Planning the Patio

It’s supposed to be marginally warmer today, so I’m trying to think all the spring thoughts I can.

And that means dreaming about our new patio! I mentioned yesterday that the patio/yard is one of the best features of our new apartment, and Joey and I are both excited about the possibilities of barbecues, al fresco dinners, and not having to walk Bogey down four flights of stairs every time he needs to pee.

Naturally, we’ve both started thinking about what we would like to do with the space. Here are a few of our initial ideas.

Outdoor Styling

I’d love to turn half of the patio into a seating/dining area with storage benches and a table we can seat at least six around when company comes over. I’d also like to grow a few of our own herbs (a project I undertook a few years ago indoors with…questionable results)(bugs, they spawned bugs), possibly from hanging planters on the chain link fence.

Joey almost immediately started pricing small grills on Craigslist, a project I fully endorse since we have more than enough room and burgers are delicious.

Finally, I’d move our string lights (currently hanging from our curtain rod in the living room) outdoors whenever we wanted a little mood lighting.

The real question is what to do with the dirt patch side of the yard. Ideally, I’d like at least part of it to be grass for the Boges, but that leads to the question of maintenance — we’re not buying a lawn mower. So maybe…mulch? Rocks? I’d like a couple tomato plants on the other half of the dirt, and maybe some other easy-to-grow-and-hard-to-kill veggies. I’m open to suggestions!


Good news.

Fraaaaands! First, I want to formally apologize for being such a Grumpy Gus the last few posts. Ugh, stress. But in a weirdly-unlike-me-because-things-rarely-just-work-out-for-me twist, I had two of my major stresses resolve last Friday. One had to do with work (blah blah blah) and the other had to do with our apartment situation.


Even better, we found a place that, while I would be a dirty liar if I said it was actually perfect, is pretty great for a lot of reasons.

Reason #1: It has an extra room, SIX closets, and THREE additional storage areas (a boiler room, a closed off staircase, and an unfinished back room that will henceforth be known as the garage). It’s actually ridiculous how much storage space we have. The bedrooms are actually probably a tiny bit too small, but because we now only have to put a bed and a dresser in it, it really doesn’t matter that much.

Reason #2: It has a YARD. Not a big yard, but half of it is a cement patio (helloooo, summer shindigs) and the other half is dirt that we can do whatever we want with. I would love to make some of it grass for the Boges and the rest a couple tomato plants or something, but I’ll keep you posted.

Reason #3: It’s the basement of a house, but because the door opens in the back to the yard, we have our own private entrance. I am quite over buildings, y’all.

Reason #4: Our landlords are the sweetest little Italian couple you could possibly imagine. A few of the first things they said to us were, “You can stay as long as you want, we will never raise your rent” and “If you need anything, you call me and I run! You see how close I am? I run!” It’s like having our grandparents live a few houses away.

Reason #5: It’s only $25 a month more than what we were paying before, meaning we might actually be able to build up a respectable savings account over the next couple of years.

I’m going to be totally honest: It’s a little…er…cozy apartment. We’ll have to keep it neat to keep it from feeling cramped. But I’m thinking those NINE storage areas will probably help.

Anyway, I am very excited. AND I realized there’s one space I still need to plan — the patio! Stay tuned for updates.

New Apartment Planning

This morning has been supremely irritating, so I’m using this blog post to deliberating only think about things that make me happy.

For example, something irritating: My apartment hasn’t had heat or hot water for over 12 hours (on top of the regularly spotty heat we normally enjoy). Now, I could pitch a fit, but I already did that in the email and phone call I had with our building owners.


But instead of continuing to rant and rave, I’m redirecting this burst of fiery anger energy into something fun. Like thinking about how I’ll decorate our NEW (and hopefully properly regulated) apartment! Yay!

Now, we don’t have the exact place yet, so everything I’m saying here is subject to change based on layout, etc. But, in general, here’s what I’m thinking.

Our Bedroom
This last year was the first time I felt like I successfully decorated the bedroom, at least to a degree. It was never perfect, but I have been plans for the new apartment. I was extremely inspire by this mood board I found on Pinterest:


It’s not wildly different from the color palette we have going on already — the main difference I would make would be to swap out the mint for a richer navy to match our current bedding. I’m hoping to sell our current bed (here on Craigslist if you’re in the Greater NYC area!) and purchase a bed frame with an upholstered headboard that I have my eye on from Joss & Main. Then I’d like to use this tutorial to create a nightstand/dresser for Joey. A few framed pictures and a navy lamp or two, and we’ll be in business.


Our Living Room
Honestly, I really like how our living room ended up before we left, so I’ll probably leave this much as is.


The only change I would make? Painting the walls a light gray, and updating our desk to something a bit sturdier, like this option from IKEA:


Our Kitchen/Dining Area
A rental kitchen is always a bit of a crapshoot, so I really can’t make too many plans without seeing ours. One thing I know I would like to do if possible, though? Add a chalkboard wall.




(source, source, source)

I feel like the dark walls even off-set those ugly oak cabinets everyone seems to install (for unknown reasons…I’m assuming you can get them somewhere for free or something). Depending on the current kitchen and how much we are paying, I would also consider installing some sort of temporary backsplash. Home Depot sells a peel-and-stick version that is apparently easy to remove later, and if it makes me happier to be in my kitchen every day, that could be worth the cost to me.




(source, source, source)

As for the dining area, this will only work if I can find a way to combine it with the living room (or if the kitchen is magically huge). But if that works out, I’d like some kind of rustic wooden table with our existing white chairs on all but one side where I would but a wooden (preferable storage) bench.




(source, source, source)

So that’s what I’ve got rolling around in my brain these days. Obviously this doesn’t cover every room, but I feel better having a good handle on the spaces where we spend most of our lives.

Here’s hoping for a smooth move (preferably to an apartment with heat and hot water).

Current Pet Peeves


Current least favorite things:

1. Brokers who hide their posts in the no-fee real estate section on Craigslist. YOUR DECEPTION WILL NOT GO UNNOTICED. And the fact that you started our relationship with a lie makes me instantly dislike and not want to work with you.

2. Pretend spring days that turn into frigid winter ones. WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT DECEPTION? You cannot give me a 45-degree Sunday and then just follow it up with a 6-degree Tuesday. That’s a jerk move. Get outta here.

3. Allergies masquerading as colds. AM I SICK OR NOT? Make up your mind, cold and flu symptoms. Either the Claritin should start kicking in or we should just call this what it is.

4. Paper cuts. I mean, I hate these all the time, but my hands are currently covered in them from packing. Just saying. It’s annoying.

Blah. Emotional purge: done. Carry on.

What’s new.

Remember two years ago when Joey and I moved to Astoria? Remember what a wreck I was and how I could barely even discuss anything without somehow bringing it back around to how much I hated moving?

Yeah, I don’t really like thinking about that time either.

But alas, the time has come again for Joey and I to find a new apartment. (Pray for me.)

I’m hoping this round goes smoother for a couple of reasons:

1. Joey and I have moved together before. I’m hoping this shared experience will be something we can learn from and help us to avoid the bulk of the stress this time around.

2. We’re moving within an area we are much more familiar with. When we first moved to Queens, we knew next to nothing about the area except that it was more affordable than Brooklyn but just as convenient to Manhattan. This time around, we have actual opinions about neighborhoods and a better idea of what we should be paying.

I’m also hoping to allay some of the stress by giving myself a month and a half to pack, so when we do finally find our digs, we’ll only need to worry about transporting our already carefully packed boxes and belongings.

Here’s a list of everything I hope to accomplish by the end of March:

1. Sell our bed. There’s nothing wrong with the bed, it’s just not my style anymore. But if anyone out there is looking for a storage bed from PB Teen (in perfect condition), let me know.
2. Get rid of as much extraneous clothing and clutter as possible. Anyone who knows me knows this is something I do frequently, so it shouldn’t take long to go through what has remained.
3. Pack. Everything. Woof.
4. Find an apartment. (Just like that, right?)
5. Book movers. In the past, we’ve relied on the kindness of friends to make a move. But last time, we agreed that the next time we moved would be with professional help. Subjecting our friends to our fourth-floor walk-up is a quick way to not HAVE any friends anymore.

That’s not too bad, right? Five things. It’s easier to think of it as five big things than a million small tasks.

Anyway, just wanted to update you on why the radio silence for so long. I’m BUSY. But I promise to have fun things to talk about when the dust settles.

Thoughts I couldn’t flesh out into full posts.

– I miss doing how-to posts. I want to get back into that. My life has been a little standstill lately, but we’re moving in March/April, so I’m sure there will be a lot of updates to share. Is there anything any of you have been WANTING to learn how to do? I’m happy to help.

– You guys. I’m MOVING AGAIN. You know how I hate moving. I’m trying to console myself with the fact that now that Joey and I have moved together in the past, it will go smoother this time. We both understand how much time we need to pack. We’re planning to take some time off of work to go see apartments. We’re already living in the neighborhood we like, so visiting places won’t require a trek into the city. It’s going to be better this time around…right?

– It’s really, really cold here now. I’ve been doing my best not to complain about the weather, but I am who I am, and the air hurts my face. Spring cannot come soon enough.

– My parents get here tomorrow! I don’t really have anything else exciting to say about that except YAY! I need some family time.

What’s going on with all of you?

So you want to start a blog…

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line I became my friends’ “friend who blogs.”

I’ve always been mildly amused by this because, clearly, this is not my full-time job. There are several-month-long stretches where I feel like the worst, most lackadaisical blogger in all the land. Blogging, for me, is solidly a fun little side project and not much more.

But, be that as it may, I still apparently blog more (or at least more publicly) than most of the other people in my circle of pals. Who knew?

As a result, I often find myself as the go-to for “I want to start a blog; what should I do?” advice. I could write a very specific, very brief self-help book.

I certainly don’t mind sharing my (limited) wisdom in this field, but I’ve noticed that I tend to tell people basically the same thing. So, for what it’s worth, here is my advice for starting a blog should you so desire:

1. Don’t make a huge investment.
Listen. I’m sure your blog is going to be a roaring success and that you are never, ever going to lose interest. But JUST IN CASE, I don’t recommend spending a zillion dollars on a designer and fancy hosting just yet. Give it three months. Get a free WordPress blog and see if you actually like baring your soul to the internet a couple of times a week. If you find that you love it and want to get more seriously into advertising or partnerships or whatever, then go for the fully hosted shebang.

But if a couple months go by and you start to feel uncomfortable or like you’re struggling, you are allowed to give up and you won’t feel like you wasted a small fortune. (For the record, a fully hosted blog will probably run you around $150 a year. It’s not a huge amount, but it COULD have been a really nice dress or a pair of shoes or two. Just things to consider.)

2. Maybe think twice before you bare your soul.
Blogging about your life is weirdly addicting. When I first launched mine, I was bursting at the seams with topics and I started to think about everything that happened to me in a narrative voice. This is good because it means you haven’t run out of ideas yet. This is not good because sometimes you can get a bit carried away and share something you’ll wish you wouldn’t have.

I’ve been fortunate. I have always been extremely cautious about what I share, rarely revealing any details about my marriage, job, or issues with friends or family members. That is a personal choice I made. Other bloggers share these things freely, and it works for them. You should deeply assess what you are willing to risk. Because that’s exactly what you are doing when you make something personal very, VERY public. You are risking it. Just keep that in mind (and maybe save your opinion on your latest fight with your spouse for your next best friend chat over a glass of wine).

3. The blogging world is surprisingly tight-knit.
I have actual friends that I have made through blogging. Some of them, I only know through our blogs’ comment sections and social media. Others I have actually become friends with in real life. These relationships are always kind of magical to me because they represent what I liked about blogging from the beginning — it connects like-minded people across all other boundaries.

It’s also just smart to have these friends. They will be the ones who inspire you out of blogging ruts. They’re the ones who will partner with you on fun initiatives that will help you grow your online presence. And they’re the ones who will cheer the loudest when you share your personal successes online. There are a lot of awful bloggers out there, but there are a lot of wonderful folks out there too. Find them. Follow them. Comment on their blogs. And TELL them that you love them. People always like hearing that.

In general, though, my main advice would be to not take it too seriously in the beginning. If this is meant to be your career, it will happen. First, make sure it’s something you truly enjoy. (Because you cannot fake it as a blogger. Passion is literally the crux of any kind of success on here.) Be yourself, carve out your niche, and enjoy the ride.

Blogger pals, what advice would you give to would-be bloggers?

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