Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Project 365+ (Starts June 25, 2009) (I'm a little nervous.)

Did you just roll your eyes? Seriously? No? Ok.

I keep hearing people talk about the 365 day project - it's when you commit to taking a photo every day for 365 days and then post each photo to your blog or your facebook or your photosite or whatever. I guess the idea is to create a kind of a journal of your year. I'm not sure why it appeals to me so much, but it does. All right, I do know, but I'm not ready to talk about it. Anyway. I've been thinking about doing this for months and I keep putting it off, but now I'm just going to do it. I'm just going to dive in. Because if anything, it will force me to be at least a tiny bit creative every day.

This is my goal: Every day for the next year I will take photos of things that catch my eye, things I think are strange or beautiful or ugly, moments that make me happy, people I love, whatever I want. I will take photos every day and then I will pick one, the one that most interests me or best captures my mood or how I felt about my day, and I will post it here and write about it. And if, at the end of 365 days I feel like keeping it up, I will. Because I can.

Now. While I promise to use my camera on a daily basis, I will not promise to post the photos on a daily basis or even on the day on which they were taken. That is just unrealistic. At least while I have four jobs. In fact, I actually started this project on June 25th, so the retroactive posting has already begun. Neener neener neener, I want to hear no complaints. I'll start out a few days behind, and if I catch up one day, then awesome. If not, c'est la vie. Also, I do not claim to be a photographer, so please lower your expectations. This is just for fun. And. While ultimately, I think it would be super awesome if I got to the point where I posted a photo at the end of every day and then continued with the project well past the 365th day, I'm going to start with baby steps. And I'm calling the project:

Project 365+

Can I get a "HELLS YEAH"?

I hereby promise to myself, and to those of you out there who by reading this blog are having a relationship with me that I don't even know about, that I will photograph beautiful moments on a daily basis for the next 365 days, and maybe more, and post the fruits of my efforts within.

Here goes something.

June 25, 2009

I've always been in love with his hands. On our first date, our first real date the second time we tried dating, I sat in his kitchen and watched him cook, sipping red wine and talking about - I don't even know what. I wasn't paying attention to what he was saying because I was watching his beautiful hands. Some of my favorite moments between us, some of our most romantic, most intimate, most profound moments have happened while I was perched in the kitchen watching him cook. No matter what is happening between us, no matter where we are in our lives, no matter how we are feeling, while he cooks and I watch, the world is absolutely perfect.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bits and Pieces

My parents have been in town for the last two weekends (they spent the week in the Adirondacks) and when they left this morning to go back to Los Angeles I think they took my innards with them.

I can't relate at all to people who don't completely adore their parents. I am so crazy about my parents that I invited them to join me and my husband for half of our honeymoon. My husband will be the first to tell you that the week my parents spent with us was infinitely more fun than the week we spent alone.

Every time I start to think that New York feels familiar and home-like I am reminded that Los Angeles will always be where my heart is. El Lay might be full of vapid blondes with fake boobs, and maybe every single solitary person you know including your doctor, your mechanic, your lawyer and your therapist are actors too, and even though it is smoggy and expensive and as I've been told it "has no soul", it is where my family is. Where my roots are. You can take the girl out of The Valley but you'll never take The Valley out of this girl.

So while I am scraping the remains of my heart off the floor, the pieces that fell out of my mother's suitcase when she snapped it shut, and the bits that slipped from my father's pockets when he hugged me good bye, I'll entertain you with some photographic highlights of their two weekends here. The pictures don't even come close to capturing how wonderful those six days were, but they try.

The parents and a nice Jewish girl at
Sammy's Roumanian Steak House on the Lower East Side.

I know this photo is blurry, but it perfectly
demonstrates the vibe at this fabulous restaurant.

At HighBridge Park, my favorite spot in Sugar Hill.

Mike gives Mama a Tarot reading

How do you spend a perfect Sunday in NYC?
At the NYC Gay Pride Parade.

My beautiful Mama and my gorgeous Papa,
dancing at Gay Pride.

And this? This last photo here? This was my father's idea.

And even though I felt really embarrassed, because omg how embarrassing is it when your dad wants to take a picture of you in front of a landmark on the street as if you're a tourist when you totally aren't, I let Papa take a photo of me in front of The Actors Studio. Then I told him:

"When I'm a member, I'll let you take my photo inside, ok? And I'll give you a tour and everything."

And then he grinned, which made feeling embarrassed for thirty seconds totally worth it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Solstice

A breeze blows through the window and I smell sprinkler water evaporating off of sun-baked sidewalk. It is a summer smell. It reminds me of Sunday afternoons when I was a little girl and it is comforting and lonesome at the same time.

Maybe because it is finally summer now, maybe because it is hot and the pavement bakes and the people sweat and the sun warms the grass, maybe that is why I walk and walk and walk and feel like I am home.

Today I stepped off the A train at the 59th Street station and moved along the platform as I waited for a downtown D train and I thought, "This subway station smells like home." And then I thought, "Why does this station smell like home?"

The lines around home as I knew it for my first twenty-something years are beginning to blur. Sometimes I walk past an elementary school and think, "that is where my children will go to school," and then I remember where I am. Sometimes I walk through my apartment and imagine how we could squeeze a nursery in and then I remember where I am. Sometimes I think I'll just swing by my parent's house to say hello and then I remember where I am. Sometimes I walk through the city and my heart swells with so much love that I can't imagine ever leaving and in the very next moment a blade of fear cuts my heart because, dear god, what if I never leave?

Maybe because it is finally summer now, maybe because the sun heats my skin and beats my eyes, maybe because night jasmine blooms and clouds trail shadows on the grass, maybe that is why I walk and walk and walk and feel like I am home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Final. For Reals.

Seriously? Thank you for taking the time to watch my reel, for commenting, and for providing your honest suggestions and insight! I have tweaked it according to some really great suggestions, though I chose to keep it under a minute so that I can afford to post it on Actors Access. My agent loved it, too, which made me absolutely beam with pride. So here it is, in all it's completed glory.

p.s. If you feel like hitting it up again on YouTube, to rate and comment, that would be super awesome. And you'll win a prize*.

*I'm lying about the prize.

Monday, June 22, 2009

After a very long day. Not a bad day. Just a very long one.

It is only Monday and I am already exhausted.

I started a new job today. I now, officially, have four jobs. FOUR. 1-2-3-4. Like the song by Feist, only not as fun.

And I don't mean to complain, I really don't, especially when so many people (my husband included) are unemployed. But this, this needing four jobs to just barely make ends meet when your ends are as modest as mine, especially when your ends are as modest as mine, this is a little ridiculous. I could go into the politics of all of this, I could rant and whine about how no one is paying a decent wage anymore (because of the economy, they say) but if employers continue paying people so poorly that people continue to be so broke that they can't spend any money at all because they can barely make their modest ends meet, that they will have to wear boots all summer because they cannot afford to purchase cute summery sandals, how will our economy get better?

But I won't go into all of that because I am too tired from working at three of my four jobs today.

I am so tired my head feels lopsided and buzzy.

I am so tired I don't even know what that means.

And it is only Monday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Watch & Comment

Ah-ight. I finished my reel last night. I'm very excited because I managed to keep it under a minute (I've heard too many times that a reel should be under a minute and I've never managed it before) and I think it's quite good. But what do YOU think? I want your opinion. Can you help me make it better?

P.S. If you like it just the way it is and you wanted to go to YouTube and rate it and comment, that would totally make my day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm practically peeing my pants.

It has been a very exciting week, Internet Friends. Very. Exciting. I have about a hundred-eighty-three projects (that's an exact number) going right now, including the editing of a brand-new film reel, the writing of a children's book (What-what?), auditions and call-backs gallore, and a garden. I have a garden. I live in Manhattan and I have a garden.

Ok, it isn't really a garden. It's more of a collection of potted plants that I can eat when they're done growing. BUT STILL.

Do you remember when I posted all about sustainable eating and community supported agriculture and how I lusted after large open spaces where I could grow vegetables? Well, dreams come true, folks. They really do come true.

This past Tuesday Mike and I were the proud recipients of our very first CSA share. We are members of the West Harlem Community Supported Agriculture Program, which means that every Tuesday we get a big box of organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables. AND IT IS LIKE CHRISTMAS, IT IS THAT FUN.

Look what we got this week:

Is this not the Most Beautiful bok choy you've EVER SEEN?

What the F is this? I can't even tell you. But it was delicious.
(It's called Kohlrabi)

And it comes in red, too, in case you were wondering.
Also, in case you can't tell by my husband's beard, we are hippies now.

This is a garlic flower. Did you know that garlic flowers?
And you know what it tastes like? GARLIC.
It's beautiful and wonderful and grown in New York state.

And here is a sneak-peak of our bedroom. (It's not done yet.)
Those flowers? They came from the CSA also.
F-ing-A. How happy am I?

And this? This?
Oregano and Thyme.
How badass is that?

We also got a sh** ton of kale, swiss chard, strawberries, and other stuff I am too excited to remember.

The other thing that was freaking awesome was that four days before we picked up our CSA share, our good friends Josie and Johnny came over for dinner and brought us this house-warming gift:

Basil, sweet basil and cilantro


I am ridiculously excited about the tomato plant. RIDICULOUSLY. EXCITED. And since I took this photo, our little tomato plant has grown even bigger and is even more beautiful and holy crap I am growing a vegetable. It is my very first time ever growing a vegetable or herbs. And forever and ever, wherever I live, wherever I roam, whenever I grow vegetables and herbs I will think of Josie and Johnny because they got me started.

I am so freaking happy right now. Who knew that vegetables and herbs could make a girl THIS happy? It is the little things in life, truly.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just because you can't put a bow on it

Oh, how I long to live a simple little life. When I was little I would dream about how romantic it would be to be married to a writer and live in a tiny apartment in Paris and work at the flower shop downstairs, knowing that my husband was upstairs tap-tapping at his typewriter (because of course it is more romantic to write at a typewriter than a computer). I would stop at the market on my way home and pick up greens for dinner. After, we'd sip wine and he'd dry the dishes while I washed. Then we'd curl up in bed and read until we were too sleepy. And the next day we'd get up and do it all again.

Oh, how I long for a simple little life. How tired I am of the city and living in a little apartment, how tired I am of chasing dreams and not knowing and worrying over the future. How I often feel like I'm being punished because I didn't choose a more direct career path, and that maybe, if I'd picked a "grown-up" career, I could have all the little things I want so badly. The little things like waking up in the morning and just being able to sip my coffee and visit with Michael while he gets ready for his day. Little things like having a little home and a little garden, where I could bake and cook and grow vegetables and take care of my babies and at the end of the day we'd all curl up and read a little and love a little and sleep a little. And the next day it would all start over again.

The other night I was folding laundry in the bedroom while Mike was working on some writing, Theo curled in his lap, Valentine curled on the bed amongst the clean socks, Feist on the stereo, our bellies full of something wonderful Mike had fixed for dinner, dishes drip-drying in the kitchen, and I realized what an asshole I am. I already have a simple little life. I'm lusting after something I already possess. My life couldn't possibly be any littler or any simpler. It may not look like it belongs in the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, it may not have a white picket fence around it, it may not be the cookie-cutter shape I grew up thinking it should be, but it is exactly the life I am dreaming about.

Does that happen to you? Do you ever catch yourself talking about wanting something and then realizing that what you want is actually right in front of your face, if only you'd take a moment to appreciate it? I'm really working on that. I'm really working on learning to appreciate every little moment as it happens because it is the only thing we really have. This moment right now. And when I am able to take a deep breath and stop fretting over the future, and not obsess over the past, I realize that what I've got right this second is actually pretty perfect.

And the other thing? Right here and now I resolve to never again accuse myself of not having a "grown-up" career. My career is not only something grown-ups do, but it's something that brilliant, world-changing, noble, courageous grown-ups do. In the words of the great Helen Hayes:

"When I consider how many of the world's greatest minds -- Sophocles,
Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Moliere, Ibsen, Shaw -- have clothed their
ideas in The Dramatic Form; when I consider the enjoyment, the enrichment, and
the enlightenment that The Theatre has brought into the lives of countless
millions down through the ages -- I Become Very Proud of My Profession."

Yes, I know I've said this before, but what needs to grow-up is me, not my career. And I'm working on it, I really am. A little bit every day. See?

Monday, June 15, 2009

He's definitely sitting closer to God than I am

I like to think of myself as The Clean One in my marriage. I believe I am the one who is tidy and neat and organized. Mike, of course, is The Messy One. I like to think I am always running around picking up after him, wiping up his spills, picking his socks up off the floor, cleaning up his little messes. I like being the Felix to his Oscar. Gives me a reason to feel self-righteous and honestly, who doesn't like feeling self-righteous?

The other night I was putting away freshly folded laundry and I was just having the darnedest time putting my shirts in my shirt drawer. "I should really re-organize my drawers," I thought to myself. "There's just so much stuff in here, there's no room for the clean stuff!"And then I opened Mike's shirt drawer to put away his shirts.


My drawer is the one on the left. The one where nothing is folded and everything is just shoved in haphazardly. My drawer is the one where if you want to find something, you just pull everything out and then stuff it back in when you're done. Michael's? His is the one on the right where everything is folded perfectly, so clothes are easy to find and everything fits. Like a jigsaw puzzle.

And once again I was forced to acknowledge that, though in my fantasies I am the self-righteous clean one, the reality is that Michael is totally the Felix to my Oscar. And the worst part? HE DOESN'T EVEN HAVE TO GLOAT OVER IT.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Can I get a HELLS YEAH from my sisters?

Him: I need new jeans. These are getting really tight around the thighs.
Me: .... Um ..... how did that happen?
Him: It's all the running we've been doing.
Me: So ... it's a good thing?
Him: It's a great thing!
Me: Oh. Ok. See, if my thighs are getting too big for my pants, it's a very bad thing. A very, very bad thing.
Him: No way. Not if it's muscle. Then it's awesome.
Me: No, it's not.
Him: Yes it is.
Me: It might be good when your thighs get bigger, but trust me, it is never good when my thighs get bigger.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Leap, and I will appear.

In an ongoing effort not to feel like a complete asshole about the state of my career, I have spent some time this week putting together packages to send to casting people that I would like to audition for. It always feels like such a torturous project because I know that 99.7% of the time, it is a big waste of energy and money. But I also know that 0.03% of the time, actors get calls from cold mailings. So, it's with a heavy heart and the hope of being one of those 0.03% of people that I take pains over my cover letter and carefully cut my resume to fit my head shot, and label my demo and put it all into an envelope and buy a million dollars of postage and send it on its way. But I do it.

And also, by the way, my career just sucks right now. Career? What career? Ha. It ain't a career unless you're paying your bills with it. But it IS an adventure and holy Peter Pan, you guys, I live in Manhattan and I'm chasing my dream.

But do you know how hard I have to work to feel excited about it? Because most of the time I just feel like I'm pounding my head on a block of cement while wearing pants made out of sand paper and soaking in a tub of rotting sardines and hot vinegar. And I feel hopeless. And I just want to pack it all in and head back to sunny El Lay.

I'm in the habit of saying little prayers, asking for little signs that I'm on the right path, that I'm doing the right thing, that I should stay in New York and not catch the next plane to the sun. AND I KEEP GETTING THESE LITTLE SIGNS. It's the weirdest fuckin' thing. I feel hopeless, I ask for a sign, I get a sign. In March when I asked for a sign? I found an apartment that was not only a way better deal than the one we had, but also way cheaper than anything comparable we could afford in L.A. Then I felt hopeless again and I asked for a sign and Estelle Parsons pulled me aside after a workshop to say, "We were lucky to watch you today." Then today? Then today I started feeling hopeless again, even after putting together my mailings, even after updating my website and finally (FINALLY IT'S BEEN ABOUT A YEAR) re-editing Ashley Andrews so it isn't so long and obnoxious, I was feeling all sad and hopeless and I was sorting my mail and I got my new equity card. And it came attached to a piece of paper that said this:

"It has been said that an Actor must have the hide of a rhinoceros, the courage and audacity of a lion, and most importantly, the fragile vulnerability of an egg. It also has been said, and I'm not sure by whom, that the moment of not knowing is the moment that has the greatest potential for creativity. The professional and private lives of most Actors are filled to the brim with moments of not knowing. Actors are survivors and will continue to strive because they have the need to celebrate, in performance, that sacred communion between Actor and audience."
Robert Prosky
1930 - 2008

And I felt .... liberated.

I'm going to have that piece of paper framed.

And, because we can't take ourselves too seriously, check out the new re-edited Ashley Andrews video. If you want. No pressure.


Monday, June 08, 2009

And his eyes were full of soul

When I was in college, I met this boy named Reynier. (Pronounced like ray-near.) He wore about a hundred friendship bracelets around each of his wrists, all frayed and faded, you could tell he'd been wearing them for years.  I always wondered: One from each of his friends? 

Reynier was beautiful. Soulful eyes, perfect skin, full lips, a little on the scrawny side, but still. I remember sitting with him at lunch - he was a vegetarian - talking about the difference between eating meat and eating vegetables. I'd be sitting there with my cheeseburger and he'd be eating a salad and he'd be saying, "Ugh. I just think meat is gross. It's all ... squishy. Vegetarian food is all vegetables; crunchy and fresh." 
And I'd argue, "Cake is vegetarian and squishy. Veggie burgers are vegetarian and squishy. Jell-O is vegetarian and squishy." 
"Jell-O has gelatin in it." 
"Gelatin is made from the hooves of dead horses." 
"..... WHAT?" 
"You didn't know that?" 

I haven't eaten Jell-O since.

Reynier was born and raised in New York City, a place I had never been to. I was born and raised in The Valley, my childhood home within walking distance of three malls. He didn't have a drivers license because he either walked or rode public transit everywhere he went - and no one thought he was weird, in New York. Even though I could have walked to any of the three malls near my home, I had a drivers license and a car because if I didn't? Everyone would have thought I was weird.

One day I was driving him to the supermarket and he said to me, "How many times have you been pulled over?" 
And I, thinking that he, being a public transit-using New Yorker, just thought that every L.A. driver got pulled over on a regular basis. And since I had never ever not once been pulled over, I thought that I would really impress him. Really boggle his mind. He'd have a new respect for me, a driver who had never been pulled over. "I've never been pulled over. Not once." Then I batted my eyelashes, to remind him how pretty I was.
"Really? That's weird. Because you drive like you're drunk."

Nowadays, Reynier is a Los Angelino and I am a New Yorker. Or on my way to becoming a New Yorker, at least. Once in a while one of us will catch the other one saying something on our respective blogs that is just outlandish and ridiculous, an all encompassing sterotypism of the city that the one is from and the other lives in. I'll say something like: "All New Yorker's are lazy! They have to have their groceries delivered!" 
And he'll respond, "I was born and raised in New York, you freak, and I never had my groceries delivered." 
And then he'll write on his blog, "Los Angelino's don't know how to drive in the rain!" 
And I'll respond, "Dude..... you're totally right." 

We've each left our homes, our families and our friends, and moved to the other's city to pursue our wild dreams. Reynier has worked tirelessly to push his directing career and make movies. Every time I hear from him he's writing, writing, writing, going to meetings, making pitches, shooting something. It's incredible. He's a powerhouse. I want some of him to rub off on me. And his hard work is paying off. Several years were spent on the film Replay, two of them on the festival circuit. Now, this multi-award-winning movie is available for your on-line viewing at www.stopchasingme.com. I highly recommend checking out the chronicles page, as soon as you're done watching the movie and telling your friends about it.

This short film is a thrill. The camera work is gorgeous, the editing is flawless, the score is stunning. And I can say I knew him when.

Consilio et animis, Reynier.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I can't quit you

This past Tuesday morning I woke up feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach. "It's over..." were the first words to float through my furry brain, even before my eyes opened.

For the last two months I've been rehearsing for a workshop of a new play and on Monday, June 1st, we presented it to The Actor's Studio playwrights/directors unit. I am all too familiar with the sadness, that terrible empty feeling that sweeps in when a show closes, but I didn't expect to feel it at the close of this workshop. It's not like I hung out with the cast every night after rehearsal. It's not like we even rehearsed more than a few hours a week. And it's not like I spent six months living in this character or even got to finish finding out who she is. It was just a workshop. A short rehearsal process, a brief exploration of all of the possibilities that this play could become.

But oh, my heart is broken.

And I'm glad it is.

For the last few months I have been so frustrated, felt so doubtful of the path I've chosen. Even after I got this gig, I was kept awake long after I should have been asleep, worried that I was just making a fool of myself. And this play was such a challenging piece that, at first, it only brought up new feelings of inadequacy and fear. After every rehearsal I wrestled with myself: Can I do this? I can't do this. I must find a way to figure out who this woman is. I have no idea who she is! I'm not worthy of her! And on and on and on. I am so dramatic. I am my own worst enemy.

And then early last week I started to get the feel of her. I started to really figure her out. And then I fell completely in love.

This is what I do. I fall in love with the characters I play. It's the only way I know how to be true to them. Even for auditions, I fall madly, deeply in love. And it's always hard to pull myself away.

This play is an incredible piece of work: Complicated, challenging, funny, desperate, brilliant, devastating. The first time I read it I had chills all up and down my spine before I'd even gotten to the fifth page. That considered, I really shouldn't be surprised that I feel so empty, so alone. And I'm grateful, I really am grateful that I feel this way because it is just another reminder that I am doing the right thing, that I am following the path I ought to follow for my heart and my spirit and my everything.

Maybe the thing is, maybe I need to be more specific about exactly what it is I want. Because part of what was so attractive to me about this project was that it was a new play, written by a new playwright, etc., etc. I love being a part of something that hasn't been done before. I was fortunate enough to have the pleasure of listening to Estelle Parsons talk after our presentation, (I won't say "performance" because it was really more like an invited rehearsal or a staged reading) about how the new generation of playwrights, directors and actors need to stand up and create something that people have never seen before. In this age of movies and Internet and 1,000 TV stations, theatre is dying. And if we don't want to be confined to the Disneyfied crap that has infiltrated most of Broadway, we need to start creating new ideas, new platforms, new performances. I just got so excited listening to her talk, it was all I could do not to rush up to her and throw my arms around her neck and beg her to take me under her wing and teach me everything she knows. I want, I want, I want to create incredible things and instead I suffocate myself with self-judgments and self-criticism and fear. But this new ache in my heart signals hope. Hope that I will be able to let go and shake myself off and give myself another chance. Deep down I know I can do this, I was born to do this. And I'm still here. I'm still doing it. It's a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be, but that will make the payoff so much sweeter.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

And now he has a chest infection

Since I can't seem to write about much else these days, I'm going to continue on in the vein of NOT shutting the F up about my Magical New Apartment Named Rachel. Even though I totally promised I would. I'm obviously a liar.

Michael has completely dedicated his entire life, and also the use of both of his lungs, to making our apartment beautiful. What do I contribute, you wonder? I do laundry and surf the web and complain about sawdust and eat the meals Mike prepares. Ours is an equal partnership.

Most recently Mike got a bug up his ass to repair the door sills. Which are not called lintels, after all, like we thought they were. They're called sills. (Did you know there were door sills in addition to window sills? I didn't.) Our door sills are wooden, but they had been painted a sickly grey and then, because they weren't ugly enough, someone screwed horrible metal strips into them. (And this is totally off-topic, but you know what? Yesterday I pronounced "horrible" like "harrible". I think I've been in New York a while now.)

Sickly grey with harrable metal strips.

I hate to admit this, but I never even noticed the door sills until Mike pointed them out to me. I didn't really think much about them even after he pointed them out because I was thinking about all the gorgeous sunlight pouring through the many windows. And also how wonderful our bathroom sink is. And how little furniture we own. But Mike just couldn't stand the sills. Not when he knew there was wood! Glorious wood! underneath all that awful paint. It was keeping him up at night.

So my darling, wonderful, brilliant husband who has reactive airway disease, spent the next two days stripping and sanding, polishing and staining, applying urethane then sanding then applying urethane once more, to our five wooden door sills. All while NOT wearing a mask. Because masks are expensive! he argued. Is a t-shirt wrapped around your face expensive? I'm just saying.

Kitchen door sill, stripped and sanded, waiting for stain.

As a result, for the past three days Michael has come home from summer school and collapsed into bed wheezing and snarfling and coughing. And he stays there, curled in a painful sounding lump, until his alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. the next morning. I was starting to get really worried, but this morning he swore up and down that he feels better. Something about massive amounts of eucalyptus tea he's been sucking down. I wondered why our bedroom smelled like a steam room.

And as I left for work this afternoon, leaning over to kiss his forehead, listening to him hack and squawk, I had to admit, those door sills? They are gorgeous.

Admit it. You're blinded by the sheer gorgeousness, aren't you?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

From Kim's Kitchen Sink to mine

My friend Kim, over at Kim's Kitchen Sink, is suffering from a kitchen conundrum. She has a small kitchen and a lot of kitchen stuff and she wonders how best to organize it all. Seeing as how I'm very used to teensy, itsy bitsy kitchens, thanks to two years in NYC, I thought maybe I could help her out.

Below you will find photographs of the kitchen in Rachel, our Fabulous New Apartment. (Remember when I named our apartment?) And I just want to remind you, before you nose around these photos, that this kitchen is a MASSIVE improvement over the bitchen in the tenement.

Photo 1:
Hi! Welcome to our spacious kitchen! If you are seeing this view, you are standing with your back up against the far wall of our entryway. From here you can see, on the far right, our pet hutch, where we keep the pet bowls, pet toy box, flea meds, etc.; above the pet hutch you'll see a shelving unit we picked up at Ikea for like, ten bucks; to the left of that you can see the kitchen counter complete with a stool for me to perch upon while Mike cooks dinner; and on the far left, the side of the fridge. In the background you can catch our enormous kitchen window, and the various items we've purchased and installed to make the kitchen more, erm, useful. Hmmm... that looks like an awfully narrow passageway between the fridge and the counter, doesn't it? THAT IS NOT A TRICK OF THE EYE. IT IS THAT NARROW. Our kitchen encourages healthy eating because if you don't eat healthy, you won't fit in it.

Photo 2:
From this angle, you must be standing in the entrance of the kitchen. And you are probably wondering whether or not you can squeeze your body between the fridge and the counter. You are also probably opening your mouth to say, "Isn't there ANYWHERE ELSE YOU COULD HAVE PUT THE FRIDGE?" To which I will reply, "How original. I think you might be the first person to ask that. As a matter of fact, no. There isn't. We tried. I suppose we could have put the fridge in the entryway, but then we would have a kitryway instead of a kitchen and entryway, and I refuse to ever again live in a place with combined rooms. I've had enough of that, thank you. If you can't fit in our kitchen, well, you can just perch on that there stool* and look into the kitchen."

*stool not pictured in photo 2.

Also in photo 2 you can see how narrow the actual kitchen really is. It's more of a hallway, than a kitchen, if we're going to be honest here. It is a one-person kitchen. Which is fine, really, since Mike does all the cooking while I do most of the eating. On the back wall of the kitchen you'll see the set up Mike installed, which I will further describe in the close-up photo below.

Photo 3
Taa-daa! Close-up. Ok. First, we've got the Ikea Ekby wall shelf brackets, and the Ekby Stilig solid birch shelf. That is where we keep our mason jars with grains, salt and pepper shaker, butter dish, mug tree. Mike hung it at the perfect height to also be used as a little breakfast counter, and you will often find me perched upon my Ikea Bekvam step stool, eating cereal off that little shelf. Also, it is quickly cleared in case we need extra counter space for rolling out pie crusts or decorating sugar cookies. We have very little counter space (as you're about to discover) so Mike wanted to make sure I'd have space for my baking. (I love him so.) Above the shelving unit is the Ikea Grundtal wall shelf, with corresponding hooks for hanging my pot-holders and vintage place-mats. Also, we have a magnetic knife block hanging on the wall for Mike's most frequently used knives, and on the far right, a pot lid holder that we bought at Ikea for $4, but that I can't find on the website. It's wonderful how much space we saved in our cabinets by hanging so much of our stuff on the walls. I'll let you in on a little secret: Most of our cabinets are only half-full and it's ONLY because we hung so many things on the wall. Apparently, Sweden has small apartments too.

Photo 4
I just included this photo in case you couldn't tell before how TINY our kitchen is. See how small it is? It's very small.

Photo 5
At the tippy-top of this photo you'll see how Mike installed cabinets above the kitchen cabinets, to store all the stuff we don't use on a super-regular basis. I wanted to just pile stuff on top of the cabinets that the apartment came with, but Mike insisted we could actually store more things in a more efficient manner if we had more cabinets. He was right. Those cabinets were our linen cabinets in the tenement, and they were originally found in a dumpster. I'm telling you, we are super classy.

Above the stove is a shelf Mike built to hold the spatula jar, olive oil, etc. Also, to the left of the stove is our spice rack, which was about $7 at The Container Store. Mike built our pot-rack out of a packing crate he found. We couldn't believe how gorgeous the wood was once he had sanded and varnished it. You can also see here what is essentially half of my counter space. All of my teas are at the back of the counter, because I like to have them out where I can reach them easily. Hanging above my teas is another Ikea Grundtal item, the Grundtal paper towel holder.

Photo 6
This is essentially all the counter space in our kitchen, except for the birch shelf Mike installed. Tea on the left, coffee on the right. The real space saver is the Grundtal series. It's a rod Mike installed above our sink and hanging from it is our paper towel holder, dish rack, and cutlery caddy. I also hang my dish cloths from that rod. If we had to keep all that stuff on our counter, we'd really be screwed. The dish rack was pricey, $25, but SO WORTH IT. It's beautiful, for a dish rack, and it folds up nicely when it is empty. I couldn't be happier with it.

Photo 7
See how nice??

I am almost 100% happy with how our kitchen turned out. As soon as we scrounge the money together to purchase some potted herbs for the kitchen window sill, and as soon as we get our worm bin*, then I will be 100% happy. As for the rest of the apartment? It still looks like we just moved in, mainly because where there ought to be furniture there is large empty spaces. We're taking it one day at a time.

I'm gonna take a stab in the dark here and say I think this might be the most fascinating post I've ever written. I'm sure you're absolutely titillated. I do what I can, folks. I do what I can.

*Have I not told you about the worms we're adopting? Don't worry. I will.


This is what happens when two people try to work in the kitchen. We've named what goes on here 'The Kitchen Dance'. It has it's own song and everything.