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For the past six months (and by “six months” I mean my entire life) I’ve carried this looming sense of having forgotten to do something really important, but being incapable of remembering what it is because I’m so overwhelmed by all of the things I either procrastinated doing or discovered I had to take care of at the last minute. It’s a terrible feeling, but it’s one that’s come to define how I (mal)function on a day-to-day basis. Everything is always about catching up. I never feel on top of things. I am always certain I’m disappointing at least one or two or a dozen people, including myself. Any time I feel like I might be getting close to making progress, something happens—usually I get sick (like yesterday, which was spent lying on the sofa curled up with a box of Kleenex and a couple of dogs), but sometimes my website gets hacked or the furnace breaks. You know, normal things that happen to people. When you’re already struggling to keep up with the rest of your life, though, those little roadblocks start to feel uncrossable.

That’s when the recurring dreams start. I have a few that keep coming back to haunt me, but the one that I associate the most with stress is what I call “Forgotten Animals.” In this dream, there is either a small room or a basement or some neglected space in my house that I enter after a long absence, only to discover that it’s filled with animals (usually mice or rats, but sometimes ferrets—all pets I’ve had in large numbers in the past) in cages that are dead, dying, or living in filth and suffering. They are pets I’ve forgotten about that had bred out of control but have no food or water source. I immediately struggle to get their cages clean and hydrate and feed them, but I can’t move quickly enough. It’s a terrible dream, and it’s one that I have at least two or three times a year. It’s not hard to figure out what it means, and I try to take it as a warning.

Well, THAT was a fun therapy session! Anyway, yeah, I need to heed the dream warning. I need to figure out how to get myself organized so I can deal with the simple stuff and not get overwhelmed by the big stuff. There’s no reason to be in a constant state of chaos. I’m not really into resolutions, but I guess I’m kind of making one.

I don’t want to end on a low note, so here are some nice things from this weekend…

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Top to bottom, left to right:

VIVA HATE banner on my living room mantel by Going Steady Shop.
Next up on my reading list, Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure. Have you seen the trailer?
My new jade plant has passed the three week mark, which might be a record. I’m determined to not kill it.
I’ve been OBSESSED with Patrick Townsend’s Orbit Chandelier for years. This was a very, very nice thank you gift from Victoria, and it’s going up in my living room just as soon as I figure out how to deal with the old, non-standard electrical box in the ceiling medallion that thwarted my efforts this weekend. (Sigh.)
Daniel and Max came down for lunch this weekend. I made fancy grilled cheeze sammiches and we watched Flowers in the Attic. Perfect Sunday?
Nothing really, just admiring the tiles in the living room fireplace. So nice.
Fritz had his 6th birthday yesterday! Remember when he was brand new? (Warning: SO CUTE IT HURTS.)

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Well, I didn’t get everything on my Sunday to-do list crossed off, but I made a decent dent. Daniel came down from Kingston for lunch (we went to Tito Santana Taqueria in Beacon — really good food and tons of vegan options!), and I decided it was probably more fun to hang out with my friend than to organize my pantry for the millionth time. It was.

I did manage to make some progress in the dining room, though! It had kind of become a dumping ground for a long time while we worked (and worked, and worked…) on the kitchen, and once we finished carting all of the tools, construction debris and other crap down to the basement, I could see the room really needed a freshening-up. Nothing major, just a little nip/tuck here and there.

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The first order of business was addressing the lighting. As cute as it was, I never felt like the pendent I had hanging over the table previously was substantial enough. I picked it out before we’d moved any of our furniture into the house, and before I had a good understanding of the scale of the rooms.

A while back, I ordered the Mobile chandelier from West Elm. (Yes, it’s on back order until April, but is April really that far away? It’s not like you’re going to get around to hanging it before then, anyway.) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put it in the kitchen or the dining room, but they were having a sale and the pictures on the site looked nice, so I just went for it. And then it sat on the dining room table for a couple of months.

BUT! Behold! Look what Evan and I did…

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Ahhhhhhhh!!! I’m in love with this lamp. Love, love, love. It took me a day to get to full infatuation point, though. I initially positioned the arms at varying angles (like in the primary photo on West Elm’s site), which looked really clunky and jaunty and whimsical and Sputnik-ish and just not at all what I like or what looks good in my house. I was ready to take it down and either sell it or hang it in the bedroom.

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But then I straightened the arms out so they were all level and parallel with each other, and it was like a whole new lamp. Really! I’m so glad I didn’t take it down right away. It’s PERFECT. I decided to go with plain, white G40 bulbs (25W each), and I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that energy-efficient lightbulbs are nicer by the time low-wattage incandescents are phased out. (For what it’s worth, there are current no plans to ban 25W bulbs in the US. The phase-out stops at 40W.)

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To give you an idea of the scale, the Mobile chandelier is about 30″ in diameter at its widest point (excluding bulbs), and my dining table is 95″x40″. The ceiling in the dining room is about 10.5′ high.

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I straightened up the still-incomplete bookshelves next to the fireplace. The three drawings are by Lisa Congdon, my dad, and Jen Ray. The faceted knobs are from Pigeon Toe (I’ve been holding onto them for a project for ages…) and the Kubus candle holder is by Lassen. Some of the best books ever written are by Kurt Vonnegut.

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I picked up a fresh ZZ plant to replace the withered, dying ZZ plant that formerly graced the dining room, and I put my Charles and Ray Eames poster in a frame that I actually hung on a nail that I hammered into the wall! Getting things done, folks.

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Did you notice that big black thing next to the fireplace? That’s the new OLOFSTORP wall cabinet from IKEA, and it is glorious. I had a hard time taking good photos since the light in my dining room is kind of difficult, but you can see it a little better in IKEA’s press photo.

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Click to enlarge! (Photo courtesy of IKEA.)

It’s very nice — definitely one of IKEA’s all-time top-ten products, which is a major accolade coming from me. The OLOFSTORP storage unit/cart is great, too. Both pieces are solid, stained pine with steel hinges. They look, feel and function like simple farmhouse furniture. Very Shaker-ish. Of course, since they’re great pieces that are built to last, IKEA will probably discontinue them within the year. That’s always the case, right? Consider yourself tipped-off and warned.

Anyway, the cabinet!! It’s just right. That space was kind of dead before because the window extends all the way to the corner of the room. The OLOFSTORP is less than 8″ deep, so it doesn’t obstruct the light flow or interfere with the view in any way. I’m a sucker for black-on-black, too.

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The best part is that it holds a TON of stuff. I’ve got all of our wine glasses, highballs and extra mugs in there, plus vases and various dishes I don’t use often but like to have on-hand. Moving all of these things into the cabinet freed up an entire shelf and a half in the pantry, which means I can finally sort out all of my baking dishes and get my spices in order since I’ll be able to spread out a little more.

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The last little dining room update I made was to add these two stools under the cabinet. I bought them at Target’s dorm room furniture line in July. I don’t remember how much they were, but definitely well under $20. At the time I thought I’d make them into a bench or coffee table, but I only got as far as spray-painting the bases matte black. They started out glossy charcoal gray, which didn’t look too terrible — but matte black is nicer.

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See how sunny and nice out it is in these photos? That’s how long ago I bought and spray-painted the bases. Sigh. Then they just sat and sat and sat, disassembled, in the dining room, for six months. I was sick of looking at them and feeling guilty about yet another project unrealized, so over the weekend I screwed the tops back on and called it a day.

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So cute! They fill out the space nicely, and I was able to get a couple of stacks of books off the floor. This makes me feel a little less guilty about not having finished the bookshelves yet. (Note that there’s still one corner of the dining room not shown in these photos. That’s the corner currently filled with stacks of books waiting to be shelved! Someday…)

Unfortunately, because Target’s product turnover is so rapid, these guys are long gone from their website. There’s a chance you could find them on clearance in a store, of course, but I haven’t seen one in my local Target for months. Hey, if you want mine, buy me a couple of Eames LTR tables and we can swap!! HAH. Heh.

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Fritz was pretty distressed about all of the changes in the dining room for some reason. Lots of dramatic crying and staring at the table. I can’t figure this dog out — he’s a Martian mystery. I love him.

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It doesn’t snow much in the lower half of New York state anymore, so every time we do get an actual snowstorm here with a decent amount of accumulation it’s a cause for excitement! We got about a foot over the weekend, and it was beautiful in Brooklyn. Despite my never-ending bronchial unhappiness, I forced myself outside for a bit. To the dogs’ disappointment, I forced them to come along, too. Every year I somehow convince myself that Fritz and Bruno are real dogs and that they want to play in the snow just like all of the other happy dogs I see frolicking around in the stuff and having a blast.

Well, Fritz and Bruno are not real dogs, and they do not want to play in the snow. They don’t even want to walk on a wet sidewalk. After about 2 minutes, they were both wet and dirty and crying and shaking. Sigh. So, back inside…where they were both immediately subjected to baths, another thing they both hate. They spent the next 24 hours sleeping off the trauma, which is a whole hour longer than they usually sleep each day.

Meanwhile, Evan and I are packing up our apartment and getting ready to move to the new place on Friday! Evan found this company called Jugglebox that rents out reusable, stackable moving boxes. They delivered them (disinfected!) to our current apartment, and they’ll come pick them up from the new place in two weeks. Very cool. Quite a step up from our last move, which we (very stupidly) did entirely with IKEA bags and at the expense of Daniel’s youthful energy. Never again.

WE ARE SO EXCITED TO MOVE. Really. It’s going to be so good. I can’t wait to get in there and take pictures—it’s such a cool space with so much potential. In the mean time, I’ll be taking a million photos from the rooftop view we’re giving up!

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birthday Doodle

It’s hard to believe, but our tiny little Fritz is already FIVE years old! As much as I really can’t remember what our lives were like without him here with us, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that he was struggling to climb up on chairs…chewing on baseboard moldings…chewing on blanket tasselschewing on sofas…chewing on absolutely everything in sight. Fritz was a difficult puppy, and Bruno (who is five years older than Fritz) had a really hard time adjusting to having him around, but it was all worth it so many times over. Fritz has turned out to be a great dog, and he and Bruno—despite their very different personalities—have turned out to be the best of friends. The four of us are a family together, and I can’t imagine it being any other way.

Fritz is a complex dog. There’s no other way to put it. He’s very smart (stop laughing—you should see this dog make a nest out of blankets, he’s clearly a genius), but he seems to always be in a state of concern over not being able to convey complex emotions without using words. YES, I AM PROJECTING. But really, if you’re lucky enough to have met Fritz in person, you know what I mean. He’s an intense cuddler and affectionate beyond belief, but you just get the feeling he wants to be understood. He’s sensitive.

Happy 5th birthday, Fritzy Doodle Dandy. I love you so much. Thanks for being such a great dog and not minding too much when pluck you out of a cozy sleeping spot because I want you to curl up with me on the sofa.

These are some of my favorite Instagrams of Fritz (Fritztagrams?) from the past year.

Fritz birthday montage

Fritzy sweater

Isn’t he just the bee’s knees? He’s such a Martian.

FRITZ FACTS: He clips his own nails. He’s an incredibly clean dog—he bathes himself like a cat. He considers human nostrils a delicacy. He’s always cold, even if it’s 95°F out. He has a part-time job as an iPad stand. His favorite toy is a stuffing-free raccoon named Randy. He has a hairless chest. He barks if he hears someone curse. He smells like tortilla chips.

One more picture, just because I can’t resist—this is Fritz on the day he came to live with us. So tiny! Love.

baby Doodle

Oh, just some weekend Instagram snaps I’ve been meaning to share here! Top to bottom, left to right…

✖ How cool is this black West Elm skull candle? I pretty much only buy stuff at West Elm when it’s on clearance, and I got this nearly-life-sized guy for $7 (!) at the DUMBO location. They only had one left, or else I would’ve bought a bunch. The best thing about Halloween being around the corner is SKULLS EVERYWHERE.

✖ I couldn’t resist this SHOPLIFTERS tote bag that was for sale at the merch counter at the Morrissey shows. I guess I’ll have to turn it around if I’m shopping in a store with employees who might not get the reference (or who might not have a sense of humor), but otherwise I shall carry it with pride.

✖ Evan and Bruno enjoying their morning coffee. Aren’t they handsome? This photo reminds me that I really need to take more photos of the new apartment before it stops being “new.”

✖ I had nothing to do with this—Fritz tucks himself in all the time. I’m told that the smarter dog breeds like Chihuahuas all do this. Bruno is only half Chihuahua (the other half is Bichon Frisé, a breed high in sweetness but not known for intelligence), which explains why he can’t really even figure out how to crawl under a blanket most of the time while Fritz is off basically building forts and growing opposable thumbs.

✖ I’ve been wearing my fake glasses (they’re the “Thatcher” style in Revolver Black from Warby Parker) every now and then, and I’ve gotta be honest—they make me feel great. Wearing glasses gives me enough confidence to wear my hair back in a ponytail, something I NEVER do unless I’m at home. I am wayyyyy to self-conscious to leave the house with my face completely exposed, so it either has to be hair or glasses that I hide behind, and it’s fun to have this option. I feel like a different person when I wear them. It’s like a disguise. And hey, I figure my vision is probably going to tank within the next few years anyway, so at least I’ll be comfortable wearing glasses when the time comes!

✖ This VOTE LEFT mug was another cheapie West Elm clearance item. Unfortunately they’re sold out online, but stores probably still have them. And yeah, I know it’s not really possible to truly vote left in this country, but I can dream. For now, I’ll vote as far left as I possibly can.

Brooklyn Heights Cinema is on my old street (Henry Street pride!!), and I miss going there to see movies—it’s a great little theater. It’s actually not too far of a walk from DUMBO, though, so I should make the effort to walk up now and then. It’s near a great little natural-food restaurant called Siggy’s Good Food that does an amazing vegan brunch. Highly recommended!

✖ This is the original herringbone tile in the lobby of Daniel’s building. Tile like this is the reason I like hands-off landlords who don’t want to pay to renovate. Isn’t it pretty?

I don’t have a corresponding photo, but prior to taking that picture of the tile, Daniel and Max and I went to go see The Perks of Being a Wallflower at BAM. It was so, so, so great. Really. It’s based on what I consider to be one of the best books of the past 20 years, and certainly one of the greatest books ever written for young adults. The movie was directed and the screenplay was written by the author of the book, Stephen Chbosky, and he did a perfect job with the conversion. The trailer is pretty terrible, but don’t worry—it’s not a good representation of the actual movie (funny how that happens sometimes). I was pretty much either in tears or holding back tears for the duration, just like when I read the book the first time. The actors are all wonderful, the soundtrack is exactly as it should be, and it felt great to watch a movie that actually feels like teenage—and human—reality. Read the book. See the movie. Hold onto your Kleenex.

I’m still making my way through all of the comments on my post from last Friday about my history (and future) as a blogger, but apart from the responses I’ve been leaving there, I wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU.

The older I get, the more I realize that fear of being labeled a hypocrite (or a “flip-flopper,” if you want to get political about it) is probably the biggest thing that gets in my way when it comes to making decisions that are open to being judged by others. The fact of the matter is, though, things change. Situations change. People change. Times change. We learn from the people we meet along the way in life, and that’s a positive thing.

Like I said in my post, I’m not exactly sure where I’m headed in terms of advertisements and this blog, but I feel confident that if I do go ahead with it, I will treat that decision seriously and let my personal ethics guide me. There’s not only one existing model to follow when it comes to advertising, and there’s also nothing that says new models and standards can’t be developed. I’m not worried about what other people have or haven’t done—I’m concerned with doing what I believe is honest and worthwhile. I’m also not opposed to learning as I go. (I am a progressive and a modernist, after all!)

Anyway, I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I have the BEST group of readers and commenters in all of blog-land. I am so incredibly appreciative of those of you who take the time not to just offer support, but to share your own perspective and ideas and concerns with me. As much as I like writing for writing’s sake, I love blogging for community’s sake.

Thank you again. ♡

Left to right, top to bottom:

I spent a lot of time cleaning, unpacking, and arranging. I’m pretty impressed by how much I managed to cross off the to-do list! By midday Sunday I was able to sit down and enjoy an iced coffee and feel a bit more at home. (The book under my coffee is Lena Corwin’s beautifully illustrated book of city maps. I can’t stop looking at it!)

On Sunday afternoon Shilo and Jenna came over for hot coffee on the roof. It was a bit chilly out, but still so nice to enjoy the view! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. Shilo brought some vegan blueberry crumb bars that were super-delicious. Perfect.

I’ve always had custom aluminum legs on my KARLSTAD sofa instead of the wood block ones they come with, but I’ve hung onto the wood ones since I’ve had a project like this in mind for a while now. I didn’t wind up with neon pink work table legs, but I did decide to give my sofa legs a set of neon pink socks! I’ll take better photos of the sofa and its new gams soon, but for now here’s a little sneak peek. I love how this turned out.

On Sunday evening, Daniel and Max came over to have beers with the dogs! Bruno and Fritz looooooove their Uncle Daniel. It’s so cute to see them jumping up and down with excitement whenever he’s around. Bruno immediately claimed his lap space and greatly enjoyed the extra attention—especially the belly-rubs.

Oh! And I decided to start wearing bracelets again. I used to wear stuff on my wrists all the time, but then I started getting annoyed by how they felt when I was using the computer. I like the feeling of security they give, though, so I’m giving them another shot. Aren’t those hot pink bangles great? They were a present from Jen. She, Tamera, Jenna, Shilo and I all have the same ones. I feel happy looking at them. I have nice friends.

p.s. Speaking of spray paint projects and friends, did you see Tamera’s amazing stool?! It’s so pretty.

Is it just me, or it next to impossible to snap back into work mode this year? Maybe it’s because I took two weeks in a row off in December, but I just don’t feel like I’m fully present and engaged in what I need to be doing every day. I think the weather might be partly to blame—it’s been unseasonably mild in lower New York this year, and I constantly feel like it’s either late fall or early spring. I’m just sort of floating from one day to the next.

I did just have a really great weekend, though. Jen from Honey Kennedy came to stay at my house in Newburgh for three whole days, and we had a wonderful time. Jen is terribly sweet and funny and really, really nice to be around (just ask Fritz and Bruno, who fell deeply and madly in love with her), and I’m happy to have finally met her in person.

Aside from holding the very first semester of Anna’s School for Unicorns (a.k.a Photoshop classes), I also made us some very very thick and rich and spicy and almost too delicious hot cocoa using Vosges Aztec Elixer. And tofu scramble. And burnt kale chips. And reheated pizza. I’m pretty sure it was like going away to a fancy resort for Jen! (Or, um, not…)

I got my hair cut again, too. More of the same! I’ve been back to Mariko at Dlala Salon four times now since I got the best haircut ever 8 months ago, and that has to be a record for me in terms of frequency. Can I add that NOT ONCE have I taken a pair of manicure scissors to my bangs in a fit of midnight desperation since I started seeing Mariko? Her cuts look so good growing out that I don’t have to.

It’s pretty neat having LONG hair, too! I haven’t had this much hair since I was a freshman in high school, which was…um…23 years ago. I’m going to just let it keep growing. Now that I know about layers and deep parts and stuff, it’s nice to have waves and partial buzz cuts and long bangs.

On a side note, I just want to put this reminder out there: Much like paint is just paint, HAIR IS JUST HAIR. The great thing about it is that even if you do something stupid and it looks terrible, you can always just cut your hair short and eventually it’ll grow out. As a side bonus, you get to have a million different hairdos as it gets longer. If you want a fun haircut, get a fun haircut. It’s just hair.

Fritz turned four years old a few days ago. I can’t believe he’s four already! It seems like it was just yesterday that were were bringing home this insanely adorable, sleepy lump of fur. He was so cute! (And then he ate our sofa.) Fritzy is so good now. Yes, he has his moments when he does an ultra-annoying Chewbacca/seagull vocal impersonation for seemingly no reason at all and for lengths of time that are highly unnecessary, but he’s a total snuggle bug and just an all-around great dog. He’s also really warm and he likes to sleep under the covers at night, so our heating bill is less with him around. And he’s still really cute.

Oh, clothes! I found that nice triangle-print shirt at Target! The proportions really aren’t as weird as the photo on their website makes it look. It’s quite flattering, actually. And Martha has a the same one of course.

Yeah, that’s a new black + white iPhone case. I ordered one from Society6 because I’ve been thinking about selling some stuff through them and I wanted to know what the quality is like, and I’ll be honest…as cute as the illustration (by Dawn Gardner, whose work I love) on my new case is, the quality is really, really sub-par. I’ve had a capsule case from Uncommon since I got my phone in May (that’s the multicolored one in the top photo, designed by Marco Cibola), and I love it. The plastic is smooth, strong and durable; the edges are smooth and comfortable to hold; and the design is actually embedded in case. The case from Society6 is unbelievably flimsy, and you can literally scratch the printed image off with your fingernail. I fully expect it to look terrible in a couple of months. Both cases were about $40, and while that’s pretty steep for something so small and made out of plastic, it’s definitely way too much for the ones from Society6. Bummer! It’s definitely cute, though, so I’ll keep using it until it breaks.

UPDATE: Society6 contacted me after reading this post, and they have very kindly offered to send me a replacement case as they believe I may have been sent a defect. Fingers crossed that the new one is better. I’ll update this post when I receive it!

UPDATE 2: I received the replacement and it’s exactly the same. The quality is too poor for me to recommend it, sadly. It should also be noted that Society6 has a no-return policy except in the case of defects, so if you’re disappointed by a product upon arrival, you’re out of luck.

UPDATE 3: I purchased a new case from Society6 in July 2013 for my iPhone 5, and it’s MUCH better quality. You can read my updated review here.

(Like I said, RAMBLY.)

We all know the internet was invented for the primary purpose of sharing cute animal photos more easily, and I’ve really been doing my part to contribute over the past month and a half. Here are 6 weeks of Instagram photos of Fritz and Bruno, my furry little loves. They are really good at relaxing, napping, and cuddling.

I was supposed to take this entire week off from work, but things didn’t really pan out that way…so I’m just off for one day instead. I’m spending today with Fritz and Bruno, eating popcorn with malt salt, getting some freelance work* taken care of, and hopefully going for a long walk in Fort Tryon park, provided I can convince F&B that it’s not all that cold outside.

Following a tip from Nubby Twiglet, I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri nail polish in Mint Sprint. It’s a little more blue-green than it looks in the photo—very springy and bright! I did my fingernails, too, but my hands are bad models.

*Yes, it still counts as a “day off” if I’m doing freelance work. At least for now it does. And yes, I’m actively looking for more freelance work, so if you need your blog redesigned or a snappy cover for your book, I’m your girl.