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Back in May, we were given three heirloom tomato plants by a friend of a friend who had grown them from seed in his East Village apartment.  We decided to keep the plants in the city, where we could water them more frequently.

Two of them didn’t make it through the heat wave of June.  One little guy persisted.  By August, he’d grown pretty tall, but only had a few flowers.  Anuj thought it was dunzo.  I had faith.  We continued to water him (it?).

By September, the tomatoes appeared.  More followed.  At one point I counted 14.  We just needed them to ripen before it got too cold.  Last night it was time to harvest.

Allow me to present: our very first tomatoes.  Ever.

Better late than never.

(now what to do with them…)


2009 was not the best year.  We won’t get into the details, but let’s just say the economy took a direct toll on our household(s).  After many months, things appear to have stabilized, but we’re proceeding with caution.  The passing not only of a calendar year, but an entire decade, helps us feel like we’re really starting afresh.

Before I launch into my list of non-resolutions for 2010, I thought I’d take a brief moment to recount some of the gifts the last decade has brought me.  In no particular order:

1. My graduate school education.

2. The New York debut of two of my full length plays – with pretty sweet casts.

3. My sweet, spirited niece and nephew.

4. Our Harlem apartment with killer party terrace.  It’s a rental they’ll have to drag us out of.

(that was our first summer when we were using the fold-up picnic table my grandmother made.)

5. Two amazing trips to parts of the world I never dreamed I’d visit and now dream of returning to: Japan and South Africa.

(pictures are on the computer that died last year.  someday, we may scrape together the four figures we were quoted to resuscitate it.)

6. Meeting…

…then marrying

my husband Anuj, whom I love stubbornly, dramatically and emphatically.

Update:  Anuj doesn’t understand what loving him ‘stubbornly’ means and wants me to replace it with another word.  Does anyone else understand what I mean by stubbornly or is it confusing?  I stand by the word choice, but will happily add a fourth, more commonly used descriptor of my love: Deeply.  And lest anyone mistake my love as common, I’ll throw the poetic Steadfastly into the mix.  All good?

7. My family that continues to grow through marriages and births.

8. Our first real home and only true escape.

Discovering Columbia and Berkshire county has become an obsession of unmatched pleasure and excitement for both of us.  Our friends and family can attest: we won’t shut up about it.

Now that I’ve just listed the most important people/events/moments of the last decade, I feel less crabby about the past year.  In fact, my lip is quivering and I’m feeling downright sappy.  Perspective, it’s a beautiful thing.

Happy New Year & Decade.

Oh, and as for what’s in store for 2010…I will post soon.  Right now I’d like to ride out this glow.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been upstate due to holiday parties, family events, etc.  But our last trip did result in this:

Being cut down by Anuj and driven back to Harlem where it’s currently sparkling in the corner:

It’s not the biggest tree in the world, but we decided to apply this year’s theme of ‘restraint’ to the holiday decor and gift-giving.  This means there will be no Gift of the Magi happening on Christmas morning.

I did my best to buy only handmade gifts this year (mostly through as a way to keep things personalized and meaningful, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Family member spoiler alert: please stop reading if you want to be surprised on Christmas!

Here’s a sampling of the beautiful items I scooped up as gifts this year.

This print from 12fifteen for my sister-in-law:

These coasters from 12fifteen for my mother and father-in-law:

This adorable print from JHill Design for my nephew:

These recipe cards from Moontree Press (right around the corner from my office in Brooklyn) for my step-mom and step-sister-in-law:

These notecards from Le Canot Rouge for my Dad and step-mom:

And these ornaments from Beehive Kitchenware for my mom:

This is only a slice of my family.  You can imagine the challenge in keeping Christmas affordable.  Initially, I thought the handmade rule was going to be restrictive, but it turned out to be really fun (and easy) to shop from my computer.   Most of the items came with a hand-written note and were beautifully wrapped.

Thanks to the many blogs that recommended these merchants and artists.

The Wettest July in 70 Years“.

And the third coolest June and July on record

Now, I don’t exactly need a newspaper to tell me it’s been raining nearly every day this summer, but it’s nice to have a statistical report that explains my droopy hydrangeas, my spongy backyard, the weeds infesting my driveway, and my nonexistant tanline.

Two winters ago when we bought our place upstate, not everyone got it.  Either we were making an impulsive fantasy-purchase we’d soon regret, or we were sitting on a secret trust fund.  Considering we looked at places for over a year, I don’t think our decision was impulsive.  And a trust fund?  Well that’s just funny (though if we did have a trust fund, it would have been better invested in a second home than the stock market).

The reality is, we could not afford to buy an apartment in New York.  Let me amend that – we probably could have scraped together enough to buy a small one-bedroom somewere (not Harlem which we’re already priced out of) but we were living in a two-bedroom and itching for more space.  Why would we spend more to have less? 

Living in the country was a longtime dream of ours.  We’d been visiting the Berkshires and Columbia County since we began dating, drawn by the good food, beautiful landscape, hiking, theater and music, skiing, antiquing, apple and berry picking – the list goes on.  But our love alone could not finance a home – we had to crunch the numbers.  And let me go Suze Orman on you and tell you that even before the financial meltdown, the numbers made sense.  Our choice was either buy in the city and downgrade our standard of living (smaller apt, fewer weekends in the country, longer commute), or buy in the country and upgrade our standard of living (stay in our two-bedroom rental, regular weekends in the country, a place to raise children and host family, etc. etc.).  Our decision was made: rent in the city, and buy in the country. 

Fast forward a year and a few months.  Now that the market has brought the country to its knees, it seems this crazy decision of ours had some legs.  Click the photo to read more from yesterday’s New York Times (note: that is not a picture of us) .

nytimes squires

We enjoyed a short window of peonies this summer, I think mostly because of all the rain we’ve been having.  I managed to snap a few pictures of them – only after they’d keeled over, and later on our kitchen table in Harlem.

Next spring, we’ll put stakes in the ground and run garden wire through the bushes so the flowers have some support when they bloom.

peonies on the ground



Sorry guys.

peonies in harlem 2009

Almost looks like my wedding bouquet.


Three years ago:


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