0 comment

Bedlam Over Bedford

Bedford Avenue is the longest street in Brooklyn, New York City, stretching 10.2 miles and 132 blocks from Greenpoint south to Sheepshead Bay. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, immediately off the L subway line, the Bedford Avenue stop features a bevy of walkable, quaint, quirky, and small boutiques that will sell you (almost) anything. Since it ’tis the season to be shopping, here’s a peek into two of my favorite Williamsburg based jewelers and knickknack shops.

Catbird, located online and at 219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, is a mecca for all things sparkly and exciting. Our favorite things include non-traditional wedding rings, stacking rings, knuckle rings and a wide range of gifts such as terrariums, perfume,  glassware, candlesticks, cards, water bottles, tooth fairy boxes, candles. Anything that someone in the board game CLUE employs, one will most likely find here. When I say “find”, I mean it. The store is setup like a pirate’s booty and treasure chest filled with trinkets interwoven with strange artifacts, forcing you to play detective. The layout is haphazard yet delicate and organic. The small space specializes in local designers (although they also carry items from designers all over the globe). The tiny space is a bit of quirky and feminine dreamscape.

Catbird Review x The Walkup

Step into the space that is equal parts Downton Abbey meets farmhouse shabby chic meets 1950’s diner. Peruse the sliding drawers, the glass displays, and the shelves – everywhere you turn in this postage-stamp-sized storefront is brimming with a hidden find.

Catbird x The Walkup

Catbird x The Walkup

Tocca Perfume reigns supreme as an easy way to evoke any distinct character trait. Discover your favorite scents by trying the samples in the store such as Cleopatra, Stella, Florence, Brigitte, Graciella and Violette. My personal favorite is Brigitte, which is inspired by the playful and sensual beauty of French film siren Brigitte Bardot, Tocca’s  fragrance evokes the intoxicating scent of a stroll through the spice markets of Provence. Tres chic! The little brass birds, wrapped in ribbon, would also make a perfection addition to a mantle-place or bookshelf.

Catbird x The Walkup

Rodin by Recine creates tonics, lip balms, hair oils, face oils and candles with the seriousness of an ancient apothecary. The products are whipped up and infused with essential oils from apricot kernels, calendula, sunflower seed, sweet almond, neroli, jojoba, rosemary and juniper. It doesn’t get more natural and aromatic than that.

Catbird x The Walkup


If only my wallet allowed, I would buy all the knuckle ringed, chain linked, hammered metals, animal skull inspired, black diamond flecked pieces that my little heart desired – but, alas! The paycheck of a not-for-profit employee is a wee bit limiting. There are many steals using brass, crystal and silver for under $100 but the best bargain and bang for your buck, in my humble opinion, is the Lanolin-Agg-Tval Swedish Eggwhite Soap. This $5 bar of soap has been a part of healthy skincare in Sweden for generations. Originally prepared at home by Swedish women, an egg white facial was a weekly tradition to maintain pure, radiant skin. Go get this bar and make your skin glow!

Catbird x The Walkup

Catbird x The WalkupFlotsam and Jetsam is created by Rebekah Harris in New York City. Harris apprenticed under a silversmith and creates  rock and roll silver jewelry. Many of her designs stem from a love of the ocean (hence the name) and a curiosity for the mysteries of the watery unknown. Flotsam and Jetsam speaks of the spoils cast over board and washed ashore, sculptural narratives whose stories invoke the desperate journeys of abandoned souls that dared to step aboard and sail into the realms of monsters, sudden squalls and shallow shoals. Whatever the company’s folklore may be, the pieces always pay homage to the artisan craftsmanship of the past with a modern edge.
Catbird x The Walkup

Another jewelry favorite, that has much more of a DIY vibe, is Brooklyn Charm. Located at 145 Bedford Ave (between 10th St & 9th St) Brooklyn, NY 11211, the funky shop is filled to the brim with gold chains, strange overstock, wholesale beads, and pre-made creations. After building up a small-but-loyal fanbase through her flea market sales and Etsy store, jewelry designer Tracie Howarth opened this storefront on Bedford Avenue in March 2010.

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup


The space also hosts metalworking, wire wrapping and other beading and jewelry making courses. No previous experience necessary! There is a large selection of letter charms, state charms, skulls, and all the supplies to create a one-of-a kind pieces. If you are not feeling so crafty and creatively inclined, bring your favorite parts to the cash register and the staff will assemble jewelry for you on the spot at the counter!

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup


Arrows, spoons, globes, acorns, beetles, knives, alligators, and wood – oh my! You would be hard pressed to find something missing the eclectic array of charms that the shop offers.

Brooklyn Charm x The Walkup

Now, combining finds from the two lovely, aforementioned places, I bring you the Brooklyn holiday gift guide,  where all items are $50 and under! Buy something for your teacher, lover, milkman, boss, distant cousin and fellow commuter. At prices like these, buy yourself a gift too!

Brooklyn Gift Guide x The Walkup

[Read more]

0 comment

A Moveable Feast

What do you get when you cross Williamsburg, Brooklyn with a veritable cornucopia and smörgåsbord of food options? A Smorgaburg! Let’s break this down for a second, a smorgasbord is a type of meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. In English and also in Scandinavian languages, the word smörgåsbord refers loosely to any buffet with a variety of dishes.

Smorgasburg happens every Saturday, rain or shine.  Part of the Brooklyn Flea Market,  Smorgasburg brings together food entrepreneurs and established purveyors from New York City and across the region selling both packaged and prepared foods, fresh produce, and other food-related stands (kitchen utensils, housewares, etc.), for a total of approximately 100 vendors. I have gone to this market several times and it is still my favorite NYC STAY-CATION. In my (very) humble opinion, the best foods hail from:

1. Asia Dog:   Asiadogs are hot dogs with Asian-inspired toppings incorporating flavors found in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and more. Try the WangDing: Chinese BBQ Porkbelly + onions or the Vinh: Vietnamese banh-mi style: aioli + pate + cucumbers + pickled carrot and daikon + cilantro + jalapeno.

2. Bon Chovie: This is what happens when a chick with a metal head and a green thumb moves fromSeattle to Williamsburg andmarries a charter boat captain and all-around seafood maniac from Florida’s gulf Coast. If you know what’s good for you, have the fried anchovies “jersey style” (head’s on) and relish in the smoked paprika mayo and pickled sweet peppers on the side. Finally, if your thirst need quenching, they have a non-alcoholic sangria that has more fruit than a Chiquita banana headdress.

3. Brooklyn Soda Works: An artist and a chemist making soda and carbonated juices from scratch, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. If Willy Wonky had a soda factory and a seltzer bottle, he would be making these drinks. Using foraged ingredients like sassafras, knotweed, shiso, fennel and peppercorn, soda works makes the freshest (never from syrups or concentrates) and most refreshing fizzy lifting drinks. I want to use EVERY one of them in cocktails as mixers. Your best best will be the ‘grapefruit, jalapeno & honey’ pop.


4. Schnitz: Schnitz is the Shit(z). It is a quick-serve food business dedicated to serving your favorite comfort food: Schnitzel! For those who didn’t get the memo, schnitzel is thin, breaded and lightly fried pieces chicken, pork or veal. All sandwiches are served on a pretzel bun, your options include Sweet Onion: panko crusted crumbs + jicama radish pickle + beet tzatziki or Bamberg: panko parsley crumbs + cuco-daikon pickle + caramelized opinion mustard. My grandmother made schnitzel like it was her job, mostly because she was a stay at home mother and this was her “job”, to cook schnitzel. She was from the Polish shtetl and knew good schnitzel, this stuff comes close.



5. The Good Batch: This purveyor of ice cream sandwhiches began with a simple mission:  bake pure, not overly sweet, delicious food. Anna Gordon, the founder and pastry chef of The Good Batch, has a lot of Dutch people in her life, and after years of receiving eager requests for making fresh stroopwafels, she finally did it. I must admit, the classic Goodwich style ice cream sandwich featuring vanilla ice cream and an irresistible oat cookie loaded with Belgian milk and dark chocolate chunks, and topped with sea salt was the PERFECT combination of salty and sweet.



Honorable Mentions: We Rub You, Mighty Quinn’s 

And then we took the East River Ferry home back to the isle of Manhattan and lived happily ever after…


Artists & Fleas

Established in 2003, Artists & Fleas Artist, Designer & Vintage Market is a weekly Williamsburg Brooklyn indoor market (Located in a large early 1930s manufacturing warehouse in the heart of Williamsburg’s North Side) where emerging and independent artists, designers, vintage collectors and DIYers can showcase their wares, set up shop and meet their market. It’s a unique destination where consumers can interact and buy directly from the source.

The shadows of midday pass over the entrance to the flea market as a passerby has a smoke break.

Aren’t shadows sneaky? Isn’t the sun strange? Here I am snapping photos in nearly the same spot, at a different time of day. 

Delicate, vintage wedding dresses and prom delights hang in neutral shades.

Part designer showcase, part maker’s market, this pop-up will host over 30 independent creators and sellers of jewelry, art, design, home accessories, vintage clothing, and all things indie, funky, Brooklyn and bespoke from both Artists & Fleas’ 9 years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and the larger creative community. In addition, the market will play host to an eclectic mix of weekly programming led by independent designers and artists open to the public.

Now in its seventh year, the flea market has done so successfully that it has expanded its offerings to Chelsea Market for a pop-up event! I adore flea markets for both their visual appeal and their ability to foster true customer bonding. It is always wonderful to see goods and wares displayed exactly how store owners want; the browsing experience is greatly enhanced by knowing that items were personally curated for the market event.

Punk, hardcore, wicked, whatever adjective or descriptor one uses, the jewelry still has edge from FSMNYC

 The ever changing array of customers, clients, and vendors is updated biweekly. Sometimes the space even offers live music and a DJ. Even if your latest paycheck has not arrived (and you can’t shop QUITE yet) the meandering is supremely gratifying.
Some shops include Brooklyn Charm (a perennial favorite that makes one-of-a-kind charms on the spot), The Blue Hound, Cynthia Rybakoff (modern vintage jewelry with a pop culture twist), GoLLY (one of a kind screen prints), QP & Monty (a veritable, vintage treasure trove), Paste (limited edition lithographs), however the pièce de résistance (in my humble opinion) was Rifle + Radford.
Although Radford is Melanie’s maiden name, her business’ title is a phenomenal way to stay attached to one’s familial roots AND to use alliteration. Who doesn’t need a little R&R?
Cowhide, agate, coral, glass, books, and a fish print. What more do you need, really?
Rifle + Radford is Brooklyn-based, Southwest-inspired design studio specializing in eclectic collections of handcrafted heritage jewelry, clothing and salvaged antiques, vintage housewares and home decor accents. The first thing that struck me about Melanie’s display area was how beautifully and exactly placed each item was. The taupe colors of old maps mingled seamlessly with the intense purples of minerals and gems. Feathers and antlers looked natural sitting on mechanical bar stools. The whole display was a study in editing.
I’ll take personalized stationery and an antler wrapped in yarn, please! 
Southwestern Flair! 
The second thing that struck me was the owner’s killer style. I have never seen such a perfect choice of rings (and on the proper finger! ring placement is a science…).  I spoke with Melanie a bit and asked her exactly HOW she found her items, we discussed my family’s history in the antiques industry, but also her knowledge of RIFLING (not the usual “gun barrel” definition, this is what she calls searching for her inventory).  Some of her items were antique or vintage, some were handcrafted and new, and yet others were a combination of the two, a re-purposing of worlds.
Whatever this case used to be; a display for jewelry, a cufflinks holder, the bottom of a cash register, or an organizer, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that now it is a makeshift holder for some of the most neatly packaged earrings, ever. Can we TALK about those TURQUOISE AVENTURINE TEARDROPS?
Are you as touched by the charming packaging as I am? Oh an ombre amethyst slice on my ear or neck! Click HERE for more. 
No shortage of gemstones, birthstones, and gold plating. 
My sneaky, voyeuristic photo features the creative director helping customers. Look at those old filing cabinet drawers topped with shadow boxes (secret: I knew these boxes were from West Elm, so she and I got to talking about our mutual design loves…)
If you were to become a designer, antique collector, or creative director, what would you call your business? How would your products be themed? Rifle + Radford has her vibe and brand down pat.