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!}

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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.

Sundays and Cones

Okay, okay. So I know I’m not allowed to write about ice cream ever again, due to my overzealous eyes for the treat, but I thought I could excuse it because it’s almost going to be too cold to eat it soon…. ummm, yea right. I’m not a fair weather ice cream eater! Ice cream is always appropriate, so I guess you’ll just have to get used to it around here.

In all my ice cream craze, I have yet to post about my absolute favorite ice cream shop. When I was living in East Village a few summers back, Sundaes and Cones was my savior, as I knew no one here and it provided me with a comforting little evening ritual. Just a couple convenient blocks away from my apartment at the time, the welcoming parlor has benches outside and is open til midnight on weekends, so I spent many a sweltering night grabbing a cone and watching the passersby and the evening action. Coconut, mint chocolate chip, and good old rocky road always made summer nights feel a little more special.

Still a go-to place for my sister and I, Sundaes and Cones was the perfect place for a girly catch-up on a crisp, sunny fall Sunday. There are few old school ice cream shops in the city, with gelato stealing all the thunder (not like I don’t love gelato), so it’s nice to have a friendly neighborhood shop to always count on. Really fresh and creamy, with traditional and clever flavors including lychee and sesame, this sweet little place reminds me of the simple pleasures of childhood and the all-American comfort of this classic dessert. In my book, there is no season for something this good!

The Friendly Farmer

Since moving to New York, brunch is now my favorite meal. Little compares to the comfort of sleeping in, rolling out of bed and going straight to a cozy haven where they feed you warm delicious food before you even realize what time it is. When I first moved, it was the dead of winter and my sister and I decided to go to a place that she said would provide just the sort of cozy country atmosphere that would warm me up, inside and out.

Since then, Friend of a Farmer has been a staple on our brunch circuit. Stepping inside, you feel as though you’ve entered a quaint B&B in the English countryside. Creaky stairs, slate tabletops, and charming chintz complete the homey atmosphere, and the savory aroma immediately invades your senses. When we go here, I feel relaxed, as though we could be entirely somewhere else, waking up after a restful stay.

The food is just as inviting, with fairly priced offerings like pumpkin pancakes with apple butter, crab cakes benedict, and a wide array of omelets gracing the menu. Hearty, fresh, and simple, the food will leave you satiated and wanting to crawl back into bed for a midday nap. Now if only it was a bed and breakfast…