This year it seems like everyone is rushing to ‘hurry up and get Thanksgiving over with’ so they can get on with the ‘real’ holiday. I mean, from stores opening up ON Thanksgiving, to those stupid emails we all get trying to cram Christmas shopping specials down our throats, it feels like poor little Thanksgiving will be forgotten if we don’t hang on a bit tighter. I for one LOVE Thanksgiving – it is easily my most favorite holiday – and I am sad to see that it is starting to be usurped by commercial interests. Let’s all cling to this moment, and get a little grateful together, shall we?
There was a challenge laid down that involved photographing and denoting one thing that I’m grateful for each day throughout November. I sort of did that, sometimes in a not so direct way, but I sort of do that all the time. I’m a pretty grateful person, even if I do tend toward the sad side of the spectrum. Gratitude comes as naturally as worry, which make for an interesting inner-stew that can sometimes burn sweet, salty tears of joy when things turn out well.
And, as this is an especially special month – not only is this the classic month for giving thanks, but it is also my birthday month – I thought I ought to illuminate my Top 40 Things I’m Grateful For (in no particular order):
1. My family. They are stupid, and weird, and wonderful, and mostly I don’t know how or who I’d be without them.
2. Nature. Many of my instagram snaps this month were nature-based, and for good reason.
3. Sunsets. An offshoot of my love of nature is my love of the way the sun changes the sky into an evolving painting for about a half-hour each evening. I could watch it every day.
4. Organization. I have the ability to be orderly, and that comes in handy. It is not a skill I inherited, but it is one that I have cultivated over the years, and happily so.
5. New York City. This city isn’t always easy. In fact, it usually isn’t. But, every now and again, being a part of it is magical. There is a huge pile of people who actually care about people, even if they say they don’t. It’s remarkable, and can bring on some salty tears of humanity.
6. Movies. I have watched movies for all of my life, and the joy they bring me, even when they are terrible, is deep.
7. Chocolate. This might seem like a cop-out, but seriously, if it weren’t for this magical product, and all the amazing things we’ve learned to do with it, I don’t know that I’d be as happy to be alive. Simple fact.
8. Photography. I love that we have the ability to easily record our day, to craft our particular emotional vision for that moment, and save it for the future. It makes life so much more romantic.
9. Music. It’s no secret that I’m a music fan. I even started using artists’ lyrics as my blog post titles as a way to set a soundtrack to my own life. Isn’t that the ultimate fantasy?
10. Color. I can’t live without it, just as I couldn’t live without music, and I’m grateful I don’t have to.
11. Wind Chimes. When we moved to our first house, my oldest friends in the world gifted us with a set of wind chimes that we took with us to The Pied when we moved here full-time. The delicate sound is so romantic, and so precious to me. It always reminds me of my friends, and I love that I have a piece of them in my home life.
12. Wine. I have developed a healthy (and at times mildly unhealthy) appreciation of this incredible product. The human knowledge in each bottle, combined with the craft, the gift that is the grape, the care that goes into creating each complex sip makes me grateful for the fellow humans of the earth that understood that we needed this in the world.
13. Art. I am lucky to count myself among the creatively inclined, and I am equally lucky to bear witness to other artists and their work.
14. Instafriends. More so than any other social media platform, Instagram has given me the greatest sense of community, and the gift of finding like-minded individuals to interact with.
15. Seasons. I love that I get to live in a place where the seasonal changes are vast. The sunsets move, the moon changes, the plant life evolves, the human life shifts, and we adapt as a group together. Makes me feel intensely connected to the earth, to those that share it with me, and I love that.
16. Baking. Now that we’re fully in cold-weather living I get to create seemingly living things from seemingly inanimate objects (flour, why you gotta just sit there, huh?). Nothing is as comforting as the scents that baking things can emit.
17. Cooking. I love to cook. I love to feel capable, and creative, and useful on a daily basis. Simple cooking, complicated cooking, fast cooking, group cooking, feast cooking, you name it, I love it.
18. Health. I am healthy. I have the odd routine kerfuffle, just like anyone, but I am in good health. I count my lucky stars that I have bounced back from each cold, flu, minor injury, root canal, emotional scrape, hangover, and doctor visit thus far. Not everyone is so lucky, and I know that.
19. Laughing. I have a funny family. We are always laughing (when we’re not crying, see below). My brother is extremely funny. My husband makes me laugh every day, several times a day. I am thankful I get to laugh, easily, always.
20. Crying. No, this isn’t a mistake. I am grateful that I can cry. That I’m not ashamed to express my emotions, happy, sad, whatever. Tears can be healing (if we’re to believe wikipedia), and they can provide a proper vent to keep yourself from exploding. Sometimes crying sucks, but sometimes it’s the best thing. I know you know what I mean.
21. Good sheets. Now, I don’t know about you, but once I became an adult and graduated from polyester-blend sheets, my life improved. Again, simple fact.
22. My eyesight. I do not have perfect vision. I do not have the worst vision, but I can’t see distance clearly. This is going to sound weird, but I actually like it. I like the intimacy that it provides when I’m not wearing glasses/contacts, and the romantic bokeh effect my own vision creates. Sincerely, I’m grateful for it. (Google ‘bokeh effect’, and check out the images!)
23. My hands. I’m a good crafter, can draw reasonably well, and have developed pretty good dexterity over the years (hairdresser training taught me a lot). It’s handy. HEY-oh!
24. Lipstick. Ok, make-up, and beauty stuff in general. Stupid stuff that when used correctly can turn a crappy day into a romantic one. I know it’s superficial, but it’s true.
25. The printing press. One of the greatest and most democratic inventions that man has ever made is the machine built for equal dissemination of information. It’s seriously awesome.
26. Humans. Mostly we say things like, “I hate people” when someone does something thoughtless or careless, but we rarely notice all the thoughtful and careful things we do for each other all the time. The farmer who voluntarily dedicated his life to nourishing other people? The person who pursued art/music/dance as their profession for the sake of contributing to culture, even when it meant struggling to make ends meet? The person who held the door just a little longer to save you some effort? That kid who smiled at you for no reason at all? Thanks, humans.
27. Dogs. Since we no longer have a pup of our own, I have some serious puppy lust. I don’t get bonkers over babies (sorry, babies), but I do love me some sweet dog face. And nose. And wriggly tail. And dog breath. And slobber. I love it all.
28. Numbers. Without the ability to quantify things, and easily communicate that information, we’d be lost. Numbers make life better, no doubt about it.
29. Snow. The silence and insulation from noise that snow provides is so soothing to me. That feeling of aloneness, but not loneliness, of being surrounded by something delicate, yet powerful enough to render sound dampened… it’s pretty neat.
30. Private dance parties. You know when you’re cleaning the house, or doing laundry, or just messing around on your own, and you turn up the music and just go sweaty-nuts? Yeah. That.
31. Sadness. Without it, without knowing what is wrong, without feeling the worst, you could never feel the best, have the joy, or know what is right. Grateful.
32. The internet. Honestly, where would we be without it?
33. Jog bras. A better use of apparel technology I have yet to find.
34. Paint. I LOVE to paint. I love the feeling of paint on a brush, sweeping it across a surface, and mushing it around. One of the reasons I liked doing hair color, and one of the reasons you can always ask me to help you paint your place.
35. Sunshine. Not the same as sunsets, my gratitude here is for the life-giving warmth and vitamin D creating beams. My mood instantly improves with a direct hit, and I’m thankful when I get them.
36. Shoes. I’m not exactly a fashion diva. I don’t have many fancy clothes, and I almost never wear jewelry aside from my wedding band and some earrings. But, shoes. Yeah. Plus, who would want to go through life barefoot? Thanks, shoe makers.
37. Ibuprofen. This stuff has gotten me through some tough moments in the past few years (dental woes, mainly). I’m intensely grateful to live in a time when that kind of relief is available.
38. Mirrors. No, not so I can look at myself (though, they have certainly saved me from leaving the house in stained shirts, or kept me from being laughed at as I walk down the street with a pile of messy hair), but so that I can enjoy reflections of other things. Mirrors give a distanced vantage point that can really shift your perspective on things. Plus, they can help direct some of that much appreciated sunshine around in dark places, which makes them vital to my list.
39. Language. I’m a talker, writer, and generally a word-lover. Languages fascinate me, their variance, their ability to denote emotions and culture, to bridge us together or tear us apart.
40. Jeff. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for his love, for his faith in me, for his willingness to forgive my flaws, and to support my dreams. I wouldn’t know who I was if he hadn’t let me relax into myself. I wouldn’t be able to live in gratitude so easily without his presence in my world. Not unlike a proper Oscar acceptance speech, I saved him for last because he is the most important thing that I’m grateful for.
I am sharing this Thanksgiving with my actual birthday – a feat that I haven’t enjoyed since 2002 (I looked it up) – and I’m turning (gulp) 40. I’m not sure what this all means (probably nothing), or how my life will change from listing my gratitudes, but I encourage you to spend some time listing out yours. Not because you’re having a milestone birthday on a milestone holiday at a freak time in the collective calendar when millions will be celebrating life, miracles (Hannukah begins on my birthday), and giving thanks to each other, but because it feels good to look at your life through grateful eyes. Even if they be misty.
*Lyrics reluctantly from a Taylor Swift song, Never Grow Up. Reason one: the younger of the two Project W kids, and the one who was most interested in the whole design process, LOVES her, or at least did the last I heard. Reason two: the song I really wanted to use was, well, a bit of a downer, and not at all representative of the beautiful and loving family that I was honored to work with. But, in my defense, the lyrics I was going to pick out from the rejected song (Jeff thought I should leave it out of the post entirely) were the (sweetly, sad, yet) positive bits: “Kid, have your say, ’cause I still love you, even if I don’t see you again.” So, instead I give you vapid tweenie-bop music. You may choose to listen as your mood dictates, but know that the second, deeper one by Neko Case is brutally beautiful, and will probably make you cry. (The first one might make your ears bleed. You have been warned.)
Now it’s time for another installment of Project W: The AFTER tour! When we last left off, we were sneaking around the master bedroom and bath, basking in the improved flow and potential for timeless style. Let’s move into the kids’ wing of the upper floor, shall we?
Just off the area where the spiral staircase used to be (we nixed it in an effort to gain more usable space in the kitchen), is the kids’ wing. It’s private, away from the parents’ master suite, and has its own family bathroom (still to be renovated). While the hallway boasts the same color as all of the transitional spaces in the home – foyer, mudroom, hallways, stairwell all in Toque White (early on my builder asked me to choose only Sherwin Williams colors) – the kids’ rooms depart from the main thrust of the home to reveal individual and personality-based spaces perfect for the rejuvenation of young minds.
*Lyrics from Lily Allen‘s Hard Out Here. This video is NSFW (and is controversial, so it would seem), but the message is pretty spot on. Anyway, I wanted to find something to listen to that would compliment this post, but instead I found something that made me want to persevere, challenge the status quo, and fight the good fight, which is just as important. Plus, it’s way catchy, and probably great to add to an exercise playlist. I always like a little ‘tough bitch’ music when I’m feeling less than that, don’t you?
When we moved from the pied-à-terre to the pied-à-deux we brought our kitchen with us, like the good faux Italians we are. Our IKEA cabinets, countertop, and pendant lighting made the trek down one flight to become our new old kitchen. The only real difference between the two spaces is the color of the existing laminate countertops, and the age of the refrigerator (the old place had a brand new one, this one, not so much). We actually had the landlord move our stove down one flight, too, when we discovered (much to our chagrin) that the stove in The Deux was mostly not working (one out of four burners worked, and the oven didn’t heat up at all). Oh, and the other difference is that the upper floor unit had about 18″ more space in the dining area.
*Lyrics from Mean Streets by Tennis from their new EP Small Sounds. It’s no secret that I love this band, but this mini album is excellent. I dare you not to get this song in your head for several happy days.
I know you’re all still geeking out over the amazing, awesome, inspiring transformations from the One Room Challenge, but do you remember me teasing that I’d soon have pictures to share from my clients’ Project W house? Well, first room, here you go. This is a major BEFORE & AFTER post. Get ready.
It seems like so long ago that I first met with my clients on Project W, and first glimpsed at their terrible, wonderful, overwhelmingly dated raw material of a house that was to become their dream home. It seems like another life ago, not only because so much time has passed (and so much has happened), but because their home has completely transformed. You know those makeover shows where people don’t recognize a loved one, or think they’re in someone else’s home? Yeah, their house is kind of like that.
*Lyrics from These Foolish Things as sung by Sam Cooke. I heard this song on my Pandora station (Ella Fitzgerald, et al) the other week while cooking, and jotted it down for the blog. When I went searching for a song for this post, this one matched what I was writing about regarding color palettes. Things happen, and they remind us of other things, and these (foolish) things can get permanently emotionally attached to colors. Well, anyway, read on, play on.
For many moons I’ve believed that the most beautiful and cohesive homes have a unified paint palette. Now, this is not to say that each room must match, or be party to a theme per say (ok, in fact, no themes at all, please – stick to moods), but that the spaces that open onto one another should have harmony, and should relate to one another in some way, so that when you move through the home you feel at ease. For me it’s easiest to approach this idea by beginning the design process by choosing a palette that is connected, and brings together the emotional feeling of the entire home – the people, the architecture, the furnishings, the mood that we want to evoke, the emotions that we have about colors (and saturation levels of colors) – and sticking to it.