Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oh what fun!

Eric and I have been using the same decorations (burgundy and gold) for our Christmas tree since we were newlyweds. Last year, we had decided we were going to mix things up and try out a new color scheme. So when ornaments were 75 percent off at the after-Christmas sale, we bought turquoise and silver stuff and put it away until this year.

This does seem to be the year of change, so I guess it's apropos that we have a new Christmas tree. It's amazing, though, how well this tree's color scheme works in the library. To add a pop of color, I wanted to add red so I picked up some poinsettia clusters. I tried to lattice-tie the ribbon, which is experimental and harder than it looked and I'm unsure if I'll do it again next year. I'm kind of proud of my tree, although it's far from perfect. And I love the turquoise, silver and red color scheme!

I added things I had around the house that would enhance the bird ornaments, like the ceramic birdhouse (above), bird nests (see photo just below) and the birdcage and cuckoo clock (see next below).

I'm thinking, though, that I'd really like a taller tree in this room. I'm going to be scouring the stores after Christmas this year for a 12-foot flocked tree.

In the midst of all this Christmas fun, there is my constant dose of imperfection. Because the gas fireplace wasn't working, we had to pull out the old gas insert, which broke the tiles, and then we started retiling with these awesome vintage-looking tiles. But it's a work-in-progress and works-in-progress don't seem to care about things like Christmas seasons. Oh well, at least there's a working fireplace. And after all, I think the fire is more important than the surround. I'm considering buying some garland just to frame the backer board around the insert for this year. I'm still working hard to embrace the perfection amongst the imperfection.

But back to the tree, I'm feeling like the ornaments are a little sparse. Should I add some more brown? I have some brown owls leftover from Thanksgiving and some pinecones. Would that be too much? Or distracting? Or I was thinking snowy owls might be pretty. I suppose the tree is still a work-in-progress as well. I'll try not to let all that get in the way of a perfectly wonderful holiday season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reflecting back on the fall...when I should have posted this blog

I think awards for the Reflections contest at school was in November. I can't even remember it was so long ago. But Bianca won a first-place award for her piano composition, and Portia won a third-place award for a picture she drew of the outdoors.

At Westfield, they give out these trophies. Portia slept with hers by her bedside for a good couple of months.

I always encourage my kids to at least enter one category in Reflections.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Playing Piano

We went the summer without a piano. I didn't realize how much I'd miss it. But when I'm stressed (and I was a lot this summer) sitting down on the bench and methodically working my way through a calming piece really helps my nerves. I didn't have that outlet. My kids couldn't practice. I missed the sound of plunking chords and measures of new compositions ringing through the house and instead had to settle for the discordant sound of drilling and hammering. Not good for the nerves. Wow, I sound like some old Austen-esque fuddy duddy, don't I? Maybe I should call it a pianoforte?

When the piano was finally delivered--and I kept a sheet over it while it wasn't being played during the last of the construction--it was all worth it. We had sold our upright Samick and got a baby grand. The notes ring like bells. I never thought I'd have a Steinway. When I saw this refinished Chippendale Steinway (circa late 70's which is when our house was built, and incidentally follows suit with my mom's Steinway nearly matching the building date of her old Victorian house although I didn't do it consciously), I knew it would fit perfectly in our new house. I love having a designated music room, that has doors that close--not that we' ever want to keep out the music, maybe the other way around.

We didn't do a lot of remodeling to this room, just added the new updated radiator covers and did some trim work on the ceiling. This ceiling was inspired by a restaurant where we ate in Victoria BC back in May. And of course, we replaced the light fixture. I love how the chandelier hangs right over the music so that there's no need for a lamp. We left the shelf that goes all the way around the room (despite what the designer suggested) because I thought it would be fun to put up decorative musical instruments and books. I have more to do, like curtains and artwork for the walls, but this stuff takes time.

This all brings me to the real reason for writing this. Bianca had her first piano recital since moving to Highland. After the piano was delivered, I needed to find a new piano teacher for Bianca. Luckily, we found someone who is going to work beautifully and it happened very fast. In fact, in more ways than one, I feel like we won the "piano lottery." Bianca's lessons just started at the beginning of October and here we are at the beginning of November, having her first recital. She played Chopin's Prelude, Op 28 No. 6, which is a gorgeous piece. If you want to see it, here it is:

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Dream, My Library

Oh, the library. The reason we bought a new home was that it had the bones to house the two-story library I'd always dreamed of. For years, I've imagined the library I would someday have. I have a manilla folder filled with ripped-out pages of libraries I liked (now I have a pinterest board as well) and bookshelves that would do. It was a dream I kept tucked away and decided that since it would be a while before I could have a real library, I would work on getting the books I would need to fill such a library. And then my dream came true.

Here is the room before we got to work:

And six grueling months later, my library is just about complete. The furniture is a work-in-progress and I'm temporarily using my husband's sectional that we're going to put in the theater room once the detached garage is finished. Then I want to buy some big overstuffed chairs. But enough of what I will do, I want to enjoy my library now. We pulled out the existing bookshelves above the spiral staircase  in the loft and then added more below as well.

I loved the original antique fireplace mantel, although we may still have to replace the old gas insert that doesn't work very well.

I bought these antique corbels off ebay and we stained them to match the wood in the library. I think they probably came off some old house exterior. It just soaked up the stain. We also added wrought iron spindles between the wooden because the railings were far from up to code.

Here are the other two Corinthian columns that I bought off a woman secondhand. They look great in our bedroom but I think also add a grand touch to the library entrance off the foyer.

I love that I can walk out my bedroom door on the second floor and see straight into my library every morning.

And I love the tin ceiling and beams. To me, it's everything a library should be.

I bought an antique table secondhand so that we'd have a homework table in the library as well as making it easier to serve food when I host book club. (And check out those awesome radiator covers and how the carpenter worked them into the bookshelves and the bench under the window. I love how those turned out!)

I've spent the last week dragging box after box up from the storage area and alphabetizing and categorizing my books exactly as I want them. I was starting to worry that maybe we didn't build enough space for all our books. But it turns out there's enough (although there are a few boxes still missing). I LOVE displaying the covers of books (it IS called cover "art" after all) to take up more space and then I can fill it as I go. I put contemporary fiction above on the loft and then categorized by genre on the bottom, such as Shakespeare, drama, poetry, memoirs, and my favorite, my illustrators. Here is my Hugh Thomson collection. Aren't the covers amazing?

As you can see from the window, it's snowing today. If only the fireplace would work, this just might be the best moment of my life.