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Alright, the title gives the whole content of this post away, so…BYE! No. I like to hear myself talk, so I’ll keep going. Also, I know I said I wasn’t going to start posts with photography disclaimers anymore, but this is one of those posts where there are four photographs of the same thing from slightly different angles and really one photograph would have been plenty. Oh, and the lighting is gross, but I’ll get to that.

I’m obsessed with putting plants in every last corner of the new apartment. They’re all over the living room and the kitchen already, and I’ve started adding some to the bedroom, too. I’ve always loved plants in bathrooms, but the bathroom in this apartment doesn’t have a window. It’s not even near a window—it’s totally devoid of natural light. I know it’s possible to cycle plants in and out of dark rooms, but considering I can barely keep a plant alive under ideal conditions, I don’t really think that’s a good option for me.

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You see those cute plants there? Fake. Fake! I guess they look pretty fake in this photo, but I was standing on a step stool when I took this. From a normal human distance, they look totally real. (Kind of. They look real enough for me.)

Not wanting to invest a bunch of money in turning my bathroom into a plastic jungle, I turned to IKEA’s huge line of fake plants, FEJKA (which, appropriately, means “FAKE” in Swedish). Some FEJKAs are more convincing than others. I went with this one and one of these, mostly because they were the right size and looked the least like they were actively offgassing polyethylene.

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OK, they really look fake this close up. Shhhhh. It helps to put these plants into pretty pots, and not just use the black textured pot they come in. I’m using a large Sagaform herb pot and one of these cute West Elm chalkboard planters. I feel like I need a little warmth in there so I might swap out the black one for this brass-esque pot (fake plant + fake brass = real glamor?), but for now…I’m digging it. No shame!

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I need to mention again how much I love this RÅSKOG wall cabinet from IKEA. I had it in the bathroom in my previous apartment, too. It’s the prefect size, perfect shade of gray, perfect everything. Plus, since it only requires two screws to properly install, I only had to drill two holes in the tile—something to consider when you’re in a rental. The bathroom in the new apartment has no storage beyond a shallow medicine cabinet, so I really had to install something. Yay, RÅSKOG!

(Oh, and the snail box is from Jonathan Adler. It looks like this one only comes in white now, but you can still buy other animals in his Menagerie collection in this gray-black color. I love them! The sweet little tooth vessel comes from Brooklyn Rehab.)

I don’t know if it’s because of the time I recently spent in Marfa with Daniel, or it has to do with all of the still-living (!) plants in my apartment, but lately I can’t get enough of cactuses. Cacti. Whatever. Or maybe it’s succulents in general, since I can never seem to remember what makes a succulent a cactus.

Anyway, I put together a little collection of some of my favorite cactus-themed stuff. I want all of it! Greedy, so greedy…

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1. Amelie Mancini / Cactus tote
2. Budi Satria Kwan / Cactus print
3. Sea & Asters / Geometric Cactus Planter
4. Simka Sol / Cactaceae leggings
5. Confetti Riot / Cactus print tea towel and pillows—white and peach
6. Visual Cities by Mariadiamantes / Cactus print

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1. Banquet Atelier & Workshop / Ten Cacti and Paddle Cactus screenprints
2. Sian Keegan / Cacti phone case
3. The Kingpins / Michael Cera Cactus button
4. The Black Vinyl / Early-1800s illustrated cactus chart
5. Nuukk / Cactus stamps
6. Make-Ready / Cactus print

Speaking of cactuses (I’m having a hard time with the word “cacti” for some reason), when was the last time you listened to 3rd Bass? I had The Cactus Album on heavy rotation during 1989 and 1990, and then 3rd Bass just kinda…evaporated. It’s a FANTASTIC album, though, and it still sounds great (maybe even better) 26 years later.

As an interesting (debatable) aside, did you know that 3rd Bass and The Smiths have something in common? Other than being white guys with tall hair, I mean. They both used the same sample! If you skip ahead to the 22:18 mark above, the beginning of “Triple Stage Darkness,” you’ll hear it: You are sleeping, you do not want to believe. You are sleeping… Now, if you’re a Smiths fan who appreciates Morrissey’s excellent use of samples, you’ll know that this is the very same sample used at the end of “Rubber Ring” (3:33 mark). Crazy, right? And considering how obscure the source of this sample is—a flexi-disc included with a 1971 book about communicating electronically with the dead, written by a Latvian psychologist named Konstantin Raudive—I think it’s mayyyyybe safe to assume that someone in 3rd Bass was a Smiths fan, and that mayyyyybe they actually took the sample from a Smiths record and not from the original source…but what do I know! Those crackles sure sound like they line up, though. Cool.

(How’s that for a tangent?!)

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I have a really poor track record with house plants. The air plant that kind of freaked me out? Dead. The jade plant I was “determined to not kill”? Dead. The gorgeous, lush, fiddle leaf fig tree that thrived for almost three years in my dressing room? Dead, dead, dead. (Yes, that last one is particularly tragic, and exactly why you need to make sure your fiddle lead fig tree isn’t too close to a radiator during a very cold winter. Sigh.)

It wasn’t without a good amount of trepidation that I decided to invest a fair sum of money in buying a WHOLE BUNCH of plants for the new apartment. The daylight here is perfect, though, and the deep windowsills really lend themselves to plant life. So, with a fresh attitude and about $150, I went for it! I bought a few plants at IKEA and Home Depot, but most of them came from Adams Fairacre Farms in Newburgh. If you live in the Hudson Valley and somehow don’t know about Adams (they also have locations in Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Wappingers), you’re missing out big time. Aside from having an awesome produce department and a full-service grocery store, Adams has a plant/nursery department that never lets me down. They have a great selection, reasonable prices at all times, and excellent seasonal sales. (They also have a great refund policy for any perennials that kick the bucket, so save your receipts.) Anyway, enough about Adams—I’ve been going there since I was a kid, and it’s fab.

Plants pictured above, left to right: Zebra plant, tiny cactus (that’s the scientific name, haha), assorted succulents, trailing jade (it broke off in transit and I’m letting it grow roots), crown of thorns.

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I’ve had this fiddle leaf fig tree for a while now. It was really small (also: cheap) when I bought it…maybe a year and a half ago? It would probably be bigger than it is now if I hadn’t been so stupidly lazy about getting it into a proper pot. I had it in its plastic starter pot until a month ago! The woven bamboo pot it’s in now is a larger, black version of the PARANÖT pot from IKEA—it’s not on their site, but I’m pretty sure they still carry it.

And hey! There’s my Morrissey poster that’s been going everywhere with me for the past 24 years. The leafy branch over his head is right at home in the new apartment!

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Left to right: Dracaena, string of pearls, hoya rope plant, hoya heart plant (hanging), spoon jade.

The hanging basket is the DRUVFLÄDER from IKEA, and the sweet little ceramic hanging planter is from Small Spells. I am still grieving Brooklyn’s loss of the Kentile sign last summer, but this laser cut chipboard model from Boundless Brooklyn is a nice daily reminder of its place in my heart.

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Before I talk about the plants, can I tell you about my new lamp? It’s the stacked marble table lamp from CB2, and I love it. CB2 has been killing it all over the place lately, especially with lighting (please buy this sweet pink glass and marble lamp and think of me, because I want it but have nowhere to put it). For some reason I wasn’t expecting the lamp to be this big and HEAVY (who knew solid marble would be heavy…), but I’m not complaining.

OK, plants! Left to right: Pencil cactus, something I can’t identify, jade plant that’s recuperating after being moved from the old apartment, black robusta snake plant.

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I’m obsessed with the pencil cactus. It looks like a crazy monster and I really hope it doesn’t die.

PLEASE NOTE: Apparently a pencil cactus isn’t actually a cactus, and it’s also super toxic to people and pets. I’ll be moving mine out of reach of my pups. (Thanks, Katrina!)

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I think my favorite of the new plants in my life is this trailing jade vine! It’s doubled in size in the past month, so I’m pretty sure it likes living with me. I bought the macramé planter holder and the faceted pot (now totally obscured by the plant, but oh well) from CB2 at the same time as the lamp, and both are pretty perfect. I’ve never had any macramé in my life before, but it feels good.

The banner is from Secret Holiday & Co. It’s OK!

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Such a happy little spot! The teeny cactus pot is from Normann Copenhagen, the print is by Lisa Congdon, the rocks were painted by Diana Fayt (sweet tokens from Lisa and Clay’s wedding), and the ceramic box is from J.Crew Home.

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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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Even though it’s one of my favorite spots in the house, I’ve been really bad about documenting the (slow, as usual) progress I’ve made in the dressing room over the years. I didn’t realize it until I was asked to contribute to a story on another blog about fiddle leaf fig trees and I was only able to find a single photo of the room that was less than four years old — and it was taken with an iPhone! Over the weekend I got my act together and took a few decent pictures. Unfortunately it’s still a little hard to tell what’s going on in the room because it’s so small (about 6×12′), but I did the best I could.

I need to re-pot my fiddle leaf ASAP. Considering my reputation as a plant-killer it’s doing really well, but that white pot isn’t big enough and its roots are growing out the bottom of the black plastic starter pot it came with, so it’s time to size up. Ideally I’d like to keep it in a lightweight pot inside of a basket (much like Emma’s), but I can’t seem to find the right one. Baskets are always way spendier and smaller than I think they’re going to be.

✚ Flashback! Here’s how the dressing room looked when we started working on it in 2006. A small reminder that even the ugliest, messiest renovation projects will eventually pay off!

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A little dark, but you get a sense of the space. The family who lived in our house before we bought it used this room as a bedroom for their son — complete with bunk beds! Considering how minimal I am when it comes to clothing, it’s kind of funny to have a dedicated dressing room…but hey, the space is there, so why not?

The latest addition to the dressing room is the Arrowhead rug (this is the 22×84″ runner) from Target’s new Nate Berkus collection. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to look at Target for a rug, but a couple of weeks ago Max excitedly texted me an picture of this one while he was in the store, and I was immediately smitten. I was originally thinking I’d put it in the upstairs hallway, but as soon as I saw it on the floor next to that orange bench, I knew where it was meant to be! It’s a great rug, by the way — really nice quality, and it’s even reversible. I might have to buy the smaller one for the bathroom at the apartment. (Max loves his so much that he wrote a post about it for Design*Sponge!)

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I still can’t get over the insane brightness of Tom Dixon’s Offcut bench. There’s no way for it to come through in a photo, but it’s like the most electric-looking fluorescent orange you can imagine. BLINDING. I love it so much. I was extra-excited over the weekend when I noticed that my nails match it perfectly right now! It’s the little things, right? By the way, if you’re looking for a great fluoro orange nail polish, the shade that FACE Stockholm made for J.Crew is really nice. Good quality, too. Plus it’ll match your bench.

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Oh, wallpaper. How I love thee. This is the Berry Black pattern from Ferm Living. I put it up in an afternoon about 4 years ago. I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re hesitating to put up wallpaper because you think you’ll get tired of it, stop worrying and go for it. If you choose something you really, really love, there’s no reason to think you won’t love it 4, 5 or 10 years later. Even if you do wind up wanting to get rid of it eventually, there are primers specially formulated for coating walls pre-wallpaper that will facilitate its removal down the road. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you plan ahead. Wallpaper is just so satisfying! DO IT.

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The coral hook-handle on the closet (we keep linens and shoes in there) is a “temporary” thing I came up with years ago. At the time it was a way to quickly deal with a very old door that was missing its lockset, but it’s really grown on me! The magnet holding the door shut still works fine, and I honestly can’t foresee installing a real knob at any point in the near future. The hook is here to stay!

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After 7 years of wondering if maybe we should have gone with glossy solid white doors on our PAX wardrobes instead of frosted glass, I think it’s time to just accept them as they are. I think IKEA has since discontinued this door style, but the wardrobes themselves are the same ones they have now. The solid birch KOMPLEMENT drawers they sell for inside are really nice, and overall the amount of storage these wardrobes provide is more than enough for me and Evan. My first instinct when we planned out this room was to go with built-in open hanging rods, but because of the position of the closet door and the window, it just made more sense to use something prefab and contained. Also, old houses are dusty. We don’t have off-season clothes storage, so some stuff will hang here for months on end without being worn — I didn’t want to leave it all exposes. Thumbs up for PAX! Other than the fact that I’m still considering changing the doors (I’ll never get around to it), I have nothing but good things to say about these wardrobes.

I’m on an ongoing quest to address a lot of little projects around the house that have gone undone or put off or half-addressed for a while, and taking care of the dressing room was the most recent item on the agenda. The dressing room is actually the smallest of the four bedrooms in the house—it’s only about 6×12′ and it has doors leading to both the hallway and the master bedroom, so it was probably originally intended to be used as a nursery.

Let’s flash back to this post from June 2009, shall we? Specifically these last lines:

I’m still not sure about keeping that little bookshelf in there, but for now, it’s fine. I also need a big plant, I think. Weirdly, the wallpaper has made me hate the orange-y floor color a little less than I did before. Hmmm.

Yup, a mere three years later, I finally moved out the little bookshelf (which was serving zero purpose and never felt quite right), moved in a bench (the screamingly-bright fluorescent orange Offcut Bench from Tom Dixon—there are no words adequate enough to describe how electric this thing is in person), and got that big plant taken care of! I’m not sure why I put these things off for so long. The room looks so much better now! (If you REALLY want to see how much this room has transformed over time, take a look at how it looked six years ago. Yikes!)

So…I’m in love with this new plant. It’s a fiddle-leaf fig tree, and it’s BIG and LUSH. I have a really sad history of killing plants (Remember this guy? Dead in less than a week), but I’m determined to keep this one alive. Apparently fiddle-leaf figs are pretty durable as long as they get a decent amount of sun and a nice, long drink a few times a month, so I actually think I can do this. I need to get a bigger pot, though, since I expect it to get much bigger. I’m also going to have to do some pruning of the lower leaves in order to train it to grow taller—I’d love to see it eventually hit the ceiling and grow into the bedroom.

And now for some fiddle-leaf fig inspiration…

Above photos:
1. Interior design by Mikel Larrinaga, via Nuevo Estilo
2. Home in Houston, Texas, via Memorial Bend Architecture
3. Interior design by Emma Reddington at The Marion House Book
4. Interior design by Anna Burke, via Lonny (March/April 2012)

It’s a little scary, my tiny new air plant, isn’t it? I hung it by the window in my office, and I keep glancing back over my shoulder to see if it’s creeping any closer while I’m not looking.

I have some kind of weird phobia that’s sort of like trypophobia, but not really. I feel sick when I look at clusters of things like certain kinds of plant roots (leeks are horrifying!) or rice stuck in a sink strainer. It’s impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t feel the same way, but trust me, it’s real—and my air plant is doing weird things to my mind. I can’t stop looking at it, but I also want to look away…

My air plant comes from Air Plant Supply Co., and it’s held in place by its roots and doesn’t need any soil. Every week, I have to give it a bath. In other words, I’ll probably kill it in no time! Heh. No, I’m really going to try to keep this thing alive.

The hanging pod it’s in comes from ceramacist Michael McDowell’s company Mudpuppy, who I wrote about previously in relation to one of my other nightmares, the one where all of my teeth fall out. This guy has quite a knack for honing right in on the things that make me feel uncomfortable, and I like it!


Photos from Mudpuppy

I can’t decide if putting the air plant in a ceramic baby head makes it more or less terrifying! Displaying it alongside a ceramic skull definitely adds something, but then you know how I feel about decorative skulls. The more the merrier!

OH, HEY! I just noticed that the Mudpuppy plant pods are actually on sale at Fab.com right now for 30% off regular price. Full disclosure: If you use this link to sign up for a Fab.com account, I will get a credit if you buy something within a month of joining. Ordinarily that’s not something I’d put here on the blog, but there’s no way to buy stuff from Fab.com without making an account first. It’s an invitation-based, design-focused shopping site, and quite honestly I’m a little addicted.