Out With the Old, Into the New
May 31, 2011

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In all the years I’ve been writing CR, I’ve never really shared photos of the CR home. Now that I’m in the process of unpacking, it suddenly seems right to show you all from whence your recipe posts and advice have been coming all these years!

Let’s start with my now bygone NYC apartment. Here it was, right after packing:

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I started CR in these rooms. I moved into the place on a freezing cold February morning well over four years ago. It was a strange period of my life: Chloe was moving to New Orleans that coming summer, and a long term relationship was ending, so I felt suddenly and strangely alone. On the other hand, it was a moment of tremendous growth for me: I’d just gotten a big promotion, and I was just getting into raw foods (I had no clue at the time where they’d take me!).

I moved on a Thursday, with no help (all of my friends were working) and by the end of the day, I was so exhausted that I could barely put a set of sheets onto my bed. I was busy doing that, and feeling pretty sorry for myself, when I peeked out my window to see snowflakes falling gently onto my fire escape. I glanced around my still chaotic new home, and realized—much to my delight—that it all belonged to me. I could do what I wanted, say what I wanted, go to bed when I wanted, listen to whatever I wanted, and no one could tell me otherwise. It was my first adult home. I’ll never forget the thrill of that realization as I fell asleep that night.

Of course, that apartment had all of the normal NYC problems. My super was never around to help me. My management company never answered the phone. My bathroom ceiling collapsed. My fridge was leaky and small. My walls were dirty. Columbus Avenue offered me a symphony of truck noises every night. And did I mention it was the third floor of a walkup?

In spite of how much I loved it, then, that apartment had its limitations. And one thing I’ve looked forward to about moving to D.C. is the chance to have more space, more foliage, and more peace and quiet. I think I found the perfect place:

Meet the “Hobbit House”:

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That’s not what it looks like right now. It’s what it looked like before I moved in, and when I’m done decorating and unpacking, I hope it’ll look as cute. Right now, it looks like this:

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Gah!

The bedlam, however, won’t distract me from the charm of my new home, writ large in many unexpected little details. These include stencils on the walls:

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Hooks by the front door:

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A fireplace, and wooden beams in the ceiling, and a built in bookshelf:

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Foliage:

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And, best of all, a full, grown-up sized kitchen, which used to look like this:

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Currently looks like this:

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And I’m hoping it’ll soon look like a space that is all my own. I look forward to unpacking the whole house, but to be honest, it all pales in comparison to the fun of unpacking and organizing a new kitchen. I’m also amused by the fact that I appear to have the oldest stove in D.C. and a big, ancient microwave:

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…which I’m promptly putting away to make room for my dehydrator.

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It’ll be nice not to have to store that thing on my bedroom floor (yes, that’s what I did, and yes, it was kind of gross).

I know what you’re wondering: where’s the food? Actually, my fridge looks pretty decent, and my pantry is basically full, but since I’m spending most nights at M’s place this week, I haven’t yet used my kitchen for anything other than this:

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That’s right. My first kale salad + guac combo under a new roof. Now I’m starting to feel at home.

Apartments are funny things: such powerful receptacles of our memories and associations. What apartments hold powerful memories for you?

Before I go, I wanted to share this excerpt from Jonathan Franzen’s recent commencement address at Kenyon college. It’s not exactly topical, but it does touch on some things that I think the CR audience will appreciate: musings on technology, thoughts about the futility of trying too hard to be likeable, and, best of all, this powerful plea for love:

When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders, as I did for many years, the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them.

And who knows what might happen to you then?

Read it. I hope you like it. And tomorrow, I promise, some food.

xo

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    51 Comments
  1. OMG ! The Hobbit house is so cute. It looks so warm, inviting and cozy. Congrats on your new place and I LOVE the stove and microwave! Do you also have a washer and dryer? I absolutely love retro appliances and your new home looks so comforting…..I’m sure it will be a lot of fun settling in.
    Teresa

  2. I LOVE, LOVE your new home. Seriously! So cute!

    But, you must know that I’m fighting you for title of oldest stove in DC. Mine is about half that size, hobbit-worthy, and when the gas flame goes out, I have to get down there Hansel and Gretel-style to light it again.

  3. LOVE THE HOBBIT HOUSE! It’s so cute! I especially love the fireplace and wooden beams! It seems so cozy. I’m sure you’ll make it fit the CR personality in no time! My apartment in houston was pretty nice, but I moved in when I was just 18 so it didn’t really reflect my style yet. My first apartment in SD was … well, let’s just say you don’t get a lot for your money out here. This past August though, I bought a high-rise condo and after some remodeling (painting, wood floors, etc.), it really feels like home now. I also decided it was time to really invest in higher quality furniture. Although my bank account took quite a hit, I’m happy with the way the decor turned out and I really feel like this is home now. I hope the hobbit house feels like home for you soon

  4. Congrats on the move to DC! I hope you love it here. If you ever get the chance to take a nice drive, I hear there’s an amazing veg/semi-raw restaurant in Clarksburg, MD called Great Sage. Love your new digs!

  5. That place definitely has some DC ‘vintage’ charm! I saw so many fun/cool/ooold place during two separate apartment searches while I lived there. Its so fun to see how people use spaces differently 🙂 Love the new digs!

  6. Looks like a great place with lots of character…. and that kale salad looks delicious. Can’t wait to try it.

  7. You weren’t kidding–it IS ridiculously adorable! Well done finding that place. I have a feeling your time spent in it will be very memorable. 🙂 You had a really great spot in NYC too, though. Hmm, maybe I shoulda snagged it! Not that I don’t LOVElovelove my own studio. [contented sigh]

  8. Thanks for sharing the home pics, and welcome to your beautiful new boudoir! Love the foliage and all the gentle colors and well-defined spaces. Your kitchen looks awesome.

    Happy unpacking and thanks for the Franzen link–looking forward to reading it in full.
    love
    Ela

  9. Welcome to Washington! That’s a great space you’ve got there. My first solo apartment in DC had a kitchen so small that it was basically a closet. This place looks lovely!

  10. despite the problems, your old place looks like it was amazing. the new place looks awesome, too! congratulations on the exciting move!

  11. Memories . . . every apartment I lived in holds powerful ones. Expecially my first. A totally grungy apartment in Ithaca, NY above the restaurant Cabbagetown Cafe, which, ironically, I never ate in. What the F? I probably would LOVE that restaurant to pieces if I lived there today!!!!!!!!!! But I sure gave Moosewood Restaurant a whole lotta love in those days.

    So glad to see pix of your new place. It really does bring you closer with your readers. Very interesting–maybe do a post on how much or how little to share of your personal life with your readers.

  12. Your new apartment is so cute! I can’t wait to see it when it’s all unpacked!
    I’ve lived in a bunch of apartments over the last few years, and they all have good and bad memories, like our first apartment in the basement of a suburban home with three nosy kids, our ghetto apartment that I actually loved (except for the lack of light), the studio above my uncle’s garage, and the temporary stay in Kentucky. So many memories, but we’re always making more.

  13. I LOVE this quote and it’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. Sometimes I find myself hibernating within my apartment, and I think it makes me even more afraid of living. If I actually got off my butt, it might not feel so hard 🙂 Looks like your move is going well-I’m sure you’ll love DC!

  14. Your NYC apartment was gorgeous! Best of luck making this new house a home and filling it with wonderful memories 🙂

  15. My last apartment holds a lot of memories for me. It was the first place I had all to myself. Every “first” with my current boyfriend (my last boyfriend, no doubt) happened in that apartment. The apartment I had before that one also holds memories because it was the first time I moved away from home, and had a roommate. So far, my current apartment is my favorite! I hope the same for you and your new DC abode!

    And I love that quote. Thank you for always brightening my day. I know I can always come to CR to feel inspired in some way.

  16. Love this post! Living in the city and moving fairly often, each place holds so many memories. It’s amazing how much you come to fall in love with these tiny abodes!

  17. I love that built-in bookshelf! I’m just getting ready to move into my first apartment (after a series of dorm rooms) this summer. So exciting!

  18. Congrats on the move and the new place! It looks lovely. I still get weirdly nostalgic for the beat-up studio I lived in in Boston my last year of college. It reminded me of a tree-house because of all the leaves. I even kinda liked the fake wood panelling on the walls and the shag carpet…

  19. Love the new apartment with the grown up kitchen and the fireplace/ beams etc. What a great find. Good luck with all your unpacking and making it feel like home. How wonderful to have so much foliage in the middle of a big city.

  20. Wow, you’re old NYC apartment was so nice! Your new apartment is awesome too, the kitchen looks amazing. I’m so glad you found such a wonderful new home:)

  21. Gena! Congrats on the new place; it’s adorable! I’m so excited for you and all that DC holds. I can’t wait to read more of your journey. Life is all about those risks, big and little, and I certainly commend you for seeking those adventures and passions. 🙂

  22. I really like that quote, and thank you for sharing, but it also makes my throat ache with trying not to cry. After years of hating and hiding myself, I’ve actively rejoined the world and have found and experienced so much love in the form of friendships. And yet it seems like the world will never offer me someone to cuddle at night, and sometimes it’s really hard not to let the bad thoughts take me away again in response.

    • Hannah,

      I cannot begin to count the number of years I’ve gone without a someone to cuddle. Take it from someone who is just a tiny bit older — life gives you a rich and full spectrum of things to experience without the someone. And lots of personal growth is enabled by nights spent in solitude–really. Being on your own is a very good thing indeed.

      And if that’s not comforting, keep in mind that yes, the proverbs are true — the someone will happen by when the time is right. Don’t question it, and don’t be in a rush 🙂

      xo

      • Thank you so much for responding, Gena. I didn’t mean to throw myself a pity party 😛 The interesting thing for me, in myself, is that I’ve been a very independent person and I’ve never felt that I needed a man to “complete” me or make me “better”, and I’m committed to staying strong in the knowledge that even if I never meet anyone, I can still have a fabulous life filled with care and compassion. Funnily enough, it’s now that I’ve got myself to a better place, personally, now that I can be strong, that I feel the sting of having no one to just, sometimes, occasionally, be there for support. Oh gosh, I’m rambling again! I just wanted to say thank you, really, and to say how I wish I could beleive in that proverb, but when you’re 24 and have never had anyone… it’s hard to have faith!

        xoxo

  23. Lovely! Can I ask what part of town you’re calling home? And remember to get some Amsterdam Falafel Hut falafel for me sometime soon, k? 😉

  24. I love the pics of the new digs! Congrats for making it there. And for posting in the midst of a move?! I’ve moved twice while having my blog, once to Phoenix and 9 months later (racing!) to get back to San Diego..and pretty sure I had pre written posts and randomness for a week on either side. Definitely no “real live” in the moment posts. You are amazing!

    Microwaves aren’t *that* evil for me, anyway. And I could NEVER sleep with a dehyd in my room. Omg that fan. I would kill it!

    And I remember the leaky ceiling post like it was yesterday. Glad that’s over with 🙂

    What apts hold meaning for me? The first one I lived in..I was 18 with the clothes on my back, very little help getting moved in or in life in general, and I subsisted on Doritos and brownies for a long time, but you know what, it was amazing. I learned so much about life. It took another 10 yrs before I learned how to cook.

    Have fun unpacking!

    • Your head will fit just fine. And the house is actually built-to-size for Gigi and Lulu, so I expect them to visit with you 🙂 I’ll have cookies waiting!

  25. Love. I really enjoyed reading your reflections on the season you are leaving, as well as the one you are entering. It helped me remember similar moments and feelings in my personal history, and there were elements that we can all relate to as humans. Best of luck to you on this new venture! I think you will quickly make the new house a home — especially with more salads like that 😉

  26. Very nice! Thanks for the local DC tour. My most memorable apartment… 4th yr. university, Vancouver, great neighbourhood, 120 yr old heritage house, 300 sq. feet, cheap, lovely old landlady, shared bath, 1 guy across the hall that grew “foliage”, the other guy across the hall that made his living selling balloon animals at the Granville Island market, and guy across the street that got naked every night in front of his open patio door. Ah, the city!

  27. Very cute! I hope you enjoy yourself and really make it yours. NYC is wonderful but yes we are lacking in space, foliage, and charm… And ohhh, those supers…

  28. Beautifully said. I love that you call it the “hobbit house”…and I am not going to lie, that is some gooorgeous foliage! I can’t wait to see many more salads coming from the CR hobbit house:)

  29. No wonder you never used the dehydrator if it was on the bedroom floor. But worse was someone I knew who kept theirs in the cellar where the rats often got into it. Way worse.

    The new place is cute, it has some of that DC charm. I hope it provides space for you to come up with lots of new raw creations.

  30. So… When’s the house party? 😉
    What’s wrong with kitchen appliances on the bedroom floor? I’d get nothing done my months at school without that. Hah.

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