Urban gardening

One of my resolutions for 2013 is to step up my urban gardening game. I always dream about rooftop vegetable patches, but can never manage to keep anything green other than a tiny pot of chives in my cramped kitchen. This year though, I’m recommitting to it, and have some tricks up my sleeve. My thoughtful brother gave me this microgreen windowsill garden to spice up my salads, and this Mason jar wall planter looks like a great way to maximize the areas in my apartment with good light. If I can keep all those alive, I’m setting my sights on this chili-plant-in-a-can from Nudo Italia. Those should work for now, and in the meantime, I’ll just fantasize about someday having a real kitchen garden like this one.

{image from Gardenista}

The Art of Manliness

I stumbled upon The Art of Manliness blog today, which is penned by husband and wife team Brett and Kate McKay, who wrote a book by the same name. I love the post about classic bar tricks {get your friends to buy your drinks!}, how to shave like your grandpa,  and how to turn an old WWII field phone into a bluetooth handset {for real}.  The most ‘manly’ man I know is definitely my husband, but he wouldn’t be thrilled with me posting a photo of him to accompany this post, so here’s the 2nd best option: Scott Speedman from a 2008 issue of GQ.  You’re welcome, my friends!

Holiday decor

I’ve always lived in pretty tiny apartments with limited resources for Christmas decorating, and it usually makes me a little sad around this time that the most festive thing in my house is a DVD of Home Alone. That’s why I loved this idea from Remodelista for a simple, beautiful collage of greenery, photos, and Christmas cards. Easy, inexpensive, and so pretty!


What They’re Into…with Mary Kate McGrath

There’s just something about Mary Kate… #1, She’s a gorgeous blond with a killer job {Senior Editor at Real Simple}.  #2, She’s funny as hell.  #3, She has a little boy about Sammy’s age that could be his long lost brother {it’s kind of crazy!}.  I only wish she lived closer so we could get together more often.

Thanks so much for joining us for our “What They’re Into” series Mary Kate!  xx

What is the last thing you bought that you shouldn’t have?

Oh man, this one may end up in my “fashion mistakes” file: I just went on a much-needed, WAY overdue trip to Italy with my husband. I had a baby a year and a half ago and this was our first vacation without the little guy.  Maybe it was that sense of freedom that I felt from traveling like a real adult again (I owe that to the airport-martini and conspicuous lack of diaper paraphernalia) but I bought a skinny black suit…in velvet.  It’s totally over-the-top. In all fairness, it does look fabulous (if I do say so myself). Or at least it did in the fitting room in Florence. I would show a photo of it, but I still haven’t worn it. I blame the purchase on this super-cool Italian chick that I saw one night in a tight-fitting, rock star girlfriend type of getup. But the one thing that was lost in translation: I kinda hate velvet.  (Here is a photo of how I look wearing the suit…in my mind.)

What are your favorite places to shop, online and off?

I basically shop for a living, so you would think I would start with some fresh, original answer, but truth is: I am obsessed with Net-A-Porter.  I think Natalie’s team does such a fabulous job—both inspirational and informative about the crazy, mixed-up, leather leggings world that is fashion. Net-A-Porter “Live” is a page where you can see other people’s purchases in real time (it even tells you where they live). It’s addictive. Like watching a ticker of fabulousness. Someone in Oslo just bought this Malene Birger dress for $198! Maybe I should buy it too!

And their app? It’s brilliant: You can find me curled up in bed at night scanning the “what’s new” section on my iPhone. Maybe that’s why I can’t fall asleep…

For great vintage, since I can’t get to Furbish in Raleigh, North Carolina so I head to their insane website.  Jamie Mears has an exquisite eye and knows how to marry high and low end items in a fresh and poppy way. She has such a keen sense for finding buried vintage treasure on buying trips, and then turns around and sells it for a song. She’s amazing. Don’t tell my sister-in-law, but I’m picking up this tray for her next birthday. It’s only $24 but feels like the totally pricey, totally fabulous Scalamandre zebra print.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

Edwin Starr’s 25 Miles. Hands down. I listen to it running (when I run, that is), I crank it get my husband all fired up to go out on the town, but the absolute best is when I turn it on during my trip home from work. It puts me in the best mood and makes me hightail it home to my boy, Jackson. And yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that it was on the Adventures in Babysitting soundtrack. Hey, 1987, still looking good.

What is your favorite room in your home and why?

My bedroom. It’s entirely white and pretty bare compared to the rest of our place. It’s quiet; it’s where I go to digest my day. Plus, I make one hell of a cozy bed.

What is your favorite scent?

Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom. Or that sleepy, sweaty, salty scent Jackson gives off when we nuzzle after a good nap.

What inspires you?

Kindness—especially in New Yorkers. The way the city came together (again) recently after Hurricane Sandy was so touching. We were part of a human chain gang getting supplies onto a police truck after the storm, and I couldn’t help but crying looking around at all the different people who stopped to help.

And kids. I mean, they bring out the best in everyone. They only know love. It’s incredible. Love, and to throw their food on the floor.

What’s one luxury you can’t live without?

Good coffee. Let’s not talk about my annual spending on coffee. Can it be two luxuries so I don’t sound like a caffeine-junkie? Manicures, would be number two. I keep telling myself it’s not technically a luxury if it’s under $10….

Homemade gifts

Every year, I want to give all homemade gifts at Christmas, but procrastination gets the better of me and I wind up with a lot of overnight orders on Amazon. This year, I’ve been collecting ideas for homemade presents and I’m going to try a few of them out: meyer lemon-orange bitters, vanilla extract, pickled cherries, and I might revisit this citrus compote I made last year {I used blood oranges, cara caras, Valencia oranges, and tangerines – tart and delicious!}. What are some of your favorite homemade gifts to give? The best one I’ve ever received was a chilaquiles kit from our friend Angela, complete with fresh tortillas, Mexican hot chocolate, and homemade chilaquiles sauce – the perfect Christmas morning breakfast. Hopefully one year my kitchen will look like this at Christmastime!

{image from here}

Mouse Castle!

What are the holidays without amazing store windows?  You certainly don’t have to go to NYC for over-the-top, magical Christmas displays.  Our client Castle in The Air on Berkeley’s 4th Street does it RIGHT.  Check out the entire store and their ‘mouse castle’ here on Honestly WTF today, which includes over 30 handmade mice {nice way to recycle a vintage fur coat, right?} each dressed as characters and an unbelievably charming structure composed of vintage and found objects.  Created by resident artists John McRae and Ulla Milbrath, their over 300 hours of work certainly paid off!