resolution /rɛzəˈluːʃ(ə)n/

1. A firm decision to do or not to do something
2. A formal expression of opinion or intention

Why do we make New Years Resolutions? We are governed by daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly calendars that literally are just a vehicle, allowing us to ‘put things off’.  Why, on January 1 of every year, are we all madly scrawling out intentions of giving up drinking, smoking, losing weight? The worst, and perhaps most unrealistic of these pointless resolutions - learning a new language. Why? 

Things are exactly the same with our homes. We start with the very best of intentions. Then we get slack. I have a list as long as my arm of things I’ve started but yet had time to finish. What I believe happens is, we attack with the exact level of enthusiasm as when we join the gym, until it starts to fade, about a week later. As the days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, things that initially seemed utterly ugly and unbearable suddenly look ok, well, just fine in fact. Just like the extra ten pounds. And the gym membership sits on the shelf gathering dust next to the antique jar with no lid, that we were sure was supposed to be used for something useful?

But these things aren’t just fine. It means we have become completely immune to our own bad taste and let’s face it, laziness. When I am working on a styling project, or a design in someone else’s home, everything gets done, on time. I have a deadline.

When it comes to my home however, I let the shabbiest of things sometimes sit hidden for days…weeks even, until they just become part of the furniture, to coin a pun. After only inhabiting this Brownstone for a mere four months, I have achieved a large amount in the decorating department, more than most. If I hadn’t, I’d really have no right walking into other people’s homes and advising them on such things. 

This is where I think we go wrong with resolutions. Making an endless list of totally unbelievable and unattainable missions without deadlines is a waste of time. A few years ago, I was taught something for a new year, and I passed this little pearl of wisdom on to one of my brothers, and it worked. For us both.  

Instead of making a list of resolutions, write down a list of goals, dreams and wishes. Give yourself deadlines for them all and you will be utterly surprised at how much of your list you can actually achieve.

Instead of writing it in the future, write it in the present tense and stagger it. Make your list fun and exciting, and make it things you really want out of life.

I’ll give you an example of some of mine…… and now I am publishing them, I will have to be held accountable…….

Three months

1. I write to my friends now, and send the letter by mail every few months. It’s fabulously rewarding when I receive a letter in return.
2. All the chairs that needed a little love and care are now duly returned to their spots in the house, and they look amazing.

Six months
1. I am writing my blog every day now, not a measly every other week, and my following is fantastic. Far more than 18…… I can’t believe I’ve even got a free trip to Mexico reviewing a new hotel.  
2. My dog doesn’t chase squirrels any more. Brilliant.

Twelve months
1. My work is being published in two glossies regularly and I’m so proud of this achievement! I think I’ll hop into my mini and take it for a spin to The Hamptons for the weekend.
2. You’ll have to keep reading to find out………..

So, goodbye 2011. You have been the best and the worst in more ways than I can ever describe.
For 2012, just remember, stay focused, do one thing a day, the rest will simply be.
Watch out for a new look Appleketchup, on a much more regular basis for 2012. It’s going to be super!




1. The year or place, in which wine, esp. wine of high quality, was produced.
2. Of relating to, or denoting wine of high quality.

Vintage, antique, retro, repro... these words are everywhere, especially if you are perusing a furniture shop or on the lookout for a new pair of boots.  Despite its definition, we seldom use the word ‘vintage’ and ‘wine’ in the same sentence these days. 

In fashion and design, something produced between the 1920’s and the 1960’s, is vintage, according to Wikipedia.  I think the word ‘vintage’ has become somewhat in a class of it’s own.
A bit like the way we call vacuum cleaners ‘Hoovers’ and one day, probably, ‘Dysons’, the original meaning of the word is really lost now, anything not brand new… we call it ‘vintage’. … and wine? So long as it’s under $25 we don’t mind what we call it.

According to most of the second hand stores in Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and much of Manhattan, ‘vintage’ is anything that looks a bit old, or is old but looks a bit new, or was old, but has now been made to look new, or… it’s just new… and far too expensive.

How has this obsession with vintage become so big now? I thought since we saw less of Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie in the headlines this year, it may have slightly subsided. But somehow it hasn’t, and now, we have Lana Del Ray taking the world by storm, I think it’s all going to go a bit ‘vintage – a – rama’ again next summer, with hundreds of 'Lolita – esque' young ladies everywhere, draped over chairs in cafes and bars.

In my world, the world of interiors, and, for the more 21st century vintage shopper, it seems Etsy is the place to go. Crammed with sellers of vintage and vintage ‘style’ items, some of which may be harshly overpriced and over - exaggerated for what they really are, but with such an enormous database of sellers, if you have the time to trawl through it all, you can still grab yourself a cute little bargain.

Also taking the US by storm, with its super fast rise to stardom in the world of decorating is One Kings Lane. Not always vintage or antique, but with fantastic price points, true to description products and new sales coming up every day – there is always a vintage bargain on offer.

If you want to really trawl through vintage in a more traditional way, Brooklyn Flea for Brooklynites and GreenFlea if you want to stay on the island, are a couple of gems. 

I must confess, I am definitely one of the culprits who has used the word ‘vintage’ loosely as a description of my wedding day. I hold up my hands…there was nothing vintage at all about my dress, shoes, headpiece, or bridesmaids dresses, but they all looked a little vintage, and I was wearing an extremely sentimental and very vintage, in fact probably antique, if we are going to split hairs, brooch, so, vintage it was.

With the classic Italian medieval town, where everyone still sits in the street and drinks coffee in the same outfits they have had for the last 40 years as a backdrop….well, you can’t get more vintage than that… can you?


re·treat/riˈtrēt/ part 2

Earlier this year, I posted about retreating. I was deep in the Italian countryside, lolling about and generally enjoying life, living in the moment. I had always thought retreat, part 2, might be a travel blog, describing some wonderfully unknown spots I've been lucky enough to visit. Now, here I am in NYC, as each day gets a little colder and the evenings are drawing in, I've discovered something that's always been there, I've just never used it in this way. My memories. My mind. A place to constantly retreat. As I  grew up in rural England, New York has become a haven of undiscovered memories for me, triggered by my senses......wonderful Autumn weather in the park, the smell of open fires, a wintery sunset, and the smell of roasting potatoes.

Despite this newfound love of delving into memories, NYC is still offering me new fun each and every day. For instance, a few weeks ago, it snowed. In October. The earliest snowfall NY has seen in 120 years. It's unheard of. Seeing as I haven’t actually had any snow for ten, and my dog has seen none at all, our house was a very excited place on this particular Saturday morning when giant, perfectly formed snowflakes started to shower outside our windows. Before long there was a soft white blanket forming on the cars, trees and along our street. What a perfect Autumn treat.

I really could not contain my excitement. I felt as though I was five years old again, running up and down the stairs and getting more and more excited as it continued to fall.  It appeared I was the only one in the house, street, neighbourhood, and probably city who was this excited.

What I didn’t stop to think about was that the untimely snow was not a welcome visitor. Once the snow and cold does set in – we are likely to have it for a few months. This, I am not yet prepared for. I wonder how I will cope with up to several feet of snow, will I remember what it feels like to run in the sand, feel the warm sun on my skin? These are becoming distant memories for me, as are many other things. Places I might never go again, people I will never see.

Instead of allowing memories to make you feel sad, or miss things even more, start to look at your mind as a great big old book full of stories from the past, that you like to re - read. Old projections of films that you might let flick across your  eyes, or big boxes of old photos that are fun to look through, giggle at, and cherish. These are all locked away, and if we really concentrate, we can start to re - remember things we thought we had forgotten. 

Sometimes, it's nice to just settle down with a cup of tea, or snuggle up in bed... and remember. And in the name of synchronicity, my dear older brother sent me some wise words today, that are simply perfect.

“To transfer happy memories from the past into the present is a good way to survive difficult times and allow cloudy days to become emotionally stable. This is because you get intensively in contact with the moments of happiness in your life. It is not about a wistful recall. The aim is rather to gain strength and confidence for the present.

To do this, close your eyes and think very deliberately and intensely about a beautiful experience or a breathtaking moment of happiness in your life. Use all your senses and visualize a very specific situation, a location, a smell or a song as much in detail as possible. You will see: This can really make you happy.” Unknown.

A thought for today, Wednesday 30th November 2011, take a moment, to remember someone, something or somewhere you might have lost in time. Enjoy the memory. It will last forever. 



1. Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty
2. Giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty

Since we moved into our home in Brooklyn, my husband, who has an appreciation of the design aesthetic, but is not a designer by any stretch of the imagination, has, on many occasions said to me… ‘Lets just get this house finished’, or… ‘How much are you going to spend on a piece of furniture for that corner?’.

How on earth do I know how much I am going to spend on a piece of furniture if I haven’t found it yet? It might be $20, it might be $1000… so long as it is just right. That is what matters. And how can I ‘Just get it finished’ when I don’t know if it will take me two days or two weeks to find the perfect piece?

My house will never be finished… no house I ever live in, will ever really be finished. I am constantly re – working certain areas, adding new objects of beauty to spaces, to further add my mark.

Interior Design and Decoration in your own home is a process. It is a personal, yet visual and emotional journey, truly reflecting what you find to be beautiful and comfortable to surround yourself with.

The most important thing to remember is that every piece you ever add to your home, or your ‘story’, can often be moved and re – worked into a new corner, a new room… even a new home. That way, no matter how much you do or don’t spend on something, you are always investing in it. Try not to think of anything as a temporary solution… it’s just dead money.

A TV console from Sydney, now turned into a hallway piece.

I once advised a client who was looking for, and found a specific piece for her home. It was a piece, however, that she said once they moved she could replace…if she felt it didn’t work. This piece was worth over $5000. Even if you do have the spare cash to continually regenerate and replace – if you can invest in items which can be easily tranfered to a new home – then you’ve not only done yourself a favour, you have successfully executed decoration that has longevity, and sustainability.

An old kitchen stool, now becomes a bath mat holder in Brooklyn.
Of course, each space is really different, and you can’t guarantee that every item you buy will always stay with you – but if you keep this idea in mind every time you decorate, it will help you to grow your own style and work on a design story that will continue to evolve with you. Things will naturally start to work together and you will find yourself saying, 'Oh that's just there for the time being' less and less. 

Two old suitcases from a garage sale in Bondi, now become a functional bedside coupled with a modern desk lamp.

All these items were shipped from Sydney, and re - styled into this little 'nook' in our new home.

Back to our beautiful rental. There are some things we have done where friends have looked at me in utter horror.

 ‘Change the carpets and the light fittings? But you don’t even own it, and it goes against everything you are trying to teach me?!'  My answer is simply this, it is still an investment…. I’ve invested in my own happiness at being able to walk up my stairs and along my hallways for the next 12 – 24 months without having to cringe. And this, I simply adore!

When working on these ideas in a rental property, there are several things you can do to add colour and contrast to your home without breaking the bank, or your rental bond agreement.

You can professionally replace light fixtures, so long as you keep the current ones safe, and put them back when you leave. You can paint weird and wonderful colours to your heart's desire, so long as you either get the OK from your landlord, or agree to paint it back when you leave. You can hang art, mirrors, curtains and blinds... all with personal touches.  This is not the deal with the carpet unfortunately, but it does make our space more liveable and loveable during our time here. 

And our landlord really likes us!


neigh - bor - hood Noun/ˈnābərˌho͝od/

Discovering a new neighbourhood is like re - living a little of your youth. It's new, it's exciting, and there is something delicious and delectable to see every day, especially, if your neighbourhood is in New York City. We are slowly getting used to the idea that this strange collection of rooms has become our home, and maze of streets and houses, our neighbourhood.
What a fabulous time to explore new surroundings in New York.... Fall.

Fall, a season I have yet to experience. In England, we get Autumn. This reminds me of rainy days, muddy dogs and wellies, and the evenings closing in. In Sydney, well, there are really only ever two seasons... warm, and a bit hotter.

In New York, you get scorching sunny afternoons,  glorious hues of green and yellow.... tonnes of seasonal fruits and veggies, and you get pumpkins!


I first came across some baby pumpkins, amongst shelves of multicoloured Autumn vegetables, at Union Market. A gorgeous little Park Slope supermarket, right up my street. (And, it is actually, right up my street).

In honour of embracing my new surroundings, I've become a seasoned coffee drinker. I have been known to do this in the past, on and off, normally due to a situation whereby I find myself surrounded by other coffee drinkers and wanting to enjoy the addictive black nectar as much as they appear to. Coffee can be surprisingly addictive. After a few days of 'grabbing a coffee' at the end of the dog walk, I find my eyes now spring open and I can't wait until I get that first delightful taste.  I’ve had to wean myself off it and only allow myself to drink it two to three times a week. My waistband and my purse strings will thank me for it later.

Park Slope and Fort Greene offer several coffee spots, of varying value and calibre. There is a little slip of a place on Fulton St called Annex. They serve strong, delicious coffee, but unfortunately asking the best part of $5 per regular mocha, my weapon of choice.  

Gorilla Coffee, on 5th Ave, is always busy and is my true local BUT unfortunately, despite being the best coffee in my area, they don’t serve your daily dose with a smile.

My favorite spot based on taste, price, proximity to Fort Greene Park has become BitterSweet. A cute name, for a lovely little place that always appears to be bustling at the seams with dog owners and commuters on their way to the subway. Despite the obvious lack of seating, the place always has a queue out of the door, and several dogs of various shape and size are tethered to the fence outside.

Aside from these delightful pockets of space offering caffeine infused delicacies, there are a couple of other local spots that I really want to shout about. 

Sun In Bloom on Bergen, a vegan, gluten free and raw café. I know what you are thinking, but what is there here to enjoy? Believe me – this food is SO delicious. And guess what else, it’s served not just with a smile but with warmth, friendliness, and WIFI. If you ever happen to stumble upon this place, the kale salad with live ginger dressing, followed by a vegan gluten free cookie sandwich will really make your day. 

Then there is Betty Bakery on Atlantic. What a cute little space juxtaposed with the noise and mess of Atlantic Avenue.  A real safe haven. I have to walk across Atlantic Avenue every day to get to the park. Past the crazy smells and sounds, Chuck E Cheeses, and AppleBees, an aspect of the US still unknown to me, but I assume an assault on the senses as well as the cholesterol level. 

Thank goodness there are still little independents dotted all over my area to bring me back down to earth, even if they contain naughty but nice temptations. After all, a temptation is never quite as nice, if it's not just a little bit naughty. 

A note... to those of you with eyes beady enough to notice. I'm torn between traditional English and new American spelling. For now. I remain just here.... on the fence. 


A space which may be used for accommodation or storage

After three painstaking but indulgent months of homelessness, we are finally settling into our Brownstone.   Apparently, the end of summer, right now, it is the worst possible time to look for somewhere to live. Typically, we choose now.
Having looked at over 25 apartments in 5 days, and being as fussy as we are about space, light, fixtures and finishes…it has not been an easy journey.  We don’t just travel the world in search of the perfect abode, we overcomplicate our situation with a six year old Kelpie Collie Cross.

I wanted a loft, one that evokes feelings of the movie ‘Ghost’ or perhaps a loft in the Meatpacking District, reminiscent of Samantha’s in Sex and The City. These lofts are becoming more scarce – and very pricey.  Buildings that were once instrument factories or parts of old docklands are being bought by big development companies and sadly having the charm ‘renovated’ out of them. The word ‘loft ‘ appears frequently in many of the rental listings – in another attempt to loosely translate NY real estate for you….

Enormous 2/3 bed loft with balcony and amenities.
True life description: Poky box room top floor flat, one bedroom with a large hallway where you are free to hang a curtain if you wish, with ceilings just pushing 8ft, and a bike rack.  Oh, and a window grate, that you can put your foot on, so long as it’s less than a size 9.

So, we say farewell to the loft we have been staying in in Garahm Ave, Brooklyn; Goodbye loft, for now.

 Of all the lofts we looked at, three really stuck in my mind.

If we were in the market to buy, then I think we both would have jumped on a loft in McKibben St in Williamsburg. It was a corner loft with walls of windows. The only drawback was the lack of bedrooms, meaning we would have had to put up dry walls to create more rooms. And re paint and re – wire the whole unit.

The next was a unit in the much sought after, Gretsch Building.

It had kept some of its original ‘warehouse’ charm with pillars, walls of windows, coupled with my ultimate dream - luxury marble bathrooms, massive walk in robe, stainless steel appliances, and a huge pantry. Still, struck from the list, as we needed 3 bedrooms. A three-bed loft in NY – I think this warrants a six figure salary.

Our third contender – an old waterfront factory converted into units at Kent Ave. Brand new to market with heaps of amenties – some of the apartments boasted exposed pipes and beams (fabulous), yet the architect has worked in such a way that the open space living areas have ended up challenging sizes.  Sadly, the overall development of the building has left little or no memory of what it once was, an old factory. This is a shame, and if I can get my hands on a project whilst I’m here – where we can work with a buildings old charm to bring it up to date, it would be a dream-come-true. So big old warehouse owners, if you are reading, get in touch. I’m here and I’m ready to renovate. 

So, moving away from the loft lifestyle, we are left with option two - to live in a Brownstone. Run up the steps of the stoop, on a tree - lined street, to my own NY apartment. This, we found.

However, with Brownstone living you have to keep an open mind. Often the apartments in Brownstones need a little love and are minus an elevator. ‘ No elevator? I think, for Gods sake, who needs one?’

Now the reality is sinking in….no elevator…. Shopping, furniture, heavy bags, laundry, three flights of stairs. Ok, I can do this.

We have ticked several boxes with our choice, despite the glaringly obvious lack of SMEG appliances… We have a stoop.  

We have light, more space than you need to swing a cat in, and trees all the way along the street. 15 minute walk to the biggest park in Brooklyn, Prospect Park. Now is the time to embark on adding personal cosmetic touches to a rental property, this process, I will share over the next few posts. 

I welcome you to apparently one of the best neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. Park Slope. Supposed home of the 'Stroller Nazis', (young Mums, taking over the sidewalks of a weekend). 

Park Slope. As a Brit I would call it the Islington of Brooklyn, as a Sydneysider, maybe Five Ways or Padddington. Only time will tell. It's full of young families, freelancers, cafes, wine bars and up and coming restaurants. And the all important.... trees. They are everywhere.........


find me a home in nyc

New York Real Estate sucks.

It really does.
It has ruffled my feathers in such a way that I need to just let it out. You try to find an apartment by searching online. Inevitably, each apartment is tied to a realtor. But it's not like Sydney or London where you look, say yes or no, and walk away. Once the realtor knows who you are, they get their claws stuck in. ‘Don’t like this one? I have several others that may suit! Come with me… (Lure lure).. I really want to find you the perfect home!’  Roughly translated as…’I want to find you any home…as quickly and intensely as possible, introduce you to the landlord… and pop around $7k in my pocket for doing so thank you very much’.

This, in NY, is called a ‘brokers fee’. Ultimately the most ridiculous transaction I have EVER heard of. Even if you don’t find the property through a broker, there is often a broker involved, and a fee attached. 15% of the annual rent. Yes, that’s right, FIFTEEN PERCENT OF THE ANNUAL RENT.

Once we made a loose relationship with a realtor (and we tried two, one of which was the worst you can imagine), it felt like apartment search boot camp for five days solid.  Running around the city with a crazed realtor, no food or water for several hours. At the end of these days, they then call us every 3 – 5 minutes until we just give in and agree to an apartment just so they will go away.

That’s it. They walk away. No agent service, or anyone to call on if things don’t work out. Take our $7k, and jog on.  To get rid of our realtor, hopefully forever, it cost us just this. Money well spent I say. Let’s hope the Brownstone duplex apartment we have rented lives up to its charm and we don’t find ourselves in another real estate nightmare too soon.

Now..... I can think. 

Despite the hustle and bustle of finding our feet in New York City, tackling an earthquake, a hurricane, and real estate agents – the latter being by far the most unnerving… I have still managed to sniff out a few favourite spots even within the first week.  So on a lighter note, I can introduce you to a few little corners of NY that I have already begun to adore. 

We have been staying in Williamsburg. Ultra hip, ultra cool. Sydney’s distant relative would be Surry Hills, London’s would be Shoreditch. So, typically, and temporarily, we are here.  And I’ve already found a few favourite venues between here and Manhattan to feed my various hungers for various things……

For jewellery, nothing too fancy, just a very cool collection. I love Meg store on 54th and North 6th in Williamsburg. 

For homewares, Brook Farm General Store, right under the Williamsburg Bridge, 75 South 6th Street, right opposite the Gretch building, (it nearly became our home, but not quite….).  

They have modelled this store on the original NY gereral stores, carrying a similar ethic and stocking vintage and new wares. (Above image courtesy Brook Farm General Store website). 

And for the most wonderful glass of wine, in a smooth a sultry space, I choose Tuffet, the cheese and meat bar on Graham Ave. When we first fell upon Tuffet, the staff were warm and welcoming despite us being NY aliens. 

They prepared us an $18 cheese and meat board and we enjoyed it slowly with delicious French wine. It seemed to take forever to make. The precision was well worth it though, amazingly presented, with love. The cheese was a divine room temperature, and the atmosphere extremely relaxed.

We have now been back to Tuffet three times since we have been in Williamsburg, and each time, I love it a little more. The vintage wall sconces and bar hooks, the deeply coloured wooden floors and soft-grey panelled walls, with a constant jazzy beat in the background. What a perfect and simple little bar. (Images all courtesy Tuffet website). 

However, we can’t hang around Williamsburg all day and night. We have realtors to chase around. Apartments to turn our noses up at and Manhattan to explore.

We had to rule out the East Village due to the severe lack of space in every 3 bedder they showed us…… 3 bedders for small children.... at a squeeze…... maybe mice? 

During all the jostling around the lower east side on a 28 degree day, I fell abruptly upon Dean and Deluca, Soho, and I snuck in a little break. As I drifted through the glass doors at the front of the store and breezed past the flower arrangements I felt momentarily as though I had died and gone to heaven. Dean and Deluca…. I kept muttering it to myself as I wondered past the cheese counter, with piles of delicious cheeses. Shelves of condiments and wonderfully colourful salad bars with gourmet sandwiches and coffee. Dean and Deluca, 560 Broadway, NYC.  The original and first store of it's kind, has been there since 1977. A little piece of heaven. Stacks of counters all offering deluxe and luxury flavours. Truffle oils, chilli oils, the list goes on. As you get deeper into the vast space, finally, homewares... wonderful blue and white speckled tins and jars, wine glasses and giftware.....

At last, I breathe to myself. I’m home……..