I Love Lamp: The Kitchen… One Day!

As I attack the rest of the house with white paint, I’m dreaming of a country kitchen…

We’ve done a very surface level touch up of ours. We began like this:

I painted just about everything white, we put up some barn wood shelving and some hanging baskets (eff you mice!), hung a barn door

And when we were having the outside of the house done we installed new windows and doors which has been great for the keep-the-heat-in game. But we’ve kinda plateaued on the rest of the progress front. And on the functional front. Because the next steps are BIG. Like, rip out the ancient linoleum floor big. And the walls. And the possibly sagging ceiling? And OH MY GOD THIS CORNER:

It being a kitchen and all there’s a lot of moving parts and complicated elements between all the plumbing and electric and gas and and AND… You have an idea to take out one thing and then you’re like, “Oh wait, that’s physically attached to this other thing and if we rip that out then–” blah blah blah. And we’re reaching our skill limit. I’m good with a paint brush, but I’m not exactly trying to trim out every window over new dry wall I installed, you know?

So in the mean time, like I first said, I’m doing all kinds of planning and scheming for that country kitchen…

(Top photo I’ve seen EVERYWHERE but cannot find an original credit, second photo is via Mother Mag, third photo is Jersey Ice Cream Co– of a house that’s only about 15 minutes away… think I can just move the whole thing to our house??)

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

International Idioms

I’m a sucker for things like untranslatable words that convey something particular about that country/culture, so it’s unsurprising that when I saw this Hotel Club infographic of idioms from around the world I jumped up in my chair:

A few of my favorites are:

Uhhhh, now that I’m looking at this I’m realizing I clearly have a thing for animal idioms.

My absolute FAVORITE of the bunch is this Polish one (and not just because I’m a Scieszka):

That just CRACKS ME UP. I keep picturing a literal circus gone awry and someone standing at the edge of it with their arms folded, shrugging, saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys” then leaving to go get lunch or something.

Anyway. Happy Friday!


Master Bedroom Update

There are a handful of large-scale things we still wanna do to the house, like re-install 2 bathrooms that were demo’d by the previous owners and renovate the kitchen. But before undertaking things of that scale we figured we should take care of all the other smaller projects that we can do ourselves inexpensively.

I was so pleased with my office make-over, why not approach the rest of the house the same way?

(By the way, we hung that plant. BOOYAH!)

So Wednesday morning I went to the local hardware store, stocked up some pure white paint, and got to work on the master bedroom.

Here’s what it looked like before: (with Waldo showing off for the camera)

Fine. Just a little grey, not entirely pulled together. It didn’t really reflect our style since just about every piece (minus the poncho pillows) we’d picked up for free somewhere along the way. Not a bad deal at all! Just not so purposeful.

I did a test corner first to make sure that the cream colored trim wouldn’t look dirty next to the fresh coat of white which can sometimes happen–

It looked fine so I proceeded with the rest of the room.

I got about a third of the way through before I had to stop so we could go to the tree lighting down the road at the Community Hall. I felt like such a country housewife covered in paint, rushing around to get a pasta dish together for the pot luck. Though my part in the production was rather minuscule compared to Steven’s:

Yup. The town Jew was Santa Claus. And oh my god it was so freakin adorable!

That night we slept in the guest room because otherwise we’d get all paint-high. It was cozy. And I was happy to give it a test-run finally.

Especially because I wanted to see if moving the bookshelves out of the master bedroom there made it feel too crammed.

Totally fine!

Thursday morning I got the roller back out and finished the paint job while Steven and I listened to the new Serial podcast that everyone’s been talking about. That made the rest of the job fly by!

At this point I enlisted Steven to help me make and hang two new floating bedside tables to be made out of– you guessed it– barn wood!

We used a 10″ wide piece and tested it with the objects we’d actually keep on it, and settled on 20″ long. Two quick cuts, a few screws drilled into some L brackets left over from hotel renovations and BAM! Bye-bye dust bunny hide-out.

And the room feels huuuuuge now that we don’t have the bookshelves in it! We’ll probably get some kind of a chair or hamper eventually, and perhaps hang some art again but for now we’re both enjoying the serene simplicity of the space.

As you can see though, we decided to hang my fern in there for a pop of green. Steven’s caught the hanging plant bug too!

And now I must resist the urge to go nap in this lovely little haven…

One more time, before and after:

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)



Happy One Year Anniversary in the Catskills!

A year ago today we packed up our new Subaru and drove north from Brooklyn to move to the Catskills and open an inn.

I remember being the kind of nervous where you feel nothing as we signed the surprisingly few papers needed to transfer the property deed.

Despite the piles on the lawyer’s desk, it was done in a matter of minutes.

We picked up Italian sandwiches at a local shop, and two shovels from the hardware store since we’d heard it was supposed to snow the next day. Then we drove to our new house, the thrill of this huge change starting to settle in, our grins growing wider with each mile we came closer to our new home.

We met our first neighbor before we could even get the keys in the door– Gary, who pulled up in his pick-up truck and welcomed us with an oh so friendly mile-a-minute monologue about “the valley” and all the nice people in it. I remember thinking how Moroccan or Malian that felt, to be welcomed like that. How not NYC.

We walked in every room, opened every closet door we’d been too bashful to invade during previous visits. Kept proclaiming things like, “Oh my god we live in a HOUSE! This is our HOUSE!” We even went down into the basement to poke around. Strolled the eight acres of land. Then had a celebratory beer and photo op to capture the moment:

Our moving truck which was supposed to meet us had broken down in Brooklyn and couldn’t be repaired until the next day (which actually turned into the day after that) so we set up camp with what we had.

A crate as a dinner table:

Sheets as a bed:

And some Cretian ouzo to cheers the move with since this whole buy-an-inn-upstate idea had been born over a bottle of ouzo on a beach in Crete:

(Oh, Sougia.)

We ended the night with a bonfire:

I wish I could say we slept like babies, but really we slept like grown-ass adults on a floor with only a sheet to pad us, which is to say, uncomfortably and fitfully.

I remember just how dark it seemed outside too. How much it felt like we were in this lit-up fishbowl. How attuned we were to every unfamiliar creek that echoed through the empty house.

But you know what was so much better than our fitful night of sleep? Waking up in our new home. Making coffee and taking our steaming mugs out into the crisp morning, the dew still frozen on the meadow.

And you know what’s even better than that? Being able to do that every day since.

We’ve put a lot of work into this place as a home and a business since moving here. There were times, especially right before we opened, when I almost didn’t believe my own mantra of, “Everything will get done because it has to.”

But it did! And through that work, over that time, this place became ours. And now, when we drive down the road and we come up to this house, something inside me says home.

And when I look out our window into the meadow, I think home.

And when I open our creaking door to go to work at the Inn in our backyard, I think home.

Not to mention all the people we’ve met over the past year who’ve made this whole experience more than the lonely move to the woods it could have been. And all the friends and family who’ve visited and even put their own sweat into the place. To all of you I say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! People talk a lot about community but I feel like it’s something I’m only just beginning to truly understand thanks to this past year.

And to Steven. Cheers. Thank you. I love you. You make everything an adventure!

And thank god you turned out to be handy with a hammer.

I Love Lamp: Indoor Plants

For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessing about getting indoor plants. Probably because everything but the pine trees outside are dyyyyyyyying right now (of the normal “oh it’s winter now” kind of affair).

It should be noted that my indoor plant track record is spotty at best. I mean, I’ve killed cacti before. Yes plural.

But I’ll change! I swear! To have something beautiful and green hanging in my home office. Because hanging is the other very important part of this indoor plant obsession.

After a little online research (ok fine, after at least two hours of cruising Tumblr, Pinterest, and all kinds of previously unknown to me plant sites) I settled on: the philodendron.

At the suggestion of my florist/landscape designer friend extraordinaire Molly, I checked out what our local grocery store’s nursery had during yesterday’s trip to town and low and behold there they were!

I came home with this guy:

Which I obviously have yet to hang, but already I LOVE IT!

And because it was one of those days, or maybe I’m just that kind of shopper, I also came away with something else:

A lovely little fern! Which had been the other plant type high on my list. Because for fifteen more dollars, why not have both?

Now if somebody could check up on me in a week or so make sure that I’ve actually hung up these guys that would be great. Because I’ll admit right now: I never finished that poncho pillow.

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)

Cuz Yea, I’m An Entrepreneur Now

This summer, a young woman by the name of Mia Sakai reached out to me about starting a company designed to “deconstruct the mystery of building a business from the ground up, one story at a time”, POLYNATE. She wanted to interview me, could she stop by some time?

Having benefitted myself from kind strangers responding to my ‘cold’ emails, I was more than happy to oblige, though I have to confess there was a part of me that thought:

“Wait, me? Don’t you want business owners? Oh. Right. That IS me now.”

And so, on a day so hot and bright her iPad suffered a heat malfunction while recording, we sat down and talked business.

You can read the interview in its entirety here. She asked me really thoughtful and practical questions, and it turns out I had an awful lot to say about how I got here. (Said everyone about themselves ever, I know, haha!)

And while it was kinda surreal to be interviewed as a business owner for the first time, it was even MORE surreal to see my answers all laid out on her beautiful website.

And I honestly got a little dizzy when I realized this was not just a pretty graphic of hotel-esque images but rather, an actual timeline of my LIFE leading up to opening:

I often describe my year at NU Hotel during which I was a Front Desk Agent/ bar tender/ bell hop/ anything-they-effing-needed as a “montage”– the working-my-way-up montage that I unfortunately had to live in real time with no peppy movie soundtrack at near minimum wage. But here it was! The actual montage! All finally behind me.

Yea, it’s still weird. I mean, we’ve only been open a few days shy of three months. And we haven’t even lived up here for a whole year yet. I still say things like, “We just opened”. But now comes the rest of it. The running of the business not just planning for it, the continued growth. The numbers that aren’t just projections but actual data from actual occupancy reports and such. The payroll taxes and re-ordering of bulk soap, the catching up on laundry, the changing menus and decisions about what types of advertising are working.

I’m happy to report I FUCKING LOVE IT.

Yes, I get tired sometimes. (Did I mention my Friday shift is fifteen hours long?) And yes, I get annoyed and overwhelmed sometimes. (No I’m sorry, I’m not gonna tell the Internet about those guests right now, haha!) But this, all of this, is what I’ve been working for. And it’s making people happy. So happy! And that just makes me want to cry it makes me so fucking happy.

On the tough days I wonder if this is really enough to give the world. A little hotel in the middle of nowhere? But on the good days I know that this is about memory making, about giving a whole slew of people the respite and inspiration they need to go off and be better people. And that’s more than enough to keep me going.


I Love Lamp: Hallway

Our upstairs hallway is getting a bit of love. Here’s what it looked like Tuesday afternoon before I decided I absolutely needed to fix it that very instant.

Which I totally did in just one day!

Or not.

I know I keep posting “Before” photos and no “After” ones, but that’s because we’re kinda “Somewhere In Between” on just about every house project at the moment. Which by the way is driving us a little NUTS. I nearly screamed into a pillow Tuesday afternoon when I was trying to open the bathroom window so I wouldn’t die from wallpaper remover and paint fumes and for life of me could not do it because it had been painted shut from the outside.

I called my mom and felt better, then Steven used his super strength and opened it for me. Aka, support systems are very much necessary when renovating an old house.

It’s so tempting to just want to be DONE with all the work. But what is “done” anyway?

Ok fine, fine, I’ll take “very nearly finished”, how’s that??

(What is I Love LampThis is I Love Lamp.)