Apartment Tour #2


I just did a big clean-up- pulled out the fridge and scrubbed behind it, laundered our pillows and duvet and mattress coverings and aired everything out. Now feels as good a time as any for an updated apartment tour. After all that cleaning, I didn't feel like steaming the sheets or vacuuming before taking these photos, so you get an idea of our apartment in its natural state.

To-do list for next year: 
Get proper frames for our prints
Find a big, cat friendly tree for the kitchen (we saw a nice crabapple in the Marais, I wish it wasn't toxic)
Figure out where to hang Daniela Cappacioli's wire sculptures; alternately, knit some jellyfish to hang around the apartment


Household additions this year (some, not all, of the links below are affiliate links, so if you click on them, I receive a commission):

  • Four handmade Valeria Polsinelli sake cups
  • This Cuisinart compact fryer- my husband's treat for himself. I haven't used it yet but I love his homemade fries
  • A Bosch Power Silence vacuum cleaner. My husband replaced ours while I was away. I'm not sure why. Probably mostly because he wanted a German vacuum cleaner.
  • Redecker Eddington bottle brush
  • Wooden soap dish
  • Cat carrier from my mom
  • Gluten-free cutting board. I keep it hidden under the sink so people don't contaminate it like the last one- gluten contamination is the reason we can't rent our place out anymore.
  • Polyester and cardboard cat tree *sigh*. Kar and Toffel were too big for the old one and they love sleeping in the banana leaf cubbies. When the polyester wears out, I'll replace the plush with linen coverings.
  • Two teacups and mortar and pestle, a gift from Joe and Ashley


Nkuku wire shelves (in the kitchen)
Ikea couch, dining room set, and kitchen towels (used as napkins)
Flour sack towels
Arne Jacobsen for Georg Jensen cutlery
Weck jars
Habitat bath sheets, bed and coffee table
Kartell Componibili
Eames rocker
Zwilling Henckels knives and bamboo cutting board
Happypet cat tree
Bamboo pet feeder
Paolo Galetto and me&him&you prints, vintage map of Thailand, personal photos, sketch by a Montreuillois artist (not pictured) on walls

I only listed items I get questions about. If you're wondering about the source for anything else just ask!

Paris to Go


I'm going to regret putting these pictures up, but here's the sharp shoulder sweater Alisa knitted. My mom, who has always been ahead of her time, asked for one like this as a teenager. It's heavier than expected, a warm, soft mix of sustainably sourced, undyed merino wool and alpaca. I don't do casual well- I'm bad at styling, and the separates I find in stores don't excite me. Next year I'll work on my off-duty wardrobe, which I want to try and make as much as possible.

My first project will be mittens, a scarf, and a hat, if Paris ever gets cold enough to wear them. I'm fed up with machine knits at the moment. After pricing natural wools around the 13ème and Anvers (too bad we can't get recycled Reunion Yarn here), it seems best to unravel an old sweater à la A Wool Story. I used to sew simple dresses and things; they didn't look nice, but I hope I can improve in time for summer. 

Maybe the secret to finding satisfactory pullovers and other "basics" is to look for statement pieces. My definition is probably different from most people's, but anything with interesting and well-crafted details, however subtle, is intriguing- like the structure and pleated sleeves of this sweater, or the stitched cuffs on a good pair of jeans. Lately, I find myself drawn to progressively more outrageous shapes and designs. I want things that aren't easily placed, things unidentifiable.

Anyway, I know I said to save on knitwear in this post. This was worth it to me, because I know where it comes from, from the sheep to the spinners to the woman who spent hours painstakingly casting and counting each intricate row. Nobody subsidized the cost of this garment with their lives, their health, or their environment. This isn't to say everybody has to go back to handmade. Realistically, clothing is low on many people's priority list. But secondhand, even my beloved The Real Real, wasn't working for me, so I wanted to try supporting a talented ethical designer- and ended up getting something I truly love! Other ethical / sustainable knitwear I'm fascinated with:

The Rare Creature

In other words, nothing you didn't know already. I'm so basic! If you're not familiar with the last brand, their work reminds me of the textile sculptor Tadek Beutlich’s creations. You can find handmade I Love Mr. Mittens ready-to-wear at Gang of Earlybirds in Paris.

Paris to Go

Gâté Sans Gluten


My favorite evening haunt in Saint-Germain-des-Prés? Not Ralph's, La Palette, or Café de Flore, which are overrun with the kinds of AUP students who camped overnight for Balmain x H&M and are counting the days until the Gilmore Girls revival. It's Gâté, the chic, stylish tearoom with the George Nelson ball clock and sleek Bertoia chairs. All the pretty French pâtisserie I enviously eyed in shop windows- Paris-Brest, onde de choc- I finally got to try here. Meanwhile, my friends enjoyed quiche, pastries, and a pot of Dammann Frères, never guessing it was dedicated gluten-free.

While digging into a rich religieuse au café, I peppered the owner, Emmanuel Grenier, with questions. His wife was diagnosed with celiac disease ten years ago, he explained. Along with a Swedish architect and two other partners, they constructed the modern and refined Gâté. A calming blue interior and minimalist string shelves are welcome departures from the rococo, Louis XV style dominating Paris tearooms. Gâté recruited Sébastien Lenglet, a young pâtissier who worked with Meilleur Ouvrier de France winners, to bring gorgeous gluten-free creations to the Left Bank. "I gave him a bunch of rice flour and told him to have fun," Grenier said. The strategy worked- they were already named one of Paris' must-visit salons de thé by Grazia.

Gâté is really cozy, friendly, and unpretentious, a good spot to catch up on your latest issues of Niépi and Elle Decor. The food- including savory dishes, like soup, fresh bread, and lentil salad- is delicious, creative, and well-priced, with just the perfect amount of texture and flavor. I could write another In Search of Lost Time about their chocolat chaud and tartelette violette alone. Grenier is extremely nice too. I never felt judged for eating desserts two at a time. In fact, once when I ordered a single bûche, he queried, "Only one?" and when I finished, asked if I was full after :) To which I replied, "C'est jolie," because after three years of living here, with a French husband and many friends who only speak French, I still can't string together a proper sentence socially. USA! For better pictures and a complete interview of the Gâté Sans Gluten team, click here.


11 Rue Dupuytren
Métro: Odéon
Instagram: @gatesansgluten

Paris to Go

Being Prepared

While I don't mind reducing plastic in other areas of life, I think a plastic-free survival kit is unreasonable. Kathryn expressed it perfectly when she said, "There is a time and place for plastic, and emergencies is one of them. Don't endanger yourself in the name of zero-waste. That helps no one." Despite multiple warnings, I never got around to stockpiling food and supplies in case of emergency, but finally did some research and prepared my home. Here's what I'll try to do to minimize environmental impact without compromising safety:
  • Choose clothing thoughtfully. When facing fire or smoke, long sleeves, long pants, or a long skirt are best because they shield skin from flames and heat. Clothing made of natural fibers offers good protection, while synthetic materials and leather are not recommended because they often melt or shrink with heat, potentially bonding to skin and causing severe burns. Wool socks and clothing in particular resist flames, cool, and insulate better than other materials. Layers of clothing offer more protection than one big layer, and light colors reflect heat. Try to always have a pair of flat shoes, preferably laced ones, nearby to enhance mobility and protect from cuts and burns. 
  • Travel light. When on a plane, limit hand luggage as much as possible, because a recurrent hazard for passengers is items falling from bins. On the street, heavy bags or purses can be unnecessarily burdensome, though in a survival situation, I'm guessing most people just leave their stuff behind.
  • Assemble a “go bag.”  It should be durable, accessible, and easy-to-transport, with copies of important documents in something waterproof (many experts recommend light, steel-reinforced nylon carriers). Officials advise including an extra set of keys, credit cards, cash, large bottles of water, nonperishable food, a map, a flashlight, extra batteries, radio, emergency cell phone, medication, first aid kit, child-care supplies, sturdy shoes, and a rain poncho. We also have a stainless steel lighter. Some prefer melt-resistant military canteens to bottled water. I personally stock gauze, which provides more breathability and protection, instead of Band-aids in our first-aid kit. If I thought of it, I'd probably tuck a cloth bag of lambs' ear inside, for a natural antimicrobial agent.
  • Ensure a safe water supply. Of all plastics, polypropylene (#5 plastic) is the safest, though it can still leach chemicals. Military steel jerry cans, fiberglass, or enamel lined containers are also options. Since activated charcoal and other water purification techniques don't remove all contaminants, water purification tablets, such as those used by Navy Seals, are the preferred last resort. Ashley recommends a stainless steel Berkey filter, which purifies rain or ditch water. If confined to a home, it's also possible to drain the hot water tank (as long as it remains upright and the valve from the water main is shut off first). 
  • Stockpile non-perishable groceries. Apples, potatoes, and other long-lasting fruits and vegetables that can be eaten raw or uncooked are good choices. Citrus fruits last up to three months, provide vitamin C, and can be turned into an emergency candle if necessary (fill the peel with oil before lighting). Dried fruits and nuts in cloth bags are easily transportable, and canned fish, dried cured meats, and beans are good sources of protein (don't forget a small manual can opener). To some extent, there are things people are able to can, dehydrate, and forage, but in case of a flood or earthquake, industrially packed foods are safer and more reasonable.
  • Invest in pure wool blankets. Wool is durable, lightweight, flame retardant, and can be soaked in water to use as a shield, block smoke, or put fires out. A wool blanket warms, wicks away moisture, and absorbs odors. Does anybody know if knitted wool blankets are okay for emergency situations? This is probably a stupid question, but I want to know if it matters if the wool is knitted, felted, woven, or whatever.
In cities where apartments and refrigerators are smaller, storing lots of food and emergency supplies isn't always possible. I think that's why our neighbors preferred daily trips to the boulangerie, market, pharmacy or grocery store, buying as needed; otherwise, provisions just took up space and went to waste. Now shops are packed. People I normally see toting one baguette and a bit of cheese have two or three carts full of canned foods. There needs to be a balance, ensuring preparedness for situations when we need to stay inside and help others seeking food and safe shelter. From now on, I'll never let our groceries dwindle to nothing. I'll always have at least a few days' provisions on hand, just in case. 

Paris to Go