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Greetings from India!  It’s been over six months since I last posted but I’ve been thinking about this little ole blog a ton.  We’re currently in Maharashtra finalizing the adoption of our son Bodhi, and should be home in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I wanted to share this Elle Decor feature on J.Crew head menswear designer Frank Muytjens, who lives in a lovely 600 square-foot home in nearby Hillsdale, NY.  Though our family has just grown from 2 people to 3, we’ve been thinking about downsizing, and this house makes a good case for it.

Concrete counters: yes.

I love this living room.  It’s casual yet chic, vintage yet modern – kind of like J.Crew.

The other end of the living room.

More great styling in the bedroom. Check out the National Geographics under the fan.  My Nana recently offered us several boxes of old Nat. Geos. and Anuj said no.  Oh well.  Frank and I do have one thing in common: Ben Moore’s Edgecomb Gray, which covers his bedroom walls and just about ALL of ours.

The Elle Decor article with more images can be found here, and a brief J.Crew interview with Muytjens can be found here.

Photos: William Waldron for Elle Decor

Young Brooklynites Matt and Esther Dockery do right by their 1815 Stuyvesant farmhouse in this recently completed reno.  Purchased in 2006, Matt and Esther’s dream of updating and opening up the space got derailed by the recession.  There was a period of 18 months where the house, stripped down to its core, sat unused because they couldn’t afford to heat it.

But they were not deterred; through friends, resourcefulness and a little patience, they held on to the property and eventually completed the renovation.  I think it was worth the wait.

To see before pictures read more about the renovation, click here.

Photo via NBO4 and hvmag.com

This Sunday, Dennis Wedlick’s Hudson Passive Project is having an open house from 2-5pm.  If you’re anywhere near Claverack, stop by.  We certainly plan on it.

For more photos, see the New York Times photo tour here.

More info on the Passive Project here.

It’s time for our favorite film festival of the year: Film Columbia held at the single-screen Crandell Theater in Chatham, NY.  I wrote about our 2009 visit here.

This year, we’ve snagged tickets for:

A Dangerous Method, starring my new obsession Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre, Fish Tank).  A psycho-sexual thriller about the woman who comes between Jung and Freud starring Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Kira Knightly?  Front row, please.

Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene, about a young woman who joins a cult, then leaves the cult and attempts to re-acclimate to ‘normal life’ at the home of her sister.  Stars the Olsen twins’ little sister Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), who gave the breakout performance of this year’s Sundance.  Hugh Dancy (husband to Clare Danes) and Sarah Paulson (tell me you didn’t love
(Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) also star.

And The Kid with a Bike, the Grand Prix winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival about an abandoned boy who sets out to find both his father and his bike.  A hairdresser he meets along the way helps him find, if not actually recover, both.

Other highlights include Corioloanus (Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut), Melancholia (Lars Von Trier’s best work yet?), The Artist (homage to silent film era’s Chaplin, Keaton, Griffith, et al), Anonymous (local screenwriter John Orloff raises the Shakespeare authorship question in this cloak-and-dagger story) and We Need to Talk About Kevin (Tilda Swinton = can do no wrong).

We didn’t get tickets to the “Saturday Night Sneak” in time; it’s now sold out.  Last year’s “Sneak” was Black Swan.  I have a suspicion it’s going to be The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which I’ve been dying to see, but having watched the original Swedish version over the weekend, am not entirely confident even the great David Fincher can improve upon it.  See it, but be warned: it’s extremely violent.

Tickets to Film Columbia 2011 here.

(I know the song is actually Come On Eileen, but we’ve been singing it with Irene all weekend, so humor me.)

We decided to ride out Hurricane Irene in NYC this weekend.  I can’t remember the last time we spent a full weekend here – despite the ominous gray skies and weatherman imploring everyone to stay home, we took a walk last night over to the Columbia neighborhood for a beer, and then walked back for some dinner closer to our place.  There were actually a good number of people out.  Like us, they were probably curious and a little bit stir crazy.  Two days stuck in an apartment isn’t easy.  Thankfully the electricity didn’t go out, so we got to watch The Trip and a plow through a couple of tubs of Haagen Dazs.

As for the actual storm, it was an altogether unexciting event – some wind, bouts of hard rain – and the sun was shining by 11:30am this morning.  We’re just hoping no trees came down upstate.

We have one more summer weekend upstate and I’m already feeling anxious about all the things we didn’t do.  No theater.  No Tanglewood.  No MassMoCA.  No tennis.   What did we do?

We hiked.

We entertained.

We harvested blueberries from our backyard.

We had not one, but two delicious meals at Nudel.

We expanded our cocktail-making abilities.

We swam.

We grew cucumbers, squash and green beans in our garden.

We grilled tandoori chicken for the first time.

We were guests at a couple of really delicious dinner parties.

And, I completely overhauled a pair of side chairs (not quite finished…).

Now fall is upon us and with it, country fairs and festivals.  I’ve started to update the website with a list of them, but don’t be surprised if come November I’m posting about my guilt surrounding all the fall activities we missed.  I definitely have a tendency to overbook our weekends, partially because there’s so much to do, and partially because it’s where I most enjoy myself these days.  I think Anuj would prefer we stay home more, but as soon as read about X festival or hear that Y is free to get together, I’m calculating how I can squeeze it all in.  I’m realizing that our life upstate involves a level of activity I haven’t had in NYC for ages.

Photo: Tony Cenicola for The New York Times

More and more, people are hyping up the small cities that make up the Hudson Valley as the Williamsburgs or Brooklyns or East Villages of the country.

In tomorrow’s New York Times, there will be an article on this very subject.

I’m a sucker for hype.  So when I see these kinds of articles, I get excited.  The New York Times definitely has a thing for the Berkshires and the Hudson Valley.  Between the articles and the house tours, I read about our region far more than I do, say, the Hamptons.  Why?  Well, I’d bet a lot of these writers live or vacation up here.  Dwight Garner recently tweeted from the Berkshires.  Susan Orlean and Ruth Reichl – also big tweeters – live full-time in Columbia County.  John Hockenberry has been weekending here for years.  So the media seems to be tapped in to the area.  But as a more high-level editorial endorsement, I think the Times is also advocating the laid-back, locavore lifestyle.  Sure we like our good restaurants (we had an amazing meal at Nudel last weekend which completely overrode two previous so-so visits), but there’s no real scene.  At least not where we eat.  In fact, I think people tend to come here not to be seen.  They come to hike, kayak, maybe hit a few antique stores.  They come to share a homemade meal with friends on the deck.  A big night out might include a theater performance or trip to Tanglewood.  We don’t have cable, and I can’t name a single weekender friend who does (we do have wifi – we’re not total Luddites).  The celebrities around here are farmers, not Gywneth or P-Diddy.

I’ll stop before I start getting too haughty.

Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

The point is, I see the press and I get excited because it’s a sort of validation of our decision to buy up here.  It’s also great advertising for the folks who may not have considered visiting or even buying themselves.  That said, the last thing I want to see is the Hudson Valley go the road of the East Village (which I was in last night for a so-so meal at Prune) and have it become so overexposed and overdeveloped that the very artists and long-time residents that defined the neighborhood can no longer afford it.  Although the truth is, after last night’s visit I wouldn’t want to live in the East Village again even if I could afford it.  I didn’t recognize any of the buildings or bars, and everyone looked 22.  In plaid.  And topsiders.

It’s a mixed blessing, press.  What do you think?

What’s Doing in Columbia/Berkshire County

Find out what's going on in Columbia and Berkshire county:

Columbia county: CoCo To Do

Berkshire county: Rogovoy Report

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