Friday, September 28, 2007

Adventures with Mollies

Oh No! When I hung up my newly purchased curtains, the weight was too much and the poorly installed curtain rod collapsed.

Now my wall is full of holes. But that's okay because...

I can use these magical Molly Anchors that are allegedly super easy to install and will easily hold up some measly curtains.

ARGGHHHHHHHH. I swear, I followed the directions! Now I'm too angry to try again. Plus, I can't deal with more holes in my wall.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interior Design Worksheet

The Jewish holidays have taken up valuable cure-time, but now I have a bit of breathing room and the current holiday, Sukkot, mostly involves fun, so I don't have to feel guilty about devoting some attention to things other than sitting in shul.'s my list:

hang hamsa above arch
take off closet doors
hang fabric in front of closet
hang art cards on beam facing sitting area (consider putting in frames)
stencil "shoes off please" by door (actually, I'd like something wittier- any ideas?)
hang key collection on front door
file academic files into a new box
magnetic bulletin board above desk
hang dining area and kitchen curtains
hang decorative plate
frame family photos and hang in kitchen

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Reflections amid the Palm Trees

I’ve been living out here for a year and 5 weeks. I left New York for a few reasons:

1. the weather- I lived in Boston for three years and it ruined winter for me, so I haven’t been happy on the East Coast since. Also, my eventual plan is to move to Israel, so I figure I should practice living in the desert.
2. some bad relationships I wanted to put distance between
3. living in one place for more than two years in a row makes me restless- wanderlust
4. I had a few choices for grad school, but ASU gave me the most funding

At first, I spent most of my time complaining and missing the city:

“I'm from New York, I'm genetically engineered to dislike everywhere. Except Manhattan.” (McDreamy)

"One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes-I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life." (Frank O'Hara)

"The true New Yorker secretly believes that anyone living anywhere else must somehow, in a sense, be kidding." (John Updike)

But after a few months, I realized that living in a place with palm trees and doing something I love instead of toiling in a grey cubicle was making me happy. Very happy. And have a hapy little life here.

So, now that I’m happy to be here, my home should reflect that happiness.

(But I still miss New York).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Set Design Inspiration

Apparently, I have a thing for middle aged British expatriates. For their apartments, I mean.

Maybe I should get a pipe and some tweed. Considering I'm a professional academic, perhaps it's inevitable. Now I just need to find some photos of Indiana Jones' house in Last Crusade.

Floor Plan Thoughts

Here's my first attempt at a layout, but it's actually no different from what I currently have. Just with different furniture. I'm not sure how well it "flows," but since I have so many doorways/openings, there aren't many other ways I can think of to arrange it, except to turn the sofa to face the sliding glass doors..but then that creates a hallway and the sofa I like is too big for that anyway...

From above: 1 and 2 are the plain Ikea pieces I already have facing the sofa on angles; 3 is the large bookcase I already have; 4 is the sofa I want (curvy one from Pennys); 5 are the accent tables from Crate and Barrel that I like more every day (although I have been keeping my eyes open during thrift store trips for alternatives); 6 is the type of leather bench I want to replace the coffee table; and the question marks are the hypothetical cabinets/shelves/somethings that will have room for a printer, two file cabinet drawers, display space for my collection of Oaxacan pottery (small), and ideally a few books I'm using that semester. This might be difficult but something like a vertical file cabinet with a shelf on top could work perfectly- I just can't find one I like.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What I Want (in this room)

Currently, I sit on the couch and eat, watch TV or work. Which is bad for my back, wrists (laptop on my lap- oops), and my brain, since the TV is slowly melting it. So, I canceled most of the cable (still trying to decide how much I need Comedy Central and FX).

What I'd like is space to work (at a table with proper support), a more comfortable couch to watch limited amounts of TV, (I may be short, but the loveseat is too small even for me), and someplace to eat. But, I value the place to work more than the place to eat, which is why I'm leaning towards making the dining room table a home office that is flexible enough to convert when there's company or it's too cold to eat outside- that's the next part, putting a table outside to eat. Also, I want the living room area to be friendlier for guests.

In conclusion: I have a dining room, living room, kitchen; and I want office, dining room, living room, kitchen.

Idle Sofa Thoughts

I want two things in a sofa: green (olive or dark) and comfortable. I was thinking squashy, but then I saw this one (Simmeon from JCPenney):

It's huge though- 8 feet long. Maybe that's normal, but that's most of my living room wall. I don't know how good the quality is. Also, I can't sit on it ahead of time, so I don't know if it's comfortable and it definitely doesn't look squashy.

Here's one that is squashy- my cousin has it, but I don't like the skirt (Caledonia from Bassett):

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Money Matters

As a graduate student, my typical financial state is "ahh how am I going to pay for groceries...I'll figure it out after I order another beer."

In other words, priorities are a bit mixed up and money is tight. When I moved out here I had $1000 saved up which I took to Ikea and used to furnish an apartment. Now that I've decided to seriously address the apartment, I spent the summer saving and reevaluating said priorities, and the result is I have enough to buy some nicer furniture- sofa, ottoman as coffee table, and at least one end table are the priorities, and paint the larger room (the bedroom and bathroom will have to wait). So it will be a mix of store bought furniture and thrift stores. As long as I'm careful, I think I'll be able to make a significant change. I'm excited!

Some "Before" Photos

The colorless Ikea room.

(more on my flickr page.)

Set Design Inspiration

I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon for ten years (damn, I just realized that), and I always loved the look of Giles’ apartment from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was comfortable (love that the TV was not the main attraction), filled with books, and just looked so interesting.

I guess that’s it- I want my place to look interesting. I want to display all the random things I’ve picked up over the years- black pottery from Oaxaca (my only “collection”), castanets and fans from Spain, chopsticks from Chinese restaurants around the world (except from China), pretty boxes, camp mementos, rocks from Israel, and photos from everywhere. The dioramas I make should be hung on the wall instead of shoved under a bed. I’m an Anthropologist, and my possessions reflect that. I want my apartment to as well.

List of Repairs

Mostly little things I've been ignoring:

1. loose toilet handle (going to ask a friend who says she is a plumbing genius to come over and look at it)

2. replace lightbulb next to shower (need to get a step ladder to reach and figure out what type of bulb I even need)

3. fix screen door roller and then hang them up (need to go to hardware store to get replacement roller)

4. use new anchor things to hang up bedroom curtains and fix the collapsed curtain rod in dining area (I have to go back to hardware store because I forget how to use them)

5. one electrical socket not working (although the one attached to it is...which is weird, right? This one I think I'll ask the super about, although since they're doing major renovations, it's sort of like getting in touch with the Pope)

6. connect the VCR player to the TV (My TV is so ancient, it seemed too difficult, although maybe if I spend more than 5 minutes on it I'll figure it out)

7. glue (or somehow attach) the piece of weather stripping on the outside of the front door that is flapping wildly

8. attach a deadbolt to the front door (and possibly figure out some lock type deal for the sliding glass doors, because even though my balcony is on the second floor and inaccesible, there is a tree and I am paranoid.

9. the door on the hall closet sticks, I guess I should take it down a rehang it. Or, I've been thinking about taking it down and just hanging up a curtain.

The Cure So Far

Ok, since I just started this blog, I'm a bit behind on posting. So here's what I managed to do this week:

The floors are clean, I sat at my dining room table (yes, I never sit there which is one of my problems), I gave away the box spring that has been propped up against the sliding glass doors in my bedroom (thus serving as a curtain), and I already use earth friendly cleaning supplies- a mix of 7th Generation and Method products and copious amounts of white vinegar.

I did not buy flowers, because I was doing the Jew thing for half the week and didn't walk by the flower shop on my regular route.

And here is my pretty, pretty style tray:

The Interview: Part Three

I got a 4 on the quiz- completely deficient in Breath and Bones, 50% each in Head and Heart. Yup, I have a lot of work, but at least I know what I need and want. I think Breath is most important to me because I really want a place that I can come home to and be happy.

(this does not make me happy)

I’m going to focus on one room, the living/kitchen/dining main room, where I spend all my time. But there are certainly aspects of the deep treatment that I’m going to embrace- especially buying fresh flowers!

The Interview: Part Two

Personal History
Style: Simple, practical, just a little bit stylish
Where I’ve Lived: Philadelphia, New Jersey, Boston, Spain, New York…and Phoenix
Role Model: Sam Vimes, a character of Terry Pratchett- moral, practical, and determined. And perpetually conflicted about it. Is it weird that I choose a fictional character?

So I think I’m going to go with eclectic…which is probably true if I take a look around at my possessions and life so far.

And now, what’s wrong with my apartment?
It’s disorganized, dull, and incomplete.
It would say, “why don’t you like me? Why don’t you do something to fix me? You complain about me, act ashamed, and yet never follow through on any of your plans.”
The one thing I’d like to do in my place is to create a comfortable place to work where I can be productive (and will want to spend time there).
In eight weeks, I’d like people to describe my home as organized, sophisticated, and polished.


I answered slowly, in fact went back a few times to fill in some blanks: need pushing to make decisions. Definitely. I had difficulty with some of the more visual categories: need to look at more pictures (note: I took this quiz a few months ago and only filled in half the answers, then finished reading the book, looked at TONS of photos, and when I went over it again last week I felt more comfortable with the results). In general, I think I value comfort but want to be ‘stylish’ in a way that appears effortless.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Interview: Part One

The easy questions, from p42:

Actress: Katharine Hepburn, Rosario Dawson, Idina Menzel
Actor: Cary Grant, Alan Arkin, George Clooney
Artist: Marcel Duchamp, Tina Modotti, Domenico Ghirlandaio
Writer: JD Salinger, Terry Pratchett, Ruth Benedict
Music: Rilo Kiley, Everclear, Sheryl Crow
Restaurant: Mundo in Asotia, Pomme Frites, and Mamoun's falafel (I miss New York)
Automobile: don't really care but..Jetta, VW Van, and the taxi that takes me home at 5am
Television Show: Buffy, General Hospital, Grey's
Clothing: H&M, Old Navy, Zara

Why the Cure?

In theory, decorating an apartment when one is a 25 year old graduate student should not be so difficult. Standards are not high: cash is not readily available and most of our days are spent in the department. When we are home, we read, or if we’re lucky enough to have some free time, collapse into bed.

But it drives me insane to live like this when I know that I could do better. Especially when I know that this is not a temporary situation. I will not be leaving in a year, or two, or three, or four. I bought this place, and I will live here until I get that PhD. So, I need to make this into a home, and some throw pillows just aren’t going to do it. And apparently, when left to my own devices, I simply do not have the discipline to devote myself to the project.

And that’s why I think Apartment Therapy could be a way to that happy home. It’s not just about throw pillows, but about changing the way one thinks about home. And since it’s a group deal, with feedback and everything, I have very high hopes. I thought about doing it last spring, but I wasn’t ready. Now, I am. And I think blogging it is going to be the easiest way to keep track of my progress.

11 moves in 7 years

I’m a nester, and when the nomadism began I was careful to unpack and immediately sew some throw pillows, put out some framed photos, or in some way claim the space. But this last big move, from New York to Phoenix, left me a bit lost.

In the first Phoenix apartment I lived in, I never hung any of my clothes in the closet- I simply lived out of a suitcase. Which I’ve done before, but never for 9 months. One room was just full of empty boxes and my books were the only things that were actually unpacked. I’m now 5 months into apartment number two (although I sublet it during the summer so I’ve only actually lived here for two months), and there are still 7 unpacked boxes, plus half a dozen that are open and have things haphazardly thrown in due to a lack of organized storage space.

But a few months ago I found Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan’s book, Apartment Therapy, and the blog. And for the past few months slowly but surely I’ve been inspired to actually do something about this situation. The blog community has been such a fabulous resource, and I’m hoping with this social support I’ll finally be able to create a new home in the desert.