Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lost in the Blogosphere

It's time to face the music. It seems without pastries, classic monuments, European travel destinations, Georgian architecture or weird British people I lack blogspiration.

It doesn't help, frankly, that my life is nuts. I'm working much more than I thought I would be, shuttling my overprogrammed elder child to four or five after-school activities a week and doing god-knows-what with my weekends. I seem to see a lot of the insides of Target, Costco and the library, and not as much as I would like of the gym. Hugo's school is lovely and he's doing fantastically, but I spend almost as long getting him physically and emotionally prepared to go as he spends there.

Back home with familiar traditions and expected rituals, the holidays also lacked what I'd come to rely on for fantastic blogging material.  Josie performed in her first Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa concert and ballet recital, and lovely times were had with family and friends at various Port Huron and Detroit eateries and locales (actually, that's a great post idea -- all the great stuff we did and found in the Motor City). Still, sadly missing were the blasphemous nursery nativities, lighting festivals hosted by drunken once-famous radio personalities, old French biddies hollering at me for underdressing my child in the frigid 46-degree weather and generally being a worthless, style-less, tasteless American. I miss being a worthless American!

Look, I've tried to get inspired. For a brief period I used this blog as a poor man's Young House Love, fancying i could wow friends near and far with my paint choices, wallpaper fetish and bargain furniture finds.

And well, I mean, as long as we're on the topic, I CAN show you my latest before and afters, as we did finally get the Great Room done:
Before: Big Apple Hunting Lodge?

After: Bright and Beautiful

 Before: Purplicious

After: Guest-ready!

 Before: Lime in the Coconut

 After: Soothing Slumber

 Anyway, so now that my house is 90% finished and Jeff has frozen my Amex, what to blog about?

I confess I got totally inspired by the seemingly barftastic new Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook, It's All Good, which admittedly does require one to purchase weird and expensive ingredients (thank god for our new Fairway!) while flinging pasta out of one's home like the devil's handiwork it is. Still, it's interesting reading, gorgeously photographed, and I got really jazzed about cooking and eating a whole new way.

Damn you, Gwynnie! First the haircut, now the kale, I just can't stop 
wanting to be you as hard as I try.

So I thought very seriously about cooking and blogging with Gwynnie a la Julie and Julia. I even started casting about for names. I briefly considered "Poop" (a take on GP's look-how-fantastic-my-life-is-now-drop-the-Doritos-and-get-out-of-those-sweatpants-from-college lifestyle blog "Goop") but that blogspot address was taken, as was "Itsallpoop," "POOG," etc.

Also, everything I've cooked out of the book is freaking fantastic, so I didn't even have any stinging remarks to make about Gwyn. Turns out millet IS just as good as couscous with more nutrients, raw honey and coconut oil are delicious, and almond milk is a great substitute in just about anything from pancakes to oatmeal to after-school smoothies.

So where does that leave us? Back where we started in 2007, with predictable photos of my offspring. Thankfully they're pretty wicked cute.

Josie in front of twig-and-berry Macy's at the Holiday Trains Show at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. So amazing -- go next year! We'll never miss another one!

Hugo....just Hugo.

Look, Josie is learning guitar! Thanks Papa for the amazing photo

Finally, it doesn't help that we've barely left the house in weeks due to unrelenting snow and the resulting "Snow Days," which as a child you loved beyond belief and as an adult, it turns out, you loathe beyond compare. Jeff lasted one day before proclaiming, "I need to get back to the office... this place is just too stressful an environment for work."  OH reaaaaaalllllllyyyyyyy.....

Chanukah in our own house was amazing

Gastronomic bucket list item - Marcus Saumelsson's Red Rooster for my 41st. And look....more snow.

Usual fun taking the family Christmas picture

So hopefully in the coming months I'll have more to share.... there will be flowers, one hopes, and maybe new deer repellent methods, trips to the National Parks and Martha's Vineyard, as well as a girls' weekend in New York City.

Otherwise, I'll have to hang up the blog and get an Instagram account.

One last furniture find... 
how amazing is this 1890s breakfront from Nyack Antiques?

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Holey Guacamole. And Happy Halloween! Where does the time go?

Around here, a bunch of it still goes into decorating. We've been working hardest on our Great Room (Formerly known as Sweet Apple Hunting Lodge). Not QUITE ready to show that yet, one more awesome mid-century chair and a painted table to go, but our bedroom is nearly done, and we're totally excited about that, so here we go:

Before: Lean and Green

 After: Cool and Calm

I love everything about our new bedroom (except those Home Decorators' Collection bookshelves, which totally warped in storage!). The walls are Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball (the same color, I think, that we had on Northampton Street in Bath) with Benjamin Moore's White Dove trim. The rug is Pottery Barn and so are the bedding and lamp. The chairs are $139 indoor/outdoor specials from Pier 1, and the cushions are Pier 1 too.

I really, really love the window treatments. They are "relaxed Roman" shades from Smith and Noble - they came and measured and installed for $175 extra. I think they're so beautiful - and they give us a few extra minutes of shut-eye in the morning!

We had a super-busy end of summer, spending 2 weeks in Michigan. We had amazing weather, and were able to hit the beach or pool nearly every day. We got to see GG Harriet, the Cook girls, the Hannahs, the Darnell clan, the Davidson cousins and the Font-Kocibas!

Life's a Beach!

Hittin' da (Golf) Club with GG Harriet 

Jeff and Josie even had their first Coney dogs in Lexington!

 I had to come all the way to Michigan for a Coney Island? Fuhgettaboutit!

We also took Josie to her first Tiger game, where I exhibited class-A parenting skills by feeding her a massive ice cream cone and frozen lemonade, then putting her on the merry-go-round. Safe to say we were speeding out of Detroit with a puking child in the middle of the 6th inning!

Le Tigre, Le Gastro!

I hadn't been to Comerica Park since working for Sen. Stabenow in 2000. It was pretty jarring to see how much the city has crumbled in 13 years. Here, an abandoned school just ONE BLOCK from the stadium, just left to crumble.

Crumbling schools - not just a campaign talking point in Detroit

After we got back to New York, we celebrated Jeff's 41st with a whirlwind 36 hours in the city. We celebrated with his traditional steak dinner, this year at BLT Prime. I was a bit overserved on red meat, but rallied enough for the Natural History Museum with the kids the next day!

 Just think how that poor cow felt.

Next thing you knew (well, lots of things later, as school didn't start until an ungodly Sept 10th!) it was back to school!

Josie was a little nervous, but totally psyched for her first day of public school, boys and all! I think she'd agree choosing her own outfits is the biggest trade-up.

Look out, First Grade!

Hugo also began nursery school...and was a lot less thrilled about it.

There's no crying in nursery school!

Not to worry, he quickly made friends and influenced toddlers with his whole "T-Rex vs. Anatomically Correct Baby Doll" routine.

 That's right - I'm one proud mama!

Josie turned six on October 5th and requested a Superhero party. Nom, Pee-pa and Uncle Andy all swooped in, Justice-League style, and we had a rockin' time.

I of course had to stay up until some unholy hour the night before making a cake -but I was pretty satisfied with Wonder Woman -- check the Wilton cake tin from 1976 I got off eBay!

 You're a Wonder


 Super-Special delivery!

Not the craftiest of mums, I was pretty intimidated by the idea of a DIY party (stupid, sexist Party City has ZERO Wonder Woman stuff). One of the great ideas I got was a Superhero photo booth. The kids had so much fun!

Nom and Pee-pa stayed a few days (actually Nom stayed two more WEEKS) so that I could go to D.C. to see friends and colleagues. Auntie Chelle put me up and I had lots of great coffees and meals... seeing celebs like Spike Mendelsson at his truly delish Capitol Hill steak frites place, Bernaise...

Spike, please pack your knives and COME ON OVER!!

And Cathy Westley!

The month -- and Nom's visit -- closed out with one of my favorite Nyack traditions, truly one of the BEST things about living here: the annual Halloween Parade.

The last time we were here everyone looked like this:

Quick! Find Nemo! 

This year there were too many damn kids running amok to even take a group picture. This is the closest we got... poor Nom is clearly confused about which grandchild is even hers, or else she just gravitated to the most compliant one (the ninja....go figure!).

Well, this was too long of a gap between updates, and I like skipped tons of major stuff, like the High Holidays, my first business trip, apple-picking, etc. but oh well. Happy Halloweeeeeeeen!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Still settling...


It's the dog days of August, but honestly we're finally getting some dreamy June weather! Humidity is nil, the sun is shining and there's a nice breeze almost every day.

The Rothvidsons are still gradually but happily settling into American life. There are some things we miss, fo sho. Here are a few:

1) English manners. Everyone here is a bit more, shall we say, brusque than most in the mother country. New Yawk baby. Fuhgeddaboutit.

2) Wagamama. Tebasaki Wings, Teppan Noodles, Chili squid...whether they were waiting at the door with our takeaway bags and a smile or ignoring the rice Hugo was chucking all over the restaurant, we sure miss the Wags.

First chopsticks - and chicken katsu!

3) Walking everywhere. Our collective booties are really missing that one. While I probably burned 200 calories a day just running up and down the 4 flights of stairs at 26 Northampton, Sweet Apple Farm is definitely more secluded even than our old house in Nyack was. Driving is a must for pretty much every outing.

4) London. New York City has no equal, but really neither does London. From the blinding white Rowhouses in Kensington to the multiple palaces to the cute pubs nestled in tiny one-way corridors, it's a special town. London

5) Saint Claire.  Not much more to say there, really.

 Just love.

6) The views from Josie's window over Bath all the way to Prior Park. Always made me linger a little while putting her to bed.

Room with a View

7) Farm shops. The concept: farm plus cool little market full of fresh eggs, chickens, vegetables, plus family-friendly cafe, animals to visit and sometimes even a little playground. Great place to spend a Sunday morning.

We told Josie she was getting a sibling at Neston Farm Shop. 
She was nonplussed.

8) Just walking around shopping and knowing Romans once built roads there, Georgian nobles lounged, bathed, and drank tea, Jane Austen hurried down a hidden walk and somewhere Johnny Depp owns a house.
And I never figured out where. Damnit!

9) Free health care. Not much more to say there either. When I got a $50 bill for one month of Synthroid at the pharmacy last week I nearly passed out.


10) Waitrose. Marks and Spencer. Joules. Great shopping. Thankfully, Monsoon is coming to the Palisades mall so I'll have at least one of my splurgeworthy stores back!

Of course, for everything we miss there's something great to have back -- great Asian food. Family close by. Barbecue. Netflix. Sirus XM radio.  Hot coffee. Cold beer.

We got to partake of all of the above up in the Berkshires with all the Rothmans last weekend. It was so lovely to watch Josie and Hugo play with their cousins, it made all the stuff we miss feel pretty minor (except for any wonderful friends reading this, of course -- so you just have to come visit!) 

Special iPad bonding time with Uncle Rog 

 Photo credit: Lew Rothman

This one too - check out that mani! 

The kids and I stopped in Spencertown on the way back to Nyack to visit Casa Sternal, and of course its lovely inhabitants, Spencertown Dad (thank god they moved out of DUMBO!) Blissful Mom and kids. The house has been a massive, multiyear endeavor, and while I forgot to photograph it, I was nonetheless both impressed and inspired by its architecture, decor, and general aura of love.

Decorating projects are coming along.  What I imagine will be the crowning glory of the house, the dining room, was completed last week, and I couldn't be happier.


 After! Let there be light!

I'm doing my part to bring back wallpaper.  Look at those lovebirds! Paper is Farrow and Ball Renaissance and paint is F and B "Dimity."


After hours shopping for curtain bargains on Land of Nod, PB Kids, etc. for Josie's room, I found a crumpled Ziploc storage bag of what looked like muddy rags. I pulled them out, and only after looking at the tags realized they were the Shabby Chic curtains from our house on N. Midland!

Two Oxi Clean wash cycles later, and they were good as new and perfect for Miss Thing's lair. 

Cute butterfly curtain rods are from Target, and the shelves are from Lowe's.

Don't get me wrong -- I love Josie's color choices, but while I hate to criticize anything Martha Stewart does, her paint line by Glidden at Home Depot is godawful. When we pulled out Josie's dollhouse to put up the shelves, the roof had literally stuck to the wall, I guess due to humidity. When we yanked the roof away a line of paint came along with it.

Not cool, Martha. You shouldn't have gotten in bed with Home Despot.

Next up: painting the hallways and master bedroom, and wrapping up the design scheme for the Great Room / Elks Lodge. After hours of trudging around furniture stores and scouring Pinterest, I threw up my hands and enlisted an Ethan Allen consultant to help me with a floor plan and window treatments, rugs, etc. I'm already pretty excited about what we're cooking up.

 Test patches for Master Br: What I like to call "Farrothko and Ball"

Meanwhile, it's hard to believe but summer is winding down here in Nyack. Josie is finishing up camp, which she has loved partly for the art but even more for being reunited with her since-utero BFF B.

How's THAT for a Before and After? 

Next week we're off to Michigan for 2 weeks, so I'll hopefully be back soon after with lots of nostalgic Detroit shots (photos! photos!) and great memories. Lata!

Bagels are way better in America.