TGA_Board Meeting Agenda

last night, i attended my first ever shareholders meeting. for those who don’t know, i live in a coop here in NYC, which means that technically, i own shares of my building, rather than truly owning a piece of property (like i would if i had purchased a condo). coop buildings come with coop boards, and every so often, those boards hold meetings where the shareholders (aka, everyone who lives in the building) can come and discuss proposed updates for the coming year.

having never been to one of these shindigs before, i figured it would be a relatively simple affair: people would sit in the community room, the board would give us some updates, and boom! we’d be done, and head back up to our respective apartments to cook late dinners (me) or tuck our kids into bed (other people).

BOY WAS I WRONG. you guys, the meeting was insanity. it wasn’t even a meeting, really, but rather, a multi-hour time block set aside for people to air their many grievances about the building. as it turns out, despite us living in a not really that fancy building, let’s be real, people feel strongly about us having certain things. like a fancy laundry room–one that doesn’t vent dryer air out into the courtyard. like fountains that only shoot to certain heights, lest they be interpreted as lewd (more to come on this. PUN INTENDED).

i walked into the meeting a little bit late, having just gotten home from work (and honestly, having forgotten the meeting was even happening). i sat in the back, careful not to crowd any families or couples or people who seemed to know other people. for the first ten minutes, i scrolled through my emails on my phone, pretending to be busy so that i didn’t have to acknowledge that i was there all by myself. having been in the grand apartment for a year and a half, i’ve mostly gotten past the whole “i’m here alone” thing, but every so often, the feelings of inadequacy and loneliness creep in, and let me tell you: there is NOTHING more lonely than sitting on a plastic folding chair in a busy common room where you’re talking to exactly NO ONE. being surrounded by groups–either neighbors who’d been in the building forever and knew all their floormates, or young families who huddled together, showcasing the latest ‘cute kid’ photos on their phone–was sobering. when i’m up in my apartment by myself, i could care less that i’m there alone. but being alone in a crowded room…WOOF.

but that, friends, is a story for a different day. you’ve heard me wax poetic about my loneliness before, and that’s not why we’re here today. today, we’re here to reenact the ridiculousness that was my first board meeting.

so, let’s set the scene, shall we?

picture about nine rows of plastic folding chairs. they’re white, but dingy, old. people are scattered amongst the rows, some on cell phones, others engaged in conversation. towards the front of the room sit about 5 older men (all men, always all men–the women who interviewed me when i applied to live in the building were nowhere to be found) at a series of folding tables. in front of the tables is a small podium.

7:15 comes and goes. 7:30 arrives. the board president, an elderly man with tufts of white hair and large glasses, makes his way to the podium and clears his throat. he informs us that we haven’t met quorum, but that we can go through the agenda items, and schedule the voting portion of the meeting for another time.

agenda items include very important things like new laundry machines, fountain enhancements, and self-inspections for leaky faucets (yes, that was an actual agenda item; see my photo above).

abe, the president (ha!), calls the meeting to order. he introduces the folks at the long tables, apologizes for/explains an incorrect abatement warning letter we all received from the city, and then launches into the good stuff: let’s talk about the fountain.

editor’s note: we have a fountain in our courtyard. when it’s nice out, the fountain runs, pumping water up and out into a small pool. it’s a lovely feature, one that drew me to the building when i first came to look at the grand apartment. apparently, it’s also one of great contention.

see, earlier this year, the fountain got a little refresh. the previously sad spurt of water was now high and mighty, and one night, i walked by to see it was lit. IN A RAINBOW OF COLORS. i texted our super immediately: what was this ugly, tacky ass shiz?! but beyond that, i didn’t think much of it. 

back to scene. abe tells us he knows that some of the shareholders have had “issues” with the fountain restoration, and assures us that they’re still working out the kinks. at this point, all hell breaks loose.

a woman stands up in the third row, and tells abe she’s got a little something to say on that front. as it turns out, she has more than a few issues with the fountain restoration. she finds the “ejaculatory nature” of the water levels to be lewd, she finds the bright rainbow lights offensive (especially in a building that should have landmark status!). at the words “ejaculatory nature” the crowd gasps. there’s silence, but just for a second.

undeterred, she soldiers on. she’s a designer, she tells us. she’s lived in this building for 15 years (15 years, people!) and she cannot imagine what the board was thinking. a kind soul passes her a microphone, all the better with which to broadcast her rant.

two rows in front of me, an older man straight out of the shtetl mutters to himself in a thick eastern european accent, but makes no attempt to reach for the microphone. the peanut gallery begins to converse. people agree–the rainbow lights are entirely too tacky for our lovely pre-war building.

abe tries to calm the crowd, and tells us that the rainbow lights are only temporary. even the empire state building is doing it! he says above the din. the empire state building is an art deco building! it’s fun! it’s modern! people like to take pictures of the fountain at night.

at this, the woman with the microphone explodes. THIS ISN’T ABOUT TAKING PHOTOS! THIS IS OUR HOME! i hear her hatred of the instagram generation simmering below the surface, and duck my head instinctively, lest she single me out.

HEAR HEAR! the crowd chants. shtetl man nods to himself in front of me. eez tacky, yes, i picture him saying.

next up on the agenda is the laundry room. we’re getting new machines (this is a good thing!). people fail to see past this; instead, they choose to focus on the fact that our ventilation system is busted–the smell of dryer sheets permeates the courtyard air. a man in the row next to me stands up, and requests the microphone. he tells us he lives above the laundry room, and while new machines are great, he’d rather spend our money where it counts: on venting the dryer air elsewhere. like, out onto grand street.

abe pushes back on this. this type of job would require a mechanical engineer, this type of job would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

he motions to issac, our building manager, a man who i’ve previously only spoken to on the phone and whom i’m overjoyed to learn is an adorable, diminutive, soft spoken soul in a kippah. he’s like every average jewish guy i went to summer camp with, but smaller! i want to put him in my pocket and carry him around to fight my battles in his lovely, soothing voice.

issac, abe asks. how many people do we have living in this building?

issac estimates the number to be around 240, not counting spouses.

almost 400then. abe says, loudly. he futzes with his sweater, and stares pointedly at the laundry complainer. and how many complaints have we had about the smell of dryer sheets in the courtyard?

issac stares at his shoes. about 4, maybe 5.

FOUR! abe roars. FOUR OR FIVE COMPLAINTS. IN A BUILDING THIS LARGE. 

shtetl man gets up from his seat. he’s had enough of this.

laundry man shakes his head. he’s frustrated. if the board would only consult a professional, he says. he’s an architect, and he’s seen these things done, even in old buildings like ours.

a voice emerges from the front row. a woman who’s also lived here for many, many years has a solution. she’d like to tell us about it. may she have the microphone?

the microphone is passed to the front.

the issue with the ventilation, she tells us, is the scent. dryer sheets are toxic, and people should knowmaybe, she thinks, the board could tell people to stop using dryer sheets. then we wouldn’t have this problem. 

my ears perk up. i love dryer sheets! i love how they make my clothes smell! i am clearly the enemy here. i wonder if i’ll ever come across this woman in the laundry room, and if she’ll scold me when i take out my bounce sheets and put them into the dryer.

abe shakes his head. we cannot possibly control who uses dryer sheets, he says. and if we were to speak ill of them, we could be sued by the companies.

the peanut gallery goes wild. who on earth would sue our dinky little lower east side coop?!

abe persists. we will not ban dryer sheets. when the new dryers are installed, he tells us, he’ll look into fixing the ventilation issue.

we’re now more than an hour into the meeting and only halfway through the agenda. my stomach is growling. it’s 8:45 and i haven’t yet eaten, and i look around me, wildly, for an escape route.

after a few more minutes of uninspired fighting about the laundry room–will prices be raised? will strangers still be able to walk in and use the machines?!–abe puts a moratorium on the conversation. issac, kind soul that he is, offers to schedule an appointment with laundry man to talk to him about his issues living above the dryers, and strategize about ways to fix it. laundry man is unsatisfied, but seems to understand he’s lost the battle for now.

sensing a lull in the meeting, i duck out into the aisle, busy myself with grabbing my packages (they store them at security whilst we’re at work), and head out the side door.

but not before i whisper to my favorite security guard, with the most exaggerated eye roll in the world, THIS. SHIT. WAS. INSANE.

he grins, and shrugs his shoulders. it’s just another day in the life, i suppose.

 

TGA_Homemade Granola Recipe

granola is one of those foods that seems like it might be complicated to make. all those nuts, all those seeds, nailing the flavor combo, getting the crunchiness just right. but guess what? the rumors ain’t true! it’s the opposite, really: granola is surprisingly simple to make. i’ve been making it for years now, ever since i realized just how much sugar was in the granola i was buying at the grocery store (seriously, check the nutritional details on the back of those packages and you may never go back).

i did a bunch of research here on the world wide web, and realized that while the recipes varied, the overall structure was the same: find your oils, find your sweeteners, find your key ingredients (for me it’s oats + seeds + almonds), et voila! homemade granola.

here’s how to do it.

what you’ll need:

3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats!)

1 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

2 tbsp chia seeds (optional; could also use flax)

1/2 cup coconut oil (could sub olive or a seed oil)

1/4 cup maple sugar (could also use brown sugar, or honey)

2 egg whites (save the yolks for ice cream making!)

2 tbsp shredded coconut (for topping)

2 tbsp turbinado sugar (for topping)

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 325.

mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl. that means all your oats/nuts/seeds/etc.

in a small saucepan, melt your coconut oil + sweetener. i like maple syrup because i love the taste, and it means i can use less (rather than a ton of brown sugar), but you could easily sub honey or agave (though i recently read that agave isn’t good for you!).

pour your sweetened oil mixture over the dry ingredients, and toss to coat. you want to make sure every last seed and oat is covered. sounds ridiculous, but your granola won’t cook evenly if it’s not.

whisk 2 egg whites. egg whites are a secret granola savior–they help you get those big clusters we all know and love from store bought granola.

pour your egg whites into the mixture, and toss to coat.

take out two cookie sheets. if you have silpats, use them. if you don’t, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. in a pinch, just a regular old cookie sheet will do, but you should try and line it if you can.

spread your granola mixture evenly between the two sheets. press it down a bit so that it’s approximately 1/4″ thick. if you put it onto the cookie sheet too thickly, it won’t crisp.

bake at 325 for about 30-40 minutes–the timing will depend on your oven–you want to take it out when it’s just starting to turn a lovely caramel color.

let cool completely (like, for a few hours).

break it up into pieces, and store in an airtight container for up to a month. if you freeze it, it’ll likely last longer, but honestly, you’ll likely eat it too quickly to need to freeze it. i eat mine all spring/summer long, atop siggi’s vanilla yogurt with fresh berries. BLISS, i tell you.

got questions? leave ’em in the comments, or shoot me a DM on instagram!

 

the-swan-inn-at-ascott-england-5

the swan inn in the cotswolds, england. source: the neotrad

hi, friends! i’m back at it with some exciting news! in my first true gig as an interior designer (and honestly, i hesitate to even use that term), a friend’s sister has asked me to help her design a summer house up on the coast of maine.

i’ll pause for the excited gasps of “oooh!” “a summer house!” “i love maine!” “so beautiful!” yes, i feel all those feelings too, and yes, i reacted the same way when she came over for dinner and said she’d like my help.

see, i’ve been designing a country house in my mind for years now. like, to the point that whenever i go antiquing, i look at things (and sometimes, buy them) and say, “this would look GREAT in my country house.” this tends to annoy the people around me, especially my mother, who is fond of reminding me that i do not have a country house. she’s not wrong. but what’s to stop a girl from dreaming?! perhaps someday, i will, and when that time comes, I SHALL BE READY.

in the meantime, though, i’m thrilled to be helping my client (omg, can i even call her that?!) design the one of HER dreams.

soon,i’ll be sharing some “before” pictures of the space, but suffice it to say it has REALLY good bones. we’re talking beamed ceilings, amazing exposed birchwood walls, fireplaces and exposed brick…i died and went to country house heaven when she sent them over.

as of now, all she’s done is picked paint colors (which she did entirely on her own–i just helped with sheen and gave the thumbs up), which means we’ve got lots of fun ahead of us! this home will serve as a second home for their family (they live on the west coast, but both are east coasters originally!), and may also become a vacation rental in the future.

ANYWHO, enough about the background. let’s get to the good stuff: inspiration! my goal for this home is for it to be light and airy, but still cozy with a hint of traditional new england charm. this isn’t nantucket, so the goal is less blue and white preppy, and more homey, lived-in neutrals. the kind of space where you step through the front door and immediately, your shoulders relax and your head feels less heavy and all is right in the world.

you know the kind i’m talking about, right?

something kind of like this.

or this.

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a home that’s a mix of soft white linens and old wood pieces that either have been (or look like they could have been!) in the family for decades.

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source: jersey ice cream co. (again. i love them!)

a place where flea market finds are just as at home as newly purchased pieces. where built-ins meet sink-into-me leather sofas, where eclectic textiles meet beautiful wallpaper. a place where comfort and fun reign, where the beauty is in the details.

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ahhh, built-ins!

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we’ll bring in some cool textiles to up the ante

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isn’t this kitchen to die for?

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i love this antique wardrobe

i’m thrilled that my client is taking a chance on me, and while she’s in no rush to decorate the space, i hope to have lots to share with you soon (if not soon, definitely this summer!). wish me luck!

TGA_Living Room Exposed Brick Wall New York

i’ve gotten a few requests over the past few months about decorating on a budget—or how to decorate a space that may not be yours forever (like a rental, which most of us will live in at some point in our lives). so suffice it to say this post is long overdue. i lived in three rental apartments before buying the grand apartment, and up until i did this big renovation, i rarely splurged on decor. take, for instance, the photo below, of my bedroom in my old apartment in peter cooper village, NYC (which i lived in for 8 years–insane!). the curtains were $20 at target, the lamp $75 at homegoods, the bed a free ikea craigslist find, and the “art” a print i literally printed out from the internet, then stuck in a free frame i found on the street.

TGA_Stuy Town Apartment

the bedroom of my old rental apartment

thanks to the internet and the advent of social media, we’re up to our eyeballs in pretty imagery—but most of us can’t afford to recreate the looks we see online. and if we are, well, we’re lucky, because having a beautiful home is a luxury, not a necessity.

that said, i do believe that design can make people happy. it can turn a house into a home. AND i believe that you can create a beautiful space without spending a ton of money (yes, really). below are a few tips for making your space shine—without forking over half your paycheck each month.

llaayyeerrss_designsponge feature

paint done right, in my friend tiina’s entryway [source: design*sponge]

#1 PAINT:  it’s the cheapest, easiest way to change a space. exhibit a: the entryway above, which belongs to my genius friend tiina. imagine if these walls were regular ol’ white. they’d be rather MEH. but with the deep, vibrant black walls above, the entire space P-O-P-S.  i’ve painted the walls of every apartment i’ve ever lived in—my hallway in stuy town was a deep purple (random, i know, but it looked nice with my french gilt mirror!). painting is an easy weekend activity that you can do yourself (though it’s more fun with a few friends!), and it’s definitely the cheapest way to switch up a space. tip: many hardware stores (even the biggies like home depot!) have a “used paint” section–aka paint that people mixed incorrectly, or colors people decided weren’t right. you can get great colors at a deep discount!

IMG_2538

my living room, last summer. people always say this light fixture makes the space, and i tend to agree. 

#2 UPGRADE YOUR LIGHTING: if you’re living in a rental (and even if you’re not!), chances are, you’re #blessed with a boob light or two. you know the kind I’m talking about. the one that looks like a boob, complete with a nipple. sorry, TMI, but also, free the nipple, amirite? anyway—boob lights are a curse for many of us, but this doesn’t have to be the case! electricians are not all that expensive, which means it’s not all that difficult to switch out your ugly boob lights for something a wee bit easier on the eyes. yes, light fixtures are an investment—but you can take them with you when you move!

TGA_Bedroom Light Grey Walls

my bedroom sconces from urban outfitters

if you don’t have the budget for an electrician, or your landlord won’t allow you to futz with the fixtures, spend your money on ambient lighting (floor lamps and table lamps), and leave your overheads off. i actually don’t have overhead lighting in my bedroom (i went for a ceiling fan instead–and am SO GLAD i did, even if it’s a design no-no), so i make do with bedside table lighting (my sconces were under $34 a piece from urban outfitters, and a cinch to install).

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the layered rugs in this room make the space [source: chris loves julia]

#3 INVEST IN AREA RUGS: stores like homegoods, tjmaxx, and urban outfitters offer trendy rugs for decent prices–also known as a quick fix to flooring you can’t stand. cover ugly kitchen linoleum with a fun runner (inspirational example above, from honestly wtf’s erica chan coffman). spruce up wall to wall carpeting with an area rug. many NYC apartments have an 80% rule (80% of your floors must be covered to keep noise down for your neighbors)—if yours does, use it as an excuse to make your floors fun! there are also great steals to be found on good ol’ craigslist. i have gotten incredible finds just by typing a few key things into their search box. Z

TGA_Light Grey Bedroom_Art

my bedroom features a print from jenny’s print shop

#4: ADD ART:  a small budget shouldn’t hold you back from adding art to your walls – especially when there are so many great digital prints available! i love Jenny’s Print Shop for affordable art prints–all prints are $15, and with their digital downloads, you can print them in literally any size you’d like!

TGA_Farmhouse Kitchen Styled Open Shelving

an old oil painting i found in my parents’ basement lives in my kitchen

you can also peruse local antique stores  and flea markets for cool vintage art—some of my favorite pieces have been snagged for under $10, discovered under a stack of not so great paintings. the bonus of flea markets? even if you don’t love the print, you might find a great frame (one you can use to frame a print you find elsewhere). it’s also worth saying that literally ANYTHING you find can be art. i’ve framed old menus or flyers from my travels (i got great vintage hotel stickers at a flea market in lisbon last september!).

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the mirror in my entryway, which makes the space

#5: WHEN IN DOUBT, HANG A MIRROR: mirrors instantly make a space feel bigger, and help to bounce light around the room. i have 3 (yes, three) in my entryway. CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP. sure, mirrors are necessarily in spaces like the bedroom and bathroom, but consider putting them elsewhere too. a large floor mirror can help a living room feel twice as large. adding a big mirror in the entryway (like mine above) offers a spot to check your reflection before you head out the door and makes a tiny hallway feel bigger. never doubt the power of reflection, friends.

BONUS (aka, #6): hit the streets! my second year in new york city, i was walking around the upper east side and came across a giant worn leather arm chair just sitting on the street. i inspected it for bed bugs (because new york), then sat my butt down in it to test it out. it was huge, and VERY heavy. so i walked away. then, a few minutes later, i walked back, and pulled up craigslist on my phone, and typed “last minute movers” into the search box. within 45 minutes, an out of work actor with biiiig arm muscles showed up in a red pickup truck to deliver me and my new chair down to 20th street. for $75, he brought the chair safely into my apartment, where it sat for the next 7 years.

the moral of the story? you’ve got to, as my mother likes to say, keep your eyes peeled. people move, and they need to get rid of their stuff. sometimes they put it on craigslist. sometimes they have yard sales/apartment sales. sometimes they put it out on the street. many of my favorite pieces have been snagged in this way. the giant gilded mirror in my entrway? it was $25 at an apartment sale in peter cooper village (where i used to live) YEARS ago. a goddamn STEAL!

sure, you run the risk of bedbugs, or things that are imperfect–but i like my pieces to have a little history, and when you buy or find a piece that’s lived a life before it reaches you, you get history in droves. plus, what’s the fun of ordering a bunch of big box stuff online? the thrill is in the hunt.

 

TGA_Hudson Welcome

as some of you may have seen on the ‘gram, i spent last weekend upstate in hudson, new york with a few girlfriends. i’ve been wanting to go to hudson for years, ever since i started following @thisoldhudson on instagram. there are a bunch of cute hotels and airbnbs in the hudson area, but the minute my friends agreed to head up there for president’s day, i knew where i wanted to stay: rivertown lodge, a boutique hotel housed in an old theater with a raved-about restaurant.

TGA_SJ infront of Rivertown

i believe my instagram caption here was: “i love it here and i may never come home.”

rivertown sits at the top of warren street, the main drag of hudson, and is a quick 5 minute cab ride from the train station. you can easily drive to hudson from NYC (it’s about 2 hours north of the city), but we opted to take the train (cheaper and honestly, easier). i’m glad we did, because the ride takes you straight along the river, which was eerily beautiful on a cold winter weekend. i’d imagine the views are straight up insane come october (helloooo foliage season).

TGA_Brick Home Hudsonhudson the town shares a name with the river, and was originally settled by the dutch. in its heyday, it was a whaling community (there are still signs for whale parking around town!). our uber driver told us that beyond the whaling industry, hudson used to be home to many a factory: strike matches, cement plants, etc. to name a few. when the industry left, the town fell into disrepair, and had a stint as an upstate new york red light district. in the 1980s, the gay community stumbled on the enclave and moved up north, investing in the storefronts along warren and the amazing old homes (a mix of federal, victorian and queen anne architecture) along its side streets. cut to present day, and the town is clearly a tourist spot (many of the locals—mostly our cab drivers—told us that those who grew up in the area have long been priced out of it), full of incredible antique shops, cute boutiques, and restaurants galore.

TGA_Hudson Warren Streetbeyond the shopping and eating (which, to be honest, we did not find as incredible as we’d hoped—more on that later), hudson’s main street (warren) is the stuff of movie sets. there are many great getaway towns within spitting distance of NYC (i also love tannersville, home to scribner’s lodge, a place i’m DYING to visit), but hudson stands out as a must-see.

so: what did we do? i’ll tell you a bit about our overall itinerary, and then do a separate post about where we ate (and what we thought about those spots!) and where we shopped.

saturday morning

TGA_Hudson Brick Home with Ivy

my favorite house, directly across from our hotel.

knowing that we had monday off, we decided to go up to hudson saturday morning, rather than rushing to catch a train friday night after work. i am oh so grateful we decided to do this—it made the entire trip so much less stressful! friday night i worked late, then packed and went to bed early. saturday, i squeezed in a bar method class before heading to meet my friend krystie at penn station. we caught the 11:20 train, and were at rivertown by 1:30. both of us took the opportunity to work a bit more on the train (krystie works a day job AND has a digital media start up called slant’d — girl is KILLING IT!), and so the trip flew by.

TGA_Rivertown Lobby Daytime

check-in at rivertown isn’t until 3pm, but they kindly let us drop our bags and hang in the lobby before we set off for lunch. our other two ladies took a later train (1ish), so they weren’t due to meet us until around 4. the rivertown lobby is as cozy as they come: wood stoves on either end, amazing danish modern furniture, and an open kitchen with a big farmhouse table and free coffee/tea for guests all day long.

TGA_Hudson Rivertown Lodge Kitchen

the open kitchen at rivertown–free coffee and tea for guests all day long!

saturday afternoon

the workaholic new yorkers we are, krystie and i grabbed drinks and did another 30 minutes or so of work, then set up to walk down warren in search of a late lunch.

the hotel recommend talbott and arding, a gourmet grocery/deli with amazing pre-made salads and foods. we popped in, but noticed they had nowhere to sit, and ended up across the street at swoon kitchen/bar, pictured below. swoon was way bigger than it looked from the outside, and we had a nice lunch there before setting back out to walk warren street.

TGA_Swoon Kitchen Bar

a late lunch at swoon kitchen bar

we ducked in and out of a few shops, and bookmarked a few in our brains to visit the next day. before we knew it, it was time to meet the rest of our foursome. back at the hotel, we checked into our room (a double double—two double beds, a TV, a hanging rack, and cute little bathroom), popped a bottle of lambrusco, and vegged.

TGA_Rivertown Double Roomas cozy as the lobby/kitchen area of rivertown is, we were surprised to find that our room was a bit…spartan. the coziness of downstairs didn’t translate to upstairs. i’m all for crisp white sheets and white walls, but the space felt unfinished, like they’d hung one piece of art and called it a day. a wall across from the beds jutted out, practically BEGGING for a large gold mirror. the wall space below the hanging rack was dying for a console/dresser (there was really nowhere to put your clothes; the rack only had about 10 hangers). the sole piece of art felt like an odd, rather depressing choice for the room—as my friend cristina put it, it looked a bit like the girl in the photo had just committed suicide. WOOF. were i to redecorate the space, i would have added a mirror, a small dresser, and some more modern art (like this).

TGA_Rivertown Lodge Evening

rivertown lobby at night–so cozy!

that said, the space was perfect for our needs. the beds were comfortable, the products in the shower (made in town by 2note!) were lovely, and we were so enamored with the lobby space that nothing else mattered. we put on some music (there was a great old school style speaker in the room!), grabbed some glasses downstairs for our wine, and put on face masks ahead of our 8:30pm dinner reservation downstairs.

side note: can i just say, i have reached the point in life where drinking lambrusco whilst listening to music with a face mask on is #goals and i cannot even remember what it was like to go bar hopping and slam fireball shots whilst dancing to pitbull. actually, scratch that. i still LOVE ME SOME PITBULL. there is no jam like “timber.” but the rest of it, i can do without.

anywho, back to regularly scheduled programming.

saturday evening

ACS_0141earlier in the week, i’d made a few restaurant reservations for us, knowing that hudson restaurants were highly reviewed and were likely to be busy on a holiday weekend. our first one was at our hotel’s in house restaurant, rivertown tavern, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! it was my favorite meal of the trip. we all ordered a drink with our dinner, and were back up in our room by 11pm, cozy in our pjs, watching strange local TV. we were asleep by midnight. #thisis32.

TGA_Rivertown at Night

the ladies enjoying hot tea outside the tavern (it started to snow as we finished dinner!)

sunday morning

TGA_Yellow Door House Hudsoni woke up bright and early sunday morning (did i mention #thisis32), and saw that my friend chloe was also awake. chloe is a long distance runner (she ran the NYC marathon this past fall!) and i knew she’d be itching to pound the pavement outside in the country. we got dressed quietly while the other two snoozed, and i joined her for a quick run down to the other side of town. the main stretch of warren street is almost exactly a mile (rivertown is the top, the water/train station is the bottom), so we ran down together, then i ran back up a side street and chloe went along her merry way for a “short” 6 mile run (i did 3 and felt QUITE ACCOMPLISHED). i stopped here and there to snap photos on my phone of all the pretty houses i saw. the sun was shining, the air was a crisp 32 degrees, and i felt like dancing along the streets in the early morning light.

TGA_Yellow House HudsonTGA_Whitewashed Brick Hudson HouseTGA_White Federal House Hudsoni tell you, there is something incredible about getting out of the city. i often tell people that the only way i’ve survived 10 years in new york is because i leave it quite often. whether it’s home to my parents in massachusetts, weekend getaways like this one, or weeks away in far off places, i love new york so much because i know when to leave it behind. i grew up in a small college town where you can see all the stars at night and kids ride their bicycles around the streets after school, and it always gives me a sense of serenity to explore small towns like the one i call home. my morning run in hudson was no exception to this rule—it wasn’t so much about the exercise (though that helped me rationalize all the incredible food i’d eaten the night before) as it was getting out in the air and breathing deeply and feeling like the world was bigger than my tiny grand apartment.

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a candid moment: chlo in her running clothes scowling at her phone + krystie looking cute

by the time i returned back to the hotel, the ladies were up and showered, and after a quick shower of my own, i joined them in the lobby for a cup of coffee with my book (i plowed through kristin hannah’s new novel, “the great alone” while in hudson—loved it!). we were booked for an 11am brunch in the tavern, and i went HAM on a grain bowl with farro, smoked sweet potato, green and tumeric.

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the other side of the lobby at rivertown – that stove!

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can you even handle this nook in the early morning light?

sunday afternoon

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fell in love with everything at this store (called MINNA)

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see what i mean?!

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this gray house! with a turquoise door!

though we had big plans of visiting a local distillery, we spent the afternoon leisurely strolling down warren street, oohing and ahhing at the antiques we couldn’t afford, and exclaiming “omg, look at this!” at the vintage clothes we could. i snagged an amazing green fur (i think it’s rabbit, eek, i am usually a faux fur gal) clutch from the 1960s for a mere $20!

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a v cool shop called mutiny

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hawkins new york – a design lovers dream (but pricey!)

around 2pm, we stopped for a late lunch at back bar, a malaysian restaurant and bar housed in an old gas station (our uber driver told us his dad owned the station back in the day!). back bar provided us with some of the best food we ate on the trip—spicy sesame cucumbers, incredible ramen, pork and shrimp dumplings seasoned to perfection…and the vibe of the space made me feel ten times cooler than i am.

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more cute houses as we strolled along our merry way

TGA_Warren Street at Sunsetbefore we knew it, the sun was setting, and we raced down to the bottom of warren street to catch the sunset over the water. this moment did not disappoint (see photographic evidence below), and only added to the sense of lightness i’d been feeling all day.

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looking back at warren street at sunset

sunday evening

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my seat mate at fish & game

sunday night we had a reservation at fish & game, a restaurant in town that had been highly recommended on allll the blogs and which was the recipient of a james beard award in 2016. the design of the space was to die for (rustic mountain lodge CHIC), all mood lighting and fireplaces and cushy seats. we didn’t love the food, sadly (more on that later), but the space itself is worth a visit (maybe just for a drink at the bar?).

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the moody entry of fish & game – doesn’t this wallpaper remind you of “the sinner”?!

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the cozy bar area at fish & game

we were back “home” early again, and asleep by 11:30—but not before doing another set of face masks, in which i looked like hannibal lector and my friends looked like cute face mask models. i crack up every time i see this image—WHO AM I?!

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me on left. legitimately terrifying. why can’t i open my eyes! why is it falling off?! i just can’t.

monday morning

knowing i’d likely be up early again on monday, i’d scouted two yoga studios in town. sure enough, i popped out of bed at 7:30, and convinced chloe to head to a 9:30 yoga class with me before our 11:30 brunch reservation (cristina had an early train, and krystie chose to sleep in and hang downstairs). i’m a newly converted yogi, and have mostly taken y7 classes in NYC (where sweat meets hip hop music in a dark room—it’s like yoga for the soulcycle crowd, aka me). hudson’s yoga scene is way more “traditional” yoga; we started the class by chanting om shantiiiii for a good five minutes.

i made it through that upfront section without laughing, and tried my best to just be in the moment whilst contorting my body into crazy positions i haven’t AT ALL mastered. the class was an hour and 15 minutes long, and i felt every minute of it. i missed the dark room at y7 and the music pumping—i guess i need more sensory distraction to get out of my own head?

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spotted on our walk to brunch

TGA_Little Brick Home Hudsonnevertheless, i left the class feeling long and limber, achy and awake, and was happy i’d gotten my ass out of bed to do something (also, it felt good to stretch after the previous day’s run). from there, chloe and i popped back into the hotel (they’d kindly given us extended checkout to shower post yoga), cleaned ourselves up and packed our bags, then met krystie in the lobby. we stashed our stuff once again, and set off for breakfast at home/made hudson (prob our worst meal of the trip, sadly, but SO CUTE INSIDE).

 

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the bar area at home/made hudson. our worst meal of the trip, but beautiful! 

monday afternoon

after breakfast, chloe headed to the train, and krystie and i walked the stretch of warren street once more, stopping for caffeine at moto before grabbing our bags at rivertown and heading back to the train.

TGA_Moto Coffee Hudson

moto coffee – a motorcycle AND coffee shop in one! 

by 2:30, we were back on the amtrak, chugging along the hudson river, ice chunks and lighthouses flying by at warp speed. i was home in my apartment by 5:30, tired and with a big load of laundry to do, but feeling full and happy and ready to tackle the work week.

i said it above, but it bears repeating: there is magic in a weekend spent away from home. i always feel so much more grateful for my space when i leave it and return to it anew. i think people assume that you have to go REALLY FAR AWAY to get away, that travel means a plane ticket and an expensive hotel. a couple of years ago, i made a new year’s resolution (something i never do!) to travel more. i put no pressure on myself to make that travel “big” or “far” or “exciting” – i just wanted to see more than i’d seen. that has resulted in some truly incredible trips (like 2 weeks in greece two years ago, cartagena after that, mexico last february, and portugal this past september). but it’s also resulted in some wonderful weekends away: trips to maine to see friends and family. trips to SF and LA to see dear friends whenever i see a cheap ticket. trips to the jersey shore over the summer, or to vermont for new years, or home to see my parents whenever i need to GTFO of new york. trips like this one.

i’m writing this post on an airplane en route to fort lauderdale. my aunt and uncle live in boca, and my parents are down there for a couple of weeks. they invited me to come for the long weekend, and when i saw a cheap ticket, i said what the hell and booked it. in mid march, i’ll go home to massachusetts for “sugaring season” (maple syrup, for all my non-northeastern friends!). in early april, i’ll head to nashville to stay with a friend of mine from book club.

i tell you all this to remind you that travel does not have to be prohibitively expensive. got friends elsewhere? GO VISIT THEM! i guarantee they’d love to show you their home. see a cheap ticket? SNAG IT. you’ll figure out the rest as you go. want to get away from it all? hop on the commuter rail—new yorkers, you’d be amazed just how different it is at the end of the metro north line.

i believe, deeply, that travel (while an incredible luxury) enriches us all. it helps us see beyond our own circumstances. it washes us clean of the stresses of everyday life. it introduces us to new scents, new sights, new sounds and flavors. it pushes us out of our comfort zone, it challenges us to be independent and take risks. and perhaps best of all, it sinks deep into our souls, reminding us that we are living, breathing human beings enable to change how we feel from one day to the next.

if you have been waiting for a sign to take a trip somewhere, stop waiting. just go.

PS: i’ve got more coming from hudson. stay tuned for a writeup of where we ate, plus another one of where we shopped.

and if you made it this far, please drop me a line and let me know. i’d love to do more of this type of content, and would like to know if you’d love it too.

happy trails!

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this morning, around 10am, a text message lit up my phone. it read, “happy valentine’s day (the worst holiday ever).” my phone suggested it was from “maybe: andrew” — a guy from tinder that i’d texted a bit with a few weeks ago.

i’d swiped right on andrew because he was cute, because he was older (and presumably wiser) than me. i’d given him my number because he was witty, and when his opening text read, “hi sarah. let the sexting begin! jk jk” i’d thought him funny and self aware. i told him i’d gotten quite a few unsolicited dick pics in the past, and that i appreciated the jk.

we chatted throughout the evening. andrew seemed like someone i could have a drink with, maybe even dinner. but after that night, i never heard from him again.

until today—valentine’s day—of all days.

my immediate response to his text (after taking a few minutes to scroll through our previous text exchange and orient myself to who exactly “maybe: andrew” was) was that it was indeed the worst holiday ever.

i then asked how many tinder ladies he’d sent that text to.

“oh only about 10 lol.”

first of all: i can’t imagine marrying a man who uses lol un-ironically. second of all: ten. ten! like it was nothing. such is the world we live in. a world where single men can drink from the fountain of youthful women all day ever day, whilst those same women pluck and tone and bleach and pray that they’ll someday be deemed a mate acceptable enough to leave the fray behind.

did i mention that valentine’s day makes me a wee bit bitter?

here’s the thing: i don’t give two shits about andrew. like, not even a little bit, not at all. but he was a reminder of another guy–one who i would’ve loved a valentine’s day text from.

we’ll call him d. d and i met back in october. he was visiting new york from england. we spent multiple nights in a row together following our first date. the second night, i invited him to come home with me after dinner. i figured i had nothing to lose. he was nice. he was normal. he liked me. i liked him. i told myself i was the type who could do a casual thing and be okay with it. sometimes i am that girl! (sometimes i’m not)

the next morning, he got up for his flight back to england, and told me i’d hear from him soon.

i wrote it off – i’d recently been burned and figured this was just another guy who planned to get his kicks in and then disappear. imagine my surprise when d texted at 11am saying he’d made it safely to the airport and that he’d had a great time.

from october to december, we texted daily (note: texted, never spoke on the phone – this should have been a warning sign to me). and then in early december, when i got up the guts to tell him how i felt (spoiler: i had feelings, as one tends to catch after months of constant contact), he disappeared.

a week or so later, i went to lunch with a few of my coworkers. ben, the only man in the group, was talking us through our troubles, and when i began to fill him in on the latest with d, he stopped me mid-sentence.

“you know what this is, right?”

i looked at my tuna melt. yes, deep down, i knew what it was. it was nothing. i was someone to flirt with, a fun fling to be played out via whats app—anything but the real thing. i knew all of this. but i sure as hell didn’t want to hear it said aloud.

why, i asked ben, had he wasted time telling me that what he remembered about me wasn’t the time we spent in my bed, but that my smile lit up a room? that my laugh was contagious? that a two hour cab ride from bristol to london was nothing if he was talking to me all the way home? if he wanted a cheap fuck (pardon my french), he could have gotten across the pond.

ben shrugged. a loose translation of his explanation: it was an easy in. i was an easy in. guys know girls fall for shit like that, so they say it. i was a distraction from life at home—nothing less, nothing more.

that hurt. for the next few weeks, i busied myself with holiday preparation. i went home to my parents over christmas. i went away to vermont with friends for new years. i told myself that life was amazing, that it was nothing. i gave myself the types of pep talks you give your best friends: he wasn’t worth it. you deserve better. you are wonderful and he would be lucky to date you.

by early january, it hurt a bit less.

and then, last sunday evening, my phone lit up. it was d. he was in LA, and wanted me to know that in a contest between the two cities, he’d decided new york won out. we resumed our usual banter. rather than calling him out for ghosting me just two months prior, i played along. we talked about the trip i was booking to europe for a friends’ wedding over the summer. he offered to play tour guide in london and sent me a screenshot of his calendar: a bright blue rectangle reading “sarah visits” appeared on may 27th.

he asked me when the wedding was, then said he’d love to come—he’d never been to nice. i pointed out that coming to the wedding meant he’d be my date. that he’d have to meet my friends.

his response?

“i’ll meet your friends and tell them how amazing i think you are.”

that one line was enough for me to think that maybe the second time around, it would be different.

it wasn’t, of course. it never is.

within a week, he’d fallen off again, texting short, curt replies to my questions about how he was enjoying mardi gras in new orleans (his second stop), offering only what was polite—no more, no less.

this, from the same guy who’d told me only 7 days prior he’d rent a hotel room for us to stay in during my time in london, who contemplated an airbnb so that he could cook me indian food from scratch.

as soon as i engaged, as soon as i texted first, he pulled away. a game. the game.

of course, it’s my own fault, partially. having previously closed off my heart to him, i opened it back up again without a second thought. i allowed myself to think this was different. that his reaching out to me meant he missed me (doubtful). i dared to think that maybe, just maybe, i would be enough this time. enough to convince him i was more than a three night stand.

i wasn’t. i’m not. not to him, at least. and while i know that this particular hurt shall pass—advice i gave to a good friend going through a somewhat similar situation just today—it seems to hurt just a bit more today of all days. the holiday meant to celebrate love. the love i don’t have. the holiday that brings “maybe: andrew” out of the woodwork, looking for a drinking buddy and maybe a fuck buddy too.

“maybe: andrew” isn’t the one for me. and d isn’t either. but just once, just once, i wish one of them would be, you know?

i got an instagram message from a fellow single lady today. in it, she said, “i am very happy with my life, but sometimes the doubting voices do creep in.”

and that’s all it is, isn’t it? the doubting voices that tell us that because we’re not enough right now–in this moment, with this particular person–we’ll never be so.

but that isn’t the truth. it’s not. these are things i tell myself, over and over again. and also, this: that one can be enough without needing a partner to complete them, or tell them they are so. i do not need d to tell me that my life is worthy of living, that my contribution to this planet is singular and magical and that i am oh so lucky to have all that i have. and i sure as hell don’t need to hear it from “maybe: andrew.”

here is my wish for myself, and for you, too: that today, but also ALL DAYS, we remember that we are enough. and that nobody gets to tell us (or make us feel) otherwise.

say it with me now: i am enough.

because you are. and i am too.

 

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yesterday, i did a slew of insta-stories around my cleaning routine: what i do each week, what i do every so often, and perhaps most importantly, the products i use to do it! my fellow neat freaks reached out to tell me to ask for a full post here on the blog about what exactly i use to do my thing, so without further ado, here we go!

ps: this post is organized a) by what i do weekly vs. what i do only every few weeks/every few months and b) by room. you’ll find a little write-up about my routine for each space, and a list (with links!) of the products i use.

LET’S DO THIS! can you tell i LOOOVE cleaning and am so excited to write this post?!

WEEKLY CLEANING ROUTINE 

i tend to do a “big clean” every weekend. sometimes, this is on friday evening (like it was this weekend – i had to work late and came home energized AF!), sometimes it’s saturday afternoon, in between spin class and my evening plans, and sometimes (though very rarely), it’s left ’til sunday, when all my weekend plans are done. though i do clean a bit during the week (especially in the kitchen, which gets a lot of use and therefore gets dirty), my weekend clean is the one, so to speak.

note: i live in a small (700 SF) apartment in NYC. this means: a) things get dustier b) it doesn’t take me ALL that long to clean the entire place. if you live in a 3000 SF house, well, i commend you – and these rules may not apply. or if they do, they’ll take quite a bit longer. 

LET’S DIG IN!

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ONE. the bathroom. i tend to do my bathroom first, partially because it’s the second dirtiest spot of the apartment, and partially because it’s a small enough space that i can knock it out in under ten minutes and feel incredibly accomplished and therefore, motivated to continue. in here, i spray the scrubbing bubbles all over the tub, tile, sink, and in the toilet bowl. i use a sponge to clean everything but the toilet bowl; for that, i have an ikea toilet brush. i clean the outside of the toilet (even the side nooks and crannies!) with method spray, then use the glass cleaner on the mirror and glass light fixture. lastly, i run a sink of hot water, add ajax, and use that mixture to hand “mop” the floors.

what i use:

scrubbing bubbles

method mint glass + surface

grove collaborative tub and tile cleaner (distilled from concentrate)

sprayway glass cleaner

ajax

sponges + rags (old napkins, towels, torn t-shirts, etc.)

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TWO. the bedroom. this part is perhaps the easiest, mostly because my bedroom just isn’t very big. in here, i dust (sconces, my bed, the fan blades, dresser top, etc.), wipe down the mirror, wipe down my windowsills with method/a rag, and then wash the floor with bona cleaning pads (note: the guy who redid my floors told me if i ever used anything other than bona on them, he’d kill me).

what i use:

full circle microfiber duster

method mint glass + surface

sprayway glass cleaner

bona hardwood floor cleaning pads

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THREE. the living/dining room. while this is my biggest space, it’s not nearly as much work as the kitchen–mostly because it’s generally surface cleaning. in here, i’ll wipe down all surfaces with one of two things: method spray (as seen above, it’s an MVP in my cleaning closet) or seventh generation disinfecting wipes. neither is better than the other; it just depends what i have on hand. surfaces = the dresser, coffee table, side tables, dining table, dining chairs, lamps, and window sills. if things are especially dusty, i’ll use the duster on: lamps, bookshelf, and bar cart. from there, it’s down to vacuuming the rugs, and washing the floors with the same bona pads i use in the bedroom (sometimes i use a microfiber floor duster on these before wiping them down with bona).

what i use:

full circle microfiber duster

method mint glass + surface

seventh generation disinfecting wipes

bona hardwood floor cleaning pads

casabella microfiber floor duster

mighty mite vacuum (small enough to fit in my coat closet!)

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FOUR. the kitchen. the kitchen is where the work starts. but i don’t mind it, because my kitchen is my safe haven. it’s also the space that gets the dirtiest, the grimiest, and the overall yuckiest. that means it requires actual scrubbing from time to time (especially on the floor!), and a little bit more in between cleaning. in here, i start by wiping down all the counters with my counter spray of the moment (see my faves below). then i clean the oven with stainless steel cleaner + a rag. that same cleaner can be used to wipe down the fridge and dishwasher too. once all the surfaces are clean, i go in for the kill: the floor. the floor gets the grimiest, by far, and it’s also the surface i have to be the most careful with, as it’s encaustic tile that scratches and stains easily. here, i fill my kitchen sink with warm soapy water (that’s it!), and wipe it down on my hands and knees, scrubbing with a large brush where necessary). whilst it dries, i take care not to walk on it (and not to let penny walk on it either!).

what i use:

murchison hume counter safe spray

grove collaborative counter spray (distilled from concentrate)

bar keeper’s friend (for the sink; can also be used on stainless steel)

magic stainless steel cleaner (use with a rag)

seventh generation dish soap (i use this to wash dishes but also my floor, when mixed with hot water)

seventh generation disinfecting wipes (i use these to wipe down cabinets, range hood, sometimes counters)

casabella sparkle sponges (MY FAVE! i often find these at tjmaxx, and will STOCK THE F UP when i do!)

and that, my friends, is all she wrote. mostly. though these are the things i do every week, there are a few i do every few weeks/every few months/when i feel they need to be done. the “every so often” jobs include:

  • washing my couch covers (they’re all removable and can go in the wash!)
  • using glass cleaner on all of my glass light fixtures
  • wiping down kitchen cabinets/hood
  • shaking out rugs (outside my window because i’m a horrible neighbor)
  • wiping down baseboards (with a wet rag; they get dusty)
  • wiping down my bedroom fan (which gets covered in dust and penny hair)
  • washing my curtains (they’re ikea, so i can easily throw them in the wash)

AND THAT IS ALL SHE WROTE, FOR REAL. if you missed my cleaning tutorial, you can check it out on my instagram stories here

got questions? anything above unclear? leave me a comment here, or, ya know, sliiiide on into my DMs.

happy cleaning!