Category Archives: Raves

Oh Deer!


This adorable chap made his way home with me after a recent browsing afternoon on Magill Road. There was just something about hot pink antlers that I  couldn’t resist.

Thankfully the family realised his charms and my deer made his way above our bed, like some sort of hunting trophy.

For patchwork, Liberty-esque deer busts and other outlandishly individual homewares, furniture and art visit Louis Bond at 133- 135  Magill Road, Stepney.

Me + Hermès ‘Together’ At Last

This totally falls into the “why the heck didn’t I think of it” category. And yes, I know it has been all over fashion blogs and mags here and abroad but I love it and cannot resist. If, like me, you’re unlikely to have a spare $20,000 anytime soon to invest in a covetable Hermès handbag, then meet the Together bag created by LA-based accessories label Thursday Friday.

These canvas shoppers are fully lined with an interior pocket for phone and keys; what sets them apart from all the other canvas carryalls being schlepped by gym rats, diaper-toting mamas, greenmarket goers and the environmentally conscious alike is the pop-arty Hermès inspired bag print on all five exterior sides.

They’re cheeky, good-looking and practical. Trouble is, just like the iconic Birkin bag they’re “modeled” on, the Together bags sold out within weeks of their launch last year and are now back ordered.

The bags, a sort of anti-status, status symbol and sturdy enough to carry in rain, sun or snow, come in red, blue or camel and with a very manageable $35 price tag. To order, click here.

Things I Like … Right Now

I love this vintage button pin featuring graphic art by Carol Summers, a master American print maker renowned for his intensely vivid colors and woodblock techniques. The pin is stamped 1971, and may have some collectible value as do Summers’ prints. The Santa Cruz resident has works in museums including The Art Institute of Chicago, Biblioteque National in Paris, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum of Fine Arts.

But for me, the cool vintage pin – purchased from my favorite online vintage store– is all about wearable art. I plan to use it to drape and pin into place some of my oversized, slouchy winter sweaters. Or maybe I’ll pin it on my bag the way my kids do with their superhero pins!

I’m also loving this Claudia Pearson poster for its bright cheekiness. It’s the first in a series of hand-drawn type posters featuring some classic and some more obscure song lyrics. This one was inspired by Roy Ayers “We Live in Brooklyn Baby!” Pearson, a Brooklyn local, has been published in the New York Times, Elle, The New Yorker and The Big Book of Illustration, among others. She also has one children’s book and is working on another. Besides prints like the one pictured, her illustrations are available on tea towels, totes, cards and books. You can find her work in her etsy store.


 I am not the crunchy, granola-making sort BUT I am having a clog moment as the weather turns and the Havaianas no longer cut it to run the kids to school on a chilly, wet morning. Plus, I am not very good at wearing shoes. Seriously, no matter what shoes I wear I manage to end up with red, chewed-up heels and other assorted blisters and bumps. I am obviously meant to be barefoot but since that isn’t practical roaming the Brooklyn streets, clogs – which have no back – seem like a practical alternative. What’s more, they could work well with the whole knee-high-sock-trend that’s promising to be big this Fall. I haven’t owned clogs since I was a very young girl back in Adelaide and probably still in primary (elementary) school, and I probably haven’t worn knee-high socks since then either – but this Fall, it’s all about to change. I like the lightweight Sven clogs, available online or at Refinery on Smith Street, the go-to for Brooklyn women searching for clogs or the other staple Saltwater Sandals. I know there are much fancier and pricier clogs out there right now, but I’m thinking Sven might do the job and be a good “trainer” clog so to speak.

Lobster + Pool = Summer Salvation

The sweltering heat is killing me just like everyone else. I’ve spent a disproportionate number of hours with the AC running, much to my annoyance. But there are two things in particular that have given me solace this summer: the weekly lobster feasts at Rocky Sullivan’s pub in Red Hook and the Double-D pool.

Lobster no doubt speaks for itself. What’s not to love about a fresh Maine lobster cooked by the Red Hook Lobster Pound crew and dished up with corn, a teeny container of coleslaw or potato salad, a bib and a mound of napkins for cleanup – followed by a whoopie pie for dessert – all for $25. With a Sixpoint Ale at hand and a table of friends outside on Rocky’s sprawling rooftop you really can’t go wrong. This weekly dinner – lobsters are Friday and Saturday nights only – are a great way to get together with people and include the kids. Who doesn’t like lobster- especially when you can crack and suck and gnaw out in the open without worrying too much about the clean up?

The other almost daily destination that has saved many a scorching day is the local pool. Not some fancy country club or beach house out East, but a New York City public pool, one that came distressingly close to being closed because of budget cuts before the swim season even started this year. Thankfully Mayor Bloomberg and co had the sense to keep open the Double D, so named because of its location between Douglass and Degraw Streets, and Nevins Street and Third Avenue. Its dubious position, nestled amongst derelict industrial buildings and just across the Gowanus Canal, has helped keep it a bit of a secret watering hole for as long as I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens.

The first time I took my children there a summer ago, we embarked on an adventure, strolling down the street in just our swimsuits and towels, past the old men huddled outside C-Town and across not-so-salubrious streets into something of a wasteland butting the Gowanus, the now Superfund site-and aspiring Venice of Brooklyn. The pool is not in the prettiest spot, and it’s not easy to find unless you’re willing to venture outside your usual zone. The rigid rules that go with a City pool can also deter a lot of people – from only allowing white tees and hats to banning cell phones in the pool area. But traveling light (swimsuit, towel, that’s it) and going early all make it worthwhile. It really is a neighborhood oasis.

We’ve been to the pool at least every second day since school ended, sometimes for a full four-hour session and other days for just a quick dip before dinner. It’s worth knowing that children can have a free, school-style lunch, too, if you are there through lunch hours. It’s usually a sandwich, fruit and a carton of chocolate milk – not especially appetizing, but enough to tide waterlogged children over until they get home.

The Double-D pool is open daily until Labor Day. There are two swim sessions: 11am-3pm and 4pm -7pm. For pool rules and information ring 718 625 3268.

Rocky Sullivan’s is at 34 Van Dyke Street, at Dwight Street, 718 246 8050. If you can’t make it to Rockys but still want lobster, head to the Red Hook Lobster Pound at 284 Van Brunt Street, 646 326 7650.

Bagging Dinner in Union Square

There is one kind of shopping I really love: strolling around the farmers’ market early in the morning, before the crowds and the before the hot sun saps the freshness from the produce and me. It was a rare treat today to be in Union Square with an hour to kill, and an empty bag to fill with vegetables and fruits.

I counted at least seven types of radishes from long white, to  French breakfast and all sorts in between; and at least as many different types of carrots and squash and garlic, from big, fresh bunches of bulbs to spindly scapes and tiny individual shoots.

 I grabbed a bit of everything, as well as baby fennel, cucumbers and peaches and will decide what to do with it later: though usually I just lay it all out and the children and I feast as is.

avocado squash

My son will devour the tiny, perfect peaches that send juice running down your arm with the first bite. And I think I will saute the medley of squash: long and round yellow, long pale green, and avocado squash (my new favorite) with some of the fresh garlic shoots and a slurp of olive oil.

There are markets all around the city now, but Union Square is my pick, though it does get crazy busy, especially with the neighborhood restaurants swooping early for the choice produce. For a list of  farmers’ markets and their days of operation, check here.

dinner tonight?

Walk Towards the (Lime) Light

When I gave up at the DVF sample sale opening day, I headed downtown along Sixth Ave, and checked out the hot new Limelight Marketplace. Inside the 163-year-old  church-turned-nightclub, the shiny new market (mall?)  is a candybox assortment of mostly high-end pop-up stores, with one of the prettiest and probably priciest “food halls” to boot. I picked up a new pair of Havaiana flip-flops at $18 but if it’s Petrossian caviar, Mariebelle chocolates or a bikini wax from J Sisters you’re after, the Limelight Marketplace has it. The marketplace is at 656 Sixth Avenue at 20th Street. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm, and Sundays 11am to 8pm.

Score! At Swap Til You Drop Pop-Up Store This Saturday

Ever wish you could clear out all of your old, unused, unworn, unread stuff and swap it for fresh things, be it books, clothes or cool homewares: Well, get thee to BKLYN Yard this Saturday, May 29 for the next pop-up “free store” Score!

Here’s how it works: you take your old clothes, books, electronics and tsotchkes and drop them at the door, where volunteers sort them and distribute them to themed departments. Then professional curators – this time Etsy, Brooklyn hackerspace AlphaOne, vintage fashionistas Market Publique and the bookish crew from Desk Set are among the all-star curating team – pulling it all together and merchandising the unwanted items into boutique-like displays.

Then, you get to go shopping for NOTHING. And while you’re loading up on freebies, there’s music and other artsy carryings-on to keep you amused. Anything left at the end of the day gets recycled or donated to charity.

Departments this year have been expanded to include clothing for men and women, books + media, electronics, music, housewares, bikes, crafts and a kiddie corner. Start clearing out that closet, because the last two Scores! have drawn more than 1,000 people apiece.

The only catch is there is a $3 cover with RSVP here; and $5 if you don’t RSVP. But hey, think of all the stuff you can offload and the new things to take home.

Score! is on this Saturday from noon to 6pm at BKLYN Yard, 400 Carroll Street, between Bond and Nevins. In case it rains, the rain date is Saturday, June 5.

These Shoes Were Made For Talking!

Who knew that one pair of shoes could evoke so many memories and begin so many conversations. That pair of shoes being my Kork-Ease  Bette sandals in “luggage” with a suede-covered wedge heel. They are not especially fancy or expensive, but I love them all the same and have worn them on and off for the past two summers.

Kork-Ease wedges

This week I got to thinking what it is that makes a piece of clothing iconic and whether perhaps the classic Kork-Ease wedge meets the criteria? I must have met and chatted the past few days with at least a dozen people, mostly strangers – between Brooklyn and Manhattan, in stores, on the street and on the subway – about these very shoes.

This is generally how it plays out: firstly someone will point and comment to their friend or they’ll just come out and say “I love your shoes”; and then the stories begin. These wedge-heeled walks down memory lane have taken a bunch of my new acquaintances back to sixth grade or so when women recalled either wearing the exact pair of shoes, or begging their mothers for them.

One woman I chatted with on the R train revealed that she wore them somewhere around 1975; adding proudly that they were the first shoes she bought when she “left the projects”. Two older women on the F train and en route to the airport after a girls’ vacation in the Big Apple, said they’d considered buying my shoes during their stay but worried that the 4 1/4-inch heels and potholed sidewalks might land someone in hospital.

Kork-Ease, the company that started business in Brooklyn in 1953 as a “comfort” shoe brand, burst into the fashion scene as a must-have in the 70s. Outlandish fashion designer Betsy Johnson reportedly owned at least 10 pairs; entertainer and actress Bette Midler wore them; and to be sure, any hipster shy of 30 owned at least one pair. As the Kork-Ease Facebook page states, it was the shoe that stood in line at Studio 54.

Well, Kork-Ease is back making its famed wedges as well as an ever-growing range of comfortable sandals and shoes. They’re a little more pricey than in the 70s when they retailed between $25 and $40 but still much cheaper than designer rivals. The Bette heels that garnered so much attention were about $149 online, and pretty much all the big online shoe stores from Zappos and Shoebuy, to Online Shoes and Amazon offer at least some of the styles.

Surely if a pair of shoes can unite strangers, evoke fun memories of one’s youth, and still be current and stylish today, they deserve icon status?

Light Relief

It’s been a busy week. A stressful week even, but I finally got some light relief when I stumbled upon, which has plenty of hilarious fodder. is a collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers. It lists tales of amusing and sometimes unbelievable conversations between designers and their clients; from their bizarre requests and odd quirks to out-of-the box demands. The conversations are unedited, and oh so relatable.

One of my favorites, which had my husband and I chuckling from our laptops was the client seeking a “deeply spiritual” design for a website, including crosses and perhaps some images of Saints thrown in for good measure. When the designer declares he or she is an atheist, the client eventually decides it cannot work with someone in league with the devil. You kind of have to read the conversation to appreciate its humor.

If you need some light relief or have dealt with some hellish clients, check it out.

Like It, Want It


I Like It Too!

I love graphic arts; probably something to do with my job at a graphic design magazine and writer’s thirst for the brief, catchy one-liner. Well, I discovered this Anthony Burrill print hanging on a friend’s wall at the weekend and wanted to take it home.

“I Like It. What Is It?” was exactly what I asked my host, several times, in fact, until he introduced me to Burrill, a UK-based designer whose work spans witty posters, to film and Internet projects. Trained at the Royal College of Art in London, Burrill has designed ad campaigns for London Underground, DIESEL and Nike, among others; and covers for The Economist and Wallpaper. He’s also produced interactive web-based work for bands such as Kraftwerk and Air, murals for Bloomberg and Priestman Goode, and designed the identity for KesselsKramer’s London base KK OUTLET.

But it’s his woodblock posters, each one signed in pencil, that I really fell for. Burrill uses traditional woodblock letterpress techniques to convey his message on 100% recycled paper.

His appreciation of simplicity comes across loud and clear in his trademark one-liners. He’s not saying anything particularly deep or cerebral, but the direct, uncomplicated style makes it something you want to repeat, or at very least hang over a desk someplace visible.  His limited edition prints – including one of the most well-known “Work Hard and Be Nice to People” – have become mantras for the design community and beyond.

The April  issue of Creative Review also features Burrill’s cover art. To see more of his work or to buy one of his woodblock prints, check out his website