Create: A little magic

Fireworks Prospect Park/ Good House Guest

As it’s been our tradition the last few years, we gathered with dear friends, neighbors and perfect strangers to watch the explosions in the sky over Prospect Park – Brooklyn’s version of the ball drop. It was a fine show on a cold and clear end-of-year night, but it wasn’t punctuated with that powerful punch of chaotic bursts.

Slightly disappointed, the chilly onlookers began heading back to their homes, but just as we’d turned our backs on the park, the sky erupted with a burst of pops and flares – a delayed, but no less daring grand finale to the year. Just when we thought it was over it wasn’t – there was still some magic left to be had. I thought that a fitting way to end 2104, a year heavy with loss, a year which reminded me to be more conscious about remaining open the good surprises and unexpected delights, too.

Wishing all clarity, brightness and magic when you least expect it in 2015.

Gift: Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. So read a poem, recite one or pick up a book of poetry for someone (yourself even). I’ll be making an effort to read more poetry this month, so please send along any suggestions.


Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,

so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw

open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,

indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths

and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight

that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight

on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants

from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,

holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,

well, today is just that kind of day.



Create: A Fresh Start

Happy Year of the Dragon! Today kicks off 15 days of celebrations all over the world. If you weren’t quite ready to make resolutions, much less get out of bed and make coffee on January 1, here’s another chance. I’ve always liked the idea of marking the new year on your own timeline. The January 1 start date seems limiting, and it really sneaks up on you after the holidays. For many years a trip to Door County, Wisconsin, in March signaled my personal New Year. But I’m sure most people would take fireworks over a plate of Swedish pancakes to symbolically usher in the new.

Aside from fireworks and fire crackers, Lunar New Year traditions include forgiving past conflicts, gathering with friends and family, getting a fresh haircut and accenting with the color red for good luck. And my favorite––parades! The Chinese New Year coincided with my move to New York so I chose that as my re-start button for the year.  The parade, followed by a fortifying bowl of wonton soup at a nondescript, yet welcoming, 12 seat Chinatown diner made for an auspicious beginning to what’s proved to be a pretty interesting adventure so far.

The dragon is a powerful symbol said to bring success and happiness.  This year in particular is supposed to be one of high risks and high returns. So, Kung Hei Fat Choi––let’s do this thing.

Gift: Calendar

One of my favorite things about the new year is the package that my best pal sends with the latest calendar from Nikki McClure. Yes, I’m aware that this is the electronic age, but I’ll take my address book, hand scribbled to-do lists and Moleskine date book over any electronic devise designed to keep me organized.

More than just a way to mark the days, McClure’s meticulous papercut images and sincere thoughts help shape intentions for the month, or just the moment. Not too long ago we measured, counted out days and consulted charts in the hopes of a baby. McClure’s graceful calendar that year helped ease the disappointments and mark the tiny victories that are inevitably part of the journey to pregnancy. And, when I was successfully pregnant after many a flip of the page, this image appeared:

You just never know what the next month will bring. So, in defiance of the Mayans and their gloomy predictions, I encourage all to pick up something lovely to mark the coming days as a gift to yourself or others.

A few more ideas….

Screen printed desk calendar fromCurious Doodles.

Linda & Harriet‘s sublime letterpress calendar doubles as postcards.

Find a place on the wall for this retro print poster from yumalum.

Discover an intriguing new Polaroid a every day with the Poladarium tear-off calendar.

Gift: Golden Year

There is a superstition that whatever you do on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the year ahead. So when it comes to gifts, why not make them shiny and bright. Here are a few golden ideas for any New Year fete from dinner party to brunch.

A bit of a splurge, but these elegant Golden Fig Vases from Apartment 48 are worth it.

Golden Fig Vase

Practical, yet stylish, the S’well stainless steel water bottle is a great accessory for those resolving to be healthier in the coming year. You can find it at Orange and Pear. What’s even more refreshing is that 10% of proceeds go to helping build safe water sources internationally.

S'well Water Bottle

So cool. So affordable. So perfect for any party. You’ll find the chic Glitter Tart Server at LEIF.

Glitter Tart Servers

These glasses hand etched with a golden berry pattern would be perfect with something bubbly. And they’re on sale right now atSeltzer Studios.

Golden Berry Glasses

A little something for the kids: a Golden Can Bank from Fred Flare. A cool way to save in 2012.

Golden Can Bank


Gift: Tiny Bubbles

Big announcements. Small victories. Long-awaited reunions. Family drama. Whatever the season brings, break out the bubbles. Leigh Thurber and Melissa Apfelbaum, owners of Picada y Vino, a wine shop specializing in smaller-production wines from around the world, shared their expert sparkling picks. They travel in search of great finds from lesser known regions, up-and-coming winemakers, unique estates, and off-the-beaten-path producers, so I knew they’d have some festive Champagne alternatives.

Leigh notes that sparkling wines are a natural cleanser for the palate, making them perfect for any course or in-between. Cool fact: all wine starts out as sparkling, and then the gas is released to make it still. Ok, enough small talk, now for Leigh’s selects and wine notes…..

Gruet, Brut, New Mexico: Yes, a sparkling wine from New Mexico. Made with Chardonnay grapes in the Champagne style, it’s brilliant with ultra fine bubbles. A wonderful fine bouquet dominated by green apple and grapefruit flavors.

Gruet, Brut, New Mexico

 N.V. Frédéric Lornet Crémant du Jura Brut Blanc, France: A biodynamic sparkling wine with a lovely pink tint—pink is the big thing this year. It’s fruit driven with wild strawberries, raspberries, a bright fruit profile and bubbles that tickle the palate.

N.V. Frédéric Lornet Crémant du Jura Brut Blanc, France

Le Vigne di Alice Prosecco Sparkling: Made from the Prosecco grape, this is how Italians do sparkling. Super elegant and on the dry side with mix of apple acidity with pear notes. The pink is fun for the holidays too.

Le Vigne di Alice Prosecco Sparkling NV

Lini 910 Lambrusco Rosato, Emilia-Romagna, Italy: Lambrusco is the grape, and this style of wine can range from very sweet to very dry. The dark red color is kinda masculine, so good for guys who don’t typically go for a lighter sparkling wine. This wine has pleasantly brisk bubbles and a fresh, ripe berry flavor-wine detail.

Lini 910 Lambrusco Rosato, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Castellroig Reserva Brut Naturi, Spain: Spanish take on bubbles from the Cava region. This cava is made following traditional methods. The resulting sparkler is festive and elegant. It has delicate but persistent bubbles, hints of bananas, fresh fruit, brioche and a fresh, dry, balanced palate. A great choice for cocktail parties and other holiday occasions.

Castellroig Reserva Brut Naturi, Spain

Thanks Leigh! Stop by Picada y Vino in Brooklyn and shop their hand selected wines.

Gift: Stock the Larder

Enji Kunsei Olive Oil, Japan,

What do you bring to your boss’s house for dinner? Gift your child’s teacher? Or your soon-to-be in-laws? Well, ask Good House Guest. I’ll do my best to hunt down a solution, like I did for my friend Sarah.

Q: We are invited to dinner at a couple’s house tomorrow night. They are retired and super foodies. They always cook us amazing dinners and never want us to bring dessert or anything, and I’m tired of bringing just wine. They are sort of no nonsense people. I need a suggestion of what to bring. Ideas?

A: Help re-stock their pantry. I like the combo of an interesting olive oil (comparable in price to a really nice bottle of wine) and sea salt. Super basic, but very necessary. The oil is something they’ll experiment with while cooking or appreciate for dipping. Plus, it’s a good excuse to stop by your local specialty grocery store and sample smooth oils from Italy or peppery ones from California. I even came across a cold-smoked olive oil from Japan. Sea salt is used to finish everything from fresh pasta to baked goods. It’s a staple, but you can find some cool small batch ones being made everywhere from the shores of Long Island, New York to the coast of France.