I’m Sorry, Bluestone Cottage. I’m Still Here.

Have you ever seen a problem, thought you could help be part of the solution, and accidentally magnified the problem you set out to solve? I have. If you haven’t had the pleasure, I’ll give you some insight: it feels fucking terrible.

I bought my house in Kingston in the summer of 2013. By that I mean the house that I live in, the one we talk about a lot on this blog as I try (and try, and try, and try) to renovate and restore it inside and out. As anyone who’s renovated an old house with even some level of care will likely tell you, it’s a huge undertaking. It’s a strain on everything—emotions, finances, time, creativity, motivation, muscles, relationships. Your whole life, pretty much.

So I’m 23, and I now own this once-beautiful house in this once-beautiful town. That’s harsh: both the house and the town retain a lot of beauty and much of their original character, but the passage of time has not always been kind. Periods of economic hardship have brought neighborhoods to the brink, and the rebound has often taken the form of absentee landlords picking up houses on the cheap, putting minimal money and care into them, and collecting their rent checks. If my house had needed less work just to get it operational, I have zero doubt that’s exactly what would have happened to it.

If you hear “small city in Upstate New York” and think rolling hills and small town charm, Kingston is likely not what you’re picturing. There’s a slice of that, but it’s not the whole picture. It’s got some grit. It has its problems. It’s not a wealthy city and there aren’t nearly enough jobs. The rent is too damn high. The litter is out of control. There are a lot of houses with a lot of problems. And it’s where I decided, fairly quickly, that I actually wanted to make my life—not commuting between here and Brooklyn, not trying to make ends meet with AirBnB income and constant hustle and jobs I’d never want if not for needing the money to support $22,000 a year in rent. And I saw something here that I wanted to be a part of. Not that Kingston is a problem to be fixed, but it’s a place where one person can get involved, get things off the ground, and make a difference in a tangible way. There’s community. I felt good here. At home here. It’s exciting and a little scary to put all your eggs in one basket that way, but I’ve never regretted it. This is where my life is. And I really want to do right.

Fast-forward 14 months. I’m still in the early renovation stages of my house, trying to figure out this whole how-do-I-make-money-in-this-place-thing. I had…this blog that had the traffic and available content to probably do really well if it were correctly managed. I had…some renovation ability, and the hope that I could convince people pay me to make their houses nice. I had…a home address in a place where houses still sold for the price of a mid-range SUV, and the unique ability to potentially offset renovation costs with sponsors who could provide materials, funds, or ideally both.

Remember what I said about some grit? While my own house is largely surrounded by multi-family apartment houses (some better managed than others), it’s a slightly different story just a couple of blocks down. This block had 3 condemned houses on it…out of 10 total. Of the seven habitable structures, only one was owner-occupied. In the summer, it was routine to look down the street and see the flashing lights of a police siren from my bedroom windows, either speeding toward or parked on that block. The neighbors related stories of hearing gunshots at night that woke up and scared their children.

Tucked into a little 23-foot wide lot was this wee house, set back from the street and obscured completely by overgrowth, with a condemned sign posted on the front door. It had recently been listed for sale by owner online but didn’t have a sign out front or anything, and when the real estate agent didn’t show up for the walk-through, he instructed me to just let myself in. Because the door was unlocked. And oh right, he was in California—a detail you’d think he might have mentioned when setting the appointment in the first place.

Nonetheless, an idea was born. If I could secure some financing to buy it and cover some of the renovation costs, I could use my Powers of Blog to cover various expenses through brand partnerships, which would in turn bring in more income that I could reinvest in the project or use to float myself financially through the several months of not getting a regular paycheck while I dedicated myself to it. At the end, this sweet little house would be nicely renovated on a street where it otherwise likely didn’t stand a chance (which also happens to be RIGHT BY my own house—which couldn’t hurt my own property value). More than that, it would be occupied—and as long as it made reasonable financial sense, by a new owner. This cute, nicely maintained house, now joining the other owner-occupied house (also very nicely maintained) would bolster the whole block—hopefully inspiring other prospective buyers to see the street in a better light and consider giving the other two condemned houses the type of care and attention they deserve. Maybe one of those prospective buyer could be me, doing it all over again. Neighborhood stabilization has to start somewhere, and who was in a more privileged position to get the ball rolling than me? I could be part of a solution.

It seemed like a great idea at the time. Famous last words, if you’ll excuse the cliché.

I made a mistake. I can see that clearly now. In August, I’ll have been living with that mistake for 5 years—an amount of time I couldn’t even fathom when I truly believed I could do this in six months.

What went wrong? A lot went wrong. And as much as I either hated to or couldn’t admit it at the time, a lot of what went wrong was me. It’s kind of the story of my 20s, and weirdly, it’s mostly laid bare in blog format. I’m hoping being aware of it leads to change. That owning these choices—and seeing them as choices rather than things that simply happened—will help prevent me from making similar ones in the future. It’s the kind of personal work I expect to be doing my whole life—but now, as I approach the big THREE-OH (stop laughing, I’m trying to get something off my chest!), I think I’m starting to see it a bit more clearly.

I overcommitted—problem number 1. Thinking I can take on WAY more than I actually can has been a life-long struggle that I used to play off as cute and plucky, but really isn’t anything to be celebrated. All it means is that you’re miserable. All it means is that you’re not doing anything well, including the things that matter the most because there’s just too much going on. I should not have taken responsibility for a second house a year after diving into a huge rehab project of my own. Some people manage this type of thing well, although exactly how remains something of a mystery to me. Having a partner to do it with, I assume, helps enormously—but that’s a lot of pressure to put on a relationship if you’re not both 1,000% into doing this kind of work. We weren’t. And soon we were done, and I was alone—two dogs, two houses, and a single, unreliable and variable income.

Things started out, by most standards on a project like this, fairly well. I tackled the exterior first, in large part to signal to the neighborhood that things were changing for this little eyesore and community hazard. That went mostly well, although we ran out of cooperative weather. We gutted the interior, too, which normally I’d consider overkill but the house had undergone at least one previous renovation and there was next to nothing worth preserving. We re-framed every interior wall according to plans I’d drawn up on the computer, since the layout was also not worth preserving.

Various members of neighborhood were so excited to see something being done, at a very good pace, with this guy—me—at the helm, who really seemed to give a shit. That guy—me—was giving people work. He was friendly with the neighbors, and sympathetic to their understandable dismay over the condition this house had been in for so many years. He’d chat with Miss Margaret from next door while she waited for her ride over to the grocery store or the doctor, and programmed his number into her flip phone with instructions to call if she ever needed anything (she did, once, and he was there in minutes). The pastor of the church down the street was ecstatic about the progress, and soon one of her volunteers was walking through the house, dreaming of buying it and starting her family there when the renovation was complete. One of the owners of the owner-occupied house had her sister by—she was getting older and looking to downsize and be closer to family; it was a perfect fit. The guy who lived below Miss Margaret allowed us the use of his hose at no charge, since there was no running water on site. Someone started dropping off pies from the grocery store—cherry, blueberry, apple—on the front stoop with notes of encouragement.

And then, as quickly as work began, it halted.

I screwed up in myriad ways. I thought I could manage a rag-tag crew who desperately needed the work, and I could not. I placed trust where I absolutely shouldn’t have. I naively put myself, my investment, and my things at risk—luckily, only the things saw any lasting consequences, although having various expensive items you rely on for your livelihood stolen by people you trusted even briefly is a real punch to the gut.

I thought I could make the blog thing work, but I couldn’t. Not at the time, anyway. I didn’t figure out how to make the time to actually create the content that would further increase the traffic that would drive the sponsors that would make the money. I’ve never been a professional blogger and I was, basically, flying by the seat of my pants. I should have asked for help. I should have done…something. I didn’t know where to start, or what kind of help to even enlist. Just having decent site traffic does not a living income make.

Worst of all—and impossible to admit at the time, but easier to stomach now—was that, frankly, I didn’t even really know how to renovate this house. I thought I did. The basic strokes, sure. But let’s remember: I have no formal training in this stuff. I’m self-taught. I was young, and had never taken on an entire home rehab like this—not even my own house qualifies, which I’d barely scratched the surface of anyway. And now I had a completely gutted shell I had to put back together, and I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around all the many, many ins and outs of making that happen. This is, in part, evidenced by my initial design decisions, wherein I didn’t include any plumbing chases despite plopping a bathroom in the center of the second floor. Or thought we’d heat the house with a forced air system, in spite of having no space for ducts or air handlers.

There was a leak in the gas line that took the utility company 8 months to repair because of the winter and the frozen ground. Somehow at the time I couldn’t fathom a way around that—the house was freezing cold, and without a heat system (which will run on the gas), there wasn’t really any reason to move forward with a plumbing rough in, and without that I really shouldn’t have the electricians in, either, and both of those things would hold up insulation and finishing work, and really the flooring should go in between the heat system rough and actually installing the radiators, since I can’t install flooring AROUND a cast iron radiator. And OH RIGHT now I have to source and procure a house-worth of cast iron radiators because I simply will not do baseboard radiators and the fact that forced air isn’t really an option is news to me, and this will hold up the plumbing rough-in because they need to know how big each radiator is to get the pipes in the right place.

So I read up on sizing cast iron radiators (there’s science and math there, it’s not just whatever fits the space best) and gathered them from far and wide. Two came, actually, from a reader. One came from my house. A couple came salvaged. The plumber who was going to do the work disappeared. The house was freezing. My relationship was ending. I was failing at the blog stuff. And this block of time—during which I thought I was going to be working on this house and, hopefully, recouping the money I had into it—was quickly expiring. And I had a shell. With an unfinished exterior, nothing but framing inside, and a collection of antique radiators with no plumber to make them actually do anything.

This entire plan, essentially, hinged on everything going basically right. On me knowing what to do when they didn’t. And it didn’t go right. And I continued to not know. While I had the financing available to renovate the house, I wasn’t making nearly enough to live off of while I did that. And girl’s gotta eat. And pay bills. Adult things. So I took a little freelance job that spring, thinking with the weather back on my side I could totally do this freelance house, continue the more pressing work on my own house, and really dive back into Bluestone. At the very least, I’d make myself a little bit of money from the gig, and at least be able to support my shit through the next phase of work.

That little freelance job turned into the beast that was Olivebridge Cottage.* It was a job we’d budgeted 8 weeks for, and when all was said and done it took almost two years of my life and resulted in, essentially, a brand new house that I was responsible for designing and building. The workload was immense, the pay was not enough, and it took over my life. Finding the time to blog regularly was incredibly hard, and site traffic steadily decreased accordingly. Hell, finding the time for much of anything was incredibly hard—work at my own crazy house slowed to a stand-still, and any illusions I had about being able to work on Bluestone at the same time as this gargantuan project were sorely misplaced. It’s a time thing and a logistical thing and an energy thing. Not enough hours in the day. Various tools are at another jobsite. No energy, mental or physical, to put in long hours at two construction sites everyday. So it sat. And it sat. And it sat.

*The Olivebridge project will come back around on the blog at some point. For now, the owners have respectfully asked me to take down posts about the house, lest it’s unclear to somebody reading about it that all the many problems we uncovered were resolved. I don’t necessarily share the concern but I do respect their wishes—it is their house, and they shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable with what’s out there about it. Blogging is still not my full-time job, and those posts in particular take hours upon hours to put together—which is the same time I have to write other posts that, basically, I’d rather be writing.

One of the other condemned houses got picked up for pennies at auction. In short order all the exterior rot was inelegantly covered in aluminum flashing, some work was undertaken on the inside, a For Rent sign went up in the window, and the newest absentee landlord on the block began collecting his rent checks. And I can’t even say a damn thing about it, because my piece of the block is still just sitting there, waiting. An empty shell.

Eventually, a plumber was successfully enlisted to perform the work of the rough-in. A deposit of 50% on the single biggest line item in the budget was handed over. It should have taken a week, tops. The first day got cut off by some emergency call, if memory serves, but it went well. The next day, he’d be back. That day turned into a week. Which turned into a month. Which eventually turned into 14 months of hounding, and them coming for a few hours, followed by more weeks or months of hounding, until the rough plumbing work was mostly complete and able to be inspected. Then he was unceremoniously let go. That piece of shit.

On the bright side, I love the new plumber. So there’s that.

I didn’t leave the Olivebridge project with a lot in my pocket, and at the tail end of it I all but destroyed my house in a fit of pent-up I-MUST-MAKE-SOME-PROGRESS-ON-THIS-HOVEL-BEFORE-I-LOSE-MY-MIND—another hideous error in judgment and delusion about how much I can pile on in a given period of time, not to mention the money it cost. Olivebridge was brutal. Then what I did to my house was brutal. What this did to my depression-prone brain was brutal. Plumber at Bluestone still being a garbage human. No progress over there. Everything was terrible, and I felt so stuck.

I’ve talked before about the anxiety-avoidance cycle I’m prone to fall into if I’m not careful. And it happened with Bluestone. How it starts:

I begin to look away when I drive by it. I don’t go over nearly enough to tend to the yard, where the weeds grow increasingly thick and tall. I don’t like to go inside, so I don’t. When I walk over, the neighbors ask where I’ve been, or what’s going on, and my answers are unsatisfying at best. I don’t know what to tell them. The time has gotten away from me. And I don’t really know what’s going on.

The guy who used to drop off pies drops notes instead, asking me to call him. He wants to buy it—not even in a predatory way, just in a let-me-take-it-from-here kind of way. He’s disappointed but kind. Everybody is disappointed but kind, really. I tell him honestly how much money has gone into the house, which doesn’t surprise him but does make the price rather high on a property that no bank would approve a loan for. It breaks my heart that I don’t even know what I’d do if he came to me with a check. I don’t want to abandon this project but I also wish it would go away.

I stop by less and less frequently. I look away more and more. My own house still feels terrible. That house, sitting down there, feels like death. It gets broken into during the winter, but I don’t find out until months later from the landlord next door. He is inexplicably nice to me. I would not be this nice to me—not even close. He tells me a lot of people were in the house. He and his son re-secured it so it wouldn’t happen again. He was surprised I didn’t know. Inside, a small fire had been set in a cast iron sink I’d set aside years before—with so much optimism—for the half-bathroom. They’d used lath as kindling. The sink was destroyed but nothing else—a miracle I don’t think is appropriate to describe as “small.”

It was devastating. Imagine if something happened. I sobbed. I felt sick. I’m precisely the problem I set out to solve. It’s a dark, dark feeling. The worst that I’ve ever felt about anything in my life, I’m pretty sure. Every part of me felt awful. And by association, so did Bluestone. It became the physical embodiment of Daniel, The Spectacular Failure. And it’s right. fucking. there. Inescapable. Unavoidable.

Miss Margaret died. I found out from the guy who let us use his hose. I’m quite sure seeing the house next door to her apartment get renovated was not her dying wish, but that she never got to see it reborn still makes me sad. The pastor has moved away, and her volunteer with dreams of a family did buy a house, somewhere else in town, where she now lives with her husband and their new baby. I get the sense she dislikes me now when we pass each other in the grocery store and whatnot, but I could be projecting. Or I could be right, and frankly, she has every right to. Even Methodists have their limits.

The third condemned house sold, a large Victorian divided a few decades ago into four apartments. Now, it will again be four apartments, just altered. They slapped a coat of paint on it, ripped out all the windows, ignored clear structural deficiencies, enclosed a porch, tossed the radiators, and removed the rafter ties so the second floor could be vaulted all the way into the attic space—so basically the roof might collapse with a heavy snowload now. The owner is an “artist” who lives…somewhere else. And, once again, I can’t say a goddamn thing about it, because at their pace he’ll be collecting rent checks before Bluestone has a working toilet, let alone a certificate of occupancy. And it’s my fault.

A year ago, I wrote this post. I wanted 2018 to be better than the prior few years. I needed it to. I needed to figure out how to get myself out of this mess and this cycle—of taking on freelance work I don’t necessarily even want that overtakes my life, of deluding myself into thinking I can do it all at once, of allowing this project—now a hazard unto itself—to get pushed off again and again.

I didn’t solve all my problems in the space of a year. But I was better. I know I was better, in ways measurable and not. I wrapped up one big freelance job, did another, and started a third that didn’t require as much of my time (still far more than I expected and/or quoted for, but that’s a whole other story). I asked for help with managing the blog stuff and, briefly, got some (although that’s also a whole other story, but I’m giving myself some credit for trying). I got my hair cut 10 times, and even though I missed two appointments it was still a personal record. That’s neither here nor there, but it was a 2018 resolution so I’m inclined to mention it.

Mostly, I hunkered the fuck down. I worked my ass off, from winter to spring to summer to fall and back to winter.

The lion’s share of this ass-that-got-worked-off, admittedly, was closer to home. Specifically, at home. It was a big year for my house—essentially, one of rebuilding. At the start of the year, it felt like ruins. Various spaces were gutted. No laundry. No kitchen. No pantry. Not enough heat. Incomplete exterior work. And just a phenomenal mess—too much stuff in too few rooms, disorganized, and plain dirty. There wasn’t really a choice but to roll up my sleeves and step up my game, so I did. I worked, and worked, and worked, and worked. I reacquainted myself with my own things, trying to remember what I’d loved and valued about them before they became dusty obstacles cluttering my life. I cleaned. I rearranged. I spread out—which sounds weird, since I live here alone, but I still catch myself feeling like this space isn’t entirely mine. Like I have to keep myself contained, small, hidden. I made hundreds of lists. Did I mention I worked a lot? And slowly, but not that slowly all things considered, it started getting better. Creating a laundry space made it easier to really care for my stuff again. Getting the kitchen to a point of basic functionality allowed me to reclaim my living and dining spaces and actually start cooking again. I made some solid progress in the backyard, and spent months wrapping up the restoration of the south and east sides of the house. I constantly had to remind myself that big progress can only be accomplished through a thousand small steps—like building a stone wall, there’s no shortcut. You just have to keep stacking stones on top of other stones. As it happens I also built some stone walls and the metaphor was never far from my mind. That’s all any of it is, really—stacking stones, one by one, on top of other stones until something satisfying emerges.

I got a lot done. I didn’t get Bluestone done, but did get the electrical roughed in, which is another big step toward completion. I took better care of the yard. I stopped turning away when I drove by. I began—for the first time in a long time—to allow myself to think about finishing materials and how I want this house to actually look and feel. It’s looked and felt so bad for so long, but having a clearer picture of the end goal helps.

Something happened several months ago that you may have picked up on, which is that Lowe’s came a-knockin’ with a proposal, basically to do various sponsored projects over the course of several months. While I’ve worked with different brands on sponsored content in the past, I’ve never done anything more than a one-off kind of project—which has always been part of the challenge with monetizing blogging for me, because I might do one sponsored thing and get a decent little paycheck, but I can’t play financial roulette and turn down non-blog work and risk that there may not be a next sponsored thing with a decent little paycheck, so freelance work just ends up feeling more like a sure thing. The trade-off is that it keeps me away from things I’d rather be working on, including working on blog posts and responding to emails from potential sponsors that might make the blog thing actually sustainable. This is why I need help.

But this was Lowe’s—a team of people I’ve worked with on and off in the past, with a retailer that I probably spend the most time and money at of any other in my life (I have the Lowe’s/Synchrony credit card debt to prove it, folks!). I couldn’t ask for a more perfect fit. The way this works—both normally and in this situation—is that the content creator (that’s me!) pitches ideas to the sponsoring brand, they select their favorite ideas and the ones that align best with their budgets and editorial goals, and then I tell them the supplies I need to get it done and those materials are provided. I get paid both in the form of materials (which typically are either things I’d be purchasing anyway, or at least want to) and in the form of actual money for my time doing the project and producing the post and, of course, promoting it through this dog and pony show you see before you.

Anyway. I entered into this agreement with both trepidation and intention. I’ll come back to the intention part. Trepidation for two reasons: whether I was truly up to the task I thought and Lowe’s seemed to think I was up to (I’m trying to be more careful with my commitments, like I said!), and how it would go over with you, my DEAR READER. Because I like you (at least, I assume I do) and of course I want you to like me, and trust that I’m being honest with you, BECAUSE I AM, and this kind of sponsored set-up was a real departure from how I’ve been bopping around in this world for the past 8+ years. Because I know sponsored content is lame sometimes. I’ve skipped over it on other blogs, too. See how cool and relatable I am? I know right.

I think there’s an impression that when bloggers do sponsored content, it’s less real than their un-sponsored content. Or that the blogger is, like, greedily raking in the dollars for putting some dumb thing in their house and taking some photos of it. And while I’m not saying those things don’t happen, I can say this: these projects have been intense. In part because there are still various other things going on in my life, but in part just because all of these sponsored projects have been a ton of work. These bloggers that do this stuff on the reg and still manage 5 posts a week? I literally don’t know how they do it. In typical fashion, I way overshot on pretty much every single project—committing myself to more work than time really should have allowed for, and honestly more than was really necessary to pack into ONE blog post. Even after all this time, I still find it very difficult to predict how a post will actually pan out until I’m writing it, and I worry about it not being enough…and the idea always sounds like less work than it is. Always. Every time. And I wanted to do a really good job. I don’t know what the future holds for that partnership in particular—I would love for it to continue—but either way it’s been an invaluable insight into what pro blogging might look like for me. I’m not really an affiliate-link-the-shit-out-of-everything-on-Wayfair kinda guy, if you haven’t noticed.

The intention part was basically this: that this opportunity, at least for these few months, is maybe the beginning of me crawling out of this tangle of weeds. That this enables me to work on the projects I want/need to work on (BLUESTONE), and provide some stable income so I can, actually, pivot energy and attention onto this blog. Essentially, all I’m saying is the thing we kind of know to be true but forget: that the sponsored content isn’t just the sponsored content; it also supports the un-sponsored content. It’s a huge thing I’ve had a hard time totally grasping for myself all these years (no trouble understanding it for anyone else—what’s with that?), because I feel like I “should” be blogging more simply because I like it—but liking it or not liking it has never been the issue. The issue has always been the time it takes vs. the time I have because I’m wrapped up in all this other stuff.

(OK, sometimes I get dark and spooky and exceptionally anxious for weeks or months that the whole world hates me, and then I also don’t tend to blog. But usually it’s the other thing.)

So. I’m learning how to do this. It’s challenging, but a good kind of challenge. The kind of challenge I actually want.

Many of the projects I proposed were for Bluestone. The projects were selected and approved over time, not all at once, so it was a little hard to predict where I’d be headed next. A couple of projects I initially wanted for Bluestone, but my house ended up being the more practical or reasonable option for various reasons. AND THEN.

Lowe’s approved the Bluestone basement. The basement laundry room! Which is the whole basement, by the way. At first I was like…well that’s a weird way to start this renovation, but it’s actually kind of perfect? It gets me back in there. It’s subterranean, and 200 square feet, and a great little winter project I can do myself with a propane heater and the right supplies. It also started as the most disgusting, terrifying little space, so that makes any improvement feel extra good. Taking on this project prompted me have some of the bad work from the old plumber fixed—just sloppy stuff I probably would have ignored and then regretted ignoring down the line—which lead to wrapping up the un-done work upstairs, and that feels so much better. The electricians also returned for some outstanding items we didn’t need to pass inspection but should have been done. And it’s starting to look like something down there—like something rather nice.

It’s been a very long time since I spent this much time in this little eyesore o’ mine—since the beginning of it all, really. And it’s kind of a strange thing, to go back to a place that you never really left, but look at it with fresh eyes. Look at yourself with fresh eyes. I’m different than I was when I was 24 and had this bad idea. As much as I’ve groaned about this job and that job and stuff I did in my own renovation that made Bluestone feel impossible to really work on, I also learned what I think neuroscientists refer to as a fuckton through those experiences. They have all felt challenging because they were really fucking challenging. And that’s how trial by fire feels. That’s how learning the hard way feels.

And this, I think, is how moving forward feels. I don’t know how to resolve my guilt over the neighbors and probably the answer is that I don’t need to. I can apologize. I can feel guilty about what’s happened because what’s happened has been shitty. I can, at the same time, do what needs to be done to make the future different. And better. I know how to do this now. I’ve done it before—not this exact task, but I’ve done a lot. And I keep doing stuff, and I keep learning stuff, and I am—as of this writing—more capable than I have ever been before of taking this on. You probably are, too, with whatever thing you might have going on. Think about it! Tomorrow, you’ll be more capable. Because we are learning beings that, in spite of our flaws, have made it this fucking far.

One foot in front of the other. One stone on top of the next. That’s all any of it is.


321 Comments

  1. Wow. I needed that last paragraph. Thanks, Daniel, for summing up the work of life so perfectly. I have been reading you for years, of course, and I have really loved watching you learn, because you make it clear that this is all a hell of a lot of work, and yet you still do it. I actually burst into tears at one of your entries once, when you redid the back of your house, because it was so incredible. You didn’t know how to do it, but you learned how, and then you did it. It was so inspiring to me. Everything you said here is inspiring like that, as well. I have three children, and one of them is Autistic, one has anxiety, and one has a reading disability. And I am so lost. But every day I know a little more, and understand a little more, and can help a little more. One stone on top of the next.

  2. I don’t have much to say but rambles of various thoughts:
    1. I’m rooting for you buddy!
    2. I like your blog and way of writing. 3. The effort and love you put into your sponsored posts really shows and feels genuine. You are entitled to pay for your work.
    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to your next posts.

  3. I love your blog and I feel your pain. But just so you know, Soneone is always is a bigger idiot than you.

    It’s been 5 years since I gutted a house I bought from a family member. It’s in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country and I’ve missed out on 5k a month in income because of it. But I am just too overwhelmed with my other projects and so it sits with weeds growing everywhere and me feeling like a failure and neighbors and family saying wtf. My father died last fall and before he did he told me he was disappointed that I hadn’t finished the house.

    Thank you for your status update. I am looking forward to continuing to watch your journey. I love every post you squeeze out.

    Bonnie

    P.s. know a good bathroom designer? I am stuck on the layout of that room.

  4. Oh man this post was an emotional journey… I’m so glad things are getting better! I turned thirty last year and am in the midst of feeling like a total career failure (been applying to better jobs for the last 14 months now with no success), so while my own story is more boring/office-based and less dramatic, I feel you.
    Also I love reading your blog and your sponsored content definitely doesn’t come off as cursory or boring like a lot of that stuff does!

  5. Oh Daniel, I love you. So real, so honest, so hiding away at times (especially the tough times) like we all do. You ARE moving forward – sometimes we get stuck in the whirlpool that life can be and often is. Sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s outside forces, sometimes it’s both. Perhaps as a rule of thumb when you estimate the time for a project just automatically double it or even triple it. That can help take the pressure off a little – ask me how I know. Keep on slogging away and definitely keep us posted.

  6. And now you’ve left your mother, who wishes she lived in this town and was younger and more able to help you pick up the pieces, in a weeping pile of emotions. I love you and wish I could do more for you, on the daily.

    • You raised a great human there, Daniel’s Mom! Props to you!

    • Awww, Daniel’s Mom, I want to give you a hug too!

      Reading all the comments on this post is getting me all teary. Daniel has the best readers.

    • you raised a GREAT son! he is a tribute to you!

    • You must be so so proud of your son. What a thing to have achieved, not only raising a man that works his tail off, and learns from his mistakes, but also human person ON THE INTERWEBS who has created a space for honesty. What times we live in when a thing like that feels special, but here we are. All the best to you and yours.

    • Oh, Daniel’s mom! You done good! Daniel is brave, and strong, has an amazing good heart, is talented, smaert, has a fabulous work ethic… and more. Your love and support throughout his life has contributed so much to who he is and is becoming.

      I am nearly old enough to be his grandmother, and have been following home since the very early days of his blog.

      Congratulations to you both for your beautiful relationship.

  7. This post made me take a hard look at my own 5 year old project that’s been the center of my anxiety/avoidance cycle. I know that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I think about it, so the fact that you’re back in there and working is so motivating to me. Makes me feel like even though I’ve made the mistake and I can’t undo it, I can still make progress towards turning it into something better. I’m looking forward to seeing where this path takes you next.

  8. Thank you for this post. I’ve been reading your blog since you first bought Bluestone Cottage. But it wasn’t the promise of a reveal at the end that kept me here reading every one of your posts. It’s your wonderful, hilarious, honest voice.

    I, too, am an overcommitter and it is awful. You nailed that feeling perfectly. I wish the guilty feelings were better for motivating us to get more done, but really they just multiply exponentially. Anyway, like one of the commenters below also said: I’m rooting for you. I’m really enjoying being along for this journey, and I think you’re doing a great job. Even if it doesn’t feel that way to you!

  9. I’ve kept a close eye in this blog since you were back in one of your first small apartments in the city. You’ve grown so much and I just want to say, as a loyal reader, that I’m super proud of you. Of all you’ve accomplished and overcome and worked through. And I really can’t wait to see how you continue to grow and design and figure this whole life thing out.
    XO

  10. Wow. I can really relate to this. I often take on too much and then when I run up against obstacles, the anxiety/avoidance cycle sets in. It does feel fucking terrible. On the other hand, I also think you’re being really hard on yourself. You can’t control everything. You’re making better decisions now.

    I’m so happy to see the Lowe’s partnership! You put so much time and effort into your posts, you should get some assistance and compensation for that. But also, thank you for not, like, taking sponsorship from Naturebox and making a post with pictures of snacks arrayed in vintage light fixtures. Good luck with everything. I’ll be looking forward to reading about it.

  11. This post is great and why I’m still here and reading. And now I want to go and click on all of your sponsored posts about 200 times :)
    I sure do appreciate your honesty and for letting us in on your life. I really do.

  12. Your vulnerability and honesty here are so brave and I so appreciate it because I understand this cycle so deeply. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. I truly adore your blog. And your voice. Sponsored or not.

  13. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written. I completely get that anxiety-avoidance cycle as that’s how I am with any freelance project – different industry, but same horrible feeling. It’s devastating. Wishing you the best with Bluestone (and all of your projects!) and count me in as one of the perfect strangers rooting for you.

  14. I so identify with everything you describe here; taking on too much, running short of funds, time, brain cells. I have house renovation plans that I want to do, and some that I need to do, I have a car that has been waiting to roll out of the garage for an inspection for nearly 2 years, etc. etc. One thing at a time is the only way to stay sane. I can’t wait to see your Bluestone basement!

  15. My first (and more articulate) comment was erased when my computer froze…but to summarize: Feel no shame in the sponsored posts! I love them! They let you create great content, they let you get paid (like we all do for our jobs!), and they let your readers bring some of your blog into their lives. By this I mean, we can’t all go to the flea market or the antique store down the street from you, but most of us can go to Lowes and pick something up on your recommendation.
    I have never been disappointed in your content – I love to read your writing and I will keep on reading. Even if it means liking an Instagram post where you share the benefits of hair growth gummy bears or skinny tea. I’m here for it!

  16. I can’t think of a better fit for your blog/instagram than Lowe’s. It feels like a natural partnership (you’re renovating a house! Of course you’re gonna need stuff from Lowe’s!) & you deserve to be paid for your work.

    I’ll keep reading & clicking. Thank you for your vulnerability & openess. I’m much older & still feel like I screw up on the regular. We’re all doing the best we can, right? Hang in there.

  17. I’m a long-time reader but this post prompted me to post my first comment. It it so, so hard to follow through with projects and you’re not alone! My husband and I bought our first house this past year and while it’s nowhere near as big of a project as yours, we still feel like we have no idea what we’re doing, and every renovation decision seems so expensive and permanent that it’s hard to commit to even small changes. And I’ve already regretted several choices we’ve made. I think you are so talented and I’ve been following your blog closely for inspiration as we move forward. I definitely don’t mind seeing some sponsored content on the blog if it helps you earn a living.

    Also…I hope it’s not too intrusive but I’d like to put in a recommendation for a book called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns. Fair warning, some of the tips seem hokey at first but it was really helpful for me in learning how to shut down unhelpful self-criticism and stop feeling so guilty all the damn time.

  18. My God, this was excruciating to read. How can I care so much about a person on the internet that I don’t know and will probably never meet? Because it’s you! And you are amazing and brutally honest and always refreshing and I learn so much from you. Your Lowe’s posts are wonderful. I’ve always liked Lowe’s, but definitely head in their direction more frequently now instead of HD, which is closer, because of you. If they are good enough for you, they’re good enough for me, right?? I’ve always felt like you take on way too much, but you’re 18-ish years younger than I am, so I thought I must be getting old and tired. Please, take care of your goddamned self, Daniel!! We need you around the interwebs for a long time to come. PS For years, I have been telling my boyfriend about ‘my friend Daniel’. He only recently realized that I don’t actually know you. :)

  19. Love your writing, been reading since before you purchased either house, look forward to more updates. I never shop at Lowe’s but their sponsorship of you just might get me in there!

  20. I find you to be exceptionally brave, Daniel.

    I also highly, highly relate to these cycles of ambition, optimism, freelance jobs that expand exponentially and comfortably beyond the the time, skill set, and compensation anybody planned for, and then being so overwhelmed that the only thing that helps settle the mind is putting your own house in order.

    I am 33, and that has been the story of my unfocused freelance career. I am most excited by new things and big ideas, so I tend to take those jobs and not ones based on expertise in which I do just what I already completely and totally know how to do and therefore can give a completely accurate time estimate and budget for.

    I think I am starting to enter the other side of it all, though. Definitely too soon to tell, but I am getting a sense of perspective that I didn’t have even a year ago. It started when I all of a sudden seeing strong patterns and drawing distinct conclusions and making decisions about my future that feel really focused, deliberate, and sound. It’s made me start to see that these freelance/project/chaos years for me have been years of wild exploration, skill-building, and learning — general information gathering — and now I guess I have gathered enough information because all of a sudden it is possible (almost easy?) to draw these big conclusions. What matters most to me, what works best for me, what finite few projects I want to commit my future to.

    You just can’t see patterns and draw conclusions till you have enough data points, but gathering random data points (especially when you have no clue you are running a research project) feels utterly chaotic and mad. But I do not have the sense anymore that the chaos is a cycle I have to break myself from. Rather, I think it is like school. Something you graduate from when you have learned what you needed to.

    Your new deal with Lowe’s strikes me as one of those big conclusions that I think signal that graduation transition. After trying so many things, here is a thing that works well for you. That ties many of these threads of exploration and excitement together in a way that calms things and feels sustainable and fulfilling. If you were to monetize the blog, but court only those types of partnerships, that sounds like a winning approach for you could focus on. I have a project like that now too that does similar things for me.

    I cannot speak with any authority from the other side of someone who has become a fully functioning adult after youth spent this way, but I speak from the cusp I think? And with all the authority of the cusp, it does sound as if you are joining me here several years earlier than I made it in.

    Show off.

    • Inevitable typos from typing this essay in bed on my phone. Should have been:

      “freelance jobs that expand exponentially and UNcomfortably”

      and

      “a winning approach for you THAT YOU could focus on”

  21. You are wonderful: talented, funny, smart, and a great writer. I’m sorry you’ve struggled so much lately but please know all the good stuff you’ve put into the world. And at your tender age. I can only imagine the fantastic person you will be 10, 20, 30 years from now with all the passion, art and care you’ve put into your life. I will read happily anything you write – including your sponsored content – because you are you no matter what and worth following and supporting. I wish such good things for you, you deserve it. -Melanie

  22. So touched by your honesty. It makes me like you even more. Keep stacking those stones. Pretty sure EVERYBODY is rooting for you.

  23. You had your hair cut 10 times????? God, I would have torn mine out by the roots. We have bad times, we have good times, but you are getting there, and I love reading how you do that. That little cottage will be someone’s home in a short(ish) time, and then you can overwhelm us all (and yourself, probably) with a wonderful post full of pics makred THEN and NOW. Good luck with it all

  24. You are probably the most thoughtful and honest person on the internet. Kingston is lucky to have you, and we are lucky that you share yourself with us. Xoxoxox

  25. Hi there, also a reader since the actual Manhattan days! :)

    I wanted to comment on this bit:
    “there’s an impression that when bloggers do sponsored content, it’s less real than their un-sponsored content. Or that the blogger is, like, greedily raking in the dollars for putting some dumb thing in their house and taking some photos of it”

    that I for one at least have never had that impression. I think of sponsored blog posts as basically companies outsourcing the explanation and education around the tools they sell to people who are more relatable and have built up credibility with an audience over time. I would much prefer to learn about this stuff at home in my PJs rather than trying to flag down someone at the actual store! So, just wanted to put that perspective out there in the hopes that it helps with quietening the external judgment your brain is insisting you’ll face.

    • Just to provide the opposite viewpoint, while I never think that about Daniel’s Lowe’s posts, I do actually think that about all other bloggers’ sponsored posts. Frankly, if I see a post is sponsored, I just skip right past it. Because I’ve just seen too many that were nothing but thinly-disguised ads. Again, this does not apply to MN-Lowe’s posts. And I appreciate your candid explanation, Daniel, of how the partnership works. More power to you!

  26. Wow, amazing post. I feel like you’re talking about my job (totally not construction related) with it’s overwhelming demands that have consumed my entire life (hello home renovation that I haven’t touched for 2 years). I guess what I’m saying is that it is relatable.

    On the topic of blog posts, part of what is unique and awesome about your blog is that the content is so high quality. Your articles are always long, interesting and well written. I can’t speak for others but I certainly wouldn’t object to shorter articles on sponsored topics because they will also be interesting and well written and that will keep me coming back for more. I think we all understand how this works by now, and I doubt anyone is going to begrudge you writing sponsored stuff to keep the ship afloat.

  27. Daniel, you are an absolute wonder. I feel a massive sense of achievement because I papered my hall. I am in total awe of your ambition, tenacity and pluck. Added to which you’re a great writer and seem like a kind and considerate human being. I love your blog, but I totally understand when it goes quiet. Snuggle those dogs and make sure you take time to rest!

  28. I relate to a lot of what you said. I’m also excited to see new progress at Bluestone Cottage. I have a lot of affection for it for some reason!

  29. Daniel, I’m a long-time reader who’s been rooting for you for years. I really love how you see the positive in everything – you’re the human equivalent of Bungee. Congratulations on the Lowe’s partnership — I’ve been really enjoying your Instagram stories and learning a lot!

  30. I’m still here!

  31. I don’t really have anything of value to add, but I just wanted to comment in a show of solidarity. Your posts are always so full of content. Your sponsored posts are on-brand and useful. Your work is entertaining and amazingly beautiful. I will forever give you page clicks…unless you start shilling FabFitFun or some other non-related crap. Even Methodists have their limits.

    • :)
      But you know, I’d probably forgive Daniel the occasional FabFitFun box or Glade plugin post if it means that he gets to do more work and write more about Bluestone or his house or any freelance project where he’s building a giant front porch. But I have a feeling that we won’t see these because like you say, his sponsored posts are always so well integrated and in his voice and he’s doing work that he would be doing anyway, eventually when there’s money for it.

      Daniel, I hope that you find your way to make this all work and I’ve already noticed that 2018 was better and 2019 is off to a great start. Love the look behind the scenes at the sausage factory.

      • I agree that some sponsorships have gotten crazy and random in the blogosphere, that being said if you got paid for a post where Edwin and crew did a taste review / portability review of snack, or a FabFitFun box review from your mom- I’d be here for it, just to support you getting paid for all you do! Honestly we should all know our worth and never feel guilty for getting paid for our work.

  32. You got this! Kick 2019’s ass, Daniel!

  33. Daniel…thank you.

    You put as much hard work into yourself as you do your projects and blog – and it is all delightful to read. Your integrity is awesome to behold. Thank you so much for choosing to live and work in Kingston. You have already accomplished more than you know.

    -Tom

  34. This post resonated in so many ways…how it feels to avoid things, how insurmountable things can feel, the anxiety of it all. You are so wonderful and such a fantastic writer! Seeing a new post from you puts a smile on my face every time and I just so admire everything you create. And I’m stoked that Lowe’s realizes how awesome you are and can put some moolah behind the projects- you deserve it!! I venture into a home improvement store maybe twice a year (I’m a renter who doesn’t know how to do much) but I’ll happily give Lowe’s that business for being your sponsor. Keep on keepin on, friend. Can’t wait to see what you do in 2019.

  35. I’m continually impressed by how eloquent you are at expressing some of this stuff. I can’t believe how much I can relate despite having basically zero life experience in this entire building/renovating sphere. (So why do I enjoy this blog so much? I guess it’s nice to have a vicarious experience of the sort of home ownership journey I might like to have someday, plus you make it worthwhile in the way you present things.) I’m mostly delurking to comment because I want to emphasize that when you have sponsored posts I always understand what’s happening & it doesn’t feel put-on, plus they’re just interesting and relevant so it’s not in any way forced and fake-seeming. If there was a slight veneer of fakeness I’d understand and I’d certainly continue reading, but there isn’t and that’s great. If I think anything about them it’s just “good for Daniel.”

  36. Daniel, what a heart-rending, heart-opening post. I shudder at the “authenticity” bloggers and now I feel like shaking my fist at them and saying, Read this, you frauds! This was honest and painful and, like your mom, it seems so many of your readers relate and wish they could be of help. We are all rooting for you. Like you say, taking things slowly, one stone at a time, may be one way of approaching the anxiety. But also consider setting small goals that you can finish in short order. Nothing like checking an item off of a list to encourage ourselves. In all the time I’ve read your posts (years, now) I’ve never been so touched. You are a good man.

    • Mindy nailed it – you are a good man. As for the sponsored posts, you go RIGHT AHEAD and get some Lowe’s money. You ALWAYS do things your way which gives me good faith that any sponsored post by you will rock and set a new baseline.

      Keep on trucking & know that we’re rooting for you.

    • You are honest and brave. Well done and thank you.

    • THIS. thank you, miss mindy.

  37. ^^^^^^^^^^ Ditto.
    I’ve been a reader for a long time, not even sure how you showed up in my blog list, but there you are. I actually get excited when there’s a new post from you.
    You are HILARIOUS, truthful, honest, authentic, and I am sad I don’t live where we could meet for a cup of coffee or I could drop a pie off on the doorstep of Bluestone Cottage – because that shit would happen on the reg.
    Thank you for hanging in there in ALL of the things. If rooting for you matters at all – there’s a big crowd doing it for you.

    xoxoxox

  38. How words can be hugs, right, Daniel? I suspect this all might have been even a bit tougher without all your supporters cheering you on… the time will come when this will all be seen from a big desk in a beautiful window in your still not completely done home, and you’ll be writing a BOOK based on these blogs!

  39. Daniel! Thank you for such an honest post. Your words spoke such truth to me. My husband and I moved halfway across the country to Texas in July into our first purchased home. We were excited about putting time into some cosmetic things (taking carpet out of a bathroom, painting, plaster repair, etc.) and could save for the big ticket things (new floors, renovated kitchen, etc.). And then we found toxic black mold that resulted in pulling out all of the existing ductwork, running new ducts, and installing two new HVAC systems on top of complete upheaval and inability to use our house fully, even to this day. It was awful to say the least and put us back financially muuuuuch farther than we could have ever anticipated. So now we’re living in this world of being in the middle of so many projects. The dependencies are miles long, resulting in half-done projects while we wait for X, Y, or Z to be feasible. This blog/Pinterest/social media world is such a beautiful one that is largely based on the before and afters. But MAN can the middle be very, very, very long! Here’s to you (to us!) crossing a few more things off the list and celebrating the many items that have already been crossed off. And if it takes sponsored content to help make that happen, MORE POWER TO YOU. xoxo

  40. Having just bought a baby of a house (only 1700 sf built in 1945) I can relate time and again to your struggles! There isn’t a “small” project to be done – every little project snowballs into 47 larger projects that all need to be done correctly to fix something someone helpfully “fixed” at some point previously. I cannot tell you how much your blog (which I have been following for YEARS now) has come to mind as I work on something, or how I think “I’d love to show off how I solved this!” to you as I wrap up some insane project I accidentally on purpose brought on myself. (Oh! This fridge would be *perfect* and we only have to tear out two small cabinets to make it fit… #FamousLastWords) And ignoring something so long that it’s embarrassing and easier to pretend it doesn’t exist? You are not alone! (Ask me how long it’s been since I called my elderly uncle in NJ who deserves a phone call but the longer I go the worse I feel so the less I want to call. Go ahead. Ask. Guess! Super fun.) What I’m trying to say is this: your blog remains relatable to many of us. We love any update, good or bad – you always make it funny at least. I *get* your blog – because you *do* share the ugly truth sometimes. Things don’t always go as expected. I never feel inadequate after reading your posts. Unmotivated and lazy, sure – but capable? Absolutely! Just know how much we readers appreciate you and how hard you work.

  41. My life looks so very different from yours, and yet, even though I’ve never renovated a house, I have been following your blog for the better part of a decade now simply because I like your voice and I appreciate how you are often able to frame life within the context of home renovation. I relate to you even though I don’t have any idea what you’re doing most of the time. Like many of the other commenters, I feel like you are a friend and I have remained curious about how your house/homes are progressing, as well as how you and your pup/pups are getting on in life. It’s a friendly-feeling corner of the internet, a bit like popping into the local pub from time to time. I’m so excited for you and the cottage and the partnership with Lowe’s! I get overwhelmed going into big stores like that but I feel like I can trust your recommendations. Good luck!

  42. Thank you Daniel – for what you do AND what you end up doing later. You always get there. I’ve “followed” your growth through the years (a little time before Anna redid your website, I think) and as your mother from a another son, I am quite proud of you. As you’ve learned so have I; and more times than not, I’ve lived vicariously through your projects. I also understand anxiety/depression and the effect it has on days that turn into weeks/months. Ride the wave that is moving forward! I’ll be doggy paddling right there with you.

  43. Daniel, I’m probably your mom’s age, so I’ll pretend you’re my nephew: I wish you wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Stuff happens, especially in the life of a freelancer (dh is a freelance writer, I know of what I speak!). I’m truly delighted that you’ve taken on this partnership with Lowe’s, it’s a perfect fit. I’m one of those who are fine with sponsored content as long as it’s real, and not shilling meal boxes (please, don’t ever shill Blue Apron or its ilk! Not your brand!).. Looking forward to watching the progress on Bluestone and on your home!

  44. Of course you should get paid for all of that beautiful and funny writing and inspiration and motivation you provide. And thanks for that last paragraph. I’m way, way older than you, but you were able to succinctly and lovingly let so many of us in on what we need.
    Thank you.

  45. As one who always takes on too much, I understand your plight. Experience and time will help with seeing the entirety of things and you will get better at it. But that doesn’t fulfill the desire to complete 1,000 things at a time. Prioritization is hard. I appreciate and admire your honesty and willingness to share what most people keep behind the pretty vail of ‘Everything is just fine, Nothing to see here’.

    BTW… Of the two big ones, I always go to Lowe’s first (even though the other one is filled with hunky construction workers).

  46. I’m so excited for you for this new-old project, and for finding the momentum to continue. Your blog is a joy.

  47. I appreciate your honesty about taking on too much, Daniel. It’s a valuable lesson for any of us taking on mortgages and renovations while also dealing with life stuff. I’m excited for the things to come for Bluestone Cottage and glad you’re feeling a bit better about the whole thing.

  48. Oh boy Daniel! I couldn’t love you more. You are a fabulous, engaging writer. I wouldn’t miss a post. I’m sorry you have to have all the negative feelings, but that’s unavoidable. I’m sorry the neighbors are disappointed, but they’ll recover as the job moves forward. Sponsored posts sometimes annoy me when they seem to have been conjured up just to make money. They don’t bother me at all if I see that the projects are good ones that would have been done even without the sponsorship. We faithful blog readers love YOU and have gotten to “know” you a little. We see your pure heart. Anyone joining in will see it too if they stay for some time. If not, they will move on to another of the typical cookie cutter blogs about the perfect project in the perfect house. So be it. Maybe in one split second of clarity you will see that you are a 30 year old guy who bought TWO houses and has done unending good work on them. Who is interested in making the neighborhood and city a better place by working, working, working. Who is employing others in the community. Who has touched many, many internet “friends” who all care about the outcome of the two houses AND of YOU. I would say that you’ve accomplished a lot and there is only more to come. Your life’s stone wall may not be finished, but it is beautiful so far. Chin up and keep up the good work. We’re rooting for you.

  49. I like so many have followed you forever but unlike most of the others I have never dyi’d anything in my life unless you count painting a few walls or throwing up some wall paper. The point is I come back time and time again because of your writing style, humor and of course the dogs and I enjoy and appreciate the work involved and your design decisions. I am not looking for a quick before and after it’s the journey you describe for us that is priceless. On another note as a senior follower with some older skin I have taken to using what you said about Mekko’s “nice neck folds” as a lovely descriptive way to embrace aging.

  50. Danielsan, life doesn’t always turn ou like we planned, sometimes the plan will change… and you know what? That’s perfectly ok.
    I am always always impressed by how much energy and soul you put into everything you do. You are a kind and compassionate human being, you are true, honest dedicated and hard working, but Daniel, you are such a perfectionist and so so hard on yourself.
    It’s a great quality to have but a perfect plan, a perfect house, a perfect execution, a perfect you… that is a recipe for continuous disappointment. It’s overwhelming. The plan shifts, people screw up, a new plan pops up, we break up, we feel miserable, or we simply just don’t feel like doing something anymore. Well guess what, that is just part of life. It’s ok. C’est la fucking vie!
    Daniel, you are not letting anyone down. You have nothing to prove. Not to anyone. No-one’s expecting anything from you, least of all your internet friends or your pie-loving neighbours. Be kinder to yourself. You have already accomplished so much. I think you are a truly wonderful person. Thank you for keeping it real. Always. I wish I could give you a big fat hug.
    xxx Take care

  51. I bought my house (1900-ish victorian that needed/needs a lot of work) about 2 weeks after you bought yours and I’ve honestly felt the “how does he do it all” thing about you as I’ve compared it to our progress. You’re doing so so much and doing it really well! And it’s been really comforting hearing you talk about the mess and full rooms of chaos (we gutted a bathroom and then ended up boarding up the door for a full year to keep the draft out of the rest of the house before we got around to finishing it and I don’t think my bookcase has been dust free for more than a week out of every 6 months for the last five years) because other blogs make renovations seem so easy.

    Blogger: “We didn’t start til we had the cash to pay for everything plus an extra 30% just in case and then we finished everything in a month.” Me: We tore down a wall in a fit of ill advised enthusiasm 3 months ago and there’s still a couple pieces of drywall that didn’t fit into the trash bag sitting in the hallway.

    Looking forward to reading all of your sponsored content! You’re one of my favorite voices in the blogging world so I’ll be here even if you start telling us to swipe up for Mekko’s favorite poop bags.

  52. Oh you sweet poppet. I am all for self-improvement and looking at one’s failings straight-on, but be kind to yourself, too. Bluestone might just be the best learning experience ever.

  53. The year is 2013. My now husband owned a duplex that he had been renovating for 5 years. I
    naively decide to buy my own house (5 months before he proposes) because… the rates are good! My mortgage will be less than rent! It hardly needs work, I will have the whole thing whipped into shape in a year! I will live here for 2 years and then we will pick out OUR house together! But, I know now, houses don’t really work that way. It’s not like an apartment that you just… leave.

    Another 5 years later, we still haven’t finished the duplex, despite it being my goal every. Goddamn. Year. A tree falling on it and caving in a quarter of the roof has something to do with it, but the anxiety/avoidance trap has more blame. And everything on the house we actually live in is on hold because the duplex isn’t done.

    All that to say, as someone who bought a house the same year as you, I am truly amazed by all that you have accomplished. Do you remember front door vestibule? And stair wall? Asphalt yard? The entire side of your house?! You are a visionary and a work horse, and you are not alone in being a renovation optimist! Thanks for sharing all the feels. I am glad you are getting sponsorships! You deserve to be compensated! I have wanted more ways to support you in your work, gimme dat PayPal button!

  54. Your theory of ‘stone by stone’ is exactly what life is about, and it applies in so many other fields and in so many ways. That may be the reason why I, a compulsive list-maker, never write “clean the kitchen.” Rather, I break that big job up into tiny tasks that I can check off: wipe counters, empty dishwasher, clean out freezer, mop floor. Pretty soon the kitchen is clean(er) and the stone wall is high(er).

    • Ann, I so agree with this. Since Daniel is doing multiple projects, prioritize and then make smaller, more realistic goals. Pad your timelines a bit. You have done an extraordinary job over the years (I’ve been reading since near the beginning of the blog). You have a lot to be proud of. Your MOM has a lot to be proud of. I was close to tears while reading this particular post. Everything you expressed so honestly is a painful result of good intentions, not enough money and other negative outside influences.
      I’m fine with your sponsored posts-it means I can learn about products and how to use them. Like everyone else here, I look forward to every post because they are real.
      One foot in front of the other, one stone on top of another-my new mantra for those challenging days.

  55. Daniel,
    You’re very talented, honest, witty and relatable. You’ve done a lot and been through a lot and we enjoy reading about all aspects, you being you is why we come back! Thanks for helping us who’ve done and been through a lot too with your message! A post can speak to many things for many people…

  56. This is a wonderful post. I’m so grateful to you for sharing your hard work and growth with us. Cheering you on!!

  57. Dude – I love everything you’ve done (and love reading your blog for a million years now) and am so excited for this new lowe’s plan and getting the big weight of bluestone off your chest!!!!! Rooting for you!!!!

  58. Wow, this post was amazing and so cathartic. I can identify with you because I (perhaps stupidly) chose to change careers in my late 20s, go back to school, and become a nurse. Currently I’m working night shift, more depressed than I’ve ever been, not eating, lost too much weight, and I guess I just realized that it’s okay to admit defeat. I need to try something else, and keep trying.

    For you, please accept the Lowe’s sponsorship! It feels like a great fit for the blog, it doesn’t feel weird, like a renovation blogger accepting a sponsor for a water purifier or something stupid. It’s appropriate and I want to read it.

    Keep on keeping on Daniel. Thank you for being real.

    • Stacie-try working in a doctor’s office. I just about died working in the operating rooms of several hospitals and finally got a job with a plastic surgeon who did cases in his office. The stress went down at least 50% and the money was about the same. I did not miss being on call ever.

  59. This post was riveting, relatable and incredibly honest. I can totally relate to the anxiety/avoidance cycle as I live it in daily. I tend to drive myself crazy with the idea that to do anything, I need to tear everything apart and make it perfect. I just need to start, stone by stone. Thank you for the inspiration and I hope all these comments reassure you that sponsored or not (you always do it honestly and are not just schilling something) we love your posts and you and just want you to be happy and healthy. May 2019 be a much better year!

  60. I just want to add to the chorus of the voices saying thank you, Daniel. This post hit me in the gut and now I find that I am tearing up at my desk. It’s popular these days to say “we need to lessen the stigma around mental health” and then speak in cliches and generalities but to me, this is what that looks like. Hearing you describe your struggles legitimately helps me re-frame some of my own challenges, and your transparency and honesty is simply beautiful. Sending you the biggest digital hug.

  61. I have been reading this blog since right before you bought your Kingston house. I also live in upstate New York, in a smaller but similar town. You know, lots of beautiful old houses that were once amazing but are now falling apart because no one takes care of them, rising crime rates, lots of drugs, few people with any sort of money to make improvements. I really appreciate this post, because while yes, you may have bitten off more than you could chew, I’m also really impressed by how you have dealt with things, how open you are with us about all of it, and your plans to move forward. I’m 25 and living with my parents, so you’re really doing good from my viewpoint! It’s taken me the last month just to do a makeover of my tiny, awkward closet, and all I did was declutter, paint, and install new laminate wood floors (which my dad helped with)! It’s not even quite done yet! And I only work part-time!

  62. Daniel,
    I love your heart. I love the fact that you care what the neighborhood thinks while you are doing the best you can with no help and contractors that disappear. I wish I didn’t know how that feels!
    I LOVE that Mekko’s illness, and the funds to treat her, came before plumbing, as it should for your family.
    You have nothing to apologize for re: Bluestone. When Bluestone is done throw a pie and punch party for the hood but please do not apologize. You are the best!

  63. One of the best blog posts I’ve read in years – on the entire internet. Thank you.

  64. Thank you Daniel for this! For all of it, for the honesty most importantly. What strength and insight. And those last two paragraphs, those words, thoughts, are exactly what I needed. May the force be with you! And excellent writing once again.

  65. Daniel — I’ve been reading for so many years, I feel like you’re my friend (if that’s not creepy. I’ve never stuck to reading a blog for this long, and I also basically never comment on anything online). And friend, I hope you’ll try to view the comments/readers as your cheerleaders instead of an adversary that is disappointed in you. We stick around because you’re honest and relatable and talented and passionate. It’s so much fun to watch, and I thank you for sharing with us. Talking about your anxiety and avoidance really hits home, and I’ve been there! Living that professional creative lifestyle is so tough. Sending you those good vibes to shake off the negativity and move forward, step by step. I (we) are cheering for you!

  66. What I wish for you is that when you’re struggling, you read over the comments on this post and see how many people see a dude trying his best and still think he’s doing great. And hopefully, that helps.

  67. After I read a couple of your posts which were sponsored by Lowe’s, my first thought was – oh, yay!

    The amount of work that you do is amazing. The thought and care that you put into your work is amazing. The way you write about it is amazing. YOU are amazing and I am so glad that you have taken this opportunity. I know you will do a great job.

    It sounds like you have come to this yourself, but please don’t beat yourself up over the things you haven’t done and don’t stop dreaming of big things in the future. Just use what you’ve learned and move on. I have faith. And I’m happy for you. And me, since I love reading your blog.

  68. Thank you for sharing and being transparent. One of the reasons I like reading your blog is because you are real and you don’t lose your voice in a sponsored post.
    I have been reading since before around the time you bought Bluestone Cottage. I am so excited to see where your creativity takes you.

  69. “I also learned what I think neuroscientists refer to as a fuckton through those experiences” – I laughed out loud reading that. Your honesty and vulnerability are a delight. You are a delight. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  70. Long time reader but first time commenter. I love your blog and find it inspiring. In fact I sent the cabinet entry to my brother to inspire him. Sometimes our best is our best and we have to be as accepting of ourselves as we would of others. I’m speaking from experience. Lots of experience. I sometimes turn the situation and ask myself if my best friend (insert name here) was experiencing this situation what would I say to her? Would i say the same things I’m saying to myself? I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. I can’t wait to see the plans you have for the blog, the project house and your house!

  71. Great effing post. Good luck with bluestone!

  72. Well, you must be doing SOMEthing right – look at the number of comments on this post! I for one have been following for years and love your blog, and have often thought of this house and wondered when we would get an update. Tough to read but so relatable and I am absolutely rooting for the come-back story (in its time, of course)! Also, I don’t judge the Loews sponsorship in any way, and find those posts just as riveting with your spin on them. AND unsolicited opinion – it really wouldn’t hurt to invest in some help with blog management because you would KILL IT if you had the bandwidth ;) Keep on keepin’ on!

  73. What a beautiful, raw, honest post. You have a rare ability to recognize, organize, and communicate your thoughts and experiences. I hope things continue to improve for you, and–selfishly–that you continue to share that adventure with the rest of us.

  74. Thanks for being so real about all of this. I am rooting for you.

  75. I followed your blog because you purchased Bluestone. I’ve been confused for awhile about your houses, thanks for clearing that up.

    I think you and Lowe’s are a great fit. Can’t wait to see what you do with your basement!

  76. Been a reader since the Manhattan days and I am rooting for you!! Emily Henderson and her team do sponsored content beautifully in a compelling, natural, and exciting way and I know you can do the same!

  77. We love your blog Daniel! Let your readers know if there’s any ways we can support you — or Mekko & Bungee.

  78. I typically skip sponsored posts when I see them on other blogs — I click on them, for the sake of the stuff the blogger does I do like, but… Anyway, I actually really, really liked your Lowe’s posts and hope there are more of them. Whatever juju you all have going on in regard to your sponsored posts, I think it’s great. I like that you are incorporating their sponsorship into projects on your own house, for instance. That guarantees I’m going to read them.

    ALSO… you are sort of the only reason I ever go to Lowe’s, to be honest. I started out my own home rehab journey with a strong affinity for a certain competitor of theirs, but through your blog I’ve come to see them as an equal. Whatever they are paying you, you are very worth it for them. You make Lowe’s seem cool.

    Love the blog. Love the pup pictures and long-form essays, all of it. You have a great voice and watching your journey with your own house and Bluestone, etc, is always a treat to read. Stay out of the dark place — you’re a gem!

  79. Please, please write a book. Your writing is phenomenal – sincere, funny, unique, plot-driven, insightful, and evolving. You have a linked books of essays / memoir sitting there half written. And its brilliant. Good luck with the houses, the writing, the money, and everything else – your talent is huge and I’m excited for your future success.

  80. Ps – also please work with Lowe’s. I’d love to see your projects get an injection of funds! And Lowe’s seems like a good brand.

  81. Do you just have a venmo or a patreon or something that I can provide you a small amount of $ because you TRULY provide a service to me for FREE. You are one of my favorite bloggers, I don’t care how frequently you post. Not to mention your sponsored content (especially with Lowes) doesn’t ever come off as “buy this thing I don’t love, but need to sell to you to maintain my own finances”. It’s really well-done and I’m not just saying that. (LOWES, ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? GIVE THIS MAN MORE MONEY.) I read all of your posts, even if they don’t relate to my circumstances directly, just due to your honesty, humor, and ability to explain things in normal folks terms to someone who is also not formally educated in home renovation. This whole post spoke to me in a way I very much needed it to… like a big hug. I hope in the comments you find big hugs from us back to you. You deserve a million of them.

    • I’ve often had this thought too (patreon or something). I know it might feel gross, but what if we just want to throw some money at you?? :D

      • LOWES: This man can make people read 10+ pages on DRYWALL and entertain them! I know to ask for Purple! He has a rare talent that means big $$ for you…
        DANIEL: I’m on team Patreon or venmo! I happily donate regularly via venmo to some animal sanctuaries I follow because their pages bring me joy. I’d gladly do the same for you. We love you, Daniel, not because you’re perfect, but because you’re real. Thank you for making mistakes and sharing them with us. It eases the pressure for us all.

      • Agree with the Patreon idea (and yes, I’m another Caitlin here!). Humans of New York does this and provides a little extra content to patrons, which I think helps it feel less like just taking donations and more like an artist/audience relationship. I’d love to throw a few extra bucks your way for some quick little insights or sneak peeks. You keep us entertained and we would like to ensure you can keep doing what you enjoy!

      • Yes to Patreon or the like.

    • 100% would be SO HAPPY to make donations / contribute to a Friends of the Blog fund via Patreon, venmo, paypal, what have you. When I think about what I have spent on dumb decorating magazines in the checkout line that I brought home, paged through, felt guilty about throwing away, then finally tossed, and compare that to the YEARS of enjoyment, learning, laughter, and puppy photos — not to mention the stuff I’ve done in my own house inspired by you, Daniel… well, the comparison isn’t even worth making. If you’re worried about people getting what they pay for, we have already gotten way more than that. All that to say if you ever decide to go that route, please let us all know.

  82. integrity. you’ve got it, and are delivering it to your homes and to your little town. this daughter of an architect thanks you.
    and your mom’s darling.

  83. Even if every other noun was an affiliate link I would still read your blog because you are an incredible, honest writer who clearly gives a shit about everything they do. I’ve been reading since actual Manhattan days and this is probably the most gut wrenching thing you’ve ever written. I know the anxiety/avoidance cycle very well. I am certain your Bluestone neighbors don’t hate you, because I can’t imagine you being any different in real life than you are on the page, and you’ve got a ton of internet friends rooting for you so they must be too.

  84. Long time follower, 1st time commentor (I think…).

    YOU GO, BOY!!!!

    It has been a long journey, and it is still ongoing, and you are learning, and living, and sharing, and caring! I have always admired your gumption! Glad to see it is still gumping!

    Also, I love your voice and take on here—honest, open, witty, intense, and vulnerable. It is also strong—just like you! No one can say you are not a hard working. And with experience and age, you are realizing ways to work smarter. Excellent!!

    Keep up the work—it is good—no, great—work!

    All the best, and thanks for sharing your journey! (I lived briefly in a house across from Max’s parents in 2006, which is how I found your blog)

    Word!!

  85. Whew, Daniel, you write more in a single post than most bloggers write in a month! I swear, I read one of your posts and I need a nap! We’re in the middle of a foundation-up, studs-out rehab, so I completely understand. But I am a “we” and we have an adequate budget and income in the process. What you are doing by yourself is fucking hard! You are learning so much, and I am positive things will be fine in the end.

  86. I’ve followed your blog since Brooklyn. Thanks for writing with vulnerability and humor. Rooting for you as I continue to read along.

  87. Remember, Daniel, that you’re awesome! You are my hero – I would love to own and renovate a house by myself, as well as running a blog. I realize that blogging isn’t my strong side, it isn’t a side of mine at all actually, but renovating might be possible! Keep up the good work!

  88. What a great post! You’re so open and honest about things all humans struggle with. If your neighbors need an explanation/apology from you….try my dreams got ahead of my finances and my time.

    I’ve closed my eyes to the interior changes I want in my own home because I realized that I really, really, really wanted to have a mortgage paid off in my lifetime. I wanted to know what that felt like. So I’m going to enjoy that for a few months and then comes the home renovation loan as I enter into debt again to move things along.

  89. I’m so excited to hear this project is on the come-up again. I’ve read every post for a while now, and sometimes forget that it helps pay your bills. I love your sponsored content. You seem to still be you, (even though other blogs TRY to make it seem that way) you actually keep it real. Honestly I used to follow like 10 house reno blogs. But most of those have stopped bein interesting now. So this is my only go-to blog now for all that spit. I’m so happy that it seems to be picking up again. Keep up the good hard work D.

  90. Like many others who have posted, I am an avid reader of yours but not one who frequently comments. My husband and I live in an old Victorian in a nearby Hudson Valley town (Poughkeepsie), and it was because of you and a couple of other bloggers like you that we had the ambition to move from NYC, purchase our old “painted lady,” and begin the process of doing the restoration work ourselves. Like you, we learned a lot, failed a lot, spent a lot, but at the end of the day, our home now exudes the love that we spent hours giving it. And it was because of you (and Alex/Wendy in VA, and Vivacious Victorian) that we were brave enough to believe that two desk jockeys with limited experience in using tools could actually tackle and succeed at rebuilding a house and adding value to a “down at the heels” town. Thank you for writing in such a way that it gives others like me the courage to tackle something that seems impossible when you are first staring at the old, unloved home. And thanks for doing things like the sponsored posts from Lowes–it’s posts like that where we actually learn what tools and techniques we need in order to do similar work in our home. I actually find those posts to be helpful (still trying to decide if I’m brave enough to replicate what you did in your attic).

    Anyway, actually I came here to say that my husband and I are done with the major interior work on our house and are a bit sad not to have house projects to do until the weather warms up and we can begin the exterior. Soooo, if it isn’t weird and creepy, we’d love to volunteer to come up some time and help you at your place. If you have any interior winter projects that you need help. Just hit me up if you ever need an extra set of semi-capable hands. I’d love to be able to give back to you just a fraction of what you’ve given to us.

  91. You are so dang wonderful.

  92. Wow, amazing, inspiring post! I have an analogy for dealing with big overwhelming things: we all have to get to the top of the mountain & I noticed that some people are constantly staring at the peak and freaking out about the thousand steps it’s going to take… and some people look at only the next 3 steps in front of them. And to be successful, we have to do both – know what it’s going to take, but just focus on 3 small steps at a time.
    Congrats on getting the Lowe’s project to get you back in there! You got this!

  93. When you let us know a “Bluestone” post was coming up, I was half-worried that it was going to be a signed/sealed/delivered/good-bye kinda thing. You still have it! It still has you! I am twice+ your age & have only just recently come around to the joy of doing things slowly & deliberately. I don’t think that’s EXACTLY your style, but I hope that you are learning to pace yourself better. I LOVE that you let your readers in on the downside of your rehab processes, it humanizes you and probably secures your fan base. Lowe’s, throw the $$$$$ Daniel’s way, he has sold A NUMBER OF US on purchasing our goods @ your store.
    PS Take your time with “Bluestone”. I’m not ready to retire yet & would like a seamless transition when I move in.

  94. Long time reader, first time poster. I have been so pleased to read how you are gradually pulling yourself out of the dark hole you were in. That is exhausting mental work, on top of your big physical load.

    Good luck. I worried about you during your long absences from the blog.

  95. A thousand thank yous for honesty, wit and courage. Your struggle is relatable, your work is wonderful and your willingness to be so vulnerable and share all of this here is just… thank you. Rejoice in the showing up. That is enough. You are enough. You are MORE thn enough. Not that you need readers to tell you this, but, I imagine I’d like it so There It Is.

  96. Daniel, I hope you realize what an inspiration you are!!!

  97. Yes. To everything. Always happy to see a new post from you- keep going!

  98. Dude…tears. You’re a good human, Daniel. And you will be an even better one tomorrow.

  99. Someday, the chapter on Bluestone will be done. It may feel like a huge weight on your shoulders now, but it won’t be there forever. Keep your head up! I am rooting for you and hope you continue to better yourself AND feel better about your choices every day.

    And I like the Lowe’s content because it means we get more posts :). No apologies!!

  100. I love this post, Daniel. Thank you for writing it. I’ve dealt with anxiety/depression for 40 years, and we are still struggling to wrap up the last renovation projects on our house in Dutchess Co. (Meaning that the caulk gun and paint sit glaring at me while I read novels this snowy January. ) Seeing how you push forward with courage and focus gives all of us a sense that we aren’t alone in our stumbling fumbling attempts, and it gives us an added push of hope that maybe we can persevere and thrive too. Plus which your posts are such a learning experience as far as renovation, and life, and dogs, and living in Kingston. You have great talent as a writer and such a distinctive, endearing voice— I hope someday you think about collecting all your posts together in a book. You know, kind of like a renovating David Sedaris tome.

  101. Forever rooting for you. Your honesty, humor and kindness are such a bright place to land when I read very few blogs anymore (maybe 5, tops). Thank you for all you give. And congrats on pulling yourself out of the weeds. I can so relate and your words inspire. ❤️

  102. I think I should start supplementing your income since your posts are essentially therapy sessions for me. Thank you. And please remember that no one (not readers, not neighbors, not subs) are ever half as hard on you as you are on yourself. The fact that you care to keep trying is awfully important to your community, maybe more important than the house getting fixed up fast. You’re making it better while you make yourself better. You’re helping.

  103. I was so happy to read this blog post! What an honest description of a very difficult experience which you are handling very gracefully. I am happy you are back at cottage and cannot wait to follow along:-) So pumped!

  104. I’ve been following along since your Brooklyn days and love all your posts, sponsored or otherwise. You do realize that what you write in one post equals 10 posts from many other bloggers. Don’t beat yourself up for not posting 5x / week. Be proud of all that you’ve accomplished, you’re doing a great job.

  105. I keep coming back to your blog because of its honesty. If you somehow magically become perfect (or present perfection), I’ll feel so much more alone and ashamed with my own stumbling slow progress. Thank you for revealing so much of the emotional underbelly of this work. Also I love your dogs.

  106. This is so true and such a reminder for all of us in a way.

  107. You’re such an inspiration to me, and I am so freaking proud of you. I relate so much to what you’re talking about here. I’m also prone to the depression/anxiety/avoidance cycle and I also have a hard time balancing work/working on my own house/what is this thing they call relaxation? It never seems like I have money and time at the same time. So I totally get it. The amount you’ve managed to accomplish on your own while dealing with all this other shit is staggeringly impressive to me, and your learning curve has really been super cool to witness. I think the reason I am 110% ok with sponsored content on your blog is because you seem incapable of halfassing something for a paycheck. And I appreciate the depth you go into in your sponsored posts– heck, maybe I’m super-weird, but sometimes when I want some comfort reading, I go back and read your post about Purple drywall. Heck, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve reread your recent post about your pantry cabinets when I’m chilling out before bed (gonna take a swing at it over here, I think, once I read up some more on how to do drawers).

    I really love the projects you work on & will read anything you write, so the bottom line is that if sponsorships make more of that happen, I’ll be over here with a large cardboard sign with “FUCK YEAH” on both sides in foot-high glitter.

  108. Another example of why I always look forward to your blog posts more than any other on the internet. You are all kinds of self realization that the world needs right now, and so inspiring in so many ways. Can’t wait to read more- sponsored/not sponsored, home related or just general life/pup update. Thank you for sharing with us, whenever you find the time to do so!

  109. Respect! You pushed yourself hard, far harder than the average person, and you’ve learned a lot about yourself and life and priorities and limits. And you did all of this in your 20s, an age at which most of us do not have the courage or strength of our convictions to commit to anything, never mind to the extent to what you took on.

    I disable my adblocker on your site, because I want to see you succeed, but I am so happy whenever you get “real” sponsors. Speaking of which, I am super grateful to Lowe’s for sponsoring you and I am beyond confident it has, and will continue to be, a very worthwhile investment for them.

    Your 30s are going to be AMAZING, because you’ve built a very solid foundation for the rest of your life!!

  110. This totally resonates. Oh man. The anxiety avoidance cycle is one dark hole. I am so glad things are feeling better for you. That pit is deep. I’m here with Lori and another glitter sign and some pie.

  111. Hey there,
    I have been following your blog for years, and in some ways, this is my favorite post. It’s so hard for all of us to make our way in this world. I’m really inspired by your “all in” enthusiasm. It was really exciting when you bought this crazy little house and made those wonderful plans for it! You are an artist, and it’s fun to watch you dream. But I’m even more inspired by your decision to forgive yourself and move forward EVEN THOUGH it all went wrong. That’s hard work, but that’s the real business of living. Keep dreaming and keep persisting when the dreams get messy.
    xo

  112. Thank you for the brutal honesty – the quality of writing is something I would expect from a New York Times. Please keep working with lowe’s if it makes financial sense for you – i will never attempt most of the projects you do but i will read every word twice. Also, you made a comment about affiliate links – and if they are not your jam that’s cool but if they could be another source of revenue for you – I for one, see them as a service and try to use them to support my favorite bloggers. So as long as you are linking products you like please don’t let fear of seeming inauthentic stop you.

  113. I can totally parallel the anxiety-avoidance situation to how I handled completing my masters thesis. After completing my classrom credits I thought I could complete the thesis at home while working full time. Several years of making very little progress and feeling shitty about it all the time went by. I couldn’t even enjoy an evening out with friends; there was always a voice in the back of my head telling me I didn’t deserve to be out having fun, that I should be home working on my thesis. My relationship survived, but just barely. I eventually completed the thesis 3.5 years after leaving graduate school (so essentially a 2 year program took me 5.5 years), and only when faced with completing it now or losing my chance at ever completing my degree due to credits expiring. Sadly I didn’t even feel like celebrating when it was complete because the whole ordeal just sucked so much joy out of me.

    I hope that moving forward you can find joy in what you’re doing. It really sounds like you’re on the path to doing that. I have faith in you completing Bluestone and every other project you attempt! Just remember not to let the downs steal the joy of the ups.

  114. Ugh, I know all too well about willing myself blind! Your blog is much loved; a delight to read. Hang in there, remember perfectionism is the enemy. I enjoy the sponsored posts because they give me a good idea if the product is something I could use. I have to say, I won’t be spraying the attic with insulation anytime soon! No one minds the ads in a magazine, why should a blog be any different? May the force be with you!

  115. I hope you save the coments from this post and read them next time you have doubts about yourself. We’ve all been there, friend. We’ve all struggled and annouced things that failed, or that in hindsight were bad ideas, or that we didn’t know the scope of, or that we were woefully unprepared to tackle. I’m positive the neighbors aren’t sitting around their dinner tables complaining about you. If you see them, tell them you’re back at it after working some conflicts out in your schedule and excited to move this project along! Forgiving yourself from the guilt you’ve heaped on is another matter, but try, okay? You’re a wonderful person, and you’re doing a great job. Slowly or not. Hang in there, you got this, we believe in you, no matter what speed you go AND what stumbles you have. That’s relatable. That’s what makes us human. And it’s brave of you to share them.

    Love to you and your pups!

  116. Feel no shame about the sponsored content, it’s still great! I actually kind of like that you’re doing all of these projects with things from Lowe’s because it makes it feel more accessible to me. A lot of times I see projects where people have used materials that are inaccessible to most of their readers (i.e. everything is a vintage find or came from location-specific resources) so it’s been nice to see what you’re able to do with these “normal” resources.

  117. Wow. Thank you for this. I’m entering my fifth year of renoing my house (“pffff I can reno a whole house while we’re living in it in like a year and save us a mint honey!”) I can relate to all of this. The shame of not having friends over because of unsanded drywall, an exposed lvl beam, a laundry room that is still just subfloor, etc. The yellowing building permit in the window. I could go on. Anyway, thanks again.

  118. Also the good news is at least I’ve discovered what I want to be: a framer. AND what I don’t want to be: a timer or drywaller. My new favourite quote that’s been making the rounds is: “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.”

  119. Thanks for sharing all this. Please forgive yourself. No one is perfect and you had all the best intentions. Best of luck going forward.

  120. Daniel, I’ve been reading for years! Yours is one of the verrrry few blogs I actually bother to read anymore. Your posts are so beautifully written-they are refreshingly honest and often laugh out loud hilarious. I love seeing you get sponsorship-you deserve all the sponsors!! I wish you wouldn’t feel so guilty-you are doing your very best, and that’s all any of us can do ❤️

  121. It feels weird to care about you. But I kind of do. I was reading your blog since Manhattan nest was still in Manhattan. I read your blog trough so much life stuff, loosing people, gaining people, gaining experiences, loosing my naivete. I even like the sponsored stuff. I don’t even have a Lowes in my country, but I love my local Lowe-like store. I was sooo resentful when you bought your house at an age I was pinching pennies, and I’m sorry. I was young and an asshole. It must be something abut the big 30’s. I just turned this corner and bought land to build myself a house to live in with my dogs. Its going to be a shitshow, because I have little money but I have a lot of good relationships with builders (we’ll see). I really get the struggle. Just take the time to learn enough that you don’t put everything on your shoulders. It will crush you.

    Love,

    Ivana

  122. I follow many blogs for years and have commented less than five times on any of them – I rarely fee l the need to add my thoughts, but this post compelled me. I want to say how amazing this post was to read – so real and so vulnerable. We all feel inadequate and fall behind at some point (many points) in our lives but rarely share them with anyone, let alone for all the internet to read. I noticed how you took a step back from blogging and am so happy that you are posting again. Although I like how your blog is so different from the professional bloggers, nothing would make me happier than to see sponsored content if it meant progress on your spaces, because at them end of the day your voice is what keeps your blog feeling different from others. Also, I feel like you shouldn’t feel bad about sponsored content because you’ve earned for your corner of the internet to be recognized and supported. Thank you for sharing your journey, the good and the bad. It is so important to share the struggles and show others how we can come out on the other side.

  123. Have been following since it truly was Manhattan Nest and the fabric on the French doors was the life changing solution I needed! I am too tired today to compose an eloquent comment, which I’m sure you understand all too well, but I’m so grateful you still manage the energy to share your less than perfect journey with us. Oh man, that anxiety avoidance is SO REAL. I know the struggle. So happy for you with this Lowe’s sponsorship and looking forward to what’s to come, as always.

  124. Wow, can I ever relate to this. I have a 1928 house (which is old in Tucson!) that my husband and I have been renovating for 10 years now and the first question anyone asks any time I see them is about the house. It’s so frustrating to never really have any news other than we’re still working on it. And probably will be forever. I’m so glad that you’ve been feeling better about the State of Things in your world. I noticed the uptick in sponsored Lowe’s content but, per usual, your writing is so entertaining, hilarious, and relatable that I didn’t mind a bit (not that I ever do, really. Bills gotta get paid, right?). In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it! I hope the partnership continues and I look forward to seeing the progress you make on all your various projects this year. Wishing you all the best!

  125. Yay! The big blog on Bluestone (true, it’s not even started as yet) but you are making an effort to acknowledge the issues that surround that project and can now begin to move forward, good on ya! I bet that took a HUGE weight off your chest by just admitting it here on your blog.

    Making a commitment to YOU last year was the right thing to do as I see in recent posts that things are beginning to sort itself out now that you have something you can call a steady income of sorts for the time being anyway and can begin to move forward on you, which lets you get onto other projects, such as Bluestone.

    But in the process, you learned some valuable lessons too and thus GREW! This is something some people never do and then later in life lament how their life has become.

    I’m hoping, like you that 2019 will be the year things progress as like you, I had to invest in ME to move forward, but also, I did something good, by paying it forward by helping a fellow YouTuber who’s channel I watch and had just subscribed to after he’d revived it after a year’s hiatus because he and his wife took on for a year a special needs child and now is returning to his first love, reviewing audio gear but has realized that if he’s to do it well, he needs to go all in and make it his full time job, so he setup his account he’s had with Patreon to move things forward, especially when he discovered they need to be out of their house they’d been renting by the end of Feb.

    Anyway, I decided if I could, I would chip in at the lowest level of $2/Mo and do it for 3 months and decide if I can continue, or not.

    Then I invest some Christmas money to get a second hand camcorder to begin revisiting video so I can start up a YT channel to augment my blog as I work to get rid of the bots and get real readers to read MY material.

    Anyway, it’s too early to tell how it’ll go but it’s a start!

    But in the meantime, bills gotta get paid, mortgage paid and food in the belly, stuff like that, you know, LIFE so gotta do what you gotta do to make some money and thus be able to do what you need to do on your house (and am glad you revisited your own home to get it to where it is currently, it’s such a help to how you can keep stacking those rocks as you say and just keep on keeping on with some sense and clarity).

    And not only do I need to pay the bills, but reduce my DEBT (one bill I hope to remove is a loan for a hearing aid and put down $437 towards it and hope my taxes don’t screw me up this year from unemployment to be able to pay it way down or off).

    So who knows if this means stuff will happen my way this year? I certainly HOPE so but hope all this means progress on your end! I think doing whatever it takes to get over that hump is the best thing that any one of us can do when stuck, and boy I was stuck for years to figure out where to go with my life and barely making ends meet so I feel you on that.

    Please stay real and keep moving on. BTW, sponsored posts, go for it, as long as it fits with your image/brand and not just do sponsored posts, just because and I hope to do similar myself eventually.

    I think why so many disprove of sponsored posts is both the sponsor and blogger often go at it wrong and it comes off contrived. Your sponsored posts do not so keep that way!

  126. And THIS is why you are the best blogger. I’m all teared up after that last paragraph – thank you, but mainly I’m sooo happy that things are slowly coming together for you again. Your sponsored posts are not offputting in the slightest, btw, it’s great that they’re freeing you up to do more of the work that, honestly, you are so good at!!!!!! It’s been really great to see all your posts again lately, take care of yourself and I’ll be looking forward to whatever comes next! :-)

  127. Amazing just wow great writing man!! Thank you for articulating this for me

  128. I love that you work so hard to make your community better. Any help you get along the way should be most welcomed. I know you inspire me to do more. What’s that saying? “I’m only one person “ said 7 billion people.

  129. For the record, I have enjoyed your sponsored posts more than other bloggers I have read. I’m looking forward to seeing more about Bluestone.

  130. I really appreciate your honesty with this blog post. It is so relatable to me personally while also being fun to read and funny. Honestly, yours is my very favorite blog out of all the blogs. Seriously. I subscribe to your blog using a blog reader and during your absence, I kept coming back here looking for new posts and hoping you would return. I’m so glad you have. I thank you for all your work, both the house stuff as well as the writing about it and sharing photos. I want your blog to succeed and I think your sponsored posts are great– if they help this blog stick around, then please keep ’em coming! And potential sponsors: please consider sponsoring this amazing blog! Look how many people wrote positive comments here!

  131. You’re the best. Just want you to know that I think Lowe’s is a perfect fit for you, and I’m not the slightest bit irritated about it. Yours is the last great blog (no annoying windows popping up all over the place so you’re only left with an inch of space to actually READ THE BLOG). I sincerely hope they keep sponsoring all the great work you do. And start cutting yourself some slack!

  132. Yours is my favorite blog to read (and this is from someone whose attention span is pretty much at Twitter level). But whenever I get to the end of your posts, I always want to read more. Love your honest and funny voice. So glad to hear about the Lowes partnership. I usually split my home improvement dollar between Home Depot and Lowes, but now I’ll put it 100% with Lowes, due to their excellent judgment of partnering with you (and you can tell them that!)
    Loved this post. It really came at the right time for me dealing with my own issues. I love to hear about your work in Kingston, one of my favorite towns upstate. I’ve been there a few times and drool over the architecture. (I live in a very non-drool-worthy place.)
    Wishing you the best of luck in your new partnership. You’ll do great; you have real talent. <3

  133. I found your blog, serendipidously, while on the train from Rensselaer to Penn for a weekend in NYC several years ago, and I spent the remainder of that trip and it’s return devouring your blog. It was the post-Manhattan, pre-Bluestone era and I was hooked. I *think* it was the laundry room reveal, the one with the Martha chart, that brought me to your site but who can be sure of these things. It’s been years and I’ve been a loyal reader/blog stalker ever since. All of this to say I FORGOT ABOUT BLUESTONE COTTAGE. I say that not to make you feel bad (or block me from the blog) but to tell you that everything you have shared has been riveting enough that this hyperaware reader honestly and truly lost sight of it in the midst of the detail that went into your many other projects—all of which are impressive. And then you tell us that you were twenty. four. at the time? Good God Daniel, you have a long and vibrant career ahead of you (and behind you already!). I can’t wait to see what’s next. Thanks for letting us tag along, and thanks to Lowe’s for recognizing talent and opportunity. Best of luck – we’ll be following along!

  134. Hi Daniel,

    Long time reader/follower here. :) In the last few years the circumstances of my personal life have shifted dramatically (small children, more demanding work) and I’ve mostly had to put aside renovation projects during this life phase. I also went through a huge personal crisis of my own in the last year, for which the details don’t really matter except to say it forced me to reevaluate everything in my life and focused me on what was important. But I am learning something crucial – painfully, because isn’t that the way we really learn things most often? – that feels relevant here.

    I’m learning to have a lot more compassion for myself. Yes, you can work yourself out of a tough situation, putting one foot in front of the other, making the lists, getting up earlier, checking things off, doing the yoga, meditating, whatever. But I have also made extreme steps to lighten my own personal mental/work load and to give myself a HUGE fucking break for doing so. For me, this has meant: no more freelance work, setting severe boundaries around any DIY projects, saying NO to a lot of stuff, deliberately reducing what I take on (or have on my plate), asking for a LOT of help, and ruthlessly prioritizing my relationships and my own mental-health when it comes to how I spend my time.

    It can be super hard to do so, when you hold yourself to extremely high standards and you love taking on big challenges, and you want to do so much, and it can be double-hard when you feel like you have an audience that expects so much of you. When I see the level of care you put into your renovations, I feel like you might share those challenges.

    You should be so proud of yourself for the learning that you are doing. Learning through experience is tough, but – as my therapist noted – so many people don’t learn from experience! So be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and don’t measure yourself by the success or failure of your projects. You are so much more than that.

  135. Man I love you
    This whole story is the story of LIFE. Switch Bluestone Cottage with WHO I CHOSE FOR A SPOUSE, add 3 kids, burn it all down 14 years later and start over. Yep. I learned all of the same lessons.

    Proud of you Daniel and wish I knew you IRL because I know I’d want you to be my friend for sure. There is so much that is refreshing about your honesty.

    You are making it happen
    And guess what? I don’t care who pays you to write or who doesn’t. Only that you KEEP WRITING. you could write a sponsored post about mouse traps and I would still be excited to read it. Hell every single post could be sponsored and I wouldn’t care. Keep writing doing what you are doing. We are all rooting for you

  136. I’m turning 30 on February 8th, and a lot of what you said resonated with me (bad decisions, anxiety, guilt, arising from the ashes like a phoenix, the usual). Also, no shame in sponsored content. Thanks for sharing and letting us read about your life.

  137. Fingers crossed that Lowe’s knows how lucky they are to have you! I generally find sponsored content off-putting, because of how it’s executed. (Kid’s fruit snacks on a fashion blog? Mmmkay.) Your posts never come off that way – they’re organic and they make sense. I’ve made (at least) 4 trips to Lowe’s for black mulch because of you. Keep it up!

    • ditto. I don’t read sponsored posts from bloggers I don’t trust. I trust you completely and so I read every word and I now go to Lowe’s even though Home Depot is closer. Lowe’s showed vision and good sense when they came knocking. I hope they’re rewarded for that – and I hope you get all the help and support you need. (and, what a remarkable post. Thank you!)

  138. I also suggest Patreon. Just don’t start shilling fitTea ok?

    Loving the puppy posts on instagram. Best of luck on your journey, I’ve loved having a small peek into your life on this blog.

  139. You are lovely! This post warmed my heart and just reinforced why you’re the only blogger I actually follow.

  140. I bought a house three years ago, to live in … my first home. During the home shopping process I quickly realized I can either pay a lot more money than I anticipated/felt comfortable with (but maaaaaaybe doable) to get the home I wanted, or I could buy a fixer-upper. I found my house and felt like it was structurally sound but needed a lot of cosmetic improvement, which I could do. I was wrong. I was very wrong. I spent all my cosmetic money in electricity, plumbing, termite treatment, gutter/fascia work, pipe behind the wall leak, etc etc etc. All my home improvement money is gone and I’ve done nothing for about two years while I try to pay off debt and decide what to do and how to do it. The most frustrating thing is finding good people. Half the work I paid lots and lots and lots of money for, I’m okay with but it’s not great. Floor stain put over dusty places leaving a gritty feel, concrete work that I could have done better, electricians leaving holes in the side of my house that I just filled with Great Stuff instead of trying to get them to come fix it. I gave up on getting the basement windows caulked before winter and just put elastic over them. I guess what I’m trying to say is home improvement is hard and expensive and you are definitely not alone. None of us are alone.

  141. You have every right to be (royally) paid for the work you do! The sponsored posts have your distinct mark, your wonderful sarcasm and honesty, so they may be sponsored but they are still You.
    I’ve been reading you since the apartment in Manhattan and you make me laugh (and sometimes cry) like no other blogger I ever read.
    You are wonderful, Daniel, because you are real – anxiety and all.
    I’m sure that 2019 will be a great year for you, for your houses, for your lovely dogs, and for us, readers. Thank you for sharing all of this with us! Stay real, stay human! :)

  142. I have been reading since you bought your house. I found you because I had also just bought a beautiful but utterly decayed house that I was sure I could rescue, despite having no money, no experience, no help. I I LOVE your blog and get absurdly excited when I see a new post. You have a way of writing that is an absolute joy to read. When I am feeling overwhelmed with my house, I just remind myself, just move forward every day. Even if moving forward just means organizing a small drawer, replacing the screw in the door handle. or moving all that extra lumber into a neat pile, or whatever. No matter how small, move forward a tiny bit every day. This is like your metaphor of building a stone wall, which I am literally also doing with all the rocks here…I am happy about your relationship with Lowes. You deserve it.

  143. Thank you for writing this, Daniel. It’s really inspiring to see someone confronting their fears, anxieties and failings and taking the small, hard steps toward progress. That kind of encouragement was exactly the thing I needed today. I’ve loved following along with you for years and am thrilled and proud to see you doing well. (Is it weird to say proud? I don’t even know you! Oh well, I’m proud!) Also, good for you for getting that Lowe’s money!!

  144. I work in marketing/advertising (sports, whose audience has always been friendly to advertising for some reason) and don’t stress about the partnerships. They’re done well and make total sense. I’m impressed with Lowe’s bc I haven’t always heard the best things about them, too. Anyway, all this to say – I used to write (hate that’s in past tense but I guess it’s a season of life right now), and the audience will be there and come back because of your voice and talent. You’re talented in a way that I bet you stood out in a sea of talenteds at NYU (just guessing you went there). I love reading your writing, and happen to be interested in renovations, and I’m not alone. Also, I have avoidance issues and also often feel like big projects can be insurmountable but I always liken it back to dishes after a party. At some point you just have to start washing one pot, then the next and the next. Boring dishes analogy – aren’t you so excited for your 30’s?! Congrats on the partnership, thanks for the update and the world will always reward talent – try not to worry so much. Your audience will be there. Soon you’ll have a show on hgtv or something!

  145. You are awesome. I love your blog, I love that your mom comments on the blog and I love your puppies. Keep going, keep being real.

  146. It makes me sad that you doubt yourself so much! You are awesome! And yay for Lowe’s helping you achieve your goals!

  147. KINGSTON. Until I was in first grade, I lived in Cementon. There is something about those houses that I love to this day even though I am now in the Midwest and 50 years removed from my days in New York State. Secondly. RADIATORs. We did a massive reno of our Chicago workers cottage and lost three radiators in the process. I despise each and every little piece of the evil things brought in to replace our radiators. As a regular reader of your posts, I support all of your instincts about Kingston and radiators and the dogs and the landscaping and the bluestone and the black paint on your fencing and garage and the insanity of your ambition.

  148. I’m here to simply say “I LOVE YOU DANIEL” I truly believe that you are here to inspire change in all of us. You have the gift of words, pen and paper come alive in your hands and I truly believe Change is on our way !! I love you man

  149. Brené Brown makes an important distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt is when you realize you’ve done something that conflicts with your values. Shame makes you hate yourself. I can feel your guilt in this but it’s also clear that you’re moving up and out of and away from shame. Keep going. It looks good on you.

  150. i am commenting before reading any more comments (i stopped at your mom’s)…. i thought half way thru reading this post (which i stayed late at my office to read…. had seen the email earlier today and saved it to read tonight …. but needed it before i left – crazy day at the office) anyway…. i thought – this is why i read this blog – you are so HUMAN and HONEST – and that is so RARE in this world. IRL much less in the webs. you open up to all of us in humility and truth – we ALL screw up.

    the thing is to learn from our mistakes … and many times one cant see them until further down the road looking back… the key is to learn and then move on. we will always make ‘mistakes’ or do something stupid and think (ugh why?) but make NEW mistakes, do NEW stupid things – and you do.

    And forgive yourself (i think you have … but if not do!) … you have not done damage to ANYONE.. no one died, the house did not burn down, you will get it done..

    G*D bless you Daniel… … i am crying now… sending you tons of support and love… as all the others commenting today are too!

  151. Oh, Daniel! If you are in the accepting-hugs-from-blog-readers frame of mind, take some. Take all the hugs, in fact. I’m so glad you’re finding a way forward on this so that it can stop being an insurmountable problem, and I’m glad you’re trying to take better care of Future Daniel than Past Daniel was able to do. I don’t have anything smart to say, just that.

  152. Can you set up a Patreon so I can pay for part of this content that I like so much? Please take my money, Daniel.

  153. You are AMAZING. Keep putting those stones on top of each other (and thank you for writing that – I also needed the reminder). <3

  154. Oh Daniel, that last paragraph got me right in the heart. I love you and your blog because of how honest you are about what it means to be human. Failures, fuck ups, successes and wins, I’m here for all of it and am so glad you feel comfortable being so open and vulnerable with us, your dear readers. After all, as I told my students, FAIL is just an acronym for First Attempt In Learning, and clearly you are learning. Thank you for sharing your learning journey with us and for letting us help see you through to the other side, stone by stone. ♥️

  155. That was such an interesting, eye-opening (and yes, difficult…) post to read. Thanks so much for sharing. I had no idea and am just so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through with all this. So glad 2019 is looking up. How could it not be with your cute pie new pup? :) I think your Lowe’s sponsorship makes total sense and feels like a genuine fit. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Bluestone and your own home. Go get ’em!

  156. I raced through that enormous post, so I’m going to go back and read it again more slowly, but I just wanted to tell you that while most sponsored blog content is pretty eye-rolling, inelegant, and transparent, I love the Manhattan Nest/Lowe’s partnership! Not for one moment have I ever though anything negative about it.

    Also I still think you should have your own Netflix series or whatever. And maybe a book deal. In your spare time.

    Smooches to the pups, and a hug to you, if you want one.

  157. I’m so sorry that you went through this, Daniel, and I love it that you feel like you’ve grown so much because of those hard times. I still regret you had such a hard time.

    I think the other home improvement bloggers are getting so much accomplished because they use inexpensive labour. The bloggers that do most of the work themselves are on a much slower cycle, which is completely fine with me.

    I think you have friends in Kingston, and maybe the ones that are interested in home renovation and decor can help you in the future if you begin to get overwhelmed. Maybe they can help you re-engage with projects that are overwhelming you, so you don’t have to parse out huge projects alone.

    About feeling guilty about Bluestone…… being guilty about Bluestone wastes so much energy, emotion, and sleep. Don’t be guilty. Apologize to the house and FORGIVE YOURSELF. Let it go, because ***feeling guilty doesn’t change the past***. Nothing you do can change the past, so being guilty about it is just harming yourself. Accept that you got stuck, and let it go for forever. It happened, pfft, I am over it, we are moving on. Done.

  158. Thanks for this, Daniel. Loved you when you lived on the upper east side and love following your journey now. One stone at a time is all anyone can do but you do it beautifully, honestly, and with kindness. Thanks for being brave enough to show us all what that process really looks like. <3

  159. Thank you Daniel. Just, thank you.

  160. This is why you’re such a rare and special joy: your candor and willingness to put yourself out there with the dark days, doubts, screw-ups, and successes. Also your high relatability factor (seriously, look at all the supportive comments here and on Instagram). You’re able to cut through to the core of the hardest stuff in this piercing way.

    Like many here, I’ve been following your adventures since the days of The Desk. You’re my favorite blogger, and I’m old enough to be your bubbe. Consider your cheeks pinched, young man. As for the big three-oh? Bring it on: you’re ready.

  161. Without realizing it, you’ve created a wonderfully reflective post, honest about life, challenges and growth… touching on mental health too. All on the day dedicated to talking about mental health in Canada – BellLetsTalk is the hashtag. Thank you for being honest with everyone, as it helps us all be human like you

  162. Can you set up a patreon? Can you PLEASE set up a patreon?!! Your readers care so much about you, you give so much to this blog and we get so much from it. You deserve to be paid for the hard work that you do! I, and I’m sure lots of others, want to be able to give back to you. I’m sorry you have had such a hard time and really genuinely hope that things are looking better, emotionally, mentally, financially, (and puppily!) Your Lowe’s partnership has never felt like a sellout to me. You need the stuff, they have the stuff, why not do this thing of MUTUAL benefit. I always thought it was cool to have such a big company on your side, and know you would never do anything fake if you didn’t feel it was right. (If you start going on about your vacuum cleaner too much or talking about how fruit and veggie boxes have made meal time so much easier, though, I would be disappointed because who tf cares about that stuff?!) Your blog is the best. I’ll wait for your posts no matter how long they take!
    Start a Patreon.
    Do it.
    Do it!!
    I want to buy you a drink.

  163. I will read your blog whatever sponsors you choose, Daniel. If you can pay your bills via this amazing blog that reaches out to so many people, then please do without guilt. Let 2019 be the year that you stop beating yourself up and I will do the same. Deal?

  164. You are a very talented writer. One that I truly enjoy reading. I’d like to blog, but I know it is very hard, demanding, meticulous job that I do not have the patience or talent for. I think the bloggers that get contracts with sponsors must be extremely good in their field. Besides writing you are skilled at design, photography, carpentry, decorating and the list goes on. How for one earthly second would you think I would think your blogging was any less wonderful, heart warming and honest because a sponsor (a really great sponsor) sought you out to work with? Oh my! I look forward to every post. I no longer remember how I found my way here but I love it and can’t wait to see your progress and projects. Your sharing is always a moment of inspiration even when you are struggling with all th irons in the fire and life. One step in front of the other. Tomorrow is a new day. Thank you for writing and pushing the publishing button.

  165. Like everyone else here, I too want to send you love and support!
    I’ve been following the blog since the early apartment days, and I have always been excited to see new posts no matter what the content, because its you and your wit, heart, and interest in whatever it is that you’ve blogged about that I love.
    I know the feeling of just trying to put one foot in front of the other and get through the day (and the anxiety-avoidance cycle, and the deep dark months of depression!). Thank your for sharing your reflections on it all. I hope that things improve for you from here. And always remember to be compassionate to yourself – you tried your best with the knowledge, skills and resources (emotional, physical, & financial) that you had at the time. There is nothing in that to feel guilty or ashamed of.
    Lots of love. <3

  166. OH MY FUCKING GOD, I ADORE YOU! <3

    Okay, now that that's out of the way…

    Yer gettin' this done and I'm SO damn excited and happy for you!

    Man, I really hope you realize how many people like you, love you, support you, are rooting for you, are excited for you and who ALL want to go on this wild ride and live vicariously through you! You are clever, tenacious, incredibly capable, and we believe in you! You can do the thing! Yes!

    WAAHHOOO! ALL ABOARD THE HYPE TRAIN! :-D

  167. I loved this post, and I hope you do too. This type of writing is why I (still) read blogs.

  168. Been there. Or let’s be real, I am there with the project avoidance and guilt. It sounds like you are breaking through and making progress and learning so much in the process. Congrats on getting back in the groove & for the Lowe’s sponsorship. Brick by brick.

  169. Hi Daniel! So I really often lurk around her, just enjoying the posts and the instagram stories and stuff but not contributing much to the community. And I want to say now that . . . well a lot of things. You’re self-reflection and honesty about it, is refreshing and amazing and honestly what I needed right now. I also can’t believe it’s been that long since you bought Bluestone (it seems like it was just last year!), so woah. But I admire that you’re going back and tackling this project instead of just throwing in the towel. There are a lot more . .. emotions and deep thoughts I have but am not able to articulate, so just think of all the fuzzy, warm, thoughtful thoughts and imagine I wrote them, okay?
    Lastly, I want to say that I’m not huge on sponsored content, but I’ve never felt that weird “are you trying to sell me something that’s crap?” feeling with yours. You’ve always talked about Lowe’s . . . well forever, and with such enthusiasm that your sponsored content (that’s fabulously labeled A-fucking-plus) just seems a natural extension. I definitely appreciate the very frank explanation of how your collaboration with them works, and I hope it does continue.
    Again, this doesn’t do justice to all the fuzzy feelings I have but just .. . thank you for this blog. For taking us all on this journey with you. Your voice, your projects, your content, all of it has kept me here and will keep me coming back for a long time.
    Much love!

  170. What you’ve built, online and in real life, is nothing short of amazing. Bravo, seriously.

    I can relate to the anxiety-avoidance and then the “ta-da!” resurfacing after putting yourself through torture to work your way through it (mostly) alone. I really appreciate you sharing every part of the process as well as the pretty and not so pretty pictures. You’ve got the content that no one else has just by being yourself.

    Cheers!

  171. Bravo. Authentically and Courageously and Articulately said. This is the kind of substantial and transparent and thinking-out-loud communication, the kind of searching communication, that this medium is made for — whether the content is home design and decor, or anything. Also, maybe it’s time for Architecture School!!! It teaches everything from plumbing chases to the zen of being a creative person with a deadline. Yale has a studio in which you build a real house, Auburn has its famous design-build rural studio. It’s an investment of time (six semesters) and resources but it can be radically empowering if you’re a little lucky with your teachers and you do it with intention and honor your own personality and sensibility as you do it…

  172. Gah, I think I got even more teary reading the comments than I did reading your last paragraph Daniel and I don’t even know you in real life! I’m another long-time reader and I don’t read your blog because I am in any way interested in renovating an old house myself, but because your posts are so REAL and funny (and interesting!). In a world where bloggers and instagrammers only share the best “pin-worthy” corners or moments of their lives, I can’t overstate how REFRESHING (and entertaining) you are to read! Lowe’s is a perfect fit – I’m thrilled that you are being sponsored. I also want to add my voice to the call for Patreon etc, I’d love to throw some money at you :-)

  173. Thank you for this post, Daniel. I needed it. I’m gonna have to come back and read your last paragraph about once a month, I think.

    A couple years ago we bought a beautiful cabin in the mountains, convinced (after several super-thorough inspections!) that we knew what needed to be done, it was mostly cosmetic, and we could do most of it ourselves and had the money to hire out the rest. Heh heh.

    After the discovery of 3 or 4 carpenter ant nests and way too much water damage we realized we absolutely had to know what was behind every f**ing wall, so we gutted the whole thing. Then we found that the siding was rotted and needed to be replaced. Then the pipes burst.

    We’re putting it back together, piece by piece. (Cement-board siding is really expensive. Yikes.) It was gonna be a 1-year project max. Two years in, I’ve stopped giving it any kind of timeline. But at night, the stars out there are beautiful.

    For all that time and years before that (since the actual Manhattan days), your work has been an unending education and inspiration. (I swear one day I’m gonna do to my screen-porch ceiling what you, Scott & Kim, and Chris & Julia did to the ceiling of that kitchen in Baltimore — I just looked that up the other day.) But it’s also been such a gift, giving me permission to laugh when things were terrible, and reminding me to just lay another stone, and then another. Thanks for not pretending that anyone can get a house done in half an hour like they do on those maddening HGTV shows. Thanks for making me believe I could renovate our apartment, and now this cabin. Thanks for reminding me that investing in the improvement of a not-famous, not-always-cool town is absolutely worth doing. Thanks for being real about mental health and inspiring me to keep going. Thanks for making me laugh so freaking hard at the Death Bathtub. Thanks for building this community of old-house-lovers on the interwebs.

    I’ll gladly click on every Lowes add you post. (Use affiliate links for crying out loud!) I hope 2019 convinces you just how awesome you are. (Very awesome. The answer is very.)

  174. longtime reader (like id even k how long, i’ve read every single one of your posts) first time poster.
    mainly i want to say that i am also approaching 30, and i also made horrible decisions in my early twenties. mine mainly feel related to relationships, but somehow feel the same as yours. i think the similarity is–the living with something awful that is just right THERE and the refusal to look at it or do anything productive about it.
    i too have depression and anxiety (that i did not approach productively until a couple years ago). and oh yea, i’m in grad school and have been on and off for the past eight years. grad school also feels like renovation of old houses in some ways.
    i am glad to read that you are doing very difficult, hard things and feeling better. mostly i am glad to read that you are feeling better. the whole world doesn’t hate you, which i can say with conviction because i don’t hate you.
    for the record i love reading your blog, both for your writing and sense of humor and your badass projects. and of course the puppers.
    people keep telling me that things get easier when you get older, which i am starting to believe because even though things are not easy now, i’m grateful to be here instead of where i was at 24. so, here is to not being 24 anymore, and to improvement, both self- and home-.
    <3,
    a queer cat lady in kansas

  175. You are a genius and if doing sponsored content gets you sharing your life and work more, I’m 165% in. We do not care what you sponsor, we just want to hear from you. I want to drive to Kingston and give you a hug (and maybe a day of free labor) because you effing deserve it. So so so excited to watch Bluestone unfold.

  176. I swear, one of the best things you’ve ever written! And I totally get the whole anxiety/avoidance thing, because it happens to me too. I love reading everything you’ve ever written, and can’t wait to see what comes next. Thanks for hanging in there.

  177. Holy shit, Daniel. This. Is. Everything.
    In 2015, my husband and I separated after being together for 14 years. Two months later, I was promoted into an executive level job. A few months after that, in what I can only describe as the worst act of hubris, I agreed to take on an additional unit that was failing terribly. Because I truly believed in my ability to fix things. I joked about it at the time, that 2016 was my #fixallthethings year.
    So, I went at it with all my good ideas and best intentions. And learned that the reason the team had been failing was not because there was a lack of good ideas and best intentions. And, after two of the most grueling and heart wrenching years of my life, I had a stroke. At age 36.
    Having a stroke has been a real game changer. One of the gifts of almost dying has been realizing that my abilities have limits. I feel like that sounds flip and I don’t mean it to; I am deeply, deeply grateful to have realized that. And to have realized that my desire to be viewed as capable and smart was harming me more than it was serving me.
    At any rate, what an incredible blog post this is. You are such an exceptional person. Whatever you accomplish or don’t accomplish doesn’t change that. Accomplishment feels great until it becomes a boulder chained to your foot that you have to carry around forever; until you have to keep running faster and faster to keep up with your own unreasonable expectations.
    Love to you. Thank you for sharing; it affected me profoundly.

    • Wishing you all the best, too, Misa, and a return to good health and a joyful life.

  178. This was such a roller-coaster of emotions. I wish I could give you a hug!

  179. You are so talented and seem like a kind, funny, crazy talented human. I really enjoy your blog and insta posts and I am rooting for your success! Just remember, the greatest things weren’t created in a day, or month, or even year! The projects you have worked on are amazing and if I didn’t live all the way in Indiana I’d hire you to help me with my projects. Allow yourself some grace and celebrate your amazingness! ♥️

  180. Thanks, Daniel. I needed to hear all of that (and liberally apply it to my own life).

    I’m really rooting for you.

  181. I love you, Daniel! I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time and have never once been disappointed. You’ve done / are doing amazing things and you’re not even 30. Thanks for consistently being authentic and sharing your humanity so we see ours more clearly, and hopefully with some self-compassion by connecting with you.

  182. Delurking to echo what these eloquent commenters above me all said. All of it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being human, and for the awesome writing. Rock on.

  183. Thank you for your honesty and transparency (there really is no shame when things are in the light). I am so grateful, that despite everything, you come back to this blog and share your story. But now it’s time to get that coin Daniel! No shame in getting paid for what you’re doing. You’ve worked hard enough and it’s time it gets rewarded. Yes, words of affirmation make us feel good, but they’re a piss poor source of fibre. May 2019 be a year of abundance and thriving for you.

  184. Thank you for everything you do, and for sharing it with us for so many years! You do amazing things, and I’m so glad you found a sponsor to help with it.

  185. I am one of those people who is often cranky about sponsored content. It’s not that I oppose it on principal, it’s just that it’s often so painfully phony. But I honestly can’t think of a time when I’ve felt that way about sponsored content on your blog, and definitely not about your partnership with Lowes. That makes perfect sense, and the content feels genuinely related to real life projects (verses scenarios concocted just for the sake of featuring a product). I used to mindlessly default to HD, but the fact that Lowes shows up on Manhattan Nest so much has made me intentionally seek it out. If I ever need drywall, I know to ask for Purple. You even made me want to spray foam insulate even though I have absolutely nothing to spray foam insulate! I believe in you and the products you use not because you’re perfect and always make the right decisions and know everything there is to know about renovation, but because of what is on such heartfelt display in this post – your willingness to show us that you are deeply human. We’re all flawed, and make shit decisions. We’re all dogged by anxiety and avoidance to some degree. We’re all struggling to find and be the best versions of ourselves. Thanks for choosing to remind us that we’re all in this struggle together.

  186. I don’t usually comment on …anything on the internet, really. And I certainly don’t read blogs anymore. Except for yours. And I’ve been reading it since post #1 (true story!) when Anna linked to it, so omg that’s a LONG time for me! And I have to say I’ve always been so impressed by the amount of things you get done, your amazing attention to detail and most of all your ability to write about it in such a captivating and entertaining way. Not once have I thought of you as a failure. I mean …life happens, and sometimes it’s pretty shitty and honestly that’s just soooo relatable. I know from experience how hard it is to share (or even admit!) it when you’re in the middle of feeling hopeless, but I think it’s important not to gloss over it later. I’m starting to realise that it’s actually really normal to feel that way (and I’m only 33! lol…), we’re just made to believe it isn’t, and -that- is the bad part.

    I don’t really know what I want to say with this comment, other than I really appreciate you sharing such great, honest content – be it renovation updates/details, personal, puppies (<3), sponsored posts (you do them SO well!) or whatever. I secretly wish we were friends irl, haha :) Much love from Norway!

  187. I love it when I see your latest post in my inbox. I always read your blog and have done so since you were in that blogging competition years ago. I think I am only one of many of your loyal followers who continue to be interested and entertained by everything you do. Don’t be so hard on yourself! It was a tall orde and you were trying to juggle too many balls at once. You will get through this and you will have two wonderful homes (I think the big house is already pretty wonderful. Best of luck with everything you do!

    Lovies Maureen from Australia

  188. Thank you for sharing! Love your content, ALWAYS! Keep on building those walls (those are the walls we actually need). Cheers from Berlin, Germany!

  189. Thank you for this. I find this post both relatable and inspiring. I love coming here for a peek into your journey of design and renovation (sponsored content included). Your truthfulness and continually growing wisdom, though, sets you apart from the others. I don’t usually comment but I wanted to tell you I appreciate you.

  190. Omg do the sponsored content and make some $$. You actually have the perfect application for it where I know I am interested in seeing the process and outcome. The products you use too! Hello Lowe’s I’ve been reading awhile in fact went back to the beginning to get caught up. That’s when I know I like something …

  191. I have been reading your blog since the beginning, and have continued to stop by every time I go through my “blog list” a few times a week.

    I have kept reading as I moved from Manhattan to Chicago, got married and divorced, found love again and had a miracle IVF baby in 2018 at 46. And I have never been renovating, I just love your voice and creativity. Keep building your stone walls.

  192. You are a treasure. (Take the compliment.) I have zero house/handy skills. Zero crafting skills. I found you on Pinterest years ago (desk post, I think) back when Pinterest was new and I felt deluded into thinking I could finally be crafty and a maker, and really all I did was create a lovely digital board of DIY projects that will never come to fruition. But after reading the desk post, I began a deep dive into all of Manhattan Nest that took the better part of a weekend. Your writer’s voice was so engaging. I wanted to know more simply because you seemed so interesting. I loved that you were always forthright about how the sausage gets made. In a weird way, I love following along with your projects because I can be simultaneously happy for your achievements and also comforted and affirmed in my realization that I’m never going to be a maker. Well, that kind of maker anyway.

    I’m lucky to have been a creative professional for 10+ years now. I create nonfiction distractions to be enjoyed on the boob tube. I’m using language like this out of my paranoia of being googled, haha. When I finally got promoted to the role I wanted, and realizing I was the leader of a team responsible for making an hour of stuff for others to enjoy, I freaked a bit. (Fellow member of the anx&dep&perfectionist club.) The advice that got me through was from a seasoned colleague who said, “Just chop down the tree in front of you each day and you’ll come out on the other side. If you stop and consider the enormity of the forest, you’ll want to turn around and run away.”

    The has led to me saying aloud to myself on hundreds if not thousands of occasions, “Just chop the tree in front of you.” I’m awake now holding a newborn child upright after nursing so they don’t spew their milk all over the place. I’ve chosen to step aside from a career I spent a decade building to undertaken the ultimate DIY endeavor and on more than one occasion i have said, “Holy shit, what have I done?” while considering the enormity of the next 25 years ahead of me. In some ways, I’m grieving the loss of my autonomy and who I was before. Again, just the tree in front of me….

    Ok let’s redirect from the tangential overshare. What I wanted to say was the first time I heard your voice on an IG story I was fucking delighted because you seemed as awesome as I’d dreamed you up to be via your writing. And this new post of yours about Bluestone/overcommiting etc has brought this weary new mama immeasurable comfort as I read it, and then reread it, at 2:30am, 5am, hahaha. Forgive the lack of coherence n my part and just accept loving vibes from another internet rando. <3

  193. Good you,re working with sponsors. Everyone,s got to eat, right? And if I learn useful stuff and can find where to buy the stuff to do it with, I,m happy. I am happy bluestone cottage will rise again. . And maybe more pics out on your Instagram to drive traffic back to your site – got automated tools for it now … good luck xxx

  194. Good luck with it all Daniel. We’ve all been there, life is hard at times, especially when you have to work hard for every dollar. The internet is a weird realm because we rely on it to give us both practical info and inspiration, but the info can be falsified and the inspiration can make us feel bad that we can’t have the same things. Sponsored content can be good, and it can be awful. So much of it is awful, but I trust that yours will be good. I do hope that you continue to be true to your region and old house style and don’t suddenly tell us that your dream kitchen is covered in CA Fireclay tiles with Cafe appliances just like everyone else’s, because I like that you are thrifty and enjoy good salvage, but I get it. You need to make a living and who wouldn’t want to get expensive building materials for free? And even if you get the same over-sponsored stuff that everyone else is getting, you’ll still present it in a way that makes us like you because you are so thorough and funny and sincere. (Although if we find out someday that your Mom is fake and you’ve been paying someone to post in her voice it will be the biggest blog scandal of all time! J/k, of course – your mom is high on my list of favorite things about this blog.)

  195. You are a good egg!!! And as far as the sponsored posts…..just don’t do the darn cleaning products that everybody shills for at the same time! Like getting a “free” tin to hold it is the jackpot. We, your readers will continue to follow because we already have a relationship. Gosh, from NY days. Transplanted NYer in the south so when I found you many years ago it was home. Love your blog Daniel. Keep on truckin!!

  196. Daniel……just sending you Huge love and respect for your honesty.

    Love, love, love

  197. Love you:)

  198. I’ve been reading your blog since before you moved out to Kingston, and it’s always been my favorite. Let me put it this way, when aliens come (stay with me), they’ll probably just delete most of the internet. Because let’s face it, most of it’s redundant/garbage content and fake news. Who could blame them really. But not Manhattan Nest! Nope, it’ll be leather-bound and rated no. 1 best seller on the alien book charts, and alien teens will be forced to read it to understand the human condition. Seriously though, this little corner of the interwebs that you’ve filled with your thoughts and ideas is exactly what you hoped Bluestone would be for your neighborhood. It’s an example of something done well and with integrity. It’s welcoming, and warm. It doesn’t shy away from the dirtiness of real life by slapping virtual vinyl siding over rot and decay.

    I hope 2019 is the year of doing the projects you’ve been dying to get to!

  199. Oh buddy. Yes, one foot in front of the other. Sometimes making that decision is the hardest part. For what it’s worth, how you feel about your projects and goals is a lot of the same ways I feel about mine, (except I have a security blanket of a Jeff). Still, mentally and emotionally I set myself in a lot of similar ways and have a lot of look away moments. I guess I just want you to know that there are other folks who have treaded where you have been – we (I) understand. You are always one of my favorite things about the internet and just I love ya. Thanks for being so honest and sharing with us.

  200. Thank you for this, Daniel.
    I am currently building a thing (not a physical thing) that is WAY outside my comfort zone and I was feeling super down about it. THE DAY you wrote this post, a whole bunch of pieces magically snapped into place, and it looks like it might actually happen now. Your words echo a close friend of mine who passed away in November, he always managed to say things I somehow needed to hear.
    On the anxiety/avoidance cycle, I am the executor of my friend’s will and let me tell you how EMOTIONALLY difficult that is. Today you have inspired me to put on my Big Girl Pants and make some calls that are horrible to make (“Hi, $X died, I’m in charge of his estate, here are the court documents proving it, how much money are you paying out and to whom?” Because you can put a monetary value on somebody’s life *vomit*)

  201. Thank you for sharing your struggles so honestly. It is one of the reasons I keep following your progress and will happily click through your sponsored posts. I hope 2019 gets you out of the weeds even more. Add me to the list of followers who appreciate you and are rooting for you.

  202. Oh, Daniel. I want to give you a hug. I’m so impressed with your honesty and clarity. Just know that we are all rooting for you.

  203. I read a lot of blogs, and a lot of sponsored content. 90% of it is obvious crap, that a blogger is shilling, for money/pageclicks/etc. (Like the mommy/lifestyle blogger that shills a video streaming service, and then in the next candid IG posts talks about a completely different service and never candidly speaks of the sponsored one again). Anyways, your sponsorship with Lowe’s is genuine, because it’s appropriate for your blog and audience. When you first started them, it was obvious that they were sponsored, but they fit what your blog is. So far my favorite is the power washer one, as it reminded me that a few hours of hard work can make such a difference. I didn’t care that it was sponsored, it fits. I guess that’s a really long comment to tell you to not feel guilty about sponsored posts, as long as they remain true to your blog and purpose. If you ever need a litmus test, I think your Mom would be a great audience to tell you yes/no. And I’m happy that you are getting paid for some of your blog work, FINALLY you get a reward. Keep it up, I love your blog.

  204. HERE! HERE! You’re a good man Charlie Brown. I love your writing, your vulnerability and how easy it is to identify with the feelings you so eloquently put into words. Sending you love and luck on your every endeavor. I feel a little bad that we all got the same learning experience you did, but painlessly due to the fact we all got to live vicariously through you. LOWES I ONLY LOVE YOU BECAUSE OF DANIEL PAY THE MAN ALL THE COINS!

  205. I find your journey to be so relatable. Listen. I’ve seen others comment that you are their one of their favorite bloggers to follow, and I concur. The blog and (especially) Insta world have gotten really saturated. I’ve started unfollowing people to save my own time and sanity. Those I keep around are still producing authentic content. I don’t mind sponsored content at all if it is really intentional (like yours). I think where bloggers get into trouble is when they start producing content for content’s sake—a post a day because that is what they think they need to do to “maintain their followers”. Well guess what? I would much rather read one meaningful post a week or month that has something real to share. I’m still here as a reader, even if you rarely post. I especially loved your recent post about building your pantry cabinets. I almost never comment but I’m sending my encouragement because you are doing so many things right.

  206. So relatable and just like the rest of us, you are human and you make mistakes. Love your blog, Mekko and Bungee. I’m always happy to read about where life takes you.

  207. My husband and I bought an 1850s house in Vermont last year, and the first thing we did was take out one of the disgusting, unusable toilets and replace it with a new one. We dragged the old toilet onto our porch, where it sat for a week. Eventually I said — honey, we need to deal with that toilet, it looks terrible. So he dragged it into our front yard. Days passed … I said, can we get the toilet out of our yard? It’s kind of embarrassing. So he dragged it into our nearby lilac bushes, where it was mostly obscured, except for the people walking east down the sidewalk. They had a good view of it. :) Weeks passed. Then we got a notice from the town saying that we needed to cut back the lilac bushes because they were encroaching the sidewalk. (The house and property had been neglected for decades.) One notice, then two, then three. I finally said — we can’t cut back the bushes, we need them to hide the toilet!

    Daniel, you are my favorite blogger. Your humor, style, resourcefulness, and honesty are priceless and I devour your posts. Renovation is SLOW. GOING. Especially when you don’t have much time or money. Things that shouldn’t be that hard become near-impossible for so many reasons. And the shame spiral always seems to be within arm’s reach. So, please — yes to the sponsored content. Make that paper. Make your life easier by pursuing ways to bring in cash, move your projects along, pay down debt, hire reliable people — you deserve it and have earned it. (Can you work with a business/life coach to help you map out your goals for the next 5-10 years?! I would buy your book and watch your show in a heartbeat, just sayin’ …). Chin up and keep moving forward, we’re all cheering for you.

  208. Good for you. I’m a small-time blogger, as well as an anxiety-avoider, and a lot of this is familiar to me. Good for you, for taking those first, tiny steps!

    P.S. Your time, and your platform, are worth SO MUCH. You know why Lowe’s approached you? Because you already have a dedicated audience. Don’t be afraid to ask for what your time and effort are worth (also, maybe recruit a badass friends who knows how to negotiate. It’s always harder to do for yourself).

  209. Have you thought of starting a Patron? I would definitely subscribe. I have followed this blog for years and you have such an authentic voice and amazing talent.

  210. I’ve got to run but I just wanted to say after reading your amazing, brutally honest post and then all the amazing comments, I am very grateful that you do what you do. Thanks to everyone who participates in your blog community!

  211. I grew up in Red Hook (my parents still live there), across the river from you, and spent a lot of time in Kingston. We always considered Kingston and Ulster County in general to be rough around the edges and housed a lot of the “riff raff” of the area. Driving around Kingston used to be a similar experience to driving around Poughkeepsie and I think a big part of why your neighbors are helping you, rather than being angry with you, is because they know how bad it used to be and how much BETTER you are making it. New/Trendier shops and restaurants moving into town and young professionals moving into the area are bringing a lot of life to that little city that my parents used to tell me to ‘be careful’ going to.

    Every time I go back home to visit my parents cities like Kingston and Hudson are improving ten-fold and it makes me SO EXCITED. I just wanted to say I’m proud of you and excited for you and I’m grateful for the resurgence and life you’re bringing to our little neck of the woods. If I ever run into you at Adam’s you’ll get a giant gratitude-filled hug from me.

  212. It is wild how time passes sometimes and I forget that I’ve been reading this blog for YEARS at this point! It’s also hard to realized all of your accomplishments sometimes when you are living them and they feel small or are dwarfed by what you see as failures. It’s good to go back and revisit and see how much you did and are still trying to do. I think you’ve done so much and we all have our regrets but to learn and grow from them is what’s important.

    And I don’t mind the sponsored posts! I know for the most part people do them to help keep the blogs running and I really appreciate it. A lot of the blogs I love have stopped being active so it’s nice to hear from the ones still around. I’ll gladly read about drywall if it means keeping this blog alive! Plus I might learn something new!

  213. this kind of shit is exactly why you are so well loved. nobody gives a fuck about you doing sponsored content because you are so genuine and lovable that i think everyone will agree with me; we just want to see you succeed and make money to live life and of course, we want to watch you do it. :)

    now, if you start doing sponsored content about bandaids.. then maybe we’ll have a problem. actually, i take that back. you could probably use some bandaids. if you start doing nature’s box content, that’s when we’ll hunt you down. because fuck everyone who acts like they don’t leave the house without their healthy and nutritious snacks!

    but really, life is shitty sometimes. and i think we can all relate to your above feelings in some way or another. i know i definitely do when it comes to my own house. i bought it at barely 20 and now at almost 30, i still feel lost and like a failure because so much of it needs serious help that i just don’t know how to help it because life is expensive! and sometimes you make stupid purchases like vehicles you don’t need when you should’ve just put that money into your goddamn bathroom before it rots itself through the subfloor! it’s okay. and admitting that you made mistakes but that you can learn from this is the biggest step. i’m going to continue to pretend that i’ve learned all my lessons while i continue to fuck it up.

  214. Please know that you have a lot of people rooting for you!!!! Your home and the cottage are going to be so lovely. Take heart!!!

  215. What a post! There are so many aspects I can relate to. It’s hard to be gentle to oneself in an overachiever-world where measurable success and one’s visible achievements are the seemingly only appraised traits.

  216. I absolutely loved reading this. You’re my favorite blog author, and I admire you very much!

  217. Thank you for sharing all that you do! I know I’ve said that before, but it is truly a gift to read your well-crafted writing and to follow along your journey. I am so in awe of all that you’ve accomplished and learned about yourself – and all before the age of 30! Some people never get it, no matter how many years under their belt.

  218. A friend of mine in high school got a speeding ticket and was fretting over how to tell his parents. My mom said to lead with, “Nobody’s dead and nobody’s pregnant,” as a reminder that as problems go, a speeding ticket is manageable. (“Pregnant” is, of course, usually a good thing—but less so when you’re 16.) A house is bigger than a speeding ticket, but honestly, even if you lit a match and burned the thing down at this point it’s only money. Which is important and not something to deliberately waste, but many, many things are more important, including your health, mental and physical. You’ve got this! <3

  219. Hi,

    What an incredible post. I am still here (for years now) and love your writing and projects. I am rooting for you, and am looking forwards to projects to come. Thank you for sharing and your honesty. Take the time you need.

  220. Thank you for the honesty and all the realness.
    What you bit off was amazingly huge and you’ve still managed, whether you believe it or not, to hold it all together and move forward. That’s so incredible.
    Empathy: Even though I have so much less on my plate than you, I swore when I moved into my condo 5 years ago (5 years ago today!) that the 40 year old kitchen would be gutted in the next 6 months. Annnnnnnd…. We’ve done nothing. Zero. One day I will fill the kitchen sink with water and the whole counter will collapse. I mean, that’s pretty inevitable. Still, haven’t even called a contractor.
    You are doing amazing work, I love your blog, and you have an awesome mom!
    xo

  221. I’ve read your blog since 2011 (I think) and I’ll keep reading as long as you’ll write – sponsored or not! I’m rooting for you, and thanks for the honesty.

    Regards from Norway

  222. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this! I relate to this whole post so so much as my husband and I are currently climbing our way out of our own multiple historic houses under renovation pit of terrifying despair. Ha! I’ve been following since before you bought Bluestone and without you even having to write this post can TOTALLY understand how that “pause” button got hit. For real, thank you for sharing this side of things. It can be so frustrating, and even add to that whole “anxiety-avoidance cycle”, when basically 98% of the blogs out there are so happy go lucky and perfect all the time. Basically just ends up making me feel like I’m some kind of failure, and why am I even doing this?! Anyway, all that to say, this post is awesome. You are awesome. Judging by the comments, this is a much more common feeling than anyone out there in blogland ever lets on and thank god I’m not the only one.
    Keep up the great work!

  223. Long time reader here, cheering for you! Loved this post and excited to see what’s to come. Feeling warm fuzzies for Lowe’s for sponsoring a wonderful, inspiring human! Thank you Daniel for doing what you do, I look forward to all and every one of your posts, no matter what the frequency. xoxoxo

  224. I read this yesterday and it’s been rolling around in my head ever since. I totally get the avoidance cycle and the depression and general shittiness that comes with it and I just wanted to say good for you, no great for you, for doing the work. The actual physical work of getting back to a project that was weighing you down and the mental/emotional/inner work of moving forward. I just love your writing, I am here for your sponsored posts, and your sponsored by sponsored posts and just in general rooting for you!

  225. I quite literally never comment on the internet, and I’m 90% sure this is my second comment on this blog. That is pretty close to pure fandom from me. In additional fandom news, the day before you posted this, I may have narrated the entire story of your kitchen renovation, complete with pictures, to my mom. Who does not enjoy DIY content in any way shape or form, but I made her listen regardless. I may have even mentioned my hopes that one of your properties would turn into an AirBnB/bed and breakfast situation one day?

    I have been following since the days of The Desk, and have read the entire archives of your blog twice (once while at work on a very bad day, don’t tell my boss). Every time I see a new blog or Insta post, I get far too excited for my own good. I second what someone else said, despite the 6,000+ words, it never quite feels like enough.

    When I saw that you were starting to have sponsored posts, my only feeling was relief, because that meant that I would not have to live in a world without Manhattan Nest. It also gave me a deep desire to wander my local Canadian Lowes. Please take sponsorships from whomever you want, I will happily read about weekly food delivery boxes as you cook from your new kitchen, despite skipping that post from any other bloggers I follow, since I know yours will be interesting, funny, and insightful.

    Please also sign up for a Patreon, you are the first creator I have ever come across that I want to give my money, but what I have learned from you is more than worth it. Please can I give you money?

  226. Oh my goodness. Here you are making the rest of us feel normal. In a world where sponsored posts and perfect Instagram photos are supposed to make us keep up with the Jones-es. I’ve always appreciated your honesty in what works and what hasn’t. I feel like you are great at letting us in on “whatever happened with that?” So many people don’t and the story isn’t finished. Thank you for putting yourself our there. I’m pretty sure we all have something we turn away from as we drive by it. Physically or Mentally. *ahem* I’m looking at you unfinished bachelor degree.

  227. I love your blog, your honesty, and humanity. I own and old house and have done work on it over the years – 35 years later and my basement (with laundry) is almost as scary as yours! I love reading anything you post and usually laugh/cry with you!

  228. I’m so sorry to read this post! But not sorry you posted it, so let me explain. I love your blog; I’ve been reading it for years. Yours is one of the few (the only?) renovation/home improvement blogs I’ve read consistently for years. I love your writing style, and your honesty, and the fact that you’re willing to try things and say “fuck it” if they go wrong. All this to say: no matter what, and no matter when, I love reading your blog, no matter what content you’re writing about. Also, for what it’s worth, I actually like your sponsored posts – because I walk into hardware stores, look at everything, go “what they hell is this” and “how do I use it?” – and then you post in such detail I understand how it all works together and what I could do!

    So, in short, thanks – and please do keep writing, because I do think it always makes the world (or at least my world) a better place.

  229. Dear Daniel and Lowe’s,
    So many other comments saying the supporting and validating things I also feel. Instead, then, I’d like to speak to what your blog and Lowe’s sponsorship has done for me. I’m currently in the process of renovating our guest bathroom, and I am tackling it as DIY because over the many years of reading your blog I sort of feel like I CAN.
    The list of projects I (or my husband and I) have taken on since buying our home 9 years ago is numerous and involved numerous trips to Lowe’s, often multiple times in the same day or week. And I repeatedly come back to old posts to remind myself how to do something, or refresh my inspiration or just remind myself I CAN.
    So thank you Daniel, thank you so much Lowe’s, and please, keep it coming. There’s always another project and another reason to go back to Lowe’s.

  230. What a great post! I love your honesty and your willingness to admit your own role in what happened. But I also think you do amazing stuff – and all on your own! As the mother of a daughter your age (she was born in September 1989), I admire your generation’s can-do spirit and ability to learn new skills (wish we had YouTube when I was young). Anyway, keep up the great work and the sponsored posts!

  231. LOVE + SUPPORT
    We’re all behind you!

    Lowe’s…Daniel’s content makes my world a little brighter. Thank you!

  232. Loving this blog (and insta-stories) more and more. I really hope you continue to work on this house and see it through!! And I hope Lowe’s sponsors every room. I have a nearly identical murder-y basement and your latest post has given me so many good ideas about how to clean up the floor. A basement floor that you can sweep?! How very luxe!

    Can’t wait for the next post :)

  233. I’ve been here since Brooklyn, and I will always be here. Thank you for years of amazing content, both practical and emotional, hilarious and honest. Get that sponsored content hunny! I trust your judgement when doing my own projects, and often reference what you’re doing, and love supporting you.

  234. I am absolutely going to stop shopping at Home Depot and go to Lowe’s instead, just because of this post.
    I will just have to see if Lowe’s does Christmas trees come the season. :)

  235. Great post. And I love your Lowe’s posts, too. At first I was worried they’d be fluffy but it appears that they are really helping you out, getting you good tools and it’s good to see that you are getting some cash out of it, too. Lowe’s is a good partner because I bet the bulk of your readers are DIY-ers at heart (and not contractors!) so knowing what the tools are and how you are using them is actually really valuable and very compelling for anyone who does work around their home.

    I also do so hope the Olivebridge content can come back. Maybe under an assumed name to protect its identity. Everytime I read “Olivebridge,” I swear I can hear distant screaming in some yonder hills. But, wow, that content was SO informative. I think people really get snowed a lot in real estate and they also have incredibly high expectations for what a little money can do (not much!) and how a place can be “fixed up.” Part of my job is talking clients out of bad ideas about their homes and I also talked someone away from a home that they were considering buying (to become their own “slumlord” if they didn’t put serious money into it and fix it up right) because I could just see the money pit it would become. I can’t believe you made it out of that project alive. But, YOU DID! And you’ll make it out of Bluestone alive, too.

  236. Keep on keeping on. And never feel negative about sponsored posts. They’ll allow you to bring your visions to reality. I love reading about your projects – you keep it real.

    I personally am in house reno #7 and at the stage where I want to spray paint “Don’t hate me – I’m a Work in Progress” on it.

  237. Just thank you for being such an honest human here and in other posts. It’s a terribly underrated super power. Your blog and your work is a delight. Good, real things take time… thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  238. Glad you are back. Missed you. Thanks for your honesty. As readers, we often think you completely have your shit together and we are the ones that are flailing around like drowning people. Glad to know that we are all in the same boat ….. and it looks like no one is in danger of drowning right now. lol

  239. You are the best.

  240. I get this on a visceral level. Thanks for writing about it. <3

  241. Welp. To think you are the exact age I was when we met. To see and follow and experience your incredible journey is a privilege. Watching and hearing your raw emotional honesty then and now reminds me of your incredible strength. You are everything that is right with this world. Love you D. xx

  242. The older i get the more i realize that life rarely goes as planned and it’s all about getting back up, changing course, and keep moving ahead. Thank you for your honesty!!

  243. Daniel, thank you for your writing, for your words and for sharing the worlds your words and work create. This post struck a deep, good chord. Your blog is the highlight of my online reading and I enjoy your posting rhythm. Happy working stone-by-stone and keep warm!

  244. Thank you for sharing you struggle with this project and I’m rooting for you too! I love your IG and blog (I’m more of an IG visitor) and love your content, sponsored or not. I follow for you and I think if you get the sponsorships that’s wonderful. Keep doing what your doing!

  245. I’ve been reading your blog since that desk you made back in Manhattan – the most brilliant thing I had ever seen. And everything you have ever done since then has been brilliant, too. I wanted to win that contest you ran with Lowe’s so bad! The one where you helped a reader with a space. Sponsored or not, i’ll read your content because I love what you do, how you write, your inimitable style and your amazing cute doggies.
    I was stoked when I saw your insta-story on the bluestone basement. Yay to Lowe’s for sponsoring!

  246. This was so beautifully honest. Ive loved your blog and always will. I AM ROOTING FOR YOU!

  247. Oh. My. Goodness. If ever someone took every thought and pain I ever had about every thing I do… you just did. Thank you for the honesty on all of it. I am so happy to hear that you have picked everything back up and have continued, I am sure the community is so very grateful no matter the time or the process! You got this! Can I come help?!

  248. Daniel, you are my favorite blogger. I’ve been reading you since 2013 (all the way from Ecuador :)) and you’ve made me laugh, cry and all around you’ve taught me so much! You have GREAT taste, excellent humor and a way of explaining things that is clear and engaging. Keep pushing forward on this adventure!

  249. The way you just put it all out there is simply wonderful. Your blog is a “for reals” handbook on how to rehab a house.
    Thank you

  250. Just wanted to chime in and say I have zero issues with a post sponsored by Lowe’s. The last one made me think, could I possibly build my own kitchen cabinets? The answer is probably no but if I ever decide to do it I’ll go back to that post (again, for the 5th or 6th time) and see what materials I need. Thank you for this post and your blog and I would be thrilled to follow along with your renovation of the Bluestone Cottage.

  251. I’m probably much older than many of your readers (hi Daniel’s mom I’m in your groove!). So maybe this is something to share that will help you feel better about that sadness and regret toward the neighbors….please keep in mind that every single person in the world operates from the same place you do: their own head. So I promise you that the neighbors aren’t spending much if any time sending thought daggers of disgust and disappointment at you personally, your soul and your work ethic or lack thereof. Really, they aren’t. They are worried about that weird little drip in their own sink and that ache in their left knee and they may occasionally roll their eyes and think ‘man that house still looks like crap, wonder how much it would ding my profits if I tried to sell my place’ but I promise you they’re not obsessing about YOU!

    This has been one of the best parts about getting older for me, living long enough to really get that frankly the world’s just not that into you LOL. We all wander through life thinking about ourselves and how we are impacting the universe. And we all hope our impact is positive or at least not damaging. But really, really, really our impact isn’t constant or crucial to most of the folks we interact with in our daily lives. So be of good cheer. The nice Methodist lady who wanted to buy your house isn’t mentally shit-talking you every time you see her in the grocery store; she’s trying to remember if she needs milk or if she really should put back the bakery cookies. You flaking out on a house a few years ago….guarantee it doesn’t make the top 10 or top 100 of her daily thoughts.

    Looking forward to seeing how things roll out with Bluestone as well as your own house and am really enjoying seeing you loving on your new fur baby. Happy 2019 and carry on with your determined and so human self!

    • I agree with this 100%. I never post on blogs even though I do read and enjoy them. I think that you need to give yourself the grace of realizing that although you set out to “save the block” that didn’t happen and that is not your fault. Even if you would have finished Bluestone and it was the best house on the block, the other houses could have still turned into multi-family rentals that are not taken care of. You can only control what you can control. The excitement the neighbors had for you was just that, excitement. They chose to stay there and not move and not make changes themselves. Maybe they wanted to see the house look nicer, but probably deep down it didn’t really matter to them. If it did, they would have worked to change their living conditions. Give yourself the freedom to let go, move forward. Be confident in your worth, as a designer, freelancer, writer and blogger. Part of recognizing that worth is to realize you need to monetize. Go for it! I will be following along on Intsa and here so good luck!

  252. I think this was one of the most amazing blog posts I’ve ever read. You have this fantastic equalizing quality about you…you describe your experiences in a way that everyone can relate to. Everyone knows what it feels like to feel those things but its like maybe we didn’t know it until we read your post? And then it sheds light on our own stuff, especially the dark corners. As any talented writer will do (really hoping you write a book some day). What a wonderful quality to have!

    Completely on board with the sponsored content. You are killing it, even when your life feels like its in shambles. It’s quite a talent!

  253. Wow, I never read long blog posts, but I pored over every word of this.You are an amazing writer, Daniel. Whatever Lowes is paying you, they’re getting a screaming deal. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Your twenties is made for making a shit-ton for mistakes. Personally, my thirties have been a DAMN CAKE WALK compared to the emotional & financial dumpster fire that was my twenties. You’re right on schedule :)

  254. Thank you for expelling how your Lowe’s posts work. I think that Lowe’s is getting a great deal–they should pay you more.

  255. Sorry, I meant “explaining” not expelling. Sometimes my computer thinks it can read my mind.

  256. I’ve seen a lot of conversation in recent years from other bloggers to turn the perception on sponsored posts. Some blogs have handled them in a super tacky way that turned me off as a reader and others have made it abundantly clear that they are doing genuinely needed work in the most creative and honest way possible in order to succeed. I’ve been so happy to see your partnership with Lowe’s and to think that these projects are helping you to move forward with everything on your plate. I started reading your blog before Kingston was even a twinkle in your eye and am still here rooting for you and enjoying your content. It’s cliche, but keep doing your best – that’s all anyone can ask of you, and it’s enough!

  257. Can’t wait to see what comes next! I really think Bluestone + Lowe’s will be an excellent pair, but I do marketing for Lowe’s and they pay MY bills too, so I’m a little biased. You should be proud of what youve accomplished so far — that includes being a dad to the pups too!

  258. Bravo! You’re one of my favorite bloggers because you’re so real, and I loved the honesty of this post. Renos are not always sunshine and roses and big reveals, and I don’t think most people understand how emotionally and financially draining projects like this can be. Thanks for sharing, Daniel.

  259. First of all, your ‘mistakes’ were just lessons we’ve all had to learn. Don’t beat yourself over the past lessons, they were crucial to your growth. Now let’s see what’s next…you still have plenty of readers.

  260. Daniel, can you tell that we all love you SO MUCH? Because we do! Print these comments out and tape them somewhere you can see them to remind yourself how awesome you are when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. We’ll be there for you!!

    From a ‘let’s monetize this baby’ POV, no other blog that I read (::ahem:: many highly successful and talented OG bloggers) gets anywhere close to your number of comments – your engagement is always through the roof. BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU. And your writing is absolutely SUPERLATIVE. You can do it!! And we’ll love and support you even if you can’t!

  261. Ah, Daniel. One foot, one stone. I think a million people probably needed to read this.

    A shame spiral, a heartwarming Mom comment, light at the end of the tunnel, sponsorship money — this post has EVERYTHING.

    Love your little corner of the Internet. Keep on keeping on. You are doing amazing things and there are even more to come.

  262. I didn’t read the 280-plus comments above me, but I bet more than 99% of them are loving and supportive. Because you deserve that. What a wonderful, heartfelt, and in the end uplifting post. You are so much older and now wiser, too, than your years…. I look forward to reading more, and watching the next phases of both Bluestone and your own home.

  263. Daniel, you’re hands down my favorite house/diy blogger. You really get it like no one else does, and you have a wonderful way of saying it too. We’re all behind you on this crazy journey called life!

  264. What to add?? You have a way with words dear fellow, and a very loyal following. Lowe’s has the foresight to recognize that and sponsor you. Looking forward to the best selling book you will write when you’re good and ready!

  265. This is so lovely and vulnerable and brave. I can only imagine how hard it was to write, but it’s so nice to know I’m not alone in my taking on too much, dreaming to big, crashing super fucking hard, and starting over AGAIN. Thank you.

    Also, with the neighbours and guilt: I don’t think it’s necessary to even apologise or make amends. Have an open house with booze and some nice cheese when you’re done, invite the neighbourhood and thank them for their patience. That’s all. Then they’ll feel like beneficiaries, not victims. And they aren’t really, just observers. Don’t forget that you are doing them and this house a service. Its a process and full of bumps, but you got this.

  266. This is my favorite blog post you have ever written that I have read. Life is like that – I have never bought a cottage and then not renovated it, but I have failed in other areas. And there is something so universal about that gutting feeling of failure, but something so redeeming about going forward afterwards, and keeping putting one foot in front of the other.

    For what it is worth, I have been loving your Lowe’s sponsored posts – I hope that they keep going with you and give you lots of more projects to do! (And it is sad about the Olivebridge project, I really wanted to know how the second story happened, but I understand that you have to respect them as well.)

  267. I have a house that doesn’t need nearly as much work, but I’ve loved watching your instastories to see your process and just watch beautiful restoration. I noticed the Lowe’s sponsored stuff a little while ago, but appreciated it because I have a hard time with figuring out what stuff I need get my projects done that I can get easily. I also appreciate this post because I think all this home stuff takes a long time and blogs make it look simple and easy when it is not.

  268. Hey Daniel,
    What a read, loved it!! What a trip down memory lane, can’t believe I have been following your blog for over 6 years already… I love the way you write, and look forward to every post.
    Incidentally, have you ever considered setting up a patreon or something similar? I don’t have much, but if a dime here or there could help you create content that is so enjoyable, I’d really love to be a part of it!

    Best of luck with the projects, somehow sponsored content on your site works because it remains your projects, and your voice! If sposorship = more of your storytelling, I’m in.

  269. I have been reading your blog for a long time and tbh, I have been curious about the progress of Bluestone and Olivebridge, but I assumed you were just crazy busy and were not able to get to it (or had time to blog it). You can and you will do it, even if it takes time. The partnership with Lowe’s is perfect. Your projects are the real deal and I always enjoy reading about them. You have done amazing work. So you hit a rough patch. It happens. Don’ t be so hard on yourself!

  270. Thank you for sharing your raw journey! We are rooting for you!!! From a Hudson Valley native

  271. Wow, what an emotional rollercoaster. Lots more swoops down than up, but it sounds like you are now on an upswing. Wait. An upswing is also uphill, right? Maybe that is appropriate. Anyhow, I am way impressed with how much you have accomplished and overcome and with how you keep piling one stone on top of the other. Plus you tell it all with so much insight and humor and honesty. Thank you.

  272. ❤️
    Thank you for sharing this. You’re a tough guy, and it’s been amazing to see all the things you’ve done and get to know you. (Send me more pics of doggos, ok? ok)

  273. Hi Daniël, I’m going to comment here despite reading this very superficially (it hits a bit too close to home). Building is a complex business, that only gets easier over time. I think the only way to get better at it is practice. I started working for an employer after college, and while that was great when it came to learning, my boss turned out to be a psychopath. Maybe that’s what this job does to people.
    Anyhow, due to several complex circumstances, I stopped for a while, but I am about to re-enter into the crazy world of building. What I will bring to this new phase of my life -I think- is a broader understanding of building, of people, a better understanding of how to talk to people, an insight into the life and development of buildings, and a clearer sense of how to go from A to B. One of the issues with being an architect/ designer is that you are everybody’s favorite person to blame. The costs turn out higher? The architect, the building takes longer? The architect etc etc. So you have to be very very clear at every step of the way with the people you work for, brutally so. And for a sensitive person (as architects usually are) that is quite a brutal lesson to learn. And people who hire you want to love you because you are making their dreams and hopes come true. These things are really tough when you are still learning the ropes. Especially if you have even an ounce of insecurity or self doubt inside you.
    I do have the impression that if you are reliable, and make good work, in the end you will have a steady stream of work coming in. Clients will come back (my biggest source of work used to be returning clients).
    Things will become easier, you have to keep your eye on where you want to go and fold the things that don’t work out the way you wanted to around that. If something doesn’t go as planned, that isn’t something that defines who you are, it’s not God telling you you are a lame loser, it’s just something that happens and needs to be solved in the best way you can come up with within your circumstances. Try to define what you can learn from it (most of the time it usually means that you were not as rigorous as you could have been). Choose what kind of person you want to be and try to solve it in the way you think that person would do it.
    And I think you are a wonderful person, you will be alright. Just stay in the NOW as they say, you really cannot alter the past, you can only shape your future. Everybody makes mistakes, it’s a fact of life, just say sorry.
    PS for Bluestone Cottage, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just fell in love with a house and wanted to make it beautiful, there really is nothing inherently wrong with that, it is a kind thing to do on a lot of levels.

    • PS what I forgot: it may sound lame, but take a few minutes every day to breathe, meditate, it will loosen things up in your head. And learn to have an understanding of your limitations, when you have that you can be clear to the people who hire you, and clarity is essential in designing and getting stuff built.
      You don’t have to be grateful when people hire you, if you do a good job, they will (and should) be grateful.

  274. It is WEIRD how much I have been thinking these EXACT SAME THINGS for myself but about very different situations.

    You are not alone, Daniel. We can do this. One bite at a time.

    Thank you for putting this out here. I sincerely wish you the best of luck in finding your balance.

  275. I’m still trying to figure out why being sponsored by Lowes might have been perceived to be a bad thing. My puzzler is getting sore from it–how could it be bad?

    Now, if it were Kasamba Psychic App or ZenPop Japanese Subscription Box–I think I probably wouldn’t bother clicking. But, Lowes? I will be getting information on new products that they have which they want to introduce to a broader audience–an audience (like me) which is interested in products aimed at renovation? I’m really puzzled–why would I ever NOT like that?

    Our renovation from hell (which, you won’t believe it, but is actually worse than Bluestone Cottage–really, not joking) has benefited from several of the products you’ve already mentioned, and stands to benefit even more as we are finally beginning to put the place back together. The Lowes’ sponsorship is a real boon to me–in conjunction with your showing how products can be used by regular folk rather than thinly disguised professionals (or, worse, when used by actual professionals in the background while people pretend to be doing the work themselves). I’m shaking my head–why would this ever be a bad thing?

    But, I sympathize with the homeowners who do not want pictures of their home up unless pictures of it fixed go along with it. The contractor that we are working with warned us of the same thing–don’t put anything on Instagram until you can show it fixed and inspected (and green-stickered). Apparently, there really are people who will swoop in and make a person’s life really uncomfortable (I think he has mentioned snoopy neighbors who used a picture as evidence to file suit–I don’t think the neighbors won, but I think they made trouble.)

    I am glad that the Lowes’ sponsorship has been motivating–and I am glad that things are turning around enough that you have written about the time when they weren’t turned around. The great thing about writing things down is that now the story is written, posted, and you can put it on the shelf as finished chapter. I hope the new chapters will be much brighter.

  276. I don’t have anything else to say that 300 people before me haven’t said. But after reading that entire post, I just had to say that I value you and this space. Please take care of yourself and give yourself some grace. Your future is bright.

  277. Daniel we all love you. Keep up the good work, and take care of yourself. Xoxoxo.

  278. I loved this post. I’ve been a reader for years, though I’ve never commented (I am a forever creepy internet lurker, I can’t help it). Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable. Many of the problems you had and have are things that I recognize in myself, though they’ve never manifested in me owning multiple fixer uppers at once, thankfully (my husband and I have owned two homes total– both with lots of work needed–and both were so draining in exactly the ways you described).

    I also had a LOT of angst leading up to age 30. I’m 31 now and– at least so far, at least for me– what “they” say has been true; my 30s have been better and calmer and happier than my 20s by far. I had a kid in there, too, and wow it’s helped me get over my perfectionist tendencies because toddlers do not abide perfection in any form. I didn’t realize how much the idea of perfect was holding me back/fucking with my ability to be happy until I was forced to give it up, and it’s made a world of difference. All that to say… maybe you should have a kid?

    Kidding, kidding! Anyway, I love your honesty, and your words, and your willingness to admit you don’t know what you’re doing. You are an incredibly talented writer and renovator and I’ll keep reading (probably creepily +lurkily) for as long as you keep at it.

  279. Daniel, I actually had not noticed you weren’t affiliate linking the shit out of everything until you mentioned it, but now you have, wow, it’s totally true and one of the reasons you are my favourite blogger.

    The Lowe’s partnership sounds perfect, and you are doing a great job of those posts so far, so hopefully they will stick with you and we can see Bluestone cottage through to the end! Yay, I’m excited to see your progress. You are fab. Sorry you’ve had a rough time x

    (is an x too much? If so, soz. If not have another x)

  280. I’ve been reading this blog since you were decorating your dorm room, and I am here to say that your talent/heart/wit//honesty/sticktoitiveness (I made it up, it’s fine!) is constantly inspiring. We *can* do this, it is overwhelming, but we chose it and that’s what makes it, also, beautiful. Keep doing you, my friend.

  281. This one brought me to tears there at the end. Just an internet stranger here saying I’m proud of you and so glad that you always come back to us. I’ve been reading for years and years and I’ll always come back to cheer you on :D

  282. <3 <3 <3

    I come back to check on this blog every month or so and have been for a few years. Your writing is unlike any other "design" blog and that's what I love about it. Shared this post with a couple of freelancer friends because of the broader themes that relate to all of us in this phase of professional life, not just in the home/design industry. Loved the last paragraph especially:

    "I know how to do this now. I’ve done it before—not this exact task, but I’ve done a lot. And I keep doing stuff, and I keep learning stuff, and I am—as of this writing—more capable than I have ever been before of taking this on."

    Keep on keeping on. We're behind you…

  283. Everything about this post is so incredibly relatable and I deeply appreciate you taking the time, energy, and courage to write and post about it! That’s not a small thing at all. I think this kind of post does so much to making the rest of us going through this type of thing feel less alone and less isolated and most importantly, less un-justified. I read recently that therapy professionals note how no matter what kind of trauma / emotional issue / abuse someone goes through, they never feel like it’s “bad” enough to warrant even noting, because there are so many other people out there with things that are so much worse, which yes is true, but doesn’t mean that one person’s feelings aren’t justified. That’s a long tangent to say, you took on a ton and dealt with a ton and it was really hard and your guilt is understandable. But you know what? Who cares, your heart is clearly in the right place! I’ve dealt with a lot of the same feelings working on my own house, Berrybrier, and thinking I’d be able to start a blog about it during the renovations, but in reality I barely held on to a string of sanity while trying to work at a breakneck pace to make my house baaaaaaarely livable. I’m in a better place now and a lot is done around the house and I’m happier because I have an actual HOME not a CONSTRUCTION ZONE and now all of a sudden I have time to blog and make friends and not be sad and overwhelmed by my home / project. I don’t know if anything I just wrote made any sense, but to summarize: thanks for putting all this out there, you’re one of the most realistic bloggers I’ve read, I am always learning from your projects, and keep it up because you totally rock when it’s one post a week AND when it’s one post every 6 months!

  284. I tend to forget your sponsored posts are sponsored posts because they feel genuine. I never feel like you’re selling me something. But speaking of, do you have a referral link that I could bookmark and visit Lowe’s through?

  285. Daniel, This is the first of your blog entries that I have read. You are now officially my favorite new human as a result. You have inspired me to face my demons, be a more honest writer (I mean my god you are fearless and so freaking articulate and nuanced), keep gutting it out, do the work…Plus I am now more determined than ever to avoid remodels. Yes all that from one post. Also, your mom seems very cool. Thanks for restoring my faith in our species after a rough week… make that a rough two years. You should never have another moments doubt as to whether people like or hate you that you referred to in your post; you are very special. Thank you for being such a light.

  286. Wow, I loved reading this. Thank you for your honesty and I wish you great success, I can’t wait to see!
    Onward and upward!

  287. Daniel, you probably don’t remember me, but we met once several years ago when I was working for a literary agency in the Flatiron. We had coffee at Haven’s kitchen and talked about you writing a book proposal. I have always (and still do) read your blog for the quality of your writing, not the quantity of your posts. It’s always been a plus in my mind that you have kept it real and not fluffed the blog full of fake stuff. That will always serve you well. Plus, we’re all young and over-ambitious/delusional for a time in our lives (hello, Ms. I-want-to-work-in-book-publishing-to-find-the-next-Great-American-Novel). Anyway, just a note of continued admiration from a long-time fan and reader.

  288. Daniel, just wanna say I love your blog (and have since Brooklyn) and I will stand by you and hold your coat. Except I live in Oregon. You are a funny, sensitive, caring, brilliant guy — I wish you could see what others see? Anyway, just wanted to join the others here and extend my thanks and love. xo

  289. I just wanted to write a note of encouragement and thanks. Your content is always so deep and thorough and honest and soul-ravaging, too. Good luck with this. I’m excited to see where you go. You are more capable than you have ever been!

  290. I’m so proud of you!

  291. Thank you for sharing. Again. Wishing you the very best as you navigate this new opportunity. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — your posts are my favorite. Years ago they were my favorite because you talked about the real stuff of renovations — framing and floor plans. Now they’re my favorite because you talk about the real stuff of life — fear, failure, healing and progress. Life is messy. Authenticity is rare. You are appreciated!

  292. Such a great post – raw, real, relatable.
    Love following your progress (and issues with progress).
    You lay your truth out there for everyone to read and it’s appreciated and welcome when much of what we see online looks like a 1-hour flipping & decorating show with happily ever after endings. #notreallife
    Thank you.

  293. I’m not crying, you are crying!

    We are the same age, and I have been reading your blog since the first time Anna Dorfman shared a post of yours. Learning how to renovate in order to save a beautiful old home is a life I always dreamed of living, so when you went to Kingston and bought your place, I was so excited to be along for the ride. We have very similar taste about how to combine older things and style and architecture with modern. Reading this post about how you have grown in your twenties hits home. I also have always bit off more than I can chew, never can do anything halfway, and have a deep cycle of procrastination and avoidance. I wish we weren’t on opposite coasts, because I always wanted to meet you and see if we could be friends. Here’s to our thirties.

  294. This really resonated with me. My husband and I are packing up and moving to Portugal where we bought a big, old house. We’ve already started reno’s on the big house, but are so tempted to buy every little neighboring ruin and work on that as well. We will take heed and slow things down a beat, as we haven’t even moved there yet and want to take over the whole village.

    Thank you for writing about your experience. I can’t wait to read more about your future projects and work.

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