The Art of the Home Bar (or, Low Grade Hoarding of the Spirited Kind)

01/07/2015 § Leave a comment

Quite Continental: The Art of the Home Bar

While I have yet to use the oven in the apartment I’ve lived in for over two years, one area of my kitchen that gets a fair amount of attention is my home bar.  What started out as a few bottles of my favorite spirits — no obscure liqueurs, no tools, no doo-dads — has gradually evolved into one of my favorite places in my apartment.  Its remarkable growth can be explained partially by the fact that I currently work in the spirits industry, but it’s also true that few things bring me more pleasure than collecting.

For spirits, my first look is Astor Wines.  They’re humongous.  But it’s definitely worth exploring your neighborhood to find a local shop you like.  They’ll be able to order you pretty much anything — as long as you ask them nicely.

For tools and glassware, check out Cocktail Kingdom.

For how to bring it all together, refer to the Death & Company Book.  Written by the folks behind one of New York’s preeminent cocktail bars, this tome is no joke.  Be prepared for indulgent discussions about the bar itself and the folks who work and drink there, and on how to make over 500 cocktails.  Mind you, “indulgent” in the best possible sort of way.

And if history is more your thing, David Wondrich just re-released his classic IMBIBE!, which traces the beginnings of the great American invention: the cocktail as we know it today.

Where to keep it all?  If you’re like me and have no space (hello teensy Soho apartment life), make due with the best surface available.  In my case, as shown above on Instagram, the bar is perched atop my midcentury modern dresser…which is technically in the kitchen.  I told you my apartment was small!  If you’ve got a little room to work with, I love bar carts like this one, this one and ESPECIALLY this one.

Lastly, I’m personally a big fan of straws and vintage swizzle sticks.  Add something personal or original to the mix to truly make it your bar.

Did I miss anything??

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Charming Spaces || Coastal Vibes

10/08/2014 § 3 Comments

Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes Charming Spaces || Costal Vibes

Lovely bit of inspiration by way of Robert McKinley’s apartment in Chelsea, as captured by Nicole Franzen for T Magazine/NY Times.  Unfamiliar with McKinley?  He’s the interior designer and creative director behind places such as the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk and the downtown outposts of Sant Ambroeus.  I’m feeling inspired by the relaxed, well-worn and faintly beachy style of his space, especially the palm frond curtains and that amazing rocking chair.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be stepping out shortly to track down one of those hurricane plants  Please hold my calls.

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In Memoriam, Inspired: November

01/12/2013 § Leave a comment

Nov17 Nov2 Nov3 Nov4 Nov21 Nov5 Nov25 Nov24 Nov6 Nov12 Nov16 Nov27 Nov7 Nov8 Nov1 Nov11 Nov13 Nov20 Nov18 Nov14 Nov19 Nov10 117237799.jpg Nov22 Nov26 Nov28Some of my favorite images from my Tumblr during the month of November.

In Memoriam, Inspired: October

31/10/2013 § 1 Comment

Oct15 Oct16 oct21 Oct2 Oct12 Oct4 Oct1 Oct13 Oct5 Oct19 Oct8 oct20 Oct9 Oct3 Oct11 Oct10 Oct18 Oct17 Oct7Inspiration from the month of October from my Tumblr.

In Memoriam, Inspired: August

02/09/2013 § Leave a comment

QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August

QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August QC In Memoriam: August Inspiration from the month of August from my Tumblr.  The grey weather today in New York definitely influenced the palette and assortment of images, but it also felt like an appropriate tone for bidding farewell to summer.

Hold Fast. Let Go.

14/11/2012 § 10 Comments

As I mentioned last week, I still have yet to return home due to damages my apartment building suffered during Hurricane Sandy.  I have been removed from my normal routine and neighborhood, but I recognize that compared to some, I have lost very little.  I am very sorry to have been an absentee parent these past few days, and I wanted to let you know that your emails checking in on me have been a particularly bright spot for me in this stretch of time.  Thank you! xo

That said, I have found these past few weeks difficult.  Personally, when I feel like I have a sense of control over things, I feel the most secure.  Having to leave my home has forced me to cede a certain amount of that control, and that has been disconcerting.  But I believe that this also speaks to a larger concept that I have struggled with throughout my life: the concept of letting go – the process of detaching myself from an outcome, a routine, a person, or a relationship that I have invested my time, my money or my heart (or even all three) into.

In the early post-Sandy days, I realized that I was hanging on to a lot of frustration at being displaced and also at not being able to do anything about it.  It bled over into other areas of my life, causing me to feel sullen and wanting to retreat – all because I felt like I had lost my sense of control over my living conditions.  That’s it!  I hadn’t really lost anything at all!  Well, maybe aside from a few trips to my local — yet overpriced — bodega.  And maybe my perspective.

So, this past week I have tried my best to keep in mind that this change is only temporary, to trust that I will be home soon, to embrace a new neighborhood and to be very thankful that I have the help of some truly lovely friends.  It isn’t every day that I get the opportunity to step outside my usual box and since I haven’t lived on the Upper East Side since 2008, I’ve spent a lot of time simply walking around the neighborhood.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting a few of my old favorite places like the Ralph Lauren mansion, Sant Ambroeus and The Frick, discovering new (to me, at least) gems like the Lexington Bar and Books and Creel & Gow, and I actually forced myself to get out and run in Central Park over the beautiful fall weekend we had.  Changing my perspective was hard work, but I’ve been feeling much, much better.

Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, there is something very, very easy – and very dangerous – in the refusal to let go of negativity.  It’s what a good friend described to me as being “comfortably sad.”  You get comfortable with being sad or frustrated, because you aren’t quite sure what it would feel like to try to let that go and move forward.  If you’re at all like me, that can seem a bit like jumping out of a plane without being completely sure that you’ve got your parachute – and your two backup parachutes, too.  But the thing is, if we hold on to anger or sadness or regret or pain, we prevent ourselves from moving forward.  We prevent growth.

This can obviously apply to personal relationships as well, and I know I’ve definitely been guilty of this myself.  Holding on to a relationship that isn’t really working or miring yourself in the pain of a relationship that has ended, can sometimes seem like the easier path – better the devil you know.  True, it is a way to avoid dealing with any new feelings or facing the fear of the unknown, but you’re also completely foreclosing your opportunity to be truly happy.  It isn’t easy, don’t get me wrong.  It is a painful process, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of a life spent unfulfilled.  I want you to know that you are worth that risk.  I want you to try to let go.

The first step, is knowing when to say when.  I oddly found inspiration in an old nautical term, illustrated in the picture above, from a 1940 issue of Life Magazine (which you can view here).  The traditional sailor tattoo “hold fast” written across the knuckles, is a good luck charm – one of many such symbolic tattoos worn by seamen throughout the years – to ensure the bearer’s steady grip as he worked onboard.  A “fast” refers to a line (or rope) that has been secured.  However, “hold fast” – or rather, it’s Dutch origins hou’vast or houd vast – also gave rise to the nautical term “avast,” meaning to cease, or to stop.  One term, two very different meanings.

What I chose to take away from this nautical history moment, is that the same hands that can hold fast to something – or someone – are just as capable of letting go.  And while there definitely are things in life that are worth fighting for, not everything is.  What I hope you’ll realize, is that there is just as much strength in the surrender.

Hold fast.  Let go.

Desired Destination: Morocco

01/10/2012 § 2 Comments

When the weather turns cooler, my wanderlust for warmer climates always picks up.  I’ve frequently forgone the usual trip home for Thanksgiving in favor of a long international journey somewhere warm.  Last year it was Argentina, two years before that I went to Egypt, and lately my mind has returned to North Africa.  Morocco has officially made its way to the very top of my Desired Destination shortlist somehow, fueled at least in part by the images and inspiration I have been collecting on Pinterest.

My trip to the Maghreb probably isn’t all that far off with flights hovering around $1,000 and no annoying visa procedure for US citizens, but until that day comes,  you can find me wandering among my pictures, wistfully wishing for the smell of fragrantly perfumed tobacco, oranges and coriander, the taste of mint tea and dates, the feel of crisp linen against my body and cool tiled floors beneath my feet, and the sound of the call to prayer at dawn and the souk at dusk.

The harbor town of Essaouira.

Dying to stay at L’Heure Bleue hotel in Essaouira…gorgeous!

Marrakech, the Ochre City.

YSL in Morocco.

YSL at home in Marrakech, what is now known as the Majorelle Garden.

Casablanca

All images via Pinterest.

Quite Continental Desired Destinations
~*~Travel Charmingly
~*~

For Serious, Matilda.

22/02/2012 § 8 Comments

Taken by Nina Leen, 1947.

There is no real reason I selected this picture, other than for its awesomeness.  I like to call it: “This hat and I are about to kick your ass in bridge.  For serious, Matilda.”

Today, I am getting serious about Lent, though.  I’m not especially religious, nor am I a Catholic (I’m actually a lapsed Episcopalian), but every Lenten season, I like to challenge myself to give up something.  For those unaware, Lent runs from Ash Wednesday (today) through Easter Sunday; 40 days in total.  For Christians it is a period of penitence, of giving up certain luxuries and of fasting.

Am I turning into a Sunday School blog? Hardly.

But I do think the concept of penitence is applicable universally, no matter what altar you choose to worship at.  A 40 day period is a great amount of time to reflect upon yourself, your personal habits and things you might want to change.  To abstain from some of your bad habits for 40 days will take some willpower.  I once managed to convince a very unhappy Mister to give up booze with me, rough going indeed, but we survived.  They say it takes only 30 days to cement a new habit, so why not seize upon the season to make some purposeful changes?

What I will attempt to give up for the next 40 days:

  • The snooze button.  You will be profoundly missed!
  • Those delightful bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches I’m very fond of
  • …and dairy in general, for that matter.
  • Passive negativity

What about you?

Sidenote: Would you believe this is my **600th** post?  In the spirit of gratitude, I wanted to send a big thank you to all of my followers, old and new.  I hope you understand how much I really appreciate your reading and comments and emails and sharing of this silly little blog.

You guys are the absolute tops.
xoxo. M.

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