Surviving? Thriving?

Surviving Thriving

Last Fall, in my first semester of graduate school, I wrote in a reflection assignment for class about how I planned to manage it all. “It all” meaning a full-time job, what feels like more-than-part-time school, and providing some semblance of an adequate life for myself (involving a number of s-words: sustenance, shelter, sleep, social life?). I said a few nice things about maintaining a regular schedule and blogging as a creative outlet. My professor commented, “What a great idea!”

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About that awful train ride

On Friday morning there was an incident on the subway that left me really shaken. It had been a long and exhausting week at work and I was so glad to have made it to Friday. On the subway I took my backpack off and nestled it between my feet. I held onto a pole at the center of a long bench of seated passengers as the car filled with people. As usual, I opened up my NYT crossword app and started solving the mini. As the train pulled out of the station, I heard a loud and clear male voice halfway down the car telling a young woman to take her off backpack or move it or something like that. I shrugged because I knew better — seriously, take your backpacks off when you’re on a crowded train. I kept one ear trained on the ruckus because it seemed like this guy was trying to move through the packed train.

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Buying a Home in New York: Open Houses

Buying a Home in New York | The Amateur Everything

By the time you’ve gotten through all the pre-research and have your commitment letter, you are probably raring to look at some candidates for your future Home Sweet Home. This is the best part of the entire process leading up to home ownership, so enjoy it! This is also probably a good time to get a realtor (if not earlier?), but J and I breezed through that step and jumped heads first into the world of open houses. Looking back, I would possibly recommend getting a real estate agent because if this is your first time, it can be quite confusing to go it alone. Realtors can assist you through the negotiating process when you want to make an offer and many have specific neighborhood knowledge that can benefit you. That said, there are a lot of agents out there so it’s good to find one who understands what you’re looking for — luxury? Pre-War? Fixer-upper? Move-in ready? Find someone in tune with your needs.

As I said, though, J and I just decided to go for it and start looking at places on our own.

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Big News! And some reflections on relationships

Big News! | The Amateur Everything

I’ll cut to the chase: WE BOUGHT A HOME!

It’s pretty crazy. It’s all of the wonderful things you associate with owning a home, plus a lot of weird fears and discussions about commitment and scary what-ifs, mixed in with more paperwork and frustrating correspondences than you could ever imagine in a bureaucratic hell-hole (why won’t you just take my money already???). Also, we’re now cash-poor and house-rich. But we did it, and we’re currently getting it move-in ready.

I’m excited to finally start sharing this whole crazy process. It’s something that has more or less been consuming my life for half of the year. I’ve also learned so many things every step of the way. But first, let me say that even getting started on this took a lot of work and soul-searching.

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On being the person you love and loving who you are

The Amateur Everything


Some nights dinner consists of boxed mac and cheese, frozen vegetables, and whatever leftover meat is in the fridge. But sometimes those same nights are the ones when you finally submit your last graduate school application, go to yoga with a friend you haven’t seen in months, submit your FAFSA, and make exciting travel plans. I also put stamps on all of my thank you cards to family members that I will mail out tomorrow (I am notoriously bad at sending punctual thank yous!). So maybe my dinner didn’t knock my night out of the park, but I can definitely say that I spent my time doing things that nourish the soul.

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Ombré Succulent Wreath at The Smudgery

Ombre Succulent Wreath | The Smudgery


After a very thankful Friendsgiving in Brooklyn, I woke up early on Friday morning, but not for the usual reason. In past years I would get to the mall, outlet, or stores sometime around 4 am (or earlier!) to partake in the annual shopping mania we call Black Friday. Even the name is foreboding, but I do love me a good sale. This year, however, with the national discussion centering around police brutality, labor, and the systems that create inequality, I finally put my money where my mouth is and abstained from Black Friday shopping.

I took the energy I would have spent battling crowds, making snap decisions on whether to buy that cheap, functional sweater, or maintaining my calm in the midst of insanity and channeled it into The Smudgery. I taught myself how to pull a beautiful ombré print and finally added a new item to the shop. Check out the colorful process after the jump.

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Snow days in New York City

The polar vortex continues to wreak havoc on our patience and energy here in New York. I can’t speak for anywhere else, though I know we don’t have it nearly as bad as the midwest… or the northeast. In any case, work has not been as generous in giving out snow days and I have had to make the blizzardy commute on more than a few occasions. Sometimes it is beautiful but most of the time the snow is slushy, the curbside puddles unexpectedly deep, and the general mood: sour. But I can’t complain too much. I do love watching snow fall (from the warm side of the window), and sometimes winter does some beautiful things to the environment, much of which I never experienced growing up in California.

Here’s some of the highlights, as documented on my instagram (follow me! like my stuff!).

On January 21, 2014 we closed early due to the snow. I frolicked in Washington Square Park until my hands froze (about 10 minutes) and my touchscreen stopped registering my fingertips.

On February 5, 2014, after a night of freezing rain, the trees were covered in a beautiful layer of ice.

On Thursday, February 13, 2014, I had hoped we’d close for a snow day. It was beautiful out in Queens, but I couldn’t linger to enjoy it. In the city it was mostly dirty slush and high winds. It turned to freezing rain later in the day. We were allowed to leave at 3pm.

As I write now, snow is gently floating past my window. J is getting lunch with his family and I am just happy to stay safe and warm in my apartment with my milk tea and soft, upbeat music.

One thing about the extended winter is that stores are already preparing for Spring, resulting in both a woeful lack of good winter boots and the happy chance of getting this delicious pumpkin spice tea on clearance! Luckily, I think my fuzzy winter boots will make it through this season.

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Workspacing | The Amateur Everything

Ack, this is so delayed but I finally have a craft workspace set up! No more working on the dining room table! In October I secured a ride to the Brooklyn Ikea and picked up a Linnmon tabletop and some Lerberg trestle legs. The tabletop sits right on top of the legs, which seemed incredibly precarious so I bought a couple of pipe brackets at a hardware store nearby and secured the legs to the tabletop.  I also picked up that great task lamp and the cube storage shelves for all of my thangsssss.

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An Impromptu LES Food Tour and The Frenemy

On Friday, EH and I decided to go on a mini food adventure, sparked by the debut of the Cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery. Unfortunately, we underestimated the crowds and were left cronut-less on the street.

We decided to wander around SoHo, stumbling upon two chocolatiers in the process: Kee’s and MarieBelle. Recently, I had done a bit of research on chocolatiers in NY in preparation for my parents’ upcoming visit. When I lived with my parents after college, we would occasionally buy some fancy chocolate (our hometown favorite was Ginger Elizabeth, but more often than not we would pick up our monthly free truffles from Godiva). We would have maybe three different chocolates and after dinner we would sit down with a knife and slice each piece in to three. My favorite part was watching my dad take his little sliver of chocolate and and savor the shit out of it. Afterwards he would exclaim, “That was the perfect amount!” My dad’s favorite treat is ginger chocolate, so I was hoping to find a place that had a delicious and unique take on it. In terms of our personal tastes, I gave Kee’s two thumbs up, since there was an actual piece of candied ginger inside, nestled among the smooth ganache. MarieBelle’s did have a surprising ginger flavor, considering there was no visible ginger within the chocolate itself. Ambience-wise, though, I’m hoping to go back to MarieBelle another time for their adorable Cacao Bar in the back. The folks working there were so friendly and offered free iced chocolate samples (they know the key to my heart!).

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