Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our houses mirror our heart

Renowned architect Bobby McAlpine said, "We have the power to create our own environment - and our environment, in turn, shapes us."

I believe this is true.

Our current house reflects my idea of beauty and comfort as a young mother. I created what I felt was a pleasant and nurturing environment for my young family with the resources I had at the time. I wanted to create a place that my children would, one day, remember fondly as their childhood home. I hope they will remember it as a beautiful place that mirrored all the love and vibrant activity we enjoyed during the period of our lives that we lived here. I have mixed feelings about leaving. 

On the other hand, the new house will allow us to mold, from even the very foundation, an environment that reflects how we believe our family has evolved. We will create a place that both comforts and inspires us. 

Every family member has contributed in interpreting how our new home can best reflect how we've matured as a family, and as individuals. Our new home will both honor our past and inspire our future.

To borrow from McAlpine's eloquence, in designing our new home, we are excavating our dreams, searching our souls, taking our hearts out for a walk, and bringing them home - to our new home.

This picture is one of my favorites of our current home. We were still fairly new to the neighborhood and woke one morning to discover we had been wrapped. The kids were so excited and thought that we had finally arrived, we were home. We take with us loads of fond memories from living in this wonderful old home.

building new house

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dolphin Pool

Before last week, I had never set foot on the property we bought in January where we plan to build our dream home. Our intention has always been to tear down the existing house, so we didn't feel the need to tour the property. We could tell from the street that it was a big beautiful lot with several large trees, both in the front and in the back.

The sellers have been leasing the house back from us since January, so we've never seen the inside of the house or the back yard.

I had hoped we could use the existing pool for the new house. It was in a good location and looked great from satellite aerial shots - big, maybe 35,000 gallons, and crystal blue. Maybe we would have to change the coping tile, get rid of what is likely a pea gravel decking (everything original in the surrounding neighborhoods is pea gravel decking), and add a little landscaping. But that would be it.

Change of plans. 

I saw the pool for the first time only a couple days ago. The coping and tile are terrible, but the worst is the tiled mosaic of a grinning dolphin at the bottom. I quickly determined we'll have to scrap the whole pool altogether.

Here's what I wanted to find:

Here's what I found:

new house construction

Friday, April 24, 2015

Happy Weekend

I'm so glad it's finally Friday. It's been a week jammed with meetings - meetings for the new house, telephone conferences for the lake house, trips to see the architect, builder and interior decorator, an inspection on the house to be torn down. Throw in a trip to the clinic with sniffly kid number two, an orthodontist appointment with kid number three, fielding football recruiting emails for kid number one, and I'm pooped.

My big plan for the weekend is to attempt mixing my own specialty martini. I've never been much of a wine drinker, and I can't stand beer, but I do love fruity cocktails. Cosmopolitans are great, sangrias even better, but I really love flavored martinis.

I picked up the book 101 Martinis today at a used book store. I'm calling it my research guide. I think I'll try one a week. It's good to have a goal.

martinis weekend

Monday, April 20, 2015

I Want to Write a Novel

Life has a way of distracting me from certain things I really want to do, and I really want to write a novel. But planning for the new house and the ongoing lake house remodel, not to mention trying to keep three kids, three dogs and a husband organized, fed and happy, have all contributed to me keeping my book on the back burner.

In the meantime, I'll keep filling the spiral notebook I keep hidden in the library with more story ideas and bits of dialogue. But I'm determined to write it this year, and I'm convinced it will be fabulous (at least I'm convinced I'll think it's fabulous).

The lives of writers have always been a fascination. I imagine writers alone in exotic Michener-esque locations tapping away on the next great American novel. I know that's not how it really is, but I like to imagine it that way.

I'm sure the reality for most writers is closer to what Danielle Steel describes. Steel says she spends most of her writing days tucked in a small office in her home, wearing pajamas and sometimes forgetting to eat.

I'll probably write my novel in the library in my favorite chair. But I'll have to move these guys first.

writing book

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dark for the Library?

I'm a self-diagnosed bibliophile. I love books. My library shelves are stuffed with more books than I could ever read. History books, biographies, travel guides, suspense novels, fiction of all kinds, books on art, architecture, gardening, and on and on.

My current library is spilling over with my collection, and I have two walls of floor-to-ceiling shelves. Thankfully the new library will be almost twice as large, with much taller ceilings, and have three full walls of shelves.

I'm considering going from the light colored walls and shelves that I have now, to much darker and moodier colors for the new library. This is one of those decisions that gives me stress. Am I making a mistake? Will I hate it? I don't think so.

Here's a picture of my current library. Following it, is a picture (from Pinterest) of the colors I'm considering.

new house construction

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Boat People

When we bought the lake house last year, we weren't planning on getting a boat. A couple jet skis, yes, but not a boat. We weren't boat people. Never wanted one. Snickered at misguided friends who had boats that frequently wouldn't start when they got them in the water. And then there's our dear friend who backed his boat into the lake, but had forgotten to put the plug in. That was a particularly funny story.

But the last laugh is on us. Look what was delivered last weekend. The boat worked great, it's our boat lift that wasn't working so hot. New boat, but old lift. So, after an enjoyable weekend with the new boat, we pulled it out to have the lift beefed up.

Unfortunately, this is likely the first in our very own anthology of boat stories.

boat lake house

Monday, April 6, 2015

Picking a color for the lake house

After hours of hunting through Pinterest and Houzz, and dozens of decision changes, I've finally chosen new colors for our lake house.

The house is about 2,300 square feet, but looks smaller. There's a large bunk room with full bath on a lower level that can't be seen from the street. So with not much to work with on the front elevation, the color choice is very important.

Right now the house is an unattractive gray brick with a very edgy, linear front elevation. I've always thought the brick, which I consider a more traditional building material, didn't quite jive with the more artsy, non-conformists architecture.

So, we've decided to stucco over the brick to make the house look more current, and I've finally settled on the colors. We're going to use Sherwin Williams Wool Skien for the stucco and Sherwin Williams Universal Khaki on the soffit and facia. The garage doors (which are on order and very expensive - I'll post about those later) will also be painted Wool Skien to hopefully minimize the distinction between house and garage since so much of the front elevation is garage door.

Here are the colors. I painted several combinations directly on the side of the house. The lighter color is Wool Skien.

lake house remodel

And here is a picture of what the house looked like when we bought it last year, and pretty much what it looks like now. I'll post before and afters when the new windows and garage doors are installed, and the stucco is finished (hopefully soon). By the way, the inside is way cuter than the outside. I'll post pictures of that later, too.

lake house remodel

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Boning up on the basics

I once read that Sandra Brown has a file of writing tips she's written down, copied, or torn out of magazines, that she goes through prior to starting each new book. Even the master sees the value and wisdom of sharpening the tools in her toolbox.

So today I spent time reading a series of articles from the great Lisa Gardner entitled Secrets of Romantic SuspenseI want to mine every morsel of advise before I start outlining my book.

I had friendly company. Stella is watching the large umbrella over us sway in the wind, and is ready to dart to safety if it blows over on us (it did).

writing romantic suspense novel