Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nap Time

Photo via ChattahBox

Are you a napper? It seems like when it comes to naps, most people are either devotees or avoidees. Some, like my mother (and the many cultures who enjoy a siesta), embrace the refreshing benefits of an afternoon doze on the sofa. Others, like myself, scoff at the thought of sleeping during the day just to wake up foggy-headed and pillow-marked. But lately I have started to think an afternoon nap may not be so bad. After all, many studies have shown naps to increase energy, productivity, and creativity as well as stave off late evening drowsiness and decrease stress levels.

A well-placed power nap (about 20 minutes or less in length, ideally taken about 8 hours after rising) won't disrupt your usual sleep pattern, but it can provide you with more benefits than sleeping an additional 20 minutes in the morning (snooze-button hogs take note). Short naps are best for most people because they provide the biological benefits of sleep without letting our bodies get into the deep phases of sleep that are harder to awake from and cause grogginess. The upcoming weekend is a great time to give power napping a try. Go ahead and find a quiet, comfortable place where you can recline fully and make sure you set an alarm to prevent you from napping for more than 20 minutes. You may even want to block out a little additional time for your nap to allow yourself to fully relax by listening to music, reading, or practicing some deep breathing - as all of these activities are helpful for winding down before your snooze or waking up afterward.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Steve McCurry

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Steve McCurry may be most well known for a photo of an Afghan girl which graced the cover of National Geographic in 1985, but this photo journalist boasts work from all over the world which is just as stunning as the picture above. McCurry's photos are so rich and intimate that they invite the viewer to think they have discovered this unique moment in time themselves. The color and life he captures make his works especially unique, and they have a way of making me feel more connected to people living such different lives, so far away. You can see much more from McCurry at his website here. Enjoy!

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Photo by Steve McCurry via

Monday, October 26, 2009

Design Inspiration: Platform Bed

Everyone I know has a different taste when it comes to beds. Be it a preference for a sturdy brass four-poster, an oak canopy, or a leather covered headboard - there are as many choices as to what we sleep in as there are people to join us beneath the sheets! My favorite style of bed, however, has to be the understated platform. The unfussy nature of this minimal style makes for easy sheet-tucking without overwhelming even the most modest loft. Platforms are also exceptionally versatile, so their the perfect choice for people who like to frequently change the style or flow of their bedroom. Platform beds work especially well in Asian inspired or contemporary rooms, and many serve double-duty by boasting storage space underneath. Not sure how to make this type of bed work for you? Check out these beautiful rooms bedrooms for some serious design inspiration.

Photo via Tinypic

Photo via CB2

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lazy Sunday: Possibilities

Photo by Melvin Clark via Melvin Clark Photography

Today was a lazy Sunday filled with daydreaming and pondering of possibilities and making lists of all I plan to accomplish and enjoy- the sort of day that excites you for what's to come and motivates you to make it happen. I hope to spill more details soon... For now, it's time to wind down and fall asleep thinking about all the good things yet to come.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boyfriend Blazer

I may be on the tail end of this fashion trend, but lately I can't get enough of the boyfriend blazer. Generously cut, this transitional piece is comfy and surprisingly flattering thanks to a single, strategic button. This Sartorialist photo of Alessandra Colombo is what sent me from a healthy enjoyment of the look to borderline obsession. Plus, it's so versatile that the same jacket can add new life to a number of wilting wardrobe ensembles all year long.

Photo via AprilMarin

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Cider

Photo via NCAGR

Not only is apple cider mighty delicious, but it may well be named the official drink of my fine home state of New Hampshire. That's right, as the Boston Globe reports, Apple Cider is on track to secure its spot as the preferred brew of the Granite State. Looking to enjoy a little of the sweet nectar for yourself? Try this recipe for mulled cider from Epicurious - I made it this weekend using fresh apple juice made with my Breville juicer and it was so good! If you've never tried fresh cider before, now's the time to do so. It tastes nothing like standard juice-box style apple juice and is at its best this time of year, so enjoy while you can.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inspiration Boards

Photo via Paper Tastebuds

Is a lack-luster workspace leaving you without creative kindling? Sometimes a simple change or addition to your desk, studio, or shop can be just the trick to start producing with purpose once more. One such addition is an inspiration board. Your inspiration board can be as simple as an old cork board or as lavish as a fabric-covered board, bordered by a gilded antique frame. The medium is up to you, and the only directions are to fill up the space with photos, quotes, do-dads, clippings, and trinkets that you find inspirational. Maybe yours will have a ballet ticket stub, an old necklace, and a photo from your trip to Amsterdam, or perhaps a bright Japanese candy wrapper, fashion pictures from Vogue, and a postcard from a friend's trip to Mexico. There does not have to be any rhyme or reason to what is on your board, as long as it gets your mind flickering and your heart pattering, you've done it right. Don't be afraid to change out your inspirational items when the time feels right - just as your creative process is dynamic and evolving, so too should your inspiration board be.

Photo via Coco Sunday

Photo via MadeByGirl

Photo via A Cottage Industry

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lazy Sunday: Under the Covers

Photo via ICH

Not only was it cloudy and dark out this morning (two very endearing reasons to stay in bed) but it was really, really cold. In fact, it was unusually cold. Covers alone were not enough to make my lazing tolerable. A trip to the the thermostat confirmed my suspicions; 58 degrees. After a little detective work the culprit was determined: a broken furnace. Fortunately, the heat and hot water were back on just a few hours later following a visit from the furnace doctor (he came in carrying one of those black leather doctor bags and everything, the only thing missing was a stethoscope casually flopping out the side). In the mean time, however, my refuge was in bed, under a pile of covers. How was your Sunday?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Jenny Meilihove

Artwork by Jenny Meilihove

Jenny Meilihove is a Russian born illustrator living in Jerusalem whose work is both adorably quirky and bright. Her equally adorable website can be found here and an Etsy shop here where you can find originals and prints alike. I especially adore her rich watercolors. Even her workspace (see the last picture) is so fun and creativity inducing. This children's book she's illustrated looks so fantastical... any translators?

If you like any of the pictures you see, be sure to click on the links below - they'll take you to Jenny's website where there are plenty more (many of which I had hoped to post but were too big to do them justice here).

Artwork by Jenny Meilihove

Artwork by Jenny Meilihove

Artwork by Jenny Meilihove

Calendar by Jenny Meilihove

Picture via Jenny Meilihove

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Little Bowls

Photo via Sur la Table

To pass a little time before yoga tonight I dropped by a cute little consignment shop for some wandering about. I hadn't been ogling the ancient comic books carefully wrapped in plastic sleeves or fingering through strands of 1960's love beads for more than a couple of minutes when I set my sights on two precarious stacks of little glass bowls; one slightly more squat than the other. Having searched every grocery store, Target and Home Goods for these exact items over the last couple weeks, I thought for sure they must be a mirage.

Fortunately for me, the bowls are very real and await, swathed in the oatmeal colored crinkly paper every store keeps on hand for picture frames and candle holders and the like, patiently for their debut. "What do you want these bowls for anyways?" The cashier had asked when I proudly carried my teetering purchase to the register. I deflated a little when I answered her question, admitting the truth to myself for the first time. "They're like the bowls they have on cooking shows, you know when they toss in a pinch of this glamorous ingredient you've never heard of and their cooking looks so effortless? I think that if I had those little bowls my cooking would warrant it's own show too." And then in a hurried effort to cover my naivete: "That and I went to a party once where these little bowls with snacks were scattered all over the place - they're perfect for that!". She smiled approvingly at the more pragmatic justification for my purchase.

I'm still pretty positive the bowls, which I now come to learn are called ingredient bowls, will have a disproportionately great impact on my cooking ability. You can purchase your own culinary motivation (what others may inaccurately identify as false hope) at Sur la Table. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Year of Pleasures

I just finished The Year of Pleasures, a novel by Elizabeth Berg, and true to the title, the book was a pleasure in itself. Berg has a beautiful, descriptive way of writing that brings her scenes to life and paints a rich picture of her characters. The storyline is very much for the female crowd, as the main character Betta deals with the loss of her husband by moving to small town in Illinois and learning how to live without him. There are moments of empowerment and helplessness along the way, but never without the simple joys that make life worth the struggle. It’s the perfect read for a wintry day by the fireplace; recommended for your grandmother and grown daughter alike.

Berg’s descriptions had me picturing every little detail in the book so vividly I was ready to run off and move to the Midwest myself. Here are a few pleasures I’ve been dreaming about since flipping the back cover…

Photo via GPB

Betta is always cooking or baking something for someone, relishing in her nurturing instinct. Even though I’m not one for baking myself, she seemed to find such joy in the process I entertained the thought.

Photo via Lennoxx

Betta has her bedroom painted pale blue to make the space more relaxing, and I love the idea of a matching the shade with a sunny yellow and bright white.

Photo via Houzz

There are several mentions of antique birdcages in the book, and what could be a more fun and beautiful decoration? My gram has had a large birdcage on her mantel for years, filled with little figurines and treasures. I like the idea of hanging a couple from the ceiling, wound with white twinkle lights like lanterns.

Photo via Hugo Naturals

Even bathing takes on an air of luxury in Berg’s novel. Betta would make a production of it, putting on an old album and taking a slow bath, lingering in the warm water. It made me want to do the same, so I promptly picked up a sliver of Hugo Naturals handmade soap and got to it! I have to put in a word for this delightfully scented, all-natural brand that left me skin soft and lush, no moisturizer needed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Wardrobe Updates

Just because the mercury’s begun to drop doesn’t mean your account balances need to follow suit. It may be tempting to splurge on a new wardrobe to stay warm (and look cool) through the chilly fall and winter months, but you don’t need to run up your credit cards to fashionably brave the frost. With a little creativity and a few modest purchases, you can transition some of your mid-weight wardrobe staples into fresh, winter-worthy pieces.


A warm, charcoal grey cardigan is a great investment that can top any number of ensembles. Fastened over top of a basic collared shirt for work, worn open but wrapped with a belt over a colorful dress, or tossed on over a t-shirt for running errands, this old school sweater gives you endless options. The charcoal hue is more forgiving on paling skin than black, and the color pairs just as well with virtually everything.


Consider stockings and leggings your partners in crime. These leggy layers are key to staying warm and looking sleek. A previously warm-weather-only dress has a new lease on life when layered over a worthy pair of leggings and cute boots. Slip a pair of stockings on under your pants for the worst winter days to stay extra toasty.


Buy a few scarves to incorporate into you all-day wear. You can find these neck nuzzlers in beautiful colors and patterns to top off your favorite outfits. Wrap one loosely around your neck in lieu of a necklace. If you get a chill you can always wrap it around your shoulders instead or put it over your head for a trek outside

Monday, October 12, 2009

Miniature Pumpkins

Photo from Delish

A couple weeks ago I wrote about ways to celebrate the awesomeness of autumn (check it out here) and I realize now that miniature pumpkins really do belong on the short list. Never mind trying to grow a prize-winning 1,500 pound behemouth of a gourd, mini pumpkins win the cuteness prize every time. But what to do with these petite pumps? Here's a few suggestions. At about $1 a pop, why not try them all?

Photo from Southern Living

Toss a few into your fading window boxes or barren flower beds to liven up the landscape

Bake a teeny, tiny, pumpkin tartelette
*or just eat one
** not necessarily made from your teeny tiny pumpkin

Leave one on your neighbor's doorstep, at your mom's house, for the mail-person...

Make a photo holder by hot gluing a paper clip to the back-side of your mini-pumpkin's stem - slide a photo into the clip and display!

Make a Mini Pumpkin Centerpiece, a la Martha Stewart

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lazy Sunday: Typing Away

Lazy Sunday: Writing

Today's one of those autumn days when the trees aren't brilliant enough yet to warrant a leaf peeping, the wind's a little too whip-y to permit for outdoor anything, and the rolling clouds are just ominous enough to trigger a contemplative mood. Well break out the notepad and bic, moleskin and fountain, typewriter and ribbon, laptop and high-res, or whatever your recording implement of choice, because it is the perfect day to write. I am two emails into my long list of inscriptions, and there's no stopping me now. Writing is the perfect Sunday activity because it can be so emotionally cathartic. Give it a shot! Whether you opt for a letter, email, journal entry, poem, short story, free write, article, blog post, or more, it's sure to release some pent-up creativity and put you in touch with what's been on your mind.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Features!

I'm excited to announce that new features are coming to Apartment 303 in the near future! What kind of features, you ask? Original video and photo content are on the way, along with lots more tips and inspiration for living brilliantly. Look for new recipes, how-tos, and personal development exercises to come. In the mean time, here's a super quick video I made to get familiar with the editing process. Please excuse the drab coloring - natural lighting is in the cards for next time ;)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Priorities, Part 3

Over the past few days I've written about why prioritizing is an important tool in today's information age and how to take stock of where your personal resources are going. Today I am going to provide some guidance on aligning your priorities with your personal resource allocation. If you are not clear on what I mean by personal resources, check out Priorities, Parts 1 & 2.

Now that you've taken a clear look at where your time, energy, and funds are going and made note of what your priorities seem to be, it's time to sort out what you want your priorities to be and take action.

Carve out a good half hour to sit down and make a list of your priorities, what you want your priorities to be. What is important enough to warrant your precious time, your limited energy, and your hard-earned dollars? Don't censor yourself - jot down everything that comes to mind.

If you're having trouble getting started, imagine yourself the way you've always wanted to be. What do you see? Who do you spend your time with? How are your days spent? Where do you go? What does your living space, wardrobe, and community look like? I find this exercise really helpful for getting my creative juices flowing.

Once you've got a solid list of priorities, read through it a few times and see what really jumps out. Go ahead and start circling, starring, and crossing out as you wish. When you whittle it down a bit, it's time to take a second look at the personal resource log you made. How can you reallocate your resources to make the priorities you chose to focus on a reality? What activities are sucking up your time and energy now and preventing you from living the life you have imagined? Be bold, and if possible, cut them out of your life entirely. Now you can put your newly found resources to much better use - Towards the priorities you've deemed truly worthy of your time, energy, and funds. Towards the priorities that comprise your ideal life.

You might not have the time, energy, or funds to do everything you want, all the time. But by being honest about where your personal resources are going and prioritizing your desires for the future, you can be sure to make the most of your personal resources, and take a big step towards the life you've imagined.