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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.

 

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.

Image via Amazon

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.

 

Image via Amazon

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…

Weekend Links

“A lady, without a family, was the very best preserver of furniture in the world.”
― Jane Austen, Persuasion

Happy weekend, ducklings! At work this week we got our third big proposal out, quite possibly the biggest one to date, and on the home front we trying to shop for ideas for real, grown up furniture for the first time in our lives. We’re 30. Yikes. Lessons learned thus far can broadly be summarized as follows: we have excellent taste, and we have no money.

Here are your links, rapid fire this weekend, and let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments.

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Mesmerizing.

Tumblr find of the week.

Caitlin (the one in China, not the one in New York) made her own 101 in 1001 list, go check it out here.

Spirit animal.

A very important quiz.

Digging into the history of maroon communities in the Dismal Swamp.

Gender non-confirming kitty, courtesy of Miss Potter!

Strong piece about a complicated topic.

Stacy London speaks wisdom.

Home Office

“I come to the office each morning and stay for long hours doing what has to be done to the best of my ability. And when you’ve done the best you can, you can’t do any better.”
― Harry S. Truman

Today is a bit of a frantic day at work for me kittens, following two incredibly late nights in a row – the Oscars and a much needed girls night out while Jeff is in Peterborough. But my pace, chipper as it’s making me, got me thinking about workspaces, so let’s talk them today. Step into my office.

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It’s not fancy, but it’s a world of difference from where we started, which is in turn a world of difference from the floor, which is in turn a world of difference from a kitchen table in a parent’s house. That cork board is probably the best and most important small amount purchase I’ve made in months, and it’s a mass of lists. I keep a running one of the jobs and work I’ve applied for with updates for successes and failures, short editorial calendars for certain projects, individual pitches with the current state of the submission and follow up process, notes to self about publications and sites I’ve heard about and want to investigate, even grocery lists.

I’ve been accused of too many notebooks (blasphemy! There’s no such thing), but aside from my major planner I’ve got one for project notes, one specifically for professional pitch ideas and interview notes, and one for my creative stuff. Plus scratch paper for the lists I’m so fond of.

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There’s fun stuff too. I don’t hoard things typically, but since we’ve arrived I’ve saved tickets from shows and events that have blown me away, Coriolanus and The Drowned Man have places of honor. Aside from pictures of friends and family (all but one removed to protect their privacy, but please do admire one of my two handsome brothers!), I keep photos from magazines that I like to give me something pretty to look at. Clearly my true inner style is ball gowns paired with sweatshirts – can’t say I’m surprised. Comfortable and inappropriately dramatic.

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That other picture is of a Russian socialite and couture maven/designer named Ulyana Sergeenko – frequently photographed bedecked in turbans, bright lips, and emeralds, so of course she plays the role of a muse!  I keep most of my lipsticks and glosses in a used candle holder; easy to hand since I wear it daily, even sitting at my desk. My colored pens and markers, essential for keeping track of different clients and projects I store in Victorian marmalade jar – reclaimed from a period rubbish dump, cleaned up and sold by an enthusiast at Portobello Road, who really deserves his own post because he was a delight!

The other essentials: iPod for podcast listening, business cards (which I always keep on hand, just in case), and takeaway menus to favorite local places. For the nights when making dinner straight up isn’t happening.

Not pictured: the pile of mail, random receipts, whatever lotion or hand cream I’m currently using to keep my skin from coming off in chunks, and a plastic tray that sits on the windowsill and usually contains a dumping of breath mints, thumb tacks, my address book, and keys. Do not believe for one second that things are always this tidy!

And that’s where I work most days! Work from home types, freelancers, and other writer friends, weigh in. What does your typical workspace look like? I’m nosy and want to know.