Overnight Guests During Renovations … When Good Enough Will Have To Do

Internet Photo

We’ve got company coming this morning and I’m trying to breathe through it. The house as you might expect is not really guest ready due to a kitchen renovation that has morphed into a couple of other big projects as well. We’ve managed to make it presentable with the dining room table in place and some of the artwork back on the walls, but many places are still very unfinished. There’s a hole in the wall where some electrical bits will be going in next week for the new boiler and it’s right in the place where I’d like to put the tile work you see above.

John and I are still in negotiations about this tile pattern. His only concern seems to be that as it’s behind the hob/stove top, it might get cooking splatters in the grout. I think he’s referring to his mad cooking skills particularly in the stir fry department. I’m joking here, I’m actually a messier cook.

I don’t think this would be a problem, but what do you think? Suggestions, experience … please share your backsplash stories in a comment.

Going back to our guests … they are staying overnight so they’re sure to notice the all the little things that would normally drive me nuts. They’ll have clean sheets, and a tidy bathroom along with a good meal and a glass of wine, but the never-ending dust and the shift in the placement of things makes it all feel a bit off-balance to me.

It’s silly really … all this trying to control things that I can’t right now.

Fingers crossed nothing odd turns up in the food tonight.

False Advertising In People And Products

I hate deception.

Some might say it’s just marketing  … expect it.

I broke a blusher recently, a small bit of enhancement in a compact container I’d purchased to put a little color in my cheeks so my intentional lack of sun wouldn’t make me look unhealthy. I tend not to wear it everyday, but as needed and never overdone. Given how little I use, it can take me a while to discover that I’ve been misled into believing there’s more in the container than it appears.

I hate being misled.

Recently I’ve discovered someone I was “friendly with” has acted in a decidedly unfriendly way towards me. What makes it interesting is how this person has remained virtually the same in their behavior to my face but behind my back, oh my!

The worst part is not how blind I was to it, but how much of my energy over the last few days has been focused internally as I’ve wondered why I suddenly became the subject of gossipy untruths and what to do with my disappointment.

Gossip is currency to some people, I get that and I really don’t mind if people talk about me if what they’re saying is the truth and they have my permission to share it.

Making it up as you go is never a good option because it just takes one slip up for the depth of deception to be revealed. Discovering how little there really was to my pot of blush after it broke when I dropped it was disappointing, but not unexpected. The lack of substance in someone I thought might become a friend caught me completely by surprise given some of our conversations.

I tend to be a bit of a “Pollyanna” with my optimistic enthusiasm and I may add a little blush when my cheeks need a bit of color, but I don’t make stuff up unless I’m writing fiction and I know when to let go.

I used to subscribe to the “three strikes and you’re out” way of thinking that began with American baseball and is now part of the U.S. legal system, but as I’ve gotten older I have less time for games and Maya Angelou’s method makes more sense.

When someone shows you who they are … believe them the first time.

 ~Maya Angelou

Kitchen Renovation Week 2 – Is that Dust In My Soup?

I have to be really honest with you. Aside from emptying some cabinets of their contents, taking a few pictures and helping with the design decisions, I haven’t done any of the real work involved in our kitchen renovation. John’s the workhorse here. After Bob and Brian packed up and went home late last week, John got out his tools and went to work. Here’s a bit of what he’s been working on over the last few days.

I know the ceiling looks as if we’re making a dubious color choice, but have no fear … we are not going with a milk chocolate-colored ceiling. It  turns light pink as the plaster dries and then we’ll paint it white. Remember the door that was on the other side of the wall? If you look below you can see where it used to lead to before John closed it for good.

The master bedroom and my studio space were until a few days ago only accessed through a door at the top of the stairs that no longer exists. After John sealed it up, my feet kept wanting to walk the same way out of habit so I stuck a note on the wall to remind me. It’s only a few steps beyond the remaining door, but I got tired of having to back up. The “Closed” sign made John laugh when he saw it and later when I went into the kitchen I noticed he’d posted a sign of his own.

I thought his “Open” sign was pretty cute, but I was really impressed with how he reused the old doorway to close in the new opening from the kitchen to the hallway. 

This photo should have been before the last one as he hadn’t completed the door frame yet, but it gives you a good look at the wall to the right where he closed off the old doorway. The dark boards against the wall are from the hallway. It’s the same wood flooring that runs through the master bedroom and my bathroom and studio space.

Here’s what the space looked like today. Didn’t John do a great job? I’ll be painting the door white over the next few days so it blends in better with the wall and we’re getting rid of all the brass wall plates too. We’re leaving the half-glass door as it is with its natural wood finish.

We’re thinking of oak planks for the kitchen floor, but we’ve got to live with it kind of patchy (like the spot above) while the rest of the kitchen is being finished. John said it’s going to be a few months (more like August) before we’re through with the kitchen/dining room renovation so if you’re coming to see us this summer consider yourself warned. It’s pretty dusty here.

Sublime Doughnuts Voted Best Bakery In America – Is World Doughnut Domination Next For Kamal Grant?

Chef Kamal Grant - Owner Of Sublime Doughnuts

Last summer I spent a few extra months in Atlanta trying to sell my house. Due to the huge slump in the housing market, I did not find a buyer. I did however discover a special bakery only two blocks away.

I wrote about my Sublime Doughnuts experience after meeting with my friend Kimberly Krautter to sample a selection of the yummy and unusually named doughnut treats. You can read more about my sweet send off last summer and Kamal Grant’s recent Best Bakery in America award, but you do so at your own risk.

Don’t say I didn’t warn because you’re going to have a craving that might be impossible to satisfy … at least until you get a chance to bite into one of these lovelies.

Elizabeth Harper, Kamal Grant, & Kimberly Krautter at Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta Georgia

After reading about the recent opening of a Sublime Doughnuts in Bangkok, Thailand, I’ve decided that it might be a good time to make my  move if I want to try to bring a Sublime Doughnuts franchise to Cornwall.

Hmm … I wonder how Brits feel about doughnuts?

Forget The Dog Chew, Just Pass Me A Pint

There’s something special about a place where even your dog can have a seat at the table. I had to take a photo last week when I walked past a family having lunch in our village pub and saw Maisie sitting there like she was waiting for her order.

Interestingly, while dogs are allowed in this part of the pub, children are not. There’s a special family room for people with children under thirteen and yes, dogs can go in there too.

I love this picture … I can almost hear the man saying, ” No Maisie, you may not have a pint. I told you before we came, you can have the dog chew the barman gives you, but no beer, not after the last time! “

Raise Your Hand If It’s Your Birthday!

My sister Jennie has a birthday today … she’s the baby with her hand in the air. She was eight months old in this photo and that’s me holding her. My fourteen year-old sense of style was a bit lacking back then as evidenced by my summer blouse at Christmas topped off by my dad’s old army cap.

Jennie was barely five when I enlisted in the army and acquired some military head-gear of my own. I hate what hats do to my hair and I’ve never  been able to wear them as well she does. I tend to think of hats as necessary to keep the sun off or to stay warm if it’s really cold outside, but Jennie does it with flair, making them both useful and a fashion accessory.

She’s in the mountains today having a birthday weekend away with her mom, my step-mom, Cullene. I borrowed the photo below from her Facebook page. Cullene took it last year when they were snowed in and it illustrates what I mean about Jennie’s ability to pull off a hat and look good doing it.

Happy Birthday, Jennie. If there’s a party hat involved today, send me a picture so I can post it.

Citizen Scientist – “Do You Get A Badge For That?”

Lifelong learning keeps things interesting and while I love being able to find information at my fingertips through the internet, nothing beats the discoveries that can be found in an afternoon walk if one is willing to slow down enough to see them.

I take a lot of photos many of which you never see, but I thought you might enjoy hearing how my observation and impromptu photo session of a Violet Oil Beetle turned me a citizen scientist.  It seems these beauties are in serious decline in the UK along with three other varieties of oil beetles, a discovery I made when I went online looking for information to help me identify the hungry bug below.

I told John that I was going to send my photographs along with other requested data to Buglife, a conservation group that uses the information to track the distribution of oil beetles in the UK and I added that the site referred to people (like me) as “Citizen Scientists.”  I smiled as I said this feeling a bit grand about my little bug photos thinking how they might be helpful in tracking the declining numbers of oil beetles … and I may have even mumbled the words, “citizen scientist” under my breath before hearing John say, “Do you get a badge for that?”

He was of course teasing me ever so sightly and referring to scout merit badges but I didn’t get that until later. I pictured instead a freckled-faced girl in shorts wearing a secret decoder ring from a cereal box with a plastic badge pinned to her t-shirt with the words, “Citizen Scientist” on it.

His badge comment reminded me a happier part of my childhood where decoder rings really felt magical and an afternoon spent outside could be an opportunity for daring adventures and bold discoveries.

Pausing for a few grass munching beetle photographs led me to some fascinating research on oil beetles and their special relationship with bees. One of them likes to treat the other like a taxi service and an all you can eat food bar. You can find out which one by clicking on Buglife.