Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Moving While Hoarding: the challenge of a KonMari opposer

I like stuff. And I have a lot of it. From art to furniture to knick-knacks picked up while traveling, my home is always brimming with objects; they’re the steadfast companions in the transient life typical of New Yorkers of a certain age. An old boyfriend once told me that his mother, upon hearing that I worked for AD, asked him what my personal decor style was. He (somewhat smugly) told me he’d responded “Crowded.” While I would split hairs on that exact categorization (and, in my defense, I was living at the time of that question in a 500 square foot apartment where having so much as a bed and dresser pretty much constituted crowded), he’s not altogether wrong. That is to say, I’m pretty much Marie Kondo’s nightmare. And as much as I tried to look at the cult-organizer’s approach with an open mind, the reality was that it didn’t seem to quite work for me. Kondo advocates keeping only the things that bring you joy; well, a lot of things bring me joy. An Oomph side table gives me joy to look at, while a Swiss beer stein brings back joyful memories of a summer trip to the Alps, and an antique side chair recalls the joy of finding it at a hot, dusty flea market during college. I’ve always been inclined to politely agree to disagree with Kondo’s ideology, and my “more is more” approach usually suits me just fine. And then, once every few years, there comes a dreaded time when I question all of that: moving.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Soup Spoons Are a Sham

This thing can go to Hell.

Is there anything more pointless than a soup spoon? The invention, certainly, of a half-witted entrepreneur who thought "why, I'll take a spoon, but adjust its proportions just enough to make it nearly impossible to use, and then market it as a tool for a meal whose consumption is already ungraceful to begin with." Soup spoons are a nuisance and an unnecessity, an obtuse, snub-nosed destroyer of polite meals and successful consumption of yogurt from a container. Their blunt, rounded shape makes it impossible to reach the bottom or corners of a bowl, and their awkwardly disproportionate depth make it an exhausting exercise for anyone with a normally-shaped mouth to reach their contents, necessitating either a loud slurp or an awkward twisting motion to extract the liquid in question. I'm shocked to think that wars have not been started over them; blood spilled as retaliation for a visiting dignitary's most uncouth gargle at a state dinner, the sure sign of disrespect. 

Recently, I realized I might not be alone in this frustration. On a recent trip to Pret à Manger, I was in the midst of grabbing utensils when I remembered the British food chain's biggest flaw: they only supply soup spoons. "UGH, soup spoons," I grumbled, as I begrudgingly grabbed one, anticipating my imminent deskside struggle as I endeavored to reach the crevices of my Chobani Flip, only to come up dearly empty-spooned. "The world's worst invention." The employee restocking the station chuckled to my left. "Right? I hate them too!" she said. And really, shouldn't we all? 

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Irish Tiger: A Visit to Ireland’s Oldest Family-Run Inn

Currarevagh Country House, in Ireland's Oughtergard region.
Photo: Courtesy of Currarevagh Country House

The first thing you notice is the tiger. It’s not what you’d expect in this charming inn on the secluded side of a lake in Ireland’s County Galway, but it’s the indisputable centerpiece, a majestic hide lording over the dimly-lit entry hall from its place on a double-height staircase wall just above reception.
“An uncle of my great grandfather shot it in India,” explains Henry Hodgson, the proprietor of Currarevagh House, in whose foyer we stand gaping at the exotic prize. “He wasn’t even a hunter; he was there as an officer during the Raj, and in a fairly big village. We figure it must have been causing trouble -- you know, going after people. So he shot it.” Having no use for it in India, apparently, the generous uncle shipped it Westward to his innkeeper brother, likely assuming that it might make more of a statement in the quiet Irish country. If our reactions are any indication, he was quite right.

Such are the legends that abound in an historic space, and Currarevagh, nestled against Lough Corrib in Oughterard, Co. Galway, is nothing if not historic. In the hands of Hodgson’s family (who first arrived in the area in the early 1600s) since 1842, it’s thought to be the oldest operating single family-run inn in a country where family-run inns are hardly scarce. It is at once nearly unbelievably quaint and singularly quirky. Each time I felt the need to pinch myself, fearing I’d become an extra in a storybook depiction of an Irish country house, I was met with a fresh kick of unique personality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Carpets and Fashion and Sushi, Oh My: Simon Miller's Fall/Winter 2016 Presentation at NYFW

Simon Miller's Fall/Winter 2016 collection, presented at Double Knot

Surprisingly, this was not my first party in a carpet showroom. I first discovered how transporting a fête among stacks of Tibetan silks and hanging tapestry-esque rugs could be while working at ABC Home, where the annual employee Christmas party took place in the iconic store's 6th floor carpet space.

Last night, LA-based brand Simon Miller looked to the carpet store as backdrop for their Fall 2016 NYFW presentation, and the results were no less stunning. Models clad in faded denim, shiny patent leather,  and platform, peep-toe clogs stood atop packing pallets around the edges of Double Knot, a Turkish carpet showroom in TriBeCa, occasionally leaning to rest among the stacks of rugs surrounding them. The deep burgundies and mustards in the collection were offset to striking effect by the multicolor weaves surrounding them.

Monday, December 21, 2015

My Struggle: Or, A Week of Healthy Eating

Five things I learned by not eating processed foods for one week. 

A wholly unfamiliar shopping cart. 

A few months ago, my dear friend Shayna Schmidt, talented actor, passionate cook and yogi, and sometime health expert, decided to more seriously pursue that last description and become a fitness and nutrition coach. One of her first exercises, which I gamely (and slightly naively) agreed to take on, was a weeklong “Clean Eating” challenge. As someone whose weeknight meals consist of Easy Mac and a glass of wine more often than I’d like to admit, this was a challenge met with more than a bit of apprehension. But after all, I’ve seen Shayna convincingly play everything from a young girl to a deranged veteran, so I feel there is little with which I cannot trust her. And so into the world of healthfulness I followed our brave leader.  

While the shopping list did little to assuage my fears and confusion (“those gourds on display in the Thanksgiving section are edible?”  “What the hell is Flax seed?,” “no SUGAR in my coffee? This was a mistake.” etc., etc.), soon enough I was on my way, and eventually succeeded at lasting an entire week sans bread, cheese, processed food, and alcohol. Temptations were plenty and some minor kitchen chaos ensued, but in the end I felt pretty accomplished. While I could go on about the trials and tribulations of an amateur chef in the brave new world of health-conscious cuisine (quinoa overflows and blender misadventures included), I’ll boil it down to the most surprising things I learned while masquerading as a health nut.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Reflections on Jeppe Hein

One of Jeppe Hein's Modified Social Benches, on view in Brooklyn Bridge Park

In an installation whose name would make every kid visitor to a museum jump for joy, Danish-born, Berlin-based Jeppe Hein has transformed Brooklyn Bridge park into a combination playground and treasure hunt for explorers of all ages. Hein’s Please Touch The Art, produced by the Public Art Fund and on view through April 2016, comprises several sculptures scattered throughout the waterside public parkland, all of which combine a connection to their surroundings with a cheeky wit and an unignorable invitation to interact.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That's Moher Like It

Exploring southwestern Ireland's spectacular Cliffs of Moher 

The Cliffs of Moher are a little bit like Ireland's Eiffel Tower. They're the iconic vista splashed across tourism books, over-saturated and reprinted until you'd think the sight of them in real life might actually be slightly disappointing. Well, it's not.