Figgy Cocktails

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

In my grocery order this week, I'd included some Black Mission figs—which arrived smashed due to poor packing.  But when life gives you smashed figs, you can make fig simple syrup...and figgy cocktails.

Fig Simple Syrup

8 smashed Black Mission figs

3 cups of water

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black cardamom

Pinch of salt

Bring ingredients to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Shut off heat and let cool, then strain and press through a chinois.  

Figgy Cocktail

1.5 ounces fig simple syrup

2 ounces rye whiskey

squeeze of lemon

Brooklyn Hemispherical Black Mission Fig bitters

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

My Top 5 Picks from the new IKEA Catalog

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

This is not a drill.  The 2015 IKEA catalog landed in my mailbox on Friday, and I'm liking some of the new releases and their increasing focus on sustainability.

1. PS Storage Module, $34 

Love the clean lines here and pop of color.  This is one of those IKEA products that could be used in a variety of different ways, to build a modular bookshelf or as a side or bedside table.

2. PS Wardrobe, $ 179

This is just fun.  The wardrobe comes with colorful plastic squares that can be snapped on to create patterns or images.  How awesome would it be to style one of these with a Space Invaders graphic and then use it to store stuff in a computer room?

3. Torkis Flexible Basket, $4.99

For $5, it's tough to go wrong with a flexible plastic basket that can be used in almost endless ways around the house.  It would be great for laundry, or to store toys, garden tools, or cleaning supplies.

4. Humlare Bag, $24.99

Everyone has seen the iconic blue plastic IKEA bags being used long after they brought items home from the store. I've seen them used to tote laundry to the laundromat, as liners in push carts for grocery hauls, and even on balconies and roofs as planters.  Now IKEA has a waterproof bag specifically designed for carrying stuff on the shoulders, in a shape that's reminiscent of military bags that can be carried as duffels or worn as a pack. This is pragmatism at its affordable best.

5. PS Pendant Lamp, $69.99

This pendant is adjustable—a cord opens the orb to release additional light and reveal a geometric arrangement of plates.  This design looks super-IKEA-y, so it's not one of their pieces that you'd be able to customize.  But I like the quirky, futuristic take on a sputnik chandelier.

A Weekend in London

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

I've been traveling for work quite often in the last year, and London is one of the cities on my quarterly itinerary.  It's tough to find the energy to go out in the city after a long workweek punctuated by jet lag, but it's always worth it—and very invigorating.

My favorite thing to do in any city is to simply walk.  In London, my favorite route is from my hotel in Covent Garden down to Westminster Abbey, past the houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and then back up via the Victoria Embankment and across the Thames on the Waterloo Bridge.  

There's a great exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery right now on Virginia Woolf—detailing her life and focusing on (of course) portraits of the author.  They also have first editions of Woolf's books on display, featuring woodcuts by her sister, artist Vanessa Bell.  For those interested in book cover design and its history, it's pretty wonderful to see those originals.  I would love to own a set of Woolf books re-released with the Bell woodcut prints! 

Of course, all that walking makes me hungry.  I had two great meals full of summer color on my last trip:


This Peruvian restaurant serves up fresh, healthy, and delicious small plates.  I had 'Gigi's Ceviche', with Cobia kingfish, watermelon, red onions, red peppers, radish, lemon balm cress, purple sorrel leaf and flower, and rocoto tiger's milk.

I followed that with the 'Shoots, Peas and Beans Salad', which you can see on the menu above. The truffle potatoes and sacha inchi dressing really put it over the top.

Bird of Smithfield

This restaurant focuses on the local and seasonal—and reminds me of some of the places I love here at home in Brooklyn.

I started with the heritage tomato salad, with Brockhall farm goat's curd and Bloody Mary jelly.  The colors were outstanding.

Then I had the Tidenham duck breast and pie, with greens, sour cherry, and crispy duck skin.  The miniature pie was stuffed with (I believe) aromatics and minced duck.  Delicious.

And no meal is complete in London without a little pudding at the end.  I had the berry pudding, with sour cream ice cream.

Speaking of London color, if you haven't already checked out Farrow & Ball's new color blog, The Chromologist, you should.  I go once a week to get a color fix!

Keep It Real

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

I've been busy with work and the office reno lately, but have been stashing stuff that inspires me into my Keep account.  

It's pretty simple and fun to add stuff—just install a button on your toolbar, and when you're at a web page that features an item you like, click Keep It.  You can choose the image you save and which Collection it's filed under.  It's way better than creating bookmarks for every little thing, and I'm all for keeping my spelunking on the Internet as tidy as possible.


by Anchor-of-My-Eye

Ah, summertime in NYC.  In my neighborhood in Brooklyn, people are hanging out on stoops and in clusters of folding chairs after the sun goes down, the smell of garbage on trash days is redolent enough to make a person dry heave while walking to the train, and the sound of gunfire can be heard on Sunday afternoons.  Meanwhile the humidity is so thick you can practically see it in the air like fog. It's the time of year you just try to survive—because the payoff is fall in NYC, and it's totally worth it.

On my list of necessities for getting through the summer?  Sunblock, plain seltzer, electric fans, AC, Netflix, and Micheladas.  Perhaps the ultimate summer 'beertail', Micheladas marry heat, citrus, and beer in a concoction that manages to be both cooling and warming, refreshing and spicy. When I recently invested in a bottle of Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters' siracha bitters, I knew that it was about to take our Michelada game up a notch.  And so it did.

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Andrew's Michelada Recipe

One bottle of Pacifico

One ounce of tequila or mezcal

Juice from half a lime

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Slice of jalapeño (as large as you can handle) 

A few drops of agave nectar

4–5 drops of Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters siracha bitters

Sprinkle of salt

Add lime juice, agave, salt, jalapeno and bitters to a glass.  Add beer and stir gently.  Enjoy!

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Money Tree

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

It's so money and it doesn't even know it.  

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My new money tree (actually five plants twisted together), has been busy cleaning the air and brightening up the office with its lovely, glossy green leaves.  I'm not one to believe in plants bringing good luck, but I suppose it couldn't hurt. 

Heath Ceramics

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

I've long been an admirer of Heath Ceramics.  Their work is simple, functional, and beautiful—everything I'm looking for in everyday pieces.  I drink coffee from their large mugs almost 7 days a week.  

 I only wish I'd been quicker on the draw when it came to their summer limited release.  This bowl is so lovely.  Perfect for summer salads or just to pile fresh fruit on at the end of the table.  Alas, out of stock.

To the Art Wall!

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

Some of you may know that I am mildly obsessed with watercolor prints.  To put it mildly.

So when I spotted this lovely little bit of original art, I knew it was destined for one of the art walls (or perhaps even framed and on the shallow shelf above the computers in the office).

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I think maybe a simple, thin gold metal frame would do the trick.  I'll wait until it arrives in the mail later this week to make the call.

The Greenhouse Effect

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

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I don't know why it took me so long to fall in love with indoor plants.  Maybe it was a factor of moving so often for so many years?  The only plant hardy enough to survive repeated relocations and occasional forgetfulness on my part was my old dear friend the jade plant.  And when I say forgetfulness, I mean outright neglect—I once forgot I'd stashed her in a windowsill for over a year, and when I discovered her, she was just fine.  Jades are the happy little tanks of the plant world. She's looking quite healthy these days.

Since I've settled into this apartment and have adopted a slightly more regular life, the plants, they have found me.  Or I have found them, one at a time.

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My collection of planters and plants is now at the point where I need to stop, or we'll be overrun.  I'll make an exception for the spider plant, one of my favorites.  I bought one and now have many, in part because it propagates itself so readily. It does so by sending out little 'babies' on shoots that are miniature spider plants.

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I've enjoyed trimming these carefully from the shoot (you have to be careful not to damage the burgeoning roots) and cultivating them to give away or just add to other spots in the house.  They're cheerful little guys, and apparently are very good at 'scrubbing' the air of toxins. Here are two babies that are just getting started in a new planter.

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Dining Chairs

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

While other areas of the apartment have been getting a lot of love lately, the dining area has been patiently waiting its turn.   When we first moved into the apartment, we bought a teak dining set—an enormous, oversized hutch and credenza that came with a nondescript teak table and chairs.  The upholstery on the chairs was shredded from the previous owners' overzealous cat, so I recovered the seats.

The idea was always to reconsider the table and chairs after a few years. The finish on the table causes spotting when fluids come in contact with it, so it's been a constant battle to keep my plants from damaging the surface. And although the reupholstery on the chairs definitely made them workable, I'm not a huge fan of the shape—and most unpardonably, they're as uncomfortable as all get out.

So, enter the candidates for a wipedownable, more comfortable, more stylish dining chair!  I'd prefer to steer away from wood and fabric—too much maintenance.  That will definitely limit the comfort, but wash-and-wear is more important to me if I have to choose.  

I love this Piero Lissoni Audrey chair so much.  I bet those perforations would get a little dusty, but I could give them a scrub with a soft damp brush from time to time.

And, ok, this Era round armchair has a cane seat so it's pretty much the opposite of wipedownable.  But I love the lines.   

These spindle back armchairs are powder-coated steel, but manage to look delicate.  And they're on sale!

Oh yeah, one more criteria for the chairs—no visible stainless/chrome.  Because I bought a vintage brass sputnik Emil Stejnar chandelier this spring that I'll be suspending above the table and I don't want the metals to clash.  More on that soon.

I Reserve the Right to Change My Mind

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

So, remember when I repainted the vintage Hollywood Regency hutch, taking it from speckled, '70s mustard yellow to modern, bright yellow?  Well, after about a year of living with that color, I decided that it was Just. Too. Much.  And then I began my love affair with Farrow & Ball Pitch Black.  And it was all over but the crying.

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That's several coats of Pitch Black, plus the custom dove gray wall color on the back panel and hardware.  I love it.  I'm a bit annoyed that I spent all that time painting it yellow, but this is the way things go.  Sometimes you pick a color you love and you outgrow it or decide that it doesn't have a place in the design you're making. 

As further evidence of my new interest in black as a unifying element, I've started working on an art wall over the couch.  Earlier this year, it was just one little painting. Now I've got a bunch of pieces up.  They look a little crooked in this shot—I should do some adjusting.  As usual, Maggie presides over all items in the house as chief curator.

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by Anchor-of-My-Eye

 So, yeah, I got married.  In May, Andrew and I got hitched after just a few months of engagement—I've never been one to want to drag things out, and planning complex events is not something I have time for with the day job.  The wedding took place on the rooftop of the NoMad Hotel, and everyone we worked with at the hotel was really wonderful.  Sadie, Sadie, married lady!

After a lovely, long honeymoon in the British Virgin islands, we're back and enjoying a Brooklyn summer.  With lots of greenery inside and out.  Inside, we have some new spider plants and a huge money tree.  One of the thriving spider plants lives in the kitchen, right next to the sliding glass door in a West Elm planter.

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Outside, I've reworked both of our balcony spaces.  Previously, I had a bunch of hodge-podge planters, most of which drained into plastic dishes that sat underneath.  It was fine for a few years, but when I watered, there was always the chance that they'd overflow and water would drain onto my downstairs neighbor's balcony, or even onto passersby on the heavily trafficked street below. It was a pain and I always felt a little guilty about it, even though overflow was minimal.  It only takes a few times for people to look up at falling water and shout a string of expletives before one rethinks their gardening hobby.

Now I have almost all black planters—and they're closed on the bottom, so no drainage. The focus is really on the green plants now, rather than on colored planters.  And I can water without angering people, always a bonus.

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In case you're wondering, that's four different peonies, eight different roses, a Rose of Sharon tree, a lilac tree, a few evergreens, some bamboo, some ferns, and assorted other flowers.  They're still ramping up to full summer florescence, but they're on their way.  

Even when it's too hot outside to have the sliding glass doors open, I still see the greenery from behind the scrim of our gauzy kitchen curtains. It's like an Impressionist painting I can enjoy every day while I'm pouring coffee or dishing up the dogs' breakfast.


Better Blue

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

Yesterday, the materials for my next big project arrived.

Those are flatpacks filled with glossy white closed-door cabinets for the office that will span the length of the back wall.  Below the cabinets I'll install a shallow white wood shelf, and then under that, two custom-length Parsons desks with a white glass top.  Andrew and I will each have a 65" desk space and can store items on the shelf and in the cabinets above.  I also ordered us each a little set of white drawers for more storage under the desk.

This will really streamline the office and free up a lot of space.  I also plan to build out a window seat, add a sill to the window, and replace the drapes.  We already installed a custom Solar Shade from The Shade Store in February.

In planning out the room, I took the opportunity to reevaluate the wall color.  When I picked this blue, I had just moved in—and the opportunity to add color to the walls after years of being a renter was too much for me to handle responsibly.  The first few colors I selected were more suited for an Easter egg than a wall.  After living in the space for a while, I now know that I prefer neutrals or pale colors on the walls so that I can use furniture or accessories to provide smaller, more manageable pops of color. I still wanted the walls in this room to be blue, but a much softer, lighter blue.

To get to my ideal shade, I started out with a pale Farrow & Ball base: Cabbage White.  Then I added three sample pots of Blue Ground to it.  The result is a subtle blue that almost looks white against the current color.  I hope it will give the room a lighter feel and be more versatile than the current color, which is a little darker and more pastel than the photo suggests.

Anchors Aweigh

by Anchor-of-My-Eye

The four people who read this blog will notice I have a refreshed design.  It was time for a change, and I don't think anyone will miss the background of little anchors.  I have some kinks to work out over the next week or two, so hang tight if something doesn't appear exactly as it should.