Saturday, September 29, 2012


You have read this article with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, September 28, 2012

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. these bracelets.
{i've been wearing them together all week. and i like it that way}.

2. this ivy.
{my super pulled it down from the building. i pulled it out of the trash. you know what they say about treasures and trash}.

3. this dime.
{because, i found it sorting laundry this week. i know i already posted this gem to instagram, but frankly, i'm afraid you were all not as enthralled by a smushed FDR as i was. dime smushed on train tracks=awesome. just so we're clear}.

4. these keys.
{because even though i had to ride the subway all the way to 116th to retrieve them. i managed}.

5. these dilly beans.
{because yum. sorry to everyone i met face to face this week. garlic queen}.

other things:
the brooklyns that came before.
this is kind of brilliant.
these {twig} candles. thank you, christine.
my sister's selling this.
a pretty little sleep thing.

You have read this article my week in objects with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, September 27, 2012

make-believe: care package.

Giving a care package has to be almost as nice as receiving one--carefully selecting just the right combination of goodies that you know will brighten someone else's day. It's a bit Pollyanna-ish, I know, but I have a soft spot for that rainbow-finding girl. I like to give comestibles and things that can otherwise be used and used up, but it's nice to include a thing or two that helps someone pass along a little cheer to someone else. In this make-believe case, it'd be wildflower seed bombs for my Asheville-dwelling sisters and a rubber stamp for making the next package. And then there's that dishtowel. For me, pretty dishtowels, like pretty underwear, are always a welcome treat. Just a little something to make things feel fresh and new. I think even Aunt Polly would approve.

1. rubber stamp 2. seed bomb 3. detox spa set* 4. cookies 5. tea towel

*Herbivore Botanicals is a Reading My Tea Leaves Sponsor, but this is not a sponsored post.
You have read this article care package / make-believe with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

life in *your* tiny apartment.

Last week, I received this note:


I live in a pretty small apartment with my husband and I find that one of our main problems in properly storing our shoes. We each have quite a lot and they end up sitting around our (tiny) closet door. That plus the presence of our laundry bin just makes our room look...bad. I'd love to hear how you store shoes and such! 

Thank you,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I think I failed you guys the last time I talked about shoes. In my defense, the tip was really more about storage than shoes, but did I think I was single or something? James must have been out of the house and wearing all of his shoes at once when I took that shot. The above shot shows our shoes, currently. They're crammed into a wooden crate that we keep just inside the door to our apartment. It gets a little messy and sometimes I worry that James's shoes are smushing my clogs, but mostly it keeps things corralled and that's what we're really after anyway. For what it's worth, we keep our "fancy" shoes hanging in our hall closet in something similar to this that we found at our neighborhood hardware store. My cowgirl boots also live in the hall closet, until it's cool enough to wear them, and then we pretend like they're décor and let them sit pretty in a corner.

The advice is simple, but threefold:

1. Get a bin or a box to keep the shoes you wear most often.
2. Make sure it's pleasant to look at.
3. Get disciplined about putting your shoes in it.

As for the laundry...stay tuned.

It all boils down to habit, friends. If you want organized shoes, make a habit of putting them away. Eventually, it becomes second nature.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Do you have a tiny apartment quandary? Send me a note, along with pictures if you'd like, and we'll see if we can't tackle it together.
You have read this article life in *your* tiny apartment / shoes with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Get a magnetic thingy for your knives.

This is a very specific tip. Usually my tips are more general. Like this one

But I really love this stupid magnetic strip, so I thought I should tell you about it. I know that installing such a strip is impossible in some rental apartments. In fact, we hung on to this one for two years in Rhode Island because we couldn't drill holes through our hideous linoleum backsplash in order to hang it. That apartment also had not a single kitchen drawer, and so we collected our knives together and put them into an old tupperware in our cabinet. It was mostly a terrible option, but I can't bare to have things taking up precious counter space, so it was the best one for us. Also, that Opinel up there with the broken point was our main workhorse and that baby folds right up.

The funny thing about getting married is that suddenly people want to give you knives. Really nice knives. And so now, in this tiny place, we're the proud owners of knives that are mostly fancier than we are. I'm sure you're all relieved to know that our vegetables are getting special treatment.

This is the rack we have. If I could do it over, I might splurge on this or this
You have read this article knives / life in a tiny apartment with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

late september.

montague street
butter and oats
sedum, promenade
pear jam
sparse hydrangea
apple crisp with pear jam

Fall comes quietly to the city. You have to be a keen observer of things to catch its beginnings.

In the country the season makes a more obvious splash. Here, the tops of trees start to change color, but the shades are muted, mostly. City hydrangea does a costume change like its country cousin, but you have to look harder to find it, all smushed between wrought iron and brick.

To watch a season change in the city, at least in part, you have to watch the people. They pull woolly socks over their chipping August pedicures and wrap scarves around their necks. They cross to the sunny side of the street on their walk home and order warm drinks at sidewalk cafés.  Most of our discrete neighbors will keep their autumnal enthusiasm at bay until October 1st. They'll wait until they flip their calendars and then they'll bedeck their homes with jack-o-lanterns and hay bales and potted chrysanthemums. They'll bring the country right to their stoops.

Inside, we preheat the oven and turn apples into comfort food, suddenly preferring a spoonful of apple crisp to a slice of watermelon.  We eat it with the window open and our legs wrapped under a blanket because that's the way to best feel the season when it's only just beginning.
You have read this article brooklyn / fall / life / september with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, September 24, 2012


fresh veggies
making dilly beans
dilly beans
filling jars
jars filled
When I first typed the title, I accidentally wrote persevering. Make no mistake, friends--to complete a marathon day of canning is to persevere indeed. On Sunday, we joined friends to pickle green beans and okra, cauliflower and eggplant, carrots and daikon radish, not to mention making apple butter and asian pear jam. We had plans for canning honey peaches but when hour six of canning came around, we needed sustenance in the short term and we bit into those in the summertime way--skin still on, juice dribbling out. Not a bad way to say goodbye to one season and usher in the next. Fall, we're ready for you.
You have read this article food / friends / life with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, September 21, 2012

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that make my week.

1. this cuban oregano.cuban oregano
{because james brought home a clipping from the lab. so fuzzy. so fragrant}.

2. this cast iron skillet.
cast iron
{for heating up my buttery muffin every morning}.

3. this oatmeal soap.
oatmeal soap
{because new soap always makes my week and this one smells like baked goods. in a good way}.

4. these socks.
{for helping to ease me into the season when i need to wear them}.

5. {this library book}.
{because i've been meaning to read it, and because it was on the shelf}.

other things:
wish i had a screen door.
what do you hear?
this in indigo.
these black & whites.
these lights.
update: this, from lily. because i couldn't help myself.

You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Thursday, September 20, 2012

make-believe: entryway.

When you live in a tiny apartment, there's really no such thing as an entryway. There's a door, yes, and the act of entering the apartment, certainly, but an entryway? Not really. Regardless, it's nice to nod to the idea of one. Gathered here, a few things I wouldn't mind including in the space closest to our door. Most desperately needed? A giant tote to store all our other totes. If James hangs the bright blue chico bag on the door knob one more time I might lose my mind. The crate? Best shoe storage there is. The door wedge? I have mentioned that we store half our worldly goods in a hall closet, haven't I? It'd be nice to prop the door while I dig out the vacuum.

You have read this article make-believe with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

life in *your* tiny apartment

photo courtesy of unico
Dear Erin:

We live in a (super) tiny apartment in Tokyo and we have a small kitchen/open plan living room but no dining table/dining space. 
We always have dinner in the living room on the sofa and use the coffee table in front of the sofa as a dining table, but it's a tiny table and we usually cook lots of small dishes. 

We've come up with a couple of options (but we're open to suggestions):

1. We can replace the coffee table with a longer table and keep on eating in the living room.
2. We can put a small dining table for two with two chairs in the kitchen.

I like option #2 because I like the idea of having a separate dining area, however in my mind adding a piece of furniture = smaller space. Also, our kitchen is already tiny! I'm not sure adding a dining table + 2 chairs is a good idea.

Let me know if you have any advice.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Oh, dinnertime in a tiny apartment. First, there are the smells to contend with, then there's the space.

I'm embarrassed to admit that on many nights, James and I snuggle on our (tiny) couch to eat our dinner. Here's the thing: almost every single night of my childhood I sat at the kitchen table with all three of my sisters and my parents, not to mention any of the various neighbors, friends, boyfriends and passersby who also happened to be hungry. Only on special occasions were we allowed to eat our dinner on the couch in front of an episode of Nova (graphic depictions of juvenile orca whales foraging, anyone?).

As an adult, I feel pretty strongly about having a kitchen table. In our first two apartments, James and I ate at the table every night, with candles burning. In this apartment, even if I lug my computer onto the table during the day, by evening its always clean and ready for whatever tea drinking or meal preparation, or dinner eating that needs to happen there. And still, we end up on the couch.

There are a few reasons: the most important one being that, hysterically, I'm a bit of a claustrophobe. Sliding myself into a tight spot between table and chair makes me cranky. If we use serving bowls, there's barely a spot to slide my dish, let alone my wine glass, and we can't have that. Beyond the tight quarters, we have less than a foot of actual counter space in our kitchen. Try as I might to clean as I go, the table sometimes holds the last of the dinner prep materials. In my effort to enjoy my dinner while it's still hot, sometimes leaving those things be until the meal is finished is just easier.

Knowing all this about me, this is what I would suggest for you: If you're really hankering to draw a line between couch time and eating time and you're in desperate need of additional surface space in your kitchen, by all means consider getting a table and chairs for the kitchen-y side of your apartment. But to be totally honest, it looks like you've found a pretty beautiful solution in this slim wooden table. If it fits nicely in front of the couch and doesn't make you feel crowded, I'd go for that option. If you really need the surface in the kitchen, consider a small, high table and no chairs, because if you're anything like me, you wouldn't end up using them much, anyway.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Do you have a tiny apartment quandary? Send me a note, along with pictures if you'd like, and we'll see if we can't tackle it together.
You have read this article life in *your* tiny apartment with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!

< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

Don't worry too much about cooking odors.

When people find out that we live in a tiny apartment, a common question is whether or not we cook. The question often stems from people being curious about whether or not we have full-sized kitchen appliances or whether we have enough counter space to chop and dice effectively, but a surprising number of people ask whether our tiny apartment traps cooking odors. It's a strange preoccupation, but I won't say that I'm entirely immune to the worry. I'm writing this in part because last night for dinner, James and I seared a cast iron skillet full of scallops caught by a fisherman friend and already this morning I have burned a candle, opened our window and baked a batch of muffins to cover the remaining hints of fishiness.  

Here's the thing: the vast majority of apartments in this city--especially tiny ones--have no cooking fan, no kitchen vent, no real way of circulating air other than to open a window and pray for a breeze. I say, throw caution to the wind. Cook your heart out and make up for bad smells by cooking other things that smell better. It's either that or deprive yourself just because caramelizing a few onions might make the joint a little more pungent one night. Not a good trade in my book.

If you really can't stand lingering cooking odors, I suggest papier d'armenie. It works like magic. Warning: when the paper is first burned the smell can seem oppressive--like church incense gone wrong (which is usually the way, isn't it?), but the end result is delightful. Within minutes after burning, the odor of the paper and whatever malodorous something it was trying to mask are both gone. Poof. If you know of a local spot that sells it, lemme know. I'm on the lookout. {Update: Brook Farm General Store has it in stock! Thanks, Amanda}

You have read this article home / life in a tiny apartment with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

neighborhood favorite: van horn sandwich shop.

If you've been hanging around these tea leaves for awhile, you might remember that when I first began writing in this space, I was living in Wilmington, North Carolina. If you've got a real mind for biographical details, you might also remember that James and I met while working in Georgia. All this to say that while neither of us are full-fledged Southeasterners, we have a sweet spot for that corner of the country. Van Horn Sandwich Shop on Court Street does a good job of giving us a little taste of what we're missing. On nights when I feel like I can't possibly lift a skillet to the stove, Van Horn's sweet PLT (sweet potato, lettuce & tomato) does the trick instead and I've ordered it more times than I could possibly count. Crunchy sweet potatoes and a big old smear of garlic aioli make it the perfect comfort food. Next time you find yourself in the neighborhood and hungry, this is your spot. Just make sure to wave if you see me sitting there with my sweet PLT.
Van Horn Sandwich Shop
231 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY
You have read this article neighborhood favorite / van horn sandwich shop with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Monday, September 17, 2012

appalachian trail station.

railsThere is a railroad station on the Harlem line of the Metro North Railroad that drops you smack dab in the middle of the Appalachian Trail. Along the 2,175 mile long trail, there is only this one station. It's tiny, just a fourteen-foot wooden platform painted bright yellow along the side of an otherwise undeveloped stretch of track. The train only stops there on Saturdays and Sundays and even then, it's wise to remind the conductor that you're headed that way.

We took the trip on Sunday and spent the day breathing in so much country air that I'm frankly not sure we knew what hit us. James took lots of photographs of creatures blending into their natural environs. I took lots of photographs of mushrooms popping out of theirs. We ate egg salad sandwiches with roasted tomatoes that Curt made and homemade cookies that Cait made and together we picked our way through a sack full of trail mix to get to the chocolate bits. 
// 65.9 miles from Grand Central Terminal
// 1 hour 52 minute train ride from the same place (perfect for munching on bagels and catching up on Sunday Styles)
// $28.00 round trip ticket
// Snakes and frogs and ferns and mushrooms if you're into those sorts of thing.
// Pretty views of farmland and hills and wetlands if you prefer.
// Fresh air aplenty.
You have read this article life / places with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!
Friday, September 14, 2012

my week in objects (mostly).

five little things that made my week.

1. this blue door.
{because i was finally brave enough to walk down the dead-end alley where it lives}.

2. this new arrangement.
{because every once in awhile it's nice to change things around}.

3. this big bunch of ageratum.
{schlepped home with about 20 pounds of tomatoes and summer squash}.

4. these gloves
{because some cleaning jobs require special accessories}.

5. this green lawn.
{because i met james there after work and suddenly the day felt so much longer}.

other things:
intrigued by quarters.
a sunday adventure.
an architectural boat ride.
i've always wanted one of these.
k. you guys really didn't like the wedding outfitbetter or boring?

You have read this article life / my week in objects with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL Thanks!