The Cutest Tool I Own

Max and I both had the morning off today, so we took it upon ourselves to live the Brooklyn Hipster Dream for a couple hours. We brunched. We bought Kinfolk. And then we stopped at one of my favorite nearby stores, Dry Goods.

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Dry Goods on Atlantic Avenue is pretty much the cutest store in the world. The women who own it have such great taste, find the best stuff, and pull all of it together into one tiny wonderful place. They know exactly what everything is, who made it, the history, everything. They pull stuff from literally all over the world, but somehow they have a very consistent and defined sense of style that pervades the entire place. It’s just a great shop to have around and be able to support every once in a while. I should really go back and take a few pictures of the store.

Anyway, while Max was looking at cookbooks, my eyes settled on this little GAM 6-in-1 hammer. I distinctly remember having one of these as a kid (I think my mommy gave it to me), and all the time I used to spend taking it apart and putting it back together again and again. Without terms like “well-designed,” I just remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever and super fun to play with. This was the type of hammer I used to hang and rehang crap all over my walls, and I just remember it coming in handy all the time.

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I never really appreciated how cute it was, though! Look at that thing! I have a serious weakness for brassy bits, always and forever.

I don’t really need another hammer or screwdriver, but I like that this is small enough to sit in a pencil cup on a desk or squeeze in a kitchen drawer, and it’s great to have something small that I can easily throw in a bag when I need to bring a few tools somewhere (this happens more than it seems like it should). So maybe I did need it? No, I definitely needed it.

(for some reason I’m having a really hard time finding a place to buy this little guy online, but luckily Dry Goods just started selling online! Here! Valentine’s gift for your man? For your lady? For your dog? For you? I don’t know your life!)

ps- Homies nomination round ends tomorrow. I’m so close. Just saying. Your move.

I Like This
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Bathroom Light

light4

So remember back in November when we did a super quick, super intense, super kick-ass makeover of Max’s childhood bedroom? And we bought that rad 1920s light fixture that totally made the room?

Yeah. Well. I might have omitted some important info that I have now chosen this moment to reveal.

That light was actually one of a PAIR. They were only being sold as a set, but at $150 for both, it wasn’t exactly a huge investment to just go for it even if we only really wanted one.  Surely we could figure out a place to put another gorgeous light fixture, right?

I’ve been down this road before. A few times. Hence this post, where I explain all the times I’ve charmingly rationalizationed and ended up with an absurd lighting hoard that I’m slowly trying to whittle down by just hanging lights all over the place. This strategy is working moderately well, so I’m sticking with it.

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But I decided without even that much waffling (look at me! making decisions with ease!) that this light would be awesome in the bathroom, and it totally is. It works for a lot of the same reasons it worked in Max’s bedroom. The small size of the room matches well with the scale of the fixture, making a small-ish light look like a big, substantial, amazing light. Additionally, super dark walls make the white glass pop like BLAM. Chrome-y bits be shiny like WOAH. These are all technical design terms that are helpful to know FYI.

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The best thing about the light in the bathroom is that our medicine cabinet is so tall that the light fixture reflects off the mirror and almost gives the illusion that we have TWO great lights. That is, if you’re easily confused by mirrors or otherwise just kind of dumb. Luckily, I am both of these things.

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Just check out that glass situation on the bottom! I kind of get lost in how pretty it is sometimes. I know that this art deco style isn’t really in line with the style of the rest of my apartment, but that doesn’t bother me. I always think bathrooms are perfect places to let loose a little bit and make choices that are a little different from the rest of your home. It’s nice to walk into a tiny bathroom and be pleasantly surprised by an element of the space, and I think that’s totally what this fixture does. The DIY’d fixture that was there before was totally cute and fine, but it just wasn’t very interesting or exciting.

Before hanging this fixture, I took the whole thing apart and washed all of the pieces individually in the sink. For the metal bits, I used Barkeeper’s Friend, which made the chrome look absolutely incredible and shiny and new. For the glass, I just used regular dish soap and water, and it was really worth it. Nothing looked that dirty to begin with, but it’s always amazing how a little cleaning can take something to the next level of amazing. I experience the same general revelation whenever I decide to take a shower.

I’ll shut up about the light fixture. It’s beautiful, I’m very happy with it, and I have a very weak spot for art deco and I maybe need more deco pieces in my life.

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Max bought some flowers for the bathroom because on Sunday they aired a Beyonce concert on TV and we had a bunch of people over to watch it. So weird because the concert was super short and then this football game broke out and I totally lost interest. At least we had flowers?

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In case you follow the central dramas of my relationship as closely as I do, I figure it’s pertinent to note that I HAVE WON THE BATHMAT DEBATE. After about a year with no bathmat, we went several months with this wooden bathmat before it got moldy and smelly and weird and put in the garbage. Max has, historically, hated bathmats and found them to be gross and in poor taste, whereas I associate having no bathmat with, like, lazy douchebag bros who can’t enjoy the finer things in life, such as smelling OK or clothing made of natural fibers or not stepping out of a shower directly onto cold tile.

This war raged for so very long and was so hard-fought and just when I thought I had no life left in me and I would be forced to accept a bathmat-less existence, Max came around. Angels sang. It was all very dramatic and theatrical, as you can imagine.

Ultimately, my victory was hard-won, and I absolutely deserve all the joy that this plush, sufficient-looking bathmat from Target can offer. It really feels great underfoot and it’s nice to finally feel like a civilized human again after this relationship has turned me into such a goddamned monster.

Turns out it’s very washable and dries nicely in the dryer, too. I know this because Linus took the liberty of testing out its wee-wee pad potential right after I took the photos. I always thought Linus was on my side here (more plush surfaces = more places to nap), but I guess the proof is in the piss, as it were.

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Little traitorous bastard. Now the internet knows your shame.

ps—you can find my last Design*Sponge post here, if you’re interested: Cleaning Vintage Enamelware
pps—oh, shit, it’s Homies time again. you can vote for me if you want, I won’t stop you or try to get in the way or anything.

One Year of Mekko!

one-year-of-mekko!

A year ago today, I walked into an adoption van on Atlantic Avenue on a whim and came out with a dog. It wasn’t really anything we’d planned aside from vague “someday” musings, and we never had any expectations that we’d end up with a Pit Bull. But all of a sudden, that day, it was real. All of a sudden, we were responsible for a life. All of a sudden, we had a squirmy, cuddly, insane bundle of muscle, fur, and a set of jaws that I’ll admit to finding a little intimidating.

After the forms had been completed and the leash was handed over to us, I naively asked the rescue worker if he knew her birthday. “Today,” he responded.
“Really?” I replied gullibly.
“It is now,” he said.

So we went with it. If Mekko was 2 when we got her (though I think she was a little older), then today she is 3. And she’s been with us a year. Madness.

Pit Bulls are challenging dogs, and Mekko is no exception. They’re wonderful dogs, too—fiercely loyal, disconcertingly intelligent, kind, and more empathetic than most people. Pit Bulls just have a certain spirit about them, one that allows them to bounce back from whatever bad they’ve experienced and accept all the good that can be. We have no real idea what Mekko’s past was like—only that she was an “owner surrender” to the ASPCA when she was around a year old—but you’d never know that she’s been anything but loved and cared for and treated well. It’s remarkable and—I dare say—pretty inspiring.

Mekko is a great dog. She’s kind and cute and curious, a little anxious and a lot of crazy. She keeps us on our toes, makes us beam with pride, frustrates us, and makes us laugh everyday. She’s perennially happy and the best little spoon I’ve ever had. But mostly, she’s the thing that turned us from a fledgling couple trying to figure it all out into a family. And that makes me really, really happy.

Happy Birthday to my favorite Itty Bitty Pretty Pittie Baby.

If you are in the NYC area and looking to adopt a dog, please consider Sean Casey Animal Rescue. And if you’re in the giving spirit, please consider donating to help aid their rescue efforts.

Life
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Candles! Candles! Everywhere! Candles!

If people in New York can agree on liking one thing, that thing is complaining. While I know that sounds wildly unbecoming, those living in this fine city have mastered a type of whining that comes off more as commiseration than misery. “Can you believe how long this line is?” you might ask the person behind you in the line at Starbucks on 6th Avenue. What you really mean is, “I’m seriously about to shit myself and the pain in my stomach right now is totally unbearable and my life is awful and I think I might lay down and die please pity me.” But phrased as a question, said person might respond with something like “I know, it’s totally unreasonable,” or “the management here is atrocious,” or “and my coffee tastes burned.” Maybe they mean “Oh, I hadn’t really noticed but I’ll humor you,” or “I agree, this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to either one of us!” or “my girlfriend is in love with someone else.” But the point is, you’re talking to this person now, and therefore, you are community-building. You’re making friends.

The importance of the communal-kvetch cannot be understated. It is our lifeblood. I literally cannot think of a single more noble cause than perpetuating it. Aside from, like, ending hunger and homelessness and making sure that two beautiful Fort Lauderdale drag queens can marry and adopt a beautiful drag-baby. I want all of that for the world, but I also want more constructive kvetching.

While the beauty of the communal-kvetch is that it can unfold on any day, at any time, in any location, throw a little inclement weather into the mix and you’ve really got something. Weather is just such an easy target, and it’s good almost year-round. It’s as though we’ve never experienced anything outside of 70 and sunny. But we don’t live in LA, we live in New York, and therefore every year we experience a bout of frigid temperature instead of a bout of collagen injections. In the spring months, we wax poetic about choosing this coast because we “just love having seasons!” but really, we just like to complain about the seasons. “How are you today?” a shopkeeper asks. “Cold as tits!” you respond. “I know, it’s horrendous outside!” And you’ve got a kvetch on your hands. Your toes may be full of frostbite, but your heart will be warmed, and that’s all that matters.

The point is this: isn’t it so cold and miserable outside? Don’t you dread walking your dogs and facing this wall of icy terror waiting for you? Don’t you wish you owned a better jacket and a decent pair of thick socks? Can we please be friends I’m so lonely?

I don’t know what’s happened this winter, but I’ve become obsessed with having candles lit all the time as soon as it gets dark out. Candles in the fireplace. Candles on the coffee table. Candles on the credenza and on the kitchen counters and…I love fire. I’m finding that it’s making this weather way more bearable and way prettier, which is why I bring it up.

Candles are so warm and pretty and cheap. I exclusively buy IKEA brand candles, so each one is like 2.4 cents for hours of merriment and enjoyment and feeling less like I live in a tundra post-apocalypse wasteland and more like a cozy yurt that also gets cable? Yeah, I dig winter this year. And candles are my secret. (also, television.) (and warm dogs.)

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The main impetus of this post (before I got sidetracked) was really just to make note of these wonderful little candlesticks I picked up at CB2 yesterday. They are deliciously simple and deliciously brassy and deliciously adorable and deliciously only $5. Delicious.

They’re also a really nice substantial weight and seem like great quality. Also, they’re so cute! And so cheap! And I want to buy 4,000 of them! For no reason! I’m also seriously regretting not buying a couple of the black ones and a couple of the tiny acid-yellow version (they were greener IRL than they look in that picture, but still cute). You know, to round out the hoard. I mean why not. They’re so small.

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The other candleholders that have been making the winter days better are these Nappula candlesticks by Matti Klenell from iittala! These were sent to me as a lovely Christmas present from the Finnish Design Shop, all the way from Finland! I swear I’m not, like, rolling in swag over here, but the very kind folks at the Finnish Design Shop emailed me in December asking for my address because they wanted to send me a little something to show their appreciation for the blog, and who was I to refuse that? So I sent it, thinking maybe this was just spam or maybe this was a serial killer who knew my weakness for all things Scandinavian, but in fact it was beautiful candlesticks! I really love them and I’m honest-t0-goodness very touched that they contacted me at all, not to mention sent me something so great.

(note: Finnish Design Shop did not ask for anything in exchange for the candleholders. They’re just super nice people!)

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IKEA PS Tealight Holder is still going strong, although I moved it out of the fireplace after everyone who reads my blog told me how bad they looked in there. Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow, you guys.

Brass, teak, marble, cork, white ceramic, vintage rug. Feelin’ it. Winter, yo.

PS- I keep forgetting to mention (doh!) that I’ve been writing a little Before & After cleaning-focused column over at Design*Sponge! It’s been a blast writing for Grace and the team, so if you feel like it, go check out the posts!

1. Building Your Cleaning Arsenal
2. Cleaning Vintage Metal Hardware
3. Cleaning and Restoring Marble

New Hallway Light!

When I set about redoing the hallway a while ago, the biggest point of uncertainty was always the lighting. We started out with matching boob lights throughout, and that just wasn’t going to work in the long haul. The ceilings are nine feet high and the hallway is only a couple feet wide, so having flush-mount overhead fixtures just made the whole space feel really tall and narrow and goofy. I knew I wanted to drop the lighting a bit with pendant fixtures, but I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money or have a bunch of mismatched vintage fixtures. So, for a total of about $60 for all four, I crafted up these guys and called it a day.

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These lights are great, but after a while I wanted something a little bigger in the entryway by the front door. It’s the first space you see when you walk into the apartment, and this type of light just felt a little too understated and dinky.

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It’s REALLY hard to take attractive photos of a space with zero natural light, but trust: this thing looks great. I found this big globe fixture at Salvation Army for $15 (brand new, with all its parts!), and the huge scale is totally perfect. I have a thing for big lighting.

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I love that it’s still simple and plays well with my DIY’d fixtures, but satisfies my  need to have something a little bigger and bolder here.

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In other news, I’m finally putting some concerted effort into making the top of the fauxdenza nice. I guess. I don’t like when surfaces get cluttered up with stuff or look over-styled, but a little grouping of oh-so-amateur studio pottery never hurt anyone. Plus some billy balls.

pinecones

Last year, I kvetched about Max’s obsession with all things seasonal and all things scented. Since I convinced him to forego his seasonal gourds nightmare this fall and he finally stopped buying plug-ins, I had high hopes for this holiday season. That was until shortly after Thanksgiving, when Max came home with a sack of fucking pinecones from the grocery store and threw them into bowl by the entry before I had a chance to light them on fire.

Is this what I get for dating goyim? I was NOT warned about this at my Bar Mitzvah.

PINE. CONES. I don’t know what the hell these things are scented with (cancer, probably), but they stink of some weird mix of spices that I guess translates to “Christmas!” in the pathway between Max’s shiksa nose and brain? I can report that they have been persistently smelly for almost two months now and show no signs of letting up. They’ve really rained on the new-light-fixture-parade.

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My failed attempt at a counter-attack was putting these brass pinecone candlesticks out. Max thinks they’re tacky (he’s right), but I pledged to leave them as long as the real pinecones are polluting my air and assaulting my nostrils and…it appears we’re locked in a horrible pinecone-y stalemate of doom from which there is no escape or hope. One of us must cave.

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I will never cave.

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