31 December 2011

New Year Cheer

This year went by faster than ever. Somehow, everything managed to get done in these last few weeks--we had a memorable baby's first Christmas, which included baby's first international trip. More on that later. We even got our Christmas cards out the door before we left.

Speaking of cards, I just created a little electronic post to wish a few friends a Happy New Year with Paperless Post. I am quite impressed with their interactive features to create a personalized invitation to send out, and for the recipient to open one via email. All the designs are very tasteful and look like you could reach into the screen and feel luxurious card stock. I used my free stamps to send out the invitation to our little cookie party earlier this month and the RSVP managing tools are very user friendly and helpful. For the sender, this is so much easier and faster. But for the recipient, nothing will ever replace the excitement of getting a beautiful piece of real mail.

Here's hoping there are many occasions for both electronic and real greetings in 2012. Sending warm wishes and cheers for a very happy New Year!

13 December 2011

Tangerine Tango

Pantone announced that Tangerine Tango is the color of 2012. I was only a couple shades off with my professed love for subtler emberglow.

It's a bold color, that's for sure. I think it is best in small doses, making an impact in neutral territory--unless you really want to stand out. I could see see this hue as a great color for my lips or toes on a tropical vacation. (Essie Clambake.)

12 December 2011

Sweet Exchange

It is festive around the house and it's lovely. Funny how having a child makes you excited for Christmas again like a... child. After four years of marriage, my husband and I got our first tree together. Even though we won't be here to unwrap Santa's gifts on Christmas morning, we couldn't imagine that baby's first Christmas season would be tree-less.

We hosted our first holiday party this weekend, a cookie exchange. It was also our first hosting as parents with other new parents and little ones as guests. (The last holiday party I hosted was with my roommate in our tiny NYC apartment five years ago. Now I find myself juggling winter white sangria with a baby on my hip and I feel so lucky.)

I had only been to one cookie exchange before, and none of our guests had. Essentially, you arrive with 2 dozen of your baked cookies and leave with an assortment of 2 dozen (minus those you've eaten, of course). It didn't quite end up that smoothly, but I think the evening was a success nonetheless.

Photo above is of my batch of chocolate crackle cookies. Delightfully chocolatey. And who doesn't love anything with powdered sugar? I recommend baking them on the lighter side to keep them soft and chewy.

09 December 2011

Say Cheese

I can't believe 2 years later, I haven't blogged my love for this place. Because, quite honestly it is definitely one of my top five favorite Pittsburgh establishments. I am talking about Penn Mac in the Strip. The first time I stepped foot in this cheese mecca, I was sold. I bring every out-of-town visitor we have here and then they are sold on Pittsburgh being so livable. My NYC and New England friends and family have requested to go back on subsequent visits. I am pretty certain Penn Mac could rival the best NYC cheese shops on selection and price. Plus, they are very friendly and helpful here. Come visit and I will take you!

I just dropped by earlier today to pick out a few cheeses to serve at our little holiday shindig we are hosting this weekend. I also picked up a soppressata (cured sausage, or soupy to my Rhode Island friends), and come to find out, it is from Rhode Island. Naturally.

01 December 2011

'Tis the season

The first weekend of December is upon us, and that means cookies, shopping and All Clad in Pittsburgh. We have all three respective events on our radar, as well as a trip up to Soergel's to pick out 2 pines for our front porch entry, and our very first Christmas tree. Very exciting.

Lawrenceville Cookie Tour
Look for the gingerbread cookie icon at participating storefronts along Butler and beyond. 

I Made It! Market
If you missed the Handmade Arcade this year (guilty as charged), cute unique trinkets for holiday gifting can be found here, held at Bakery Square.

All Clad Annual Seconds Sale
The big sale of these amazing pots and pans is in Washington, PA, but Crate in Greentree has the same prices and a great selection (and within half the distance).

The recipe for the deliciously decorated sugar cookies above can be found along with other recipes and delights at glorioustreats.

21 November 2011

Please and Thanks

How lovely and elegant are these Thanksgiving platters from West Elm? I love the calligraphy and gold on white. In fact, everything at West Elm has looked really good to me lately.

I thought we (we as in the city of Pittsburgh) were supposed to be getting a store in Bakery Square? Pretty please? I was so excited for that prospect.

I am also very excited to celebrate Thanksgiving. It means baby's first plane trip and introductions to extended family members he has yet to meet. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.

14 November 2011

Fabulous Faberge at the Frick

A must-see in Pittsburgh: Faberge at the Frick, which runs through January 15th. My mom was in town this weekend, so we strolled down the street with baby to see a collection of exquisite objet d'art commissioned for Russian and northern European aristocrats and royalty at the turn of the 20th century.

The house of Faberge used a variety of metals, enamel and colored stones to create functional luxuries, such as a stone page turner, a gold encrusted doorbell cover, jeweled desk clocks, and sparkling cigarette cases, which look more like very expensive Blackberry and iPhone covers in today's age. It also makes me wonder what other luxuries are quietly commissioned today. Most people, including myself, think first of the eggs (there is not an egg in this extensive collection).

My favorite was the little dunlin, a bird carved out of rose jasper with the natural formations of the stone appearing like delicate feathers.

There has been much ado about this exhibit, and the behind the scenes blog is quite interesting. I hope to get back and tour Clayton, the Frick mansion, which is currently holding a special complementary exhibit: All that Glitters: Luxury in the Golden Age.

09 November 2011

Ballet in the Sky

If you haven't already seen this video gone viral of a starling murmuration in Scotland, you must watch. The perfect choreography of the flocks movements puzzles even the most renowned scientists. It reminds us how beautiful and purposeful nature truly is.
Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

08 November 2011

Crafty gift ideas

Somehow it's already that time of year again-- the super-sized indie craft fair Handmade Arcade is this Saturday. I don't mean to sound whiny, as I am just one modest shopper seeking some creative stocking stuffers for friends and family, but I miss it at the Armory and in December, no? (I am also one of those who really doesn't want to celebrate holiday cheer until after Thanksgiving.) The upside of it at the Convention Center is that it is huge and full of interesting vendors, and maybe less hectic being in early November and all.

01 November 2011

Film Festivities

The Three Rivers Film Festival begins this Friday, November 4th  and the lineup looks pretty interesting. A nice variety of foreign, indies, documentaries and dramas, the festival also has a shorts competition and other special events, including some screenings hosted by the directors.

Showing on November 8th and 9th is the just-released third design documentary from Gary Hustwit, Urbanized, which focuses on designing environments for urban growth.

31 October 2011

Tricked Out

We have our pumpkins and mums promptly in place, and plenty of candy to give out tonight. But I've always wondered how to decorate for halloween tastefully. I can remember that as a child, I always liked walking up to the houses that really participated; now that I think like a mommy, I want to do the same. Here are a few DIYs that I have bookmarked (for next year.)

Here and above, bats made of felt placed around the doorway. Here is a template.

The White House did something similar, with black ravens (and another use for Christmas lights?) I love all the decor that they created for this year's festivities.  Check out the behind the scenes of the weekend preparations.

How cute are these pumpkin porcupines? And another clever use of Christmas lights.

27 October 2011

The Ubiquity of One-of-a-kind

Interesting article in yesterday's NYT about the trend of finding unique knickknacks to decorate your home is not necessarily unique. I think this is how any trend tends to work: stylish influentials show their chic wares in decor magazines; mass market retailers produce replicas for the laggards. Now anyone can look as if they shopped the Paris flea markets without setting foot on a plane.

Some of the retailers are doing it well, others seem to try to hard. Same goes with the consumers. It's all about creating balance in your home. I must say, Etsy is such a gem of a resource. Cut out the middleman and get something hand crafted that you like. I wondered many times as I finished the nursery how anyone decorated one without Etsy.

So where does this leave us? My decor mantra is based on 2 questions: Do I like it? Will I like it in 5 years? Or just follow what the Scandinavians do. I could live a very long time in any of these places.

(The top image is ironically, from the IKEA blog. Many beautiful pics, and you can read it in English in Google Chrome. Ubiquitous design for the world, but they do many things right.)

24 October 2011

Work Living

I began working part-time last week. Very fortunate for me, I mostly work from home on various freelance projects. This means I have begun spending a lot of time in the home office, which means I am somewhat distracted by the fact that we never painted and finished this room after refinishing the floors.

I have committed to dark blue walls in this room (a can of Silent Night is sitting in the corner.) Blue seems appropriate for a study/office; it means skills/knowledge/wisdom by feng shui standards. Plus, I love dark blue and have always wanted a room that color.

Although we have larger windows in this room, the overcast days to come in the winter season make me hesitant to paint the whole room in this hue, but rather create an accent wall against pure white. Then I came across this very cute blog last week. As seen in this image, I already have the requisite iMac, large desk surface, lacquered white chair, and Ikea shelving; in fact, this is pretty much the look I envisioned for my office.

My room layout is a bit restrictive with the location of the door and closet, and the daybed, which enables it to become a guest room when needed. Here is the room before (as it is now. No artwork on walls, how sad.) It will be complete by the end of the year (I hope!)

20 October 2011

Lost in Transition

I've debated on what to share in the blogosphere as of late. While my interests haven't changed too much, my lifestyle and priorities have. I started writing as a twenty-something attempting to share cultural and epicurean delights in Pittsburgh and beyond; now I find myself a thirty-something mama seeking baby-friendly items and outings (when I have the spare time.) Although please do not get me wrong: I still love talking design, decor and what new shoes I must have. And now, the cutest things for the little one, too.

On that note, I also have become a mama bear. It is one thing to share thoughts about myself on the interwebs; I am torn with what to say about my baby for anyone to google and see.

So. Please be patient with me. Mommyhood is the most significant and wonderful transition I have ever experienced. But I still want to find the time to write meaningful (and not so meaningful) things, and need a creative release more than ever. Please send any thoughts. I always like hearing from friends, new and old.

09 October 2011

Post Script

Other than wedding invitations and thank yous, this year I have sent out more snail mail than ever. First we announced baby's arrival, and I am still trying to work through a list of generous friends who have sent sweet gifts and to whom I owe a note of thanks.

In the day of email, texting and wall posting, I love nothing more than getting a handwritten letter in the mail.  I feel so cluttered with catalogs, penny savers, and and blah bills, that when a pretty envelope arrives in the mail, it can truly make my day. 

When I send things out, I try to choose my stamp and pen thoughtfully. So when I came across Ampersandity (via babble), I knew one of these handmade custom rubber stamps is something I need to make my envelope even more pleasing. I sometimes forget to write my return address. Never again! 

Also, it's nice to see a broader selection of more interesting forever postage aside from the dull Liberty bell.  

30 September 2011

Orange You Glowing

My wardrobe is a sea of neutrals-- gray, white, black, beige, navy. I am a little more colorful in the summer, but as winter approaches, my palette evolves to match the dark weather here. However, as I was switching out my seasonal clothing (limited closet space!), I realized that I have one color that stays put as a favorite: a beautiful warm orange. Not quite coral, that sounds too limited for summer. I like persimmon, but Pantone hits it right with emberglow.

Who doesn't want to look glowing? This shade does that. It's the perfect pop of color that works with all skin tones, all year round. Looks fantastic with summer linen as it does with with a gray cashmere turtleneck.

Some Fall looks:
Anthropologie Thousand Carat Pullover. I love this layered piece. I have it, have worn it, and have received compliments.

J Crew Saturday Sweater. Cozy and stylish weekend wear.

Shopbop belt. Perfect with gray or navy trousers.

Tory Burch Clines ballet flat. How can you not look down at your feet and smile with these on?

23 September 2011

Collaboration Stations

There is a good number of quality coffee shops in Pittsburgh, with free wifi and decent table working space. However, sometimes that isn't enough. What if you want to print something? Or hop on a call without disturbing other patrons or being distracted yourself?

A former classmate of mine is pleased to share his working coffee shop concept, Catapult, with the public.    Opening for October in East Liberty, the space will have shared whiteboards, small conference areas, and of course, good coffee. I think his concept is more first-come, first-serve. If you want to rent a dedicated space with shared amenities, check out The Beauty Shoppe.

This co-working concept is quite successful in other metro areas. I would definitely partake and consider this working space as I begin my next project. Although I wonder how they'd feel about having a baby dropping in (kidding!)

20 September 2011

Street Style

It wasn't until I actually worked for Fashion Week (as a college intern) that I realized the upcoming shows were presenting looks for next season, not the one we were entering on the calendar. So while I still try to keep up and see what I should be wearing six months later, I always am more intrigued by what the audience is wearing today. There is nothing more inspirational than seeing real clothes on the fashion elite, wearing an interpretation of what was on the runway six months ago.

I still get my street fashion fix through the Sartorialist, Elle Street Chic, and most definitely the original street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham's weekly commentaries. The entrance to my office for my last job was on 5th Avenue and 57th Streets, where Bill is often found early in the week, snapping away at the ladies (and gentlemen) who lunch, work or shop around Bergdorfs. I especially appreciated last week's On the Street, with his thoughts on the current shows and a flattering montage of my classically stylish former colleague, Melissa.

I am looking forward to seeing the documentary on Bill Cunningham, which is out on DVD today. Think The September Issue with the same level of passion, but more charm than catty.

11 September 2011

Paying Respects

With the approaching 10 year anniversary of September 11th, we found ourselves taking the back roads and along Route 30 to stop in Shanksville while on our first post-baby road trip last week. About 2 hours from Pittsburgh, the temporary Flight 93 memorial is still rather makeshift, but the impact felt when imagining the chaos here is nothing short of chilling. From this viewpoint, the plane came over from the left and crashed at 560 mph near where the tent for this weekend's service stands.

The wall of names will be placed along the perimeter of the crash site.

Apparently, we made it just in time before the site was closed to prepare for the services this weekend. There were already news crews and many people visiting while we were there. Stopping through on our trip was the littlest thing we could do to pay tribute to the heroic efforts and lives lost in such a senseless tragedy that day.

01 September 2011

Sweet September

September is looking pretty sweet: Dozen is reopening its doors and we all will be able to get a sugar fix once again. Closed since July, Dozen will reopen in Oakland tomorrow and in Lawrenceville on September 12th with some new menu items. 

I can't wait to have buttery quiche and a cappuccino on Butler Street. There has been a noticeable void at their storefront since the closure. Below, Sydney and me celebrating her birthday with mini-doggie cupcakes last year.

31 August 2011

Last First Friday

Hard to believe that "summer" is almost over! Not in my book, as we're beach bound next month, but seeing yellow school buses out and acknowledging Labor Day as the unofficial bookend, that feeling is in the air.

With that said, the final First Fridays at the Frick of Summer 2011 is this Friday, September 2nd. I have marked it on our social calendar so that we can prepare accordingly and stroll down with baby and dinner in tow. The final performance is with the St. Petersburg String Quartet and begins at 7pm on the Lawn.

24 August 2011

Natural layers

Where were you when the earthquake tremors hit? I actually was out and about, indulging in my first post-baby retail therapy session at Anthropologie in Bakery Square. The only signs of ground shaking were a few props that fell suddenly and seeing Google employees evacuate their amazing offices.

I am learning to maneuver the stroller through the storefront and pacify baby on the spot quite well. (Newly found pros of shopping with baby: the stroller handle bar makes for a great clothes hanger. And now I get the really big dressing room!) In the midst of a display change for fall, all the summer transitional pieces are plentiful and on sale. Fortunately for me, the trends are flowy and forgiving as I lose that last bit of baby weight. Worth a look. In fact, there is a Bakery Square beach bash this weekend with indie craft markets.

Some of the new fall stuff is out (my favorite season- both weather and fashion-wise). I love everything about the look above. I hope mother nature has more days like yesterday in store (the cool breeze, not earthquakes, of course.) I can't wait for changing leaves and outings in loose layers.

19 August 2011

Instant Fix

As of late, life has involved a few strategically planned outings, but lots of walks and Netflix streaming. I am still not over the fact that Netflix is charging for this. Does this mean the availability and quality will improve? If not, we are opting to cancel and just get our usual red envelope by post. Queued up is Paris, je t'aime. (If you need a quick New York fix, stream New York, I love you. Paris was the precursor. Both are miniature stories intertwined and placed all over the respective sparkling cityscapes.)

Oh, I could just hop on the direct flight to Paris in a heartbeat. Does that flight out of Pittsburgh still exist?

09 August 2011

Fantasy Islands

This is the first summer in probably 15 years that I haven't worn a bikini. Shame, because I finally have the voluptuousness to fill a top nicely from all this nursing. I do miss the beach, and I feel a slight tinge of jealousy seeing vacation and summer pics of friends and family. (Especially the one people take from a lounge chair of their feet with glistening water in the background.) I know, I am blessed with a sweet, healthy baby (who needs to be inside on these hot days.)

My husband and I are fortunate to have traveled to some wonderful vacation destinations. For the past several years, we've made it a point to go on some great trips before starting a family. Not that our passports will now expire, but logistics will be a bit trickier. We're already talking about where we might be able to go next year (right, sweetheart?)

I've been organizing all of the baby pictures from the past month, and while doing so, came across vacation pictures. Some favorite water-based destinations:

Nantucket, MA

Stockholm, Sweden

Bondi Icebergs, Sydney, Australia

Turks & Caicos

I found some great pictures I had completely forgotten about, and it was nice to reflect on lovely memories of those trips. Looking forward to making more with our new addition.

05 August 2011

Bat-Sh!t Crazy Here

I'm surprised our city's paper hasn't temporarily renamed itself the Gotham Gazette. (Or that our mayor hasn't tried to make a cameo appearance. Ha!)

Batman is being filmed all over Pittsburgh as we speak, and the whole city is on watch. There are Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard sightings. The Post-Gazette has daily updates and photos. Apparently, there will be snow falling, major pyrotechnics, and in Pittsburgh fashion, a scene at Heinz Field with real Steelers playing Gotham Rogues players.

And with all the Hollywood spectacle, the pictures I find most compelling are the ones of little boys, lined up around the perimeter of the set, wearing capes, masks and bat-print t-shirts, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite super hero. Must be the mommy in me.
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