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This week I’ve been hit with a bunch of work interviews in the city. Which is great – as it means I’m steps closer to finding solid work – but also involves a wardrobe meltdown.

Firstly, the only summer clothes I have that are suitable for NYC are maternity clothes. UK, and even Australian, summer threads just can’t hack it in the living rice steamer that is July and August in this city.

And then my body shape has changed since having a baby – bras too big, waistbands too small… you get the unglamorous picture. So most of my smart pre-pregnancy clothes don’t quite fit right either.

I’m fine with the creative industry interview. You know, cool printed trousers and a T-shirt, but the corporate-ish ones get me every time, and I end up wearing a weird white shirt that I bought once with a vague idea that I had to up-smart myself in order to get a promotion (I didn’t), and my black fat skirt. I felt like a nun on her first day of service before the bulk habit order has come through.

Shudder. It goes against every fashion-loving instinct in my body. I mean, to nail an interview, you have to be happy with what you look like, right?

To do NYC summer well you need loose clothing, made of light material. Trust me, when you are waiting on the subway platform in the devil’s sauna of 34th Street, UK-grade cotton is going to feel like a goat-hair vest. This is probably the only time you’ll be glad you’ve bought man-made fabric – no sweat patches (it’s too busy trickling into your knickers).

Normally I’d suggest Atterley Road as a go-to but in this weather, I’d stay well away from anything that isn’t NYC-made (or at least designed here). Tory Burch or Kate Spade would be obvious choices but who exactly wears a dress and heels to go to work in New York City, apart from Carrie Bradshaw? Plus, dresses are for garden parties, not interviews.

Although it isn’t NYC-based, ASOS is a more affordable bet, given their newfound fans of Jessica Alba and Michelle Obama – both who have to turn out fancy when the temp soars. I’m a fan of the skirt and top (apart from the novice nun ensemble, of course), and a massive, massive fan of culottes.

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clothes from ASOS

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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:

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

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True, That.

Except I don’t have a team of people working for me, but okay…

Inspirational message from http://www.tangledupinblonde.com/ (although it helps if you have a nanny and someone to make your hair look nice while you check your messages).

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Our beautiful bebe is just about to turn one. And, with two sets of friends leaving our neighbourhood and me about to find a killer full-time job, it feels like her birthday party will mark the end of an era.

An era of sleepless nights, afternoon naps, first smiles, first cuddles (even better!), picnics in the park, free Tuesday visits to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and too many episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

So the party will have to be a momentous one. Which, of course, requires a fantastic party dress.

I’ve got quite into sewing since moving to New York. When I was pregnant, I spent the hottest July on record either waddling to the Red Hook Pool or sewing quilts for my nephew and niece, and a wall hanging for the bebe.

Then I made a dress for her first Christmas. Just like when I cook and browse a number of recipes for inspiration, when I sew I tend to use a number of blogs as inspiration and then make up my own pattern.

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For the Christmas dress, I used this bubble dress pattern from Prudent Baby for inspiration but ended up tracing around an existing top and just made the rest up. I don’t necessarily recommend this as I used up way too much fabric getting the shape right.

The fabric was Liberty Tana Lawn print and therefore probably more expensive than most sane people would spend to make a dress that would fit a doll.

It was gorgeous though – the blue and gold reminded me of a Victorian chocolate box, and it’s covered with what I imagined were partridges and pear trees (I think they are actually strawberries, but never mind). And the dress was made to be something of an heirloom.

Strawberry Thief C Tana Lawn

Since then I’ve also made a bonnet from a pattern by one of my favourite sewing blogs Made by Rae. I made it to go with a very sweet dress I bought from the excellent vintage baby clothes shop Lulu’s Then and Now on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. 

The bonnet and dress were for my friend’s wedding in the Hamptons last week, but the bonnet was so useful (and she looked so cute in it), she wore it all weekend.

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Oh, and the roman blind for the bedroom.

Anyway, all this is a very roundabout way of saying that my crafty fingers are starting to itch and I’ve spent all morning looking at fabrics and patterns for the bebe’s first birthday dress.

I haven’t quite found it but I did come across this collection of fabrics on Michael Miller Fabrics, which seemed quite serendipitous. (Let’s ignore what it says about the cliche of nesting mothers turning to craft in Park Slope!)

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Stay tuned to see what dress and fabric I choose…

The bebe is too small for the print on this birthday dress on Made by Rae, but what a gorgeous thing:

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I’ve called my husband ‘the H1B’ since I started. This was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that being labeled an H4 made me feel anonymous. Not very big of me but a genuine reflection of how awful the H4 can be.

Anyway, since I have a shiny new 01 visa, all is forgiven (not that it was ever the H1B’s fault – I’m just not very magnanimous), I should call him something else. It’s a toss up between Blue Eyes (he has very blue eyes), or the Rocket Scientist (he’s very clever).

I hate it when people say, it’s not rocket science about something, because I feel if you do anything well, it’s a challenge. Since marrying, I can now say (to myself at least), I know it’s not rocket science, because my husband studied aerospace engineering at one of Britain’s finest universities, and is a genius. And therefore so am I, by osmosis.

 

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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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