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i love everything about this bathroom – it’s a dream.

that is the question, my friends. as you may have seen on ye olde instagram (are you following me yet?), i recently purchased a glass shelf from rejuvenation for my bathroom to add some MUCH NEEDED storage, and starting thinking about where, exactly to hang it. this sparked a whole conversation on instagram about where to hang it–on the tile?! on the wall above the tile?–before i realized i was jumping the gun.

see, i’ve been toying with the idea of wallpapering the bathroom for quite some time. some days, i love that it’s bright white. it’s fresh, it’s clean, on certain summer mornings when the light is juuuust right it practically glitters. but a lot of time, it just feels like it’s missing a certain something.

recently, ahead of my apartment therapy photoshoot, i got my ass in order and hung some art on the back wall. that helped, certainly, to give it a pop of color. but i still feel like something’s missing.

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my bathroom, current state

before you ask: yes, i could paint. of course i could paint. but the whole “tiny painted bathroom” thing feels claustrophobic to me. wallpaper, for some odd reason, does not. on the contrary, my tiny bathroom feels like the perfect place to take a risk. to go a wee bit crazy. to think outside the box.

now, if i lived in a real house with more than one bathroom, i’d keep the “master” simple and go crazy in the powder room. but here in NYC, you’re basically a queen if you get more than one bathroom. so my options are, well, quite limited. it’s either wallpaper the one bathroom i’ve got, or forever hold my peace.

logically, i know that wallpaper (especially something a bit funkier) might be a tough sell if and when i go to list the grand apartment. but let’s be real: i’m single AF, i’m likely not going anywhere ANYTIME soon, so why not make my home MY HOME aka exactly the way i want it to be!? in which case, WALLPAPER IT IS, friends.

i don’t plan on doing this right away (maybe early in the new year?), so i’m taking my time looking at inspiration photos, and sourcing various wallpaper samples to see what strikes my fancy.

here are a few shots i’ve liked so far.

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a bit too english granny for NYC. filing away for my someday country home.

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a wee bit cray, but i like it. 

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this ellie cashman paper is too bold for my tiny space, but i love it.

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a simple, pretty paper. bathroom design by studio mcgee.

i’d love to know: what are your thoughts on wallpapering bathrooms? for the record: i don’t take long showers, so i’m not as worried about the paper peeling (and i’ve heard with a good wallpaperer, you don’t have to be all that worried, period).

and perhaps more importantly: have you seen any really beautiful wallpapers lately? the kind that makes you stop and stare? if so, please send them my way! the hunt begins!

 

 

 

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hi friends! er, are you guys still my friends? i know i haven’t written here in…(goes to check when last post was published)…8 months. GOOD LORD HOW TIME FLIES! i’ve spent the better part of this year not blogging, and for the few of you that cared for my long-winded rambling, i’m sorry about that! i’d like to say i can promise i’ll be better, but clearly, i’m not very good at keeping that promise.

here’s the truth: i do miss writing. it’s just that often an idea for a post pops up while i’m sitting in the bathtub, or bored in a meeting, or riding my citibike up and down the east river. and i’ll think to myself, hey, i should write about that. and then i get home and it’s on to the next thing, and poof! the idea is gone. the motivation is zapped. working in advertising, where writing is my day job–well, there’s nothing like working at a computer all day long to make a girl not want to open a computer when she gets home.

this isn’t an excuse, but it is the truth. ANYWHO, i really do want to tell you all about the candles i made recently, because, well, they’re super cute and they smell pretty damn good and most importantly, TIS THE SEASON OF GIFT GIVING aka spending too much money on silly things that no one needs.

don’t get me wrong: i LOVE the holidays. and i love nothing more than a really great gift. i’m of the mindset that presents should be the kind of silly everyday luxuries that friends and family would never buy themselves: a facial. a pair of ultra cozy slippers. that really pretty brass coffee spoon that no one needs but is so pretty to look at.

you know what fits really well into that category? ding ding ding, you guessed it! candles, my friends! i love nothing more than giving (or getting!) a really nice candle. now, i’m not talking about bath & body works, or yankee candle. no shame in the YC game, but those babies are too strongly scented for me. i’m talking about illume, pf candle co, anything and everything in anthropologie’s candle section, or, if you’re fancy, diptyque (bury me in baies, please). all of the above are lovely options for gifts – but if you’re buying more than one, they start to add up.

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that’s where making your own comes in. now, i know what you’re thinking: gee, sarah, that seems complicated. but i promise you, it’s really not. the hardest part is waiting for them to cool (because if you’re anything like me, you want them to be done and smell amazing RIGHT AWAY).

OKAY LET’S DO THIS!

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what you’ll need:

  • a glue gun (i ordered a relatively cheap one off amazon) and matching glue sticks
  • a big pot to boil water in (your wax pitcher will go in here)
  • candle pitcher (to melt your wax in/pour it out of, so you don’t ruin an actual pot)
  • clothes pins (they help keep your wick straight/in place!)
  • jars and lids (i order these and these from candle science; they have many a jar/lid option!)
  • soy wax (also from candle science, where they ship it in 10lb bags)
  • phthalate-free fragrance*, if you want scented candles (candle science yet again! they have a million scents, go wild! i buy the 1oz bottles)
  • candle wicks (also from candle science, i get the 6″ pre-tabbed eco wicks, which burn well with soy wax)
  • scissors (to trim the wicks)
  • labels (if you want to get fancy, more on that below!)

*phthalates are yucky, bad for you, cancer-causing chemicals that are in many a fragrance and fragrance oil. regardless of where you buy your fragrance oils, you want to ensure they’re phthalate-free. most of the ones from candle science are (and i do not buy or use any that aren’t). you could also use essential oils, but those are a) more expensive and b) don’t necessarily come in every scent under the sun. that said, i may try using solely essential oils next year.

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a few notes before we begin:

  • i like to make a few different scents, so i do the process below a few times, thoroughly washing out my candle pitcher in between so that no fragrance lingers. each batch makes about 3-4 candles. if you were only making a few candles, or you wanted to make 10-12 of the same fragrance, you’d melt way more wax at once than what i’ve captured below.
  • if you’re mixing fragrances (i do this for all of my candles, ie, for one batch, i mixed orange blossom with a smoky, fireplace-y scent), figure out your combinations ahead of time. when it comes time to add fragrance, it happens quickly, so you’ll want to be ready to go.
  • i am no professional! i wing it every step of the way – in my mind, that’s the fun of DIY – from how much wax i melt at a time to how much fragrance i put in. if you want to get SUPER technical, there’s lots of great info on the candle science website.
  • you can make candles in just about any vessel. get creative! in the past, i’ve made them in antique tea cups, ball jars, soup cans, etc. anything that can hold a liquid can likely hold wax.
  • weather can affect your candle-making – high heat/humidity, in particular, means your candles won’t harden as well/you may experience air bubbles. if possible, do this in cooler weather/have the AC going.

what you’ll do:

first things first: order all the above. unpack it, and set it all up on your counter/table/somewhere that’s close to your oven. once your wax is melted, you’ll be moving fast.

step 1: attach your wicks

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set up all of your jars, and pre-heat your glue gun. once it’s warm (a little bit of glue will dribble out. ew that sounds gross. you know what i mean!), get to work. grab a wick, and add a dot of glue to the bottom of it. immediately press it firmly into the bottom of your jar. i like to press the edges of the metal park of the wick down with a spoon, just to make sure they’re realllly stuck in there. this ensures that your wick won’t float up and away once you pour the hot wax in. repeat with the rest of your jars. let cool for about 10 minutes (the glue dries fast).

**NOTE: to keep your wicks in place, i recommend threading them through clothes pins, as you can see in the photo above. this helps keep them straight and steady once you pour your wax in. you don’t have to do this, but it helps.

step 2: melt your wax

now the fun begins! heat a little water in your large pot. you want it to just reach boiling. don’t fill the pot – you’ll be placing your metal pitcher in there, and if you do, the water will overflow. if you’ve ever used a double boiler, or melted chocolate, this is a similar process. 

scoop a few cups of wax into your metal pitcher – it will go into the pot once the water boils. i eyeball this, but it’s likely about 3-4 cups of wax at a time. the flakes melt down pretty quickly, and it’s easy to add more if you’re making a larger batch of a given scent.

put the pitcher into your water, and turn the heat down to a simmer. you want it to be hot, but not boiling over. think of it as a nice hot bath for your wax pitcher. you want things to melt, but not boil.

within a few minutes, the wax should melt, turning from white flakes into a clear, golden liquid (not that kind, gross).

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step 3: add your fragrance

once your wax is melted, turn off the heat, and wait a minute or two. you’re just giving the wax time to cool ever so slightly before you add your fragrance oils. now, grab your fragrances. i usually mix two or three (with the combinations chosen ahead of time). unscrew the caps, and add a few drops of each. again, i wing it – but if a particular fragrance is really strong, or i just want a hint of it, i may just do one drop of that one. use your best judgement. either way, know this: you’re doing DROPS. like, 1/8 of a tsp, eye-balled. do not go pouring multiple teaspoons of fragrance oil into your wax. this stuff is STRONG. 

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step 4: pour your candles

you’re almost there! now it’s time to pour the melted, fragranced wax into their vessels. at this point, your wicks should be attached to their jars, and fully cooled. hopefully you’ve got the clothes pins keeping the wicks in place, too. line your jars up on the counter, and pour, baby, pour! fill each candle to just below the top rim (see photo below for reference). made too much or too little wax? that’s okay – you can make a bit more of a given fragrance combo. just make a little half-candle for now, and then melt a bit more wax/add the same fragrance to top ‘er off.

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step 5: let your candles cool

this is the hardest part for me. at this point, i’m super excited, i want to smell them all, light them all, shout my accomplishment from the rooftops…you get the idea.

but now, we wait. i generally let my candles cool overnight. within an hour, they’ll start to harden, and you’ll see the golden liquid turning back into the hard white wax it was in the bag.

as your candles harden, you may see little divots at the top–spots where the wax has caved in. if this hurts your heart (it does mine), simply melt a little extra and fill the hole in. it’s like when you smudge your polish at the nail salon – a little extra polish, some fresh top coat, and you’re good to go.

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step 6: the finishing touches

by the next day (at least 12 hours), your candles should be cooled, and ready to go! at this point, you can take the clothes pins off, and trim your wicks so that they’re about 1/4″ long. if you’ve purchased lids, now’s the time to screw them on. if you’ve got labels, go ahead and add them.

a note about labels: i’m lucky to have very creative friends as coworkers, and they’ve helped me design mine for the past few years. however, all you really need to make a label is sticker paper – you can handwrite them, or design them on the computer and then print them out. mine were created in indesign, then printed out and cut with regular old scissors. nothing fancy!

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and that, folks, is all she wrote. so, tell me: what are your questions? what’s still unclear? would you want to see this in an instagram story (aka, on video)? leave me your thoughts here, or on instagram.  i can’t wait to hear from you!

 

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{preface: i haven’t been writing much on here because this blog is meant to be one about my home and my renovation projects, and there hasn’t been much to talk about over the past few months. but this morning i felt like writing something else, so i did. for those of you that read for the pretty, well, today isn’t that. but i hope you’ll stick around anyway.}

you know those days where you wake up and you just don’t feel like yourself? i had one of those days yesterday. blaaaame it on the rain, blame it on the fact that i slept in and skipped my usual bar method class, blame it on drinking 3 glasses of wine the night before. either way, i just felt off. it happens sometimes, right? (tell me i’m not alone here)

i remember a time about a year ago where i felt REALLY off for a good week or so. it got to the point where i freaked out a bit. there was no trigger to my bad mood, just a lingering sadness and a halo of anxiety that i couldn’t seem to shake. i called my parents around day 4 (they’re both doctors, and have seen me through my share of ups and downs), and tearfully asked if i needed to check myself in somewhere. THIS IS WEIRD, i said. I’M NOT MYSELF. HELP.

with the kind of calming assurance that only a mother can offer, they gave me a bit of advice, and it’s advice i follow to this day when i’m feeling off. “go distract yourself. go take a soul cycle class, take a bath, go get your nails done, go out to eat.” in short: get up and get out. out of your head, out in the world. go do the things you know make you happy. and do them again, and again, and again. and guess what? generally, when i do that, in a few days time, i wake up feeling like myself again. the fog passes, or rather, i pass through it.

i don’t dare indicate that my mental health stuff is anywhere near “bad” – lord knows it could be much worse. but i do believe in talking about it, because i don’t think we do that nearly enough (for inspirational people that do this well, see @jengotch), especially not on social media, where perfect and pretty is the name of the game.

so, here it is: i had a bad day yesterday. a bad day where i still had to go to work, and see all the people and do all the things. and guess what, guys? people do that EVERY DAY. we get up and we get out and we interact and we move forward, even when we feel like shit. it’s a good reminder to be kind to everyone you meet, because you never can tell who’s having a moment (most of us are pretty good at hiding it).

i handled it by getting my ass to an evening bar method class even though i wanted to cancel. and then to a tiny ethiopian restaurant where i ate curried lentils with my bare hands alongside my dear friend martha (who, as it turned out, was also having a bit of a shit day). and then this morning, i rose with the sun, and i biked my butt over the williamsburg bridge to a 7am soul cycle class where i REALLY sweat my shit out. i headbanged to the chainsmokers and sprinted my face off, then biked back over the bridge (bless you, citi bike). by the time i put my key into my front door at 8:15, i felt like a new woman.

in other words: i got up. i got out. and i got the F out of my own head. and damn, did it feel good.

IMG_2538“so, is your apartment, like, done?”

this is a question i’ve been hearing a lot of lately. it’s the question people ask me when they haven’t seen me in a while, or when i’m a friend of a friend, or when they’re generally not sure WTF else to ask me about (hey, at least it’s not my love life).

it’s also a question i’m not exactly sure how to answer, because while my home is “done” in the sense that there are no more breakfast bars to build, no more brick walls to seal, no more huge projects to take on, design is never really done. and there are about 10 things that, in an ideal world, i’d redo or do differently.

this is not, of course, what i say to friends of friends. i say, nicely, “it’s done, yes. mostly!”

and then the conversation sort of trails off, because lord knows the average bro doesn’t exactly care to chat about the ceiling medallions i never got around to installing, or how i don’t think my kitchen lights are quiiite bright enough.

then again, lord knows the average bro probably doesn’t want to talk about much of anything. and that’s why i write this blog not for them, but for YOU, my dear readers–the tiny little group of internet friends who could talk about tile for days on end.

so, let’s talk, shall we? i thought it might be fun to run through my “to do” list, and discuss what’s next.

5 things i’d still like to do in the grand apartment: 

  1. figure out my kitchen lighting situation. the lights i bought are pretty, but not perfect. and i want perfect, goddammit! i have a feeling that my solution lies in purchasing new pendants and getting around to installing the under cabinet lights i bought from ikea, oh, six months ago (#slacking). it was a big mistake not to go for under cabinet lighting originally, but sadly, i can’t go back in time, so ikea it is. IMG_2483
  2. get a cushion made for the entryway bench. though i own a sewing machine, my skills are below average, and i am most certainly not good enough to make the piped cushion of my dreams. when i designed the storage unit, i had visions of this super chic bench that was cozy and cushy and outfitted in an indigo or suzani or some other uber cool fabric. and while i have multiple indigo cloths sitting on a shelf just waiting to be made into pretty things, i have yet to make a move. as a side note, i have checked on taskrabbit for seamstresses, and haven’t found any. if you know one, please send them my way! Grand Apartment Entryway
  3. install my ceiling medallions. back when i was in hardcore renovation mode, i got really into the idea of pairing antique-looking ceiling medallions with my modern light fixtures. i even went so far as to order them, and order the glue/caulk to go with them. and then i shoved them in the bottom drawer of my dresser, and they’ve sat there ever since. of all the projects on this list, this is most likely the easiest one to DIY (i ordered precut medallions, so i literally just need to stand up there and glue them on), but for some reason, i just can’t seem to motivate myself to do it.
  4. figure out the bathroom walls. you may recall that for a hot second, i thought about painting my bathroom black. this nearly gave my mother a heart attack, so i took a step back. here the thing: in all the pretty design photos i see online, white on white on white looks bright and beautiful, but in real life, white grout quickly looks yellow, and white tile on white paint just looks a little…dingy. i am VERY clean, so it’s not so much about actual dirt as it is the way that the two whites (tile + paint) play against one another. i thought about doing wallpaper (i LOVE my wallpapered entry), but worry about the lack of a ventilation in the bathroom ruining it. i’ve considered going full on hoarder gallery wall (and have collected some art for this purpose), but haven’t taken the plunge. and then of course, there’s the option of painting: black? grey? some other obscure color (i am obsessed with the wall color at catbird in williamsburg but haven’t been able to identify it…)?
  5. solve the bedroom lighting sitch. when i decided to build out a rather large closet in my bedroom, i knew it would mean cutting down on the amount of space i’d have for bed, nightstands, etc. but i didn’t think about how it would affect the lighting in the room. as of now, i have a table lamp on my dresser, and sconces on either side of the bed (i chose a ceiling fan over an overhead light, which i don’t regret). ideally, i’d also have some sort of floor lamp to cast extra light into the room, but i haven’t found the piece or the place for it. i’ve toyed with the idea of getting rid of my nightstand and getting a larger console-like piece for that side of the bed (i could stick another table lamp on the other end of it…), or getting matching nightstands with table lamps instead of sconces, but i have yet to nail anything down. IMG_2664

so, there you have it: 5 things i still need to do (admittedly without a ton of resolution around HOW/WHEN to do them). tell me: would you be interested in seeing more drawn out posts around these “design dilemmas” and my thought process on solving them? or are you more in the camp of, THIS SHIZ IS BORING, NEXXXXXT?

 

 

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“you just wait. once you buy this apartment, the men will come knocking. you won’t be able to turn them away fast enough.”

it was a sunny day in early summer, and my friend sarah and i were taking a stroll around the neighborhood near our office. i was complaining about dating, or the lack of dates i was currently going on. it was the absolute worst, i fumed. the apps were a veritable minefield of crazies, dick pics (sorry, mama), and assholes who’d sleep with you and then never call you again.

there wasn’t a good man left to be found in the city of new york, i was sure of it. no, i hadn’t dated them all, but over the past year, i’d gone on enough online dates to know that it wasn’t for me, and that i was likely destined to be single forever, and definitely destined to be single when i signed on the dotted line for the grand apartment.

i was sick of it, of all of it–of getting dressed and getting my hopes up, of braving the smoky air of yet another dimly lit bar only to realize i was stuck with yet another hour of boredom, of the MOST un-stimulating conversation i’d ever encountered. i felt like charlotte york: i’ve been dating since i was 16! i’m exhausted! WHERE IS HE?! and also, MY HAIR HURTS. {kudos if you get these references, if you don’t, you need to get thee to an HBO Go account, pronto}

“come on,” sarah said. “it’s not that bad.” and maybe it wasn’t. or maybe, soon, it wouldn’t be. after all, sarah had reconnected with an old boyfriend soon after purchasing her own apartment (on her own, just like me). it was proof that one could do a big thing alone, and very soon after, be one half of a whole.

~

last august, around the time i broke ground on the grand apartment, i started seeing a guy i met off tinder. we hit it off immediately. he was too good looking for me, i knew it from the start, but that didn’t stop me from falling for him over cheap beers at some weird NYU-esque bar on west 4th street. in the span of a few weeks, we saw each other as many times. i slept with him too quickly, because, well, i think with my heart and not my head. and then i went away for 2 weeks, and i never heard from him again. i tried texting him once, during my trip, and his response was so cagey that i backed off. the guy who’d literally pushed me up against a wall within 2 minutes of my walking through his door wanted nothing to do with me. i couldn’t figure it out, so i tried not to ruminate on it (and what it said about me) too much.

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come september, construction work and design choices and the stress of a renovation caught up to me, and i stopped dating all together. as i’ve written about before, the purchasing and renovation process was an isolating one. it was as though i was reminded of my aloneness around every corner. there was a sense that i’d never wake up next to another person in the queen size bed i purchased, that i’d never flip pancakes on my brand new griddle alongside someone else’s bare feet on a sunday morning, that i’d be alone, really and truly alone, forever.

this sense of aloneness was juxtaposed, however, by an underlying current of pride. pride that this thing i was doing, it was big and it was scary, and i was doing it all by myself. on some days, my aloneness took on an almost sacred quality. it was rare. it was beautiful. it was magical. and it was just me.

~

i moved in on halloween, october 31st, and i started to dip my toes back into the pool of dating shortly after the new year. for months, it was a series of failed tinder chats, strange apps named after breakfast pairings, and nothing happy to report. every time my mother would call, she would ask me, “what’s new?” and i could hear in her voice that maybe, just maybe, today would be the day when i would tell her not about work, not about spin class, not about the latest crazy person i’d seen on the street, but about a romantic interest. i could spin the tale out from there without her even saying a thing. romance leads to love leads to marriage leads to babies leads to grandchildren. it’s a simple equation, really, once you find the one.

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but i couldn’t, it seemed, find the one. hell, i could barely find anyone at all. i felt the pressure of the clock ticking. i turned 31 in january, an age i never thought i’d reach, and all of a sudden, i was staring down the barrel of 35, and then 40, and then sudden death with no babies in sight.

all around me, people walked hand in hand. they stood on tippy toes to kiss on subway platforms. they shared cheesy engagement videos on facebook. the romances swirled around me, everywhere but just out of reach.

and as jealous as i was, as much as i, too, wanted that, i started to grow comfortable in my aloneness. i was alone, but i wasn’t necessarily lonely. i was doing just fine, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

and in that comfort, something odd happened: i went from having zero prospects to having 3 very nice, perfectly normal (at least, on the surface) men interested in me. there’d been a drought, and all of a sudden, i was trying not to schedule two guys on the same night. sarah was right: the men had come knocking.

i tell you this not to be like, oooh look at me, i’m hot shit, but because ultimately, i couldn’t do it.  i had what i wanted: i had people who wanted to be with me. hell, one of them even spent our second date months ahead of himself in the future, talking about the antiquing we’d do upstate, and asking me how i felt about hiking (spoiler alert: i hate it). but i didn’t, i couldn’t, want them.

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and it made me wonder: had i gotten so used to being alone that i couldn’t bear the thought of another person breaking through that aloneness? was it them, or was it me? i thought about it some more:

the first guy was a dud, through and through. he said he wanted to be a comedian, but he could barely carry on a conversation. i sat through one awkward date, and granted him a second, thinking maybe his nerves had rendered him mute the first time. of course, it wasn’t nerves. it was just his lack of personality that had turned me off. i swear to god, the man was so freaking vanilla. not even vanilla! he was CARDBOARD.

the second guy was, over text, innately charming, and funny as hell. he even threw in a bieber pun here and there. i was shaking in my boots nervous to meet him, hoping desperately his real life self would live up to his online self. i was sorely disappointed. he was so nervous that he could barely lift his drink up to his mouth. he kept wanting to know more about me: what did i like to do? who were my friends? what did i do every day after work? what did i think about work? what were my hobbies? how long had i been doing them? it was like he was playing 20 questions, a detective trying to get me to crack. it was exhausting! i felt like yelling, ASKING ME EVERY SINGLE GODDAMN THING ABOUT MYSELF ISN’T GOING TO ENDEAR ME TO YOU. IT’S JUST GOING TO FREAK ME OUT.

and that was just the beginning. texting me after our second date, he mentioned he lived far out in brooklyn, but when we dated, we’d obviously spend most of our time at my place, you know, since the lower east side was way cooler than his neighborhood.

i shit you not. my fists clenched almost automatically. i felt my heart seize up. how DARE he think he could come into this home–my home, the one that i had literally sacrificed blood, sweat and WAY TOO MANY tears for over the past 9 months–without an invitation? how dare he assume that he was welcome in my sanctuary, the place i had created all by my damn self?

and then i caught myself. this was what i wanted, wasn’t it? someone who wanted to go upstate and go antiquing on the weekends? someone who wanted to eat toast and runny eggs at my breakfast bar on the weekends? someone who would appreciate it when i told them i sealed that entire wall of exposed brick without a professional, that i’d picked out every last piece of the grand apartment, right down to the toilet paper roll he used to wipe his ass in the morning?

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i had it, right in front of me, a perfectly nice (albeit a little overeager) man who wanted to take me out for watermelon margaritas on a wednesday and walk me home afterwards, and who had already, by the second date, started picturing our life together in the future.

and i couldn’t do it.

i broke it off a few days later, telling myself i had a third guy waiting in the wings.

and guess what? he, too, was perfectly nice. he was a swede who worked for spotify, and who had transferred 6 months ago to their new york office. like me, he was a foodie who liked indie music. like me, he owned an apartment (in stockholm). he lived in williamsburg, and he ordered a scotch egg on our first date.

i should’ve been all in. he was cute, he was cool, he was interesting. our conversation, over the span of 3 dates, had very few lulls.

and still, i couldn’t do it.

suitors 1 and 2, sure, i could write them off. they were awkward, they were immature, they were overeager, they were bad conversationalists. but suitor #3 had not a flaw in sight. and still, i didn’t feel it. on paper, it was all there, but in real life, standing outside his apartment at midnight on a saturday, i didn’t feel the need to pull closer, i didn’t want to be invited upstairs.

i just wanted to go home. to my home, that i built all on my own. and i wanted to go there alone.

~

i’m not sure what the point of writing this all out was. most likely, it just proves that i have some serious baggage and that my twice-weekly soulcycle classes are no longer cutting it as therapy. but i’ve always used writing as a way to work my shit out, and i suppose i hope that putting my thoughts down on virtual paper might help me sort my way through them.

because here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with being alone, if that’s what you want. i’m not sure i really believe this sentiment, but i want to, very badly. i want to believe that a person in today’s world can be self-sufficient, that they can be alone, and that they can be happy in that aloneness.

i also want to believe that my turning down these three guys wasn’t just me running scared. it was my gut telling me, these people aren’t yours. they’re not right for you.

and i want to believe that the person who is mine is still out there. and that when i meet him, i’ll invite him in–to both my home and my heart–without hesitation.

 

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yes, friends, you read that right. the title of this post is exposed brick and THE BUGS THAT COME CRAWLING OUT OF IT

because one did, about a month ago. one GI-FREAKING-NORMOUS centipede came crawling out of my exposed brick wall at 10pm, and proceeded to turn me into a full on crazy woman (think oprah when she’s knee deep in “YOU GET A CAR!” mode). but before we get into that story, let’s take a bit of a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

when i first purchased the grand apartment, the living room looked like this.

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and the back wall, in particular, looked like this.

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looking at those “before” shots is kind of a trip, if i’m being honest. it looks so much smaller, doesn’t it? it’s amazing how much larger a room looks once there’s actual furniture in it (yes, i’m throwing shade at the dorm style fixture above).

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exposed brick (see exhibit A, above) was high on my initial “must have” list, but most NYC apartments blessed with it (especially those in the east village/lower east side) are MUY TINY and MUY DARK. like, you would not believe how tiny and dark some of the units i looked at were. what are we, mole people?

so when we first toured the grand apartment, and there was no exposed brick in sight, i took it for what it was: a relatively large (by NYC standards) lower manhattan 1 bedroom that i could afford, and more importantly, that i could make my own.

it wasn’t until my electrician started chipping away at the walls to bring the outlets up to code that we noticed anything amiss. and by we, i mean me, because no one–not the electrician, not the construction workers, not my contractor–noticed it but me.

one muggy august morning (god bless you, new york summer), i rode down to the grand apartment to check on the electrical progress before work, and there it was, peeking out from behind the plaster: a little hint of reddish brown.

i knelt down amongst the debris, and peered into the small spot no longer covered by plaster.

“hey shmulik,” i called to my contractor, “can you come look at this?”

he, too, knelt down amongst the debris.

“is that brick? that looks like brick.”

he shrugged.

“looks like it. a lot of these old buildings have brick behind the plaster.”

pitter patter went my heart.

“is there–could there be–do you think there’s brick behind this entire wall?”

“could be,” he answered nonchalantly.

NONCHALANTLY. AS THOUGH A GIANT WALL OF ORIGINAL 1920s BRICK WAS NO BIG DEAL.

i stood up, and dusted myself off.

“how much extra to open up the entire wall?”

he stared at me. behind him, a worker chipped away at the plaster, piece by piece, with a small hammer-like object.

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finally, he spoke. “it’s a lot of work.”

“how much work?”

“a few days extra, at least.”

a few days, i could live with. for original 1920s brick, i could live with just about anything. i told him to move forward, and we’d deal with making up the time later.

and the rest, as they say, was history.

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a little over a week later, the wall looked like this.

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after move in, it looked like this.

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magical, isn’t it? that wall is, by far, the best thing that happened to me during this renovation. for all the bullshit and the things that went wrong, my exposed brick wall is my miracle baby.

at least, it was, until i realized that exposed brick that’s, well, not meant to be exposed causes a few problems:

  1. so much dust
  2. BUGS. REALLY F’ING BIG ONES.

now that we’ve looped back to the present day, i’ll remind you of what came crawling out that beautiful brick one night.

House Centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata

is that not the most TERRIFYING BUG YOU HAVE EVER SEEN?! literally, i have chills just looking at it. WHY SO MANY LEGS?! WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER NEED THAT MANY LEGS? like, what else are you doing with your legs at any given time beyond walking on them? TWO WOULD SUFFICE. FOUR WOULD BE FINE. THIS MANY IS JUST ATROCIOUS. 

the above, my friends, is a sight you can’t unsee. which is why, after dealing with the dust for months and telling myself i’d “get around” to sealing the brick wall eventually, a single centipede propelled me into action. and by propelled me into action i mean lit my ass on fire.

after almost 10 years in new york, i consider myself to be pretty good at this whole “alone” thing. i’ve learned to not just accept, but to embrace independence. that said, there is nothing – NOTHING, I TELL YOU! – that makes you feel the full force of your singledom like a giant centipede. especially one with that runs so fast you can’t possibly catch it.

suffice it to say that even after penny managed to get the centipede down off the wall and theoretically ended things, i stripped my bed clean of all blankets and pillows before climbing into it, and checked the inside of my toilet bowl before i sat down to pee (can you even IMAGINE one of those crawling into your butt?! i can’t). that night, i barely slept, and by morning, i had made it my mission to SEAL THAT BRICK. ASAP.

but that, friends, is a story for a different day. because as it turns out, like every other renovation task, sealing a brick wall is no small feat. that said, it’s a feat that i accomplished (with a little help from my fam), and i intend to show you how you can accomplish it too.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1949there are many things i think i did wrong in this renovation. but hey, it was my first time on the job, and let’s be real: there was a slight case of amateur hour going on in these parts. i did my best, certainly, but there are many small things that i’d change if i could go back and do them again.

one of those small things, as it turns out, i can still change! and that’s my kitchen lighting. see, before i embarked on this renovation, my mindset was more, “ooh, pretty lights!” and less, “i need an actual lighting plan.” in fact, i didn’t even know a lighting plan was a thing. no one tells you these things, you know? you only hear about them while you’re listening to the chris loves julia podcast and it’s too late to make a change!

{sidenote: i am obsessed with the chris loves julia podcast, and you should be too}

anywho, suffice it to say, when the contractor and electrician told me two flushmount lights would suffice for kitchen lighting (and told me i really didn’t need under cabinet lights and that they would be way more expensive), i listened. and they were wrong. turns out, i could have used a lot more lighting in my kitchen. i should have coughed up the extra dough for under cabinet lights.

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i should have added more task lighting, and more specifically, i wish i’d added library sconces above my shelves, like the kitchen below (i also wouldn’t say no to that gorgeous simple gold pendant above the sink).

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i DEFINITELY should have gone for three flushmounts instead of two. and most importantly, i shouldn’t have gone with exposed bulbs in the kitchen. exhibit A, folks (my kitchen):

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as i pretty quickly learned, those sort of cool exposed bulb flushmounts are all well and good–when you don’t really need them to cast off a lot of light. they’re hip, yes. they look cool, yes. but functional? not exactly. i’ve tried a large variety of different bulbs in these babies (if you’re curious, they’re these from the young house love for shades of light line), and unfortunately, they simply don’t cast off enough light for a busy kitchen bee like myself. additionally, because there’s no glass shade for the light to bounce off of, they tend to be a little bit harsh when they’re on. NO BUENO.

but as my girl carrie bradshaw says, COULDA SHOULDA WOULDA. i didn’t know what i didn’t know, and so i made some mistakes. luckily, the one above–the type of flushmounts i bought–can be fixed. YIPPEE! i’ve been living in the grand apartment for almost 5 months now, so i think it’s safe to say i’m somewhat settled. and being settled for that amount of time has given me lots of moments to ponder what type of lighting i should do next. as of now, i’ve landed on doing a traditional schoolhouse style. i know, i know, so predictable. but i think they’ll work, height-wise, and for the most part, they’ll allow for a higher wattage than the ones i have now (which are limited to 75 watts).

i have my eye on something like this:

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two of them, obviously – but you get the idea. as of now, i’m not leaning towards brass (the kitchen is black and chrome, finish-wise, and i think adding brass might be a bit too much).

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i sort of had my heart on the above style (which you can find at schoolhouse electric), but with the black and white striped shade (i’m thinking the stripes will play nicely off the my floors), but it seems schoolhouse is no longer making that colorway. SADSIES.

which has led me to go back to the drawing board, and scope out a few other schoolhouse style options.

 

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too blah?

Z000235_A5805_A0028too art deco?eadd8334e507d4253502486363f87e17

still too harsh, what with the clear glass?

as you can see, i’m having quite a bit of trouble deciding. thoughts from the peanut gallery?! help!