to be honest: hair, home, hips

I‘ve been eating my feelings lately, especially at night. Stress eating, depressed eating, eating to comfort, eating to have something to look forward to, same old thing as it ever was. Bad news when the Golden Oreo was invented, or at least when it was purchased for this house.

Speaking of purchasing houses, we’re on the make to purchase a new home. Our yearly rental contract is nearly up, so I’ve been tasked with looking for a new home. I realize that so much in life comes down to your outlook or perspective. It’s all about the lens and your sunny disposition. We’ve discussed finding a cheaper place (we’re talking mirrored walls, platform beds, and black deco kitchens – might make for a 1980’s themed party local) and gutting the kitchens, replacing carpets with wide-plank flooring, and we’ve discussed purchasing houses vs. condos in gated communities (condos in this town run from $700k – $2,219,000 right now). And the sad bit is when you’re just clicking through the MLS, at homes you can’t afford, only to realize that they are HIDEOUS. Not just hideous, but hideous and unaffordable. It’s like learning that you’ve just consumed your daily caloric intake in a single (disappointing) bite.

If the home is updated and affordable, move-in-ready, you’ll never be able to sell it for what you paid. And if you choose something that needs to be gutted, you’re looking at WORK and DUST and having to live elsewhere while your home is redone. And alas, our rental agreement is up June 30. Hence, the Oreo’s.

725k Kitchen

This home kitchen is from a condo unit priced to sell at $725,000.

899k Kitchen

This home kitchen is from a condo unit priced to sell at $899,000.

899k Kitchen

2700 sq. ft. (this includes the land!) This home kitchen is from a condo unit priced to sell at $1,099,000.

Even if you pick something affordable and hideous that needs major updates, tons of work, negotiating contractors, etc., you still then must have the cash available to make all the updates, all whilst keeping a marriage together. Not sure it’s worth it. Is the best bet to find something move-in-ready that will be harder to get your money back with when you sell?

Let’s add insult to injury. I’ve also tried going completely sulfate-free with my hare care, and my hair is a frizzy nightmare. I’ve tried conditioning with coconut oil, massaging Minoxidil drops into my scalp, leave-in conditioners, protein conditioners, protein treatments, gels, lotions, and creams. I need a cut, still.

The good news is that I love the new car, and I think I’ve FINALLY found facial care—from a recent dermatologist visit—from which I’m seeing actual results!



  1. have you tried the Wen by Chaz Dean hair products? They are amazing, my hair has never looked and felt better. I’m never going back to regular shampoo.

  2. We are going to be looking in the next year too, after having gone through this twice in the last 5 years. Looking at other people’s kitchens makes my stomach turn -the hideousness they want such a high price for. I want to call them up and tell them off for squatting in their own homes for the past 20 years without making any updates.

    I’m starting to think the best way is to build new without any upgrades, and then swap out the floor and fixtures years later when you have the money.

    Organix is my favorite sulfate-free line, btw. Coconut.

  3. Hi Stephanie! Hang in there with the house stuff…it will all work out. I totally understand the food thing…TOTALLY! Have you guys thought about New Jersey or maybe a little farther out on Long Island? It would make your husband’s commute longer, but may be more affordable. Just a thought : ) Hang in there…as always, I think you’re AWESOME!

    1. Author

      Thanks love. His commute is an hour as it is, so there’s no chance he’d do Jersey or further out on the island. We’re happy here in Jericho Schools, but I suspect we’d be happy anywhere that’s not Boca.

      1. You bet! That’s hilarious…”Any place that’s not Boca.” – Never been, but I hear it’s just a hot mess!

  4. Good luck with the house hunt. As someone who has grown up in the Metro NYC area, I know how tough and expensive it is. Kinda takes all the fun and excitement out of it.

    Have you sold your Austin home yet?

    1. Author

      We still have renters in our Austin home. Houses are selling like mad in Austin (it’s the place to be). Our renters want to stay, have offered more money to stay and rent. We are deciding if it makes sense to put it on the market now. We love that house and town and wish we could move back with our NY families tucked under our wings.

  5. Robyn’s suggestion is interesting–build a house from scratch, and then upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms down the road. No matter what you do, you’ll need to upgrade these rooms eventually–ten, fifteen years down the line. Have you thought of asking your landlord for a lease extension? This might give you time to find a suitable plot for building.

    If you opt to buy a pre-built home, you’d be better off finding one with a kitchen that you can live with, rather than upgrading from the get go. Closing on a house, then dealing with contractors (and their meth-addled workers) while the ink is still drying on the contract? That spells major stress to me. Unless you flip the house in a few years, you’ll probably make a profit no matter what the house’s condition is in. There’s no need to renovate to generate a profit if you’re a long-term house owner.

    You’re smart to hold onto the Austin house. This may come in handy decades in the future, when New York winters aren’t so appealing and you take the snowbird route.

  6. the first kitchen- barf- and that much for a condo! I realized oh it’s NY and probably that is why. The last kitchen is the only one that looked nice but it’s a lot of money. Since you sound like you guys won’t ever move back to ATX (family in the east and also Phil’s job) maybe sell the house while houses in Austin are selling so fast?

    Take that money and use for the new place. With a condo you won’t get the big yard you had before. I think you would miss the backyard entertaining and stuff- and extra space. Condos are easier to maintain than houses though. Decisions!

    Minoxodil is for balding- why are you using that!!

    Good luck with the house hunt. It would be nice if you were settled into your new place so you guys could have carefree summer plans and not spend the nice weather season packing/remodeling/arguing over where to go!

    1. Author

      I agree, the last kitchen is the only one that looks nice, and it isn’t even my ideal. And for that much money for so very little house, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. We are in a condo now, and I don’t miss the yard because we have a huge deck and there is yard behind the deck. I feel very safe here in a gated area, never feel like we have to lock doors, etc.

      I get so much fallout with my hair, it’s scary. Every time I shower I get enormous balls of hair that clog the drain. So I use 3% Minoxodil now, hoping it makes a difference.

      I’m off now to get coffee and to go with a realtor to look at shitty houses. Don’t you hate that they only show you what you’ve already seen online (with 20 photos), so you know what’s coming. Ugh. Maybe we should just renew our lease – though it’s money out the window!!!

  7. Have you tried cutting out shampooing all together? When I stopped using shampoo and just massaged my scalp and hair with conditioner (you can use the cheapie Suave – the naturals line is usually sulfate free). And your hair doesn’t get greasy, it’s pretty impressive. But now I use shampoo because I straighten my hair, and it’s impossible to get smooth straight hair without using silcone/suflate. Good luck with the house hunt!

  8. The 750 kitchen is not that bad……. It would not be that much to redo, esp. If you dont do any structural changes, which are usually the most costly and time consuming. If you replace all, and put in a deep sink, it could lookmpretty good, and get done pretty quickly. We just bought a kitchen with (dark) laminate counter tops, and I have to say, they are not that bad and really easy to keep clean. The most annoying part is everyone asking when we will get them replaced, which we will when we are ready….when that will be…..
    Good luck, location and good schools are the most important. Your generosity and warmth can shine through any terrible kitchen!

  9. Ditto what you said in the first paragraph!

    And I really know the feeling of looking at your own price range and seeing crappy houses, and then looking at “more than you can afford” places and still seeing crap! What’s with you and the gated community thing? To me a gated community says “your kind is not welcome here” and that doesn’t strike me as your take on life…

    Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about the resale value of the place you’re buying. (Why wouldn’t you be able to sell it for what you paid? We’re not in a bubble now …) If you’re planning on staying a while and you really like the place, then the resale value at some uncertain future date seems like it shouldn’t hold you back …

    Good luck! I know it’s stressful!

  10. No advice on the housing front, but I have been using Aquage Sea Extend Silkening Shampoo and like it alot. Works well if I want to wear my hair curly or straight.

  11. Just want to throw it out there that I do not consider leasing or renting throwing money away. This seems to be the general attitude surrounding renting, but I think it deserves some unbiased consideration. You already own a home in Austin, Texas that can serve as an investment. Putting money into two homes with the hope of investment returns on both of them is a gamble. It obviously isn’t what you want, but if you really look hard at renting/leasing, maybe it won’t seem like such a huge deal then you originally thought it was.

  12. Also, don’t you and Phil also own a house in the Hamptons that you rent?

    I would sell the house in Austin and keep the seasonal rental in the Hamptons. It’s closer and you can keep an eye on it from where you live now. I would take the profits (if there are any) from the sale of the Austin home and buy a home in an area where you love. When it comes to buying a house, location can’t be beat in my opition. You can always upgrade and improve, but if you live in a location that sucks (bad schools, long commute, etc.) after time you will want to move no matter how awesome the house is (i.e. Austin home).

    Buy the least compromising/best price home in an area you love and plan to stay there and fix it up. If it’s a good area and you stay to recap your investment, it will get your investment back or even make a little profit. The real estate market is coming back, but it won’t ever be like it was in 2006.

  13. Re: the haircare…I’ve been doing “natural” products for the past 5 or so years, but now that I’m growing out my thin/fine hair, it’s just gotten drier and more “fuzzy”. My hair guru is a genius and has worked on some famous heads and when I asked him what to do, he said, “I know you only like the hippie products, but the new Loreal Total Repair 5 line is amazing.” So, I went and bought the whole line for less than $20 at Target and followed his instructions and two months later, my hair has never been softer and less frizzy. The shampoo/conditioner have sulfates, so maybe you should try the Wen line that everyone raves about. BUT, the dry oil spray ( and the “Damage Erasing Balm” ( are sulfate-free and work like magic. Especially for a $12 solution.

    My stylist said to use this balm and follow the “wrap” instructions on page 7 of his PDF of hair tips. It’s Lesson #3 “That’s a wrap:

    I’ve done it a couple of times and have never been happier with my hair. You could also try this same method (shower cap/hot towel wrap) with coconut oil and see if it works but I didn’t have the same success with coconut oil as I have with the Loreal balm.

    So, while I wish I could stick with the hippie natural stuff, I’m just loving having hair that looks healthy and smooth!!

    Sorry about the housing sitch. We are right there with you because of the Seattle housing market and poor timing when we bought our house. So, I feel like we are destined to either stick in this 1969 Brady Bunch shithole or move into something not much better that we can’t afford to remodel but might have bigger bedrooms and another bath and be in a further-away suburb. Either way, it’s not my dream/fantasy living experience, but there’s not much I can do about it until I win the lottery. ;)

  14. Have you tried Original Mineral? It’s an Australian brand (no sulfates) and I’m crazy about it!

    1. Author

      Yes, but with limitations. We sometimes let them use iPads in the car, with educational apps. No ipads or TV during the week.

  15. You should go on HGTV – Property Brothers or one of those other shows!

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