Wednesday, February 29, 2012

If MOV Lived Here...on Leap Day!

If I Lived Here

Today is Leap Blog Day, and you know what that means: blog hop! MOV is guest posting, and in the spirit of my regular House Stalker feature, MOV writes about her house stalking addiction. Enjoy the read!

I recently read a great book by Meghan Daum called, “Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House.” She is a wonderful author and I adored her book, but this essay is not about her book; it’s about her title.

Don’t we all feel that way, a little bit? Life would be perfect if I lived in that house. I would be thin. I would have lots of friends. I would never eat cereal for dinner or wear the same sweatpants two days in a row and forget that it’s my turn for carpool.

I would be smart. Sassy. Original. On-time. Never raise my voice. Zen-like. Yes, if I only lived in that house.

Like Kirby, I routinely stalk various houses around my neighborhood of Crazy Town (and by routinely, I mean at 6 AM on a Sunday when there is less chance of me being arrested for trespassing). No house is immune. Even houses that my five-year-old might deem too “yucky” hold potential in my architecturally-inspired mind. I like Craftsman. I like Cape Cod. I like Colonial. I like ultra-modern. I like big houses and small, houses that have not been touched, and houses that have been totally redone. Today I’ve set my sights on this gem:

Obviously, if I lived here, I would be rich. Rich enough to have a gardener because that is a lot of lawn to mow. I would be the type of rich person who brings in her own groceries but does not want to get her gorgeous blonde Pantene-commercial hair rained on (see the breezeway from the garage to what I assume is the fully-renovated, Sub-Zeroed, Viking-ranged, granite counter-topped kitchen?). I would absolutely have a maid and a personal chef, but I would be such a nice boss that I would want to help carry in those organic groceries (unless I was getting back from the gym. In that case I might be tired and in need of a nap or a glass of Pinot.).

The garage would hold my three cars: Rolls Royce, Ferrari, and some sort of SUV. They came with the house. I wouldn’t know how to drive the Rolls, but that’s okay: the chauffeur would.

If I lived in the Mansion de MOV (the official new name), I would be patriotic (see the flag there by the door?). In my real life, I am patriotic, only I can’t find my flag. I know it’s around here somewhere. Forgive me for misplacing it, I have a good reason—we just moved. Two years ago. So that means we are still putting everything away.

If this was my house, I would be the type of person who makes decisions easily. My world would be black and white. White bricks, black shutters and door. Done. There would be none of this vacillating around stuff.

This house would have a red dining room. The Husband would not like that, but it’s what the house dictates, and who are we to argue with a house? It’s bigger than us. It wins.

The master bedroom would have a sweeping view of the pool (duh), and be decorated in a soothing palette of cream on polar white on beige on ecru, with cheery pops of color in the (original) art work, which were painted by all my new famous artist friends. There would be a sparkly crystal chandelier, natch, in the seating area—sort of a hidden reading nook-alcove-thing. The adjoining master bath would have 1930’s jade green and jet black vintage tile plus a formal dressing area. One whole walk-in closet would cosset my over-priced designer shoes. (The Husband could kick off his muddy running shoes near the back door somewhere.)

One room in The Mansion de MOV would be devoted to my endless collection of horseback riding trophies. (In real life I own neither a horse nor a trophy, such is the transformative power of the right house.) Another room would be dedicated to The Husband’s stamp collection and sports memorabilia from the time he played professional baseball (he didn’t, but we don’t have to tell the house that just yet).

House would want us to have parties. The house comes with a complete list of new, wealthy friends who love to socialize and are always saying things like, “We just got back from Rio,” or “We’ve decided to open up a third restaurant in Paris,” or “Do you like it? It’s Chanel.” These new friends would not bring a bottle of wine for a hostess gift—they would bring the deed to an extra winery they happen to have in Napa.

This partying would take place in the living room and spill out onto the patio. There seems to be some sort of alluring covered veranda-type thing on the left side of the house as you are facing it. I tried to get a closer look, but that’s when the security guards confiscated my binoculars and threatened to have me carted away to the nearest police station.

See? I like that. If I lived in that house, I would have my own security force to keep out the riffraff. Clearly, we’d need it, what with all the wackos wandering around the neighborhood.


Leap Blog Day Post has been brought to you by the FABULOUS Julie, who has funny stuff all the time, except the weekends, when I have convinced her to come to the dark side and post about houses. You can call me Kirby Vader.

Monday, February 27, 2012

It all started with the anorexics...

I began blogging around 2005, about the same time my dad was diagnosed with cancer--he elected not to treat it, but to start receiving hospice immediately and die in his own home.  It was a process that lasted about seven weeks and left my head spinning.  I was on Xanga, (probably should have been on Xanax, but that's another story for another day) just writing for myself, really, with no thought about anyone reading it.  But a few folks did--and I made a couple of friends who have remained has even followed me to Blogger.  Unfortunately, I made an off-hand (and humorous, I thought) remark that answered Xanga's question of the day, which was "What would you say if you found out your friend was anorexic?"  My answer included phrases along the lines of  "you go..." and "...thin mints...".  From that moment on, I was persona non grata on Xanaga.  So I escaped to Blogger.

Again, initially I was just writing for me.  And then a few people started to follow me--friends, mostly, from facebook and real life. 
< (This is my sister, Kiki.  She feel sorry for me because I'm old and teach 8th grade, so she reads this blog out of guilt.)

And I started to get responses on my funnier posts.  And my Mrs. Duffey posts?  Were the $hit.  But still no increase in readership and only a comment or two.

So, I started to do some research, and found the home decor bloggers.  There are a zillion of them.  They have about skeighty-eight hundred people following them.  Some of them?  Even make money.  Heck yeah, I'll jump on that bandwagon!
I have five house remodels under my belt--I can hang with this crowd!  That led to HOuse 'HO, which was my parody, sort of, of the home decor blogs.  I didn't count on it being something that people read.  And I certainly didn't count on finding some interesting women who have great ideas. And that leads me to now....
     I am not ambitious by nature--I'm good to go with the flow.  But my word for the year is "forward..." and that's where I want to go. (And now we're getting to the part I probably should have started with, but I tend to dwell on backstory.)  What do I want from my blog?

1.  To keep in touch with my Peeps

For me, blogging is a way to communicate with my friends and family all over North America.  I'm not a big "phone" person, mainly because I forget to turn mine on.  I call my mom and my kids, but I write to everyone else.  I would hate for my blog to turn into something that doesn't sound like me--I think it has to be my voice coming through.

2.  To make people feel something

Not every time I blog, of course, because sometimes I'm just showing photos of furniture or houses that I stalk, but at least once a week I'd like to post something that makes someone laugh or cry or think "is this woman insane?"  Or all three.  Maybe at the same time.

3.  To gain at least one follower a week

...and lose 1 pound a week!

4.  To keep track of what's going on 

As DL and I transition out of "workin' for the man" mode and into our "Yee-Haw!" mode, I hope this blog will be a good platform for what we do, which is remodeling/renovation/rehab.  We don't expect the blog to make money for us, but I think that the knowledge and information that's available on the internet, from all of these bloggy folks, will give us the inspiration to move forward with our "retirement."  (It doesn't hurt to have a kick in the pants if we've been asked to show the photos from projects or renos, either!)

and 5. To be a part of a community

And I do love being a part of the community of home decor bloggers.  I may not have the same goals--after all, they ARE younger!--but they have a great vibe that I am enjoying.  Plus, they will inspire me to clean my house so that I can post photos.  They may have to wait on that until I'm done grading papers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Houses on the internet Stalker Sunday

Sometimes, when I'm bored or avoiding the things I MUST do, like grading 60 poetry packets, I will say to myself "hmmmmm.....I wonder how much a two bedroom flat in the south of England costs?"  And then I will rush to my computer to look it up.  Of course there will be math involved, because other people's money is not the same as ours and I will have to try to figure it out.  Generally, I will be wrong, because I KNOW that I cannot get a three bedroom house in the lake district of Italy for eight hundred and seventy-two dollars.  I know it's at LEAST a thousand.  So right there, I know that I did the math wrong.  So then I inevitably ask DL to do it for me, and he is good for stuff like that.  And reaching the high things.  I'm glad he's around.
This week, mainly because it got really cold and windy, I decided to stalk houses on the web.  and here's what I found:

My summer home!

Yep!  Over 5,000 square feet of lakefront property in my favorite town of all time, Niagara-on-the-Lake!
Even this isn't opne of the older, more charming homes in NOTL, it doesn't need a lick of work!  It's move-in-ready!  Just bring the ingredients for your favoirte beverage, and you're good to go.

And here's where I'll spend the winter months:

Can't you just see this Hilton Head beauty decorated for Christmas?? >

Unfortunately, I don't have enough body parts to harvest to pay for these daydreams, so I guess I'll just get back to grading poetry packets.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Playing Hooky

Actually, I like school.  Most of the time.  Except this year, they got rid of teacher work days so that we could get all up to snuff on the Common Core, which is a good thing.  Except...

I love my teacher work days.

I love teaching with no kids there.

I love piddling around with my calendar and figuring out how long it will take to teach  I, Robot and what the vocabulary words will be.  And I love figuring out how to best teach certain literary devices like metaphor and theme.  And I love filing stuff.   But with no teacher workdays, we don't have the opportunity to do these cool, yet important, things.

So today, I played hooky.

I didn't technically do any schoolwork, but I had been at school from 6:40-4:40 both days this week, and I thought I deserved a break. 
And thank you to whomever is in charge of pretty days, because today was one.  And I got to walk around outside with just a light jacket and breathe in the spring and look at the daffodils and the redbuds.

Tomorrow, I go back to the world of 13 and 14-year-olds.  But for one brief, shining moment...
I played hooky.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Repost for the Lenten Season

Now that Lent has officially begun, I am feeling a little left out.

Lent is, for me, the most difficult time of year.

This probably sounds a little screwy to you, but I grew up in a largely Catholic part of the country, where people name their kids after saints and take meals to the priest (because, apparently, holy men don't cook) and wear rosary beads. And I was not Catholic.

I had serious church envy.
My mother (who is Presbyterian--one of the 'frozen chosen') used to tell a story of when I was a little girl--maybe four or five--sitting in the nursery in church, and when they asked me who the minister was, I responded "Father Tressi." Why not-- he lived diagonally from me and I saw him in his priest's robes, walking his Boston Terrier. Obviously, Father Tressi was far more interesting than our minister--who did not live close enough for me to see, nor did he have a rockin' canine. Shouldn't all churches be run by a guy called "Father?"
But no--when my friends arrived at the bus stop laughing and giggling because they spent the morning at confirmation classes, I was jealous. I wanted a First Holy Communion with a white dress and gloves and PRESENTS. When they came to school smudged with ashes, I was jealous. I knew that the reason we had fish sandwiches on Friday was because of them. And I wanted to be one of them so bad, I could TASTE it.

So I did the next best thing--I dated Catholic boys.

And I made them take me to church.

I learned the Hail Mary and the Our Father and what to say and when to say it. If they took me to an old church where there were kneelers, I kneeled. I crossed myself and learned their version of 'The Lord's Prayer.' In other words, I became really good at faking it.
And I married one.
Who graduated from Our Lady or Lourdes High School and The University of Notre Dame. Mega-Catholic.
And it was funny to find out, that after all those years of indoctrination, he was pretty much faking it, too. It taught me something--that Catholicism (and every other religion, actually) is kind of like a restaurant with a set menu--no substitutions. Only instead of a meal, they are selling you beliefs. And you can't choose a little of this and a little of that and ignore the rest--you have to eat the whole meal. There are some portions of the Catholic menu that my husband couldn't stomach.

But I do still love those fish sandwiches.

Finding the Funny

Monday, February 20, 2012

An open letter... everyone who has to sit through a teacher's workshop with me:
I am sorry that I know the words to all of the songs in the Mary Poppins trailer and felt compelled to sing them.  My aunt Joan took me to see it when I was about four and a half.  I have a memory problem--if it occurred between 1964 and 1979, I remember it distinctly.  Last night's dinner?  Not so much. 

And I am sorry that I know that the guy who plays Creed on The Office was one of The Grass Roots.  And when the presenter gets stuck on that fact, I will fill in the blank.  And you all will look at me as if I am (a) one of those snotty, know-it-all girls who are show-offy and annoying, or (b) one of those kids you hate to have in your classes, because they will blurt out whatever, whenever.

I can't help it. 

Some of my friends call it "Tourette's of the Mouth," but that's not really what it is.  It is ADHD, which used to be called "flaky," "disorganized," and "not working up to potential."  I have been clinically assessed, and I fell into the 97th percentile on the Hawthorne form and the 99th percentile on the Connors.  When I was younger, it was considered part of my charm, but only where intelligent, geeky guys were concerned--particularly guys who never thought a cute girl (and blonde!) would ever give them the time of day.  So I've been able to get away with it.  Until now.

What was cute when I was thirty is not-so-cute now.  I'm in that purgatory between cutes--the cute that ends when you're about 35 and the one that starts when you're about 65.  And although snarky is not necessarily a BAD thing...teachers have enough snark coming out of the mouths of 14 year-olds; they don't want to hear it from a colleague.
So, I'm sorry.  I blame Poppins Syndrome.
(Because I can't blame it on the Grass.  Roots.)

Haven 2012

So, what started out as a joke (HOuse 'HOs) has turned into a reality--I'm a "DIY" blogger.  Of course I blog about other things as well--school, food, funny things, and house stalking.  But now I've become legit--I signed up for Haven.
Haven is a conference in Atlanta, being put together by Home Depot and Minwax and Rustoleum and several other companies and a group of women who are able to BLOG for a LIVING, dammit! 

I decided I need to check this conference out for two reasons:  they have some interesting speakers, and it's in Atlanta and I've never been to Atlanta.  (I know, right?  Only four and half hours away, and I haven't been there.  Generally, if I'm driving four and a half hours, I'm going to the ocean, fercryin' outloud.) 

My fear is that I will get there and no one will talk to me.  I'm bringing DL with me, and he will be riding shotgun in the hotel just in case the anxiety kicks in. So look out, Hotlanta, Kirb will be in the house.

Hands=On at Haven Conference 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

House Stalker Sunday, 10th Edition (I was wrong last week.)

This is Shakespeare's house.
(Okay, technically it's not Shakespeare's house.  Maybe if Shakespeare had lived in North Carolina in the 20th century, but he didn't.  And if Shakespeare had a really bad sunroom attached to his house, ala Wendy's, circa 1982.)

I walk by this house a few times a week in the summer (because in the winter, I walk on a treadmill, but apparently not often enough because I've gained THIRTY POUNDS in the last nine months), and I always look for someone.  Because I figure if I ingratiate myself to the owners, they might give me first crack at this puppy if they decide to sell.  Of course, DL looks at it and screams "MONEY PIT!  ALL THOSE WINDOWS NEED TO BE REPLACED!"  (And now I need to explain about my husband and windows.  He thinks replacing windows is more important than the TRULY important things, like choosing the right countertops and finding the perfect shade of green for the bedroom and making sure you have the right spot for the Hitchcock chest.  Does he not understand that with wonderful curtains, no one cares what the windows look like?)

One of the interesting things about this house is the lot.  At one point, the owners decided that the bulk of the front yard would be hardscaped with stone pavers and pea gravel.  They have made an attempt at an English Manor look, but have only made it half-way.

(You will find out in the summer months how much I love to garden.  I REALLY love to garden.  To heck with the house--let me play in the dirt.)

(My guess is they thought they were acheiving this >)

Bless their hearts.

Anyway, I could have a blast with this house, regardless of how DL feels about the windows. 

But I would have to get rid of the Wendy's sunroom.

(I am linking this blog to a blog hop for growing followers--something I need to do.  Otherwise, I wind up at the Haven Conference with no one to talk to.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy VD, aka Terran goes out on a limb.

I was surprised to find out that some of my regular readers (all seven of you!) didn't know that I am a teacher.  Sad, but true: I have been warping  molding young minds since the '80s.

I used to have an educational blog called "The New Thirteen," but nobody was reading  it's difficult enough to keep up with one blog, let alone multiple.  For the most part, I have kept away from blogging about school because after spending the whole day there, I don't want to even think about it any more.  But there are days that are so interesting that I simply must share.

Sometimes, I find a student who intrigues me.  Today, it was Terran.  Terran is one of those kids that doesn't seem to fit any mold--he's not concerned enough about his grades to be a geek; he's not attractive enough to be cute; he's not bad enough to be a rebel.  He's just kind of weird and kind of smart and kind of interesting...he'll probably wind up owning some huge corporation, making educational software for my grandchildren, who will not actually attend a school with teachers--just "facilitators" who make sure the computers are turned on.

Today, Terran showed up in my classroom with a big hot pink envelope.  He kept it hidden in his book for a few minutes, then took it out, put it behind his back, and went out to stand in the hallway.  He stood up against the wall, the envelope behind his back, his eyes glued on the far end of the lockers, and waited. 

I never know if I should say anything about stuff like this, especially where some boys are concerned.  So I just asked him if he was looking for someone, and he answered in the affirmative.  Then, I asked him if he could see the person for whom he was looking, and he nodded.  I left it at that, and let him do what he needed to do, which was hand a hot pink envelope to one girl in the midst of dozens. 

Five minutes later, Terran was in the classroom.  I asked him if the mission was a success, he said yes, and we shared a fist bump. 

There are minutes when I love my job. 
(There are days when I don't.)

Happy Valentines Day to everyone, but especially to those guys like Terran, who may not look like much on the outside, but will someday rule the world.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

House Stalker Sunday! Number 8?

This house is one that I walk past a couple of times a week in my summer sojourns. 
I call it "The Mother Goose House."  (I tend to 'name' houses.  Not houses with legit names, like Brandywine or Leatherwood from last week, but names like "Rapunzel House."  And if you like this quirk?  Don't worry; there will be more.)

The first time I saw this house, it reminded me of an illustration from a children's book.  Upon closer look, it became intriguing: how much natural light?  What could the floor plan be?  What is that room on the second floor with that bay window?  And those little dormers?  What up, homies?

Even if the floor plan is wonky, it might be worth investing in this one, just to be able to call yourself "Mother Goose."

ON ANOTHER NOTE:  I have a new look at Kirb Appeal!  This look has been brought to us by the talented Kristin!  She put together a great header using pics from my hometown and my garden as well as a button.  (I have a button!  I feel like I'm "sitting at the cool kids' table!")  Please check Kristin out if you are interested in upgrading your blog.
And I'll grab yours, if you'll grab mine...button, that is!

Friday, February 10, 2012

This is a repost. We're back into poetry in my classroom, and it never fails to amaze me, what kids do with words.

As a teacher, I often use song lyrics to help kids understand poetry. I find that if I can connect poetry to something they hear every day, then they'll respond a little less reluctantly. (Because honestly, poetry is not something that 8th graders are necessarily coming to with an open mind. Or any mind, for that matter. After all, it is the 8th grade.)

In my dreams, this is how the lesson would go:

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by Edison Lighthouse, 1970. Barry Mason, Tony Macaulay

**Let's begin, shall we, with the title. We have an interesting transposition here. Love doesn't actually grow, but rosemary (the herb) does. This forshadows that this is a song about an herb.

She ain't got no money

Her clothes are kinda funny

Her hair is kinda wild and free

**She's poor, badly dressed, and suffers from chronic "bed head." Not only is she unfortunate and in serious financial straits, but the guy singing about her is uneducated (as evidenced by the grammatical errors).

Oh but love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

**Apparently, the singer knows of a place where this particular herb grows. Maybe that's why his grammar is so bad. Too much herb.

She talks kinda lazy

And people say she's crazy

And her life's a mystery

**Obviously, she's suffering from some sort of impairment. This has caused her to become secretive and suspect in her actions.

Oh but love grows where my Rosemary goes

And  nobody knows like me

**Another herb harvesting. By himself. Whoa.

There's something about her hand holding mine

It's a feeling that's fine

**Heightened tactile sensitivity.

And I just gotta say (hey!)

**Speaking in parenthesis. Another manifestation of the overuse of herb.

She's really got a magical spell

And it's working so well

That I can't get away

**Casual use has become addiction

**here we have a key change--obviously a symbol for how this particular herb has changed the singer's life.)

I'm a lucky fella

And I just gotta tell her

That I love her endlessly

**The singer will never be able get this particular monkey off his back.

Because love grows where my Rosemary goes

And nobody knows like me.

****I believe I'm having way too much fun with this.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oh are both a blessing and a curse.

...because I can make really cool furniture out of your original ugliness.  (Among a whole bunch of other reasons, but that's another story for another day.)

I found this small flip-top server at a consignment store and paid way more than I should have, but it was just so darn cute!  (This is where I USED to say 'kinda like me,' but I can't fool 'em anymore.)  It is about 28" high and a little over three feet wide with a top that flips up to extend.  There's a marble inset and some cool decorative touches.

Problems?  It was a little scratched and dented and dull, but the biggest problem was the pecan finish.

Now, don't get me wrong...I like pecan as much as the next person.  But that "pecan finish" from the seventies is not as much a finish as it is a statement.  A statement that says: Look at me!  I am from the seventies!  And so was Florence Henderson's Carol Brady hairstyle!  'Nuf said!

So, I scooped this little piece up and had some fun with it.  I sanded it down with my new sander, and then used a mushroom-colored homemade chalk paint.  Then I distressed it a little more than I usually do--getting a little carried away with the sandpaper.  Then, a light stain and coat of dark wax.  Inside I painted the shelf and inside of the doors with a chartreuse, and spray painted the handles black.  This is a very poor picture of the finished product:

It's down at Elizabeth's, awaiting a new home.  If it doesn't find one, it can always move back in with me!

I'm hooked to Savvy!

Sunday's Best Linky Party!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

House Stalker Superbowl Sunday

Sometimes there are coincidences, and sometimes there's a reason.  (This reminds me of what could possibly be the best new show since "GLEE"--Keifer's new show, "Touch."  But maybe not...I haven't seen the show about Broadway yet...I think it's on tonight.)

Anyhoo, ever since I moved to Winston, there have been "those houses" like the Rapunzel house, that I kind of "keep track of."  I walk or drive past them every month or so, and think to myself  "I'd love to get in there and see what that looks like."

This was one of those houses.  Only not for the reasons you might think.
I stalked this one because it was one of three that gave me the same 'vibe.'  They all belonged to the same couple--a couple with a vision.

Tammy Chipman, wife of local builder extraordinaire Tommy, and a wonderful designer in her own right, calls these "sister houses."  They were built for a couple, Earline Heath King and Joe King,  who were high school sweethearts here in Winston, but went on to live in Washington DC and Europe, where he was learned to become a portrait painter.  The house where I live, Brandywine, was the first house they built--about ten years or so into their marriage, after they returned from Europe. It's about 2,500 square feet and has many of the typical problems of 1940s homes--no closet space, small kitchen.  The studio is an outbuilding. The house pictured, built roughly a mile northeast of here on the most exclusive road in the city, is called "Leatherwood."  It was built in 1952 and has a much larger kitchen and a lot more closet space.  It has nearly 4,000 square feet, including a phenomenal attached studio.

 (There's a second house, but they remodeled it, not built it, and it was after Joe and Earline split, so there are some hard feelings there.)

So...Leatherwood has always been on my "I want to see the inside of that house" list, especially since I bought the "sister house." And last fall, my friend Anne told me about an estate sale in a "neat old house with really cool rooms."  After quizzing her a moment, I realized the house was Leatherwood.

(I could say that it was a sad occassion, because it meant that she had died, but she was very old and had enjoyed an illustrious career, even AFTER her husband had divorced her and taken up with some chickie babe.  In fact, he was probably jealous that she was becoming more famous than he!)

When I found out that there was an estate sale at Leatherwood, I immediately called DL and said "get your butt over there and see what's up!" because I was at school and we don't get a lunch break or anything.  And being the good materials bee-otch he is, he did.
And then he called me.  I won't tell you exactly what he said--because he was being emphatic--but it amounted to "you may want to swing over here on your way home from school."  (Which, by the way, is not entirely accurate because I actually had to pass my house on the way.  But that's not the point.)

(Little did I know that DL had made fast friends with Earline's caretaker, Adam, pictured above.  In fact, he knew who I was from a letter I had written to Earline, trying to learn the history of my house.  But she was already in a decline and he doubted she could give me any helpful information.  We wanted to restore what we could and update what we needed, while still maintaining the integrity of the house.)

It was amazing to see that many of the elements I loved in Brandywine were also present at Leatherwood, like the murals in the front room.  In our house, that room is the dining room, in Leatherwood, it was the library. 

There were many outdoor elements that were also similar.  In fact, we have an outdoor fireplace very similar to the one at Leatherwood.

We were very fortunate to be able to purchase some wonderful items from the estate, like the iron wall-mounted plant holder above.  We also got some great sconces and  a few interesting smalls...all to imbue Brandywine with some of the original owner.

Sometimes, stalking pays off!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What can you use a ladder for, besides climbing onto Juliet's balcony?

Funky Junk has a "thing" for ladders.  She has asked moi to include photos for her "Ladder Party," which sounds vaguely pornographic, if you ask me.  (Actually, that's a lie.  She didn't ask me, specifically; she has put out an all-call.)

About five years ago, when we first moved into this house, I brought with me roughly 2,834,390 magazine pages that I had ripped out over the course of twenty years, toting them from house to house to use as inspiration.  (Many of them were from Mary Englebreit's Home Companion--still mourning that loss--and before the advent of Pinterest, which makes lugging torn-out pages completely unneccessary.) One of these pages showed a ladder used as a pot rack.  In my long, narrow kitchen, this was the perfect idea.  

Two summers ago, I did what I could for the small, cramped kitchen on the extremely limited budget I had.  (This will be a subsequent post.)  Because cabinet space is limited, I thought a pot rack would be a great way to free up some much-needed space.  I had all the items needed to create the look--an old apple ladder and a husband who could hang it.  Here are the results:

The only drawback to this is that I have to have my husband DL reach the stuff on the top, unless I grab the stepstool or jump.  Which I occassionally do. 

I'm also linked at Get Schooled--even though I'm not teaching on Saturday!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Some days you spill the beer; some days the beer spills you

...and I have no idea what that means, but it probably has something to do with this post so we'll figure it out.
Marie Curie doesn't really have anything to do with this post, but she really'll have to bear with me.

I have been thinking a little bit about Demi Moore.  Not a lot, just enough to write a blog.
(First of all, I need to make something clear:  I like to go to the movies and watch TV, but I don't know a lot about celebrities.  I'm too busy grading papers and doing laundry to worry about which of the Olsen Twins is dating Bill Murray.) 

I don't know anything about Demi, except that she is just a few years younger than I am and we all thought she was SO COOL when she was on "General Hospital" back when we all sat in the lobby of the dorm to watch "General Hospital" to see if Demi could help Luke find his lost bride, Laura. (Okay, so now I have dated myself.  Most of y'all? Were not even ALIVE when I was watching GH in the lobby of the dorm.  This was before cable.  Three channels.  I know, right?  Crazy!)  But Demi was always the epitome of cool. 

First, she was considered a member of "The Brat Pack."  O.M.G.  I would have given up all my legwarmers AND my elf boots to be a member of the aforementioned pack.  Judd Nelson?  Andrew McCarthy?  Martin Sheen's other kid?  Oh, HE}} yeah!  So, that's one thing.
Then, she married the Golden Boy of the late '80s. Bruce Willis.  Is that cool or what?  And even when they got divorced they still got fact, it was my understanding that after her subsequent marriage to -- wait for it--Ashton Kutcher--all three of them were friendly.  A benchmark for cool.

And Ashton the Sk8ter boy...young enough to be her much younger brother and/or the kid she used to babysit...she was a cougar before cougars were cool.  (To be honest, though, cougars were cool for about a year, then just kinda pitiful.)
Which brings me to the present.

How can you maintain "cool?"  Is it like childhood--beautiful and fleeting?  And what happens when you're not "cool" anymore?  I'm not Demi Moore, and Lord knows NO ONE on the PLANET would have ever described me as cool, though some of my high school friends have reappeared on facebook, extolling Kirby's coolness, but I remember being a huge dork who couldn't even get a date to the senior prom.  Lack of cool notwithstanding,  I understand what it's like to wake up one day and not be who you thought you were.  What's a disenfranchised party girl to do?

I think we can all agree that perhaps Marie Curie (pictured above) had the right idea.  Does she care if she looks young?  Does she need to be the hottest babe in the room?  Is she trying to impress the guys with her 32 DDs on the body of an undernourished 13 year-old boy?  No.
 She was busy isolationg radioactive isotopes and accepting Nobel Prizes.  Even after her husband's death left her "an incurably and wretchedly lonely person" according to Wikipedia, which we all know is the never-ending font of indisputable knowledge, she kept doing what she did best--science--without a man!  And they loved her for it.  They loved her so much she got that second Nobel Prize all by herself.

So, Demi, take heart.  You need to find your inner coolness again, but not in the same way.  You have a bunch of money and you girls are nearly grown.  Find something that interests you--it doesn't have to be chemistry--and blow their minds.  You don't need a guy to make you feel great--you don't even need a Noble Prize--you just need to do what's right for you.
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