Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lovely Lake Michigan

Just as fast as we could settle in our place and find some subletters, we headed to the Paces' home in Michigan for some summer fun. Noah and I always travel in autumn, so we tend to hoard our vacation time in anticipation of fall travel. Thanks to my firm's summer days (gah-lor-ious!) and Noah's ability to work from the road, we enjoyed one of the first summer vacations we've had in years.

Our band of merry travelers made our way north to Lake Michigan and the lovely lakeside town of Hollis. We rode bikes to the beach, jumped off the pier, ate soft-serve apricot ice cream and made s'mores in the fire pit in back. When we weren't doing those things, we were berry picking (straight from the beach to the berry patch), failing to keep up on morning runs with Ashley, exploring farmers' markets and wandering through street fairs.

Upon our return to Ann Arbor, we were treated to a tour of the Big House at University of Michigan. Noah was in heaven getting to see a Heisman trophy and walk on the field. Hayden was a little, "yeah, whatevs." It's gonna take more than the largest college football stadium to impress this four year old.

One hazard of traveling with Ashley Pace, photographer extraordinaire, is that I tend to take very, very few pictures. For a better photo documentary (and frankly, wittier prose), I recommend her account.

As fall blusters away outside my window, I'm just going to revel a few more moments in this:

Frankenstorm (Or, the one where I finally update the blog because of Frankenstorm)

Faithful readers of the blog may recall it took Snowmageddon of 2010 in order for me to get around to taking pictures of our last apartment. True to form, we've been in our new digs for almost 4 months and thanks to another natural disaster, I finally took pictures of the place. I hear you, National Weather Service. I will be much more diligent about posting apartment pictures in the future.

On the hottest day on record, we cleared out of our Battery Park studio and moved on up to the east west side, to a de-lux cozy one bedroom apartment in the sky on the fifth floor of a walk-up. With the help of dear friends and family, we moved miscellaneous items up on Saturday afternoon. And with the help of dear movers, we moved boxes and furniture on Sunday afternoon. And on Sunday afternoon, Noah and I, along with our houseguests - the wonderful Bradshaw cousins - nearly passed out in the heat of a fifth floor apartment with a broken A/C while boxes, bins and bubble wrap overtook the apartment. There is no sense in sugar coating it. It was one crappy night and our Duane Reade fans could not keep up. Bradshaws, we are so sorry.

Now that the temperature has chilled, and there is a place for everything and everything in its place, we are really loving this little haven of ours. The 1970s tile and the one-bum kitchen are even growing on us. It's on a great tree-lined street of brownstones and walk-ups that makes me deliriously happy, and the tall trees out our back windows give a sense of privacy (though, indeed, the police precinct is only a short stone's throw through said trees).

You'll be shocked to know all these pictures were taken at the same time of day. I evidently don't adjust well for backlight. But ah, well - here's the place:

The living room: 

I had grand plans of making that loft a guest loft. And though some guests have braved it, I get a little nervous that someone will sit up too quickly one night and bang their head on the ceiling. When it came time to pack away summer clothes, fans and golf clubs, I finally gave in to the fact this could be a storage loft. And actually, the joy I feel when I open closets and things don't fall on my head is worth it.

The office and bedroom loft:

We opted to ditch our sleigh bed and put our bed up in this loft, in order to have an office and extra space down below. This loft is what really sold us on the place. Going from a studio to a bedroom and then some -- I almost haven't known what to do with myself. Sometimes I open and shut the bedroom door just because  it exists.

The bathroom:

Yeah, it's a bathroom. Not much more to report.

I seem to have missed the kitchen? It's nothing to write home about (and yet, here I am writing "home" about it), but it does the trick. We have yet to starve under its watchful care.

Hope this inspires a visit! We are currently hosting guests #213 and 214 (hunkering down in the storm), and #215 has your name on it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

He Had a Birthday, Shout Hooray!

That Noah is just so stinkin' awesome, sometimes it's hard to think up an idea big enough to celebrate his awesomeness. The idea had been swirling around in my head for a few weeks - Noah loves live music, we have an awesome roofdeck, music on the roof would be neat, Noah also loves berry crumble. How could we get all these things together?

I woke up one Saturday morning, and as Noah slept and I cleaned the kitchen (thinking time), I sent a text to the lovely and talented Bianca Merkley, who happened to be with the equally lovely and talented Amy Vachal, and minutes later, we had live music. I called the concierge and our roof was unnecessarily difficult and spendy (Noah is worth the spend, but we're talkin' - we could have sent each of our guests home with a new puppy). Lightning struck my brain and I sent off a few emails to the Bishops (lay leaders) of the congregations that meet in our church building. And before I knew it, we had a courtyard in Chelsea with our name on it and invitations sent.

We spent the next week amassing and freezing berries, chilling Izze sodas, sweeping, clearing, stringing lights and lighting candles to transform our very "urban" setting into a courtyard concert.

It was the perfect evening celebrating 29 years of the most wonderful man I know.

A sincere and heartfelt thanks to many dear friends who came to celebrate and knock back a few cold ones (of the fizzy, fruity sort) with us.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Is This Thing Still On?

The first half of 2012 has been kind to the Rileys.

I accepted a position with a new firm. Well, new to me. The firm itself is quite established and well-respected in the industry. I feel blessed to do what I do and sit where I sit for 9-13 hours a day. Perhaps less blessed on the 13 hour days. But I'm learning so much and stretching in news ways and what originally felt like drinking from a firehose has slowed to a really strong garden hose on full bore. So that's something.

We took advantage of the respite between jobs to take a winter getaway. To the north. We went NORTH in January! We panicked before we left and spent the day shopping for wool hats and long underwear. It was not in vain, for the week proved to be the coldest of my life (not hyperbole), the second coldest of Noah's - if you count the weeks he was getting the cold shoulder from me in college (hyperbole). But we enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Allreds in Vermont, the slopes of Stratton Mountain Resort, many lovely winter drives together and the European charm of Montreal and Quebec City. Sigh.

Travel tends to be featured heavily on this blog, but oh, how we love to travel. And especially when it's with delightful company. We got both in March when the Merkleys graciously hosted us at Joseph's parents' home in Virginia. We stayed fairly close to home in order to enjoy General Conference that weekend, but that doesn't mean we didn't make time to eat some delicious BBQ or find a giant bird head in an antique store. Because we did. Oh, we did.


April was like winning the lottery, as family visits go. We made a trip to Indiana and finally got to meet the newest addition to the Riley family. Baby M is so mellow. As one of four sisters with one baby brother, to a baby brother with four older sisters, I can attest to the fact this will serve him well.

The next week, we made our way to Boston for a weekend with Chris and Alan. We had a great weekend of long brunches, the Adams estate (second year in a row we've unintentionally gone for free during National Parks Week - holla! It takes a pretty secure nerd to "holla!" National Parks Week.), Boston Common, MIT, Fenway and walks at Walden Pond.

In May, the Riley family party continued with a visit from Christopher and Krystal, who shall from this point forward be known as Krystalpher. We packed the weekend with some of NYC's finest - War Horse at Lincoln Center, Newsies on Broadway, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge - and also the Mets.

Stay tuned for the summer updates...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be Merry.

Ever wish the holiday season could last a few extra months? Well, read our blog and it can. My gift to you. You're welcome.

This Christmas was lovely. Megan, Collin, Noah and I converged on the Pace home for a week of holiday cheer. Our intentions were pure (we'll come to you...) but mostly, that just meant we reaped the benefits of their wonderful hospitality. We wished desperately that Koryn and her clan and our parents could have been there with us, too. I have a feeling Christmas 2013 is going to be off the chain. Because you know how we Furnisses have a tough time staying on the chain...

In addition to delicious home-cooking, fun game nights and belly laughs, the Pace home added that oh-so-delightful ingredient that really makes the holidays magical. The kiddos.
I know it may be obvious and oft-expressed, but oh! how those little ones make the holidays memorable.

Highlights included our dance party - complete with whisk and spatula mics, the most quaint Christmas Village and train ride to the North Pole (Ashley has a much better recap), and serving as Abbey's cheering section when she bravely pierced those lobes. She'd been a little worried about doing it on the previous attempt, so it was definitely something Ash and Justin played cool and let her take at her pace. As someone who has mild panic attacks anytime I even think of pain/needles/anything remotely medical, I knew how much it meant to be brave and git 'er done. I was so proud of her!

(Upon seeing these photos, Ashley nervously asked, "Is that you?! Did you pierce her ears?" No, no. Don't be silly. The 17-year old who certified yesterday pierced her ears.)

 Such a perfect holiday season. Come again soon!