Monday, May 30, 2011

The Steps

Long weekend: pretty much over.


H. and I have been busy bees this hot & sticky weekend. Just like little social butterflies. Usually our weekends are spent staring at each other and taking photos of the cat. But this one was a bit different. Yet in some ways, not at all different.


Anyway, in between social occasions, H. tried to lure me to a flea market. Usually I don't resist. Looking at dusty old junk is among my favorite activities, even if I don't buy anything. Looking at junk is just so satisfying. But, I was feeling poor, and therefore feeling sorry for myself. Also, after the heartbreak of last weekend's china cabinet, I didn't want to get hurt again. I love you, china cabinet.



I tried to resist going to the flea market, and tried to find excuses for us not to go - including that it was too hot, I was too poor, it's such a long way away. But, H. reminded me of my love of junk, and I gave in.

For the most part, it was mostly junk - but nonetheless interesting junk. If I was better at DIY, it would be a veritable treasure trove of inspiration. But mostly, nothing. Until! I came across a pair of wood etageres. I have no photo, and the picture I drew looked bad, so I can only describe them. Dark wood, spindly, knobby posts - very delicate looking, and not too wide or too tall. H. liked them too, but being the Debbie Downer he is, he thought they were too pricey, and also didn't think we had anywhere to put them. I know what you're thinking - and yes, this is unfair commentary from the person who convinced me to go looking at junk in the first place. Now you understand that I married a cruel man.

Well, I suppose I wasn't heartbroken about saying good-bye to them anyway, and we left empty handed. But since yesterday, those etageres have haunted me! And I know exactly where I would put them. I think.

This is my uninspiring living room wall. As you can see, my beloved credenza is piled high with the goodies of the modern age - cable box, DVD player, Wii - and even the modem hidden behind the TV. However, I'm not keen on that corner shelf business there, and I hate the outlet on the left. But maybe if I had a lovely vintage etagere on either side, I could prettify this space? Yes? No? Yes. Yes. Yes. It is my thinking that I could unburden the credenza of some of the electronics, show off some interesting books or tchotchkes, and also hide the electrical outlet. But then again, I feel like a couple of wood etageres might make this room a little woodier and heavier than I already feel it is. Thoughts?

Anyway, in browsing the world of etageres, I came across this beauty from Revival Home & Garden in Seattle. It's lovely!

The etageres I saw yesterday were very similar, but without the fancy drawer. But they would look equally as fabulous in a shiny coat of black. But if they were black, I'm not sure they would look good next to my credenza. Thoughts? (Incidentally, the website for Revival Home & Garden has very many beautiful pieces, and makes my already upholstery-admiring self go a little crazy with inspiration)

Well, for now those etageres are not mine, and most likely will never be, but it certainly has me rethinking that wall. If you're also wondering about the odd picture hanging business going on in that photo - we were going to put up a gallery wall of old photos we liked, but were stifled by overwhelming framing. Also, H. isn't keen on the Weegee photo in the middle, although I have a soft spot for it. Anyway, I've sort of become used to it, so I'm not really in a hurry to change the lineup.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Things that got did while my husband watched soccer

Call me a liar. I know a few weeks ago (months) I said I'd have a bedroom update.  I bought new sheets and a duvet cover, which look awesome. I then planned to buy some throw cushions for the bed - a detail I usually disapprove of, simply because it's so impractical. I had even managed to convince H. on a new bed frame.Things changed, priorities shifted. We decided that we don't really need an immediate bedroom makeover right now, while we're trying to save. I'd still like to slowly evolve my bedroom into something a little more put-together, but it doesn't need to happen overnight. So, the bedroom has been put on the back-burner, for now.

So, now what?

Well, I woke up this morning looking down the good side of a long weekend. Yay! Unfortunately there was some nonsense soccer (or "football") game of much importance that had to be watched by H. At a bar. With his buddy. Boo.

Well, first things first. Photoshoot with the cat.




The camera loves him!

He loves to stick his arm into the camera. Here's a montage of foot-forward Izzy shots.





I am only one cat-stroller away from being a crazy cat lady.

While H. watched his football, I enjoyed the sunshine in Ditmas Park, and looked at the beautiful houses while also suffering from extreme allergies. This neighborhood has waaaaay more trees and flowers than mine!


This house has my ideal porch-on-porch set-up (look closely and see the hammock on the upper porch).


This is just a little tudor-style cottage - nothing fancy!


This is a pretty uninteresting photo - but I like the color of this house:


I often wonder what neighborhood I'll buy my awesome house in, when I win a Mega-Millions lottery. Usually I think Brooklyn Heights, but Ditmas Park is so beautiful as well - and I'm a sucker for Victorian houses. But, the weird thing about Ditmas Park is there are never any people on the streets.



It's a bit lonely. I guess all the kids are in their backyards? I don't know.

After my walk, I decided to get a manicure. I went into a random nail salon, where my nails were done by Frank. Yes, a dude named Frank. He was kind of short with me - he *did not* want me to carry my own purse. Anyway. I decided to get a color that I'll call "Dental Assistant".


They match my grandma's old wool blanket nicely, don't they? Yes, I know this color is fugly. This is a long weekend kind of color - it will be gone by Tuesday 9am (don't worry, mom).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Somewhere along the line, I forgot how to count

Yes, I'm still reading my GG books. I just haven't mentioned it, for now good reason. But looking back, I last said I was at #35. But this can't be right. Somewhere along the lines, I screwed up.

Since I last mentioned it, I have completed Alice Munro's The Progress of Love (1986), and The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek (1943) by Thomas H. Raddall. I'm now working through Little Man (1942) by G. Herbert Sallans. So, according to my claim earlier of being done #35, I would have been now at #38. BUT, according to this list of completed books, I'm actually at #40:

1939: Franklin D. McDowell, The Champlain Road

1941: Alan Sullivan, Three Came to Ville Marie

1942: G. Hervert Sallan, Little Man (current)

1943: Thomas H. Raddall, The Pied Piper of Dipper Creek

1944: Gwethalyn Graham, Earth and High Heaven

1945: Hugh MacLennan, Two Solitudes

1947: Gabrielle Roy, The Tin Flute

1949: Philip Child, Mr. Ames Against Time

1960: Brian Moore, The Luck of Ginger Coffey

1962: Kildare Dobbs, Running to Paradise

1966: Margaret Laurence, A Jest of God

1971: Mordecai Richler, St. Urbain's Horseman

1972: Robertson Davies, The Manticore

1974: Margaret Laurence, The Diviners

1976: Marian Engel, Bear

1977: Timothy Findley, The Wars

1980: George Bowering, Burning Water

1981: Mavis Gallant, Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories

1982: Guy Vanderhaeghe, Man Descending

1986: Alice Munro, The Progress of Love

1988: David Adams Richards, Nights Below Station Street

1989: Paul Quarrington, Whale Music

1990: Nino Ricci, Lives of the Saints

1991: Rohinton Mistry, Such a Long Journey

1992: Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

1993: Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

1985: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

1995: Greg Hollingshead, The Roaring Girl

1997: Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter

1998: Diane Schoemperlen, Forms of Devotion

1999: Matt Cohen, Elizabeth and After

2000: Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost

2001: Richard B. Wright, Clara Callan

2003: Douglas Glover, Elle

2004: Miriam Toews, A Complicated Kindness

2006: Peter Behrens, The Law of Dreams

2007: Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

2008: Nino Ricci, The Origin of Species

2009: Kate Pullinger, The Mistress of Nothing

2010: Dianne Warren, Cool Water

I hope you don't mind this error. I'm sure you don't. So, let it be known that I am on 40/73. Getting there...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Take this longing...

This post was going to be about something else.

But then: something happened. H. and I decided to go for a sunshiney walk this afternoon. We wandered through Bay Ridge, had some frozen yogurt, went to the Norwegian store, went to the Sally Ann (H. bought two books). On our way back, I wanted to stop into the little junk store where we have previously scored two fine chairs. I didn't expect to see anything, I just like to look at the junk. Looking at junk, and napping, are essentially my two favorite activities. They're hobbies.

But then. Oh! First, I saw 6 perfectly lovely mid-century dining chairs. Totally adorable, excellent shape. Ugly cushions, but easily remedied. As I was admiring them, I noticed behind them, behind some other junk: a beautiful, blonde-wood mid century china cabinet. Fab! Perfect condition!

Now, I certainly don't need a china cabinet. Before this, I didn't even know I wanted a china cabinet! H. said, "we don't even have any china!" He also said I would not be allowed to put my snowglobes in it, if I had it. But this thing is so beautiful. And this junk shop, being more into junk rather than jewels had priced it sooooo low. If this thing was on Craigslist in NYC, it would probably have been $750. But the worst truth came to me ever. I don't have room for such a thing! I have a giant apartment, and yet no place for this cabinet. It would be perfect for the dining room in my hypothetical future house. I tried to convince H. that we could find a spot in the apartment for it now, to keep until we move. But no! It isn't true. We have no place for it. This was, truly, the saddest day of my furniture coveting life.

I have no photo, so I drew a picture. I have no scanner, so I took a photo of my picture.


It makes me SICK that I can't have this. It makes me SICK that this and those chairs are in the junk shop and I can't have them. Well, I probably could convince H. on the chairs, but I would worry that I would buy them and then agonize over finding the perfect table to match. But oh my, sad day. I couldn't even take an afternoon nap, because I was thinking about this cabinet. The one that got away.

You laugh, but I am actually heartbroken.

Originally, this post was just going to show you this awesome terrarium I got recently.


And some flowers I bought, that will no doubt die under my care fairly soon. Whatever. Flowers.




I have no words now. My cabinet. My beautiful cabinet.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reconnaissance

Yesterday, H. and I went on a little reconnaissance drive up the Hudson Valley to eyeball some towns and houses. First, we went to Newburgh.

Newburgh is a beautiful, sad place. Such beautiful houses, and so many of them boarded up and crumbling. But, here and there among buildings that seem to be abandoned, are ones that have been bought and lovingly restored. Such a strange mix. I saw, with mine own eyeballs, my beautiful white house.


I love it. I love it so much. I love that house more than any house in the entire world. Here's a real conversation H. and I had after I saw this house in person:

Me: It's my dream house
H: Really?
Me: It is now.

I should have taken a photo of it, and of me hugging it, drooling over it. This snowy photo is from the real estate websites, but yesterday in the May sunshine it had a bright, beautiful pink blossomed tree in front. I love this house. The roof, to all of our eyeballs, looked ok. Maybe my mom was right, maybe it has no heat. But it has a roof. And the neighborhood was bright and charming and full of gardens, and ohmygodIloveitsomuch.

But. You know what? Newburgh is really far. And also, it is really hilly, so maybe the Vespa idea wasn't great. But still, I'm kind of into Newburgh. I like its houses, and its seediness and its potential. Also: it has a Target.

After Newburgh, we zipped over the bridge to Beacon. Charming, twee Beacon. It makes me a little sick. Our friends, who drove us up there, are pretty set on Beacon. That's fine for them. I'm not sure I could deal with it.

After a coffee and scone in Beacon, we went to Peekskill.


And you know what? We liked it. I'd say, we really like it. I'd say that it is probably the most real possibility in this quest for suburban living. It has a record store, so H. like it. We drove around Peekskill and looked at some of the houses for sale that I have on my watch-list. Why do I have a watch-list now? I don't know. I'm obsessive. We liked the houses. We liked the town. We were happy. But, you know what? Peekskill does not have a Target. But I will forgive it (and write to Target and persuade them to build one - just for me).

After all this driving, we were all feeling a little tired, so we drove through Ossining, but did not stop. I think we have pretty much taken Ossining off our list. I worry that we would be the poors in a town of million dollar plus houses, and H. had been told bad things by a former resident. Not like it has a Target, anyway.

Anyway. Peekskill! Are you my winner? Maybe! H. and I are planning on going up in late summer and staying there for a night or two, to get a feel for the town a bit more.

I still love my white Newburgh house though. I'll never forget you, white house.

Now that my brain is exploding with the idea of houses - houses I have seen with my own eyes - I'm also going crazy with furniture dreams. Did you know that Urban Outfitters has some cool furniture? I didn't! I didn't know! Here's a sample of a bunch of things I want:






And these things, these furnitures, they aren't so terribly expensive. Ugh. You know what's worse than a food-diet? A money-diet. When you're on a food-diet, you can buy new clothes to make yourself happy. When you're on a money-diet, you can't even buy nice food to make yourself feel better because it costs money. It sucks. But when I have my house in Peekskill, I'll own all these things. So many things. And food.

Did you know that I am now on Pinterest, and you can stalk all my covets there? Here's me: http://pinterest.com/thecrabigail/

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The deal-finder.

I like to remind H. how full of good ideas I am.

Last week, I made an amazing discovery. I think I mentioned before the possibility of Newburgh, NY as a place full of lovely cheap houses for the buying. Problem is, it's a bit far. As far as I knew at the time, the commute to the city would have involved a boat, a train and the the subway. That's a bit much. But last week I discovered that there is a commuter bus from Newburgh that drops off right across the street from my office. It's still a long journey, but one bus! So, I reopened the file on Newburgh houses.

We both love this house.


It's pretty run down, but for the past week my head has been dancing with the idea of fixing it up. I am usually drawn to Victorian houses, but I'm completely charmed by this 1920s style. The idea of renovating, and especially DIY, puts the chills in H. We've been wondering why this guy is so cheap. No roof? No heat (my mother's suggestion), maybe. But it's so inexpensive that I could build in some major rehab, and it would still be affordable. I love you, white house.

Today I tried to plant another seed in H's mind, when I found this little house.

Cute, eh? I mean, it's not the glorious creature the other white house is. This guy is pretty small - just a touch larger than our apartment now. But 3 bedrooms, enough for us and Iz for a few years. A starter home, and it's in good shape. AND IT COSTS $49,000. Holy moly. We could put a downpayment on this baby, and be paying less than $300/month mortgage. Mind-boggling! I'm not sure H. is sold. One of his criteria is that we should be able to walk to our commuter bus or train, which is reasonable. You couldn't really walk to my special bus from this, but with all the money we could be saving, we could get a Vespa. We could VESPA TO THE BUS. How crazy is that? Just zip up and down the road, to the bus. Here is me and H. on our way to work:


How fun! Maybe not in the snow, but most of the year: how fun!

I believe myself to be a genius. A genius plotter and schemer. H. is a lucky man.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

West Elm, you tease!

You may remember a couple months ago when I was thinking about some new cushions for the couch. Well, I didn't ever get any. Not for any reason, I just didn't get around to it. Well, imagine my excitement today when I saw this Tweet from West Elm:


Heck, yeah. I. Love. A. PILLOWSALE.

So, I head on over to West Elm and admire their excellent selection of recently discount pillows. And I see that those ethnic-y pillows I was admiring are now mildly cheaper.


Cheaper enough, at least, to make me add a couple to my cart and proceed to checkout without informing H. first. But lo! What's this??


What the what?! I want my discount pillows within 5-7 business days! Not two months! This takes all the fun out of impulse online shopping! Furthermore, it takes the fun out of online retail therapy, because my afternoon totally sucked! Why even pretend you have them, West Elm, when apparently you do not? Such sadness. I'll probably buy them anyway.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Quinoa!

Yesterday morning, I woke up and headed to Target.

If you've ever been to the Target at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, you know that usually it is like one of the layers of hell. The shelves are a mess, and picked over, it's full of people, and it's only worth dashing in and out on occasion. But, if you go early it's completely empty, and the shelves are fully stocked. And, I love Target. I don't really know why - it's just a huge store of things I didn't know I wanted so much. But H. hates it. If he is going to be made to go, he demands at least one week warning. Jeez. And once we're there, he pushes me through - no time to browse. Boo! So yesterday, H. stayed home and I went early - and it was bliss. It's probably unhealthy to feel as satisfied and happy with a trip to Target. But I spent an hour browsing around slowly, looking at everything, buying little things I wanted or needed (mostly wanted). Delightful! But, that's not really the point of this post. I just wanted to share my consumerist joy.

Sundays here are usually spent slumping and cooking for the week. H. is making his delicious chicken tandoori. I only wish I could share the smell with you right now! Here's our little helper, Izzy, waiting patiently for H. to drop that chicken on the floor.


H. never dropped the chicken, but Iz did find himself a mushroom to play with:


Izzy loves vegetables. Zucchinis are his favorite, but he's open to a variety of new tastes.

For lunch this week, I've made a quinoa salad with grilled vegetables and a tomato vinaigrette. H. documented the whole process.

Marinating:

Grillin' some veg:


Grillin' some portobellos:


Makin' some vinaigrette:
And, voila:


It was roughly based on a recipe, but it's the kind of thing that's better made by throwing things together as you deem appropriate. The vinaigrette is just red-wine (or red-grape) vinegar, garlic, rosemary, parsley, red pepper flakes, olive oil and grape tomatoes. It suffers from extreme tastiness!

Now Izzy is exhausted from all the excitement - he loves cooking.

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