The Eagle Huntress

Steven and I watched the documentary The Eagle Huntress last night and I cried a thousand happy girl power tears. Have you seen it?? It's about a thirteen year old Mongolian girl who wants to be a traditional eagle hunter just like her dad and her forefathers, but of course there's a bunch of old nay-sayers blah blah blah who can all just SUCK IT BECAUSE SHE IS A BAD ASS EAGLE HUNTRESS. 

I mean, I don't want to give away any details, but really, this girl's determination is incredibly impressive. It made me think about what I was doing at thirteen and well... let's just say nobody bothered to make a documentary about, say, how much I wanted a boyfriend. 

Anyway, check it out!

Bookshelf: So Many Books

I don't normally read a lot of books simultaneously. I mostly prefer to just dig into one voice, one story. But in tidying up my bedside table I realized WHOA; I've got a lot of very different reads going on right now...

Top to bottom:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Loved it! Short, spooky, evocative.

South and West by Joan Didion. I know it's just a published notebook of observations, so I suppose it's not really fair to criticize it for this but... it just feels like a handful of moments. I can't say I'm enthralled. Not a popular opinion, I know!

The Idiot by Elif Batuman. I have to admit I'm having a hard time with this one too. I'm halfway through and still feel like nothing much has happened. There are some great descriptive moments that appear but all in all... I'm gonna finish it though.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. So. Fucking. Sad.

I'm Supposed To Protect You From All This by Nadja Speigelman. Loved it! Was shocked by just how-- and please forgive me as I use an overused review phrase--unflinching it was as a portrait of her mom, her grandmother, and herself. 

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Reads like a bunch of blog posts, which isn't surprising given she's a blogger and most of this material comes from her blog. Sometimes that's jarring, but when you're in the mood for this type of manic, dark humor and fast pace, it really hits the spot.

Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles. Very strange. I've read and loved a lot of what her husband Paul Bowles has written so that's why I picked this up. It's always interesting when two writers are married. Inevitably you compare their work. Hers is so much more irreverent. Both seem to be intrigued by what it means to be a foreigner somewhere-- unsurprising given that they spent most of their lives as Americans living in Morocco. 

All Grown Up by Jami Attenburg. My favorite in this pile! I read it in one day. Funny, sad, and felt oh so true. 

Celine by Peter Heller. I just loved The Dog Stars so fucking much that I'm afraid nothing else he writes will ever compare. Sigh.

What To Expect When You're Expecting. Informative, obviously. And I've still got several months to go!


I Love Lamp: Barn Door Kitchen Island

Every year for the past six years, despite neither of us being religious, Steven and I have hosted a Seder. Good friends, good wine, a long story-- what's not to like?

Obviously we were extra psyched this year to break in our brand spankin' new, 99% finished kitchen with our pals. Since we had eleven folks total we figured we'd bring in some tables and chairs from the barn and set them up in our big open space BUT THEN our contractor surprised us with our barn door island!

Remember the barn door? Once upon a time it was from the barn (duh):

Then it lived hanging between the kitchen and the living room.

Until we got a quote for a custom cabinet island and said, "WHOA! NO WAY! What else do we have laying around here...?" and decided we should be make a giant island out of the barn door and use the 100 year old hemlock beams for legs that we found in the foundation during demo

We've made tables before, but because this one was so burly we put it entirely in the hands of the crew. They decided it would be best to wire scrub the whole thing, poly it, and add a skirt along the edges from other barn wood and we made it two inches taller than standard counter height because Steven's tall and hates having to bend way over to chop.

The thing is so damn big they had to wait to attach the legs until they brought it in the kitchen yesterday morning aaaaand ta-da!

It basically took an army to flip:

(Yes, I felt bad taking pictures as they all grunted but aren't you happy for the action shot??)

And now WE'RE IN LOVE.

It's enormous and luxurious and sturdy and simply the freaking coolest and I'm so happy with it! It just goes to show that sometimes the "creative", "budget friendly" solution winds up being the best solution after all.

And now, as happy as I am to be sitting here at this island typing this, it's time to get outside because it's finally, so damn warm and beautiful out. Welcome, spring. We missed ya!

I Love Lamp: Winter, Renovation, Ya Know

So winter is really being one stubborn motherf*cker this year. Check out the April Fools joke Mother Nature played on us this morning! MORE SNOW! After five solid months of it already! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

And I would be bold face lying if I were to say that I haven't wanted to occasionally punch myself in the face during the kitchen renovation. The noise! The dust! The mud! The decisions! The delays! Yesterday morning I had to go take a time out in an unoccupied hotel room to just chill the fuck out and get some quiet work done. 

All that said, yesterday was a pretty exciting moment because we ripped open the plastic between the living room and the kitchen and walked in to some major developments like cabinets and even a few hooked up appliances!

I won't tell you when our contractor said we'd be done because I don't want to jinx it but dudes, WE ARE CLOSE.

"I Caught All These Fish" by Steven Weinberg @ Clove & Creek

Steven's got a show at Clove & Creek down in Kingston of a whole slew o' trout paintings. Come on by! The opening is tonight, Saturday April 1st (no joke!) from 5-8pm. It also happens to be the first day of fishing season, so you can probably guess what Steven will be doing before the show...

Can't make it tonight? No biggie. The show will be up through June and the framed pieces will also be available for sale via Clove & Creek's online shop!

I Love Lamp: Kitchen Spray Foam + Dry Wall

I've never been this excited about spray foam and dry wall in my life. CHECK IT OUT!

I swear, insulating this extension has made the entire house that much warmer. We basically used to have a gaping hole off our living room. Now? This shit is toasty. 

And today, in just one day, because as I mentioned before this team is made of rock stars, all the dry wall went up!


Of course a massive snow storm is coming our way tonight and tomorrow and so there'll be another delay in work. Mother Nature just does not give a f*ck about our renovation schedule but hey, I suppose she does have bigger concerns. 

At least we'll be warmer than ever before!

Let's Talk About The Weather

You can't live in the country and NOT talk about the weather at least, oh, four times a day. Especially if you take a trip to the Post Office, in which case the weather must be commented upon with each and every person who comes and goes.

But seriously? We have a big ol' storm coming our way tomorrow. Upwards of two feet! My skier is quite excited. Our kitchen team a little less so. And we have loads of folks staying at the Inn this week!

Left by @Victoria.Emanuel, Right by @SprucetonInn

Left by @Victoria.Emanuel, Right by @SprucetonInn

We'll see which brave souls actually get out of bed for coffee service tomorrow morning...

I Love Lamp: Kitchen Renovation Part Something-Or-Other

So it's been exactly one month of washing dishes in the bathtub, and there's plenty to show for it!

Last you saw, the crew had finished up the demolition work. These past few weeks have been all about rebuilding, plumbing, electric... and concrete floors! Which I'm clearly the most excited about, but frankly that's only because it's the most visually notable difference. I mean, the electrical team can be here all day banging around and you pop your head in six hours and later and it looks... the same. With loads more wiring that you'll truly appreciate down the road, but it's nowhere near as exciting as say, the day that our gravel was delivered via big-ass truck.

As you can see, it drove up next to our house. They set out some gravel to create a ramp up our weird kitchen patio thing.

And then drove right up it and dumped the gravel directly in the open door!


Next was spray foam insulation of which I didn't get a picture because I was scared to go near it when it was still consolidating. Aka when it was still toxic. 

Just a few days later, our concrete went in!

It's got to cure for a bit longer before they put the final polish on it. Luckily though, in the mean time they can work on it. 

Like I said, otherwise it's been a lot of electric (What height should the scones be? Where exactly do you want your outlets? What about your microwave, because that needs its own outlet! How about your switch placement?) and plumbing. All essential, but way less sexy.

Some other not-so-sexy work so far has included re-routing a waste pipe from upstairs that used to run in the crawl space in the drop ceiling, eliminating the siding we boxed over it outside (because yes, the pipe used to run outside before joining the rest of the septic plumbing), raising the doors 3" for the floor...

And of course our pipes have frozen twice during this process because it's been literally zero degrees and this space, uninsulated, is basically outdoors. Luckily we have ten other bathrooms and showers at our disposal!

So that's where we're at. It's been loud and dusty but the crew is so kind and hard working and we're getting closer every day. In the mean time, it's a wonderful excuse to hit up the Phoenicia Diner significantly more than we usually do!

Binge Reading

More like, How To Murder All Your Free Time.


So binge-readable! And addicting! Which is of course an uncouth thing to say about a memoir that's about binge behavior and addiction but I have a feeling Marnell wouldn't mind...

I picked this up when I was out running errands yesterday and stayed up way too late nearly finishing it. Silver lining: it was easy to get up for the contractors at 6:30am because I knew I could go back to reading it once awake!

Bookshelf on it coming soon. 

Got the Travel Bug BAD for Oaxaca

It's probably that we're in the hardest part of winter (as in, "It's STILL WINTER? Wtf?), that we're renovating, that the travel bug is something that's always in my system... either way I've been jonesing hard for Oaxaca all week. 

So I've decided to torture myself by revisiting pics from our trip there last year.

Such an easy town to wander.

Such an easy town to wander.

Beautiful dresses for days. I should have bought 100 of each.

Beautiful dresses for days. I should have bought 100 of each.

Botanical Garden.

Botanical Garden.

I preferred the grasshoppers to the larva. Truly! They were crunchy and spicy and delicious.

I preferred the grasshoppers to the larva. Truly! They were crunchy and spicy and delicious.

Waterfalls just outside the city.

Waterfalls just outside the city.

So many kinds of hot chocolate! I loved the chamomile and rose ones.

So many kinds of hot chocolate! I loved the chamomile and rose ones.

Wild ruins.

Wild ruins.

Sunshine sunshine sunshine.

Sunshine sunshine sunshine.

And lots of plaza hang out time.

And lots of plaza hang out time.

Anyone wanna come run a hotel for a week so I can sneak off to Mexico?? Gracias!

This + That: Wed, February 22

Wednesday, February 22nd.

1. Up at sunrise with the kitchen contractors. / 2. Waldo gets used to them being here and banging around, totally forgets about them and barks like wild, is cool again. Sigh. / 3. Collecting a quarterly water sample for the Department of Health-- / 4. Which I drop off at a water analysis facility in Hunter. / 5. Loads of errands this morning actually, including a stop at the mechanic to get Steven's truck inspected. "Ya'll must be avid readers!" the mechanic laughed at us as we each pulled out our books. / 6. Went to Selina's Diner on 23 for some much needed pancakes. / 7. Came back to quite the construction site. The kitchen floor was being filled with stone which is delivered via truck-- / 8. Which DROVE UP ONTO OUR PATIO so it could dump the stones directly into the kitchen door! / 9. Tried to hang out on our "Saturday" and just read and paint but it's so dang loud. / 10. So we snuck off to the woods for a bit. / 11. Been all about rose water and orange blossom in seltzer lately. / 12. Writing inspiration struck during golden hour. / 13. Read more as the sun set of Nadja Spiegelman's I'm Supposed To Protect You From All This which I'm really, really enjoying. / 14. Did our entire dinner on the wood stove! Quick bread and cumin lamb chops in the grill, chickpeas and spinach in a pan on top. 

I Love Lamp: Done with Demo, Time to Rebuild the Kitchen

The demo part of this project is done! Gone are all the old appliances, walls, drop ceilings, floors... The space feels ENORMOUS now, especially with the floor dug out.

And now it's time to start rebuilding the place.

Last week they added more support to the roof which apparently had a bit of a sloping pagoda thing going on. They also did a bit of straightening of the walls which meant our south facing windows moved a full two inches! 

Currently I'm finalizing the exact placement of all our electrical work so that can go in this week-- including in the bathroom/laundry room right off the kitchen.

Tomorrow the plumber comes and is going to move some awkward waste pipes and set us up for our sink and dishwasher. (A dishwasher! I know! THE LUXURY.)

facing the living room.jpg

Then come the stones and the concrete floor which needs to get in asap so it can spend time curing. 

Watching the demo has been so damn satisfying but obviously I'm thrilled to moving on the rebuilding part so soon!

Bookshelf: The Tsar of Love And Techno

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

A Good Line Or Two:

They may begrudge us, may think us unambitious and narrow-minded, but someday they will realize that what makes them unremarkable is what keeps them alive. (p 83)

Got Me Thinking About:

How I never want to live in Russia.

How this is THE BEST book of interconnected short stories I've ever read, no hyperbole. Sometimes books like this can feel like the author was too intimidated to conquer just one big plot. But this, this felt like it had to be in this format. 


So slowly. Probably too slowly. At times I had to reread dozens of pages because I couldn't remember all the characters from the last time I picked it up. It was just such a sad book I had a hard time wanting to dig into it each day. 

I Love Lamp: Mini Kitchen + Progress

As promised, here's a pic of our mini kitchen:

So glamorous right?

The table is actually a shelf from our barn. Steven sawed off the bottom part (which is now a coffee table in the barn) so it could be counter height. And I scrubbed the shit out of it for about forty-five minutes to make it people/food friendly. Because this is what it looked like when we first dragged it in:

We've got a full size fridge, microwave, and hot plate. We were total idiots and had all of that plus our air filter plugged into one outlet via an extension cord so naturally we blew a fuse immediately. But we've since moved the hot plate to the dining room table and we're all good. We're also trying to cook more on the wood stove since we've got it going all the time anyway. Most successful wood stove meal so far? Chili! It just hangs out in one pot simmering as long as you'd like.

As for the actual kitchen progress-- the guys ripped out the drop ceiling and down came all of the insulation we'd sprayed in there back when we first moved in and the kitchen kept freezing. 

Once they cleaned that up they had a go at the floor:

Which was entirely ripped up by the end of today exposing the old beams which were whole damn tree trunks!

Next up is laying down some more stones into the crawl space to be a base for our concrete floor and I am SO EXCITED. I have loved polished concrete floors for ages and ages. Yes I know they can be chilly, and yes I know whatever you drop on them breaks, but I wear babouches in the winter and don't think I'm a clumsy person so there!

Different note: the guys found some old tobacco tins and other stuff in the walls which they saved for us. 

Kinda cool, no?


Oh, Mary Oliver

I've been seeing Mary Oliver's book Upstream everywhere.

And by "everywhere" I mean on my lit-heavy social media feed, haha! And so last night we met up with some pals in Woodstock--and I simply cannot go to Woodstock without stopping at The Golden Notebook-- so we popped into the bookstore and I picked up a copy for the Inn's library.

Like everyone, I AM IN LOVE.

I read Steven this paragraph aloud last night before we went to bed from the end of the first chapter:

Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn't choose them, I don't fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don't keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. 

Isn't that just... so right?

I Love Lamp: Kitchen Renovation Day One

It took so much self control to not hover around the kitchen all yesterday. There was loads of clanging and banging and ripping and crashing which surely meant progress and HOLY SHIT LOOK AT WHAT THEY DID IN JUST ONE DAY!

I have never been happier to see such destruction!

My main impression beyond, "It's dusty as fuck in here" was: this room is huuuuuuuuuge. And once we get rid of the drop ceiling and vault it to match the pitch of the roof, well, I think it's gonna feel downright enormous. Which is nothing I've ever said about any other kitchen I've ever lived with! That's country life for you.

Here's a panorama:

Last night Steven had a presentation in Tannersville to the county's reading teachers, and so he stopped at the Chinese take out place. Because come on, what's a kitchen renovation without some take out?

And of course, because this is how construction goes, Day Two was cancelled this morning due to heavy snow and dangerous roads. Which is fine by me because I'm convinced these guys did two days' work in one I mean come on, look at this side by side:

Here's to Day Three being just as productive!

I Love Lamp: Kitchen Renovation Begins!

Once upon a time, the kitchen in our house was the commercial kitchen for the Schwarzenegger's Sunshine Valley House

Which sounds super cool in theory. Big, shiny, stainless steel appliances, easy to clean surfaces, right?

Riiiiight. More like, busted yellow 1950s linoleum, a giant but haggard stove that works only about 60% of the way, and no heat. Because who needs heat, this is Florida! To be fair, Maria Schwarzenegger certainly didn't for the 50 years she had the oven on as she served up three meals a day for dozens of people. Which is not at all what we're up to now, so it was high time for an upgrade.

This is what it looked like the day we moved in, back in December 2013:

I swear we were WAY more happy to be here than Steven's shocked face suggests. 

And once we started moving a few things in, trying to sort out what exactly was going on amidst all these layers of wall:

We painted a whole bunch in the beginning. First all white, then we added some black. (Good lord, the painting of the inside of drawers and cabinets; it's three times the surface area you think it's going to be!) We removed a few of the built-ins. And when the new siding went up on the whole house that first spring, we popped in new windows and doors at the same time. (You can relive that with me here.)

So it's looked pretty much like this the whole time we've lived here:

We had a few failed improvements along the way. Like when we tried to paint the awful linoleum with porch paint which promptly scratched right off.

My favorite improvement by a mile was the addition of the barn door. I also like our sweet little bar.

But now it's ALL GOING! Well, everything but the barn door actually. We're bringing the whole thing down to the studs, we're vaulting the ceiling, installing all new appliances... And by "we" I mean the royal we of our kick ass contracting team. This shit it is WAY above our DIY skills. 

Steven and I spent all yesterday removing absolutely everything for the crew so it'd be ready to roll for their 6:45am arrival today. Et voila!

I'll show you pics of our "jail house kitchen" currently set up in the living room next because yes, we are of course going to have no kitchen during the two month-ish process, way out here in the middle of nowhere where absolutely nobody delivers Chinese food or pizza.  That said, we've lived in way stranger and more sparse set ups around the world. For example, when we lived in an old radio station above a bus station in Mail where there was no kitchen at all! Or private bathroom for that matter. Or shower. 

And you thought we were nuts for moving to the Catskills and opening a hotel. Pshhhht. 

I'm not saying this is going to be easy, but I am saying I'm going to try to remember we've lived through weirder when the inevitable renovation frustrations fall.

But look! Already, they've been here hardly three hours and there goes the stove!

BOOM! Oh my gosh, demo is so freaking thrilling.

I'll be updating here with pics and such, so come on by again soon for more renovation tales! And send frozen China town dumplings. PLEASE.