Friday, October 31, 2008

Hayden Harnett Halloween Special!


Just for today, one of my favorite brands is having a special sale - 20% off of everything on the website or in store! If you're lucky enough to be in NYC, they're also having a party. I especially like this cuff - just so happens it's sort of halloween colored too!
leather HH cuff

Happy Halloween!

Martha stewart pumpkins

Martha Stewart has always had the most amazing halloween ideas - aren't these pumpkins gorgeous? It might be a little late to get started on some of the fantastical craft projects, but just looking at them gets me a little more in the spirit!

If you have time to cook, the website also has cleverly named recipes for simple fall dishes - Devilled Chicken, Marshmallow Bones and Enchiladas among them. Brain Cupcakes anyone?

We don't get trick or treaters (not one in three years!) here on the mountain, but if you're going out tonight, or even just answering the door - have a great time!

Photo via Martha Stewart.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Before, During and After

I found some old photos of our house from before we bought it, and I thought it would be fun to share a few, starting with before we moved in (with the with the previous owners' furniture,) moving through the early days of bad paint choices and old furniture, and on into the current incarnation.

These three show similar angles on the living room in 2005, 2006 and 2007 (not much has changed since then). Here it is before we moved in, with the previous owners' furniture. We took down those dowels and the half wall in the entryway.
livingroom ii
Here it is after wall paper stripping and re-painting. The yellow color was a last minute choice that I hated from the start, but we lived with it for almost two years.
early 2006 160
Here it is after the new coat of paint, new sofa, recessed lighting and drop down screen tv. Ahhh.... Still need new bookcases though...
8.27.07 012
Here's the fireplace during the intermediate stage...
early 2006 161
and what it looked like after we had it resurfaced...
8.27.07 011
Here's another angle on the room in the beginning and at the end:
We had the mantle built, and the tile is Malibu tile from Classic Tile on Kettner.
Living Room and Fireplace 8.25.07
We didn't take very many photos of the kitchen in the early days - these are the only two I have. When we moved in, we wanted to make some cosmetic changes, but didn't want to spend the money for a serious remodel. We stripped the wallpaper (yes, in the kitchen!) and took out the decorative trim, ceiling fan and fluorescent lighting...
kitchen i
We replaced the stained glass lamp with a school house style fixture from Rejuvenation and put in track lighting to replace the fluorescents. It really helped a lot.
Kitchen 2008
Here's another angle:
kitchen ii
We painted the walls charcoal gray (an idea I found in a Kraftmaid cabinet catalog) put in a charcoal gray slate tile floor and installed a new sink faucet, new hinges, and new drawer and cabinet pulls. We bought a new stainless dishwasher and refrigerator, but kept the gas oven and six burner range - they're still plugging along just fine.
June16 049
In the dining area, we painted two walls apple green, and just decorated with the miscellaneous stuff we already had. I'm starting to get tired of the green now, but there aren't too many colors that work with that pinkish tile countertop. One of these days it's going to have to go - but it will have to wait until we have the time and money for a bigger project. I'm thinking marble, or maybe butcherblock... It's gonna be fun!
Kitchen 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Favorite Soap

It's a bit of a splurge, but I love this soap so much I just can't give it up. One $20.00 bottle lasts us a few months, and double-sized refills are available for only $26.00. I buy the Olive Lavender, and it feels so good on my skin and smells so wonderful, it just makes me happy every time I use it. At five or six times per day, I figure that's a real bargain.

savon de marseille

In San Diego, both the glass bottles and refills are available at Mistral on S. Cedros next to Cafe Zinc, and the glass bottles can be found downtown at Station boutique at 414 Cedar in Little Italy.

Online, it's available here on Vickerey, or here on a site called Lucky Scent - though they are sold out of the Olive Lavender until January. (Vickerey is also a great source for Christmas gifts, if you're like me and cannot stand to go to the mall during the holidays!) Refills can be found here on the Terence Conran shop website.

photo via Lucky Scent

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Favorite Photos from the Trip Back East

Not much time to post today, so thought I'd share some of my favorite photos from the trip last week to New York, Baltimore and DC. Stay tuned though, more posts are on the way!
View of Empire State Building from Madison Square
At the MOMA

MOMA Courtyard - NYC
Veniero's - NYC
Outside The Modern at the NYC MOMA
In the Martha Stewart Everyday Test Kitchens
Crab Feast - Before
At Harpers' Ferry, West Virginia

Monday, October 27, 2008

And the other places we stayed weren't bad either...

You may have seen my post a few days ago about the hotel in New York I liked so much. Well, lucky for us, (James met me in Baltimore) the other two places we stayed were were pretty darn cool too. Our hotel there, The Inn at 2920, was a dream - private and out of the way, but close enough to be central. We had the only accommodation on the bottom floor, a two room suite called the Gato Casa - complete with kitchen and goldfish. It was nicely decorated and I hear the breakfast is good too, though we didn't get to try it. (Damn jet lag.) As if that weren't enough, at $200. per night it was a bargain compared to the mega hotels at the Inner Harbor (the weekend rate is $225.)
Inn at 2920 in Baltimore
Inn at 2920 in Baltimore
Inn at 2920 in Baltimore
The hotel is in Canton, an old industrial area of Baltimore now gentrified - and is just a block away from O'Donnell Square, a great little spot with lots of shops and restaurants. We enjoyed a meal at Mama's on the Half Shell, a seafood restaurant on the corner. I can't recommend the Italian bakery across the street as highly though. You can read more about Mama's and the square here.
Stowe Road in Reston, VA
In the D.C. area we stayed with friends in this house - which was just as lovely on the inside as it was on the outside. The firewood was stacked, the liquor cabinet was stocked, and the larder was brimming with the ingredients for Sunday suppers and gourmet breakfasts. Normally at the end of a vacation I'm all ready to go home, but I really think I could get used to the spoiling we got here. Guess we'll just have to make it up to them when they come to visit next year!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not a Paper Cup

The destruction wrought in the name of disposable paper goods and utensils on a daily basis is truly astounding. To alleviate the problem just a little bit, get one of these, a ceramic "paper" cup that not only keeps your coffee nice and hot, but will fool all of your friends. It really looks like paper, thanks to the matte finish porcelain and the rubber lid.

Available here, or here with a discount if you're a MOMA member.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letterpress Love

yellow black letterpress print.

Browsing Etsy the other day, I came across a couple of terrific letterpress artisans to add to my list - Ink+Wit and Papered Together.

I've always liked the idea of sending New Year's cards like this one, or Valentine's Day cards (like Julia Child and her husband did) because it would come as a nice surprise. If you're looking for something more traditional though, I think these are adorable.

I also adore the letterpress print pictured above. It's available on Etsy here. (Hurry - there's only one left!)

While we're on the subject of Etsy - I heard (and read) about this handmade market in NYC that sounds very much like a real live version, filled with original clothing, household items, jewelry, etcetera. I didn't make it there myself on this visit, but if you're in the New York area, or ever decide to visit, I'm sure it would be worth checking out!

The Market NYC
Every Saturday and Sunday at 268 Mulberry Street, 11 AM to 7 PM
and 490 Hudson Street from 12 PM to 7 PM
Free Admission

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cafe 2 at the MOMA - NYC

Cafe 2 at the NYC MOMA
Don't you just love museum cafes? I sure do. So much so that even though I didn't eat here (which is why I'm not posting this on the food blog!) I just had to check this one out while I was at the MOMA on Monday. I thought the front kitchen and these display cases were beautifully designed and worthy of a few photos. You can read more about the food and view the menu here.
Cafe 2 at the NYC MOMA
I'll be posting about our meal at the Bar Room at the Modern soon over on Alice Q. Foodie!

Cafe 2
Second Floor
The Museum of Modern Art
9 West 53rd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

I heart my New York hotel...

Grace Hotel - NYC
It's no secret that hotels in New York City are expensive, but when I started looking in the Spring for a place to stay for this year's Gourmet Institute in October, I was shocked by what I found. Even modest boutique hotels were charging $400. per night and the budget accommodations in the City either required sharing a bathroom or a long commute to the Mid-town area. If it had been inexpensive enough, I would have considered it (the commute, not the bathroom sharing) but I just couldn't find anything that made sense. Ultimately I settled for the conference hotel, reasoning that although it was expensive at $349. per night, it would at least be convenient.
Grace Hotel - NYC
When I arrived though, the Millennium Broadway was overbooked, with nothing left but (very stinky) smoking rooms. They told me the only other option was another hotel a block away, which had rooms available for $400. - meaning I'd have to pay the difference, and I'd have to move the next day. I had spent six hours on a plane and two and a half hours getting to the City from the airport, (NEVER AGAIN SUPER SHUTTLE!) so I really wasn't in the mood for a hassle.
Lobby of the Room Mate Grace Hotel
Still, I recognized it was pointless to argue and I remembered seeing a very cool little boutique hotel next door on my last trip - so I decided to run over there to see if THEY had anything available. They didn't - but they pointed me across the street to the Room Mate Grace Hotel.
Lobby of the Room Mate Grace Hotel
When I walked in, I immediately knew I'd be happy here. the place just had sort of a hip but comfortable vibe and the staff was incredibly friendly. They didn't have a room that night either - but they offered me a rate of $300. night for the rest of my trip - which I booked. I spent that first night at the Hotel Mela (which was also quite nice, by the way - and matched the $349 rate of the Millennium unprompted) and moved over here on Friday.
room at the Room Mate Grace in NYC
It turns out Room Mate is a Spanish company with only two hotels in the U.S. - one in Miami and this one here. They cater to a young-ish European clientele - the only English I have heard is heavily accented. It doesn't feel snooty though, and I've had no "hipper than thou" attitude thrown my way. The hotel was actually built by Andre Balazs as a hip budget option called the QT, and taken over by Room Mate sometime within the past year I believe.

The $300. per night rate included continental breakfast, round the clock coffee, wi-fi and local calls. They have a small swimming pool that is visible at eye level from the lobby, a unisex shower, sauna and steamroom, a bar, and an exercise facility (though it's a little weak.) The rooms feature a comfortable platform bed with feather pillows and cotton sheets, a long counter, closet and sink - and at the end there's a toilet and shower with a large mirrored door that rolls back and forth to conceal one or the other - whichever you happen to be using. There is a clear glass refrigerator in the room, and the front desk is set up as as a store, so you can essentially stock your own minibar.

It's utilitarian, friendly and chic - and incredibly convenient to the Times Square/Midtown area. I'd especially recommend it for a single traveler - but it's also fine for a couple who doesn't mind sharing a small space. (Then again I am in their smallest room - some of their other options may be more spacious.)

The Night Hotel across the street was the original hotel I considered:
Night Hotel - NYC
It's more expensive and a little more aggressively hip - though the desk clerk who sent me to the Grace was quite friendly and helpful.

Room Mate Grace Hotel
125 W. 45th Street
New York, New York

Some other "budget" options to explore that appear to have at least a modicum of style (book early - they go fast!):
East Village Bed and Coffee
Rooms to Let Guesthouse
The Gershwin Hotel
Second Home on Second Avenue
The Washington Square Hotel

If I had a little more money to spend (around $400. per night) I'd also consider The Maritime Hotel.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This one's for Jora

My friend Jora and I have a lot of things in common, such as our taste for good coffee and Hayden Harnett bags and deep affection for Ian Knauer of Gourmet - so it should come as no surprise that we both delight in the sleek lines of the classic Airstream Trailer. Today while I was visiting the NYC MOMA - I think I literally squealed when I came around the corner and saw this:
Airstream Trailer at the MOMA
A 1960 Airstream trailer in impeccable condition. Can you believe that at one point it was possible to walk onto a lot and just buy one of these? They probably didn't cost very much either.
Airstream trailer at the MOMA
Airstream trailer at the MOMA
They are outrageously tiny inside, I have to admit. The modern version from Design Within Reach does a better job with the space, but for $49,000 I'm afraid it's a design that's actually out of most people's reach. Kind of a shame, considering the original was an affordable way for the non-wealthy to travel.

Read Jora's post about her love for the Airstream here.

Oh, and by the way - do you have one of these in your kitchen?
Ice Cream Scoop at the NYC MOMA
If so, congratulations - you own a museum piece. This was taken today at the MOMA!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ruth Reichl's Office

Ruth Reichl in her office at Gourmet Magazine
As part of the Gourmet Institute today, I had a session with Ruth Reichl where she took us on a private tour of the upstairs offices, including her personal office. I absolutely love these shelves behind her desk - in fact, I think I may try to copy this in my office at home. It looks so sleek and stylish, and I love the combination of lots of surface area and loads of storage, which is exactly what I need. I'm currently living with the same dressers I've had since junior high and some folding tables for desk space, since I've never found furniture I liked enough to bother moving up. I'm thinking built-ins are (finally) the answer!
Ruth Reichl's Office

Friday, October 17, 2008

Madison Square Park

I was in Madison Square Park today for a visit to the Shake Shack - and was utterly taken with the gothic beauty of this Victorian fountain. We don't see anything like this in San Diego.
Madison Square Park
Here's a closer look at one of the planters - such gorgeous landscape design.
Closer look at a planter at Madison Square Park
Among the trees in the park is also an art exhibit consisting of a series of tree houses - which was rather fascinating.
Madison Square Park
I also love the simple cafe tables and chairs they use for seating at the Shake Shack.

If you're interested, you can read more about the food here on Alice Q. Foodie.

p.s. - I didn't make it to Brooklyn today, but I'm holding out hope that I will later in the trip!

New York New York

Hayden Harnett design store
I arrived in New York yesterday for the Gourmet Institute , but that doesn't start until this afternoon. In the meantime, I'm studying the subway map to see if I can figure out a way to get to the Hayden Harnett Design Shop. Doesn't it look divine?
HH trophy bag.
I especially like this bag - if I could, I would... but you know the rest.

If I could also work in a stop here, I'd really be in heaven, but I don't think they're all that close together. I am going to try though.

Monday is for the MOMA and lunch at the Bar Room at the Modern, and on Tuesday I don't leave (by train) until 3, so I'm planning to go to SOHO and walk around a bit - also hoping for lunch at the Shake Shack. I'm also hoping to go to the Handmade Market on Sunday afternoon if I have time - and then of course there's the Gourmet Institute itself.

It should be a busy weekend! I won't be posting here as frequently for a few days for that very reason, but I'm thinking I'll have some good material as a result!

Hayden Harnett Design Shop
211 Franklin Street
Greenpoint, Brooklyn 11222

photos from the Hayden Harnett Website

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I love outdoor fireplaces...

dinner etc. 001
they're just so perfect for this time of year - when it gets cool in the evenings but you still want to be outside. I really dig this one at Urban Seed & Flower (on Adams in University Heights/Normal Heights.) I also love those blue flea market chairs.

Here's a more modern take from a British company on Trendir:

And something a little more traditional:
sunset outdoor fireplace

Have a closer look.

Right now we just have one of these little firehouses - which has served us well on the handful of occasions we've used it since we re-did our backyard last year.
In the backyard
If you're interested in adding an outdoor fireplace to your yard but can't or don't want to spend a fortune, you can find these and other similar options here.