Two Weeks In Our Kitchen and How I Got It Done

We are were two weeks in Montreal – two weeks of unpacking, furnishing, organizing and decorating.  I’ll show you what I’ve accomplished and tell you what works, what doesn’t work and how much it cost.



What Works:

  • I have an art gallery in my kitchen.  Nothing has ever worked so beautifully in the history of workingness.

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  • My other piece of art also hangs here. (cordless Dyson vacuum)


What Doesn’t Work:

  • This is at least the second rental we’ve lived in with these IKEA glass front cabinets.


Oh, these tedious glass rectangles with their tiny panes and the time devoted to cleaning them.  And are they hanging right next to the stove?  Brilliant.  What is the point of glass-covered cabinets?  If it is to showcase my stunning flatware then why cover it at all?  If it is to protect my dishes from dirt and dust  — my dishes don’t get dusty.  I use them.  I do not have “show” dishes.  Please stop with glass covered cabinets in kitchens and just give me appropriately positioned open shelving.

  • Another note – start designing for small children or stop calling us helicopter parents.  My kids can get their own snacks IF THERE WAS OPEN SHELVING AT THEIR HEIGHT.  We had that in Madison and it was great for independence.  Here we have a bottom fridge which means they could finally get their own drinks IF ONLY WE HAD A LOW SHELF IN WHICH TO STORE THEIR CUPS.  Kitchens, especially small kitchens, have to become a lot smarter.

Cost:  $0

Finally, here are some edicts that allow me to get stuff done fast:

  1. Own Necessary Things
    have to unpack and organize them.
  2. Own Meaningful Things
    want to unpack and display them.
  3. Get Rid of All Other Things.
  4. Plan Ahead
    I create floor plans with my big pieces in position.  You need to know where that 200lb bookshelf is going before it gets there.
    IMG_0386 IMG_0389 IMG_0391
  5. Touch it Once
    By following #1, 2 and 3, I have an idea where everything will be placed or stored in my new home.  For even the smallest item I try to only touch it once.  I do not place it on the counter then move it to the floor then shove it in a corner until I can find a place for it later.  Determine its proper place and commit.
  6. Be Prepared to Touch it Again Anyway
    I’m about to embark on Kitchen Cabinets v3.0 because their flow is unsatisfying and function handicapped.  It’s like Musical Canned Tuna up in there but this is what it takes to get it right.  Stupid cooking.  Why can’t we just sit in vintage 1976 yellow vinyl chairs and look at art?

That’s about it.  Still waiting on the $2 dollar parts for our tv mount but otherwise, looking and working like a real home.  Thank you for following along.


I just finished binge-watching Community and now I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing.  Netflix = immersion therapy.


When I first moved from New York to San Francisco in 1999, a friend and her husband came to visit.  They had just moved from Michigan to Ohio.  When I knew Meg in college she was wild (think: trip to the ER) but when she met her husband, a very religious man, she adopted his lifestyle and for all I know they are still happily married and still living their faith.  When I saw her in San Francisco she was already happy and she said this had everything to do with her husband and their church community. When they moved, she recounted, their church from Michigan contacted their new church in Ohio and set up a welcome committee literally in her driveway.  Complete strangers helped unpack their furniture and fed them meals the day they arrived.  But they weren’t strangers were they?  Having just moved myself and feeling very lonely, Meg’s story stuck with me.  Fifteen years and many moves later, I still think of it and the benefit of belonging.

Years later, when Kris and I left New York (second time for me) for Greenwich’s greener pastures, I researched deeply into joining the Quakers, or Society of Friends.  I fully admit to being wooed by Six Feet Under’s Nate/Maggie storyline but regardless, away from the (anonymous) energy of the city, I longed to join a community.  Before I knew it we were in Bermuda, Arlo came and with him I was born into the Ex-Pat Stay-At-Home-Mothers Community and it was good.  I still miss it.

There is a church directly outside our apartment.  Her stained glass windows play backdrop to my daughter’s tormented slumber.  I don’t even know what kind of church it is but I do know Sunday morning services are held in Spanish.  Early.

Durga Puja is soon so that sent me googling for a local Bengali Association.  Is that where we belong?

There is a loneliness that comes with being a stay-at-home-parent who moves around so much.

Abed 2

And they call you a robot.

I am looking forward to finding and contributing to a community here in Montreal.  I’ve been told to get in and make friends by Halloween because after that people stay indoors.  More than one person has told me this so the clock is ticking.  SAHMs?  Bloggers?  Photographers?  American Ex-Pats?  I know there’s something for me/us and I will find you.  ACCEPT ME!

Ahbed 3


Turns out Laura and I had the same thought but on different days, so this week’s PolarRico Parallelogram comes united in spirit but divided in timing.  Check out Laura’s search for Community here.


MMM: Gay Village

Mostly Montreal Monday

Shots and thoughts from my new home of Montreal

It was a Sunday morning filled with bad decisions and hurt feelings so we decided it was best to get out of the house and sprinkle our sunshine around the Gay Village.


Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay

 It was cold (47 degrees, oh Canada) and overcast and but I got some good photos.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Until next week, your Montreal Explorers

Until next week, your Montreal Explorers

Brrr…ahhh… |

Ha!  Laura and I celebrating what it truly means to be PolarRico:

Brrr…ahhh… |.

The Best Things I Saw All Week

Hello Friends.  Happy Friday!

I saw this sign on the bike path along Lachine Canal and I couldn’t tell if it was real or a piece of art.  It’s got to be art, right?  No path is that squiggly.

Road Sign

I adore this tire cozy.  I want one for myself.  For my bike.  Not for any spare tire I might be carrying around.  Winter’s coming!


Arlo watching “Singing In The Rain” this dreary Thursday:

singing in the rain

Arlo watching “Make ‘Em Laugh” this dreary Thursday:

Make 'Em Laugh

What are you showing your kids that makes ‘em giggle?  I’d love to hear.

When reading this new book at the dinner table, Farrah Star pointed to this character and said “DADA!” over and over:


This is what DADA actually looks like:



And from the Internet-At-Large:

When searching for “superhero window” decals for Arlo’s room, this popped up:

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.38.57 PM

“Being a superhero isn’t easy, as college student Cody Davenport (a.k.a. Blue Diesel) soon learns. As cool as it is to have superhuman strength, such power makes it hard to get intimate with a regular guy. Lose control once and you could injure your partner for life. And after one too many disastrous attempts at physical pleasure, Cody decides that romance is not in his future.

I was hoping for more Green Lantern-superimposed-on-a-transparent-window film, but whatever.  If you’re further intrigued, click the photo for the only customer review.  I’ll give you a teaser:  while reading it, he had to “pace” himself.

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 11.00.35 PM

Which came first, their knits or their expressions?

Between starting S13 of Project Runway and following Fashion Week on NYMag’s The Cut, I am getting my creative tank filled on the daily.  Even if you’re not a fashionista, you’ll enjoy this slideshow which highlights a LEGO bow tie, Blondes more GaGa than GaGa and Michael Kors killing it:

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 11.34.40 AM

Happy Weekend out there!

Two Weeks In Our Living Rooms

We are two weeks in Montreal – two weeks of unpacking, furnishing, organizing and decorating.  I’ll show you what I’ve accomplished, tell you what works, what doesn’t and how much it cost.

Play Area

Play Area

What Works:

  • Merely that it exists is enough but …
  • …with the bottom four feet of this space full of toys and a large colorful rug, the giant plain white wall looks and functions beautifully here.

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What Doesn’t Work:

  • The play area IS the main hallway – an errant ball or race car presents both a hazard and a blight upon the floor.  In Madison we just cleaned up at the end of the day but here it’s a constant tuck and toss.  But again – worth it.

Cost:  $50 for Arlo’s new wall tracks

Dining Area

Dining     Dining

What Works:

  • The dining area really popped when Kris suggested putting the table on a diagonal.  The map art is up now too and it all looks good.  The photos though are hideous, sorry.

What Doesn’t Work:

  • The floor.  Directly to the left of the dining table the floor begins a significant slope which means no furniture can be placed there.  This leaves a huge expanse of hardwood floor upon which the table just floats.  I need an anchor in the form of a dining room rug but that seems d-u-m-b with two small kids.  Not sure what to do.  Please send help.
  • The almost-empty shelving unit.  I intended to fill it with all our dishware but that all fits fine in the kitchen.  I suspect wine will take up a couple of cubes but I don’t yet know what else it’s going to “be”.  It cannot be moved so I have to make it work.

Cost: $0.  So far.

Living Area

Living Room

What Works:

  • It’s perfectly nice but I’m not breaking any style barriers here. The tv and media shelving are unfinished (waiting on a part) so once that wall is done I’m sure I’ll feel better about this space.
  • The wicker bucket chairs are perfect in our front window.  Great light, great breeze and great people-watching.  I love having a seating area that doesn’t focus on the tv.  There’s also some nice husband/wife-ry that happens here.

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What Doesn’t Work:

  • This is where the plain walls drive me nuts, especially in the front window which should have a strong impact from the exterior and interior.
  • The framed diplomas next to the bookshelf are nice but dull.  They did not deserve to be so prominent (they used to be in the office in our Madison house) so I replaced them with my folded books which always garner a lot of attention.

_MG_2109   _MG_2111

If you’d like to know how to make these, first you’ll need a lot of cocaine and then a 2002 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  (Look! Now it’s also become a great conversation piece!)

Cost:  $200 for used media shelving which is not pictured and $40 for a new tv mount which we don’t have yet.

The apartment is really lovely but it has the potential to be exceptional.  My god, what I could create with shelving, wall treatments, window treatments …. wait.  I need a cigarette.  This is my renter’s lament.  OMG.  Renters Lament shall be the title of my new design blog!  Garcon!  Another cigarette!

At the end of the day I know how to add dimension to this space but I don’t want to do it – incorporate plants.  I know they would go a long way for a little price but 1) I have cats, 2) I have kids and 3) I am the kind of person who would feel compelled to dust and then rub mayonaise on every leaf.  And then I ask you who, just who exactly, would write this blog?

Thanks for being a nosey parker.  Two Weeks In Our Kitchen and Tips for Getting It Done next time.




Parallelogram: Shopping |

How do you get what you need when you don’t know where to go or what to say when you get there?  Join Laura and I at this week’s PolarRico Parallelogram to find out – not that we have answers, mind you.

Parallelogram: Shopping |.



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