When we moved to Oregon, we got rid of all of our furniture. I mean, the only thing we brought was our mattress and we’re still sleeping without a bed or boxspring, no joke.

We have some furniture now. When we first closed, we went to a moving sale and bought the bare minimum. We got a futon/couch (a fake leather thing that reclines), dining table with 4 chairs and a bench that sits 2, a bar, and then purchased the following at Ikea: a media console, few book shelves, and a coffee table. We also bought 2 wooden end tables with wheels. We got some teal metal stools at Fred Meyers. With 1500+ sqft of space, we are living pretty minimalistically. Our living room is currently empty, save for the Kallax bookshelf. Our family room has the necessities, like TV, couch and the coffee table.

We find ourselves spending a lot of time in the Family room. In fact, it’s hard to prioritize furnishing the living room, since it’s not a priority for us. Weird, right? We’re sort of caught in the middle of prioritizing things to help us get into shape (organizing things, like closet organizers and a bed) or things that will live outside of our personal space and be more for the benefit of guests.

I find certain things that I want… but holding off, since I should really buy a bed before a getting a gold Unicorn head/bust to put above the fireplace. You know? On the other hand, we’re so hung up on that and money is still a little tight that, we’re just at a stand still right now.

I don’t necessarily believe that we need to get everything little thing now. I don’t think our house should be fully furnished, even a year in. I want to take our time getting things we really love. We both also don’t want to start to clutter up the house.

And then there are the things we want to invest in for other reasons… like getting a fence put in so that we can seriously look into getting a dog.

And I’m aware that a house is an endless pit of things to do and home improvements to make.

IMG_4814.JPG
I just can’t. What the hell is this weather? I didn’t sign up for this. Last year, it hardly went over 80. The summers were beautiful and occasionally it got dry and hot, but nothing like the sweaty humidity that’s the East coast. It’s funny how quickly we forget the things that are uncomfortable. I had COMPLETELY forgotten (or blocked out – whatever is more appropriate) the ridiculous humidity of the East coast during the summer. When I got off the plane in June, the 70% humidity (and it was only in the 70s, guys) just knocked me over. My hair, no joke, was soaked my entire trip. Even when it’s 100, it never gets to be that way here… but seriously… 105? This is just absurd.

What little of what I planted in the garden is all starting to flower. That may sound nice, but you don’t want your vegetables to flower or the leaves/vegetables become incredibly bitter. :( My cilantro, spinach, and lettuce all flowered, because of this oppressive heat. The veggies just weren’t having it. They quit. All my raspberries came in early. My grass is dying (which is fine). Uhg. Tomatoes are my only hope. They are the only thing that will do well in this heat. Hopefully.

Here we are 4 months after the closing. Our TV room is pretty well furnished, with a futon/couch that we found at a moving sale, an Ikea coffee table, stools we found in Fred Meyers, Ikea book shelf, and Ikea and media console. (Yeah – we’re still heavily reliant on cheap Scandinavian furniture. I joke to my husband, that it’s his heritage.) We found a dining table that seats 6 people for under $100 at the same moving sale. (Although they were also selling a fish stand and aquarium for $200+, but unfortunately that wasn’t something we were ready to jump the gun on.

Not going to lie, most of what we’re looking at is either Ikea or Dania.

What we still are lacking in is:
hemnes-daybed-frame-with-drawers-white__0159184_PE315622_S4#1. A bed for us and a a guest bed

For us, we’re looking for a simple slatted bed. For the guest bed and other multi-purpose furniture, Ikea has a great selection of convertible day beds/single beds. I like this bed, since it’ doubles as a huge couch, single bed, or the equivalent of 2 single beds.

friheten-sofa-bed-with-chaise-beige__0188774_PE341595_S4#2 Sofabed for the TV room

We were looking at several different beds, but honestly, the look and price of this piece is right. It’s pretty comfy and we’re hoping that it helps when we have friends over. Some other beds we considered are Dania’s Oregon Sofa with Chaise.

29365#3 Seating for the living room

The living room is almost completely empty. Last week we got some Kallax bookshelves to start to fill that space, but we’re divided on what we want to do. My husband isn’t really keen to set up another sitting area, whereas, I think multiple nooks for sitting is fine.

He wants to set up a craft desk in the living room, which I don’t know how that would work… but he’s the more adventurous one out of the two of us, so we’ll see. Eventually we’re hoping to move his baby Grand Piano into this space, but currently that’s in his parents’ place.

#4 Our own TV (currently we’re borrowing a 36″ TV from my in-laws from their guestroom)

Pretty self explanatory, right? We’re hoping to acquire a good 50″ and wall mount the screen.

#5 And another coffee table

Again, pretty self explanatory. We need some more surfaces in the living room. (I haven’t thrown out the idea of a sitting nook, just yet. I mean, our fireplace is here, so … I am fully expecting to curl up with a book in that room.)

Am I missing anything? I’m planning a couple of other decorative things, but these are main pieces of furniture that we need to get.

Also … rugs. My biggest beef with rugs are that a lot of them are just so ugly. They are so patterned or with a specific color, that it freaks me out to commit to it. I found some that I like, but compared to other necessities, this one may have to wait.

This weekend we’re dog sitting Sadie. She’s a medium sized dark mutt and an amazing sweetheart. And luckily for us, she’s really no trouble at all.IMG_4785.JPGIMG_4783.JPG

Of course, my cat wasn’t having any of that. She stayed away for the most part during the initial meeting (she was curious in the beginning and approached him, but nothing other than some scoping out happened). Once Sadie came to stay with us, he quickly showed her who’s boss, when she approached him hoping that a friendship would form. Poor Sadie backed up into our legs in despair. Between hanging out with us and her runs and walks, she’s been longingly staring and following the cat around ever since. The moral of this story is that my cat is a big bully that bosses around dogs 3-4 times his size.

Hi Ho!
(What am I? A dwarf?)

It’s been a long time! 6 months, actually… -_- I’m embarrassed to say. Well, it’s been a CRAZY 6 months.

Around the time of my last post, my husband and I started seriously looking to buy a house. We’ve had started the discussion around pre-approval since the summer we moved, but we finally got our paperwork started and decided to put in the earnest effort in February. We took the month of February to get all of the paper work (oh! the paperwork throughout this process!) together and started looking at properties at the end of the month. Compared to all of my friends who bought in NYC, my story sounds quick and easy, but the next few months were filled with house hunting, putting in offers on 3 different houses and finally closing in the beginning of April.

IMG_4251.JPGIMG_3958.JPG

(Now we have a house! But we had to re-do the floors! And now we have a garden! (And a lawn!))

So, you can imagine we had tons of Ikea trips (Actually, we just went today). We actually didn’t get to move in until May, since we had a trip to NYC planned in April. And since we were just staying with my in-laws, we weren’t in any real hurry to leave. (HA HA HA.)

My husband and I both had 2 trips to NYC between then and now. 1 was for pleasure, for me, and 1 was for work. For my husband, both trips were related to work, but we hung out a little in April, since it was actually the first time in a year that either of us had been back to NYC!

IMG_4088.JPGIMG_4462.JPGIMG_4093.JPG

IMG_4493.JPGWhich also brings me to my intrepid kitty traveler. On my last trip to NYC (which was incidentally for work), I took the opportunity of bringing my cat and mother back with me. My mother landed in the ER in March. Although she’s incredibly self sufficient, I wanted to see whether it was possible for her to get treatment here with me. I also wanted her to attend my sister in-law’s wedding, so I kidnapped her and my cat. I was so incredibly nervous to travel with my cat. He’s sweet to me, but very skittish. I went completely overboard and got a dog harness and leash, drugged him, and was still paranoid that he would put up a fuss at the airport when I take him in and out of the carrier. Getting him inside at my mom’s was an ordeal… believe me. But at the airport? He was quiet and nervous and just clung to me. He was such a good boy. The flight back with Jetblue was one of the more comfortable ones, since they gave my mother and I the whole 3rd row. My cat was quiet throughout the flight and recovered pretty well afterwards.

Between my mother’s trip to the ER that turned into 4 nights in a NYC observation room, the NYC trips, re-doing our floors, moving into our new house, hosting 3 separate instances of out of town guests, and helping with and hosting relatives for my sister in-law’s June Wedding. The last 6 months have been a whirlwind.

IMG_4391.JPGIMG_4696.JPGIMG_4338.JPGIMG_4692.JPGIMG_4258.JPG
IMG_4383.JPG

IMG_4523.JPGAnd of course the wedding was another few weeks of fun and chaos. I got back from NYC exactly a week before the wedding (a day after my sister in-law got into town) with my mother in tow. 3 days later the Egyptian relatives came. Then the Mexican/Uruguayan realtives came in 2 days after that. We stayed with the in-laws again and lent our home to 2 couples and their kids. their brother, and their father for the wedding. I think we had like 9 people in the house at it’s height. Between helping out for the wedding and showing people around, the next 2-3 weeks flew by!

Honestly July is the first month where we don’t have any plans. We don’t have anyone visiting us, no plans to go anywhere, and no huge events. Phew.

colorless_tsukuruI picked up “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami right when it came out. I usually devour Murakami novels on my commutes, back when I lived in NYC. I don’t know whether it was this particular story or whether I lost that special time to read without carving that time out for myself again, but I just never finished that book, until now.

All of Murakami’s covers are unique, but this hardcover book had a great tactile feel and a satisfying collage image. I loved the compact little size. I am serious crushing on the aesthetics of this book. the colors used on the cover and in the story remind me of the stripe of colors of the cover of a Salinger novel.

This novel was approx. 390 pages, and a smaller novel in the vein of “After Dark.” Murakami short novels are very different from his short stories or his longer novels. I would never compare this to “Kafka On the Shore” or “IQ84″. However, I feel like it’s right to compare it to After Dark. Murakami novels get complex, but depending on the length of the work, the level of complexity varies (naturally). It’s dreamy with characters that come and go and disappear. There is a good amount of fantastical elements that make this a Murakami novel. The truth is though, his short novels always appear dreamy, like a short bittersweet dream, but never go to the abstract craziness of his longer novels. So, this tangent more or less just confirms that this novel was in the same vein of his other novels that are around this length.

The story for the most part is very settled with characters that are more or less real to the main character, with the exception of the character named Haida. Similar to earlier works, the main character is of similar age and demeanor (passive, shy/quiet, eats simple Japanese meals, etc.) as many of his other novels. He’s searching like his other characters from “Wind-up Bird Chronicle” or “Wild Sheep Chase,” just to name drop some other novels. However, unlike those earlier characters, Tsukuru us searching for a truth and his self. He’s searching for a history. It’s interesting, because his other characters in his earlier novels are searching for something similar, but it manifests as a lost best friend or lost wife. Or in the case of “Norwegian Wood,” it’s the loss of a manic pixie princess.

It ends like many other of his books. However, the realism in this book makes the ending… a little unsatisfying. There are so many unanswered questions. (One can only hope that this spans into something like the Sheep chronicles, where Sara’s history is uncovered.) This book left me wanting… more. It scratched my Murakami itch, but ultimately made it crave what he does best… which is craft long amazing tales. His strengths are still in long beautiful unconventional stories.

I read a surprisingly sad amount of books in 2013. I think I read a diet book by Tim Ferriss and the Hunger Games. Last year wasn’t much better. I don’t know when the transition happened from reading actual books to the NY Times app, Wired, and magazines each day on my subway commute. Then when I moved to Oregon, it was worse, since I no longer had a commute. I had to create time to read.

Here’s my monthly attempt at highlighting one of the books I read this month. I’m going to post once a month on something I’ve read.

konmari bookcoverIt seems like this book is everywhere right now. However, the first time I saw this was when my mother-in-law got this in her Christmas stash. She read it, and then my husband read a few chapters, and then I took it. It’s a sweet quick read, but satisfying. Since then, I’ve seen at least one XOJANE article about this.

The Konmari(e) method is basically a philosophy and system that promotes living clutter-free by only surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy, nothing less. She promotes paring down your belongings and throwing out anything that is excess. Clutter causes you to forget everything you have, and she rightly points out that sometimes that can be the huge pitfall, causing you to buy more of the same stuff because you are anxious about not having said stuff, but you were not organized enough to know how much you really have in stock. Think of that as wasteful?

The most distinct thing about this (since this is similar in vein to capsule wardrobes or other trends of minimalistic living) is the author’s reverence for objects. You would think that her distaste for clutter and fervor for throwing things out (her clients throw out 30+ bags of items, with her) would mean that she doesn’t put much value in material goods. However, even things that never had much usefulness to us, she reveres and recommends that we “thank it” for coming into our lives and for teaching us that “we did not need it.” She touts that revering homes, items, and treating everything with thoughtfulness will improve your life holistically. By the end of this book, I found myself thinking that she may be on the right track. Maybe it’s her background as a Shinto shrine maiden, this book was definitely was influenced by Shinto spirituality.

In the end, the organizing philosophy of this book can be wrapped up as, don’t keep things in your home that does not bring you joy. Find the items in your home that bring you joy, a place to be. Once that place is identified, you won’t have to tidy, because it will always go back to “it’s own place.” It’s ingenious, because she is basically tapping into the idea that people have clutter build up, because they are often not thoughtful about finding it a permanent place in the house. Without permanent thoughtful places, things float around and accumulate. In fact, if everything was organized to your liking, and once you’ve pared your items enough (so that you know everything you have and you know where it all belongs) then you will never have floating clutter again.

Oftentimes the home is neglected when thinking about personal happiness. Oftentimes I feel like we like to ignore limitations that our homes and belongings condemn us to. For example, having a clutter home or having too many belongings can get in the way of leading your ideal lifestyle. It will constantly in a nagging way be a blocker for things like, doing exercise (not enough empty floor space), doing hobbies, having people over, etc.). Oftentimes people neglect how spaces promote or hinder certain actions.

Sometimes this books veers on a little too cute and philosophical about inanimate objects. For the most part though, it was a refreshing view on the importance of objects. Unlike capsule wardrobe projects, she doesn’t limit the number of items one can keep. She just challenges you to really think about whether an item sparks joy in you.

She’s very strict about the cadence of what to do. She STRONGLY advises that you tidy all in one swoop, because motivation is a very challenging thing and doing it in small bursts will demotivate and cause you to lose steam. I agree with all of that, but I did start incorporating small changes into my drawers (during laundry, etc.) and already I can see the efficiency in the way that she folds and stores underwear and socks. I mean, I reorganized my closet and drawers motivated by her passages. I ALWAYS thought that I was running out of underwear. However, once I emptied out and rolled up each piece, I realized the clutter in my drawer kept me from really knowing how many pairs of underwear and socks I had. I HAD MORE than enough. OMG. It was kind of mind blowing. (Maybe you guys are just shaking your head, since this may have been common sense to everyone.) This was the case with my whole wardrobe. At a certain point, you just start forgetting about things that are out of sight and out of mind.

If you need to inject a little bit of order in your world, definitely check out this book. I’ll take some before and after pictures, maybe.

The last post was almost a year ago. In fact, if I further procrastinated updating this blog and waited a two more weeks, it would be a whole year after.

A year ago, I was in Oregon for the holidays and first week of January. It was cold and dreary and I was crafting, trying my hand out at felting. (I haven’t made too much progress, I have to admit.)

A lot has changed. I’m no longer a “brooklyn girl.” My partner and I moved to Portland, Oregon, where he grew up, to be closer to family and help out (with his father, the house, etc.). End of February was when things at work picked up and got pretty hectic. Around May, things moved FAST! I found a new job, gave my 2 weeks notice, had only 3 weeks to pack up my 2 bedroom Bushwick apartment. I planned it so that I was working until a week prior to the move. That week was supposed to be dedicated to packing up our lives and spending our remaining time with friends.

OMG, you guys. That week was horrible. It was great to spend time with everyone, but by mid-week, I had to cancel some dinners, stay up until 3am each night to pack, and both my husband and I ended up getting sick with a fever by the time we finished throwing half of our belongings out and rushing to the airport in a cab without even taking a shower. I’m sorry fellow travelers. (Fortunately, we were sitting in the aisle trying to lay low and not cough.)

So life is now a little different. My weekly runs are across neighborhoods in Tigard, Oregon. We are looking to invest in a place. I’m still learning how to drive. I’ve thrown away SO MUCH STUFF. So, I intend to try to start getting back into writing, even if I’ve lost all my readers.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I’m trying to de-clutter and improve my day-to-day. I’m trying to read more (I haven’t read anything since moving, which I am embarrassed to admit). So, hoping this place keeps me accountable. I’ll share my new aquarium, which I set up for my father-in-law. I’ve made some more progress (less cheating) in my capsule wardrobe, so I’ll share that, too.

How has your 2015 been so far?

IMG_3601.JPG
(Balmy 45-50 degree weather – during my mid-morning run today)