To celebrate the one year anniversary of our second collection with stylist and editor
Leith Clark, we asked her to share some of her favorite things and current inspiration!
The new issue of Violet starring Greta Lee (of the most beautiful &
heart wrenching film of this year - Past Lives).
The Other Side by Jennifer Higgie. The most astonishing, eye-opening, hauntingly beautiful of books.
My favourite of this year aboslutely.
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit ("the bible").
Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru on vinyl all the time.
Become (12" - the newest and maybe the most pure Victoria vocals of all - from Beach House).
This room at the Four Seasons in Florence (one of my most favourite cities)
For Mother's Day this year, we wanted to spotlight one of the women we have worked very closely with over the past year and a half - the very lovely, Tara!
She is Vito's grandniece, business partner, and caretaker. She is the mother to two beautiful boys, Archer & Jasper.
She is a kind, compassionate, fun, and talented woman, and a very dear friend to us.
Here are a some of her favorite pieces!
Bursting with fresh, green, after the rain feelings - Backyard Garden, Brooklyn is made with notes of tomato jam, candied herbs, and frilly greens. Trust us, it's WONDERFUL!
We spent the afternoon with Natasha in her Brooklyn garden, and we chatted about all things green, cultivating community, bake sales, and More Than Cake.
I moved into my little studio apartment in the winter of 2020, when I was spending so much time indoors and was aching for a way to be connected to the outdoors. I had never gardened before in my life; I love cooking and working with beautiful ingredients but never had the space (or time!) to learn how to grow plants. I bought seeds from Crest Hardware and the Union Square Greenmarket; I shopped for heirloom seed online and in boutiques; friends gave me plants and seeds (and advice) of their own. I quickly became obsessed—there's no feeling of accomplishment quite like when you nurse a tomato into ripeness or cut the first cucumber off the vine. It was a pride and joy I had never really experienced before. Of course, there is so much heartbreak that comes with that too—losing plants to invasive bugs, extreme heat, and just bad luck. There's a sense of mystery that I find intoxicating—you can never really know how something will turn out, which makes the changes and discovery that much more thrilling. My book, More Than Cake, came out in mid-April, which is right around the time of year I should be planting and planning for the summer. Because I'll be on tour for the book and traveling quite a bit, I'm going to focus on low-maintenance plants that will thrive without me (and with a little extra help from friends and neighbors)— right now I have bushes of bronze fennel, catnip, lavender, and easy-to-grow flowers like columbine and sweet William. I'll grow less things from seed (when they need more nurturing) and pick sturdy herbs and vegetables that will thrive with waterings every couple of days, like squash, cucumber vines, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. And I'll always get to enjoy my annuals (tulips, hydrangea, and daffodils) without any work at all, which amazes me — not to mention the fragrant trees and bushes that line the perimeter of my garden, like lilac, roses, and fig. In the spring, after a long, stuffy winter, I throw open all the windows to my apartment, and the heady scent of the garden drifts right in — it's so romantic and uplifting.
Tips on hosting..
I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect host, the perfect woman, the perfect baker. But perfect is so overrated — what makes events at your home feel unforgettable is when you are present as a host — not stuck in the kitchen preparing something complicated or stressing over a complicated dish, but in and among your friends and family, part of the conversation and the energy. When I host dinner parties in my garden, I do as much of my cooking as possible outside, so I can be near everyone instead of in my apartment . I'll bring out a tray of ingredients and prep vinaigrettes or chop salads right out in the open air, or put friends to work making drinks or setting the table. My friends joke that I do everything tableside, but it's true — I'll barbecue on the grill or premake a braise or stew, so I'm not losing even a single second in the company of my loved ones.
I'm in a group chat called "Candle Conference" with three good friends, haha. We are obsessed with luxury candles and are always texting each other good deals, funny product reviews, and the latest in candle innovation. We have funny hangouts where we'll have a "lighting ceremony" and order pizza and drink wine and talk about how good the candle smells. Backyard Garden, Brooklyn is so special because of the way it conveys the sense of being outside, surrounded by growing things and the earth. The scent is enchanting and floral and softly sweet but a little earthy, too—it makes me think of being outside in my garden, running my fingers through the soil, tending to my plants, harvesting tomatoes, and eating a plate of tomatoes and torn basil with too much olive oil and salt. It feels simple and essential and so evocative for this time of year.
More than cake..
Connecting my pastry work with my relationship to essential non-profit organizations in NYC is the cornerstone of my work and why I do pastry to begin with. I'm all about reinforcing connections, strengthening and deepening the way we see and interact with the world around us. I'm a Culinary Council member at God's Love We Deliver, which prepares nutritious, delicious meals to people who are living with chronic and serious illness in NYC. I've been working for years with the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a community-based organization that serves people on the East Side of Manhattan — I'll lead cooking classes and birthday parties with their older adults center, develop recipes for their farm-to-institution cooking program the Teaching Kitchen, and fundraise through pastry workshops. I'm on the Junior Board at the Food Education Fund, another terrific non-profit that works with teenagers to empower and prepare them for culinary careers. And through my fundraising bake sales, I've raised over $250,000 between 2017-2023 for organizations that support reproductive access for all, including Planned Parenthood and The Brigid Alliance. I'm deeply grateful that I have a chance to get to know and support the special, vibrant, and joyful people that help the underserved communities of our city.
& Never Ending Taste!
I've just begun a massive tour for my cookbook, and that includes so many bake sales in cities not just in NYC, but also Washington D.C., Ithaca, NY, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Montreal. It's been such an honor to collaborate with the chefs in cities outside of my own, and have their incredible assistance in bringing these events to life. I'm hoping that when I have more quiet time this summer I'll be able to host more Never Ending Taste pop-ups right here in Brooklyn, where I live — stay tuned!
We were on the Today Show!
We came, we saw, we ZAPPED! Shop the pieces that were featured at our tiny, shiny shop - made even tinier by the amazing Today Show props team.
And watch the clip of our feature below!
Today Show Favorites
I acquired the moons a few years ago because I wanted to wear a necklace that would convey some kind of talismanic feeling. One thing I like about a crescent is that it’s a symbol that consists of only part of the whole. It’s almost as if there were another version of a heart that was only part of the heart. Turkish people are really into moons, so this is something I’ve heard all my life. People will always point out when there’s a crescent moon in the sky. Turkish has a special word for “the reflection of the moon on the water.”
The idea of the two crescents comes from the two moons in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. I love his novels so much. 1Q84 isn’t my favorite one, but it does have this cool detail. The sign that you’ve entered the alternate reality—the one that’s 1Q84 and not 1984—is that there are two moons in the sky. There’s this incredible moment when the narrator looks at a playground and sees two moons and knows OK: I’m in the other world. The double world is there in a lot of Murakami’s novels, and the two moons is an image that sums it up for me.
As a small child, I was always writing in a notebook. Adults would say, “My, are you writing a novel? Are you going to write novels someday?” And I’d be like, “Yeah.” I thought that whatever I was writing—my observations about life, or whatever—would automatically segue into novels someday, or that a novel would materialize without my noticing it. It took many years to iron out this misunderstanding.
I grew up visiting Turkey every summer with my parents. I was the first person in my family to be born in the U.S., so I felt like I existed between Turkey and America in a different way.
The title of my new book, Either/Or, partly refers to Selin, the narrator, having to choose between her parents in a custody suit, which actually happened to me when I was a kid. I was an only child. From age ten, I was constantly shuttling between my parents, and I would hear a lot about each one from the other. I believed I was the only objective person in our family who could understand both sides.
I first read Anna Karenina in Ankara, at my grandmother’s apartment, the summer after my second year of high school. I had run out of English books so I was looking for one that would last a long time. I found my mom’s Penguin Anna Karenina, from when she was in high school—she went to an English-language school.
From that first sentence of Anna Karenina—“all unhappy families are unhappy after their own fashion”—I was like, “there’s a book about this?” Tolstoy shows that everybody is right from their own point of view, but also how structurally unfair things were for the women.
Tolstoy also showed me a possible way to turn all of these contradictions, which could actually be quite scary or threatening, into a beautiful document that’s funny and sad, at the same time. It was also a way to control the narrative. Instead of feeling like a football getting thrown from here to there, I realized, I could turn it into a story—one where I got to be generous and humane and understanding.
I think a lot of people with immigrant parents are conscious of the dreams their parents didn’t necessarily get to live. In Turkey, an exam determines what university you go to: medical school, business, whatever. Liberal arts education isn’t really a thing. My mom scored really well on the exam, so she went straight to med school at 17. She loves literature, but she didn’t really get to choose.
When I found out that there was such a thing as novels, and writing them was a job you could have, and that people took it seriously, I was like: “OK, I have to do that.” Nobody in my family told me not to, which I think is unusual.
By the time I went to college, I had filled several volumes of notebooks and I don’t know how many endless Word Perfect files. I was kind of a graphomaniac. But I got demoralized because I wasn’t good at “creative writing.” I took a creative writing class and I just didn’t get why I had to create some quirky character on top of my observations and give them an arc of desire. Creative writing at that time was very much about projecting yourself into other people’s point of view. What I really wanted was to understand my own life. It was a real relief to me when “autofiction” became a thing. Nobody used that word in the ‘90s.
When I was younger, I wore an evil eye charm most of the time, on either a necklace or a bracelet. In Turkish culture, good fortune always sort of comes with bad fortune, because other people’s envy will invite the evil eye. Whenever I had any bad luck, my mother would say, “Oh, it was the evil eye,” meaning it was because someone else was jealous over some earlier piece of good luck.
In the evil eye culture, you’re always trying to ward off other people’s envy, which changes your mode of relating to other people, your mode of talking about yourself, and your mode of relating to good fortune.
At one point in Either/Or, Selin’s friend Svetlana says, “you know what the difference between us is? You’re trying to live an aesthetic life, and I’m trying to live an ethical life.”
In the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s Either/Or (my novel’s namesake), “the aesthetic life” is based on living your life as if it’s a work of art. Selin wants to be a writer, so she’s really attracted to the idea of living her life as if she is a character in a novel. That way, she can just write it down and have a novel.
Meanwhile, her friend Svetlana is living “an ethical life,” meaning a life based on being “a good person.” In the Kierkegaard book, it means getting married and having a boring family, instead of having a bunch of exciting affairs. None of it totally makes sense: how is it even possible, let alone necessary, for a “beautiful” life to be one that hurts other people? How is getting married synonymous with being a good person?
I think what Selin and Svetlana are attracted to isn’t the model itself, but just the fact that Kierkegaard, a famous philosopher, actually thought concretely about two different ways to live your life, and created a whole unresolvable debate over which was right. If there are two different ways, that means it’s a way for Selin and Svetlana to be free from envy and rivalry.
By deciding that each has a different way of living, they’re able to tell themselves they’re not actually competing with each other.
When I was 34, I wrote a pitch for a novel called The Two Lives. It was about a writer for a New Yorker-like publication who starts to feel as though she’s living two lives, and writing, or thinking, two stories: one gets published in The New Yorker, and the other doesn’t get published and doesn’t even totally get written, because it doesn’t fit into journalistic norms. The narrator—a version of myself at the time—was trying to write her way out of that situation. I found it very challenging to write about my own life as it was happening.
While attempting to write a flashback, I unearthed the draft of a book I had written in my mid-twenties, while taking a break from my PhD program. It was a fictionalized version of my own freshman year of college, and it was concerned with the same questions as The Two Lives. Since 20 years had passed since I’d lived it, I could finally see it as a book and not just unmediated reality. That document became The Idiot, which was published in 2017.
When I was trying to write The Two Lives, I thought I was describing a new problem I had encountered only in my 30s. But when I revisited The Idiot, I found this sentence: “I began to feel like I was living two lives.” That’s what made me realize I had to go back and write that book first.
I think what I love about novels is, the novel is the closest way we have of writing at the same time about both lives: the inner life, and the life that’s outside, in the world. My favorite philosophy book now is The Ethics of Ambiguity, by Simone de Beauvoir, where she basically corrects Either/Or—she says the aesthetic life and the ethical life are actually the same thing, the same life, the free life. Because the only way to become free yourself, is to simultaneously always be striving to make other people free. Of course it’s really hard to do both at the same time, you have to always be thinking about it, always choosing. You can’t just make one decision once and then follow that policy your whole life. I think that’s such an incredible program: “I free myself and others.” That’s how I’m trying to think about novels now.
A few months back, some of the Catbird crew met the wonderful poet, writer and crossword expert Adrienne Raphel at an event for The Paris Review (not to brag but a little to brag). After being introduced we quickly hatched a plan to make A Very Catbird Crossword puzzle together — and here it is. (We think it’s about comparable in difficulty to a Tuesday NYT puzzle.)
Hope you enjoy it!
Download a PDF of the crossword here!
Meet A. Rose, a creator and self-portraitist from Pennsylvania! We are long-time fans of her work.
A. Rose's self portraits transport you into her dreamy, sultry world.
She has an eye for composition and color- and stacking, as it turns out! We are so excited to see Catbird through her eyes.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist
I began this journey into self-portraiture when I started working as an art model years ago. I felt a new sense of appreciation and curiosity for my body seeing how artists captured me. As I worked on building my self-esteem, self-portraiture became a form of therapy for me. I could express myself through stories I would dream up through the lens.
Describe your work in three words
It always happens that I end up seducing the camera, seducing myself through the mirror. There are always elements of sensuality and self-awareness in my work that excite me to keep creating (so I would say sensuality, self-awareness, and muse (I'm my own muse!)
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love finding clothing and props that evoke nostalgia and romance. I like to put on a vintage silk wedding gown and imagine who could have worn it and what they were feeling.
What does jewelry mean to you?
Wearing jewelry is a form of self-love. Adorning your body with something beautiful is a way to honor and admire yourself, and that’s why I was thrilled to have fun and wear pieces from Catbird for this project.
Who are your style icons?
I often think of classic muses as my style icons, like Jane Morris wearing delicate silk with her cascading curls in a Rossetti painting.
Favorite IG follows?
Shop A. Rose's Edit
We have been followers (and fans!) of Aimee's for a long time! You might follow her too -- known as @yungkombucha420 on instagram, Aimee's account is a sweets enthusiast's dream! Full of the fantastical cakes she creates, as well as a sneak peek at her daily life as a baker.
Aimee currently bakes out of her Brooklyn kitchen, and sources all ingredients locally -- whether it's foraging some flowers and strawberries from a local community garden, or shopping at the Union Square farmer's market. We love not only Aimee's eye for design, but her commitment to sustainability and using what she has.
Aimee invited us over to spend an afternoon baking a cake with her. What kind of cake you ask? Well an olive oil rose cake with ricotta and fresh strawberries, and brown butter cardamom prosecco buttercream of course! OH - and a little chocolate ganache too. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Scroll through to enjoy with us!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be a baker
My name is Aimee France and I am 23. I went to college and graduated with a degree in communications but deep down always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. I was interested in food/cooking and wanted a good vegan dessert. I became interested in food science and decided to teach myself how to mimic traditional baking techniques to create a vegan version. I then started posting photos on social media and grew a following. After that I decided to sell my products and here I am now, I guess I got lucky!
Describe your work in three words
Seasonal, spontaneous, ethereal.
First baking memory?
Watching my mom bake my birthday cakes every year and the chocolate cake she would always make. My mom made some pretty cool and intricate cakes for me. I also have a vivid memory of having a bake sale at the bottom of my driveway with my childhood best friend. I think we sold Ghirardelli chocolate chip brownies and Whoopie pies (I think my mom made the whoopie pies lol).
What are your favorite flavors and ingredients?
In the summer I love chocolate cake, cardamom, mascarpone or chantilly cream with fresh berries and lemon thyme. Sprinkling maldon on top is necessary. I also love tiramisu or anything coffee.
And cake / frosting combination?
Chocolate cake with a big scoop of chantilly cream and fresh herbs. For buttercream I love the prosecco buttercream I make. Chantilly cream and any type of buttercream needs to be a bit salty in my opinion.
Describe a perfect day in NYC!
Having breakfast on my roof, going to the farmers market, walking around with friends, exploring a new area, trying a new restaurant for dinner or going to one that I love. After dinner I like to walk around and sit in a park during dusk, maybe go out after if I’m not too tired.
Favorite non-cake dessert?
Tiramisu or affogato!
How can one order a cake from you?
Send an email to [email protected] ! (Please do not DM me about cake inquiries). I make anything from birthday cakes to extravagant cakes for events and weddings. I also sell mini cakes on my instagram story weekly on a first come first serve basis!
Shop Aimee's Edit!
Dru is a New York based artist who lives in a technicolor dream! A self-described unicorn (and oh does that ring true!) Dru’s art takes form in their fashion, their beauty, their movements.
Read on to observe Dru's bright light and infectious spirit!
On becoming an artist..
I think I came to be an artist at a young age and the way I express my art has always been through my everyday style. Getting dressed up has always been a daily ritual and something that came natural to me.
I like to think I live my life as a muse from a Tim Walker editorial who likes to bring a fantasy into a drab and dreary world and make it very gay of course.
First fashion memory..
I feel like it was my mother and the women in my family who influenced me the most with my fashion. Growing up my mom would always be dressed to the nines for any occasion. I loved watching the way she would embellish herself with jewelry, lipstick, and perfume at her boudoir early in the morning. It was quite fabulous and those memories I'll always cherish forever.
Your style in three words..
Magic, Kindness, and Freedom.
The best gift you have ever received?
I'm very grateful for all the gifts I've received over the years so it's hard to narrow that down. I'd say when my dad asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday I asked him if he would get me a dress. I was so nervous to ask but with no hesitation my dad said, "sure I'll get you a dress." That was one of the best gifts I've ever received and I'm never getting rid of that dress.
Something in fashion you're drawn to right now..
The last collection I loved was my friend, Jackson Wiederhoeft, 'Fashion Show' collection. It was playful as always but had a beautiful aggression to it from his previous shows. He's always working hard and presenting the most magical collections and he is also a finalist in this year's CFDA.
Any words of wisdom for people experimenting with their style right now?
Personal style at the end of the day should always be about pure freedom, freedom to be yourself is the best style advice I have to offer. Just go for it! Feed your inner child and trust your intuition always when experimenting with your look. If something catches your attention and makes your heart skip a beat or inspires you then wear it!
Shop Dru's Edit