Wednesday, February 21, 2007

some interior changes too...

I thought my house was arranged as perfectly as it could be, but I was wrong. You can always improve! We made a few changes and it looks even better I think.

Here, we moved the antique Thai teak screen from the living room, where it made the chair stick out a little too far into the traffic lane, into the guest room. We also moved the bed to come out diagonally instead of being straight on with the front windows. We also left the rug in here, where we'd moved it before the Christmas party.

I rearranged the front entry as well... putting my two small chairs closer to the door so people can sit to take off their shoes, and moving the hall tree a little further inside.

Here's the living room, without the screen. We put the empire sideboard in the guest room along one wall to make room for the Christmas tree; once the tree was out, we just moved a rosewood cabinet in its place. The lamps got joggled around, we added a print from the library over the chair, and the hanging Asian paper lantern went to Mitch's (too modern for this old girl.) Instead of the previous floral rug, we're using a seagrass mat.

I also lowered the botanical prints over the sofa, moved them closer together, and put a little sansiveiria in a glossy black pot on the coffee table.

I need to take more photos of the back bedroom too. This weekend will be wholly occupied with getting this house ready-- Mitch is doing touch up exterior painting (assuming I get all the paint colors we need Saturday morning) while I'm taking a few boxes out of the house and doing a deep clean.

Just got back from Mass-- thanks to my paralegal Erica, I now know of a darling little chapel only 2 blocks from my office! Used to be we had to walk blocks and blocks to the Cathedral downtown. Turns out the Diocese has a tiny little chapel (I think it seats 12? maybe 15?) at their office around the corner. It looks like the perfect place for a small, intimate wedding... [busily writes notes in notebook.]

Landscaping at home...

Amie, landscaper extraordinaire of LandEscapes, came out with her husband while I was away last weekend. She did the original recreation of my outdoor environment two summers ago, and I knew the yards needed her touch to get pretty after the winter weather. She did a fabulous job, which my photos do not do justice to (I was racing the setting sun, having just hopped off the plane, with about 5 more minutes of daylight remaining.)

This is my backyard, seen from the gate...

My paperwhites, indomitably, are poking up through the flagstones. The air is scented wonderfully when you walk within ten feet of them.

She added a charming Martha Gonzales rose near the fountain.

My font yard, looking south. She was so right about those variegated grasses near the front walk-- they add a nice bit of depth and texture.

The pompom standards near the porch are new.

Fortunately I get to take this urn with me.

Looking from the back yard towards the window in my closet and the side gate. They tried to get this sweet olive tree into a big pot for me to take with, but it was too well grown into the soil. It smells SO good and it seems to bloom all the time! Fortunately the Home Depot had some, so I'll just bring a little version wherever I end up.

This is my side yard on the north side of the house. Four of my big cherry laurels were decimated by the ice storm in January, so I had to get them dug out. Amie replaced them with four new crepe myrtles, purple to match the 100+ yr old crepe in the front yard. She also added a nice little side garden here.

These azaleas on the side of the house will be a blaze of hot pink and coral in a few months.

This is the garden on the right-hand side of my back door. Before this was a bed of mulch! I'd tried caladiums here, but the first cold snap took them right out.

Amie has always done such a fabulous job for me. She and her husband do all the work as though they were doing it for themselves. I always find nice little touches that show real care and knowledge... her designs are amazing. I love to think I might be able to do what she does, but I know the truth. And I'm delighted her husband got a fantastic new job-- except that it probably means they're moving away! So shout-out to Amie and Kent-- thanks for everything, I really appreciate it!

The Committee Meeting-- Richmond VA

I can't think of a better way to spend a long weekend than enjoying the company of close girlfriends. During my time in grad school I met two wonderful women, Shelley and Janet. They're my "sistas from anotha motha." We formed the nucleus of "The Committee" back then, and I'm lucky to still be invited to regular Committee meetings-- once a year on Presidents' Day weekend, we get together for quality girl time. This year we met at Janet's house in Richmond VA.

Possibly my favorite part of my time there was spent with Janet's daughter Reagan. She's precious! Of course she loves roses, what girl doesn't?

Reagan loves to play dress-up. Yes, Janet had to put on frilly stuff, even before she helped Reagan with hers...

Which meant that Shelley and I had to get dolled up, too.

Janet may have been dressed like a princess, but she danced like a hootchie-mama :)

But we didn't get to meet Reagan right off the bat. Shelley and I both arrived on Friday night. We spent the evening gabbing, snacking, and enjoying some red wine together.

Saturday was very relaxing-- Janet, her guy David, and I went to the gym while Shelley caught up on some sleep (she has a toddler at home too.) Janet made fabulous panini sandwiches-- lemon chicken, artichoke hearts, and provolone on panini bread, grilled to perfection. After showering, we gals headed to the mall for a makeover, a little shopping, and professional portraits. After grabbing a quick dinner we went to a microbrewery to celebrate Janet's 31st birthday with some friends of hers from work.

That's Shelley on the left, me, and Janet on the right.

Nothing like an enthusiastic hug from a best friend to set you right.

Why is Shelley on the phone? Aren't we letting her get a word in edgewise?

In this picture, Shelley and I were were sticking our tongues out at each other. I shut my eyes, and Shelley leaned in and TOUCHED MY TONGUE! I opened my eyes right as the photo was taken. We got an even bigger laugh out of it when we realized Janet was introducing us to her (far right-wing Republican politico) friends at exactly that moment. "And these are my friends from school, Shelley and Georget........" Guess they realized we weren't far right-wing Republicans like Janet :)

A good time was had by all, especially Janet who wanted to party the night away. Shelley and I were just too pooped to stay past one, though, so we dragged her home.

Sunday was great too. We didn't hit the gym; instead we were treated to a yummy pre-breakfast of homemade bruschetta, then we cruised out for a late brunch at Baker's Crust. Whoa-- what a great salad-- spinach, blue cheese, walnuts, apples, vinaigrette... then we had crepes for dessert, while Janet and Shelley appreciated the scenery. What was he, 23 years old? maybe 24? LOL. Unfortunately where I was sitting I could only see the gentleman to my right, with the lovely addition to his visage. Be happy I didn't get a photo.

Anyway, we wanted pedicures but couldn't find any salons open that were in our price range, so we headed home and took a much-appreciated nap. When we awoke, Reagan came over briefly for the romp and dress-up you saw above. We took her back to her daddy's house and settled in to make dinner. David came over and shared our grilled salmon, steak, corn on the cob, garlic bread, and salad. It definitely seems like we did nothing but talk and eat all weekend-- but no complaints here!

Unfortunately the weekend came to an end much too early-- to the tune of 4am! Shelley and I left on 6am flights, bright and early Monday morning.

Thanks, ladies, for yet another wonderful weekend soaking up good conversation, good advice, good times. I love you!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What we like...

Some photos of the house we're considering, courtesy of the owners Jean and Bill, who allowed us to take some pics the last time we were there. I didn't shoot any of the master bedroom or bath.

It has two nice live oaks in the front yard and it faces mostly west, so the hottest afternoon sun is almost completely shaded by the canopy.

It was misting/drizzling a little while we were out there, sorry for the rain spots.

Like I mentioned, the yard is small, but it backs to the greenbelt, so it's like having lots of extra acreage for free. This is the view from the front into the left-hand side yard.

This is the view from the back left corner of the back yard, looking out onto the greenbelt.

If, standing in the same spot as above, you turned a quarter turn to your right, you'd see across the backyard like this, looking at an iron arbor covered in wisteria and a big stone fountain. The back patio is on the right, leading into the breakfast room and living room.

If you went through the back gate and out onto the greenbelt, this is what the back of the house looks like.

The entry-- the whole house is floored in either Brazilian teak or ceramic tile. We'll probably change the tile for something lighter and more neutral- it looks much darker in real life.

Looking from the hall on the right side of the house (which goes back to a guest suite, the laundry room, the exercise room and the garage) towards the front door. The nearly-invisible doorway on the right goes into the kitchen; the wood floor on the left is the dining room. Where Mitch is standing is the archway leading into the living room; the white bookshelves behind him are inside the study, and you can also see the hall leading towards the two side bedrooms, their bathroom, and the powder room.

This is one of the side bedrooms, which looks into the front yard under the oaks.

The side bath.

This is the guest room. It has a connected bathroom, and looks into the right-side yard. It's on the opposite side of the house from the master and 2 side bedrooms; same side as the laundry, exercise, and game rooms.

The powder room. If we repaint, we're keeping this decorative frame around the mirror, done by the owners' daughter.

This is the dining room. We'll probably make some changes to the color scheme to better go with our existing artwork and furniture.

Opposite of the dining room is the kitchen...

Our plan is to put in granite, double ovens, and a few other changes to make it work better for a frequent cook and kids.

This is the breakfast room, connected to the kitchen on the right, as seen from the living room. The entryway is off camera to the far right. You can see the game room just past the breakfast room. I'll probably make the game room into my library/solarium just like in Bastrop, and put the lone TV/DVD player in there too.

Tell us what you think!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Past and future...

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Looking forward and looking back... been a lot of that the last few weeks.

Looking back in part because I'm putting my house on the market in a few weeks. Although everyone who's ever been in it knows how much I love that house, I will admit I have become slightly less attached to it in the last year or so.

Between work travel and spending time at Mitch's house, it's a little easier to envision life in one household once we get married, as opposed to two households, with all the juggling and divided time that entails.

Also looking back because February 12 was the anniversary of the death of Drew Lippolt, college sweetheart and friend. Of course, in perhaps truest Drew spirit, I was a day late in putting flowers on his commemorative bench. I think he'd get a chuckle out of that. Last night I got together with Kaan and Frank, two splendid people and great friends that I met through Drew. Drew's finest legacy, if you ask me, is the network of amazing people he managed to bring together that might have otherwise never interacted but for him and his quirky ways.

Here's to you, Drew... you're still in our thoughts and hearts.

Looking forward -- to buying a house together! Mitch and I have found one we really like-- a nice one-story brick house with two enormous oaks in the front yard... a smallish backyard, but it backs up onto the greenbelt which will never be developed. All in all it's everything we've been looking for, and with some cosmetic changes and some kitchen remodeling, it will be perfect. The next step for us will be to make an offer, but we're getting our mortgage financing ducks all in a row first.

Once we get the house, sell mine, and finish all the changes, we're going to tie the knot. Most likely, in a ceremony at St. Louis, and then come to the house for an old fashioned family reception-- very informal, lots of cake and champagne and family all around, without fuss. Unfortunately looks like that might be early next year-- but I can wait.

Anyway, I better get back to work. Stay warm and cuddle up with your beloved.