LIFE AT CONTENT: Answers to Your Questions

Before we left for vacation, we asked you, our trusty social-family to pose a few "get to know" you questions via Instagram.

We're pretty much an open book, so we loved the variety of life categories your questions dug into. And now that we are sitting under a palm tree, on the French Caribbean island of Martinique, we've had some time to reflect on the answers, so here goes!

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What do you like and dislike about New Jersey?

My first instinct with this question was for me to answer the "like" part, and to have John answer the "dislike" part. If you know one thing about John, it's that he was born and raised in Connecticut and went to UConn for his bachelors and masters degrees.

We often joke that John is the only Conneticutter to "willingly" move to New Jersey and become a resident, but I'd like the record to show that John actually lived in NJ for a couple years before we even met. If anything, long before our introduction, he's been wooed by the promise of pork roll.

So, instead, John's going to share with you what he likes most about New Jersey.

Here's John:

I've been procrastinating on this for days, weeks, maybe even years. Nonetheless there are positive things I can say about where we live in New Jersey.

Let's start with the obvious one, the beach! It's pretty nice and just over a mile from our house, so that can't be beat. Plus, for all the surfers, there's some notable breaks as well.

Sure, a trip to the beach on a Saturday puts me face-to-face with 200 brand new “besties”, but living here allows me to choose when and where I go, to best enjoy my beach time. Whether we are meeting up with friends, having a cocktail, going for a swim, or fishing - fun times are had.

Local Tip: Catch a beach sunrise. They are pretty early in the summer (5:30am) so a second best option would be an early morning coffee on the beach.

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Another great New Jersey perk is all the local businesses in our immediate area. We've got coffee roasters galore, restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, concert venues, fishing charters; shit, we even have a horse race track.

Pretty much anything you want to do we have you covered within minutes.

Local Tip: Don't miss our breweries! We have many great ones within a 10 minute drive. Be sure to check out our friends at Bradley Brew Project for some of the tastiest and unique brews around and Kane Brewing Company for their standout beers.

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Finally, I'll finish up with accessibility. I can drive, boat or train into NYC for whatever I'd like (which is usually drinking beers at dive bars with my friends).

We have Newark and Atlantic City airports (not to mention all the NY ones) to use when you need to get the hell out of here. I've got the Shrewsbury River right across the street to fish all spring, summer, and fall.

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We are also surrounded by a bunch of great small towns - all within a short drive as well, Asbury Park, Seabright, Red Bank that all host awesome, seasonal festivals and events.

In 2018, Asbury hosted the inaugural Sea, Hear, Now Festival that was epic!

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Local Tip: Here's my idea of an epic day in Asbury Park - Relax at the beach during the day, drinks in the sand at Anchor's Bend, dinner at Talula's (the Bee Keepers Lament is our favorite), and dancing with DJ Atom Worth where ever he can be found that night!

Now it's my turn:

Living in New Jersey is a double sided coin. I'm a Jersey Girl through and through. Not the fist pumping kind that people grew to know on TV, but the beach loving, Rutgers alumni, one-time Hoboken resident, who chased a dream into NYC everyday, like so many before.

Pointing out what I dislike about NJ is tough. Have you heard of #jerseypride? I'm going to pull one of my favorite interview tricks on you though, making a negative into a positive.

Like many shore towns, the swell in summer population in the high eason is tough. Long Branch is no exception. In fact, Long Branch was one of the first summer communities to welcome ferried, daytrippers from NYC back in the 1800s. (We might even get a ferry stop again).

And even though our communities have been preparing for the influx year after year, there are still growing pains. Parking spots disappear, we put certainly restaurants reservations on hold until fall and the traffic. It's brutal. I can't sugar coat the traffic. It just sucks.

But, we've learned to adapt! Why? Because we truly love where we live, and we understand why others are drawn here. Heck, we've made a life out of welcoming those "parking spot stealers" and now share our favorite spots with our Airbnb guests.

How do you work through the frustration of a project when you seem lost?

This questions resonates loudly with us, because PLEASE understand we have our fare share of frustration! Back in 2014, when we purchased Content, we learned that every project can be broken down into steps and the completion of those steps are all worth celebrating, no matter how big or small.

When a project or task seems daunting, we take time to celebrate the baby steps, because often times a simple pat on the back is all you need to keep going. Or sometimes, you need a cocktail before noon - whatever works for you, as long as you're giving yourself credit where credit is due!

When we feel lost, we give ourselves the gift of time. Time to reflect and marinate on our decisions. We take time to reconnect with inspiration and often that means disconnecting from the project entirely. The length of disconnect depends entirely on the overall timeline. Often, calling it quits early one day to decompress is enough, but on bigger projects that are causing a lot of stress, we'll sideline the work entirely. For us, we are most successful and happy when our process and work flow feels organic. When that process starts to feel forced, we know it's time to take a step back and understand why.

We also allow ourselves to fail or the opportunity to say:

"You know what, that's not how I envisioned {that}" or "Honestly, I'm not happy with {xyz} and I want to try again."

In our experience, our intuition is always the loudest, sometimes we just need to shut up, listen and trust.

Besides Final Cut where do you go to find unique pieces?

The funny thing is, the only thing we've ever bought from Final Cut is a roll of wallpaper. We love going there to for inspiration, but we are "pickers" through and through.

What we mean by "pickers" is that we love to find furniture and home decor before someone else says it's "cool"; before resale or retail pricing kicks in.

Content is mainly furnished with second hand pieces. And here's the real secret to shopping second hand: "You have to be shopping all the time." What I mean by that is multi layered and certainly warrants a separate post but here's the gist.

GO OFTEN

You have to hit up your favorite church/community thrift stores or flea markets on a constant basis. I typically visit once a week. Unlike retail stores, second hand inventory changes on a daily basis, so the more you go, the more likely you are to find something you love.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

You have to know your style before you start shopping. Walking into a room of, presumably, other people's junk can be daunting. So, while you're scrolling Pinterest or your favorite Instagram accounts, you should be taking mental notes or saving images of decor that inspires you. Then, you can start to understand what styles/lines/patterns/colors you are continually drawn to.

HAVE AN OPEN MIND

In my experience, I have never walked into a second hand store and actually found what I was looking for.

"I totally want a pair of matching Citron velvet arm chairs with a mid century line. Omg, there they are!!"

Yah, that didn't happen. But I am finding great deals, however these bargains happen over time. For instance, when I'm focused on restyling a bedroom, inevitably, I will walk into a thrift store and find the perfect patio set. It will be 20 degrees outside and snowing, but there we are, John and I loading patio furniture into the truck. Go in with an open mind, and buy when you know it suits your style not necessarily your need.

Specifically, here are the local places that we love to shop for unique pieces:

Keyport/Red Bank antique stores

Goodwill of Ocean

Furnished With Love

Collingwood Flea Market

Columbus Farmers Market

Local seasonal pop up markets: Belmar/Ocean Grove

Garage/estate sales

Craigslist

*Side of the road

Have you guys ever considered purchasing another property to renovate?

John's response: "Everyday?"

Are you reading our minds!? Even with our To-Do list a mile long at Content, John and I talk about our imaginary properties all the time.

John: "At our Italian Villa, would it have a vineyard or just a great backyard garden?"

I think dreaming of our next big project speaks to the type of people that we are. Always striving, pushing our comfort levels and fully tapping into our potential. Financially speaking, a villa in Italy might be a stretch, but it's the dreaming that's more important than pointing out the hurdles to get there.

In all honesty, our next renovation project will likely be hospitality driven and somewhere in the woods. We are both huge nature lovers and a cabin in the mountains seems like a great counter property to Content which is on the beach.

How did you learn your carpentry Home improvement skills?

I always liked to make things. Playing with Legos and Constructs when I was a kid. The same way an artist might think mixed media is fun, I really love to work with materials as they are and see what they could be.

As far as the actual skill sets, it's a little bit of everything, really. Originally, watching my Dad (he taught me everything I know about, and still need to learn about electrical). Then there's other professionals I've worked with/for, the internet, trial and error and most important being a curious observer.

"How is this built?"

"What type of finish is this?"

When you buy a house, there's a certain amount of "stuff" you're tasked to do as a home owner, especially our house! Sometimes you take these tasks on yourself for financial reasons or in my case, I usually have a hair brain idea that I can't convince anyone else to take on, so I have to do it myself.

Nightmare to refinish hardwood?

We look at every project the same, big or small.

- How much would it cost for us to do it; factoring in our own billable hours and expenses. True project cost!

- How long will the project take, start to finish, if we do the work?

- How much would it cost for us to hire someone?

- How long will it take, start to finish, if we hire someone to do the work?

- Will we be happier with a professionals finished product vs. our own?

We've yet to refinish hardwood ourselves because whenever we've don't our comparison, it's always made more sense to hire. Maybe one day, but with 100 year old floors, we'll probably trust the professionals before our amateur skill set.


Thank you so much for your wonderful questions and for taking some time to hear about US through our answers.

Any feedback or something else you'd like us to answer in a future post? Comment below!