This + That: Wed, September 9

Wednesday, September 9.

11 point five cooking with the door open 2.jpg
12 parsley.jpg

1. Day off = sleeping in. / 2. Waldo makes use of the vacant bed once we're up. We wiped him out with a 4 mile river walk yesterday.  / 3. Iced coffee and words on words on words. / 4. Steven oh so gallantly sorts out our wild web of domains and hosting etc that all need to be consolidated... / 5. A walk down the road past our neighbors' garden. / 6. I've been "drying out" a bit lately (aka, not boozing) and have been reeeeeeeally into seltzer with raspberries or lemon or mint. / 7. Swapped out everything on my home office cork board. Yea, it's like a real life Pinterest board, remember those? / 8. Stacked wood. / 9. Played piano without my pants on because it's been that hot. / 10. A (much needed) storm is coming. / 11. And here it is. / 12. And there it went. / 13. An open kitchen door so we could smell the rain. / 14. Our friend Craig was in the area doing some location scouting and came over for dinner. Honey roasted carrots with cumin on parsley and almonds, roasted green peppers, hummous with toast, steaks, olives, and a fig + date almond cornbread for dessert. Morocco was calling. 

I Love Lamp: What If We Just Painted It? The Kitchen Edition

"What if we just painted it?" said me and Steven ten million times since we've moved here. 

Paint. Porch paint in particular. That and barn wood have been our absolute favorite go-to DIY tools since moving up here. Because sometimes you don't have the time and/or the cash to do much more than a quick, surface layer re-do of a space. From our living room--

90% of the work has been PAINT!

Which brings me to the kitchen. 

Oh, the kitchen. As I've mentioned before, it was once the industrial kitchen for when the first floor of this house was the restaurant for the Schwarzeneggers's Sunshine Valley House. Meaning yes it's huge, but it's also kind of falling apart and totally unheated and all in all just a liiiiittle bizarre. And scary. Like from a designer's point of view, I think it morally offends my mom that a place like this even EXISTS in the world. 

We made a stab at it last year-- threw some white paint up and some plastic rugs down, hung some wire baskets and even a barn door!  And it was a nice improvement. See, here's when we moved in:

And here's pretty much what it looks like now:

rustic country kitchen

But this is ALSO right now:

Not so hot. Well, especially not with the the fluorescent lights on which we normally don't have buzzing, but I wanted to give you the full effect of that oh so wonderful and probably many decades old linoleum floor.

Basically we've been torn about what the most sensible next step for this space is. Because while we'd love to do a MAJOR renovation of it, that's just not in the cards right now. But there's also a limited amount of changes we can make between now and whenever that will be, because once you pull at one piece you realize it's attached to another-- and I mean this quite literally. Like the cabinet over the sink is literally a part of the ceiling so who knows what would happen if we tired to take that down. From conversations with the pervious owners, this seemed to be their conundrum too so at least we haven't been the only ones kinda stumped by this room.

SO. What does that leave us with? You said it! PAINT!

I'd been trying to be orderly about this-- saying we'd paint the ceiling first, then the walls, then floor etc. But today we had the grey porch paint out since we were painting the floor of the hotel's laundry room (new boiler = time for a real cleaning and painting) and well, it just kind of happened.

"It" being "the first coat in part of the kitchen" but already I'm IN LOVE. And it was high stakes-- I sacrificed making brownies tonight to test this corner! 

We're gonna let it sit overnight and see how it does. Scuff it up a bit, make sure it wears well. And then hit the second scariest corner of the kitchen:

But check that out! Look at the stripe of grey and how it looks approximately 3,000 times better than whatever else we're working with over on the right? I mean, our hodge podge storage solutions aren't doing us any favors either, but I've also got some plans for that...

Anyway, I'm psyched! About porch paint!

The things that thrill you now that would disappoint your little kid self to hear... haha!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

I Love Lamp: The Garden Comes Together

About a month ago, Steven spear headed a garden revival effort and painted those old fence posts grey to get us going. We had to wait a few days until our deer wire arrived and then we had to wait til the inspiration to actually install said deer wire struck.

That came about a week later, just as the daffodils were blooming. We realized we had to get in there right then, otherwise everything would start to grow up around the fence and we'd be screwed til next spring.

The installation was tedious but simple. We unrolled the deer wire a few feet at a time, hand raking out the dead leaves that had collected and pushing aside what was already starting to grow. Steven pulled the fence taught while I hammered in the little U shaped nails, about three to a post.

There were a few spots where the dirt was high and so Steven dug it out.

He was also a real trooper about being the one get all up in the prickly stuff.

Though it was my job to get into the tight spots.

If I remember correctly, the whole thing took about two and half hours. At which point Steven decided he was gonna finish it right and make us a little barn wood door.

And tada! A fully enclosed garden once again!

Experienced garden folks might be looking at this saying, "That's not nearly high enough to deter deer!" or " They didn't dig nearly deep enough to deter bunnies and groundhogs and all those other pests!" to which I say it's really more of a "Keep Waldo In" fence than a reeeeal "Garden Fence" and for that it works perfectly.

I wish I had a photo of Waldo laying in the garden, content in the sun, but at the moment I don't, so you'll just have to trust that that's how it happens over here now!

Though it wasn't like we were finished once we did the fence. It turns out there's the whole gardening aspect of gardening. (Who knew?!) And while we'd bought a handful of herbs the other week, they were sadly wilting away in our kitchen, waiting to be planted, and the weeds were overtaking the garden, gravel included. Cuz we've been busy! Which is great. You love a full house at a hotel. But it was getting borderline embarrassing... 

Which is why we were so lucky that when Steven's folks visited this weekend, they decided it would be good fun to help us out in that department!

They weeded and pruned and trimmed and weeded some more, then planted and watered our sad little herbs which will hopefully pull through.

Then weeded and pruned and trimmed and weeded even MORE... til it finally looked like a garden again!

They even prepped another raised bed for more veggies and herbs which we're gonna get from our local nursery hopefully this week.

And all just in time as things are really starting to finally bloom around here. And not just the chives that have gone to seed--

Bu the peonies too as of just this morning!

Aaaaand these other flowers... whose names I totally don't know.

So thank you Kathie and David! It feels so great to have this little garden wonderland back!

(What is I Love Lamp? This is I Love Lamp.)

This + That: Wed, June 3

Wednesday, June 3.

1. So many flowers left over from last week's wedding. / 2. Boiler troubles. / 3. Still haven't found that new cleaning staff member so I'm doing all the rooms myself...! / 4. Going into town = excuse to use my new clutch. / 5. The grocery store. / 6. Tried the new Mama's Boy Burgers in Tannersville and it's DELICIOUS. An insane amount of soft serve flavors as well. Like forty. / 7. Picked up beef for the Inn's BBQs at JJF Farms over the mountain. / 8. Cleaned some more but made sure to poke my head out at the sunset. / 9. Had a go at my studio which had been a bit of a pit lately. Good to have that sanctuary back.

Someone Got An Upgrade...!

And yup. That someone is ME!

Welcome to my new site. Same content from back in the day plus some new navigation. And bigger photos! Because errrrbody likes bigger photos. Especially of dogs.

And, like every writer, I'm gonna promise to write more. Once I decided I was going to upgrade my site I all but neglected it. I'm sorry! Ever done that with a room? Where you're like, "I'm going to give this a really good clean soon," and so in the mean time you let it become a total mess? That was me. With this site. And with my office now that I think about...

Anyway, welcome again! And please forgive any formatting errors from earlier blog posts. Stuff inevitably gets a little wonky in the transfer...

I Love Lamp: Some Rooms Are Nearly "Done"

I put "done" in quotes because let's get real; nothing in a house is ever "done". At least no house of mine. I mean, just the other day I was laying in bed thinking, "Hmmm, it might be time to update this room."

And then I had the much more sensible thought of: "HOLY HELL CASEY YOU JUST DID THIS ROOM FIVE MONTHS AGO. Relax. You're in bed for fuck's sake."

And so, on that note, here are some rather relaxed photos from two rooms that are nearly "done", aka rooms that we've made some good progress on, for which I still have a few plans up my sleeve.

Let's start with the bathroom which I got partially through only the realize, "Ugh, this white ain't right."

Then Steven went to one of our local hardware stores and one of the employees kept insisting he get Direct To Metal paint. Probably because Steven said he wanted the glossiest paint they had. Needless to say it was blotchy and drippy and weird, so Steven unfortunately got a taste of the same "this white ain't right" medicine I had.

Not one to wait around, he got a new batch of regular old house paint the next day in a pure white and ta-daaaah!

Phew! I'm gonna do some more futzing around with the toiletries/TP set up, get some clear plastic soap dispensers and such for about $20 total just for a streamlined face lift, probably switch out the basket, but we're close. And the most annoying part is done!

The other room I wanna show you is Steven's former studio, where I now have a PIANO! All caps because I am still SO FREAKING EXCITED that I have a piano.

I'm realizing now that the only real change here from the last pic is that we keep bringing over more pillows from other parts of the house to use in the window seat.

As an East facing room, it's turning out to be our new morning coffee spot since it floods with sunshine. (The sun is setting on the other side of the house in these pics so you'll just have to trust me that it's glooooorious.)

I've also still got my eyes peeled for a big fat oriental carpet. My mom said she actually might have the perfect sized one which she was about to put in storage, so fingers crossed that one works out! (My mom's an interior designer with impeccable taste. Pretty much anything sophisticated and/or cool I own is from her. No joke.)

AND today we went to a nearby nursery to get those herbs for the garden that I was talking about earlier this week.

According to the dude who helped us there, it's still a little too chilly to put 'em in the ground, so for the next week or so they will be our kitchen companions. Rosemary, sage, lemon thyme, lavender, parsley, and fennel. We'll go back to the nursery towards the end of the month to pick other greens goodies like kale, chard, and basil once they come out of their greenhouse.

The things I didn't know a lick about until we moved here!

Gardening, generators, and basic plumbing to name a few. Septic systems, circular saws, and how to build tables to name some more. How to electronically file sales tax. How to hire and fire someone. How to fly fish!

Did I mention we went fly fishing last week with local legend Judd Weisberg?

Did I mention I'm really happy we live out here? And that I'm still shocked every damn day by how much I love it?

This is kind of an intense idea to just tack on to the end of a "la di da I love furniture" post, and I'd like to go into more detail about this soon, but essentially I'm starting to realize that moving from the city to the country is kind of scratching that same itch that I used to think could only be scratched by international travel. Which makes me excited because it puts every other "I can only be happy if I [blank]" into question. Which frankly, re-opens the whole damn world.

Like I said-- more on that later. For now, I've some play off hockey to watch! (Seriously. It's Rangers vs. Caps.)

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)


I Love Lamp: The Garden Grows

We inherited a big, beautiful garden from the previous owners. Here's a pic of what it looked like the very first day we visited the property:

By the time we actually moved in in December though, it was mostly a rock garden, haha:

And that winter, like this one, was pretty fucking rough weather-wise, so the whole thing took a bit of a beating. The white picket fence especially. So that April, almost exactly a year ago, a handful of friends came up for a work weekend and one of our nine hundred tasks included removing the broken fence and weeding like crazy to make room for the spring growth.

That day we decided that while we loved all of the slate stone garden beds, there wasn't actually anywhere within the garden to hang out. So we removed (and replanted elsewhere) the stuff from the central bed to make room for just that.

We didn't get to it that day, but maybe a week or two later, Steven and I had an Andy Goldsworthy moment and took all the stacked stones from that central bed and laid them flat:

Then brought over a picnic table and voila! Here's our buddy Kate enjoying it a few months later:

As you can see, we left the white posts in from the fence that had been dug in deeply. We figured that we'd see how the first summer went with deer etc to decide what kind of fence we'd need the next year. I forgot about them pretty much all season because the flowers and bushes grow up around them so huge. Here's a pic from one of my days off during the summer which I spent reading (and drinking) in the garden, with guests coming to and fro and never spotting me. Perfection.

After our first summer of use we decided two things:

1. We love plants that basically take care of themselves. The fancy way of saying that might sound more like, "We're re-wilding most of our property and focusing on native species". Which is true. But so is this version of that sentence: "These thumbs ain't so green and we'd rather spend our free time doing other things." So this year, we're planting some pretty low maintenance stuff like rosemary, mint, basil, chard... Stuff we (and hotel guests) can use in cooking, stuff that basically takes care of itself.

2. We want a discrete fence that will keep Waldo in. Because it turns out, deer and rabbits and such weren't so much of a problem (especially because we're not actually growing too many edible things) and it's much more relaxing to simply close a fence door than have to keep an eye out for the pooch to make sure he hasn't wandered off to explore what guests are grilling for dinner that night.

Until quite literally three days ago it was way too cold to even consider addressing #1, so we started with #2. The first step of which was to paint the white posts grey so they would simply disappear.

And I love it already! It looks so good, and took Steven all of an hour at most. Frankly, I don't know why we didn't think to at least do this part last year, but oh well.

Next up is installing black deer fencing. This will require some more digging (which again, we couldn't even consider doing until the ground thawed, which out here is RIDICULOUSLY late in the year) and stapling and such, but once we're done, that should also mostly disappear in the flowers and bushes as they grow up. And then we'll have a wonderful garden sanctuary to enjoy all summer!

We're still waiting for the delivery of those materials, but I'll post some pics as soon as we're done. Til then, I hope you're all enjoying this burst of spring! I sure as hell am.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

This + That: Mon, April 27

1. Set up coffee for guests then did some trouble shooting for a malfunctioning heating unit. / 2. Cleaned a room as quickly as possible so I could move the guest from that room to one where they'll be warm. / 3. Disposed of a dead bird that came to its ultimate rest right outside of Room Ten's window. / 4. Put on bright lipstick to distract everyone from my dirty hair. (After a busy weekend I prioritized sleep over showering.) / 5. Propane delivery. / 6. Hired a new full time cleaning staff member! HOORAY! Oh my GOD hooray. / 7. Dog run. / 8. Calculating distances and whatnot for a split rail fence for the bar patio. / 9. Setting up for happy hour. / 10. Kept the bar open an hour and half later than usual because I couldn't stop talking art/family/life/EVERYTHING with two of our Resident Artists. I feel so happily fueled by interactions like this. / 11. Chef Steven, who is way too tall for this kitchen island but kicks kitchen ass anyway.

(What is “This + That”This is “This + That”.)

I Love Lamp: New Studio For Steven And....

Last Sunday, our neighbor Robert came by and picked up the mattress from our guest room for his new cottage.

We'd offered it to him because we'd realized that we didn't really feel the need to have a dedicated guest bedroom in the house considering we've got nine of 'em in our backyard:

(No, it's not that green yet-- that's a pic from last summer!)

So what to do with the room instead? We talked about moving the TV up there, hanging some hammock chairs... but nothing seemed to excite us as much as when Steven suggested, "What if I move my studio up there?"

It turns out, as much as he loved having a huge space and a mountain view, it was also a very public space with a distracting view. Our front door leads directly into that room and the stairs are open and right there too. And while you can see the mountains, you can also see where guests park so it's a lot of coming and going.

We tried to solve the privacy problem by rearranging his desks, moving shelves around to create a kind of faux-wall right when you walk in, and more, but nothing ever fully worked.

It looked significantly better when we gave the shelves a few coats of glossy black back in January, but it still wasn't functioning that much better which let's face it, is rather important in a work space.

One of the many things I like about Steven is that when he has a good idea, he acts on it immediately. So yes, we moved his studio that very night!

We had a momentary challenge when realized we'd have to dismantle his desk to get it through the door--

But then we kept going strong! Brought all the book downstairs and made a total mess...

And brought up some of Steven's stuff to his new space. I say "some of" because he decided to bring up only what he uses every day.

I forget where, but last year I read about a family who moved to a new apartment very near their old one (I think it was a duplex and they moved to the upstairs unit...?) and rather than moving all of their things at once, they went to their old place to get their things only when they actually needed them. In this way, after a month or so, it became really clear what they could live without and give away.

Anyway! Steven's new space is nicely streamlined like that. And he loves it! Here's what it's looking like after just a few days of use:

I'm so happy that he's enjoying it so much already!

So what did we do with the huge room downstairs? Well first, we put all those shelves to use and arranged our books:

Next we moved our dining room table in for a belated Seder with friends:

Then we moved it back and I drove to Albany and BOUGHT A BABY GRAND PIANO!

I know, that probably sounds borderline insane and random, but I've been dreaming of getting a piano of my own since, well... since I moved out of my parents' place at eighteen! And it never made sense til now. I kept moving, I lived in apartments, and now, here we are in a big ol' house without plans to move any time too soon so voila! And oh my god, it's only been here a few hours but already it makes me SO. DAMN. HAPPY.

I pulled out all my old sheet music and played through years of pieces. I played my favorite piano piece in the world first, Debussy's Dr Gradus ad Parnassum, and I literally cried.

I'd been looking pretty seriously for the past few months, but it all came together the morning after we'd moved Steven's studio I pulled up Craiglist again and there it was: a baby grand built in 1935, lovingly played by a lifelong musician since the 50's, in great condition, an hour and a half away, and within my budget...! It had to be viewed that day and picked up no later than the next. So when I finished doing coffee for guests I drove straight to Albany, played it for thirty seconds and surprised the hell out of the guy when I turned around on the bench and said immediately, "I'll take it." I hired VIP Piano Movers to pick it up and just like that, it's now mine!

I have to wait about two weeks to tune it-- let it adjust to the temperature and humidity etc of the house.

But it's in tune enough to play around on for now!

I'd love to get a big beautiful rug for the room... the sound is a little bouncy with all the wood, and come on, it would look amaaaaazing.

For now, rug or not, I'm more than happy to simply play an play and play as Steven works away upstairs...

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

This + That: Sun, April 5

1. Cookies for breakfast. (Hey, the've got oatmeal in them.) / 2. The snow melted. Then it snowed again last night. Sigh. / 3. Coffee at the Front Desk all morning. Checking folks out or sending them on more adventures. I closed that bar at 2am last night so I'm a liiiiiiitle sleepy. / 4. Steven and Waldo swing by to say hi. / 5. Housekeeping is a no-show so I spend most of the afternoon cleaning rooms. / 6. Still snowing. But at least it's melting! / 7. Sneak over to Steven's studio to read the latest version of a manuscript he's working on. / 8. Our neighbor brought us tulips for our anniversary the other day. (So sweet!) Next to our books on fly fishing it's like a little shrine to spring. / 9. Turn on the exterior lights and lock up the bar at 7pm after a visit with someone who wants to get married here and a few drinks with guests before they head off to dinner. / 10. Computer closed! Time to read more of Peter Heller's "The Painter" and watch Jeremy Wade's "River Monsters"! Yup. Got some serious fishing on the mind apparently.

(What is “This + That”This is “This + That”.)

I Love Lamp: Bathroom Upgrade Begins

The last room upstairs that I want to do a little DIY changing to is the bathroom. Nothing major-- just a paint job, maybe some new fixtures. A minor face lift that matches our style. Here's what it's been looking like for a while now, minus a few towel racks and TP holder which we removed before I took these photos:

Not terrible. Just a little cluttered and little beige. And more than a little odd that the shower curtain has to be so low because of the angle of the roof. One day I'd like to make that a standing shower with a door but that's "one day", aka not now.

So for now it's a fresh coat of white paint (surprise!) and some decluttering.

First coat went on and things look decidedly brighter. Naturally it was a total pain to paint around the fixtures but I just didn't feel quite up to removing anything that large.

While that was drying I hung a wire rack in the closet just outside the bathroom (where we store our "adventure" gear, aka tents and rock climbing gear etc):

Wow! That might be THE most fascinating photo I've ever posted, here! Hahah! Oh man. Anyway.

Next I put up the second coat and...

It was too blue. I accidentally bought the "high hiding" version of the white that I'd used in the rest of the house and it just ain't right. This photo maybe doesn't do it justice but it makes the sink, toilet and tub look like a dirty cream and it makes the brown tiles of the shower look super dark. I was a little miffed, and lied to myself for an evening pretending that I was fine with it. Watched the sun set from the bathroom window--

And decided to go back to the hardware store next week. If I'm gonna do this I'd like to do it right. Besides, it gives me some more time to find a medicine cabinet and/or mirror which will all give the room a bit more punch while solving the clutter problem.

Not a big deal, just a teeny bit annoying. But I'm willing to be patient about it because I've realized: this and my closet are the lights at the end of the upstairs tunnel, you know? Or as Steven asked me the other day, laughing, "What are you gonna do when you're done painting things?"

I don't want the answer to be "repaint things", so I'm gonna do it right!

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Hotel Movies

Unsurprisingly, I'm a bit of a sucker for movies that take place at hotels. When Hotel Transylvania came out, I went to an 11am Tuesday showing, alone, on my day off (I was working at NU Hotel at the time) and I'm only slightly ashamed to say I quite literally laughed and cried.

And my heart went out to pour Dracula as he was trying to greet his arrivals and get folks happily checked in when in comes this human dresses as a zombie who is about to eff up his entire operation! Seriously. I was totally admiring Dracula's customer service.

When Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel was released we'd already moved out here where the nearest theater is about an hour away so I had to wait to rent it, and when that Netflix DVD appeared in our mailbox I probably squealed aloud.

I know it's no longer cool to like Wes Anderson but I don't care. That film was beautiful and funny and odd and totally fucking delightful.

I was also deeply impressed with Ralph Fienne's character's concierge abilities. I mean, he's dealing with Nazis for godsake! And the way he brings Zero Moustafa (Tony Revelori) up the ranks from Lobby Boy is just damn good management. (Plus, you know I think Tilda Swinton can do no wrong, so.)

And of course, one of the ultimate hotel movies--

No! Not The Shining! Yes I saw it, but I'm refusing to put it in this happy little round up of mine because it's terrifying. And yes, loads of people ask me if I've seen it, if it was filmed in the Catskills... Which it wasn't by the way. West Coast. Very far away. Anyway!

Lost In Translation! Which I suppose you could say is almost more of a love letter to Japan as opposed to hotels, but still. The hotel is very much a part of the film and how the characters interact with each other.

I think the last time I saw it was on a bus ride in Colombia. Because why else would we have dressed up Steven as Bill Murray in the poster at that random hotel in Colombia?

I'm realizing right now that's a lot of leg.

Onto the next film! I'd walked by the copy of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in our movie rental store back in Brooklyn many times, never quite able to convince Steven to watch it with me. Then one night he went out to the bars with some dude friends and I stayed in and watched it and... cried my eyes out.

And oh my GOD in Googling this movie poster I just realized there is in fact a SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL playing in theaters RIGHT NOW! How did I miss this??

But back to the first one-- I remember my heart going out to Sonny as he was racing to meet all the various needs of his elderly guests and sometimes failing rather spectacularly.

I also remember admiring the perfectly charming patina of the supposedly run down hotel then having to remind myself that that's a movie set.

I've been to run down hotels in India and there is nothing charming about them. Although I just took a quick peek at photos from my last trip there and while the whole thing left me feeling totally wrung out, from this distance, I can now safely admire the experience of say, taking a sunrise boat down the Ganges in Varanasi.

So those are some of my favorite hotel themed films. I'm sure there's more, but I should probably get back to running my own hotel, eh?

This + That: Tue, March 17th

1. Can finally see our stairs again after the big melt. / 2. Dropped a friend off for the bus in Phoenicia. / 3. Got a latte while waiting for a prescription to be filled and overheard lots of weather talk. / 4. Pooping dog juuuust out of the frame. / 5. Decided to listen to the entire "Idler Wheel" Fiona Apple album while doing nothing else but laying on the floor-- wanted to treat her lyrics like reading a book. This might have to be a new thing I enjoyed it so much. / 6. Leftover cornbread for lunch. / 7. Had some trouble getting the wood stove going. Always makes me feel incompetent. / 8. Warmer weather = cluster flies. / 9. Getting my snob on aka practicing French by reading Camus. / 10. Was interrupted by a flash in the window-- part of a box that covers some exterior pipes flew off. Struggled to get that back on in the terrible wind. / 11. So THAT's where the swing went. / 12. Took Waldo in the pine trees after swinging by the front desk to chat with our assistant Colleen. / 13. Happy hour.

(What is "This + That"? This is "This + That".)

I Love Lamp: A Dreamy Closet Begins

I am a lucky girl for a bajillion reasons. Including the fact that I have an entire ROOM for a closet...! The previous owners have 5 kids, so all of the upstairs rooms used to be bedrooms. And they had to get creative with space, hence loft beds with storage built in like our former "crazy" room I just had a go at--

But Steven and I don't have 5 children quite yet, so we've got guest rooms and closet rooms, haha!

And while I loved how much space my closet room had, it wasn't actually as efficient as I wanted it to be and had some unfinished bits that needed some loving. Here's what it was looking like pretty much since we moved in:

What I really wanted, was to get that dang loft out. It was bulky and those storage shelves went really far back but were basically unaccessible past a first row of clothing.

Enter, Steven and his tool box. (Yes, I could have used the tools too but Steven was pretty amped for some demo!)

Some parts were screwed in, like the top and some of the front boards, which was great because all we had to do was unscrew 'em and pop 'em off.

Unfortunately, some parts were nailed together. Which mean we just had to get kind of aggressive. And for that, Steven brought out his maul:

Meanwhile, I was filling the former "crazy room" room I'd JUST emptied with every single piece of clothing I own SIGH.

Steven kept at it while Waldo and I mostly got in the way.

Although then again I don't know. Because below is the exact moment he said, "This is totally a two person, one dog job."

And then TADA!

SO. MUCH. FREAKING. WOOD. It took approximately three thousand trips up and down our steep stairs to get it all out of there.

At this point we decided to quit when we were ahead and call it a day. Order some Chinese food. Oh wait, there's no take out here. So we made some instead.

The next morning I rolled out of bed and grabbed a paint brush. White, white, white, shiny and bright on the ceiling, the trim, and the walls. I only took one progress shot:

Then it was time to have a go at the floors that had taken an uneven beating over the years. The other week I did the living room floor with olive oil, white vinegar, and warm water and it looked amaaaaaazing so I did the same thing here.

Yes, the place smells a bit like a salad for a few hours but it's totally worth it!

Next up was bringing all my clothes back into this room. But in order to do that right, I needed to make a plan. Shelves? Racks? Armoires? I thiiiiink I've decided on a combination of one long rack on the right wall, a series of shoe shelves on the left, and a whole bunch of shelves in the actual closet which will have a door.

So I started bringing clothes back in, piece by piece, asking myself each time: Do I wear this? Do I love this?

I had to add the second question because here the usual "Have you worn it in the past 6 months?" strategy doesn't work because there aren't quiiiite as many opportunities in the country for, say, silk dresses as there are in the city. But does that mean I should toss them? NO EFFING WAY.

Still, I managed to eliminate an entire contractor's bag worth of clothes and oh my gosh does it feel goooooood.

So we're getting there. Bit by bit, day by day.

Hopefully I'll be able to show you photos of a finished closet in the next few weeks. And hopefully I'll be able to actually wear some of those dresses pictured above in the next few weeks too! Seems almost reasonable-- I saw my first patches of BARE GROUND today:

And to wrap it up, a little Before and nearly After for you:

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Introducing "This + That"

Along with "So how'd you guys find this place?" and "Have you always wanted to open an inn?", the Number One question I'm asked is: "What do you guys DO out here?"

Depending on the guest and how they imagine they themselves would cope living in the country, the tone can range from curious to accusatory to dreamy...

Overall, most folks who visit us from NYC have a very hard time imagining how we could possibly fill our days without office jobs, restaurants, bars, museums, concerts, and time spent on the subway.

So I figured I'd show you!

"This + That" will be a reoccurring column that shows, in photos, moments throughout a day in the country. Some beautiful, some mundane. I'll do my best to give you a little window into rural life. Sometimes we'll be working, sometimes it'll be one of our days off. You'll see, it's very much the same and yet... totally different.

First up: today!

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11th, 2015.

1. Plants I should water. / 2. A walk down Spruceton Road with the dog. / 3. And up Rusk Mountain Road because it's finally above freezing today. / 4. Forgot to wipe down Waldo's paws and close the door to the bedroom. / 5. Doing some closet organizing and dreaming of summer. / 6. A quick snuggle in front of the wood stove. / 7. Another walk down the road, this time in the opposite direction. / 8. Catching the sunset through the trees. / 9. Collecting our change piles. / 10. Having scotch and grapefruit juice while making cookie dough before dinner. / 11. Washing those muddy sheets. / 12. Watching hockey.


I Love Lamp: Painted Brick

For about two months now, ever since I painted the living room built-in black, I've been meaning to paint the brick chimney behind our wood stove black as well.

Neither Steven nor I were fans of the mismatched browns of the brick, and the globby (and dusty) insulation was driving us a little nutty.

Step 1 was to take an Exacto knife to that. Which of course was totally tedious and when Steven was helping me with the high parts he managed to give himself the hugest, deepest, grossest wood splinter up his nail which I will spare you from. (He's ok now.)

Step 2 was to blue tape the edges. Step 3 to prime.

Somehow the priming took a solid hour. Like, not even a break for lunch included hour. Just an hour of jamming a paint brush in all the bricks' nooks and crannies.

Still, it was pretty satisfying to see it one uniform color!

Walked the dog, answered some emails, let that dry. Step 4 was to get out the glossy black.

It felt really BOLD going up--

But solid, in a good way. And already I was so happy to see the metal chimney of the stove disappearing into the black brick.

Step 5 was originally going to be painting the insulation that was sandwiched between the top row of bricks and the wood beam with a small paint brush which you can kinda see here--

But after giving it a quick go I realized that even if that was all black it would always look a little messy. So Steven nailed up a board that was left over from when we did the finishing trim in the upstairs hallway:

And I painted it black and BAM!

Step 6 was of course to build a fire, have a beer, and call it a DIY day.

What's that? You'd like a side by side Before and After?


(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)