Steven Weinberg is THE BEST

It’s been too long since I’ve bragged about Steven. So when his redesigned website launched this afternoon it seemed like the perfect opportunity to say:

“Look! Look how great his stuff is!”

Seriously! Go to, click around and see for yourself!

I know on this website I talk about all the carpentry he’s been up to for the hotel and other things Spruceton Inn related. But I just want to take a moment and give him a shout out for doing all those millions things for me while simultaneously not missing a beat in developing his own career as an artist, writer, and illustrator.

His debut children’s book Rex Finds an Egg! Egg! Egg! is ready to roll with Simon & Schuster this coming year and more on the way…

And have you seen his weekly HyperAllergic comics? They’re hilarious and oh so true.

Now don’t waste a second longer here– get over to!

P.S. Love the design and wish your own site could be that fun and user friendly? Hit up Little Digital Co. They designed too and have been nothing but an absolute pleasure to work with!

Barn Party!

This weekend our buddies Kim and Robert had a one year anniversary barn party. It was a hoot and a holler! They told everyone to dress fancy and/or Western, and since we don’t get many opportunities to bring it out here we BROUGHT IT:

We spent most of the party on the dance floor. Which made our Sunday morning exceptionally hangover free!

Thanks Kim and Robert for such a lovely time!

I Love Lamp: The Farmhouse

Ever noticed that I’ve never once shown you a picture of the outside of our house? That’s because it’s been unfinished!

After finishing the work on the motel (gotta do your money maker first!) we hit the house. HARD. And we’re still going. I can hear the carpenters whistling to themselves outside my window right now. But we’ve made some real progress in the past few weeks and it’s enough that I’m finally ok with showing ya’ll what it’s looked like since we moved in.

Actually, we heard from neighbors that it’s been un-sided like this for 6 years. Which makes the relatively low level of water damage and rot we’ve dealt with A MIRACLE.

But anyway! The first step was to figure out which of the extensions were salvageable.

We had like 20 different plans– keep the upstairs bathroom, ditch it but keep part of downstairs, reframe the whole thing, get rid of it all. Ultimately it came down to the placement of a big ole’ waste pipe that would be crazy to try to move, but we didn’t even know that until we started taking stuff down.

This project, way more so than the motel, has been a real decision monster. As in, there have been A THOUSAND decisions to make and remake and unmake because the circumstances keep changing. And with the hotel I’d spent so much time and energy planning everything, analyzing the guest experience and how that should influence the design, that by the time we got the house I was kinda like, “Hell, I don’t know what I want over here. What do you think Mr. Plumber Man?”

In the end we decided to remove the ancient and rotting 2nd floor bathroom extension that had been added some time in the ’60s. It’s amazing how quickly some demo can happen. We bathed Waldo in the tub in the morning and after lunch it was gone!

Along with all the other rotted siding as you can see. At this point we had a pretty good laugh at the idea, “And we thought it couldn’t look any crazier outside!”

Then we removed a totally rotting, leaking, uninsulated shed-like extension right off the kitchen. There were so many ancient outlets, electrical wires, gas lines, and pipes running along the outside of it, all generally giving Building Code the finger– it was a real dance to coordinate between all the carpenters, plumbers, and electricians working on the project. Not all of which went well. I had people cursing each other out each telling me the other was incompetent, unethical and all other sorts of stupid things. It was infuriating and uncomfortable but I stood by everyone I hired, asked grown men to act like grown men, and it got done.

On top of it all it rained constantly throughout this whole process meaning a) the guys could hardly get full days of work in so we kept falling further and further behind schedule and b) the whole place had to be tarp’ed like crazy to protect from water damage and it sounded like we lived in a goddamn sailboat with all the flapping and whipping about.

Side note: once the extension came down we were left with a concrete patio. We took this picture that first evening with it after talking about how much living in Mali had prepared us to live with this bizarre mix of no privacy, lots of noise, and developing world conditions. Not to mention the condescending attitudes from men (both accidental and purposeful) towards me The Young Woman which I’ve experienced working in conservative Muslim places like parts of Mali and Morocco, for which I have zero tolerance in America.

The patio itself also reminded us of this great restaurant/bar in Bamako named–rather inappropriately–Beirut because of its bombed out look. The previous tenants apparently trashed the place after not getting their lease renewed, and the new tenants decided to go for a rough/refined juxtaposition look.

But anyway!

Plywood went up next and we knew we’d been living in a construction zone too long because when we saw this we thought, “Ooh I love it! I wish we could keep it just like this!” Not even kidding.

And by the way, all the while, windows are being replaced and dust and bugs and small animals are all making themselves right at home in our insane kitchen.

The next steps in the back required capping of pipes, reframing over our basement access, repairing soffits, new flashing and trim, all new wrap, plus a thousand other small repairs I can’t even sort through right now.

And finally– FINALLY!–this week the siding has begun to go up. In many ways it’s the most straightforward and superficial of the changes, but it’s also the most satisfying to see.

We can’t help but keep exclaiming, “It looks like a REAL HOUSE!” Neighbors are slowing down as they drive by, even the postman and FedEx guy have told us how good it looks. It’s all very encouraging!

After all the siding is done, we’ll redo the roof then paint the whole shebang. We’re going all white, windows and trim included, to return it to its old farmhouse look. Even all of our trim and cornerboards and such were designed with its former self in mind.

And then…? It’s hard to even imagine this property not under construction of some sort. And while I’d love to just enjoy some peace and quiet out here I hope that by the time we finish–if not before–the State will have given us our final permits and the place will be crawling with guests!

Here’s to hoping!

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


I Love Lamp: Hand Painted Signage

Since it’s a nice crossroads of our look and a good price, we’ve been hand painting all of our signage out here at the inn. We’re going about it in a pretty old fashioned way too:

Step 1. Print an outlined and life-sized version of the wording.

Step 2. Flip it over and trace the back with charcoal.

Step 3. Place the paper charcoal side down on the sign and rub so that a faint outline remains on the sign, then paint over it!

Step 4. Wipe down any remaining charcoal once and paint dries and voila!

We used the same method yesterday for painting the room numbers.

The door handles and lights are on alternating sides, so I knew I wanted the numbers to be in the middle to give the building a uniform look.

I thought about painting big numbers right in the middle of the doors but decided that might awkwardly take over. So I decided to paint them centered on the door frame instead. Actual numbers (like 1, 2, 3, 4) would look weeny on that 4″ trim and be hard for guests arriving at night to see, so I decided to use the font I made for our logo and spell out the numbers instead.

And I love it!

There was one hitch: we have a mechanicals/laundry room in the middle of the strip. “Laundry” wouldn’t be hard to paint but it sure would be boring.  So we went with this instead:

Cracks me up!

I know this means that everyone and their mother are going to open that door. I can’t decide if it’s funniest to just leave it as an immensely boring laundry room or to take it further– label the washing machine “time machine”, the dryer “teleportation device”… You’ll have to come for a visit and see for yourself!

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

So Close

Yesterday Steven and I were in Lowe’s buying lightbulbs and gravel and lord knows what else– there’s always something else!– and we were totally that miserable couple you see in stores like that. We are both SO. OVER. buying things for this hotel. And want oh so desperately to just open already!

We had friends come by on the 4th and it was so much fun–

And encouraging too– it’s so great to see people enjoying themselves on the property. And to learn from what they need and suggest. But it gave us a taste of what it will be like when this place is full of guests and oh my gosh WE WANT MORE. We just want to do this already!

So why aren’t we open yet? Because we’re waiting on our final permits from New York State and the bureaucratic backlog is staaaaaaaaaggering. We’re such a small operation it’s hard for us to be a priority, but being this small and missing so much of what would be our busy season means… well, it means that sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep at night.

Before this I never understood why new restaurants and such couldn’t give you a hard opening date but I get it now. And the fact that the State can’t give me a hard date drives me absolutely bananas because because this is a reservation based business!

Every day I’m asked, “Are you open yet?” Sometimes I laugh about it. Sometimes I explain the situation in detail and list all the silver linings. Other times I think I might just break out into hives right then and there from the anxiety.

It reminds me of this website I came across for pregnant women who are constantly asked, “Have you had that baby yet?”

So that’s where we’re at. No, we’re not open yet. Yes, it’s a huge fucking bummer. But yes, one day this will all just be a funny story to tell. (Knock on wood!) At the very least–apparently I’m in more of a silver linings than a hives mood–it’s BEAUTIFUL out here. And there’s nothing like the epic scale and force of nature to put things in perspective for you.

Here’s to seeing you all up here sooner rather than later!

Spruceton Inn on Design*Sponge!

Today my fan-girl dreams came true: Design*Sponge is featuring the Spruceton Inn!

They call it a “soothing and enlivening escape. Taking cues from the motel’s existing structure, the Spruceton Inn is an endlessly charming and delightfully unfussy retreat, both beautiful and refreshingly simple“.

!!!!!!!!!!! [That's my computer version of pure excitement.]

A few weeks ago, Maxwell Tielman came by to shoot the place and I’ve been looking forward to seeing how he captured it ever since. Needless to say I’m pleased as all heck!

A week or so after that, he wrote to say that they’d like to expand upon the piece and include an interview about the process of renovating etc which I was more than happy to oblige. Lemme say, it was REALLY hard to not write a novella in response– it’s been quite the journey so far.

You can check the whole thing here. And if you aren’t an avid reader of Design*Sponge yet, you should be! Like I’ve said before, I think they do a really wonderful job of being MUCH more than a website of pretty photos.

Thank you Max and everyone at Design*Sponge for the coverage!

Platonic Rural Dating, aka Instagram in the Country

I just wanted to take a moment to write a quick public love letter to Instagram because, well, I LOVE IT.

I love posting photos, looking at other people’s photos, going down strange hashtag rabbit holes. I love having this record of moments. I love being able to show people who aren’t up here what the heck we’ve been up to in the Catskills.

And most surprisingly, I love that Instagram has given me new friends.

Out here it can be hard to meet people. 5 miles down a dead end country road we’re not exactly going to run into a lot of folks. So we meet ‘em the modern way: online!

Yea, Instagram can be kinda like a platonic rural dating site. You get a snapshot of someone’s life, you message back and forth a few times, you figure out you have common interests and then you hang out and BAM! Cyber friends become real friends.

For all the hell we give technology for sometimes isolating us, at least it gives us new people to ignore as we check our phones!


I Love Lamp: Room Sneak Peek

Guys, it’s been BANANAS. So, yet again, I’m just gonna show you a little sneak peek of something at the Inn. Here’s the breakfast nook in one of the Kitchenette rooms:

Steven, my in-house carpenter (when and how did that happen by the way…?!) built the table from barn wood and pre-made legs. He’s also the master painter behind the art. We’ve had a good laugh several times about how he’s making hotel art nowadays… Perhaps the classiest hotel art around!