Thursday, January 28, 2010

Here we go again.


For the nursery, which was painted before the baby was born, the choice was turquoise. "I figured the blue had enough green so it would work for either sex," Ms. Louie explained.


Another totally newsworthy home featured in the paper of record. HERE.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In search of a less bleak playground, the toddler pedaled faster.


HERE.

Dwell gets a much-deserved spanking.

(Thanks E for sending.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

This kitchen: Yes or No?



"I wanted a place where the dogs can get up on the furniture, where I can make a mess in the kitchen," she said. "My biggest thrill is making omelets for my friends. In New York I don't even know where my kitchen is." - Joan Rivers

HERE.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Deep freeze.





From the New York Times:

Serious cold, Justen Ladda said, is when the sponge in the kitchen sink feels like wood or the toothpaste freezes or the refrigerator turns itself off, as it did one particularly frigid day last winter. Not that Mr. Ladda, a 56-year-old sculptor who has lived heat-free in his Lower East Side loft for three decades, is bothered by such extremes. “Winter comes and goes,” he’ll tell you blithely, adjusting his black wool scarf and watch cap. (Along with fingerless gloves, long underwear and felt slippers, they are part of Mr. Ladda’s at-home uniform when the mercury dips.)

Mr. Ladda, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, decided long ago to live without central heating. Proper temperature control, you see, would require insulating his wooden ceiling, and ruining its fine acoustics. “I know this sounds really lame, but I listen to a lot of music and it just sounds better,” he said. Also, the rent on his unimproved live-work loft is only $300, well below many people’s winter utility bills.


More HERE.

Slide show HERE.

Could you? Would you?

Is it spring yet?




I can’t wait to garden. I realize I am a few months away, but still.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mmm. Twinkies.


Still shaking my head over the writer of Decorno, who apparently only knows three yummy recipes and is resolving to learn more this year. What’s astonishing is that the writer thinks it’s an achievement to follow a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignonne. And that one of the commenters succeeded in ruining one! Maybe they really do grow up on Twinkies over there. HERE.


Fuck. Now I am hungry for Twinkies. Thanks a lot, Chookie.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Busy.

Kinda busy last few days. Sorry for lack of quality posts.

News:

Totally in love with Jersey Shore. Why can't you guys start calling me DWOWW?

I tried making homemade tortillas this weekend and it was a bust. Too cake-y. Maybe I didn't put enough water in? I used flour, not corn, followed a well-reviewed recipe, let the dough rest and everything. I need to know the secret! Someone help, please.

I made homemade mac & cheese, THIS recipe. WOW. I also baked it at the end to crisp up the breadcrumbs. Bad idea. Just out of the pan is best. Next time I am going to put bacon in it. And a little garlic.


Talk to me. What's happening, my people?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Remember that kitchen? The owner speaks:


Did you read THIS post? Here is follow up from Mark, the owner. (Mark, thanks for leaving our comment on that post.)


Wow, thanks for all of the discussion about our house. I'd like to help some of you understand how we use this kitchen. I cook everyday in this kitchen. I am a foodie and am in the process of getting an Italian cookbook/memoir published. All of the recipes in the book were tested in this kitchen. When we have parties in the house, whether it is for a couple of friends or for a party of 200, I prepare all of the food. Trust me, this kitchen gets used a lot. True there is no "prep" area next to the stove, but the griddle surface on the stovetop is used as a prep surface and the marble elliptical slab behind it it a huge work surface. Some people step to their left or right to access their prep surface, mine is just directly me--just as close.
The sink is very functional, and unless you are taking a shower in it, the frames do not get wet. They have been there for 10 years and are still in perfect shape.

If you are interested in seeing the Sub-Zero fridge and the Bosch dishwasher, I invite you to check out my blog: www.mark-leslie.net and scroll down to the Oct 22, 2009 entry untitled "To refrigerate or not to refrigerate. There is a photo of that angle of the kitchen. The Sub-Zero is on the wall opposite the sink. Thanks to everyone for the comments both positive and otherwise. We love this kitchen. Oh, by the way, the kitchen is not huge, it is only 12' x 14' and is manageable and comfortable. HERE is a direct link to my blog entry with the fridge picture.

-Mark

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ina's beef bourguignon



I make resolutions with gusto. The reason I am able to keep so many of them is that they are often wildly selfish. (Request a month off of work! Go to Italy for weeks! Learn to make 12 delicious new recipes that can feed a crowd! Learn Italian! You see how this becomes so easy. Life-improving hedonistic things make the list. This is how I stack my deck in my favor.)

Tonight was dish one of twelve in my resolution to learn go-to recipes to feed a crowd. I went with Ina's beef bourguignon. I didn't follow the recipe perfectly because:

a) I didn't have the little frozen onions and I didn't really want to cook with frozen onions
b) I didn't have cognac
c) I didn't have a full pound of mushrooms. Poor planning on my part.

No matter. It turned out just fine. My people were happy, not to mention incredibly patient given that I started prepping and chopping and dicing at 6:30 and we only finished eating at 9:30. The recipe tasted a little too much of the cotes du rhone, so maybe next time I will cut back on that in favor of more beef broth.

I served it with garlic-rubbed crusty toasted bread. Holy god, sopping up all the broth-y business with the bread was delicious.

So there you go. I am going to call this a success.

Next up is mac & cheese with a white sauce, not the ghetto fabulous all-cheddar version I usually make. (Lisa - - I am trying to fancy this up for you. Get ready.) The closer I can get to the kind they make at Volunteer Park Cafe, the closer to heaven I will be.



Reggie, not helping.



Rickey, also not helping.



In other news, I bought THIS book and I am just in love with it. It's like cooking school in a book. It's fascinating. (Why didn't we get to read this in 7th-grade home ec? Oh yeah, because they were busy having us all sew ill-fitting Bermuda shorts since the sewing skill will be used exactly never again, and you will need to cook for the rest of your life... argh.) When the author details some assumptions in the beginning of the book, one of them is the use of unsalted butter. I feel so stupid. We always keep salted butter around because, duh, salt is delicious! But I bought unsalted for my cooking now that I am, you know, on this cooking rampage. UNSALTED. Heaven. How did I not know that this is how it's supposed to be?? I feel like a rube. Oh well. If you see someone standing at QFC eating unsalted butter straight from the dairy case, it's probably me. Just look the other way, please.

Monday, January 11, 2010


My friend emailed this deep analysis of decor mags, and it was too good to keep to myself:



"As much as I love HB, I will always think of Elle Decor as my first love. Reading ED is an erotic experience, at least when it's good. It's all about hitting that pleasure center. Whereas HB is about hitting the cozy button.

Elle Decor is dating, HB is marriage.

So what was Domino? Dry-humping in a bathroom stall at the club. (And I mean that as a compliment, of course.)"

This kitchen.




Let's discuss this kitchen from this month's House Beautiful. That kitchen is a grower. I liked it when I first saw it, but now I am just having dirty fantasies about it. Why isn't Lady Blogger Land afire with talk of this kitchen? It's pretty special. Everything looks very furniture-y. It's fussy, but a smart kind of fussy.

See more of the Richard Norris and Mark Leslie house HERE.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Le Creuset research and a 2010 resolution.


Someone made a comment about Staub in the last post and I checked it out. That research led me to heated debates on the plastic Le Creuset lid handle which shouldn't be put in an oven. I thought this was a deal-breaker until I learned that you can either cook with it (many people do, rules be damned) or you can unscrew it and replace it with a stainless steal handle which you can buy as an accessory on Amazon, at Sur Le Table, or wherever. So that settles it because I've fallen in love with the carribean blue Le Creuset.



That leads me to this:

Why am I buying a french oven? Well, it seems like such a workhorse for making great food. And one of my resolutions for this year is to learn to master 12 really delicious dishes. I need to expand my repertoire. I make about 3 yummy dishes, but I make nothing that is truly special.

So imagine my horror when I learned I would be making Christmas Eve dinner (and New Year's Eve dinner, for that matter) and I realized I didn't have a go-to dish to make for 8 hungry people. I ended up making spaghetti with meatballs (tasty homemade meatballs, but still... what is this? 1950?). Then for New Year's, having exhausted my one big-feed dish (pasta), we gave up on cooking altogether, plopped 8 crabs on the table, and went at it like animals.

It's clear that I need to master better dishes if I want to have any kind of respectable adult life.


So tell me: What should I learn to make? Post to comments, please. Or tell me what your go-to dishes are when you are cooking for two, or when you are cooking for 6.


Photo from epicurious.com. RIP Gourmet...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Le Creuset french oven.



Which size? I am usually cooking for 2 -3 people. Help, please.

My beloved Ina tells me to buy a large one, but, you know, she's probably cooking up for every last person in East Hampton. She's popular, no? My crowd is a tad smaller.


In other news, I loved what she told Town and Country recently:

"I'm not an adventurous eater. I'm always interested in making something great out of what you can find at the supermarket or the farm stand. I'm not interested in what octopus eyeballs taste like."


How do you find a great decorator?

Someone has posted this question to comments twice now. Let's help.

“It almost seems like I owe you — and I don’t.”


“The client usually begins by pointing out things that they like,” Mr. Mishaan said. “It almost seems like I owe you — and I don’t.”

Mr. Logozzo, furious, sat in stony silence, barely making eye contact.

Mr. Mishaan proceeded to give a detailed explanation for every change that had been made, and for why he had opted not to make others.


Oh. No. He. Didn't.


You must read THIS design drama.

The writer responds.

Thanks for your note. The goal of the Habitats column is to focus on the lives of interesting New Yorkers and to tell their stories through the places where they live. When it comes to choosing subjects, I try to spread the net as widely as possible, geographically, economically, professionally, etc.

Sometimes the point of the story will be the amazing d├ęcor, sometimes it will be the ingenuity with which a family has stretched a modest budget, but mainly, I'm simply looking for good stories that give a sense of the variety of lives lived in the city. I found the young couple in Woodlawn interesting for a number of reaons, one of which was that she had such specific decorating ideas and he was so patient in accommodating her tastes.

Best,
Connie Rosenblum


**Also, thanks to a reader posting a link to THIS in comments. We are not alone wondering why this made it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reader mail: sofa fabric


Hey Decorno,

I need some feedback to make sure I don't make a big decorating mistake.

Redoing my living room (a very, very, very belated farewell to RA Shabby Chic!) and the first purchase will be a sectional. Not the prettiest piece of furniture, but it is the most functional choice for our lifestyle. I have a black dog and a fawn dog - pugs - which you probably know means they live on the couch, shed like mad and leave curious little stains behind. I also have a husband who has been known to spill a thing or two. Me? Thanks, I am perfect.

I am stumbling on the best choice for fabric. I am looking for something that will look nice for the next 10 years?! After living with slipcovers, which offer about as much stain protection as a Q-tip to grape juice and, hence require constant washing, I need to move to upholstery. What is the best choice? Color-wise I want to go with solid off-white or a light stone/taupe. I know: bad choice but I get bored easily and want to have a light, neutral room so I can simply switch out bold/colorful pillows and accessories and deal with my fickleness inexpensively. For fabric, I am being told leather (I can see the scratches already and that cold fabric would almost make me cave and buy a Snuggie) or ultra-suede (which I like but it seems like it would tear easily and act as Velcro to pet hair). The sales people and decorator giving me this advice do not have pets of their own. I would love to hear firsthand what stands up the best.

I am on a budget and looking at Mitchell Gold and Room & Board and both seem to carry the basics.

Please help me off the ledge I have been standing on for 3 months.

Thanks,

Jill

Monday, January 4, 2010

Best fake color names we wish were real.



This comment came in response to a thread asking people to confess costly decorating mistakes. I am not sure anyone can beat John's color name, but let's try.

Winner gets a free pony. (Must pick up in Seattle.)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Nick Olsen for hire.


This just in:


As of today I am no longer in the employ of one Mr. Miles Redd, my boss and mentor and friend of 5+ years now. This was no easy decision, first of all because I adore Miles and owe him, uh, everything ... and there's that unfortunate Great Recession/record unemployment situation. But I'd be a traitor to my ME generation if I didn't feel entitled to leave a perfectly stable job and pursue true BLISS. Whatever that is. But I gotta be me!

So I'm officially hanging out my own shingle. Open for business. In 2010 I resolve to update this blog on the regular and get back to what brought me here in the first place -- high style decorating for folks who don't have a Mugatu-client-size budget.


You can read more on Nick's blog (HERE).


Costly mistakes?



HOLYHUDSON recently posted this comment:


Will you think hard and see if you have anything to add to my latest post?
http://holyhudson.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-biggest-design-or-renovation-mistake.html

I want to gather helpful, funny stories from as many bloggers as possible. I feel like you think long and hard about your decisions (and have a pretty enviable budget) so you may have avoided any royal f'ups. But maybe you have something to contribute?



This is a great question. Honestly, the biggest way we avoided costly mistakes was by not doing anything major for the first 4 years we lived in the house. This is my first house and I didn't know anything about remodeling or even, say, patching plaster. So we did nothing. It was very frustrating not being able to make big changes, but I am so glad we just lived with the house as it was for a while while I figured out what I really wanted. During this time, I saved a good chunk of money. This helped later on when it was time to update the kitchen. This way, I didn't have to cut corners on things I wanted to splurge on like the counter and the faucet.

KITCHEN MISTAKES
But I did make other mistakes. Lots of them. We didn't figure out under-cabinet lighting before we started the project and we still don't have them. I did ask the contractor to wire for it, but that part is left unfinished. Amateur move on my part. Not paying enough attention to lighting at the start of the project was my biggest mistake. So now, when people at work talk about doing their kitchens, I tell them 2 things: (1) figure out your lighting first and (2) splurge on your faucet if you having something special in mind (you will be touching it ALL the time, so buy exactly the one you want once you've saved for it).


COLOR MISTAKES
The other mistake I have made (or currently am making, really) is not making a color plan for the whole house at one time. I am not great with color and I've made several mistakes already. I should have sucked it up and hired someone to help with that early on. But, it's kind of a catch 22, because 5 years ago, hiring a color expert or designer was not in the cards and now it's possible. So, you know, maybe ask a friend with good design sense to help you figure it out if hiring someone is not an option at the moment.


GO SLOWLY
The other mistake I would have made if I'd had the money to do it back then would have been decorating the place all at once. I am certain I would be regretting furniture purchases made five years ago if budget hadn't kept me from making them at the time. My taste is kind of settling in. I am more sure of the things I like, less excited about trends, and more interested in buying things I will have for a very long time.


This is a great topic, so thanks for throwing the question out there.

What mistakes have you made? Any advice to give a new homeowner? Post them to comments below or post them on HOLYHUDSON.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Carrier and Company




Stumbled on Carrier again today. More info on the designer over HERE on So Haute.











Photography lesson.




I was poking around online looking at Peter Dunham stuff, and I noticed these two photos. Isn't it amazing what good photography (on a tripod, with natural daylight...) can do for a room? When I look at the top photo, the whole scene looks tired and a bit granny with that harsh light. And then I see photo B and I want to move in.

With more people blogging about their own homes, I thought it might be useful to re-post THIS bit of interior photography advice that Paul Costello was kind enough to email me a while ago.

Last night.

Good news! My night was nothing like theirs.










HERE.