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The Hidden Drawer

“But have a care! It is a bitter blade, and steel serves only those that can wield it. It will cut your hand as willingly as aught else.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien

We have lived in our apartment for over a year and have only just made an embarrassing discovery. We have a cutlery drawer.

How could you just have discovered this, you ask?

Part of the reason we decided to move into this apartment was the fact that it had recently been renovated and a brand spanking new kitchen had been put in. It’s so shiny, guys, we nearly cried the first time we saw it. It’s not my Platonic Ideal of a kitchen but coming from the one room flat we lived in for three years that had one small cupboard stuck on a wall and about two feet of counter space, it’s downright Nirvana. The whole thing is designed for maximum storage and it’s nice to actually be able to put things away in an orderly fashion and cook with new appliances.

One of those appliances is a flat topped stove with built in ventilation and other systems that I’m sure I don’t properly understand. It appeared as if some of the design of this stove was also built beneath the surface of the counter because it because there was some bulky hardware when I opened the drawers situated a bit further down. Turns out I should have tugged on the nooks and crannies of this a bit more because I found a random tab on it the other day and put some elbow grease into it…and this popped out.

Jeff was in the other room and I had to call him over to make sure I hadn’t lost my mind. He too did a double take and demanded where this totally new drawer had sprang from.

After shaking our head at ourselves a bit, we resigned ourselves to our stupidity and stocked the drawer.

This is actually our first proper cutlery drawer of our married life. We begin to feel quite grown up.

ETA, the album of the week is Say Less, by Roy Woods

 

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Five Things I Loved in January

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”
― Oscar Wilde

2017 is off to a rocky political start but there are small pleasures still to be enjoyed and we at SDS believe in signal boosting the good things in life, no matter how small. Here’s a rundown of the media, beauty, and little luxuries that kept me healthy and functional this month. Share yours in the comments!

 

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Hot water bottle. Our new apartment is lovely but the insulation is not the best, plus we tend to keep the temperature lower for both money and environmental factors. Why else were lovely jumpers invented? At any rate, I tend to get cold at night partially because Jeff claims he overheats when he cuddles me too long (side eye) and partially because I have poor circulation in my feet. In looking for some kind of seasonal solution to this most wintery of problems, I noted that retro looking hot water bottles are everywhere in Britain in a way that I don’t remember seeing in the States. I always thought that hot water bottle were old school and a bit silly but eventually I decided to spring for one on Amazon (in late December, so it doesn’t violate my shopping ban). Kittens, I repent. I grovel. I abase myself for my ignorance. This thing is incredible.

 

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Pestle & Mortar. I have been test driving this beauty brand since December and it has been a good decision. A small company and based in Ireland, they ship worldwide and meticulously detail what goes into their small but impactful line. I’ve been using this serum and their nighttime retinol oil everyday this month and to say that it has been doing good things for my face would be an understatement! I gave the sample of their moisturizer included in my order a go and liked it so I will likely make that my next test drive when my current moisturizer runs out.

 

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Everlasting Mini Liquid Lipstick Set, by Kat Von D. This was a Black Friday indulgence that I’ve been testing out ever since and it gets rave reviews from me. Very uncharacteristically I’ve been reaching for non-red lips this winter so far and this mostly cool toned set of colors has been scratching some kind of beauty itch. Excellent staying power and opaque pigmentation, with modern vamp colors–what more could a girl want?

 

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tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush, in Seduce. Yep, another beauty pick, sue me. I’ve been having a bit of a neutrals moment lately (very out of character again, what is happening?!) and this blush is another of my Black Friday buys that I’ve been wearing almost exclusively ever since. The screenshot doesn’t really capture its tone accurately; I might have to throw another pic up on Instagram to show how it looks in the pan so keep an eye out there. tarte expanded their line of blushes last year to include more neutral tones–previously they were known for the pigmented, bright colors of their blush so this was a bit of a departure for them–and the formula is just ace.

 

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To Walk Invisible, by the BBC. This period drama about the lives of the Brontes is not entirely unlike their works in some ways: quiet in places, slow, and intense in spite of (or perhaps because of) both. This film encompasses the last few years of their brother Bramwell’s life, when his descent into alcoholism and their father’s illness put their prospects for support as Victorian women into sharp relief. Their resolve is to try and publish their work, and the rest is well documented history. The moment that hit me most was when their manuscripts are returned from yet another publisher, and they immediately pull out their list of targets for the next one to contact. There’s a lesson in that.

 

The Paradox of Space and Stuff

“Our pleasures are not material pleasures, but symbols of pleasure – attractively packaged but inferior in content.”
― Alan W. Watts

When our friends were in town the other week it was an amazing chance to catch up. One half of the pair, Chris, and I have been friends since freshmen year of university. In fact he, Jeff, and I were all in an assigned cohort for freshmen students and it’s kind of funny to think about how life has turned out for us in the past 12 years. I absolutely adore his wife, who I’ve known almost as long, and having the ability to see friends from the States is such a rare pleasure for us.

In talking all things work, life, and adulthood related we got on the the subject of upgrading. They live in California and bought a house there. Since then they’ve been working on all kinds of DIY projects to improve their home and add value to it, and seem to be enjoying the process. But in spite of being able to do these improvements on a tight budget and by themselves, we quickly found we were dealing with a similar issue even though we live in a rented apartment.

The famous saying is mo’ money, mo’ problems. Add mo’ space, mo’ spending to the mix.

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We started comparing notes on how that as soon as we’d either moved into a house or a larger apartment, we found our “stuff” multiplying. Closets full of items they rarely used on their end, furniture we’ve never previously owned on ours. More empty space that we feel compelled to fill for us, a garage for them to store stuff, which means they’re holding on to things that they’ve never accumulated before.

Chris told me of a piece of motorcycle equipment that he doesn’t use anymore, but is loathe to give away or even sell because 1) it cost him a pretty penny to get in the first place and, 2) what if he needs it again in the future? We now have a second bedroom (currently being used primarily as storage) which is where, if an item doesn’t really have a home yet, there it goes! A quick, sheepish scan of the contents this morning revealed a number of older cords and electronics I should probably recycle and a bag of linens and stuff that I’ve been meaning to drop off for donation since we moved in. Oops. Having space clearly does something to our mental relationship with stuff!

In our old flat, we didn’t have room for much…and so we didn’t have much. When we moved to a twice as large apartment in October, we suddenly had twice the space to fill. Plus we gave up landlord-provided furniture as part of a negotiation for lower rent and so had to buy furniture for the first time since living in London. Our old apartment barely held a loveseat, but suddenly we needed a sofa to fill a living room. In our old apartment, that loveseat and a desk chair were the only places we had to sit down in, in our new apartment we had a breakfast bar but we now needed stools to sit at it. We have two bathrooms and so needed two bathmats. We have more than one cupboard now and have somehow acquired a mug collection. Oops again.

Like water, people, their money habits, and their stuff seem to expand to fit their containers. Ours certainly have. When we have made more money, we have historically spent more money…even after living quite comfortably on less! Before moving to a larger apartment, our expenses didn’t necessarily change, but we found our habits did. Both we and the handful of friends I have unscientifically surveyed for this post have also found their ability to accumulate and retain stuff grow significantly due to moving into a house for the first time, a bigger apartment, or a first home all to one’s self after leaving the sharing economy that is living with roommates. Call it the curse of comfort! Part of the reason I don’t want a big house anymore is because I don’t want to have to pay to outfit it, keep up a yard, and take care of the whole thing. I’d rather have a much smaller home with fewer, nicer things, and spend my money on other priorities.

On the other hand, I do think there is a correlation between generally being in a position to make more money, and it having more places to go. If you are working full time, you are likely to be an adult with either rent or mortgage to pay. If you’re living in certain areas, you are more likely to require a car. Past a certain age you are statistically more likely to have a partner or children, leading to different kinds of costs. Life gets more expensive the longer it goes on.

As I’m working to limit my consumption, I’m starting to think a portion of that mindset long term will come from limiting my space, both physical and metaphoric. What else will I have to resize besides a “dream home?”

Have you found this same correlation between space and stuff? Those of you who have up- or downgraded at some point in your lives, I’m doubly curious to hear from you.

 

Five Things I Loved in September

“I don’t mean what other people mean when they speak of a home, because I don’t regard a home as a…well, as a place, a building…a house…of wood, bricks, stone. I think of a home as being a thing that two people have between them in which each can…well, nest.”
― Tennessee Williams

We’re in the new place, we’re largely up and running but for the key element of internet not being set up. I type this tethered to one of our phone’s wifi, which is a band aid over a bullet hole as far as communications goes, but is survivable. Proper updates on the care and keeping of a new apartment coming soon. In the meantime, here’s a short rundown of things that captured my attention this month.

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Ginger Pig Meat Book, by Tim Wilson and Frand Warde. I discovered this in the kitchen of the house we stayed in whilst in Devon and read it voraciously until we left. More than a cookbook, it starts by detailing the types of animals that The Ginger Pig (a famous butcher with a stall in Borough Market) farm rears and why. It details how the stock are reared, bred, butchered, and how different cuts of meat are best used. It also goes into the attempts of the owners to prioritize and reestablish British breeds whose bloodlines have largely been replaced by industrial style farming and the breeds that this sort of production favors. It’s not book for vegetarians, but it is a love letter to anyone who cares about good meat, ethically reared and harvested, and offered with care. I’ll definitely purchasing my own copy once the horrendous amount we had to put on the credit card to buy a sofa is paid off.

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Image via Essie

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil. A former nail biter and still occasional nail picker, I’ve dealt with hangnails my whole life. And yet, even as a woman who paints her nails almost as ritual once a week, I’ve been incredible slow up the uptake of cuticle care. I have reformed, thanks to this stuff.

 

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I wasn’t sure what I’d think going into this book, as I enjoyed whole chunks of Eat, Pray, Love while feeling that the overall book came off feeling enormously privileged and a bit over the top. I also don’t tend to love books that fall under “self help” with only rare exceptions. But the buzz around this book was enough for me to grab it in audio form and I ended up enjoying it tremendously. Parts personal anecdotes that didn’t feel preachy, part sensible advice around prioritizing and supporting creativity, it ended up being both an enjoyable and motivating listen.

 

Furniture shopping. Who knew I’d get into this? I still have no idea what we’re doing but slowly and surely a picture is forming for our new apartment. Even more slowly but surely, we’re figuring out how to make it happen in a way that doesn’t break the bank. Though the experience does have me hoping that my dad decides to hold onto his prized collection of middle eastern carpets for my siblings and my collective inheritance. Rugs are hilariously expensive, people!

 

Travel. At least one post on our trip to Devon will be up next week…subject to the internet gods smiling on us. Suffice it to say for now that getting out of the city and to the sea was exactly what we needed.

Monday Links

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

Saturday was a long and occasionally vexing day, but we got the whole move done in it. On Sunday Jeff got to go gallivanting off to an NFL game because we’d bought the ticket long before our move date (I still think sneakiness might have been involved) but we got our first batch of shopping done and almost all our things organized any way.

Next stop furniture, and what a doozy that will be. We’re preparing to be permanently poor for the foreseeable future! However after crunching some numbers, budgeting, and planning, we were able to afford plane tickets for Christmas in the States, which means we get to see both sides of the family two years in a row. Adulting, we are getting there.

…but we do not yet have internet so your links are a day late, though not a proverbial dollar short! Let me know what your weekend held in the comments!

Daunting but kind of exhilarating at the same time.
Daunting but kind of exhilarating at the same time.

In case you missed it, this Tiny Desk Concert was pretty great.

An intriguing piece on Secretary Clinton and the common problem of reactions to women looking for a promotion. Regardless of political affiliation, I’ve found her now famous comments about being torn down when seeking a new position as opposed to being relatively well thought of when doing that new position to be insightful.

Books, glorious books!

A query I have often posed to myself. I carry kit enough to invade a small country on a typical day.

Loved this essay from Mike Birbiglia.

This man has lived.

I literally cannot tell the different between satire, news, and fiction sometimes these days. Headlines and situations like this do not help.

It’s October, Halloween is coming, start prepping!

 

Sleep On It

“There is a certain proper and luxurious way of lying in bed. Confucius, that great artist of life, “never lay straight” in bed, “like a corpse”, but always curled up on one side. I believe one of the greatest pleasures of life is to curl up one’s legs in bed. The posture of the arms is also very important, in order to reach the greatest degree of aesthetic pleasure and mental power. I believe the best posture is not lying flat on the bed, but being upholstered with big soft pillows at an angle of thirty degrees with either one arm or both arms placed behind the back of one’s head.”
― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

Serious question: how many online mattress companies are there?

I am a podcast and public radio listening millennial who wants to support small businesses, and buys into the idea of buying more or less straight from a manufacturer or designer. This sort of model is right up my stereotypical street. However, the sheer amount of options being lobbed at me as we look at trying to fit out a new place are ludicrous. Caspar, Eve, Simba, Leesa, Yogabed, Tuft & Needle, Loon & Leaf, Keetsa, and goodness knows what others I’m missing–I’m sure the comment section will educate me.

More curiously, what was the impetus for every start up and their ping-pong-court-and-smoothie-bar-holding campus to decide that mattresses was the next great frontier to be conquered? What caused this convergence? Have we reached peak, direct to consumer mattress yet? And did they all use the same two branding agencies or something? So many mysteries…