Hurricane Sandy

Hi there!

It's been a couple of long, grey, rainy days since Hurricane Sandy swept through NYC and I'm fighting off a heavy bout of cabin fever. Let me say first how thankful I am that all of my friends and family made it through the storm safe and sound! I think it's safe to say that no one here in NYC has ever experienced the level of flooding and devastation we've seen brought on by this storm. Mass transit, bridges, tunnels, and even airports shut down Monday night as the storm closed in, effectively cutting Manhattan off from the rest of the world. Looking out onto the desolate streets leaves you with a very eerie feeling when you're used to being in a city as bustling and fluid (no pun intended) as this one. As the wind and rain picked up, the city prepared for the worst. And boy, did we get it. My hometown on the New Jersey shore took an especially bad hit. The destruction there is unlike anything we've ever seen, and new images and stories keep surfacing days later.

The whole experience was an important reminder that being prepared for an emergency goes hand in hand with being organized. Designating a cabinet or other space in your home for emergency and first aid essentials is never a bad idea. Know where your emergency stash is kept and keep it up to date with supplies as they expire or are used up. Here are some things you should always have handy in case of an emergency:

+ Batteries
+ Flashlight
+ Candles
+ Waterproof matches
+ Battery operated radio
+ First aid kit
+ Blankets
+ Fire extinguisher
+ Duct tape
+ Can opener
+ Non perishable foods

If you're sufficiently stocked up on the safety items, throw in a couple of the items below for good measure:

+ Board games
+ Deck of cards
+ Good bottle(s) of wine
+ Some friends to weather out the storm

I was extremely lucky that my uptown neighborhood escaped any major flooding or electrical issues. Others further downtown and in the surrounding areas were not so lucky. To help those affected by the storm, consider donating to the Red Cross. Every little bit helps!

Till next time, where ever you are, stay safe & dry!

It Runs in the Family

This past Friday, I headed home to the great state of New Jersey to see my cousin Allison get married! Allison & her husband Rob have known each other since high school- they even went to the prom together- but didn't start dating until a couple years ago. So when Rob popped the question in August 2011, our family couldn't have been happier for them!

If there's someone who knows a thing or two about organization, it's Allison. She far outweighs me in the OCD department, although I try to give her a run for her money. Neither of our mothers can understand how the two of us turned out like this. We like to joke that it must have been a gene that skipped a generation. Just to give you hint at how severe the situation is: Al uses color coded highlighters for her planner (alright, who doesn't?), vacuums herself out of rooms to avoid any carpet-footprints, and scrubs the grout in her bathroom with a Clorox-wipe-covered toothbrush. Organized? Yes. Obsessive? Absolutely. Crazy? You betcha.

I know you must be thinking this sounds like the foundation for the ultimate Bridezilla, but if there's one thing Allison's not, it's uptight. Which is probably why the entire day went off without a hitch- and was gorgeous to boot. Another testament to Allison's uncanny organization skills: she planned her entire wedding in a matter of weeks. Dress, venue, photographer, honeymoon, EVERYTHING. No doubt she checked them off her well managed list faster than you can say 'Alphabetical Order'. All she and Rob had left to do was kick their feet up and wait for the big day to arrive.

The ceremony was held at the Cathedral Basilica (that's Catholic for 'BIG church') of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ. You couldn't ask for a more magnificent setting for the ceremony. I mean, look at this place-

After the mass, we snapped a couple photos outside the church before heading back to The Madison Hotel in Morristown for the reception. Even Allison & Rob's beloved bulldog Newton made an appearance in his doggie tuxedo:

Some sass from bride & bridesmaids outside the reception hall:

Now, if you thought the church was beautiful, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Because everything about The Madison Hotel's Conservatory, where the party was held, was equally as stunning. My photos just won't do it justice, but I hope you can make out the high glass walls & ceiling, ornate chandeliers, and elegant hanging plants. Here's the bride & groom making their big entrance:

Everything about their big day & night was so special, it's definitely an occasion we'll all remember for a long time to come. Wishing Allison & Rob all the best on their new life together! xoxo

Williamsburg Flea DIY

Two Sundays ago, my roommate and I took a little field trip to a weekly event held at the East River Waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. An eclectic mix between flea market, antique sale, artisan market, and food truck tasting, the aptly named 'Smorgasbord' has something for everyone. The two of us hopped aboard the East River Ferry to check it out for ourselves. This wasn't my first time visiting the venue, but it was the first time I made a purchase. :)

For a while now, I've been in search of frames for four prints to hang above my bed. The prints are vintage Mademoiselle magazine covers that I cut out and saved from an old calendar. I was super excited when I saw the Condé Nast store selling a much more expensive version of the very same prints, and became determined to find the perfect frames. The project has been nagging at me for the last year while I searched for these perfect (read: perfectly inexpensive) frames. But what could be better than having four custom 'pieces of art' all for the price of one Barnes & Noble calendar? Nothing, I tell ya!

Almost as soon as we stepped off the ferry, one vendor's rustic mirrors, frames, and shelves caught my eye. And after literally a year of searching, I finally found four salvaged wood 11x14 frames that perfectly complement the vintage feel of the prints.  Recycled Relics uses all reclaimed materials to build beautiful home decorations. The frames I was lucky enough to scoop up are handcrafted from the salvaged wood of 1890's Northeast homes. Very cool! If you can't make it to their next Smorgasbord appearance, check out the other home accents available for sale on their Etsy page.

All it took to complete was some careful trimming to match the prints to the dimensions of the frames, and me hammering about 19 holes in the wall above my bed (which we will all pretend do not exist). I may be a perfectionist, but I am certainly not a carpenter. What do you think??
Winter, Spring, Summer
You can't even see all those other holes... right?
All four seasons :)
Here a couple more shots from our adventure across the river:
Leaving Manhattan on the NY Waterway
Who doesn't love a good Mason Jar?
Ordering up the Three Cheese Grilled Cheese (Aged Gruyere, Aged NY State Cheddar and Wisconsin Blue with Caramelized Granny Smith Apples on Blue Ribbon Bakery Pullman) from The Milk Truck for lunch - can we say, YUM?!
"Little Gardens". I LOVED these!
Some other treasures...
Great gift for your favorite Wine-o
Salvaged tin mirrors from Recycled Relics
More reclaimed wood framed prints by Recycled Relics

Cozy Places

Let's face it, for the vast majority of people living in New York City, home is a small apartment with limited closet and storage space. This 'cozy' lifestyle can leave you feeling suffocated when all your 'stuff' seems to be closing in around you. As hard as it can be, sometimes this means chucking the things that you don't use or need, and finding a (sensible) place for the ones you simply can't part with. For Type A-ers like myself, this is the fun part. I love scouring the junk drawer for, well, junk that can be thrown away; or devising a better way to stack the Tupperware so that it takes up less space in the cabinets. To you this sounds pathetic and sad; but to me, it is FUN. Tomato, To-mah-to. Anyway, here are a few tips for getting by in a space that's cozy.


Wrangling your wardrobe is a difficult undertaking. Given the size of my bedroom closet, I definitely find it necessary to rotate clothes between seasons. During the summer months, storing heavier items like jackets, sweaters, and jeans can free up lots of precious space. Space Bags are a great solution. Bulky items can be streamlined to fit under your bed, or possibly stacked on a higher shelf that's out of reach if you can spare the space. I find it best to keep sweaters, sweatshirts, and jeans folded and shelved to leave hanging room for lighter items like shirts, skirts, and dresses. This also helps save room to hang outerwear since some of us lack hall closets in our adorable, cozy, NYC apartments.
Finding space for shoes in a small closet can be tough. I used to love chucking those ugly shoe-boxes and displaying my lovely heels in nice rows on the floor of my closet, but it just isn't the most efficient use of the space. I recently discovered these great clear shoe-boxes. Perfect for stacking, and you can SEE every pair.


Bills. Junk mail. Take-out menus. More bills. Coupons. Magazines. Receipts. Did I mention bills?  One of my biggest pet peeves is piles and piles of useless paper! One of my favorite organizational purchases for my apartment has been a modest filing system to keep those piles of paper at bay. My personal file box has folders for incoming mail, receipts, health-related paperwork, financial documents, and one labeled 'keep' (for ticket stubs, cards, thank-yous, race bibs, and other loose sentimental items). My roommate and I also share an 'apartment' file box with folders for our lease/rent stubs, utility bills, and instruction manuals (for the TV, vacuum, triple high-speed blender that we never use, etc.). One day I'll have space for a real live filing cabinet like this one:

Sigh. Until that day comes, our file box system keeps limited tabletop and counter space free of paper-clutter!

Creative storage

Sometimes you just have to get creative. There are sneaky ways to maximize limited space by installing hooks and shelves in useful ways. Over the door hooks and towel racks are key for rooms without closets. I use over the door hooks for scarves, bags, and jackets that won't fit in the closet, and a row of hooks intended for keys to hang jewelry. A shelf in your bathroom can be useful and decorative for holding extra towels, soaps, and room freshener:

A bench in your entryway or bedroom can double as a storage space (this one from West Elm has storage inside).

One at a Time

One of the organization rules I really try to stick to is to only purchase and keep what I need. In a small space, this is especially important. Staying organized helps you to keep track of what you have, what you need, and what you don't. When you've worn something out, replace it; don't hang on to things you don't use (okay, maybe bend this rule for  some sentimental stuff...); and don't buy duplicate items!

Stick to these basics and you'll be on your way to conquering the clutter in your teeny, tiny, adorably cozy apartment.

A Well Made Bed

I may have been in the military in a past life. I say this because I'm sure you could bounce a quarter off my bed after it's been made. My oldest friends can attest that this mild obsession with a perfectly-made bed dates back pretty early into my childhood. As a kid, I never wanted anyone to sit on my bed after I had arranged all my pillows and stuffed animals juuuuuuuust so. Well, it's carried on into adult life, except now with pretty throw pillows and a nice fuzzy afghan.

There's something about making your bed in the morning that just makes the room seem that much cleaner. Maybe you've pulled out half of your closet in search of the right outfit or just haven't found the time to unpack your suitcase from last weekend's trip. I find if your bed is made, your space looks instantly pulled together. The bed is, after all, the focal point of the BEDroom. It should look good!
So, what makes a good looking bed? Here are the building blocks:

+ Mattress topper/foam padding- Depending on your mattress and preference, a topper can give you some extra support or a little more cushion.  There are several types to choose from as well. Memory Foam, Latex Foam, Down, Wool... Get the scoop on each kind here.

+ Sheets- Don't underestimate the luxury of a good pair of sheets! Bedding can get expensive (especially if you're lucky enough to be in a California King), but a good pair of sheets is worth the spend. Whether they're designer or department store brand, look for the highest thread count that's within your price range. The higher the thread count, the softer and smoother the sheets will be. Material can also make a big difference.  Egyptian cotton or silk sheets will leave you feeling pampered, while cotton-blend and t-shirt will keep you plenty cozy and warm. Feel like helping out the planet while you're at it? The organic trend has hit textiles- sheets made with organic cotton are available at most retailers these days too.

+ Pillows- One of the biggest factors for a comfortable night's sleep is a great pillow. Like mattress toppers, a firm or soft pillow is a matter of personal preference. And, like mattress toppers, pillows come in a variety of materials. Make sure you get one with the support you need to avoid waking up with that dreaded stiff neck. Although I only sleep with two pillows, my bed has a total of five: the two I sleep with, two just for show with decorative shams, and one body pillow (about the length of two regular size pillows put together). Having several layers of pillows gives your bed some fullness and depth.

+ Comforter/Duvet- I'm a big fan of the big, fluffy down comforter. If you are too, make sure you get a good sturdy duvet to go with it. A light one for spring/summer and a heavier fabric for the colder months. The duvet cover is a must- those little feathers poking out drive me crazy!

+ Throw pillows- A couple of nice throw pillows put the finishing touches on any bed. Choose ones that complement your comforter and color scheme. Although these can get a little pricey, I have to admit that Gracious Home has the best selection of decorative pillows I've been able to find. You can find plenty of others at a lower price point in any department or home goods store, but it never hurts to look! ;)

+ Linen spray- Top off your freshly made bed with a spritz of linen spray.  These come in lots of soothing scents, and my favorite one to use is a vanilla & lavender scented spray by Bath & Body Works. Unfortunately, B&BW discontinued their line a while back, but Crabtree & Evelyn has a great one too.
Here are a couple of beautiful rooms whose beds almost look too good to sleep in! Sweet dreams!!

Wine, Cheese, and Novogratz

I definitely know a party when I see one. Which is why I had to stop into CB2 on 59th and 3rd Avenue when I passed by last night on my way home from work. This particular party was for the launch of Home by Novogratz, a book on home design by Cortney and Robert Novogratz and the Novogratz Collection, their signature line of furniture and accessories. I was able to catch them both amid all the buzz (they have seven kids, you know) and chat for a few minutes while they signed my newly purchased copy of their book.  Most importantly though, I made it before the wine and hors d'ouevres ran out. ;)

Cortney and Robert are the duo behind NYC-based interior design firm, The Novogratz. For 20+ years, the couple has been designing spaces for celebrities and everyday families alike. They've had their own show on Bravo (9 by Design) and another currently on HGTV (Home by Novogratz). Now they've co-authored a book on how to bring their laid back, modern style to your next redesign project. The book itself is filled with 20 projects, each with a distinct style and a detailed breakdown of the budget (my favorite part). It's also got lots of great tips for redecorating and plenty of suggestions on how to use bold, bright colors. I'm really looking forward to pouring over this one with a nice latte on Saturday morning.

CB2, the little brother of Crate and Barrel, is a great place to pop into for some decorating inspiration. CB2 appeals to a younger, hipper crowd than C&B since their products are decidedly more urban and modern. The layout of the store itself is neat and organized, but with plenty of whimsical touches. Check out some of their furniture, home goods, textiles, and the Novogratz Collection, here.

I'm so glad I decided to walk home on one of the first rainy, cold nights of Fall. It was well worth the chill!