All posts in: Travel

Winter Times

Remember that stuff I said about tons of things getting done around the apartment while I was on break from school and work? Which has been for the last two weeks?

Yeah.

That hasn’t really happened yet.

BUT I CAN EXPLAIN.

Buffalo

Max and I took our caravan of dogs to Buffalo for Christmas, but a four day trip turned into a 6 day trip when we got snowed in! I guess it snowed a bit down in NYC, too, but hot holy damn, Buffalo. You know how to do a snowstorm up right.

Buffalo is really beautiful, by the way. I’ll admit that it took me a few trips to warm up to the city itself, but now I really enjoy going up there to visit. Max’s family is super great, too.

The dogs were not as pleased as we were about the snow, but one thing that made them a little more content were their fancy jackets! After Linus got his adorable little mug on Cute Overload, a really sweet company called D-fa Dogs in New Zealand e-mailed me out of the blue, asked if the dogs needed coats for winter, and offered to send them matching Ice Barkers.* So nice! I took them up on it and the dogs have both been getting a lot of wear out of them all winter. The merino wool is deceptively warm, and if it’s really cold we’ll layer their American Apparel hoodies underneath for extra cuteness points.

*Note: D-fa Dogs didn’t pay me to post about them or even ask for a post in exchange for the jackets. They just wanted my dogs to be warm!

Linus has the black coat, by the way. He’s impossible to take pictures of because he doesn’t sit still unless he’s sleeping, and his paws got too cold to walk so he hitched a ride inside Max’s coat…but I’ll try to get a picture soon. Dogs in jackets are really cute and you deserve to see that FYI.

kingston

After we got back from Buffalo, we made a quick turnaround in Brooklyn before heading up to Kingston, NY for a couple of days. A couple of our friends got together and rented a cute house, so we spent two days drinking and eating and drinking and antiquing and drinking, and the whole thing was super fun and relaxing and awesome. Kingston is cute town on the Hudson River Valley, and now I have delusions and yearnings in my loins to find a way to buy a cheap historic house somewhere in that vicinity and make it beautiful and perfect. For the weekends and holidays? It would be so fancy and beautiful? Hashtag goals.

Since nobody seemed to know what they wanted to do while we were up there, I just did what I do best and dragged everyone out thrifting for a few hungover hours of fun times digging through weird old crap. Totally everyone’s idea of a good time by which I mean nobody’s by which I mean my friends probably hate me now and I’m alone and destitute and could really use some new friends?

tray1

Whatever. I bought this ENORMOUS enamel tray, which was covered in dirt and rust but totally looks way better now that I cleaned it up. What do I even do with this thing? It’s about 20×30 inches and looks completely dumb on my credenza or dresser. But it’s pretty and I love it and I love trays and it’ll work out.

tray2

Oh look, I bought another enamel tray, too! This one is a more reasonable size and cute and good for corralling all the things?

Trays are good because you can group your shit on them and then it looks like maybe you have a reasonable amount of shit instead of too much. They don’t call this a design blog for nothing?

Oh yeah I actually bought two of those trays because they were there and they were cheap and I love all the enamel.

amberglass

I also bought this tiny little amber glass jar. I don’t know. Exciting fucking stuff. I’m rocking your world right now.

mekko

Here’s Mekko to take you through the weekend until we get some real updates happening up in here next week.

Look at her tongue. Look at her nose. Look deep into her eyes. Keep looking. See your future.

Impromptu Thanksgiving Makeover!

For the first time in my life, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, Max and I both went to his much-adored hometown of Buffalo, the kooky city that I credit, in part, with making him the nutball that he is today.

About two days before we left, Max floated the idea of giving his childhood bedroom a “quick and easy” makeover while we were going to be there. Trying not to act too excited, I accepted the assignment with grace and class, as I had rehearsed many times whilst daydreaming about this moment. And then I assembled my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit.

I have a lot of tools and bits and bobs I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years, but this is the stuff I see as essential when embarking on a quick-n-dirty DIY job. From left to right: all my assorted drill bits, two types of pliers, lightweight quick-drying spackling compound, the best screwdriver ever with a million different heads, coarse-grit sandpaper, E-Z anchors, my drill, and two spackle knives.

I need to give a serious shout-out to those E-Z anchors, by the way. They are the shit. I only really like the metal ones (they also come in plastic, but I’ve had mixed results with those), but they hold a ton of weight and are just all-around phenomenally easy to use and strong and awesome. Basically you just screw the big metal piece into the wall, then screw a screw into the metal piece. Done! No drilling, nothing. These things are seriously lifesavers for crumbly plaster walls and basically hold my entire apartment together and I trust them with my life.

Anyway.

Max is perhaps the most nostalgic, sentimental person I know, so the suggestion of even touching or moving a single thing in his largely unchanged shrine to angsty adolescence is more than a little out of character. But a combination of getting older, maturing, and—I like to think—living with the controlling lunatic nightmare that is myself, has changed his taste a little, and I think he was ready to appreciate his former bedroom as a thing preserved more in memory and photographs than something that needs to actually exist in real life. It also helps that we stay in this room when we visit, and a twin bed pretty much sucks when occupied by two boys and a 12 pound muppet named Linus.

Additionally, Max’s wonderful mother, Sue, wanted to use the space as a comfortable guest bedroom for the 49 (give or take a few) weeks a year when we’re not staying in it, but not every guest wants to be transported back to Max’s worldview circa 2000-2006.

Twin bed: check. Beaded floor pillows: check. Beaded floor lamp: check. Beaded table lamp: check. Second beaded floor lamp (out of frame): check. Tapestry thing: check. Tiny plastic busts of famous composers: check. Martha Stewart Living casually laying on the floor like it’s an accident: CHECK.

Even though I’ll admit to hating staying in this room, there’s something so adorable about these pictures that I feel a little nostalgic, myself. All those magazine boxes on the shelves are full of Martha Stewart Livings, the little woven basket next to it is full of knitting supplies, and the bottom shelf is occupied by about a dozen Harry Potter books—American and Canadian editions. I mean, come on. 

Up above, this weird candelabra chandelier number from IKEA hung from the ceiling, as well as an artsy photo wall of mostly naked people. There are SUNGLASSES HANGING FROM THAT CHANDELIER THING, PEOPLE. 2006 Max is so weird and cute.

The less cute side of this makeover is this wall of graffiti that Max had all of his friends contribute to with Sharpie over the years. Mostly, it is composed of penises, vaginas, things that look vaguely like penises and vaginas, angsty lines of poetry, drug references, and penises. There are also some penises.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ani DiFranco lyrics GLITTER PUFFY-PAINTED to the closet moldings, and more glitter puffy paint ON THE CEILING that has something to do with eggs and some dude named Ernie?

Interestingly, Max has never been into drugs.

I always thought that my parents allowed us to be pretty free-spirited when it came to our rooms: we got to pick all our own furniture, paint colors, layouts, and how big of a mess we lived in. But Max’s parents kind of took this to the next level and basically let tiny crazy angsty Max run wild and this is what happened. Take heed, people.

All I can say after sanding glitter puffy paint off a ceiling is that if I ever have children who try to pull shit like that, I will drown them.

As you can see in the above floor plan, this room is really tiny, which made our single-day-makeover plan seem pretty feasible on the surface. In the morning, we cleared out the entire room, then went to do a little shopping. Then I got dropped at the house to commence with the painting, while Max and his mom went to buy a mattress and a few other things we’d need to finish the space. It was some crazy Trading Spaces madness, which is how I like things. Once I get in to projects like this, I’m the sort of person who will basically forego food, sleep, water, and bathroom breaks until it’s done. I get into a zone, push through pain, and annoy every single person around me with demands that they work harder.

Imagine me as a werewolf. Then imagine that a big DIY project is a full moon. It’s like that.

So here is the paint arsenal, in case you’re curious. I started off by prepping the walls, which basically meant scraping old sticky-tack, sanding glitter puffy paint, and spackling about a thousand nail holes. In some areas, the plaster was in really rough shape, which normally I’d get all anal about and repair properly with joint compound and mesh tape and whatnot, but I had to learn to let go and just paint over everything. It was oddly liberating, and matte paint has a way of making uneven fucked up plaster look kind of awesome, anyway.

PSA: never write on your walls with Sharpie. Just don’t do it. If you do, someday your boyfriend will have to come in, paint over all of it with shellac-based primer, which is both expensive and very smelly. He will have to do it twice, all the while losing brain cells and going crazy. Sharpie bleeds through, like, ALL PAINT IN THE WORLD EVER in the most amazing/annoying way, so it really all has to be sealed in with a serious primer. The good thing about the shellac primer is that it dries REALLY fast, but it smells terrible and is super thin, so you have to be extra careful of drips and off-spray.

Max wanted a really dark black/navy color for the walls, and after seeing it both on the outside of Chezerbey and at Anna’s house, I demanded that we use Benjamin Moore’s “Soot.” We used the Aura paint in matte, which is pricey but is basically like painting with velvet and covers completely and easily in two coats. For the ceiling, we just used standard off-the-rack flat white ceiling paint, and for the trim we used off-the-rack white in pearl finish. Usually I do trim in semi-gloss, but I’ve been leaning more toward something a bit less shiny and pearl is a really beautiful, slightly more subtle alternative. All of this action happened so fast, I literally have ZERO process pictures…but really, we all just want to get to the afters, right?

BOOM. Hello super dark, super cozy, super awesome tiny bedroom that I totally love. With cute dog.

So obviously this isn’t really my normal taste, but I really do love this room. It was so much fun to wake up in on that first morning, and I actually didn’t want to leave Buffalo because I loved sleeping in it so much. Maybe it makes me want a black bedroom?

I’m sorry for the low-quality pictures, by the way. The one thing I didn’t pack in my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit was a decent camera, so unfortunately I had to document with my iPhone. This room gets basically no natural light, so a very dark space combined with very dark paint combined with an iPhone camera makes for some subpar photos. Sorry!

Part of the fun of creating this room was reusing things that were already around in the house, including this lamp, the bedside table, the rug, the bed, the flag, and that amazing vintage Hudson Bay blanket. The bed belonged to Max’s mom’s parents (also known as Max’s grandparents), and I believe was a wedding gift in the late 40s-early 50s. It’s mahogany colonial-revival, which is usually not my thing, but I love it for this space. It was sitting in the attic, broken in a few joints, but I was able to repair the whole thing in about half an hour with some J-B Wood Weld, which is an amazing epoxy that cures really quickly and is SUPER strong and awesome. Max’s mom was really excited to see the bed all put back together and looking amazing, which was really fun for me. Aside from repairing the bed, we also got new pieces of 1 x 4 cut at Home Depot to replace the old slats (we got ten new slats for under the mattress, which was perfect).

Also, the flag is pretty amazing. Normally, I’m not a fan of using American flags in home decor, but this flag is old (it only has 48 stars!) and has just the right amount of wear to be super cool and perfectly vintage without straying into hit-you-over-the-head-patriotic territory. It’s being held up by E-Z anchors. Duh.

The vintage Hudson Bay blanket is also from Max’s mom’s parents, and it totally makes the room. I mean, of course it does. I’m a huge sucker for a point blanket.

One of the other projects I really loved in this room was the curtain, which I just made out of a canvas drop-cloth that was inexplicably sitting in the trunk of my car. I hung the curtain rod (this cheap-o one from Target) about 7″ from the ceiling, and made the curtain all the way to the floor, using iron-on hem tape for the side and top (I used existing hems for the side facing the room and the bottom). The iron-on tape worked surprisingly well, and the canvas was a perfect warm neutral color and texture to balance out the bright whites in the room and was also FREE. Free is always good. The curtain rod is hanging with E-Z anchors.

Another HUGE, HUGE improvement in this room was finding and re-hanging the closet door! The closet just had a curtain hanging on a tension rod before, but Max and I managed to find the original door hiding in the attic (it had been removed at some point, I have no idea why), harvest a black porcelain knob from another outcast door in the basement, and hang and repaint the thing like it never left the room. Love me an old door with a couple fresh coats of paint.

Again, normally I’d get a bit more detail-crazy and strip all the old hardware, but there was no time for that. Instead, I just coated everything with a fresh coat of white, and guess what? Nobody died, which makes me question my entire worldview, basically. Sometimes its OK to just take the easy route. Huh.

Along the wall between the entry door and the closet, I hung three plain cheap brass hooks (also held up by—you guessed it!—E-Z anchors), which might be my favorite thing about this room, oddly. Hooks are perfect for small spaces, and we used them for everything from bags to shirts to our jeans at the end of the day. The hooks keep clutter off the small amount of floor space, and the little bits of brass make a really nice complement to the deep blue paint color. And the E-Z anchors mean they have no trouble holding a ton of weight.

One thing we didn’t do anything about was the floor (except scrub it). It’s the only original wood floor in the house, which I think is oak but was painted a rusty red at some point. About half of the old paint has worn off and the wood is in really rough shape, which I’m pretty sure means it needs to just be painted white? I’m looking at you, Christmas break…

OK, I take it back about the dumb hooks because my favorite thing about the room is definitely this amazing art deco pendant light that we picked up at The Antique Man. It was kind of a steal at $75 and is just…so beautiful. There’s no electrical in the ceiling in this room, so I converted it into a plug-in fixture, which is pretty easy to do with the teeniest, tiniest bit of electrical know-how or advice from that old guy at the hardware store who knows what’s up. Basically you can just cut the end of an extension cord off, wire it into the original socket, and it’s a plug-in light. One of the electrical outlets in the room is circuited to a light switch, so we just ran the cord down to the outlet as neatly as possible and now it turns on and off like a real light and everything. This room was in dire need of a good main light source (with no real natural light, a few little lamps just don’t cut it sometimes!), and I can’t really think of a better-looking solution than this sexy vintage 20s thang.

So where did the money go in this space? Here’s how it broke down:

Mattress/comforter/duvet/sheets/pillows: $676
Bed repair/new slats: $56
Paint/paint supplies: $215
Light Fixture/new wire: $78
Curtain Rod: $10
Hooks: $15

TOTAL: $1,050

Realistically, we probably spent about $50 or so more than that on various supplies and little things that aren’t springing to mind, but in any case—an entire top-to-bottom  room makeover for right around $1,000 including a new mattress? Not bad.

As Mekko clearly demonstrates, this room is super comfortable and a great place for guests (and us!) to stay. Aside from getting to enjoy the final product, I can honestly say that this was one of the most fun, satisfying vacations I’ve ever had, which is pretty much all you need to know to understand that I’m sick in the head and need professional help and guidance.

A big thanks to Max’s mom for letting us have our way with this space. I hope you love it, Sue!

The End of the Trip

When I read our itinerary and saw a ferry ride listed as our transportation between Stockholm and Helsinki, I think I just pictured a boat. Nothing extraordinary—it would be long and flat and the interior would be spare and utilitarian. Our passage into Finnish waters would be quiet and uneventful. More likely than not, we would spend it sleeping in a twin cot with a single wool blanket, rocking gently as our trusty ship slid silently over the icy waters of the Baltic. In the morning we would wake refreshed and step out onto the deck, filling our lungs with crisp Nordic air as we looked out toward the rocky shore of our destination, a landscape dominated by evergreens and wispy pillars of smoke rising into the heavens from chimneys concealed by the lush foliage. This would be the boost we needed to prepare us for the second leg of our trip—fortified by some 20 hours of rest and relaxation at sea, we would emerge better students. Better thinkers. Better humans.

A few hours and several drinks into the ferry ride, we grabbed a table close to the stage at the ship’s casino and settled in for the live entertainment, an act entitled “The Freak Show” and recommended by one of the bartenders on the upper deck who described it only as “really crazy dancing.” Seeing as the New York Club and Lounge on the 12th floor wouldn’t be open for another few hours and  dinner had already ended, there really weren’t many other options for how to kill the time. As beautiful as the Swedish archipelago is, it all becomes a little monotonous to stare at for hours on end, particularly when the alternative is some cultural immersion in what basically amounts to a Scandinavian booze cruise.

Of course I’m generalizing here, but the magical thing about Finns is that they’re a very serious, generally reserved breed of human, who simultaneously hold very few reservations about what constitutes appropriate content for their children. Pair this with “The Freak Show,” and you basically have 100 blonde Scandinavian families watching with the straightest of expressions as scantily clad men and women, faces obscured by exaggerated stage makeup, interpretive danced among dramatic lighting, stage-smoke, and a 6-foot-2 drag queen who lip-synced Lady Gaga and Britney Spears songs and alternated her act with a 90-pound woman who actually sang the covers but might as well have just been another drag queen. Now add a drunk gay couple and a few friends from New York sitting in the front row cheering and clapping and dancing in their chairs and you have 100 very confused blonde Scandinavian families and one incredibly relieved drag queen.

WORK. IT. GURL.

Suffice to say we took full advantage of what the ferry had to offer before disembarking the next morning in Helsinki, hungover dumpy messes as we were, before swiftly being whisked off to our first stop. Nothing like a little amazing design to get you back into the groove, am I right?

I am right when Alvar Aalto is involved.

I mean, come on. Come ON. I’m not the type of person to throw around the word “inspiration” lightly, but this place…wow. Those bright white bricks, the terra cotta floors, the Moroccan rugs, the blonde furniture, the climbing plants—it was perfect.  

And then the house:

Just stop it right there, Aalto. It’s WAY TOO GOOD.

Helsinki is really, really gorgeous, by the way. I was pretty upset to be leaving Stockholm (I LOVE SWEDEN), but Helsinki was a pretty amazing substitute. Sweden and Finland are surprisingly very different countries culturally, but both Stockholm and Helsinki have a really nice sensibility about them.

Aside from a few museum visits and lectures in our first couple of days in Helsinki, which I don’t have photos of, we also got a tour of the Marimekko headquarters and factory from the head of PR at the company. We weren’t allowed to take photos in the *top secret* areas of the production facilities, but seeing how they produce the fabrics and learn more about the company was so cool. Imagine very big machines and a lot of employees in Marimekko clothes. After the tour, we spent a couple hours wandering through the attached outlet store, which is a dangerous place. So much cute. So discounted. Let’s not talk about it.

On our last day, we all boarded a bus and drove out to the Paimio Sanatorium, a hospital designed by Alvar Aalto in the 30s to treat tuberculosis patients. Situated in a gorgeous evergreen forest, the hospital itself is, unsurprisingly, stunning. I would totally pay to have tuberculosis there.

Probably saving the best for last, from Paimio we went to Villa Mairea, one of Aalto’s most famous homes. Again, no interior pictures allowed, but do yourself a favor and run a google image search. OMG.

Like, OMG. *dead*

It’s basically everything that is perfect in the world ever. That is my academic thesis on the topic. Take it or leave it.

Then this impromptu matching-Marimekko-shirts-in-a-field-of-fucking-daisies photo shoot happened, because we’re ridiculous whores.

Workin’ that booty tooch.

With the course officially over and two days left in Helsinki, four of us decided to spend our Saturday taking the ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. We walked around a ton and ate a dope lunch and got caught in a rainstorm and had our ferry home cancelled and then almost got killed in a stampede of crazies clamoring to get on the next ferry as if everybody’s entire life hinged on getting a window seat. What started out as a pretty nice day in a beautiful new city turned into an almost funny series of disasters wherein we wondered if we’d ever get out of Estonia or if we’d be stranded forever at the creepily desolate harbor that looked like a landscape from some kind of post-apocalyptic video game.

We did, however, found the hottest new heavy metal group and shot the album cover, so I guess it was a pretty productive day after all:

Buy it at that indie record shop you’re probably not cool enough to know about on 12/21/12. (Photography and graphic design by Maxwell Tielman)

For our last day, two intense weeks of travel kind of caught up with us and we needed to lay low a little bit, which was convenient because basically the entire city of Helsinki is closed on Sundays anyway. We walked around (including a stroll through the beautiful botanic garden) and made our way to a flea market. Of course. What do you expect?

I’m guessing nobody reading this blog is going to be super judgy about my thrifty/flea habit, even when I’m abroad and arguably could be doing other more refined cultural things with my time, but I actually think flea markets are a really fun and informative way to see a city. Especially on a trip like this where we studied the design of this region for two weeks, it’s always interesting to see what kinds of things people choose to sell, what they choose to value above other things, what locals are interested in buying, etc. etc. It’s an easy and accessible way to partake in a standard, rather unexceptional piece of local culture, which you just don’t get traipsing through museums or on the top of a double-decker bus all day. Sure, you might see more, but you’re not talking or interacting or getting a very good sense of the local community.

So I like fleas for more reasons than just being a greedy bastard. (Plus, we went to a lot of museums on this trip and I was a bit museum-d out.)

Obviously I bought some things because I completely lack self-restraint, including that wall-hanging weaving tapestry thingy on the bottom left, which is about 5.5 feet long and will look great once I figure out where to hang it. I like the patterns and the colors and I think it’s an amount of fiber that my apartment can pull off without being an amount of fiber that my apartment could never pull off. It’s probably from the 60s or so and probably handmade by some hobbyist. I love having homespun pieces like this in my home, even if I didn’t make them and have no idea who did.

Also, more Ultima Thule! Glasses this time! I don’t care that they’re weird sizes, they were 3 euros each and are so beautiful. Eleven pieces of this stuff all for super-cheap is not such a bad haul for one trip, if I do say so.

And then we got home and I got to wake up in the morning to this view. After all the pretty stuff we’ve seen, I think this is still the prettiest.

* * * * *

ADDENDUM: In case you were wondering about me and the drag queen (see above), have just received evidence from unnamed third-party source. (My face got all distorted in the commotion, I don’t really look like the monster from Alien. Or do I?)

I am the wind beneath her wings.

Sweden, 2

 

So Stockholm continues to be the most beautiful city ever. (see above)

I love it here, particularly since the weather got incredible and everyone is all cheery and in magical summer-Swede mode.

We’ve had a great last few days here, including on Friday when we got up at the asscrack of dawn to take a special bus arranged by the fabulous Swedish government out to Dalarna, a county northeast of Stockholm. It’s an incredibly picturesque region where Swedes have adorable weekend and summer cottages, where they frolic through birch forests like beautiful blonde nymphs, eating lingonberries from the bush (vine? shrub? tree?), making head wreathes from sapling branches, talking to woodland creatures, etc. etc. They’re like that here.

We started with a tour of Stora Hyttnäs, a 19th-century upper-middleclass home that’s now a museum. Our guide was the kind elderly lady in the first picture who rode up on her bike, earning her the prize of most-unintentionally-adorable-Swede in my book. I mean, look at her go. “There are 40,000 objects here,” she informed us with an exhausted sigh.

The real impetus for the trip was to see the home of  famed Swedish painter, illustrator, and national hero Carl Larsson—a place that basically inspired all of Swedish residential design since the turn of the century. It was kind of a big deal.

There weren’t any pictures allowed inside, so apparently I took this one of the outside and decided that was good enough?

It looks like this, basically. Larsson paintings are reproduced all over Sweden. Everywhere you look, BOOM. Larsson. Pretty amazing to see in person.

AND THEN THE WEEKEND CAME.

Two days in Sweden, two boys who like to thrift, nothing on the agenda. I’m pitching the reality show now.

Heart racing. Hands shaking. I was BORN to thrift in Sweden. This was to be my moment. This is pretty much how it went:

Saturday morning: “Oh, let’s get haircuts” says Max. “It’ll be nice, we’ll feel all refreshed, and we can always go to the flea markets after.”

“But you have to get there early!” I wail. “And they’ll be over later, and OMG YOU’RE RUINING MY WHOLE LIFE.” *tears*

I might have overreacted. I was hellbent on thrifts and Max was determined to refresh his Hitler-youth hairstyle and—absent my spoilt-child greedy emotions—I had no defense.

I’m not bitter anymore. It’s fine. Our hairs look better. I’m totally so over it don’t even worry I didn’t even want that fabulous ________ I would have found had we started earlier as planned. 

Don’t get in the way of me and my thrifts.

We found some rad stuff though, at a combination of thrifts and fleas, like this weird PH-style light fixture that was marked at all of about $7. I don’t even really know where we’ll put it, and it’s really not worth much (from what I can figure out, I think it’s basically a knock-off of some other “inspired by” design) but SEVEN DOLLARS? That’s less than a Chipotle burrito. Plus, brassy details. I mean come now. No choice.

More stuff? Of course. Clockwise:

1. Old Konica film camera—super bare bones, super cheap, should be fun to shoot a couple rolls on.

2. Three brassy candlesticks! Brassy brassy brassy!

3. Found about a trillion of these wood cabinet door/drawer pulls at Myrorna (basically the Swedish Goodwill) for about 25 cents each, so I bought 24 of them just to give myself the option of using them in my kitchen. I know you’re thinking that it’s a bad idea, but combined with the other stuff I have planned, I think they might look amazing. Might. I’ll sleep on it before I drill any holes.

4. Geode tea light holder. If I have two sets of geode bookends, two geode coasters, and now this, does that make me a rocks and minerals enthusiast? Collector? Weirdo?

5. On Sunday we went against all the advice and visited a HUGE flea market (marketed as the biggest in Scandinavia) in Varberg, which was basically a sprawling dark disaster in the basement of a mall filled with old cell phone chargers and Ricky Martin CDs. As various online sources claimed it would be, it was too junky and generally un-fun, but we did come away with a few good things including this Stig Lindberg teapot pitcher thing from the Bersa Collection (it has no top, so what’s it really for?). The price was really low because there’s a teeny tiny chip up by the spout, but Max really wanted it so we coughed up a little cash to take it home.

6. I’ve been slowly accumulating pieces from the Ultima Thule set, designed by Tapio Wirkkala for iittala in 1968. The tumblers and highballs have long been at the very top of my list of dream glassware, but seeing as they are crazy fancy I don’t dream of actually owning them anytime soon. I have been able to dig up 3 smaller dessert bowls, one larger bowl, and a small sugar bowl and creamer from various places though, which I’m so excited about. The pictures really don’t do them justice but they’re gorgeous.

One of the best finds of the weekend was definitely this sexy Edixa Reflex camera. I did some digging and it looks like it’s from Germany and was made in 1955, a very very early 35 mm SLR. It’s beautifully designed and built and in incredible condition and was only about $30. We’ll see how the film turns out, but honestly—just look at it. It already delivered as a fancy hipster prop when I got photographed by somebody I think was a Swedish street-style photographer? If you see a haggard-looking boy with a good-looking camera floating around the internet, it might be me. So basically now I’m a supermodel. Be impressed.

(the photo of me above was take by Max with Instagram. He’s killing it with photos of our trip, by the way.)

Hej!

I know this already seems like the year of extravagant travel, which is kind of because it is, but Max and I went back on the road about a week ago. If roads went across oceans? All the way to SWEDEN. This is yet another example of something that is old news on the Twitter and Instagram but blog-only old-school folk would have no way of knowing about. So here you go. That’s what’s up.

We’re both taking a two-week intensive graduate seminar on Scandinavian design through Parsons, where Max is getting his graduate degree. As an undergrad at NYU, I just weaseled my way in with my mediocre looks and social awkwardness and creepy obsession with the Swedes. That’s just how I do.

Obviously visiting Stockholm is a long-time dream come true, having been infatuated with this country, its people, and its design sensibilities for years. I am not disappointed. Everyone is so lovely, the city is so easy to navigate and get around, and everything looks so amazing that it makes me want to puke.

OH, SWEDES. I love you. You are so efficient and friendly and clean and kind. And did I mention sexy? Because HOT DAMN. Sexy sexy Swedes all around me. Normally I’d be annoyed because good looking people genuinely upset me but not if they’re Swedish.

(Aside: when we checked into our hotel at 2 a.m. after about 24 hours of travel, Martin at the front desk offered us a “sweet snack” or a “salty snack” and gave us a form with two boxes so we could check one. Thinking about this still makes me immeasurably happy. “Salty snack.”)

The itinerary is packed but I’m trying to sneak in some thrifting where I can get it and making Max insane with my lunatic antics. Even if he’d rather lay down and die in the street, I’ve been dragging him off down quiet roads and across long bridges and into weird places the internet told me to go only to end up at stores that only sell vintage records or retro women’s clothes. He likes it. That’s what I tell him, anyway.

I love little vintage Dala horses, especially when they look a little rough and tumbled and distinctly handmade like these two. Also, that happy happy tray. Irresistible.

Among some other random stuff we picked up is this little shallow West German bowl with super trippy glazing inside. We’ll use it for something.

Goofy amateur brown studio pottery abounds at Stockholm thrifts and it’s taking all my willpower not to buy it all. But the suitcase is only so big and my chances of successfully transporting everything home are only so realistic so I’m resisting. I know these particular items will be *controversial* (loathed by most) but fuck it, I love these little blobby candlesticks, and for only $2 I’m 100% allowed to. I know they look like alien poops here but once they have candles and are on my mantle you’ll be singing a different tune. JUST WAIT.

I should probably note that the educational opportunities on this trip are totally amazing and, it should shock you to hear me say, totally outshining the whole thrifting situation. We’ve had a couple great days in the NationalMuseum, Drottningholm, Skokloster (AMAZING), the Nordiska Museet, Skansen, a lecture on IKEA—all amounting to the conclusion that Sweden is Where. It’s. At. We have a fantastic syllabus with fantastic readings and teachers and curators around every corner telling us what things are and happy to field questions constantly. Truth be told it’s been a while since I felt quite so enthusiastic about school and learning stuff and doing assignments, but this is different. I’m among the Swedes, after all.

Can I just say, though—these tea towels are fucking cute. If I can’t be renovating my kitchen then at least I can be buying small jolly things for it to use when it’s done? This has been my logic for the past year now. Speaking of, a little progress happened before I left and I even took pictures, so let’s hope I have some time to put together a post or two before I’m back in Brooklyn. Shockingly, I have already hit some unforeseen speed bumps and I need an internet hero to set me on the right path.

What am I saying? I already need that right now in this very moment. The Google machine has been iffy about where the good vintage is at in/around Stockholm. We have the weekend free, so do any beautiful residents of this magical land have any recommendations for a flea market or several? Or any particular stores or areas or things I should really know about and check out? Tell me everything you know! I demand it!

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