Back from Emerald Isle

We just returned from a week in Ireland, hence the silence here on the blog.  It was a magical trip, in a lot of ways, so while I’m still processing the events and organizing the photos, here are a few snaps of this incredible country:

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moherNeedless to say, I’ve already planned my next trip back.  Such an beautiful experience.

I’ve got SO much to catch up on this week (like finishing my own website, which was supposed to be done in February…) so I know I’m looking at a few busy days ahead, but I’d love to share more about Ireland once I can take a seat, pour a pint and let the stories find their way out. Stay tuned.

Teeny Tiny Shower Power

Now that you’ve seen my house, I can start in on one of my FAVORITE topics of all time – what I would do to change it.  When we moved in in 2008, the house had just gone through a small renovation by the previous owner.  It was, in essence, a flip job – not the highest quality and not the most well-thought-out overhaul.  I never saw the place before it was renovated, but judging by what some of the other apartments in the building looked like before they went through their own renos, I guess I’m thankful for what we’re working with.  It could have been a lot worse.  That said, a few things have always bugged me about the house: namely, the kitchen and the bathroom.  It always amazes me how poorly laid out so many kitchens are; ours is no exception.  And it’s not because it’s small – it is possible to have efficient, thoughtful kitchens in tiny houses.  I’ve seen it!  Mostly in Europe, where they know how to do stuff like that.

d87bd40eaa2ff5f9273fda0a7d0f00f8Gah, you’re so pretty!

Anyway.  We are not in the market to overhaul the kitchen anytime soon.  We are, however, planning some improvements to the bathroom, one of which being to finally, finally, tile our shower.  It’s a fiberglass coffin with the most horrible glass door ever designed.  Why anyone would add so many nooks and crannies to something that is constantly getting wet is BEYOND me.  Trying to clean this thing is like wrestling a bear.  Actually, I might enjoy wresting a bear more than trying to scrub this damn door.

silver_shower_doorsThis isn’t our door, I’m not ready to show the internet our actual shower yet, but it’s the same style.  Stupid. 

So John finally we’ve agreed to rip out the fiberglass insert, tile the walls and add a new glass door. It only took 7 years of begging, but no matter – we’re there, on the same pretty page.  Now comes the fun part: tiny shower inspiration photos!  I originally thought I wanted to go with clean white subway tile:

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a161eeecc1691b113e7a9ac71b7e2558
3e0fddf3dde27e751b41c92e0d86eb3b
d646953b3a4091011955e8889d66459cBut I also love the look of modern gray tile, something I see a lot on Scandinavian design sites and also in many of the bathrooms I’ve seen while traveling in France:

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654d9e9d555c8578b4e3cede3e713bb3large_709418587-1278039939-dark-wood-oversized-square-tiles-stylish-bathroom-paris-apartment-perfectOur recent apartment rental in Paris

But I also love the look of colorful ice subway tile, something that would add some pizazz to the room:

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Lastly, the option I know will get nixed immediately but I can still dream about – Marble:

30ea544a9076d4ba3ac9697f112829a2You are gorgeous. Don’t you ever change.

In fact, John and I are so very on the same page that he even suggested we tile the walls as well, something I’ve always wanted to do but never mentioned because, well, baby steps.  These photos help the cause:

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5daab26070296fb69281d67a9ba629b9Since this is not our forever home, I don’t want to invest gobs of money into the project.  But on the whole, it will be a nice improvement to the look and functionality of the bathroom.  Our shower may be tiny, but there’s no reason for it to be so fugly.  I am counting down the days until demo begins!

Ysabel LeMay

On the days when I head over to my studio space in Fort Point, I pass the SoWa neighborhood in the South End.  It’s Boston’s answer to New York’s SoHo neighborhood, filled with old factory buildings that were converted into artists’ lofts, then into the hot gallery scene, and eventually the fancy restaurants and expensive condos followed.  When I was in art school, the city’s more progressive galleries were moving away from Newbury Street and into this neighborhood.  Newbury Street, much like 5th Avenue, has fallen prey to H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and tourism – not the scene for today’s artists.  When summertime rolls around, the SoWa outdoor markets open up on the weekends and the neighborhood really comes alive.  But if you’re in the area, right now is the time to head over to Lanoue Gallery in SoWa so you can catch Ysabel LeMay’s pieces.

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LeMay comes from a background in corporate advertising and traditional oil painting.  Along the way, she began taking photographs of natural subjects and began slicing them together digitally to create these ethereal works.  Each piece is a digital collage of hundreds of individual photographs.

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I’m totally in love with her work.  My studiomate mentioned she would love to use these as wallpaper – how freakin’ fabulous!

Welcome to our House

Ever wondered how two adults can live in a 600-square-foot apartment of a 150 year old townhouse?  Let me show you.

Welcome to our house!  This building was built in the late 1800s as a single-family home.  Like almost every other building in Boston, it’s been chopped up into individual apartments.  We’re in the attic penthouse.

web_Hall_3Our walls have been to hell and back with one recent move-out, one move-back-in, a washing machine that went down and a new one that came up and, as of this weekend, a girls night that got a little rowdy and left some red wine on…well, pretty much everywhere.  So we have decided to give the place some TLC with new paint, a few new appliances and hopefully this spring, some updates to the bathroom.  But here’s where we are now.

web_Hall_1 web_Hall_2This hallway is not the most efficient use of space, but it is a great place to hang art, especially since the rest of the walls aren’t exactly vertical.  These are 4 of my Lakota prints by David Michael Kennedy; the painting of the trees is by me.  The gallery on the stairs is a mixture of prints, family photos and more of my paintings. web_LR_2
web_LR_1Our cozy living room, where we spend 99% of our time with our too-big-for-the-wall television.

web_kitchenI love my little kitchen.  Subway tile courtesy of my handy Hubs McGubs.

web_stripesHeading through our little hallway to the bedroom… web_BR_2
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Web_br_3And the tiny door to our tiny bathroom…

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And finally, out the back door to our deck

web_BR_4(I actually had these pictures from October when we moved back in – right now, our deck is totally unusable due to snow and ice)

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web_viewWhen the weather gets warmer, this deck is the best place to have parties.  We’re so lucky to have a private deck, as many of the decks in this neighborhood are common spaces for all residents in the building.  Our street is one of the last left to have private deck space, and we do take FULL advantage all summer long.  I’m looking forward to getting some more deck furniture, as all the chairs you see here have been collected by the City of Boston Trash Department while we were trying to save our parking spots in the snow.

It may be tiny, but it is mighty!  Even though I have dreams of having my own farm, I love having this little spot in the city.  It will serve well as evidence for my future children that, once upon a time, mom and dad were actually really cool.

No More. Please.

It’s hard to describe what’s happening here in Boston.

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To the rest of the country, Boston getting more snow is not news.  If the city was struck by a tornado, or another terrorist attack, no one would have difficulty imagning the struggle the city inhabitants would be facing.  People would be able, on some level, to sympathize.  But snow?  ‘Hey’, I’m sure they think, ‘they’re used to it.’  And in a way, we are.  Snow doesn’t usually shut us down.  But this winter is entirely, utterly and horrifyingly different.

Boston_winter_2015_parkingFutile attempts to save a parking spot.  The city garbage trucks are taking everyone’s furniture, though people just find another old chair to use after garbage day.

As this NYT Opinion article so perfectly articulates, the city is under a slow, painful siege.  It builds with every falling flake, every few days.  When I say we are being buried alive, I’m quite literally only half-joking.  The entire region is truly shutting down, and what’s worse is that from where we are now, it’s nearly impossible to see any light at the end of this snowy tunnel we’ve been trying to dig out.  Our public transit system, already in such dire shape from years of under-funding and incredible mismanagement, is barely functioning.  People are crowded at subway stations, many of them above ground, waiting for hours while too-crowded trains roll by – if they come at all.  The commuter rail system that reaches into the suburbs is, as one friend put it, a free-for-all.  With the train schedule officially suspended, many just show up just hoping a train will, at some point, appear.  Buses can’t move through the streets, because on every road where there were two lanes, there is now one.  And on roads with one lane, there are literally none.  The streets are so gridlocked that emergency vehicles cannot even get through.  Without a way to get around town, business are dying.  Even the giant ones.  I tried to go to a movie last week, on a day when the sun decided to come out.  The theater, the largest in downtown Boston, was closed.  They had no staff.  I feel for the small independents, as if they don’t have it hard enough.  People’s pipes are bursting, ice blocks the size of ovens are falling off gutters and crashing onto the barely-shoveled sidewalks.  An entire icy gutter was ripped off the building across the street yesterday, crushing the car below it.  It’s not even safe to walk around.  All this, while the temperature is plummeting into record lows.

Boston_winter_2015 Trying to keep hydrants clear daily.

As you can imagine, people’s tempers are flaring.  Just the other night, an incredibly ugly verbal altercation erupted on our street – my neighbor’s life was threatened; the cops had to come.  All over a parking spot.  I’m glad our city is a more liberal one where most people don’t carry guns; if they did, I would bet everything I own that more people would be getting hurt.  Or killed.  It’s not as if anyone can help us, unless they want to build a pipeline to help remove snow out of the whole region.  We are fresh out of places to put it, and fresh out of patience to handle it.