I stumbled upon the concept of The Giving Keys and was hooked. Caitlin Crosby fell in love with an old hotel room key and placed it on a chain around her neck. Many compliments later, she felt like she was onto something, but there was still a missing link. A chance encounter with a young, homeless couple in Los Angeles, and she knew what it was. The idea behind The Giving Keys, each with a word engraved on them, is to wear the necklace until you find someone who needs its message more than you do - and you give it to them and share that story on The Giving Keys website. But this is where the young, homeless couple comes in...The Giving Keys employs people looking to transition out of homelessness. I ordered mine today with the word fearless on it because we can easily let fear hold us back from living life and pursuing our dreams. And to be honest, I worked on a blog post for what seemed like a long time, only to discover it had vanished into thin air. At that point, I really wanted to order the key that says let go...
Go ahead and place this in the dream file...but it's pretty fantastic, right? With the focus on craftsmanship and materials, using the latest technology as your guide - you get a modern take on the classic teardrop camper. A Hütte Hut base model starts at $63,900...sigh.
I appreciate the simplicity of this wood and leather hook by Alice Tacheny.
Cute old man? Check. Cats? Check. Cute old man who wears socks with cats on them? Check. Check. Check. I stumbled upon this gem while getting my daily dose of Cool Hunting, and you can pretty much say my day was made. Like, made. You won't regret this 8 minutes and 16 seconds, I promise.
Thank you, Dustin Cohen.
The plan was to spend my fortieth birthday in New York City. However, my job as a visual manager for West Elm brought about an imperfectly timed floor set. We thought we'd just move the trip back a bit, but soon after, my dad was given six months to live and I spent part of every month being with him in Florida. As my forty-first birthday rolled around shortly after his passing, I knew we had to spend it in New York. So, I insisted on moving the floor set at work back a week so we could be there.
Since this was the first time Bob and were visiting the city together, I was anxious to drag him everywhere. We dropped our things off at our fantastic hotel, The High Line, and then set out in the rain. I took him to one of my faves, Doughnut Plant, for what I believe are the best in town. To help us get over our doughnut guilt, we stopped in Organic Avenue for some green juice. This is a great place for some healthy fuel amongst all the gluttony. At that point I couldn't contain myself anymore and had to take him to SoHo...and the loft on broome. A quick subway ride and we got off on Prince Street and had to immediately step inside Dean & Deluca - a food emporium that will never disappoint. As we rubbed shoulders with the throngs walking down Broadway, I'm always amazed to see everything that changes. We stared up at the row of windows along Broome Street, and I'm always taken back to the time when I was the one staring out those windows. I took him into the Gourmet Garage on the corner that was my little grocery, and into the OK Hardware store where the Asian family that owned it were always so kind to me. I walked him around to the back entrance of the French Culinary Institute where I attended school, so he could see the current batch of chefs-in-training standing outside smoking or taking a break. At this point, I was dying to see the Crosby Street Hotel and since it was my birthday - it was time for a cocktail. I'm such a fan of Kit Kemp, who designs all of the Firmdale hotels, and this one is worth a stop to see it. It's a luxury hotel and comes with the rate to match, so even if you're not staying for the night - you owe it yourself to see it in person. We sat at the bar and I had champagne and soaked it all in. I was hoping we could sneak into Balthazar for a quick bite, but as this place is still smokin' hot - it was packed - so we decided to keep walking around SoHo for the afternoon. That night we were eating at Buvette in the West Village, but decided to have dessert first and I took him to Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes.
The next morning started off with breakfast at City Bakery - a place I visit every time I'm in the city. They have great oatmeal and the pretzel croissants are SO good. Two other favorite places in this area are Fishs Eddy and ABC Carpet & Home. It was such a gorgeous day, which meant it was the perfect time to stroll through the Union Square Farmer's Market. We bought a shot of wheatgrass and parked ourselves on a bench to watch the world happen. We checked out a new fast casual concept called Dig Inn that focuses on healthy, locally sourced food. It was really tasty and had us on our way feeling recharged in no time. We hopped on the subway again and got off on Spring Street to explore NoLIta. There are neat places to eat and shop in this popular neighborhood, and one of the best is Cafe Habana. Strolling further down the Lower East Side, we made our way to The Butcher's Daughter, a healthy cafe with a take-out shop next door. This is a place I could eat at everyday. Another subway ride and we were in the financial district, where we strolled around and sat for a bit at the South Street Seaport. It was time for a nap in our room and a change of clothes before walking along the High Line to the Chelsea Market - a really neat indoor food emporium. We took a peek inside Mario Batali's beautiful Del Posto restaurant before walking over to the Meatpacking District, where we had a cocktail at The Standard Grill - the restaurant adjoining The Standard Hotel. We meandered back down through the West Village into SoHo and had a nightcap at the Soho Grand Hotel, where I can still vividly remember my mother saying, "There's Spike Lee!" after my graduation from culinary school. That night was full of memories for me as we walked past the restaurant where my dad and I had dinner when he first moved me to the city. I showed Bob the soup kiosk where my dad loved to walk over and get soup from whenever he came to visit me. It really seems like it just happened.
Our final day started with the discovery of a new place near our hotel - Tipsy Parson. This charming Chelsea restaurant has delicious food in an atmosphere that is full of great details. We will definitely be back here. Next, we had to see Haven's Kitchen - a cafe with events and cooking classes, that also happens to be next door to Canvas - a neat home store. We decided to hop on some Citi bikes and ride up to Central Park. This is something relatively new to the city since they've done lots of work creating specific bike lanes on the city's major streets. You can pick the bikes up at stations all over town. It's a fantastic way to see the city. It was an amazingly beautiful day so we spent the afternoon in the park before riding back down to our hotel and heading for the airport. I can't wait to go back...
places I recommend:
- Dig Inn
- Cafe Habana
- City Bakery
- The Standard Grill
- The Butcher's Daughter
- Chelsea Market
- Magnolia Bakery
- Fishs Eddy
- ABC Carpet & Home
- Haven's Kitchen
- Tipsy Parson
- Citi Bikes
- Crosby Street Hotel
- The High Line
- The High Line Hotel
- Canvas Home
- Union Square Farmer's Market
- Doughnut Plant
- Organic Avenue
- Dean & Deluca
I recently purchased this book (above) by Justina Blakeney after being inspired by a spread featuring her home in Rue magazine (below). Justina is a designer with a unique and colorful background that inspire her bohemian style. Her blog is called The Jungalow, and one thing that truly resonates with me about her style is her love of using plants to enhance your surroundings - inside and out. I have plants in absolutely every room in my home, and believe one hundred percent in their power to not only bring clean air to our toxic environments, but lift our spirits without us even realizing it.
One of my favorite things on her blog is her #facethefoliage movement (below). As someone who has identified the 'face' on the tree in our front yard, I love how this truly brings the human element to nature.
Limoncello is a delicious Italian digestif that is too often in the United States made with artificial coloring. I found one the other day at Whole Foods that is not. Google to see who carries it in your local area.
At the beginning of our New York City trip, we spent two days with Bob's aunt and uncle who live in Kingston, New York. They picked us up from La Guardia airport and we headed over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey and got off on Palisades Parkway, where we stopped at the Ross Dock Picnic Area along the Hudson River. It was an utterly gorgeous morning and we enjoyed looking back at the beautiful city while being in a completely calm and serene place.
Next, we were in for a treat after stopping at the production facility for Balthazar Bakery - which has a retail outpost. Balthazar Bakery (and restaurant) in SoHo is a special place for me, as it was just around the corner from the loft on Broome - and one of my very favorites. So, we made sure to load up with tons of pastries to take to Kingston. If you are nearby, you should definitely stop here. You can see into the production kitchen and watch them prepping croissants, or any of the other delicious things they make.
Once we made it to Kingston, we had to stop at the most important place. You see, Bob's aunt and uncle have a wholesale ice cream company called Jane's that services scoop shops, restaurants, and hotels throughout the Tri-State area. And since I'm a professional taste-tester, I knew they were in desperate need of my help. Killer Chocolate, Mint Chip, Chai Latte, Cappucino Kahlua Calypso...I've never had so much ice cream in one day, but it was totally worth it.
The next day they took us exploring around their part of the Hudson Valley. They have a friend who has a fantastic cheese and food shop called Cheese Louise. You'll want some of everything! Then we stopped in the charming town of Woodstock which, among other things, has a really great juice bar called Little Apple - which you'll need if you've spent your trip eating pastries, cheese, and ice cream. We had a late lunch at the Phoenicia Diner, in tiny Phoenicia, New York. This place has been around for a long time, but was lovingly restored by the current owner, and it's perfect. The food is diner staples (sometimes with a twist) made using the best ingredients sourced from the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. The decor is spot on, and the details fantastic. I had also heard about The Graham & Co. on Remodelista, and Bob's aunt and uncle knew exactly where it was. It's an old motel that's been revived into a rather hip getaway, with fun amenities and a clean (but totally charming) design. Even if you aren't staying there, it's fun to see it in person. We finished off a great day by having dinner at Elephant in downtown Kingston. It's a modern tapas bar serving really flavorful food - and they also serve Jane's ice cream for dessert!
places I recommend:
This is a must-see if you go to New York, provided the weather is nice. It rained the entire first day we were in NYC, but we waited for it to stop long enough for us to get up there and walk for a bit. It's pretty spectacular, really. A long abandoned elevated railway was turned into an urban oasis that's lush with trees, flowers and other native grasses; not to mention plenty of places to sit and relax - and the views are amazing. I didn't take a ton of photos, but you can check out my previous post on the High Line to see how awesome it is.
The previous time I was in New York City it rained cats and dogs, so I never made it over to the newly opened High Line. On my return trip I knew this was at the top of my list, so we scored a great flight+hotel deal on Expedia to stay at the just-opened The High Line Hotel - which is fittingly one block away in the Chelsea gallery district. The building dates back to the mid-1800s and was formerly the General Theological Seminary. Prior to the that it was Clement Clark Moore's apple orchard and cathedral - where he penned 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I love seeing unique hotels and staying at different ones each time I go to the city - but I'm seriously torn, because I really want to go back here. The rooms were large by New York City standards and there was so much character here. The hotel was brand new at the time of our visit, so there was a natural movement and feeling of excitement, but nothing overwhelming. When the weather's nice you can have a cocktail and eat outside in the front courtyard. I can't stop thinking about this place. Even more, the interiors were designed by one of my favorite teams, Roman and Williams. I'll be sharing more from my trip to New York City the rest of the week...
I spotted this armchair on Wisteria and went a little gaga. It's based on a mid-1900s design by two French designers. Let's not talk about my crazy chair addiction...but seriously, it's pretty cool, right?
I discovered artist Linda Colletta while perusing the art on One Kings Lane, and knew I needed to check out her website and learn more about her. She has really amazing abstract pieces - and most excitingly, she has a collection named after streets in my old neighborhood of lower Manhattan. So, I'm partial to the one called "Broome St.".
There's something about Swedish design - also referred to as Scandi design - that draws me in every time I see it. The clean lines and efficient use of space and materials is comforting to me. A perfect example is the String system designed in 1949 by Nils Strinning. It's timeless, and just gets better with age.
One of the most popular recipes I have made in recent memory is this fudge. I made it two times over the holidays because Bob's kids loved it, particularly his son Jack. Since Jack is coming to see us for his birthday this weekend, I'm pretty much betting on the fact that he'll beg for this. This fudge is creamy and delicious, and the buttermilk gives it a beautiful tanginess that's perfect for the toasted pecans.
*click the image for the link to the recipe
Since moving to Saint Louis, we have taken any opportunity to explore neighboring cities. We keep it to places that are within a 5 hour drive. Since last year was such a tough year, I'm just getting around to sharing some of our experiences. This was Father's Day weekend 2014. Bob was away from his kids - which is tough for any parent who lives apart from their children - and I was sad because my dad was in Florida struggling with the effects of the cancer, and with what day of the week it was - much less that it was Father's Day. We decided to take the 48 hours we had and try to be a little less sad. Chicago proved to be just the ticket. We had gorgeous weather, ate some of the best food we've had, and found inspiration at every turn.
As a visual manager for West Elm, I have to work overnights when we reveal a new season's floor set. It's a tough week of hard work and instantly switching your internal clock at the same time. At least I can channel my inner Audrey Hepburn when I try to nod off as the sun comes up.
We've been having a bit of fun learning more about craft cocktails. We recently purchased this book, along with the sphere ice cube molds, and the king cube molds. We already own a cocktail shaker, but I posted one that's popular now - and it's made by the same fellas who wrote the book. The book has some great cocktail recipes, and the ice cube molds are super easy (and fun!) to make - and they make such a difference by not watering down your drink as fast as regular ice cubes. I definitely recommend these as a great gift ideas.