Mr. B and I plant a tree

Van Gogh, Peasant Man and Woman Planting Potatoes

 Mr. B and I have been wanting to plant a tree for a LONG time. Well, it’s more accurate to say that I’ve wanted to plant a tree.   Mr. B has not been pushing as hard since he realized he would be doing a majority of the planting.



Love and Time

Like every Internet-literate female American homeowner under the age of 45, I read Young House Love.  This blog is made by two very cheerful married  people who do almost all of their home repairs together as a couple. Surprisingly, they have not murdered each other with an Allen wrench.   Although the husband’s parents chip in from time to time to take care of their young daughter while they paint and have helped them build a deck, their main message is that if you have just two people, you can accomplish anything together.

Ever since we moved into our house, I’ve been trying to follow that idea.  Ironically, although we moved to Philadelphia to be closer to family, we see less of them than we did when we were living in DC. Combined with the fact that we’re both from post-Soviet families built on the premise of only children to save money and space in one-room apartments, we’ve been trying to do it all by ourselves together because we also really hate bothering and inconveniencing people.  Working, studying, cooking, cleaning, interior designing, writing, editing, lawncare, life.

Accomplishing  common goals with Mr. B is one of my biggest joys in life.  For example, here’s a picture of Mr. B being sentenced to two days of taping and painting while I take pictures.


But no man, or family of a man and a woman who needs to change everything in her house, is an island, or should be.  Young House Love is cute, but they don’t talk enough about how important it is to have family helping you all the time. Because they’re American, and they value freedom and independence. Which is what I’ve been trying to do for the past year is not asking for help, but it has been slowly destroying me.  Families are meant to be together and do things together.  Even though we’ve been doing it all ourselves, we’ve been going insane from overwork and isolation.

So I axed the fancy museum plans for this weekend, got over my American feeling that if you’re asking for help, you’re inconveniencing other people or being a burden, and and asked my parents to come help us around the house as my birthday present. Our yard was a mess.  There was a lamp that I wanted to hang that Mr. B and I didn’t know how to do. Our fridge was disgusting. Our screen door was broken. We had a boob light infestation.  You know the ones I’m talking about:


And then there were the Trees.

The trees are this thing that Mr. B loathes with a passion. Unfortunately they are my favorite thing in life.  We’d painted our bedroom green last year and sometime this year I decided it would be a good idea to turn it into a Russian forest, because I love the idea of a Russian forest but I actually hate being outdoors.

So I ordered a bunch of birch trees (the national tree of Russia) decals from Etsy, thinking it would be an easy project I could do in an hour or so. Don’t they look hipster-charming in the picture?   They turned out to be too tall and required too much effort, so for three months, they were sitting on the floor in the attic, mournfully waiting to be used.

I used to think that people who said the best gift was time were lame or cheap.  Because who would really prefer a popsicle stick piece of art that took three hours to make as opposed to, say, a Louis Vuitton purse (by the way, this exists.) that took two seconds to order online.

But this weekend proved me completely wrong.

As soon as my parents came, not even stopping for a drink or a bathroom break after their two-hour drive, they got to work.  My dad put up the lamp to replace the ugly one we had as Mr. B finally had time to take care of the lawn.


My mom made us soup, cleaned our refrigerator, and right after that, she helped me put up the trees.

They look beautiful.

They are better than any present I could have gotten because my mom helped me put them up.


Here’s the room when we started, last  year.

We also have amazing and thoughtful friends, who came after we were done with all this stuff to give me hours of their time for my birthday, and we sat late into the night, laughing, and drinking, and singing along to the guitar.


It was a great birthday, and I’m finally learning how to be a functional human being, just in time for my mid-20s.


Things my husband will not let my buy on Etsy

Our house is slowly coming together: 

but the only problem is that we still have a lot of white space on the walls, so we are constantly searching for stuff to put up there.

And by we, I mean me, since Mr. B has the gift for visual design that all men have inherited:


The only problem is, as you have probably surmised by now, gentle reader, I am weird, and I like weird things, and Mr. B wants to keep it normal.

So he vetoes everything I want on Etsy.  Things he has vetoed in the recent past or will veto as soon as he sees them include:

Photo of unhappy Belorussian couple getting married.

Large Kraken Wall Decal-which is -ON SALE-, people.


“We’re not Scottish. Stop it.”

Too abstract. There should be a picture of Inigo and Wesley dueling.”

 “Absolutely not.”

“You have serious issues you should probably address with the help of a medical professional.”

 “You’ll give people the wrong impression. This house is strictly cognac-oriented.”

“Stop showing me stuff.  I’m going upstairs.”

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I was being stylistically repressed, and I was not happy to express myself in my own house, visitors and Mr. B be damned.

After one too many mimosas during a Saturday brunch, I made an impulse buy.

And now Count Orloff will be mine in a mere two weeks.  

 Men just don’t understand.


New York on a whim

This weekend, I was in search of a couch. Well, I’ve been in search of a couch since January but this weekend is the first weekend life’s slowed down enough for me to be able to focus on the house again.

We want to create a reading/TV-watching nook in our office/library  on the third floor, and we need a really comfortable couch to put up there.

American furniture is 100% ugly, and Russian furniture is 98% ugly, AND Mr. B  and I don’t agree on anything, so I was extremely lucky that we found one couch we agreed on:


The only problem was that I kind of wanted to see a couch I was going to spend more than a grand on, and the closest CB2 store is in New York.

And the house was a mess. And I had homework to do. And I was lazy.

But hey, it’s only spring once a year, right? And we love New York. So we decided to go to Manhattan to see a couch.

I’m so glad we went.  It was fun.   The weather was beautiful, the couch was perfect and we decided to buy it, and we spent the rest of the day wandering around the city.  I think we walked 6 miles.

There’s a certain vitality that New York has that not even my beloved DC can match.  Just being in New York, you feel that everyone is hustling, doing something, and even sitting in a coffee shop observing people feels somehow more productive than it does anywhere else.

At Pearl River Mart.

 A store selling Britannica.  But nothing Scottish whatsoever.  Racism!  I did almost buy a very beautiful teapot.

We tried to go to the 9-11 Memorial, just like we’d done at the Pentagon before, but there are annoying lines and you have to pay, which, WTF? By the way, if someone can tell me how this monument depicts or comforts survivors of terrorism, and does not instead commemorate maraschino cherries, I will pay you $100.

Lunch as at Taim Falafel. OMGSOGOOD. We sat and watched hipsters go by.

Then we spent an hour or five at The Strand, where I got this.

By the way, If you’re interested in a 100% legit Chanel/Louis Vuitton purse, I found this great spot:

On our way to the car, I bought some strawberries for a dollar a container in Chinatown. As we drove away from the city, I took my shoes off , we ironically put on the Russian rap, and ate strawberries all the way to Hoboken.

Life is good.


Can anyone recommend a house cleaner who will not murder us?

I am looking for someone to give our house a good spring cleaning.  Here’s a before shot:

Don’t get me wrong, Mr. B and I spend around hours every week cleaning our house.  But as soon as it’s clean on Sundays, it magically starts to become dirty again, and thus the cycle restarts.  We also haven’t deep-cleaned for months, meaning there are some corners where it’s possible the fifth dimension exists amongs the lush vegetation and spider webs. Our domovoi is probably angry.

When you add the fact that right now my MBA and the ebook have top after-work priority, and for Mr. B is working on two online classes, you get something extremely terrifying.

So, Mr. B and I are trying to hire someone to take care of it in a deep spring cleaning.  The problem is that we are afraid of Russian cleaning ladies and even more afraid to hire an American one that we don’t know.

This is how our conversation about it went the other day.

Me: Maybe we should hire someone Russian?  Don’t you know some family members that have cleaning ladies?
Mr. B: *pointed look* Yes, but do you really want that?
Me: What do you mean?
Mr. B: Cause they’re going to come by and sooner or later it’ll get back to us. “Oh, Vicki and Mr. B?  THAT Vicki and Mr. B? Yeah, my aunt’s sister’s cousin’s brother’s niece cleaned their house last week, and let me tell you all about it.
Me: Good point.
Mr. B:  Do you really want some Russian women you don’t know telling the Russian women you do know what’s inside of your house and what a disgrace it is?
Me: Hm.
Mr. B: *mimics older Russian woman in Russian* Oh, Zoyachka. Those young people, the way they live-I disapprove of everything. And let me tell you all about it.

So, we are still looking for a house cleaner. Preferably one that won’t murder us, or gossip about us. Although at this point, I don’t know which is worse.