Wednesday, December 2, 2009

'Tis the Season for Giving

So I can pretty much guarantee you that all of my posts from now until sometime in February will somehow involve Christmas specifically or the holiday season in general.
Today, I would like to address "Christmas skeptics." You know the ones. They dislike the overwhelming commercial nature of Christmas these days, the pressure of finding the perfect gift for someone and ultimately buying something the other won't necessarily want, the reception of weird and undesired gifts from weird (and possibly undesired) family members, the constant release of boring Christmas albums by artists capitalizing on the timelessness of holiday classics.
To these people I say: get a life. Put on a Bing Crosby record. Make a paper snowflake. Take this time as an excuse to do all of the things you know you should be doing all year.
Some ideas if you're stumped:

1. Bogged down with a surplus of toys? Do you love shopping in FAO Schwarz but your youngest cousin is 17? Don't worry, there are underprivileged children all over who would love to benefit from your generosity!

Toys for Tots - donate or volunteer to help deliver toys by e-mailing

Hope For New York Angel Tree - toys for kiddies who have a parent in prison.

2. Help fight hunger! Let's be honest, the holidays are pretty food-centric, so share the pie spirit with everyone.

Food Bank for New York City, The New York City Rescue Mission and The Coalition for the Homeless. Help feed New York's homeless this Christmas, and if you get carried away and help out all year, so be it.

God's Love, We Deliver - caters to HIV/AIDS patients in all of the boroughs except for Queens, for some reason.

Hope for New York (again) - Holiday Outreach Breakfast. Decorate, organize, cook, or serve!

3. Just a little bored? Check out these organizations and do pretty much any sort of volunteer work you like!

New York is beautiful and magical and sparkly this holiday season, but slightly less so if you're a kid worried Santa won't come, or cold rather than cozy, or hungry rather than stuffed with figgy pudding. Now stop being so grinchy and spread Christmas cheer!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Merry December!

So here we are, December. Thanksgiving is over (sad), and Christmas season has officially begun (happy!).
Speaking of turkeys and turkey accoutrements, I spent this past Thursday with a friend's family in southern Maine, and let me tell you, that state has not lost a STEP. As much as I think the whole town knows I do thoroughly enjoy New York City, that Maine place really has a hold on my heart, and I must confess that I had a difficult time returning on Friday evening.
More than any variety of activity or establishment available, I think it is really the aura of Maine that gets me. Maine has a wholesome, hearty, community-oriented spirit that you just don't find in metropolises with populations in the millions.
Example: the Turkey Trot. I will compare it with the New York Marathon, because this is my blog and why not.
The New York Marathon is hard. It is long. I believe it involves spending a fairly significant amount of time in the Bronx. Now, I've been to the Bronx twice and I know that there are some very lovely spots there, not only to live but also to look at animals (the Bronx Zoo), and flowers (the Botanical Garden). However, I also happen to know that Jenny "from the block" is from the Bronx. She paints it to be a pretty tough neighborhood and if she says so, it must be true.
The New York Marathon involves thousands of people from all over the world - in my hotel alone we hosted about 10 participants from as nearby as Connecticut and as far away as Italy.
The New York Marathon provides endless opportunities for commercial activity. Vendors of athletic gear, marathon merchandise and even brunch profited from the Marathon. The race is sponsored by a bank, and when I think of banks, I think of money. And elaborate robberies.
In contrast, the Turkey Trot, held annually in Bath, Maine, at 8:30 am Thanksgiving morning, is, well, easy. It is fun. Dogs are involved. Families run together. Everyone knows everyone. A man pushing a baby stroller beat me. That's fine. I saw someone running in jeans (not to brag or anything, but I beat him). I celebrated the race not with some fancy pantsy banquet, but with a bloody mary and pumpkin muffin in my friend's cousins' kitchen.
To complete my analogy, I would like to say that running the Turkey Trot, much like living in Maine, makes a girl feel good, relaxed, and ready to eat lots of pie. Running the New York Marathon, much like living in New York, is challenging, rewarding, crowded and sometimes takes place in the Bronx. I mean I guess it's more impressive to run the New York Marathon, but some days, you just want to trot like a little turkey.
To close, I'd like to share a picture of moose.

I love Maine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

You may notice from the title of this entry that I finally figured out how to title blog posts. You simply type your desired title into the "Title" box - who knew?!
But I digress. What I really want to discuss is how much I love living on the Upper East Side, and Christmas, and more than anything, these two entities together. In this vein, I would like to share with you some images of my favorite store windows in the 'hood.

As a child, this is what I imagined Christmas to be like. Walking past Hammacher Schlemmer now, a little bit of that childhood wonder sneaks back into my heart. Everything is bright and happy, anything is possible, and Santa is real.

Dear Santa, this year for Christmas, please bring me a miniature, to-scale, 3-D model of Manhattan. Love, Diana.

Don't you love these colors in the Louis Vuitton window display? It's like a magical jewel box discoteca fiesta!

For some reason or another, I loved catching these wreaths laying idle before finding their home on the windows at the Plaza. Something about being in the moment of transition between autumn and Christmas season, I suppose.

A Plaza window already decorated, with a golden chandelier shyly peeking through the curtains.

And of course, Bloomie's - probably the first department store to jump all over the commercialization of the season. Now, call me traditional. Call me old-fashioned. But I simply can't jump on board with the neon colors of the "Happy," "Merry," "Peace" and "Love" poster-art-billboards or what have you. It does not make me feel cozy and tingly like the Hammacher Schlemmer window or quietly warmed like the Plaza wreaths. It makes me feel like a gaudy 80's Christmas scene.

Want more? Don't worry. The season is young and so are we. More to come!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hi friends, and good morning, or middle of the night, depending on which way you view things. I can't sleep because I'm thinking about really important, heavy topics, such as my fall wardrobe. I've been debating for quite some time (2 weeks) whether or not I should purchase the following items:

1. a cape, such as the plaid ones offered by Ann Taylor Loft (read: affordable).
2. booties, preferably suede with a slightly folded-over top

3. navy blue puffer vest, and if it's from Ralph Lauren and has the crest-like label on the chest, so be it.

4. over-sized flannel shirt.

In debating these items, I have implemented the following fashion rule, which I would like to pass onto you. It is this: What Would A Boy Say? I am often confronted with items that I think I like, but then ultimately realize I only like because I see them mass-produced everywhere and the sheer volume of products has tricked me into believing they are worthwhile. In deciding whether an item is one of these or something that truly suits my style, the WWABS rule comes into play.

This rule has been effective since the fourth grade, when my older brother told me that my tres-chic neon lime nail polish made me look as though I had fungus, and I think it still works today.

Try it with me now. Think of a particularly hip and happening item you're considering purchasing. Now think of a boy. Not that hipster next to you on the subway, a real red-blooded American boy. A good way to deduce how appropriate this gent is would be to quickly estimate the ratio of knowledge of professional and/or college football to knowledge of mainstream and/or up and coming clothing designers.

Now think of said lad's reaction to said clothing item. For example, I might think that my plaid cape has a great silhouette and the colors are subtle and appropriate for fall. A Boy, however, will think that I got lost while tromping through the Scottish highlands with my clan searching for my grandmother and a big bad wolf stole my bagpipe. Taking this into consideration, I will not be purchasing a plaid cape.

The last two items on my list, however, I am mulling over via a different method. This is not What Would A Boy Say, but another, slightly less-popular game, What Would A Boy Do. I like this game because it generally results in my thieving of a boy's comfy oversize sweater and making it my own. I will, therefore, continue to seek out the perfect puffer vest and flannel shirt, minimizing the potential of a 12-year-old boy look-a-like contest by pairing them with feminine accessories and long blonde hair per usual.

Oh man, I can't even tell you how good it feels to get that off my chest. Now I can finally retire peacefully without the fear of fitful dreams of over-trendy fashion faux pas.
Good bye and good night lambs!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall is here, boys and girls, it is here. And with it, sub arctic temperatures (?). Anyway, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some shots of and observations on autumnal scenes around and about New York, New York, United States.

Last pumpkins standing.

Had I not been on my own and pretending to be a suave and blase New Yorker, I would have leapt about in these loose leaves all afternoon.

Tweedy Tweed Tweed.

And on every corner, a folding table (possibly used for rousing games of flip cup and beirut once the sun goes down - I know how we all love a dual-purpose piece of furniture) with scarves galore. "Real cashmere pashminas" for $10?!?!?!? WHAT A DEAL!

Monday, October 26, 2009

I apologize profusely for the delay in new posts to you, my two readers. I believe my tardiness stems from a prevailing sense of denial that I am actually one of those people, those people who blog. Also my camera charger was just returned to me this morning, which really helps. But the great thing about waiting to write is that now I have a whole slew of exciting news to throw at you at once!

First: NO BOXES! Creative way to store overflow of shoes to come.

Second, what a helpful little kitchen organizer! Elizabeth's momma came for a visit, saw the wreckage we called home and insisted upon finding something to bring some method to the mayhem. Thanks isn't enough for all she's done for our abode!

Also, three cheers for autumnal produce!

Third, how lovely is our bath mat? I think it complements our shower curtain quite nicely.

Just a quick shot of our former "bath mat." If you're thinking to yourself, "Wait, isn't that just a towel?" you're more or less correct. Whoever came up with the idea to market this item as a bath mat is a liar and a thief. But what it lacks in substance it makes up for in an ability to show dirt the moment you set a toe upon it. Good riddance, towel mat thing.

Elizabeth has really been laboring over her little retreat. The desk which is a true achievement (purchased from our neighborhood "Straight from the Crate," a fabulous little furniture store perfect for ladies on budgets), and came with the ottoman-like chair (featured below) which is presently hanging around in the common room, patiently awaiting a purpose. She also seems to have commandeered our lamp for her own purposes - we'll have words later.

just hangin.

The view from her window - the Interior Design Building which houses showrooms for a number of upscale design firms, always inspiring. Our other window provides a view of a brick wall. I didn't include a photo because I imagine you already know what a brick wall looks like. They look the same here as anywhere else.

I realize that I have not truly revealed my own oasis, which is really just a bed - but what a bed.

Here is a quick shot of my sheets - lovely no? I don't want to include a full shot of the bed until I get some appropriate throw pillow cases, because the ones I have now simply don't work at all. I just learned that despite my previously held opinion, pillow cases and pillows are actually sold separately at Pottery Barn. Due to this life-changing revelation, I will be purchasing some white cable knit pillow cases in the very near future, I just need to be sure of my measurements (and my bank account).

This wonderful news came with the purchase of this new basket for storing gym clothes, sweatshirts and other less aesthetically desirable items. There was only one in stock, and I must venture over to the West Side to find another, so it will probably be awhile. In my mind, traveling from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side is something like machete-ing through the Amazon or setting forth to find the New World with an inadequate crew who all have scurvy. So basically I don't go over there very often. But when/if I ever do buy a friend for this "Harrison" basket as they like to call it over at PB, I plan to place them side by side at the foot of my bed with long, flat pillows on top for possible seating.

My initial purpose for venturing to Pottery Barn, other than the fact that I unapologetically love it, was to inquire about replacing some wine glasses. You may recall that Elizabeth was in ownership of some divine monogrammed wine glasses. Well, I broke them. I think I was trying to do something useful at the time, but really who knows. Join me in wishing the glasses a peaceful and eternal rest.

So lots of new things, hooray! I anticipate that once my next paycheck arrives, lots more new things will suddenly appear in our apartment and I cannot wait to share those items with you!
Also I was recently corresponding with a friend who is native to New York but presently abroad, and she wrote me something along the lines of how sure she was that my apartment was already meticulously decorated. HA. HA. Don't tell her what a mess I truly am!

Monday, October 12, 2009

My beloved roommate lent me her camera while I await my charger like an idiot, so I was able to document some of our apartment. While I am so eager to share the mess that is my life with you, I will warn you that you should probably not view this photos too close to your bedtime. TERRIFYING.

Decorating with cardboard boxes: so chic right now.

I truly abhor this shelving unit, but it was free which has been a big pull for us lately. To all of my similarly "funemployed" brethren, I think you'll agree that to call the free section on Craiglist "life-changing" is hardly hyperbole. In addition to this...thing, we also got the glass vase that sits upon it (now housing one of our two tiaras) and some curtains, which would be completely egregious hung over a window but may be craftily turned into some item of clothing later.

Another hot shopping spot: the trash. We found a set of little square mirrors in with the recycling outside of our building. Other friends have had similar success retrieving discarded items: I recently walked about two blocks in the rain with a friend (you know who you are) carrying a small side table to her apartment. I'm hoping that if we can just lie in wait long enough, we can furnish our entire apartment for the cost of free ninety-nine! Great price.

It's true that we don't have much in the way of functional furniture. It's also true that we have monogrammed wine glasses, presently stored in our sink. So that's a positive.

A close-up of our lovely shower curtain! We walked into Crate & Barrel, armed with a gift certificate (muchos besos to Elizabeth's aunt & uncle for proving that Christmas DOES come twice a year!) and bopped around the shop until we finally stumbled upon the shower curtains and general bath accessories division. E. took one look at their selection and knew which one I wanted. Me too. I'm beyond thrilled.

So this is the present that we are currently stumbling through. The future is much cleaner. Here are some sources of inspiration we hope to weave into our decor:

We had already discussed painting our ceiling some variety of robin's egg blue (although Moses only knows how), so seeing this photograph on the charmant blog "House of Turquoise" was a wonderful reaffirmation that we were on the right path. The ceiling is so lovely! As is the blog, it is entirely dedicated to shades of turquoise. I love people with passions, no matter what.

I also fell for the work of Anne Harwell, available on Etsy, and am inspired to work on my own decor-oriented creations.

Of course, I forgot my paints at home. Who's surprised? Not to mention where I forgot my talent. Nevertheless, I have a tube of the most parfait pink that I am longing to put on paper. If you've met me once or twice, you may know that I have a passing interest in pink. Now I suddenly realized that I should have named my blog "House of Pink...and sometimes also Green." You know, you live and you learn.

We were hoping to dedicate this Saturday to painting our ceiling and eating pizza, but as ever, our wild and exciting lives have gotten in the way. Someday when we're less popular and in demand, we'll begin to actually make our brilliant ideas a reality. I can't wait, and I'm sure you are also on the edge of your very seat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good Afternoon, and welcome to my world, such as it is! As I like to say: come on in, the water is FINE.

Today is my very first day of blogging and my fifteenth day of living my real life in New York City. I created this blog as a record for all of my little creative endeavors, the first being the urgently necessary organization and decoration of my baby-sized but lovely Upper East Side apartment.

While the city is always-fab-never-drab, I'm beginning to feel that I am living in a post-apocalyptic world as my apartment remains in a state of utter disarray. Boxes and cutlery everywhere. Any tips on cleverly hiding household items in itty-bitty spaces would be much appreciated!

I am thrilled to report, however, that I finally have a big-girl bed, complete with sheets! Bloomingdale's is having a phenomenal linens sale. Run, don't walk, over there. Considering that I slept on an air-mattress for a week (it's a sensitive subject, I'd rather not discuss it any further), my bed feels like a cloud. The cheerful, perfectly preppy, Ralph Lauren paisley sheets and crisp white comforter don't exactly hurt either.

And more good news, we picked up a wonderful Marimekko shower curtain from Crate & Barrel yesterday - life sans shower curtain was becoming increasingly strange. We had been restricted to baths for the past week and my love affair with the long soak has officially come to an end. It's a great green Tamara print - a 1960s design inspired by Eastern European wood-block prints. LOVE.

I wanted to capture images of the mayhem (horror?) that surrounds me at every moment. However, I of course forgot my digital camera's charger in Saint Louis, so my words will have to suffice for the time being. In considering my precious palais, the phrases "explosion of kitchen goods," "rolls of wild paper towels on the loose," and "general wreckage and debris" immediately leap to mind.

But everyday, it gets better.