The Big Apple


Remember last week when I said I needed an escape? Well, I managed to sneak out of the city just long enough to clear my head and remember there’s a world outside Manhattan. After months without leaving the island, apple-picking during the peak of fall seemed just the thing to do.

The first time I ever picked anything straight from the source was in Germany, where I picked strawberries from a friend’s nearby berry patch. I felt such a childlike sense of accomplishment at being able to do something as simple and natural as picking something from the earth and eating it an hour later. This visit to the farm felt just as illuminating, with thoughts like ‘wow, apples really do grow on trees” popping up in my mind as we strolled down the aisles of lush trees. I think it’s wonderful for local farmers to open up their businesses and allow the public to see firsthand how important the connection is between what we eat and where it comes from. Not only is it eye-opening, but so much fun!

More delightful than the simple joy of apple-picking, was the overwhelming beauty of the scenery, the real reason we were there. The drive to Pennings Farm was breathtaking, with painterly hues sweeping past as we drove and wide vistas overtaking us around corners. Wide open spaces that others take for granted thrilled us with their endlessness and the mundane quiet soothed the chaotic grating to which we’ve grown accustomed. I hadn’t really even noticed that the leaves had turned yet since we don’t have as many around. What a lovely reminder it was to see fall in full regalia.

Now, back to the apples. As we were getting ready to leave Sunday morning, I kept enticing Rob with all of the delicious apple treats that we would find at the farm. In jest, I said, “we’re gonna eat apple cider donuts, apple crumble, apple crisp, apple pie, apple butter, apple bread….” I tried to come up with as many apple treats I could think of, sounding like Bubba from Forrest Gump (if you don’t get the reference, stop reading right now, and go watch that movie!).

Well, once we got to the farm and breezed through the adjacent farmer’s market and brewery, inhaling the intoxicating scent of cinnamon and hot cider,  it was clear that there are a thousand different and enticing ways you can eat an apple. I’m only disappointed that I could only stomach ONE cider apple donut and a hard cider! I had lofty goals, though I did make it home with a jar of apple butter made on the farm and a quart of hard pumpkin cider. The perfect pre-Halloween brew. Trick or treat:)

The Eye Has to Travel

As Diana Vreeland once said, “the eye has to travel” and indeed it does. I have lately been feeling like I need an escape, and not just a physical one, but an escape into imagination and fantasy. I want to be captivated by something, to feel and think and see differently. For a couple of hours this past week, I did finally escape into another world, that of Diana Vreeland, the epic editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar for a collective 40 years. In a documentary that explored her life, raucous and without reservation, I found inspiration in the immense creativity and joie de vivre with which Diana lived her life. The woman had verve and sass, and she sought beauty and welcomed what life brought her.

Anything but a classic beauty, she elevated what she was given to exude style and elegance. It was truly fascinating to witness and think about the great historical changes she witnessed as a child born at the turn of the century to an old firecracker partying at Studio 54. What I loved most, though, was her idiosyncratic, often nonsensical wit and incredible enthusiasm for imagery and fantasy. I suppose one needs to have a sense of reality, but fantasy is necessary to give reality context. It’s vital to dream and seek out things beyond the colloquial.

And speaking of everyday versus elevated perception, who was sitting near us in the theater but Giovanna Battaglia, street style star! For all of you fashion neophytes, just know this woman knows about style, and the entire time I kept thinking, I’m watching all of these designers speak and engage in the spectacle of fashion, and this woman lives it! My eyes really did travel that night.

{Images above are from coffee table tome about DV, The Eye Has to Travel, also the title of the film; I also want to read Allure, her legendary memoir!}

Splendid Nothing

I’m a strong believer in taking time; time for oneself, time with family, time to just be, and I indulge myself whenever I can. The chill, crisp air has been coaxing me into nubby sweaters and though it seems like everyone else is speeding up, I’m slowing down and admiring the change. It’s my favorite time of year. Oddly enough, I’m often reminded of Florida in the fall; the first day when I walk outside and am greeted by a cool gust always takes me back to the excitement I felt when the temperature would actually drop to below 70 and I could run back inside and grab a sweater on my way to school. Fall makes me think of libraries and pumpkin loaf and buying school supplies and new shoes and all I want to do is walk and take it all in before the fleeting moment passes.

It’s on these days of rustling leaves that I like to find a good spot to have a cup of coffee and catch up on magazines, read a good book, or just watch people in flux. Right before I moved further north in my neighborhood, I got a chance to pop into Maison Kayser, a French bistro that was in its opening weekend. The brass and marble tabletops, Hermes orange banquettes, Thonet-style bentwood chairs, and vintage fashion prints had me at hello, I mean who could resist feeling like they’ve just stepped into Paris, in New York?

The place is lively, the seating is close, very Euro-style, and the servers all wear iconic Saint James boatneck shirts. I wanted to move right in, and so I did, for a couple of hours. I read Elle collections, took a peek a W and Vogue, looked at the ladies who lunch and mostly, I just savored the afternoon, languid and without urgency. It was simply delicious.

Home Sweet Home

It’s been another two week long absence and I’m feeling more blogger guilt. I should have known that moving would have been more than a two day time commitment. It’s been two weeks since we spent our first night in the new apartment, and we’re still unpacking! But as I regain my bearings, I’m also beginning to lust after new interiors, pinning into the wee hours of the morning and poring through back issues of Domino (oh, how I miss thee).

Excited to finally purchase a sofa (albeit a loveseat) for the first time, all I’ve been doing is scouring sites online and re-imagining my new space. Minimalist, colorful, quirky, cozy, I’m trying to find a way to meld all of my tastes into one stylish apartment. What I have noticed, though, is that the minute our artwork went up and all my little tchotchkes and books were out, the apartment instantly had character. While I don’t advocate clutter in any sense, these accessories and keepsakes give personality and life to a home, and they are an instant way to update a space as well.

Even if you can’t afford a new chair or a brand new rug, you can always shop for little things to spruce up your place. New York has no shortage of mini design emporiums, as I’ve illustrated here, and John Derian is just another go-to for the design savvy. The brand has been in my subconscious for a while,  yet it was always a highly elusive name that I only ever saw in magazine credits or on the bottoms of the decoupage trays that have become the company’s signature. I always meant to check it out, but never made an effort to look into it.

Finally, one day without looking for it, I stumbled upon the store in East Village and was excited to finally see what made John Derian such a renowned design name. Rather than making a big statement, the store lurks behind shady trees, inviting those who know what they’re looking for to step in. Once you’re in, though, there’s an instant sense of being overwhelmed by the density and plethora of collected objects. Trays, paperweights, ceramics, candles, fixtures, linens, there’s so much of everything that it’s better to not even try to take in everything. To be honest, although it feels like an intriguing cabinet of curiosities, it’s a bit much for me, so I prefer to head next door to the sister shop devoted to textiles and furniture, a cozy little home posing as a store with a giant stuffed horse to greet visitors at the entrance (so that’s where I can find one of those…).

Neutral, organic, with a rustic antique charm, the store makes me wonder whether I want to live in a sparse Soho loft or a cottage in Provence, as the goods would look equally good in both places (a girl can dream!). In any case, this is just the type of store where visual interest is created through accessories and layering, and even if you leave with just one of those emblematic trays for your trinkets, I’d still say you’re one step closer to making your house a home.