Archive for the ‘Setting Up A Home’ Category

The bebe had suspected chicken pox over the weekend so the Rocket Scientist and I couldn’t enjoy the glorious weather as much as we would have liked. By 4pm on Sunday – damned pox or no – we were bouncing off the walls and had to get outside.

We decided to walk to the river and ended up meandering past Caramello for ice cream and then a gem of a vintage furniture store, Fork + Pencil on Court and Warren in Cobble Hill.

We’re still looking for a great bar cart. These are having a bit of a renaissance since MadMan (the Fork + Pencil owner said that they are more in demand than anything else he sells) but I also think they make for a brilliant storage solution for urban apartment living. They’re compact and usually contain lots of clever drawers and secret places to stash bottles, glasses, table linen and cutlery.

It would be nice to have somewhere to store (and display) lovely glasses, without the risk of them being shoved in an over-crammed cupboard and breaking. In fact, we could treat ourselves to something other than Ikea glassware. Wouldn’t that be grown up?

Even Crate & Barrel are selling them. We were tempted by this one but RS didn’t think they were that well made and at, $999.00, it’s absurdly expensive. I could buy something vintage and Danish for that.

Love this one from London on eBay. There’s something so clever about them – like those old-school travel wardrobes that the rich would take on cruises.

Fork + Pencil had some lovely ones from the Forties. But that is all I’m saying about that because we don’t need any more competition in the bar cart/credenza/dresser-buying arena, thanks.

Chin chin!

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As a mum on maternity leave, and living in Park Slope, it would be fair to say that I’ve had plenty of time to explore local coffee shops in the last 11 months.

I can tell you that Cafe Dada is very stroller friendly but charges $5 for a cappuccino. Cousin Johns does the best muffins and cakes but the coffee is pretty standard (though cheap). Gorilla Coffee has cool maps on the wall but if your child is particularly squawky, you might feel a little self-conscious among the iPad-clutching hipsters.

My all-time favourite coffee shop in my area is Cafe Regular. The coffee (make mine a one-shot cortado with skimmed milk) is excellent, the ambiance is Parisian but it’s the pastries that are worth going back for. So buttery they are almost juicy, with a good fix of bitter chocolate and, since pain au chocolat practically became a food group for me while I was pregnant (and, er, still now), when we move from the neighbourhood I’ll miss them like I miss Icebergs pool in my old home of Bondi, Sydney.

And then I found out that Cafe Regular gets its pastries from Cafe Colson on 9th. So when we went to Red Hook Pool last weekend, and caught the bus from nearby, my inner glutton couldn’t resist peeking in.

The cafe is just a cover for a den of iniquity for greedy, pastry addicts like myself. The coffee was totally average but my rhubarb scone was exceptional.

However, the walls were also exciting. Decked with an exhibition by French photographer Franck Bohbot (excellent name) who has created a series called Jour de Fete of colourful and slightly haunting pictures of fairgrounds taken at a slow shutter speed so they look empty and the lights create tracing patterns:





He also has cool T-shirts, as you can see from this picture:

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What is it about the Beasties and wallpaper? The other day I blogged about Mike D from the Beastie Boys’ Brooklyn toile wallpaper. And then I found this New York City wallpaper from Scottish designers Timorous Beasties.

It’s got cops, robbers, runners around the reservoir at Central Park, a guy in a cowboy hat… eh? The Flatiron Building, and City Hall (I think). Compared to Flavor Paper’s Notorious B.I.G and other deep-toned cultural references, this toile is a reads a bit more like a guidebook written by people who aren’t actually from NYC.

But I’ll forgive the Glaswegian designers because in my opinion Timorous Beasties were the first people to really do contemporary wallpaper. In fact you could argue that they started the papery renaissance. Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons were putting kooky flock bugs on walls in the early 90s while the rest of us were lusting over boring cream (beige) sofas at Habitat.

And they started this whole ironic toile thing too, because on their home turf, they excel at the pasted slice of urban realism. Their Glasgow toile features heroin addicts in graveyards, young mums pushing prams by Glasgow towerblocks and a man urinating against a tree.


I probably won’t ever choose to spend 108 British pounds per sq meter on their beautiful screen-printed wallpaper, but a mug I could do:

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It’s awesome when you are a multi-platinum-selling hip hop star.

When Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys wanted to redecorate his Brooklyn brownstone he had a French toile designed especially for his walls (and cushions), with Brooklyn-inspired motifs.

Check out this design by Flavor Paper and Revolver NY, featuring Coney Island, Hasidic Jews and even the Notorious B.I.G.


For a guy who was famous for vandalising VWs, Diamond’s house, in Cobble Hill, is pretty classy. No graffiti on walls, or neon signs, no basement home cinema.

Funky and eclectic and original, yes. There’s nothing ostentatious about it.

It’s even pretty.

I think this might be the coolest modern makeover I’ve seen of a brownstone yet.

Check out these images from Intralld and the NYTimes:

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (2)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (6)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (10)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (11)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (12)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (15)

Celebrity Spotlight Mike Diamond of the Beastie Boys' Brooklyn Home (16)


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Any working mums out there? I’m always totally punctual of course… Love this from findababysitter.com:

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There are some things about America that I find mind-boggling.

Like ordering a cheese and ham toastie. Today, however, I’m shocked by the virtual monopoly TV and internet companies have on a zip code. In the UK, it’s a free-for-all, with all sorts of companies offering ever-cheaper services, but I’ve just found out that our particular zip code has an an EXCLUSIVE DEAL with Time Warner Cable.

I have not got the energy to go into the details of our problems with TWC but suffice to say that I think we pay way too much for an internet service that comes and goes, and 7billion TV channels, of which we watch about three. (And our rates keep mysteriously going up – to around $130 a month currently.) I’ve probably spent around 4 hours on the phone to them in the last month, with no budging of fees or offer to fix the internet problems.

All  I want is a super-fast internet service and public TV. And I don’t really want to pay more than about $50 a month for it. We only really watch CNN, and then stream everything else. We are on a Breaking Bad marathon on Netflix (you don’t even have to get off the sofa to start the new episode people!!). OK, we’d miss out on the new series of Mad Man on AMC but it’s not like you can’t get it elsewhere.

I asked for advice on Park Slope Parents and a very nice Brit bloke called Keith emailed me back, saying, “We now have internet only service through Cablevision (around $30 per month) and purchased a Roku box for streaming TV shows plus a Boxee (with a Mohu Leaf antenna) for basic live TV (however we rarely use it – streaming works just fine for us)”.

Yet I’ve just been told by Cablevision customer service that they don’t work in areas where TWC cover. What kind of free-market insanity is that??

So what can I do? I’m held in a deathgrip with ghastly TWC, like a Nelson’s Lock with some sweaty, hairy wrestler. And it stinks.

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We have a pretty fireplace in our front room (ie: the kitchen, dining and living room); blocked up, of course. At the moment, it has a pictures of the H1B’s mother in it and a few candles left over from Christmas.

It occurred to me the other day that this may look a little like a shrine.


So I googled for inspiration – there must be something we can do to dress it up a little, or even brighten it as it’s quite dark.

I’d also like to find the original of the picture as it’s really quite beautiful. Taken by a local reporter at a fair in Seaham, County Durham, for the Queens Jubliee in 1976. No one knew it existed until her sister-in-law stumbled across it while browsing on the web thirty years later. The boy in the picture is a very blonde, very sweet H1B, aged two. I’d like to have it professionally printed and framed.

So, back to the fireplace.

Here are some ideas that I like:

MSN real estate: Make a bookshelf (I’ve been wanting somewhere to put my coffee table-grade cookbooks). Although I can’t ever imagine it being that neat:

Create a surprising bookshelf (© Nick Cardillicchio )

RealSimple.com: Introduce some greenery (hmm, the H1B and I aren’t exactly the most green fingered):

Fireplace filled with red vases

I love this one from Apartment Therapy – I wonder if I could wallpaper it?:


On the same web page, the mirror is a good idea for bringing more of the gorgeous spring light into the house:


Any other suggestions?

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