Posted on September 4th, 2017
When we set out to buy a house, we were not by any means looking for a project, but we also recognized that given our stage of life (newlyweds, no kids) and the neighborhoods into which we were looking to move, we may have to take on some renovation to capture the value and check all of our boxes. Ian and I are not particularly handy ourselves, but we are open to learning and also feel like this is a good time to oversee a big job.
While the ninety year old house into which we moved has definitely been loved and cared for, there are some things that need to be done to make it a welcoming, modern family home. I had actually had my eye on it from the first day it came on the market, and pushed our realtor to take us to see it when she did not include it on her original list. Our original visit confirmed what we had thought: it would not work for us long term as is, but it had the potential to be fantastic. It sounds like a lot when listed like this, but these are the 7 overarching categories into which I’m mentally breaking our renovation:
Two story addition- The most major thing we are doing is adding space. The biggest problem we were unable to solve using the existing footprint of the house was closet space. It seems like people in 1930 maybe only had 3 dresses, so it works for them that the closets are about the size of my high school locker. Call me materialistic, but we need a little bit more space. The addition is not massive in terms of square footage, but it will enable us to expand the footprint of the kitchen on the main floor and add closet space for two of the three bedrooms upstairs.
Opening the floor plan- As with many older homes, the layout downstairs is a bit boxy. As of now, the kitchen is only accessible by walking through the dining room and past the basement opening, and the living room exists in the front of the house by itself. We plan to open up flow between the kitchen and living room with a five foot opening that could be closed off with pocket doors while entertaining, but which will be open most of the time to connect the main family spaces.
Kitchen renovation- The entirety of the current kitchen is being removed as part of the expansion and floor plan adjustment, so we really get to start from scratch here. I am so excited about the direction we are heading in! We will be able to get in a fairly large island, which was important to me, as well as two ovens and a pantry. I will be baking my brains out, basically.
Mancave- Part of the basement will be finished out for a little (and I do mean little) mancave for Ian. Probably the smallest part of the project, yet the most pivotal in our marriage He plans to use it primarily as a screening room, so if I play my cards right I may get invited downstairs for movie nights.
2nd floor bathroom- We’re still deciding on the scope for the upstairs bathroom renovation, but right now we’ll plan to do a facelift at minimum and a new layout at most. Realistically, we may need to wait for a Phase II before hitting the bathrooms hard.
Cosmetics- All walls need painting, all light fixtures need replacing, all floors need refinishing, the fireplace needs a mantel… In refreshing these, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to better align the finishes with our style, too.
Systems- This is the boring stuff like relocating the furnace and replacing the hot water heater. Know that it is happening, but that I probably won’t feel the need to discuss it.
We are targeting completion, or close to it, sometime around the New Year. We will be planning to live in the house for as much of the renovation as possible, so while it will be fun to see the progress so closely, we will be in for a messy fall. As I mentioned the other day, we are loving our neighborhood and feel so grateful to be in such a wonderful place, but I am so excited for renovations to start in earnest so we are that much closer to the finished product of our home sweet home!
Posted on September 1st, 2017
Labor Day Weekend! The weather isn’t supposed to be great for the first part of the weekend, so Ian and I have major football watching plans tomorrow and are heading to New Haven to have lunch with a friend on Sunday. The sun will come out on Monday just in time for us to head to Flushing to the US Open. I have only been once and Ian has never been, so we’re both really looking forward to it. There are definitely perks with living in New York!
I’ve never been a coastal girl, so it still wows me that this is where I live now! Not a bad place to spend a Labor Day staycation.
Sending love and lifesaving supplies to Texas. The list of heartbreaks associated with Hurricane Harvey is too long to enumerate, and many people with chronic illnesses have been waging life and death battles as they deal with limited resources and treatment options. JDRF has led a campaign in partnership with the American Diabetes Association and Project Blue November in supporting Insulin for Life’s lifesaving work to deliver insulin, syringes, blood sugar testing supplies, and medical devices to hurricane victims living with diabetes. The first supplies were delivered this morning, and they are already changing outcomes for Texas communities. If you would like to support the campaign to get Harvey victims the medical treatment they need, you can donate directly to the efforts through this link. On a personal note, I’m so proud of my dad and JDRF for pioneering this groundbreaking initiative.
Feeling like a newlywed. With our anniversary last Sunday, I have been feeling like a newlywed all over again! Ian spoiled me with the largest bouquet of flowers I have ever received, and I’ve been enjoying them– and married life– all week. It is easy to feel excited about the future when I know it will be spent with such a marvelous guy.
Taking the homeowner plunge. Being a new and first time homeowner and facing a big renovation comes with approximately infinity decisions, but I feel like I made good progress this week in finally making a few concrete decisions. It may seem silly, but I tend to plan and plan and then get nervous about actually pulling the trigger. We have a contractor and architect with whom we have been working closely on the overall design, but in ordering fabric samples and some light fixtures, I’ve taken the first baby steps on my own, too.
Shopping sales. Everything is on sale this weekend! I was excited to see such a good collection of transitional coats from Tuckernuck (like this striped Barbour and this reversible red one), and I’m pretty in love with these incredibly fun J. Crew heels that I now see are tempting me with their 30% off ways. Though let’s be honest– I’m trying to save my money for exciting things like curtains.
Getting inventive. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about a recipe that had been existing only in my head that I really wanted to try, and I finally had the chance to execute this week. Since Ian’s coworkers (currently the #1 recipient of my baked goods) at his new job have not had too many of my creations at this point, I’m really trying to deliver quality as I build up my reputation with them. Luckily the “Brown Butter Almond Blondies” of my dreams seemed to have delivered! Recipe to follow once I have a semi-photogenic kitchen. Aka in the winter.
Posted on August 30th, 2017
As I hinted in my birthday recap post, Ian and I closed on a house in Westchester a few weeks ago! When we planned our move to the east coast, we knew we wanted to buck the millennial trend by skipping city living (= expensive rent) and investing in a longer term home (= expensive mortgage). I had lived in the city before and hadn’t loved it, and financially, if you don’t really want to be in New York City, you shouldn’t be. Even so, we knew that this would require a giant leap of faith.
When we were thinking about where we wanted to live, we envisioned a place that felt more like a cute little town that happened to be near New York City rather than a place that exists to be a suburb for Manhattan commuters. With all of our criteria in mind, we considered a few communities north of the city most seriously: Rye, Larchmont, Greenwich, and Darien. Available inventory and proximity to the city determined the winner: we now live in Larchmont! It is an easy 35 minute train ride to the city, which makes for a convenient commute and an easy trip for weekend dinners with friends, but has an adorable village center, great schools, and tons of families that really make it a wonderful community.
We have technically been living in the house for the past three weeks, but we have a very big renovation planned such that we aren’t fully getting settled (aside from the planters my mother put together for our front porch– thanks, Mommy!). Except for clothes, a bed, a couch, and a TV, our belongings are safely stored in the basement. The goal is to be in a place where we’re able to “move in” more fully by the new year. I love following other people’s renovation adventures, so I am definitely planning some posts to take a closer look at our plans and progress.
Hint: that middle picture shows where we will be adding a two story addition!
Even without the picture perfect home (yet!), we are loving being here. We run down to the water and back every morning through gorgeous neighborhoods, we say hello to our neighbors on our evening walk, and are starting to identify our favorite local spots. So far, this leap of faith seems to have landed us on solid ground on the other side.
Posted on August 29th, 2017
Sorry to leave you hanging! When we left off, Ian and I were husband and wife and pretty darn excited about it. We caught our first glimpse of the gorgeous party we had been planning for nearly a year, and seeing each of the details fall into place was fantastic. My favorite was our custom toile (thank you, Nico & Lala) incorporated onto our cake. We did have a full dessert bar with different flavors of macaron, carrot cake pops, traditional St. Louis gooey butter cake, chocolate dipped macaroons, and cake truffles, but I love cake and didn’t want to eschew the custom!
There is only so much you can do to transform a traditional indoor space, but our planner did an amazing job by mixing table styles and building custom arbors over the long tables, even casting a romantic glow with dangling votives that played off the brass tapers.
The dinner we served was definitely non-traditional, particularly for a black tie wedding. We included lots of the elements you would find at a typical wedding– filet mignon, lobster, chicken– but used them in more casual ways by serving heaping platters of tenderloin sandwiches, lobster rolls, and fried chicken. We gave another nod to our shared prep school days by serving the dinner family style, as was done in the lunch room at our school, but this also enabled guests to pick and choose what they wanted. Personally, I wanted everything.
After the loveliest toasts and blessings, we came to the most dreaded part of the evening. Ian and I had not been looking forward to our first dance. We had skipped out on choreography, worried we would look artificial, but after only one dance lesson together we also weren’t quite ready to wander aimlessly. It delivered on my anxieties, and was in fact the least comfortable part of the day, but we laughed our way through it and appreciated that first test of our marriage My first dance with my dad (an excellent dancer) was a blast. Fun fact: my dad actually booked the band without checking with me because he knew I would agree with the choice! (Right, as usual)
It seems like a dramatic statement to identify one moment as the best of your entire life, but I have no doubt that watching the fireworks towards the end of the evening is mine. Ian and I stood in front of our guests, arm in arm in a private moment as we watched the public display of our wedding celebration announce our marriage to the surrounding area. We could turn around and see everyone we love looking up in the sky, their faces lit by the bursts of light, gathered together in support of us. 367 days later, I am still riding the wave of that feeling. It also inspired the gift I gave Ian for Valentine’s Day!
The night ended the way a good wedding should: with more dancing, as I gripped my groom and my gin and held on for dear life.
Nightingale Nuptials Vendor Credits
Planning: Before I Do (I would trust Jenny with my life) // Photography: L Photographie // Reception Venue: Old Warson Country Club // Florist: Artistry // Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta, from Nordstrom // Cake: La Patisserie Choquette // Desserts: Sarah’s Cake Shop // Paper Goods: Nico & Lala
Posted on August 24th, 2017
When we left off, we were just gearing up for the actual wedding part of the wedding. In part because of its overwhelming significance, the ceremony had actually been the part that was slowest to fall into place when we were planning. Ian is Jewish and I am Christian but neither of us is particularly religious, and we felt like our options for both a venue and officiant were somewhat limited. As is so often the case, the answer was there quite literally all along: we were married in the outdoor amphitheater grove of the prep school where our courtship had began. It was, in fact, in the same place and outfits where Ian had escorted me down the aisle at our graduation.
I was all kinds of stressed by the idea of an outdoor ceremony. Even risk adverse control freaks cannot control the weather, but I was so #blessed to see nary a drop of rain on the radar on our wedding day. We provided our guests with lemonade to sip while the string quartet serenaded them as the ceremony began. It was a perfect summer day.
Or so I thought. The ceremony was brief, and exactly as we had planned. We stuck to secular readings to appease all parties, using a CS Lewis passage on being in love and the aptly-named poem “The Nightingale Has a Lyre of Gold” by William Ernest Henley. We had also written a few more personal words for one another before exchanging the traditional ones. I cried a lot, naturally. But right around the time I started hearing something about loving, cherishing, and honoring all the days of my life, I felt something on my arm.
A drop of water. Probably just a tear, I assured myself. Until I felt four more.
If rain on your wedding day is good luck, then we got just the perfect amount. When Ian broke the glass at the end of our ceremony, it was in the midst of a short and unexpected rain shower. Which, at the very least, cooled down our guests and made for some cute photos?
Soggy, and so very happy, we made our way to the reception.
Posted on August 23rd, 2017
August 27, a day which means nothing to most people, is right around the corner. Ian and I will be celebrating our first anniversary, which, coincidentally, is the one year anniversary of the best day of my life. I did share a peek at our rehearsal dinner, but let’s just pretend like you’ve been itching to see photos from the day itself, and let’s also pretend like scrolling through the 1,200 images is not my favorite pastime and that I have many other interesting hobbies. I’m breaking this into a few installments so your fingers don’t get tired from all of the scrolling.
Getting to celebrate my partnership with Ian with all of our friends and family was the biggest honor of my life. Being surrounded by people who want to share in your joy and excitement is a deeply moving experience. I do not take a single moment of the day for granted, from the solo run I took to clear my head at sunrise to the nightcap we shared with our close friends at the hotel at the end of the evening. I try not to let perfect be the enemy of good, and yes, it might have been nice if it had not started unexpectedly raining while Ian and I were exchanging vows, but nothing could rain on my parade when bolstered by all that L-O-V-E!
My bridesmaids, mom, and I reported early for wedding duty at our club, where a carefully choreographed set of hair and makeup preparation executed by three amazingly talented professionals began. Normally I have trouble sitting still and being patient during beauty rituals– 70% of my manicures end with me asking if I can skip the massage/lotion/whatever at the end so I can leave– but I wasn’t rushing a single moment of the day. Yet even though 9am had sounded impossibly early when my (perfect, flawless) wedding planner had insisted on it, time flew by and before I knew it, we were getting in our dresses.
The Oscar de la Renta dress I wore is pretty much in line with the bridal vision I’ve always had for myself. A simple, timeless silhouette, an unembellished fabric, but something I knew I could only wear on this one occasion. I made a few modifications to the dress and added with a sash (thanks, Amazon) and chose accessories with meaning. Since I had chosen my dress and did fittings in Seattle, it was a surprise to all of my girls, so I did a First Look with my bridesmaids, which was adorably fun. If they don’t cry when they see you, they’re doing it wrong.
Then it was time for my First Look with Ian. As I had indicated, I was on the fence of doing a First Look, and really ended up just defaulting to it because it was too difficult for us to figure out the timeline so that we could attend the cocktail hour if we did not. My apprehension, as usual, ended up being unfounded. It was beautiful to share the moment with him at the beginning of the evening, and it in no way took away from the moment we first saw each other walking down the aisle.
Our First Look location held special meaning for us, too. Weddings are celebrated in traditional fashion at my family’s club by decorating the long drive with big bows hanging from the light posts. Everyone sees the bows and knows there is a marriage being celebrated. Every summer, I would see bows and feel so excited for the bride (who, most of the time, was someone I knew), and would look forward to the day when the bows were for me. Meeting my groom on our wedding day under the ribbons was so emotional!
We had not taken engagement photos so this was our first time having pictures taken together, but our photographer, Kate, did an amazing job making us feel comfortable. We were so swept up in the moment and in sharing it with one another that we forgot to be embarrassed!
Ian and his crew looked dreamy in their white dinner jackets. The same ensembles worn at the same location by my grandfather on my grandparents’ wedding day sixty years earlier!
The photos were fun, but at this point I had one thing on my mind: time to get married!!
Posted on August 17th, 2017
On the last evening of being 25 years old, I am having so much fun reflecting on all of the excitement in the past twelve months! Even as I call out the marquee events, I am so grateful that there was so much joy in the everyday moments, too. Hosting Sunday night dinner parties, going to Whole Foods with my girlfriends after Bar Method, visiting friends in California, going on movie dates with Ian, running along the bay in the morning… much of the time this year, I really felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t plenty of standout moments, too! It was pretty easy to pick the Five Highlights from Twenty-Five (listed in chronological order!).
Marrying the love of my life surrounded by our family and friends. Because this is the best moment of my whole life, it is by default the single highlight of the year, too. I am still riding that wave of love nearly a whole year later.
Running my first marathon. The months of training in the rain and waking up at 5am on Saturdays felt more than worth it when we crossed with finish line at Disney World in January.
Promotion at work. I’m at a place in my life where I am absolutely prioritizing my career and professional development. After transitioning to a new role and really hitting the ground running with a lot of challenges last fall, it felt great to see my work pay off when I was promoted at the beginning of the year. And if that wasn’t sweet enough, my increased employee discount is an excellent daily reminder!
Honeymooning in Hawaii. We intentionally delayed our honeymoon so it would fall during Seattle’s most unbearable weather, which for us was the right decision 1000x over. When February rolled around, we were so ready for a week of celebration and sunshine.
Moving closer to our friends and family. In June, Ian and I said a final farewell to Seattle before heading to the east coast. There was a lot of goodness we were giving up in Seattle, but we have felt so confident in our decision every day.
….and a bonus! We bought our first house! I have a lot more to share on this, but last week, Ian and I closed on a home in New York. We are fully putting down roots and committed to this exciting new chapter.
Here’s to another year of excitement and everyday joy, and sharing it with all of you!
Posted on August 8th, 2017
In February 2016, I had a little bit of a fitness “come to Jesus” moment. I’d been a pretty committed runner for several years, and could in fact run a half marathon any day of the week… but I realized I could not even do two honest-to-goodness, on-the-balls-of-your-feet pushups. I realized I had a bit of a gap in my fitness regimen, but felt overwhelmed at the prospect of mixing things up. Classes seemed intimidating and expensive, but I had never had success in just doing a non-cardio strengthening routine on my own.
As often happens when I am indecisively floundering around, Ian made the decision for me. We attended an auction the following week, and he bought me a one month Bar Method membership, remembering that I had taken a class in St. Louis once and really enjoyed it. I did in fact feel intimidated walking into the studio aggressively early for class on that first Sunday morning, but I did in fact love the class, too. Bar Method recommends 3-5 classes per week to maximize results, so I committed to layering 4-5 classes on top of my running each week.
For those unfamiliar with barre workouts, they are based on high repetition isometric movements that fire up the muscle without tearing. It looks and sounds easy, but all of those tiny movements layered on top of one another are grueling! I remember a particularly painful set of foldover when I cried. The first week of my new routine, I could not walk down stairs or reach behind me to zip up my dresses before work.
^^photo taken at the brand new gorgeous Williamsburg studio— New Yorkers should take advantage of their super low new member grand opening pricing!
Fast forward almost 17 months: I took my 300th class on Sunday! I’ve visited seven Bar Method studios. I know some people prefer variety in their workouts, and even I admit that I have days when the classes run together and feel repetitive. For me, having consistency in the routines has really made me able to nail the technique so I can focus on pushing myself and building muscle instead of worrying about whether my hips are in the right place and if my spine is in proper alignment. They mix it up enough to keep me engaged without making me feel like a beginner every time.
Barre has become a huge part of my life for several reasons. It is the first time I’ve exercised with a focus on getting strong instead of on how a workout makes me look. It also introduced me to my two best girlfriends in Seattle, and really gave me a community in a city where I didn’t know many people. When I moved to New York in June, I signed up for my first barre membership within forty-eight hours of touching down. I feel so inspired working alongside the other strong women grinding it out in class. Ian foolishly decided he wanted to spend as much time with me on my birthday last year as possible, which meant coming to Bar after work. He survived, but he won’t be making that mistake again.
I’m making progress, and I do feel like I’m getting stronger every class. Now when it’s time for pushups, I do all sixty on my toes.
Posted on August 2nd, 2017
A couple of really fun house tours have cropped up around the internet in the past few weeks. As I think more about aesthetic in a long term home, I’ve found myself inspired by tasteful layering of textures, styles, and colors. I’m linking my favorite room from every house, but it’s definitely worth clicking through to peruse the whole thing!
Classic Family Cottage- When an interior designer with impeccable taste designs her own home, you know she’ll do it right. The screened art in front of the TV is GENIUS and something I absolutely hope to emulate.
Reinvented San Francisco Victorian– Sometimes, in older homes, you have to get a little creative on storage space– but you can own it and go big with a dressing room! This one is not exactly my style, but they really show how one piece can make a statement and inspire a whole room’s design in multiple places throughout the house.
Hamptons Home of Katie Lee- Is it cheating if I pick the pool? The wallpapered butler’s pantry was a really close second, and of course the kitchen in a Food Network star’s home is destined to be fabulous. The good news is this one is for sale for only $5.5 million.
Mindy Kaling’s LA Home- I’ve always respected Mindy’s enthusiasm for color (and honestly, just Mindy in general). This room has so much going on, but it ends up seeming so stylish while being so functional. You can totally picture the best Netflix binge ever in this room, but you’d feel chic while doing it. I also love the seating area with the bench in the corner.
Traditional Georgetown- If you share my concerns that traditional can sometimes look stuffy, feel reassured with the tour of this historic Federal home. Hosting a dinner party in this conservatory sounds like a dream! I love how the mix of pieces feel like a natural expression of the owners, rather than a overly styled and curated collection.
In a world where midcentury modern, retro glam, boho, and sleek minimalism seem to be heavily featured, it is nice to see that there is hope for girls with a flare for the cozy, comfortable, and colorful.
Posted on July 31st, 2017
Since the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale started, I’ve been working most evenings (including on weekends) to support our teams, but the stars aligned for a perfect last minute night off on Sunday. The weather was completely gorgeous, and none of us had any particular plans, so we organized an impromptu picnic in Battery Park.
This wasn’t the kind of blogger picnic with a well styled cheese plate with items procured from Dean and Deluca laid out on a gingham blanket set in a remote country hillside with no one around for miles. This was the kind where you pull items out of the fridge, grab some throw blankets off the couch, and join the masses of Manhattan on the waterfront.
We did have one staple picture-perfect-picnic item, though– rosé. Which we did not drink out of red solo cups, but gold metallic paper cups, signaling our true level of class. I also made a quick relatively lightened up summer squash casserole, for which I may share the recipe later. It involved a breadcrumb topping made from goldfish and cheese, though, so you know it’s good.
After several weeks cooped up I was excited to have a reason to leave the apartment that wasn’t exercising or buying groceries, so I broke out a new dress for the occasion. An unexpected delay in our moving process has left me stuck rotating the same five striped dresses for more than a month, so I finally broke down and bought… another striped dress.
I’ve been weirdly late to the off the shoulder game because of my hesitancy to buy anything over which I cannot wear a cardigan or sweater, but I realized this dress could be worn with a smocked rounded neck look if I needed to layer. I really loved the length in particular (definitely long enough to be dressed up with wedges), and the fabric is a bit more substantial than some light cotton summer dresses. I paired it with these drop earrings from my current Rocksbox set, which I’ve been wearing several times a week lately.
I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to eat soggy leftover salad.
Shop my dress and similar options below: