Rendering Dreams into Reality

A partially rendered city from one of my fantasy books.

A partially rendered city from one of my fantasy books.

I’ve been writing fantasy stories since the age of 12. I started after reading A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. I found the idea of creating anything I wanted through my words extremely appealing! It was also a great escape from the trials and tribulations of my tween and teen years.

My beloved English teacher, Derek Hulse, read some of my fantasy work and one of the big things he told me I needed to work on was my scene descriptions. What I saw so vividly in my mind wasn’t coming across in my words and while that was disheartening to me, I knew I could improve! Derek always believed in me and with his help, I developed into a far better writer.

Through the years of writing about my fantasy world of Aindar, I created over 10 books that spanned multiple generations of my favorite characters. As the time passed and I tried to recall certain events and scenes from the past, my memory faltered and describing areas in a way accurate to times gone by became a challenge. I drew places out in sketchbooks such as houses, castles and outdoor scenes but I’m not a good enough artist to quickly, easily and realistically flesh out those scenes with pencil and paper. That’s when I decided to investigate 3D rendering programs.

This was back in the days of Windows 95, long before I had children. I came across a highly recommended program called Punch! Home Design and I bought it. It came with a thick book of instructions and helpful tips and for the first few weeks of using the program, that handbook was my best friend. Eventually I began figuring things out on my own and everything from then on has been self-taught through trial and error.

harn midshire deya layout

The floorplan for a room in one of my fantasy castles

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A 3D view of one of the chambers of that castle room. I created the wall torches by modifying one of the program’s wall sconces.

I’ve continued to upgrade the program through the years and it’s still a very solid and easy to use 3D rendering program for my needs. When my Dell laptop was thoroughly killed by a random virus two years ago, I stopped creating houses. I kept meaning to install the program on my new Toshiba laptop but kept being sidetracked by life, the universe and everything.

Earlier this month I finally put the program on my laptop and then upgraded to the newest version. It’s lovely how quickly my Toshiba renders the 3D images! On my old laptop, it took forever and it sounded like the poor thing was going to expire. I’ve been refreshing my memory on the ins and outs of the program as I work on a sample room for my New England dream house.

A start to the living room of my New England dream home.

A start to the living room of my New England dream home.

One of my favorite parts is tweaking the size, shape, color and material of the furnishings in the room. I’ve created several original 3D objects from scratch for castle scenes in my fantasy books. I’m a bit rusty in that area but I’m sure it will come back to me as I work more with it. Nothing compares to having the ability to walk right through the room I’m writing about in order to get all the details just right. Overall, I’m having a fun time rendering things I see in my dream and imagination into the reality of a 3D computer model.

An outdoor scene I created for a fantasy story.

An outdoor scene I created for a fantasy story.

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The Fridge that Ate My Kitchen!

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Delivery guys in the pouring rain

Delivery guys in the pouring rain

This past spring, my refrigerator broke. The compressor stopped working and when I looked into the cost of replacing it on the over 20 year old fridge, I decided I’d figure something else out. I couldn’t afford another full size fridge at that time so I bought a little hotel-size fridge as a temporary solution. That temporary solution got me through almost 9 months as I waited to be able to afford the fridge of my dreams.

Sure, I could have picked a fridge just like my old one which was a basic freezer on top, fridge on the bottom with no bells or whistles. But after dealing with that tiny fridge for so long, I decided I was going to go big for my home. I went almost as big as they come but didn’t opt for the water and ice dispenser in the door because I have sulfur water. I’d be changing filters every other day with my nasty water so that was a “convenience” feature I didn’t need. The one I picked has an ice maker, they almost all do, but it won’t be getting hooked up because cubes of frozen sulfur aren’t any more appealing than liquid form.

I shopped around in stores and online for a while and ultimately decided to go with the fridge I fell in love with at first sight. It’s a Samsung and I didn’t even know they made appliances! I wanted a black one and it was so large, dark and lovely in the store that I couldn’t help but keep opening and closing all the doors. It was destined to be mine, it was fridge fate.

I ordered my fridge and anxiously awaited delivery day. That day dawned cold and rainy and the appliance store truck drove by my house the first try but they eventually found their way back. There were two men in the truck and the older man took out his measuring tape and began measuring my walkway, steps and front door. There was much frowning  and discussion and they eventually realized they’d have to take the doors off the fridge to get it in my house. I was a little embarrassed by my choice of a monstrous fridge for my tiny house but I didn’t regret my choice. This was one of those very rare times that I splurged on myself and I felt it was overdue.

The door to the freezer drawer

The door to the freezer drawer

The doors to the fridge

The doors to the fridge

It took the two men about an hour to get the fridge disassembled and reassembled in my house but they were quite efficient and courteous. I felt bad that they got all wet out in the rain taking the doors off but they were nice about it all. Once the fridge was set in its place I was ecstatic! It stuck way out into my kitchen and took up more space than I expected but I was still giddy!

Monstrous fridge in my tiny, "lived in" kitchen

Monstrous fridge in my tiny, “lived in” kitchen

Now I could finally go big grocery shopping and buy whole gallons of milk and orange juice instead of half gallons. I could buy fruits, vegetables, eggs and cheese all at the same time and have them all fit! For months getting things arranged in my little fridge had been trying to solve a puzzle that kept items from falling out on my feet. I chose a fridge with the freeze on the bottom so I’d never again have to deal with heavy ice cream landing on my toes.

The girls and I went out shopping to help fill the fridge and even with what we got, the fridge is barely full. No worries though because that just means I have tons of opportunities and space to fill it up with new baking and cooking creations! Every time I put something in the fridge or easily take something out without having to rearrange everything and crouch on the floor, I almost giggle with joy. I’m not a materialistic person but in this huge necessity in my life, I chose luxury for once. Who needs diamonds? The fridge that ate my kitchen is this girl’s best friend!

Blends right in now! Magnets rock ;)

Blends right in now! Magnets rock 😉

All That Glitters

Simple treasures

Simple treasures

All that glitters doesn’t necessarily glitter. Sometimes it shimmers, sparkles or twinkles. Other times all that glitters is more of a feeling in your heart than anything you can ever see with your eyes or buy in a store. The simplest pleasures and smallest treasures are what glitter and shine the brightest for me. Doing glitter and glue crafts with my daughters, receiving handmade gifts from them and watching them open their Christmas presents are just a few of those treasures.

My girls on Christmas morning

My girls on Christmas morning

The card Jaycie made me and the stuff owl Jordan sewed for me without using a pattern!

The card Jaycie made me and the stuffed owl Jordan sewed for me without using a pattern!

Walking in the falling snow of big, fluffy flakes and seeing some unexpected sights are yet more treasures…

Four swans on the cold lake near where I live

Four swans on the cold lake near where I live

One of the biggest gifts is knowing that even when I’m home alone with Jazz snuggled up next to me on the couch, I’m not really alone. My family and friends are never too awful far and I know that they care about me and are thinking of me this holiday. No wrap can hold that, no bow can decorate that and not even the shiniest, most shimmering faceted jewel can ever compare.

hood up next time

The Beauty of Snow

Owl looking out my living room picture window

Owl looking out my living room picture window

While I was writing about tropical breezes, bright white beaches and warm ocean waters of the sunny south today, it was snowing outside my window. Despite my various less than fun adventures driving in the snowy conditions lately, I still admire and appreciate the beauty of snow. The knowledge that every snowflake is unique and that such uniqueness only last long enough for it to travel from the clouds to the ground is a divine and amazing occurrence. Mother Nature creates such bewildering pieces of artistry every day and even those that barely last a breath, are miracles.

The snow falling in the field behind my house

The snow falling in the field behind my house

The snow continued to fall throughout the day. They were big, fluffy flakes comprised of several single snowflakes clinging together as they descended through the sky. They all piles up creating a fresh layer of snow on top of the foot that already covers my property. I wasn’t entirely thrilled when the snow first started falling but I’m used to it now and I’m not pleased by a forecast that calls for milder temperatures and rain. Warmth and rain will melt the snow, dirty the snow and take away the fresh beauty blanketing the landscape. Not to mention that my girls will be extremely unhappy if it’s a slushy Christmas instead of a white Christmas.

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For now I’ll enjoy the snow as it continues to fall outside my windows. I know that the snow will continue for months to come but I most love snow before and around the holiday season. It’s always something amazing to behold, even when being out in it is stressful and the beauty of snow will never be lost on me.

Holiday Wishes Granted in New England – Part 2

Another view of the barber chairs in The Men's Spa at The Mansion

Another view of the barber chairs in The Men’s Spa at The Mansion

The coffered ceilings in the barber room.

The coffered ceilings in the barber room.

The event I went to in Peabody on the night of December 12th was called Christmas at The Mansion and it was presented by The Commerce Network NE and The Peabody Chamber of Commerce. I have no idea what their previous holiday parties have been like, but I know I enjoyed my time at this year’s event!

As I sat on the well-cushioned window seat in the large barber chair-filled room of the Men’s Spa at The Mansion, I looked around and admired the interesting architecture. There were walls of windows, brick fireplaces, coffered ceilings, pendant lights and sconces all perfectly placed throughout. There were so many elements I often write about in my interior design freelance jobs and I had fun spotting them all. I’d love to write about the history of that house and how it became The Men’s Spa. I can only imagine the grandeur of its past but it made an ideal location for a holiday networking party! Even sitting in a room filled with windows, I wasn’t cold and flowing space of the house and thoughtful details weren’t lost on me.

After I finished my second plate of food, complete with cookies for dessert, I began wandering around the mansion. I was fascinated by the large staircase at the front of the house and took several pictures. Unfortunately, I’m still not used to the camera on my new phone so most of them were out of focus. I posted a couple of the best ones here but if I ever go back, I’ll definitely be better prepared to take proper photos!

A view of the staircase going up.

A view of the staircase going up.

A more festive view.

A more festive view.

I snuck upstairs and looked around and found several rooms filled with massage tables. I swear the house stretched on forever! It was fun trying to picture a family living there filling all the rooms and I’m sure it was amazing to behold during the holidays.

When I came back downstairs I snapped a few more pictures of all the rooms with my phone camera to remind myself later what a happening party I’d been present at. That probably sounds peculiar but as I’ve spent the last several years of my life as something of a social recluse, it was quite a big thing for me. All of the T-shirts you see in the photos were created by Jackie’s Tees and Custom Apparel.

View standing by the front door.

View standing by the front door.

Looking toward the room where the food was.

Looking toward the room where the food was.

Looking toward the massage room

Looking toward the massage room

Some of the massage chairs downstairs

Some of the massage chairs downstairs

Amid my wandering, I began to hear a lot of announcements coming from where R.J. DeSanctis Entertainment had their DJ area set up. Curious, I approached that room and discovered they were pulling business cards out of a Christmas box to give away door prizes. As my business card was just my name scribbled on a blank card, I doubted I’d be called but I found a place by the doorway to lean and watch the entertainment. There were lots of nice door prizes like an arrangement from Edible Arrangements, Dunkin Donuts gift cards, duffel bags and some more whimsical door prizes like balloon hats and wreaths.

I watched the people at the event come up and claim their prizes and I felt that R.J. DeSanctis Entertainment did a good job of keeping the mood light, fun and amusing. When R.J. held up a little holiday top hat as a prize, I was immediately interested. He asked who wanted it and I actually stepped up because I knew my daughters would love it. R.J. said that in order to win it I had to put it on. With a little help from a woman at the party, I got the hat on long enough for the event photographer to snap a picture.

Photo of me wearing the hat from the event’s Facebook album

The embarrassment was totally worth it because I was so happy I’d won the hat for my girls!

The hat I happily won for my girls

The hat I happily won for my girls

Following the door prize giveaways, the party started to wind down a bit and I decided it was time for me to head out. I’d had a truly fun time rubbing elbows with all sorts of people who didn’t know me and I made a new friend in Jackie Moldau. It was just one more way that New England showed me that I really do belong there and that I have a very bright future ahead of me!

Holiday Wishes Granted in New England – Part 1

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

My festive outfit for the holiday events.

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about how I wished I still had holiday parties to go to like I did in the past. Well this year that wish came true, only not quite as I expected. I didn’t get to go to holiday parties like I attended in the past, the holiday parties I went to this year were world’s better than anything I’ve been to in the past! I’m sure a big reason why was that they took place in New England.

On Thursday, December 12th, I made a quick stop in at Jon P. Mooers Gallery in Amesbury as the book signing was beginning just to see the gallery all decked out for the Frosty the Snowman author and his artwork. The author was already signing books and there were trays of creatively arranged food for those who came in. I always love going in there after being outside in the cold because not only is the temperature inside warm, the atmosphere is welcoming. I snapped a few pictures, listened to the author talk about his book with those getting signed copies and then left the studio.

The window display at the gallery.

The window display at the gallery.

The creative food display.

The creative food display.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

The author Wade Zahares signing books.

Display of the books.

Display of the books.

I walked back by the Powwow Falls because I just don’t feel like a visit to Amesbury is complete without that. It was lovely seeing downtown all lit up and the tall tree reaching toward the sky. The moon was shining brightly in the night sky and I took some pictures with my phone camera because I’d left my good camera in the car. Just taking my gloves off long enough to take those pictures left my fingers frozen but it was worth it! I made it quickly back to my car in the cold wind and was glad I’d worn thick tights and tall boots with my festive skirt.

Amesbury's tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Amesbury’s tree downtown with the moon in the sky above

Once in my car with the heat going, I typed in the address for the event in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau from Jackie’s Tees & Custom Apparel had invited me to. It seemed easy enough to get to so off I went! It was an uneventful drive and the Men’s Spa at The Mansion was easily accessible on a little side road in Peabody. The parking lot was already pretty full so I created my own little spot for my car and headed inside.

My parking spot.

My parking spot.

The moment I opened the large front door I was met with the sounds of loud conversations and lively holiday music. I couldn’t help but smile. Two nice women greeted me by the door and gave me discount coupons and asked if I had a business card. I don’t have business cards yet but I’ll be remedying that quickly for future such networking events. Can’t get my name out there if I don’t have cards to advertise my services! I wrote my name on a blank card for the door prize drawings later and then headed further in to explore the party. I was hungry so I immediately dished up a plate of pasta, crackers and cheese and bread and butter. I found a big cushioned window seat in the large barber shop room and settled on it for a little picnic. The food was hot and delicious and the wine from Mill River Winery helped warm me up!

The buffet of food

The buffet of food

My first plate of food

My first plate of food

The barber chair across from the window seat

The barber chair across from the window seat

I didn’t really know anyone there (I only knew Jackie through Facebook) but they all seemed to know each other. Even so, I felt so privileged to be there and part of a social event instead of home with my dog. My initial hunger sated, I sought out Jackie in the massage room where she’d laid out the free t-shirts she provided. She greeted me and had me enter my email address on her tablet explaining that she was trying to build her business. Being a self-employed freelance writer, I totally understand! She saw my email address and the name Corbin sounded familiar to her so I explained the Facebook connection. She was surprised that I’d come all the way from New York and that I did it often. She was very friendly, introduced me to a few people and showed me all around before returning to her other friends at the event. I happily made up and ate another plate of food accompanied by a second glass of wine as I sat on the window seat again.

My window seat picnic

My window seat picnic

There’s much more to say about that night at the party but it will have to wait until part 2!

Beautiful New England

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The snow and ice on the trees at one of the rest stops on the Mass Turnpike

I woke up this morning to a beautiful New England sunrise and it warmed me up despite the temperatures in the teens. I’m always so much happier being in New England, both asleep and awake. Jazzmin is still a bit confuse as to why our “house” is suddenly so much smaller than it used to be but she’s being a very good pup about it all!

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Sunshine out my hotel window.

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels...

Jazz watching the exotic NH squirrels…

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Jazz eyeing my breakfast in bed.

Yesterday’s drive here was free of weather issues, much to my delight! There was one lengthy delay in Springfield, MA due to construction but aside from that, the driving was easy going. Jazzmin rode shotgun for a while but eventually moved to the back seats. I thought she did that to stretch out but she curled into such a tight ball in the seat behind me I couldn’t see her. She did enjoy watching all the people in the cars when we were stuck in the stop and go traffic and I opened the windows a bit for her then so she could sniff snort the fresh air to her delight.

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

Jazzmin chilling in the back seats

I arrived at the hotel later than I’d planned and just sort of set my stuff down all over the place. Thankfully there’s an entrance door right by my room so I unloaded the car while Jazz stayed warm in the room sniffing the carpet and acquainting herself with every dog and cat who ever stayed here.

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Jazzmin very happy to be out of the car. Notice the yellow blur of her tail!

Once the car was unpacked and my belongings looked like they’d exploded in the room, I took Jazz on the walk I’d been promising her the entire drive. It was already dark out but there are tons of street lights around the hotel and in the surrounding apartment complexes so we had no trouble seeing. Jazz was fascinated to be out and about somewhere new and while it wasn’t a long walk, we had fun. I fed Jazz her dinner and set about trying to figure out what to wear for going out.

There was an event in Amesbury last night called the Restaurant and Shop Showcase and as I love Amesbury, I knew I had to go. I had a plans for later in the evening but I knew I could stop in at the Amesbury event for at least a little while. I’m so glad I did! There were quite a few people there and lots of yummy food to sample! There was also wine to sample but as I had to be on the road again later, I didn’t partake. I enjoyed fish chowder from Phat Cats Bistro and a stuffed Portobello mushroom from another local restaurant but I apologize because I can’t remember which one. There was just so much delicious looking food! There were also tables for various local shops too and I would’ve liked to look around more but my schedule was tighter than I’d wanted. I did buy the Amesbury holiday ornament though and will be putting it on my tree when I get home.

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Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it's blurry, I was trying to be covert...

Ed Justen from Workspace 36 playing sax at the event. Sorry it’s blurry, I was trying to be covert…

I have some errands to run with Jazz this morning but beyond that, no big plans until this evening when I have a couple holiday events I plan on attending. There’s the Frosty The Snowman book signing at Jon P. Mooers Artist and Gallery in Amesbury tonight and the Christmas at the Mansion in Peabody, MA that Jackie Moldau of Jackie’s Tees and Custom Apparel invited me to. I’m so excited to have holiday events to go to!!! I haven’t enjoyed such festivities in many years and it’s fun being social again!

New England really is such a beautiful place and it’s truly where I belong. I don’t live here yet but I’m already laying down the roots for a very happy future here!