Summer Waning

by Brittany in , ,

There comes a time every summer when the rest of the world takes their well earned holidays, one realizes you can't remember what jeans and leather weather feels like, and forget about ever imagining wearing my beloved black beanie again. At this same time, for me, there comes a yearning for my own books (particularly An Everlasting Meal for some reason... probably linked to my next yearning), my own gluten free oven, pans and my little white tea cups, a worn kitchen table with mug rings and a half drunk bottle of wine and Jesse and whatever friends happen to swing by sitting there while I cook a sprawling, nibbler spread to feed us all. With plenty of minced herbs, ripe tomatoes, meatballs, sheep and goat cheeses tucked into whatever empty spaces there may be left. Olives. Buttery green ones, spicy blends that require cucumber chasers to cool the burn.... Any nomad will recognize these longings... these foods aren't even winter foods but summer is linked to strangers' homes for me... and using the least amount of dishes and gingerly using the stove and oven for fear of cross contamination and wedging my sparse grocery runs into an already packed refrigerator.

I probably mentioned before that my cousin Charles is coming to be our roommate... and he arrives in just six days!!! Communal living is kind of cool again right now, although our reasons are purely mercenary... well, also we love him. Alternate housing is in right now, but the two directions that manifests are 1. tiny house movement or 2. buy a giant house and fill it with friends. I fully admit I love both those concepts but find it funny that we are doing both... together. We're like, "Hey!!! let's rent a tiny little apartment and hey!!!! Charlie! Come live with us in said tiny little apartment! It'll be the BEST!"

Classically speaking, I am not a prime candidate for either of the alternate housing trends. I am somewhat of a hoarder with a crush on minimalism. I recently saw a studio apartment tour that warmed my heart... most people keep walls blank, no rugs, no art, tiny leather couches but these ladies channeled a cozy little study feel and it was perfect! While I do love to keep things I also hate ugly things, passionately. So I can end up not having very many things because whenever something ugly finds it's way into my home I have this uncontrollable urge to take a sledge hammer to it, throw it out the window or tear it to shreds. My biggest collection trap is books but I have such specific taste in books I will pass up a copy of my absolute favorite book or one I've been dying to read simply because it's ugly or not quite soft and battered enough. I love the canvas-book-taped-spine look. 

The second reason these housing situations are not classically "me" is I get so so exhausted by people. But... I'm not your ordinary introvert (who is though??? all those introvert crazed lists going on about how we love one on one conversations? I'm like, "oh hell no!!! I will NOT be cornered in one of those! I may actually have to talk about something deep then.") I actually love having people over! And do you know what makes people feel weird? A couple inviting them over. Really... in this day and age that seems super formal and foreign and oddly, romantic? Apparently?

Part of it goes back to my whole hating ugly things... no offense everyone else, but I am very full of myself and really really love my own style. In fact, I've come up with a name for this problem... and I'm sure I've talked about this before because I'm very proud of it. Chronic Spatial Anxiety. Think about it, guys! Every time that I've mentioned this to a creative type person it's a face palm moment. It's so obviously a real thing. Chelle, I know you agree with me on this one. Anyways, I get incredibly uncomfortable at other people's homes. I just can't deal. But really the problem is probably less a made up psychological condition (Just's real) and more the fact that I can't eat anything at people's homes because of my celiac disease so I either have to pack myself a little brown bag meal (which hostess' usually find incredibly insulting... I get it... It sucks when you just want to make someone welcome in your home and they refuse to eat the very food you've prepared. But I also get it, guys, if you need to bring your own food to my home... just no crumby gluten stuff... be smart about it!!) or I'm silently starving in a corner because lack of food renders me completely limp, uninteresting and conversation-less. 

Ok go back two paragraphs. Let's pick up that train of thought. I'm really hoping three people inviting friends over will feel less romantic and/or formal and the whole vision of the worn kitchen table, scattered tumblers of wine,  herb-y boiled eggs and buttery green olives will really come true. 

Random side note: a specific thing that triggers my chronic spatial anxiety is raised beds. I'm never happier than when I'm sleeping on a billowy white shrouded mattress directly on the ground. I actually get crazy nightmares any time a bed is raised. Maybe it has to do with classic childhood fears about things under beds but it even happens if there is no "under the bed" like the bed here at this sublet.

A Day In A Sublet

by Brittany in

Our current sublet is basically my dream apartment.... minus a mattress on the floor bed. Some days ... when I'm waiting for a package or for cat food to be delivered... I spend nearly the entire day at home. Because it's the ideal New York flat. Whatever you picture a New York Artist's studio looking like, this is it. 

I would love to have met a few good friends already that I could meet for coffee or wander around a new street with or get up the nerve to actually enter one of those galleries that just have one person staring blankly out the window in art-filled solitude with (note: since writing this Jesse and I got up the nerve and had the loveliest morning last Saturday gallery hopping) . Or just to swing by to have a cup of coffee and a gluten free doughnut from Babycakes (Thank you Becky for telling me about it!!!) on my fire escape. Or to slyly get a bag of Bellocq tea from the coffee shop around the corner (it has some serious sanitation issues... and that's coming from someone who is unphased by gross things normally. But I figured out that if you order a cup of hot tea they keep the bag of loose leaf in it. Then you order a cup of ice to go.Then you get home and pour it into the ice and into another cup till it's chilled... don't forget to set the bag aside for your cup tomorrow. Boom.... a very complicated cup of iced tea for the rooftop and warm tea for tomorrow afternoon.) and drink ice tea and sunbathe and read silently together on the roof. Or someone to experiment with watching random French movies on Netflix with. Someone who likes to come to me mostly instead of me coming to them... cause that's just better for me. 

We were texting the other day, Chelle, and you summed that whole paragraph up in one sentence without even knowing I had written this the day before! You said,  <<It's nice to just be able to be and I miss being able to just be>>. So basically we both miss that. 

All my close friends are scattered around the Pacific Northwest with one notable one down in California. We are about as far away as we can be from each other so any time we see each other we don't get the chance to "just be" ... It's always a  grab coffee and a glimpse situation. 

Thankfully the most important friend just moves with me where ever I go... so the situation is not exactly dire and I was the one who deserted everyone else (except for you, Mia.... you moved first). 

We also have found a wonderful church that we think will be our home church here and have been welcomed in with open arms.... not literally... I don't like hugging... but I don't mind not feeling like everyone at the church resents us for showing our faces in their private club! So I'm very sure friends will come here soon. But all you West Coast friends, we miss you always!

Jesse and I have been discussing making friends and, contrary to popular thought, we have decided that it's actually easier to make friends as a married couple for many reasons. You have an automatic wingman who thinks you're the absolute best friend anyone could ever wish for (and, for those jerks who disagree with you, have someone to lick your wounds with... don't carry that metaphor too far). You can talk to either gender and not have them wonder if you are hitting on them. You have a safety net if you don't want the intensity of the one on one conversations. You have someone to hang out with for the times you get stood up (hey, it happens to the best of us). You don't seem so desperate...etc. Now most people get stuck on how you have to find other couple friends and what ifs like: what if the girls don't like each other (valid fear... very valid). But we have never limited ourselves to couple friends. In fact, most of our friends in Chicago were not couples... a perk of marrying young, you don't get lumped into the boring married stereotype as much. Also, we have very similar taste in people (It makes sense based on our mutual Meyers-Briggs results) so we nearly always agree on the couples we like. Sure, couple friends may never evolve into one on one friendships but that's fine by me, because one on one type friends that I actually get along with are very very rare. 

While we wait for new friendships to evolve I spend beautiful days like this one in my favorite company (except for Jesse) of myself! ... and cat (he and I are having a rough day... he won't give me any privacy in the bathroom or changing or doing yoga... he likes to bite my calf????... and when I take him for a walk he's such an ingrate. Cats, man. I mean, he has his moments and is pretty good company usually. Everyone has off day(s)). It's like last summer in LA... days and days can go by with me talking to no one but myself (...and cat) until Jesse gets home. And frankly, I'm a great conversationalist when I'm talking to me so I love it.

Also today I got to talk to a local barista and bond over our mutual dislike of Intellegensia coffee (sorry Chicago, but you have so many better options... Dark Matter, Metropolis... and, I haven't had it yet but cannot wait to try, Metric) and said barista gave me my coffee for free and made me sample his Japanese Iced Coffee... he may be winning me over but so far I think it's a blah trend. I like my iced coffee all velvet and chocolate (he thinks cold brew is just day old... we, oh so respectfully, disagreed with each other). I like that kind of friendship... I also met a lovely lady while walking the cat... she's an artist and has lived in LES for "hundreds of years" and knows everyone. She introduced me to a carnie that's lived here in LES for forever as well and works out at Coney Island and a young guy my age who she met while my back was turned at the laundromat.... sure, she's introducing me as Boris, but Boris definitely has less of a ditz connotation than my name so maybe it's ok!  

Meanwhile, I (we) plan and plot how to get you, Chelle, and all our other West Coasters to at least visit New York. We already succeeded in convincing Charles (my cousin) to move here... less than a month now!!!... though, frankly, he was ridiculously easy to convince! Where's the fun in that? Well the fun is him being our built in friend, I suppose!


Museum Goers

by Brittany in

Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

Metropolitan Museum of Art | Paul Cezanne | Card Players 5

I am very self referential when it comes to art... I have visited the Met several times since moving here. Did you know it's actually free? They list $25 on a sign but that's just a suggested donation... I know, they think a lot of themselves. I heard, though, that you should legally never feel like you have to pay anything there. It is a vast, vast place so I've decided to take it very slowly and never feel like I have to see a certain amount of rooms or anything. So I just wander and listen to music (Regina Spektor, last time: Rowboats was particularly on point). Some rooms just bore me to tears (sculptures, I'm referring to you) so I speed through them till I get to my current favorites.

Lately the very glimpse of a Cezanne triggers wave after wave of throat-catching nostalgia. He somehow managed to capture countless scenes that I also have impressed on my mind... like, exactly. And not just the views of Mont Sainte Victoire (ugh.... such a miserable hike... remember how Jamie and Josh deserted me with the Quebecois boys who didn't speak a word of English and we somehow ended up on the total other side of the mountain?? I'm pretty sure that was yet another instance of me breaking our hitch hiking rule... due to the bus being on the total other side and the sun having set)... but also the Gulf of Marseille, the solitary angular houses surrounded by scraggly olive trees and yellow soil, and even his still lifes... they sum up the frozen-in-time-broken-only-by-the-lazy-buzzing-of-an-overgrown-fly feel of an endlessly warm afternoon that is so unique to the South of France.

Ok so do you remember the movie (500) Days of Summer? A lot of people have forgotten it/give it a bad rap now but I still completely adore it. There's this beautiful scene where she first brings Tom to her apartment and he actually grasps the fact that showing someone where you live is showing a bit of your soul... it's very intimate. Anyways, she has a black bowler hat on a shelf with a granny smith apple balanced on top.... a nod to the painting by Rene Magritte. I believe she also has a print of a Cezanne. 

Walking around art museums always makes me fantasize about being rich enough to simply have a small Van Gogh on my wall... I am very aware that that will never happen. That's why most countries have fascinatingly beautiful vast buildings filled with art that their citizens can wander in at will. It's an amazing thing actually.

Some people sketch. I always feel like they are the truest form of museum goer. 

Some people wander aimlessly, ignoring some (often the most famous paintings or all sculptures, in my case, I just can't get into them. Maybe in a few years.) and staring randomly for minute after minute at a row of pipes in the background of some painting (can you tell this is my type of museum goer?).

Some people feel the need to pontificate to their bored fellow museum goers about the mind behind that particular shade of beige on the corner of that particular rock in that particular foreground. This type gets nasty glares from me. I hate them. And their thoughts.

Some people treat it like their afternoon exercise break (and maybe it is). I actually appreciate this type immensely because when you think about it, a brisk walk around the Met is sheer genius. So much better then a boring run through Central Park or a treadmill or ... worst of all... a mall. Plus they don't get in the way of my staring at pipes.  

Some people zip around photographing every single painting. Now this type I find hilarious... because I did that once... when I first visited the National Gallery in London when I was twelve. Only to realize when I got home these photos that I'd blown my entire disposable camera on were soul-less. They lacked everything that make real paintings alive and dance and failed to jog my memory because I'd neglected to take a picture of the artists' names, too. But some of this type of goer have really perfected the art of photographing every painting. Perhaps it's because of nearly limitless memory cards or iPhone storage. Whatever the reason, these dedicated people take painstaking photos alternating between the information plaque and the painting. I hope no one ever tells them that many museums now have online catalogues with that exact information, because they are one of my favorite things to see at museums. 

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

Frederic Bazille | The Artist's Studio, Rue Visconti, Paris | 1867 | VMFA

I am also (and still) the type to wander around with a camera... but now instead of mindless cataloguing, I prefer to take photos of the mindless cataloguers (photo credit above: Jesse) or the sketchers. And here and there when I see a really lovely painting I photograph it. So I can a) show you and b) so I can reproduce the painting in 3D in my very own home. Which is where I've been trying to get to with this rambling piece of writing all along. That row of pipes! I gave Jesse a beautiful meerschaum pipe for our first Christmas together and since then pipe giving has become a bit of a tradition so we have a few by now. And will only get more. So I plan on a pipe rack in our next apartment. And only you, readers of the blog, will know what it's a reference to (the Cezanne above). I love the concept of decor being a reference to--a nod to--great pieces of art that I will never afford (nor would I necessarily actually want to, cause private art collectors are kind of selfish, right? denying all of us hilarious museum goers).  Basically, paintings are the pinterest of the past... and probably should be of the present, too.

I already had a nearly entirely black room (my kitchen) in Chicago but this painting (to the right) has inspired me to re-create this entire little nook.... preferably with the stove for heat as well. 






Up To Now

by Brittany in ,


1. one of the last beams of light to touch our things before they were boxed up for the summer. 2. I taught myself/I found a really good app and I used it nearly daily and got cool back muscles until we packed up our sheepskin. And now my floor space is exactly five feet by two feet... anyone know if it is ok to do yoga on a mattress? Cause I can't wait to start again. 3. We ate lentils and cheese and drank wine for the last time (in Richmond) with our friend... and our friends from the coffee shop but... no pictures of that... 4. we got over-eager on our packing and finished way to soon. So we sat around and waited for graduation. Cause some smart guy jumped the gun and got a job suuuuper early. 5. Jesse (the afore-mentioned smart one) graduated. 6. more waiting. This time for my jobs to finish. 7. We made it to NEW YORK CITY! 8. We found this little tea shop the first traumatic visit to nyc (the one with the possessed cat, 110 degree weather, no AC, weird $35 a night couch in Brooklyn for the two of us, and all the upside down crosses decorating the blood red walls).  Anyways, we stumbled into this little basement shop and it was so cool and the tea was so refreshing and it may have been the first glimmer that ended up with us moving here. Physical Graffiti, East Village. Go there. 9. and 10. my favorite (so far) bookstore is conveniently across the street from the tea shop. 11. my "cream" swirled like all the cool real cream drinking people's cold brews do! 12. My new favorite drink: not sure what it's called but it's Contratto Aperitif on ice topped off with prosecco and an orange wedge. And this whole scene pictured here? It was a free tasting... we and our friends got four drinks total for $0.00... none of this tiny pour at the very bottom of the glass... an entire cocktail. That wine shop, called, incidentally and delightfully, Wine Shop, is now my favorite. They also wrote the prices of wines and liquors right on the bottles with a chalk pen... it looked gorgeous. 13. our new room... It's a picture of our bed because that's nearly all there is! But who needs space when you live in New York City?!

Something old and Something New

by Chelle in ,

I have been feeling pretty uninspired about wardrobe and clothes lately. Normally I get really excited when the seasons change. Getting to think about what will shape the next seasons wardrobe, what will be the accent color. Will I paint my nails, and if so what color.  Most of the time it's finding new ways to wear old things, but I've been drawing a blank. 

A friend studying interior design recently told me that her professor said "You're grade will include how you present yourself during class, how you dress and carry yourself." This made me laugh, thinking back to rolling out of bed at 7:55 for my 8:00 class. Apparently - appearance has no affect your French grade... interesting... Anyway that got me thinking about personal presentation, dignity, worth and how that's reflected in the way I dress. 

How you dress yourself is like painting a picture - starting with a blank canvas. You get to inspire people with your work of art. (Pretty sure I've said that before.) Anyway thinking of a canvas helped and here's what I came up with for spring: 

Colors // Cream (after conversation with B), Black, Red, Pink, and Brown with Gold accents.

1. The cream shirt is a long loose flowey piece from Target. I bought two new shirts to create my spring wardrobe. I'll look for a few other pieces (mainly shoes). 

2.The black and white scarf was a 2008 H&M purchase. I bought that in France with B. She bought one for her Mom. We both still love and wear this scarf all the time. I love the pattern and it's a great accent for any outfit. 

3. Recognize these gold bracelets B? You gave them to me as a bridesmaid gift when you got married. Love them! They're my gold accents for spring! 

4. Instant Liner, Eye Liner from Clarins. Eye liner present quite the challenge. I still haven't mastered it yet, but it's a fun new look to try. I have a pinterest board dedicated to tutorials on makeup so hopefully I can nail this look as spring progresses. 

5. Opalescence Face & Blush Powder from Clarins. I love Clarins becuase 1. They're a family owned french business 2. All their products are plant based 3. When I buy foundation I get free samples like this blush and I love it!

1. The stripy shirt is my second spring purchase. Another Target find. Flowey, stripy, and light! 

2. Brown Bag! A friend gave this to me. Her friend lived in New York in the 60's and this purse is from that era. I love everything about it! 

3. Keds! All day every day I do love these shoes so much. This is my third pair. And I just love them!

4. Pink (Zora) and Red (Myrtle) nail polish from Julep. I love the muted pink and think there will be days for that and then days for BOLD red! Julep nail polish is great! It dries fast, it's vegan (not that I would eat it) and you can get some fun colors with their Julep Box. Joel got me a three month subscription for a gift last year. It was super fun! (Of course I forgot to cancel it so got a 6 month subscription - but no ones surprised there.) 

5. MAC Lipstick (Retro Matt Ruby Woo). I was all about dupes (which are knock off brands) but a sweet friend said, "No dupes!" and bought me this lovely red! It lasts all day and doesn't dry out my lips, so she may have had a point. 

6. Love this sent from Diptyque! I've been wearing it for the last year and it makes me so happy! It's The Do Son Eau De Parfum, " Sunny, Hazy, Creamy, indolent, seductiveness," which is of course my middle name. 

7. Gold necklace from Moorea Seal. She opened a shop in down town Seattle and you would love it. Clean, Fresh, Full of light, inspiration, and beautifulness. 

 I do have a few dream items on my list. Primarily shoes. But as I still can't decide what those will be I'm happy to kick around in my keds and soak up the sun that's been hanging around Seattle on and off the past few weeks. 

They Make Me Feel I'm Falling Down

by Brittany in

making: a pretty terrible little painting

seeing: a giant pile of laundry

smelling: nothing, in a good way

tasting: burnt toast and tea (sure sign of Jesse not making my breakfast...he never burns it)

hearing: Dead Hearts by Stars... on repeat... so it's about the 57th time I've heard it this morning alone. And I still love it. I also may spontaneously say things like, " They had lights inside their eyes.... They were kids that I once knew." Jesse is utterly horrified. "It's hard to know they're out there..."

reading: The Diaries of Jane Somers by Doris Lessing... I am also stuck on her. For now, all other authors pale and none will do but her.

loving: having Fridays off... except I don't today. But in theory it's great. 

watching: The Americans is back!!!!!! So that's the most exciting. Also Broad City. And for the long cold nights we are currently plowing through It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I just love how awful they all are and that the actual actors have this complicated web of being married to each other.... I mean, that is the sweetest dream in all the world, isn't it? Working side by side with your best friend who is also your spouse? So if you think about it that way... it's the perfect Valentine's Day show. But in no other way is that true.

anticipating: our reconnaissance trip to New York next month.... Jesse will be meeting with ad people and I will be chilling (physically and the other meaning) and we also have a complicated schedule of churches to visit. So that will be busy and exciting and cold. We went for a night walk the other day and it was just barely down to the 20s and I was a chattering mess. We are losing our Chicago edge. But we will get it back.


So we got a fancy new camera for our Christmas present to each other and I am, of course, having technical troubles with getting the photos off it. So I was digging around for photos for this post... and found these... equally realistic but hilariously Even when we are stonewalling each other with our stupid phones we are evidently in love. So that's comforting.

And I want to leave you with Endre Penovác's work that was featured on This Is Colossal this week.   

If I can make a Gas Pipe Shelving Unit ... YOU CAN TOO!

by Chelle in ,

It’s an amazing feeling being totally alone but completely surrounded. I mean this in a good way – not the paralyzing lonely way that you sometimes feel in a room full of people – but more the cozy little top floor apartment where you can sit on your coach and quietly soak up the mid winter sun that has decided to appear in Seattle for a minute or two– and just be. It makes me want to live in this apartment FOREVER! 

Of course we are on the top floor so there is the advantage of not being able to hear the cacophony of shoes, feet, furniture moving, things being dropped, or cats running laps around the apartment at midnight (PENNY!) that our neighbors downstairs might hear from time to time.

There are pros and cons to apartment living. A laundry machine would be nice. But I don’t like yard work. But I would like a chicken coup one day. And a closet isn’t an ideal nursery – but I could figure out how to make it work if I needed to – but I don’t right now. And then there’s the storage.

Our apartment was built in the 1900’s. And though they did include plenty of space for storing things – I think men and women had fewer clothes because no matter how many times Joel and I pair down our closet it always seems to be full to the brim so we decided to do a little DIY apartment renovation with the help of our friends at Dunn DIY.

This was a really cool experience as I was able to take a picture I had in my mind – put it on paper, walk into a shop and get Adam – a Dunn Lumber genius-  to go over the plan, help figure out what materials we would need, order all the materials, and then have the wood cut to the exact size we’d need it in the shop. Because we were working with Dunn DIY they created a “How to make your own Gas Pipe Shelves” guide that I’ll share with you once it's published (I'll update this link asap!). 

The team came over one morning, we went over the steps and Kirstin made one unit while Joel and I made the second unit. She was just the cutest thing ever - adorable vintage style, bright red nails, so cute- and then she whips out a drill and assembles this awesome shelf unit. I was pretty impressed. 

Quirks of an old apartment - the shelf may look a little tilted and it's because the apartment floor actually is slanted. We couldn't figure out why it wasn't level until we realized - it WASN'T user error.... it was just the quirks of a 1900's apartment. 

L'Hirondelle Rouge
L'Hirondelle Rouge
L'Hirondelle Rouge