Just wanna give a shout out to Mother Nature because summertime is so dang lovely out here.
I'm giving up my dream closet so our baby can have a bedroom. You hear that baby? THAT'S HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU ALREADY.
We did some reshuffling of our Ikea-barn-wood hacked dressers that had been in that room as well as my office, and now her bedroom is empty, currently awaiting the crib, the changing table, and you know, her.
Since I now have to move all my clothes into our bedroom, we dragged a dresser in there which I was worried would make the whole thing feel crowded, but I think it actually works just fine.
We've got a nicer seagrass hamper on the way, and Steven and I will split the hanging space in the actual closet. Fingers crossed everything will fit. I did wind up doing a pretty big clothing purge as I've grown out of things while growing this baby, asking myself along the way "Hmm, will I actually want to wear this again once I can fit back into it?" I'm sure it helps too that in the three plus years we've been here I finally have a much better handle on what I actually do and don't wear. (Hello ten thousand sweaters, good-bye anything that needs to be dry cleaned.)
I'll post some pics of the nursery once we've got some stuff in there. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of Waldo as he patiently awaits the stork's delivery.
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 email@example.com for more details if you're interested!
Tuesday, June 6th 2017.
Morning coffee service. I am SO INTO the second shelf we put up last week, not to mention the new kegerator we got to fill with West Kill Brewing beer. Now, if only I could drink the beer...
I am less into the whole it's 49 degrees and rainy in June thing, but what can ya do. I hear it's good for the flowers.
Got some routine blood work done. (Pregnancy = 9,000 doctor visits.) Saw a college friend on TV in the waiting room! On Cops! No, I'm kidding. Michael is a surely upstanding citizen who works for the Late Late Show and was in a publicity bit for it. Still, kinda exciting in an otherwise hellaciously unexciting place.
Words of #inspiration as your blood is drawn. I wish this photo did justice to how blurry they all were. Blurry display photos unnerve me almost as much as random apostrophes do.
Continued the fun fest by heading to Kingston to buy a few more towels. STOP MURDERING MY TOWELS PEOPLE. I mean fine, you're on vacation, do whatever you want.
A walk in the woods.
Afternoon bar service for the overnight guests.
One room wanted to go out for dinner. On a Tuesday! BAHAHAHAHAH! I'm laughing because absolutely nothing is open on Tuesday out here except for Brio's where they commit all kinds of apostrophe crimes across their menu. Calzone's anyone?
It might feel wintry, but at least it's light past 8pm these days.
Had my folks over for dinner since they've been renting a cabin down the road. Steven roasted up some trout he'd caught with my dad-- the first of the season that we've eaten! My mom was fucking horrified we presented it with the head on. Ooops! Sorry Mom.
Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm by Sarah Menkedick
A good line or two:
[On being pregnant and living in a cabin with her husband in rural Ohio after years of international adventure.]
"I've descended from some imagined terrain of exceptional into which I've always placed myself, always sought to be placed, and become ordinary. And then I see that I have been ordinary all along. How, I ask myself, can the most common of all human experiences be so overwhelming? How can it be so transformative and yet banal, so widespread and so unique? I've always associated the transformative, the unique, with being jarred out of commonness, out of familiarity. With being out: exterior. But now... I range no farther than the centimeter thickness of the notebook and find transformation." p 60
Got me thinking about:
Well, fucking EVERYTHING. Because of course this is kind of my life right now. Being pregnant out in the countryside, content and present in a way that would be unrecognizable to my Thai tuk-tuk riding, Timbuktu-dwelling, twenty-something self. I underlined quite a bit of this book, felt personally seen and also imbued with empathy for others who are different from me in that way that only good books can do.
Where Menkedick feels a gravitational pull home to Ohio after years abroad in China and Mexico and other far flung locales, neither Steven nor I are returned home by moving to the Catskills. (I'm from Brooklyn, he's from the suburbs of D.C.) We did not come here to live a bucolic dream of farm and family and simple pleasures. We came here led by my desperately hungry professional ambition to open a boutique hotel. We came here so we could literally sell that dream to others for $199 a night and in the process we, accidentally, oh so obviously, found it for ourselves. Menkedick spends a lot of good paragraphs wondering if this contented stillness she experiences in the American countryside is a narrowing of her life, if this is an artistic and moral failure, if this is settling for less, giving up. I've asked myself the same things. But with less and less frequency. Where the physical and emotional experience of pregnancy is a major catalyst for this change for her, my pregnancy finds me having already drastically changed from the person who, like Menkedick once "associated the transformative, the unique, with being jarred out of commonness, out of familiarity" and now finds it everywhere, especially nearby. I can only assume motherhood will change me further. How exactly I of course don't know yet. But I'm no longer so surprised by the prospect of change.
Outside in gloriously warm weather, my feet propped up in a laughably pregnant-woman pose. Pen in hand.
*Btw, thank you to reader Anna who emailed me to recommend this book!*
Thursday, May 11th, 2017.
1. A guest who works in publishing sent us a box of books including this one: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro. Paired it with today's NY Times article on open marriages this morning which made for an obviously odd juxtaposition. / 2. Was never a breakfast person before this, but pregnancy has finally converted me. / 3. So grateful there are all these trails right in our backyard. I think back on how little time we spent in nature when living in Brooklyn, and frankly, how little I cared; I was plenty happy living in our concrete jungle. Now? Total nature convert! Yes I know, I'M INCREDIBLY LATE TO THE GAME. / 4. Finished Hourglass. Wrote for a bit. Same box of books included The Sun in Your Eyes by Danielle Shapiro which I began under the mistaken impression it was one of Dani Shapiro's novels. Saw the photograph on the back and was like whaaat? Ooops. Still enjoying it. / 5. Walked away from the toaster when this bread was in there. Came back and it was sitting on the counter just like this, apparently having flown out when it was done, old school Eggo commercial style, ya know? / 6. More Waldo walking with Steven. I love this canopy of maples. / 7. And blue skies. / 8. Splurged on a new Turkish linen robe that arrived today. I WANT TO WEAR IT FOREVER. Also, trimmed my bangs. / 9. Read some more. Wrote some more. (Can you guess my favorite thing to do on my days off??) Turned my chair so I could a) put my feet up on the day bed and b) sneak peeks at our kitchen that I'm still totally in love with. / 10. Watched the NBC nightly news before dinner. Wtf Trump? Wtf.
I like when Pinterest picks out my own hotel as inspiration for me. RIGHT ON PINTEREST. Right on.
Got our final inspection this morning so we are officially DONE with our kitchen renovation!
Wanna see some Before + After?
No? Oh. You've clearly come to the wrong website. Wait, you said yes? Ok great! Here you are!
Facing south, right when you walk in:
Kinda wild, right? We are so, SO happy with how it turned out. Big, bright, uncluttered. Lots of wood.
And oh my gosh THE BATHROOM. We have a second bathroom! And on the first floor no less! Here's the before. I'm warning you, it's scary as f*ck.
So scary my camera couldn't even focus! The room was walled off so we couldn't access it and yes, that tube going into the toilet was where the washing machine waste water went... I know, I know, it was such hellish little hovel but check it out now!
Previously, the only mirror we had in the house was a small circular one in the upstairs bathroom. This mirrored medicine cabinet is huuuuge which means I can actually see how huge I'm getting!
Aaaand because I got snap happy, here are few other views of the kitchen for ya!
We still have some last teeny tiny things to take care of-- mostly just deciding what goes in what cabinet. There's currently more out on that back L counter than there will be longterm once we figure all that out, and there's still some tape residue on the floor that's gotta be fully removed but really, that's all no biggie.
All in all, I think my favorite part (aside from the fact that everything actually works!) is just how open it feels without the drop ceiling. Sometimes I can't even believe it's the same space.
Lessons learned? Things I'm glad we did? Advice?
- Stand in the space when you make decisions! Especially when it comes to layout. Walk from where your fridge will be to your island-- is that too far? Walk into the room-- where does your hand automatically go when reaching for the light switch?
- Order what you can as early as you can. So much time can be lost on a project if you're waiting for materials to arrive! Think sinks, toilets, sconces, faucets etc.
- Spend your money on the big/longterm stuff like proper insulation and good appliances. And if you can time it such that you get your appliances during say, Black Friday sales like we did, all the better! You can always push out your delivery date up to two months if you aren't starting your reno for a while.
- You can dress up inexpensive items and make them feel just that little bit classier. Ex: put Anthropologie knobs on Home Depot cabinets.
- Certain things are relatively straight forward to change down the line, like wall color or counter tops. Other things you're pretty much stuck with forever, like floor materials or appliance placement. So make sure you're really certain about those not-so-changeable elements.
- Stay true to the spirit of your original vision, but don't drive yourself crazy being a stickler. There are going to be things you want that are simply out of your budget (like marble counter tops *sigh*) or things that aren't in your original plan but wind up being way cooler (like a repurposed barn door island instead of a custom cabinet island). It's allllll part of that renovation journey.
- Hire a team you trust. I can't tell you how many times we were faced with a decision and said, "Well, we think we want to do X but have also considered Y, what do you think?" Sometimes it's just a matter of style and is totally up to you, sometimes it's a matter of better functionality in which case it's really good to have a contractor whose expertise and experience you trust.
- And LIE TO YOURSELF ABOUT HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE. Otherwise you'll never do it.
Special thanks to all those friends who had us over for dinner throughout the process, to all those friends who listened to our inevitable renovation gripes, and to my mom for her expert professional advice along the way! And to of course the crew for doing such a kick ass job.
For those of you who are curious, below is a list of where we got our goods.
Kitchen: Home Depot unfinished oak cabinets finished in an oil based poly by the team, Lowe's butcher block countertops, Anthropoligie knobs, CB2 wall sconces, Ikea chandelier, Winsome Wood stools via Amazon, Thor stove, Whirlpool dishwasher, Whirlpool fridge, Home Depot stainless steel sink, Signature Hardware spray faucet. Floors are partially sanded and polished cement, ceiling beams and floating shelves are Douglas Fir, island is custom made from our old barn door.
Bathroom: Signature Hardware sink, Grohe faucet, CB2 sconce, Kohler toilet via Home Depot, Kohler medicine cabinet via Amazon.
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.
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!
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!
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!
We've got a longterm guest coming to the Spruceton Inn this August!
I mean, as thrilled as I am that the knobs went on the kitchen cabinets this morning, I've gotta say I'm significantly more excited about adding this person to our family!
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.
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!
Every day, just a little bit closer!
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!
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!
We'll see which brave souls actually get out of bed for coffee service tomorrow morning...