October Shopping List

Some of my finds for this month:

October Shopping List

Public Goods Gift Set, Emerald Top, Black Booties, Cognac Mules, Black Turtleneck, Essie Nail Polish, Amber Glass Bottles, Black Serving Utensils, Bird Tray, Hello Notecards, Cognac Leather Wallet, Black Lantern, Wooden Cutting Board, Candle, Graphic Pillow Cover, Natural Blanket, Notebook, Reusable Bag

In my closet, I’ve added a few rich seasonal colors in classic pieces.  My clothing is heavily informed by timeless classics.  I usually dress in neutrals, but buy a piece or two for the season, like this emerald top from H&M.  For fall, I think a classic black ankle boot works with everything.  I am living in these mules from Madewell, because they are easy to kick on and dress up or down.  I’m obsessed with the leather wallet from Sézane, I love the color and simple design.
Our apartment is pretty minimal and modern, but I like warming it up for the season with natural elements like the wooden cutting board and the natural throw blanket.  I also like black accents to catch the eye, like these black serving utensils and the black lantern.  The lantern reminds me of the ones I saw outside restaurants in Stockholm at night.  I think simple things like changing out toss pillows and small accents make the apartment feel seasonal, but don’t hit you over the head with it.

I decant our soap into these amber glass bottles, I love eliminating branded packaging whenever possible. I am curious to try Public Goods, an online company that offers personal care and home products in minimalist packaging.  The products are clean (environmentally friendly and non-toxic).  With a subscription to Public Goods the products are very affordable.  It’s a brand I’m curious to try.

All About My Kitchen

Our Kitchen

As a passionate cook, I was really hoping for a better kitchen in our Squirrel Hill apartment, but we moved out on really short notice and had to make some compromises.  Our apartment is wonderful with a great view and lots of space. We are very comfortable.  While it isn’t much to look at, I’ve made our kitchen work for us with just a few adjustments and some organization.  It’s a work in progress, but so far I’m pretty happy with how we are using the space.  

When I’m cooking, I like to have easy access to the most important tools and ingredients. When we first moved in, I knew I wanted to use the walls to help organize and keep the kitchen user-friendly.  My favorite addition has been the Ikea peg board above the sink.  We’ve re-arranged it a lot as we get used to the space.  I have so much fun changing up what we hang on the board.  Ikea sells so many different hooks and holders, so these peg boards are infinitely customizable. 

Kitchen Peg Board
Ikea SKÅDIS Peg Board Collection, All-Clad Pans Williams Sonoma Fish Spatual, Measuring Spoons, Whisk, Peeler, Microplane, Kitchen Aid Tongs, Williams Sonoma Dish Soap Bottle, Redecker Scrub Brush and Bottle Brush, Ikea Tumbler (to hold brush), Williams Sonoma Pop-up Sponges, PUR Water Filter

Counter StorageI like to have things I use frequently on hand: Trader Joe’s Olive Oil, Maldon Sea Salt, and tasting spoons.  I used to put my blender away every time I use it, but it is so heavy I started to leave it out all the time.  The knife rack just went up this weekend. The shelves in our cabinet gave us plenty of space for our pretty extensive collection of glassware, jars and mugs.  We picked up the shelves at The Container Store, they only cost $7 a piece and made a world of difference.  In the other set of cabinets we store spices and other ingredients that I mix into smoothies.  The second shelf houses our collection of storage containers and mixing bowls.  Admittedly, this area could use a little more organization.  

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By hanging things on the walls, we opened up our drawer space.  We use the drawer closest to the sink for flatware, spoons and spatulas.  The drawer next to the oven hold more tools, things like plastic wrap, foil, and trivets. The left most drawer has cooking tools and a tin that holds all those little things that are nice to have on hand in the kitchen: a pad of paper, pens, a measuring tape, phone charger, scissors, rubber bands etc.  We use the main lower cabinets to hold most of our All-Clad collection.  I made the small cabinet into something that is really special to me: a baking cabinet.  It is pretty packed with most of my decanted baking ingredients, specialty pans and tools, and my Kitchen-Aid mixer.  

The kitchen as it stands features a lot of beige.  I wanted to make it more modern by incorporating a lot of stainless steel with the knife rack, the hanging pans, and the tea pot on the stove.  I’m looking for some sort of art or decoration to customize the kitchen and make it feel more homey.  It would be nice to use the wall in the entryway for some organization and storage for mail and keys.

The Pantry is small but we’ve made it work.  The bottom holds our garbage and recycling, and the shelves above hold dry goods.  I installed hanging baskets from Ikea for kitchen linens – pot holders, aprons, and a huge stack of my favorite Ikea kitchen towels.

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For additional storage, I bought a small sideboard for the dining room.  The cabinets and drawers hold things that aren’t used very frequently like our 12-quart stock pot and specialty things for serving.  The sideboard mostly functions as a coffee bar for my Nespresso Machine and collection of analogue coffee makers (a French press, a moka pot, and a pressure espresso maker).  We also store wine in one cabinet and can convert the sideboard to a bar or buffet for entertaining.

One of the keys to making it work in a small kitchen is making sure everything always gets put away and the counters stay clear.  I like to minimize clutter and only have what I need.  It makes the small kitchen not feel so small.

September Shopping List

 

September Edition Shopping List

Duvet Cover, Clarifying Shampoo, Backpack for 15″ laptop, Salt Box, Woodblock Print, Net Bag, Utility Jacket

I’m looking at this duvet cover from Schoolhouse – a home design store that will be opening in Pittsburgh this fall.  I like keeping my bedroom really simple and neutral because I think it helps me sleep.

Woodblock prints like this one from Blockshop Textiles have been catching my eye lately.  The prints are simple designs with great composition.  Blockshop Textiles also sells graphic scarves, rugs, pillows, and table linens.  I really like the Hans Napkin, too. 

Utility jackets like this one from Everlane have been a staple of my wardrobe since high school.  I count on my jacket to have a lot of pockets because my pants usually don’t have any. Structure gives this casual jacket a more formal look.

I have been wearing Fjallraven backpacks for years but am looking for one to fit my 15″ laptop.  I’ve also been carrying these simple net bags, which work great for grocery shopping.  I always travel with one stashed away  so I never have to use a plastic bag.

This clarifying shampoo really helps my hair feel extremely clean, clearing up any built-up product.  It’s something I really only need to use once a week.  I like this one from Sachajuan because it barely has any scent (maybe just a hint of rosemary?).  Neutrogena makes a very inexpensive and effective clarifying shampoo, but I couldn’t stand the smell.

 

 

Decorating

ImageMy taste in interior design is clean, comfortable, warm, and modern.  I threw together some pieces for my ideal space for hanging out.

I think the most important thing is a great couch you could spend a whole day lounging on.  Since the couch is somewhere you could study, sleep, watch TV, or relax with friends, you end up spending a lot of time there.  Invest in an awesome couch.  Next, furnish that couch with some warm blankets and pillows.  I love this wool one from IKEA, I have it in my bedroom and it is super warm.  Because I’m a nerd, I’m obsessed with this ‘Ctrl, Alt, Del’ pillows.  They also have a Command, Option, Control version for Apple fanboys and girls, but I like the look of these better.

Coffee tables are likewise critical.  I love having a place to put things like beverages, magazines, various TV remotes or controllers, etc.  I also really like this nice tray which I would put fancy puzzle toys on, just for fun.  Also critical?  Lamps.  Improper lighting can be very frustrating.

This step ladder book case is pretty great, too.  I  would furnish it in a way that personalizes the room, like with large comic book anthologies stacked horizontally on the bottom shelves, an iPod dock somewhere in the middle, and framed photos toward the top.  Simple but functional.

Now, my favorite.  The beautiful bar cabinet.  Nothing says awesome like a stocked bar cabinet.  Not to mention this one is a transformer, it unfolds to maximize functionality and space.  The top becomes like a counter so you could even serve from it.  Obviously this is a pretty decadent luxury item that I cannot afford, but it is just so Batman.

Also needed for this room but not pictured:  a great TV cabinet with lots of places to hold gaming systems, media players, video games, DVDs, etc.  I think media items are best kept out of sight.  Clutter is distracting and triggers anxiety.

When decorating I like mixing high and low in a way that looks really seamless.  Like I said before, it’s important to spend money on important things like the couch or other items where functionality is critical.  When it comes to picture frames, pillows, and other accessories that’s where I try and save money.  The bar cabinet is a splurge, but c’mon, it’s pretty sweet.

If you like what you see definitely check out my Pinterest!! Most of it is decor inspiration.

Bialetti Moka Pot

Recently I purchased an Italian coffee pot and it makes a truly great product.  I love coffee and espresso but not enough to spend thousands of dollars on a legit espresso machine, but my Bialetti Moka Pot works just fine.  From what I’ve heard, the more the pot is used, the better the coffee tastes.  The Internet is full of stories about people pulling these out of their grandma’s attic and using them for years.  They are relatively inexpensive ranging from about $20 upwards depending on retailer and capacity (note that the capacity is measured expresso cups, approximately 2 oz, not 8 0z of liquid).  The coffee is not a true espresso but it is very strong and richer in taste than drip coffee.  I hear the coffee produced makes a great cappuccino or latte but I only like black coffee.  These little pots are pretty intuitive but don’t actually come with instructions.  After scouring YouTube tutorials, articles, and forums, lots of trial and error, and a moderate dose of patience, I think I’ve come up with a good method.

Here’s what to do:

  • Warm up a burner to medium heat
  • Boil water
  • Once water is boiled and the burner is warm, add hot water to the bottom chamber of the moka pot, fill just below the steam valve
  • Place in coffee holder and fill with coffee (I used Illy), then screw on top.  Make sure to hold the bottom with a pot holder (it’s hot)
  • Set the pot directly on the stove until coffee erupts and fills the pot (listen for a gurgling noise), remove from heat when top is full
  • Place hot pot on a trivet
  • Serve coffee with a small cookie and enjoy.

Bialetti Moka Pot Sur La Table (34.95), Illy Coffee Sur La Table (15.95), Plate CB2 (1.95), Espresso Cup and Saucer Crate and Barrel (3.95), Espresso Spoon Crate and Barrel (2.50)