Exposure | part one

exposure. progress. accountability. goals. patience.

All of these words have many meanings to me, these days, as I try to balance a relatively new job (is it new when it’s been 2 months?) with increased running, social adventures, and the addition of a new obsession in my life (Muay Thai). Some days, I feel like I can conquer the world. Other days, I feel like I can barely juggle all my interests and my few responsibilities. I like to imagine this is how anyone would feel after leaving a work-from-home job of 5 years and transitioning into a new job with a traditional office schedule.  And with that, I decided to dust off the power tools and to-do list and get my hands dirty on house stuff again, because now that I am no longer home majority of the day all the things I want to do and haven’t done yet have become all the more apparent and slap me in the face at 5:15pm daily.

The long dreary winter has ended and a bright, beautiful spring emerged. And in true Philadelphia fashion, 2 weeks later summer began. The list of house projects has stayed the same, since I created the list last summer. Few things have changed in the Hasen Haus – there are still 2 cats and 1 puppy (albeit older and even more delightful, if that is possible), attempts at growing food, and more wool than one can imagine. The master bedroom in my house is now empty, as a housemate has moved on to other living arrangements and I decided that…well…living alone is excellent so why get a new housemate.

So the master bedroom. Arguably, the best room on the second floor, with the most windows and the best natural light, with the dumbest closet ever built. Small (too small for regular hangers) and awkwardly placed, it was begging to be demolished so that this room’s full potential could be felt. Luckily, while I was still at my old job (working from home), a friend offered to assist in the demolition of the small-awkward-closet-from-hell. In my far too idealistic mind, I thought that once it was demo’d there would be a little bit of wall patching and then the room could be painted and voila! How quickly I forgot all the lessons of home renovation that I learned in the Point Breeze row-home renovation. Nothing is ever that simple, and once you tear down a wall so many more things show their true nature. Also, everything takes forever.


After staring at the wall for a few months, and slapping a note on the wall to warn visitors to keep the door shut lest the animals get covered in dust, I determined that patching the ancient spackle and hole in the ceiling, and sanding to a finished quality that would match the wonky nature of these old walls would be roughly the same sweat equity as exposing the wall. Brick wall won out in that debate….and so the room continued to sit for a few months, because who has time for that, right? I rallied some lovely friends, on the recent long weekend, who like challenges and fellowship and being helpful amazing folks and we made some progress on tearing down the rest. The small amount left at the bottom is due to learning that my elderly neighbor was under the weather and I didn’t want to win the award for worst neighbor (she did receive a nice gift card and thank you note from me, for her patience with 2 hours of banging on a shared wall). Luckily, that part can be chiseled off with a pry bar and not too much noise in relatively short time, by me.

comboNow armed with a new level of inspiration and determination, a new timeline for completion has been mentally created. Of course, now I wonder if patching the wall would have really taken much less time and effort than this. I just keep imagining how lovely this room will be in the near future, and brush those doubts aside as I steel myself for the wire brush bonanza that awaits my future with this wall. Onwards!

The Hasen Haus: Bedroom rehab part 1

I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the backyard, what was supposed to be my first finished “room” of the house, is going to be on the back burner for awhile. Yards are a lot of work! I’ll be picking at it now and then, but that will be a work in progress for a long time until I’m finally happy with it.

So I’ve moved my efforts and focus indoors. The first two rooms I’m working on are the bathroom and my bedroom. The hot and humid weather in Philadelphia has made the thought of repainting the bathroom (much needed) a horrible one. I finally carved some time out to put up some shelves in my bedroom and sew a curtain.


I painted this room before moving in, in January 2014. The color is Utah Sky by Behr and it is really lovely. Eventually I will repaint the trim in the whole house, but for now the crappy white painted trim will suffice. This is the view, southward, of my tiny sparse bedroom. Hung on the walls are a reproduction of an old Philadelphia railroad map, my favorite photo of my late grandfather, and the print I screened commemorating my Amama’s 90th birthday last year. As you can see, Miss Greta the puppy sleeps near me every night, much to the cats’ chagrin. I ordered a pretty cat door to add to my bedroom door to allow the cats to come in and out of the bedroom, to keep cool in my room’s air conditioning. Hopefully that will create more pet peace, since my bed is the cats’ former throne of catnap glory and I think they miss it. I also miss having them at my feet at night.

I hung a curtain rod from IKEA and sewed a simple one panel curtain this morning, with my Saturday morning cup of coffee, from a Moda Fabric I had in my stash. Anyone who knows me knows that I love mint, gray, light blues, light yellows, and flowers. This fabric works perfect with the paint color, too.


The big blank wall above the bed still perplexes me. It’s a shared wall with the neighbor, therefore brick (read: annoying to hang anything), but I want to put something up there. I’m toying with the idea of a quote banner but haven’t decided on anything yet. Next up, finish organizing my closet, which is the north side of the room, and deem this one as DONE.

The puppy excuse

I’ve been trying to get the backyard finished but have run into a few little hiccups – there are 2 trees back there (the quintessential “weed trees” that are all up in the wires and need to be removed (read: expensive). It was early January when I moved into the house, so determining where I was going to plant my summer veggies was a bit premature I am discovering. The leaves started coming in, and then plateaued. The backyard still received mostly full sun, so I happily built some easy cinder block beds and planted some starts and sprouted seeds.


And then more leaves appeared. And more. The backyard is now mostly shaded. Booo! The front yard, which was mostly shady during the winter is now, surprise surprise, full sun. So this weekend, I will be doing some vegetation juggling and throwing down more grass seed, clover seed, and planting ground covers. Until then, let me show you the real reason I haven’t completed much around the house…


greta 2

greta vesper

Meet Greta. She is the newest addition to the Hasen Haus – a rescue 4 month old shepherd mix puppy from Justice Rescue. I’ve had her for 3 weeks and she’s already made herself at home, and grown! The cats are not thrilled about Greta’s presence, and Vesper has taken to living under the couch for the time being. I really am hopeful that things get better between the cats and dogs, but until then…this snuggly soft puppy isn’t letting any hissing get her down!

Running + Canoeing

Things have been busy over here in the Hasen Haus. March and April were a little derailed for me, but now after some long thoughts and re-prioritizing my goals and life I feel back on track. So how about some sharing of things I’ve done?

Last year I ran my first half marathon. I do not consider myself a runner but rather a bicycle rider who runs, so long distance running is hard for me. It’s mostly a mental block around the long distance and I discovered that 13.1 miles is a horrible amount. I came in 4th to last (not last!) and completed in a touch over 3 hours. The course was hilly at the beginning and end (and by hills, I mean HILLS) and I didn’t stick to my training plan towards the end of my pre-race training. But, I finished! And then swore I wouldn’t do it again. And then signed up for my second half marathon 4 days later (wait, what?). I was all slated to run in the Love Run at the end of March 2014, but this time sticking to a training plan to appropriately increase mileage.

Well…my body decided that wasn’t going to happen. I will go out on a limb here (pun intended) and say that this running injury is all my own fault. I increase mileage quicker than I should have and when achilles heel pain started at the end of August last year I ignored it…and ignored it…and ignored it. One morning in early 2014, I woke up like normal and put my feet to the ground next to my bed and could barely walk on my right foot. My entire right heel sole felt like a massive bruise, and man did that hurt! I put my feet up and stopped running while contemplating what to do. Ultimately, I canceled my bib number and received a partial refund for my entry fee and worked on swimming and weights at the local YMCA instead of running. I didn’t think I would miss running…

I started having dreams about running.

Many dreams about running.

And it felt like flying.


Come April, I ran a couple of times knowing that I had an epicly awesome race coming with my dear friend J. We were teamed up for a running and canoe race in the Perkiomen Watershed – the Lenape Survival Challenge. Our unofficial team name was/is Teamnacity, cause we are tenacious beasts of awesome. I even whipped up a couple of team uniform cotton flannel cowls, embroidered with our initials and team name of course, from the lovely line of fabrics ‘Take a Hike’ from Jack and Lulu for Dear Stella. I mean, how often do you see fabric with canoes on them, right before you are entering a canoe race?!


The race boasted a 4.6 mile run followed by a 2+ mile canoe. Mind you, I have never canoed in my life. My teammate is a native of Cape Cod. She has canoed a lot. Mind you, this also included a 500ft elevation at the end. This turned out to be a ski slope. Literally, running up the backside of the slope and down the front. I kid you not. This was an intense route and this was the first race that both of us had run in 2014(my break due to my achilles, and J’s due to a knee injury). Of course the famed West Philly Runners cleaned up like gazelles while Teamnacity swept up the back end. We completed in 1hr 42min, and were really not all that far behind the pack.




Man, was this a great time! I learned to canoe on the fly, while canoeing and steering through some sections with rocks and fast running water and strategically placed dive teams (what!). We did not flip the canoe once! Apparently, lots of other teams had trouble staying in their boat. We came in 2nd to last, but mostly because the sweepers didn’t let themselves beat us.

Teamnacity will be back next year, for sure! That was awesome.


Now I need to figure out where I can canoe locally and how insane (or smart?) it would be to have my own canoe that I toted around by bike…hmmmm…

Springtime awakening

This winter has been hard. Everyone has been saying that, and as much as I pride myself on being a “winter is my favorite” person, I too am glad that springtime is finally here. With all the snow, and the lack of plowing in Philadelphia, I’ve been hibernating pretty hard since January. I’m feeling the cabin-fevery desire to get outside and breathe fresh air and get the Hasen Haus into a more permanent state of awesomeness and unpacked. But where does one start?

When I fixed up my old rowhome in South Philly, Kasy and I had this problem all the time. Where to start? How to start? What do I need to do? What do I want to do? Finally, after years of nibbling at little things around the house we discovered the secret. One room at a time. It’s so simple and obvious, and yet took us awhile to figure out. I’m going through that same problem in the Hasen Haus, as I know all the things I want to do, have limited time and energy to do them, and am doing them as a single-woman this time as opposed to with a domestic (and very handy and talented) partner. The world feels sisyphian and I want to get moving. So, to celebrate the beginning of Spring, and to get back into regular blogging about life etc etc, here we go. One room at a time, until finished.

First up. The outside spaces. Ha! Not even 2 seconds into my new focus and I’m already breaking the “room” rule. Let’s be honest. The weather is only going to get more and more gorgeous, and the inside can wait as long as I can create the ideal outdoor relaxation space. It makes sense. Also, I want to get my hands into some dirt and now that my sewer pipe replacement is complete I can plant things in peace knowing that the front won’t need to be dug up for another 80 years.

ready for planting

I have plants ready for planting and seeds starting. This house is lucky to boast 3 distinct outdoor spaces – a backyard, a big front porch, and a small front yard. The backyard is south facing and where I plan on this ultimate relaxation space to be. Perfect light for growing many edibles and flowers, as well as privacy from the street. The front yard is more a space where I anticipate growing shade tolerant plants and flowers (read: all hydrangeas. yes.) and the front porch is already fine. So backyard focus here we go.

Hasen Haus | back yard before

I spent a touch of time raking up the garbage and rocks and other debris that exist in the backyard, and added some heavy duty garbage bags to the shopping list so I can get rid of the materials that are not useful. I’ve been pulling out the larger rocks to use in building some beds, and this weekend I need to finally bag up the pile of leaves that the previous owner lovingly left for me (and my composter). The first steps in building the backyard will be creating edge beds around the perimeter, getting plants in the ground, and re-seeding the soil for a lush albeit tiny lawn.

I am excited and ready to go!

Old to new

Life has been pretty busy since I bought a house in early December. The holidays came flying by, followed by a very busy work month of January. Now that I’m finally getting back to a normal busy life instead of work-all-the-time busy, I can actually get elbow deep in settling into my new home. I’m about half unpacked but as I started to unpack my meager belongings, in a space that is at least 3 times the size of my 1 bedroom apartment, I found that I needed more storage, shelving, cabinet type pieces. Not wanting to buy brand new or IKEA, I’ve been casually looking online at Craigslist and other vintage/antique wood furniture local finds. The snowy days we’ve had in Philadelphia has created the love of all of my vintage wool blankets, that I received in the splitting of the stuff before Kasy moved onto his boat. The downside of so many lovely wool blankets is…where do you put them in a house built in the 1920s (read: no closets except small weirdly shaped bedroom ones). My new focus – wooden trunks.

blanket trunk 1

Of course, since getting back into blogging is still new for me, I forgot to take a before picture of the trunk. It was beautiful but dusty, dirty, and in desperate need of some oil. After a quick google session, and remembering that I have a full bottle of Ecover Wood Floor Soap, I set out to clean up this little number with my morning coffee. Using the bits of information I gleaned from the internet, I found that by using clean towels and rubbing (with the grain) the wood soap into the wood that it would take up the dirt while oiling the trunk. I used more soap than needbe, wanting to let the linseed oil really penetrate the wood to protect and nourish it long term. I’m going to let it sit overnight, and then wipe any excess oil off before placing any of my prized woolens into it.

wood trunk 2

And here it is! Looking gorgeous and filling out the wee little landing perfectly. I’m sure the cats will appreciate a new sitting location, as well, since it will allow them to view all the activity on both floors while staying out of the way.

For anyone in Philadelphia, I purchased this item from Attainable Vintage, along with another wooden trunk and a fantastic highboy style dresser. Both of those pieces still need some restoration love, but I am really excited to welcome all three of these into my house.

Welcoming a new chapter

2014 is here. Hello.


2013 wasn’t terrible but it was full of many emotional ups and downs, as my heart healing post-breakup continued and completed itself. I finally feel pretty damn good about life again and things with me and my dear ex-partner are in a great place friendship-wise, which I am forever thankful for. I think I can official say that my heartbreak is healed. I am ready to go out into the world and be normal again.

2013 was a year of new things, new adventures, new levels of bravery, tears, laughter, hugs, friends, and promise. It ended with an impulse last-minute adoption of a kitten from a political figure who I know from Newark NJ and the purchase of a house. Two things I would never had expected my life to contain in years and months prior to them happening.

littleb home

My life is in boxes right now as I transition from my amazing, warm, loving cocoon of an apartment in West Philly to a house a few blocks further west. I love this apartment and will be sad to leave it. This was the place of my healing. This was the place of my finding independence after the end of a 5 year serious relationship. This was the place of learning about myself. This was the place of turning 30 and 31. This was the place where I felt myself get comfortable with the person I had grown into, and learned to love that person. I will miss the trolleys running past my windows. I will miss the close proximity to my favorite West Philly coffee shop (across the street). I will miss so much about this special little 1-bedroom.



So here we are, on day two of the New Year. Movers are arriving tomorrow morning, assuming the snow warning does not make it impossible for the quick 6 block move I’m making. My life is drastically changing in ways that are foreign and yet, feel oh so right. I feel hopeful for this year. A year of shedding friendships that do not make me feel good and growing friendships that feel right. A year of continuing to get brave and go on my second solo bike tour. A year of feeling strong and committed to myself. A year of love and life.


A year I’ll be documenting it all with a photo a day again on Flickr.

A year of being a better person to myself and to others.

a vacation of firsts

first time visiting wisonsin.
first time camping alone.
first time going on a bike tour alone.
first time vacationing alone.
first time heading to a place where i know nobody.
first time i’m going to have to put my bicycle together by myself.
first time i’m planning the logistics, from beginning to end.




i’m nervous and excited to do this trip, which i have deemed my spirit quest. this is going to be a big trip for me, since i will not have the loving and logistic filled embrace of all of the planning that kasy would always do for any of our bike tours. after years of watching him do the heavy lift of logistic planning, i know that i know what to do and i know that i am capable. this is the first time i will force my own hand in doing it all myself.

this is growth.
this is summer vacation.
this is going to be awesome.

see you in a couple of weeks!

on running, and growing, and breathing


in college i liked to run. i’ve never been very good at it, and continue to have abysmal pacing skills and a lack of inner strength to push myself (oh how that is such a symptom of most aspects of my life). when i started riding bikes more consistently before leaving new jersey, and then all the time when moving to philadelphia, running fell by the wayside and was quickly forgotten.

over the eight years since moving to philadelphia, i’ve tried running again a few times and found that i have grown to hate it. the slowness, compared to riding, the pacing, the need to push myself in so many different ways than long distance riding. and yet, in the fall of 2012, i started flirting with running again. i signed up for a few runs and ran with friends. motivation to take myself out for a run, especially in the winter, is hard to find but it is starting to get better.

so in february, valentine’s day to be specific, i ran my first 5k in 45 minutes and felt pretty good about that. in march, with a good friend, i ran a 5 mile run in 1 hour and felt pretty good about that. in april, by myself, i ran a 5k in 45 again and continued to feel pretty good about that. i am such a slow runner but at the place i am in life right now i’m more interested in the committing to something mentally and sometimes physically difficult and actually completing it. my PR each and every time is going to the run and finishing. maybe i’m too soft on myself (well, i know i am) but this feels like the right goal.

and then i signed up for a half marathon. the run is in late october 2013, which leaves me plenty of time to keep running and get used to runs longer than 5 miles. running is such a mental game for me, but then again post-breakup depression makes most things in life a mental game of motivation. i started “training” this week and ran the stairs of the Art Museum last night with some friends. even at the hardest, fastest scurries up the stairs taking them two at a time, my body felt like exploding with pain and yet it felt so good mentally, emotionally, and physically. so i’m still continuing to run and every day is a struggle to get out of bed and put on running shoes. i don’t really know what i’m getting out of it yet, other than learning that it’s ok to push myself and it’s ok to try and run through my emotions and it’s ok to set the bar a bit high knowing that i might fall flat on my face.

i still hate running. but i’m starting to love myself.
so that’s something.

year one

52 | 365 : Vacation is over

a year ago today, we decided to break up. after five loving years together.

this past year has been hard, friends. but i feel healthier and stronger and regardless of us both trying to move on, i am so utterly thankful that this was a love filled amicable breakup.

i think one of the hardest realizations to come to is that love is not enough. sometimes you are better off not being romantic partners, no matter how much you care about each other. sometimes you have to break your own heart in order for both of you to find true happiness. being unsatisfied and comfortable is not the way to live, even if it is full of love and respect. and saying that outloud is one of the hardest things i’ve ever had to do.

the past twelve months have taught me a lot. mostly taught me about love.*

the words of thoreau have been on my mind

“the only remedy for love is to love more.”

how true, henry. how true.

*i am working on a little personal zine about lessons learned through amicable heartbreak. stay tuned.