Applications are Open for the Spruceton Inn Artist Residency

As of this morning, applications are officially open for our Inn's Artist Residency program so hop on it!

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Details, including how to apply, can be found on our website here

2017 Artist Resident Ping Zhu made these beautiful paintings when she was here that I think perfectly capture what our 32 previous artists have all described their time as being like:

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Looking forward to your applications!

We're Hiring at the Spruceton Inn

UPDATE: POSITION FILLED! Thank you everyone who applied. 

We're hiring another Assistant Innkeeper at the Inn

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Like I said on Instagram: My baby is still a *little* too young to work the Front Desk and Bar so WE’RE HIRING! Assistant Innkeeper, 30 hrs a week. You’ll be joining me and our other Assistant Hannah (@comeandgoblues) as we do the little bit of everything that it takes to run this place. No hospitality experience required. Ideal start date is ASAP, but if you’re worth waiting for, we’ll wait! Details on our website including how to apply at sprucetoninn.com/jobs

Spruceton Inn Artist Residency Applications Are Open!

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Through the month of September, writers and 2D artists can apply for a week long, no cost stay at the Inn. Residents are announced October 20th and come stay at some point between January and March. 

Last year we had over 300 applications for 8 spots. We can't WAIT to see this year's applications! Check out previous Residents, program details, and how to apply right here

Spruceton Road

Last night I was walking down Spruceton Road at sunset and it got me thinking about the first time we drove it four years ago, unknowingly just moments away from spotting the property that would change our lives. Then I started thinking about how our guests might feel driving down it for the first time on a summer Friday evening, about to embark on their weekends. Both thoughts made me happy.

I'm just so damn glad we're out here.

WE'RE HIRING AT THE INN!

Come live it up with us in the Catskills this summer and fall as our Assistant Innkeeper!

It's part-time (about 22 hrs per week), temporary position during our super fun high season. Duties include checking guests in and out, handling email inquiries, coffee and bar service, and generally being a Catskills concierge to our kick ass guests. 

Email info@sprucetoninn.com for more details if you're interested!

I'll Tell You: Everything Will Get Done Because It Has To

The upstate focused website And North asked me a few questions about what it's like to run my own business in their collection of 5 Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York

I'm often a little stumped at first when folks ask for general business advice. Everyone's path is so different, right? But I do stand by what I ultimately told 'em:

My mantra when opening the inn was "Everything will get done because it has to". I must have told myself that ten times a day because, frankly, there were points when it seemed impossible — this idea that all fifty thousand things you have to do to open your business will get done. And it’s not just the sheer amount of tasks, it’s the variety. There were days when I would spend the morning finalizing our liquor application, the afternoon ordering sample linens, and the evenings designing our website. That’s a lot of different hats. But that’s exactly what I wanted — to have my hand in everything. And you know what? Everything got done because it had to!

It's not the sexiest mantra but truly, it was the lighthouse that got me through some of those rougher, uncertain patches along the way. 

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: Renovating The Barn, Part Two of Many

Well, life took over and we pretty much didn't touch it again until now. In the dead of winter. Because that's a totally ideal time to be doing work in an uninsulated, unheated barn. 

We had some friends up for New Year's Eve and in between walks to the waterfall--

And lighting massive bonfires--

We put them to work building tables! Out of barn wood, OF COURSE. And with some legs from ModernLegs.com just like we did for our coffee table. Then today, Steven and I went in and swept up, rearranged and ta-da!

Why on earth did we decide to do this today? Because we're having a Dungeons & Dragons retreat here this weekend and they're going to use the barn for their Friday night welcome event! I'll snap some pics then too so you can see it in all of its tapestry/string light/electric candle nerding out glory.

We're still planning on doing a real-deal renovation in the spring/summer, but for now it's great to have this space even remotely usable!

We're Hiring at the Spruceton Inn!

Ever fantasized about living in the country and running a little Inn? Well dang, come on up and do it with me! We're hiring for a full-time Assistant Innkeeper here at the Spruceton Inn!

Details about the position and how to apply can be found here.

And for those of you who know and love my current Assistant Innkeeper Megan, you can wish her well as she moves on to wonderful things with Memorial Sloan Kettering! I am SO SAD to see her go, but 100% rooting for her in her next adventure.

UPDATE: Hired! Thank you so much to everyone who applied.

NYE Letter To Yourself

You know how every NYE I write a letter to myself that I open the next NYE? Well I forced it on all my guests this year, mwahahahaha!

Ok, maybe not quite forced it. More like, put some paper and envelopes and such in all of the rooms with a little explanation of the tradition and said that if folks wanted to write themselves one, I'd happily mail it to them next year.

I was super touch by how many people took me up on it!

Happy New Year to all of you out there!

Barn Wood Bar Booth

I love, love, LOVE the barn wood bar that Steven built for the Inn. It's handsome and sturdy and very much suits the surroundings.

I'm just realizing that I never actually made a post on how he built it. Hmm.... Here's the quick photo montage:

And DONE! Haha! Well actually it nearly happened that fast. Design*Sponge confirmed that they were gonna come up and do a feature and we were like, "Cool, there's literally nothing in the rooms right now but that's fine. We'll TOTALLY be able to stage two room types and build a bar in three days".

And while it was kind of insane, we did it.

We kept a lot of the bar the same for the first few months, moving and/or adding things here or there depending on how we'd seen guests use the space.

But as time has gone on, I've found myself feeling not entirely in love with this corner:

The orange chairs and low white stools are in the rooms and I love them there--

But for whatever reason they just weren't doing it for me in the bar. They somehow felt a little... dainty all together.

So one afternoon sitting behind the bar I asked myself, "If you could have anything there, what would it be?" and immediately I was like, "Duh, a big barn wood booth."

So I asked my carpenter-man and he said, "No problem" and spent the next few weeks thinking and planning, solving questions of weight and support and how to do this with as little lumber as possible. I'd wake up to the alarm ringing and roll over to find him open eyed, already talking. "I think I figured out a way we can get the kick space to yada yada carpenter talk early in the morning..."

We've been on a crazy project binge recently, finishing the wood trim in the hallway and "wallpapering" it with old encyclopedia pages and--

I'll do another post on that once it's finished up, but there's a sneak peek for ya.

So basically we've be on such a roll that we figured fuck it, let's keep going! Yesterday (yes, on Christmas Day, after opening presents), Steven turned his studio into a woodshop and built the booth's skeleton out of new lumber:

And luckily today it was sunny for the first time in weeks and all the snow had melted and our guests weren't arriving til the late afternoon so...

We dragged the interior frames into the bar and set up camp in there. And by "we" I mean "he". I mostly ran around with the dog, did some springtime-esque yard work, and wheelbarrowed over lots of wood for our bar's fire pit.

I occasionally bopped in to hold pieces in place, press here, pass me that etc. And to take pictures of course! Of Steven drilling from the underside so you won't be able to see screw heads on the bench seat:

Of the fronts with kick-spaces going on:

Of myself at the bar:

Of Steven head butting his shadow's butt back supports going up:

Of two stacks of planks for the backs of the booth:

And of the finished product!

If the carpenter looks a little more dazed than pleased as hell with his work, that's because he's consumed only half a Cliff bar and a Coke all day. And it's 4:15pm. And he just dragged that stump in to be a temporary table.

But YAY! Isn't he good?! Doesn't it suit the bar so well?!

Here's Before and After right next to each other:

Next up making a low table to set drinks on. And re-hanging the art and maps so they suit the new set up. And finding a new place for the toaster oven in the mornings. And making a pillow or five so guests can get cozy with their Nordic glögg and boyfriend and whatnot.

Woohoo! Thank you Steven! I love it. I love, love, LOVE it.

UPDATE 12/28:

He used the bases of those Ikea stools and made custom wood tops. BAM!

And I moved some pillows and dried wildflowers in here to soften it up. Ba-BAM!

But I didn't use a real camera to photograph it. BAM! I mean, sorry.

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

Happy One Year Anniversary in the Catskills!

A year ago today we packed up our new Subaru and drove north from Brooklyn to move to the Catskills and open an inn. I remember being the kind of nervous where you feel nothing as we signed the surprisingly few papers needed to transfer the property deed.

Despite the piles on the lawyer's desk, it was done in a matter of minutes.

We picked up Italian sandwiches at a local shop, and two shovels from the hardware store since we'd heard it was supposed to snow the next day. Then we drove to our new house, the thrill of this huge change starting to settle in, our grins growing wider with each mile we came closer to our new home.

We met our first neighbor before we could even get the keys in the door-- Gary, who pulled up in his pick-up truck and welcomed us with an oh so friendly mile-a-minute monologue about "the valley" and all the nice people in it. I remember thinking how Moroccan or Malian that felt, to be welcomed like that. How not NYC.

We walked in every room, opened every closet door we'd been too bashful to invade during previous visits. Kept proclaiming things like, "Oh my god we live in a HOUSE! This is our HOUSE!" We even went down into the basement to poke around. Strolled the eight acres of land. Then had a celebratory beer and photo op to capture the moment:

Our moving truck which was supposed to meet us had broken down in Brooklyn and couldn't be repaired until the next day (which actually turned into the day after that) so we set up camp with what we had.

A crate as a dinner table:

Sheets as a bed:

And some Cretian ouzo to cheers the move with since this whole buy-an-inn-upstate idea had been born over a bottle of ouzo on a beach in Crete:

(Oh, Sougia.)

We ended the night with a bonfire:

I wish I could say we slept like babies, but really we slept like grown-ass adults on a floor with only a sheet to pad us, which is to say, uncomfortably and fitfully.

I remember just how dark it seemed outside too. How much it felt like we were in this lit-up fishbowl. How attuned we were to every unfamiliar creek that echoed through the empty house.

But you know what was so much better than our fitful night of sleep? Waking up in our new home. Making coffee and taking our steaming mugs out into the crisp morning, the dew still frozen on the meadow.

And you know what's even better than that? Being able to do that every day since.

We've put a lot of work into this place as a home and a business since moving here. There were times, especially right before we opened, when I almost didn't believe my own mantra of, "Everything will get done because it has to."

But it did! And through that work, over that time, this place became ours. And now, when we drive down the road and we come up to this house, something inside me says home.

And when I look out our window into the meadow, I think home.

And when I open our creaking door to go to work at the Inn in our backyard, I think home.

Not to mention all the people we've met over the past year who've made this whole experience more than the lonely move to the woods it could have been. And all the friends and family who've visited and even put their own sweat into the place. To all of you I say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! People talk a lot about community but I feel like it's something I'm only just beginning to truly understand thanks to this past year.

And to Steven. Cheers. Thank you. I love you. You make everything an adventure!

And thank god you turned out to be handy with a hammer.

Cuz Yea, I'm An Entrepreneur Now

This summer, a young woman by the name of Mia Sakai reached out to me about starting a company designed to "deconstruct the mystery of building a business from the ground up, one story at a time", POLYNATE. She wanted to interview me, could she stop by some time? Having benefitted myself from kind strangers responding to my 'cold' emails, I was more than happy to oblige, though I have to confess there was a part of me that thought:

"Wait, me? Don't you want business owners? Oh. Right. That IS me now."

And so, on a day so hot and bright her iPad suffered a heat malfunction while recording, we sat down and talked business.

You can read the interview in its entirety here. She asked me really thoughtful and practical questions, and it turns out I had an awful lot to say about how I got here. (Said everyone about themselves ever, I know, haha!)

And while it was kinda surreal to be interviewed as a business owner for the first time, it was even MORE surreal to see my answers all laid out on her beautiful website.

And I honestly got a little dizzy when I realized this was not just a pretty graphic of hotel-esque images but rather, an actual timeline of my LIFE leading up to opening:

I often describe my year at NU Hotel during which I was a Front Desk Agent/ bar tender/ bell hop/ anything-they-effing-needed as a "montage"-- the working-my-way-up montage that I unfortunately had to live in real time with no peppy movie soundtrack at near minimum wage. But here it was! The actual montage! All finally behind me.

Yea, it's still weird. I mean, we've only been open a few days shy of three months. And we haven't even lived up here for a whole year yet. I still say things like, "We just opened". But now comes the rest of it. The running of the business not just planning for it, the continued growth. The numbers that aren't just projections but actual data from actual occupancy reports and such. The payroll taxes and re-ordering of bulk soap, the catching up on laundry, the changing menus and decisions about what types of advertising are working.

I'm happy to report I FUCKING LOVE IT.

Yes, I get tired sometimes. (Did I mention my Friday shift is fifteen hours long?) And yes, I get annoyed and overwhelmed sometimes. (No I'm sorry, I'm not gonna tell the Internet about those guests right now, haha!) But this, all of this, is what I've been working for. And it's making people happy. So happy! And that just makes me want to cry it makes me so fucking happy.

On the tough days I wonder if this is really enough to give the world. A little hotel in the middle of nowhere? But on the good days I know that this is about memory making, about giving a whole slew of people the respite and inspiration they need to go off and be better people. And that's more than enough to keep me going.