the first grown-up apartment

This past weekend was a momentous occasion. We were asked to help with the fixing up of the oldest daughter’s first grown-up apartment. The request was simple, “Help me make it look not like a dorm room”.  She asked for advice with picking out paint colors, and then we went one better and went to help her paint. I started by taking some photos of the small apartment and used my Color Capture app to illustrate my ideas.

The entryway was the jumping off point to the color scheme because the most striking feature of the apartment is there – beautiful tall windows that are edged with yellow and green stained glass squares. I thought she should put most saturated color there because the apartment has very low ceilings, and though it is sunny in the living room, the windows are rather small. A saturated color in the entryway would be an interesting highlight and would not be oppressive in the small space. A green for the entryway would bring in the outdoor foliage and the colors of the stained glass in the windows.

A stepfather with an eye for detail is a good thing


I suggested a un-babyish blue for the living room so that the room would feel expansive and sophisticated. The kitchen counter is yellow and the backsplash is grey tile. The existing color for the cabinets was a yellow that made them the focal point of the room when they shouldn’t have been. I thought a light color would make the cabinets recede and make the kitchen look clean and neat. I sent Camelia some samples I made with the Color Capture app and some paint chips look at in the light of the apartment.

the kitchen before. the yellow cabinets dominate and the beige walls were dull

Using my general direction but making her own choices, Camelia picked beautiful colors. She picked Benjamin Moore’s Silver Cloud for the living room/kitchen. It is a luminescent greyish blue color that changes with the light and made the room look soothing and fresh. In the late afternoon sun, a wall might look white one place, a soft grey or blue in another – an interesting chameleon-like color. The white trim of the windows looked crisp against it even though they had not been repainted.

painting the living room in Silver Cloud

the grown-up with very good taste in paint color choices

work-in-progress, benjamin moore’s bavarian cream on the cabinets

For the entryway, she chose a mossy green, Benjamin Moore’s Dark Celery. The kitchen cabinets were painted in a luscious creamy color. It was beautiful to see the paint brushstrokes of the color that is so aptly named Bavarian Cream.

We painted together and laughed and went out to dinner and watched a late movie and then slept over in our daughter’s first grown-up apartment.

harvest arts festival in loisaida’s gardens

Loisaida’s community gardens were abuzz this past weekend as the first Harvest Arts Festival kicked off. Twenty-four of the forty community gardens in Loisaida participated with music, poetry, theater, films and workshops on art, health, fun and environmental concerns.

El Sol Brillante Garden on East 12th St. Harvest Arts Festival.

Loisaida has more community gardens than anywhere else in the city. The gardens are like little kingdoms unto themselves, so different are they from one another. Some are tiny verdant jewels tucked in between narrow tenements with gravel paths and tranquil shade gardens. Others are sprawling meadows with chickens and rabbits roaming free. Some have stages for performance, outdoor film screenings, and yoga. Others have children’s play equipment, tree houses and sandboxes. There are those with individual garden plots –  some sprouting flowers and others growing food. From vacant rubble-filled lots, the gardens were created by people who banded together and occupied the discarded land – seizing the opportunity that the abandonment had created. Today, they are still cared for and grown by dedicated volunteers.

The 1st Harvest Arts Festival was organized by Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS). Here is an excerpt from the program notes written by organizer Charles Krezell: “If you want to study democracy in action, don’t go to Washington, join a garden in Loisaida. These gardens are the purest form of democracy we have in this city. We are groups of people who come together for mutual purpose and try to sort out our differences. Each garden a mini-experiment in government, we come up with our own rules. Some work through consensus, some compromise, some are dictatorships, some oligarchies. They are frustrating and fascinating, dysfunctional and utilitarian all at once. There is social unrest and class warfare over where to plant the dahlias…”

6th & B Garden has a vibrant events program.

The festival was so rich with activity that I actually covered only a sliver of what took place.  Every garden I made it to had lots of food. A celebration of the harvest in the ancient way, with food and friends and community.

Art Rumble outside of Orchard Alley Garden

I went to a workshop on the Bokashi Method of recycling food waste for fertilizer at a beautiful corner garden on 12th St. They have a slot in the fence where folks drop off their food waste and they turn it into good soil with this method. They are now recycling tons more food waste than with the basic composting method and their garden’s soil is rich, black and teeming with earth worms.

Bokashi Workshop

fermented food waste for the gardens

We then headed to La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez Garden where they had a workshop going on about creating mud balls using the same technique of nurturing micro-organisms to clean polluted waterways.

Mudballs and Millie

La Plaza Cultural Garden – Haystack fun

Seed saving envelopes workshop and buttons for sale at 6th & B Garden

Grilling at El Sol Brillante Garden

The Campos Garden was full of whimsical “Litterbugs” made from plastic waste. They also had a really good spread of food there.

The cold snap and rain on Sunday made things fluid and performers moved to gardens with shelters. 9th and C Community Garden was one of those.

It was great to hear the honeyed voice of Odetta Hartman, a Loisaida girl accompanied by Billy Aukstik

Finally, I was lucky enough to encounter the renowned jazz musician Giuseppe Logan sitting in El Jardin del Paraiso playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the soft October rain.

Giuseppi Logan

paper lantern pizzazz

Oona made this pendant lamp for my bedroom. It is all the right good things – cheap, beautiful, and easy to do.

Oona created the lamp in a marathon of TV watching of Law & Order or Hell’s Kitchen late into the night. It is a dramatic light fixture for very little money. I saw a tutorial on Design Sponge – click here for her post with more how-to photos.

So simple to make, it requires only a few materials:

– a round paper lamp shade purchased at Ikea
– paper
– wood glue
– a cool to the touch LED lightbulb. I bought a dimmable one.

This light fixture cost under $20 to make.