Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Here's Dottie, a perfect muse & essential element to Serimony's line of cards :)

This is Serimony, a tiny and adorable shop on Court Street between 2nd & 3rd Place. This space functions as both a design studio & a boutique, specializing in social stationery, custom invitations & greeting cards. You will also find a wonderful array of handmade items such as colorful tote bags, charming T-Shirts for adults and kids, elegant jewelry, as well as playful pieces to brighten any outfit, plus plenty of other fun accessories as you'll see below. It's really a perfect place to find just the right gift!

This is Karen Van Every, owner, operator & designer extraordinaire! Her background is in graphic design and advertising. After creating invitations for her own wedding and receiving such positive feedback, she decided to make a go of it as a business. Karen started her company in 2003 and focused solely on custom designed wedding invitations (produced out of her apartment). Finding initial success, she expanded into other custom products like birth announcements and cards. Originally she was looking for an office space from which to work and meet with clients. When she stumbled upon this space, she immediately imagined selling locally handmade goodies in front and designing her cards in back. So far, it's working :) Serimony opened July 2005.

These cute field bags above & colorful totes pictured here are by Rainbow Swirlz Take a look, lots of cute things-- okay, so Mendy who makes these is in Oklahoma, not Brooklyn, but this is the era of inclusiveness ;)

Most of the cards in Serimony are by Karen, but some are by Andy Pratt , Pinecone & Chickadee and Kristiana Parn
You can't go wrong here, whether you're in search of a whimsical, colorful, sweet or simple and elegant card here!

Before opening, Karen had known many smaller Brooklyn based designers from participating in various markets, she now incorporates talented artists from all over to showcase, but tries to keep most of her products locally designed and made.

These thick, gorgeous paintings are by Alan Van Every, Karen's uncle-in-law. I love oil paint and these make me think-- icing. I just love 'em! I learned this afternoon that he basically painted and put together the whole store for Karen while he was visiting at the time. The round silver display jewelry rack (can see details of below) was made from pizza trays-- neat-o!

Sales are always nice :)

Great earrings by numerous jewelry designers... come in to see, my photo here does not do them much justice.

Jewelry above by Omi Martens, a Carroll Gardens designer-- click link to see more on her etsy shop. *Notice the pizza tray?

Most of jewelry above by We Dream in Colour

Cool glass buckles above are by Kiku and more necklaces by We Dream in Colour

Kentile Floors T-Shirts by Live Poultry

*There is a famous old Kentile Floors sign that remains up at 2nd Avenue and 9th Street. I think everyone in Brooklyn has seen it, hope it will always be there.

This anchor tote above is one of Karen's

Sorry, don't know who made these skirts, but I like them :)

My friend, Melissa, wearing one of my personal tees by Wallco Jr She is a Brooklyn designer but do not think her site is currently up. I love these shirts, she mostly makes them for babies & kids...

Wallco Jr bibs :)

Great way to display and maybe store all of your stuffed animals. I might try it!

This is Karen's beloved dog, Dottie (many new card designs inspired by her on the way!) Karen and her husband adopted her last June from North Shore Animal League

I'll quote Karen here: "I can't say enough about how many wonderful pets there are at shelters and how important it is to rescue them and give them good homes. She has been an inspiration for new card designs. Most of my designs are inspired by nature and animals, as well as urban landscape."
I couldn't agree more! It is a great gift to save an animal and NSAL is the world's largest No-Kill Shelter.
It's refreshing to talk to Karen who admits that it can be a bit of a struggle to maintain everything, manage the store, design her line of cards, custom work and continue to participate in craft fairs. She has some part time help and her mom and dad help with printing some of her cards, while her husband is the go-to tech guy and her sounding board for ideas. Sounds good :) Karen has found a way to work as a creative artist and handle the responsibilities of running a successful business. It is great to see someone do exactly what they want to do with their life. All the better to include family, if they're willing ;)
Serimony is located at 421 Court Street between 2nd & 3rd Place
Hours: Mon & Wed-Fri noon-8pm / Sat 11a-7pm / Sun noon-6pm
Phone 718.797.0679 *Stop in to see great things in a small package!*

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nick's Garden

This is Nick. He single-handedly creates this lovely garden on the corner of Court Street & 4th Place. I had the chance to take some photos last Spring and thought I would share. It adds such beauty to this little corner and I was surprised that 1 man did it all himself, especially considering how many men hang out here regularly. This garden belongs to an old Italian Social Club, one of the very few still around, in this neighborhood at least.

Below are a couple of the friendly men I often speak with despite a slight language barrier. There is always someone sitting outside, either reading a paper or talking with passerbys. In the Spring & Summer, any number of men are hanging out enjoying Court's streetlife. When I 1st moved to the area, the man in the cap started talking to me in Italian and I pretended to understand him. I continue to have "conversations" where I walk away having no idea what has actually been said. It's congenial, so I like it!

This is a photo I took of Nick a couple of weeks ago, beginning work on his garden Summer '09. I'm looking forward to seeing it :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Le Petit Cafe

This is Le Petit Cafe! The 1st restaurant to take a chance on the less populated part of Carroll Gardens-- Court Street below 4th Place (now quite a thriving area!) I remember walking by this storefront, windows covered with brown kraft paper, 10 years ago and wondering what was going to eventually open. Hard to believe, but only 2 guys were in there doing all the construction. Tommy Perez (background as a Contractor in Hotel Renovation) conceived of and created Le Petit from scratch with Jose Segundo. I just learned today that he met Jose while he was making a delivery for a nearby restaurant on Smith Street. He knows a hard worker when he sees one!
Le Petit opened on October 23rd, 1999 as a small Coffee House/Muffin/Juice Bar and has since expanded into a full & delicious restaurant. It is one of my very Favorites in NYC.

Here is Tommy Perez (on right) and Jose Segundo (left) hanging out. They rarely have a chance to relax, especially now that they are expanding into next door (my landlord's old shop). I can't wait to see the finished space-- as you'll see, these guys do amazing work, not a single detail is missed. It's nice that Tommy has something to renovate besides the garden patio, which has gone through 4 incarnations since it was built in 2002.

Here is the entrance, where people on the go line up each morning for their coffee, espresso, muffins, croissants & more... The beautiful ceiling mural was painted by a the talented french artist Nadia Wolinska

Le Petit is known for being kid friendly and was recently written up in Time Out Kids
This Choo Choo train is a treat for all the little ones who venture in. It travels the perimeter of the front of cafe. There are also some stuffed toys & tiny creatures hiding in small nooks, if you take the time to look around. Plus, the metal sculptures in the garden can be quite fascinating, too.

There is a wide array of tasty treats like this rugelach above, cute colorful iced cookies with sprinkled sugar, pecan hearts dipped in creamy vanilla, wonderful scones, muffins, chocolate chip, oatmeal and NY's famous Black & White cookies. Could be more, these are what I have sampled--Oh yea--great lemon squares, too!! Look in the displays and feel your mouth water :)

Every day you will find the sweetest arrangement of flowers on your table. They are fresh & oh so pretty! I just learned from Tommy that he is the one that does all the landscaping. He buys plants daily & flowers (weekly) at the Flower Market in Manhattan and on 7th Avenue Park Slope.

I realize that because I enjoy the space of Le Petit so much, I've neglected the food. I apologize for only having this one photograph of scrumptious panini. Maybe I will find some time & take pics of my favorites like corn flake chicken fingers, blueberry pancakes to die for, best french fries ever, perfect spinach salad with blue cheese, cranberries w-raspberry vinegrette & chicken on top if you so desire. I also enjoy their huevos rancheros, shrimp salad, turkey burger & wonderful omelettes. I know they have great hamburgers, too! Brunch on weekends requires a lot of patience because the whole neighborhood seems to make their way down. If you want a seat without much wait, you have to show between 9am-10am or maybe between 1pm-2pm. Dinners are bit less crowded and served from 5pm-10:30pm.

During the week, Le Petit acts as a tranquil environment to get some work done. There are often a number of people lunching & working away (or blogging, Facebooking or Twittering ;) Here is a local writer working on her book. The waitresses and I noticed her nice highlights, so if that's any indication,
this book will Rock!

This is the first back patio Tommy built. It looks a little like a 1970s beach hut here and I'm suddenly craving Pina Coladas! Did not look so much like that in person, it opened up in 2002.

These photos above are from Le Petit's early days as a mere coffe house/muffin shop. Jose is pictured above with Tommy's sister who has done her share to make the cafe a success! I have felt much inspiration in my own life watching as Tommy slowly but surely works towards his next goal. I love that they opened small and just kept going & going until it was just what they wanted!

Le Petit at night! Most of these photos below are from private parties booked for the garden...

Yes, Le Petit serves Beer and a large selection of wines.

Here is one of my favorite waitresses! Tommy also recruits family like his sharp, lovely sister & nieces. You can tell by these two below that waitressing can be fun (at least to the outsider ;) I haven't done it in a while and it is hard work, but good excercise, too.

Above are just some of the cooks who make everything from salmon filet to fluffy pancakes.

Below is the garden patio today... there are 2 sides, one is more enclosed with skylight, the other with a fabric cover that allows the sun to shine in.

Below is the new addition (in the making) to Le Petit. This is George's old storefront, he has moved across the street and down a block. I know he and his wife, Emily miss sitting outside chatting with the cafe crowd. In the spring & summer, there is always someone hanging out on the benches in front, enjoying an ice coffee or fresh fruit smoothie. Tommy & Jose have their work cut out for them, but I trust this will be just as charming & yummy as the original!!

Long road ahead...

Le Petit Cafe is the perfect neighborhood spot. The atmosphere is always friendly and the food is consistently good!! This is also one of the most reasonably priced places in Brooklyn which, given the current economy, is a real gift :)

Le Petit Cafe is located at 502 Court Street between Nelson & Luquer Streets. Take the F or G train to Carroll St. or Smith & 9th St. Stations * Phone # 718.596.7060 Enjoy :D


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