Tea Time

A few years ago when I wasn’t paying attention I became a tea person.  At first it was just a substitute for coffee, something that wouldn’t give me such a hard wake-up-jolt.  Then I started having a cup in the afternoon, something to sip on that would keep me out the naughty part of the pantry.  Then I started reading about the health benefits of Green Tea and I started drinking a cup of that like it was an everyday multivitamin.  When I considered starting to buy tea at Costco, I figured I couldn’t deny my love of tea anymore.

So obviously when I set out to make my office a place I could easily spend hours and hours in, I knew in some way it had to include tea.  My office is in the opposite corner of the house from the kitchen, so when I go to make another cup I can usually find one or eight other distractions along the way.  I can usually find a cute kitty that meows at me or rolls on its side so I can pet its stomach, there might be a laundry cycle finishing up that needs to be put away, and of course there is always the dishes staring at me as I wait for my kettle to boil.  It wasn’t helping with my attempts at a quick break, so I I tried to think of a non-fire hazard alternative that could work. I found one on Pinterest-because you know everything is on freaking Pinterest now.  It was under Ikea Hacks and it was a called a Råskog. It seems like it is one of the most versatile items in all of IKEA.  People use them in kitchens, bathrooms, kids rooms, on patios as cleaning stations, plant holders, bars, and even pet beds.  I figured I could use mine as a tea cart.

Tea Tray

And knitting project holder (which I could have really used this holiday season).

It works well because I can just fill up the pot before I begin to write and flip a switch whenever my cup needs a refill.  It has led to lower productivity in dish washing, but it has made it easier to write for longer periods of time, which I have enjoyed.

So what would you use a cart like that for?

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The Books & Booze Room

Happy Friday All!

I told you how after Porter and Kudra’s visit I renamed the library “The Books and Booze Room”, because somehow in a fortuitous miscalculation in size and our lack of desire to have a formal living room, we ended up putting the two together.  I mentioned this name change  to one of our local friends Poppy last weekend and she said that sounded like a great idea for a real business.  I have to admit if there was a bar that was made up of comfy couches and chairs that you could just curl up with a book and sip on your spirit of choice without the bar atmosphere, I might be inclined to check it out.

Just think of it, there would a wide selection of books and you could reserve a chair with an adequate amount of reading light around it.  The place would be quiet, but not as invasively quite as a library.  Waiters/Waitresses would come by and quietly ask if you needed a refill on your bourbon as you read Elmore Leonard’s Fire in the Hole or get you another glass of Pinot Noir while you read My Life in France by Julia Child.  There would specialty drinks created to best suit the book you pick. There of course would be food offered, little nibbles to pad your chosen intoxicant.  Maybe there would be a room set up to the side (with sound proofing) that local writers or guest speakers could come and chat with others.  Oh, if only…

But until I find some investors 😉 here is our version of The Books and Booze Room, which as you can see currently has two kitties napping off a catnip hangover.

Book and Booze Room 1

 

Books and Booze Room 2

The Books and Booze 3

 

Guest Room Revisited

Last weekend we had our friends Kudra and Porter stay over. We actually knew them back in San Diego, they had moved to North Carolina four months before we did.  In fact when they moved we had no idea that we were going to be living in the same state again so soon.  I would have taken better notes of Kudra’s moving methods if I had known.

And while we are in the same state, we are in different regions so we actually had not seen them since San Diego.  We had an excellent time with them last weekend; taking them to some of our favorite restaurants, one good brewery, one okay one, and lots of talks.  I didn’t get in the walk I wanted to take with Kudra (former Walking Buddy) but hopefully we will see them again soon (next time at their place!).  I found it telling that they gravitated to the front room downstairs, that we refer to as the library (though now I’m calling it the Books & Booze Room, since we ended up putting the bar in there too).  Most people like to be in the back room next to the kitchen that has the TV and stereo.  I liked getting to spend time with friends in the B&B room, no distractions from conversation except the occasional pouncing kitty.  Hitch made incredible strides in bravery the weekend by actually coming downstairs and visiting with “strangers” in the house.  In the past he just hides until they fall asleep and then sneaks into our room.  Hopefully his bravery will continue for future guests and visitors.   I swear if I didn’t have so much photographic evidence of him, our friends would think we’re making him up.

Of course this visit was a wonderful excuse to fix up the guest room, a project that had been bugging me for some time.   When Firefly stayed here last summer the room wasn’t actually ready for her, but she came three days after we moved in so there wasn’t much we could do before hand.  A few weeks back, in a random 48-hour period of warm days I finally painted over the dull, mute blue walls and dark blue molding with a light gray and white.   Then I said good-bye to our old mattress, that had been retired into the guest room,  so we got a new one that didn’t require a chiropractic appointment after use.  With a sale and membership enrollment we got a pretty good deal on it, as a bonus the delivery guys took away the old mattress for free. Which is good because the large pick up service here sucks and I didn’t want to be the neighbors with a bright pink mattress on the lawn for a week. We got a night stand and some mirrors for the wall  but all the rest we already had. 

I had painted the artwork above the bed last Spring when I discovered the show “House of Cards” and had to find something to do while I watched.

GuestRoom1

I am not a knickknack person, so when I have to decorate new spaces it is usually a challenge.  I don’t want to go out and get something just to fill an empty spot, I want it to be pretty or mean something; so I had to get creative to fill some of the blank spots in the bookcase.

GuestRoom2I got some California flowers for our California friends and knitted them each a scarf (that’s what the dark things are on the bottom shelf).  It was kind of like a belated Christmas gift, though as a joke I did consider telling them the scarves were there because the heater in their room was broken.  I got the yellow lantern and the white frame from Ikea when we got the night stand, all the other knickknacks were repurposed from other rooms.

GuestRoom4I put in magazines that I knew Kudra might want to browse through (they are settling into a new house as well).  But honestly I wanted to read them too, I just gave them first dibs.

GuestRoom3Since there was still room on the bookshelf and I was out of vases, I put a selection of books from our library that they might enjoy.  They garden but like us they have had to adapt to the new climate.  Then I put a light-hearted book by a Southern writer and a semi-haunting book by a known author that takes place in a North Carolina amusement park.  There was a theme I swear!

And then since I always seem to forget something when we travel I put out a basket with things they might need.

GuestRoom5

 

I think they enjoyed the trip and hopefully they will become frequent visitors.

 

 

 

Real or Artificial?

You know how there is that list of things you and your partner should discuss before moving in together/getting married?  Things like do you think there should be a tv in the bedroom, who will do the dishes, etc.  I have found something to add (to whom it applies to) that has not been mentioned…Christmas tree, real or artificial?

All of my life I have been a real Christmas tree girl.  John had been a artificial tree guy when I met him and he already had one.  Our first year together, because I was so love and was willing to give it a go I said Sure, let’s use the artificial tree this year.  I was willing but not thrilled.  When the time came I was not so secretly ecstatic when John pulled the Christmas tree out of storage and found the box was covered in mildew, he had to throw it away.  That year and every year since we have a Real Christmas tree, until this year.  This year there were a few circumstances that pointed us to getting a fake one.

What it led to

While I complained at the time:

“My tree has instructions” ……”my tree has small hazardous pieces” …….”what do you mean I have to spend to hours making it look like a real tree before I can decorate it?”

I have found many advantages to this artificial tree.

First of all it came with lights, lights that with a push of a button go from solid white to fading in & out white to multicolor to fading in & out multicolor.  So no more keeping lights in storage and hoping that there are enough to cover this year’s tree. I can also change my mind about the color whenever I want.  We can have a tree out when we decorate the rest of the house instead of waiting until half way through the month so we don’t have a brown tree on Christmas.  If an ornament does’t fit right in the space on the tree you can just adjust the branches to fit it.  We don’t have to worry about water on the carpet or how it will break down and fit into the trash when we are done with it.

It’s true that it doesn’t have that “Christmas Tree Smell” and it’s not part of the ritual of the season to go pick out a tree, but maybe since we are in a place that has so many trees around I don’t feel like I have to have a (let’s be honest…dying) tree in the house.  If you think about it Real Christmas trees are kind of like “Fortnight At Bernie’s” what with the dressing up and playing with something that is withering away in front of you.   But there is something very special about going into a home with a “living” tree, it marks an occasion and a presence of time.  I have not fully converted to be an artificial tree enthusiast but I am willing to give a shot for the next few years.

And to be honest it doesn’t look half bad.

Tree2013

So out of curiosity which do you prefer? Real or Artificial Christmas trees?

In My Dreams George R.R. Martin is Kind-Of a Jerk

I have been having very vivid dreams the last few weeks, it might be because I am not sleeping well or maybe my brain is just trying to tell me something but last week after painting my room I had a very strange one.

When we moved into the house we had the advantage and disadvantage of having every room painted in a neutral color scheme.  It is an advantage because it is move-in ready and it goes with about everything you own.  The disadvantage is with this neutrality you are not really in any big rush to repaint with the colors you would like.  I almost wonder if I would prefer moving into a house with ridiculous colors just so I will feel the urgency to paint and claim it as my own.  Painting is a bonding thing with me.  At our last house I painted every room at least twice and got to know her every last nook and cranny,  I found getting to know her made it a lot easier to care for her.  With our house now I feel like we have quite a ways to go, so I decided a little team building activity was in order.

My study was taupe.  The previous owners were using it as a playroom for their three kids, but I wonder if it was actually one of their bedrooms before they decided to put it on the market.  It’s a funny thing for me to think about, that children played in this room.  Though it is a relatively new house there are some ghosts around (don’t get me started on our bedroom).  When I first saw this room there was a tea table set up, a raceway for toy cars, a doll house, stuffed animals, and as I discovered (painfully) a little action hero sword hidden in the carpet.  After painting it and being really up close to walls I discovered that the room had last been a light/semi-neonish green.  I think we stumbled across this color in modern nurseries when the sex of the child is unknown.

Since we were in such a rush to get settled in while Firefly was here I put my stuff up on the walls and kind of forgot about making it my space.  I thought I could just ignore that the place didn’t feel quite right and focus on the world inside my laptop.  The rain delayed my desire to paint, then the summer heat made the idea of opening windows seem unthinkable, then we got Hitch and my room turned into a temporary sanctuary for him.  I would feed him in here so Bailey couldn’t bully his dinner away from him or if he just needed some quiet time.  For a while it worked, but then Hitch realized the door doesn’t close completely and he got out whenever he wanted, leaving his half eaten kitten food available for Bailey to pig out on.  So then I moved Hitch’s feeding space to guest room, where the door does latch closed.  The room was mine again!  And I hated it.  My mood was off in there, the paintings didn’t seem to fit the space, and I couldn’t arrange my small pictures in a way that I liked.

Some people can handle taupe, I can’t.  I was going through some other things in my mind about identity and who I was going to be here (post for another time) and I came to the conclusion that not everything about me had to change just because I was in a new place.  I happen to like some things about my old self and wanting to paint rooms non-nuetral colors is one of them.  So going with the theme of reclaiming some of the old Melissa, I painted my new room the color that my old office was back in San Diego.  I love that blue (Behr: Observatory), something about it makes me feel so happy.  Like in San Diego I painted three walls blue and kept one taupe to reflect the light.  I might paint the taupe wall white to reflect more, but for now it works.

Blue Room

 

I could even put up the smaller pictures in a way that makes sense to me.

small picturesSo back to the dream (I promise to be brief because I don’t like dream posts either).  I had this dream a few nights after I had painted the room but had not put anything back in it yet.  In my dream I was living with a multi-generational family that was not mine, but we somehow all lived in the same house.  There were around nine of us and I had just painted the room that I was told would be mine and strangely enough it was what my office is now. What a coinkydink! 😉  I was just about to open the door to my new space when George R.R. Martin stepped in front of me (I must have forgotten George was also part of this large family) and said that the room was not mine, that they were going to give it to one of the irresponsible adult daughters that was living with the family.  He told me she had a start up business (which I remember thinking was a bad business venture) and needed the space more than I did, that I did not deserve this room.

Ouch.  You cut me George, you cut me deep.

When I woke up I realized the not too subtle subtext of this dream.  Let me just say I do not know much about George R.R. Martin, I have watched “Game of Thrones” and have his books on my “To Read” List.  I want to read them but I hear they are like crack and I am not sure if I am ready for a new addiction.  All I know about Mr. Martin is he is a hard working, successful writer and I’m sure he is a sweetheart in real life.  I am guessing that in the dream Mr. Martin was my inner mentor telling me to stop dicking around a start writing again.  That in my mind my room is not really an office unless I actually do some work in it.  So I will start writing again before some other writer mentors start haunting me while I sleep.  I don’t want to have to deal with a pissed off Hemingway or an irate Angelou!

 

 

Happy Halloween!

Greeting Ghouls and Gals!  I hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

It’s been fun, yet overwhelming to decorate this year on a new canvas.  I was at our last house for almost eight years and I was running out of new ideas to doll up the place for Halloween, but now I get to start fresh.  We waited until this weekend to decorate outside and I think I have unfortunately started a competition with our neighbor across the road.  They had a grave yard and some skull lights for weeks but once we put out our grave stones and orange lights, along with my Skeleton Three Tenors they started decorating more.  Now there are individual lights on the gravestones, cobwebs in the bushes, and a skeleton projector on the garage.  All within the last three days.  I stuck to my original decorating but I did bring the fog machine out of retirement to mist up our graveyard.  If I can manage it I’ll take pictures outside tonight (a neighbor informed me we will have over 100 trick-or-treaters)… but in the mean time here is what it’s been like inside.

Boris & Bela

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

My Spooky Corner

Halloween hallway

My Monster

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

My Little Monster

My Little Monster

 

 

 

The Firefly Priority

The main reason why I didn’t blog, write, or really communicate with anyone the last few weeks is because my sister was in town.  And no offense but I wasn’t going to sacrifice a single moment with her just to blog.  For her birthday this year we got her a round trip plane ticket to come see us for a week.  After a few discussions we decided to offer a more extended trip and changed it so she would stay for a month.  I am very happy we did because the poor kid had jet lag for the first four days she was here.  There would have been some serious caffeinated beverage IVs if she hadn’t had more time.  It worked out though because I used the mornings that she slept to help the house recover fro the move and make some sense of where I was going to put things.

At least Firefly got to recover from jet lag in the Guest Suite (we are giving it a fancy name to entice our friends out for a visit).  It was seriously put together only a few hours before her plane got here. and I added more stuff as time went on.  Some day I’ll paint it to match the color scheme.

gueststuff

Having Firefly here was a wonderful experience for Honey and I, and for her too I suspect.  We had fun showing her around, taking her to the shops and restaurants we liked.  We had excuses for day trips and of course we got to spoil her a little bit.  She’s 17 so we weren’t really baby-sitting or playing Mom & Dad, but she isn’t really an adult yet either so we had some say in the rules.  She was incredibly helpful with cooking and cleaning and a wonderful guest.  I also took her to a local University for her first college tour, it was a beautiful campus but she wasn’t feeling it.  In hind site I should have waited longer into the trip because she was just at that critical moment of homesickness for her friends that made her just see it as being far away from everyone she knew.  I tried unsuccessfully to explain that even if she goes to a college close to home or to the same school as some of her friends that doesn’t mean she will necessarily continue her friendships with them.  It’s hard trying to explain how everything changes once you graduate from high school without completely terrifying someone.  By the end of her trip, her tune had changed.

We had many heart to hearts while she was here, talking about college and our parents and what her real options were vs what she was being told her options were.  I think some of it helped.  We have offered to let her live with us for a while after graduation if she wants to set up residency here and eventually go to school, but we’ll see.  Going to school on the other side of the state would be a change, let alone across country.  I just wanted to let her know she has options, the world doesn’t seem as big as it is when you only grow up in one place.  The trip was good her because she came alone and got to where she needed to be be by herself, it probably taught to trust herself a little bit more.

Since she came here right as we moved in she became part of our lives in our new place.  I must admit saying good-bye to her at the airport was ridiculously hard, in fact the week before she left I was near to tears on quite a few occasions.  She was also upset at the prospect of leaving, we offered to have her stay longer if she wanted (another three weeks) and she deliberated on that for quite a while.  In the end she thought she should go home, I think because she didn’t want to deal with our parent’s reaction.  She told me the day she left that she wished there had been rain and delays so she could had stayed.  She killed me when she said that, it made me want to pull her out of line and call my parents on the way home explaining she wasn’t coming back.  I won’t lie, I gave serious thought to what would happen if we just never put her on a plane back.  But I wanted her to make a decision and have it just be hers, not what others wanted for her.  She has to make a lot of decisions in the next few years, so I figure a little practice wouldn’t hurt.

fireflywfireShe had a lot of firsts on this trip.  First of all she flew across country by herself, with a layover on each side of the trip (even I haven’t done that).  She saw fireflies for the first time, heard cicadas, saw new and unusual bugs, saw many real lightning storms, met relatives she only saw as a child, got to play with fireworks, read different types of books, explored new towns, roasted a chicken, and got caught in a downpour while swimming…what can I say, it rained around 6 inches while she was here. And of course her and I talked to each other in more of a sister way, than in the mom and child way that we have had in the past.

She told me things that broke my heart and then things that gave me hope.  This trip while giving her a break from daily life also gave her a chance to see the world from a different angle, which is probably important at this stage of the game.  It also made her know that even if there is distance, Honey and I have her back no mater what.  Sometimes just knowing that makes it easier to deal with the crap.  While I know the issues she has to face from growing up with the same cast of characters, the setting is a bit different and the plot has way too many twists.   I had Mimi to go to, hopefully Firefly feels like she can come to us.

Of course we were not the only ones that didn’t take her departure well.  Bailey was practically beside himself when he saw her luggage out of the closet and whenever she left the room he followed.  I think he is also onboard if she decides to come live with us, what do you think?

baileynotpleased

I do NOT approve

We have talked a lot since she got back, she seems to be doing ok.  She is keeping herself busy with friends and trying a few things to keep her mind busy so she doesn’t get summer brain rot.  I’m trying to keep myself busy too, with making the house ours and starting up my writing schedule again.  Since she was here at the beginning of our life at this house, it has been an adjustment in her absence.   But that just gives us a chance to do some more research into all things fun on the East Coast for her next trip out.