ARCHIVE FOR April, 2012

House Porn0

Posted by Deirdre // 04-30-2012


When you live in Brooklyn, you tend to drool over things like mud rooms, play rooms, garages and pantries. Sometimes I get catalogs (has anyone else had several of those Restoration Hardware tomes arrive on their doorstep?!) and am dumb-founded by the size of some of the laundry rooms they show.

So, I thought I’d offer you a little to drool over on this beautiful Spring Day via the lovely Design Mom blog. She has a section called ‘Living with Kids’ and it’s pretty much a Pinterest-y fantasy of a home tour every time. I loved this beautiful, inviting home in Waco, TX of all places. See more and read the interview with mom Molly Winn here, and see how she and her husband chose Texas – it makes the decision seem easy.

Molly Winn's gorgeous and homey kitchen



Small Towns For Living, Not Just A Weekend33

Posted by Deirdre // 04-20-2012


Two people sent me Smithsonian’s 20 Best Small Towns in America the other day thinking it would be good for the blog, and it’s taken me days to finish this mammoth post! Why didn’t ever think of reading The Smithsonian, when it has some pretty amazing stuff on the site? I guess I thought it’d be science-y. Anyway, my lameness is for another discussion.

It’s interesting that this piece appeared in the Travel section, because their criteria for the ranking is a lot of what we talk about here.

“We think any best place worth traveling to should have one quality above others: culture.

To help create our list, we asked the geographic information systems company Esri to search its data bases for high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But we focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting”.

I often think of the neighborhoods in Brooklyn as small towns themselves – Park Slope has around 62,000 people according to Wikipedia. So why limit it to travelers? Two places on their list are truly commutable to the city – Red Bank and  Princeton, NJ. Another is part-time commutable – Great Barrington, MA and yet another is East Coast enough if one of your fears of going way beyond is leaving family here – Brattleboro, VT. Mill Valley is somewhere you might consider if work takes you to San Francisco, a place that’s been a big topic on the list serve as of late. Marfa, TX – of No Country For Old Men fame – just sounds pretty damn cool.

Here’s my somewhat limited knowledge of the above places:

Navesink River near Red Bank, NJ

Red Bank is an adorable little town right on the Navesink River and close to truly beautiful beaches. One of my best friends from college grew up there and after 20 some-odd years in Manhattan, just moved back and loves it. Her husband takes a ferry to work! Not a bad commute. I have visited her family there several times (although not since she moved – this summer, Peg!) and it’s a beautiful area – there’s Rumson on the money side and Little Silver (where she lives) for a bit more affordability.

My husband and I walked the downtown of Red Bank, with its cool little cafes and a clothing store you could actually buy stuff in you would want to wear, on the weekend of my friend’s wedding. Granted I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, had suffered through being a bridesmaid the night before with cray-cray cankles, it was a scorching day in June and we were getting a flat fixed – not an ideal sitch but we managed to enjoy it. Then the following weekend was the whole I-saw-Wilco-at-a-cool-old-Main-Street-Theater-so-we-should-live-here thing that my husband experienced. I’ll get the scoop on schools from my friend and let youz know, but suffice it to say that she went through the whole public school system and turned out ok.

I know nothing about Princeton. I have never been but it looks beautiful, and the commute is shorter than I would’ve thought – an hour on NJ Transit. Their schools look great, although “A Commitment To Excellence” scares me. Maybe I just got burned going to a competitive private school and underachieving. I guess some parents want a school system that commits to excellence for their kids! Anyone else have first hand knowledge?

Rubiner’s and Rubi’s in Great Barrington – YUM

Great Barringon, MA is another beauty of a town. We visited Brooklyn friends who have a house in Sheffield, a few miles away, and went into Great Barrington one beautiful Fall day to walk around. The town seems very sophisticated, and in more of a modern, urban way than you’d think of for the Berkshires (which I often equate with frilly B-and-B’s). Nor is it crunchy, but there is a great co-op, and there is a lot of sustainable stuff going on as you’ll see in the article. We had an amazing lunch at this awesome restaurant/take-out gourmet shop Rubiner’s, including a perfect latte at Rubi’s, the cafe. There’s a great kid’s store right on Main St, too. In terms of schools, there’s a Waldorf School right in Great Barrington. The public schools share a district with Stockbridge and West Stockbridge. If you look at some of the pics on their site and read their Mission, “To ensure all students are challenged through a wide range of experiences to become engaged and curious learners and problem solvers who effectively communicate, respect diversity, and improve themselves and their community,” it seems pretty ideal!

I’d classify it “Beyond the Burbs” because I would consider it commutable a day or so a week if your business was partly reliant on NYC. There’s a Metro North train to Wassaic, NY that’s 2 hours during peak times, and it’s a 1/2 hr drive from there. Not ideal but doable depending on your tolerance for that kind of thing.

Brattleboro Farmer’s Market Beets via Becoming Crow Lady

My sister-in-law lives in Brattleboro, VT with her family so needless to say we’ve visited there a bunch. It’s a gorgeous town with a totally walkable downtown. There’s a great Farmer’s Market every Saturday May – October which is a bit of a gathering spot for locals, and even has amazing food to buy and eat there, sitting on a tree stump listening to the local band and watching kids dance. There’s also a co-op which is not limited to members, and where you can choose to join and work or not (and they do have their own drama if you’d miss that). Needless to say it’s surrounded by beauty, with the Connecticut River running through town and Mountains all around. It’s definitely on the crunchy side, but there are a lot of transplants from all over the East Coast, so there’s a mix of ethnicities and types that you wouldn’t necessarily imagine in Vermont. It’s very progressive and I would say welcome to most types, except maybe certain Manhattan types!

There’s a great Montessori School where my niece went and the public school system is well regarded, especially middle and elementary. There are two prep schools in the area – Northfield Mount Hermon and The Putney School – which some local kids do as day students.

I won’t comment on Marfa or Mill Valley, except that I do know a lot of people live on house boats there (in Mill Valley, that is) so if that’s a dream of yours…? Of course I sent this article to my husband and he was like, “I’d live in Mill Valley!” Helpful.

What’s your take? Any of these places on your list, either the real one or the dream one?


$2 Million Is The New $1 Million1

Posted by Deirdre // 04-16-2012


A friend who lives in Clinton Hill, toying with buying here or moving elsewhere, said this the other day. This NY Times article confirms it. We were away all week and didn’t read a line of the paper, so I learned about the article last night on twitter.

My question was, where the hell would you go if you sold (she did not answer, perhaps because there is no good answer)? I guess it’s one thing if you’re going from the nicest block in Park Slope to somewhere less expensive like Bay Ridge, but otherwise there’s no bettering your living. And if you don’t already own a townhouse on the nicest block, you’re basically screwed.

This beauty, on Kane Street in Cobble Hill – a drop-dead gorgeous street that I used to walk on every day on my way to and from the F – supposedly got 14 offers, all above the $1.875 mill asking price. Apparently this is a bargain, since after all it’s a one family for less than $2m. If this is where it’s all going, PS 29 or not, we’re out.

214 Kane Street, Cobble Hill