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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.