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smoke & mirrors /smōk/ & /ˈmirərs/

The obscuring or embellishing of the truth of a situation with misleading or peripheral information

The world in which we used to live.. without Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest.. allowed us to be seen for who we really were.. as much as that is possible in life.  People took us at face value… artists, photographers and designers were only as ‘good as their last job’… our printed porfolios and client recommendations were what really counted. They kept us in business.

The world in which we now live and work, allows us all create an online ‘persona’. It’s so exhuasting. Just trying to create a real one on a daily basis is hard enough. I try to dress in a way that says, ‘I’ve got this’. I’m a mother, I’m a stylist, I live in Brooklyn.. I allude style and grace and all things calm.  My two year old honestly only wears cute European garments, hand picked by me. I wish.

The reality is.. I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. In fact, in some ways I have. I ripped my TopShop materinity jeans on the first wear  because I’m clearly too old/fat for them, I haven’t done my hair….at all. My two year old is wearing Gap cords that are too small and covered in paint, and we are having a yelling match behind closed doors about why there aren’t any more Frozen umbrellas in any shops. Anywhere. All. Sold. Out. Honestly. If it wasn’t for our nanny she wouldn’t even know Frozen umbrellas existed. I now have days ahead de – programming a two year old mind. Of course, the last Instagram image I posted of her was perfection.. striped Breton top against a grey gingham tablecloth.. in our beautiful apartment.. slightly desaturated.. ‘flawless’ one follwer had commented. I was bursting with pride. It wasn’t set up.. it really was and mostly is, just a captured moment. I admit, I do painstakingly curate my Instagram. I want to show a good balance of life and work and I generally don’t post too many personal images, I see it as a tool for my brand. If, however, I do capture a moment that I feel to be share worthy, and stylistically or photographically beautiful, I post it, even if EB happens to be wearing pink Target pyjama bottoms at the time. My images are my reality. My edited reality…

Our world is now so digital and full of images and angles we only want people to see. Not just of our work, but also our homes, lives and families. Creating an illusion of success, taste, perfection… especially on Instagram.  It is full of people whose lives are apparently only filled with white and grey. Purely white houses, children dressed from top to toe in muted Scandanvaian attire. The perfectly perfect. I gaze in wonder and awe at these Instagram accounts.. sometimes wishing I’d gone down that path of only black and white.. or tones of grey. Revealing less reality. It has a great impact and is lovely to scroll through. But for me, it’s a little too unrealistic. People don’t live in muted desaturated homes. Do they?  For those who have these monochromatic life stories, I don’t believe for a second that with children, dogs, families in tow; that their lives don’t involve at least some colour and mess.  I imagine that behind the lens.. or just of to the right of the frame.. containing only white floorboards, with black and white art and one or two high end toys…. lies a huge pile of Elsa and Anna paraphernalia.. Mickey Mouse junk.. and some of those awful plastic Fisher Price things we are all given as new parents.  It comforts me to imagine this. I hope they reveal a bit of it one day.

There is one particular designer I follow, and I truly love her posts. She does a lot of twinsies with her daughter, which I have found myself inadverntantly doing with EB since birth, but have never really posted. If I did now, I’d feel like a plagarist.  They always look gorgeous, perfect.. adorable. When I noticed she always tagged her partner I thought.. ooh maybe another highly edited flashy acount to lust after… Wrong. An image of a man, in some old shorts.. clutching the usually monochrome clad child.. in a full Elsa dress and tiara… Relief. These people are real!!! I slept better that night.

My life and work is full of images.. creating an image, making an impression.. for myself, for clients. Sometimes we can over exhaust ourselves with the visual. It’s all too much. This is the first post I’ve ever written where I won’t accompany my words with some kind of visual enhancement. A beautiful message from a dear friend in Hong Kong yesterday has sparked this post.  She said I managed to make living in New York as a mother and a stylist look so effortless. I’m surprised, flattered and feel proud of that ‘persona’ I’ve created.. but today I leave the visual to the imagination. I won’t post idealistic pictures of New York and overly art directed images..

I miss real honesty sometimes. I am living the dream.. but it is tough. On some days I look like shit, I cry, it took forever to get to this place of having another child on the way while still holding down a career in this city and I’m grateful, but exhausted.

So I’ll sign off…. as I sit here at my beautiful dining table in Brooklyn. In our perfectly imperfect, somewhat curated home…  still in pyjamas…. eating pita chips, with philadelphia and vegemite at 10am. Picture that.

eve·ry·thing ˈevrēˌTHiNG/

1. all things, all the things of a group or class

2. the current situation, life in general

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it is to have ‘everything’. It’s been niggling at me. On the outside, I’m beginning to seemingly; have everything. I live in New York, one of the world’s most idealised and sought after cites. I’m a stylist, and I’m freelance. I’m a mother and I’m a wife.  As a generation, since our thirst for adventure and success became so huge; marriage and children seems to have fallen a little by the wayside for so many of us.  I’m very lucky as it is something I always wanted as well as a career. And yet, do I have everything?

There are so many mantras strewn all over the internet that lead me to believe I am extremely lucky, or I made my own luck at least. ‘Do what you love/love what you do’.. Live Life Love… Dream Big, Work Hard’ .. and so on. Yet somehow we have been programmed to feel that no matter what we achieve, we must achieve more.. earn more.. see more .. spend more. The huge growth of reality television and our voyeuristic nature towards delving inside the somewhat empty lives of the grossly rich and famous (for apparently nothing); doesn’t help.

I often consider what life would be like had I chosen to live it very differently. I’ve had so many choices over the years,  I could just as easily now be running a small hotel in Devon with endless countryside, an interiors store in Bondi with nightly sundowners over the ocean or a retreat in magical Southern Thailand.  But I chose this, fast paced, unforgiving New York City. Succeed or jog on. My brother once told me a story about a Mexican fisherman… and it made me question my choice for a moment. But no, I know that I am here, living the fast and sometimes exhausting life for a reason, I’m loving it.

As yet another year here almost draws to a close, it’s very easy for me to sit in my warm dining room, cup of tea in hand and ponder the whole work to live/live to work debate. But in the light of all of the global happenings of 2015, I don’t think that either of those things are what is so important to me any more. I’m simply happy to be. If we choose to move on from New York one day, and back to a slower pace of life, more space less money then so be it. For now, I’m living in the moment. Whichever path we choose, I know that my family and I will most likely have warmth, shelter and love; and for this I am extremely thankful.

In the world in which we live now.. to have everything, for many millions of people, really is only to be loved, be safe and be free.

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Pai, Northern Thailand. Relax, respite, renew.

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Devon, England. Where my heart feels complete

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NY – SF – LON all have stolen a piece of my heart

up·state ˌəpˈstāt/ tivoli

An upstate area (of New York) 

Of, in, or to the northern part of a state

We’ve been visiting Tivoli for over two years now, ever since our now friends (then aquaintences) moved here. I love it. Each time I come up here my dear friends are always asking, why not move? Leave Brooklyn? It’s SO much cheaper? Life is SO much better. I think they still miss elements of NYC. I do love it upstate; with almost all of my heart… but if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to say goodbye to the high rent, small un-maintained spaces, smell of rubbish everywhere, chicken bones in all the flower beds.. sirens… it’s just too soon. I’m not quite done with that stuff. I enjoy cramming my weekly shopping into the bottom of a stroller and lugging up the hill.. half caff almond latte in hand.

However, after so long without a blog and too many work commitments of late, last week I went Tivoli once more. This time alone, on a solo prop hunting, head-hunting (my own ‘clear’ one) jaunt. I needed a break from the city craziness. My first mid week trip upstate. I was also extremely curious to try out the recently opened by Brice and Helen Marden, Hotel Tivoli. I’ve been admiring it from afar on our last few visits.

Found the perfect writing nook.. Hotel Tivoli

Found the perfect writing nook.. Hotel Tivoli

Hotel Tivoli is the newest kid on the block in the tiny and picturesque village of Tivoli. The village lies on the East of the Hudson River about 115 miles north of NYC.  With a population of only slightly over a thousand people, it feels quite the retreat from the bustling city. The vibrant hotel; joins other locals such as Tivoli Bread and Baking, whose sticky buns pretty ace, and Murray’s who make a delicious latte,  Santa Fe,.. for a tasty taco, (I’ve heard it’s great but why leave NYC for one night only and eat Mexican, right?), and the Traghaven Pub. Good old Irish eatery. (Drinkery). The village also offers tapas, japanese, pizza and is now home to a little general store.  What more could you want? My home away from home.

Home away from home at Hotel Tivoli

Home away from home at Hotel Tivoli

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Perfect morning wake up….

Every time we visit we have such a ball.. and are generally there for one of the annual events like the street painting, the yard sales or the pie contest. This time, I opted for a mid-week break. I wanted to see what it is really like upstate. On a normal day. A rainy grey Tuesday to be precise. To see how it made me feel.

One thing I learnt extremely quickly; is that if you want to visit this area and its surrounding towns for food, experience, shopping, exploring  – Tuesday is not the day to do it. Almost everything is closed. Everywhere. Lesson learnt. Do not visit areas of rural beauty and antique foraging, on a Tuesday in NY State. My journey took me to Red Hook, Hudson, Rhinebeck.. with a stopover in Tivoli. Quick squeeze and a cuddle with my pals, a bite at the pub and then back in the car for a mammonth journey East to Milford NY the next morning.

Yes MOST days open at 11..

I’d been given inside information about a barn of wonders. Wood Bull Antiques. Luckily, it IS open every day. And when I arrived at the three level (bursting at the seams) barn of antiques.. I knew my trip had been worth every moment alone in the car singing at the top of my voice.

A stylist’s heaven….I spent over four hours in there rummaging around. And came home with two more chairs that I don’t need, but absolutley do love.

Taking a road trip alone.. via a place I love… to look for things I love.. along roads unknown. There is something to be said for just getting in the car, blasting out your favourite music and driving through the sheets of grey rain and misty mountains.

It charged my dwindling batteries.

I’m back.

Chair.. welcome to your new life.. time for a re -vamp

Chair.. welcome to your new life.. time for a re -vamp

Channeling Liberty of London with beautiful florals..

Channeling Liberty of London with beautiful florals..

de·part·ment store

A large store stocking many varieties of goods in different departments

I love a department store. After all the posts I’ve written, each with a definition, somehow reading the above sentence makes my heart race more than previous ones. Words like ‘store’ and ‘goods’ do something for me.

I’m not sure if this passion for the department store is because I’m a stylist, or because I’m just getting old. Maybe it’s the perfect combination of both. Memories of growing up in the UK and my utter loathing of John Lewis, where my Mum used to buy just about everything; are flooding back to me. I considered the place extremely un-cool, especially when it came to clothes. I must admit I’m still not a fan of the John Lewis brand. Something about it seems very clinical, like a local pharmacy. But I am warming to the place in my old age. Especially the homes and interiors department –  commissioning the revival of the G Plan range was genuis. My friends in London bought their super stylish G Plan sofa from John Lewis, and I had quite a pang of living room envy when I stayed with there. Turning into my mother it seems. John Lewis, you never know, we may be reunited.

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Sofa by G Plan. Baby by me.

During my formative years I was more of a House of Fraser girl, Debenhams on a bad week. If I still lived there, I’ve convinced myself my ‘go to’ place would be Harvey Nichols. For special occasions, I believe there is nowhere in the world like Liberty of London. Growing up, Liberty was always there, lingering, slightly out of my reach in all its Tudor glory in Soho. Fabric and fragrance heaven.

Now I live in America, all of these brands are often a fond memory and I must decide whether I’m a Macy’s, Bloomingdales or Saks girl. There are so many here.. maybe Lord & Taylor, who am I? Bergdorf Goodman is far too sombre for me.  It’s the kind of store I feel like I have to be very quiet in, and pretend I’m much richer than I really am. I think I am none of the above.

My heart lies truly with ABC home. It is a department store of it’s own breed and it’s also my nirvana, I have said it before and I say it again –  I want to live there. Although this week I stumbled across a $1200 pillow cover. Indian vintage. I’ve been to India, I’m sure I saw something just like it on a bench in a cheap hotel. Come on ABC, be reasonable. I could go on holiday to India and buy 10 pillows.

Flat pack mini tables and chairs. With a splash on neon.. ABC you total flirt.

Flat pack mini tables and chairs. With a splash on neon.. ABC you total flirt.

Recently, in my Brooklyn neighborhood; we aqcuired our very own department store. Or ‘tiny’ department store as the owner describes it. I fell upon the eponymously named, Jill Lindsey store one morning and couldn’t believe my eyes. Just what we need, a tiny department store! Luckily for me, I adore all the departments.. gifts, pottery, candles, vintage finds and fashion. Each of them miniscule. The store also has it’s own oyster and champagne situtaion going on out the back.. in a quiet and cute little garden. Like gold dust in Brooklyn.. a garden.. this will be my summer ‘go to’ I’m sure.

It’s wonderful to see so many small an independent businesses popping up in Brooklyn, not only are they all after my own heart, it’s fabulous to feel a sense of community that we can support and enjoy. It’s another reason to keep me from the sweat box that is Manhattan…

Still, nothing will keep me permanently from my little fix of drifting the aisles of fabrics, pillows and nick nacks.. gliding up and down elevators with the aircon blowing in my hair… big department stores are still pretty cool too…….my age tells me so.

Jill Lindsey, mini deparment store Fort Greene.

Jill Lindsey, mini deparment store Fort Greene.

Jill Lindsey, mini department store Fort Greene

Jill Lindsey, mini department store Fort Greene

 

 

 

 

wall wôl/

1. a continuous vertical brick or stone structure that encloses or divides an area of land

synonyms; barrier, partition, enclosure, screen, panel, divider

Never did I think I’d be so obsessed with getting walls.. ever. Eight long weeks we lived without any, and when the day came to install these temporary walls, I was a mess.

Even though they are temporary, to us; they are permanent until we move on. I felt sick in the morning. I was stressed about the size, the placement, the height of the windows, the positioning of the door and so it went on. Like every true control freak should, I removed myself from the situation as early as I could and let my husband deal with it.

I checked in on FaceTime, Skype and phone; popping in and out and fluttering through with critical eyes and comments during the forty eight hour process. Popular I’m sure.

It also felt very alien to me that once the decision had been made, it was there to stick. And coping with that is hard! Throughout my career I have advised many clients on their homes and spaces. I  help them to construct, design and decorate. I soothe them, talk them through design and decorating processes, explaining it will all be fine and has been thought out to the last detail. Now it’s my home, I’m a complete mess. I truly understand it in a different sense now.

Furniture can always be moved, walls re – painted and corners endlessly re  – styled… but these babies.. once they are in, they are staying put.

The journey home yesterday was filled with a mixture of anxiety and excitement as I opened the huge industrial elevator on our floor.. and tippie toed towards our front door. I knew what lay on the other side.. chaos, dirt, a whole apartment to re – style and possibly walls that I simply could not live with.

BAM! My husband had spent the previous day putting back all our furniture, putting together our daughter’s crib and cleaning our home. What a lucky lady I am.

I have a home. Finally.

Last night I slept just on the other side of the wall from my daughter with both the window and the door wide open.

Baby steps.

 

Model in Florence Broadhurst motif body paint.

Florence Broadhurst wall coverings

 

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Tres Tintas kids room

 

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Tres Tintas mural

bump·kin /ˈbəmpkin/

An awkward, simple, rustic yokel. 

I am a self confessed city bumpkin. I live in the city, and I love it; but I have the country running through my veins and flickering its way in and out of the corners of my urban home.  Although I adore my reclaimed industrial style coffee table, and I like to think I’m hip and cool, Brooklyn style…nothing makes me happier than throwing a pot of hydrangeas on it and flicking through the pages of a country magazine whilst I drink my Lady Grey tea.

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On a recent trip upstate to Tivoli, NY, whilst visiting some newly converted city bumpkins, I realised I’m not ready to relocate yet, but I need my regular fix. Tivoli is a beautiful historic village about two hours drive up the picturesque  Taconic;  from New York City. It has all the amenities you could possibly need in a village –  good coffee, great sushi, a pub, a gorgeous bakery and beautiful lake nearby to swim in. Greeted by some typically rural laundry swaying in the summer breeze as we pulled into the driveway, I knew this was going to be a perfect weekend in the country.

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As well as enjoying the simple pleasures of a laid back al fresco Pimms,  paired with beer infused barbecued chicken and fresh tomatoes we were lucky enough to be visiting Tivoli for the weekend of their infamous yard sale. Designers, collectors and hoarders all swarm to Tivoli for this annual event and it is truly worth it. I managed to swipe myself a gorgeous vintage Samsonite suitcase for a mere twenty bucks. Once exhausted from the foraging and fossicking like bowerbirds all morning… we rested outside the local bakery to witness the pie contest, of which my favourite part was the pie eating. Who cares who wins, so long as you get to eat them?

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Back at the house with a lazy afternoon to while away; I was struck by the country air and a sudden urge to make something, I managed to create my own little flower fairy. Or did I just find her, hovering around at the bottom of the garden in all her glory? Who knows. in the country, anything is possible you know.

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art /ärt/

1. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as a painting or a sculpture.
2. Works produced by such skill and imagination

I was once given some advice on art; which was invaluable and really resonated with me. It has stuck with me ever since, and when choosing any art either for myself; or for a friend or client I always go by this mantra. If you are deciding whether or not to invest in a piece of art, no matter how financially valuable the investment; you need to imagine yourself waking up and looking at that same piece, day in day out. If during this daydream you see yourself loving it every day, even better – it moves you in some way – then you must buy it.

Artworks by Tomo. and GORF

Artworks by TOMO. and GORF

We all spend so much time deliberating with art. Many people ask my advice about what will work and what won’t but I think it’s very much a matter of opinion. Each piece of art is a very unique experience for every person.

I awoke early this morning, (as I often do these days at thirty seven weeks pregnant) and out of nowhere a memory popped into my head of a small piece of art – that I didn’t buy; the one that got away. In Sydney’s Inner West, there is a huge auction house where I used to source props and furniture items for clients and whilst on a foraging spree one sweltering day I noticed a small painting of an African woman. She was beautiful and captivating, her eyes bore into mine as I stared at her. She was not, however; on my to – do list for that day, nor did she fit into my budget. I stood there for what seemed like ages on that scorching summer’s day – deliberating about whether or not it was worth spending $100 of my hard earned freelance cash on her. I decided not. Be sensible. Save your money, Emily.

When I got home I couldn’t get her out of my head. So I decided to go back the next day, clean myself out completely of ready cash and bring her home. Upon my return, I discovered she was gone. I was devastated. She didn’t leave my thoughts for ages. I wonder where she is now. Hopefully on someone’s wall, making them feel moved by her intensity every day; not stuffed in a box somewhere.

The very first piece of art actually did invest in was by Jamie Hewlett. Again, I was in Australia. And it wasn’t a huge investment, but at the time spending $350 on a framed, signed print seemed a lot, and so I paid it off in $50 increments until tank girl was all mine. She has been with me for years and I love her.

We are very lucky to be surrounded by talented artists within our immediate and extended family, and our close friends. So we not only get to invest in our future when we buy, but we get to invest in theirs. How deliciously rewarding.

Artwork by Inkie

Photograph by Emily Gilbert. Artwork by Inkie

Photograph by Tara Striano, artworks by Mairi Duggan, Audrey Kawasaki. Wallpaper, Tres Tintas

Photograph by Tara Striano, artworks by Mairi Duggan, Audrey Kawasaki. Wallpaper, Tres Tintas

Right now I’m having a small obsession with an Australian artist, Leah Anketell.. whom I discovered through some dear and wonderful friends of mine in Byron Bay. They supply a small corner of the world with the most delicious breakfast cereals and cheer up many a day with their quirky ceramics … The Unexpected Guest. I’m a HUGE fan of both of these beachside beauties.

All I need to do now is convince my husband two weeks before the birth of our first child is the perfect time to invest in some more art. For the baby, no?

So next time you need to fill a space or finish off a room, don’t just buy something because ‘it will do for now’ or the ‘colour works’ or ‘it’s on offer at Ikea’… take your time, wait and find something that really moves you, makes you fall in love with it so much so that you can’t wait to spring out of bed and look at it every morning.

If you are stuck for inspiration, please do get in touch. Not only do I have a small team of amazing artistic friends I can hook you up with; I also am blessed with a friend who spends her days matching art to their new owners… how fabulous is that? I’m off to meet her right now and take in a little Basquiat at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea.

Many thanks to Emily Gilbert Photography and Tara Striano Photography.

christ·mas /ˈkrisməs/

The annual Christian holiday, celebrating Christ’s birth

I think a lot of people forget what Christmas is actually for….. many of us think of it as a time to get together with family, a time to give and receive gifts, a time to totally stuff your face with completely unhealthy and inappropriate foods for a day (or four)… and a time to enjoy all the fun decorating and Christmas spirit.

I grew up in a place where Christmas is a mixture of all of the above, with perhaps a Christmas morning mass thrown in and maybe some carols.

Now I’m all grown up and living in New York, a place where we will most likely say ‘Happy Holidays’ as we walk down the streets of one of the biggest melting pots of different religious beliefs; this holiday has become very much about the decorations, (food) and the lights (food) and spirit of Christmas….(chocolate).  So whilst I spend another Christmas here in our cosy brownstone in Brooklyn; I am indulging in decorating. This Christmas will be the last of its kind for me…… next year I hope to be spending the holidays with my family… who I miss very much at this time of year.

So just as you thought you might not have heard from me again as I went so quiet… I would like to leave the Appleketchup pages of 2012 with something I love dearly and something I want to share… some beautiful seasonal decorating ideas to feast your eyes on.

Merry Christmas Appleketchup

A burst of Brit meets NY, meets the farm…..pops of seasonal colour to add merriment and cheer. Merry Christmas Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A more ethereal and relaxed approach to the fireplace for Santa…….. who is ALWAYS welcome

There is something very serene and distinctly wintry about decorating all in silver and white….. with a little natural brown thrown in for good measure…. Santa surely wouldn’t want to leave!

Whatever this time of year means to you… I do hope you have fabulous fun….. and I wish you all the best for the coming year. AK.

Christmas White Final

White Christmas Detail

stay·ca·tion/ˌstāˈkāSHən/

A vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home involving day trips and local attractions. 

I’m afraid to say that I originally began writing this piece a couple of months ago, and like many of my blogs, it falls a little by the wayside whilst I ponder its worth. After nearly a year in NYC, and several months of travelling previous to that my husband and I didn’t feel an overseas trip was either necessary or deserved. I have spent the past few notable holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter etc… watching newfound friends jet off to Mexico, Canada, London and Puerto Rico…. Not me. I stayed. Settling into life in the Big Apple.

As soon as I began to research this subject, TimeOut NYC was dropped into our letterbox, and the word smeared all the way across the cover? Staycation.  So this piece went into the folder with all the other piles of as yet unpublished blogs, to sit and fester for a while. I’d missed my chance.

The thing I noticed, however, about all other articles on this subject; is that they are not only a little obvious, but are also full of activities I would not want to do. Queue at a tourist attraction, flock to an underwhelming city beach, or perhaps visit an aquarium? How unimaginative.

For me, Staycation actually means really pretending that you are on holiday for one full day or more in your own city. Relaxing, breathing in the air, enjoying a day by the pool and indulging in a sunset cocktail.  Imaging you could be anywhere at all. Now, that’s a mini-break.

In honour of actually finishing this little snippet I decided to plan a day off, and take a mini – break at home in NYC –  and in pure Appleketchup style.  My day began with a morning stroll around Prospect Park, (I know, I do this every day, but I was getting myself into holiday mode so I walked more slowly and with the conviction of a holiday maker, without the dog).  Sometimes, very early morning Prospect Park is so green and dewy, it feels like the lush pastures of good old England.

Once gentle morning exercise was completed, I decided to book myself a day spot at the King & Grove outdoor pool in Williamsburg. I packed my sunscreen, hat, iPad, and set off.

The King and Grove is a boutique design hotel, opposite McKarren Park on North 12th, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  It’s not cheap to be a day visitor, but more cost effective Monday to Thursday. $35 from 11am until 6pm.  Upon arrival, your name is ticked off and you are given towels and shown to any area that is either free or takes your fancy. There are four-person day beds, sun loungers, bleachers and tables and chairs. There are waiting staff in white polo shirts and shorts, there is a saltwater outdoor pool and poolside table service. To me, this screams vacation, and as I popped down my belongings, stripped of down to my Seafolly bikini and lay out on my bleacher in the mid – morning sun, I was taken to anywhere but Brooklyn. Miami, Ibiza, Thailand, didn’t matter – I was holiday for one day!

I indulged in all the things you ‘treat yourself’ to whilst on holiday, a prawn salad and a savvy blanc for lunch. An afternoon nap, a diet coke, a few dips and a read of my book. Wonderful, and Ididn’t have to fly anywhere. This is how you ‘staycate’  by the way, TimeOut NY.

After my day of lazing by the pool, amongst a mixture of hipsters, rich businessmen who choose to drink champagne all day, and young Mums opting for a quick break, I decided not to just go home, and sit in front of the TV, but to meet friends at Celebrate Brooklyn for a picnic and an outdoor movie.

You know that unmatchable feeling you get, only when on holiday… during the shower intermission between the beach, and the evening cocktail time? When you check out your tan lines, sigh with delight at your natural tightness of skin and tiredness from the sun, then decide what to pop on for an evening of al fresco dining? Well, I managed to get myself that wonderful feeling, right  in my claw foot tub in Brooklyn!

Celebrate Brooklyn was showing Saturday Night Fever, this particular night, and as the sun began to set, and the fireflies buzzed around our heads, I mused at how lucky I was to have visited England, Miami and Sydney, all in one day! No flying necessary.

Granted, I might live in one of the more interesting cities in the world in which to ‘staycate’, but I tell you, no matter where in the world you might live, I bet there is still a gallery worth visiting, a walk worth walking, a pool worth swimming in, or a drink, worth drinking. You all might enjoy a staycation once in a while – I challenge you to it. I would love to hear some stories.

PS…now I’m really on vacation… in the Costa Brava…. can’t beat the real thing, I’m off to the beach.

belong /bɪˈlɒŋ/

1. To be the property of

2. To be rightly placed; in a specified position

3. To have the right personal or  social qualities to be a member of a particular group

Yesterday, I finally gave in to my less than stylish self, and bought a shopping trolley bag.  I feel that little bit more New York, (well, Brooklyn), seeing as so many people use them here. I belong. To a certain group anyway. I refused, up until now, to enter into what I have only seen as really not cool. Or daggy, as it may be referred to in Australia.  I’ve struggled with bags of shopping, sweated my way through the subway carrying bags of props.. running home to drop off, and then back into Manhatttan. My back has even become a little sore….biting my nose off to spite my own face, some would say. Or, idiot.

But yesterday, when I went to collect some items for a shoot, (I told the cashier my assistant had called in sick), funny; my assistant is always calling in sick.  I couldn’t actually even carry the bag. So that was it…I dashed straight to The Container Store where I bought the cutest stripey trolley bag I could find. I assembled it on the spot, popped in my heavy items and stepped out into the sweat box that is Manhattan.

I kind of like my trolley bag. I felt so at ease as I swished through pedestrians, feeling rather smug and clever that I’d finally thought of it. The lady in the shop told me as I left…’ You know what girlfriend, you can not only look cute with that bag, you can look clever!’. Yes, she got the sale. So, finally I belong to a percentage of New Yorkers and Brooklynites who own trolley bags, and I no longer need to struggle. I wear it loud and proud. 

I think many of my friends might see my job as a stylist in NYC very glamourous. It isn’t always. On Saturday for instance, at ten o’clock at night, when all others are either out drinking cocktails, or snuggling up watching a movie, I’m still out working. I’m at Target, in the Atlantic Terminal, sifting through towels, pillows and kitchenware.. and then dragging it home in the night heat.  Now I’ve got this little beauty of a friend to take with me…. it’s very slightly more glamourous. Only slightly. 

Once I’ve finished prepping for a shoot, our house can often look like someone is either moving in… or out . This weekend was in a league of its own. It really does look like someone was let loose with a credit card and they just could not stop. I guess if I didn’t shop for a living……that’s another group I may or may not end up belonging to.

This past weekend was particularly humid, I can’t even compare it to Saunapore… it’s worse. New York humidity is really taking a lot to get used to….. I never realised until I got here, amongst many other things.

All these years I’ve wondered why my dear former flat mate, who hailed from NY, was so keen on lemonade…. it’s not even fizzy? But as soon as I spied that check tablecolth and  lemon juicer, I finally understood, it looked like an oasis to me…… I sauntered over, striped trolley bag at my heel and ordered an ice cold lemonade. It was cool, quenching deliciousness in a plastic cup, right there on 21st and Broadway.

Another step into a group I had previously  neither known, nor understood.. lovers of lemonade? Now… I appear to be one.

Each day, I experience these new things, meet new people, and amongst all the little New York moments I have, I feel like I’m achieving a new sense of belonging. I had one final stop to make on my props trail… Anthropoligie. One of my favourite NY retail destinations… another second home, (not forgetting ABC and Dean and Deluca). The aircon hit me like a welcome hug as I stepped inside. As I began to be drawn to areas of scarves, tops and shoes.. rather than what I was actually supposed to be looking for, (and had been all day), which was a vintage bread bin… I finally admitted to myself it was time to step away from the retail, and go and grab a long overdue 5pm lunch. As much as I adore the place, Anthropologie can be a danger zone, when delirious from heat and hunger.

On my way to the till, I spotted a magazine I have never seen before and I didn’t even need to look inside before I knew I simply must have it. Kinfolk. I had a quick flick, bought it, and popped it in my bag. All the way through my late lunch with a dear friend, my mind kept flicking back to this title. I could hardly wait to hop on the subway and start to read.

Once safely aboard the cooling N train home….. I slipped the magazine out once more, and read. My eyes hungrily devoured each and every image. Each looked so natural and effortless… and I managed to read a couple of the small submissions during my short journey. Both, touched me deeply. I am so happy to have found such a wonderful title. Filled with such amazing talent.

A couple of pieces stuck in my mind.

One was a short essay by Lizzy Sall named ‘Brooklyn Breakfast’ documenting what it feels like to be up before the city awakes, and the sidewalks start heaving. It describes the quiet calm of Brooklyn, down by the water at sunrise, looking over the city…. “For just that brief spell, a breeze comes off the river and we forget that in a few short hours we will be wiping the sweat from our brows, frantically fanning ourselves with the morning paper.’ Upon reading this, I felt like I’d been allowed into an exclusive little club….. what an amazing idea… it’s now on my to do list for the summer…. get up at 5am and watch the sun rise over the city with a picnic breakfast.

The other, a short but poignant piece, by Rebecca Martin named ‘Eternity in an Afternoon’. It’s about how tiny moments in our life may flash by quickly, but the memory of them will last an eternity. It really hit a nerve with me, and took me back to an earlier piece I’d one written….. about memory…..

If you are a lover of the aesthetic, food, gatherings, or the idea of Brooklyn before sunrise. Then order this magazine. It’s really beautiful. Each page of this volume, to me,  is about belonging to something. Whether it’s a large group, small gathering, or something solo……..

I don’t yet know these people, but I hope to one day meet them. Something tells me… we may be akin.

As my train was drawing in.. I had to put it down, temporarily. As I did, I noticed a quote had been placed on the outside back cover… one by Mitch Albom, (Tuesday’s with Morrie).

Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you”