Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Chat with Renee Garrison, co-author of “Home: Celebrating the Spaces of Your Heart”

One of the most gracious hostess I know, writer Renee Garrison recently co-authored an e-book with architect Tom Szumlic titled, “Home: Celebrating the Spaces of Your Heart.”  The very enjoyable and inspirational book features tips on how to create a welcoming home environment.  I recently sat down with Renee to discuss the book:

Rose: How did you decide to write “Home: Celebrating the Spaces of Your Heart?

Renee: I had interviewed Tom Szumlic for a couple of residential projects that I’d written about for The Tampa Tribune. We were having lunch one day when he asked if I‘d ever considered writing a book? I hadn‘t, but when he suggested a gift book I was on board! His expertise as an architect and mine as a reporter worked well together.

Rose: Who is the target audience for the book?

Renee: Anyone who buys their first home or a recent college graduate who rents their first apartment. We hope realtors could give this as a gift to clients- instead of a rubber plant! It appeals to retirees who are downsizing – this book is designed for anyone who is lucky enough to live under a roof.

Rose: What is your favorite tip from the book?

Renee: The most essential piece of garden equipment is a hammock. (Editor’s note: my personal favorite from the book is, “[p]ersonalizing your porch or rentry with a wreath, mailbox, or planter has been proven to be an effective home security system.  There are fewer break-ins.”)

Rose: Which tips do you follow in your own home?

Renee: Stencil your favorite quotation somewhere in your home for inspiration.  Keep candles on the table and use them, for all occasions.  Make your kitchen big enough to hold a table – a place for kids’ construction projects as well as a place for guests to make memories.

Rose: What was your writing process like while working on the book?

Renee: Tom and I met for lunch once a month, with notebooks full of ideas!  I’d edit/rewrite our concepts into a more conversational style.  Ultimately, Tom chose the photographs that accompany the text.

Rose: I know you come to NYC with some frequency for Fashion Week.  What are your favorite places?

Renee: I like Union Square and the ABC Carpet & Home store.  I also like Chelsea Market where the Food Network has offices and I always find nifty gifts at the NY Public Library gift shop. The “Literary Lions” guarding the front steps are pretty amazing – actually, the entire building is an architectural wonder that should not be missed!

The e-book, “Home: Celebrating the Spaces of Your Heart” can be purchased for only $2.99 at the itunes store here.  Renee’s blog, aptly titled Renee Writes Now, can be visited here and features her architecture and fashion articles and daily musings.

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Nom Wah Tea Parlor

1920’s Signage

I recently went with my cousin to the Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown for a late lunch.  Nom Wah has been in business since 1920 and was Chinatown’s first dim sum parlor.  I wanted to try Nom Wah since I saw the restaurant featured on a show about small business owners in NYC (gotta love the NYC channel!).  Nom Wah was recently taken over and renovated by the owner’s twenty-something year old nephew, but he kept all of the traditional accents, like the antique register and formica bar and stools.

The restaurant’s decor was cute and old fashion.  Upon arrival we were given laminated menus with photos and a paper checklist to select what we wanted.  The menu identified vegetarian dishes and even gluten free.  Almost all of the plates were $3.50, although the vegetable plates were $7.95.  Tea was $1 to $1.50 per person depending on the flavor.

Love the antique cash register!

Shula at Nom Wah

We didn’t know what to expect because the dishes were so inexpensive.  We selected five and ended up with A LOT of food:


Egg Rolls – I don’t usually like egg rolls that much, but they are a house specialty, so we ordered them and they were really good!

Scallion noodles

Vegetable Dumplings – These were actually my least favorite of the dishes.  There was a vegetable I didn’t love inside.

Very unusual dish – this tasted like a donut inside a noodle.  I probably wouldn’t get it again, but it was interesting to try.

I also ordered shrimp and scallion dumplings and they were actually my favorite dish, but I forgot to photograph them.  Next time I would be curious to try one of the vegetable dishes too.

Nom Wah’s famous almond cookie

We also ordered jasmin tea, which was delicious and very fragrant.  I got the famous almond cookie to go, but I ended up not liking it (I was hoping it would taste like marzipan, but it didn’t).  The cookie was fresh though, so I have a feeling I just don’t like almond cookies and it’s probably not reflective of Nom Wah.  Overall I really enjoyed the meal and the old world setting.

Nom Wah

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