March 31, 2014

Stay at our Hudson Valley house!

After months of painting, sanding, furnishing, furniture-building, and more, we're finally ready to rent out our upstate house. We've added a listing to Airbnb, with availability starting May 1st. 

A bit from our listing: 
We’ve spent the year transforming the house into our ideal space. The artwork in the home was made by family and friends, Jacob made most of the furniture, and Youngna made the dishware/ceramics. We hope you’ll treat the home as if it were yours. It's cozy, full of light, and our favorite place to be.

The house has 2 bedrooms: one downstairs on the ground floor with a deluxe queen-sized mattress, desk and iMac. The large, upstairs master loft also has a queen-sized mattress, a half-bathroom, and overlooks the living room (there's no door at the top of the stairs, but it still feels private). Both rooms have abundant closet space.
The living room has a new couch, art books, board games, a TV with HDMI & mini display cords for connecting with a laptop. A large dining room table seats 6 or 8 comfortably.
The kitchen is stocked with essentials (spices, baking supplies, etc.), and lots of pots and pans for cooking and baking, which we hope you’ll make good use of.
Linens and towels are provided.
The house also has: 
- wifi 
- dishwasher + microwave 
- washer + dryer 
- central air 
- a deep bathtub 
- beautifully restored floors 
- plants!

What's nearby? 

We’re sandwiched between Minnewaska State Park (20 minutes), the Shawangunks (10 minutes), and the Catskills (20-30 minutes), so there’s extensive trails for hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and endless other outdoor activity. There’s also tons of cycling, swimming holes, jogging trails, tubing (on the Esopus River), and yoga studios in the area.
Golf is literally just out the back door at the Stone Dock Golf Course. For a little local putting you can go next door to the High Falls Cafe and get right on the green. Don’t worry, though, no golf balls will disturb (though you may see an occasional passerby on the green.) You can also check out the The woodstock Country Club, The Lazy Swan Golf & Country Club, or the golf course at Mohonk Mountain.
The home is close to farm stands, apple orchards, markets, wine shops, swimming holes, great restaurants, thrift stores, and tons of outdoor activity.
Nearby destinations: 
Nearby towns include New Paltz, Kingston, Stone Ridge, Phoenicia, Woodstock, and Saugerties on the west side of the Hudson, and Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Tivoli, and Hudson just across the river.

Without a doubt, this house is now my favorite place to be. It's not big or fancy or a movie set, but it's cozy, full of natural light, considered, and close to nature. If you or anyone you know is looking for a city escape, please do pass our listing along.

February 28, 2014

Kite flying in Gujarat

I love these photos by Tobias Hutzler from the annual International Kite Festival in Gujarat, India (via the New York Times Magazine)

February 19, 2014

"This old man."

This week's New Yorker has a beautiful essay by Roger Angell on being 93.
I believe that everyone in the world wants to be with someone else tonight, together in the dark, with the sweet warmth of a hip or a foot or a bare expanse of shoulder within reach. Those of us who have lost that, whatever our age, never lose the longing: just look at our faces. If it returns, we seize upon it avidly, stunned and altered again.
It's beautiful and wrenching and warm and real.

February 18, 2014

Upstate house: it's on.

In case you were wondering what was going on with that house we bought, roughly what's happened in the last two months is this: 

We knocked down a large wall with a door and two windows. 

We redid floors, and repainted every (beige) wall in our entire house. With two bathrooms, a loft, a downstairs bedroom, and a great room with 18-foot ceilings, that is a lot that is no longer beige. Our new color is Polar Bear White, which I like for it's not-so-subtle intonations of winter forever, and the fact that it is white, with no shades of beige. Whoever lived in our house prior to us really loved beige

The trick to painting a lot of non-rectangular rooms: use high quality edge-lock tape. There's cheap blue painter's tape and edge-lock tape, which you still have to press down firmly. It'll assure you much cleaner lines, especially when you're trying to delineate lines between materials, like drywall and wood. 

The other big things we did: pulled up wall-to-wall beige carpet upstairs and re-coated the subfloors in white enamel floor paint. 

Next, we redid the downstairs floors, which were painted dark brown. As Jacob pointed out, they were not beige. Unfortunately, they were poop brown. Now, they are a nice, polyurethaned pine plywood with lovely wood pegs that were buried underneath. 

This required three separate sanders: a drum sander, orbital sander, and corner sander. Nobody needs to own the first; it's like a human size zamboni, but they are easily rentable if you check your local hardware shop. 

We removed ungodly numbers of vinyl blinds. Vertical ones, horizontal ones, all of them broken to some degree. I sewed a few new curtain panels; others are still in the works. 

We removed 20 years of moldy grime from window sills. 

We removed so much dust from a wood ceiling fan that we had not previously known it was a wood ceiling fan. 

We painted one wall of our kitchen a beautiful bluish, light gray called Whitestone. 

We repainted our upstairs bathroom cabinets a dark, lush, deep blue-gray that reminds me of the depths of the ocean. 

We built a custom bookshelf with the welding skills of our friend Dustin. 

We got a couch and a dining table and chairs, then thrifted a chest, some night tables, and a coat rack, and a bunch of other things. 

I made oodles of mugs, plates, and ceramic planters for the house. 

We got two mattresses from the Sleepy's outlet store, which is brilliant (they sell half-priced mattresses because someone, often before they have left the store, accidentally ripped the tags off new ones). 

We hung a beautiful light from our 18-foot ceilings from atop a precariously positioned broken ladder. 

We ripped out all fixtures from two bathrooms, including a very baroque faux purple metal mirror frame and a number of extraneous plastic other-things. 

We replaced most outlet covers in the house, which had about four layers of beige paint apiece. 

We learned how to emergency refill our gas tank when we accidentally let the gas run out. 

Jacob built a desk into the new upstairs loft that exists now that we broke down a wall. It's made of beautifully white-washed birch wood and some plumbing pipe legs and it's the best place to work from ever. 

We installed some new lighting. 

We added dimmers to all said lighting. 

We made (only) one trip to IKEA which actually has the BEST $50 HYPOALLERGENIC DUVETS ever. Just saying, cause we have three. 

IKEA is also the best place to buy large quantities of inexpensive unscented candles. We got like 50.

Aside from the house we've done countless hikes, walks, climbs, drives, a snowshoe, a lot of raking and shoveling snow and experienced many lovely meals at our new dining table. We continue to work on the house, ever in progress, and enjoy this thing we are creating. 

We're keeping a blog of renovations and adventures at our upstate outpost of ours over here

p.s. Yes, we plan to airbnb it starting in not too long. 

January 30, 2014

A few new ceramics

Recent ceramics out of the kiln: mini pinch-potted succulent planters with a speckled clay and post white glaze. Two pasta plates with deep blue underglaze and my favorite white shino glaze, and a striped tray on a new white clay with slightly warmer hues. 

It's all still play, and I admittedly get bored by making the same thing over and over again, so I change it up constantly. It keeps it fun. 

January 27, 2014

Hiking through winter.

Winter is infinitely more bearable when you're not constantly fighting the cold, trying to escape your drafty apartment, your frigid office, the constant posture of scrunched shoulders and bowed head. Instead I recommend yielding to it by learning how to bundle up, buying a good pair of boots, reveling in the stylings of thick wool socks, indulging in hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps, and eating big bowls of steel cut oatmeal (made this way) morning after morning.

Last weekend we went up to our house with a few close friends, planning for big meals and hikes. Saturday brought a snowstorm, but we headed across the reservoir to Phoenicia, hit our favorite diner, the ventured further west to hike Giant Ledge, which has amazing views of the Catskills on a clear day. Unknowingly, it was the same hike Jacob and I had done on our mini-moon, when we stayed in the town of Andes. Aside from the entry point the trail was unrecognizable, but the bridge at the start of our trek brought back all the memories of that perfect fall.

We hiked and hiked, experiencing the unnamable phenomenon of the trek out into the unknown always feeling far further than the return. The snow masked all markers and made us more aware of each deliberate step, flakes freezing into loose bits of hair.

We capped our hike with a pit stop in Kingston and were introduced by new friends to the masterful cocktails at Stockade Tavern — ideal apres hike.

It's been good to develop new favorites, new routes, new ways home.

January 13, 2014

Home for the holidays

I was home for Christmas with my parents and brothers and both of their girlfriends, and Jacob, for the first time in four years. It was so sweet and so short. We have boxes of ornaments, many craft projects from when we were kids, but my mom has gotten into the tradition of making unique cookie-cutter based ornaments to add to the tree. This year, we went fully cookie-ornament, painting some highly conceptual works, getting entirely carried away. Then, there were old fashioneds and prime rib, a christmas eve service and a lengthy game of Settlers of Catan, and lots of sweets before and after all meals.

January 6, 2014

Breakfast upstate

Breakfast, upstate, followed by backgammon. The holidays were slow and luxurious. Can't wait to get back to our house to hit the snow with new snowshoes.

January 3, 2014

First fir

Despite my upstate upbringing, i'd never chopped down a Christmas tree in the wilds or on a farm; we've always trekked to the nearby fire station or nursery for our tree. At our new outpost, we found a flyer for Bell's Farm on the Saturday before Christmas, and immediately drove west, far past the rollerskating rink and the oversized gnome along Route 209, down a spooky narrow road that opened up to a glorious hillside of evergreens.

They had firs of all kinds — Fraser, Douglas, Balsam and Noble — as well as Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, Korean Fir, a variety of Pines and many others beyond our path. All trees are the same flat fee, whether 3 or 7 feet tall, featuring bald spots or odd knobs or any other features of note. We hiked the main big hill, mostly slush as the temperature climbed, and debated between many a handsome tree. In the end we picked a Fraser Fir with a funny and full tuft up top, spotted by our friend Sam, and chopped on hands and knees by Jacob.

It was an oddly prideful moment. Of course we got home and had no ornaments to show for ourselves but we found our way to lights and I managed to muster two strings of cranberries and popcorn before deciding that lights alone was a feat unto itself.