Category Archives: home decor

Flirting in Yonkers.

Our kitchen is in Yonkers.**

Because we want to renovate our kitchen, we need approval from the Yonkers Building Department. (Even now, it is hard to capitalize those words, so unworthy are they; there is nothing proper about those nouns.)

I had heard nightmare stories about the permit approval process so when our permit was denied the first time, I was told to “put on something cute, go down to the Building Department, and flirt.”

“Oh,” someone else added, “you should bring cookies.”

I heard M sniggering when I relayed the pieces of advice. First of all, nobody really wants to eat my cookies. I live with teenage boys, who will eat anything that isn’t soldered to the plate, but Building Department people? Surely, they wouldn’t want burnt-on-the-bottom chocolate chip cookies which are raw in the middle?

The flirting got an ever bigger laugh from M.

If nobody wants to eat my cookies, even fewer want to see me try and flirt. “What does that even look like?” M asked.

What does that look like? It looks something like this:

I woke up early and put on a pencil skirt, blouse and a pair of heels. I had an early morning breakfast midtown, and I planned on going straight from there. I looked cute enough for the breakfast, but after a subway ride home and an hour or so of NYC humidity, the bloom was most definitely off the rose. When I got on the subway, I threw my heels into my enormous bag and put on a pair of Birkenstocks. When I emerged above ground and caught sight of the size of my hair in a store window, I threw it up into a twist. By the time I climbed into the minivan, I had untucked the blouse, which was drenched in sweat and something else which I could not identity but which it hurts to think about.

By the time I got to Yonkers, I was less Breakfast at Tiffany’s, more Travels With My Aunt. Still, I persisted. I walked into the building and into a time warp. I had to exit and enter again just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. Although it was 2018 on the outside, in the Yonkers Building Department, it was either 1957 or 1978, depending on the floor. Either way, it called for a lot of eye shadow and some pretty big hair. (My eye makeup had long since melted off, but my hair was certainly complying.)

I found the right floor, tucked in my sweaty shirt and marched on. When I was greeted by a room of partially gray women, sitting at desks, nursing giant mugs of coffee, my heart skipped several beats. A room of older ladies? These are my people! I can definitely flirt with this…

I collapsed into a chair.

“What’s wrong, honey?” One of them asked.

“I looked a lot cuter when the day started,” I said. “And I really want a permit for my kitchen.”

The thirty minutes I spent with the ladies of Yonkers was lovely. They assured me I looked just fine. We laughed about summer hair and what happens to your feet when your take off your heels, put on Birkenstocks, and try to get your heels on again. They even gave me a special number to call to check on the status of my permit revisions. I left feeling so much better about myself and the Yonkers Building Department. (Caps restored!)

I called that number every day for ten days and nobody answered. I even tried the special email they gave me: nada.

I went back yesterday, all gussied up, and received a second denial, in person. I was even wearing heels this time.

I guess I really don’t know how to flirt.

PS: A snapshot of the current state of my kitchen.

** Our house sits on the county border, but our kitchen is firmly in Yonkers.

Leave a comment

Filed under home decor, home improvement, Kitchen, remodel, knife rack,, yonkers

Beauty is a Backless Settee.

I saw some remarkable sights on our trip to Colorado. I saw this:

And this:

.. and I saw all of M’s family gathered around a table celebrating the remarkable life of his grandmother, who passed away a month ago.

And then I saw this:


It’s official title: backless settee.

It’s beautiful, beautiful function: a certain four year slept on it, at the foot of our bed. Each time she woke up, she popped up, saw me, and went back to sleep. Once in a while she’d grab a foot just to make sure we were there.

What she did not do: climb into my bed and kick the crap out me all night long, steal my blankets, claw her way back into my uterus while I tried to sleep.

Backless settee, I love you so.

Leave a comment

Filed under children, home decor

who will buy…?

Some wins: Figuring out how to store the guitars.


Some losses: Trying to convince M that just because we inherit something, doesn’t mean we have to keep it.


Just put that couch and two like it (a set!) up on Craig’s List.


Who wouldn’t want this? (Besides me, that is.)

Leave a comment

Filed under home decor, home improvement, House, New York City

Crafting (or Why I Dislike Back to School Night)

I have gotten some emails as of late asking me why I haven’t written in the past two weeks. Truthfully, I had no idea two weeks went by. The back to school blitz is unrivaled in its ability to completely throw my life into complete disorder. I do not understand Back to School Nights because I do not understand why it makes sense for parents to be gone at night during the first weeks of school when we are most needed at home. Why not have them before school starts when the only thing being interrupted is marathon TV watching? I also do not understand why schools need to force parents to go back to school and relive all of their school day hell right at the beginning of the school year. (When it appeared that I could not get a seat in the back of one class, and that the only free seat was in the front, directly under the teacher’s watchful glare, I broke down and wept to a friend (“You have no idea how stressful this is for me.”); she gave me her seat.)

But I digress.

Another reason I have not written is because I have been crafting, so to speak. We are having work done on our house, because like all old things, it may look okay on the outside but inside it is falling apart.

While there are workers of all sorts in the house, I have been trying to keep myself busy.

So I did this:


The inside of this china cabinet was white until I got busy with some green paint and a brush.


And this awesomeness was once brass with little leopard shades (to match the leopard trim in the room.)

I have, however stopped crafting now as I realize that I seem to have reached the end of my ability and anything else that I do will cost me more to fix than to find someone else to do it in the first place.

That’s right – I’m back.

Leave a comment

Filed under back to school, children, home decor, home improvement, New York City, parenting

New Doors

We are all here in the house now. Everyone is home and all the beds have been assembled, so people even have a place to sleep. I think the Emmy Awards are on tonight (the old me would be watching, but then again the old me would recognize the television shows because the old me would watch something other than Masterpiece Mystery), and I feel something like a winner because I honestly could not have won this award (made this move) without my team.

My team included a remarkable friend from Seattle who moved in for a week to help me unpack and organize, and then did things like hang blinds while I lay motionless on the floor. It also included a newer friend who scooped up my children and got them out from under my feet, where they have been living all summer, and are living once again. (This same friend walked over to my house on my first day in Riverdale and removed all my children for the day while I unpacked, fed them several meals and then made us all dinner.) It included a friend and new neighbour who took Sidney whenever possible, which is truly the Gift of Life. It also included a babysitter who first watched the boys years ago in LA when they were toddlers, and who now does manicures on demand for the girls while marinating steaks for the grownups and whose very name brings tears of gratitude, and last but not least, our stellar babysitter from Seattle who just so happens to be in NYC studying and appears when I need her most, like something out of Harry Potter.

Thank you team.

I also have a new door. Not as beloved as my Team, but almost. I walked into the paint shop and told the man behind the counter that I wanted my door as blue as Parisian street signs. He referred me to Benjamin Moore Bistro Blue and this is what I got:


Sometimes I stand out front for a while and smile.

The door is open by the way. Stop by.


Filed under home decor, home improvement, moving, New York City, Summer

When it rains spray paint, it’s time to go home…

This has been a positively awful news week on both personal and global levels for very many people. At some point I shut off the computer, walked away and vowed never to return. I threw the newspapers directly into the recycling bin without reading them. Still, shitty news has a way of finding you.

I make no secret of my distaste for the word ‘gratitude,’ heck, even typing it made me throw up a little bit in my own mouth. But, I know good fortune when I see it. This week, I’m fortunate to be distracted by a house that needs to be ready for move-in in about three weeks.

While I was ignoring the news this week, I got handy.

PLEASE ignore the heinous green wallpaper and leopard-infused border and focus instead on this brass masterpiece.


I was ready to remove it and throw it up on Craig’s List, when I put this pic on Instagram and asked for advice.

My fabulous friend, S (I promise, if you knew her, you’d call her fabulous too. I do not exaggerate) told me to spray paint it. She directed me to several sites of people who do this sort of thing for fun and then write about it. Do they write about it to inspire or to make the rest of us feel like we have been blessed with a lack of creativity and two left hands? I’ll never know.

My first inclination was mint green, which is, in my opinion, the world’s greatest color. But then I thought better of it. I need something that I can live with for a while. My second inclination was white, which is always my backup. But I was talked into matte black by Bennett, who has an opinion on everything.

Here it is primed:


and then DONE:


A few notes:
1. Spray paint is not fool proof. For some of us, nothing is fool proof.
2. Do not make fun of your son for accidentally spraying himself in the face with spray paint, thinking he was holding it the right way. This is a sure fire way to guarantee that you yourself will do the same thing minutes later.
3. If you stand under a light and spray paint UP, little bits of spray paint will rain down on you.
4. The building permit guy told me that he once had an unfortunate incident with JUST FOR MEN hair dye and that Sea Breeze removes paint from your face. This was good to know.
5. If you give your boys a can of spray paint each and tell them to have at the basement, you will never be sorry. (If they turn a room into a knee hockey rink and paint HOME AND AWAY on opposite sides but spell it HOME and AWAW, you should know that it is remarkably easy to turn a W into a Y.)
6. I ought to limit the amount of things I do myself. This has always been true.


Filed under children, crafts, design, DIY, home decor, parenting