The furniture-moving Force is strong with this one…

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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!

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Wait, what?

After watching Disney’s Frozen a few times, I noticed that the phrase “Wait, what?” was said several times by different characters. I was quite happy to find that someone had already made a compilation of this on YouTube!

Earlier this week, I had my own “Wait, what?” moment while the girls and I were eating dinner. We were sitting on the living room floor eating at the coffee table as we often do. I think it feels more laid back and cozy sitting on the floor and for some reason, we all seem to share more when we eat like that. Amid our eating and conversation Jordan suddenly said “I miss living at the apartment.” Jaycie agreed with her sister and I was left staring at them in confusion as I thought “Wait, what???”

I asked the girls why and after a few moments thought, they told me that they missed sharing a room like they did in the apartment. This totally surprised me. When I started house hunting in the spring of 2011, I was specifically looking for a home with three bedrooms so the girls could each have their own room like they did at their father’s house. I thought they’d enjoy having space from each other, especially as they got older. Well, here it is three years later and rather than growing further apart, they’ve grown closer.

I’m not about to tell my girls they can’t share a room when they so obviously want to so I promised I’d rearrange things and have Jordan’s room converted into their shared room by the time I got them back Sunday evening. Jaycie’s room will then become the play room and that seemed to make the girls even happier.

I wasn’t sure how things would fit in Jordan’s room with two beds and I didn’t want to move furniture around more than necessary so I took measurements and rendered the room out in my home design program. In my rendering, things looked a bit tight but doable so this afternoon I started rearranging things.

girls room render

Silly me, I thought I was done moving furniture after I moved into this house but I was wrong. The hardest thing to move was the combination file/storage cabinet and the second hardest was Jaycie’s bedframe because it got stuck in the doorway briefly. I’m not one to admit defeat though and I mustered my strength to get everything where it needed to be.

As it turned out, my rendered room wasn’t how things worked in reality and I ended up putting more furniture in the playroom than originally planned. I definitely got a workout and I’m quite pleased with the end result!

girls room

I still have to arrange the playroom and hopefully carve out a nook for my craft table but that will wait until tomorrow because I think if I asked my body to work more tonight it would say “Wait, what?!”

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.

Man Not Included (Revisited)

I’ve learned a lot about the challenges involved with home ownership since I bought my own house two years ago. This was a post I wrote last October when I had the idea to hang some shelves. Perhaps I can impart some of my “wisdom” on fellow single chicks who find themselves faced with unexpected repairs or home improvements. You’ve heard of “batteries not included.” Well this is “Man Not Included.”

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Me and my drill. Back when I had long hair.

Me and my drill. Back when I had long hair.

Man Not Included – 10/9/2012

My youngest daughter loves her stuffed animals and toys. She loves them so much that she insists on taking several to bed with her. After several weeks of this, her bed always becomes rather cluttered but as she has the smallest bedroom and storage space is limited in my 900 square foot house, I had to figure out a workable solution. I am rather fond of home design and remodel shows and on such shows they often tout the importance of using vertical space, i.e. installing shelves on walls. This sounded like a good idea indeed and so I set about implementing it.

I grew up with two older brothers and was married forever so if a house project needed doing, there was always a man to do it. Now that I have my own house and am happily divorced (yes, I said happily, not a typo), it’s all up to me to do house projects. While it’s true I could have asked my oldest brother to help me with the task, he had already said he’d help me move my friend’s slightly used but working washer and dryer into my basement. I figured him doing me that favor was enough to satisfy brotherly love and loyalty for a while. I didn’t want to push my luck.

Shelving project in mind, I headed to a big box home improvement store Friday evening after work. The shelves to support a collection of stuffed animals and toys didn’t need to be anything heavy duty so I started perusing the selection of those white painted wire shelves used for closet organization. There was a package of two four-foot shelves and the price was right so I placed them in my cart. I then picked out the brackets I needed and started looking for the shelf supports. None of the supports in the aisle looked right and my confused expression eventually drew the attention of an employee. He helped me find what he thought would work and I added the supports to my cart.

I know from watching and helping with several home improvement projects that shelves need to be securely mounted to the wall to ensure safety and longevity. The brackets for the shelves included anchors and screws and as I know you can never find a wall stud when you need one, I was certain I’d have to use anchors. Installing anchors requires drilling holes. I didn’t own a drill so off to the power tool section I went. Now I am certainly not trying to sound sexist here, but it is very rare thing indeed to see a woman among the power tools unless it’s the holidays and she’s shopping for her man. There were a handful of men in the power tools section thoughtfully pouring over the selection of drills and bits and sanders, etc. and then there was me.

I glanced at the cordless drills and saw a small Black & Decker one that appealed to me but as the boxes for them were in a different aisle, I decided I’d move down and pick out some drill and screwdriver bits first. Thankfully the shelf brackets said exactly what size drill bit was required for the included anchors and I found that in a set of 29 drill bits that was on sale. I could have just purchased the 3/8 inch drill bit that was needed for the job but I’d learned from observation that there always seems to be a need for a decent sized collection of bits. As I’m certain I’ll have more home improvement projects down the road, I made the most economical and sensible choice. I also grabbed a small package of double ended screwdriver bits and then went to the aisle with the cordless drills in boxes. The one I’d see on display wasn’t in stock so I grabbed the next size up for only slightly more money.

I now felt that I was properly “armed” for my shelving project and made my purchases. This may sound funny, but buying tools always gives me this cool sense of power and empowerment. I am a single woman and I own my home so it just makes sense that I should be able to take care of whatever needs to be done. I admit that I have no desire to ever attempt to repair my vehicles and prefer to pay qualified mechanics to do so, but my house is different. It’s a lot of work to maintain a home in the country, especially one on 1.4 acres but I always manage and I’m constantly learning. With each new task I accomplish, I gain more pride in my home and in myself and such qualities are not a bad thing to possess. How did installing the shelving go? Well, that’s a story for another day…