Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Moving Along

I had to stay home today, as it was the five-year mandatory fire inspection on my building and the guys inspecting needed access to my unit. It ended up taking them about two minutes, so I took a personal day and needed sub plans for a fat lot of not-much...but eh, it worked out, because I also needed a day to catch up on some grading (done!) and do a few little things around the condo (also done!).

I spent an hour or so really trying to organize my second bedroom, which has, of course, been the catch-all room since I moved in. I do use it, however--it's home to my printer, my eBay and Etsy stock, and my piano, which I play daily. While it's bound to have random piles of stuff still, I also want it to be a functioning room.

After a lot of moving things around, and some melodramatic sighing, I parted with some things and found homes for others.

I found a home for my Keane Strangeland flag. 

Next to the piano--my file cabinet, with printer on top. 
My bookcases--home to my books, random crap, and the whole of my Etsy
 By the way, I'm having a sale in my Etsy shop--if you use the code FANCY (all caps) at check-out, you can get 15% off your purchase (minimum $5 purchase, please). It's good until December 22nd, and I'm really hoping to get rid of some inventory, so feel free to share this info far and wide!!

A collection of excellent books by women. 

I have to have some Snoopy and British stuff on display.

My well-loved Harry Potter books. 

This is my eBay stuff. One box is full of bubble wrap and those air pockets
you get from Amazon. The rest is inventory. Eventually, I hope to get all of that
OUT, and put a futon there.

My bedroom has been mostly done for a while now, but with a layer of dust on the top of the dresser, and no rhyme or reason to the stuff up there. Today, I fixed that.

That's a cast of Millie's paw, taken after she died. I'm actually really glad to
have it. She had the daintiest, cutest little feet. 

I hated and loathed the cheap-ass closet doors in this place, so my solution
is curtains. I love how they look, and having four panels covers the huge
opening and allows for me to move them around to get to different parts of
the closet. 

Every day, a little more gets finished. I have an arrival date for my new sofa--October 8 (turns out R.C. Willey had not yet called the Utah warehouse to get it sent to California--a WEEK after I ordered it!!). I look forward to having a big, plush couch to flop on. The bean bag is only comfortable for so long (about fifteen minutes). 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In Love With a Floor

If you are one of the lucky people who saw what the floors in my condo looked like when I took possession, then you will not think me odd for what I just did.

I'm sitting here, relaxing with a cup of tea and staring at my floors, thinking, "Damn...I love you."

The first time I saw the floors I was slightly dismayed by the shape they were in, but it took seeing this place without The Renters to know how truly bad they were. The carpet in both bedrooms was deeply stained and worn down, with bits of guinea pig poop waiting to surprise me. The laminate was scratched, and had bits of paint slopped on it, and looked dull from years of cursory care. And in both bathrooms, the seriously-dated linoleum was coming up in chunks.

I owned this place a full month before I ever walked barefoot in it. I actually took an Instagram video of the occasion.

The original plan was to rip everything out and put laminate in all rooms except the bathrooms, which would get fresh linoleum. A trip to the floor showroom, however, had me changing my mind within about ten minutes, when the owner showed me the vinyl flooring that looks like wood grain.

"It's nice..." I demurred, reluctant, as always, to change my mind quickly.

"It's water-safe," he replied.

"Like, if my dishwasher leaks?"


"Bathtub overflows?"


"I can mop it."


"Sold. Show me my color options."

It came down to two, with my eventual choice winning because it had the same cool tones as the paint I had chosen (my white is actually a gray-white, which a few people thought I might hate but it's worked out beautifully with all this teal). Friends and family alike looked at my choice with my paint chips and said, "YES. This one."

And it's beautiful. It's easy to maintain--I've mopped it once, and swept here and there. It's not too slippery, as I walk around in socks a lot. And it's one hundred thousand times better than the dirty, beat-up flooring this place had before. I didn't love forking over a few grand for all new floors...but I love the outcome and know that it makes the value of this unit greater than what I bought it for.

The past week-and-a-half has been better, since my rant two weeks ago about not being totally happy here. Getting furniture helps a lot, and I've cleaned up a lot of messes and cleared out a lot of extra junk. I had a couple of lazy weekend mornings to enjoy the quiet and see this place as more of a haven than a burden. Don't get me wrong, I still loathe that stupid dishwasher with the fire of a thousand suns (I have it running as I type this, noisy piece of shit), but damn...I'm in love with my floor.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I love antique stores, especially those antique "malls" where multiple sellers set up shop. The places where you can happily stroll and dig for treasures among shelves full of amazing things.

I found one online today, and it happens to be on my way home from work, so I decided to stop by and check it out, in the hopes of finding a really cool piece for my new home. I didn't, but I walked out of there having taken a ton of pictures for Instagram, and I know I'll go back soon (I need to drag Mom), for another look around. There was just too much stuff to look at, and I know I missed some things.

Much of the front of the store is set up in rooms, showing off some truly stunning old furniture from the 60s and 70s.

But then you get deeper into the store and the shelves are crammed with goodies.

I do not need more Snoopy stuff. I do not need
more Snoopy stuff...
(I didn't buy any.)


It's a fabulous place, absolutely full of treasures. I spent at least an hour poking around, oohing and ahhing at lots of great things. There's something about antiques that just fascinates me.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wall Gallery

Let me just start off this post by stating that I am very much not the Queen of Pinterest.

Don't get me wrong--I adore Pinterest, and have found some great ideas there, but when it comes to carrying them out, sometimes I lack the...patience. Yes, the patience. Some people have a lot of time for DIY projects. I am not one of those people.

For a couple of weeks now, I've had a bunch of pictures in black frames laid out on the living room floor, waiting to be hung on the wall where my couch will go. I'd been pinning some ideas for layouts and how to get them just so, and I had a plan. Today, I even bought some brown paper so I could carefully cut out pieces in the sizes of all my frames and tape them to the wall to make sure everything was lined up perfectly.

I got about five minutes into that before realizing that this was going to be a ginormous pain in the ass, and abandoned the paper in favor of winging it.

Winging it...that's scary.

I started with one of my new frames, a 14"x14" that holds nine Instagram photos.

From top left, across each row: Summer, Libby, Donald, Sarah
the Duck Lady, Maayan the Duck Lady, Matt, Sarah (local), Chris
and Meghan and her daughter Roz. 

I bought two of these frames and a bunch of prints recently, and I'm pleased with how they look. I wanted more pictures of my friends up, and some more recent ones of family.

Before long, I had my whole bottom row in place, and it wasn't too bad. I used my tape measure to make sure I had an even distance between frames.

Here's a close-up of the other Instagram frame:

Shae, my brother, Mom and Dad, Millie, the parents and I,
Harley Dude, Sarah and her daughter Julia, Mom and Dad,
Kathy (English Mum) and I in February. 
Great-great grandfather, John Cooper; a pic from Mom's garden,
and my graduation from CSU, Chico.

I got them mostly straight and even, so I was ready to tackle the next level.

This level was slightly harder, as I had to pull out the ladder and keep up the measuring. I added a small shelf, first, then two cute candle sconces I got on Amazon this week to add some curves to the gallery (too many right angles otherwise). Then a few more frames, a cute hanging clipboard I found on clearance at Target, and a small wooden California I found in Santa Rosa a year ago. I added three Balleek (Irish) china pieces to the shelf, and voila! 

The pictures are of Grandma Bean and I in Maui when I was 14,
and Aaron and I on my graduation from high school.
I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I might add a bit more scroll-y stuff as time goes by (especially under that bottom row). The couch will be centered under all of this--oh yeah, I got a couch!! I found it this week at R.C. Willey. It's gray, and perfect for curling up with a book or napping on a lazy Sunday. It's also much nicer than the previous one I had in Stockton. I can't wait to get it (another week or so) and have a real piece of furniture there, instead of a beanbag chair.

They had different color options--you can *just* make out the
gray I chose on the love seat in the lower left of the pic. So:
big sofa, different color. 

Mom gave me an old easel she's had for many years, and I've been looking for the perfect picture to prop on it. When I was at R.C. Willey, I was chatting with Sarah while looking at clearance couches, when suddenly I looked up and saw the perfect piece for the easel, for my whole condo.

I'm going to get some potted (fake) plants for the little tray.

Oh! And I have a dining room table. Last week, Mom saw an ad for an estate sale in her neighborhood, and one item advertised was a glass-top dining table with four wrought iron chairs. She called me and asked if I wanted her to go the next morning (I had to be at work) to check it out. "Sure!" So she did, and texted me a picture of the set. I liked it immediately, and at $100, it was an absolute steal. When we got it set up in my dining space, we both did a little shimmy. It's absolutely perfect--size, colors, everything.

The mess in the corner is since removed--that was eBay stuff
waiting to be sorted through and listed.

Also today, I finally found a place for the Casa Meg banner (even my WiFi is called CasaMeg) I made a month or so ago. This is a small wall between the living room (left) and my bedroom (right). The pic is uneven because I had to lean over the kitchen counter to get it centered at all.

The California frame is from Kohl's. I had seen it and wanted it, but didn't splurge until later, when I fund it on clearance for something like eight bucks. The picture in the frame is one I took of the Golden Gate Bridge several years ago (I want to say around 2007) while on a boat tour of the bay.

Slowly but surely, this little condo is feeling like home. After a couple of weeks of, "Oh, my God, what am I doing in this dump?" I'm finally starting to fall in love with the place as I hoped I would back in June, when a cursory bunch of pictures in an online real estate listing captured my attention. It still needs a few things--window coverings will be a nice change from the parchment paper--but those are coming. I'm waiting on $40 worth of rebates from Lowe's (for buying my paint there) to use on blinds. But every day, I come home from work and unlock the front door and think, "Ahh, yes. I'm home."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tear Up This Town

When Keane went on hiatus in 2013, I figured--we all did--that it wouldn't be long. Two years, max. Tom wanted to do a solo album, and how long could that take him?

Turns out, a while. Three years later, he's just getting that released soon (and it's lovely), and everyone's favorite drummer, Richard, announced recently the arrival of his baby son (which sent the Keane fanbase into spirals of delight on Twitter).

So there's been some nice things coming our way from the Keane guys as individuals, but we all miss the collective whole. And then, they went and surprised us this week, when a single was announced. It's a one-song thing--not for an album, but just a song they recorded in January as a favor for a friend of theirs who directed one of their music videos. He's directing the soon-to-be-released film "A Monster Calls," and asked Keane to give him a song for the sound they did.

Maybe it's the long hiatus, or maybe it's the stress I've been under recently, but I am obsessed with "Tear Up This Town." It will be available for sale on the 25th, but until then, fans have been *ahem,illegally* able to listen to it thanks to Keane Spain, and even Richard, on Twitter, has stated that he'd rather fans be able to listen to it, knowing we'll all be happy to actually pay for it as soon as we're able.

For fear of it being taken down, I won't link it here, but I've been pretty much non-stop listening to the link I have for the last few days. It is everything I love about Keane--Tim's incredible songwriting and heart-wrenching lyrics, Tom's glorious voice, and Richard and Jesse driving it home from the rhythm section. The song is so Keane--right back to their earliest days--and so, so lovely, I can hardly stand it.

It gives me hope that Keane is not quite finished.

Do you ever feel like all you want is to go home
To kiss the earth, to weave a way through this storm
Some days I rage like a fire in the wilderness
Some days I only need the darkness and a place to rest

Oh, it takes time
Learning to fly

Tear up this town
Blinking in the sunlight as the walls come down
This fire will burn
Digging for a truth that just can't be found
Don't want your lessons in love
I want to tear it all up

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This Is *That* Blog Post

In the several weeks since the sale of one 900-square-foot condo in Antelope was recorded with Sacramento County, and the keys to this place became mine, I'd estimate that a good fifty percent of the time, I've spent here, I've spent sitting, staring at a wall, and thinking, "Oh, my God. What did I get myself into?"

I finally have WiFi, but I'm using my laptop on a folding table in the dining room, sitting on a canvas folding lawn chair, with two old throw pillows under my butt because otherwise it's too low. My ancient, tiny, poorly-installed dishwasher is roaring on the other side of the half wall from me, and I had to throw soap in there willy-nilly because the dispenser isn't stuck, but it also won't open during the cycle. Looking to my left only reminds me that I don't yet have a sofa. Or a dining room table. Or a desk. Or a desk chair. Actually, the only chairs I have here are this folding one, two metal bistro chairs on the balcony, and a bean bag. Unless you want to count my piano bench as a chair. 

Yes, the place is coming together and feeling more like a home and less like an endless list of Stuff Going Wrong, but I hate how my laundry smells after I use my washer and dryer (musty), and that it smells that way even after I thoroughly bleached out both. 

I hate how the kitchen counters are chipped from careless past tenants, and that the kitchen sink has tons of chips that show the black beneath. I hate how there's a burn mark on my bathroom counter from the nasty-ass renters who were so careless, who kept nearly a dozen rodents and a dog in such a tiny space. 

I hate that the field right behind me is used almost daily by people on motorcycles and four-wheelers as a dirt track, so I get to hear the endless hum of their machines while I try to relax in my living room.

These thoughts come and go--for the most part, I chase away the "what am I doing?!" angst pretty quickly, by reminding myself that this is mine, and I get to do what I want with it. I admire the new flooring, that no one has had a chance to foul with guinea pig poop or dog piss, and that I picked out because I liked it, and it looked good with my paint choices. I open the windows and the sliding glass door for fresh air, as summer glides into fall, or glance up to my right at Grandma's china in the hutch. I unpacked it first, which seemed so impractical at the time...but there's something so comforting about seeing it there, a reminder that Grandma would be proud of me. That my parents are.

I hate that even writing this post makes me sound ungrateful, and I hate that the minute I share it on Facebook, I'll get endless reams of unsolicited advice--all contradictory--even though all I really want is to just vent, not get everyone's tried-and-true recipe for Washing Machine Potpourri and do-it-yourself dishwasher repair. 

I'm just tired, from five weeks being back at school, going ninety miles per hour all day, every day, getting behind in lesson plans, grading, you name it, and then coming home to more work that needs doing. I did laundry on Sunday--it's still in a basket, waiting to be put away. That's unheard of in my world.

So this is *that* blog post, the one where I bitch and moan and carry on because owning a home is not like renting at all, and comes with a considerable amount of worry and stress. And I'm doing it on my own--which is fine, I moved to England by myself so I can do this, too. It's just all on me, and that's exhausting sometimes. 

And yet I just glanced up into my bedroom and I can see the sunlight hitting my pretty new bedding just so. Dinner was chicken korma cooked on my brand-new stove. Slowly, slowly, I'm making a home here, and I know I can, because I've done it before, in so many different places.

But damn, I really hate my dishwasher. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Settling In

I'm Officially Moved In to Casa Meg, as of a week ago today. I'm getting used to the sounds and the atmosphere of the condo itself, and the complex and surrounding area. As is to be expected, the hardest part is being by myself again. I mean, it's not terrible. It's just different, and weird not being able to pop out in the living room to chat with Mom and Dad. I hope, once I have actual furniture that is not a bean bag chair, to have friends over as often as possible.

But for now, I'm just trying to figure out where everything goes. The goal for the upcoming week is to get a desk for the second bedroom, and a file cabinet. My file drawer needs have expanded since purchasing a home--the amount of paperwork they give you is astounding.

Last weekend was all about getting my clothes and toiletries and other odds-and-ends from Mom and Dad's house to here. I had just hung the last of my clothing up on the wire shelving Dad and I had installed when it collapsed at my feet.

Oops. One trip to Home Depot and about an hour of building later, I had a better set-up...and, ironically, it was identical to the set-up the previous owner had installed (poorly), and that I proudly ripped out a month ago. Go figure. 

(My version looks better.)

Saturday was also delivery day for my new stove, and it is beautiful.

Little odds and ends are coming together. I put out the new welcome mat that Summer sent me, and found space in the kitchen for a fantastic cutting board I splurged on at Bed Bath & Beyond.

My fried Matt gave me a gift card to BB&B for my birthday, and I told him, "I will use it for something I want, not something I need." A California cutting board is certainly not high on the needs list...but it does make me smile.

Sarah came over that evening to see how the place was coming, bringing champagne from herself and an adorable magnet from Julia.

I didn't spend the night here on Saturday--my toiletries were still at Mom and Dad's. On Sunday, I packed the last of my things (well, almost) into Sylvie and started turning Casa Meg into my full-time home.

I had worried a little that my green bedding wouldn't look good with the teal walls. I worried for nothing. It looks GREAT.

I've started slowing decorating the walls--I already knew I wanted my running stuff up in the closet-not-a-closet part of the second bedroom.

I bought some short bookcases for the closet-not-closet, and some bins that are the perfect size for the cards I sell on Etsy.

Meanwhile, there's no couch--that will come in time--so I'm lounging each evening in my bean bag chair.

On Monday (Labor Day), Matt helped me move the last major items over from Mom and Dad's house--a small Rubbermaid set of drawers that I keep my workout gear in, and my piano. Now all that remains at their house is a stack of my scrapbooks, which I'll take as soon as I figure out where I'm going to keep them all. 

As ever, in this whole adventure, I'm humbled by and grateful for everything my friends and family do to help me.