Guest Post: Prep Your Space for Spring!

Well, hello there! I'm Sara, but my friends call me Bee. My love for interior design started around the age of 7, when I began insisting on rearranging my bedroom every week. After graduating from High Point University with a BS in Interior Design, I put my love for color and composition to the test with a career in visual merchandising. The Burrowing Bee first came about in 2011 as a creative outlet and homage to everything design. It's ever evolved since then, with the purchase of my first home, a 1940s bungalow in dire need of a fix-up. I've recently ventured out on my own in the hopes of helping people all over achieve the places and spaces of their dreams, while continuing to share as I create my own. Need help with your space, but don't know where to start? Let's set up a consultation, I'd love to help!

Prep Your Space for Spring!

The weather down south has been teasing us lately, 80 degrees here, 40 degrees there. Every day I wake up not knowing if I’ll be walking the dog in flip flops or cozy boots. Nevertheless, I’ve started getting ready for the warmer weather by taking these seasonal, never fail steps. Who doesn’t love a change of season! Here are four ways to prep your apartment for spring without spending a fortune!

Step One: Add Greenery

Not only do plants liven up a space, but choosing the right ones can really clear up the air. Spider plants, English ivy, and rubber plants to name a few, are great oxygen creating choices. You can display them all together, or spread them out throughout the house for little lively points of interest.

Step Two: Lose the Layers

I love cozying up under a stack of blankets and pillows as much as the next person, but there’s something so refreshing about peeling away the layers. Fold up your blankets and keep them near by in a cute basket or on top of a side chair. You’ll still have easy access for those days when all you want to do is take a nap with the windows open. A coverlet or quilt is a great lightweight, spring option to keep handy!

Step Three: Clear the Entryway

Whether you’re in the city or down south, there is nothing more annoying than a cluttered entryway. Piles of shoes and winter coats make for a depressing first impression, and hallelujah it’s time to clean them up! Tuck the winter coats away in the closet or underneath a bed. You can style your hooks with your go to grocery bags and a pair of rain boots, just in case. Just past the front door is a great spot to showcase your favorite spring time hats as well!

Step Four: Organize

This is my last and personal favorite step! Maybe it’s weird, but I organize when I’m anxious (or happy, or sad, or awake). The first thing we did when we bought our house was replace the cabinets surrounding the kitchen window with open shelves. This immediately flooded our otherwise seemingly small kitchen with light and gave us plenty of display space for our favorite baking necessities. Whether it’s shelves, rails, or hooks, you can’t go wrong with organizing out in the open. Add some greenery to the mix and you’ve got yourself a fully loaded Spring time kitchen. Now, don’t you feel better?

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway, on a Budget

One of my absolute favorite rabbit holes to fall down is the great wide world of weekend getaway travel. I've spent countless hours scrolling through feeds of idyllic cottages surrounded by birch trees, beach side escapes, spa vacations in the mountains, and the ever popular "traipsing through a vineyard" posts. I've fantasized about picking up and just taking off for a weekend à la Vogue Magazine for as long as I can remember. Not a a care in the world, floppy hat and perfectly curated outfits in tow. Here's the thing though- floppy hats make me look like an absolute jerk. Perfectly curated outfits take me days to plan. (Have we discussed that I'm an over planner?). Also, let's just real talk for a second: the entire idea of picking up and "taking off for the weekend" is a huge function of privilege. If you live in a city the cost of renting a car, tolls, staying overnight, meals, and even the aforementioned winery tour fee all add up really quickly. Don't even get me started on boarding dogs.

A few weeks ago, instead of falling down yet another rabbit hole of jealousy coupled with "how can people afford this?!" thoughts, I decided to plan a weekend trip. Something special for Ian's birthday which would allow us to explore upstate New York but in a way that wouldn't break the bank.

  1. First, I chose a weekend that wasn't super popular. Ian's birthday, usually the first weekend of April, is still fairly chilly in New York so most people aren't raging to get out of the city.
  2. Found a hotel that wasn't on the beaten path. (The Hamptons are out of the question and also not the only place to go outside of NYC. Don't let Vogue and Harper's feed you lies.) I knew I wanted to stay on the water in the Hudson River Valley but the city of Hudson, NY can get quite pricey so, my search focused on the surrounding small towns.
  3. Found a nearby winery with an affordable tasting/entrance fee. We were driving, one stop for wine would be enough.
  4. Picked one meal to splurge. Husband's birthday dinner, naturally.
  5. Limited our adventure to one night. Why? Boarding the dogs for an entire weekend is incredibly expensive ($300!). Also, the absolute last thing I want to do after work on a Friday is drive for three hours. Kicking things off after a good night's sleep and leaving the work week completely behind felt far more luxurious. Saturday morning through early Sunday evening is the perfect amount of time to getaway and get back. 
The Stewart House in Athens, NY.

The Stewart House in Athens, NY.

I'm not sure if we got lucky or discovered a diamond in the rough, but last weekend felt like something out of a movie. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful or relaxing experience. The Stewart House is a small, intimate hotel located right on the Hudson River in the small town of Athens, NY. We pulled up after exploring a local winery and were greeted by the warmest, kindest staff. They truly went above and beyond. I'm not just saying that because they did a good job. I've never stayed anywhere where the manager insisted, several times, that we take our time checking out. "Seriously, ignore the check out time. Lounge, enjoy!". Believe me when I say we took full advantage, especially after we saw our room.

Every detail, every piece of furniture, even the paint accents make The Stewart House feel like stepping into an alternate universe where life is actually filtered through Instagram. I could write a book about how the decor is straight out of Design Sponge meets Vanity Fair mixed with Dwell fantasy but I'd rather just show you. Some photos from the weekend are below, I've been taking them in all week and already planning our return trip.

Our bedroom suite was an actual dream. A bathtub in the bedroom...

Our bedroom suite was an actual dream. A bathtub in the bedroom...

Directly below our room, just two flights down these copper patina and turquoise stairs, is The Stewart House restaurant. We celebrated Ian's birthday with steak, squash + sage ravioli, and the sweetest tiramisu with a birthday candle. I even took my (sixth... oops) glass of Prosecco back to the room with me after our waitress topped it off and insisted I couldn't just leave it! Woman after my own heart.

Also, I know- I can't take a straight photo to save my life. Stay with me people, slowly but surely my photography skills will improve. That's part of this whole "realistic approach to blogging thing", right? I think so...

Also, I know- I can't take a straight photo to save my life. Stay with me people, slowly but surely my photography skills will improve. That's part of this whole "realistic approach to blogging thing", right? I think so...

Bubbles before bed, that's how you know it's really vacation.

Bubbles before bed, that's how you know it's really vacation.

Breakfast nook on the second floor of the hotel. Fresh coffee, juice, cereal bar, delicious pastries to start off the morning. I thought I'd go out and explore but...

Breakfast nook on the second floor of the hotel. Fresh coffee, juice, cereal bar, delicious pastries to start off the morning. I thought I'd go out and explore but...

... spent the entire morning on Sunday reading + eating in that tub.

... spent the entire morning on Sunday reading + eating in that tub.

Most relaxed I've ever been. Ever.

Most relaxed I've ever been. Ever.

Happy husband.

Happy husband.

I'll wrap up this love poem to our weekend away by saying that it's totally plausible to take a break from the city without spending a fortune. (Also, floppy hats are overrated.) This post wasn't sponsored at all so a little planning and figuring out ways around what's dictated as the right approach by magazines and most travel blogs is the way to go. Figure out what you like, what you can afford, and make it work for you. In my case, it's eating coffee cake in a giant white tub on the banks of the Hudson River the same week as I wrote out a rent check. Huzzah!

It's Spring! (But Winter killed all your plants.)

Spring is creeping into New York very slowly this year. Sunny days are followed by stretches of rain and cold, followed by a bit of sun, then back to cold rain... Last weekend, I finally had enough of waiting for warm weather. I picked a day and announced to no one in particular that it was not going to be cold anymore. (I do this every single year.) Then I got to work on changing the season in my life. I've mentioned before that I view the shift in seasons as a great chance to hit refresh on everything that's grown stale in my apartment and day-to-day. Over the next few weeks, as we dive into April, I'm going to share with you how I go about sprucing up my home for the warmer months.

First on the list: Plants.

Here's a confession: I do not have a green thumb.

I love plants. I buy plants. I kill plants.

Same cycle every time.  This is especially true during the winter when light is sparse and radiator heat make the apartment feel like a dry tropical igloo.

Before you say, "Are you following the instructions on the plant insert? Are your plants getting enough light? Are you pruning the philodendron? Are you propagating the jade?? Are you misting your succulent and singing to it?!". YES. YES. YES. I do all the things a person is supposed to do to keep plants alive. But let's keep a few things in mind:

  1. I live in a small apartment where sunlight shining through windows is the highest commodity. (In the cold months it's almost non-existent.) Finding space for all planters on the windowsills is not a thing.
  2. I have two dogs which means plants need to be non-toxic to animals. All plants which are toxic need to be on a high enough surface. (Most plants that I want are toxic to dogs because... life.)
  3. Space. Small apartments look cluttered quickly. Anything brought in must be strategic and well thought out so that G-d forbid, if you die, the NYT doesn't write a "local woman found dead in hoarder apartment surrounded by normally hard to kill plants" piece.

In light of the above, it is all but certain that when winter rolls around any plant which was happy as a clam through November is going to start looking miserable come February. This year, after much experimentation, I finally found a system that works in keeping my plants alive and even better, reviving them from near death. My very novice, not at all scientific, super trial by fire methodology is outlined below. If you are a pro-level plant whisperer, I suggest you look away now. If you're like me and just want to make your browning plant green again, read on and please share any tips and tricks you have!

First let me start by showing you the state my plants were in just a few weeks ago. These were taken the last week of February.

Safe to say they were near the end. I mean, look at this guy- totally bald! Not even a single leaf left. Sad and pathetic! I won't even show you the jade in my bathroom. The leaves looked like the back of an elephant's hide.

I almost considered scrapping everything and going to Home Depot to start fresh but then remembered I write a blog about sustainable practices so... here we are. (I only bought one thing to help me along: fresh, organic potting soil.) I lined all the counter tops in the kitchen with plastic bags and got to work on my mass revival.

Reviving Plants for the Amateur, Urban Horticulturist

  1. Carefully, gently pull and remove all the dead pieces off of each plant. Go as far as taking off anything that looks dead or dying from the top layer of the soil.
  2. Remove the plant, with the roots, and place on the plastic bag. Evaluate if the roots have rotted or are very dry. Most of my roots were very, very dry.
  3.  Replant with fresh potting soil. Make sure that your roots are about one-third of the way from the bottom of the pot and are snuggling with the new dirt.
  4. Water. Water. Water. I drowned my plants under the faucet in the sink for 15-30 seconds each.
  5. Place in the areas of the apartment where you have the most sunlight. They don't have to stay there forever but a few days will do a world of good.

After a few days with fresh soil, water, and sunlight the down trodden shrubs will start to perk up. In order to make sure that they keep getting the nutrients they need, take a fork and poke holes in the soil. Now water, water, water. Not just directly into the soil but make sure you're getting the leaves and the buds wet too. This is especially the case with succulents. Water on the actual plant does more good sometimes than in the soil. My jade came back to life after one day of giving the leaves a drink of water.

Most important rule: be gentle.

Pick three day of the week when you have time (I like mornings before work) and start a plant rotation. Water and rotate between the sunniest spots in your apartment. I try not to over water any plants that don't need it, you want to prevent root rot. (Only two of my plants get seats on the sunniest windowsill and consistent watering- basil and an herb box with mint, rosemary, and sage. Without daily sun and water, they start to shrivel up almost immediately.) My rotation takes my philodendron from the bookshelf in the bedroom on Monday to the bookshelf with a bit more sunlight in the living room on Wednesday, to full sun on Saturday by the living room window, then back to it's perch in the bedroom on Monday.

I promise you will see new life in your little garden in just a little while. Once your plants look healthy again you can drop down the rotation to just once every two weeks, but keep an eye on them!

Honestly though, absolute worst case scenario is your plants do not feel the Holy Spirit and they die. Don't beat yourself up. They're plants! Go to Home Depot, pick up a few new babies, and keep them happy for the season! Spring is for starting afresh, after all.

Launching: The Shop

A little over three years ago I started With A Grain Of Salt with the intention of having honest conversations about healthy and sustainable eating on a budget. In that time it has become so much more than a website where I share recipes. It's evolved into a platform for sharing my thoughts and experiences on tackling urban living.

The stress of managing the day-to-day is something I address often on this site. As I dive further into my career, I increasingly realize how important it is to carve out time for my passions outside of work. It feels like such a struggle to find time to sit down and write but when I do, I feel more whole and creative. In order to better myself in this practice, I made an effort to gain insight into how others manage their time. In other words, how do people around me find time to pursue their passions while tackling the routine of normal life. Work, relationships, budgets, stress, rent... you name it. Luckily, I am never thirsty for inspiration.

Aaron Way Padgett's work, featured in the Shop.

Aaron Way Padgett's work, featured in the Shop.

I am surrounded by so many creative people! Friends who work full time jobs as engineers but come home to sew their own clothes. Others who have turned their passion for drawing into successful careers as illustrators. The list really goes on and on.

In order to really tap into my promise of making this space a communal one, I've decided to launch the With A Grain Of Salt Shop. I want to give the artists in my life a platform in my space. Their art is a testament to work/life balance and indulging personal passion through humility, creativity, and sustainable practice.

The idea is to highlight artists whose wares are treasured possessions in my own home and life. Artists whose jewelry I put on to feel strong and beautiful and whose drawings make me smile when I walk past them on my walls. My hope is to give my readers the opportunity to enjoy their talents as much as I do. All items are totally unique, hand made, and sourced through sustainable practices. Also, I've asked all participating artist to donate 10% of their profit to a charity of their choice.

Olga Babushkina's turquoise and inlaid silver necklace. 

Olga Babushkina's turquoise and inlaid silver necklace. 

I hope you, my readers, enjoy this new venture. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at withagrainofsaltblog@gmail.com if you would like to collaborate. I am so excited to launch this new venture and appreciate all the support as I begin this next chapter!