The furniture-moving Force is strong with this one…

10 5 14 blog3

My new living room arrangement.

Friday night amid my hot date of staying home alone, I decided my living room needed a new arrangement. Having the couch right against the front window made it hard to close the curtains properly and sitting there is very cold in the winter. To remedy both of these problems, I started formulating a new layout and planned to put it into action Saturday afternoon.

I spent Saturday morning getting groceries and the experience reminded me why I never shop on weekends. Too many people! I much prefer going during the week when everyone is at their office jobs and school. When I got home from running errands, I was a bit tired but still determined to rearrange my living room.

Moving furniture is in my blood you see. My mother always seemed to be rearranging furniture when I was growing up. I’d come home from school or work and discover the living room or family room totally rearranged, or better yet, both rearranged! She usually did it without any warning and without any help. My father, older brothers, and myself all learned to adapt to the new arrangement until it was randomly changed again.

There isn’t much room for change in my under 1000 square foot house but I still manage to rearrange things when I need to. The furniture-moving Force is rather strong in me and I don’t care how heavy something is or how tight the fit is through the door, I’ll get things where I want them! Since living here, I’ve moved the girls from two rooms into one, rearranged my kitchen to fit in an enormous fridge, and now changed the living room layout.

I like the new living room layout much better than how it was and I don’t imagine I’ll be changing it again anytime soon. Moving the couch so it backs up against my desk creates a better partition between the work area and living area of the room. It’s now easier to stay focused on work at my desk and easier to relax on the couch when I’m done with work. It will also be easier to use the Xbox Kinect too because there’s more open floor space…once the coffee table is removed and the rocking chair is pushed back. I suppose the necessity to do that almost every day keeps the furniture-moving Force strong in this one, which will come in handy if the forces of the Dark Side ever try to trap me with furniture…

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Even when the room is dark, the view out the windows is full of light!

A place to play

play room1

This past Sunday was a beautiful day! I got out early to do some errands which included getting groceries and being inexplicably drawn into a craft store. That seems to happen a lot these days! After a brief stop at my mom’s to invite her out for pizza dinner, I headed back home to get some tidying done.

While the arrangement of the toys in the craft/play room is best left to Jordan with her amazing organizational skills (not something she inherited from me), I did my best to tidy up the toys and get them up off the floor. Having a majority of the girls toys in that small room reveals the true size of their collection and gives me ample ammunition for the next time they say “I don’t have anything to play with.” All I have to do is point into that room now!

Toy overflow!

Toy overflow!

I am indescribably happy to finally have my craft table set up! It’s been in the box since my mom gave it to me over a decade ago and I’ve wanted to set it up somewhere forever. It fits perfectly in front of the window in that room and gives me a great view of my bird feeders! The natural light in that room is plentiful for most of the day but should my crafting run into the darkness, I have a daylight lamp to keep the candle burning, so to speak. The lamp was a gift and I’m certain it will assist in my crafting year round!

playroom2

Last night I discovered that Star Trek: The Next Generation is on Netflix so I set up my tablet and started the very first episode of the show. I was in geek heaven as I crafted and watched Star Trek!

star trek

What was once Jaycie’s room is now a space for creativity and fun. The hardest part is going to be for the three of us girls to get all our work done before we venture into our new favorite place to play. I’m sure we’ll manage somehow…

Attention to details at Attentif’ Design!

Attentif' Design front window

Image courtesy of Attentif’ Design Facebook page.

If you can walk by the window of Attentif’ Design and not notice it, you’re missing a unique shopping experience. The thoughtfully designed front window displays of this shop at 44 Main Street in Amesbury, Massachusetts are designed to grab attention and invite shoppers inside. The latest photo on Facebook of their front window display is proof of how eye-catching their designs are and why you need to step inside, have a look around and acquire whatever strikes your fancy.

There are always so many beautiful things to see in Attentif’ Design that it’s hard to decide where to look first. The store displays are creatively arranged to guide you through the store as your eyes drift across the lovely wares. Owner and interior designer, Kathi Gannett displays items in such a way that it helps you envision them set out neatly in your home. Displays are done by theme, object, color and even purpose and grouped so well that it feels as though you’re touring someone’s well-designed home instead of a shop.

I adored this romance-themed display during my last visit.

Romance-themed display.

Everyone’s interior decorating tastes are different and Attentif’ Design acknowledges that by having a bit of everything for everyone. Throw pillows are an easy, affordable and quick way to change the look of a couch, chair or window seat and there’s a nice variety inside the store. A pillow featuring a key design adds an antique touch and a brightly colored flower patterned pillow freshens up the living room couch with spring blooms.

Coveted key pillow.

Attentif’ Design features items made by local residents, including cutting boards quite capable of standing up to the abuse kitchen tools endure. The cutting boards are durable, sturdy, well-made and crafted with attention to detail and quality of work.

Blockhead Cutting Boards

Blockhead Cutting Boards

There are items in Attentif’ Design for homes of any square footage, from small detailed touches like jars, candles and figurines to larger pieces such as lamps, end tables and ottomans. When space is at a premium in a home, black and gold folding tray tables are a creative solution. The high rim of the tabletop prevents items from falling off. The table can remain set up as decoration or unfolded for extra surface area when needed. Truly a stunning addition to any interior design!

The folding black and gold tray tables.

Folding black and gold tray tables.

Attentif’ Design does custom orders of items and owner Kathi Gannett is happy to work with customer’s ideas and requests. She offers interior design services and judging by her store, there’s no denying the quality of her work. Attentif’ Design is open later hours on the third Thursday of every month, which allows people more time to shop and view the seemingly endless decorative, beautiful and functional items for sale inside this unique store.

A love affair with hot baths

Same space, different looks.

Same space, different looks.

I adore a nice, hot, lengthy bubble bath. They’re especially wonderful in the winter when soaking in hot water is about the only thing that thaws out my frozen toes. My fingers and toes get all pruney, I feel utterly relaxed, and I wish I could carry that warm, comfortable feeling around with me wherever I go.

I do believe in writing what I love and that’s why many of my female characters partake in baths. I have extensive experience enjoying baths so it makes perfect sense to write about it! Such descriptive scenes are also a great way to warm me up when I’m feeling cold as I recall the sensations of figuratively melting in the tub.

My goal tonight was to write the bath scene from Unbroken Flames that went along with the bathroom rendering I roughed out last week. In its current state, the bathing area resembles a dungeon but it helps me visualize the scene in my head and keep details consistent. I created a second version of the same space that’s much more modern, clean and non-dungeon like as a way of demonstrating my ability to see the potential in even the most dismal seeming areas.

I wrote out the part in the story leading up to the bath and that took me longer than expected so the bath scene will wait. It’s all forward progress though and I’m happiest when I’m writing in my fiction stories, creating characters people can identify with even when there’s magic involved. Magic or no, nothing beats the warming power of a great bubble bath!

Peeking in Windows

 

I learn something new every day as a freelance writer. I pick writing assignments off a job board and do my very best to fulfill the client’s requirements. Every article and blog post I write requires a certain amount of research because while I’ve already learned a lot over the past several years, the world is constantly changing.

Researching is my favorite part about the interior design pieces I do. As anyone who loves interior design, architecture and remodeling knows, Houzz.com is the place to go for amazing ideas and pictures of the outside and inside of homes. Peeking in the windows of grand, luxury homes and seeing all their rooms is truly a unique treat. I often wonder if the people who live in those homes actually appreciate everything they have or if it’s just an everyday thing for them to be surrounded by such beautiful architecture and interior design.

In one of my articles today I had to research bathrooms and how to keep them warm during the cold months. The client wasn’t looking for insulation suggestions and window replacements though some of them do want that. The idea was to achieve warmth in the bathroom through design elements rather than caulking and weather-stripping.

In my research I learned about the growing trend of placing fireplaces in bathrooms. It’s an intriguing idea and I admit it would be lovely sitting in a hot bubble bath watching flickering flames as cold winter wind and snow wreak havoc outside the windows.

I adore taking baths as do many of the female characters in the books I write. Now that I’ve looked through numerous pictures of fireplaces in bathrooms, I’ll be writing it into my stories and turning it into much more than the 200 word blog I created anonymously today.

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

harn sitting rm1

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.

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 😉