Saturday, November 15, 2014

Don't you just LOVE New York in the fall?

Every day that I step out onto my sidewalk, I simply cannot help but think of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

“Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your address.”


If you happen to be an avid lover of the works of Nora Ephron, you will recognize these words from the quintessential New York rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. It is an exclamation written in an email by Joe Fox to Kathleen Kelly in the early days of online dating.

Strange as it may sound, this simple line might very well be one of the reasons I ended up in this crazy town. Growing up in Helotes, Texas, I could only imagine what Joe was yammering on about in this autumnal rant of his. Of course, my teachers taught me all about the color-changing leaves of fall, but the lessons were a bit more theoretical than practical. I had never seen a season like the one Tom Hanks was singing praises about.

The very sound of his words seemed to ignite something in me: “Don't you just love New York in the fall?” I wanted to say that exact same phrase with that exact same level of emphasis and authority, and I quietly committed myself to one day being able to do so.

Today, I live in Brooklyn – Ditmas Park, to be specific – and though it is not exactly a stone’s throw from the Upper West Side-topia pictured in You’ve Got Mail, I still believe I know precisely what Joe was talking about.

Because, friends, I just LOVE New York in the fall!

And it’s not the pumpkin-spiced-latte kind of love or the elbow-patched-sweater kind. No, this is the real deal – the sort of feeling that changes the way you exist in the world, the kind that makes you want to open a bookstore or smell a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils for no particular reason at all.

Like so many theatrical depictions of New York City, I hoped and prayed that Joe’s emphatic declarations about seasonal beauty weren’t overstated. Now that I’m finally, finally here, I’m happy to report they weren’t.

I just love New York in the fall! Don’t you just LOVE New York in the fall?

By the way, if you enjoyed these pictures, I’ve got a treat for you. Head on over to From Rain to Shine right now to see some of these photos turned into a dreamy fall color story. While you’re there, be sure to tell the incomparably talented Jess that I said hey!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Butt-Destroyed Office Chair Gets a New Look

Have you ever completely destroyed a chair with your big ol' butt?

Allow me to rephrase that.

Has your big ol' butt -- proud and wondrous as it is -- has it ever worn down a humble office chair over a period of a few years?

Well, mine has. And if you've read this blog for any period of time, you'll note that this isn't the first time that my butt has won out in a war between itself and a chair. It's a lifetime struggle that I am sure will haunt me for the rest of my days.

I'm not fully sure how long I've had this particular chair, but as you can see in the above picture, it has seen better days. You may be wondering what explosive event caused such a giant rip in its upholstery, and friends, that is a fair question. But let me assure you that this bizarre injury happened gracefully over time. Every day that I sat down to write the next great American novel/read a Buzzfeed post was a day closer to this chair's demise.

And I could totally just throw it out, but forget that -- I'm a blogger. And bloggers don't throw things away. They upcycle. They DIY. They take things that are on the verge of uselessness and breathe new life into them.

So I grabbed a staple gun, some fabric I had lying around the house, and I set out to Frankenstein the shit out of this god-awful chair.

The first thing I did was remove the rest of the upholstery. This probably wasn't necessary, but man, it was really cathartic. Please ignore the awkward oil stain that I discovered on the chair after this process was completed.

From there, I laid out my fabric and cut all around the seat with the carelessness of a toddler. I hope you've never mistaken me for a professional.

Afterwards, I laid the chair on its side and began stapling. 

It was at this time that I encountered a snag in my plan: it turns out I'm afraid of staple guns. I would pull the trigger, and immediately my mind would be transported into a world where one of those staples got lodged in my hand or my eye or my stomach. In general, I have never been a fan of guns. Rifles, staple guns, laser guns -- they all feel awkward in my dainty hands.

When it came time to smooth out all the wrinkles, I may or may not have called in reinforcements.

But whatevs, y'all! The chair is done, and here's what she looks like:

Give my butt a few years, maybe even months. It will eventually win another war with this upcycled chair, but in the meantime I am going to sit in this thing without a care in the world.

By the way, these pictures were taken in my NEW apartment in my NEW office, and while you're getting a sneak peak here, stay tuned for an epic NEW HOME post. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

For Halloween, I was pizza

As I have lamented numerous times on this blog, I was not raised in a Halloween-friendly household. Look, my parents are good people, so I'm not trying to point any fingers here, but they just didn't think much of this particular holiday. To my recollection, I trick-or-treated just once and dressed up only a few times beyond that. Here I am dressed as a pig, utterly clueless as to how I should be feeling:

If you haven't already realized, I was a very stoic child.

Because of this void in my childhood existence, I have made it my life's mission to celebrate Halloween to the fullest as an adult. I dress up, eat pillow cases filled with candy, and walk the streets in the dark of night marveling at everyone's inspired costumes.

Still, because I lack the proper training, I find that I sometimes freeze up when it comes to choosing my own costume. After all, I'm making up for years (YEARS!) of Halloweens gone by. It's a lot of pressure, y'all.

I'm getting better though. You may remember that last year, I dressed up as a piñata, and I felt absolutely unstoppable while strutting my stuff at the Village Halloween Parade. This year, I knew I needed to up my game. I racked my brain until finally I realized that the answer had been in front of me all along.


It's easily one of my favorite foods, and in NYC, it's an absolute staple. As soon as the idea occurred to me, I took to Pinterest for inspiration. That's where I stumbled upon an excellent tutorial from Studio DIY for an ingenious couples costume: Pizza and Delivery Boy! I told Daniel, he ordered the materials from Amazon, we threw it all together and BAM --

To date, it is probably my favorite costume I have ever worn. I'm not going to pretend it didn't take me a full day to make, but it was totally worth it.

We spent the evening with a bunch of our friends passing out candy at our church in Hell's Kitchen (Our Saviour New York), and guys, I genuinely cannot describe how fun this was. If you've ever wondered how trick-or-treating works in NYC, let me tell you: these kids have got it made. Instead of going door-to-door to different houses in a neighborhood, they go door-to-door to businesses and other local establishments. And as you can imagine, these places have way better candy. At OSNY, we gave out 100% chocolate deliciousness. No raisins or pencils or any such nonsense. Twix, Kit Kats, Milky Ways -- the good stuff.

In my costume, I have to admit, I really stood out. People reacted so positively to seeing a giant slice of pizza walking around the streets of New York ("Yes! Pizza! Yes! YES!"). I had quite a few people ask to take pictures with me.

After all of the candy had been passed out, we went to a group dinner to eat -- you guessed it -- pizza. Instead of being a pizza cannibal, though, I opted to bust out my alternate costume throughout the meal.

Still, I couldn't resist getting a dollar-slice for the following disturbing photo op:

Don't worry. I didn't actually eat my fellow brother-pizza while in costume. That would have been disgusting. Instead, I passed him off to my husband.

So that was my pizzalicious Halloween. What was YOUR costume?

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Big Fat Announcement

In my fear of jinxing the outcome, I've intentionally left out a really significant life event on this here blog. Like, really significant, guys. I've been keeping it under wraps for the past FIVE MONTHS for fear that acknowledging it publicly would somehow bring things to a crashing halt, but now that it's official, I am so psyched to finally announce....

We BOUGHT an apartment!

I KNOW! It's insane. Or totally sane. I still can't decide.

But anyway, yes, my husband, Daniel, and I are now HOMEOWNERS in the greatest city in the world. Technically, we are share-owners because we live in a co-op, but don't get all technical on me, nerd. We own something, and we are pretty freaking excited about it.

The deal was officially made this Friday. We sat in a conference room in midtown with our realtor, the seller, his lawyer, our lawyer, and three other lawyers for two hours signing our names to all kinds of weird documents about lead paint and septic tanks. I felt like such a grownup save for the fact that I was sporting a pimple on my cheek the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro and wearing jewelry from Forever 21.

But regardless, at the end of it all, me, my husband, and my cheek pimple walked out of that office with keys in hand, and we hardly even knew what to do with ourselves. We had been in this seemingly endless process for five months, and it was finally through.

Here's the thing no one tells you about buying a home in New York City: it takes forever. Forever-forever, to the point where it's not even fun anymore. 

First, you have to find a solid realtor, and there are a lot of dogs out there, let me tell you. Then you have to go to a million open houses, many of which already have accepted offers and are completely out of your price range. Then there comes the moment where you start altering your expectations -- you trade the East Village for South Brooklyn and a subway stop around the corner for a 10-minute walk (it's not so bad -- honest!). Then you find a gem -- the perfect place, not counting the teeny-tiny kitchen and the noisy street-- and you put in an offer and cross your fingers. Then your offer gets rejected for an all-cash offer, and you spend the next two days in mourning. You wonder aloud to anyone who will listen why life is so cruel.

Then you get back on that horse, and you find another place that is, like, pretty good. The apartment itself is beautiful, but the location is weird. Still, you tell yourself you can make it work. 

Then you have a panic attack -- what the hell?! I don't want to live in Midwood! -- and you call up your realtor who assures you that you should never put an offer in on a place that you aren't truly in love with. You take a sigh of relief and then you go back to hunting. But suddenly, nothing new or good seems to be coming on the market. You wonder why you ever started this godforsaken endeavor. Why couldn't you just be happy where you were?

And then, friends, your realtor schedules you to see one more place. At this point, you've lost all hope. You're basically dead inside, a shell of a house hunter just going through the motions of it all. She opens the door on a place in a neighborhood you're sure you can't afford, and a white light smacks you in the face upon entry. It is your dream home. A two bedroom, beautifully renovated apartment on a quiet street on an express subway stop. You say, "I'LL TAKE IT. GOOD GOD, PUT THE OFFER IN!" 

The offer is accepted. Dreams do come true.

BUT THEN IT'S STILL NOT OVER! Because after the accepted offer comes the mountains of paperwork followed by an anxiety-producing board approval, which is followed by a mortgage approval from your bank, which is followed by even more paperwork, which is followed by writing a ton of big checks and praying for mercy, and then...CLOSING. You sit in a conference room with a pimple on your face, and none of it seems real. Especially when they hand you the keys. 

Then you pack an air mattress, and you spend the night on the floor of your new place. You order Chinese take out and drink champagne by candlelight. 

At least, that's what we did, anyway.

So why did we do all of this? Why didn't we just keep on renting on? 

Well, lots of reasons. For one, we could. For another, even though we spent a fair amount in this process, we are certainly going to end up saving (and making) much more. Our mortgage is actually lower than our current rent, and in the end, we were just tired of shelling out an unreasonable amount of money every month. 

And there is also such freedom in owning our own place. We are no longer beholden to a crappy tile situation or a shoddy paint job. We can actually take pride in the home in which we live. I can become the Martha Stewart I never knew I could be. It's a pretty insane feeling. 

And those renovations will happen, but actually, our apartment is pretty great the way it is now. A few months back, I wrote a post titled 9 Things I Want From My Next Brooklyn Apartment, and this new apartment pretty much has it all covered. We've got a dishwasher, a shower head that sits on the normal side of the shower, a location in a neighborhood we love (Ditmas Park, we are still inside you!), a reasonable walk to the subway, a host of amazing coffee shops, bars, and restaurants nearby (a hop, skip, and a jump from the best pizza in New York City), a clean laundry room, and the possibility of a parking spot in the future. But the #1 thing I wanted in my new apartment was a view. Here is the view from our old place:

I think we can all agree that the ladies on Orange is The New Black have a better view than this. 

But folks, here is the view from our new place:

So....yeah. It's a bit better. 

Plus, I've got an office! A real office where I can shut the door and everything. It's bliss.

We haven't actually moved in yet. We are thinking to do some painting before we do, but once that happens, you better believe I will be on here with a ton of pictures and riveting details (everyone loves a good moving story, right?)

Anyway, sorry to have kept this from all of you in the blogging universe for so long. I promise I don't have any other secrets. Well, I do, but they mostly involve personal hygiene and stuff like that, so I think I probably won't be posting those. 

And before I go, I want to say thanks to all of our friends and families who have been so great and supportive during this insanity. You may not realize it, but your advice and help has meant the world to us over the last few months (and also, are you available to help us paint this Saturday? Just kidding. Hahahahahahahahah...No, but seriously, are you?)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is It Just Me: My brain doesn't work anymore

  • Do you sometimes forget the name of the street on which you live? 
  • Is it common for you to skip conjunctions while writing or speaking? 
  • Have you recently purchased a sweater from Old Navy with no recollection of where you put it? 
  • Do you look back on essays you wrote in college and think to yourself, "How the hell did I ever write so many words all at once?"

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you might be losing your mind. That's okay, though, because I am too. They say the mind is the first thing to go, after all.

Really though, is anyone else experiencing this? In recent days, I have been feeling like my brain is in slow motion. Just over all, I feel less sharp, less quick, less quippy. No longer am I Lorelai Gilmore with my coffee-infused, manic, Sorkin-esque speech patterns. No, no. I'm Elmer Fudd. I'm Grandpa Simpson. I'm....uh....some other pop culture reference of someone who speaks and thinks slowly.

It's not just in my communication, but across the board, I just feel like I am slow on the uptake. Lately I have found myself asking, "What's another word for..." or "Who was that guy who..." or "Where did I put my..." With increasing frequency, I have been walking into rooms, announcing myself by saying, "Wait...why did I come in here?"

It's a phenomenon that has truly left me puzzled and, honestly, a bit fearful. I have always prided myself on being quick to act, responsive, bright. It's a strange thing to suddenly feel my mind becoming less acute. I've racked my brain for a reason why, which was probably not a great idea considering how fragile it is at the moment, and here are a few possible explanations I've come up with for this unforeseen shift in my cognitive functions:

1. I am getting older.

Like, hold up -- I know I'm still a baby. I'm around that quarter of a century mark, and I know that if Nora Ephron were here today, she would implore me to celebrate my youth by spending the next eight years of my life in a bikini. I get it, there is still a whole lot of livin' left to do.

Still, I can't help but think that perhaps right now I am experiencing a premature stage of the aging process. It's a subtle change, but perhaps this is really what happens as you grow older. If so, I need not worry because it's not just happening to me, but it's also occurring in the lives of everyone in my age bracket. Right? RIGHT?!

2. I haven't been in school for a few years. 

Man oh man, guys, remember school? You know, reading, writing, arithmetic -- that whole thing? And college! Remember college? If you went, that is. No worries if not because lucky for you, you don't have student loans to deal with.

Still, if you attended a university: remember how you could just walk into a lecture hall, sit down, and have your worldview completely transformed by your Introductory Sociology class? Remember how you would study for finals until you could barely lift your head from your notes? Remember the class discussions, the debates, the critical thinking?

Being in school always initiated a pursuit of more. There was rigorous study involved -- homework, essays, research. But for the first time in my life, I don't have that system in place. If I want to learn and grow, I have to muster up my own energy to find new ways to do that. And if I am being honest, I am not always the best at it. I'm a lover of museums, travel, books, but Lord knows, I regularly choose Netflix over all of those things.

And as such, I think my brain might be paying the price. Where brain go?

3. Mercury is in retrograde.

Now, I don't personally believe in astrology in any way, shape, or form, but that doesn't stop me from blaming all of my problems on it. You may have read about this whole Mercury in retrograde thing -- basically this current astrological phenomenon supposedly means that communication is all out of whack. Phones go on the fritz, deals fall through, arguments occur, Instagram breaks down every time you try to use the Walden filter -- that kind of thing. Many people think that during this season, their ability to express themselves is severely limited.

Again, I don't believe in any of this. But how fun is it to accidentally say something stupid and then follow it up with, "Ugh, forget I said that. Mercury is in retrograde, right?" Pretty fun.

4. Maybe I better and...bluh...exercise more

Apparently eating right and exercising is crucial in supporting cognitive health.


5. I am being haunted.

Hey, if we can blame our problems on the alignment of the planets, then ghosts are certainly not outside of the realm of possibility. Perhaps I've got some super dumb spirit haunting my brain, and if that's the case, I probably deserve it. This would obviously be the coolest explanation, but it would also be the hardest to overcome. Ghosts hold grudges. Everyone knows that.

Happy Halloween!

Anyway, I thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone happened to relate. Is it just me?! Am I the only one who is noticing this delay in cognitive functioning in my life?

Also if you have any thoughts on how I can increase my mental productivity, leave them in the comments section.

Oh, and for the record, I just looked over this entire post and I had to correct my spelling of the word "brain" three different times (originally spelled "brian"). Yet another example of my dwindling cerebral capacities.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Booties Everywhere

A couple of weeks back, I rambled in a post about how I was on the hunt for a pair of ankle booties. I put this desire out into the universe (as Oprah has instructed us all to do), and I'm sure you all formed a prayer circle for me and my booty needs. How very thoughtful of you.

Well, good news, friends: OUR BOOTY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED* in the form of a Gap Factory Outlet!

This place opened up down the street from me a week ago, and well, I may have gone a liiiiiiiiiiiittle bit overboard...

That's not just one but TWO pairs of booties plus a pair of tall boots (and some pumpkins just to make it festive)! My life is now filled to the brim with booties. Here, watch me model:

Note the fringe!!

Now watch me get a little tired/disgruntled while modeling:

Now watch me as I do a sexy version of the chicken dance maybe?:

Now watch me -- actually, feel free to look away as I do whatever this is:

Anyway, I'm living a fairly bootylicious life these days. Here's hoping you find the footwear of your dreams! 

Which fall fashion items are you still looking to add to your wardrobe? 

*By the way, I know you weren't praying for my shoes because, like, that would probably be pretty inappropriate...


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