Monthly Archives: August 2018

hi friends! happy end of august. i don’t know about you, but i am READY for summer to be over. i’m craving crisp fall days, the opportunity to leave my windows open and not invite crickets in to hang, earlier sunsets (i know, i know) and apple picking. fall has been my favorite since i was a little kid (followed closely by winter!), and i can’t wait for it to arrive. that said, i’m hoping to squeeze in a few more gloriously long days of biking, along with one more beach day before the breeze blows in.

anywhooo…with this post, i’m starting what i hope will become a monthly series where i clue you in on my life lately–whether it’s books i’ve been loving, shows i’ve been watching, trips i’ve been taking…you get the gist. i know many of my instagram followers don’t even make it to this corner of the web, but for those that do, this will serve as an easy, low-commitment way for you to get an update on what’s shakin’ (and give me a bit more room to breathe, character-count wise).

so, august! this month, i traveled to san francisco to see my BFF kim (with a bonus guest appearance from my moms, who were there for a medical conference), spent 24 hours in houston for work, and tried to soak up the dog days of summer in the city. here’s a bit about what’s been on my radar over the past few weeks.


going. my friend krystie and i are putting the finishing touches on our upcoming (october) trip to mexico city. neither of us have been, but we’ve both heard such a amazing things about the food and design scene there, and we cannot wait! we’re only there thurs night-monday night, so it’s a quick trip–but as big foodies, we’re planning to squeeze in a whoooollle lot of eating and (a little) drinking whilst there. we’re staying at hotel carlota, a boutique hotel with a small pool (necessary!), in house restaurant, and cute, modern rooms. ps: image above found here.

reading. this week, i spent 24 hours traveling for work, which meant two 4-hour flights along with a few extra hours delayed in the airport. as a result, i read not one but two books by beatriz williams, a historical fiction author i love. williams’ books are wonderfully well-written, and always feature spunky, smart, industrious female characters. summer wives, which was my pick from the two i read this week, featured all the hallmarks of a williams’ book: smart social commentary, details that magically take you back in time, a swoonworthy love story, and (gasp!) murder. literally, what’s not to like?

watching. omg, you guys. are you watching this season of the affair? the first two episodes started out a bit slow, and i almost gave up on the show (which i’ve been watching from the beginning), but good lord, i’m glad i didn’t, because SHIT.GOT.CRAY. the most recent episode i watched was a doozy, and threw me for a loop i was 10000% not expecting. apparently, they’re doing one more season after this one, and while i’m not exactly sure where they can take the show after this season’s plot twist, i’ll be eagerly awaiting its premiere.

wearing. you all have heard me wax poetic about lou & grey many times before. the brand, which is an offshoot of LOFT (random, right?), has become one of my favorites over the past year or so. i LIVE in comfortable clothing, which just so happens to be l&g’s thing, and their new arrivals for fall are nothing short of fantastic. i tried the jumpsuit above on last weekend, and had to use literally all my self control not to bring it home to me (note to self: it’s still 95 degrees outside). jumpsuit, as soon as the temps dip below 70, you’re comin’ home with me.

if you’ve made it this far, be a dear and tell me: are you here for these monthly roundups?

IMG_1050anyone who knows me well knows that baking is my therapy. it’s what i do to decompress after a long day at work. it’s the way i show my love for friends and family. it’s my favorite thing to do on a weekend morning (especially a rainy one), when i’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to be, when i can spend hours in the kitchen, with dough on my pants and flour in my hair.

not many people know this, but when i lost my job many years ago (approximately 2013, i think?), i felt completely, entirely lost–and i contemplated opening a bakery. i pictured myself rising with the sun, rubbing sleep out of my eyelashes and stumbling, bleary-eyed, into a tiny kitchen somewhere in the east village, where i’d craft whatever goodies struck my fancy that day. some days, it would be an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies. other times, a perfectly-frosted cupcake. i even started–and kept up for quite some time–a baking blog. i called it sarah’s sweets. that blog is deep in the archives of wordpress; a sleeping giant i don’t dare disturb, but suffice it to say, i love to bake, and i love writing about the things i bake.


that’s why it delights me to know that a few of my readers and followers are interested in more recipe content over here (and hopefully, more baking-centric recipes, specifically). i baked these scones along with a few of you via instagram live last weekend, and a couple folks asked for the recipe. i adapted one i found from king arthur’s flour, which called for fresh peaches (the genesis of my kitchen adventure!), and a little bit of nutmeg (i’m always down with a little bit of nutmeg).

so, let’s get to it, shall we?


what you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar (i use pure cane from whole foods)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon (i think clove would be yummy too!)

1 tbsp baking powder

3/8 cup (6 tbsp) cold butter, cut into bite-size pieces

2 large eggs

1/3 cup sour cream (you could also sub plain greek yogurt)

1 cup diced peaches (you could swap in another fruit here)

turbinado sugar, for dusting

what you’ll do: 

preheat your oven to 375.

lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper (i use a silpat, which i HIGHLY recommend!)

in a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder together.

if you haven’t yet cut up your butter, do it now. once it’s in pieces, use your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter (i always vote fingers!) to work it into the dry ingredients. your goal is to meld the two together so that the dough resembles big crumbs, or those drippy castles you used to make with your siblings at the beach (but less watery!).

in a small bowl, beat your eggs. stir in sour cream (or yogurt, if you went that route).

pour wet ingredients into the dry crumbly butter mixture. stir until just mixed. don’t over mix!

chop up your peach, if you haven’t already. fold it into the dough, carefully, so as not to squish all your yummy peach pieces.

liberally dust flour over your countertop or a large cutting board (i prefer to do this right on my countertop).

pat the dough into a rough circle, around 1.5″ thick, and use biscuit cutters, a knife, or your plain ol’ hands to shape the dough into a bunch of baby scones. i like to use biscuit cutters, but you could go any which way. ultimately, you should end up with about 12-14 scones, depending on size.

place the scones on your prepared baking sheet. sprinkle with turbinado sugar (optional).

bake for 20-25 minutes, until scones are golden brown at the edges.

serve with butter and jam. if you’re serving them a day or two later, pop them into the toaster to heat ’em up for a bit before you dig in.

these can be stored “fresh” for a few days, or frozen for up to a month.

bon appetit!


as you may have read last week, my best friend joia and her husband T recently bought a house! it’s in my hometown (well, sort of–the town next to it!), about a 4 minute drive from my parents, and i’m super excited about it. it’s a 1940s cape style home that was recently renovated, but more in a “let’s flip this baby” style than a “let’s really think about design” style.

as a result, joia and T have more than a few changes they’d like to make (but over time!). i’ll be helping joia choose some of the paint colors and furniture pieces, and while the design boards below may never totally come to fruition, they’re a good starting point for helping the two of them think about the space.

i have thoughts for pretty much all the rooms (you can see part 1 and part 2 of the before tour if you’re tardy to the party), but i’m starting with one of the spaces in which they’ll spend the majority of their time: the living room.

Garner Cape_Living Room Wide Shot 2as you can see, it’s a rather big space. the wall to wall carpet was put in recently, but we’ll probably cover it up with at least one area rug. joia and T already purchased a large grey sectional, so we’ll be working with that (pillow party time!). beyond those bigger elements, my overall thinking is this: it’s a large room with good light but rather low ceilings–so we want to keep it bright and airy, paint-wise, and bring the eyes up, curtain-wise. beyond that, i’m going for a collected, cozy, homey traditional vibe. think: antique pieces with soul, but nothing too old or stuffy.

in terms of the placement of things, i’m hoping to anchor the various parts of the room with little vignettes. for example, the front right wall (right by the entrance to the kitchen/eating area) is BEGGING for a bar cart. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT A BAR CART IN FRONT OF ME! it says.

Garner Cape_LR_Front Right Corner_Design Notes 2next to it is the perfect wall for a big art piece. speaking of art, i’m thinking mostly vintage pieces–either ones that joia and T already have, or pieces we can find at antique stores and flea markets. again: i want the room to have soul.

anyway, back to the rest of the space. so you don’t have to scroll back up, here it is again–this time with notes!

Garner Living Room_DesignNotes_1as i said above, with the lower ceilings, i think we need a bright, airy color. enter chantilly lace by benjamin moore. it’s a cooler white (blue undertones), but i think with the natural light in this room, we can totally do it. i’m worried that a warmer white will go dingy with the carpet, so blue-ish white it is!

i’m also advocating that they hang those ceilings ALL THE WAY UP, as a way to draw the eyes up, and get a large area rug to cover up some of that carpet. in a perfect world, we’d tear it up and get beautiful hardwoods (there are likely some underneath!) but that’s not in the cards right now, so we’ll make do with what we’ve got! the back corner will be the heart of the room, with the ginormous sectional that joia and T recently purchased (we’ll zhush it up with fun pillows and throws).

the biggest change (which is actually already in progress!) is tearing out that fireplace/tile surround. because, get this: it’s FAKE. like, that shiz does not work. honestly, i don’t understand people sometimes. why on earth would you tile the thing and make it a focal point when it’s not even real?? especially in new england, where MANY HOUSES have real, working fireplaces (it gets colllllldy cold in western massachusetts)?

Garner Cape_LR_Fireplace_Design Notes 3then, to the left of the fireplace, they’ve got some additional space–space that needs to be filled, either by a bookshelf, or by (my choice) a pretty vintage wood dresser like the one in the design plan below. bringing in wood elements will give the room a sense of gravitas, and best of all, can be found secondhand (without spending a fortune). the house is old and therefore, not exactly chock full of closets, so a dresser will also provide a nice home for extra table linens, china, silverware, etc. (the home doesn’t have a formal dining room).

okay, NOW FOR THE FUN PART: THE DESIGN PLAN! this is obviously just the bigger pieces, and just an idea of things–not necessarily the actual pieces.

Garner Living Room_Design Plan_v1i’m hoping that we can find a vintage rug–there’s a great dealer a few towns away that sometimes gets huge rugs for a (relative) steal (he’s where i snagged my colorful hallway runner!). we’ll need a really big one (likely a 9 by 12) to fill the space, but i’m confident we can do it. to balance out the giant sectional (which is from a big box store), i want to hunt for an overstuffed leather armchair. you know, those big snuggly ones that make you feel like you’re sitting in a british library sipping a cup of tea and smoking a giant cigar. i once found one of those on the side of the street here in new york, and stood in front of it until i could procure a man with a van on craigslist to pick it up and bring it to my apartment (worth it!).

to bring in some sparkle (because obviously), i’m eyeing a brass bar cart and brass library-style lamp (to go by the couch). the one above is a pricey one from crate & barrel, but target makes a ton of inexpensive options that i’ve seen in person and that are QUITE CUTE. the library-style lamps are pretty much everywhere these days, so it’ll be easy to find an inexpensive one.

for their coffee table, i love the idea of finding a vintage trunk–or buying the one above from CB2, which is relatively reasonable and bridges the gap between being old and too antique-y and looking big box brand spanking new. they could certainly do a wood coffee table in here, but i searched for quite some time and couldn’t find any that i really loved. ialso love the idea of a giant leather ottoman, but that may be too eclectic for their taste.

in terms of art, we’d go vintage here as well, where possible. i love the idea of finding old oil portraits (that’s def someone’s uncle up there!) for cheap, or using old botanical prints (or something similar, like the ones above) as art. we could always mix in more modern prints, but i think older pieces help give a room a layered feel.

so, now that i’ve convinced you that i’m designing a home for old people, let me say this: between their TV area (which will have built-ins for their consoles, etc.) their couch, and potential side tables (plus finishing touches like pillows, throws, tchotchkes, etc.), there will be plenty of modern elements to balance out the space. i promise!

stay tuned over the next few months for more of the garner cape house–i’ve got big plans for their master bedroom (whitewashed walls! a yoga/meditation space!) and second bedroom (BUILT-INS!).

ps: if you’ve got specific questions about the home, the design process, or anything related to the two, ask away! i’d love to structure these posts around the parts of the process you care most about.

more on the garner cape house:

my best friend bought a house (part 1)!

my best friend bought a house (part 2)!



those who know me well know that i am a voracious reader. i have been for as long as i can remember. my love of reading is what drew me to writing in the first place–the ability to change hearts, minds, and souls with your words is a magical thing–and what inspires me, day after day, to put words on “paper” (be that here on this blog, on an instagram caption, or on a piece i’ve been commissioned to write). picking up a book is, by far, the cheapest and easiest way to escape. it’s a way to go back in time. to live a life that’s not your own. to get out of your own head. really, there’s nothing better.

i do most of my reading when i travel (i’ve been known to fly through 4 books on a 2-week vacation), when i’m commuting (hello, subway), or when i’m in bed or in the bath. i’m a member of two book clubs–one of which tends toward more feminist-y non-fiction (we love roxanne gay), and another that tends toward literary fiction with a few classics thrown in–both of which meet monthly. that means even when i’m not reading something i’ve selected on my own, i’ve always got a book or two on me.

a couple of years ago, i switched to a kindle (though i still buy hardcover/paperbacks from time to time when i can!), and it made a world of difference, especially when i was commuting via bus/subway twice a day (about a year and a half ago, i got a citibike membership, so i’m not on public transit nearly as much as i used to be). i don’t go anywhere without my kindle, and it’s saved me many a time whilst i wait for a delayed friend or a tinder date gone wrong.

i’ve long shared book recommendations with my friends and family, but i thought it might be fun to share them here as well. if you guys respond well to this feature, i’d love to do a monthly roundup of what i’m reading–but for now, we’ll start with the basics: what to read before summer ends (and after!). below are 7 books i read over the last two months, and one eternal favorite: middlesex by jeffrey eugenides, a book i will recommend over and over to anyone and everyone. it’s home to my favorite line of prose ever written, it’s a story that stole my heart, and it’s a book i’ve reread many a time. i’d recommend any and all of these as a summer read, but they’ll work just as well into fall, if you can’t manage to squeeze them in before september starts.

Late Summer Reading_Aug 2018

you think it, i’ll say it by curtis sittenfeld. i love sittenfeld’s writing, which sneaks up on you in the best of ways. her prose isn’t overly complicated, but her characters are always rich and fulfilling–you don’t just feel like you know them, you feel like you are them, even when their daily lives are oh so far removed from yours. her latest release is a collection of short stories, all of which are studies on the overarching theme of modern feminism. i loved this book, and wished it had gone on forever.

educated by tara westover. tara westover grew up in the mountains of idaho amongst troubled, survivalist parents who believed the government was the enemy, education was unnecessary, and family was all that mattered. at the age of 17, she taught herself enough math and science to take the ACT, and applied to college at BYU. she went on to earn degrees from harvard and cambridge, and wrote this memoir about her (insane) childhood. fans of the glass castle will love this book, which, although entirely mind-bogglingly true, reads like fiction. i recommended it to multiple people this summer, all of whom loved it as much as i did.

tell me lies by carola lovering. this book came up on my amazon recommendations, and honestly, i went for it because i liked the cover. boy am i glad i did! i flew through this on my plane ride to SF, and found it to be the perfect summer read: light, but substantial. it’s the story of a girl who loses herself in a college relationship, and ultimately, digs herself out of it (but not before traveling to some very dark places alongside her abusive partner). the prose wasn’t anything legendary, but the characters felt familiar–like taking a walk down memory lane to my college years.

florida by lauren groff. lauren groff’s fates and furies was one of my favorite books of 2015, and i’ve been eagerly awaiting her next book ever since i put that one down. florida is a collection of short stories, all centered around–you guessed it–the state of florida. the stories span centuries, towns, and characters, but florida–a place of muggy unpredictability–remains a constant, more a person than a place. groff has an incredible gift for running the gamut of human emotion in her work, and this collection shows that this talent isn’t limited to 400 page stories of a marriage gone wrong, but rather, can be contained in a mere 15 pages or so, and still leap off the page.

a million junes by emily henry. this book. oh, this book. i am a huge fan of YA literature (did you know most of the people that read it are not YAs at all, but mid 30-somethings like me?), and this book was no exception. it’s a story of two star-crossed lovers; a modern reimagining of romeo and juliet with a twist: the lovers are haunted by a century-old curse, and the ghosts that come with it. henry’s writing is achingly beautiful at times, and her characters feel like the real thing. i cried whilst reading the ending on the F train (how many times have i cried on a crowded subway train whilst reading? SO MANY). i hope they make this into a movie (i bet they will).

the female persuasion by meg wolitzer. people called this book “equal parts cotton candy and red meat, in the best way” and i was instantly sold. i’m a big fan of wolitzer’s work (one of my book clubs read the interestings a few years ago and i loved it), and while i liked her latest, i didn’t love it. on paper, it’s a story of a meek college freshman, greer, who meets a bold feminist icon, faith frank, and falls in love with her, in a sense: she sees in faith what she wants to be when she grows up. the book follows greer as she graduates, moves to new york (but of course), and gets a job at faith’s startup. it’s a musing on modern feminism, and while it champions women as mentors, friends, and role models, it didn’t touch me deep down in my soul like so many other books have.

middlesex by jeffrey eugenides. ask me what you should read literally any day of the week, any week of the year, any year ever, and i will tell you, middlesex, hands down. it is my most favorite book in the whole wide world, and a stunning example of what literature can and should be: a story that spans continents and decades, that takes us from 1920s greece to 1960s detroit, from a tiny boat where two cousins fall in love to a high school where callie stephanides, born a hermaphrodite, realizes she might not be a girl at all. eugenides’ first novel, the virgin suicides, was a beautiful homage to teenage desire, and in some ways, middlesex is no different. it’s much longer, and oh so much more complicated, but it’s a proper work of literary art. savor every line, and take the ride. i promise it’s worth it.

i’ll be gone in the dark by michelle mcnamara. michelle mcnamara passed away in her sleep before she could finish this searing, gut-wrenching true crime story about a serial killer who terrorized the state of california back in the 1970s. the book was finished, and published posthumously, by michelle’s husband, patton oswalt (yes, that patton oswalt) and her fellow true crime junkie and researcher friends, and it is a marvel. it reads like a novel, and while horrifying, i never found it so scary that i couldn’t sleep. if you liked gone girl, you will love this book. it stayed with me long after i finished it.

and there you have it, folks. 8 books i think you should read before summer ends (though i won’t blame you if a reading list this long carries you far into fall).




life is funny. the weekend before this one, i published a post about how my best friend bought a house (!). in it, i shared that joia (said house-buying bff) and i had, along with our other bff kim, been friends for 30 years. and now, as i write this post, i’m sitting in kim’s living room in san francisco (i’m here visiting her and her husband G for the long weekend). despite the three of us living across the country from one another (me in NY, joia in MA, kim in SF), we manage to find time and ways to see one another multiple times a year. the flight to SF is just long enough that it’s a bit of a pain for a long weekend, but i always find it to be worth it.


kim, my moms, and me at the ferry building in SF

plus, my parents were here for the last two days, which made the trip extra special: i was able to spend friday with them before the three of us met up with kim and G for dinner, and they met kim and i for a post-soul cycle walk around the ferry building farmer’s market before going off on their own yesterday.

ANYWHO. back to regularly scheduled programming! we’re gathered here today so “walk through” the second floor of joia and T’s house, which is a 1940s cape house brimming with potential. if you need a refresher on overall thoughts on the house, check out this post. it contains all the details about the first floor, and paves the way for the living room design plan i’ll be sharing later this week.

below is the living room. i’m standing in the staircase that leads upstairs. this room is rather large, and leads up a cute little set up wooden steps with a circular window at the landing and a bigger window on the staircase itself.

Garner Cape_Living Room Wide Shot 2

here’s joia standing in the staircase. you can see a glimpse of the tiny little round window on the landing below, and this window is set towards the top of the staircase. it looks out onto the leafy green backyard, and lets in a lot of nice natural light.


i actually quite like the style of the railing – it fits the house. the stairs are in great shape, and don’t need a runner–but i think one would look nice here, and would feel nicer underfoot.

at the top of the stairs, you’re given a few options: the master bedroom, which is a low-ceiling, attic-esque room with an odd layout but lots of space, and the second bedroom/”kid’s room” that has AMAZING original built-ins.

let’s start with the master. this is what you see when you stand in the doorway of the room. straight ahead is where the bed will go (on the right wall). the doorway at the right leads to a bathroom. the doorway straight ahead leads to a small (tiny) deck and side staircase. they’ll fix that spot eventually, but for now, we’ll probably just find a cute area rug to cover the linoleum area.

Garner Cape_Attic Master from Hallwaythis carpet is new, and can be found throughout the house. while it’s not necessarily what joia and T would have chosen, it’s nice underfoot, and they can add area rugs to make it look cuter. you can see that the roofline of the house is such that this room is almost like an attic space (they actually have insane storage to the left in the photo above–it extends all the way into the eaves of the house). i’m recommending they whitewash it all: walls, ceilings, trim. i think in a room like this, white and bright is the way to go. i have MANY ideas for this space, but that’s a post for another day.

Garner Cape_Attic Master_Fullabove is the room from another angle. can’t you picture it all white and bright? maybe with some white sheepskin rugs at either side of the bed? they’ll have to cut down their current bedframe to fit in this space, but they can make it work. as we were walking through the space, joia and i noticed there was an abundance of light switches and outlets (see the back wall above); she’s hoping T or an electrician can get rid of some of them/put the in spots that make a bit more sense.

Garner Cape_Attic Master_Front Wallhere’s the storage area i was referencing above (i’m now standing at the back wall, where the bed will go). behind this door is tons of open space – perfect for suitcases, extra boxes, out of season clothes, etc.

off to the right below (aka to the right of where joia is walking out of frame) is an open area that they’ll be able to use for storage (a dresser, probably), along with a large closet (you can see the door peeking out in the photo below).

Garner Cape_Attic Master into Hallway

we’re thinking of a dresser along the slanted wall below (again, picture this all a bright white). and then, setting this spot up for joia to do her yoga and meditation. with the big windows and some beautiful candles and crystals i think it’ll be positively lovely.


here’s this side of the room from another angle. at left is the closest, straight ahead will be joia’s yoga area. the closet is quite deep, so once they really do it up in there (aka, add some more shelving/rods), it’ll be a great storage space.


now on to the second bedroom. this is where it gets really good. sadly i didn’t take as many pictures of this space as i should have – i’ll have to get some more from joia. for now, this will be a second bedroom; in the future, it could easily be turned into a kid’s room. i think we’ll swap those sconces out, but how much do you love those built-ins?! they’re original to the house, and i love them so much.

Garner Cape_Kids Bedroom_Built Ins 2

that window area is positively begging for a built-in window seat: bench with cushion, and maybe some storage below?! picture it filled with baskets, or brimming with children’s books. heart melt.

Garner Cape_Kids Bedroom Built Ins

the floors in here are particularly lovely, which gives me faith that the same floors are under the rugs in the rest of the house (especially in the bedroom), should joia and T want to tear up the rugs later on in life. my parents had wall to wall carpeting throughout our entire upstairs when i was little, and slowly, over the years, they tore all of it up for hardwood flooring. the room i now stay in when i come home is actually the only remaining carpeted room! it sounds crazy, but it’s definitely something you can do over time/later on, especially if you don’t have the budget to do it when you first purchase your home.

SO. that’s all for now. i’ll try and snap more pictures the next time i visit, and of course, will keep you updated, whether it’s here or on stories, on the progress. coming up this week: the living room design plan.

more on the garner cape house:

my best friend bought a house (part 1)!