Closing Date

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A lot of people have been asking me when I will move, now that I have been approved by the board. The answer is that I don’t know yet. We have to set a closing date, and after that I can move any time. Setting a closing might be a little tricky. We need to find a day that is agreeable to: me, the seller, my lawyer, the seller’s lawyer, my bank and the seller’s bank. We’d tentatively slated December 6th as a date, but then the seller’s lawyer said he was unavailable, so we have no date set as of this moment. To top it all off, my lawyer is on a cruise until Sunday night, so he’s not even here to try to set this up. God willing, I will have a closing before December 22nd, that’s what I am hoping for. Patience. I just have to have patience.

Object Lesson: Stainless Bath Accessories

I can’t tell you how crazy I am for these suction cup bathroom organizers from The Container Store. The metal tubes are sized to fit a toothbrush and a toothpaste tube and stick to the wall tiles in your bath. What I like about them is that they keep your brush and paste near at hand while keeping them out of the way. No one want s to leave her brush just lying on the sink edge or the bathroom shelf. At the same time, these wall-mounted, storage units don’t hog counter space like normal toothbrush holders, and given the Lilliputian scale of most New York bathrooms, this is a major plus. Another reason I love this sleek duo is that they’re perfect for a single girl (or guy). There’s something infinitely depressing about the family-size toothbrush holder with room for four brushes. Truth be told, the slimmer two-brush holders might be even more depressing. With this design you can alwasy buy a second brush holder, if your honey wants to keep his Oral B at your place. Last but not least, unlike the suction cup bathroom organizers I remember from college, these puppies actually stay stuck to the wall.

Last Night's Dinner

Last night I cooked dinner for my friends Matt and Hope (Matt and I used to live together before I got my West Village studio). I cooked two great recipes that I hadn’t tried before. The first was a Moroccan Lamb recipe from Everyday Food and the second was a Mint and Arugula Salad that I pulled off of I also made some couscous to which I added a half of a small white onion and two shredded carrots. The lamb recipe was sweet and flavorful, and it really only took about the 15 minutes of active time the recipe suggests. The lamb ended up being a little chewy, and I a, not sure if this had to do with me not browning it correctly in the first step or if it was because I let the stew simmer some after I had tossed the lamb back into the pot. The salad was particularly delicious, but was a little painstaking, removing all the mint leaves from their stalks, de-pitting and slicing the olives, peeling the oranges and washing both the mint and the arugula took time that the recipe didn’t seem to account for. I loved the sliced red onions that had marinated in the orange dressing. (Note: I didn’t have the orange flower water the recipe called for, and it was just fine without it.) All in all, they were successful recipes, and I’d recommend them for an easy-ish meal. I served store-bought hummus, pitas and mixed olives before dinner for a no-fuss start to our meal.

Hey neighbor!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Apartment Therapy posted about Bonded Logic natural insulation this afternoon (originally posted on Inhabit). And while I am interested in green solutions to home renovations, I won’t be re-insulating my new home. However, I saw the hunky Adrian Grenier in the photo and remembered reading about his green home reno in another magazine a while back (it was an environmental mag, I think – anyone else see that article? I could only find the Newsweek article). Why do I find this exciting? Well, because his eco-friendly house in lovely Fort Greene, my very-soon-to-be-neighborhood! Anything and everything Fort Greene makes me excited these days. In any case, it might be worth a good house-stalking walk through the new neighborhood.


Here it is: the floor plan. It may not seem like much space, but trust me, this place seems down right palatial compared to my mini-apartment in the West Village. (However, that said, when I was in the upstairs version of my apartment last night, I realized that I have been mildly delusional about how much larger my living room will be when I take out that dopey closet.) That’s right, the closet in the living room is the first thing to go. I have no idea what someone was thinking when they put it in, in the first place.

Seal of Approval

I just got a message that I have been approved by the co-op board! Watch out Brooklyn, here I come.

Post-Board Meeting

So, I met the board, and I think they liked me. In fact, I’m almost certain they did. If they didn’t, they were great actors. There were four people that I met, and we met in the board president’s apartment (which is the 4th floor version of my apartment.) They were an interesting bunch and they seemed like people I would want to have as neighbors. I was also happy to hear that they planned to renovate the common hallways in the near future, which are not awful, but could use a cosmetic overhaul. So all in all, it went well, and I am guessing I will hear back from them soon. Fingers crossed.

Bookshelf: Tiffany's Table Manners

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When I was about thirteen-years-old my mother gave me a copy of Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers as a bit joke (I think she also hoped it would rub off on me a little). At the time, I didn’t find it funny and it gathered dust on a bookshelf for years. Today I cherish it, and I only wish that my mother had inscribed it in some manner to remind me of what a vile, surly teenager I had been. It’s a great gift for a teen, or really anyone who could use a healthy does of manners mentoring. The book was originally published in 1961 and its vintage advice is half the charm. To give you a taste of the tone, here are the first sentences of the book:
It is customary for the young man to help the young lady on his right to be seated. When you have both been seated, don’t look around like a startled beetle. Turn directly to the young lady on your right and start talking.
Despite the sometimes-antiquated advice, this book is actually a useful guide proper table manners.

EDITOR'S NOTE: My mother informs me that she did not give me this book, rather a family friend did. Still, someone should have mentioned how awful I was. Also, my mother noted, "
I think the point of the stem is to keep the wine at a desirable temperature," which is really sweet, she must be forgetting how quickly I drink.

The Board Interview

Finally, months after I made the offer on the apartment in Brooklyn, I am going to meet the co-op board tonight. I'm only a little bit nervous, since I know the drill pretty well. It should be fine. Here's a funny list of prep notes the broker sent me to review before my meeting (typos left intact):

Dress conservatively as you would for most business meetings.

If anything comes up during the meeting that is a surprise, take it under consideration. This is a time for approving YOU and not a time for resolving conflicts.

No Jokes – especially where there are questions related to money. One person, when asked where there is additional money, offhandedly said, “We keep it offshore so not one can get it.” They were not approved. It was not funny to the Board.

Bottom line, be Courteous, friendly and sincere. Do not react too strongly and do not add any other variables to the equation. It is not necessary to volunteer information that is not requested specifically. Like a deposition, answer questions simply and straightforwardly.

If you have any questions or concerns about the apartment, the building services, or financials, ask your broker before going before the Board. The meeting is not the appropriate time or place.

Leave promptly after the meeting and save further socializing for after your board approval.
I especially like the part about "no jokes." So, after tonight I'll know for sure if this deal is actually going to go through. To tell you the truth, there is a litte part of me that wants them to reject me. The idea of just staying where I am and not having to deal with all of this is pretty appealing. I found myself daydreaming about what I would do to my own apartment, if I were rejected at the new place: refinish the floors, get a custom, built-in desk, replace my closet doors... But chances are they won't reject me, so I better focus on the new place and getting my belongings packed up to go.

Stemless Wineglasses

Monday, November 27, 2006

If anyone had told me that I would fall head over heels for Riedel’s line of stemless wineglasses, known as the ‘O’ line, I would have laughed. One of my former jobs required that I pay close attention to things like crystal, china and silver, and I would have told you that I was too well-informed to fall for a silly marketing gimmick. They cost about as much as similar glasses from the same manufacturer with stems. What is so genius about this is that something like 80% of the cost of manufacturing a wineglass is the stem. Maximilian Riedel, the 11th generation Riedel heir is credited with dreaming up the ‘O’ line, and boy, must his family be happy. Not only are the glasses cheaper to make, their sudden chicness has prompted a whole slew of people who already own perfectly good wineglasses to go out an buy a new set of glassware. Genius, I tell you. Knowing this, I thought I wouldn’t have been be tempted by the over-priced un-goblets, and yet, I was.

Recently I was given two of the Riedel glasses as a gift. They sat in my cabinet forlorn and unused. Then one day I pulled them off the shelf for a weekday dinner. Low and behold, I discovered I loved them. I liked the feel of the bulbous glass in my hand without the pretension of a delicate, teetering stem. It suddenly seemed to me that these glasses were the perfect compromise between a traditional wine glass and a juice glass (my usual alternative to a stemmed glass on a casual night). I’ve found myself imagining throwing out all my traditional wineglasses and all the various juice glasses I have amassed for serving vino and replacing them with a set of simple, no-stem wine glasses. The Riedel crystal isn’t in my budget — thankfully just about everyone has begun knocking them off, so they can be had for a mere $2 a glass at Crate & Barrel. And even if I do opt to ditch the stems for my everyday wine, I still think it would be criminal to put champagne in a glass without a stem.

Bedroom: Paint

This is an embarrassing confession: in my adult life I have only lived in apartments with white walls. I have never of my own volition painted walls a color, with the exception of the small bathroom in the apartment I live in now. (That room is painted a pretty shade of grey from Martha Stewart's line of Kmart paint called 'Mercury Glass.' My old roommate has it in her living room, as does her mother, and it manages to look quite different in each space.) For a portion of my adolescence I had a yellow bedroom and prior to that I had a floral Laura Ashley wallpapered extravaganza, but since I moved out of my parents home it's been white, white, whitte and more white.

Facing the prospect of a new home and a new canvas, I am tempted to go the safe, familiar route and paint everything white, at least to start. Everything matches white, it makes rooms seem more spacious and light, and you can always build color into a room in other ways. However, I would like to experiment with something other than snowy white.

Right now the room most likely to get some color on the walls is the bedroom. Part of me is tempted to opt for 'Mercury Glass' again. (Really, I like the color that much.) Another part of me is leaning towards a pale green color. At work I've been crazy for Benjamin Moore's 'Dill Pickle' lately, but it's a little too saturated for my personal tastes. I'm thinking of trying 'Dark Linen' with is two chips up from 'Dill Pickle' on the Benjamin Moore paint strip. It's a pale, celery kind of color that would also leave the room feeling light. It's also neutral enough to match with my various sets of sheets. I think the best bet is going to be to get a quart and try it on for size first. If it passes muster, I'll officially have taken the color plunge.

Gift Giving

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I picked up Martha Stewart’s Holiday Handmade Gifts the other day (Yes, I know it seems like it’s all Marty all the time around here, but really, it’s just been a lot of Martha recently.) At first I was disappointed because I felt like I had seen almost all of the ideas in old issues of Martha Stewart Living (I’m a subscriber, of course). But then on a second examination, I was glad I’d bought it because I never would have taken the time to dig through the back issues I have around my house for ideas.

If you’re anything like me, you love giving gifts, but can’t always think of the perfect thing to get a friend or family member when the time comes. It’s infinitely satisfying to give someone a gift you know they are going to love. However, most of the time, we don’t have the perfect something in mind when the holidays roll around. This year I have grand ambitions to make some of my gifts. I feel like every holiday or birthday I end up getting my family and friends, books, CDs, clothing or little home items. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but I’m hoping to up the ante this year with homemade gifts. I was particularly drawn in by the soaps, the toffees and the candied grapefruit peels in the magazine. They all seemed like things that would be easy and affordable to make, but would also make lovely gifts. (Care tells me making soap would be incredibly creepy, so I will stick to the food gifts.) At the very least, a batch of holiday cookies or a personal CD mix can mean a lot more to a friend than another boring vase, or worse still, yet another scented candle.

Mrs. Meyers

Friday, November 17, 2006

A few years ago I was at my boss’s apartment, and I found myself washing a few dishes in her sink. I immediately fell in love with her dish soap — it smelled so good I actually wanted to do the dishes. Ever since then, I’ve been treating myself to Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dish soap. I love all the scents, but Lemon Verbena is a particular favorite. It may seem silly to spend the extra dollars on fancy soap for your dirty dishes, but it’s only an extra couple of bucks every few months, and well, it makes me happy.

I also like it that the company is eco-friendly. According to the Mrs. Meyer’s website, “All of our cleaning supplies are made with natural essential oils, are biodegradable and phosphate-free, and we never test on animals.” So, I can feel good about those extra spent dollars. I'm also a fan of their all-purpose cleaner. If you want to bring a hostess gift, these products are a fantastic alternative to the ubiquitous scented candle.

Space Saver: Ceiling Shelf

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I heart this clever use of space from Apartment Therapy! I'd love to do something similar in my aparment someday. My collection of colorful Pyrex bowl would look particularly dashing in a shelf like this. I wonder how they managed to make the shelves float without any support from beneath? Maybe those vertical dividers are also supports? In any case, it looks like the work of a proper carpenter not your average handy-Jane, like myself. Love, love, love the idea, especially for tiny New York City aparments where there are simply not enough places to stash all your stuff.

The Kitchen: Before

So, here it is in all of its glory: my galley kitchen. (And yes, that is some high-tech taping of two photos together to show the whole room.) As you can see, it’s not exactly a huge space and there are some awful cabinets to reckon with. However, it’s a lot bigger than the kitchen space I have now, and secretly, I love galley kitchens. I spent some time working in a massive catering kitchen, and each cook set up his or her workstation in a space no larger than the six by eight feet I’ll sooncall my own. It’s sometimes just more efficient to be able to reach everything you need without moving too far.

The long-term plan for this space is to completely rip out all the cabinets and start fresh. When this happens I will likely go the Ikea route. (Ikea’s kitchen cabinet prices can’t be beat; and frankly, I think they’re as good-looking and sturdy as any other off-the-shelf cabinetry.) When I do that, I’ll build the cabinets into an L-shape to maximize my available space.

The short-term plan is to get this place looking a little nicer and make the most of what’s already there.
I plan to rip out that cabinet above the stove. Clearly that hood isn’t doing any real work, and the cabinet there seems awkward to me. (Yes, I know I am a New Yorker getting rid of storage space.) Then I’m going to take off all the cabinet doors and all that god-awful hardware, which by the way, is affixed in the strangest of places. A little sanding, a coat of good primer and some high gloss white paint (I tend to like Martha Stewart’s Ironstone White), and this space should be a-okay. For hardware, I’ll opt for a something silver-colored to coordinate with the sink. I’m also going to attempt to paint that off-white laminate counter. A little research has uncovered a few sets of directions for painting laminate counters, so I’m going to give it a shot. To make the most of the space, I may end up mounting pot racks on the wall that the stove is on. (I have a lot of pots and pans, actually a shocking quantity of cookware, considering my age and how little space I have.) I’ll also probably get a small baker’s rack with a butcher-block top on wheels to push into that space between the stove and the counter. The fridge and the stove both seem to be fine, and are totally neutral, which is a blessing for this kind of quick fix.

Object of Desire: Model Six

Monday, November 13, 2006

This site is devoted to real people with real budgets of both time and money, but occasionally we will feature an object that is more than likely out of reach — an object of desire, if you will. These are things for which we'd bring our lunch to work for every day for a year. Our inaugural object of desire is the Covey Model Six stool. At more than $300 each, it's hard to rationalize purchasing these stunners (hence the $13 Ikea Oddvar stools that lived with me in the West Village for the last three years). But there's just something about the Model Six: its delicate legs that look like some kind of over-sized paper clip, the elegant yet industrial profile, the vaguely retro wooden seat. The Model Six is also in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection, so at least my personal obsession has been validated by a major art institution.

Design Without Reach

Thursday, November 09, 2006

This post comes by way of Apartment Therapy. I thought it was worth sharing. And I must say, Design Without Reach is some pretty funny stuff. I'd love it, if there were even more "projects" up on the site. I certainly share the sentiment that Design Within Reach can be out of most people's means.

Object Lesson: Kleenex's New Look

These are the ads for Kleenex's new oval boxes of tissues. I think the new packaging is pretty damn adorable. Check out all the patterns here. I think the yellow and white one is my favorite.

While these new boxes are a vast improvement on the usual tissue box, they're still not ideal. If Kleenex wanted my two cents about package design, I'd tell them to come out with some simple, solid colored cubes with a discreet little logo. Don't you think a plain, white cube would sell better than the hundreds of bad floral designs they've been pushing for years?

Inspiration: Kitchen

I spotted this pretty kitchen in House Beautiful: Storage Workshop. It's not exactly a ground-breaking design, but I love its clean, classic look, and I think that I could re-create this look in my new kitchen. Currently my apartment has terrible cabinets and laminate counters. Eventually, I plan to rip it all out and start over, but for the time being, I need a Band-Aid. My plan is to repaint the cabinets and the countertops, replace the cabinet hardware and add some additional storage like, hooks, shelves and a knife rack.

I particularly like the idea of pulling off the upper cabinet doors of my cabinets and painting the interiors a similar shade as this sky blue. The counter here appears to be a stone (or possibly concrete) surface. I won't try to faux paint my counters to look like stone, but I think I will opt for a dark, grey color. Whatever color I go with for the counter, I think dark is a good bet, since a painted surface may be more prone to stains than the laminate would be, if it were left alone. New hardware is always presented as an affordable face-lift for the kitchen. And while, it is certainly cheaper than a whole kitchen makeover, all those knobs and hinges can add up quickly. I'm going to shop around to see what stainless steel and brushed metal options are out there. So, that's the tentative plan for the now brown and beige kitchen out in Fort Greene.

Bookshelf: Marth Stewart Housekeeping Handbook

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Martha Stewart is giving Cheryl Mendelson a run for her money with her new Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. The book was just release last week, and Martha was at the Williams-Sonoma in the Time Warner Center signing copies (she looked amazing.)

Martha's always been known for her attention to detail, but I was just tickled by the paper that lines the inside flaps of the book. I took a quick snap of it to show you. The pale blue and white faux bois print is just perfect for Marty. I love it.

While Mendelson's may be the last word in home care, I think that Martha's new book may be more user friendly. Shelterrific has some pretty silly ideas of alternate uses for the book up on their site. Personally, I plan to keep it on my bookshelf. You can purchase a copy on for a $27, which is a pretty decent discount off the suggested $45 price.

School for the Gifted

Friday, November 03, 2006

My good pal Valerie gave me this clever key chain for my birthday, and I think it’s a great gift for any beer guzzler in your life. (I love mine.) The old-fashioned-looking “key” is actually a bottle opener and is much classier than carrying that frat-boy opener around on your key chain. I think it would make a great house-warming gift. Urban Outfitters is carrying them here.

The New Little House

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Here are a few pictures of the new apartment out in Brooklyn, which I am still in the process of buying. (God willing, I will have closed on this one before Thanksgiving.) Though I'm not going to count on that. It often seems this will never be over. The whole process has been so stressful and time-consuming. I'm going to be so happy when I can finally stop thinking about it.

The apartment is a one bedroom on the ground floor of a pre-war brick building. I'm trying to get out to the apartment to take some more exact measurements this weekend and I'll snap some better photos then. These really don't give you a good idea of what the place looks like, but it's at least a hint. Please ignore the terrible furnishings they have "staged" it with. I'll also be posting a list of planned improvements shortly. I've planned it as a two stage makeover, with the first round being a sort of Band-Aid until I can afford to do more serious renovation. (You'll see why the Band-Aid is needed when I get pictures of the bathroom and kitchen posted.) I also believe you've to to live in a space and use it before you make any decisions about how to remodel. I can't wait to get in there and get down to work.

Oh Joy!

There was great article in The New York Times yesterday about the latest edition of the Joy of Cooking, and another fun piece about old and out-of-print cookbooks. Both are worth a read, if your are a cookbook-worm like myself. The second article mentioned the site, It looks like a good resource with an eclectic mix of titles, including everything from How to Give Luncheons, Teas and Showers (Amy Vanderbilt Success Program) to a book called Eskimo Cookbook from 1952 to classics like The Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker books.

Murphy's Law

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The thing that made this very small apartment livable was my Murphy bed. Without it I would have had a living space that was dominated by my bed. It was my mother’s idea initially, and truth be told, I thought she was nuts. But a little research and a nice gay man I met at a party, who had a Murphy bed of his own and swore that it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to his apartment, changed my mind. I looked in the city, but the Murphy bed showroom here was overwhelmed with bad reports at the Better Business Bureau. My Murphy-loving pal had ordered his directly from a website based in Florida (I think), and had it delivered to his home.

Lacking a doorman and the nerve to attempt self-assembly, I drove out to The Original Murphy Bed headquarters one day to order my new bed. I don’t remember the sales pitch or the level of Murphy I opted for exactly, but I am pretty sure I took the middle road, neither the cheapest nor the most extravagant Murphy with the simplest cabinetry. (I use the mattress I already owned.) A few weeks later it arrived in a van with a man, who assembled the whole kit and caboodle in less that two hours. (For the record, a reasonably handy person could assemble one her/himself.)

I love my Murphy bed. I have no idea why there isn’t a Murphy bed in every apartment in Manhattan. Hell, NYU should invest heavily in the Murphy Bed Company and have them installed in every dorm room in the city. As Arianne Cohen pointed out in a recent article in New York magazine, “With Manhattan’s real-estate market peaking at an all-time-high average of $1,083 per square foot, the necessary 28.125 square feet of space for a full-size bed now holds a net worth of $30,459 ($31,022 in Soho; $31,612 on the Upper West Side).” $30,459! I promise, Murphy bed dozing is nothing like sleeping on a cot, as some people assume it must be. And having lived in an apartment with a loft bed for a year, it is an infinitely more appealing solution. Admittedly there’s nothing suave about suggesting to fold the bed out of the wall during a make-out session with your latest crush, but that is the price you have to pay when trying to make the most of a small space.

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