beautiful house stuff

So I’m finally opening about two weeks worth of old e mail, and I come upon a daily candy post about a tea cozy that is really cute. So I go to the site and lo, I discover perhaps the most beautiful collection of ordinary objects that I have ever seen. All for sale. And at reasonable prices.

Appropriately called ancient industries, even their homepage (see above) is beautiful. The site is streamlined and perfectly designed, with an emphasis on the objects, rather than a bunch of flashy web trickery. And oh, the objects that can be yours with a click of the mouse.

First off, for all of my fellow mothers out there that cringe at the various baby bottle related products one has to keep handy, HOW GREAT IS THIS BOTTLE CLEANER? I am ordering one the minute I finish this post. Old school in the best way possible. And when you are using a beautiful functional object, the task of cleaning out those bottles (glass, I hope!) becomes far less odious.

click below for more:

Also, just the way they’ve written the words “bottle cleaner” and then the short and perfectly sweet description add to the pleasure of plunking down $7 for this thing.

And check out this detaill from the main shopping page. I ask you, what’s not to love about a site that has hot water bottles right next to the coolest cotton socks around? Nothing!

Best. Boots. Ever.

I know, I know. It’s pretty much March. Winter is over. The stores are filled with cotton sheaths and sandals, and people are starting to think about summer beach rentals. But I’m looking out my window at a snow covered tundra (20.9 inches fell in Central Park this week!) and I felt it would be doing the world a disservice if I did not give a shout out to my Steger Mukluks, which I have been sporting for 7 years now and are still going strong as the warmest, most perfect amazing snowboots I have ever seen.

Made in Minnesota in the Northern Cree Indian style, these lightweight moosehide boots come with thick felt insoles and lining that basically keep your feet from ever knowing that it’s cold outside. They come in a number of styles and colors, so even the picky NYC fashionista in us all can find something that works.

click below for more:

To be honest, I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t have a pair of these, but secretly I’m happy not to be wearing something that is totally ubiquitous. (Uggs, anyone?)

Although the end of the mukluk’s underground status may be near. I was wearing mine when I stopped by a freind’s apartment yesterday, and she has already ordered herself up a pair. She’s Canadian and knows a good snow boot when she sees one!

date night at rye

Rye is a truly welcome addition to the dining scene in Williamsburg. The food is good enough for grownups to love, while the atmosphere is cool enough to keep you from feeling stodgy. Just what the doctor ordered.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did not take this picture. I just lifted it from their website for the purpose of illustrating this post. When I showed up at the restaurant the other night, exhausted and slightly miffed at the tardiness of my overworked husband, it was all I could do to manage to act like a somewhat civilized human being, mush less take photos. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, and to say that we were desperate need of a date night is an understatement. I’d heard this place was good and figured we should try something new to shake it up again.

The concept of a romantic date night was ruined as soon as we saw  our old neighborhood buddy Vihn Nguyen, the chef of the dearly departed  Silent H (sob!) waving at us from across the room. But we joined him and another chef friend at their table and began an eating orgy that far exceeded my expectations for the evening.

I think we tasted about half of the menu. The beet salad and the artichoke stew were delicious and took spectacular advantage of the natural flavors of their main ingredients. The meatloaf sandwich was killer, and is beyond worth it’s weight in gold.

click below for the main course:

I was so full by the time my cassoulet arrived that I thought I’d barely touch it. Wrong. Scarfed that down too. It was just too good. The only problem came in the form of a cold hanger steak which, when we sent it back, came back warmed up, but overcooked as a result. Just lazy service. Not worth getting bent out of shape about, but it did put a splash of cold water on our otherwise flushed faces.

Whatever. It was all still so delicious. And so close to home. I’ll be back for sure. And next time I’ll take my own pictures, I promise.

cheap date

I am finally going through and getting rid of all of the piles in my office. And their name is legion, for they are many. One of the benefits of this massive undertaking is that I am actually taking a second look at all of the pages that I have ripped out of magazines for god knows what reason over the past few (or 7) years. And I am finding some pretty cool stuff. Which may not be brand new, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of sharing.

Like this play stove and washing machine made out of cardboard by the design collective Nume. Each can be yours for $38 here, should you be so inclined. The price cannot be beat, the design is cool and all of that blank white space really encourages your kids to get creative with the crayons.

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Plus the entire thing can be folded flat and recycled when all is said (and cooked and washed) and done. Which makes it as friendly to the earth as it is to the wallet.

Stay tuned for more goodies from the piles as I unearth them. At least now I feel like there was a point in saving all of that stuff… or am I just desperately trying to justify my packrat-ness?

The Good 100

So this came out last October, which makes this little blog entry pretty far behind the ball, but I only just had a chance to check it out (welcome to my life!) and I think it remains as relevant now as it was a couple of months ago.

Good magazine is all about people who are actively doing things to help make the world a better place in all sorts of disciplines… education, design, politics and food, to name a few) It’s goal is to create a community of like minded people all of whom, in their own ways, to save our planet from the certain disaster it is headed for if we just sit around and do nothing.

The Good 100 is their list of the 100 most important people and projects going on right now that we should all know about. If you go to the site, each icon (some are pictured above) corresponds to a particular item on the list. A simple click will tell you all about ilovemountains.org, which is helping to fight against mountaintop coal mining in Appalachia, or Emily Pilloton who designs impactful stuff like educational playgrounds in Uganda and North Carolina.

more below:

During this time of strange and unpredictable ups and downs, it can be easy to become complacent, or just to decide that keeping your head in the sand is the only way to go. Checking out a few of these projects can help us all to get our butts off of our chairs and start making a difference.

And that’s all good.

beautiful music

I have known Lara Meyerratken for years and years and she has never stopped making music. Sometimes for herself, sometimes in other bands (like Ben Lee and Luna, for example) she has been tinkling away on the keyboards and singing her heart out for as long as I’ve been aware of her existence. And now, finally, she has her own full length CD which I stumbled upon when reading her blog one night (when I should have been sleeping.) The limited edition hand screen printed version (you can order it electronically, but why would I do that when there’s actual artwork to be had?) arrived in my mailbox this weekend and it’s been on high rotation ever since.

I’m terrible at describing music and have no idea why I think I can start now, but here goes… My husband says she reminds him of Suzanne Vega, which I kind of get in that the subjects of the songs are all intimate and very real, but the harmonies and the arrangements, while blissfully simple, are more lush than the Suzanne Vega that I remember. I’m thinking this music is not unrelated to the Brian Wilson aspects of the Beach Boys, but with a distinctly female and modern sensibility that is most evident when you buckle down and really listen to the lyrics. It’s kind of sun-is-streaming-through-the-window-on-a-lazy-Sunday-afternoon kind of music.

And what could be better than that?

See below for links, etc:

To listen to some of Lara’s songs, go here.

To buy the CD, go here.

To read her blog, aptly titled “In Everyone, Diamonds”, go here.

iparanoid

My husband sent me this link a little while ago, partially, I think, as a joke– though he knew it would appeal to a certain crazy paranoia I have about how much video surveillance there is of everything. But is it really crazy? Evidently, in a modern urban environment, a person is on camera 85% of the time they are out in public. Which to me is outrageous no matter how you slice it.

I am clearly not alone in my distaste for this fact. Enter the folks of iSee, a site that has plotted where the video cameras are out there (well, at least in Manhattan) and will help fellow kindred spirits to plot the route of least surveillance. All you have to do is click on the start and end points of your voyage and they will highlight the least videoed way to get there.

more below:

This web-based application is brought to you by the good people at The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA), which in their own words, “was founded in 1998 as a technological research and development organization dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination. Our mission is to study the forces and structures which affect self-determination and to provide technologies which extend the autonomy of human activists.”

I love the fact that there are people like this in the universe. And I also love the fact that the route I’ve been taking quite a bit recently (highlighted above), from the subway over to SoulCycle’s tribeca studio, just happens to be the least videotaped one.

Phew.

good food at home!

My husband is the real chef in the family, with a gift for just picking up random ingredients from the store and then inventing some kind of delicious restaurant caliber meal off the top of his head. I’m not bad in the kitchen, but I do require step by step instructions, even if I do riff off of them every once in a while. Tonight, however, I managed to make a delicious meal (curried tilapia and collard greens) and I figured I’d share it with you all, not least of all because the recipe comes from a brilliant website called No Take Out, that is dedicated to promoting more home cooked, healthy, family style meals.

They’ve got lots of great recipes (a new one every day!) and a good percentage of them are vegetarian. The preparation is always simple and the results have never been less than delicious. Plus the most brilliant thing about them is that they give you step by step instructions to make the complete meal, from “walk in the door and put a kettle of water on to boil,” to “here you have a few minutes, go set the table and put the bread on.” Which is super helpful, as timing the various dishes is one of my weak spots when planning a meal. If you actually do what they say, you’ll end up with a perfectly timed, healthy flavorful meal. They even make wine and dessert suggestions.

Which is never a bad thing.

recipe below:

Here it is, from start to finish. Super cute, super easy, super delicious. You can even sign up for their mailing list and get the menu of the day sent right to your inbox!

Shopping List

  • 2 shallots
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 pint heavy, non ultra-pasteurized cream
  • 4 good-sized Tilapia fillets
  • Dry white wine (Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Pantry Items

  • Curry powder
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Unsalted butter
  • Tools

  • Chef’s knife
  • Large saucepan
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • Nonstick fry pan
  • Paring knife
  • Small saucepan
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Wooden spoons
  • Suggestions

  • Wine: Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc  (whatever you used to cook the fish…)
  • Dessert:  Yogurt topped with honey and walnuts
  • Game Plan:

  • When you walk in the door
  • Refrigerate the fish fillets
  • Get out Pantry Items
  • Get out Tools
  • Assemble the ingredients
  • Put a small pan or a kettle of water on to boil
  • Open the wine and refrigerate it
  • Prep
  • Peel and dice the shallots.
  • Rinse the collard greens.  Coarsely chop them.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut each into 8 equal pieces.
  • Peel and thinly slice the garlic.
  • Rinse and pat dry the chives.
  • Put the currants in a heat-proof bowl.
  • Start Cooking
  • Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and just cover with water.  Add 2 tsps. salt, stir and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes, partially covered, for 12 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, pour boiling water over the currants and let them plump for 15 minutes.
  • Set the table now.
  • Put 6 tbsps. oil in the small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring once in awhile until it turns pale gold, about 10 minutes.  Don’t let it get too brown.
  • Check the potatoes – they should be firm in the center but getting soft.  Add the collards, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes, checking once in awhile and stirring.
  • Check the garlic.
  • Now you’ve got a minute – pour yourself a glass of wine and check your email.
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in the nonstick fry pan over medium heat.
  • Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the fish fillets to the pan in one layer.
  • Pour 1/4 cup wine around them, season with salt and pepper and cover the fry pan.  Cook for about 7 minutes until the fillets are opaque.
  • If the garlic is golden – it probably is – remove it from the heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes.
  • Drain the currants and pat them dry.
  • When the fish is cooked, transfer it to a platter.
  • Add 1 cup cream and the currants to the pan.  Stir, and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer the cream for about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in ½ to 1 tsp. curry powder, and taste the cream.  Adjust the seasoning.
  • Check the potatoes and collards, they must be done by now.
  • Remove them from the heat and put in a bowl.  Pour the garlic and hot pepper oil over them, toss, season with salt and pepper, and take to the table.
  • Mince the chives.
  • Put a fillet on each of four plates.  Cover each fillet with sauce and sprinkle with chives.
  • Dinner is ready. Take the plates and wine to the table!
  • Wow that was fast, let’s eat!

    Don’t eat it!

    So I have now joined the ranks of not-enough-to-do-with-our-time parents who make their own play dough at home with their kids. But I have to admit, it was really fun and took no more than 15 minutes from the time I thought it might be a good idea to seeing those 4 balls of color on the counter. Plus I know what I put in there, which makes me less nervous when the inevitable fistfulls go hurdling towards those litle mouths!

    There are tons of recipes on line, but I picked this particular one because the blog entry started with the words “Finally I’ve found a playdough recipe that works!” I figured, why not just piggyback on her success, right?

    Recipe is below. And in the interest of full disclosure, the above photograph was shot not by me, but by our junior chef!

    Play Dough Recipe:

    1 cup white flour
    1/2 cup salt
    2 tablespoons cream of tartar (find it in the spice section)
    1 tablespoon oil
    1 cup water
    food coloring

    Mix first 4 ingredients in a pan. Add water and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a “clump”.  Remove from stove and knead for 5 minutes–add food coloring during kneading process. Play dough will keep for a long time stored in a covered plastic container or plastic sandwich bag.

    It comes from mommyfootprint.com, which I have yet to really explore, though it must have something going on– the play dough is fantastic!

    soulcycle chronicles

    Here is the piece in it’s entirety… we are going to build a frame for it as well, but I’m not patient enough to wait for that to be done before I start showing this thing to the world. It took days to put up, as each image is affixed individually to the supporting board, but it is sooo worth it. I am really happy with the way it turned out.

    What is it, you ask? I was commissioned by soulcycle, an indoor cycling studio (yep, spinning) to make a piece that celebrated the community of incredibly happy (and in-shape) people they have built up over the past three years. As they grow from a single sweaty room on the upper west side to a 5 studio empire, it is still the extended family vibe that takes center stage. So when you walk into the newest, biggest studio at 103 Warren Street in Tribeca, you are greeted by hundreds of smiling faces which is only the beginning of what will most likely be an incredibly positive, if exhausting, experience.

    more below…

    It was fun, hanging around and getting to know this world and then documenting it in my favorite format (the instant photo) I’ll be shooting more details in the next week or so, as I’ll be down there shooting a professional style photo of the piece in it’s entirety (not to diss the iphone shots, but…) For now, here’s a detail above and a view of the wall before we added the official signage.

    I also want to officially thank Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler (SC’s founders) for sponsoring the project, the almighty Amy Peck for hooking us up, and Josh Liberson, Leslie Unruh, Ed Messikian, Phil Danza, Jill Selsman and Sofia Rower, without whose very concrete assistance I would not have been able to pull this off.

    More photos to come!