April 30, 2007

Just a Thought... Starbucks

photo: Jenny W, stock.xchng, #83123

It is such a warm, beautiful day today! Just a thought... I love Starbucks iced coffee and I drink it very light. So, for those of us who fork up the extra cents to drink Starbucks, ask for a grande in a venti cup. Usually, the barista will leave room at the top for all of the half and half I am about to add, and I don't waste coffee pouring an inch of it into the trash can to make room. It amounts to even more beverage than a grande, with the same amount of coffee, but for a little less cash than a venti.

A barrista suggested this to me when I asked her to leave extra room in my grande decaf ice coffee. This is an unoriginal idea, I'm sure, but I've only been doing it for a month and I'm much happier with my Starbucks now!

April 27, 2007

Fish and Chips at A Salt & Battery

image source and copyright: A Salt & Battery

I first saw this British import battle it out on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network. The episode made me want to dash right down to their Greenwich Ave shop. I did at last today and the food was delicious!

The chefs (among them, Mat Arnfield, the owner) are extremely friendly and helpful. I chatted them up about the episode and they were happy to recommend the best fish to order (we got Sea Trout and Cod). The chips were awesome, too, some crunchy and some potatoey. They make desserts, surprisingly, like fried banana, pineapple or Mars bar. Sit down at bar stools, but they do delivery and take out, mostly. Have a look at the menu on menupages and you'll see this isn't just any old fish and chips.

Two drinks, two small orders of fish with their delicious homemade tartar sauce, one small order of chips, one dessert and a tip came to $25. More than worth it, it's cheap!

Also, teamed with their sweet shop, Tea & Sympathy, and Virgin Atlantic, they have a petition to call the area around Greenwich Ave and West 12th St Little Britain.

A Salt & Battery
112 Greenwich Ave (at 12th St)

April 16, 2007

A Happy, Clean Bathroom

I spent half the day in the bathroom!

Cleaning, that is. It took me more than 2 hours yesterday to scrape paint off of the tiles in the shower (I hadn't gotten around to doing it before) and then clean it. There were so many chips of paint and dust, I thought I'd clog the tub. Then today, that is, 12-2:00am, I scrubbed the rest of the bathroom and mopped the floors.

Well anyway, one of the best things I did while I was cleaning was restore the doorknobs to their original state, by scraping off chips of white, black and gray paint with a putty knife, then cleaning the knob with this amazing product called Goof-Off. It works so well because it's that clear, highly flammable stuff that's strong enough to strip paint off the door. It made a big difference.

The sudden rush in all of my home maintenance is because my friend from California is coming to stay on Wednesday, for a few days, so it was the perfect, and extremely needed, opportunity to beautify the apartment.

April 15, 2007

New Stuff at Home

Three new, cool things that were on sale, standing out in my apartment.

image source: Crate & Barrel

The Archetype wall box ($19.95) at Crate & Barrel, is above the kitchen table for holding all the crap that usually gets thrown on the kitchen table (candy, papers, the toaster). I plan to cut out a piece of cardboard to fit exactly inside and upholster it with a cool looking fabric! Eventually.

image source: The Container Store

I bought an oval flocked wastebasket in nova blue ($4.99) in hopes of converting it into a newspaper holder. My boyfriend has a subscription to The Wallstreet Journal and reads The Village Voice and The Onion, so there are always tons of newspapers hanging around on the table or on the chairs, and for the puppy to eat. It does look like a trash can, especially with newspaper popping out of it, but I plan to buy some cool ribbon to string through the pipe cleaner-like wires and then perhaps hang it on the wall.

image source: Pearl River Mart

Tonight we hung a white string of lanterns ($9.50) above the opening of the kitchen (picture later). This was my idea, but as they were going up, I tried to abort. The boyfriend wouldn't let me and he continued to hang them. They add some festivity to the room, albeit perhaps a bit of tackiness, slash college dorm-ness, and a splash of messiness.

It's all about the accessories!

Kitchen Backsplash, yes/no?

As I said in the previous post, we've only now begun to decorate the apartment. But I'm trying to be crafty about it. I want to create a relaxing, homey feeling, and do that by spending as little money as possible, instead of buying expensive, pre-made products that make the apartment look cold.

One idea I had was to create a backsplash behind the sink of Jonathan Adler's placemats. I cut four placemats to size and adhered them with double-sided poster tape, but the pieces quickly fell off and the backsplash is no longer there. I was thinking of using rubber cement, but I don't know if it dries white or clear and if it would work at all. Also I don't know if it goes with the rest of the room, which has a black, white and green thing going on. The placemats do also come in green and navy, which I never even considered using before (they're a bit bold!), since I already had one of the brown and blue ones. I'm still not sure what to do.

Other projects I have yet to tackle: Wallpapering the "pantry" in the livingroom/kitchen, hacking my Vika Amon table and perhaps even my Jeff chairs, hacking my two Lack side tables (one is already in the works with Mod Podged legs of magazine text), recovering loads of panels of fabric that hang on the wall, oh boy, so much to do!

Parasols on the Wall

We moved into our apartment at the beginning of the new year and we are just now decorating the walls. Last month I bought two parasols from Pearl River Mart, one made of fabric with an indigo print ($14.50) and one made of white paper ($10.50). At first we were going to hang them from the ceiling, but after we bought a headboard, I decided it would look even better above it. But to do this was more complicated than hanging a simple picture frame.

I bought a bottle of Duco Cement and a hobby saw at Rainbow/ACE Hardware (I don't remember the cost, but less than $10 total). First, we poured the Duco around the area that slides the parasol open and closed. After letting it set for 24 hours, it was easy to hack off the stick completely and have the umbrella part remain open.

Then came the tricky part. The parasols cannot simply be hung by a nail. They can't even be hung by a looped string attached to a nail, unless you want the top of the umbrella to lean against the wall and have the bottom sticking out. No, I wanted them to appear like they were floating, all edges equidistant from the wall. I proposed anchoring them to the wall using fishing line and two nails per parasol, but my boyfriend created a much better alternative after I mentioned using coat hangers. The hangers bent just so around the umbrella proped it away from the wall. Once this was configured (two other hangers were destroyed in the process), then they could be hung from one single nail each. Voila.

Some day I will post a better picture of the wall, (as well as of the entire apartment!) but unfortunately that's the best it is going to get for now. We need new bedding, first of all, but more importantly, I thought that the wall would be complete with just the parasols, but it needs more. At least this is a step towards a prettier bedroom!

April 08, 2007

The Spiffy 6: Table Lamps from Target

image source: Target.com

With a little time and my puppy dutifully chomping on her bone beside me, I browsed Target's entire selection of 700+ table lamps. Surprisingly, over half the selection is priced above $100. See, Target shouldn't always be viewed as selling cheaply made and priced items. I picked out my 6 (for "On the 6th") favorites.

From left to right, top to bottom: I loved the colors on the Tiffany-style lamp ($119.99). It would go perfectly on a simple pedestal table like I had in my bedroom when I was a child. The Chantilly mirror lamp ($139.99) was charming because it looked like something you'd find randomly in your basement and then it would make a room by putting it on a table for an eclectic look.

I'm considering buying two faux-leather lamps ($49.99) for myself! I love the soft, completed look. You'll find the vintage look in the genie vase lamp ($169.99), made of porcelain and metal, though I could see this lamp with a black or brown, even pattern, shade, instead.

The 3-light chrome lamp ($169.99) has a different look than the other five. It would look great as a color accessory in a naked, white or chrome room. Last, the blue festival champagne lamp ($139.99) would add spring to a room, like in a nursery, and I'm really in the spring mood right now (please can it stop flurrying today?)

image source: Barnesandwagner.com

Also, I found this Davenport Tiffany lamp ($300) at Barnes & Wagner. I'm suprised that I like the Tiffany style at all, but I can never resist the use of the rainbow in design.

April 05, 2007

Bravo's Top Photographer

photo: Nick Winchester, stock.xchng, #50228

"Money Shot" is Bravo's newest competition show, focusing on the next "it" photographer. Bravo loves naming the next star in various fields, from top fashion designer on "Project Runway", to my absolute favorite, "Top Chef", and up-and-coming interior designer on "Top Design" (season 1 finale next week!). Beginning next week is "Shear Genius", for top hair stylists, but I'm not sure how that one will appeal to me.

On "Money Shot," photographers will compete "Project Runway"-style, (assignment, critique by judges, eliminate contestants one by one) with the winner getting a spread in People magazine and some money. As a casual photographer and photography lover myself, I hope this show will be inspirational, in similar ways that "Design" has been. I imagine in one episode, the cast being flown to some remote location in Africa to shoot a la National Geographic.

The show will be produced by Dave Broome, the producer of "The Biggest Loser." Only the pilot episode has been ordered and no word on auditions or airdates.

Source: Variety (through Fashionista, linked on Gawker)

April 03, 2007

Neat Finds at Rainbow YCS (ACE Hardware)

My original goal was to get Mod Podge, the Plaid website said that Rainbow YCS carried it and I'd been meaning to go there for a while. In the window display is everything from dressers to paint cans. Rainbow is a department store, but what does the YCS stand for, I wonder? It reminds me of Bazaar, Bed Bath & Beyond, a hardware store (Rainbow is part of ACE Hardware) and Pearl River Mart in one.

Well, they didn't have any Mod Podge, but I did find an appealing selection of wall hooks. Besides the candy shop hook from Anthropologie I was thinking about, I haven't seen anything that is worthy of holding my jackets up off the floor! This one’s three times cheaper and I might just decoupage it later, but I digress.

In addition to what is pictured above, I also snagged some grout in a tube for the shower, a muffin pan, a belated birthday card for my stepmother, a new shower curtain liner (I might have to blog later about how quickly they gather mold) and cup hooks for lights on a string I bought a while back. Total cost $75.

I didn’t buy it (yet!), but I spotted a solid, glossy tray for $16 that would be ideal for decorating. Rainbow is perfect for people who like to spice up ordinary items, though they don’t sell the supplies, like textured paper, embellishments or glue, to do so.

A list of some of the products available at Rainbow: Paint supplies, hardware, tableware (Pearl River’s selection is ten times larger and cents cheaper), glassware, kitchenware, small appliances, almost anything you can also get at Duane Reade, furniture, lighting, storage, bed and bath, frames, mirrors, cleaning supplies, towels, electronic accessories, and much, much more!

Rainbow YCS
1449 1st Ave (at 76th St)

1815 2nd Ave (at 94th St)

April 02, 2007

Mirror Lust

image source: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=226983, Jeanine Molnar

I am completely lusting after this mirror (above) I found on Etsy a few nights ago! The artist, based out of CT, makes mostly mosaic mirrors and magnets. Her business is called Gemini Moon Mosaics. This particular mirror, called the Tiki Lounge, is $150, plus shipping. Made from vintage plates, the price is totally worth it, yet too high for my thriftiness and low-budget apartment (thought wouldn't an expensive mirror like this add some class). But every time I stare at it, I come a little bit closer to buying one of her many mosaics. My other favorites are here, here and here. Maybe I can swing an $85 mirror...

April 01, 2007

Restaurant Review: Agata & Valentina Ristorante

photo: Leon Nanda, stock.xchng, #659142

Across the street from the popular market bearing the same name, Agata & Valentina Ristorante’s bright yellow awnings stood out too proudly for me to avoid dining here at least once. Passing it nearly every day on my way home, I often peeked inside or gazed at the menu. Today, my family and I ate brunch at this lively, Sicilian joint – but I can’t say that I’ll be back.

The décor inside of the narrow restaurant is modern and stunning, with cylindrical, hanging lamps and a black, prominent staircase (leading to I don’t know where). All of the tables besides two large booths in the middle of the floor are simple, un-tableclothed and bistro-like, which didn’t seem to compliment the posh atmosphere.

I had read reviews warning me of the poor service, but our table was waiting for us when we arrived at the reservation time. We waited but two minutes before being seated and were brought water and menus promptly, my number one indication of service.

For the table, I ordered Cestino Assortito di Dolcini ($6), three pieces, some sorts of croissants and a chocolate chip muffin and jam. They were ok, but we were later brought bread, which would have satisfied me as much as the basket. For myself, I ordered the Bagel and Smoked Salmon Platter ($14), which consists of a “bagel and smoked salmon with cream cheese, onions, tomatoes, and baby greens” (from the brunch menu; all menus are available online) and a glass of orange juice ($4.50). The orange juice was bitter, so I added a packet of sugar, which sweetened it right up. The lox platter was disappointing. There were four rolled pieces of salmon, a generous amount, two tiny pieces of tomato and homemade cream cheese, which was very tasty and not overbearing. The bagel was unremarkable and the greens were covered with lemon juice, which I couldn’t have predicted, but I hate lemon, so that ruined it. I was hardly interested in eating what I had ordered and finished barely half, instead munching on the very potato French fries that came with the Sicilian Poplette Burger ($12) my mother ordered, which I didn’t try. My stepfather tried the Ricotta and Orange Pancakes ($11). I sampled and they were light, thin and just two, but with a variety of fruit and I could tell that had it been my entrée, I would have been full enough.

Overall, the food was boring, I could have made it at home or eaten it at any other restaurant and it probably would have tasted better. I admit that I am a harsh critic, but I do require to be excited by the food and this was disappointing. Perhaps their dinner menu is more flavorful, but I won’t risk it for double the prices later in the day. I won’t be going back, but it was still important to try.

Reservations are accepted and a good way to go, long waits otherwise.

Agata & Valentina Ristorante
1513 1st Ave (at 79th St)