April 2015

Music to listen to when your kid’s piano teacher is staying for dinner

piano practice

My daughter, photographed by my husband, practicing the piano (which is actually a midi keyboard hooked up to my laptop but whatever…)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to present to you the first of what I hope will become a long series of playlists full of all sorts of wonderful music that we can all love. Some tracks will be old favorites, but hopefully some tunes will be completely unknown (or unbeknownst, in Spaceballs lingo) which is the whole point of listening to other people’s playlists, right? Look for these monthly, unless I suddenly get over ambitious and try to post them more often.

For this one, I thought about the music I played (and some songs I wish I’d played if I’d had a tiny bit more time to plan) when my daughter’s piano teacher stayed for dinner after her lesson this week. He plays the upright bass but also has a rock band and somehow feels to me like he went through a sort of post-punk-new-wave phase at some point, though I may be totally making that up.

Anyway, you just have to click on the little play triangle and enjoy (or maybe sign up for Spotify first, if you are not already on it.)

Oh and here’s a tracklist, so you can read along:

Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Watermelon Man – Herbie Hancock
The Here And After – Jun Miyake
The Ghetto – Donny Hathaway
Just Kissed My Baby – The Meters
Son Of A Preacher Man – Aretha Franklin
Coconut – Harry Nilsson
Sweet Jamaica – Lord Kitchener
Hidden Place – Bjork
Es-so – Tune Yards
Words Of Love – The Mamas & the Papas
Bye bye – Destroyer
Canis Lupus – Alexandre Desplat

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

Semo Nemo Meow skirt

On the one hand, my daughter has plenty of clothes to last her through the next six months or so (as long a she doesn’t have some kind of crazy growth spurt between now and next winter…) But on the other hand one can never have enough outfit changes for a kid who loves to both wear lovely dresses and roll around in the mud catching bugs and building secret hideouts.

Plus how am I supposed to resist the incredible cuteness of the Meow skirt by Semo Nemo? It’s the pet kitty that my poor daughter will never be able to have (we are all allergic…) Plus it spins out when you twirl around, which these days is a required trait in all skirts and dresses. And it’s not pink, which is something that I shouldn’t care about, but I do.

Win win win.

In my world utilitarian does not automatically mean ugly, damn it.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make a huge difference. Why not insert a little beauty into the things we use everyday?

fire extinguisher

If I had this fire extinguisher, I wouldn’t feel the need to hide it under the sink. This solves two issues: First off, moving the extinguisher to an exposed shelf somewhere means I will now have a bit more space under the sink and might be motivated to actually organize the chaos that reigns in that forlorn area. Second, one is always more motivated to use a piece of equipment that one finds attractive. (This also goes for file folders and garbage cans, by the way.)

nest smoke detector

I can’t believe it took so long to design a good looking smoke alarm. Especially since we are ALL required to have A WHOLE BUNCH of these babies in our homes. The Nest alarm even hooks up to your phone and sends you text messages when problems arise. I actually smile now when I notice my smoke detector in the kitchen. It’s a whole new world. They also make a nice thermostat. Just sayin…

door stop

I’ve written about this before, but this door wedge is worth mentioning again. Such a huge step up from the random wooden shim or brown plastic wedge we so often encounter. It’s like moving up to business class.

plus minus zero humidifier

Finally a humidifier that you can leave out even when you have company. Brilliantly designed by Plus Minus Zero. Thank you Japan, for this and so many other things…

enamel pail from ebay

If you upgrade your plastic hardware store bucket to a (preferably vintage) enamel pail like the one above (currently on eBay) you will suddenly find yourself transported back to a simpler time when people shared things and everyone had gardens and smiles for their neighbors and there weren’t huge luxury condos going up all around you and… but wait… I digress…

Monday, Monday– or more links to a bunch of blogs worth checking out

live love home at One Kings Lane

Who doesn’t want to go to this garden party? Just another dreamily aspirational image from One Kings Lane’s newly redesigned blog.

Sure it’s part of an e-commerce site, and sure my husband works there, but the new incarnation of Live Love Home (aka the One Kings Lane blog) is well worth bookmarking just for the inspiration and ideas (and recipes and storage tips and beautiful photography and cocktails…) If you then just happen to click over to the main site to buy something… well… that’s not my fault now, is it? The profile of designer Julia Leech is particularly enticing…

I love Molly Yeh, although I do not know her. I love her recipes. I love her photography. I love her kind of obsessive crazy incredibly endearing writing style. I love her craftiness, and I love that she calls her blog My Name Is Yeh. I could do with slightly larger type, but that’s just my tired eyes talking. And the smaller type is prettier, truth be told.

I always enjoy a visit to the Free People Blog for it’s fairy princess fashion, recipes (clearly I like to eat) and slightly hippie DIY’s like Mason jar herb gardens and dry shampoo.

My 2.1 million best friends and I love A Cup of Jo and visit it regularly for Joanna Goddard’s sweet, smart and thoughtful posts on everything from talking to your kids about death, to Mother’s Day gift guides to, yep, delicious recipes

When it comes to travel, I’ve lately found myself checking out Tory Burch’s Tory Daily and Conde Nast Traveler’s Tumblr for fantasy purposes. But I always check out Momfilter for more realistic ideas.

The Nova Naturals blog has lovely and seasonally appropriate kids crafting ideas that I actually want to do. (as opposed to making things out of paper bags that then have to lie around for weeks before you finally clear them away under cover of darkness.)

And last but most certainly not least, in order to ensure that I don’t fall too far down into the Old Navy/Crewcuts trap for kids clothes, there is the glorious Coohs and Ahhs to guide my path away from the mass produced and onto a road less traveled… and with nicer fabric.

Happy Earth Day! Five ways to keep the spirit going all season long…

hori hori garden tool

Photo courtesy of HandEye Supply.com

A great way to celebrate what the Earth has to offer is to plant a garden, right? And this very old school Japanese knife-digger-scraper thing (otherwise known as a Hori Hori) is kind of a one stop shop when it comes to digging, weeding, planting… you name it. It’s made of stainless steel, so it’ll last forever. And it just looks badass.
Stainless Steel Serrated Edge Hori Hori, $35 at HandEyeSuply.

compost bin food52

photo: James Ransom

The Earth is always hungry and loves nothing better than to snack on the fruits (and vegetables) of it’s own labor. So of course we all compost, right? It’s super easy to do in NYC, as there are spots at all of the Greenmarkets where you can just drop off your scraps. And now we can all graduate from keeping our compostables in a plastic bin under the sink (or worse yet, just out somewhere) to this sleek actually attractive counter-top compost bin. Phew.
Noaway countertop walnut compost bin, $150.

Photo: Brooke Williams

Photo: Brooke Williams

Unfortunately, time spent outside means time spent with ticks (at least in the Northeastern US, where I spend most of me time) But there are some great all-natural alternatives to the typical DEET-filled spray. Like rose geranium oil, for one.

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Who says you need a garden to garden? Check out Apartment Therapy’s brilliant post listing 10 ideas for how to grow on patios, balconies and even indoors!

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

These super cute tin container gardens are another way to plant in limited spaces.


Take your kids on a listening walk and discover all of the sounds of your neighborhood. Paul Showers’ lovely book (aptly titled The Listening Walk) gets you inspired.
The Listening Walk, $6.99 at Barnes & Noble.


And when you’re done with all of the above, check out Krrb’s list of links for even more ways to get involved in actively supporting our planet.

Yesterday, at some point…


Such good advice. Please let it sink in…

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day (or thereabouts). The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Monday, Monday– or more links about my own version of spring cleaning

Spring is finally here, and I brought it indoors in the form of a few branches of cherry blossoms. I feel a new sense of possibility after a long slog through the tundra that was this winter...

Spring is finally here, and I brought it indoors in the form of a few branches of cherry blossoms. I feel a new sense of possibility after a long slog through the tundra that was this winter…

And while we’re on the topic of this new sense of possibility, here are a few projects I’m thinking of undertaking with all of this extra energy the warmth and light is supplying… Anybody with me?

I am going to start making a scrapbook. Maybe I’ll even make a bunch of them, like Elsie from A Beautiful Mess

I am going to stop hating packing a lunch for my daughter. In fact, I am going to embrace it and not feel overwhelmed and like going to bed every time I have to figure out what to make. (This is highly unproductive, as she needs to eat pretty much every day) And I am going to achieve this goal, despite the fact that she is beginning to get sick of the dumplings I’ve been serving her 3 x a week this entire school year. But hey, I’m not alone. Food world superhero Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen also hates packing lunch. When I read her rant on Food52, I felt a bit better about myself.

Maybe buying this lunchbox will help.

I’m going to make these yarn hearts (thanks Momfilter!) with the kids to give as mother’s day gifts. I’m pretty sure neither my mom or mother-in-law read this blog so we should be all good…

I am going to make at least one new dish a week, and I’ll probably get the recipe from the New York Times Cooking site, because I’m addicted and also because they’ve finally gotten an iPhone app.

I am going to eat less sugar. I am not cutting it out entirely, but I’m going to keep the amounts as low as I can while still giving myself a treat every now and then. I wish I had more willpower and were able to cut it all out, but I don’t. So there.

I am going to get control over my e mail. Not sure which method I’ll choose, but this 21 day version looks good. Or maybe I’ll just erase all 5,000 unread messages and start from scratch.

Even the herbs have fairies

The first three books in the Herb Fairies series tell about about chickweed, violet and plantain.

The first three books in the Herb Fairies series tell about about chickweed, violet and plantain.

I have sworn up and down that I will not become one of those parents who forces my kids (or kid, as the case may be) to like all of the same things I like and to do all of the things I like to do. I will be respectful of her taste. I will not immediately poo pooh Katie Perry. I swear.

And yet, can I help it if I’d rather she listen to Prince? Or Bill Withers? Or even Queen?

But I digress.

My not-so-secret strategy for steering her in a more palatable direction is to expose her to all sorts of things I like, but without judgement. And then whatever she goes for, we pursue. Or, if I can find some version that has a bit of a princess vibe (what princess isn’t looking for Prince, in some form or another?) or some fairies attached, I’m good to go.

To wit, the genius of the Herb Fairies. They are a series of books (you order them online and print them out at home) that each tell the story of a bunch of kids, hanging around outdoors having adventures with a particular fairy who belongs to a specific healing herb. There are 13 books in all, plus recipes, activities, pages to color, etc, which means that by the end of the series, your kids (and you) will have a basic working knowledge of a wide assortment of healing herbs. I am a huge fan of natural remedies and alternative medicine, so nothing makes me happier than hearing my daughter ask for chickweed to help heal a scraped knee. Well… almost nothing…

From the same people who created the collaborative board game Wildcraft, comes this whole universe of plants and herbs designed especially for kids to explore and learn from while spending time outdoors and having fun with the whole family. But it’s only available for a short time each year, and now is the moment. Go to Herbfairies.com, download the free cookbook and learn more about the whole series. You can also access the books in electronic form… much easier for those of you with tablets, but less fun.

I know this sounds kind of like an infomercial, but I am still constantly thanking the friend who initially turned me on to these stories and I would be remiss if I didn’t try to pay it forward, so to speak.

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

Lisa Perry for schumacher

Here I am, living the dream… if only for a minute or two!

A few weeks ago, I was treated to a lovely lunch at designer Lisa Perry’s incredible penthouse apartment on the upper east side of Manhattan. It was a beautiful day (one of those deceptively warm moments between snowstorms) and the event was in celebration of her collaboration with the venerable fabric house F. Schumacher & Co.

No stranger to bold graphic prints, Lisa Perry’s sixties sensibility is a perfect match for some of Schumacher’s more audacious patterns. As soon as I saw that zebra dress, I spirited it away to a bedroom to try it on for kicks. It will be on the top of my list, the next time I need to make a big splash somewhere. A brilliant mix of vintage and modern, the pattern perfectly compliments the shape of the dress.

Plus that pink bedroom and the crazy white full length mirror take the whole situation to a completely new level.

For a look at both the collection and some more interior shots of that incredible apartment, check out this post on quintessence, who did a much better job of documenting the event than I did. I was too busy shopping…

(and if you’re interested, the entire capsule collection is available at Barney’s.)

Monday, Monday– or a bunch of links about a bunch of stuff

carole king

The great Carole King, who is of course a part of Soundcheck’s Most Influential Women In Music playlist that I am listening to right now.

Spring break is over and we are back to real life. I have a to-do list a mile long and have made almost no progress. Our bags sit, mostly unpacked, in the middle of the kitchen. So instead of unpacking, I give you some links to things I’ve been noticing on the web lately..

My husband forwarded this article on the horrors of sugar to me the other day. Took a while for me to open it and I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole topic, but I would be remiss if I didn’t pass on the info.

The folks at WNYC’s Soundcheck have put together an incredible 12 hour looping playlist of their favorite and most influential women in music. It’s called Women On The Verge and I’m happily listening to it right now. So far they haven’t missed.

I’ve always been a big fan of wallpaper, though I have trouble making the commitment. This comprehensive post on A Beautiful Mess has re-introduced me to the world of this decorative mainstay and started my eyes casting about the apartment searching for an appropriate wall to cover over. Hmmmmmmm….

Do you feel like in front of a movie after filling out all of those tax forms (that I’m sure you all handed in already, right?). How about learning something at the same time by checking out one of Domainehome’s list of 28 must-watch documentaries. It’s divided into category to make choosing one that much easier. And all of these films are available to be streamed even as I type this.

Thank you oh thank you Joanna Goddard for sharing this tip for how to gently teach your child not to interrupt. Although my daughter is a bit older than the kids in this post, I am going to try it with her TODAY!!

I admit to being semi-addicted to those articles/posts that feature an interesting person and a bunch of stuff that they love. But when the venue is the style blog I Want To Be Her and the subject is my favorite jeweler (and super close friend) Jill Platner and the five things she’s particularly into right now, I want to jump into the picture on the screen, listen to the music she recommended while wearing matching jumpsuits and drinking juice made with her Vitamix. As soon as you read the post, you will too.

Leave it to Flavorwire to put together a list of the weirdest vintage musical performances on Saturday Night Live. David Bowie in a skirt, Kate Bush in gold lamé, the obviously drunken Pogues … need I say more?