Tag Archives: photos

Urban Composting

This was originally posted on May 19th on www.thenewnew.blogspot.com where I am a contributing writer……

The rain showers here in NYC haven’t let up in what seems weeks. If you are anything like me, your overall summertime morale hasn’t benefited from all this precipitation, but the flowers, gardens and lawns sure have. My own urban garden is growing so fast, lush and green it’s amazing!
Gardening is one of my favorite DIY hobbies. Such satisfaction from planting tiny little seeds, taking care of them, feeding the soil and watching everything grow! I used to think I didn’t have much of a green thumb, but those days are a changin’ my friends. Like anything else, the more you work at it the more you learn over time.
After covering the basics, the next logical step in my gardening journey is composting. For some reason composting had always intimidated me, I have always felt that you have to really ‘know what you are doing’ to get results….I sort of chuckle thinking about that now, because it’s actually pretty easy. You throw stuff in a bin, mix it up once in a while and you get beautiful lush fertilizer. It just takes a little elbow grease and patience (and of course knowing your ‘greens’ and your ‘browns’)! Not only is it organic, it reduces your garbage output and it’s totally free.
Urban composting can be done indoors or outdoors in various different ways, in small spaces and large. You can make it work for you, your lifestyle and your space. To fend off my composting fears (like how do I prevent a stinky bin, what about rats and flies and stuff…?) I attended a composting workshop held by the Lower East Side Ecology Center (through the NYC Compost Project). It gave me the confidence to go for it on my own and have been working mine for just over a month now!

My metal compost bin + what I added today (before it got a good stir!)

Don’t have enough space, time or resources to compost yourself – but want to put your organic waste to good use?
Several of the city’s Greenmarkets are running a pilot composting collection program. You can save your compost materials (like your veggie scraps, coffee grinds or eggshells) and bring them to the collection site. Did you know that over the past nine weekends they have collected almost 50,000 pounds of food scraps in Brooklyn and Manhattan? That is a ton of waste being kept out of New York City’s garbage turned into useful nutrients.

Even if your urban garden is your windowsill or your fire escape it’s enough space to have a DIY garden all your own. Carve out a little piece of green :)

Happy gardening!

Useful composting resources + links for NYC residents:

Now go out there and get your hands dirty!!

Until next time…..



…you know that saying ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach’? …take that same phrase and apply it to the context of tasks.

to be specific, tasks that i’ve taken on recently. i guess you could say at some point i committed myself to too much.  simultaneously, my mostly-busy-but-not-crazy-job has spiraled into a frenzy of frantic work and is now slightly-out-of-control-organized-chaos. but that too will pass…my subconscious is telling me to count to 10 and take deep breaths.

doesn’t this seem to always happen at once? when it rains, it pours. it happens to the best of us…

the first thing i did today when i got home was grab the dog and i immediately headed out for a soul-reviving run. i love that running is such a good outlet for stress…calms the nerves, loosens up the brain and not to mention my dog is now soundly snoozing…

after a decidedly crap day at work today, i realized (and have been recently recognizing) that i need to say ‘no’ more often.

‘no’ mr-coworker-who-can’t-add-columns-in-excel-and-wants-me-to-do-it-for-him….i will not re-do all the formulas in your spreadsheet and add columns and re-save and send to the other mrs. coworker because you are on your blackberry and can’t open the file. i’m not your personal assistant. i know i have done it for you before, and that i have mad excel skills, but no.

do it yourself. it’s easy.

it’s tricky though, right? there is a delicate balance. in some way, shape or form – sometimes saying yes will help me further down the line. but tipping the scales to doing too much for others and not enough for me is counter-productive in the now. today. as we speak.

so if i politely tell you ‘no, i’m really very sorry, i cannot do that for you/with you/in place of you’, i’m counting on you to understand. i’m turning over a new leaf and drawing my line.

…and maybe it’ll give me some time back and i can daydream of the ocean…if even just for a minute :)

taking my own advice…

i began writing this blog when i moved to the south of france a year and a half ago, as a way to keep my friends and family at home in the loop, to share photos and to tell stories. it turned out that i really enjoyed writing, one or two people actually read my blog from time to time – and it became a way for me to get my thoughts off my chest….talk things through, so to speak. i guess now it’s growing along with me….

i am most inspired to write from the heart about my true self – what i’m thinking about, what i’m working towards at the moment share a bit about who i am. down to earth and genuine.

have i been avoiding this in my writing lately?
putting things on paper, writing something in ink means confronting those innermost fears and worries.

sometimes we need to go at our own pace – even if it’s a pace unlike those around us. swim against the current, divert.
so instead of talking things through – out loud, i’m taking some time to look inward, re-group, re-center, find calm, find solace. to disconnect, unplug, log off – step back a few paces.

i wanted to share with you a post i wrote over a year ago in france – this is one of my favorite places on earth, cap d’antibes. so beautiful a place, i often go there again in my dreams. hindsight is always 20/20 but many times we can really take our own advice. i just need to take a deep breath, relax…..

(originally written and posted on march 23rd, 2009. all photos were taken by me.)

take a deep breath, relax…..

in a world of uncertainty, constant change and self-discovery where the road can be long and winding…..we may sometimes feel lost, many times worried or unsure what the future may bring us. if you are like me, and find the search exciting and very much worth the effort, you may also feel the pressure (even if only our own on ourselves) weighing in heavily.

we all need to take a break, take some deep breaths and realize that everything works out in ways sometimes we don’t, or can’t, understand. the outcome may not even matter – – we are not reader’s of the future, of our own or others. happiness is not fleeting….it sticks around, if you let it.

in those times of self-doubt, which i know everyone has, albeit probably more often than we like…..a break, an escape, a parting with life’s bothers is greatly needed.

let me take you to a place that can make those worries a faint whisper, a long parted trouble and taken away in the wind. a place that has the ability to pull out of you those nagging troubles, no matter what they may be – – however insignificant or faint…..

beauty has that effect on me, at least. i arrive with more than what i leave with. the hands in the wind grab at what nags at me at takes it away, lifts it off my shoulders. launches it into the horizon, far, far away…..

i can only be eternally thankful for what i have been lucky enough to experience in my life. the sights, the sounds, the people. and these i will hold dear and never let go……

for they provide me with solace, escape and utter happiness. they have given me insight into myself and they are part of the pieces of me. what makes me who i am.

so let me take you to a place that can make those worries a faint whisper…

take a deep breath, relax…

inhale the beauty and let your worries drift far, far away into the wind….and beyond.

it works for me……and that is why i love cap d’antibes. this one gets tucked away for safe-keeping. i know i’ll need to look on it again, when i just need to relax.

(link to original post: https://sansmap.wordpress.com/2009/03/23/take-a-deep-breath-relax/)

ca pousse toujours….

calendula flower growing in my garden

whoever started the age-old saying ‘it’s growing like weeds’ wasn’t kidding around. and neither do those weeds.

a while back, i shared our progress in our back garden pre-and-post-de-gunking ….we are now into phase II of our garden beautification.

for my co-worker that was shocked when i said i don’t own a t.v., and to answer his question ‘what the hell do you do then?’…in addition to all the other stuff i keep ridiculously busy with – – i work in my garden. and i love it.

sort of like the other stress-relieving and life-enhancing activities i do like running, (the new addition of) yoga and of course the methodical and relaxing nature of sewing….gardening is relaxing, soul-reviving and fun.  i actually like watering my flowers. the gratification that comes with watching things grow, beautiful things grow, is infinitesimal happiness.

i don’t miss that t.v. a bit…

so when my ‘weed’ garden tucked in the back corner of my flower garden began getting out of control – – (i had let it go for two too many weeks), something had to be done. from the front of the garden where we sit on the patio, it was barely noticeable…..until you walk past the hydrangea bush and see what turned into literally a forest of weeds. at first it was ok. you could see the path and even walk along it.

this was how the back corner and path looked for most of the summer so far…..

my 'weed' garden is on the right (the other side is groundcover)

….then those stubborn weeds revolted and took over!!

(cue scene from home alone with macaulay culkin screaming hands slapping on cheeks…!!!!)

the great big 'Weed Take-over"!! argh!!!!!

we don’t go down that easily you crappy weeds.

so one huge trip to lowes with our borrowed jeep during a brief weekend car-sitting for a friend and we were on the attack!

with droplets of sweat running down my face in the 100+ degree heat, i pulled, tugged, yanked and got dirty in a maddening attempt to rid my garden of those unrighteous weeds once and for all!

poof! if only i had a magic disappearing wand, i would have had those weeds conquered ages ago.

weeds pulled, flowers planted and mulch spread…..almost there…..

at this point, i felt like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. weeds to me are like a messy closet. or piles of stuff just sitting. it’s like a silent nagging feeling…..

sweeping, pea gravel and lots of watering later – – the finished product!!!

now the back of the garden looks as pretty as the front!

phase III – – grow grass (again)……

until later, let’s hope we can keep those weeds at bay…..ca pousse toujours!

when the grass is green on both sides…

4th of july weekend, it’s hot outside, everyone is happy and we were ready to go! on a whim, hubby and i booked tickets for the talented house music producer dj extraordinare little louis vega‘s annual boat party dance ritual.  boarding was at 7:30 – pushed away from the shore – with a cool beverage in hand at 8pm sharp. now, please, this is not one of those ‘booze cruises’ you remember from your crazy college cancun adventures. this was chilled out, dancing and house music vibes.

we pulled away from the shore with the most magnificent view of manhattan – glorious view from the hudson river listening to chill beats and dancing. all the way north under the george washington bridge, gently turned back….crusied along the shoreline past the statute of liberty, the brooklyn bridge, manhattan bridge all the way to the pepsi-cola sign at the long island city shore. then it was all the way back again….nice.

the views were stunning. the music was extraordinary and the atmosphere was unforgettable.

dancing in the moonlight under the brooklyn bridge……

up early the next day, we trekked out with close friends and sisters to the hamptons.  haa haa – i know what you are thinking.  let’s just say that i am pretty sure in order to truly fit in in the hamptons you have to drive a range rover….should i keep you guessing on that one?

blonde-haired-gucci-bag-toting-range-rover-driving  aside, this place lives up to its name in beauty. a mere 2 and a half hours from nyc itself (and several pit-stops due to a motion-sick puppy later) and we were there!!

a wonderful weekend with good friends, great weather and yummy food. what more could one ask for than the beach on a hot sunny holiday weekend?!

the hamptons looks good on ella…

our weekend was both exciting pure new york city adventure and relaxing countryside beach getaway. we love our city life in brooklyn but cherish a quick getaway in the country. who says you can’t have a little bit of green on both sides?

maybe therein lies the secret……..

sit. stay. down…..good girl :-)

i grew up with dogs my whole life. they are the kindest, most forgiving and unconditional companions….and not to mention tons of fun.

we got ella 5 weeks ago from animal haven shelter in soho. in the beginning, admittedly, we wanted a purebred pedigree dog. that was until we realized not only how expensive it is, how weird breeders can be and how unnecessary the actual breeding process is, that we ended up feeling a bit sickened by the whole thing. realizing the errs of our way, and that there are so many wonderful, beautiful and deserving animals at shelters, we began our search. we gave up our picky ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and decided to trust our instincts.

so glad we did.

ella, named ‘wish bear’ by her shelter rescuers, essentially found us. after days of searching for dogs we came across a few that stood out and ended up being all at the same shelter. we headed over that weekend on a sunny saturday morning.

‘wish bear’ was carried downstairs to us, virtually trembling with fear, still as can be and quiet as a mouse as she was held by one of the volunteers. she was the second dog we saw from our list. held calmly by the volunteer, she wasn’t able to be let down on the ground as she wasn’t fully vaccinated. i took to her immediately, something was different about her and that little stare was so gentle and kind….but we wanted to see more. we asked if it would be possible to see her run around or at least be able to interact with her somehow. we were brought upstairs…

she was plopped onto the over-sized couch and immediately her eyes lit up! she licked our faces and stared at us with the kindest little eyes we’ve ever seen. she was so sweet, we knew she was the dog for us. her energy was perfect! we wanted ‘wish bear’.

excited, nervous and scared all at once, we filled out all the paperwork and waited to be contacted. two days and a few reference checks later, we got the call – – she was ours!

after her whirlwind introduction into our already busy lives, she is a regular part of the family. her nervous jump, her timid crouch and her cautiousness with strangers are becoming a thing of the past. this smart little puppy is curious, gentle, so sensitive and now forgetting her mis-treated past – now so eager to please, obedient and happy as clam in her new home. walks around our ‘hood, chats with the neighbors and their furry companions and playing catch in our backyard….ahh, the life!

training, practicing and growing….and so much more lies ahead! and what’s better than a nice cuddle on the couch at the end of the day :-) ahh, the life…..

sit…..stay….down. good girl!! :-)

turning sweat and tears (and a few beers) into beauty…

many of you have been asking and wondering how the transformation is going in our backyard. the time has come my friends…to reveal our lovely garden before…..how it looked when we moved in….and now, lovely, clean, green and lush.

since david and i are now us +1 (we are totally loving our little ella puppy:-) we are so glad to have the backyard for her to play and run around in (she loves to run around like a maniac, it’s really funny…).

so with out further ado….before and after pics – enjoy!


here, we cleaned up the piles of garbage, beer bottles, rotting leaves and plants – heaps and heaps of rusting who-knows-what – painted the rusted metal sheets a cheerful green and watched the garden grow! we installed beautiful slabs of slate that we literally pulled from other places around the yard (they were totally going to waste!) into a colorful and unique patio space. this is one of our many seating spaces in the yard……


here, we re-furbished the cool benches left by the previous tenants, planted grass seed (we are still working on the grass, as you can see….it’s tough without a hose, if you can even believe we are doing all of this with multiple watering cans!!). worked hard and often on week-pulling and teasing the vines back into their original place…and planted lots of flowers!


here, we did tons and tons of weeding, pulling out dead and rotting crap, trimmed down existing plants and threw out heaps and heaps of dead, decomposing leaves. we planted flowers and were glad that so much was already in the garden for us to work with!


and a few extra shots for your viewing  pleasure :-)

amazing, huh? what a little effort, lots of sweat and a few cold beers can do!! :-)