Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When Floorplans Make Sense

When I was in elementary school I developed an obsession with architecture and floor plans. I loved looking at them and drawing them. After an archaeologist, an architect was the 2nd profession I wanted to have - that is until I learned how much math was involved!

Anyway, I still have an interest in architecture and interior design, and while we're in the midst of looking at larger apartments to move into this fall, I cannot understand some of the counter intuitive floor plans/layouts I continue to encounter in NYC.

Our current floor plan is pretty well thought out despite it being a railroad apartment. I like how the bedroom is on the opposite end of the living room/kitchen. That way if one of us needs to be on a call or need quiet while the other wants to watch TV or listen to music, we can each have the privacy we need. I also like the ample closet space - Nia's room (what used to be the office) has a huge closet. It's nearly a walk-in.

Here's our current floor plan:

Our current building is new construction, and I find that while I can appreciate some attributes of older city apartments I love the amenities that new construction provide.

Here's a list of the hybrid old/new features that my ideal apartment would have:
  • Windows (that actually open!) in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Hardwood floors
  • Walk-in-closet (at least 1)
  • Separate dining room (not in the same room as the TV)
  • In-unit washer and dryer (2 of the 3 apartments I've lived in have had this!)
  • Stainless steel appliances including dishwasher
I've come across a few NYC floor plans that have some of the elements I like:

I love how the two bedrooms are on either side of the living room

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It's not on list of requirements, but the one "nice-to-have" thing that is missing from the above floor plans is outdoor space. We have two outdoor spaces at our current apartment and while the one in the front off our bedroom is too narrow to use, we really like the one in the back, off the living room.

Here's another; I love all the windows, the double sink in the master bathroom and the separate dining and living rooms:

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This 2 bedroom is huge -  nearly 1,500 square feet; that window in the kitchen is great, but I'd want the 2nd bedroom on the opposite side of the apartment:

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We saw a brand new 3 bedroom apartment last weekend that would save us a substantial amount of money AND is LEED certified which is a cool bonus, but while it doesn't have a washer/dryer in the unit, the other amenities (including an onsite gym, huge playground and daycare) more than make up for it.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but we'll know soon if we get it. For now I'm going to be Pinning away with ideas for our new apartment.  It would be so nice for Nia to have a proper bedroom with an actual door (instead of curtains) and to also have a guest room/office.

We'll see . . .

What are some floor plan elements you like to see when apartment/house hunting?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene Did Our Family Good

Our view of Irene
This past Thursday I went to Pathmark to pick up a few groceries and had started hearing rumblings about Irene but didn't notice any frenzy in the store. I kept checking the radar and saw that by Saturday we'd have some hurricane weather coming our way for sure.

I know everyone says, "Better safe than sorry," but by Friday afternoon I couldn't believe all the media frenzy over Irene. It was clear that certain areas of Manhattan would be flooded but where we live in Harlem up on a hill, I was pretty sure we'd be ok. 

Mr. Love Bird works part time on the weekends, and I knew he'd be able to work Friday, but Saturday we weren't so sure. We had some plans on Saturday but those quickly cancelled as we got word that the subway would be shutting down - unheard of! 

We also got a call that our church's Sunday services would be cancelled as well as an engagement party we were supposed to attend.

Beginning on Saturday morning I knew we were going to have a unique weekend in our household . . .

Nothing to do!

For the past 3 months every weekend has been booked solid with events and for once we had absolutely nothing to do but be with each other and it was AWESOME!

Saturday night when Nia was a little restless and woke back up around 11 we let her get up and we all sat together on the living room rug with only the light above the stove on stove and the windows open while listening to Fela on Pandora. It was a perfect night!

We watched a couple movies together (I highly recommend There Will Be Blood, btw!) and got some chores done around the apartment. Mr. Love Bird even gave Nia all her baths, got lots of diaper changes and storytime in and plenty of cuddle time too. I can tell Nia soaked it all in.

So while we experienced a tiny bit of leaking in our apartment, overall Irene made our family slow down and enjoy some quality time together. 

That was our silver lining! Did you have one?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

4 Things the Midwest Taught Me About Surviving Earthquakes and Hurricanes

Future Mrs. Love Bird at 7 years old
When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, I was obsessed with tornadoes. In the summer it was both exhilarating and terrifying to know that any minute a twister could swoop down and destroy everything around me, quite possibly even lifting me up into its eye like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

I would watch the skies for any sudden formation of funnel clouds while playing on my swingset and keep a trained ear out for the sound of the tornado warnings. I can still smell the air before a tornado warning. My dad would be caught up in the excitement and would stand outside looking at the threatening sky through the screened back door, and I would stare from behind him fascinated yet wanting to run for my life!

Now that I'm in my 30s, I still have that same reverence for "acts of nature" and this week's events - the earthquake on Tuesday and now the oncoming of hurricane Irene - has reawakened some of the important lessons I learned during those Midwest summers:

  1. Being surrounded by loved ones makes a natural event more fun.
    Granted Mr. Love Bird didn't even notice the rumbling I felt on Tuesday while we were on the 12fl of the Nigerian consulate, but still we were together (with our little Love Bird too!) and that's all that mattered. When I was a kid and the tornado warnings would start or the power would go out, it meant it was time to turn on the flashlights and cool down by sleeping on the floor or going into the basement. It was like a little family powow.
  2. Natural events let you break rules (within reason!). As a kid, this meant staying up all night until the warnings ended. I love sleeping on the floor at the base of my parents bed. They had a special fluffy blanket that I would lay on and it as so comforting to know they were so close. Now with the impending hurricane the rules I break are along the lines of healthy eating: I need a little bit of comfort and have already devoured a Kit Kat which is making me feel slightly better about what may go down in NYC.
  3. Natural events build a sense of community. Growing up we would check on our neighbors before and after a storm and while that's not quite the same here in NYC, the panic-induced state that you join when shopping at Pathmark pre-storm seems to create an awkward sense of camaraderie. Although I haven't joined in, it is very entertaining to witness as people rush about in a frenzied state stockpiling cans of tuna and rolls of toilet paper.
  4. Going retro is cool byproduct of natural events. I was the nerdy girl who ADORED Little House on the Prairie growing up and any chance to break out candles homestead-style made me so excited! I thought I was the black version of Laura Ingalls Wilder and this was further enhanced by my obsession with the Oregon Trail (I could seriously go on a tangent here about it!). Anyway, I like that the possibility of the power going out will take us back to a time before there was social media, iPhones and DVRs. Perhaps Mr. Love Bird and I will break out our Scrabble!
Do you see a silver lining in the storm clouds ahead too?

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Manifesto/Motto

I wrote a while back about being in a funk and at last I'm coming out of it, but at the time I thought about writing a manifesto having been inspired by Holstee's. Instead I've been mulling it over, and I think instead of a manifesto, it's more of a purpose statement or a guiding principle. And as the weather chills here in NYC and fall approaches, hearts start to turn towards home anyway and I think that's where my manifesto will be based. What's most important to me besides my relationship with God, is my family so . . .

"If it wastes my time, get outta line!" 

That is what's going to guide me going forward. It's my motto! I am taking no prisoners - if you are wasting my time you are CUT OFF!

A friend of mine recently said something so timely, "I've figured out that keeping my family's schedule as simple as possible is best." 


I am taking that approach. 

I cannot tell you how many people/organizations etc. have been disrespectful of my family's precious time. It's so crazy that in an age of smartphones and social media that we disrespect each other's time so much. How hard is to send a text to let someone know you're running late or can't make an appointment? Seriously!

This motto goes hand in hand with what I had posted before about not chasing after people. Since adapting that mentality I've already started reaping the benefits of living a more simplified life. 

As I've shared before
"If it is important to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse." -  LovableWords 
Again . . . 

 Any of my readers adopting a manifesto/motto this fall?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My First Sewing Project for Nia & The Jazz Age Lawn Party

Photo Credit
I posted last month about the 6th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party that I wanted to attend and thankfully, Nia and I were able to go along with my sister, Ariane.

Although we were threatened by a few rain showers it turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon. Here are a few highlights:

The dance floor
All the pretty ladies
A performance

Dancing with Mama

Nia in her pillowcase dress I made

{You can see an online pro album here.}

Now about Nia's homemade fashion . . .

The pillowcase dress pictured above was made from an embroidered baby bed sheet. When my friend gave it to me I immediately knew I wanted to make a dress for Nia. During my free class at Pins & Needles, I discussed with Rachel, the owner, how to make it as well as consulted my mom. I ended up finding a great video on You Tube which I followed for the most part, with a few alterations since it was a sheet and not a pillowcase.

Check out the video; I love that it's so quick and simple:

Although Nia's dress was a tad too big, I love how it turned out, and it wasn't that bad for my first attempt at sewing something for her.

Next up I want to tackle a project from Little Things to Sew, the book I picked up at Pins & Needles as well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cloth Diapering at One Year (and How to Handle the Stink!)

Nia napping in her cloth diaper
With a lot of things in life it's amazing how daunting they seem until you're actually embedded in them. Cloth diapering is actually one of those things! When I sit here and think that I now have a toddler in cloth diapers I can't believe we've been at it for so long. Granted we started when Nia was about 3 months old because of the stash of disposables we were gifted, but still 9 months is a long time to keep at anything in my opinion!

Anyway, it is going well! You can read the last update here, but latest two updates are that . . .

1) We changed diaper liners. What are liners? They are biodegradable sheets of paper - similar to toilet paper - that line the cloth diapers and allow for #2s to be peeled off into the toilet. Another option is a diaper sprayer, but that's too involved for me so we were using these at first:

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Then we switched to these:

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WOW! What a difference. The Bumkins liners are much thinner and cover more surface area AND less expensive than the Kushies which are stiffer and tend to bunch up on the diaper. 

2) We use Poo-Pourri Little Stinker to combat the stench. Toddlers create more adult-like poos and the smell is so strong. Even though we wash every other day, as is recommended, when we open the wet bag we are hit with a powerful stench. The Poo-Pourri combats this by covering the smell with an all-natural mix of oils such as bergamot, lemongrass and grapefruit. Mr. Love Bird says it smells like an item off a Chinese food menu! I think it is powerful, but much better than the poo stench. 

Photo Credit

My sister gave me this product as a gift, and I see it retails for $12.95 for 4oz which is too much for me, but I find it makes a BIG difference in the cloth diapering experience. When it comes time to wash I'm not hit in the face with a wave of stench. I can see making a similar spray solution with oils from a natural food store so I'll try that when my bottle runs out. It only takes a quick one or two pumps to produce A LOT of scent, and I can already tell my 4oz bottle is going to last for a few more months.

Anyone else cloth diapering a toddler? Have any tips/products to share?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Harlem Brownstone Love

Brownstone #1:

This 3-family is an ideal investment property with three separate outdoor spaces. Now if only I had $2.2 million . . .

I like how this kitchen opens to the outside area; great for entertaining! Also gotta love double ovens:

Well landscaped outdoor space; wish there was a patch of grass though!

Floorplan lust:
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Brownstone #2: 

This one seems a bit country with the lighter color of the kitchen, but I love the outdoor space. I'd rather to see a double sink in the bathroom counter too!

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Brownstone #3

This one has some interesting design choices, but I really like the facade. The kitchen freaks me out though! A bit too dark for my taste.

These stairs are a childproofing nightmare, but I love the juxtaposition beside the oversized windows:

Photo Credit
{Thank you to Harlem Bespoke where I come across most of these brownstones!}

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yup, Baseboards Again

While perusing cleaning tips on Real Simple (the ultimate Type A guide!), I saw a mention of the Queen of Clean and followed the link to her site where the current review was of the Baseboard Buddy ($25).

Check it out:

Essentially, it's a Swiffer for baseboards. I've posted here and here about baseboard cleaning tips (yes, I have an obsession!), and for me, just getting down on my hands and knees with a toothbrush, microfiber cloths and a spray bottle of vinegar/water solution is fine by me. 

What do you think of the Baseboard Buddy? Would you try it? 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Going to BlogHer '12

I had posted before about wanting to go to BlogHer '11 (especially because it was in San Diego, a city I've never been too and have heard it has the most perfect weather in all of the U.S.), and while that didn't pan out (we were in Ohio that weekend), I now have my sights on BlogHer '12 since it's in NYC (YAAAAY!). I had thought they change locations each year but guess they switch between east and west coast all the time (someone correct me if I'm wrong).

Anyway, there are some exciting developments happening with my blog that will be rolling out by the end of the summer, and my dream of being a WAHM is going to be a reality at last! With these changes and by setting my sights on BlogHer '12 I think I will be in a very solid position when I attend. I have an entire year to prepare!

I did go to the premises of BlogHer '10 which was also in NYC where I met Jenn from Baby Making Machine (I still am someday hoping she shares the pic she took of us and her daughter Lil J!). While I wasn't an attendee, I did get a vibe of the energy of BlogHer, which was very intense, but I could tell I would have fun there!

I came across this video on Sweetney showing the BlogHer '11 Sparklecorn Party, and it looks like the ladies definitely had a good time:

I would share this with Mr. Love Bird, but I know he'd take a look at it and think it was a lesbian party and would start in on the jokes so I wont go there (we recently had a discussion in which he informed me that he believes that at least 50% of Wellesley students are lesbians, let alone bisexual, but that's another post for another day . . .). I also like the fact that there is a HUGE unicorn cake which reminds me of my high school alma mater CSG (also an all-female instituion) since our mascot was the unicorn (something else that Mr. Love Bird loves to crack jokes about: "You mean your mascot was an imaginary creature?!").

OK enough already, lemme go buy my ticket! Anyone else planning on going?

Have You Heard of Springwise?

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I've written before about how I'm a budding entrepreneur, but with being a mommy now it's hard to stay focused. I have a few small projects/meetings in the works that I believe will lead to some amazing opportunities, and of course you have to start somewhere. For me, that's where Springwise comes in.

I can't recall where I first heard of it, but it is a round-up of worldwide business ideas that is awesome for brainstorming and thinking up other profit centers. I get weekly updates from Springwise in my inbox, and the quick-hit snippets are easy to scroll through. When I'm in an idea rut or just want to stay inspired and in the know, I go through my old Springwise e-mails.

Here are some of my favorite ideas I've seen on Springwise:
Have any of my readers heard of Springwise or have another inspirational site to share?

{P.S. You can also sign up to be a "springspotter' - their term for a trendspotter and there are perks! Check sign up here.}

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Family Wedding Celebration!

Two weekends ago we took the Bolt Bus down to DC to attend my brother-in-law's at home reception in Baltimore. He and his wife eloped in Vegas on April Fool's Day and we all celebrated together. It was a lot of fun! 

Nia on the Bolt Bus
Napping ay Nana B and Papi's House with her "Baba"
As usual, Nia was a good sport on the ride down, and we left very early the morning of the party. Traffic in the DC metro area is AWFUL and while we were ok getting to DC since we left so early once we set out to go to the party we hit some pretty bad traffic. We got there a little over an hour late, but we made it just in time for the festivities!

There were so many people taking pics at the party, and I've been holding out on this post while they're shared, but they haven't been yet so I'll just share what I have:

My silly brother-in-law (not the married one!), that I haven't seen since 2009

My lovely sister-in-law

All the siblings!
My nephew and niece (why is she taller than me?!)
Father-in-law, sister-in-law and my brother-in-law (being goofy again!)
Nia fell asleep in my dad's arms
My lovely parents
Our little family
Congratulations to my brother-in-law James and new sister-in-law Jana! {I wish I had the pic of all of us, but if it gets shared I'll update the post!}


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