Friday, February 29, 2008

adventures in real estate, pt. 1

st. louis has a rich and varied architectural history. frankly, this is part of its allure for us. every urban neighborhood, regardless of location or demographics, teems with gorgeous, original, and built-to-last brick houses - whether they are gingerbread abodes, arts and crafts bungalows, or victorian dwellings.

homes in st. louis can be had for a fraction of the cost of a place in boston or in any east coast city for that matter. comforted by the fact that any house we'd come across would be less than a one-bedroom condo in our current neighborhood, we trudged forward in search of THE house. THE house would have preferably three bedrooms, with space for a workroom/studio, and an actual garage. a garage! yes, you heard that right, fellow bostonians and manhattanites - available, plentiful parking.

we looked and looked...

House Tour House Tour

we saw so many bedrooms...


so many bathrooms...


breathtaking craftsmanship...

original fireplaces

doors with original working transoms

gorgeous staircases

colorful stained glass

butler pantries

i just love this: a woodworker's ode to "mom" over a hallway

for two days or so, we convinced ourselves that this bargain of a house located a bit off the beaten path (make that, waaaay off the beaten path) could be perfect. the house was a former church rectory.


complete with...

six pristine fireplaces (2 not pictured)

working intercoms still labeled "father pippitone", "father barnes," etc.

mail slot

and even a cubby for the religious icon of your choice

the only problem with the rectory was that it also came with a kooky church run by a pastor who revealed he was not so crazy about "people of [our] persuasion" - a serious case of love the sinner, hate the sin. ugh. strike one.

as we continued our research, we discovered that the state of missouri provides large tax incentives in certain districts for those willing to rehab homes and follow historic guidelines. further research revealed that as a small business running out of such homes, we'd be eligible for even more money toward construction. BINGO! no longer where we looking for a turnkey home, we needed to find a shell.

armed with this knowledge, we looked for places like old warehouses and storefronts. many can be had for less than most regular houses and make great live/work spaces. sure, it may not have the original fireplaces and details of a traditional house, but it would be a surprising place within an old shell. who doesn't love a good surprise?

we thought this place would be IT.

cool old storefront, double lot, even an faded advertisement on the side.

unfortunately, this property was not within an eligible historic district. we learned this fact moments before we submitted an offer on the place. dodged that bullet. strike two.

curious about what we ended up with? find out on monday...

Thursday, February 28, 2008


we just returned from our second st. louis house tour. thus, our long blog break. what was supposed to be a 5-day trip ended up being a 2.5-week adventure in real estate. more about that tomorrow.

our first trip was back in october when dabney explored, and i re-explored, possible areas of st. louis where we might want to live. while i always thought i'd want to live in the city's sophisticated central west end, or amongst the hipster students and intellectuals of university city, those places didn't feel quite right this time around. the CWE reminds us much of our current neighborhood - a once-upon-a-time gay neighborhood that has in recent years been overrun by overpriced shops and chi-chi bistros. been there, done that. and even though it's home to the city's best art-house movie theater, u. city didn't have that sparkle for us either. coming from boston, living near a major university... eh.

instead, we found our true "home away from home" in tower grove.

besides being nestled next to one of st. louis' most beautiful city parks, tower grove has a plethora of cheap eats, pubs, and one sizable and very well-stocked asian grocery store. 'nuff said, right? i'll just add that there also happens to be a great lesbian-owned martini bar, lesbian-owned coffeehouse, mid-century vintage shop, and public library - all within walking distance.

might as well call it "ann-&-dabney-ville."

and if you're still wondering why... st. louis? perhaps this article says it best.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


after careful consideration, we're moving to... MISSOURI - st. louis to be precise.

before you go asking "why missouri?" you must remember, or if you didn't know by now, i hail from this part of the country and still have family there.

before you go wondering "is dabney being taken hostage?" the answer is no. she is going on her own free will.

before you say aloud "i'll believe it when i see it (as many of our friends have)," the move will be happening as soon as this summer. we've bought a house.

before you go on thinking that we'll start to change and look like the following celebrities if they moved to MO, well, you might be right...

here's ashlee simpson, if she moved to the show me state.
ashlee simpson

the beckhams, if they had chosen MO over CA

pam anderson, if she had been my 3rd grade teacher

sharon stone would make a fine missourian

sarah jessica parker, 4H -er extraordinaire

Sunday, February 24, 2008


it's not that we have been ignoring you, dear reader.

we've been struggling to come forth with upcoming changes in our lives and i guess, in a sense, have avoided talking about it all together - even with the people we talk on a regular basis - not just in our virtual world.

after living in the boston area for ages now (myself since undergrad, uh what is that? 1994, and dabney since 1997), we are moving.

much more soon... i promise.

Friday, February 08, 2008


i sometimes dream of minimalist interiors. it seems like it would be so serene and calming. call it cold. call it soulless, but i wish i could live like this.

...though i know these people must either a) own giant walk-in closets or b) have a secret attic or basement that looks like a warehouse.

dabney and i have a tendency to acquire... at craft fairs, on trips, at ikea, etc. lately, our apartment seems to be a magnet for all sorts of random tchotchkes. it's a weakness. because of this tendency to acquire, which i think we can both say we have inherited from our mothers, we will never live like the pictures above. instead, our apartment seems to be a magnet for all sorts of random tchotchkes.

Bob Ross Blocks
on our bookshelf sit these tiny blocks featuring bob ross. if the name rings a bell, he was that afro-donning pbs artist that made "woosh" sounds with each brushstroke. he can been seen here, but he's better immortalized here.

we also happen to own these miniature bowling pins that we picked up on a recent trip to st. louis. (i don't exaggerate when i say "random tchotchkes.") once upon a time these were bowling prizes, the one on the right is inscribed "bruning bowling league - lynn geraty high game 164."

Miniature Bowling Pins

i don't know how certain things even end up together in our apartment.
Random Assortment
clockwise from the left: pewter crackers and pretzel, owl salt and pepper shakers, wooden pear, staghorn coral, sponge (in middle).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

around the apartment

as a holiday gift to ourselves, we purchased this robert hanson print that we both adore.

Robert Hanson Print

it had been sitting in tube on our floor for weeks. we finally got around to framing it yesterday. thanks, ikea.

the painting to the left of the print is our wedding gift to ourselves that after five years hasn't even set foot in the direction of a frame shop.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

final thing about mexico and i'll shut up

no trip is complete without talking about the food that was enjoyed along the way. in fact, whenever i call my parents after returning from a vacation, their first question is, "what did you eat?" i guess there is no question where my food issues come from.

i have already mentioned dabney's recent obsession with fish tacos. well, we had many.

grilled fish tacos
Fish Tacos

and fried fish (individually made tacos)

we never once saw a battered fish once we landed in mexico. it was a welcome variation on the american fish taco.

one of my favorite things about traveling... STREET FOOD! mexico has come great stuff for people just walking around and happen to be a little hungry. here's a few pics of the things we remembered to snap photos of.

fresh tamales - still steaming hot. notice they're wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks.

marquesitas are crepes filled with a tiny bit of cheese. they were light, crispy, and were a great combination of sweet and salty. in many a park, we'd see marquesitas being made in front of hungry eyes.

our own "corn boy" tried an offering of his favorite item. it basically corn on the cob, dipped in mayo and rolled in queso blanco. though happy he tried it, he promptly tossed it after a few bites.
Corn Boy in Mexico

fresh fruit stand with individual cups of peeled and ready-to-eat pineapple, coconut, papaya, or watermelon. can't decide? have a cup with everything.
Fruit Stand

when i think of mexican food here in america, i think lots of cheese. to my surprise, authentic mexican food had little to no cheese generally. instead refried beans were often used to "hold" things together in tacos, tostadas, etc.

yucatecan food was also very different than the regular mexican fare we tend to see. it combines mexican, mayan, and carribbean flavors. poc chuc, a yucatecan take on barbeque pork, was a common site on menus, as well as panuchos (fried tortillas topped with refried beans, lettuce, turkey/chicken, avocado, and pickled onions) and salbutes (soft tortilla version of panuchos). did i take any photos of these items? no, i obviously ate them too quickly. however, corn boy managed to sneak a shot of my sopa de lima (lime soup) - another yucatecan delicacy.

other parting food shots:

Mr. Carnitas

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

sorry, ma'am, your bag is overweight

everywhere we went in the yucatan, there was colorful, graphic tilework. it took every ounce of restraint for me and dabney not to dump out our suitcases and fill them with gorgeous tile before heading home.