Design Trends, Tea Parties and Real Estate

I recently worked on some fun projects for iVillage that I've been meaning to share. The first focused on spring home decor trends and included helpful tips from some of my favorite design bloggers and interior designers. All of their ideas were inspiring, although I will admit that my attempt to use a metallic pouf in my apartment didn't really work out. Nico loved using it at an oversized bowling ball in our hallway, but my Mom commented that it stood out too much. She compared it to a gold tooth in someone's mouth. I saw her point and sent it back. For the record, I still think they're cool and would love to find a way to use one some day.

Another project launched right before the season five premiere of Mad Men, one of my favorite shows. It included ideas for 60s style decorating inspired by the series. I'd never really paid much attention to the sets with Mr. Don Draper being so distracting and all, but now I can't stop. Oh and I happen to have two of those lamps above and love them. Mine are bright yellow and they look incredible against dark navy walls.

Most recently, two NYC party planners were nice enough to tell me their top tips for effortless entertaining and I rounded up tea recommendations, recipes and pretty accessories for a Mother's Day slideshow.

In other news, I recently became a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Garfield Realty and am now able to help people buy and sell homes in NYC. If you or someone you know is looking for a place to live, I'd be happy to help! Read my full bio here.

{Photos: 6th Street Design School, Jonathan Adler}


20 Easter Basket Treats

This is the first Easter I'll be making baskets for Nico and Leo and I can't wait to surprise them with a bunch of special sweets. If you need ideas for a better Easter basket, check out these 20 springtime treats I recently shared on iVillage. They'll all taste a million times better than a boring bag of drugstore candy.


Steals and Splurges

My mind has been on home design a lot these days. I read many design blogs (and the list keeps growing) and Pinterest keeps me up too late at night. Often, Daniel and I will be in the middle of a conversation and I'll change subjects suddenly to suggest we paint our living room gray some day or add plum accents to our minty green office. I'm constantly looking more closely at colors and combos, finding inspiration in everything from a latte bowl to a pair of citron skinny jeans to figure out which ones I really like and could live with. So far, blue—mainly deep, dark navy—has been my go-to shade at home.

We have to decorate our place slowly and rely on a lot of what we already have. But on iVillage, I love pretending I'm starting from scratch. Recently, I wrote about steals and splurges for  master bedrooms and spa-inspired bathrooms. Eventually, I hope to work some of the ideas into my own space.

And in case you're wondering why I haven't been writing much here, I thought I'd share some exciting news. In April, I'll start working part-time as a real estate agent in Brooklyn. Something tells me my latest obsession will only get worse once I start seeing lots of homes up close!


Valentine's Day Gift Guide

 When Daniel and I first started dating, Valentine's Day seemed to really mean something. In fact, he moved back to Brazil on February 15, six months after we started dating, so you better believe we went all out that year. I remember being blindfolded and driven to a special dinner that included multiple courses, heart-shaped everything and a violinist. Over the years, we've cared less about it, opting for low-key celebrations at home in place of pricey prix-fixe meals. But after working on this Valentine's Day gift guide for iVillage, I'm thinking it might be fun to make a bigger deal about it this year. I could care less about red roses, but surprise me with pink and white cookies, henna-inspired mini cakes, banana cake in a jar and pretty much anything else on the list and I'd be one happy lady.


Brooklyn Food Favorites 2011


I was hoping to do a detailed Brooklyn Food Favorites post today, like the one I did last year. But then the holidays kind of took over and the last thing I wanted to do was gather images and come up with catchy text. Luckily, I already wrote about some of them so it's easy to reminisce about the good food I had at Brooklyn Commune, Dough, andAmple Hills. And while I'm at it, here are a few more places I really loved this year.

This Northern Italian restaurant is on one of my favorite blocks in Boerum Hill. Open all day, it's good for a date, dinner with friends, or at 8am when top-notch breakfast sandwiches and bomboloni from Falai Bakery beckon.

Bien Cuit
It was very hard leaving my old block in Cobble Hill and all my favorite places along with it. Had Bien Cuit, a new bakery that makes some of Brooklyn's best bread been there back then, it would have been impossible to move.

The Brooklyn Heights dining scene has needed some help for awhile and luckily, Colonie came to the rescue. I celebrated my birthday there this year and loved the rustic decor (and lush green wall!).

Kos Kaffe
This Park Slope cafe recently had a much-needed makeover. Spacious, full of natural light and decorated with soothing colors, it still roasts its coffee in-house and has cupcakes from Baked.

A fun spot for dinner with friends, this place from the owners of Marlow & Sons is loud and fun. Start with the straciatella, a soft, stretchy mound of mozzarella and you'll fall in love fast.

Lot 61
Local wine and beer are a big draw at this Cobble Hill bar, but the snacks and small plates are what really impressed me. Their toasts are much heartier than they sound and I would happily eat the honey ricotta one with buckwheat honey and pistachio dust every day.

Top Chef fans might remember Mark Simmons, the cute New Zealand chef from season 4. His reality TV days behind him, he's now chef and owner at this awesome addition to the Park Slope dining scene that showcases his country's signature ingredients.

This place hasn't even opened yet, but I'm betting it's going to be one of my favorites in 2012. The team from Thistle Hill Tavern are behind it and the food comes from Dale Talde, also of Top Chef fame. Its navy blue exterior and bright orange awnings add some sophistication to Park Slope's 7th Ave and I'm hopeful the food is going to make a big statement too.

Here's to more amazing meals in 2012. Happy New Year!


Holiday Fun in Bryant Park

After reading this post on Little Brown Pen, I couldn't wait to take Nico and Leo to Bryant Park. Just as Nichole explained, it was a less hectic alternative to Rock Center and the perfect place for holiday fun with four little ones. We went with our friends Whitney, Liam and June and had a jam-packed day. We looked at trains in Grand Central, posed in front of the library lions, spotted Santa and his reindeer in the Lord & Taylor holiday windows, rode the carousel, read some books in a cute outdoor library, sipped 'Wichcraft's extra special hot chocolate, threw pennies in a fountain, watched ice skaters at Citi Pond (open until February 26) and had a dance party before heading back to Brooklyn. NYC kids really have the life, huh?

Whitney and I definitely deserved some down time after an outing like that and I happened to have a freezer full of frozen appetizers thanks to an iVillage assignment. We sipped some wine and did a taste test while the kiddos played. It looked like a tornado and then a hurricane had hit my apartment when it was time to call it a day, but they sure had fun.

If you're planning a holiday party and want to go the easy route, try my ten favorite frozen appetizers. And to see NYC while it's still sparkly and festive, check out Bryant Park soon.


Pillow Talk

Since we moved into our new apartment, I've become a big fan of Etsy. Many  nights you can find me staying up way too late and scrolling through vintage side tables, cool dining chairs and all sorts of other stuff. My first purchase was this chalkboard for our kitchen. I asked the shop owner to paint it cherry red and it looks very cool next to our navy blue cabinets (more on those some day!). Next, I was on the hunt for fun pillows to brighten up the dark brown couch in our living room. Woody Liana quickly became one of my favorite shops. She makes some of the prettiest pillows I've ever seen with designer fabrics. She sent me a bunch of samples for free, but sadly, none of them worked. A lot of her listings have been removed for a holiday sale she's having in her local shop, but if you're in the market for pillows, check her past sales to see her work.

I soon found Arianna Belle, a smaller shop with a great selection. Arianna also has a design blog where she shares photos of beautiful spaces. I could spend all day looking through her color inspiration section. She clearly has a smart eye for design and thanks to her I now have the perfect pillows for my couch. I went with two fabrics. The floral one is Quadrille's Potalla fabric and it has aqua, navy blue, and gray. The other is Celerie Kemble for Schumacher and I love how the deep peacock green works with the navy blue pattern.

If you haven't checked out Etsy before, I highly recommend it. You'll be amazed by all the talented people and unique handmade products. And since all of the shops are run by small business owners, the customer service is amazing and many are willing to work with you to customize their products. When purchases arrive, they often feel like special gifts. Arianna wrapped my pillow cases in chocolate brown tissue paper, tied them with a silky ribbon and included a hand-written personal note on pretty stationary.

If you're already an Esty fan, which shops are your favorite?


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