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My New Business: Rae & Beam Interiors

My New Business: Rae & Beam Interiors

You guys, I cannot believe how freaking excited I am to announce that I have a started an interior decor and staging company! That’s right! I, Rachel, the lawyer, have taken the plunge into a new business venture doing the thing that I might love just as much (more than? differently than?) I love nuclear nonproliferation law. Who knew such a thing existed, right?

It’s called Rae & Beam Interiors, and is located in Seattle, WA, but will be providing online design services to clients all over via the world wide web, if requested. I guess that makes me an international woman of mystery business woman!

The focus of Rae & Beam is on democratic design, AKA affordable interiors for everyone. Rather than pricing my services based on how much money a client spends on furniture or fixtures, I’m just charging for my time. So it really doesn’t matter to me if a client wants to buy all new things or work with pieces they already own or they scored at the thrift store. Not only is this more budget friendly, but it’s better for the planet and makes for more interesting, unique interiors.

Don’t worry, I will keep working full time at my day job, saving the world (AKA reading and answering emails). But I am so excited for this venture that will allow me to flex my creative muscles and require me to learn some new skills (like accounting and establishing a business website).

What inspired me to start a side hustle? Glad you asked! I realized that when I am not working, I am reading interior design and DIY blogs, remodeling my own home, perusing furniture catalogs, or helping my friends/colleagues find the perfect (insert one: office chair, day bed, pair of sconces, etc.) for their (insert one: home office, nursery, guest room, etc.). Additionally, while I am constantly sourcing fixtures, tiles, flooring, and the like for my own remodel, I can only put so many types of floors or tiles in my own home and I didn’t want all that research to go to waste. 😉

The other thing that really inspired me to start my own company was this Podcast: Next Level Life with Preston Pugmire, Episode 1.  The Next Level Life Podcast is specifically designed for creative entrepreneurs, but there is good stuff in there for all humans, not just entrepreneurs. (Seriously, this Podcast is amazing. I cannot recommend it enough.) The first episode is about doing things that make you uncomfortable in order to ultimately be happier. Once I listened to it, I realized that the only reason I hadn’t tried starting my own business was because I didn’t want to start at the bottom. I was scared of not being the best at something, so I wasn’t even trying. How STUPID is that? That makes no sense at all, especially when I type it out. But there you have it. So I pulled the trigger and bought a domain name and the rest is now what you see at Rae & Beam Interiors!

Though my business has not yet been verified by Google or Yelp as a real, legit business yet, that should happening in the next week or so (I have an Instagram account, even). (Shameless self-promotion warning!) So, if you know someone looking for some very affordable help in making their home truly reflect who they are, please send them my way! In addition to offering assistance with renovation planning, interior decoration, and creation of moods boards, I am also offering staging services for homes that are all furnished, but where the owners need help editing and tweaking before listing.

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This is my sweet monogram. So legit.

Thanks so much for your support of my blog over the years, even though posting has been basically non-existent for a while. So, do you have a dream that you have been scared to follow? What’s holding you back? What’s the worst that can happen if you try it? Check out my new website and make sure to listen to Preston’s Podcast, and then get started!

Love,

Rachel

 

Painting the Mantel and Fireplace Black

Painting the Mantel and Fireplace Black

To create some drama in the living room, I decided to paint the mantel and fireplace black. A quick fix for an unattractive and lackluster mantel that makes my life so much better. I like drama in my decor, and very little in my personal life.

The details are pretty basic: use a good primer (Kilz or Bin Zinzer) and then use a good paint to go dark (high quality dark paints require fewer coats). I used Behr Marquee – Totally Black in my house. It’s the same color that I am painting many of the doors, inspired by Daniel from Manhattan Nest. The paint exceeded my expectations, BTW – I highly recommend it – I think it only took two coats to get full coverage, which is really impressive for dark paints.

The flesh toned color of the before was really not going it for me – see below. Yuck. Boring. Yawn.

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And here is the after – WAAAH-BAM!

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I love the black mantel and fireplace together with the brown leather chairs and bright white walls. Also, the black in the curtain hardware speaks to the black in the fireplace. I am really getting on board with the idea that every room needs at least a little black.

Go paint something black in an almost all-white house. It will make your life so much better.

Love,

Rachel

PS. Fun fact – the all-white afghan on the chair to the right of the fireplace in the pic above was made by my mom. She crochets all the time and her work rocks.

Changing Jobs: Insurance Coverage, Cobra and the Affordable Care Act

Legal Disclaimer: I’m not a health care expert, but I am changing jobs and did a fair bit of research to figure out how switching jobs will impact my insurance and liability under the Affordable Care Act.  I thought I would share, since finding this information was not as straightforward as I had hoped. Keep in mind that this is NOT legal advice! Even though I am lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and everyone’s insurance can be a little different. So make sure to talk to your HR person to ensure that you have all the right information for your specific situation.

At my current job, my insurance runs for the whole month, so if I work just one day in that month, I am covered until the end of the same month.

At my new job, insurance coverage begins on the first of the month after the day you start. So, for example, if I started work on September 2, 2014, I would not be covered by their insurance until October 1, 2014.

This could result in about a month-long insurance gap for me.  There are two considerations with this:

  1. Could I be subject to a penalty under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?
  2. What happens if I get hit by a bus during that period?

Answers:

(1) Fortunately, if you only have a small gap in coverage (less than 90 days), there is no penalty under Obamacare. Score!

(2) But what about that bus? (Knock wood!)  Well, it turns out that most businesses offer Cobra. (Businesses with more than 20 employees are usually required to offer this by law; ask your HR person.)   Cobra is essentially an option to pay your own insurance premium to maintain the insurance that your current employer offers, even after you have a “qualifying event.”  In other words, Cobra is a legal requirement that your boss allows you to maintain the company’s insurance even after stop working there.  Usually you will be responsible for paying the premium; your employer will not pay it, but you can stay on the same plan.  It’s not exactly cheap to buy this type of insurance, but it may be a good option for some.

But, Rachel, what is a “qualifying event?” In my case, the “qualifying event” is leaving my current job. It is usually anything that causes you to lose coverage. More info is here.

When you have a qualifying event (leave your job), you are given a form by your HR person that gives you 60 days* to decide whether you want to enroll in Cobra.  When you do sign up, the coverage applies retroactively back to the date of the qualifying event.  So if between the time that I leave my job and before the 60 days are up, if I get hit by a bus, I can then sign up for Cobra after the bus accident and those medical expenses would be covered as if I never had any gap in coverage. Great, right?

The other good part is that if at the end of 60 days, I have not encountered any buses or other tragic mishaps (god willing), then I do can choose not to sign up for Cobra, pay no additional money and not be subject to the Affordable Care Act penalty.  Keep in mind that this only works were your final day of insurance at your current job is less than 60 days before the date on which your new insurance would kick in – otherwise, you don’t get the luxury of waiting to see if something happens to you during that gap, you may have to pay the premium for Cobra before your new insurance starts.

Here is some [marginally] useful information about who is exempt from Obamacare penalties, about how Cobra works, and what to do if your employer does not offer Cobra.

I hope you found this somewhat helpful, even though it doesn’t involve cookies or painting or power tools.

And, remember to look both ways before crossing the street!

With love,

Rachel

P.S. KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!

* The 60 days begins from the latest of either: the date of the qualifying event, the date that coverage actually ends due to the qualifying event, or the date on which you learn that you are required to inform your HR person and health plan about a qualifying event.  In my case, the 60 days will start on the day my insurance ends – the last day of the month in which I stop working.

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Updating Thrift Store or Garage Sale Art

Sometimes you find some cheap art at a thrift store or a garage sale. It’s alright, but it’s not awesome. Here is what a little bit of paint and a few glasses of wine can do. I got this weird old duck painting at a garage sale for $4. My boyfriend thought I overpaid. . .

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You can take a cute, but ho-hum duck and make it into a bright statement piece.

I painted the frame black with some paint that I had on hand. And I went in with the bright blue and some other vibrant colors to liven it up.  I just used acrylic paints.

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It’s not a masterpiece, but it does help fill in my gallery wall.  And I think the duck is cute. You likely remember that I have a seriously love of bird art. (Here and here.)

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Also, I’ve decided to just accept the fact that my photography skills aren’t great and post the pictures of my projects, as is. If I keep waiting until I get good at photography or have the time to stage perfect photos, I will never post on the blog. (After sitting in front of a computer for 10 or 11 hours a day at work, I can hardly bring myself to open my laptop on the weekends, let alone during the week; so I find I do all these DIY projects but cannot bring myself to share them since it requires sitting at the computer.)

Anyway, I hope you still like my abbreviated posts and real life quick phone photography.

Go find some cheap art and make it awesome.

Love,
Rachel

 

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

Out of my comfort zone: Tomato Red

In my decorating, I’ve been sticking to blue, white and yellow. I know my boyfriend likes them, I know they look good together, and they are safe.  I would throw in more pink as often as possible, but that makes the man a little uncomfortable.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

Here she is with nothing in her. Next to my insect poster.

So when I started painting this cabinet for the kitchen a light teal color, I thought it would be fine because it was blue-ish and we generally agree on blue. I had rolled on one coat, and was starting on the second coat when he came out. He saw what I was doing and goes, “We’re painting it that color? I thought we were done with that color.”

And with that, we were on the way to the hardware to pick out a new color that we could both agree on. The deal was that I would buy the paint, and if I didn’t like it, he would buy replacement paint and the paint for the next thing that I wanted paint. I could live with that.

I wanted to go with a fuschia. I figured the kitchen was my space and so I would do what I wanted and get away with bright pink. But that apparently was not in the cards. After a lukewarm discussion in the paint aisle (I won’t say it was heated, but it was definitely not room temperature), I selected a bright red – bordering on pink and orange.  As the paint was being mixed, I was getting more and more apprehensive.

Doesn't she look nice with my aqua bowls?

Doesn’t she look nice with my aqua bowls?

I left the hardware store in a sour mood – really questioning this decision. There is nothing red in the apartment. It is not going to go with anything. I pouted the whole way home. But, boyfriend reminded me of the deal, and I sucked it up and tried to get excited.

Then, I thought about the great bedroom makeover from Kristin on the Hunted Interior – the one with the Kate Spade pallet of red, pink, aqua, teal and black.  I loved that room and it had both tomato red and lots of cooler blue tones.  I also thought about the bright red secretary and red drawers from Jenny at Little Green Notebook.  I swallowed my fear and started painting.

FIVE coats of paint later (ladies and gentlemen, buy the best quality paint you can when going dark. I didn’t even buy the cheapest and it still took FIVE coats to get the coverage I wanted), and I was in L-O-V-E. The color was soooo good. And sooooo bright. And so unlike things I’ve done before. Breaking my mold felt so good. I was finally liberated from my self built prison of white, blue and yellow. Finally, I was free to mix colors with reckless abandon (OK, maybe with just *more* abandon than I previously had done).

It’s funny, because in college and even when I was younger, I used to decorate with whatever pleased me. Things were usually super saturated bright colors and jewel tones, and everything generally went well together, even if it wasn’t exactly stylish. Somewhere along the line, I stopped just buying and selecting things I liked, but started selecting the things that I thought I should use. The result: I was fairly unsatisfied with my apartment – it felt pretty, but not very me.

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This kitchen cabinet is the start of something new. While I will still have to compromise to get the boyfriend to go along with whatever I am feeling, I have learned that following my gut instinct has the best results. While I was busy trying to please others, I wasn’t pleasing my boyfriend’s design tastes nor my own. Go figure.

We love the red. It’s fun and different and the start of a new era.

What do you think? What have you done decorating-wise that made you uncomfortable but turned out great?

Love,

Rachel

Farro (or Quinoa), Feta & Grape Salad

Posted on
Farro (or Quinoa), Feta & Grape Salad

BLOG FAIL! I haven’t posted in three months. I am back at law school for final semester, and that’s been pretty time consuming. I have done a fair amount of cooking, arts and crafts, but I haven’t had the time or energy to post.

I wrote the blog post below shortly after spring break (2 months ago) but never uploaded the pictures to post it until now. I am not going to edit it for time content, because (1) I am lazy; (2) I am in the middle of finals; and (3) my rant about winter still stands. It’s now sorta spring in NYC, though it should almost be summer and the seasons are taking their own sweet time rolling in. In other news, Punxsatawney Phil might start looking for another job.

Original post follows:image1

This winter is DRAGGING. I mean, I thought Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow and winter is supposed to be over already?

Because I get so sick of winter, I start pretending it’s spring. Doing things like wearing sandals even though it’s really too cold for them. I do it to spite nature, but in reality, I just get cold feet. Whatever. It’s my own personal form of protest against winter. It may or may not be very effective. Take that, WINTER!

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One thing that I find is great for spiting winter without giving me frostbite is making yummy food that reminds me of warmer climes. This farro (or quinoa), feta and grape salad does just that. It’s got a great mix of textures. It’s a slightly warm salad, so it deals well with the winter chill, while being reminiscent of a warm weather meal that could be eaten on a porch or at a picnic table.  Plus, it makes great leftovers. Oh, and it’s super healthy. And really easy make. So basically, it’s freaking awesome.

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Cook according to package instructions:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups farro (or quinoa)

Meanwhile, saute in olive oil:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of diced celery

After about 5 minutes, add:

  • 1/4 cup craisins or yellow raisins. Continue cooking the onion mixture until its tender (maybe another 10 minutes).

Dice (but do not cook):

  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes (I just cut these in half, do not dice)

When farro (or quinoa) is done cooking, mix in the onion/celery mixture. Let cool for a little bit.

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup or so crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Chopped pepper
  • Grapes

At this point, you can season with salt and pepper. Do not start salting the salad before you add the feta. The feta is pretty salty, so you may only need to add a little additional salt (or none at all).

While salad is still warm, serve over big bed of spinach. This recipe makes many servings (at least four or five, and then some leftovers – that’s how I roll).

If you want, you can switch out the raisins/craisins for fresh pomegranate seeds. Or, if you felt like really going for it, you could use BOTH the craisins/raisins AND pomegranate seeds! What?!?!

Ooooh oooohh! If you have access to fresh mint, some fresh mint in this salad would be awesome. Man! Why didn’t I think of that before I ate the last of these leftovers. Oh well. Next time.

Eat outside, even if it’s only 50 degrees, and pretend it’s summer.

Love,

Very Cold Rachel

PS. The sun was shining when I took these pics because I was in San Diego. It was not nearly so lovely in NYC.

Spicy Shrimp and Mushroom Soup

Spicy Shrimp and Mushroom Soup
I wish I had a bowl right now.

I wish I had a bowl right now.

It’s soup weather!

Inspired by this lovely soup that I saw on a Beautiful Mess, I wanted to make a spicy shrimp soup. I didn’t have the pineapple from that recipe, so I improvised. It’s super yummy, and healthy, and satisfying after a run on a cold winter’s day.

Warm and spicy and healthy, too!

Warm and spicy and healthy, too!

You will need:

1/2 yellow pepper

1/2 orange pepper

2 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 pound deveined, de-tailed shrimp

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

4 roughly chopped gloves of garlic

1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce (I always start small and slowly add more so I don’t hurt myself)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 very thinly sliced carrot

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (low sodium)

Salt to taste

Spicy shrimp soup with rice.

Spicy shrimp soup with rice.

 

1. Sauted peppers, carrots and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon coconut oil in saute pan until a little browned, but still the peppers are still crisp. Transfer to soup pot.

2. In same saute pan, saute the shrimp with the garlic until lightly browned. Add to soup pot.

3. Add the broth, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, other tablespoon of coconut oil, sriracha, soy sauce. Play with the salt, soy sauce and sriracha to taste. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, until heated through.

4. Serve over small bed of brown basmati rice.

5. Enjoy!

Makes 3 lady-servings, probably 2 man-servings.

Love,

Rachel

PS. Not to be super preachy, but I generally try not to eat shrimp, because shrimp farming is incredibly bad for the environment (as in after a year or two of shrimp farming, the mangroves where the farm is barely sustain any more life). Trader Joe’s now sells wild caught Argentinian shrimp, which costs a little more money. It is a much better alternative to farmed shrimp. For more details on sustainable seafood and what is the best to eat, check out this website.

New Year’s Resolutions

I usually skip the resolutions. Last year, I figured I wasn’t going to keep them anyway. So this year, I wanted to simplify my resolutions to make them easy to follow. And to say them in a public forum to get maybe a little accountability. There are only three.

1. Floss more. I probably floss three times a week – but that’s really not enough. I used to floss everyday and it felt great. The more you floss, the better and better it starts to feel. I don’t know why I stopped flossing daily, but I want to get back to that. Don’t judge me, please!

2. Eat more fruits and veggies. When I am studying (which I do a lot of), it is so easy to forget to eat the daily five to seven servings of fruits and veggies. I want my five a day (at least!) and now I resolve to seek out those darned fruits and vegetables!

3. Run my second half marathon. Now, it’s true that after my first half marathon (in September) I hurt my hip and gimped around for 3 weeks. But I figure that’s because I didn’t really have enough time to train (8 weeks is cutting it pretty darn close) and only trained up to 11(ish) miles before the race.

To prevent that from happening this time, I am signing up for a 15k in Brooklyn that is about 2 months before the SF half marathon. That way, I will already be at about 10 miles well before the half, so that I have enough time to train for miles 10, 11, 12 and 13. Those are the worst miles. The evil miles. The miles that make your hip hurt for weeks.

Oh, and I’m going to add more cross-training and core-work into my half-marathon prep, including lots of hip exercises.

And when I get back from training runs, I am going to eat a piece of fruit and floss my teeth. Take that, 2013!

With love. And floss. And running. And fruit.

Rachel

PS. The SF half marathon is the perfect time of the year for me – it is about a month after law school finals and month before I take the bar. That way I won’t be completely sedentary while studying, but I also won’t have to be doing 2 hours runs on the weekends when I need to be hitting the books. Woot!

A Bathroom Redo

A Bathroom Redo

This post took me months to finalize. I did the work over Labor Day weekend (in September), and now you finally get to enjoy. I kept thinking that I would take more and better pictures, but I should know better by now, right?

Anyway…

Not to brag or anything, but I have the best boyfriend in the whole freaking world. I could list a hundred reasons why he is the best boyfriend in the whole world, but that would be annoying. Suffice to say, he’s pretty great. So I wanted to do something special for his birthday. Therefore, I decided to redo his bathroom. He lives in a super old building that has not been very well-maintained, so most undertakings are pretty daunting.

The inspiration for the color combinations came from The Little Green Notebook. The bathroom featured on her blog is almost exactly the same layout/style as my boyfriend’s bathroom. And Jenny has a great eye.

Here are some before pics. Yeesh.

Before 1.

Before 2. Drab.

Before 3. Ugly steam pipes that burn the holy hell out of you. Poorly painted door.

As you can see from the before pictures, this bathroom was in desperate need of a redo. He lives in city housing, so on the few occasions when they do repaint or repair things, they do it rather poorly. For example, in the bathroom, instead of using a proper primer, the contractor had painted latex paint over an oil based semi-gloss. Because this is NOT the best way to paint over semi-gloss oil paint, the latex paint on top was literally peeling off in sheets (see “Before 4” picture below).

Before 4. Cracks in the plaster paint, from when I had taken down some weird shelving ages ago. The latex paint coat that was most recent was no longer adhering to the semi-gloss oil (lead?) paint that was below it.

I was worried about trying to remove all the latex paint, because given the age of the building I suspected the oil based paint below the latex was lead, so I could not sand it down or scrape it. This presented a problem, obviously.  To repaint, I would need a surface that would take paint, and semi-gloss oil paint does not take paint well without sanding.

So here is what I did:

1. I peeled off as much of the peeling latex paint as I could, without sanding or scraping to avoid releasing lead paint dust.

2. I patched holes with spackle and sanded the spackle smooth once dried (being careful not to sand the surrounding suspected-lead-based paint).

Spackle the cracks – I used one that was pink when wet and dried to white so you know it’s been enough time.

3. I wiped down the walls to remove all spackle dust so that everything was clean.

4. I primed the WHOLE bathroom with oil-based Kilz primer. This stuff is AMAZING. It sticks to almost anything, and in a bathroom is great because it can paint right over mold or mildew (which fortunately wasn’t a problem in this bathroom). Just don’t use an expensive brush because after painting with oil paint, it’s often just easier to throw away the brush.

Sapphire Blue walls. They are a little darker than shown here. The art in the top frame is not staying – the piece I ordered for that frame had not arrived yet. 

5. I painted above the chair rail with Behr Sapphire Sparkle in satin. I would have preferred to use eggshell, but in a bathroom you want at least a satin because it’s more water-repellant.

6. I painted below the chair rail and the trim in ultra white semi-gloss (not sure which color exactly but it was whatever I had laying around).

Jute wrapped pipe.

7. I wrapped the heating pipes (or at least started to, I need to finish this) with jute rope. I will post more information on how to do this later. I have burned myself on these pipes more times than I care to admit. (See picture above).

8. I added manly accessories – wooden and brass frames, thick stripe shower curtains, bicycle art.

So much better, right?

The shower curtain is from West Elm.

The frames are from TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. The darling clip art pictures are from http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/. She has tons of free vintage printable clip art. I love that octopus print.

The basket is from TJ Maxx, and I spray painted it gold so it matched better. I also hung brass towel hooks on the back of the door. Many towel hooks is an important thing!

I use Zep mold and mildew cleaner to clean the white tile grout until it was mostly white. This took a while and I ruined one of my favorite pairs of pants because Zep contains a fair amount of bleach. (The picture below is a before – I don’t have an after picture).

Dirty “before” tile. I forgot to take the picture of the after, but it’s much much better.

Boyfriend loved it. I love it. It still needs some work, but it’s a vast improvement and makes the place feel so much homier.

I screwed these pretty glass drawer pulls into the bamboo over-the-toilet thing so that we could hang hand towels from them.

This bathroom is small and really hard to photograph. If I get my life together, I may post better pictures. If I don’t get my life together (the more likely of the two options), you will just have to use your imagination and trust me that the transformation is awesome.

One more final before and after comparison:

Before 2. Drab.

So much better, right?

Love,

Rachel

Laptop Cover with Washi Tape

Laptop Cover with Washi Tape

Here’s a quick fun project. I went to Japan last month and bought a bunch of Washi tape – super fun colored/patterned masking tape. I have seen it all over Pinterest and couldn’t wait to get my hands on some.

Laptop case decorated with Washi tape. Fun, right?

Then, I happened to need a new laptop cover, so I bought one on amazon.com.

Guess what: Washi Tape + Laptop Cover = Personalized Awesome Laptop Cover.

I am loving my big chevrons.

The tape won’t hold up for more than a few weeks, I am guessing. I take my laptop to class everyday, so it faces a lot of wear and tear. This makes this project a low-budget, easily changeable way to express myself.  (Also, I know the lines aren’t perfect, but it’s not permanent, so who cares?)

I wish the colors turned out truer to real life, but I took the pics with my phone. Oh well – you get the idea.

Love,

Rachel