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Continuing Efforts

Before we get started I would just like to say, for the record, that I loathe and despise flash photography. At least the flash photography that is the fruit of my Olympus Stylus 600‘s loins. So I no longer use the flash, but instead choose the “available light” setting, which allows me to take grainy, furry photos that sort of capture a slightly more realistic, warmly-lit appearance. At least I think so.

Moving on.

Here’s our eat-in kitchen as of tonight:

sideboard

You may remember it from these photos, which were taken three weeks ago. Sort of a big improvement, no? There are still things out of place, but it’s coming along. The shelf over the kitchen window, for example. It’s really too high for our cook books, which is what we started putting there. I think we might start a collection of vintage everyday dishware and display it up there. Not sure yet.

The counters look really messy in this photo, but that’s only because Mike made me fresh lemonade (a current obsession of mine) and I didn’t bother to clean up before I took the picture.

You can see we added a sideboard behind the table! I love it. This has been Mike’s room to decorate, and he went and picked that baby out all by hisself. I married a man with good taste, I did. I think there’s too much stuff on top of it, as well on the wood shelf above. Alot of it is stuff we’re going to hang on the walls, so maybe once that’s done I won’t feel so claustrophbic about those shelves, but we’ll see.

On the  lower right of the photo you can see the plastic bin under the sideboard where we keep clean rags. I want to get two really nice baskets to replace the bin. One for clean rags and one for dirty. Something a little more attractive than a clear plastic bin.

They’re not pictured here, but the seats on the chairs need to be recovered, and Mike wants to buy enough fabric so that I can make a matching curtain for the kitchen window. We’re thinking yellow stripes? Blue stripes? Yellow and blue stripes? (Mike has his heart set on something stripey.) Do you have any ideas?

Sidenote: The yellow straw pear-shaped placemats that hang above the sideboard belonged to my mother’s sister, my namesake, Patricia Frost. They are straight out of the sixties. The copper canisters and the copper pans all came from the house my family lived in when I was born. The table and chair set were given to my mother by my father’s father’s girlfriend, before he remarried my father’s mother. It’s been in my parent’s home, my cousin’s home, my brother’s home, and now it’s in mine.

Here’s the utility side of the kitchen. It’s pretty much done:

stovetop

The red spice tins in the spice rack to the right were my grandfathers. They’re over sixty years old and so are the spices inside them! The trivet over the spice rack hung on the wall in the kitchen of the house I was born in. The tea towel hanging on the bottom of the spice rack is a vintage Florida souvenir tea towel my mother gave me. It’s sprinkled with the names of all the cities in Florida. It’s fabulous.

Our little kitchen is a collection of treasures and relics.

Melly Klistmas and a Happy New Lease

This is probably the longest stretch of time I’ve ever gone without writing in my blog. It’s been almost a whole month, you guys. So what’s been taking up all of my time, you ask? All fifty-six and a half hours a week not spent sleeping, showering, eating, working, and commuting? First, there were the holidays.

snowy village

Christmas was lovely. I didn’t get the Sylvanian’s out of their Thanksgiving outfits until December 21st, but it was totally worth the wait.

sylvanian xmas

I didn’t bake my traditional gingerbread people this year, but I did make all my own gift-wrap.

recycled wrapping

We had a wonderful New Year. Mike had to work New Year’s Eve, but I got to spend the evening with my brother and his wife, just the three of us, and it was absolutely lovely. Since Mike and I weren’t going to spend New Year’s Eve-ning together, we spent the afternoon together instead. And what does a young starting-out for the third-time couple do on a sunny So Cal winter day? They apartment hunt.

I had been hoping for a two-bedroom apartment, some outdoor space, and hardwood or laminate floors, but two-bedrooms with all those amenities in the San Fernando Valley are more expensive than you’d think. We looked at a couple of cute places, all brand-new laminate floors, lots of sun, one-bedrooms totally within our budget.  We looked at a couple of awful places, one-bedrooms outside our budget that looked good on paper but turned out to be carpeted windowless dens of misery.

We were getting ready to wrap it up for the day when Mike convinced me to take a look at a little apartment off Saticoy he’d seen the day before. A two-bedroom with a dishwasher, a balcony, a fireplace, and carpeting, it was right within our budget. However, as far as I was concerned, the carpeting cancelled out the dishwasher, the fireplace, and the second bedroom. I was determined to hold out for hardwood floors. And by that I mean laminate flooring would have been equally awesome, but carpet was out of the question. If we had carpet I would spend the next five years scrubbing dog butt-smear out of it.

“But the landlord said she didn’t care that we have dogs, she doesn’t care what happens to the carpet, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“Dog butt-smear in the carpet is disgusting. I’m not living with carpet.”
“I’ll buy a carpet cleaner and I’ll shampoo it once a week.”
“No.”
“There are two bathrooms.”
“Fine. But we’re only looking.”

He turned onto a street lined with 1920’s Craftsman bungalows and palm trees. “This is probably where we’ll walk the dogs in the mornings. There’s a coffee shop at the end of the block.” I rolled my eyes and coughed the words “butt smear”. He turned a corner and parked in front of a little six-unit building. There were two kids sitting on the lawn out front, playing with a puppy under the shade of a big beautiful tree.

The minute I walked into our Harlem apartment, I knew I was home. I loved that apartment from the first moment I saw it, like it was a part of Mike and me and who we are together. I loved it’s tall windows with the deep sills, the shining original hardwood floors. I loved our neighbors and our community, but mostly I loved how happy we were while we lived there.

When Michael opened the front door of this new apartment and I saw the fireplace nestled in the built-in bookcases, I knew we were home.  We signed the lease three days later and started moving in right away.  Life has been incredibly upside down ever since we left New York, but never as much as it has been in the last fifteen days. We’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated and of course there is always some butt-smear, but you know what? That’s life. And a little at a time the boxes are vanishing, our things are finding their place in cabinets and cupboards, and we’re making this apartment ours. Welcome to another new beginning. Welcome to the Valley.

welcome-to-the-valley

The sunset off our balcony