Friday, September 30, 2011

Making yourself at work

I don't speak very much about my professional life here on Fresh Basil, but I can tell you all now that the last few months have been a bit strange for me, work-wise. When we moved away from New York, I left behind I job I adored. After many (many!!!) interviews, I've recently started a new position. It's early days still, but I think I will love it just as much!

I've been slowly bringing things into my new office that make it feel a bit more homey. I have a painting hung on the wall, a cute table lamp, a drinking glass, real silverware for when I eat lunch, some tea and a scarf. I usually have cute stationary and stamps at my desk too, just in case I need to send a note. These would be perfect!
Tell me, do you nest and bring personal things into the office, or does this seem sort of over the top?

P.S. My family went to the Big E last weekend, and my sister put up a couple cute posts about we saw and ate! The fair is still going on this weekend, in case you want to experience fried cookie dough balls for yourself :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ikat settee

Remember a million years ago when we pretend shopped for my living room?! You guys will be proud. I've actually bought some of it! It's looking very "Option 1" -- we bought the couch, a rug with a similar color scheme and I painted my coffee table black. 

I've been looking on Craigslist for settees I could recover in a cute stripe, but haven't found the perfect thing. I'm thinking about cheating on the stripes with this darling ikat one. Please weigh in, I'm driving myself crazy with indecision. Will I be sick of it six months, or is it so super cute I will love it for always? Jordan Ferney had it in her fab apartment, if that helps your decision process at all :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

M.F.K. Fischer on gastronomical perfection

(Photo courtesy of my lovely sister)

"Gastronomical perfection can be reached in these combinations: one person dining alone, usually upon a  couch or a hill side; two people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good restaurant; six people*, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good home."
- M.F.K. Fisher in An Alphabet for Gourmets

*I personally might argue that eight is an equally magical number, but then again, who am I to argue with the M.F.K.?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Attitude adjustment

A lot of people declare that fall is their favorite season. The chill in the air, the colorful leaves, the fresh start. I don't understand the appeal. To me, all the fun stuff happens in summer. There's extra time off, beach vacations, ice cream, and as much pink clothing as you want. Fall is death, the end of fun!

As you can see, I'm in need of an attitude adjustment. Here are a few things that might get me just a tiny bit excited about autumn.

1. Shawl, H&M. It has a fox on it! That's cool, not creepy, right?
2. Garden Place Small Coal, Kate Spade. Neutral bags seem like they should go with everything, but really, red, green and yellow bags are wardrobe workhorses.
3. Zippy coasters, Anthropologie. I need these - they totally match my new curtains!
4. Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith. New book club selection! I'll read it, but attend in spirit.
5. Poser by Claire Dederer. Reading this now and loving it - a very nice reminder about practicing joy.
6. Modern Croc Blouson, Ann Taylor. I tried this on and loved it; now I'm waiting for it to become deeply discounted :)
7. Monogrammed pillow, Martha Stewart. Fun new craft added to my ever-growing list.

Do you share these hateful feelings about autumn's approach, or are you one of those crazy people that claim love it?! What are you excited about buying, making or reading these days?

Friday, September 9, 2011

British flapjacks

I am heading down to the Cape this afternoon for a long-awaited weekend reunion with my beloved NYC book club. I could not be more excited! The agenda will hopefully include yoga on the beach, lots wine and cheese, and lobsters!

I made a batch of British flapjacks to take along. The ingredient list is incredibly humble, but these bars are a strangely seductive beast. I can almost guarantee you'll find yourself wandering into the kitchen over and over again to take another piece. 

Wishing a happy, flapjack-y weekend to all!

British flapjacks

You will need: 

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup (I use a combination of maple syrup and honey and they come out beautifully)
2 1/3 cups quick cooking oats
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 inch baking pan. Combine butter, syrup and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and add in oats and salt. Stir until coated, then transfer to baking dish. Use the back of a spoon to even out the mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cut into 4 squares, then cut each square into triangles. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

House tour: The pantry

Between the kitchen and dining room, there's a darling pantry. It's basically an open shrine to wedding gifts (Hello, pretty KitchenAid! Hello, Penguin!). But I love this little space so much. I'll wander in at least once a day to look at all my stuff. 

I guess I'm very shallow and materialistic when it comes to Le Creuset?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guide to Martha's Vineyard

(Photos courtesy of my lovely sister)

This is a snobby thing to say, but I'll tell you anyway. When we drive to Woods Hole every summer to board the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, many of the cars speed off to various exits on the Cape, and I can't help but feel a little sad for those people. I want to shout, you're not there yet, keep going! Wait till you see Martha's Vineyard.

I've been vacationing there with my family for 13 years, and we've discovered many favorite places along the way.

Things to do:
  • Beach day at Gay Head (Aquinnah): This beach is a bit of hike (both from the main towns on the island and from the parking lot!), but it's worth it. The clay cliffs are striking. And it's one of the few US beaches were you can go nude! (Do I need to mention that we don't participate?) South Beach is fun, but Gay Head is the best.
  • Grange Hall: There's a fantastic farmer's market on Saturday and Wednesday mornings, and an artisan fair every Sunday.
  • Sunset at Menemsha: Grab dinner at The Bite, open a bottle of wine, and watch the sun dip into the ocean. 
  • Vineyard Sound: Look, I know acapella is sort of dorky, but these guys are super fun. As a young teenager, I had high hopes of marrying a member (didn't really matter which one), so maybe it's just a sentimental soft spot for me.
  • Walk through the cottages in Oak Bluffs: So cute, just a little creepy.

Things to eat:
  • Breakfast at Art Cliff: Almond crusted french toast and the Bull's Eye are two favorites. They also have a food truck at night serving dinner (so hip!).
  • Detente: My favorite restaurant on the island. The menu is local and creative and everything is beautifully presented.
  • Ice cream: We have an on-going debate about the merits of Ben and Bill's vs. Mad Martha's. I contend that Mad Martha's is creamier, hence more delicious. Everyone else is swayed by the huge list of flavors at Ben and Bill's.  You'll have to try both - repeatedly! - to see where you stand.
  • Net Result: Order the plate with steamed mussels, clams and lobster, a side of fries, and walk across the parking lot to the quiet picnic tables by the cove. This is always one of my favorite meals of the year.
  • Lambert's Cove: The food at Detente is fab, but the setting at Lambert's Cove is magical. Sit by the pool for a drink before dinner (it's BYOB, so take wine along!). Bunnies and birds and even a doe might appear in the garden! The dining room is lovely, and the food is quite good, too.
This certainly isn't a complete list of everything the island has to offer, but it would be a good jumping off point :) Does anyone have anything to add to the list?! Are you taking any little trips this fall? It's such a great time for a weekend getaway!

Friday, September 2, 2011

House tour: Dining room

The dining room in the new house isn't so different from the last one -- a new(ish) rug and drapes have been added, but all the furniture is the same.

Doesn't our gin look happy here?

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