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

A truly elegant wine carafe by Sagaform.

A beautiful wine carafe by Sagaform. Photo courtesy of canopy.com

I already have a carafe that is almost exactly like the example above. But this one has a beautiful oak ball as a stopper. And, in the photograph at least, the top looks like an orb floating magically over a miniature lake of red wine.

My carafe doesn’t have any of that, but it was a wedding gift, and I have used it regularly and loved it… until this one popped into my field of vision, tempting me with it’s organic addition.

But I will remain strong and walk away. One must remain faithful to one’s first love, if at all possible.

You, however, should go buy it right now. And then invite me over for a drink so I can live vicariously…

Kettle time

burnt kettle

The latest example of why sleep is really helpful, both spiritually and economically. If my brain would only remember that I turned the water on, this poor kettle might not have been burnt (for the umpteenth time…)

The time has come, as you can clearly see, for a new tea kettle. I don’t want to disclose exactly how many times I have almost burned the house down by forgetting all about the boiling water in the pot… only to be reminded by a sharp and pungent smell of burning metal. This past time, the entire bottom of the pot was glowing a dull red. Let’s just say that this particular pot has used up it’s nine lives.

So on to the next one!

I am, of course, shopping around and taking forever to decide which new model gets the place of honor on our stove top, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to these… Let me know what you think:

Yanagi Tea kettle, from Japan.

Yanagi Tea kettle, from Japan.

Yanagi tea kettle. It just sounds impressive. This is the one my oft mentioned friend Nancy covets, and since, when it comes to choosing stuff for the home, I’d happily follow her off of a cliff, I too am desperately in love with it. Yanagi is one of Japan’s most admired and prolific designers, so it’s got artisan cred, plus it’s made out of durable stainless steel which… well… does not stain.

The Kaico Kettle, also from Japan

The Kaico Kettle, also from Japan

One might think that all good kettles come from Japan, but that is not true. Only most of the really-beautiful-and-slightly-more-expensive-than-I-want-to-pay ones do. Remodelista (a pox on you for being such a treasure trove of lust-worthy objects) has also offered up this lovely kettle designed by Shoei Kogyo. Called the Kaico Kettle, it has a white enamel coating over it’s steel interior, creating a thermally efficient and easy to clean pot. Which is good, because it’s wooden handle means it’s not dishwasher safe (I don’t care as we are dishwasher-free here in Brooklyn, but that may matter to some of you people out there).

Also priceless is the below description of this kettle that I found (poetically translated into English) on the Japanese website Rakuten.com:

To mass consumption in the family in the summer barley, etc Kama in the capacity of a little may be unsatisfactory, but think minutes to consume at any given time to make the just the right size. Size also put at kitchen kettle is also not in the way, love the look is very nice. Using, enjoying the look in the eyes. It may be this comfortable communing daily design leads to attachment.

I mean, who can resist buying the Kaico after reading that testimonial?

The Staub La Thiere tea pot in black cast iron.

The Staub La Thiere tea pot in black cast iron.

But then I think… Hmmm… Should I go back to the white enamel style? Or should I get something made of sterner stuff so as not to worry (as much) about burning the pot again and again? This thought turns my gaze towards the Staub La Theiere cast iron pot, the sturdiness of which I’m sure would have pleased even Ma from Little House on the Prairie. It’s sold on Amazon (of course) but it looks like right now there’s a bit of a sale happening via Remodelista, so it might be worth checking there first if this is your model of choice.

The Dualit cordless electric kettle

The Dualit cordless electric kettle

Or do I just bail on the whole stove top concept and get all modern and European with this electric kettle by Dualit? It’s not bad looking, can hang out anywhere on your counter and evidently has no cord, so you don’t have to worry about trying to run the plug behind the sink and over the spice rack to reach the one outlet in the kitchen. This would constitute a major life change for me, and I admit I am not sure I’m up to it. But I am putting it out there, in case any of you are leaning in this direction.

So there you have it. A few tea kettles to consider. Now the big mystery is in figuring out just how long it’s going to take me to actually make a decision for myself…

Shoo fly

fly swatter

A lovely wooden fly swatter made by Germans, of course.

Hmmmm… one would think, judging from recent posts, that I am a woman at war with the entire insect world. This is not true, though I do harbor a potentially unreasonable disdain for ticks, mosquitoes and flies.

The war against ticks became less unreasonable once they introduced Lyme disease as a weapon. Mosquitoes are not quite so powerful in the illness inducing dept (though malaria and west nile virus must count for something) but their bites can be awful and the sneaky bastards are everywhere.

Flies, by comparison, don’t do all that much. Except hang out on dog poop and then walk all over the lovely potato salad you made for the picnic. Even so, I truly dislike them, and have always had a fly swatter on hand to shoo them either out of the way or into oblivion, depending on my mood and their transgression.

This summer, I have treated myself to a new, really nice fly swatter. Saw it over at Fellow Barber, where I am just now noticing it is on sale. Made by the esteemed German company Redecker, which makes all sorts of lovely wooden objects to help with the housekeeping. You should go get one of these, if you’re in the market for such a thing, that is.

Because if you’re going to spend the summer swatting, you may as well do it in style.


karen Kingston Clear Your Clutter

Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston lays it all out plain and simple.

Anybody who knows me or has followed this blog for awhile knows that I have a problem when it comes to accumulating stuff. I have “tried” all sorts of things, but I still find myself buried underneath the piles of books and kids art and records and photographs and clothes and glass bottles (for all that iced tea I’m always making?) and candles and papers and anything else you can imagine.

You name it, I probably have 6 of whatever it is, taking up space in our closet. Or, worse and yet more likely, on the dining room table.

About six months ago, I found the solution… Or actually a friend pressed it upon me… a miraculous book by Karen Kingston called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. And while I find trying to figure out Feng Shui next to impossible, this book is filled with all sorts of great suggestions for how to just get over yourself and clear out some space in your home and your life, damn it! The mystical energy flow stuff is just a bonus, should you choose to go there.

I actually cried when I read Chapter 5 which is called: How Clutter Affects You. Procrastination, depression, extra time cleaning, disorganization, exhaustion, spending a lot of unnecessary money… the list goes on. So many of her points rang true.

But six months later, our place looks pretty much the same as it did when I first got the book. Life gets in the way… you know how it is… and just about any time I cleared a tiny space, new clutter managed to seep in and take over.

Just recently, however, our daughter finally graduated from the bassinet/crib/toddler bed she’s had since she was born to a bonified big girl bed, with built in storage to boot! We had to clear out her room to make the transition, and her things are now all over the floors of just about every room in our place. Adding insult (even more kids books and hair ribbons and spangly jewelry) to injury (all of the stuff I already had piled up.)

I have officially hit the wall.

Yesterday, in a conversation with some of my “other mother” pals during our kids’ Streb class, the Karen Kingston book came up again. So I dusted if off, took a photo of it and decided to try again. But this time, I will listen to the wise advice of my fellow stressed out never-enough-time mother and plan to attack just one small space at a time. And finish the task before moving on to the next one. It worked so well with my kitchen cabinet

Sounds basic, and yet has been next to impossible to practice.

First step is just to put everything away, even if “away” isn’t the perfect ultimate place for the object in question. Once our place is neat and my daughter’s stuff has migrated back to it’s home in her bedroom, I can begin to make some strides.

Pray for me. I need all the help I can get.

Tiny steps, part 2

cleaner desk

Here it is, less than 24 hours later. A cleaner desk.

I have always been a firm believer in having a wedding for one main reason. It is a time when you stand up, in front of a bunch of people who mean something to you, and promise that you are going to work really hard to make this relationship work. And you enlist their help in ensuring that the promise becomes a reality. There is something about stating this type of business in public that makes it all the more vivid, and makes one all the more motivated to keep up one’s end of the bargain, so to speak.

Same thing seems to go for taking a photo of the messy-ass left side of my desk yesterday. Because if I hadn’t posted that, I never would have spent 45 minutes this morning, filing, discarding, sorting and arranging all of those papers. I even found a couple of flash drives that I forgot I owned.

In a perfect world, I might upgrade to some prettier folders, though I like the fact that my overflowing to-do file has the word LIMBO written on it in huge bold letters.

Mind you Tiny steps parts 1 and 1.5 were completed and posted on this blog about a year ago, but I am clearly a person who likes to take her time with things.

I am now going to post this, and then go happily off to the shredder with a pile of paper which I will reduce to tiny little strips (fun!)


I would like to say that I am person who is entirely motivated by an unselfish desire to transform the world into a better place, to improve the lives of others thus covering their faces with smiles, to give without even the slightest consideration of reward.

But that is not entirely true.

I will, I admit, walk a bit faster when there is a carrot tied to the end of the stick in front of me. At least I can say I am honest about that. And while there are certainly times when that carrot takes the form of a smile, there are other times when it looks more like a new pair of pants from Maria Cornejo.

So I am currently in the process of figuring out what the carrots are for my particular 2014 resolutions. Or goals, lets just say goals. It feels less intimidating, somehow.

wooden doorstop

It just feels better when you look down and see something beautiful keeping the door open. Trust me. Photo courtesy of Twine.

I am looking to take care of unfinished business, which in my language means clearing out the piles, for it is in the form of mountains of stuff that my unfinished business takes shape. Like when I recycle all of those junky plastic doorstops I keep around, I get to replace them with 2 of these nice ones (because I only ever need to prop open 2 doors anyway.)

Or when I organized the little shelf in our bathroom… (see before and after pictures below)

shelf organization

Before is on the left, a hodgepodge of bath related items, tossed into the shelves as though the enemy were coming and we had to escape quickly. On the right, just a quick moment to straighten and organize, the kid stuff is no longer overwhelming when condensed onto one shelf, and the entire top level is now devoted to lovely smelling things, which tend to look really nice and include the delicious big sur cabin spray. Oh and the little wikistick snake that has become part of the family.

This completed task justified the purchase of the otherworldly cabin spray by Juniper Ridge that makes me feel like I’ve stepped out of the shower onto a secluded forest trail in Big Sur. I’ll take the mountain in the middle of Brooklyn any day.

This style of motivation works for me, and at this point, I stand firmly in the by-any-means-necessary camp when it comes to clearing out my situation. There is no harm in rewarding oneself for a job well done.

Now you may have noticed that I have made no mention of the-catastrophe-that-was-once-my-office, because I’ve been putting it off.


But today is the first day of a bright new future. Today I begin tackling one corner of my desk, because I figure I’ll start with a clean work area, and then I can begin to face the music of the stacks of boxes, one by one. If there are any of you out there embarking on a similar project and you want to swap stories, or give me some tips, please oh please be in touch. I can use all the help (and company!) I can get.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow I will be able to show you a much more together version of this little area.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow I will be able to show you a much more together version of this little area.

7 menorahs that don’t suck, including one my husband made in preschool

kid handmade menorah

This is the menorah that we usually use. Over 35 years old (so it’s vintage!) made by my husband when he was around 4. If you can get your hands on one of these, you should use it for sure. Only horrible people with cold hearts don’t like them. Plus it’s probably free. This is Menorah #1.

Last night, when I was putting my daughter to bed, I dropped the bomb that Hanukkah starts next week. NEXT WEEK. In 8 days, to be exact. Her face almost exploded with excitement (presents! candles!) which served as a comforting counterpoint to my interior monologue which runs something like: “Oh my god only 8 days plus we’ve got a belated birthday party in our messy apt this weekend, my office isn’t put back together, we’ve gotten NOTHING for anyone yet, my in-laws are all living on the west coast which means advance gift buying/wrapping/shipping is a must, and my husband, who is the Jewish member of the family by the way, is away on business till this weekend and is, as such, minimally helpful… which some would call useless but I don’t like that label as he is the opposite of useless in so many respects.”

So here we go, trying to get it together on the fly again.

First things first: The equipment. We have a menorah (see photo above) though I have just realized that we are out of candles. I only like the plain, white or natural beeswax candles, which are, for some reason that I do not understand, very difficult to find. Multi colored, striped, sparkly? No prob. Plain? Good luck. Thank god for Amazon. I just ordered mine, but supply is low so you guys better get on it lest you be stuck with whatever they have at the Whole Foods check out.

And then the menorahs. If you don’t have one that your husband (or wife, or girlfriend, or uncle…) made as a kid, there are untold millions of models to choose from. As with anything, one tends to have to scroll through lots of ‘maybe-nots’ to find the ‘that-could-work’ ones. Which I did. Last night. For HOURS.

Here are 6 (in addition to the sentimental one above) that I thought I might choose should the need suddenly arise. Hopefully, if you are actually in need, this post will save you from painful hours of late night scrolling.

menorahokl1 For Menorah #2, One Kings Lane serves up the grown-up version of the one you made in preschool (just in case your mom is like mine and threw everything out the minute you moved out of the house.)


modular wood menorah from etsy

Next up, Few Bits on Etsy is making this modular wooden menorah out of sapele (a wood in the mahogany family) You can place the candles in any configuration (gives the kids something to do and the in-laws something to argue about) and each block is hand carved to order and as such, unique, which is always a plus in my book.

industrial menorah

Out of the woods and into the factory with this industrial menorah made from copper pipes. I think my husband, who is obsessed for some reason with making things out of pipes, is going to love this one.


If money were no object, I might go for this one, by Christoffle.

jewish musclassicmod

Option #6: The Classic Modern Menorah from The Jewish Museum.
Nuff said.


And finally, this Daniel Michali cork menorah is different but still feels true to the spirit of the holiday. Perfect for when you’ve just moved into your new loft apartment in Toronto and forgot to look in the basement for your preschool menorah when you were at your folks house last month.


Oh and while I have you on the horn, these double layered menorah gift tags are nice too.

Feel free to add any suggestions of other nice menorahs in the comments. We need all the help we can get.

The bright side, literally…

commune light fixture

When in doubt, go with the basics, but add a little twist. (There I go again with the magazine-style captions. Sorry…)

So my office is not the only room that needs a little work… Our bathroom ceiling is pretty cracked, too, with huge amount of paint falling down, a broken light fixture… the works. Too embarrassing even for me to take a photo of. But we’re taking advantage of this little fix-it moment to really eliminate all of the eye sores at once (not counting my excessive stuff, which is going to take a long long time to expunge.)

We’re going for a super simple new fixture in the bathroom and changing the yellow color to a heather grey. We chose a charcoal grey for the light, but I secretly have a hankering for this red version, so I put it up here instead. Maybe one of you will get the red version and I can come over to visit it.

I’ll be sure to do a whole before/after story once we have an after to speak of.

Still waiting…

office covered in plastic

Here it is, My new reality. Please let it not be forever, because it’s already been 10 days…

Here’s what my office looks like currently. I have been waiting most of the day for our landlord’s son to turn up to fix the gaping hole in my ceiling. I am writing this as a means to alleviate some of the extreme feelings of frustration that are surging over my psyche in waves.

Bright side? We’ve also had leak damage in the dining room, bathroom and master bedroom that is going to finally be addressed. I’ve moved all sorts of stuff (oh I have too many things, I know!) into plastic covered piles which means we will be able to paint much of our apt while everything is a mess.

But man am I tired of this chaotic style of living. It’s exhausting. My husband doesn’t want to come home and my daughter keeps worrying that the house will never go back to normal…

Please everyone out there in the world, say a prayer for us. We are going to need all the help we can get.

Monday, monday, or is less really more?

collyer brothers living room

I am not the Collyer Brothers. My office doesn’t look anywhere near as bad as this place looked. My problem is not insurmountable… right?

This past week, I have been forced to come to terms with a less-than-beautiful reality abut myself. I am a hoarder. There. I’ve said it. I’m sure my minimalist husband (if he ever even bothers to read these posts) will be laughing out loud at his desk, or shaking his head in disbelief at my admission. Maybe this will convince him to believe in God. Who knows? But here it is, in black and white.

Now, I am no Collyer Brother (see photo above for the extremes to which those Harlem based brothers took the fine art of hoarding) but I do have a problem. I realized this because it took me an entire week to clear out my office so that my landlord can come in and fix my ceiling (see last week’s post for details.) A whole week.

I have vinyl records that have not been touched for half a decade, magazine tear sheets from the 90′s (some of them were actually kind of good though– stay tuned for a future post featuring a few great things I forgot I’d noticed from back in the day) manuals for every piece of electronic equipment I have ever owned (plus the cords, attachments and accessories to go with them) and I could go on and on. In fact, I swore, back in January, that I was going to clear out the chaos. Clearly I haven’t gotten very far.

Someday, this (fill in the blank) might be useful, I say to myself. But I fear I may be wrong. In fact, I know I’m wrong, and now the fact that I’ve had to move so many of my piles of junk (did I say that?) into various other locations in my apt has forced me to see my situation clearly.

I am facing a challenge: I must not restore the office to it’s previous state of inglorious excess once the ceiling is repaired.

And so the battle begins with me looking on the internet for some kind of solace and inspiration to aid me in the struggle I am about to face.

FIrst off, evidence that I’m not so bad. A video documentary about the Collyer Brothers, who’s living room is pictured above. I am nowhere near this bad.

E. L. Doctorow, one of my favorite authors, wrote a beautiful sad poetic novel from the point of view of these two characters that is well worth reading. But if you don’t have time to read long form books, this NY Times review will do in a pinch.

Sometimes I find myself wishing that my place would just burn down, forcing me to start from scratch. Until I remember what happened to Q-Tip and how many records , recordings, digital files, equipment etc he lost.

There are countless online venues that claim they will help me. There is actually a website called: be more with less.

There’s also one called minimally minimal, which takes forever to load, but has nice stuff on it. Though maybe I like it because it’s all about getting more stuff, albeit minimally designed…

Brooklyn designer Jessi Arrington mitigates her love for acquiring clothes by only buying (and wearing) secondhand. I think she makes an exception for underwear.

But at the end of the day, I love homes that are all full of color and personality and look like my friend Lili’s place. Far from minimal, I know. Perhaps I’m a lost cause…