For the 7th year running, I have made a personal commitment to buy gifts for my friends and family from local and independent artists, designers and crafters this holiday season. As I have done in previous years, I’d like to invite independent hand-makers to post links to their shops in the comments. Please refer to the guidelines below before sharing your link. Thank you!

Door Sixteen Support Independent

Share your shop link:
Please keep all links limited to the spirit of handmade goods from independently-run businesses.
To make things a little more streamlined this year, please follow this format:
✚ NAME: Your shop’s name
✚ URL: Your shop’s address
✚ DESCRIPTION: Briefly tell us what kind of goods you sell
✚ DISCOUNT CODE (if applicable): If you are running any kind of promotion (discount, free shipping, etc.) for the holidays, please include the details and discount code. Codes specific to Door Sixteen readers are welcome.

(If I don’t approve your comment right away, that probably means I’m away from the computer. Don’t fret!)

Share this page with others:
You are welcome to share the above graphic on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or elsewhere, but please do not alter it in any way. Links should point to doorsixteen.com/handmade, which will automatically redirect to this page. Using a redirect URL will prevent any links from becoming outdated in future years.

If you would prefer to have a smaller button to display in your sidebar, here you go!
Independent Holiday button

Small Print: Door Sixteen/Anna Dorfman does not personally endorse any of the shops linked to the comments section of this post. Links have been tested for functionality and to ensure that the goods for sale are in keeping with the spirit of handmade goods from independently-run businesses, but beyond that no verification or endorsement is implied. All comments are moderated. Comments containing faulty URLs or which are not in compliance with stated guidelines will not be published.

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So…how about THAT! If you follow me on Instagram, then you may already know that there is now a cute little black SMEG refrigerator living in our house. It was part of the original kitchen plan I made last year, and we felt pretty strongly about making it happen, so here it is. A mere 11 months later! Hah. And yeah, I know, it’s sort of the whole $289 trash can thing again, but that’s why we do our own renovation work and why we only spent $140 on a new floor and slightly more than that for four walls of tile…you get the idea. It evens out, and everything is still under budget.

AND IT LOOKS SO MUCH BETTER. The old refrigerator (still in great shape — it went to live in Kingston with Daniel and Max) was way too big for our kitchen, and it was never full to more than 1/3 capacity.

Somehow I managed to not take a decent full-length photo of the fridge over the weekend, but to answer the two big questions:
✚ Nope, I’m not worried about the bad reviews online. Everyone I know who has a SMEG loves it. I’ll take my chances. If it turns out to be a disaster, I’ll let you know.
✚ It’s not too small for us. Not even the freezer. We’re only two people and the most we ever freeze is a tray of ice cubes and a box or two of veggie burgers. The capacity of the fridge is greater than it looks like from the outside — there’s really plenty of room for everything we typically have on-hand.

Anyway, this is by no means the big reveal, but while I wait on my own indecisiveness before finishing the kitchen for real (LIGHTING!!! and that door, and…), I thought it would be fun to post some then-and-now photos taken from the same positions. Unfortunately the “then” photos are really awful, mostly because they were taken almost as an afterthought during our walk-through on closing day. I have so much regret about not taking better photos before we started in on our seemingly never ending renovation plan, but what can you do? Oh well.

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If anything about the 2006 photos makes some part of the old kitchen look salvageable, it’s just a fault of the lack of detail in the photos. It was disgusting. No debate.

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These photos were all taken on Day One of our kitchen renovation, which was almost eight years ago. All we’d done at that point was take out the old cabinets and the remove the boards that had been nailed into the corner to hide pipes. This was also the first time either Evan or I had been involved in anything resembling a home renovation project, and we were horrified. We were so, so lucky to have had a couple of family members and friends who knew what they were doing and were generous enough to lend a hand. Two hands, even, and for many days. It took quite a while for us to feel like we could do anything by ourselves.

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OK, I still hate the door (we’re planning to replace it next summer), but aside from that? I think this is a perfect corner. I’m so glad we decided to hire a plumber to move the supply line for the radiator over to the right a couple of feet. I know it seems like a minor thing, but having the radiator centered under the window makes an enormous difference in the overall balance of the room. It feels right now.

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I keep scrolling up and down to compare these two photos. We didn’t take down or move any walls in the kitchen (or elsewhere in our house), but it really does look like a different kitchen entirely. This is a small room with three doorways, two huge windows and a huge, protruding (and receding!) hearth, and that meant that we couldn’t go with a traditional layout or standard cabinetry. It was frustrating initially because I was trying to make the challenging aspects of the room less obvious, but once I gave in started turning those things into features — like painting the entire hearth black — it all came together. This is why I love old houses! If you listen to them, they tell you what to do.

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OK, that’s weird cropping, but I wanted to match the original photo! Just ignore the mess in the dining room, too…the table is covered with unneeded kitchen stuff we need to donate. If I back up a bit, though, you can see this corner of the room a little more…

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So much better! The closed door on the left leads to a pantry. The contents have changed (we use it to store food now), but here’s an old post about the pantry renovation. It’s very cute, I must say.

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A few details from around the room, clockwise: Yellow Marais-style stools from Industry West, Drink Local glasses from West Elm Market, wall hooks from Pedersen + Lennard, reclaimed wood knife rack from Furnished Modern.

So that’s the kitchen, for now. It’s still not finished, but the remaining projects are going to take a while. When it’s DONE-done, I’ll take lots of nice photos and break everything down cost-wise as best as I can.

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I’ve been a fan of South Africa-based textile designer Heather Moore’s work as Skinny laMinx for YEARS. Her storefront in Cape Town and her online Etsy shop are home to an amazing collection of her bold, graphic illustrations printed on everything from cushions to children’s clothes to prints and cards to fabric by the yard. She even sells textile scraps for all sorts of uses!

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Heather’s latest Skinny laMinx lookbook for 2013/2014 is sooooooo up my alley, and my favorite pieces are from the Afro-Scandi line: Oranges and ochres and browns and grays, an organic meeting of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. To celebrate the new collection, Heather has generously offered a $100 gift card to spend in the Skinny laMinx Etsy shop!

Here’s how to enter:
Visit the Skinny laMinx Etsy shop and the 2013/2014 Lookbook.
Pick out a few of your favorite things.
Leave a comment here letting us know what they are!

The deadline for entries is Friday, November 29th at 11:00 PM, EST. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. I’ll announce the winner here and on Twitter tomorrow. The winner will also be notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Just about a year ago, I wrote a post about my skin, specifically about coping with adult acne at the (then) age of 37. It was tough to write, but I’m glad I did it. I have spent a lot of years of my adult life feeling ashamed for not having great (or even good) skin, and for not finding solutions in the simple, natural methods that have worked for so many. At the time I wrote that post, I’d been following a regimen recommended by my dermatologist for about six months — and my skin was looking pretty good. Not perfect, but I felt better about my face than I had in many years. The only prescription I was using at the time was a combination topical antibiotic/retinoid called Ziana, and it was working really well for me.

This past June (almost exactly one year after after I started the regimen and the Ziana), though, something changed. Suddenly my skin was getting lots of clogged pores, and I was started to get cystic breakouts again. It seemed like it was overnight, and it was very upsetting. First I worried that I’d developed an antibiotic resistance, then I worried my Clarisonic was harboring bacteria (even though I clean it thoroughly after every use and change the brush head as recommended)…I panicked. I waited a couple of months and blamed stress. I blamed lack of sleep. And then I stopped being dumb, and I went back to the dermatologist.

I don’t know why I waited so long. I guess it was that sense of shame again, like the doctor was going to tell me I was doing something wrong or that I was apparently untreatable and was destined to a lifetime of looking like a goblin. She didn’t say either of those things, of course (tip: if you doctor calls you a goblin, find another doctor), but instead said that she suspected the dosage of tretinoin in Ziana (.025%) was too low for me. OK!

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So here’s what I’m using now. It’s been about two months, and HELLO! My skin looks pretty good, and every day it looks better. I still have a lot of discoloration from past breakouts, but it’s fading gradually and is relatively easy to cover in the mean time. I don’t think I’ll ever think I look good without makeup on, but at least now I don’t think I look diseased when I walk in the bathroom in the morning. At age 38, I can finally even bring myself to be around a friend (AT HOME! Let’s not get carried away…) in the evening after I’ve washed my face. That’s big for me. I think it’s been about five weeks since I’ve had any sort of breakout, and even then it was minor.

Anyway, here’s the current product lineup:

1. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser
Yeah, on some level I still feel like this is chemical-laden, unglamorous garbage and I kind of do wish I could wash my face with, like, virgin coconut oil and fulvic-enhanced mineral water (heh), but it’s $5 and it works so I just don’t even care anymore. I use it twice a day, once in the morning, then twice at night — once to remove makeup, then again right after with my Clarisonic.

2. Clarisonic (20% off at SkinStore.com right now, FYI)
I always come back to my Clarisonic. Whenever I think it’s failing me, it turns out it was actually something else. Like I said, I’m diligent about keeping it clean and changing the brush head (I always use the ones made for delicate skin). I love my Clarisonic, and I feel badly for ever doubting it. I’ve actually had a couple of terrifying dreams in which I find myself Clarisonic-less, which is admittedly kind of sad but also very telling and let’s just blame stress for everything.

3. Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex
This incredible serum has mostly taken the place of my former favorite, Huile Prodigieuse, as a nighttime treatment. I still use Huile Prodigieuse during the day if my face feels tight, and it’s great in my hair, but the older I get the dryer my skin…and I needed something more intensive. I’d gone through a couple of sample bottles of the Midnight Recovery Complex when it was first introduced and really liked it, but I didn’t fork over the money for a full-size bottle until last June. It’s wonderful stuff. Magical, even. I only use it at night, and because I just need 2-3 drops to cover my whole face, one bottle will last a really long time.

4. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
Yep, my old standby for the past five years. As much as I hope to someday find an eye serum that can rid me of my undereye circles, this cream remains the only one I’d found that truly keeps my eye area hydrated in the colder months. No matter how many other eye creams I bring home samples of, I always wind up coming back to this one. Again, as with most Kiehl’s products, the price tag is offset by the generous amount of product. One jar of this eye cream lasts me almost a year.

On to the prescriptions…

5. Retin-A Micro
I actually use a generic version of this, which I think came out to something like $8 for three big tubes with my insurance. My dermatologist prescribed it in .04% retinoid strength, which is nearly double what I was using before in the Ziana (.025%). Unlike Ziana, it does not contain an antibiotic. I use it nightly only, never during the day. Retin-A works by increasing the rate of your skin’s cellular turnover, which means pores are less likely to clog, decreasing pore dilation and (of course) breakouts. It also boosts collagen production, so fine lines and sagginess are diminished. And it really works. Apparently I won’t see the full effects until I’ve been on it for the better part of a year, but it’s made an enormous difference in the clarity and smoothness of my skin already. There was an adjustment period in the form of breakouts and dryness when I started using it, but it wasn’t horrendous — probably in part because I’d already been using a lower dose of retinoids for a year before starting. I do have some adjustment advice, though…

Anna’s Retin-A tips:
✚ Wait at least 10 minutes (preferably 20) after washing your face to apply it. Really for real. Retin-A and water are not friends. If you don’t wait, you are just asking for over-dryness.
✚ ONLY USE A PEA-SIZED AMOUNT. That means a standard green pea, not a chickpea or a lima bean. PEA-SIZED. Squeeze it into your hand, dot it all over your face (avoiding the eye area), then rub it in. It’s not a spot treatment or a mask. Take it easy.
✚ If your skin is getting really dry, apply a light moisturizer first as a barrier. I always put my Kiehl’s serum on right after washing, then wait 20 minutes before applying the Retin-A.
✚ If you feel like you need to skip a night, skip a night. In fact, you might want to start out only using it every other night until your skin adjusts. Everyone is different. Pay attention to how your skin is reacting, and know that the adjustment period of flaking and breakouts is NOT forever.
✚ USE SUNSCREEN during the daytime. Retin-A increases your skin’s sensitivity to light. Don’t mess around with this one. Please.

6. Aczone Gel
Aczone gel is a relatively new medication, but its active ingredient, dapsone, has been used as an anti-inflammatory/antibacterial for a long time…including as a treatment for leprosy. And hey, if it’s good enough for lepers, it’s certainly good enough for me! Seriously though, I’m amazed by this stuff. It’s a gel formula that goes on really nicely, and it’s kept me totally free of any cystic breakouts that Retin-a alone can’t prevent. I use it twice a day (at night after applying Retin-a, and in the morning under my makeup). I saw pretty much immediate results when I started using Aczone — by the next morning anything inflamed on my face had calmed down, and I haven’t had a recurrence since. I don’t even have any tips for using Aczone because it’s so gentle and (at least for me) totally non-irritating.

One downside to Aczone is that it’s new enough that there’s no generic option, and the price tag ($200 for a one month supply!) is prohibitive if you either don’t have insurance or if your insurance won’t cover it (mine won’t, and I have really good insurance). That said, there are coupons you can download to reduce the cost (man, the prescription drug industry is soooooo, so super shady…). I was able to get a three month supply (90g tube) for $25, which is totally worth it. If the coupons stop working…well, let’s not think about that.

So that’s it, really. I still have not found a sunscreen I love, so I won’t share a recommendation. That said, if you have one you love that’s broad-spectrum and nice under makeup, I’d love to know about it! My favorite sunscreen (a lightweight spray from Paula’s Choice) was discontinued a couple of years ago, and I’ve been wandering aimlessly through disappointing alternatives ever since.

One more thing for those of you who have had to deal with similar skin issues: If something isn’t working (even if it used to work!), don’t give up. If you can go to a dermatologist, do it. There are so many options for treating problem skin, and I really, truly believe that improving your emotional health through dealing with those problems is incredibly important. It’s not just about vanity, and there’s not going to be one thing that works for everyone. This has been a very long struggle for me, and I am under no illusion that this is going to work for me forever. I have to do something, though, and it’s a massive relief to have found the right thing for me…for now.

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I have a few things to do in the city this weekend so the kitchen won’t get my attention for a few days. The past couple of weeks have felt almost unbearably long and hectic. To cap thing off, I spent all day Thursday thinking it was Friday, so today felt like going to work on the weekend. I’m sure it’s Friday for real now, though, and it’s past 5:00pm, so…I’M FREE! I’M FREEEEEEEEE!!! I want to make the next couple of days as productive as possible since it’s been ages since I’ve been at the apartment during daytime hours. Time for a list!

Vacuum, including entry stairs
✚ Cut anti-slip pad for new kitchen rug
Drop off laundry
Bring winter coat to cleaners
Scrub bathroom to death
Put new locks on the windows
Remove air conditioner from window
Vet appointment for Fritz & Bruno
JOHNNY MARR CONCERT AT WEBSTER HALL WOOHOO
✚ Paint the stairs (c’mon, Dorfman, you can do this…)
Dye hair + trim bangs
Pedicure
✚ Write a billion emails
Learn how to properly set the thermostat, then set it properly
✚ Make a big pot of chili (it’s that time of year again)
Belated birthday lunch with Laura

Totally doable, provided I start tonight with the cleaning. I’ve been really lazy about thoroughly cleaning the apartment lately, and it’s starting to weigh on me. I’m not as fastidious about cleaning as my reputation among my friends and family would have you believe, but I do like to be in relatively clean surroundings. Right now there are dustbunnies the size of grapefruits (and no, I’m not talking about Bruno) clustered in every corner, and I can write my name with my finger on any piece of glass in the apartment. Time for a real scrub-down!

Starting a pot of coffee and putting on The Messenger now!

p.s. Yes, those cashmere skull gloves are just as soft and warm as they look. Skull Cashmere very kindly sent me a pair after seeing their blanket in my skull-love post, and I have been waiting for months to wear them. Now I never want to take them off…

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YEAH. Painted. A couple of weeks ago, I posted part one of my plywood plank kitchen floor installation, and since then I’ve been trying to get the second part together. The second part is the fun stuff, because it’s really just paint.

As you can see, I decided to just go with black. I know, I know…the old VCT floor was black, and I had all of these grand ideas about painting crazy patterns on the floor, but in the end simplicity won out — as it often does (and often should). That’s not to say that at some point in the future I won’t come back and decide to paint a pattern on top of the black, but not now. It’s 27° out. We need heat. We need to not be washing dishes in the bathtub.

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After reading this post and having a conversation with the knowledgeable guy at the paint store, I came to a few conclusions about how to proceed with painting the finish-grade maple plywood:

1. Use a good-quality, oil-based paint. Paint Store Guy recommended I use Insl-x Pro-Plate Enamel, a super-durable paint made for use on metal but also rated for use on wood and masonry. It comes in 8 colors, all of which you can imagine being used to paint a utility room in the basement of a hospital, but fortunately one of the those colors is black — yes, just straight up “black,” not tinted to match a Benjamin Moore swatch or anything like that — so that’s good enough for me.

2. Don’t use primer. Obviously this approach could be an issue with lighter floors because of the potential for tannins from the wood to bleed through, but with a black floor, Paint Store Guy was in agreement that skipping primer would allow the paint to seep into the porous, never-finished wood, making for a finish less likely to chip or peel.

3. APPLY THIN COATS and let your paint dry completely. This is crucial. Thick coats of paint are more likely to peel. I did the first coat with a roller, which went on beautifully and evenly without a glob in sight. I used a large brush for the second coat because I don’t like the way rolled finishes look on wood surfaces, and I was very careful to go slowly and use a light hand. I was prepared to do three coats, but two was enough in this case. I let the paint dry for a full week between coats, and then allowed an additional full week of curing time before I even considered walking on the floor. Yes, that’s a long time to have a room out of commission, I know.

4. Sand between coats. Nobody wants to do this, including me. “Sand between coats” resonates with me the same way the advisory on a box of Q-Tips to not insert in the ear does, which is to say it goes in one (swabbed) ear and out the other. This time I did it, though, and I’m glad I did. The photos I took between coats are too crappy to be worth sharing, but the first coat dried to a very matte finish because of the wood’s porosity, and the finish was anything but smooth. I spent 30 minutes with my trusty Bosch random-orbit sander, a face mask and a whole lot of plastic taped over everything (doorways, shelving, stove…), and then it was done. I then followed with a thorough vacuuming and mopping of the floor before diving into the second coat of paint.

✚ Side note: My method for painting the white floor in room above the kitchen was considerably different, and that’s still what I recommend doing if you’re not looking for a super high-gloss black finish in a high-traffic room like a kitchen. That white floor has held up like a champ and it still looks great nearly five years (!) later, but it’s a very different look and a very different substrate. As with most things in life, there is more than one solution for a task depending on the circumstances!

A few other notes about the process…

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Prior to both the first and second coat, I spent some time filling in the larger gaps between the floorboards with caulk. I thought I’d hit all of the crucial areas on the first pass, but once the black paint was down I noticed more gaps that really should have been filled. The caulk sinks down a bit into the gap, so the boards still look like boards — no big thing. I also caulked around the entire perimeter of the room, of course. I’ll take any opportunity I can to make the house less drafty!

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For the first coat I did all of the cutting in with a brush, then switched to the roller to fill in. As I mentioned, the entire second coat was done with a brush — much, much more time-consuming, but a brushed finish on wood is just so much nicer.

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Ta-da! I love how reflective the floor is. You can see it better in the top photo, but the grain is still slightly visible, too — just enough for the floor to still look like it’s made out of wood, which is what I wanted. Once the black paint was completely dry, I gave the baseboard moldings a fresh coat of white (Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in a satin finish, same as the rest of the woodwork in my house) and did my best to keep the edge as crisp and neat as possible. The moldings in the kitchen are pretty beat up so it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s good enough.

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This isn’t directly related to the floor, but it was absolutely essential to get it done — with the help of our Electrical Fairy, we moved the refrigerator outlet. Several weeks ago we had the supply line for the radiator moved about a foot and a half to the right so the radiator could be centered under the window, which meant the outlet would have been totally inaccessible. The old hole won’t be visible, so we just covered it with a blank metal plate rather than bothering with a proper patch job. Again, good enough!

I’m a couple of weeks behind on kitchen updates, and a LOT more has happened in there since these photos were taken. I wanted to give the floor its own post, but I promise more updates are coming very soon!

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Yeah, I could live there is an occasional D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today we’re barging in on a “Swedish summer cabin” that’s not in Sweden at all — it’s in Sydney, Australia, and it’s a 2-bedroom apartment belonging to designer Fräg Woodall. Woodall designed and renovated the apartment himself over the course of 9 months.

Let’s take a look around…

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SOLD. I mean, not that it’s for sale, but I’m definitely ready to move in right now. That charred-looking black wood wall in the bathroom is so super gorgeous. I now need to find a wall — any wall — to cover with stained Baltic Russian pine paneling. Also, black bathroom fixtures! Why didn’t I do that??

And don’t even get me started on those glossy white-painted floors. Sigh.

Other than that they’re really nice, what do we know about the striped duvet cover and pillowcases?? Where are they from??

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I wish I had an excuse to buy Pia Wallén’s FÄRGLAV bed linens from IKEA. They look so nice on this little pine bed. I love that credenza in the living room, too, also the work of Fräg Woodall.

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Siiiiiiigh. So good. I especially like the shallow upper cabinets and shelves hanging from pegs in the kitchen. And those pendant lights?? Plus another black faucet. I love it all. I’m definitely moving in!

All photographs by Terence Chin, via Share Design
Interior design by Fräg Woodall
Thanks to D16 reader Holly for sharing this home with me!

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A little more than a year ago, I wrote a post about how little traveling I do. It was difficult to write because it’s always been something I’m a bit ashamed of, but (as is often the case with the posts I hesitate to write) I felt braver and stronger once it was done. A few weeks later I traveled to London and had a wonderful time. This past June I went to my friends Lisa and Clay’s beautiful wedding in San Francisco, last month I went to Palm Springs for Camp Mighty and yesterday I got back from a long weekend in New Orleans! Look at me: Anna Dorfman, occasional traveler. Who could have predicted?

A very good friend of mine moved from Brooklyn to New Orleans about six years ago, and I’d been talking about the possibility of making a visit for a while. Our birthdays are a couple of days apart (I turned 38 right before Halloween — hello, 38!), and just by chance it turned out that The Cure were scheduled to play on the last night of Voodoo Fest. K and I met because of our love for The Cure and it’d been years since we’d gone to a show together…so really, how could I not go? Everything just seemed to fall into place perfectly. This was my first visit to New Orleans, and I loved it. What a magical place!

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K and her husband and son live in an incredible 1875 house in the Bywater neighborhood. She has always had the best sense of style when it comes to interiors, and unsurprisingly her home is amazingly beautiful inside and out. I slept in a bedroom painted black from the bottom up, save for a white beadboard ceiling. So perfect and cave-like. (And no, sorry, she doesn’t have a blog, haha. Believe me, it was all I could do to not take a million pictures!)

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Like all grown-up former (?) goths, we made sure to visit a cemetery. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest in New Orleans, all crumbly and beautiful and densely packed. (I also just learned that a New Kids on the Block video was filmed there, so, um, a slight reduction in goth points.)

GOATS!!! This guy was just walking around a residential neighborhood with a couple of goats on leashes. They were super soft.

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Top to bottom, left to right:
(1) I have a new appreciation for shutters now, especially when they’re floor-to-ceiling (2) Pretty outdoor lights at Pizza Delicious (the vegan campanelle was very good) (3) Living room mantle, fancy fancy (4) Belated vegan peanut butter birthday cake from Shake Sugary (5) Me, all moody right before the Cure concert (6) Matching manicures (Saints colors totally unintentional) with my waiter at Booty’s

Here’s a silly little video I made of a lenticular photo stuck to a door in the French Quarter. Love!

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Top to bottom, left to right:
(1) Drinks at Cane & Table — I had the Valeira Gorge: Portal Tawny Port, Banks 7 Year Rum, lime, fresh coconut water, vanilla and Angostura bitters (2) Skulls grow on agave plants in New Orleans, FACT (3) Dinner from the Fat Falafel truck (4) Freret Street (5) LIZARD!!! I saw a lizard in the wild for the first time, very exciting (6) Perfect tofu scrambles and coffees at Satsuma

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This is Willie. He was just a little kid when he lived in Brooklyn, and now he’s an old man. I love French bulldogs and all of their grunty croissant-marshmallow-bodiedness. He’s such a sweet guy, and a very patient model.

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THE CURE!!! Yayyyyyyyy. I’ve never succeeded in taking good photos at a Cure concert, and this time was no exception (here are some MUCH better ones!). No matter, though, because the show was great as usual. The Cure will for always and ever be my most favorite band, and the best way to experience them (I mean other than locked in your dark bedroom with headphones on, age 15) is LIVE. Their festival shows are shorter by default, but 2+ hours is still nothing to sneeze at. Plus, I got to hear “Burn” played live for the first time ever, and it sounded like a whole new song — like it came off of Pornography instead of The Crow soundtrack! So great.

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Some classic Robert Smith dance moves…

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My lovely friend Roger doing his thing up on on stage. Toss that hair, shake that tambourine! What a fun night. It’s been two years since the last time I saw The Cure, which is far too long to go between shows. I’m so glad I made this trip!

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Full setlist:
Shake Dog Shake / Fascination Street / From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea / The End of the World / Lovesong / Just Like Heaven / Burn / Pictures of You / Lullaby / High / Hot Hot Hot!!! / The Caterpillar / The Walk / Stop Dead / Push / Inbetween Days / Friday I’m in Love / Doing the Unstuck / Bananafishbones / Want / The Hungry Ghost / Wrong Number / One Hundred Years / Give Me It // (encore) The Love Cats / Close to Me / Let’s Go to Bed / Why Can’t I Be You? / Boys Don’t Cry

Thank you so, so much to K (+ family) for being such wonderful hosts and for having me stay in your beautiful home. I had the most amazing time. And thank you Roger for everything I can possibly thank a person for.

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I love pillows, and my favorite pillows of all are Elisabeth Dunker’s Gran (Swedish for “pine tree”) design for Fine Little Day. I’ve had a pair of them in black on white on my living room chairs for several years now, and they’re so cheerful and graphic while having a soft and organic look to them. They also manage to mix nicely with just about any other color/pattern combination.

I was so happy to open my email this morning and discover that Elisabeth is now offering her Gran pillow cases in a beautiful indigo linen with black printing in two sizes — 49x49cm (roughly the same size as the ones in my living room) and 39x 59cm. So pretty, and they look great combined with the original black/white cotton versions.

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Elisabeth has also introduced a Gran-patterned dish towel printed on white linen, which I will of course need to order for my own kitchen immediately! (I’d also like that loaf of bread, please, and maybe some marmalade and a cup of hot tea…)

Of course, you can still buy the original Gran pillow cases (available in several other colors, too), Gran baby blankets and even Gran wallpaper, which I would love to someday hang in my downstairs hallway.

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Here is the original Gran pillow cover in my house. See how nicely it plays with stripes and teardrops and super-fuzzy dogs? It’s the best pillow!

Since Fritz and Bruno don’t put much effort into their Halloween costumes (they go as a flightless goat-bat & a baby polar bear every year), I thought it would be fun to do a retrospective of my favorite dog’s getups from the last four years. Presenting…MAMMA BISCUIT! Mamma is the beloved pug of my dear friends Tommy and John, and she’s been featured here at D16 enough times to warrant having her very own tag. I adore Mamma B! Her pink and gentle demeanor never fail to make me happy on a bad day, and she has an awesome blog, too.

Let’s begin with Mamma Biscuit’s INCREDIBLE costume for Halloween 2013, Dame Vivienne Westwood.

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I mean…my goodness. Mamma really outdid herself this year, and she’s getting all kinds of press for her efforts! She’s been on the Huffington Post, Time Out New York, Gothamist, Cute Overload, Mashable and even Vanity Fair! It’s no surprise, really — just look at that attitude. Mamma Biscuit’s attention to detail (not to mention her natural punk attitude) are unparalleled.

If you want to see more of Mamma Biscuit’s homage to Vivienne Westwood (and why wouldn’t you?!) as well ever ever-stylish and handsome man-handlers, head over to her blog. PUG SAVE THE QUEEN!

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And now, a look back…

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Last year, Mamma Biscuit channeled Björk in her fabulous Marjan Pejoski swan dress from the Academy Awards.

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In 2011, Gaultier’s look for Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour inspired Mamma to put on a cone bra and headset and hit the streets.

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And of course the look that started it all, Mamma Biscuit as Anna Wintour. How far she’s come!

On a more serious (but no less uplifting) note, Mamma Biscuit’s story is an important reminder of why adopting dogs and other animals in need of permanent homes is so, so important — and of how rewarding the experience can be for everyone involved. Mamma is a puppy mill rescue who spent seven years of her life caged indoors and was forced to produce over 100 puppies against her will. Only when Curly Tail Pug Rescue (and John and Tommy, of course!) came to her aid did she finally get to experience running in the grass, peanut butter treats, warm cuddles from her humans in a big bed, and all of the other luxuries of life that she deserves. Mamma is a triumph of good spirit, and an inspiration to us all.

Happy Halloween!