Santorini to West Kill

I came across these gorgeous photos of Santorini (Greece) in Cereal Mag today, shot by Kate Holstein.

I've been thinking about Greece a lot this week because that's where Steven and I took a honeymoon-esque trip last summer and Wednesday was our 1 year anniversary. (!)

And while we didn't take any photos quite as stunning as the ones above, I believe this poolside one from Santorini is pretty epic, no?

AHAHAH! It still cracks me up.

We eloped down at Brooklyn City Hall then came up here to the Catskills for a quick honeymoon, because like I said back then, it would have seemed weird to just go back to the apartment and what, answer some emails? Rent a movie?

And this Wednesday we celebrated in the Catskills again, but this time as residents and future business owners and we just kept marveling about how if you had told us on our way out of City Hall what our lives would look like together a year from then (the big move! the house! the dog! the business!) we would have laughed.

A big hearty "I can't wait to do that!" laugh of course.

Here's to more ADVENTURE!

 

Fly Fishing in the Catskills

This photo on Man Repeller caught my eye today because--

It's the first day of FISHING SEASON!

(File that one under "Things I Did Not Know/Care About Back in Brooklyn".)

Last summer, when we were looking for inn locations around here, my dad took Steven fly fishing out in Roscoe.

They caught all KINDS of things, and ever since then he's been, well, hooked.

This year, Steven is stoked to have his own gear and, more importantly, his very own 'crik' to fish in: the West Kill.

This morning it was loud and frothing from the melting snow. It's supposed to be in the 50s this week so it should swell quite a bit in the next few days.

For all your fisher(wo)men out there, fly fishing legend Art Flick used to live here on the West Kill. In fact, he ran a hotel at the other end of the valley where Route 42 meets Spruceton Road.

The building, unfortunately, no longer exists. I've heard a mix of stories as to why but most of them involve a fire. Either way, Art Flick's fly fishing legend lives on in his famous book:

P.S. We watched "A River Runs Through It" last night to get stoked for the opening of the season and OH MY GOD Brad Pitt is good looking it was so boring.

I Love Lamp: Barnwood Benches

Yesterday afternoon Steven and I were feeling a little trapped and listless. It's been cold, cold, cold for months, months, months and while there's still lots to be done for the Inn and one can always work on a new book idea, we both found ourselves in a bit of a "hurry up and wait" place. We've learned that when our to-do lists have become too amorphous and intangible, it's good to get our hands dirty. Literally. So as the contractors packed up their gear for the day, we decided to take ours out and into the barn to MAKE something.

A few weeks ago Steven made a bench out of some old barnwood and 2x4s for our entranceway:

I've been trying to settle upon a design for benches in the Inn's rooms, and while I love this one, the top is one of a kind so we had to come up with something else.

When it comes to making stuff for the rooms-- for the house even-- the name of the game is "What can we cannibalize from our house/barn/yard?" aka "What's FREE?" We've made shelves out of barnwood and L brackets from the old laundry room for our bar--

We built our dining room table from barnwood and 2x4's--

Hell, we even dragged the barn door into the kitchen!

After sketching out different models involving all sorts of cuts and supports we decided upon something laughably simple: barn wood + two stumps + 4 screws. And presto!

The actual construction took maybe ten minutes, but sitting by our fire with our feet propped up on it and some beers in our hands, we felt like it was the real pride of the day's work.

Vintage Catskills Postcards

I'm a sucker for old photos and postcards and such. So you can imagine my delight this morning as I spent hours flipping through the collection of one of my neighbors, Betty. She was kind enough to let me scan a whole slew of them as she treated me to stories.

Betty was born and raised here and has memories of this area when it was all horse and buggy and chock full of boarding houses. Btw, how adorable is her dad?

She even had a postcard of our place from back in the day!

It makes me so happy to see pictures of folks enjoying the place. I can't WAIT to fill it up with people again!

Til then, hello from--

 

The Personality-Driven Inn

One of the very first hospitality/style websites I started following religiously was DesignTripper, which in the words of founder Megan McEwan "explores the intersection of travel and design with genuine curiosity and good taste". (In fact, it was the subject of one of my very first blog posts on this site. )

Her most recent post caught my eye. In it she talks about her article for Condé Nast Traveller in which she explores the growing trend of "personality driven inns".

The personality-driven inn? Call it a trend that has yet to be named, where the clichéd innkeeper is replaced by a savvy curator with a devotion to detail. The inns they run haven’t been designed, decorated, or branded by someone else. Instead, every last thing—from the lavender- scented linens to the signature blend of coffee beans—is designed to let guests experience the innkeeper’s own charmed life. Whether a cluster of medieval cottages in Normandy, a bucolic Irish manor house, or a villa in the hills outside Seville, these three inns have one thing in common: At the helm are owners whose sensibility and passion are at the very heart of the stay.

(Bold emphasis my own.)

Yes! Exactly! That's precisely what the Spruceton Inn is all about.  Welcome to my little corner of the Catskills where yours truly has had a hand in everything from the doorknobs to the dishware to the drink of the day.

Sure, there are days when it can get a little overwhelming to be in charge of LITERALLY EVERYTHING. We need to choose between sprinkler systems? We need to get more mattress quotes? We need another permit from the county?  We need to design the kitchenette shelving? We need a sample menu for the liquor license application? We need to send out another newsletter? We need to hire a photographer?

No, WE don't need to. I need to!

My notebooks and calendars and to-do lists can look like the work of a madwoman.

But I wouldn't trade it for anything. It feels SO DAMN GOOD to use every corner of my brain, and to have had an idea that that is now coming to life in such tangible ways all because I've made it so.

Right about now would be an excellent time to mention that I could never have even pretended to think about doing this without the support of my family and friends. Steven and my parents in particular get a shout out for being the real deal.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. You three can stay for free at my "personality-driven inn" any time.

I Love Lamp: Renovation Progress

What's that you say? It's one of the worst winters on record up here? Oh, that's no problem for our crew because they are BAD ASS.

When they finished their (no heat, no running water) day yesterday, it was like this:

And today they are heartily welcomed with this:

Like I said: BAD ASS.

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

Maybe I WAS Raised In A Barn

When I was little, whenever I did something uncouth, my mom would ask me if I was raised in a barn. Which naturally confused me because I was like, No Mom, you raised me here in Brooklyn, have you lost your mind? Anyway. I keep thinking of that because I spend so much time in our barn now and talking about barns with other people.

I was down at the Town Building in Lexington last week and met our town historian who, among many other fascinating things, told me about how square dancing used to be THE THING out here in the valley. I heard from another neighbor that supposedly our Town Hall's floor is a full foot lower than it was originally built from all the hard dancing that went on there. It's all got me dreaming about the parties this barn is gonna see one day...

Where's Waldo? Here's Waldo!

This will surprise absolutely NOBODY: We moved the country and... adopted a dog! Meet Waldo, our 3 year old hound mix from the local SPCA!

Needless to say WE LOVE HIM. And yes, Steven and I think it's pretty damn hilarious to ask each other "Where's Waldo?" on the regular.

He's cuddly and laid back and doing a good job of learning the drill around here. I've been rather obsessively reading books by Cesar Millan aka the Dog Whisperer and The Monks of New Skete, probably driving Steven a little nuts by starting every other sentence with, "Cesar says" and "The monks say". But I'm very, VERY adamant about Waldo being well trained because he is inevitably going to be a face of Spruceton Inn.

Maybe one day I can even teach him how to check people in. Hounds are good with computers, right?

Anyway. I never, ever identified as a dog person before this. But if this past year has taught me anything it's that people change. Or more precisely, that I change! Though perhaps "change" is  not the right word for it-- it's more like just because you think you're something it doesn't mean you necessarily are.

I mean, I've always thought of myself as a "city person" and here I am. I'm not saying I've turned in my MetroCard forever and ain't looking back, but I will say that I am even happier out here in the country than I ever dared imagine.

It makes you wonder what you'll discover next about yourself.

The Spruceton Inn: A Catskills Bed & Bar

Once upon a time Steven and I bought the old Schwarzenegger's Sunshine Valley House hotel with grand plans to reopen it as The Spruceton Inn: A Catskills Bed & Bar.

By "once upon a time" I mean, this past Monday. Our signed closing papers are somewhere on this lawyer's desk:

It's 8 acres of meadow and woods with a creek (the West Kill), a farm house (where we live), a 10 room motel strip, and a barn.

It's all tucked in to an east-west valley hugged by Hunter Mountain and lots and lots of protected, State owned land. The road, Spruceton Road, dead ends at a trailhead that leads to waterfalls, epic valley views, and other outdoor goodness.

Yes, those are bear prints. Yes, it's just a little different from Brooklyn up here. Steven and I have taken to wandering the property every morning with coffee in hand, making big plans and just marveling at the beauty of the countryside.

I am SO EXCITED about this and cannot WAIT to have every last one of you up! I'll be updating our progress here on the blog (and you'd better believe there will be a lot of I Love Lamp posts along the way). The Inn has its own website as well, SprucetonInn.com, where one day we will be taking reservations.

Now I must be off to prep for the first big snow dump of the year that's on its way!

P.S. Yup, the same Schwarzenegger. Arnold and Karl are cousins. He apparently used to come by, hence the bar being named Conan's Corner. You better believe we aren't changing that name.