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Slow Days

“I don’t want to be alone, I want to be left alone.”
– Audrey Hepburn

Its not terribly exciting, but one of the things I really like is “doing nothing” with Jeff. We both work hard and long hours during the week and make it a priority to spend the weekends mostly together. Of course we’ll occasionally meet up with friends or run errands (Jeff goes golfing with the guys, I will meet up with friends for brunch or coffee, and so on), but most weekends will find us at home doing un-glamorous grown up things like laundry and cleaning the house.

Often, and especially during the cooler months, we may spend whole weekends at home and barely leave the apartment. This is by no means an every weekend kind of thing, but during particularly busy seasons or after a grueling week, by mutual consent, we’ll decide to do as little as we can reasonably get away with. We call these “Slow Days,” and they have a very specific formula.

Pajamas and exercise clothing feature heavily. Actual exercise is optional.

Podcasts. It’s a bit of a family tradition but we normally listen to NPR classic “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” together while we cook breakfast. Breakfasts are either roasted potatoes with eggs and avocados, or french toast. Almost without fail.

Naps may be involved.

We’ll play video games. Jeff is much more of a gamer than me, but there are some that I like and do play regularly. We may also play board or card games.

We’ll read. I normally have at least one book and audiobook going at any given point, and Jeff will catch up on news. We are both political junkies, but we take Slow Days to catch up on a lot of the news that we might have missed in the sturm und drang of the day to day media churn.

We will normally do a few chores to help justify our extreme laziness, but we usually do them together.

I’ll normally indulge in some skincare and slather a mask on my face. If I’m feeling particularly energetic I’ll groom my brows, wax my upper lip (let’s be real), and

At some point, because I’m hyper, I’ll get a bit bored and probably tidy something up or run a small errand. This is when my spice rack gets organized, or my pile of clothes that need to be taken to the dry cleaner gets separated from items for the regular wash.

Quite often, we’ll go hours not speaking to one another, even if we’re in the house together. Not in an unhealthy sense, but in a companionable silence sort of way that I’ve really come to value over the years. At the end of the day, there’s only a few people who I feel able to be “alone” with, without trying to be funny, clever, engaging, or “switched on” in some way. These people are my best friends (shout out to X. with whom I spent many a summer vacation day reading in silence–the stuff lasting teenage friendships are made of!) and my husband.

When you give yourself permission to have a slow day, what does it look like and does it involve anyone else?

The Faustian Cabinet Has Arrived

“If you love something, it will work. That’s the only real rule.”
– Bunny Williams

A quick moment of apartment appreciation, minions. We’ve lived in our current place for two years and our lease is for a year more, after which we may either need to move or at least try to negotiate on rent a bit more. We struck a bargain when we moved in that we would furnish the place ourselves in exchange for lower rent and we have done so…very, very slowly.

I don’t like living in what feels like a barebones apartment sometimes, I’m ready for a home that feels intentional and grown up, with art on the walls and furniture bought to keep instead of disposable IKEA goods. Simultaneous and paradoxically to that, I enjoy the ease with which we have been able to move, be it to another country or a new apartment on short notice. Owning fewer possessions definitely helps with that!

However, the older I get, the less satisfied I am with living out of suitcases. Our first ever apartment in Utah was starving newlywed accommodation, our first London apartment was a shoebox and not very nice, but this apartment feels like the first proper grown up place. I’ve enjoyed the process of putting it together, even if that process takes a long time and is constrained by the realities of budgeting and strategy. We bought a bed and a wardrobe when we first moved in, for obvious reasons. Over the coming months, our next purchase was a couch, which again is fairly standard. From Etsy we bought a coffee table and stools, from John Lewis a rug. After about a year we splurged on our fabulous vintage chairs and then closed our wallets again for a long while.

Furnishing is a balancing act. I’m a magpie who loves interesting, colorful pieces with personality while Jeff would be a Danish minimalist if he could. Smashing those two styles together into something that involves taste is a tricky, but I think we’re doing okay so far. He has his industrial tables, I get colors and patterns so long as the lines are modern. I get to do the majority of the selection, but he gets veto power so we don’t get overwhelmed with my magpie tendencies. It works. So when I spotted our latest piece online, I knew it would work too.

It’s a vintage piece, but one that’s been upcylced. It’s a muted dark blue, which goes with the blue-gray leather of the sofa, and the blue and white rug. The gold touches keep it feeling chic instead of just a solid block, and it’s deep enough to absorb a lot of items that heretofore didn’t really have a home in the apartment–thus tidying up mess and satisfying Jeffs desire for lack of clutter. I’m absurdly pleased with it and it really has helped me feel as if the front room is “finished” in some way. The only other thing I would want to do in this current apartment would be to frame and hang our art, but if that doesn’t happen until our next lease somewhere, I think could be satisfied.

As promised, this is my last purchase for the year (minus the usual things like socks, underwear, or unsexy items like toothpaste and shoe inserts) and any failures on this point will be publicly documented for shaming purposes. I’m fairly confident that being able to gaze on my growing domestic kingdom will help keep me in financial check. How could you not feel happy in a room that looks like this:

 

 

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

 

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…