon the one that is still posted to my desk "wall" (and I am someone aggressively opposed to those "life imperative" posters that are so trendy right now, so you know it has to mean something to me):
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
I didn't think the quote was particularly funny, but it was certainly poignant -- poignant enough that, nearly four years later, I still have it tacked to my "office" "wall" (and not necessarily because I'm a hoarder, though my coworkers may beg to differ). The quote is so simple and yet, says so much. It's applicable to every facet of life, and I find myself looking at it daily, reminding myself to either make a change or adjust my attitude.
With the daily grind weighing on us day in and day out, it is often easy to fall into a pattern of complaining and not appreciating the lives that we have and the people that have touched us. When bogged down with stress, the day-to-day can seem exhausting, and we often forget that we have the power to effect change - both in our own lives and in the lives of others. Whether things are going swimmingly or things could be going better, we have to remember to look around, to smell the roses, to be inspired - by others, by the world around us, and in particular by ourselves - and to appreciate the lives that we have, messy as they may be at times (after all, isn't there a certain beauty in chaos?).
If we don't have the power to change certain circumstances within our current situation, we certainly have the power to change our attitude about those circumstances. We have the power to be grateful. Proust said:
“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Isn't that just the most fabulous imagery? As Thanksgiving is upon us and a Nor'easter is hitting the East Coast (as bad weather conveniently does so well during the holiday season), making travel to loved ones difficult, the time seems right to take a moment and give thanks to and for those around us who give us shelter from the storm, who make us happy and help our souls blossom.
I am grateful for family, for friends, for the kindness of strangers, and for the beauty of the world around us. For promo codes and Craigslist deals, for antique lamps and room diffusers. For Spotify, for sunsets, for slimming jeans and sleeping in. For ikats and iPhones and Tasti D-lite's Peanut Butter "ice cream." For color, color, everywhere. For sky, sun and smiles. For the warmth of summer and the bite of winter. For animals in general, for dogs in particular, and specifically for my parents' two big poodles and in-law's Norwich terrier, who greet me with the enthusiasm that only family dogs can. I am grateful for love, for lavender, for the lessons I have been taught. For Pinterest, for anticipation, and for putting pen to paper. For this kid who made me laugh today, for my brother-in-law for sending that link to me (and for everything else he does), for the joy that whatshouldwecallme inexplicably brings me, and for traveling the world one journey at a time. For the fact that every moment in New York reminds me of an episode of "Seinfeld" and that I really do feel like I'm friends with the friends on "Friends." For new friends and old friends and lifelong friends who are always there. For family here and there and near and far. For coworkers, who are their own type of family and who are there for us in good times and bad. For my husband, who has proven time and again that he's in this for better or for worse. For gold paint and miracles and throw pillows aplenty. For creativity and sympathy and, above all, for empathy. For the beauty in everything - for big things, for little things and for everything in between. For life as it is, messy as it is - though in some cases not.
As you think about your own Thanksgiving, who you will or won't be spending it with and what you are grateful for, I hope that it brings a smile to your face, that life's joys outweigh life's burdens. Proust said to "always try to keep a patch of sky above your life." Let's remember to be grateful. To say thanks. To be inspired. To wait out the storm(s) and always to look for the patch of sky that may be hiding at times. It's there -- sometimes we just have to change our attitude to find it.
Gratitude is the ultimate gift. And we can show our gratitude by doing something kind -- big or small -- for those around us, particularly for those who could use some shelter from the storm, whatever that storm may be. People don't always ask for help when they need it - and often they want to, but pride gets in the way. We can offer a helping hand and, together, weather any storm, keep a patch of sky visible, and, in the process, help one another's souls blossom.
We can also take the time to capture our gratitude in writing. And what better way to capture our thoughts than in a beautiful notebook? One that beckons to you to bear your soul as much or as little as you dare. My mom recently told me about these Fortuny notebooks, $55-$105, at Gumps - expensive but seriously gorgeouso (and an excellent holiday gift). I also found this fabulous Nepali paper silk brocade notebook, $25, on Etsy - that color is another thing I'm grateful for (there's only one available, and if you don't buy it, I will!). If simple and to the point is your style, you can't go wrong with a classic Moleskine black softcover or hardcover notebook, $12.95, from Moleskine. Whatever your outlet of choice, it's fun and gratifying to capture and share life's happiness. To be grateful to ourselves for "showing up" and being present each day (something they teach in yoga) and to be grateful to and for those charming gardeners around us who make our lives beautiful.
We can give new meaning to having a 'tude.
Thank you everyone! And Happy Thanksgiving!
Dream Seam + J.Crew Sale: The Perfect Work Dress (And Everything Else To Get You There)
Happy Tuesday! And Happy Last Day of 25%/30% Off At J.Crew Day! I love a good J.Crew sale. Through midnight Eastern Time tonight, J.Crew is offering 25% off all regular purchases (code: GETGIFTING) and 30% off all Cardmember purchases (code: CARDGIFTS). Yay! The discounts mentioned below assume you are not a Cardmember, but if you are, just think of that extra 5% savings you'll get.
J.Crew's suiting can be hit or miss, but I've found a major hit recently in the J.Crew Seamed Crepe Dress, on sale for $139.99 + 25% off, down from $198. With the extra 25% off, the grand total of this gem comes to $105 plus tax and shipping. I own it in navy and wear it religiously, and I am very temped to get the modern red as well (you know my mom's rule of multiples!). The fabric has a matte silk quality that's drapey but weighty. It's not too thick and not too thin, with a bit of stretch. It's cut perfectly for pear-shaped gals (slim on top and generous on the bottom). And it is office-appropriately long enough, which is strangely hard to find at times. And the seaming (as the title suggests) is just dreamy in its body contouring magic making abilities. I also love the high neck and slim short sleeves. The dress itself is modest and body conscious all at once.
I wore this dress through the fall in the pre-freezing days without tights, but it can easily be made a winter-wear staple if accessorized appropriately. Throw a pair of super-opaque dark navy tights or opaque dark navy control-top tights into your shopping cart for a clean and slimming "column." For heel wearers, complete the look with Everely Suede Pumps in black ($245 + 25% off) for a clean and minimalist look or consider adding a pop of jewel-toned color with the hedgerow (a lovely wintery green) version (on sale for $198 + 25% off). My friend Emily wore the black version this past weekend, and not only did I think they were $600+ Jimmy Choos, but also she said they were absurdly comfortable ("I walked, like, 30 blocks in them!"). Emily has an enviable ability to wear heels for impressive amounts of time, but even she couldn't 'make it 30 blocks in a pair of shoes that weren't dreamily comfortable, so I am certainly intrigued by the Everelys (and look forward to a day when I can wear heels again!). If you're a flats wearer, I like these Viv Metallic Flats in heather atlantic ($188 + 25% off) for a little pop that still reads blue. The pointy toe will elongate your silhouette and work nicely with the seamed lines fo the dress. (I also love the Cece Suede Ballet Flats for commuting and weekends.) And if comme moi you're destined for sturdy menswear inspired shoes, I like these Collection Biella glitter tassel loafers in glittler fog ($258 + 25% off) for a borrowed-from-the-boys look that's decidedly sassy, or the Darby Tassel Loafer ($188 + 25% off) in black for a tamer, but still killer, look.
My office is set at a cool 55 degrees regardless of season, so I always like to keep a scarf and sweater around. For scarves, I like a pop of color, and this colorblock foulard scarf ($59.50 + 25% off) does just the trick (and it goes brilliantly with those shoes I mentioned before). For sweaters, you can't go wrong with cashmere: I love my Collection Cashmere Boyfriend Cardigan ($238 + 25% off) - black and navy are both safe bets to keep around the office.
For jewelry, this dress can easily be worn with nothing (or simple earrings like the ones I mentioned on Friday) for a clean, minimalist look, or with a statement collar necklace or longer necklace. I tend to shy away from big necklaces at work because I find them distracting and heavy, but for a statement, I do like to wear longer necklaces on occasion. This Radiant Statement Pendant ($59.99 + 25% off) is quite wonderful and would be a nice way to step up your look from day to night.
Help make the commute a little more tolerable in this Double Breasted Cocoon Coat in Wool-Cashmere ($350 + 25% Off) and this Cashmere Infinity Scarf ($258 + 25% off) in really any color (so cozy!) or, for a lower price point, the Chevron Checkered Snood in black/white ($59.50 + 25% off).
Et voilà! You've got yourself a killer workwear outfit (that can be worn multiple ways) all because of a $105 dress that fits like a dream and gets you through the workday in style. (Do you realize I started this post out just intending to talk about that dress?? This is how J.Crew always gets me...)
Enjoy! And Happy Suiting Up!
I've been feeling a little blue recently. I've been sidelined by a bizarre foot injury (avascular necrosis of the sesamoid, if you're curious) since April, and last Monday, against all odds (or not?), I managed to break my pinky toe on the leg of a chair in my living room after jumping up from the sofa. I had been barefoot and dutifully elevating my dead-boned foot when the phone rang. I hastily decided that I didn't have enough time to put on my only doctor-approved indoor shoes (the ever-stylish Crocs) before taking the first step from the sofa, and... crack: it was over in an instant. Chair leg, 1; pinky toe, 0. My baby toe didn't stand a chance.
At first I screamed. Then I answered the phone I'd been rushing to answer. Then (after huffing my way through the call and hanging up said phone), I surveyed the damage, saw that my toe was angled precariously to the side, angrily hobbled to get an ice pack, and plopped back down on the sofa where I'd started... and promptly burst into tears.
The doctor that I saw the next day was a very friendly fellow, and after setting my toe and buddy taping it, he reminded me that it was at least "great news" that the injury occurred on my already injured foot and that I was already in a walking boot - so, you know, my already inactive-by-design lifestyle wouldn't have to change much. (By the way, isn't "buddy taping" just the happiest way to deal with a broken bone? Aw, my little, broken baby toe has a buddy to hang out with as it heals!) And so, despite that "great news" and my happily buddied up toe, I've been feeling a little blue.
But a little blueness isn't going to get in the way of my inspiration - in fact, at times I think it can help spur creativity. Which brings me to my next project: our white and blue bedroom!
New Project: White & Blue Bedroom!
Outfitting a home can be an exciting, but daunting and expensive endeavor. I love the long-term nature of it. Interiors shouldn't be born in a day - they take years of work, of adding and subtracting and adjusting so the room has the right feel and utility and expression. I have spent the majority of the past 2.5 years that we have lived in our apartment focusing on the "social" areas - entryway, living/dining area, etc., and while those areas are by no means finished (Before & Afters of some of these areas are coming soon!), my mandatory bed rest has reminded me that the bedroom deserves a little TLC too. Your cocoon should be comforting, not stress-inducing. And while parts of our bedroom are comforting, the majority of it is stress-inducing: We don't have anything on the walls yet, and we have a mishmash of furniture acquired via Craigslist or donated by our parents that has moved with us multiple times and is showing some serious signs of wear. In short? It's time for a cohesive upgrade, and for our cocoon to become
I am showing you a little glimpse of what we have going on right now (the parts I don't hate!) so you can see the starting point. You know we're in trouble if I'm only willing to show you a sliver of the bed! My mother-in-law gave me some extra drapes that she had, which inspired the blue-and-white of the whole room. I put the drapes up and used the extra to have two euro shams made (this is the blue floral sham you see). From there, we got Pottery Barn pearl bedding, which we had registered for when we got married. The navy and white ikat pillow is by Kim Salmela and is one of my favorite items in the whole apartment. I got it last year from Joss & Main, where she often has sales. She also sells via One Kings Lane and A VERSION OF IT HAPPENS TO BE ON SALE THERE RIGHT NOW. She has started to sell a few pieces via her own website too. The little silk bird pillow is from West Elm (also from last year and unfortunately no longer available). The rug is an ikat rug I found on Joss & Main. More details on finding items like the ones listed above to come...
I am in the "a la recherche" portion of the design process (truly one of my favorite parts!), where I just try to find inspirational photos of texture and color to start to inform the direction I will go with the design. I thought I would share with you a few of the blues (and whites!) that have me feeling not-so-blue and getting excited to get designing and decorating:
How does this jumble of inspiration become a fabulous bedroom? You'll have to wait and see!
Happy Monday and Happy Blues!
Wardrobe Staple: The Perfect Earring
My "Aunt" Kathy gave me a pair of Ted Muehling Black Onyx Acorn
Earrings when I graduated from business school in May, and they very quickly became a wardrobe staple. I am pretty certain I've worn them every day since then. They're that good.
I am a very picky earring wearer - especially for work. I also have sensitive ears (and hate anything heavy). These earrings are light and face flattering, and there's something perfect and unexpected about the onyx and acorn shape (I wouldn't have normally been drawn to them if shopping for myself, and now I can't imagine not having them - which is part of the magic of gift-giving and -receiving). They're shaped and designed just so, so that I can hold a phone to my ear at work without experiencing both intense pain and the pervasive fear that I'm going to pierce my aorta and die while on a conference call (Paranoia? Maybe. But wouldn't that be a way to go?!). And, as you might imagine, wearing earrings while sleeping is not even close to an option for me (sleeping in jewelry = total heebie-jeebies), but the shape and lightness of these earrings are such that I actually forget I am wearing them (and thus sleep has occurred on more than one occasion with these little nuggets still secured to my ears). They're that comfortable.
Before Kathy's gift, I'd previously never heard of Ted Muehling, and now I'm beyond obsessed. Ted Muehling's designs are inspired by "natural elements" and have really beautiful, organic lines and balanced, interesting proportions. They are delicate and studied. Earthy, yet modern. Light, but there. They go with everything, really (day, night, work, play), but I particularly like them with minimalistic looks and clean lines like the Vince blouses I mentioned here with a well-tailored blazer and the weekend wear I mentioned here (I might even say they inspired those looks!). And they're perfect for a quiet statement at the office. They assert their presence without being loud. They're quiet, but not shy, and that's what makes them perfect.
As you'll recall, my mother has always told me to buy a favorite thing in multiple colors. If I were to get an additional pair, I would get the Carnelian (for a muted but fiery pop) and maybe the Rose Quartz (for a self-confident wallflower feel). Ted Muehling jewelry comes in a range of prices ($170-$2600+), and I think the acorn is the best both in style and in value (which works out nicely for your wallet). They're a bit of a splurge, but you'll wear them forever.
All Available At Bergdorf Goodman with Free Standard Shipping:
Ted Muehling Black Onyx Acorn Earrings $200
Ted Muehling Carnelian Acorn Earrings $200
Ted Muehling Rose Quartz Acorn Earrings $200
Happy shopping and accessorizing... Have a wonderful weekend!
Remember my post about wanting Eames-like chairs and sheepskin throws to outfit my naked fireplace area? Well, I
have some exciting news! My fireplace area is no longer naked! It's warm, cozy, inviting - and has seating! - and it brings a smile to my face whenever I look at it (which is often). Want to see? Read on as I explain what I did and show some very exciting before, during and after pictures!
My fireplace area was naked and seating-free (we're talking an awkward 10' wide x 6' deep or so of furniture and rug free space), and I wanted to be able to cozy up next to the fire with a glass of wine. A week and a half ago, I finally decided to act on my obsessive thoughts about both wanting to seat myself near the fireplace and feeling an inexplicable need to own a set of Eames-like chairs with sheepskin rugs. My parents' coming to town for Thanksgiving added some extra incentive. Plus, Matt was working incessantly, which usually leads to my own obsessive home projects (it's dangerous and exciting when there's no one to question my impulsive choices!).
While I would have died to have the real-deal Eames® Molded Plastic Dowel-Leg Armchair (DAW) available at Design Within Reach (which my husband and I jokingly call Design Not Within Reach), at $499 a chair, a pair of chairs from there was not in the cards (and to be honest, I was more into accessorizing the chairs than having the chairs alone; despite attempts to the contrary, minimalism just isn't my thing). I decided to find the look for less at Overstock ($166.99 for a set of two) so I could use the extra funds on a fab new wardrobe for the chairs. Three days after placing my order, a massive box from Overstock arrived at my door complete with two chair shells, two sets of chair legs, some nuts and bolts and no directions. I forgot about the assembly component! Luckily (and perhaps because I was so incredibly excited), they were pretty easy to figure out, and within 15 minutes (on my own with an injured foot), I had a new set of cheapo chairs flanking my fireplace. They were bright white, and I was totally freaked about my decision. I tried not to panic as I waited patiently for my sheepskins to arrive...
I ordered two sheepskin rugs from Sheepskinstuff.com (which came with a pair of free mittens! So adorable!), and I could not be more pleased with the order! I ordered on a Monday and received the items on a Saturday (the 48 hours between receiving the chairs and the sheepskins was a nerve-wracking period of time). The sheepskins are a lovely off-white color and fit like gloves into the chair bods, and they are SO SOFT. You just want to cuddle with them. Also, I am so glad I found rugs that were 42" instead of 36" - that extra 6" really makes a difference in plushness. They elevate the cheapo chairs to a much more luxurious level, and help tie the look in with the rest of my less-modern decor. I went from thinking "Oh, lordy, what have you done this time, Kate?" pre-sheepskin-arrival to patting myself on the back for being so darn brilliant once they'd made it. You'll see the tags in this photo, as I hadn't committed yet (but I've since ripped them off - with gusto!). Overall, I was pleased with the purchase and thought it turned out almost exactly how I had expected:
And Everything Else That Gets Us To After:
Let's face it. If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. I don't like to do projects halfway, and I like milk with my cookies. While I was pleased with the results of the chairs + sheepskins combo (they did turn out almost exactly as I'd expected), there was still something missing... a je ne sais quoi, if you will.
Except I knew exactly quoi: a rug, for one, and color. I am obsessed with color, and whenever I try to do white, I then want to just douse it all in lots of color, and these chairs desperately needed some color to bring the look to life. I just didn't know quite how to go about it.
I typically would have gone for a dhurrie (my favorite go-to inexpensive-yet-expensive-looking rug, which I will certainly feature in a future post!), but in the living room, I wanted a more luxurious, layered feel. Something antique-y. Something that wouldn't make my mom say, "Oh, that's so sweet, honey. You can always update it later when you've found the look you want to go with." I wanted a grown-up, lasting rug. One that would make my mom say, "Oh, now that's a rug!"
And so on Sunday, I set out to ABC Carpet and Home's Warehouse Outlet (my in-laws kindly let me borrow their car for the trek to the Bronx) to poke around and see what I could find. OMG, did I score! It just so happened to be the last day of their semi-annual sale (what luck!), so everything was marked down an additional 20% off the lowest marked price. I happened upon a fabulous (and perfectly sized) Turkish oushak rug and was able to negotiate quite a bit on the price (it was 20% off, plus an additional 20% off, and then I tried to make a deal about the imperfections of the rug, so they compromised on price and threw in a perfectly cut rug pad for free). I called both my mom ("It's fab!") and my mother-in-law ("Negotiate!") to make sure I wasn't getting ripped off and that the rug was in fact great, and they both agreed - I ended up with a fab, negotiated rug. It was expensive (more than the chairs and furs combined), but in my mind totally worth it. I am a fan of the high-low look, and you can't have it if you don't make a few splurges to counteract the saves. I am very picky about rugs, and this one fit all of my requirements of color, texture and worldliness. I was pleased.
But wait - IT GETS BETTER. As I was leaving the store with my loot, a pair of tiny (12"x16") pillows caught my eye, and I swooped in. I had been hoping to find some tiny, colorful pillows to insert in those little chair-bod craters to help round out the look, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw these! After looking at a number of horrendously expensive ikat pillows, I thought there was no chance these would be cheap... but then I checked the tag to discover they were $29 each? ? Down from $52? With an additional 20% off? YES, PLEASE. I scooped those bad boys up and then headed back to Manhattan to survey my spoils.
Below is the AFTER, and I am very pleased!
Voilà! Coziness with a kick.
Overall, I would say I am pleased with all purchases! I wouldn't get the Overstock chairs if you're looking to use them solo - they're totally fine and a great knockoff (and are ergonomically a nice fit), but they need a little something to make them not look... like they're from Overstock. I am obsessed with my new Canadian sheepskin company and can't wait to order more things from them. And I am also ridiculously excited about my new "grown-up" rug and my paint-splattered pillows, which add that bit of fun I was looking for.
And now I'm ready for the next project....!
Hope you enjoyed the Before & After! What projects are you working on? I'd love to hear! And I'd love to help!
My cousin-in-law Caroline recently gave me a Thymes Eucalyptus candle that smells so heavenly (and, compared to the Jo Malones of the world, is priced so reasonably) that I absolutely had to share it with you so you could buy it immediately and fill your home with the refreshingly green scent. With a base of eucalyptus and hints of lemon and lime, it creates a perfectly cleansing and uplifting aura in your home that will put you at ease after a long day. The scent is seasonless, but something about it reminds me of the holidays, and it is a nice way to ease into the holiday spirit without going overboard.
My cousin bought the candle at an adorable store in Rye, NY, called Blush Beauty Bar (which, if you live in the area, you should visit), but it is also available at brick-and-mortar stores in larger metropolitan areas (e.g. Gracious Home in New York) and a number of online vendors with various shipping options (details below):
Thymes Eucalyptus Candle, $27, at Thymes (shipping is free on orders of $50+ or $6.95 flat for orders less than $50, so just buy (one for you and one for a holiday gift) and you're in the free shipping zone!)
Thymes Poured Aromatic Candle, Eucalyptus, $27, at Amazon.com (free shipping for Prime subscribers; free shipping for orders over $35 for non-subscribers)
Thymes Eucalyptus Candle, $27, at Gracious Home (free shipping on orders over $50)
I have a pretty significant aversion to kitchen germiness: show me a wet sponge at the bottom of a sink, and I'll show you a bacteria-fest that needs to be disposed of, like, immediately. (Don't even get me started on the sponge that sits in our communal kitchen sink at work - that thing is a form of bio-warfare I wouldn't touch using a 10' pole and wearing a hazmat suit. Public sponges, like public bars of soap, just shouldn't exist. Period.)
Unfortunately, sponges are made to be recycled (though thankfully for only so long), and I've been forced to live with the knowledge that, no matter what I do, a 3.5" x 6" porous, squishy block of bacteria is in/next to my kitchen sink at all hours just teeming with icky germiness (nights can be sleepless living with information like this).
I never thought much of my sponge aversion until a trip home to Kansas City earlier this year (I mean, who is to question an affinity to clean sponges?), when my parents were appalled (or perhaps just amused?) with my level of germophobia when it came to the kitchen sponge:
"You don't have a backup sponge?? This needs to be replaced immediately." I quipped in disgust, holding up -- as gingerly and non-contacty as possible -- a wet, bacteria-laden ScotchBrite that had been buried at the bottom of a sink full of dishes from dinner. "Can't you at least... leave it on the counter?" I asked, tossing it onto the ceramic tile with mild satisfaction. In my warped world of germophobia, a gross sponge on the counter is way less gross than a gross sponge in a sink. It's night and day -- the difference between a sponge that can be salvaged and a sponge that must be sacrificed. When possible, I feel it's my duty to "save" a sponge from its doomed fate and plop it ever-so-delicately on a counter surface.
"Kate, we just opened that sponge last week. It's fine. Relax, will you?"
It was not fine. And no, I would not relax.
After returning to New York, I also returned to my old ways of changing out the sponge more frequently than I buy paper towels, and I forgot all about that incident in Kansas City. Apparently my parents did not.
And how lucky am I that they did not?! While on a recent trip to Provence, my parents happened upon an adorable ceramic sponge holder (a cache éponge or porte éponge, if you will - it sounds so much sexier and more sophisticated in French) and bought three: one for me, one for themselves and one for a friend. Only one made it back alive through the treacherous cross-Atlantic flight and baggage claim, and my parents lovingly and sacrificially gave the sole survivor to me.
I was only mildy offended that they gave it to me "because you hate sponges and sponges touching anything and all." Offended or not, I couldn't wait to take that cute little sponge holder out for a spin. And sponge holder it was! Little did I know it would totally transform my kitchen experience. That little thing is truly.... dare I say... sponge-worthy. Not all sponge holders are created equal, and this one stands up to the challenge. It keeps my sponges perky and elevated above the muck (seriously, I can't describe it, but it's as if my sponge now stands at attention - like it's a little more confident than it used to be). Plus my sponge holder keeps my previously nude sponge swathed in cute French garb: my cache éponge is a dark yellow "huile d'olive" holder that makes the rest of my kitchen sink accoutrements a little bit
Like many great things, these cute little sponge holders don't seem to be terribly available in the US (just Google "sponge holder" and see the atrocious things being sold at places like the Container Store -- sponge-worthy, they are not). While I can't find an exact replica of the one that now craddles my happily germy sponge, I did find this Eponge Magique Retro Style Sponge Holder (pictured above) and this Bistrot de Paris Retro Style Sponge Holder, both $14.99, at an adorable French- and Italian-inspired web shop called Touch of Europe. I'm mildly obsessed with this Porte éponge J'aime Nettoyer Fox Trot from Ctendance.fr, 9,00 €, and this Cache éponge, BODEGA from hémisphere-sud.fr, 10,00€, but unfortunately they don't ship to the US! If you're interested, I can try to figure out a loophole.
My advice? Get yourself a sponge-worthy sponge holder. The holder helps keep your sponge fresh, allowing it to last a little longer than before. If you're at all like me, you'll probably still change out your kitchen sponge a lot (but less than before), and you'll sleep better knowing you've contained that germy mess of a bacteria-fest and made your kitchen a little cuter in the process. Plus, your sponge will be happier and more confident too. Which means (s)he'll do this dishes with more gusto.
Happy germ containing!
As a child, my parents' home was an endless place for exploration, and I remember going to great lengths to carve out cool secret spaces where I could hang out and just be. We all, children and adults alike, have a natural inclination to carve out our own space -- a room of one's own -- that we create -- that is ours -- and that allows us to find ourselves.
When I took a space-planning class at Parsons, one of the assignments was to figure out what you would do with an awkward, small, 6'x8' windowless alcove that branched off of a hallway. Thinking like a child, this would have been a no-brainer. It would be an empty canvas for play -- for forts and make-believe and escape from grown-ups. For an adult though, this assignment was a challenge. As adults, we are weighed down by practicality, and we need to find a way to be creative within those constraints. Would you make it an office nook? A closet nook? A storage nook? What about a reading nook? What practical purpose would it serve?
I have of course lost the assignment and can't remember what I chose to do (a comfy chair for reading?), but I decided to challenge myself again today. Let me tell you - it was FUN!
This is what I came up with: a space for creativity, comfort and inspiration. A space with a base of white where I can layer as much color and texture and pattern as I can muster. A space with furniture that has beautiful lines, that bridges the world between antique and
modern. A space that you could spend an entire day in and not even notice that time has passed.
A quick note on sourcing: the photo of the white desk with gorgeous ikat covered chair is from French Elle via the blog Absolutely Beautiful Things (fab blog, btw) (I would get two West Elm Parsons Desks, each $349 + $15 delivery surcharge, and since I can't find that exact chair, there is a French Louis XVI bergere chair for $800 that is not perfect, but similar conceptually). The chandelier is from 1stdibs (for "price upon request" = prohibitively expensive, but a girl can dream!). The sheer linen curtains are from Crate & Barrel ($39.95/panel). The sheepskin rug is from Overstock ($201.99 for 3'x5'). The Stacie 16x24" pillow ($129) and the Boho Chic 20x20" pillow ($129) are both by Kim Salmela and available at One Kings Lane right now (sale ends 11/20). The daybed is from Elle Decor via the blog Interior Walls Design (likely too big for the space, but I like the concept). The inspiration wall is from Pinterest. And are those twinkling stars on the ceiling, you ask? Why yes! They are! Click here to see how they're done. They bring both a child-like whimsy to the space and, when all the other lights are off, transport you outside so you can look at the stars and dream as you lounge on your comfy, pillowed daybed. Now - if only I had an awkward nook in which to bring this visual to life! Time to think like a kid again and create one for myself....
Now, here is the real question:
What would you do with a windowless 6'x8' alcove???
I can't wait to find out!
Remember: think like a kid!
Happy Challenging, Happy Imagining!
I was born and raised in Kansas City (KCMO!), and while it's been 12 years since I've lived there, I will always be a loyal Chiefs fan. (New York, I love you and your sports teams, but it's just not the same.)
And what a time to be a Chiefs fan (finally!). Chiefs fever has been spreading like wildfire this season, and it is making people SEE RED! Loyal Chiefs fans are experiencing outright euphoria as the Chiefs dominate week after week (after so many disappointing seasons I can't even begin to count). Chiefs pride is at an all-time high (Exhibit A: my friend Allie, to the left, dressed as Andy Reid for Halloween -- she won her business school competition, in case you were wondering; Exhibit B: my friend Katherine, below, dressed as the "Chiefs Chef" -- see this Snickers commercial for reference -- and second place winner in her work competition). A month ago, BuzzFeed published 11 Reasons You Should Be a Chiefs Fan, which includes Andy Reid, his mustache, Warpaint and Eric Berry's fear of Warpaint (I don't know why the K.C. Wolf didn't make the cut). Bottom line? It's a good time to be from Kansas City and an even better time to be a Chiefs fan.
With an undefeated 9-0 record to defend and a major game against the Broncos tonight (at Denver, no less), it seemed only fitting to dedicate today's post to dressing for Chiefs Kingdom!
What to wear to keep that winning record (if not an Andy Reid or Chiefs Chef costume)? RED (and gold), of course! And lots of it. Mix and match actual Chiefs gear like a soft vintage tee or a cozy hat with warm fashion-y favorites like J.Crew red cashmere sweaters, red toothpick cords and a red wool coat like the J.Crew Majesty Coat or Marc by Marc Jacobs Nicoletta Coat. Keep your feet comfy in classic sneakers like Chuck Taylors or New Balance U420s, or cozy up in a pair of red Ugg boots. (Keep scrolling for shopping links and more!)
The best part? Don't worry about making sure all the reds match. The point is to go there, and a mix of shades will look more natural and cooler than a matchy-matchy situation. And it's all about looking cool, feeling warm, and rooting for a team that's RED hot. Go Chiefs!
Where to Buy:
Marc by Marc Jacobs Nicoletta Wool Coat ($460.80, down from $768) in corvette red at Saks.
J.Crew Excursion Quilted Vest ($120) in dark poppy.
J.Crew Majesty Peacoat ($298) in decadent red.
Women's Kansas City Chiefs Crew T-Shirt from tshirts.com ($26.99).
Kansas City Chiefs Womens Vintage Team Spirit T-Shirt - Red ($19.95) from fanatics on ebay.
Ugg Classic Short Boot ($155) in light red.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Core Ox ($50) in red.
Kansas City Chiefs Ladies Game Day T-Shirt - Gold ($21.95) from Footballfanatics.com
J.Crew Collection Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater ($198) in poppy
Collection Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater ($248) in poppy
Collection Cashmere Boyfriend Sweater ($238) in poppy
Reebok Kansas City Chiefs Knit Hat ($17.95)
New Balance Classics U420 ($59.99 down from $74.95) in Red/White
What's your lucky Chiefs outfit??? Tell me in the comments!
Happy Chiefs Day! :)
Happy Saturday, everyone! Weekends are a time for laughing, creating and dreaming, and this post is all about that.
For all you folks with mini "Destroyer Units from Planet Entropia" - er, kiddos - out there, my extremely talented and hilarious uncle Dan Maginn (award-winning architect, father extraordinaire and principal at super rad KC-based architecture firm el dorado inc.) wrote a great piece on childproofing your home in this month's Dwell Magazine. Read. Laugh. And take note of the excellent tips on how to make your carefully curated home into a protected, disaster free zone (that's still incredibly hip). It's also a delightful read for those of us who have not yet been sent a Destroyer Unit to care for.
Check out el do's write up on the article here and savor every word of the article (with excellent illustration) here!
Dan reminds us that kids and adults experience the space we occupy in vastly different ways and that space is both transformative (just take one look at the Make-a-Wish foundation's heartbreakingly wonderful story of transforming San Francisco into Gotham City so BatKid could save the day) and experiential (think about how you felt watching BatKid go about his day -- did you see the photo of the father? I almost died -- v. how BatKid felt conquering evil and saving the
Dan's article reminded me of what it was like to be a kid and to be so dang excited (because I never would have used a word stronger than dang!) to explore my parents' house and its surroundings; to build forts and slide down stairs on pillows and put glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling and climb around on (and sometimes get stuck in the rungs of)
bunk beds (when I was lucky enough to spend the night at a friend's house who had bunk beds)!
My friend Lauren and I (both only children, and both children of parents whose homes were filled with antiques) "invented" a game called "Lava Monster" that involved needing to get from point A to point B without touching the ground (where, naturally, the hot, burning lava and the killer lava monster were), so anywhere
where we could get a foothold (precariously placed chair, antique table, unstable window sill) was fair game (inexplicably, we were always banished to the outdoors to finish the game out... and now I get why):
Ah, childhood. And adulthood.
Enjoy Dan's article and enjoy your Saturday!
Happy Destroyer Unit Battling! :)
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.