Archive for the ‘books’ Category

A Public Service Announcement

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Dear Ladies of Planet Earth,

If your husband bugs you for months on end to please watch Suits on USA with him, you really shouldn’t blindly resist, tell him it’s a stupid boy show about lawyers and be a jerk about it like I was. You should listen to him. You wanna know why?

Exhibit A: Gabriel Macht a.k.a Harvey Specter.  GUH.

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Exhibit B: Gabriel Macht a.k.a Harvey Specter in a variety of Tom Ford suits that are the best example on TV of how men should dress for biz-ness. Or anything. Because he’s perfect. A modern day Don Draper if you will. But slightly less douchey.

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Exhibit C: Donna and everything she says and every face she makes.

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Seriously, it’s such a funny, awesome show.  The relationship and chemistry between Harvey and his underling Mike Ross is so great and the writing is smart. I am OBSESSED. Like, first two seasons of Scandal obsessed (unlike season three of Scandal which has totally jumped the shark for me). Watch it.  Revisit Exhibit A if you still have any doubts.

Sincerely,

Erin Gates

P.S. Sorry Andrew, but really this whole schoolgirl crush  is all your fault.

P.P.S. (also to Andrew) I am pretty sure your crush on Harvey runs deeper than even mine.

P.P.S.S. Gabriel Macht would have been the best Batman. I love ya Ben Affleck, but no.

Ok I’ll stop now.

And for those who, like me, like to chase a gluttonous TV show binge with something a bit more, ah, cerebral, in an attempt to feel less gross about yourself, I highly recommend Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier.  I know from the amazing responses my post about anxiety received that a lot of you struggle with it too, and this is such a funny, witty, interesting story about one TV anchors journey of self-awareness and acceptance via meditation.  It’s an easy, great read that has some very interesting theories.

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That’s A Wrap

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Last evening we wrapped the shoot of my house for the book and I am completely depleted, happy, emotional and most of all, grateful.  This experience has been amazing and I still can’t believe I get to do it. From my amazing vendors that made my house impossibly pretty in a very short time (Makkas Drapery Workroom, Kravet, the Boston Design Center, Jules Place, Mohr & McPherson, Landry & Arcari and West Elm specifically) to my insanely awesome team at Erin Gates Design, Lindsey and Allison to my Mom for her plantings and green thumb and Stacy and Michael who made the shots look their very best, I cannot say thank you enough.

And a special thanks to Andrew- who put up with my raging stress, insane perfectionism, daily requests to paint this, plant that, walk the dogs, cook, clean and talk me off ledges.  It’s done, and now we can really kick back and enjoy this pretty home we’ve created.

I really hope you guys are going to love this book- blood, sweat and tears have gone into it (seriously, Lindsey cut her finger this week on a tape measure- actual blood) and I hope the final product will be everything you hope it is. Because this is for you.

A couple sneak peeks form our week on set at my house:

I am obsessed with this vase we borrowed, I may have to keep it. Cocktail napkins by Gramercy Home, drapes custom by Makkas Workroom)

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I wallpapered the interior of my bar cabinet with Fornasetti Malachite paper from Cole & Sons.

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A pretty arrangement I put together.

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The Velvet Crisis of 2013- this fabric showed up 24 hours before the shoot and my heroes at Makkas whipped these up with time to spare. Amazing.

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Setting up a tablescape. Decorative plate from Juliska. My wedding china by Vera Wang for Wedgewood.

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A bedroom vignette. Painting by me, putting my BA in fine art to work.

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A casualty en route from Homegoods. I put it back together with clear packing tape like the classy gal I am. Hey, you do what ya gotta do!

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A little modern art (again, putting my skills to work) paired with traditional intaglios from Liz Caan’s shop.

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I had these custom burl wood side tables made by the AMAZING Chuck Phillips. I’m kinda in love.

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This is what it REALLY looks like to get the shot.

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I’m going to go crash. But not for long, now I have to get busy writing!

 

A Question for You…

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

As you know, I am hard at work at my book. In fact today we are busy shooting a project I have been working on for TWO YEARS and it’s so very gratifying to get to this place in which I feel things are DONE.  However, this book project is massive. MASSIVE. And although I have a good grasp on the full concept, I still worry that it won’t live up to your expectation (cue the shrink and my unending battle against poor self-esteem).  I lose sleep over this.  So it’s time I helped myself by asking for your help….

Some book shoot sneak peeks via my Instagram:

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I wanted to check in with you guys, whom this book is FOR, and ask- what exactly are you hoping to see and read in this book? What would make my “blog to book” feel valuable to you?  It’s so important to me that my dedicated readers love it, so I appreciate any feedback you can give me.  I can promise that you’ll finally get to see a lot of my work, most I have never shown on this blog.  I also am going to feature designers I love- not big famous ones you’ve seen a zillion times- but rather my peers, many whom have gained popularity through blogs and other forms of social media.

The thing that I hope makes this book different is that I am going to bring a more personal element and sense of humor the design concept.  Homes are a reflection of our lives and I think we need to embrace that and accept that our spaces are never going to be perfect. We have TV’s to deal with, family heirlooms we want to incorporate, kids toys to organize and budgets that leave much to be desired.  I aim to have this serve not only as an aspirational tome but an inspirational one too.  And one that will make you laugh as much as it will fire up your desire to decorate!

So share your thoughts, please!

{Merci!}

 

Books+Wine+Puppies

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

I forgot to tell you guys about the coolest bookstore I got to visit while in North Carolina! Picture this- a rambling, two story shop full of vintage books with a wine and espresso bar inside and BONUS, you can bring your dog?!?!  Is there anything better??? Meet the Battery Park Book Exchange in Asheville.
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I loved the vibe of this place- layered rugs, mismatched vintage furniture and so many nooks to hide in while looking at books and sipping a nice Pinot.

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 I am SO loving that sofa.

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If you prefer espresso to wine, there’s this.  I personally, prefer BOTH.

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I mean. Yeah. This is pretty much everything. My head just exploded.

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And I LOVED their wine glasses with their dog logo!!!

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There’s even an outdoor cafe too for those nice days.

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This visit reminded me of something though… that I need to get a new camera.  While I am a total Instagram addict, I want to be able to take serious pics for the blog with a real camera.  I’m thinking about the Canon Rebel SL1.  Being small and light get a digital SLR is important- my last Nikon felt like carrying around a brick so I never took it anywhere!  Anyone have it? Thoughts??

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Summer Book Recommendations

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
I am leaving today for a long weekend at The Biltmore in North Carolina, and I of course am packing my Kindle with the hopes that I will have ample time to sit outdoors and read.  I am always looking for recommendations on what to read next and who better to dole out some then my own literary agent Kathryn Beaumont Murphy from Kneerim & Williams? A voracious reader, whenever she says “read this!”- I comply.  I have a few good ones to offer up myself (Me Before You, The Light Between Oceans, The Language of Flowers, Where’d You Go Bernadette and The Prince of Tides (if you’ve never read it).  So without further ado, a wise woman’s book offerings:

Nothing makes me happier than offering books suggestions to other rabid readers. While reading recommendations are of course entirely subjective, as a literary agent I not only read nonstop because I love books (duh) , but also because I kind of have to be aware of what is selling and what is popular. So here are a few books that have got me thinking this summer. I’ve chosen a mixture of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir — all are books I want others to read for the purpose of being able to discuss them. To get you through the rest of your summer, here are my curated suggestions, eight in all (you can do two books a week, right?)  Please weigh in, for me and others: what are you reading? What’s in the pile on your nightstand, on reserve at your library or in your Kindle queue?

Fiction:
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1. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. This novel won last year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and if you think a suspense novel whose protagonist is a North Korean soldier is not for you, you would be like me until I finally picked it up and didn’t put it down until I finished it three days later. This book is astounding in its reporting, surprising in its narration, and infused with a sort of magical realism (which normally I do not go for). I cannot recommend this enough — all I want to do is talk about this book.

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2. The Good House by Ann Leary. Set in a fictional town on Boston’s north shore, this novel follows realtor Hildy Goode’s high highs and low lows, as she sells antique homes in her sleepy town, with its history of both witches and lobstermen, to the hedge fund transplantees who flock to its idyllic setting. Though her grown daughters forced her to rehab two years earlier, Hildy is supposedly happy living her “sober” life, which includes just one or two glasses of wine per night — no more blackouts. This novel full of both affairs and true love, a layered sense of place, and a narrator whose relationship to alcohol is captivatingly complex.

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3. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Can a widowed veteran find love with a Pakistani store clerk 10 years his junior in a sleepy English village? And does this premise sound too twee to bear? Please trust me that it’s not: this novel has not just an immensely warm love story at its core, but it is far from unpredictable and streaked with humor and witty insight (including the authors depiction of the village’s boorish American visitors!) I recommend this novel to everyone — it is not only a wonderful read for its premise, but the writing is lovely. You’ll think about this book for weeks after you finish.

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4. The Robert B. Parker “Spenser” mysteries. You may remember the 80s TV series starring the late Robert Ulrich. You don’t? Good, then you can form your own image of Spenser (spelled with an “s”, after the English poet, of course), the ex-boxer, private eye who can not only cook and knock back single-malts but has an inner compass so principled that you cannot help but fall a little in love with him yourself. I discovered these mysteries in my teens, well before I had ever even visited Boston, but Parker infuses his novels with such precise details of Boston that I felt as if I sort of already knew the city when I moved here a decade ago. (Locke Ober restaurant? Ah yes, that’s where Spenser had steak lunches with this police contacts. Linnaean Street in Cambridge? That is where his girlfriend Susan Silverman lived…) I was devastated when Parker died a few years ago – no more Spenser. These are intelligent mysteries — well written, laced with references to Shakespeare and Auden, and firmly set in Boston, which is now my home too. (As an aside, are you watching the new Showtime series “Ray Donovan”? He kind of reminds me of Spenser. And thus I think Liv Schreiber should star in a remake of a Spenser series or movie!)

Nonfiction:
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5. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. You know what? Just read it. I was prepared to dislike Sandberg and everything she had to say about professional women and motherhood and my most hated phrase, “juggling”. But I came away from the book refreshed and inspired and devoted to the profession I love and the family I love. Whether you have children or not, or work or don’t or are a woman or a man, Sandberg is brave enough to write truthfully about what are, actually, the issues women in the workplace face (for example, women by and large do not negotiate salaries. I will never do that again!). For a long time — too long — I attributed the angst I felt about being a working mother to the duality of “working vs. not working”. When, in fact, the angst I feel is not that I feel guilty over not spending time with my children, but rather that I actually do love to work and it’s just difficult. And it’s OK to admit that it is difficult. Sandberg emboldened me to clarify this, and inspired me to make changes that fit my personal situation. I’m serious — just read it.

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6. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. I’ve never considered myself a reader of “business books”, but one of my clients, a business writer, recommended this book as a wonderful model of what a business book should be — and she was right. Each chapter just takes a page, and is thus easily digestible by a busy reader. And it inspires everyone to think of themselves as a business owner or entrepreneur, whether or not you work for yourself or within a large organization. I rethought my relationships with my clients, my colleagues, and my superiors and, just as Sandberg’s book reset my personal relationship with my profession, this book reset and reinvigorated the way I approach my job as a professional interacting with clients and striving to create the best product possible.

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7. My Beloved World by Sonya Sotomayor. Sotomayor is, as you probably know, the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. This book is not about her jurisprudence but, rather, the journey she made from a poor, diabetic child in the Bronx to Princeton and then Yale Law and then to judge. The book reads like a novel, full of challenges and well developed characters. It’s amazing how one teacher can make a difference in the life of such a child and what doors education can open.

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8. Looking for Palestine by Najla Said. Najla Said grew up in the Upper West Side home of one of the century’s most respected intellectuals, her late father, the Columbia Professor and Middle Eastern scholar and theorist Edward Said. Najla’s childhood was full of professors, summer camps, and tony private schools, but without really knowing it, this straddling of two cultures — her preppy New York life and her Palestinean and Lebanese roots — took their toll on her emotionally and physically. September 11, 2001 caused her to rethink her dual identities and to, finally, choose one. This is a brave and funny book and gives its readers and understanding of the modern Middle-Eastern American — like Najla, someone we probably all know but in all likelihood probably don’t truly understand.