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Category Archives: Apartment
I am certainly not the first to fall in love with ABC Carpet & Home. In fact, my own mother has been wandering the several floors of sumptuous rugs and carpets since she lived in New York in the 70s. I myself remember visiting during my first time in New York when I was 12. It was almost as important as my first Broadway show or brunch at the Plaza. I wandered around the giant showroom floor, fingering exotic pillows and getting caught up my mother’s excitement as she gasped and sighed over weighty embroidered fabrics and delicate furniture.
ABC has only improved since then under the direction of Paulette Cole, most notably through its graceful evolution into a conscious retailer and the addition of a restaurant that refines farm-to-table dining into an haute art. In fact, let’s start there, with the delicious part.
Dan Kluger and I at ABC Kitchen in March
If you are fortunate enough to get a reservation at ABC Kitchen (it’s only gotten harder since Obama held his $35,800-a-plate fundraiser there) you will be beguiled as soon as you walk in the door. The color scheme is a sort of shimmering, rustic white evoking a snowy wood. Once you’re seated, flip over the seasonal menu and observe the exhaustive listing of exactly where all your organic, local food comes from, and even where the furnishings, art and place settings come from too–all local artisans. (And then go buy it in the home store.)
I was lucky enough to visit twice. Once, with a large group of family and friends whose opinions were split on the merit of the chocolate bacon dessert, but unequivocally loved everything else. The second time I came in with a friend who is big on the food scene a couple days before Obama’s fundraiser in March. Head chef Dan Kluger, credited with bringing his expertise on local food to the Jean-George masthead, was nice enough to take a seat at our table after he was done in the kitchen for the night. I was starstruck. (It doesn’t take much.)
But you don’t have to settle for just a chef if you’re looking for famous faces. ABC Kitchen also caters to the rich and famous set, including supermodels, artists like Adele and, of course, President Obama. The food, (ah, yes, the food, of course) takes advantage of the nearby Greenmarket. Whatever food is left over you’ll see in compost bins outside the next morning.
Even if you can’t afford a meal at ABC Kitchen, you can set the bar a little lower and dine under the panoply of chandeliers at adjoining Pipa for tapas, or even just get coffee or a quick lunch at Au Bon Pain, the affordable organic franchised cafe nestled into the side and opening straight into the store.
When you’re done enjoying a light salad and sparkling water there, walk straight back into ABC Home. Give yourself at least an hour. The first floor is artfully arranged into vignettes of pretty yet quirky place settings, organic makeup and skin care, scented candles, lots and lots of Buddhas, more chandeliers, fanciful throw pillows, stuffed children’s toys and much, much more. (Wasp nests stuffed with purple crystals anyone? Sounds ridiculous, but somehow I want it.)
It even has a jewelry counter stocked with delicate jewelry fashioned from conflict-free, rough diamonds and reclaimed metals that fit in with the rest of the store aesthetic: out of the ordinary while still tasteful. Prices on this floor range from $15 for a tiny vial necklace to hundreds for pillows and thousands for the diamond jewelry and Asian art. Overall, ABC is very expensive, yes. But you can always find something to suit your budget.
I am personally the proud owner of two handcrafted ottomans, matching throw pillows, a necklace, a ring and fair trade, organic argan oil, all from ABC Home.
Once you head up to the to the upper levels, you’re in the serious business of furniture. People always seem to describe ABC Home along the lines of wandering into a well-traveled aunt’s home. I would say, think younger. How about a young, childless couple who tends to throw chic dinner parties at their huge rustic dining room table where they discuss current policy with great minds, before repairing to the living room over organic cocktails made with local bitters. Fine. Perhaps I am projecting my dream life onto ABC, but visit and tell me if you disagree. I didn’t think so.
And the best part? Every piece of furniture is labeled with its sustainable credentials like cruelty-free, organic, goodwood, local economy and many other feel-good designations.
Other things to know and love: The original carpet and rug store across the street is worth a visit. Or sign up for the email list for events at Deepak Homebase in the back above ABC Kitchen, which hosts conversations with notables like Arianna Huffington and Mark Ruffalo about current events and culture.
If you’re more into worldly than spiritual goods, then you can also make the trek up to ABC’s outlet in the Bronx for some deals (a car may be required). I have not been, but is reviewed nicely on Yelp, if you believe what people say there.
So, ABC. You have delicious food, home goods and even an event forum for sustainable and spiritual discussions. I have only one more request:
Do a hotel next?
A year ago exactly, I was fresh from a breakup involving a lot of yelling, and crashing at my best friend’s apartment in Murray Hill. I needed to find an apartment fast.
I wanted a place I could call all my own, something with charm–even if it was dilapidated charm. I wanted a place, as I told my friends, “Where I don’t have to deal with roommates, and I don’t have to move out until I get back from my honeymoon!”
Well, I was charmed as soon as the broker opened the little iron gate to the mini courtyard. Charmed as we walked up the staircase with the raw brick wall and framed black and white photos of Union Square and the building right after it was built in the twenties, with what looks like a Model T out front.
I was charmed when she showed me into this studio. It had a little non-working marble fireplace, a bathroom with turquoise tile, a kitchen that was small, yes, but decent with the addition of a butchers block. It camed furnished with bland but not ugly Ikea furniture. This was great, as I was completely sans furniture and the idea of going out and finding new stuff made me feel tired. The ceilings were high, like, Parisian-apartment high. I looked out the window into the boughs of a leafy tree and the quiet street below. Finally, it was $100 less per month than the one-bedroom apartment below, which made it just barely affordable.
“I’ll take this one,” I told the broker.
My Castle in the Sky
Obviously, as a furnished apartment, it’s really meant for people living her for only six months or a year. But I quickly set about making it my own. After a little move-in mishap involved quinoa flour, sesame seeds and agave nectar all over the courtyard, I went to work like the daughter of an interior designer I am.
I dismantled the crappy desk and shoved the parts in the back of the closet, opting for a real wood secretary desk. I stripped the bed of the mustard colored provided linens and replaced them with organic patterned ones. I bought two sustainably-made ottoman cubes in custom fabric from ABC Home for the living space, and matching pillows. I made my mom cart our antique ice box up to new york to serve as a well-appointed liquor cabinet. I hung my artwork, bought rugs, pots and pans and a pot and pan wall holder. I painted an accent wall pink and hung Tibetan prayer flags on it like festive bunting. I turned this apartment into my home.
I threw parties, threw the murphy bed up to do yoga, leaned out the window to drop my keys down to visitors, cooked food in the little kitchen that I brought back from the farmers market in Unions Square, and read the New York Times on Saturday curled up on the couch wrapped in the t-shirt blanket my mom made for me. Friends crashed on the couch, bed and floor. This apartment has heard me laugh and cuss and–just twice–cry hysterically. And it made me feel like a grownup, like it gave me space to stretch out become the person I wanted to be.
I was lucky enough to report on a feng shui story for work, and the consultant agreed to take a look at my apartment. She instructed me to move some things around. “Single women” were to get out of my relationship area, so I moved pictures of my grandmother and mother to the other side. I hung my watercolor prints of stylized Barbies in gowns to my “fame” and “career” area and hung mementos of things that represented success for my blog in the corner. In my “wealth” corner, I put up pictures of friends, mementos of travel and foreign money. And my spirituality corner got a big overhaul. I bought a pretty print of a couple on a tandem bike and constructed Love artwork out of flower images from a gardening magazine for my “relationship” corner.
So did it work? Well, I did travel to see a friend. And then got roofied. I’ve been dating a lot, but none of the boys have bowled me over. And even though I hung an all metal wind chime at my door to block bad energy, the bad energy just started coming up through the floor.
About five months ago the attractive couple below me moved out (probably forced out for loud yelling and loud lovemaking, since that apartment is right above the landlord) and a new girl moved in straight from California. I stopped by and introduced myself to her, gave her my cell phone and told her that if she ever need anything, not to hesitate to text. (Big mistake.) I even invited her out with me one night. My friend A and I helped her choose a dress, and then left her to get dressed. When she came up a few minutes later, she said she could hear her name when we were talking about her. That was alarming, but I didn’t think about it much.
Then her texts started.
“Girly, could you turn down the music?” OK, fine. It’s 10 PM on a Sunday and I understand my bass box was above her bedroom. I turned it off, and moved my computer speakers and bass to the opposite side of the apartment and at the top of the murphy bed.
“R u in heels … waaaaahhh. I understand you like to try on shoes, but can you not wear them around the apartment?”
Fine. I started trying on my shoes and then taking them back off and placing them by the door until I left.
“Seriously girl, trying to pre-game nap. Please. Not trying to be a pain in the ass, but I have to go to sleep when u do, I wake up when u come home and throw your heels on the ground, in the am at 745 smashing the murphy bed up and down.”
I bought a rug. And stopped playing, getting-ready-to-go-out music.
One morning I ran into her leaving her apartment. “Why were you up at 6:45?” she said. “I couldn’t sleep! I could hear you opening and closing your drawers.” I hurried on to work after half-apologizing. (Sorry, not sorry. I have the right to open and close my drawers and get up WHENEVER I WANT.)
One Saturday I came home around three in the afternoon and threw on some music. Not loudly, just at a level that’s normal. My phone pinged. I tensed up, my blood pressure swooshing into action.
“Napping please! Music bass waah!”
I turned it down.
Two friends came to visit. We stopped by the farmers market for food for dinner, and puttered around the apartment, taking showers and cooking up dinner.
My phone pinged. “Please just sit down!! Waaah! For 3hours there is thuud trop. Thud move furniture, I’m trying to sleep.”
I read this and decided to ignore it. Nobody tells my friends and I to sit down when we’re just going about our normal business. I mean, really, can you think of anything more innocuous than frying up bluefish and making a beet salad? Plus, does this girl ever not sleep? Is she depressed or something? It’s a good thing I didn’t tell Crazy A, because she told me later that had she known, she would found some heavy objects and then climbed on a chair to drop them from on high.
The next weekend, I came home in the afternoon and put on some yoga music for an hour session on the mat. My phone pinged.
“Could you please lower the music? You have to know a volume I can hear and wake up to by now. Please. Stop being so selfish.”
I ignored her. Here’s my view, and comment if you think I’m wrong, but if you are in the habit of taking midday naps on the weekends in New York City, you should buy ear plugs, period. If I can’t play music at a normal level at 4pm on a weekend, when can I play music? Can I just not play music at all? More frustrating, I would leave my apartment where I had been tiptoeing around, cringing if a mug fell on the floor, and arrive at a friend’s apartment where the three-foot-tall speakers were thumping out drum and bass music. No problem from the neighbors whatsoever. I was not being selfish. I was walking on eggshells, rearranging my life to suit her. And still, she continued to harass me.
She complained to my landlord, and my landlord started making noises about not renewing my lease in August. I had planned on staying, but once I started thinking about it, I wondered if this was right for me. I’m paying a lot for the privilege of living alone. (And actually not really living alone, as the girl below me made abundantly clear.) And this beautiful apartment feels indulgent for someone who is just 25. I don’t feel like I deserve it, to be honest.
This Is Just too Good
So I decided to see what was out there, and threw up something on Facebook, saying I was looking for a roommate. Less than 12 hours later, I was communicating with dear friend of my dear friend. Let’s call her E. She:
- Is located five blocks away, still within walking distance of work and my dear Union Square farmers market
- Is looking for a roommate for a lease starting in August, when my lease runs out
- Keeps a fastidious apartment, with minimal but nice furniture and–to put it bluntly–free of random ugly crap
- Is really super nice and accommodating
- Has a serious boyfriend (hence she’ll be out of the apartment a lot)
The apartment has:
- Laundry on the same floor
- An expansive finished roof
E is even letting me help her redecorate the living room to suit my taste–actually she proposed we redecorate together.
Oh, and it is 66% of my current rent. Hallelujah, let’s go shopping. (The only drawback? I know have to tell people I live in Murray Hill. I’ve officially joined the hoards of Young Professionals.)
It seemed too perfect. Like the universe was telling me, “It’s time to move on now.”
Will I Regret This?
My current little apartment isn’t super luxurious. I’ve developed a system where if the water pressure sputters while I’m showering, I jump out of the water and count to forty, until the freezing water has passed. It’s poorly insulated and freezing in the winter. It has a murphy bed, which is just never cool unless I’m throwing it up to make room for beer pong. I have to carry my bike up and down three flights of stairs. I can buzz people in and I can’t even talk to them, since the intercom broke. It has zero amenities, except maybe an unfinished roof with no view that I’m pretty sure I’m not actually allowed to go up on. But this apartment is mine. And I’m sad to leave it behind.
I’m worried about having a roommate again. What if I’ve developed quirks? I can’t walk around naked anymore, leave the bathroom door open or arrive home at 3 AM, five people in tow. (I mean, I only did that twice, but it’s nice to know I can.)
It will be nice to say hi to someone at the end of the day, and share a bottle of wine. To cook up dinner and serve half to someone else instead of storing all of it to get thrown out later. But I also like knowing that if there are dishes in the sink, it’s my own damn fault and I’ll get to them when I get to them.
I guess I kind of like the idea of moving again, though. It’s a chance to clean out all my stuff, move things around and look at my life from a different angle. And this feels like the responsible thing to do.
I guess I just have faith in my ability to be happy in almost any situation. After all, people’s base line happiness is almost always the same despite outside circumstances, right? That’s what psychology says.
Of course, there’s an adjustment period.
I guess I’ll just have to check back in a year from now and tell you how it’s worked out.
What do you think? Am I seriously downgrading or is this a smart move?
In fact, it had been a long weekend. A long week. A loooong month. I felt emotionally and physically … drained isn’t the right word. Because I didn’t feel empty. It was like my brain was a muddy puddle where all the silt has been kicked up, and my thoughts were swirling slowly around my brain. Ew.
I was thinking this as I lay in bed at two in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day, but I had missed 60% of it after a big night out. I decided I need a mind cleanse. So I dragged myself out of bed and formulated a plan for how I would feel better by the time I went to bed. Here’s what I did:
8 oz Organic Juice Drink
I know this is in the physical cleanse area, but it helps get you in the right frame of mind. My favorite place to get juice drinks is Liquiteria. After pulling on some yoga pants and a top in order to look somewhat productive, I walked the seven blocks south to 11th Street and 2nd Ave to get a bottle of “the killer x,” with apple, lemon, ginger and immunity booster.
42 Minutes Rooftop meditation
You could do this in the park, but I prefer my roof because it’s the closest thing I have to a backyard in that it’s quiet and private-ish. I can only imagine what Sheep’s Meadow looked and sounded like on a nice day like Sunday. Probably like a music festival.
I took up the ladder outside my apartment door to my humble little blacktop roof. I laid a big, fluffy towel out on the side that looks over the pretty gardens in the back (which, unfortunately I don’t have access to or else I would be down there), and laid on my back for a while, just looking at the blue sky above me. An unseen windchime tinged on someone’s fire escape, and birds chirped in the trees in the garden. In other words: bliss.
Then I assumed a prone position on my stomach much like Wile E. Coyote after he falls off a cliff and splats on the ground. I know you’re supposed to sit up, but that just wasn’t happening and I wanted to be gentle on myself.
I used MyMeditation Lite. This is a simple little app that will guide you through breathing exercises and then will ping you into the main meditation for three, 12 or 30 minutes. I set it to the longest setting of 12 minutes of breathing plus 30 minutes of meditation. I meditated casually. My thoughts wandered often. I would let them for a bit, and then gently shoo them away and empty my head again. When my phone chimed, I already felt a little better.
In a separate bowl mix:
1 Clean Apartment
Really, nothing refreshes like a neat and tidy apartment. I just can’t feel on top of my game when there’s crap scattered everywhere. So I did my dishes, stacked all my unread magazines and recycled the rest, swept the floor and hung up my clothing. I threw open a window to let fresh air in, and just for good measure turned on my ionizer.
Then I chose one space to reorganize–my jewelry box. It’s small and simple, but it’s such a nice feeling to see everything neatly lined up. You could do this with your denim drawer or desk drawer or bookshelf. Anything that makes you feel like you’ve tidied a corner of your life.
Something Simple for Dinner
Grab a simple vegetable, drizzle it in olive oil and shove it in the oven to roast. The act of cubing the vegetable, the simple seasonings and the fresh taste cleansed my palate of any vestiges of last night’s alcohol and set my mind at ease.
1-2 Pieces Edifying Piece of Writing
This could be almost anything: an issue of The Atlantic or The New Yorker, some non-fiction about new discoveries in psychology, modern buddhist writing, or even just a celebrated piece of literature from from the past few years. I chose Poser, by Claire Dederer, for my reading.
Saltwater has wonderful properties, or so I hear. Feng Shui consultants use it to cleanse themselves before doing an apartment energy cleanse, it’s recommended as a remedy for all sorts of maladies, and it just feels nice.
You can order delicious-smelling organic infused salts off of Etsy, but I still have salt left over from my trip to Iceland, so I liberally poured that into a warm bath and soaked, reading my book and drinking a cup of green tea.
1 Call to a Family Member
I owed my grandmother a call, so I rang her up and we discussed the nice, clean, happy things grandmothers and granddaughters discuss: my career, where I had gone out to dinner, the weather in New York versus Arizona, etc. There’s nothing like discussing what you’re making for dinner and singing a round of “You Are My Sunshine,” to feel happy and productive.
Combine and bake for at least 8 hours in:
A Nice Deep Sleep
Whew, that’s a lot of mind cleanse. By the time I was done with all these mind-health activities, it was time for bed. So I climbed into bed, feeling clarified and (almost) looking forward to Monday morning.
I wanted to paint myself an accent wall.
That’s just a designer-y way of saying that you’re too lazy to do the whole room so let’s just pick a wall and call it a day.
I have a little wall space in the far corner of my studio that was just calling out for a color. I had a Feng Shui consultant come visit for an hour about a month ago (I’ll post on that later) and she suggested a nice pink to “activate” my spirituality corner. If the Feng Shui business works, the pink color–along with a little Buddha, my Tibetan prayer flags and my Tibetan singing bowl–will bring more spirituality and mindfullness into my life. (Something I really need.)
There’s really no better place to go for eco-friendly painting supplies than Green Depot on the Lower East Side. They’ll mix up some zero-VOC paint for you in whatever color you need, provide you with a biodegradable drop cloth and sustainably made paint tray, paint brushes and a paint roller, all wrapped up into one convenient kit. It’s important to get zero-VOC paint, because that stuff will give you cancer, seriously. Not only on the day you paint it on, but for years after as it continues to off-gas into your home.
I’m an excellent wall painter, the by-product of having a interior designer mother who likes to move frequently. But painting a wall is actually really simple:
- Tape the corners and edges with paint tape
- Throw down a drop cloth. Tape it down to be safe.
- Put on some paint clothes, including a head wrap. (Don’t want to get paint in your hair!)
- Mix up your paint. Paint tends to separate in the can. I had just a quart, so I used a pair of chopsticks to do so.
- Use a paint brush to do the corners and edges.
- Use a roller dipped in paint poured into a paint tray to do the rest.
I was done in less than an hour. I touched it up a couple places after it dried, and had my furniture back in place a few hours later. It’s a great way to feel productive on a Sunday.
But it wasn’t until long after I was done that I realized that my apartment didn’t smell anything like paint. It smelled just as fresh as when I woke up that morning, and I didn’t even have the window open. Thank you no-VOC paint!
So what do you think, is it cute?
Every year I help out a family friend with his booth at the International Gift Fair. If you’ve never been, the NYIGF is a giant trade show in the Javitz Center filled with all manner of “gifts.” (Read: Junk you never knew you wanted.) It’s a lot of unnecessary and silly crap, with the occasional gem. Middle aged women who own gift shops in little tourist towns stalk their prey, looking for totally purposeless gifts with which to fill their New Jersey and Connecticut vanity stores.
Fortunately for my sanity, the booth I work is located in the handmade and global section, so there is a lot of fair trade and conscious items in there. I took a half hour to dart around and see what pretty things could be found.
Last year when I did this, I didn’t see much–just the typical beaded and carved items, drums, and accessories made out of soda can rings. But suddenly, this year there was an explosion of beautiful items I couldn’t wait to make mine. Here are my favorites, and where to find them in New York and online:
Oh, wait. First kick this track in to listen to while you peruse:
Mercado Global is a nonprofit that pairs with Guatemalan mothers to provide employment. Now, there are a lot of nonprofits that provide employment to South American women, but what makes this nonprofit stand out is that I want their stuff.
Our exclusive products combine exceptional Mayan craftsmanship with modern design.
Normally that would be a platitude, but their stuff really does look right at home in an Apartment Therapy post.
I actually recognized the pillow–I wanted to buy it for my apartment this summer when I was in ABC Carpet & Home, but it was a little bit out of my price range.
The Lydia earrings are gold plated and hammered and have hammered vermeil nuggets. You can find them on their website. The pillow is fabric and brocade, hand-woven on floor looms using traditional weaving techniques that have been passed on through generations. Find it at Pan American Phoenix at 857 Lexington Avenue on the UES, and it will be back up on the Mercado website at the end of March.
La Casa Guatemala
La Casa is a supplier right out of Guatemala that provides handmade, artisan goods. I fell in love with these ikat backpacks, which just beg to be slung over one shoulder for a day at the farmers market. I also love this briefcase, which would be handsome on a dapper gentleman or a fashion-forward lady.
These items are made from hides processed minimally by the artisans themselves. The hides frequently have scars and discolorations and occasionally branding marks, betraying their provenance of not huge farms and industrialized tanneries but village slaughterhouses in the region the artisans inhabit. No two packs or briefcases will ever be identical, and since no dyes are used on the hides–only oil–they will oxidize and darken with age. Yummy.
La Casa does not have an online shop, but you can find these backpacks and briefcase at:
Pan American Phoenix at 857 Lexington Avenue on the UES
Loopy Mango at 78 Grand Street in Soho
Native Leather, at 203 Bleecker Street in the East Village
The Bobo Kid
Peep these neon purses (“mochillas”), handmade couture skirts and colorful hand-loomed hammocks! This style of neon, handwoven purse has become quite popular, and The Bobo Kid offers them in a range of sizes, from a discreet size for a night out, to one that will hold everything you need for a day trip.
The skirts, made of cotton, linen, silk, lace and velvet, are handmade to order, so yes, you will pay accordingly. (“Price upon request”) I just love they way she matched it with a blue oxford in the picture above–simply perfect.
Now I’m just trying to decide of I can get a multicolor hammock from La Guajira region that is crafted over four months for my apartment, instead of an air mattress for guests. Thoughts?
Currently no NYC stores sell this merchandise, but if you truly love it, give Fernando a call at 305-281-1961 and tell him I sent you!
I’m sure you’ve seen ikat around this season. Just … avoid Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, OK? Instead go for the real thing, from Cambodia.
You couldn’t do any better than Push Pull Cambodia, which seeks to stimulate a renaissance of Cambodian Ikat. Their weaving center in Takeo Province employs approximately 46 artisans who specialize in different phases of Ikat. Each phase–tying, dyeing, spinning, and weaving–is done by hand, according to traditional Khmer methods, passed down verbally from generation to generation.
And their bags and pillows are just the right amount of preppy and cool. They aren’t currently sold in any NYC stores, but you can shop right online in the Push Pull store.
I often get pitches for green products, some of them good and some of them head-scratching. Why would I want to promote green lawn pest control? Um, I live in New York City. I wish I had a lawn that needed the services of a pest control company.
In any case, publicists take a risk when sending out eco-friendly items to be reviewed. I could hate their products, or love it. Most of the time, I’ve gotten on board and given an honest, yet largely positive review.
But this time, when I finished reading EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, by Debra Duneier, I was left simply scratching my head.
I was absolutely willing to not judge this book by the horrendously-designed cover (and inside pages too, woof), and instead eagerly dug in to see what this lady could offer me. Here is my honest account of what I found:
Pro: An integration of of environmental psychology, LEED design, and feng shui.
I’m totally on board with Ms. Duneier’s philosophy. I find the field of environmental psychology fascinating, as it’s offered up such gems as how much happier office workers are when surrounded by plants. LEED design, a system by which buildings get certified as environmentally friendly, is an impressive credential on her resume.
And feng shui? Well, I’m not sure how much I believe in it, but it can’t hurt to do a little rearranging of furniture, throwing in a water fountain and a plant or two. All pleasant things.
Con: A few too many WTF moments.
I don’t mean to offend anyone here, but I was totally with Duneier, until I wasn’t. First came her assertion that:
Others in this field hold that we as a species are suffering from a “disassociative syndrome.” While similar to post traumatic disorder and multiple personality disorder, this thinking is based on the belief that many, if not most, people are no longer able to respond appropriately to the natural world.
If by respond appropriately you mean, not picking up my shoe to smash a spider that has invaded my apartment. Well then, yes, you got me there. But I consider myself a healthy, balanced individual, thank you. I would be curious to see who her sources are on this, but sadly, she does not cite them.
She also goes into a description of meditation not in a practical sense–as a way to calm the mind–but describes a ribbon of light flowing through our guts and connecting us to the heavens.
Finally, I really wanted to skip over the whole “space clearing” chapter, where she describes bathing in salt water before walking through a space with incense in order to clear out bad energy. I’m sure her client was very comforted when she told him the fact that his ceiling came crashing down meant that the space was actively being cleared of bad energy. Does that mean it’s working?
Pro: Some fun an actionable concepts.
I was especially drawn to Duneier’s description of the feng shui concept of the “Red Bird,” which is what you see in front of you when you first wake up in the morning. It should symbolize what you want your future to look like.
Her illustrative story here was compelling, about a client who was having trouble in her love life. Well, no wonder! Her “Red Bird” was a lonely women waiting for a phone call. Once she replaced it with a painting of two lovers, her love life picked up. Oh, if everything were that simple!
Well, looking at my own wall opposite my bed, I realized my “Red Bird” was a large collection of liquor on top of the cabinet. My future = drunken party girl?
I went into action, storing the liquor bottles and leaning a romantic illustration of a couple with a pair of pet dogs meeting, him holding flowers behind his back. Hopefully, someday I too will have a dachshund and will make out with someone resembling Don Draper while wearing an overdone sundress.
Other helpful hints from Duneier include limiting sharp corners (“poison arrows”), uncluttering your space to let good energy flow, facing your desk toward to door to project authority, and bringing in a water feature to promote abundance. The book is full of them.
Con: Written clutter.
Duneier could have benefited from an editor for this book. While she obviously has a lot of valuable information to impart, it’s all bogged down in irrelevant personal stories, asides, random tidbits and unnecessary instruction. There are chapters on hotels and offices (is this for residents or business owners?), a story about how a crying jag during the BP oil spill, and other items that–while they aren’t useless–are a bit superfluous. Half the book assumes you live in New York City, the other half you live in the suburbs. Because of this, she never quite goes deep enough in any one topic to sate your curiosity, instead moving quickly on to the next one.
Pro: A good introduction to basic indoor health and green principles.
If you are new to the green scene, she does do a nice job of introducing the concept of choosing materials wisely to help the environment and promote health.
Debra Duneier sounds like a charming lady, sort of like your eccentric aunt that will serve you green tea and listen to all your problems. This book does a great job of advertising her talent. I actually would consider calling her to come over (she lives in NYC) and feng shui my apartment for me. She could rearrange my furniture and help me organize while I tell her about my life goals.
But the book itself I found not terrible useful or actionable. I would imagine someone moving into a new house or apartment could pick this up, give it a quick read-through, and if she were so moved get another book that dives more in depth into all the of the topic Duneier covers. Maybe a book on Feng Shui that actually tells you how to calculate your Chinese Divination, or a book on sustainable renovations.
If everything I’ve mentioned her is utterly foreign to you, sure, go grab the book. Otherwise, I would save your dollars and reading time for something else.
A badass party, or big celebration
That party was a banger.
I love that word. I’ve picked it up from a certain DJ friend and I’m going to use it from now on instead of “rager.” It can also describe a great song (like this one; I’m obsessed), but today I’m using it in the context of the going away party I threw for my very best friend in the world, D.
Remember D? She’s the one with the amazing lake house upstate. She’s moving to Paris for three years. Bien sur, I wanted to send her off in style. The resulting party was a melange of green principles and French style. And here are the ingredients:
The flagship Laduree store is on the Champs Elysee in Paris, but now New Yorkers of good taste are swooning over the new outpost on East 70th. It’s a smaller version of the original, but the pastel walls and classy white adornments are all the same. And of course, the macarons are still to die for. And it’s not just me. The New York Times says so.
Good things come to those who wait. I got in the line full of tourists, foodies, and pretentious Upper East Side girls (“Did you know that girls who wear giant bows in their hair actually exist outside of Gossip Girl?” I texted D) outside of Laduree that stretched down the sidewalk, thinking, “I can spare a half hour.” A half hour later I finally made it inside the door and found the line snaking back and forth, taking up every square foot of available space. But I was already invested, so there was no way I was going to leave. Another half hour later and $70 poorer, I left with a box of 24 macarons in flavors like rose, orange blossom and anise.
Everyone melted at the party when they tried them. And I had to snatch the box away from one greedy couple who kept trying to sneak another. The next morning, I practically hugged D when she reached up into the cabinet and brought out one last coffee-flavored macaron she had hidden. No, they aren’t organic. But you can’t win them all, can you?
Long story short: get the macarons. They’re worth it.
This worked out so ridiculously well, I think I’ll do it for every party I have, ever.
The local wine shop will deliver a case of wine, chilled, right up to your apartment. They even walked it up three flights of stairs! That is service.
Why champagne? Well, after that big Hungarian spill of the toxic, red byproduct of aluminum cans, I’m partial to glass and cork in lieu of beer cans.
For this we chose not an actual champagne (What am I, made of money?) but a sparkling French white wine, by Paul Bernard. For what it was—fake champagne not even made in the champenois method, it was delicious. And at $8 a pop, it was also a steal.
Reusable Red Cups
We set up a table for champagne pong, and instead of the red Solo cups I used reusable red cups. Everyone was so impressed by them. I only got enough for a game of six cup, but that was fine because they make the game a little more challenging and long—they don’t have the kind of give that regular cups do. You can buy your own from Amazon.
No Paper Towels Allowed
It wouldn’t be a party without at least one party foul. But when someone would start searching the kitchen for paper towels, Dor I would laugh and hand them a kitchen towel. I’ve got a couple sets of towels: my cute ones and my cheap ones. The latter can always be used for spills and washed over and over.
Save energy, make it more romantic … yup, dimmers are key.
Yay, I used the word again! Oh, I’m such a nerd. Anyway, I mixed hip hop, intense pop and dance, thumping remixes, classic rock and a few frat tunes into a six-hour-long playlist that continued until 2:30am (well, 3:30 if you take into account Daylight Savings), when my downstairs neighbor texted me, politely asking me to turn it down a notch.
It was an intimate crowd, and a perfect one. We had such an amazing time. Thank you to everyone for coming!
(By the way, Taylar on the left and Agatha on the right in the above picture both have their own blogs. Taylar’s is Scotch Pancakes and Agatha’s—which she shares with her sister—is called A Good Hostess Knows When to Use the F-Word.)
Now, I have to decide: my birthday is coming up. Should I throw another party? It just won’t be the same without my best friend here …
Just in case you need a refresher on the basics of living consciously: my latest “green” post over at personal finance site LearnVest.com:
Trends. They seduce us into buying a hot item, only to leave us a year later with an emptier wallet and a useless widget.
But there’s one trend we at LearnVest can get behind: conscious consumerism.
At its most basic level, buying consciously just means taking a couple of extra seconds to consider each purchase. It’s a way to buy healthier food, keep your home free of clutter and keep your budget intact…
Read the rest at LearnVest!
Yeah, yeah, everyone is on Gilt Groupe. You simply cannot be part of the fashionable elite without logging on exactly at noon and accomplishing the digital equivalent of running shrieking through a sample sale and tearing dresses out of the hands of other girls in your sprint to the register for amazing deals.
I call B.S. I did the Gilt Groupe thing with enthusiasm, but of the five items I bought from Gilt — that despite being discounted were still very expensive — I’ve collectively worn them, oh, six times. Talk about unsustainable! I got rid of two of them, returned another, and decided to at least practice some modicum of moderation with my budget: I unsubscribed and haven’t looked back.
Started by John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell and Patrón Spirits, JP Selects aims to help the fashionable live a more socially and ecologically responsible lifestyle, from fashion-forward clothing, to unique jewelry, luxe beauty products, artisan-produced foods, and premier home décor.
Here’s how it works:
Then, on the 16th, the first sale will launch with exclusive discounts from spiritual and pretty Nialaya Jewelry, followed a few days later by Stewart + Brown, one of my favorite sustainable clothing lines. (To see my other eco-friendly fashion pics, check out this slide show.)
The products will be sold at a discount for 72 hours, after which you can find them at retail prices and start anticipating the next luxuriously-eco sale. It’s a nice change from the buy-it-NOW mentality of Gilt that breeds such poor shopping choices. And each product is carefully vetted by both the board and the founder John Paul. (Thus the name, JP selects.)
I hope this website can live up to its own high standards – after all, luxury, style, and sustainability aren’t oft found together. But when they are, it’s a seductive combination.
Tomorrow through Sunday.
Vitrine, an online boutique that sells indie, handmade accessories, pops up in Soho. Their stuff is adorbs, and surprisingly affordable!
Why? Because handmade accessories support worthy artists.
77 Mercer St (between Broome and Spring Sts), Manhattan
Saturday, April 16th, 10am – 4pm
Unload your cell phones and broken laptops this weekend. The Ecology Center is holding its second to last spring electronic waste (“e-waste”) recycling event on Saturday to responsibly recycle unwanted or broken electronics from New York City residents.
They accept electronics from households and small businesses (less than 50 employees, please call ahead) as well as not-for-profits. A list of acceptable materials can be found here.
Why? Because you don’t want a small child in a developing country dismantling your old iPod.
Tekserve, 119 West 23rd Street (between 6th and 7th Ave), Manhattan
Saturday, April 16th, 10am to 1pm
You love the idea of brunch but couldn’t say how to make French toast. It’s time to rectify that by visiting The James Beard Foundation’s Biannual Cookbook Sale. More than a thousand new and used books will sell for $1 to $20.
Why? Because shopping at the farmers market requires a little sautéing know-how.
The James Beard House, 167 W. 12th St. (near Seventh Ave.), Manhattan
Saturday, April 16th, 12 to 11pm
Toast Bierkraft’s new backyard and garden space with an oyster shuck and cask fest. There will be 15 special cask beers, 14 draft lines, a selection of oysters on the half shell–and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Why? Because oysters are a deliciously sustainable seafood, and craft brew is the way to go.
Bierkraft, 191 Fifth Ave. (between Berkeley Pl. and Union St.), Brooklyn