Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Appliances Part II

I love to cook with a gas range. Gas reacts immediately when you want to change the heat level and there are no set levels as in most electric cooktops. However, our new house does not have a gas connection. Originally we were determined to change the house from oil heat to gas, but after doing some research we figured that it may not be worth the cost and effort, even in the long run. (Writing about oil vs. gas comparison could be its own post, so I won't go into details here.) Since we decided that there will be no gas connection, I had to start looking at electric stoves and cooktops. The latest thing is the induction cooktop which has some interesting features. The cooktop itself does not heat up, but the heat is transferred to the vessel sitting on the cooktop. The catch is that the vessel has to be good quality stainless steel. I use a lot of non-stick pots when I cook, which are not ideal for induction. However, induction can boil a pot of water in 90 seconds (Welcome fast pasta!), i.e. much less than a microwave oven, and has almost an endless range of heat levels, and is very steady in the heat level.

Induction Pros:
  • Very FAST
  • Reacts immediately when you change the heat level
  • Child friendly because the cooktop does not heat up
  • Easy to clean because messes don't burn into the hot cooktop
Inductions Cons:
  • Only works with good quality stainless steel pots
Because I don't want to give up my health conscious ways and love of non-stick pots, the solution is a Hybrid Cooktop. It has two induction elements and three regular electric elements. So far I have only found this Electrolux cooktop that would work, but it looks really good!

Monday, April 26, 2010

My motto

I have always believed that "The Best is Yet to Come". I love my life, and I don't like too much change. However, I believe that change is inevitable to move forward and to make things better. I also believe that life will carry you, if you try be a good person and make good decisions. "The Best if Yet to Come" is my motto and perhaps the new name of my blog. I will try it as the title for this page for a few days and let's see how I feel about it..

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Appliances, Part I

If a refrigerator can be dreamy, then this Sub Zero is...THE DREAM!

I have to think big when it comes to the fridge. We have a five-person family, and an au pair living under one roof, and we all like to eat a lot  :-) 

However, this fridge may stay as just a dream because it's so damn expensive, about $14,000, plus taxes and insurance /maintenance plan, totaling to about $16,000... With the big renovation that is not doable. But a girl can always dream, right?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Planning the new Great Room

I am really looking forward to having a big kitchen where family and friends can hang out and everyone can relax, enjoy good food, wine and company. My husband and I like to cook and entertain, and have been doing it in our small apartment kitchen with no problem. But now that we own a house, I am suddenly so fed up with the smallness of our galley kitchen where two people can hardly pass.

We have big plans for the kitchen of our new house. Currently the house has a smallish kitchen with an eat-in section, a separate formal dining room and an adjoining window screened porch. We will knock down the dividing walls and make this into one big open great room, which will combine kitchen, dining and family room areas. The room will have lots of windows as both the current porch area and the formal dining room have walls that are almost all windows looking out to the greenery of the back yard. This will be the heart of the house and the space where we will probably spend most of our time in. It's a major renovation waiting to happen!

Below are pictures of the current state of affairs. I am hoping that I can post the after pictures in early July...

This is the current kitchen. We will most likely keep these cabinet doors, just replace the pulls. However, the kitchen will be gutted out, the dividing cabinets will be removed and there will be an island with a hybrid induction cooktop (more about that later). We will redesign the spacing of the cabinets and all appliances will be changed. I have found a gorgeous fridge, and a double wall oven. I am still looking for the dishwasher. The countertops will be granite, and naturally the wallpaper is history. I have not decided on the back splash yet. The floor tiling will be changed.

This is the eat-in section of the kitchen. The wall that divides the kitchen and dining rooms will be demolished.The windows will be floor to ceiling panels.

The dining room windows will be replaced with sliding doors opening up to the deck on the back yard. Both end walls will be demolished.

This is the probably the most challenging part of the whole renovation. This area will be our TV room, joined to the great room. The area needs to be insulated, it needs new flooring, windows, and walls. We will install a wood burning stove to this space as well to have the cozyness of a fireplace without having to actually build one (there is a built in fireplace elsewhere in the house). We already bought the couch for this room from the fabulous ABC Carpet and Home store (it's the creamy white leather couch that I featured previously on this blog). The door to the back yard will be removed (or closed if for village rule purposes it cannot be removed).

Here are a couple of pictures of great rooms that have inspired me, both are contemporary but not too modern, very warm and welcoming with a neutral to warm color palette:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bottega Veneta (for Mother's Day?)

Mother's Day is fast approaching and my husband asked me today to give him some hints for a mother's day present. I looked around at some of my favorite stores' web sites and as usual I was drawn to bags...once bag crazy, always bag crazy. I have been planning to add a Bottega Veneta to my collection, but have not found the right one (the crocodile Bottega that I have been known to rave about is wayyyy to expensive, and since one of my new rules is to do without until you can have what you really love, I have passed it on the Bottegas) - until now - because this bag is crazy cool. It's a little rough but at the same time very chic and most importantly, very easy to match with almost any outfit that I would wear, whether business or weekend. Here it is:
It was love at first sight! Although I have not yet actually seen it.. I need to get myself to Bergdorf's fast to touch and feel this beauty and to see how the proportions work for me.

There are other possible Bottega options, but they are more basic and boring (not to mention cheaper, in case there is a budget for the mother's day present):
 This one is a the same basic tote but the color really gives it a punch. I am just not sure it's me:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

I just realized I should have saved my composting entry to today, the Earth Day. To celebrate the topic, here is a great link to making your compost :-)

Even though it's been around for 40 years, I feel like the Earth Day is getting a lot more emphasis this year than ever before and I think it's great! Having grown up in Finland where untouched and unspoiled nature is never too far away, you grow up undestanding and appreciating the natural environment. I am very happy that my daughter is also growing up understanding how important it is to protect the earth and conserve energy. Her wonderful teachers are focusing on the things that everyone can do in their daily lives to live more green. My darling 7-year old goes around our apartment and turns off lights from rooms that no one is in, she unplugs unnecessary gadgets and chargers when not in use, turns off the water while brushing her teeth and inspires us to pay attention to these things too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New Name and Identity Crisis

Since I won't live in New York City anymore, I was thinking I should change the name of my blog. I started brainstorming new names, but they all seem so lame. Suburban Fashionista, Surburban Fashionista Queen (as suggested by my daughter, who BTW, wants to start her own blog at the ripe age of 7!!), Suburban Style, Fashion and Style in the Suburbs. Yuck... Seems as if I am stuck on the word Suburban...and I guess that is why all the names are so boring. Suburbs are boring. I can only ask what the hell was I thinking, buying a house in the suburbs? What am I doing to myself? I don't want to become a boring suburban soccer mom who drives around in a minivan - nightmare! Thank God my kids don't do soccer. I think I am going through a small identity crisis. All my life I have identified myself as a Citygirl. So what happens to that identity now that I won't live in the City anymore? And, what will I name my blog?

Monday, April 19, 2010

From Birkins to Composting

Isn't it wonderful what a wide range of items a person can be interested in? Sometimes it is pretty funny though. I just feel a bubbly giggle coming up when I think about my current obsessions and put them side by side: Birkins and Composters. So far apart, but still so important. My transformation from a Citygirl to a real suburbanite is taking place faster than anyone could have imagined. And I am embracing that transformation whole heartedly. Soon I may even purchase my first Crocs (NOT!).

So yes, I am a bit obsessed about composting. But being still at least half-hearted citygirl I have been looking for a composting bin that would look good, not smell and not attract flies.. And surprise, I have found some good options. Gardening seems to really have moved to the 21st Century. Here are some great futuristic looking composting globes that may even work as pieces of lawn art:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When a dream almost comes true..

For the longest time I had dismissed Hermes Birkin bags as something quite ridiculous because I felt that they were too expensive to be taken seriously. Meanwhile I bought a couple of designer bags each season and those did not come cheap even though they were nowhere near to the prices of Birkins. When I recently stopped shopping I started looking at things a bit differently. Birkin (and Kelly - but I just love big bags, which is why I am focusing on Birkin) is something that lasts forever. The style never changes, never goes out of style, it is classic and has exquisite workmanship which is quite rare these days.  Birkin is recognizable, but probably not by the masses, which also makes it more desirable for me, as I am sick of logos and bling bling. (The other bag on my wish list is a Bottega Veneta - also logo free, but so far the purchases for the new house have overruled any accessories shopping.)

So about six months ago I made an announcement to my husband in which I told him to forgo any Valentine, Birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas or Just-because-I-love-you presents for the next couple of years and just get me a Birkin for my 40th birthday (along with a big party weekend in Vegas!!). Since then my darling hubby has had his eye open for Birkins. He now recognizes the bag that he had never heard of before and can point it out for me if he sees someone carrying it.

On Thursday he went to an auction partly because they were auctioning off a Blue Jean Birkin (among some artsy objects that we were interested in). He was a successful bidder, in the end competing with an old lady who looked like she probably had a good collection of Birkins. I guess she was missing the Blue Jean as she had the guts to bid higher and higher. In the end it was too much even for my dedicated hubby and the old lady won the prize. The good news is that there is another auction coming up soon with a Birkin on the list! Did I tell you that once my man has gotten something in his head, he is relentless until he gets what he wants, even if it takes a lot of effort and a long time - so I am assured that I shall have my Birkin one day.

Birkin is a bag that evokes passionate following, as evidenced by the books that have been written about it, most famously by Michael Tonello: Bringin Home the Birkin -My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag. (The title says it all!)

Whole blogs have been dedicated to Birkins:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Varpunen - A home worth featuring

What a nice surprise it was this morning as I checked my email and the Remodelista entry contained a wonderfully original and stylishly black and white little home from Finland. I love this home because it has obviously not been decorated with big money, but with big vision and ideas. I wish I had half the creativity of this decorator!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring has sprung

I love Michelle Obama's style! As does the rest of the world..everyone seems to be in awe of our first lady and her easygoing and yet elegant and always appropriate style. I have always found spring dressing a bit difficult. I am not big on pastels, flowery stuff and all that. But Michelle Obama does the Spring Dress so well, kudos to her.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Memories of Snow

Now that it is almost summer, snow looks almost exotic..

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Stella McCartney for Gap

I finally had a chance to go to the Gap yesterday to check out Stella McCartney's collection for Gap Kids. I loved the collection, especially the tissue thin cotton ruffle tops for girls and the adorable eyelet and fish dresses. For some reason I can't post pics today, so you need to go the Gap web site to view these very cute clothes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Members Only

I have to admit that I am quite the sale-hawk and a self-anointed outlet queen. I just get very excited about the thought of getting something for less. At some point this was almost a problem as I would buy anything if it was on sale..thinking that I was getting a good deal..even if I did not need or even like the product (usually shoes, bags, clothes, accessories) very much. I have a $5 Gucci scarf in my closet still that is uglier than hell! And the load of Marc Jacobs shoes that were 90% off (I mean seriously - who could NOT buy MJ shoes for 90% off??). But both the scarf and the shoes (about 5 pairs including boots) have never been used and take up valuable space in my closet. I hear someone say eBay - but I have tried it and it is just too much work for not much profit.

So, to the topic of the title --> Members Only. I was very excited when about a year or two ago I got invited to a couple of Members Only discount shopping sites, namely Ideeli and Gilt. These are sites that sell higher end overstock at a reasonable discount, usually about half off the original price. The sites send you an email about the upcoming sale and what they have in inventory, and you have to place an order at the specified time when the particular product that you want is on sale. A great idea I thought - and could not wait to start getting the emails and snagging up the best deals. Two years later I have purchased NOTHING from these sites. My inbox is overflowing with the constant emails and I have had to designate the emails as junk because they crowd out the really important emails. One of the biggest turn-offs for me is that the sales are final sales and cannot be returned. When you are buying online it is really important that you be able to return as you cannot properly assess the color, quality and fit of the product based on the picture on the screen. Another thing that bugs me is the Members Only aspect. Just as fashion has been democratized by outlets and cheap chic collections, these members only sites just rub me the wrong way.

 I have to admit that I may have grown out of the sale and outlet craze - and graduated into a mature, considering consumer. Makes me proud to say! But I am still wondering whether I should keep the MJ shoes as we move in the summer - or just admit defeat and donate to goodwill?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jetlag and Happy Easter Monday

My eyelids are drooping as I write this and it is 4:16 in the afternoon. Jetlag is taking over. I took a little Easter break and went to visit family in Finland. Came back yesterday. I cannot cope well with jetlag and suffer both ways. It is worse of course when you fly east because you lose time. Usually Ambien is helpful in keeping some semblance of "normal sleeping hours" but being pregnant I did not use any drugs this time.. Luckily after all these years all my friends and family in Finland know that I am totally out of it until about noon time. (Thank God for mummu who happily feeds and entertains the kids while mommy sleeps..) Now, back home in New York I try to hold on to the pattern of going to sleep early and waking up early. Unfortunately it only lasts so long... There are some good news too: Despite the jetlag, I finally feel like a human being again - seems like pregnancy hormones have stabilized and there is no more morning sickness or overreaching tiredness. The first ultrasound results were good too, which is a blessing at this (advanced) age :-)  (and the ultrasound person gave me his personal opinion that I may be carrying a boy - a welcome addition to balance out the girl power in our family)...but don't tell anyone yet as this information has not been fully confirmed yet.