January 6, 2018

Meet Our New House.

Twenty-six months ago we moved into our new house in Inglewood (an East Nashville neighborhood), which makes the house not so new anymore. Nevertheless, this post marks its debut on my long-dormant-but-now-wide-awake blog. We consider this our dream house and have no plans to leave, possibly ever.

This house is the result of us buying our first house in East Nashville when we were young, sitting on it while it climbed in value and then selling it with a nice profit, which we used as a highly satisfactory down payment on this spiffy guy. I also believe we got this house because we are friends with the builder, Shane Stratton of Stratton Exteriors, whom I worked for when I was pregnant with Livvy and in the year or so after I had her. He's been incredibly kind to me since day one, and his kindness extended to this transaction, as he gave us a month to sell our old house, holding this one for us in the meantime. He does impeccable work and I can't recommend him highly enough.

We moved in the day before Thanksgiving in 2015. Best feeling ever, especially for a girl who considers her house an extension of herself.

Sherwin Williams Celestial
Our front door: color is Sherwin Williams "Celestial" and was the result of my hunt for the perfect periwinkle

We bought this house because we wanted more space--in particular, for the girls to have their own rooms. And I admit, I also wanted all the shiny newness of this place. The windows that slid opened and shut like buttah (and came with screens!), the fireplace that sprang to life with the click of a button, the carrara marble countertops that felt cool under my fingertips, the intoxicating smell of paint and lumber and varnish. There was a PANTRY and a WALK-IN CLOSET big enough that people have joked it could double as an extra bedroom. (This was our old closet.) But the place didn't feel smug. Just luxurious enough. And though it's two stories (a must for me), it's NOT one of those tall-skinnies that Nashville has become infamous for. And it didn't NEED a thing. There wasn't paint peeling from the exterior. We didn't have to worry that the HVAC unit was lurching toward its last days. There was no basement that smelled like mildew. No brown recluse spiders whose ancestors had lived in the house for generations.

We still feel proud when we pull in the driveway (and I mean that humbly, because I am so grateful to get to live here). I would show you pics of the inside, but I've changed a lot (the kitchen island has been three colors already). And I want to go through it a room at time. 

This place was a beautiful blank slate--all the walls painted Sherwin Williams Shoji White and the trim Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray. It all felt very new, and I've worked to splash personality, joy and character around. I've found that it's a different kind of fun trying to bring old-house character to a new house.


If, as Nate Berkus implies, my house is my autobiography, I want it to be full of passion, color, surprise and comfort. And I want to tell part of that story here each week. 

December 31, 2017

Books I Read in 2017

I read 25 books in 2017. Every minute that I was reading was one minute that I wasn't scrolling Instagram on my phone until my hand goes numb and my heart goes bitter. I'm hoping for even more of those iPhone-free moments in 2018.

Obviously, I have a major affection for YA lit (if you have recs, throw them at me) and have also been reading up on the Outer Banks and in particular, its littlest island, Ocracoke, because I'm writing some fiction set there. Otherwise, I try to sprinkle in some classics with some trending books and with whatever my mom hands me (she's a retired English teacher and voracious reader who keeps me stocked with the good stuff).

My favorite book of the year: "My Absolute Darling" by Gabriel Tallent was IN-CRED-IBLE, majestic.
Biggest disappointment of the year: "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur. YUCK.

What was the best thing you read this year? 

December 16, 2017

That Time We Sold Our Old House to Assholes

Our First Home
I started to write a blog post about all the shit I've done to spiff up my pantry (riveting stuff, I realize), but then figured that I'd be better off starting from the beginning. That means bidding adieu to our old bungalow, which was the subject of so many posts on this blog. The truth is I still haven't found closure. In time, that house became the same as a family member--a living, breathing loved one whom I tried to listen to and nurture into its full potential (albeit with a limited budget, which meant the laminate countertops in the kitchen and the linoleum floors in the master bath had to stay). We'd bought the house a few months after we were married and brought both of our babies home to this house and all that sentimental blah-blah, but I'm telling you, it was more than that. This house needed us. It was always HOME. Just writing that, I'm feeling that tickle in my nose that means I might need to cry.

But, as people do, we came to want more: a little bit more room--primarily, we wanted the girls to have their own rooms--and when we considered the renovations that we wanted to do (and those that we needed to do) it started to feel impossible. All of our equity was tied up in the house, which was substantial since we bought the house when we were babies and the neighborhood (Cleveland Park) was still considered "dangerous" (read: mostly African Americans lived there). At the time, we lived directly across the street from a halfway house, and one of its residents would stand on the sidewalk out front like it was his job, shuffling from one foot to the other, making eye contact with nothing and everything. People made sure to lock their car doors when they came to our house, and they would even do that annoying thing where they double and triple check that it's locked with their key fobs. It was like, Jesus Christ, we get it. We were thrilled to be living there. We felt like children who had been given the keys to their parents' house for the weekend, except it was a weekend that never ended.

We lived there for eight years and put it on the market in October 2015. Within a week it sold sight unseen, for above our asking price, to a couple from New York. The real estate market in Nashville is no joke, so this is more common than you'd think.

The new buyers wanted to meet us, and we wanted to meet them. So we did, briefly. They brought their young child along with them. I can't tell you how weird it is giving a tour of your house to people who have never seen it but have already bought it. They were quiet and subdued, especially the woman, but they seemed excited. The woman was vaguely stunning. If she had smiled, I would feel confident categorizing her as a knock-out. We felt good knowing a family would be living here. Maybe the house wouldn't be too angry with us for abandoning it.

We should have seen it coming. A month or two after we moved out, our old next door neighbor alerted us to the fact that the house seemed to have become an Airbnb. My heart caught in my throat, and I trawled Airbnb until I found it. Every last wall had been painted hospital white. In the kitchen, they'd hung an enormous American flag. I hate minimalism, and this was precisely why. Every single drop of personality had been wrung out of it. It was sad and plain and had clearly been misunderstood. I cried and cried. I posted on Facebook about it. Numerous people let me know I had no right to be sad (because being sad is totally a choice?), that this was what I had signed up for, etc. And I mean, obviously. But regardless, I was sad. 

We still drive by the old house a couple times a month (we moved just a few miles away). They painted the blue front door (a photo of which is still, for the record, very popular on Pinterest) the color of baby diarrhea. We hear that lots of bachelorette parties go down there now. As a serial Craiglist shopper, I stumbled across several light fixtures and things that they sold off from the house, including that capiz shell chandelier from Pier 1 that they listed as "midcentury." I still miss that thing. When you brushed against it, it made a tinkling sound like it must sound when you brush against an angel's wings. 

We loved you, old house. We're so sorry. I hope one day you can forgive us. Goodbye. (But not really because you know I'll be driving by you again next week.)

December 12, 2017

3 Years Later

Hey, I'm baaack! My New Year's resolution is to start my blog back up. I miss having it, miss the opportunity to write for pleasure (I write all day for work but that's different), and am still knee-deep in house projects all the time and could use a place to obsess over them. Plus, there are family vacations to document, feeeelings about things that need to be written out, and people to offend (because I have a unique gift for that). To break the ice, here are some things that have happened since the last time I posted a blog ... way back in November 2014.

1) We moved. We sold our 1,600-square-foot 1926 bungalow in East Nashville and bought a 2,200-square-foot dream home that was built in 2015 ... also in East Nashville. Because East Nashville for life. This has meant lots of new house projects and paint (usually some variation of blue) under my fingernails. It's fun to add character to a new build that doesn't need any actual renovation, just some zhoozh (I just got that word from Jonathan Adler, who also uses "whilst" instead of "while," btw).

2) Nekos and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. More recently, we celebrated 11 years. Still in love. Still dorks. Still not perfect and cool with it.

3) Livvy turned 3. Then she turned 4. Then 5. She also started pre-K.

4) Tessa turned 5. Then she turned 6. Then 7. She's in second grade now.

5) Our dog Hattie died at age 13. We'd had her since she was one, and she left a big Hattie-shaped hole that we have tried to fill with Grayton, our new dog. He's a shaggy gray and white 35-pound mutt who's less than a year old. He was recently diagnosed with OCD and has to go on doggie Prozac. I love him. Nekos tolerates him.

6) Tessa has also been diagnosed with OCD--about a year ago. We joke that it's in the water at our house, but what it really is is no joking matter. She's in therapy though and doing really well and we've all learned so much about a disorder that we once regarded more like a punch line.

7) I was laid off from my job at the New York-based PR agency I've been with for six years. I spent a couple of months wringing my hands and scrambling to find freelance work to cover it. But then the agency rehired me and promoted me (big sigh). I still work from home, and I still love working from home.

8) I lost 20 lbs. This happened in the last year. Weight Watchers to the rescue again. It was my 35th birthday present to myself.

9) We took our girls for trips to New York City and Key West, and several times to the 30A area of Florida. I took girls' trips to L.A./Santa Barbara and Palm Springs. And Nekos I had some dreamy little getaways to Tulum, New Orleans, Miami and Leiper's Fork. (Thanks, Mom!)

10) A squirrel jumped out of a trash can I had just opened to toss a bag of trash into. I scared the shit out of it apparently--but I refuse to believe it could possibly have been more terrified than I was. It had its arms and legs splayed and its revolting little switchblade fingernails out. He totally landed on my face/neck area. I screamed and flung him off of me. It ran away. I'm still not over it. The end.