So now that we are moving to Long Island, I have been looking into the so called Long Island style. It is a beachy, laidback style, with a muted light color palette of sea blues, sand beiges, driftwood grays and whites. The color palette actually reminds me of many Finnish homes, but otherwise the Long Island style is very American. A little bit Americana too, with a nautical twist, but overall much more sophisticated and elegant than traditional Americana. I hope to have my own beach house to decorate in this style one day, but for now, I am thinking that this style is spot on for our outdoor space.
I have a lot to learn about taking pictures of myself - and since there is now so much going on in my life with the renovation, learning to take those pics is not that high on my list. (And neither are my outfits all that interesting, given my very much growing body. PLEASE do not criticize the arms, or anything else, because I already feel quite like wanting to wear a burka for the next three moths..) I did manage to snap this shot in our new bedroom. I am not sure if I can call it the outfit of the day picture since it is not very clear at all, but here I am, wearing a Walmart dress, shell necklace and flower ring from Street vendors, watch by Michael Kors, sunglasses Fendi.
Oh, and Mid Summer was fabulous!! We took a one-day vacation from renovation on Saturday and went to the traditional Mid Summer party at a friend's lake cottage. The food was out of this world, with all the Finnish Juhannus treats, including smoked salmon, herring, new potatoes, etc. The friends of our hosts took us out on the lake on their boat once it got dark, and we enjoyed the yearly village fireworks that exploded right on top of us on the lake. BEAUTIFUL! The dark lake with lots of boats to view the show - so exotic. The girls were so excited - they have never seen fireworks from that close. I enjoyed their joy and excitement, as well as the pretty firework show. Earlier in the day I also did get my moment on the lake to quiet my mind and its demands, and to breathe easy and appreciate all the things happening in my life right now.
On Sunday we had to stop by the house to assess the work that was done - but afterwards we had a nice dinner at Morton's Steakhouse. All in all, it was a very nice and relaxing weekend!
The living room: new insulation and sheet rock on the walls as well as a few coats of plaster on both the walls and ceiling (still needs sanding and paint), removed floor tiles
The old porch (in the far end of picture, where the guy is sitting): insulation on walls, sheet rock, plaster, instead of a door there is now just a wall between the two windows on the right side, a big hole in one of the left side windows (collateral damage - and won't matter since all the windows will be replaced anyway), raised and insulated floor
The old dining area: plaster in the ceiling, removed mirror from walls
The kitchen: removed all cabinets and floor tiles
Both the plumber and the electrician have done a lot of work.
The next steps are to finish the plastering, get the floors done, then paint, install new kitchen, and the master bathroom, vanities and toilets in the other bathrooms.
Plans keep changing as we go..and the renovation budget also plays a role in the decisions we have to make. The kitchen especially is shaping out to be slightly different than I had wanted and envisioned, but it will still be very nice. We have also decided to put the dining table in the old porch area, and use the middle (old dining room) for our TV/family room.
As Finland is winding down to enjoy Mid Summer (Juhannus), I am dreaming about the lake, the lightness of the night, the smell of flowers at midnight.. and watching over three screaming, giggling, jumping, running, sweaty, and fabulous little girls on a play date (aaah, the endless energy..). It is too hot in New York to be outdoors (at least for pregnant people!) so I am going to have to miss the Swedish Mid Summer picnic in Battery Park this year. But that's ok - the whole family is going to a friend's traditional Mid Summer party at the lake cottage tomorrow!
While the girls are having fun I've been surfing the net and I scored some fabulous net finds. First of all, the blog by Eddie Ross, a home decor wizard and a personality who got his start at Martha Stewart, but has since blossomed on his own.
Then I clicked through Lonny, a home decor online magazine, founded by Eddie Ross and found beautiful pictures, and such a colorful inspiration. Lonny reminds me a bit of the now defunct Domino magazine, and I really hope that Lonny will eventually be available in print copy as well. I miss Domino and can't believe that there would not be an audience for a magazine in that space, more funky, fun and accessible than most home decor mags. Lonny is definitely a site that I will keep going back to.
Lonny led me to find an outlet for Home Decor, One Kings Lane, and as an outlet lover with a champagne taste, I was quite happy with this find! There is of course a place for Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Pier One etc, but One Kings Lane is a place where you can score serious finds, such as original lithographs by Marc Chagall, one of my favorite painters ever.. So I was happy that my mindless web-surfing was very productive today.
This morning I found a fortune cookie strip in my wallet which I must have saved there ages ago.
"Even in the greatest confusion there is an open channel into the soul."
If only, in the middle of a million stresses, we would remember to take the time to listen to our soul/heart/body, our lives would be so much more peaceful and manageable. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment, day after day. I have to constantly remind myself to take that moment to re-balance and take a deep breath, quiet the mind, let myself believe that the universe will carry me... My promise to myself this mid-summer is that I will try to find a peaceful moment by the lake, and just sit there and let go of the fear, the worry, the stress, and let love and hope fill me and then just be in that moment and enjoy it.
Here's a picture of another lake, in Finland, to which I sometimes return in my mind:
And it's so hard to get over the Bottega Veneta obsession...although, I just may have done it now.. Over the weekend, between Home Depot and the construction site, I did manage to squeeze in one short visit to Bottega Veneta. Just to get a quick peak! I almost bought a bag - but while I was inspecting the bag, with my kids running around the store, and my belly sticking out it being quite obvious I was knocked up again, the sales lady said something that really turned me off.. I know, it's not such a big deal, but I just could not help but being a bit miffed. I was talking to myself mostly, but also to her, saying that this could look nice with jeans but that the bag is really more ladylike and for the office rather than for toting around baby bottles. The sales woman looks at me conspiratorially, and says that oh, don't worry, most women who buy this bag don't work.. I got a bit upset that she so readily assumed that I did not work. Of course I told her that I actually do work, but then the damage was done, and I was turned off. I did not buy the bag, and truth be told, Bottega Veneta can wait a while. But since I did not get my shopping fix there, I was itching for something fabulous and cute. Luckily, a blogger girlfriend Tres Chic, gave me a hint about certain Vivienne Westwood rubber booties that I had admired on her being available at my wardrobe.com. I can't wait to receive them - bring on the rain and sleet in the fall - I will be fabulously ready in my new rubber booties!
Wow it is hard to do construction! I have to say that I have not appreciated ENOUGH all those people who actually build their own houses...from start to finish. At least we have the house already built and are just making some changes to it. It is still an extreme makeover site - not a good place for kids to hang out, so it is nerve racking to be at the house with kids, which we had to do this weekend as various kitchen people came around taking measures and planning the kitchen. We will get at least two quotes before making the decision on which way to go.
One thing I have learned in this process is that prices vary astronomically from one place to another.
And the other thing learned is that too much choice is not necessarily a good thing. I am getting tired just picking stuff. This weekend it was toilets - I mean who knew that there are so many different models out there? Round bowl, elongated bowl, short seat, tall seat, flush power, etc. And shower bodies! I just want to be able to turn on the water, adjust the temperature and water volume. Why are there so many knobs and what do they do? Shower heads, hand helds, rain shower, steam shower, my head is spinning with all this new information that I really did not need... I guess this is why rich people have designers!
Anyway, things are progressing, but I am still getting a little nervous..we are supposed to be moving in about a month. Wonder if that will actually happen - or do we have to postpone..
The third thing I've learned is that renovation is extremely stressful. I just don't get it how the Novogratz family from the "9 by Design" show do it. I am already on the brink of a huge blow-up with my significant other as the pressure builds..this has not been the bonding experience that I thought it might be. There will be a lot more bonding when it's all said and done and we can sit in our new house in peace and look at what we have achieved. But that is still weeks away. Until then I have to tread carefully with the male ego of my darling husband while holding on to my own wants and needs...
I have been doing some research on floors, and it looks like Bamboo is the way to go. Bamboo floors are comparable to hardwood floors, but instead of taking year 60 years to grow, bamboo can mature in 3 years. Bamboo is not really a "wood" at all, but a grass. However, the floors behave much like wood floors. The eco-friendliness definitely factors in our decision to go with bamboo, but we also like the look. Below are a couple of pics of beautiful bamboo floors.
Our original plan was to put a marble tile in the entrance, kitchen and corridor, but we have now decided to replace the existing wood floors in the living room and dining areas too. To achieve a coherent look we will use the same flooring material (bamboo!) in the whole first floor.
This is the actual floor that we have chosen for now (Woven Bamboo Toast):
There are interesting things happening in the U.S. politics now. The primaries in many states were held on Tuesday, and the women in running have been in the headlines. In California the senate race will be a tight one with the republican Carly Fiorina, the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard, running against the current incumbent and very popular democrat Barbara Boxer. And Meg Whitman, the ex-CEO of eBay, is running for governor in the same state. The current sentiment, spurred on by the high unemployment brought on by the recession, is quite anti-big business, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out in these ladies' campaigns. Both took in very large salaries while laying off thousands of people. But like this fact, and their relative inexperience in politics wasn't enough, last week they also made derogatory comments about each other's hair. Hair! I mean, maybe this is why women have such a hard time being taken seriously. Hair! Come on...they're both smarter than that.
There is also an interesting speculation going about Obama's second term. His super bad handling of the BP oil spill (he has not even met with the BP CEO - but he has "people" working on the BP catastrophe) is very damaging to his approval ratings. Biden is not very popular either. But, Hillary Clinton has wonderful ratings! So there are rumours that Obama may dump Biden for the run for his second term and go for Hillary as his VP (something he of course should have done the first time around!)... We shall see...
My 2-year old will finally get her own room once we move. It will be quite an adjustment for her and such a relief for us (she's still in a crib in our bedroom). She will inherit a bed from her big sister, and most of the other furniture in her room will be hand-me-downs from big sis and perhaps some refinished pieces from elsewhere in our apartment (I am planning to paint a 1950's small china cabinet white and putting it in her room). The only new piece in her room will be the wonderfully retro cute Eames molded rocker in new (original) Aqua Sky color. We purchased the rocker yesterday from Design Within Reach and the lead time for the aqua sky color is 12 weeks! The white rocker (pictured below) would have been in stock, but I think the aqua sky will be a nice punch of color in her otherwise white and pale pink room. The walls will be Behr's Powdered Blush pink, the bed and all other furniture is white.
There is an extreme makeover going on at our house! The demolition is almost done; living room wall paneling has been ripped out, the walls between kitchen, dining area and porch are gone, kitchen has been gutted, the entrance walls are gone, the master bathroom has been gutted. The house is now a real construction site.
There is just so much drama going on in the lives of the Real Housewives of New Jersey that I don't know where to even begin. News of Teresa's bankruptcy came out a few days ago. Seems that while she was shown on TV with a crazy wad of cash purchasing expensive items for her home and running insane shopping sprees for her daughters, her "official" financial status was VERY much under water, $11 MILLION dollars worth. I was stunned when I heard, after seeing the spending habits and her so openly exhibiting and bragging about her family's status and money. I mean this is a woman who has repeatedly said that she's too pretty to work (more like too stupid, say I). She has also said that the bankruptcy is a "fresh start". A FRESH START?? What the..? I just hope that the judge won't approve the bankruptcy as this is just so totally ridiculous. I have no sympathy for people that irresponsible!
And the other news is Danielle's sex tape. Which she leaked out herself. At least she doesn't think she's too pretty to work...I mean, there ARE many different kinds of professions.. Anyway, I don't think anyone was surprised to hear about the tape. I am just sad for her children, who seem to be very sweet and quite level headed despite having such a crazy mother.
And now we have the sink too! After a very long day making plans at the house, we came home and I ordered the kitchen sink online. Found exactly the sink we have been looking for at Overstock.com for a fraction of the price. It is a farmhouse style overhang stainless steel sink, and comes with the industrial looking cool faucet and even a soap dispenser. Here is the pic:
We went to the Superior Stone slab yard in Astoria today to look at granite and marble slabs to get an idea of the kind of countertop we want for our new kitchen. (A few short weeks ago I did not even know that these kinds of places exist and now I am just casually discussing different slab yards - isn't life beautiful?)
I love the look of marble, but it's a porous stone and stains quite easily. Given my red wine habit that may not be such a good thing. Granite, on the other hand, is probably the most stain resistant stone and can take lots of abuse. The only thing about granite is that I don't really love the traditional look of it. I especially gag on the sight of the reddish standard shiny granite that the New Jersey Housewives love in their gaudy kitchens. So off to the slab yard we went in search of some granite even a non-housewife could love. We found some good options - the best being the White Fantasy (who came up with that name?). It actually looks a bit like marble, which, I guess, is why I so like it.
The White Fantasy!!!
Another, pretty cool looking slab was granite from a river bank, with pebbles on it. Yes, I guess I do have a thing for pebbles:
This is called Black Marinace
There was also a very unusual marble with stripes, that could look amazing in a very modern kitchen:
This marble is called Linac
And of course there were many many choices for the very traditional looking marble, of which I like the Calacatta Gold the best with gray and some gold veining:
So now we know there are some options in the granite family too, aside from the more traditional look.
We now have to choose the cabinets. The cabinet guy and the kitchen designer (my dear friend!) are coming to the house tomorrow. I guess I should do a post on cabinet styles to clear my head on that one. I kind of know what I want, which is dark espresso with stainless steel pulls. Some upper cabinets with frosted light glass so that the look doesn't get too heavy. Once we know the cabinets we will put in, then we can choose the stone. I am leaning towards the White Fantasy granite on the island and maybe a white glass countertop on the side counters. It may be too much to have the granite all over. But I will of course listen to my favorite designer's advice as well. I can't wait for her to see the house and give me some real advice on everything. But most of all, I can't wait to see the drawings for our kitchen!
The retail numbers for May came out today and were somewhat disappointing, especially since retail did quite well very early on in the year. Jan, Feb and March people seemed to be back to shopping and spending, but April and May there's been a serious pullback to frugality. Could be the news of financial trouble from Europe (the Greece situation) or the horrible oil catastrophe that is making people avoid overt consumerism. Whatever is making people shop less, is not affecting the luxury segment as that is the only retail sector with double digit year over year growth (although last year was the worst year ever). Another winner is internet retail which keeps growing despite the economy.
And what do you get when you put luxury and internet together ----> Net-a-Porter. The luxury fashion web site that most fashionistas browse from time to time wishing they could just order the whole damn site. I don't admire too many people, it's just not like me to have idols, but I do have to say that a wave of admiration went through me when I read the June Vogue story of Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter that just sold her share of the company to the Richemont Luxury Group for $76 million. Shrewd lady! She has created an amazing online business and has now proven that high end fashion can be successfully sold on the internet. So successfully in fact, that there is bound to be lots of competition gearing up. Coincidentally, a great time to cash in on her hard work! She will stay on as a CEO, undoubtedly pulling in a very respectable salary.
Natalie Massenet is one of the most influential people in the fashion business now. She is a real career woman who does not sugarcoat the difficulty of having a career and a family (she has a husband and two daughters). In Vogue she says "Choose the right husband and a nanny, and then don't worry about a social life. Everything but family and work has to go." I know that I can relate to that.
But the best is yet to come. As all my friends know, I am the biggest bargain lover on earth, and I go a little bonkers at outlets. I don't think that fashion should be so exclusive. Anyway, Massenet's latest business endeavor is an online luxury fashion outlet, the outnet.com. I checked it out and there are many nice pieces right now, for amazing prices. A gorgeous draped Chloe silk skirt at 70% discount. If you are not in fashion business, who cares that it's last season! I know that I don't. I will definitely keep following this fashionable business lady and her career, wishing that maybe I could learn something from her.
I just heard the news of Al and Tipper Gore splitting up after 40 years together. Without commenting on their specific situation (since I don't personally know them, I can't know the reasons behind), I just have to say that the news made me sad. That is a long time to share with someone, and I am sure there is a lot of ups and downs, happy and sad times in those 40 years. The cynic in me wants to say that I am sure we will read about the reasons for the separation in their upcoming books... But despite the cynicism, I am still sad for them.
Isn't it funny that when the thing that you have most wanted finally happens, it seems scary, too big and difficult, and just makes you hyperventilate. You almost regret ever wanting it! We have been looking for a house (or apartment) for years. First we couldn't decide where we wanted to live. We looked at apartments, but could not find anything that was big enough for us or close to good schools. Then we looked at houses but got scared of living in the suburbs. Then we looked at apartments again, and this cycle went on for a few years. Meanwhile real estate prices kept rising and finally collapsed. And when we finally made the decision to go for a house in the suburbia, it took forever to find a house that seemed like it was worthwile to make the big move. The only good thing about this is that I can say that we bought at the bottom of the market! We were procrastinating all this for so long that we didn't even mind waiting a few extra months after actually buying a house before moving in. But now that the time is here I have cold feet.. is this normal or am I just crazy? I change between being excited about the possibilities and then scared about the change of lifestyle, long commute, feeling isolated and lonely, living in a construction zone and being overwhelmed financially.. I need some ZEN, right now!