Wednesday, April 30, 2014

mini updates to the new house

although i feel like i haven't given many updates to the new house, we've been busy bees making it feel like home.  small touches like moving a plant to a different location or changing the duvet cover from an OFF-white one to a WHITE one makes such a big difference!

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new white pintuck duvet cover.  ( find it here )
cliché? maybe.  but i knew i wanted white, and i couldn't find another one reasonably-priced that i liked.  i'm the kind of person who has to FEEL it before I buy it, so just ordering one online wasn't going to cut it. we had the pillows from our old apartment, and the blue thing at the foot of the bed is a scarf.  i had been wearing that scarf a lot lately, tossed it on the bed changing my clothes one day, and decided i like it there! now it's decoration for the foot of the bed instead of a practical accessory to wear.  oops?

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new shoe cabinet.  (find it here)
when we first moved into the place, we found ourselves each leaving 5-6 pairs of shoes by the door.  that's a LOT of shoes. it got really cluttered really fast. this thing holds 2 rows of shoes per "drawer", meaning we can each stow away at least 6 pairs of shoes!  this also helps us in managing our shoe collection taking up the entire floor of 1 of only 2 closets in the whole apartment.  it also has a small drawer at the top, perfect for stowing our reusable grocery bags, sunglasses, all the "junk" that didn't have a home in our old apartment.  the only bad thing is that the base trim is taller than the legs can accommodate for.  if you look closely at the bottom of the second photo you can see that the back of the cabinet is supposed to sit above the trim, but instead rests against the trim.  we need to put something clever beneath the front legs to raise the cabinet.  i'm thinking something like bed risers, but not tacky.  not that bed risers are tacky, but they would look totally tacky used in that spot in that way.  anyone have clever ideas?

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new guest bedroom bed frame!  ( find it here , but we got the queen one)
i think i'm most excited about this one.  what I really wanted was a old iron bed frame with big thick rungs and a headboard AND toe board.  however, i didn't win that craigslist waiting game , and we settled for ikea instead.  it's not ALL bad though, this frame was just $129.  and even the ugly, gawdy, thin-rung vintage frame on craigslist were more than that.  i could only find full-sized vintage ones anyways. btw the balls/finials are missing from this photo, you'll have to wait til the finished room to see them. (aka, we were lazy and didn't finish it yet)

now we just have to get the mattress delivered tonight (eek!) this new bed! i am so excited... i feel like a real adult (and slightly guilty) with a "spare bedroom" and all.  but, in our defense, we "are" getting married and plan to have kids sometime in the future ;)  in the meantime... who's coming to visit?


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

oh hey, buzzfeed thinks jersey city is cool too

if you haven't already, go over to buzzfeed today to check out 25 reasons jersey city is the best place to live.

you guessed it, i think so too ;) 


p.s.  check out more jersey city posts from beyond the stoop.
p.p.s. follow @beyondthestoop on instagram for even MORE reasons to love #jerseycity

Monday, April 28, 2014

from the weekend

hello friends! how was your weekend? sunday nights should be for getting to bed early to get a fresh start monday morning, right?  well, that's the goal anyways, but i never fail to stay up later than usual making monday "seem" to get here later.  that is, until my alarm wakes me up at a sunny 5:45am (i swear it only stays dark out for an hour on sunday nights)

...and when sundays are filled with purging, putting things up on craigslist, giving things in our home a permanent home, doing laundry, and spending the evening with friends for an always-fancy sunday dinner , i'd have to say sundays are my favorite these days.  i don't feel obligated to get out of my pj's until i need to leave the house (which means, if i don't leave the house, they don't leave my body)  i don't feel obligated to be social. i can enjoy the crazy amount of natural light spewing into my apartment at the peak hours of afternoon sunshine.  and, most of all, i get to spend quality time with that roommate of mine that i normally refer to as my fiancé.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

april date night: BYOB painting class

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i think everytime i plan a date night from now on, i will only think that no date will top our march date (hint: that's when hung proposed !)

...however, last night was pretty fun too.  trying to err on the cheaper side of things these days while we save up for a wedding and a kitchen remodel, i planned a night at the art studio NY for a painting class! i felt it was a little cliché when i signed us up.  it seems that everyone is doing the BYOB painting classes, but now i know why! they really are fun!  and we came home with two clearly amateur beautiful paintings to find a place in our home.

Monday, April 21, 2014

playing detective in the laundry room

most of what i have shared so far about our new apartment completely neglected the fact that we have a washer and dryer.  for you suburbia readers, maybe this isn't such a shock as those of you fellow city-dwelling readers.   THIS IS A BIG DEAL FOR US.

once a week for nearly every week of the past 4.5 years of living here, i have taken my clothes up and down flights of stairs, paid up to $6.50/load for a washer, always 8-minutes-per-quarter for a dryer... and dealt with the "excitement" of sitting my sunday afternoons or my friday nights at the laundromat.  i've trekked through snow and rain, and could never let hot summer days and blistering cold winter evenings stop me from just doing the simple task of doing my laundry, only to have them come out smelling like hot metal (not matter what brand or scent of dryer sheet or detergent i use).  on average i spent around $15/week just to use the washers and dryers, which works out to be about $750/year.  guys, when they say the "cost of living" in NYC and surrounding areas is expensive, these are the ones that add up that are often forgotten. you say "why don't you just get an apartment with a washer and dryer then", and i say "that apartment is probably $300 more PER MONTH just for the 'laundry in unit'".

like i said, having a washer and dryer of our own is a really big deal, especially in a home that's 150+ years old.  with that said, it doesn't mean that i was excited about actually using the ones we have.  you see, when we moved in, the room with the washer and dryer was caked (and i mean CAKED) in lint.  the back wall is exposed brick, and it was almost solid lint.  it was stuck to the ceilings, in between the dryer and the wall, it covered the floor so much it peeled up like carpet, it covered the pipes in the room...  the dryer has a vent system on it that i had never seen before... one that vents INDOORS.  i didn't even know this was possible until i researched dryer systems and found out that it is indeed a real thing.  people vent regular dryers indoors with the help of a water reservoir that is supposed to collect the lint that passes through the lint screen that you empty with each load. 

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our first thoughts were

Friday, April 18, 2014

what is it with jean jackets?

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they are awesome and awful at the same time.
if they button up the front, they droop at the shoulders.
if they fit the shoulders they can't button.

jean jackets are my FAVORITE "accessory" for spring and fall.  i say "accessory" because rarely am i wearing one for keeping me warm.  every single one i try on has something that's just not QUITE right about it, though.  after purchasing what i thought was the perfect one at the gap last year, i decided i needed one that fit better in the shoulders.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

blue sofa style inspiration

one day while perusing apartment therapy, i caught an image of a gorgeous blue velvet sofa.  i couldn't stop thinking about it.  how it was such a statement piece of furniture in a time where friends looking to find their "forever" furniture go for quality-made, brown/tan/white/grey/only-neutral/never-goes-out-of-style-but-not-ever-really-IN-style styles.  i had to have it. the blue sofa stayed in my mind.  while it was impossible to find that exact sofa, i knew in my head that when i bought my first house, i was getting a blue velvet sofa.... that was years ago, right after i bought my first "nice" piece of furniture, a brown sofa from CB2 (damn, just missed my chance).  in my defense, i knew that i was still renting, and i knew my style would change over time, and i knew i shouldn't couldn't spend MULTIPLE thousands on one piece of upholstered furniture when i had a car and student loans to pay off.

i have always had an eye for decorating a home.  whether i actually put my style to good use in my own home is another thing.  my sense of style, and finding inspiration in places outside my home (i.e. anthropologie, boutiques, restaurants) has leaked to hung.  before we started dating he only really cared that his home was clean, the kitchen was stocked with good tools and appliances, and the fridge had beer and the freezer had frozen pizza.  oh how times have changed ;)

we went into lou lou in annapolis one weekend while visiting friends in DC (maybe it was alexandria? i forget which one), and hung fell in love with this antique, rounded settee (something like this , but more curved and just as gawdy).  he wouldn't stop talking about it.  though he really does enjoy the look of the small, upholstered, velvet sofa with wood around the edges (why he was down for getting this blue chair for our apartment), i realized the thing he liked most was the look of a tufted sofa.  then i got him hooked on a chesterfield sofa, the most indulgent of all tufted looks...

put our desires together, and you have a blue velvet, chesterfield baby (i mean sofa).  google images is a wonderful thing, and led me to Cococo Home (or, The Comfortable Couch Company).  a blue velvet chesterfield that's a reasonable price, custom-made, AND made in the USA?  i was instantly sold.  now that i knew what i wanted, i just had to buy a house, and figure out how to style the REST of the room around it. 

now that we have the house, and made the most expensive furniture purchase of our lives, we have to figure out how to make it work in our space!  see some of our inspirations below:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

sometimes the craigslist hunt is worth playing the waiting game

you know the story.
  1. you have an idea of what you want in your head.
  2. in your head you think "oh, i'll just find it on craigslist."
  3. you look on craigslist, it's no where to be found, or absurdly expensive.
  4. you wait, hoping to find that "gem" nobody knows is cool for a steal of a deal.
  5. you wait...
  6. you wait...
  7. you wait...
  8. you suck it up and buy the new, not-vintage, double-than-you-wanted-to-spend version at west elm and you're still unhappy.
luckily, that didn't happen to us this time!! we actually got lucky on craigslist.  the dude knew what he was doing though.  he knew the dresser was cool, and he painted the frame white, sort of like those west elm cats did with the drawers on their faux mid-century modern with less storage that they are selling for double the price .  i'd totally buy from him again. check him out at forgotten furniture   (though lots of his stuff is also found on the north jersey craigslist page, which is where i found him)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

embracing the tiny kitchen

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sure, yesterday morning i knocked my head on the corner of an open cabinet above my head, and sure we run into each other, and sure our sink practically only fits just a cereal bowl....

...but is it weird that i'm actually LOVING the tiny tiny kitchen?

here's why:
  1. it has the "kitchen triangle" - if you draw a line from the sink to the fridge to the stove to the sink it makes a triangle.  i never knew how much this really mattered until i had a kitchen that was actually laid out this way.  so many brownstone apartments get stuck with long and narrow kitchens, making the only practical layout one with EVERYTHING on one wall, and NOTHING on the opposite wall.
  2. i can get almost anything without moving my feet - ok maybe i'll take a step sideways or backwards, but still, i don't have to go across the room, into the pantry, on top of  stool just to get the sugar... it's 1 step and an arms reach away from where i do nearly all my prepping.
  3. i'm forced to purge - do i really need 4 pairing knives? do i really need that mango corer? (sorry mom) do i really need to have 4 bottle cap openers and 2 wine bottle openers? no, no, no, and no. it really does feel good to get rid of things we don't need, but kept because we had the space in the old kitchen. and when's the last time we used the deli slicer anyways?
maybe i'm still on the high that i finally OWN my home instead of rent, but we're learning more and more everyday that "more" space doesn't always mean "better" space.  finding more efficient ways of tetris-ing storing things is so fun!

check out a little (very little) kitchen tour below.

Monday, April 14, 2014

we hosted our first dinner!

did monday come too fast for anyone else?  hung and i are finally starting to feel at home at our new place . as if we weren't homebodies anyways, we feel like we just want to stay home, in our house, together.  no matter if i spent the whole week home not going to work, i'd feel like i need "just one more day" to enjoy the new place. 

we had such a great weekend though, seeing friends every night, celebrating new apartments, seeing friends we hadn't seen in a while, and hosting our first dinner at the new place!  saturday we got a few drinks with friends at battello .  we went there once before for a "we finally got the house!" celebratory dinner, but our friends had never been.  inside the space seriously makes you want to pinch yourself to make sure it's not a dream that a place like this is walking distance from my house.  guys, it's BEAUTIFUL inside.  edison bulbs dimly light up the place just enough to make it cozy, and just enough to reflect on the walls of windows, blending into the already-breathtaking views of manhattan.

Friday, April 11, 2014

happy friday!

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gosh i can't hardly hold in the excitement over here.  we have so many things to share about the new place, and so many things to look forward to in the coming weeks i can't hardly stand it!  it really helps that it's so warm outside that i don't need a jacket.  and that we finally got some window shades for the new place so i don't have to change my clothes in the kitchen in the morning anymore (more on these next week!)

however, there is one HUGE sad/scary/dreadful/totally-not-looking-forward-to-it fact that looms over me today:

today is the last day to drive on the eastbound pulaski skyway before it's shut down for the next TWO YEARS.

guys, this is huge. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PhanPhamTam Fam Vacation

short and sweet and exactly what we needed!

that's the best way to describe the weekend we had last weekend in DC with hung's family.  we stayed in falls church where we could have easy access to eden center , a large plaza of vietnamese bakeries, restaurants, hair salons, you name it.  we also had easy access to the metro to get to the center of it all in DC, where we hoped to find some blooming cherry blossoms.

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hung and i didn't get to the hotel until almost 11pm (stupid NJ turnpike traffic!!), but we got a solid night of sleep (on the pull out couch, i swear we sleep the best on anything but our own bed, even if it's a pull-out couch!) and were ready to go for a fun family day at the monuments and memorials in DC on saturday!  we first stopped at the national zoo to see the baby panda and other fun animals before stopping for mediterranean food for lunch.  picking more and more friends up along the way, by the time we got to the white house, we had 16 people!  we stopped for a few kodak moments at the white house, washington monument, lincoln memorial, and more.

my favorite memory from the weekend was explaining the train system to hung's mom.  when we got on the metro at falls church, that was her first time riding a train!!  she was so excited just to get on, but when we went underground was the really fun part.  i explained the underground train systems, and that they are underground so they don't make noise and take up valuable space in the city, and that people get to the underground station by going down stairs or escalators from the sidewalks. her response after everything i said was "wooow!!"  when i told her that's the kind of train by our house and that's how hung gets to work everyday, her response was an even louder and longer "WOOOOW!"  it was so fun to experience so many new things with her last weekend, and made me really realize how fortunate hung and i are to live the lives we live, to be able to pack our bags and go places on a whim, to make new experiences everyday....

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after the full day of walking and exploring, we set our sights for Annandale for Korean BBQ.  i tried booking reservations for restaurants in a fun part of DC, but with a total group size of 18 people, my efforts were pointless.  DC restaurants get booked days in advance for saturday night dinner, let alone trying to book a table for 18 (or 2 groups of 9, or 3 groups of 6, we tried it all) in places that seat sometimes 50 people or less.  hung's friend from high school pulled through and got us a LONG table at honey pig in annandale. 

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considering the looks of the aftermath, i'd say it was the best choice!!  with a group that big, the important part is that we were all together eating good food, not that we were eating at one of the best restaurants in DC or that we were even IN DC at all...

i hope that the next PhanPhamTam Fam vacation can be just as fun :)


p.s. we originally planned the weekend so hung's mom could see the cherry blossoms.  she read about them in a book when she was a little girl in rural vietnam and had wanted to go ever since.  the trees were just budding when we were there, so i suppose there's always next year. it's hard to predict when they will bloom when you have to plan a vacation months in advance :(

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

someone put us on hoarders

oh hey guys! did i tell you we finished moving? and also the new tenant is in our old place already? and we spent the weekend in DC? it's no wonder i got sick over the weekend, my body is trying to tell me "enough is enough already!"

first let me tell you that we're NOT hoarders!
(the first sign of hoarding is denying it)
it just looks like it because we're terrible packers.
(the second sign of hoarding is making up excuses)

while i "know" everything will have a place in our new home, it once looked like the video below.  we're moving in the right direction in getting unpacked and organized though, and i can say the place is now finally starting to look like home. (but i've got to leave SOMETHING for tomorrow's post right? stay tuned!) 

we only had so many boxes and reusable grocery bags to move all of our things, so we had to move a load, empty the contents of the bags and boxes, and go pack some more.  it's obviously not the most efficient way of doing things, but it worked.  that's how that huge mess of random things ended up on the floor of the first bedroom you see in the video.

i also had about 10 trash bags of pillows and blankets and extra towels and linens.  i REALLY felt like a hoarder when i started to unpack that stuff, but then i realized that we NEED those things for when people come to visit! we're far enough away that when people come to stay with us from out of town, they usually fly, which means they need an air mattress, sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels.  i can purge a pair of shoes i only wore once and hated, but i can't purge linens.

ok since my mind is wandering in so many directions right now, i'll just share the video, and update you tomorrow with the de-hoarding process :)


Friday, April 4, 2014

happy friday!

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oh hey guys! it's friday! ...which means we get to relax! drive 4 hours for a weekend away! although we're pretty darn exhausted from 3 weeks of nonstop painting, refinishing the hardwood floors, and moving, we're going for a mini family vacation with hung's immediate family and i am SO excited to see them!! 

last year we went to ohio more times than i can count for very unfortunate circumstances, but in the midst of it all, we got to see hung's family more often than we ever anticipated.  now that we aren't going back so often anymore, it feels like FOREVER since we've all been together! ...even though it has been just 3 months. 

the idea for the trip was to see the cherry blossoms in DC, but with the crazy weather this year, it has been hard to predict when they will bloom. although google says the peak bloom won't occur until later next week and next weekend, we're hoping to see at least a few blooms this weekend too.

my body is pretty darn worn out from being on the move (literally) for so long, but i can't help but have a smile on my face for all the good in our lives lately :)

happy friday, friends!


p.s. photo is from this post two years ago when my mom came to visit and we went to the brooklyn botanic garden.. guys there's a whole FIELD of cherry blossom trees there and it's GORGEOUS when they are at peak bloom!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

6 months of intentional dates in nyc (and jersey city too)

last year when i returned from working in boston , i noticed that it had been a VERY long time since hung and i had been out just the two of us.  we love to cook food at home, and we are always out with friends, but we rarely got (get?) relaxing fun time just for the two of us.  i made it a mission to start small by taking turns having date nights once a month. 

the date doesn't have to be dinner or food related at all, but often times it does (look who we're talking about here). we're 6 months into this "resolution" and going strong!  it's exciting to find something to do, new restaurants to try... after all, we live in a pretty awesome place... it's not a place to be a homebody!!

in case you missed them, a recap of each date is listed below.

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(December Christmas Eve Date)
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here's the breakdown of what we've done so far:

  1. October Date  - Sunday Brunch at Talde in Park Slope Brooklyn, followed by an afternoon stroll through the shops and markets in the area and a pit stop at a Chinese restaurant supply store in Chinatown Manhattan.
  2. November Date  - Friday Night date at Tabata Ramen in Hell's Kitchen and a stroll through Broadway Bites food market.
  3. December Date  - Christmas Eve ice skating at Newport Skates and Taco Tuesday ($8 for 6 mini tacos! so good!) at Orale in downtown Jersey City. 
  4. January Date  - Weeknight dinner at Union Republic
  5. February Date  - Williamsburg Brooklyn Saturday afternoon adventure to O Live , Bia , Milk Bar , and Barcade .
  6. March "Date"  - Saturday afternoon matinee at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center (and then he proposed!!! best date EVER!)
gosh, how do i "top" a proposal for the next date!?!?

i'm positive i can not, but i'm positive i can make the next one at least fun and exciting none the less :)


p.s. follow on facebook for the latest updates ;)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

white on white on white

before moving into the new place, hung and i painted.  and painted.... and painted.... all because i had this vision of having a pure white, blank slate, bright space like i see in all the magazines these days (ok, really, i don't read magazines, i really just read apartment therapy and houzz and the links they post). 

what!? bright white walls and bright white trim? are you nuts?

hear me out. or, just see my inspirations below...

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i'm in heaven with this look!!  hung gets to design the kitchen when we redo it sometime in the future... i think i may have him locked into this look too ;)  maybe...


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

what would i do without him?

apparently be about a grand poorer for paying a moving company.  this move is only taking us 3 blocks from our old place.  between the short distance, the lack of parking for moving trucks, and the lack of big things that require a moving truck, we decided that we could do it on our own. as in the two of us, volunteers, and a yaris.  you saw yesterday's post, right? we can fit in it as many things as an SUV...

a few things won't fit in the car though.  the mattress is one of them.  hung decided to take the task on himself.  i helped him get it down the stairs, but he turtled the whole thing by himself, all the way to the new house.  can you imagine if you saw this scene while walking down a rather busy city street!?

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he's a beast!!!

while we saved a few bucks moving everything without a moving company, it did bring some chuckles along the way too.  like last night when our friend and i accidentally left hung in the back of the yaris as we were about to walk inside the old house.  he was NOT happy about that one! sorry babes... (but it really was funny! if we weren't so stressed about moving you would have been laughing too)

we're almost there. almost done moving. no more big things for the boys with big muscles to move.  and just one more night of moving and cleaning and moving and cleaning until we can hand over the keys to the next tenants.  ....and hopefully tonight is also install-the-shower-curtain night too so i don't have to take a bath in the sink again... yeah. real showers are nice...