Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review!

A quick self-congratulatory...... yeee-hah!!! 

My book, Home Improvement For The Busy & Broke: How To Get Your Shit Together & Live Like An Adult was just reviewed on this hilarious home improvement pod cast called "Fix-It Home Improvement"! I've never heard someone speak so dynamically about installing a home door bell, and that's just one of their posts. Check out the link below to hear their soundbite about my book, and then stick around for the whole podcast if you're in the market for a new doorbell.

And obviously, you should go on Amazon and pick up a copy of the book too. So you can read all about my thoughts on painters' tape for yourself.....


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

And then, I wallpapered our bathroom...

Because I was throwing a baby shower (yep. I do that too...) and I couldn't have all those ladies in my apartment with my bathroom un-wallpapered. Obviously.

So my champion mother/wallpapering mentor zoomed down to New York, didn't bother me even once about how skewed my priorities are, and we whipped through wallpapering that bathroom faster than you can say "Run a business, open a restaurant, raise a kid, throw a baby shower." What a woman.

The wallpaper I put up was a spur-of-the-moment crazy deal-on-a-deal from Serena & Lily. A couple of weeks ago, they had a huge sale on everything that was already on sale, so I spontaneously bought three rolls of this wig-a-doo wallpaper for less than $40.00 (yes!!!) and went to town.

To be clear--- this might not be the wallpaper I would have chosen if I was working with a blank slate, but considering we've just moved into an apartment with this crazy tri-colored blue-grey-and-white tile, this circa 1990 wallpaper seemed like just the thing to pull the whole bathroom together.

And I've got to tell you. I LOVE IT. It's totally weird. It's a little bit dizzying. The iphone camera had a really hard time finding a focal point, it's so busy. And yet... I LOVE IT. It's like this bathroom has found its true identity. Suddenly the blue and grey tile makes sense. Suddenly the space feels welcoming, not sparse. Suddenly, it makes sense that there is a massive Belgian elephant poster in this tiny space.

Ooooohhhh waaaaiiiittt. Okay, maybe the wallpaper didn't solve that mystery, but on the whole-- I'm loving the transformation.

And the best part-- even a couple of women came out of the bathroom during the baby shower on Sunday and said, "I love your wallpaper!" so that was a win.... Even if they were secretly thinking, "...Too bad your floor tile is so weird...."

Oh well, you can't win 'em all. 


Not a lag about...

This past weekend I went up to Hampshire College (my alma mater) to speak to prospective, current, and graduated students about "How to be a Maker, Making It In The Real World." If you know me at all, you would know this is literally my personal nightmare. Like, other people dream about walking through high school naked and wake up in a cold sweat. I dream about speaking fully clothed with a script pretty much anywhere and wake up similarly drenched.

So, to put it lightly, public speaking makes me cringe. Speaking positively about myself in pretty much any capacity makes me near catatonic. Going back to college to do both sounded terrible. However, I also have a lot of love for Hampshire and everything I learned/accomplished there, and of course I was flattered that they asked, so off I went.

Originally the plan was for John and a couple of our Hampshire friends to come up with me; but then John came up with an idea that would only appeal to a person like me... Rather than go up to Hampshire to watch me squirm in public, he and the crew would stay in New York and build a deck on our roof, I would throw myself on the fire, and essentially, the roof deck would be my prize for surviving...

In John's mind-- if I had to speak positively about myself and my experiences, it would probably be easier without any familiar faces in the audience. 100% true. I am the least socially terrified around people I don't know at all. Behind closed doors (and on this blog) I refer to this as "hyper-compensating social psychosis". For the first few hours that I meet total strangers, I am the most funny, most dynamic version of myself. Add a couple of my closest friends, and I become an awkward, self aware weirdo who can scarcely remember my name. I don't yet have a term for that, but I'm open to suggestions if anybody's got one.

Anyway-- he knows that at the end of the day, there is truly nothing I like more than straight up progress. (This is pretty much the secret to most of everything that we've ever gotten done. No matter how much I'd rather sleep, watch a movie, or get a pedicure-- there's nothing that really "fills me up" quite like checking off a to-do list. I realize this is totally f#cked up, but that's the gist of it.) So that was the plan. And then, lo! The stars aligned and John's parents told us they had HEAPS of wide plank pine which we could use for the deck (the product of many downed trees following Hurricane Sandy, believe it or not.)

Totally awesome, we just had to get it from upstate New York to South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. No problemo. One extremely sweaty, very arduous afternoon later; and we had 600 square feet of pine sitting up on the roof, waiting for installation. Ha-zahh!

Fast forward another week... I've survived the speech at Hampshire with a totally positive reception and only a brief (not public) mental breakdown... But even better, the roof deck has been installed and it feels absolutely f#cking magical out there. I'm not kidding. Without a doubt, going up to Hampshire solo was unquestionably worth how marvelous our deck feels now. Maybe we have low standards, but pretty much every evening we sit outside, eat dinner, and I'm telling you! It feels like we're out on a date. Outdoor eating is so vastly superior to indoor eating-- it's bananas. I just wish we could do it all year long...


At this rate, I'm going to end up out there in mid-October wrapped in blankets. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Major inspo...

The first thing we bought for the bar basically determined the aesthetic for the whole joint. Through some wild aligning of the stars, I bumped into a pair of stunning art deco brass doors on Craig's List, and after haggling and negotiating (and a fair amount of begging, let's be honest...) we became the proud owners of these fabulous doors!

They were salvaged from The Stella Town, in Midtown Manhattan, designed by Ralph Walker in the mid 20's. The building was considered to be one of the earliest skyscrapers in New York, and truly, they've defined the design of restaurant. (See the picture at left to see our doors when they were still installed downtown.) Before we found the doors, I kept saying, "I want the bar to feel like the staff entrance to something grand. Like the secret backdoor to Grand Central Station." When I found these doors, I was like, "Holy sh!#. This is them."

Now I just can't wait to see them installed into our facade (easier said than done, make no mistake...) and we'll really be smokin'.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Updates and info...

I think we've long since established that this has become an unreliable blog, and I-- I have become an unreliable blogger. If you want to stay up to date, you're just going to have to join me on instagram (@christinasalway). Or better yet, once my friend (who is younger and more media savvy than me) has explained the point of snapchat to me, you'll be able to join me there too.

In exchange, I will try a little harder to keep you in the loop here on the blog. Deal? Deal.

So... with that in mind, let's jump straight into our biggest, latest news. We bought a bar. In Brooklyn. What the f#ck, you just said. You heard me correctly. Actually, to be a little more specific, we bought a charmless fast food Korean restaurant, and we're currently in the process of turning it into a bar. John and I have been kicking around the idea of opening a restaurant for years, and about a year ago, he decided he'd had enough of the film and television slog, and he was going to take the plunge.

As our friend Meg says, "This is not a dry run." He'd spent too much time not doing what he wanted to do, and he was ready to throw caution to the wind to chase after the something he really wanted. I'm sure that sounds just plain crazy to a lot of people. But I had this moment where I thought to myself: "This is going to be so nuts. But really, what's the alternative? Are you willing to ask him to keep doing something he hates, because it's familiar? Because it's known? Do you want those words to come out of your mouth? Just do the safe thing?" And I just thought, absolutely not. No, no, no. We've tackled every other challenge together, and our rule of thumb has always been "Don't look back and wonder what would have happened if you did ---." It's just no way to live. I'm not advocating for being irresponsible or stupid. But I am advocating for taking measured, manageable risks in pursuit of job satisfaction; and this felt like one of those moments.


And then, serendipitously, we bumped into an old school friend of John's (Sam, pictured above, unlocking our new restaurant!) who was also working on a similar restaurant idea, and lo! A partnership was formed. Crazy, but true. And now we're knee-deep in this sh!# and there's no going back. We've got the space (on the corner of Graham Avenue and Metropolitan in Williamsburg), we've submitted our plans to the Department of Buildings and applied for a liquor license. We've hired a contractor, hunted down spectacular pendant lights, sconces, a curved antique bar; we bought all of our chairs on the cheap at auction, and scored a pair of stunning art deco brass doors (shown below) which came from one of the first skyscrapers in New York City-- the Telephone Building in Tribeca.

Check out some of my design boards and floor plans, below...


I will try to stay on top of posting our progress here-- I'll show you snippets of the lights, the floor, the bathroom renovation... There's so much to chronicle. So many adventures, so many challenges, and so much of it is going to be done by these three pairs of hands. 

So-- just when you thought this blog might officially be toast-- maybe it's got a second (third? fourth?) wind after all.... 

You just can't quit me.  ; ) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Oh yeah. Something else is happening too.


I'm pretty sure that I mentioned that I was writing a book a while ago. I must have. I'm a pretty big whiner, and it took up so much of my free time (which was already "scarce", let's call it) for about six months, so I must have mentioned it. And then-- off it went to the publisher and all I had to do was wait. (Well-- I had to wait, run my company, find an apartment, move apartments, keep Jules alive, get Jules into pre-school, and not jump from a roof top. Again-- I'm a pretty big whiner. Can't be avoided...) And then suddenly-- an early edition of the book arrived in the mail! 

I'm so psyched. It actually looks so much like a book! I was really nervous that it was going to arrive and look like a sad pamphlet or something, and I'd have to pretend it never happened and just awkwardly brush the whole thing under the rug. I mean, I'm not saying this is my opus or anything, but it really does look like a book, so I'm feeling pretty chuffed already. Who knows what will happen with the actual book itself, but at least it doesn't look like a sad pamphlet... 

    

    

So--- (shameless self promotion)--- if you want to see just how much it doesn't look like a pamphlet, you can buy your very own copy on Amazon. It isn't officially available until late May, but you can "pre-buy" one now, which is definitely what I would recommend. (Not because it's going to fly off the shelves, but because I don't want you to forget!) Yuk, yuk, yuk. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

We didn't die. But it was by the skin of our teeth.

I know it's been a while. And I know I always say that. But I'm such a crazy perfectionist-- I think I've been having a difficult time showing our new apartment to people while it's still in transition. I keep wanting to hide its "in the midst-ness" until its been tweaked and perfected, like it's some shortcoming that we're not already completely finished making our new space perfect. But I also realize that if I wait until it's finished to show you what we're doing and what we've done, you'll have to wait a really long time, and then that would pretty much be the end of the blog.

So-- I guess I've got to man up and show you all my dirty laundry. We've gotten a tremendous number of things done in the past month, but we've got a huge long list of other things left to do... (Don't tell John. He's got bigger fish to fry.)

So here's where we are so far...


In our bedroom, our main issue is wall color. Originally I was thinking about laying this over-dyed turquoise rug I had leftover from my office, so we painted the walls white, thinking the rug would be more than enough color to go around. But once we actually got settled, I realized I just wasn't feeling the turquoise rug. It was the wrong size for the room, and just felt a little dinky in the space. I found a mega-cheap sisal rug on overstock.com (like MEGA CHEAP! $100 for an 8 X 10. Oh baby!) I laid it out, loved it immediately, and at just that same bliss-moment, simultaneously regretted painting the room white. So, eventually I'm going to get around to painting the room-- I already know what color-- I just have to find the time. (Benjamin Moore's Healing Aloe... Surprise, surprise...)


The living room is in pretty good shape. I'm not totally sold on that mirror on the far left side--- I think it's a little little, to be honest--- but it's what I've got, so it's a decent place holder for the time being. It's a weird thing about unpacking your shelves after having everything "just so" for the past 12 years. Because obviously, they weren't "just so" twelve years ago. It took twelve years to acquire all those odds and ends. Twelve years to position each knick-knack and tchotckes, until it had just the right amount of the "layered" look and not too much "junk f-ing everywhere" look. And then I nonchalantly packed everything up, and absentmindedly unpacked everything in our new place... And now it doesn't have the same curated soul it originally had. Which doesn't mean it won't eventually. It just won't two weeks after we've moved in. So everyone, me included, is just going to have to be a little patient. 



The kitchen and dining room look awesome if you look at it from the angle you see below. We finally replaced the counter top for our kitchen island (which is actually a sideboard on casters, believe it or not...) with a chunk of "zodiaq" which I just got on the cheap from my stone fabricator, because it was a remnant. We built this island about five years ago for our old apartment, using a sideboard we had and the desk top of my old drafting table, and while this worked functionally (though not so beautifully) for many years-- I was ready to draw the line. They happened to have a piece of the "zodiaq" stuff that was an awesome match to the counter tops installed in the rest of the kitchen, and I just wasn't willing to move that cruddy drafting table desk top to a new apartment. It was too jacked up and jankity, and by god, people! We're adults. It was time we had a counter top that was actually intended as a counter top.


Our project this week (in addition to working, keeping the dog and Julian alive, and being nice to each other) is the rest of the kitchen. Basically the whole thing is set up for a comedy skit. The stove and one drawer are on one side of the refrigerator; and then the sink and another drawer are on the other side of the fridge. And the fridge sticks out awkwardly between the two sides, so while you're cooking, it's like "First I'm over here" duhn-nuh-nuh-nuh "Now I've over here!" duhn-nuh-nuh-nuh "Back to the other side..." duhn-nuh-nuh-nuh... So we've come up with a pretty straight forward remedy for that set up, which we're going to test out tomorrow, I guess. So you'll have to check back in a day or two to see how that's progressing. 

But yeah. The gist is that we're not dead. We've just been really busy, and I'm kind of a (certifiable) stress case.