Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Keeping Warm

Beans are simmering on the stove this morning, steaming and scenting the kitchen nicely. I am sitting at the kitchen table with my tea and toast looking out on the wintry scene that is the back yard. There is only about an inch or two of snow out there that we've received over the past few days, but it's enough to cover everything with that look of a freshly frosted cake. After 8 years without, I am loving every minute of this new-again-to-me, winter weather. Key to maintaining that attitude is the daily puzzling of keeping warm. The pot of beans on the stove is one tactic.

Fresh bread (set to rise on the radiator) is another.

This past weekend, our little Celia paid us a visit while her mama ran an errand. So much more fun to get step-by-step drawing tips from your bigger cousin than sitting at a car dealership waiting for the new key to be made!

The last of the boxes that will be emptied for this next sojourn of our move has been packed away and now we can get on with the business of simply living in our house! I am thoroughly enjoying our space. For whatever amount of time we have here, I am so thankful to God for remembering the little details that I have long wished for: the built-in cabinets, the bead board, the claw-foot tub. Especially when I am upstairs with the slanting ceilings and little nooks, I feel like I am living in a doll house. :)

The one thing that I don't care for is the continued lack of personalization that must remain until we are fully settled. Unlike a requirement of de-personalizing your home when preparing it for market, I know that I could unpack family photos, my paintings, and the few, little mementos I like to keep (not too many... too much dusting required!). But having moved my family twice in the last 3 months... and looking ahead to another move 5 months down the road, I just can't bring myself to do it. That said, I have encouraged my girls to personalize their bedrooms as much as possible. They have lived for 18 months without their things about them and children's rooms are so very important to them. When all they have to pack and unpack is a handful of boxes, I wanted them to make their space their own as much as they could, within the paramters of a rental.

So, you'll see that while everything is neat (veeeery important after stepping over wads of wrapping paper and making one's way around mazes of boxes!), there are no pictures on the walls, nor on the shelves in the dining room, which is what I would use them for, rather than displaying dishes.

I did unpack all of our board games (which we'd found we'd missed when we didn't unpack them in the Florida rental) and they've all fit so perfectly into all the little drawers and cabinets of the built-in.

Won't you come upstairs now?

At the top of the stairs is a favorite spot. I did take a few pictures from last year's Mary Engelbreit calendar and stick them with that tacky stuff in our little book nook.  This is where we are spending a good deal of time reading for school and doing art.

I like keeping the landing area of the stairs clear for, well, walking, of course, but also for yoga or painting.

Straight ahead, between the two pillars, is the master bedroom and to the left, facing west, is our office area.

And to the right, facing east, is the bath and my dressing table. I couldn't fit the vanity into my bedroom this time because of the slanting ceilings and the height of my mirror, but it fits quite nicely out here.

Finally, in the bedroom is this little sweetheart. I was telling my sister how very cold our bedroom is. We always seem to have the coldest bedroom in the house no matter where we've lived! She said they had the same problem and she recommended getting one of these little oil-filled space heaters as well as a timer. They set the timer to warm their room a couple of hours before bed and then shut off while you sleep, toasty under the covers. Then about an hour or so before you rise, the heater comes on again and warms the room - and the floor!! - once more. I LOVE little, brilliant solutions like this, especially when the whole thing cost me under $40 for the heater and the timer.

So, now we're in, and cozy is the ongoing theme. :) My friend, Tiffany, mentioned fleece sheets (oh yeah!) and I'm a fan of hot water bottles. Knitting is once again on the needles: an alpaca hat for Paul to replace the cotton one that was his Florida winter hat. A new scarf or two and then maybe cozies for said hot water bottles. Oh, and there's that sweater that I've been wanting to get at...  The queue is so easy to fill; the finished objects, notsomuch! Tea is always on the menu too. Some with caffeine and herbal in the evening. And I'm not against even drinking hot water with a little splash of lemon and honey if it means I'll be comfortable. And even shoveling the snow was my answer to the slight chill I had yesterday inside! Came back in to granola baking in the oven and yes, we are enjoying this season!

Monday, January 16, 2012

First Week

Hello there, all! What a crazy, busy, happy first week it's been. I knew I wasn't going to be able to sit down to my computer much with all the moving activities, but we are now closer to being unpacked and I can share a bit of our first week in our new home in Minnesota.

God was so good to us; our travel flew by seamlessly! We didn't meet one snowflake on the road. In fact, the countryside looked more like November than January. I was struck with the muted colors - just as I was once struck with Florida's brights - and snapped a few pictures. I found the palette to be inspiring and wanted a couple of samples for future paintings.

Nothing spectacular here composition-wise; I just wanted, again, to capture the colors: cadet blue, yellow ochre, raw and burnt umber and dark greens next to a quiet, blue sky.

I thought I'd post a few pictures of our new, old house! This is our rental for at least the next 6 months while we settle into our new lives. Parts of this house have been updated, and parts have not, but I am absolutely charmed with all of it. This house will have her 100 year old birthday next year!

As we haven't finished unpacking everything yet, I'll just show a few shots as we go along and fill everything in.

The house has three levels: an upstairs (a converted attic space), a main living area, and a basement. It's got 1600 square feet which is quite a drop from our former 2000 sq. ft. home, so our basement is pretty full of boxes that will need to remain stored. Part of that storage isn't necessarily that we don't have space for what is down there, but that some of it is decoration (family photos, some of my paintings, other pictures, mementos, etc.) that I'm just not pulling out until we are permanently settled.  Also, our main sofa couldn't make it through the front entry and so it is living on the cold, front porch!

Honestly, I don't mind. I really like living smaller and prefer downsizing to up sizing, though I do wish, for the girls' sakes, that they had a little bit more room in their bedrooms. Eve, in particular, has the smallest room in the house. When I asked her how she felt about her room she said, "Well I would like a little more room, but I don't need it." She's such a good sport. :) They both are, really, and have been enjoying setting up their new rooms.

So, the upstairs bathroom is new and has a wonderful, claw-foot tub that I have already enjoyed! I love this little room. The window faces east, so we get the morning sun and it's just lovely. :)

Here is some more of our upstairs space. It's waiting to be turned into our schoolroom and office area.

Living right in the city has it's perks; I love urban living! A favorite, local coffee shop, Jerabeck's New Bohemian coffeehouse is just around the corner from us. My husband is Bohemian, so it's cool to me to be in a neighborhood with a few things that are culturally connected to him and my daughters. We had a great breakfast there on Monday. My sister, who found our house for us, also lives in the neighborhood - just blocks away!! - and took the day off work to show us around town.

My brother also stopped over that afternoon and we spent some time hanging out before we walked down to my sister's place for supper, as there was still nothing except our suitcases and air mattresses in the house at that time!

Tuesday brought with it a breakfast out... and then my first case of food poisoning. Not fun, I'll tell you that. But thankfully, it was all over in a short period of time and 24 hours later I was feeling much more normal again. It had been challenging waiting in an empty house for a few days, but I was thankful that our things didn't actually arrive until Thursday so that I could fully recover.

In the meantime, my friend, Liz, also stopped in and brought a "Welcome Back to MN" present for us: museum brochures, local papers, city and park maps, and more. What a great gift! We've spent a few days over meals checking out all the cool things we've yet to explore. :)

The first thing I always unpack is the kitchen. The faster you can get that done and organized, the easier everything else goes, because you don't have to keep going out for food. Having access to our regular, family dishes always helps to make things begin to feel normal.

So, the kitchen. It's small and quirky, and is where the updating stopped. The sink and the dishwasher are newer, but I have no idea about the rest. The set-up is funky and has taken some creative arranging and thought in order to get everything in, but I can tell you that when I was done, I felt victorious!!

It's definitely, "A place for everything, and everything in it's place" in here, but it's a good practice to have generally. I don't know whose idea it was for maroon, laminate counter-tops, but they liked it so well they also put it on the wall behind the stove!

I want to change out the little curtains above the sink; the autumn leaf motif and colors don't go at all with the rest of the room - especially the "neuron curtain" on the far window (such a funny print; I think I've seen it at Ikea before). I'd also like to find some white, twinkle lights just for fun. I don't know what kind of luck I'll have with that now that Christmas is past, but I'll keep a lookout.

Here's our little, eat-in nook with that funky pattered curtain. It's hard to see the design in the picture here though.

By Saturday the living room and dining room were pretty much done (pics to come) and so we had family over to watch the playoff games. My neice, Celia, was enjoying herself playing dolls on the cat tower and couldn't resist trying it out for herself. :)

And, finally, tonight, we got to enjoy a quintissential northern sport: hockey! My twin nephews have played since they were four years old. They''ll be 17 in a few weeks and are juniors in high school now. I've only seen them play one time before when we visited, but now we'll get more opportunities to watch them in their last couple of years of school.

For Mom: That's Devon with the orange glove and Avery to the right of him. :)

Below: Avery sets up and...

skates by...

It helped that it was a winning game for their team! A fun night of free entertainment (though their parents would beg to differ: hockey is an expensive sport!) for us that we'll do again soon. In the meantime, tomorrow is our last day off before we're back to the books. It's supposed to be in the 30's tomorrow before it gets colder later in the week, so our own bit of ice skating is on tap! I managed to find ice skates for both girls at the thrift store today, so we're set for skating with Celia and friends tomorrow morning. I'll be digging out the books and planning out our school week in the afternoon. There's still some unpacking to do, classes to register for, insurance to buy, etc., etc. But the first week is done now. It's time to settle in to our new normal, our new home. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good-bye and Hello!

Hello there again to my internet friends. :)  I had put my blog to rest once again and didn't know if I'd return, but here I am at the beginning of a new year and on the cusp of a new life for my family. The hiatus with my blog was due, in part, to preparing for the move we will embark upon in just a few, short days, as well as learning the ropes of my own, little, Mary Kay business.

SO MUCH remains in transition for us, but words are a constant for me, whether it is in my own journal, on Facebook, or here. A blog really is quite different from Facebook - more work, actually - but just as this effort to move north from Florida to Minnesota is probably the most challenging undertaking of my life, it is worth it. And keeping a blog to share with my mom and Jerry, in particular, and my Florida and other long-distance friends in general is worth the time and effort too.

I am beyond thrilled to be moving home to Minnesota, despite the cold weather that awaits us. I will miss the friends we have made in the 8 years we have been here in Florida, but will be seeing and doing life with family and friends that I have sorely missed these past eight years too. Eight years! That is the longest period of time I have spent in any one house in my life! Five years was the prior record, so by all accounts, this one has smashed it!

One of the things I have learned, though, in this eight years, is that for me, family trumps good weather. I've also learned that although winter is not my favorite season, I did miss it. Not as much as I ached for autumn... but I did, indeed, miss winter.

We'll be getting reacquainted right quick. Is God having a little chuckle, moving us back north in January??

We'll be renting for the first 6 months there and then looking for a place to settle into. Settle. Oh, how I pray that is true. This undertaking has been about a year-and-a-half in the making - much too long being in transition for this bird who truly loves to feather her nest. That said, God has continued to make a way for us: a fabulous rental down here since moving out of our home in November and another one waiting for us up there - just FIVE blocks from my sweet sister's home! My sweet sister who has been instrumental in making arrangements for us on the northern side of this venture.

I am so very excited about our rental! It is an older home in the city, not only close to my sister, but a block and a half from a library in one direction and 2 blocks from a local coffee shop in the other direction. I haven't lived in the city in over 12 years! I do love city living, but it will likely be the temporary stop it is intended to be, as my husband is a country boy at heart. We're hoping to compromise with a small town setting just outside the city, but all that remains to be seen. High on our list of priorities is WALKABILITY. We truly want to be in walking and/or biking distance to a town central. We'll have some of that with this new rental, so we're excited for this new prospect.

We are busy saying good-bye "see you later" to friends and family here (I remain ever-thankful for the advances in communications over the last few years. Skype and social networking are brilliant). One example of this is the photo above of our new year's gathering with some of  the members of our house church this past Sunday night. If you're ever in the Bradenton/Sarasota area, be sure to look up "Sonrise" house church to stop in and say hello. You will be welcomed warmly by a fun and loving group of people!

The next few days will be filled with more packing and trying to keep things organized and as smooth and normal as possible. My poor birdy of 13 years, Pistachio, has begun plucking her feathers due to the stress and all the kitties know something is up. The girls are excited for the move (a place we've had to arrive at), so that is making things so much easier. School remains on the back burner as we make this next-to-final leg of this crazy journey. I expect we'll start homeschooling again come mid-January - only two weeks off our schedule, so not too much to fret about.

In the meantime, I am enjoying a little respite this evening, visiting many of your blogs. It is good to see normal, daily life happening in your homes, even if it isn't in mine! Heather just moved. I hope to maintain as much grace in my own life as her photos reflect hers.

I'm also enjoying seeing a theme exhibited in the blogosphere of late: a little less of trying to create and online, little, perfect world and a little bit more of a personal-journal voice. I read a number of blogs that reflected some of that over Christmas: not as many people trying to achieve the 100% handmade holiday, photograph it perfectly, and then write a brilliant essay about it all. :) I do like looking at pieces like that from time to time, but that's not going to be what's happening here. I'm lucky to be showing up here at all! That's perfectly clear! :) Hopefully, I'll keep up with somewhat of a regular posting schedule once we settle in, but you all know that you can find me over at Facebook if I haven't stopped by here for a bit.

It feels good to be back though. I''ll be saying that now and in just a few more days: it feels so good to be back!
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