Oh, hello there Mr. Nelson. Are you playing with your favorite toy — the Target Cupcake (of which we have purchased and destroyed dozens?)
Wait? What’s that you say? You aren’t playing with your toy? You are trying to distract anyone from noticing the gobs of junk “hidden” under the bed?
Few closets meant I stashed my craft and art supplies under the bed, only to realize they were still in plain view. Thankfully, I found this tutorial, which made sewing a bed skirt for a bed with a frame a snap.
Well, maybe not a snap. But easy enough — even though scooting under the bed with a hot glue gun was probably not the smartest idea.
Voila! A few bucks spent in velcro and canvas and now I can hide my junk with pride. And unlike previous hot glue adventures, I neither burned myself, nor the carpet. Success!
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- Domestic Art, Heirloom Homestead, June Cleaver, NJ + NYC
What this house lacks in closets, it makes up for in windows. There are big windows in every room — most of which give us a garden view. While D is away this week studying in England, I’ve been busy trying to get things organized, and homey.
Sorry, darling. Your Mad Men poster will not suffice. Although don’t get me wrong — I like that you are willing to share the house with Don Draper.
I made this dresser our linen closet, with folded quilts and rugs tucked beneath.
Plants and farmer’s market baskets make me happy.
As does a well organized, tidy bathroom with a pretty curtain runner:
Any other creative storage ideas for small spaces? I would love to hear them. Otherwise, this is all happily coming together.
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- Heirloom Homestead
This recipe does not disappoint; I made the meatballs too big this time, but next time — I will make twice as many, half as big and freeze the second half for other recipes. It is quick, healthy and delicious.
Nice work, Panda!
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- Kitchen Talk
Nelson and I have been taking long, rambling walks that often leave me asking for directions and scratching my head. Without mountains in the west as a compass point, I’m frequently lost. It is delightful to be without a timetable; we wander, we talk to neighbors, we closely examine flowers and trees with which we are unfamiliar.
And one of us does a lot of playful yipping at other dogs.
(What? I like dogs).
I am eager to get a library card here to research the flora and fauna of our neighborhood. It the last two weeks, the colors have so changed. The pale, delicate pink blossoms of cherry trees have fallen, wilted and blown away, ashen along their edges. In place, these flamboyant fuschia bushes have come to life — including one in our yard. Azaleas, perhaps?
This red tree catches my eye in the evening. If you see it just in the right light, it appears to be illuminated from within.
These flowers are dainty and sultry — in their own Georgia O’Keeffe kinda way.
And oh, how I love the moss growing on these giant old trees. Everything is just so very, very green. Makes a desert girl reconsider her understanding of the color itself.
(There is some very navel-gazy-blog essay that could but won’t be written about being named after a shade of green, only to move to a land to better understand both the hue and myself. You’re welcome.)
This week, I’m researching gardening organizations and trying to find a New Jersey planting calendar. And sweet talking our landlord into letting me use a bit of additional space to put in some rows of vegetables, including transplanting my potted, rambunctious teenager tomatoes and peppers — their limbs reaching out with adolescent awkwardness.
Happy exploring to you, amigos.
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- Flora and Fauna, NJ + NYC
I’m working on blogging ideas about community, neighborhoods and what identifies us regionally in the US. Of course this comes with trying to figure out the nuances of living in such a different place. Arizona to Colorado was a leap across state and seasonal lines. Colorado to New Jersey is a mind-boggling, culture shifting, honk-your-horn-just-in-case voyage catapult into a new life.
I cannot believe how big the United States is. More precisely: I cannot get over how many distinct groups of folks — living in different types of homes, speaking varied dialects (much less languages), in vastly contrasting climate zones — there are under one flag. (And that isn’t including all those territory folks, folks I haven’t yet had a chance to visit. Related: hi, Guam! Hola Puerto Rico! Hey there, Marshall Islands.)
I loved living in Golden; and northern New Jersey is certainly growing on me. The landscape is stunning; countless shades of green, foggy mornings, woodpeckers, bears, possums and all kinds of other woodland creatures I only otherwise know from movies like, “The Hedge.” (Gila monsters? I know a gila when I see one. Possums? Kinda look like a big, scary ferret. Especially considering I only “see” them when they are partly smushed and fully dead on the side of the road. Add raccoons to that list too. Little trash-loving, blindfold-wearing bandidos.)
Perk of living in a fancy neighborhood: kick ass thrift stores. They call them “thrift boutiques” here and with good reason. There are no nickel and dime bins, but instead clothing sorted by designers. And the prices work out nicely for someone trying to make a living on book sales.
Remember those fantastic champagne coupes I was wanting in Denver? Well. How about these babies found at the “boutique?” (Along with that hand-stitched vintage linen.)
God bless you, New Jerseyians. Jerseyites? Jersies?
Tomorrow, I start interviewing for jobs. My new interview outfit, via the “boutique” J Crew and scarf racks:
I’m kinda digging the trees and green in the backyard. And the open window. See? More perks.
Jersey, we are going to fall head over heels for each other. With any luck, in designer heels from the “boutique.”
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- NJ + NYC
Sisters in Spirit is a series of essays by a group of women who felt a spiritual perspective lacking from the steady stream of daily news. They each agreed to carve space monthly on their blogs for a spiritual conversation. The topic this month is: accountability.
I am self-motivated, but much more so when I have someone holding me accountable. An editor nagging for pages on deadline. A running buddy waiting on the trail, tapping an annoyed toe if I’m late. A coven of girlfriends who hold me to my long-held and loudly voiced beliefs. Especially when I get off course.
Have you ever heard Louis CK’s take on beliefs?
“I have a lot of beliefs and I live by none of them.”
He calls them “believies,” and the entire bit is terribly vulgar and twice as funny. He nails it: we hold these ways of proper living close to our mouths, not to our hearts. We spout how important doing XYZ is until it actually comes time to do XYZ.
Pick your believie:
- Texting and driving!
- Living within your means!
- Swearing! Hell no!
- Not drinking! Burp.
- Or perhaps just not drinking too much. Burp.
- Not gossiping! But did you see what she was wearing…
We are flawed by design, some of us (ahem) more so than others.
I’d repeatedly said I would never live with someone before marriage.
Rationale: I’m an independent Christian woman who runs her own household. If a man wants to live with me, we should be married first. It is the right thing to do to honor God.
Reality: I had to quit my job and move across the country to give this relationship a real shot. Those decisions did not come without considerable prayer and counsel. I know it is right to be here, and I couldn’t have financially made it work without living under the same roof. God is under this roof too; He is present in this home.
I still have a lot of mouthy believies these days, but now I see life is a bit more nuanced. I’m not excusing my behavior. I’d be lying if I said I’m not embarrassed. I spend far too much time worried our mothers are embarrassed, and that my views are so old fashioned, I’m completely isolating myself from my peers.
I’m thankful for those who do hold me to my beliefs, and mock my believies. There is a heap of comedic fodder found in both.
As to holding others accountable, this verse rings true: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:32
Does someone hold you accountable? What are you working on?
Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife. (She does not play the organ.) She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice. Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler. Sarah blogs at www.beautyschooldropout.net
Bianca is a Navy wife from the great state of Texas (where she coincidentally currently resides), and she and her husband welcomed their first child in the fall of 2012. She has a passion for serving others, asking hard questions and sharing The Gospel with both her words and actions. Bianca loves Jesus, her hubs & her son, authentic friendships, traveling, making lists of all kinds, and trying new recipes which she blogs about onBecomingBianca.com
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My new kitchen is full of color, and is my favorite room in the house. It is wacky, fun, and space-challenged, but all together perfect. I’m not working yet, and so each afternoon looks a bit like a scene from a 1950s television show. I usually wear a dress and apron, and am elbows deep into a new recipe until the moment D gets home from work. He goes outside to throw the ball with Nelson, while I put whatever odd concoction we’re eating on the table — which has been set since after breakfast.
What? I’m a writer. Procrastinating is an art, people. And we have to eat…
Yeah. I realize this little routine isn’t going to last long. We’ll be throwing frozen chicken breasts into the Crockpot before scooting out the door to our respective careers soon enough. But, while I’ve got the domestic mojo flowing, we are all enjoying it.
I’ve taken Stacey’s model and adapted it for our life. We eat most meals at home. Between the two of us, I’m either cooking or buying ingredients (cereal, milk) for 36 meals per week. My new goal is to feed us well — local produce, etc. — for less than $100 per week for these 36 meals.
It’s working. This week’s menu includes several recipes from Wine and a Spoon, including chicken tikka masala and meatball soup. Other standards in our weekly repertoire include a roast chicken (which eventually ends up in the soup pot to be boiled down for broth), lots of salad, and several bags of steamed veggies brought back to life with spices and a little butter. We eat a lot of leftovers too. (Risotto, meatloaf, soups — all taste better day two anyhow.)
What is not included in that $100: wine. Ice cream. The random block of gourmet cheese one of us always seems to pick up during the week. The lunch out when we just don’t feel like eating leftovers.
The cost of living is considerably higher here, and I’ve never been much of a coupon/food sale shopper. I’m hoping this new routine of planning our next week’s worth of meals, and shopping once at the most reasonable market will save us time, money and the “what will we eat tonight/what ingredient am I missing” headaches.
I’m looking forward for it to warm up a bit so I can supplement this menu with our own tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs. And for the BBQ to be fired up.
Another perk to all this budgeting and being a responsible adult? Eating out is way more fun when done sparingly. It seems like a deserved treat to visit our favorite sushi joint Friday nights.
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- Domestic Art, Good to Great, Happy Hippie, NJ + NYC
One of my closest friends from college comes into NYC for work on occasion. We were able to catch up last night, with a bottle of wine and far too much food at Manzo. I was so excited for Emily and D to meet; they’d heard a lot about each other. As soon as Emily and I finished hugging, we dug in, telling long, complicated stories of our dorm room shenanigans. By the end of the meal, we had laughed until our sides hurt.
Or that stitch could have been the copious amounts of food we enjoyed.
Oh, NYC: you are such a pain in the butt to access, but the rewards are so sweet for those who succeed.
This is still one of my favorite photos of us, from 8 years ago when she was studying in Boston and I was visiting. So young! Although that time we ate junk food poolside in Costa Rica in our bikinis was pretty ridiculous too. Or the time we did shots of tequila right before she walked down the aisle in Mexico.
In truth, it says something of her patience that she still wants to be friends with me.*
Also: I am really enjoying how many of my friends come through NYC for one thing or another. This is easing the homesickness quite a bit.
P.S. Love you Fatty!*
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- NJ + NYC
There are a few things that make a house feel like home. My mama’s quilts on the beds, and the back of the couch — some of them worn thin from more than a decade of decadent napping. My brother’s pottery on the bookshelves, wedged between stacks of great stories begging to be read. A few pots of tomatoes and herbs, stretching their green leaves toward the sun on the veranda. Knitting needles with new projects. Dirty casserole dishes soaking in the sink, with the smell of simmering garlic, onions still lingering — a scent that doesn’t fade until the morning coffee is brewing. Handwritten letters in the mailbox, flag up. Handwritten letters received, with postmarks from the last place we called home.
Nelson, is burrowed at the foot of the bed, yipping as he chases some woodland critter in his sleep. A happy man rests, snoring next to him. I crack open the morning newspaper, dewy after being retrieved from the front lawn, pour a cup of that coffee, and settle in to a new day.
A new home. A new life.
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- Domestic Art, NJ + NYC