Thursday, February 28, 2013

Signing on a new dotted line

View of Brooklyn Bridge from IKEA ferry on *sparklingly []
{ View of Lower Manhattan from the NYC Harbor during our Pioneer Schooner evening sail  |  August 2012 }

The definition of naiveté: assuming it would be completely fine for us to time the end of our NYC lease to 6 months from when we're eligible for each others' citizenship, because of course we'll be able to work the system of three different governments to apply for and receive permission to live abroad AND prepare for an international move within 180 days.

So very, very foolish, on our part.

All of which to say that my home in Lower Manhattan—where I've lived for 6 years—may no longer be my home come spring. I've lived in the same building the entire time, although I've moved apartments within it twice, and we assumed (again, naive) that if our lease expired before we had the proper paperwork to move, we'd just go month-to-month, which I've done before.

But, I haven't verified that we could do that again, and in the meantime, our building emailed us yesterday to say that our rent was going up 15% a month. So, either we take a gamble and assume all the timing gods will work in our favor and we should ask if it's still possible to do a month-to-month lease for a few months (at the higher price), or realize that it would not be a mistake to assume we'd need another year to sort things out and really prepare ourselves well for an international move so it would make more sense to move somewhere else where we could either pay the same rent, or slightly more—but not 15% more!—for a better apartment.

And, did I mention we have two weeks to decide? And, that in NYC, you have to basically give up your apartment before you find a new one, which means that if we decide not to renew our apartment we'd have to tell them now, but we wouldn't be able to find another apartment until a month or so before it's available, which works out to me being a basketcase and not knowing where I'm going to live for 6 weeks.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


La Colombe Coffee on Lafayette Street in Nolita, New York on *sparklingly []
{ La Colombe Torrefaction  |  Nolita, NYC  |  22 February 2013 }

I'm feeling a bit miffed with my little space here. I think the colors are beginning to meld with the relentless gray weather in NYC in such a way that clicking over here makes me blue (or, gray, rather). Might do a little sprucing up. Until that happens, just wanted to say hello.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Comings and goings

*sparklingly  []
{ Snowy Saturday in Central Park  |  Bow Bridge  |  9 February 2013 }
This weekend R and I helped our (now former!) houseguest move into his very own apartment—he's been going through a particularly rough patch of things, so he'd been sharing our home for the last five months as he tried to sort it out.

Yep. Five months.

But, E is super thoughtful and considerate, so it wasn't really an ordeal at all—but no matter how kind someone is, it's a pretty big adjustment (did I mention we live in a 600 square-foot apartment?), especially since the duration was up in the air and, harder for me to handle, E's situation isn't good.

The only thing that's changed now is that he has his own space and doesn't have to feel like he's taxing us, but let's be real, New York is either the best city in the world, or the worst, to be on a run of bad luck. It breaks my heart and overwhelms me with guilt and sadness that I haven't been able to do more to help.

+ + +

After an afternoon putting together IKEA furniture in E's new apartment on Sunday, R and I came home to a beautiful bottle of Australian Shiraz and a flourless chocolate cake—even though I'm still blue over E, a small marking-of-the-occasion was definitely in order.

+ + +

Yesterday I was off from work, so I fired up the moka, simmered a little pot of Ronnybrook milk on the stove with freshly-split cardamom pods, streamed the inky black espresso and the fluffy, spiced cream into my mug, and enjoyed my version of a caffe latte while watching morning TV and doing a little crocheting. Then I met a friend way uptown to finally try Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster for an indulgent meal of oddly-named, but delicious, "fried yard bird", Bloody Mary's and crab cakes with a curry aioli.

To take advantage of the gloriously bright, clear winter day, we then walked all the way from 125th Street through the North Woods of Central Park and down 70'ish blocks to take tea at Knave at Le Parker Meridien before I met R (who didn't have the day off from work).

After my friend headed off to her subway stop, R and I walked hand-in-hand to ours and hopped on a train downtown where our usual finally-back-home-shuffle was back on track: scurry into apartment, hang up coats/scarves/gloves/etc., shimmy into "comfies" (my word for pajama-y, lounge-y, cuddly clothes) and slippers and then shuffle around lighting pillar and taper candles before settling into our corners of the couch for a glass of wine and a chat.

I missed it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday meanders: 7

[Some tidbits from my online poking around...enjoy!]
{ Saturday mornings are the best  | 9 Feb 2013 }

+ Valentine's are for the birds!

+ One thing I really, truly miss after a few years of being (mostly) gluten-free is a nice slice of warm toast with a little butter (or, let's be real, chocolate spread) with a mug of coffee on a weekend morning. Enter: Life-Changing Bread from My New Roots.

+ So much of this is so very, very true. Other New Yorkers–do you agree?

+ Something so completely lovely and wholesome and whimsical about these sweet prints by Phoebe Wahl (via). They celebrate hearth and home and family and made me think of both Laura Ingalls/Little House in the Big Woods and Scandinavia (which, actually, are related!). See the "via" link for a tour of the artist's studio.

+ I'm such a sucker for doggies doing adorable things.

+ And, one last after-the-fact, Valentine-related thing. Wonder who sat around creating this amazingness for Google?

Friday, February 15, 2013

These women

Crocheted granny squares on *sparklingly []
{ Granny squares—so addictive!  |  9 Feb 2013 }

Get any small group of women together, anywhere, and at some point they'll get around to discussing whether they're more of a Carrie or a Samantha. Or, a Rachel or a Monica.

I've had the discussion so many times that I can now rattle off that I'm as:

+ Fastidious, competitive, hyper-organized and obsessed with purple as Monica.

+ Enamored with bold, bright colors and statement jewelry as Samantha.

+ Driven, independent, pro-woman and bossy as Miranda...and Lynette.

+ Concerned with etiquette, propriety and lady-likeness as Charlotte...and Bree (with whom I sometimes share a penchant for old-fashioned ways).

+ Feisty, hot-tempered and admiring of lush fabric, exotic flowers, warm colors, dark wood and marble accents as Gabrielle

+ Fast-of-a-talker as Lorelai (and while I may not be an inn owner, it's always been a particular dream of mine).

+ Not at all like Rachel, Phoebe, Carrie or Susan.

Remember I mentioned dueling dualities before? I'm definitely full of them.

What about you?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In between

*sparklingly {}
{ The wee pup that visited us  |  January 2013 }

A smattering of thoughts:

+ There's something quite odd about being where I am now—not physically, but mentally—where it seems unbelievable that I've already been married for three years, yet I have friends with babies that are toddling about and, as a friend shared this weekend, her still-very-young marriage is going through an incredibly rough patch. The poor thing is facing something quite painful, and I don't know that things will even be better, if things get better (if that makes sense).

+ I'm considering knitting up a bunch of linen or cotton table napkins—have been thinking of ways to stop my incessant reliance on paper towels and paper napkins. Haven't quite figured out what pattern/colorway I'd like to use, or even if we'd get used to using them. But...I'm thinking about it.

+ My new favorite after-dinner drink: raw cacao dissolved in coconut oil + steamed full-fat milk + cinnamon + nutmeg + maca + shredded coconut on top.

+ This last week I have been s.t.r.u.g.g.l.i.n.g without high-speed data access on my smartphone—I somehow finished my allotted 5GB (oops!) one week shy of the end of my billing cycle and am now being slowly (and I do mean slowly) tortured by waiting forever for apps to load and pages to update.

What's new with you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The mean reds
{ East River Snowman by Unknown Child  |  9 February 2013 }

Only a few months after Hurricane Sandy, the idea of being battered by another force of nature had set everyone on edge. We were hunkered down, the frustration and anxiety as we waited for Blizzard Nemo to arrive rolling over the city in an ominous haze, the news outlets proclaiming "the storm of the century" and "historic, deadly force approaching" egging our worries on.

Maybe it was that.

Or, maybe it was something else niggling at my mind.

Either way, Friday I felt a kinship with Holly, as a severe case of The Mean Reds settled in, heavy on my chest and shoulders.

First, a gloomy day at work surveying preparations in Soho, staring into my monitor hour-after-hour as my eyes started to burn. Then, home. Moving through cycles of isolation, fury, unease. Questioning everything I've recently said and done. Festering.

The Mean Reds, indeed.

+ + +

Saturday morning broke with hazy sunlight drifting among soft-as-down-feathers-snow in pretty piles around the city. While other areas of the Northeast, even as close as Long Island, had waist-high snowdrifts to deal with, New Yorkers had delightful light-as-air snowflakes to play in.

+ + +

A day at home—picking up my languishing crochet needle to teach myself a new stitch, going for a walk on the waterfront and admiring the many snowmen that children (even those growing up on a concrete island) knew how to make, coming home to my homemade chicken soup made from a beautiful Epicurean Farm heritage Pollo Buono bird that had tangled with silky strands of leeks and celery and a hefty dose of turmeric all afternoon on the stovetop, watching documentaries (until I switched back to my regular witty TV shows), and having a long, much-needed talk brushed my mean reds aside.

Monday, I'm ready for you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tape, red or otherwise
{ Excellent Christmas gift from my Swedish sv√§rmor  |  January 2013 }

Do you know where the phrase "red tape" comes from? Good ol' President Jedidah Bartlett enlightened me (although the Internet tells me the origin dates even further back, but let's go with what The West Wing says): apparently Civil War veterans had to go to D.C. personally to get their pensions after the war. They had to wait for a clerk to look through all the records until their papers were found—and they were bound in red tape.

Not that applying for foreign citizenship is equal at all to fighting a war (although theoretically it means that if there was a draft, I'd have to pledge allegiance to multiple armies), but I've been dealing with quite a bit of red tape, both foreign and domestic.

I mentioned some of the foolishness that was involved with my Italian and Swedish requests before and things are still pretty much just as foolish.

For Sweden, well that authenticated marriage certificate I mailed over did me no good on the residency permit side, but at least our marriage is now registered with Skatteverket, their version of the IRS. I only realized that nothing was happening when three months passed and no news was sent our way so I started raising a ruckus with the Consulate here to ask what the heck is going on (they had told me it would take three months maximum from receipt of my marriage certificate to having residency in hand, which is not at all how things went down). Turns out, we had been misinformed. So they gave us a bunch of forms to fill out, except when I got home nothing made any sense at all (and these were in English).

So I sent them a strongly worded email asking what exactly am I supposed to be doing with these nonsensical forms that ask where we live and work in Sweden when I explained to you that we wanted to get permission to live and work in Sweden? In response the Consulate sent me a link to an online form the very next morning—after 40 minutes answering questions, uploading documents, attaching photographs and providing my credit card information, BOOM, my request for residency based on familial relationships was sent! And now we wait.

For Italy, those cads are holding fast to their August 2013 appointment date, and I found out that the additional documents I will have to show are even more involved then originally thought. They want a recent copy of my birth certificate (of course I don't understand that since I wasn't born again), but it has to be translated and authenticated and stamped by the Department of State. Oh, and all of my four criminal records will have go through that same procedure...after I pay to get new ones done of course, since they'll be out of date by the time my appointment rolls around.

Although, as is the case with Italians, R met someone who knew someone who knew someone else that works at the Consulate and we were given an email address to use to ask for an earlier date. We did and were told that maybe they might have an earlier opening if we ask again in six weeks.

See? Red tape.

PS. Thank goodness everything is progressing for R with his US citizenship. He's already studying for the civics exam and we're just waiting for an appointment date for our interview, his test, and his oath (!) ceremony.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hurraw!'s lush lip balms

*sparklingly []
{ My Hurraw! stash | January 2013 }

Remember I mentioned Hurraw!'s lip balms back in early December? Well, I finally finished up the last little nubbins of my goat's milk lip balm and placed an order for the chai spice, moon beam and vanilla bean balms (swapped out vanilla for mint from my original preference list). They arrived last week in the most adorable wee muslin bag AND the sweet lasses that work over there jotted a personal note on my shipping receipt and threw in the mint balm gratis!

Seriously good service.

And? Seriously good product.

I'm not sure which one is my favorite just yet—I've been using the moon balm at night (naturally), but have been mixing up the chai spice and vanilla when I go out the door and use the mint after lunch, which seems appropriate.

And did you see their slim profile and cheerful packaging? Adorable.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday meanders: 6

{ Lower Manhattan...or Paris?  |  January 2013 }
Monday meanders: my somewhat-regularly-posted collection of online goodies.

+ Why is doubt spelled with a b? Is anyone else as interested in the root of words/historical meanings? I probably wasn't always, but after I began learning languages, I realized how helpful etymology is for making connections across linguistic divides. This animated video about why doubt is spelled with a b is interesting (and not too long, don't worry!). [via]

+ Making tiny cool (and workable!): the winner of NYC's tiny-apartment competition was just revealed looks pretty nice!

+ Finally on the Downton Abbey bandwagon: How could you all keep this from me? I'm completely obsessed and have just petered into Season 2 (so don't spoil it for me!) and saw this gorgeous picture of Mary and Matthew and had to share. I could maybe be a country lady. Maybe. If the gig came with a grand library and a slew of dogs and horses, then perhaps definitely.

+ The right of way for Swedish mammas and pappas with little ones and dogs: of course there's a separate subway turnstile just for them. Ah, Sweden. I heart you.

+ Simple home: Y'all may already know how interested I am in simplifying, cutting-back, whittling-down, etc., and that I really enjoy reading Sarah Wilson's blog and e-books, but now I'm even more excited because she's just bought her first apartment and is about to start "My Simple Home", a series on "sustainable, ethical, minimal, efficient, toxin-free and economical"living. I love how much she researches different topics (whether it be autoimmune diseases, cycling, toxin-free living, etc.) and then does small tweaks here and there to see how she can improve her life (a philosophy I'm very much in agreement with).

+ French provincial in Brooklyn: I cannot even believe this prosaic gorgeousness exists a stone's throw from my apartment in Lower Manhattan (via).

+ Made-to-order Balinese furnishings: I now know two couples (one in real life, and one through their blog—so I'm using the word "know" lightly for the latter, of course) that have traveled to Indonesia and had furniture made to their specifications and sent back and they're just gorgeous! Our friends in Williamsburg have a huge industrial loft that is warmed up by all their incredible teak furniture (that was shipped across the world and right up the East River to the pier in Brooklyn at the end of their street!). And, I just saw these beautiful lights on Hither & Thither (and check out the outdoor fireplace, wouldn't mind that, either!). Gorgeous, no?

Friday, February 1, 2013

2013 in pictures: January

Click to catch up!
{ Postcard from Honduras  | Jan. 6, 2013 }
{ The Liebster Award | Jan. 8, 2013 }
{ Pure Energy Vitamins  | Jan. 10, 2013 }
{ 2012: The year that was | Jan. 11, 2013 }
{ 2013: An idea | Jan. 15, 2013 }
{ 2013: A formula | Jan. 18, 2013 }
{ Monday meanders: 5 | Jan. 21, 2013}
{ 2013: A plan | Jan. 22, 2013 }
{ A sheaf of the past | Jan. 23, 2013}
{ Literary libations | Jan. 24, 2013 }
{ All Good Things | Jan. 25, 2013}
{ 1 day with Juice Press | Jan. 28, 2013 }
{ Pioneers in the city | Jan. 29, 2013}
{ Sybaritic weekend | Jan. 30, 2013 }
{ Manifesting in January  |  Jan. 31, 2013 }