November 3, 2008

Social Dragonfly

For Halloween four days ago, I was a dragonfly.


As with last year, being in costume on Halloween is a ton of fun. People smile as you walk down the street and the other costumed people make for a festive scene. Union Hall in Brooklyn was much emptier than last year, which I think is because it was a Friday night so many people may have had private parties to go to whereas on a week night, they'd be more likely to go to a local spot. But it was still a blast.

October 21, 2008

Great Live Jazz

Mentioned a while back on this blog, Puppets Jazz Bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn offers up serious live jazz in a great atmosphere with amazing music, great drinks and a small delicious menu of food.

Puppets Jazz Club

Puppets has moved down the block to swankier but still intimate digs at 481 Fifth Avenue off 11th Street. My friend and sometime keyboard player for my band plays with heavy hitters in both the jazz and pop arena and he had a recent gig at Puppets the last couple of weeks with bassist extraordinaire Alex Blake. It's been longer than I realized since I heard juicy live jazz and this night did me much good. They even played a knockout version of Night in Tunisia, the Thelonius Monk beauty, for me that was stunning, especially Ted Cruz on piano. The audience loves the jazz being played here, which is always a nice contribution that keeps the air pulsing along with the music.

August 7, 2008

Bridging the Gaps

Bridges can be taken for granted, though we depend on them.

Brooklyn Bridge then and now

Above: The Brooklyn Bridge in 1899 and circa today

The Brooklyn Bridge is one that people walk across more than many. For New Yorkers who don't know Brooklyn well, a stroll across the bridge might be a good way to get acquainted with the borough. This bridge plays an integral role in the life of its neighborhood. It is a presence and character, not just a means of transport. It has personality besides good looks. Hail to the engineering and design that goes into such a monumental feat as building a bridge. If our mental bridges can be as sturdy and elegant as the Brooklyn Bridge, they will no doubt serve to link precarious gaps between difficult concepts and constructs that deserve easy access to each other's benefits, as do the worthy next door boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

August 2, 2008


In the part of Brooklyn known as South Slope sits a fantastic restaurant called Applewood.

Applewood in Brooklyn Applewood offers a delicious menu; prices are the steep side of “regular” but are worth it for a treat. Nestled on 11th street between 7th and 8th avenues, the decor looks like an intelligent East Hampton place while the food is more refined still.

My friend and I went here the other night and had a great time. We talked about Park Slope and South Slope in Brooklyn sporting constantly opening and closing venues.

He always loved to go out; I preferred to stay in; now I've been going out more and he's been staying in. It made me think how many times things take cyclical turns. We often seem to need to go in extreme directions first before learning to strike a harmonious balance like a cultured menu.

June 2, 2008

Mood Lighting

Phosphoria creates custom-made lighting in a wide range of styles.

Gorgeous Lighting from Phosphoria

Unique and stunning lighting designs from Phosphoria

Creator Noah Prince has a background in movie and television lighting and realized that regular life was getting short shrift. Nothing sets a mood more than lighting.

Phosphoria Brooklyn lighting design

Thanks to Greenjeans Brooklyn for citing these beautiful lighting designs from Phosphoria in their report on the Brooklyn Designs show in May. Phosphoria also showed at the ICFF

May 29, 2008

Music, Food, Hardware & Art
Amp Up in Brooklyn

For those who love artistic things that function well, the upcoming Crest Hardware Art Show in Brooklyn with a fun opening celebration June 7th and running until July 11th hosts a satisfying concept.

Crest Hardware Art Show

Here's what store manager Joseph Franquinha says about the recurring show:

“As manager of Crest Hardware, I am thrilled to provide a unique, non-traditional atmosphere to showcase the artwork of the creative and vibrant community we service. I have such a love and appreciation for art and I am fascinated with seeing the transformation of basic hardware materials into something other than what they are intended for.”

Hardware as Art at the Crest Hardware Art ShowThe celebration offers music and food as well as hardware and art. Great hardware really is art anyway but in this show, they get carried away.

One of my talented musician friends, Bill Bell, is performing. Bill's musicianship is superb (he plays pretty much every instrument and plenty you've never heard of) so stop by Saturday, June 7th if you can.

May 1, 2008

Sultry Salsa in Brooklyn

Unexpectedly last night, I took a Salsa dance class in Brooklyn.

Salsa in Brooklyn So no one was wearing outfits like these nippers in class, which was a fun and motley crew of grownups. But still, the vibe is there. The teacher is spunky and awesome. My friend was taking the class and I drove him there. He said I was welcome to watch and I LOVE dancing so I thought I would. One thing led to another. The teacher, who is great at pulling people in, said I was welcome to take part. It would never have occurred to me otherwise, especially since my footwear of the moment was platform slides — so I took them off and did the class barefoot.

it's funny because I just read an article about the benefits of going barefoot yesterday. I think you can spin better with thin dance soles but having read this article definitely helped me not feel so weird taking a dance class in bare feet. All in all a great night's fun.

Go spin for yourself:

For Salsa Dance Classes call: 347-628-5883

Location: 259 Smith Street in Brooklyn

Private classes are also available. By the way, there are dozens of amazing! restaurants on this strip of Smith Street too. Savoia is one of them.

April 18, 2008

Go to Bed

These colorful, fanciful and funny sculptures, all supporting a bed theme, are by artist Jane Kaufman, available for purchase through Greenjeans in Brooklyn, NY (highlighted yesterday).

Jane Kaufman Bed Sculptures

L to R: Flower Bed, Day Bed, Bedtime Story

Part of a show on small quilts called Under Cover sponsored by Greenjeans this February–March, these adorable sculptures remind me a little of Maira Kalman's illustrations too (see recent entry). They tell a story as well as being pretty to look at. Art that gets your imagination going is so healthy, I think. It's like turning on several burners at once and really making a feast. 

April 17, 2008

A Craft Store Grows in Brooklyn

I've been frequenting a pretty little high-end craft store in Park Slope, Brooklyn called Greenjeans, run by Amy Shaw and Jae Kim (wife and husband; I love it when couples work together).

Some of Greenjeans' Wares

Some Greenjeans products I really like: maple cutting board, original toy animal, scented soap

Greenjeans carries an eclectic and selective mixture of jewelry, toys, artwork and housewares. All are made in the U.S. by hand, a requirement for their merchandise. Amy and Jae quit their corporate jobs to start the store a few years ago — more power to them. I found them while looking through Park Slope and am very glad I did.

More Greejeans Brooklyn Goodies

More nice things: graceful earrings, chic metal evening bag, toasty handmade socks

Taking a drive down to the store for an unplanned outing is a reward for me. The part of Park Slope in which the store stands is a bit at the edge of what I'd known previously. The store is located on 7th avenue between 15th and 16th streets.

Fanciful Greenjeans Angel SculptureSmall casual restaurants and stores dot the area in Brooklyn and although the main section has gone well past emerging, outer areas are still stretching their legs. It's like boutique shopping, which I have always found more satisfying than department store shopping, although naturally the selections are more limited. Today, with online shopping resources so grand, you can have the best of both worlds. Go online when you're driven to find something specific and go strolling to a store like Greenjeans for the pure pleasure of it. Amy and Jae, you'll be seeing me again soon.


November 2, 2007

Yes, I Really Can Fly

For the first time in a while, I went out in a costume on Halloween:


In case you can't tell (duh), I'm a wood nymph. I had gotten this costume that I love, complete with (working) wings for a party two years ago that never happened. So this year, I just thought, I'm putting it on and going some place. That place ended up being Union Hall in Brooklyn, which I mentioned a few entries back as having fun and good-looking bocce ball courts. Well, did we ever have a good time (my friend and I). The place was very full but because it's so big, there was still enough room to walk around without it getting uncomfortable. It was like being in a party at a beautiful mansion. The costumes were fantastic, from Marie Antoinette to Clark Kent to pirates to many original oddball combos that were hilarious — lots of great wigs with huge hair — the inventiveness was satisfying. Everyone was friendly and you could easily talk to strangers because the costumes were a good introduction. About a fifth or so of the crowd wasn't wearing costumes and even that was fun, making it an odder and more eclectic scene. It was a perfect party and I'm so glad I went out. I'm definitely doing this again.

October 9, 2007

Late Night Bocce Ball Fun

Over in Park Slope, Brooklyn, there's a great place to go called Union Hall. Their elegant, spacious interior houses, among other amenities, two bocce ball courts.

Bocce Ball at Union Hall

A less-interested sportsperson than me there could not be, however, someone was nice enough to ask me if I felt like playing and it was a great atmosphere and looked intriguing so I did. Boy, did I have fun, not to mention that my team won, which was just me and a nice guy I met named Chad. I've never seen bocce before, let alone played it and I can see why it draws a crowd here. I read a bunch of online reviews of this place and while most people like it, there are complaints too. I went late on a Monday holiday evening so perhaps I'd have to see it under varied circumstances but I had an extremely favorable impression.

Union Hall, Brooklyn

Union Hall is a beautiful place — exceptionally spacious, elegant calm lighting, a library that lives look and feel. Park Slope is filled with restaurants and interesting spots in which to spend time — The Tea Room offers something similar and really nice too at 837 Union Street. I guess I'm not as jaded as I used to be. But I can't stand bad service and overly crowded, noisy places. Last night, Union Hall got a top rating from me. I applaud them for offering not just another restaurant or bar but a place that gives you a calm, enjoyable unique experience. They also offer live music downstairs, which looks like a great room (can't vouch for the sound) and interesting lectures.

January 1, 2006

New Beginnings: Modern Art Rugs Take Off

Happy birthday, world. It's 2006.

modern art rugs take off in 2006 
I wish everyone the best year of their lives. My personal good news is that my modern art rug design business received its first really significant retail store order on December 31, 2005. It was a nice way to bid adieu to 2005 and usher in 2006. The unique colorful rugs are being carried by Hers & Mine, an enticing furniture store in Park Slope, Brooklyn (250 Fifth Avenue; call 718-783-3500 for information). Owner Akua Hendricks has big plans for both the custom rug designs and the rest of her store this coming year. Akua loves color, among other design elements. The colorful rugs speak to that. She will have a full wall display of the unique rugs for your viewing pleasure as well as full size area rugs, to give you a rich taste of the line. Also find great armoires, wood tables in perfect sizes and many small decorative items such as picture frames and pillows at Hers & Mine. Akua is wonderful so pay her a visit and enrich your home decor.

Our modern art rugs can be ordered through Hers & Mine. You are welcome to direct any custom rug or other questions directly to us. Please note that one feature of the custom rug line is that you can order all sizes and shapes, including, for example, round area rugs, square rugs, extra long rug runners and more.

Up the street a couple of blocks, at 152 Fifth Avenue, is At Home on Fifth (718-399-0091), a sister store, that carries dazzling home decor such as glassware, tableware, bowls etc. from respected vendors such as Vietri. Akua's mom owns that store. An aunt owns a bustling candy store next door. This family is an inspiration.

Park Slope is a great place to spend a day or weekend, filled with delectable stores such as these, the beautiful Promenade for romantic strolls, Prospect Park and more restaurants than you could ever find time to eat in. 

November 4, 2005

Streets from Another Time

Driving through Cobble Hill in Brooklyn today, I discovered streets I hadn't known. This beautiful neighborhood is overflowing with graceful brownstones.

Enticing stores beckon from the main avenues. What struck me the most, though, was the narrow streets, built in a time before cars. On the main roads, you can drive just fine. But on the densely-inhabited inner streets, cars line both sides and there is only room for one average-sized car to ride down the middle. I cannot imagine how a truck (moving, for instance) would maneuver these passageways. It was a striking indication of how we are living in history.

The houses were built and lives were lived in them well before cars were an everyday fact. It makes you wonder who lived in each of the dwellings, besides how they got around. As a lover of Jane Austen, my mind drifts to her tales of early 1800s social goings-on and calling cards left behind in elegant foyers. For those who don't know, such “calling cards” were the precursor to today's mandatory business card. They began in the 1800s and were exclusively used by the upper classes at first. They contained only the person’s name in the center of the card, indicating that person had called and would appreciate a return gesture. (My design business can make you a gorgeous unusual or sedate and tasteful business card.)

Seeing the reality of life still thriving in these lovely houses gives me a calming sense of continuity. I hope these homes live long into the future and imagine they will. If you think about it, they long outlive us. They are, among other things, a testament to the builders’ skills, still going strong many decades and even centuries after their origination. May we all leave such a useful and appealing piece of ourselves for the future to enjoy.

November 1, 2005

Blossoming Brooklyn

My fledgling rug design business is focused in Brooklyn. That's because Brooklyn is blossoming. Some would say it's in full bloom, with interesting stores, restaurants and events happening regularly.


My boyfriend, David, lives in Park Slope, a great place. The first retail store to carry my rugs, Hers & Mine, an eclectic furniture store with a colorful personality, is down the block on Garfield Street and Fifth Avenue. Before I met David, I hadn't been to Brooklyn, except to drive musician friends to gigs once or twice. Speaking of music, for those of use who care and love jazz, it is stretching out in Brooklyn. A small club called Puppets offers talent-laden original sounds. Another delicious restaurant, Night and Day, at 230 Fifth Avenue, is about to open a full back room with live jazz seven nights a week (please note that the websites for both establishments don't do the venues justice).

The life that is happening in this cousin of a borough is amazing. To me, it seems like a sophisticated relative who isn't jaded, yet anyway.