Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Kitchen Ascent

(Cozy up in the kitchen and see where it leads.)

J. writes, "I was on Southern Living. com and came across this kitchen idea. I think you might know the owner of this kitchen (from City Grocery in Oxford.)"

She's correct. The image is from the kitchen of dear friends John and Bess Currence. The first time I saw their recently-completed kitchen, I had to take a deep breath. What you can't see in the picture is a small, spiral staircase that ascends to the master bedroom. I often talk of the kitchen dance that couples do, but the Currences have taken it to another level. I like it.

Image Source: Southern Living

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Life's Ups and Downs

(Rest in Peace - Benson Albemarle Attebery, a fine dog and friend.)

A few updates:
  • Chris' family dog Benson passed away this week, so we've all been dealing with the loss by bunkering down as a family. Yesterday, Chris and his parents buried Benson in our front yard. It's hard to think of that little guy no longer with us.
  • I've just been hired by Houser Walker Architects to do strategic planning for marketing and publicity. It's only part-time but with the film and book, it couldn't be more perfect.
  • My first guest is coming to Atlanta next week: My twin sister Jacqui. We have a couple of things in mind to do including some house beautifying and eating at the Mexican restaurant Chris discovered a few months ago that blows Taqueria del Sol out of the water.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Selling Ideas of Home

So I just got back from an interview with an architecture firm in Atlanta. No, I am not thinking about a career change. Rather, the job encompasses marketing and publicising the firm. I feel like this opportunity is right up there with my interests and I was impressed with the principal who I met with -- he and I seem to be on the same page with regards to sustainability, ideas of home, and how the environment impacts our outlook on life.

I won't know anything until Monday, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Formerly of the Hospitality State but still Hospitable

(S. took this picture of me this morning. )

"S. is coming this week," Chris told me a few days before his arrival. S. is Chris' friend from college who is now a sales rep for Taylor guitars.

Not the kind of person to open my home to guests without a made bed, I pulled my old sheets from the closet and outfitted the bed I lugged from Mississippi. I'm sitting next to it now. It's in a room that was once the abode of Chris' roommate who has since vacated. The room has been restored as a guestroom/office. The walls are terribly white, and in the morning the room grows bright and is filled with birdsong. (Some people -- Chris for example -- find it annoying, but I prefer it to the janky alarm that resounds at 7:30 everyday via Chris' cell phone.)

Apparently guests slept on the couch or an air mattress before I moved in. There was another empty room, but it was never set up as a place for guest to rest. I like to think that S. will be more productive today having slept in my old, comfy bed (which I miss) instead of the couch. Or, that the breakfast I offered him -- just as I offer Chris most every day -- will sustain him. It's these little touches, a bed offered or a hot, homemade meal that make the difference.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

IKEA for Dummies

(A man's bathroom reinvisioned.)

IKEA. Say that word and the response ranges from "I love that place!" to "Get me out of here!" The store has its followers and haters, and those of us who appreciate it for what it means: Affordable out of the box design. Of course, to get the look they proffer be sure to set aside a good part of your day. IKEA products are notoriously migraine-inducing before they take shape as say your new platform bed or shelf.

One network television show used IKEA products on a show called the Tool Academy. The idea was to get a bunch of guys -- the "tools" -- to put together beds with their partners and see who could problem solve together. The results ranged from all-out wars to strengthened bonds. IKEA should consider offering relationship counseling alongside their fifty-cent hot dogs.

A few months ago, Chris and I watched a British documentary on marijuana in which a mother -- curious about the real effects of the drug -- purchased an IKEA product to put together after smoking several joints. It's no surprise that she couldn't complete the task. Then again, I felt like throwing in the towel the other day when Chris and I were stumped by the illustrated directions for installing a chandelier. Is IKEA too cheap to hire a technical writer for those of us who appreciate words?

All this leads me to the progress we made last weekend. After a successful trip (albeit a long one for such a short list), we returned home with three shelves, some storage baskets, and a chandelier. The shelves replaced two milk crates that had been crammed between the toilet and the sink. I used to spend several minutes digging out my blow drying and styling products, now everything is nicely organized by use in baskets arm-length away.

Amazed that installing the shelves did result in hours of frustration, we high-fived and moved on to the kitchen. After Chris removed the old chandelier, we spent several minutes trying to decipher the cryptic installation directions for our IKEA replacement. I was certain either Chris would fall off the ladder onto the glass table or be electrocuted. Neither happened. An hour later, we stood beneath a handsome lamp as I wiped sweat from Chris' brow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Florida by Any Other Name

(In lieu of the beach, an interesting night in Ozark, Alabama.)

Rather then live in one of the homes that line Ozark's (Alabama) main street, when J.'s uncle was relocated to Alabama he and his wife rebuilt a near exact replica of their Florida home on top of a red clay hill they razed of trees then sodded.

Had I closed my eyes as we drove up their long, private drive-way and opened them in front of the house I would have believed to be back in Florida -- where I grew up. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the front of the house, but with its stuccoed walls, cool color, and breezy windows, it was a dead-ringer for one of the homes along Bayshore Boulevard on the Tampa Bay.

Inside was no different (although the furniture lent itself to a southern setting.) With the exception of the living room and one guest bedroom, the interior walls were painted aubergine, green, and gray. The ceiling in the dining and sitting room boasted vaulted ceilings with alternating panels of white and purple ("I just love purple," Aunt M. told us.) In lieu of a red room (which is ubiquitous in the South) there were two rooms painted coral. The house seemed to unfold before us; each room opening into the other in an inviting way.

We spent most of our time in the kitchen with J.'s aunt. She bustled around the island as she opened drawers that revealed high-end appliances and cherished service. She had a story for everything, including a ribbon of plates that decorated the wall above the cabinets. (The first few were gifts, and then she started collecting them.) An early 1900s Russian coffee urn was most interesting thing in the house, though it was not actually in the kitchen. "Uncle B. smuggled that out of Russia under Jimmy Carter seat in a limo when he was in the Secret Service," Aunt M. gushed.

We ate pork tenderloin that night served with a sticky bourbon sauce and sweet potatoes. For dessert, a simple pound cake. Afterwards, J. and I sat on a "snuggler" couch reading, then we watched a film with the older company. I barely made it to bed, but when I did, sleep was thick. Morning came and I awoke cocooned in a pink glow. Were there a noise machine, I could have tricked myself into believing the Gulf was just outside my window.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Twig Follow-Up

(Girl Scout skills failing, here is an example of what ours was supposed to look like.)

A few people were interested in what the "branch chandelier" looks like. Here's the photo from ApartmentTherapy and a link to the how-to. Ours has already been turned into firewood and we are considering other alternatives. (Paper, rock, scissors-style.)

In the meantime, J. and I just returned from Ozark, Alabama where we stayed with her aunt and uncle. I have pictures from that adventure and can't wait to tell you all about this immaculate home.