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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!