30 May 2011


I don't even like travel, but, since November I've been to Europe twice, Omaha twice, New Orleans, Michigan, Central Illinois, Virginia Beach...

It seems there are perpetual stacks of clutter waiting to be sorted, cleaned, stored, or thrown out. Clean clutter. The kind that accumulates when you are packing or unpacking; getting ready for a trip or digging out from under the stuff you brought home. And, I cart way too much stuff with me wherever I go, accumulating more even as I distribute the gifts and return the borrowed items.

This time I'm supposed to be home for a week. The good news is that we originally had planned a 2+ week road trip with CA ending in Central Illinois for his mom's shoulder replacement (which I'd mis-heard (been mis-informed-?) was to be a rotator cuff repair) and me ending in Michigan with my sister, JL. We've had some good spring days together in the past few years visiting nurseries and planning our perennial beds and annual blooms.

Anyway, sometime during our week at the beach we decided to head straight home for a few overnights before going our separate directions. CA was home for two nights and I managed four in a row. It was a gift. We had so many responsibilities and balls-in-the-air the weeks prior to leaving for the beach, and it felt so good to re-center ourselves in our home environment with some time to connect the dots, make the phone calls, and clean up between the journeys. We both arrived home late yesterday afternoon, and the clutter is definitely our stinking-like-a-fish-after-three-days house guest.

Of course rather than planting the new perennials in our newly cleaned-up landscape beds this morning, I convinced CA to move some furniture around... Sneeze, cough, blow your nose. Where does the dust come from? I distinctly remember a thorough cleaning not too long ago.

This is where we're starting from in the master bedroom.

Many of the changes DV is suggesting are contingent on other projects, so timing is imperative. While we were able to begin to re-arrange the master bedroom as she suggested,  we have not yet ordered the new twin beds that will comprise a much lower-profile king bed configuration than our existing tester queen (with too tall mattress). We can already appreciate that our bedroom appears much larger; can almost imagine how the visual space will open up when we move the tester bed upstairs and our bed is an appropriate height.

We moved the armoire that holds storage baskets and our smallish flat-screen along the same wall to the other side of the bathroom door, on a 45˚angle, as DV suggested--freeing up the space at the foot of our bed. We first thought we wanted the armoire flat against the smaller wall section, but quickly realized that the angle allowed for a visual appreciation of a lovely piece of furniture. The decorator knows best.

And, the two natural pine 4-drawer chests we used as nightstands now exist side-by-side with our smaller tables serving as nightstands. This allows for several improvements: a) our plantation shutters are now fully operational, not blocked by the nightstands; b) we have the option of putting our flat-screen back into the armoire (after we move the cable connection) or on top of the wide-expanse created by these side-by-side chests; c) CA's clutter ends up behind the closed-door on his nightstand instead of on the floor and around his chest of drawers; d) once the new beds are in-place I get to shop for a better nightstand for my side; and, e) the sight-lines for t.v. viewing are vastly improved. To be completely clear here, CA usually lays across the bed with his body in a semi-twisted position in order to be able to watch t.v. in our bedroom, and we virtually never watch t.v. when we're in bed at night.

The wing-back chair is destined for the new morning room (ex-dining room) and we can already tell that my beloved leather recliner will fit nicely into the corner of our bedroom. The leather is wearing well, and I can envision the chair as an excellent addition to our bedroom. It looks comfortable, well-loved, and appropriate. Just can't move it in yet until the 60" round table in our dining room finds a new home, making way for the two wing back chairs.

We're getting our heads wrapped around our redecorating plans, realizing we have to move slowly and have a number of things in-place before we hire the guys to move the furniture around the house for us. And, I'm making some additional decisions about what gets re-purposed and what gets replaced.

This is a HUGE PROJECT, which we'll work through as we can afford, taking our time--with the help of DV--to get it right.

21 May 2011


We have to check out by 10:00am, and we do. Everything was already packed from yesterday morning. We're making a stop at Starbuck's on 31st and then we'll drive north on Atlantic to Ocean Drive and follow the signs for the Hampton Roads Tunnel, rather than taking the closer I-264 entrance.

We're especially happy that we chose this exit route, as it brings back memories of when we lived here and of other vacation journeys. There are lots of familiar sights and much that's new and improved. We're always a bit nostalgic as we head over the causeway and into the tunnel.

The drive north on I-64 is tree-lined and lovely. We've not planned our stops, but end up making a quick, fruitless, visit to Williamsburg Pottery in Lightfoot. There's just not much here anymore; there's also a sign saying that by 2012 there'll be new and improved Pottery Factory shops...

We haven't eaten today, so owe find a BBQ place in Williamsburg, Red, Hot and Blue,  that turns out to be a great choice. I opt for a pulled-chicken salad (mixed greens, veggies, and chicken), while CA can't resist the pulled pork.

Our next destination (besides home!) is Chap's in Charlottesville. Yes, we stopped here on our way down to the beach. This ice cream is the best! The best! Definitely worth another visit. We both are loyal to our previous choices from last week and last year--peanut butter and chocolate for me and some sort of pralines and pecans for CA. YUM! and double YUM!

We decide to stop for dinner at a steak house near Beckley, WVA and then have the energy to press on.

We'd hope to drive to Huntington, WVA, as that's been a good sort-of-halfway spot for us, but we surprise ourselves by making it as far as Gallipolis, OH. Our iPhone GPS suggested that we take Rte. 35 toward Dayton, and while its definitely a secondary route, we follow it just for some variety in our travels.

After just a few false stops, we locate a Hampton Inn. Our room is a king, and outfitted for business travelers--meaning there's an urban vibe with dark woods, white linens, and a smashing spa-like bathroom. A great find!

Funny, I'd just read today in the NY Times that many hotels are opting for shower-only bathrooms, having concluded that most travelers prefer showers. Then, we check in at the Hampton Inn in Gallipolis and find it has just a shower, no tub. A coincidence? I think not. I'm always amazed how these things follow...

We're very thankful for this lovely room tonight. We really only need the basics, but for a few dollars more we get this experience instead of the Super 8 just off the highway. Worth every dollar.

I do, though, manage to dampen the experience by indulging in... wait for it... Almost an entire box of caramel Crunch 'n Munch. A stomach ache. Really. Bloat. Ugh-h-h. Why do I do these things? I've even been planning to cut out high fructose corn syrup (and gluten, which doesn't really apply here (although they do sneak gluten into unlikely things)).

Guess what the number one ingredient is Crunch 'n Munch is? You don't have to be a genius to know: high fructose corn syrup!

O.K. I mean it. Tomorrow is the re-start of my commitment to Weight Watchers. No more fooling around. And, I'm really going to watch out for gluten (which settles around the waist and hip areas of middle-aged women) and HFCS. No matter what the ConAgra advertising blitz campaign says, I'm becoming convinced that high fructose corn syrup is deadly to overall health and vitality. CUT IT OUT!!!!

20 May 2011


CA and I start the day by packing up our studio--we'll stay in the one-bedroom unit tonight.

We squeeze about as much into this day as is possible, heading to Pocahontas at 8:30am where we indulge in a fantastic breakfast. We love this place. It's clean, and friendly; great food and wonderful service.

We're determined to spend more time at Croatan Beach. The sun is shining, the sky is blue; and both kiddos have decided they love the beach--surf, sand, and waves. When asked, two-year old LE says her favorite thing this vacation is, "Putting my toes in the ocean!" Took her almost a week to get down off her daddy's shoulders and stick those toes in the water. She still likes to be holding hands, although today JA encourages her, "Let's do it by ourselves."

We're checking for rental signs on these beach-side homes, but find only one with a realtor's name and number. Several others are for rent by owner. Maybe we need to check-out Craig's List. I also think that many of these homes are year-round residences. We'd love to rent here another year.

We have a couple of hours of delight before JE's family needs to pack up and drive back to D.C. They have an early Saturday flight, so will stay in an airport hotel tonight for convenience.

CA and I have ambitious plans for this afternoon, but actually veg-out in the condo, reading and napping until late afternoon. Don't want to waste our last hours at the beach, but we've already done quite a bit today.

About 5:00pm we decide that the sangria at Johnny Manana's sounds very tempting. We're not sure about our dinner plans, but this is a fine start. CA orders the red sangria, but I had a visual the other night of the white and was intrigued. I'm not disappointed. They've lightly flavored the white wine with pineapple and a hint of tropical spices. Lovely.

We eventually order bruschetta, and then decide to get a pizza. We're sitting at the ba,r and staying put has become our favorite option for tonight's entertainment.

A very fine week at the beach. There are many things we didn't find time to do, and places we'd thought we'd go; but, the reality is that we enjoyed our time and feel that each day was perfect. Just the right mix of activity and down-time, with an emphasis on down-time. We were never bored. There're always the sounds and sights of the ocean waves to lull and amaze.

19 May 2011


UGH! If this is really Thursday, then that means JA and LE have to leave the beach tomorrow. NO! It's too soon. We've barely begun to run and giggle, and chase the waves.

We loved our afternoon at Croatan Beach yesterday. Both kiddos finally fell in love with the sand, letting it envelop and encrust them while giggling and shouting. Croatan is a quieter beach than the Boardwalk area. The houses are spectacular, in the way real-lfe family houses should be. We want to move in. Almost any house will do. Can we rent here next year? Can we walk to Grommet Park from here? Can we stay here 24/7/365?

I was explaining to four-year old JA that we were going to a new beach. That OBC is on Virginia Beach, and we were taking a short drive to Croatan Beach. He said, Actually, this is Atlantic Beach. Well, technically this beach is on the Atlantic Ocean... I dropped my argument deciding to be impressed that he knows about the Atlantic Ocean. He remembers so much of what he's told.Today he informed his daddy that he wanted to go into the sea.

Last night CA and I hung out in 711 while JE and MA went to dinner at Catch 31. It was raining when they left, and then there was a downpour. Good thing the concierge has umbrellas. They enjoyed a fantastic dinner and a couple of hours of relaxation away from the kiddos.

I've been waging war on the smokers. There're smokers on both sides of our room. The guy in 702a blatantly smokes in his room and our shared foyer reeks of stale smoke. On the other side--703--they smoke on the balcony, which I guess is legal. But, they leave their putrid ashtray on the balcony all the time, and our large window overlooks their balcony! A very weird set-up.

We've had the maintenance people up two different times and they spray Febreze and apologize. We think that's as far as the management goes in trying to curtail the smoking, because it continues. The rules state that if you smoke in your room, you'll be charged a $250 fee for ozone treatment. Seems like 702a has decided smoking is worth $250 for a week.

I'm pretty sure that smoking in hotel rooms is controlled by city of Virginia Beach statutes, and I'm guessing the hotel management has a duty to police it. I'm not that much of a rabble-rouser, but if I was to be here for more than a week, I'd be having serious discussions about smoker-containment with the OBC management. Definitely has dampened our desire to buy a timeshare here.

Today has been perfect weather-wise, and activity-wise. The kiddos are very happy here, which keeps the 4 adults very happy, too. I told CA there'll be tears tomorrow, and he said he hoped I wouldn't cry for too long... JA and LE are NOT going to be ready for a 5-hour drive back to D.C. They love it here.

Each day we've ended up at some point in time at Starbucks at 31st and Pacific. The kiddos are still naive enough to be satisfied with a cup of iced water with a straw... This morning I actually had 4 shots of espresso before 10:00am...

Some mornings we've eaten a simple breakfast in our rooms, and some mornings we've breakfasted at Pocahontas--where we'll begin our day tomorrow. Some days we've had a restaurant lunch, and some days we've skipped lunch and opted for an early restaurant dinner. Every day we let the choices ebb and flow, with the moods and needs of the kiddos. We've spent very little time shopping, and very little time in the cars. We've had tons of beach time, and just the right amount of kid-time.

No complaints. We're having a fantastic beach vacation.

Today has been great vacation-wise. CA and I started our day at Starbucks with the NY Times and espresso. The rest of our crew caught up with us at 9:30am, but it took us until after 10:00am to secure our surrey bike for our ride down the Boardwalk. The bicycle rental place outside the OBC just never opened, and the one at 31st Street had to be negotiated with to get the pricing competitive with what we've paid in the past. Still, traveling down the Boardwalk together pedaling that surrey is one of the most fun group activities of our week. It gets us where we want to go, entertains us, and we even get a bit of exercise with the pedaling.

We had lunch again today at 11th Street Taphouse. The location is perfect for Grommet Park and our biking expedition, and the food is very good.

17 May 2011


Threats of rain, but the skies co-operate and give us lots of sunshine with short periods of overcast. Looks like a storm is coming, but none does.

We all go again to Pocahontas for breakfast. YUM! I have the Eggs Benedict Florentine this time, while CA has a humongous stack of pancakes with pecans and tons of whipped cream. LE chooses waffles, while JA has sausage links with pancakes... The sausage links being the important part. The food here is wonderful. A ton of breakfast, and a fun start to our day.

We fly a kite and blow bubbles on the beach. Soon the little ones are at the indoor pool with their mommy and daddy, while CA and I cheerlead and take photos. After baths, LE settles in for a nap, while CA and I take JA shopping. We're looking for a blue suitcase on wheels and some bakery cookies. We strike out on the suitcase--after checking out WalMart, TJ Maxx, and K-Mart. JA is complacent, content to wait until we find the perfect blue suitcase. It doesn't have to be today. He's very patient for four-years old... At least this time he is.

We go to Farm Fresh to check out their bakery; finding a variety of cookies. JA ponders a bit and carefully carries his choice through the check-out and all the way home. He gets lots of smiles and comments in the lobby and elevator, which totally embarrasses him so he turns his back to the people and faces the wall in the elevator.

By 3:30pm we're on our way to RockFish for an early-bird dinner. On-street parking is available, but confusing. The signs seem to contradict themselves. RockFish is on the beach at 16th Street, and is Beatles themed--guitars, photos, and Beatles memorabilia. The sound system loops their music, and when Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds plays, LE says, "It's me in the sky with diamonds!"

MA has a crab cake sandwich, JE has pulled pork, CA has a grilled and blackened tuna sandwich, and I opt for a Mandarin orange mixed green salad, with goat cheese, crispy chicken, and a honey mustard vinaigrette. LE gets her favorite mac and cheese, while JA surprises us all by ordering a fish sandwich. A fine and fun meal.

But, it's only 5:00pm and we've already had dinner! We decide that the early-bird special pricing works best for two people--buy one entree, get the second 1/2 price. When you're paying for six, you hardly notice the savings. And, while this earlier dinner time seems to fit the little ones' energy cycles, it brings the day to a close rather early.

Tonight I'm happy to have some downtime to read and watch t.v. CA hangs out with the kids, and keeps watch when JE and MA head out to Haagen Das for a treat. I end up having to call the front desk as someone is smoking in a nearby room (a no-no, for sure, that'll cost them $250 if they're caught) and we have stale smoke polluting our room. A maintenance guy shows up with some Febreze and we have to decide which smell is worse... The Febreze scent soon dissipates and the air is clearer.

I never get tired of the sounds, smells, and visuals at the beach. I love, love, love the ocean. I would love to be near the ocean 24/7/365.

16 May 2011


Starting the day on the beach with a yoga class is just about perfection...

Backing up, I actually started my day with eyes barely open, texting JE to see if they were up and liked the sound of bagels. They were and did. I rose to the occasion, literally, and headed out for bagels on Laskin Road at 7:00am. By 7:30am, all of us, except MA, were scattering bagel crumbs across our studio--the bed being the main piece of furniture in the room makes for an interesting breakfast-time and a crummy bedtime later... MA was back in 711 catching up on the sleep he missed by getting up with the kiddos before 6:00am.

Anyway, the yoga is great, even on an overcast morning. By the time my class ends, everyone has joined me on the beach for kite flying and sand scooping.

JE, LE, and I head out to Target about 10:15am as LE spotted little-girl wheeled luggage at the airports, and specifically asked me for her own suitcase. Who can resist? Absolutely not me. She chooses a purple one, with a NY skyline, over the pink one with a Paris skyline. Not sure Grandpa would support this choice...

We stop at Chik-fil-a for a bag of lunch before heading back to the beach. I'm having the second half of my Gringo Burrito from Johnny Manana's last night's dinner. I climb into bed with my book after lunch, and in the middle of a dental nightmare (dream) JE, CA, and JA break in to announce it's time for ice cream. I promised JA ice cream for this afternoon--after LE's nap, and the time is now! We take the cars down to 26th and Atlantic, and spend a bit of time choosing our flavors at Ben and Jerry's.

Guilt-ridden (I ate a whole bag of peanut-butter, chocolate-covered pretzels between bedtime last night and my nap tday...), I opt to walk the boardwalk on the return trip. I need to check out Tuesday's yoga schedule.

We're thinking Casby's for tapas tonight. Tapas will fill out our dining experiences so far... Friday night at Pi-zzeria; Saturday seafood at Surf Rider for CA and I; Sunday brunch at 11th Street Tap House (including a MYO Bloody Mary bar for Marielle) and a Mexican dinner at Johnny Manana's; Casby's for tapas tonight.

We need to get into our breakfast/early dinner routine, so we can take advantage of the early bird specials at Catch 31, Mahi Mah's, and Rockfish. Maybe we'll segue into that pattern tomorrow.

A really fun day with beach and pool time, ice cream in the afternoon, and a trip or two to Starbucks. We keep a moderate pace, but still have lots of time for lingering and lolling. Every day is a great day when you're at the beach.

15 May 2011


JA is not a fan of the Navy jets--the sounds of freedom.

Those cute red-striped surrey bikes caught our attention from the first day. This morning we rent one that requires four of us to pedal and gives the kids a front-row seat. We get lots of smiles and soon discover that the Boardwalk isn't as flat as it looks! We find that 11th Street Tap House doesn't open until 11:30am, and continue pedaling down the way until we reach the very south end of the Boardwalk and Grommet Park--an all-access kids beachfront park, outfitted with all sorts of climbing and dangling equipment. There are wheelchairs available with sand wheels, and the play surface is a flat, rubberized surface that's the colors of the ocean. It's a wonderful park.

The kids play and the adults supervise, and enjoy watching the surfers on the Atlantic as well as the crabbers on Rudee Inlet.

By 11:30am, or so, we're back at 11th Street Tap House, finding the menu a lot more brief and simpler than last May. Then, the entrees, salads, and sandwiches were so varied and interesting that I recorded many of them in my notebook and later in a blog entry. There are still yummy selections, and at least 32 specialty brews.

There's a MYO (make-your-own) Bloody Mary bar, and I can't resist. The waiter brings me a tall glass filled with ice and several inches of vodka... Oh, my! It takes about three glasses of Major Peters BM mix to get me through that pour. I accessorize with large pimento-stuffed olives, celery sticks, and some baby gherkins. I need a nap.

The surrey-bike is a huge hit with all of us. Not inexpensive, but definitely worth the cost. A good time is had by all!

We each retire to our various corners for naps, reading, and some exploring on-foot. Everyone in this group is sensitive to the individual needs of others and gives each other plenty of space. No overly sensitive, clinging types. We know each other well enough to realize that some of us (adults and kids, alike) need a bit of down time every day.

By dinner time JE and MA decide their crew will eat in the condo, so CA and I visit Pi-zzeria again, on our own, share a salad, and top it off with a Pizza Marguerite. YUM!

14 May 2011


As JA has complained, we were traveling for hours and hours and hours. The Omaha contingent started out on a 7:00am flight to Minneapolis on Friday, then onto D.C. by plane, picking up a rental car at Dulles and driving 5 hours to Virginia Beach.

CA and I started from Woodstock on Thursday morning, not very early, driving to Ashland, OH, just short of our Huntington, WV goal. Friday's drive was beautiful and long. We arrived at VA Beach about 6:30pm--and proceeded to check into two hotels--Ocean Beach Club for a Friday-to-Friday week's stay, and then a Courtyard Marriott for our first night. Tonight JE's family will use the studio and tomorrow they'll vacate our studio at OBC and move into a one-bedroom for a Saturday-to-Saturday week.They actually leave on Friday, May 20th, so we'll stay one extra night in their one-bedroom.

By 7:30pm, everyone is at the beach, hungry, and happy to have feet-on-the-ground. We make an obvious choice for pizza at Pi-zzeria, catty-corner across Atlantic from the Ocean Beach Club.

First I give JA a whirlwind tour of the resort, beach, and boardwalk... He's fascinated by the surrey bikes built for 4 - 8 people, 2 to 4 pedalers. They each have a red and white-striped surrey canvas covering which catches his attention. And, he's thrilled that we can walk to the pizza place! Amazing! He's in for a treat when he realizes how many places we can walk to.

Pizza is great, as are the salads we all opt for--a day or two of road food makes salads very tempting.

Before long, CA and I drive to the Courtyard for the night and the others attempt to settle into a long sleep, all in one room at the OBC. CA and I have a more successful night of sleep than they do. While both kids and adults are wiped-out from their travels, the new surroundings make for a fitful night of sleep.

We're meeting at Pocahontas for breakfast Saturday a.m. It's, again, catty-corner across from OBC, but in all our visits to VA Beach we've never eaten at this iconic beach-front restaurant. It's a fun diner atmosphere, crammed (neatly) with tables, and a menu that touches on just about every breakfast diner delicacy. Something for everyone.

Even before CA and I arrive this morning, JA hits a wall. He's exhausted. More exhausted than hungry, so MA takes him back to the room where he actually drops off to sleep. He's never a napper, but all this traveling, etc. has him wiped.

The rest of us eat waffles, an omelet, eggs Benedict, and a breakfast sandwich... The food is great, and no one rushes us. A very fine beach breakfast. We'll be back. They do a huge business here and still manage to be gracious and pleasant.

We eventually get everyone checked-in and resettle in our rooms. Our plans are loose for today as we adjust our bodies and minds to beach-time. CA and I do some grocery shopping on foot and re-acquaint ourselves with neighborhood shops we discovered last spring. We pin-point Starbucks and a local coffee house for future reference.

Eventually we walk the boardwalk with JA and LE--south toward King Neptune and the music. This is Beach Music Weekend, so 31st street beach is a bit crowded with paid seating on the sand, and free standing-room-only on the boardwalk. JA loves music, so we check it all out.There's also a charity wine tasting event queuing up on the Atlantic Avenue side of the 31st Street music pavilion.

After awhile, we cut over to Starbucks for a snack and beverage. Cake Pops and water for the kids and coffee beverages for the adults. Before long we're back at OBC and figuring out whether or not we'll need dinner tonight.

JE's family goes to the grocery store and settles in to eat in their condo, while CA and I drive to Surf Rider on 32nd and Laskin. We ate here our first night last May. The crab cakes are legendary. This is definitely a local place, but we guess that many savvy tourists eat here, too. I love my Caesar Salad with a crab cake on top, while CA eats his crab cake sandwich wishing he'd gotten the same as me. I share my salad, because I'm a generous kind of gal.

We've had a full first day. There's lots to look forward to as we re-acquaint and investigate, and show JE's family the highlights of life at the beach.

The weatherman has promised rain, rain, rain, but so far we've lucked out. The skies are intermittently overcast, but the sun manages to peek through and the cooler air feels very, very fine. Can't beat the tantalizing beach breezes, no matter the temperature.

I love the beach!

11 May 2011


sweet pepper wedges and mango salad

mango, jicama, orange, red onion, and cilantro fruit salad

This is our road food. I'm actually starting this trip with healthy snacks on-board. Hope I can keep up the momentum. There's great food in Virginia Beach and lots of top-notch restaurants to enjoy.

Everything is ready, but I am procrastinating on putting it into my suitcase--typical pre-trip behavior for me. It'll happen, eventually. Maybe tonight; maybe early tomorrow morning as CA is loading the car.

We're very, very excited to begin this trip and look forward to making beach vacation memories with JA and LE. Surf's up!

10 May 2011


I saw two French chairs at The Perfect Thing in Wheaton last week and went back to take photos today. I can't have them... They're pricey and still need re-upholstering, and I have a plethora of chairs that have potential for lovely already in my house. Still, they would be perfect for my morning room... Yes, that's right Morning Room. CA and I are making some changes over the next months and maybe even couple of years.

My friend's sister is a designer, and for over a year now we've been discussing DV coming to evaluate and reorganize our furniture and decor. It finally happened yesterday. We will be re-upholstering a couch, four chairs, and two ottomans--just to start. Eventually another couch will get new fabric and move to the loft. That leaves us with one FlexSteel 75" semi-detached cushioned sofa and one Ethan Allen Chippendale sofa up-for-grabs.

We'll add a window covering to our French deckside doors, and eventually change-out the Luminette sheers on the two large front-facing windows to something fresher. I hate that. They were so expensive and I've loved the look and function, but they are sadly drooping and fading to a not-so-fresh dingy white.

My first steps are to get the electrician here, as contracted previously, to add under and over-cabinet lighting, a recessed light over the stove, sconces on each side of the fireplace and replacing the one that's damaged on the first landing. He'll add a couple of dimmers, hang pendant lights over the breakfast bar, and switch-out the chandelier in the dining area with the ceiling fixture in the library. And, because he's willing to do some handyman stuff, he'll repair a couple of screens on the porch and repair the curtain rod in the front guest room. Eventually, he'll build-in a glass-fronted cabinet under the section of the breakfast bar that faces our great room.

DV is moving ahead with getting an estimate to remove the carpet in our great room to add hardwood that will be uniquely inset to match the hardwood that exists in the bordering hallway and dining area. At that point the dining area and great room will be one cohesive room where we can arrange extended seating areas. No more dining area = great room with a morning room seating area.

Confusing? Yes! My head is spinning and CA's has exploded. Well, I can understand because yesterday I felt like mine would explode, too. The good news is that I know what I have to do now and DV knows what she has to do; and so we can move forward with first baby steps. Then, we'll plan, adjust, and continue forward as $$$ and time allows.

There are also plans to re-purpose our library into a study/dining room (it was originally designed to be a dining room but we added two French doors--from the entry hall and from the kitchen--so that we could have a library/t.v. room) where I will have a desk/dining table as my personal space. CA will continue to use the loft space. I virtually never work in the loft unless I want to print, paper cut, or spread things out on the floor for consideration. I'm so kitchen-oriented that I am thrilled to be able to perch next door.

At this time we plan to end up with two dining seats at the breakfast bar (already in place) and the possibility of seating six to eight in the study/dining room. CA and I virtually never use the existing dining table (Pottery Barn, 60" round--also up-for-grabs) for meals; preferring a seat at the breakfast bar or (embarrassingly) in front of the t.v. in the library. 30 - 40% of the time he's busy coaching or one or the other of us is out-of-town, so we either eat late or separately. No worries! Our relationship is intact (and thriving); each of us can happily eat alone, whether here at home or even in restaurants worldwide. We've been at this schedule for over 35 years and have weathered the necessary adjustments to develop this lifestyle that is uniquely our own.

So, we're making plans but we'll let real life guide, and re-adjust as needed. Experience has taught us that while we think we'll use spaces in our home one way, sometimes that never happens. And, sometimes what works for today (or did yesterday) changes going forward into an altogether different purpose. Stay tuned...

We're excited! CA actually gets the hardwood floor part and is cautiously optimistic about some (much?) of the rest.

(First post created on my new iPad II using a Logitech keyboard case by Zagg. This works! Can't use all of Bloggers tools with the iPad (yet), but it feels like the iPad II is going to be a wonderful traveling companion. We're off to the beach very soon. (The iPad does have a habit of pre-mature publishing. Seems somehow connected to the Caps Lock key.)

07 May 2011


Monday the designer is coming. DV--LL's sister. We're going to assess and re-assess my great room, library, and master bedroom, and every other room will get viewed. My dust bunnies have dust bunnies. Yet, I've spent two hours on the Internet. My excuse is that most of that time was spent sending DV an email detailing where I am design-wise and where I want to go.

I'm over, If you love it, buy it. You'll find a place for it. Witness my current predicament. I have too much stuff and erratic style. I start projects I can never finish--due to time, skill, and withering inspiration. Half or more of the clutter I deal with around here is due to stalled projects.

You know, You have to stay home to get stuff done. Once I'm out the door I just keep moving. I love staying home and have disciplined myself to stay home on Mondays, but lately I just go-go-go. Today I'm at home.

Time to get cleaning!

02 May 2011


I truly, truly struggle with cleaning the ceramic tile and rubberized shower pan. We have harder water and a constant build-up of minerals and soap scum. I can never get it clean enough. Then, I give up for awhile. Then, I struggle some more.

Today I'm cleaning my stove top--it was dirty when my guests arrived and it got allot dirtier with all the cooking we've had going on here for a week. I'd swipe at it a bit every day, but it's on a downward spiral. I appeased myself for a week (because I was lazy-busy-lazy-tired-uninterested...) thinking that I'd give it a good cleaning once all the guests were gone.

Today was the day. I really couldn't stand it any longer. The drip pans and burner hardware were so gross that I decided to soak them in dishwasher powder--Cascade, to be precise. I learned a while back (from Martha Stewart's website, I believe) that oven racks can be soaked in the bathtub in a solution of water and said dishwasher soap. It works very well, but you do need to protect your tub bottom with beach towels or some such absorbent and non-scarring padding.


A light bulb suddenly appeared above my head this morning, as I realized that household tip could work for this situation. Immediately, I began soaking the smaller parts in a small bucket of warm water, thick with Cascade. Then, I carried the rectangular drip pans into the shower, wet them down, and liberally sprinkled on the Cascade. A few hours later I gave them a good rinsing. They're looking very fine for 10-year old drip pans that have been carefully maintained.

The offshoot was that I noticed that the shower floor had clean spots! The Cascade was working on the mineral and scum deposits--all that yellow and grey stuff that is omni-present. I spent the next 20 minutes scrubbing the shower pan and the walls, and a bit of the chrome.

This works! I'm not done, but I've decided that I'll stop for now for two reasons:

1.) I'm wearing my newest sweater and 3/4-sleeved (my favorite style) t-shirt. No, I haven't broken my Mondays-at-home routine. I'm wearing nice clothes because I fell asleep in front of the television at 11:00pm last night, and after waking up at 5:00am to Tyra Banks and her fledgling models, I've been up and at it without bothering to change my clothes. Yep, I'm a sloth today. If I'd slept in my pj's I'd still be wearing them

2.) To do the job thoroughly (I  know I almost lost the point because of digression...) Later today, I'm going to need to climb into that shower. I'll be naked and when I'm finished cleaning, I'll clean myself. Not a nice visual. Sorry. I've found it's the only way to adequately clean said shower.

And, I'm guessing that Cascade will work to clean the shower doors, too. Stay tuned.