A Review of Catty-Corner Cottage

Some of you who are on my Facebook list** have heard that Tom and I went to see a local house today that had me smitten from the Realtor.com listing.  It was the first one to really interest me since we lost our chance to purchase Hollybush House in spring of 2009.  We went to look at it with our new realtor this morning, and although it has its quirks, we are seriously considering making an offer on it, once some questions are answered.

So, since we are first-time home buyers, I wanted to post pictures and thoughts here to see if anyone with more experience had any thoughts or opinions on the pros and the cons of the place.

Warning, this will be a VERY PICTURE  HEAVY  post.

**(Yes, I will confess that FB has me sucked in.   I do feel awful for not posting here very often :(

The house is a Cape Cod, on the corner of two dead-end streets (one of many reasons for calling it Catty-Corner Cottage, as I've started to do)  We took so long inside the house, I didn't get shots of the exterior, so these are realtor pictures from the listing.

3 Bedroom, 1 1/2 bathrooms.  Total square footage:  1,388

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All concerns.  But all told, what does everyone think...does the good outweigh the bad and the ugly?  

Personally, I am smitten with this house.  I'm trying to stay rational and logical, but I really really love it.  It has so much that I very much wanted in a home.

What the Hell Happened to My Halloween?

This morning I had a rather distressing conversation with one of our regular library patrons.  She works at Hobby Lobby, and I mentioned to her that I had to get over there to see what Halloween decorations they had this year.  She mentioned that she wasn't sure if they had any out...and if they did, it was a very small amount. 

I've noticed a trend around these parts for the last few years.  Every store's Halloween selections have grown cheaper and more plastic, the Halloween department shrinking significantly.  A few years ago, Target had a Domo-Kun themed Halloween, and their selection of decorations were amazing...gorgeous vintage reproductions, classy door signs and wreaths...I wanted to buy more than I ever could have afforded.  Last year, it seemed Halloween had transformed into Ed Hardy-land at Target...glittered skulls and tattoo-script plates...but at least the department was still stocked-full and thriving.  This year, we checked Target a week ago, and it was the saddest thing...a half-empty corner of the store, displaying last year's leftover Ed Hardy items.  I couldn't find a single thing that tempted me to buy it at all.

It has increasingly seemed like Halloween keeps getting shoved back further into the corners of stores to make way for Christmas.  After all, if money is the bottom line, the biggest moneymaker of Halloween is the candy, and as long as that's supplied, why waste money and time on making nice decorations?  I should point out here that I tend to be a Halloween snob...I care neither for the fake graphic bloody grossness you can find at most Halloween USA stores, nor the twee cutesy stuff you can pick up at Michaels Craft Stores...I like classic retro vintage style Halloween items...think Martha Stewart's impeccable Halloween taste.  That sort of item just doesn't seem to be available anywhere anymore, except for sadly over my budget online at Grandin Road. 

Back to the conversation this morning, I lamented to the patron exactly what I said above...that it seems that Halloween is being increasingly marginalized and dismissed, at least in this small Ohio city.  She agreed, and said that it was likely due to a combination of two major factors: the repeated rumors of poisoned candy and razors in apples (which, by the way, never happened, in case you didn't know), and the churches in the area becoming increasingly vigilant toward calling Halloween out as the Devil's holiday, a night best ignored. 

I have a strange history with the holiday of Halloween, which is part of why I love it so much now.  Growing up, my parents were extremely conservative in their Christian beliefs and practices.  So, of course, there was absolutely no Halloween festivity for us (incidentally, this may have also been one reason for my adult love of costuming).  We never got to go trick-or-treating, never came home with Halloween candy.  I specifically recall one year when we were home on Beggars' Night, sitting on the couch with all the lights off (so no trick-or-treaters would come to our door) and staring longingly out the window at the kids walking by in their plastic masks and plastic costumes. laughing and swinging their buckets full of candies.  Our church would sometimes hold a Halloween alternative event, with apple bobbing and a small amount of treats, but never costumes.  But even these events were often in short supply...the church in the mid-80s hadn't yet discovered the need to distract kids from what they were missing on October 31st.

When my coworker, Shelly, first came to Ohio last autumn from her home in Portland, Oregon, she was confused by Central-Ohio's Beggar's Night.  She purchased her Halloween candy, and she and her husband settled down for an evening's relaxation, when there was a ring of the doorbell.  It was a kid all dressed up in costume, and as she looked out at the street she saw kids walking around with their buckets.  "But it wasn't Halloween!" she exclaimed, when she told the story later to someone at the post office.  A stranger then walked up to her and explained "we never hold our Beggar's Night on Halloween.  That's the night when the evil spirits come out, and we don't want our children to be exposed to them."  Shelly had a hard time subduing her laughter and incredulity, but the woman was entirely serious.  And it's true...in Central Ohio, I don't remember the last Beggar's Night we've had scheduled that was actually held on October 31st.  And no one seems to have any real or rational explanation as to why. 

So more and more, it seems to be a struggle to fight the good fight for Halloween's sake.  I don't know about you, but I plan to keep dressing up, holding parties, decorating my entire house, and celebrating Halloween until they come to take this wicked witch away with their pitchforks and torches.  Keep Christ in Chrismas.  Keep the Hallowed in Halloween. 

(Photoshop by Amanda Pants, done for me October 2009)

Tea Time!

Today, my mom and I went up to Lexington to surprise my Grandma with a tea party for her birthday (bday next Wednesday).  Mom called ahead of time to let Grandma know she would be in town around noon.  It's not unusual for mom and dad to be in the area, visiting or running errands.  We kept it a secret that I'd be there, or what we were doing.  So after a hectic morning running around getting flowers (Salena's sister, Ellen, is my personal hero...she manages a flower shop, and gave me all her flowers from cleaning out her fridges...we had SO MANY FLOWERS for our garden party tea), making finger sandwiches, and packing up the car, we drove up there and surprised her.  We walked in and she was flummoxed and happy to see me, and mom handed her a dress and a flowery hat and gloves, and we told her to put them on while we were at work, and not to peek out her front window.  We then dressed up her front screened patio as a garden tea party, and brought her out to a delightful surprise.  

The full set-up on Grandma's porch.  With lots of flowers.  The teapot (under the cozy) was white with red roses.

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Blessed Yule


Ironically, although the word "Christmas" is in the title, hardly any other song makes me think of Yule like this one.  Especially Loreena McKennitt's sparse and echoing version on her album To Drive the Cold Winter Away.  Sadly, I can't find this version anywhere online, other than an exerpt on her website.  In high school, my parents and I lived in a farmhouse in the middle of the country.  The downstairs of the house hadn't been lived in for ten years.  The upstairs hadn't been lived in for thirty. 

Once we got the upstairs inhabitable, I moved into the largest room of the house.  But the catch was...there was no heat upstairs...not even a hole in the floor through which warm air could rise.  The room was cavernous, echoing, and completely frigid.  I would turn on this song on her beautiful and echoing album, and it would echo further around the bare wood floored - room, as I rubbed my numb nose above my piled up covers.  I would stare at the lights of the Christmas tree (because my room was so huge and cold, I would buy my own Christmas tree every year and decorate it as a teen). 

These memories are, to me, the embodiment of the longest night of the year.

In Praise of Christmas

All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all of the rest of the year,
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poor as the peer!
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

'Tis ill for a mind to anger inclined
To think of small injuries now,
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her thy cheek,
Nor let her inhabit thy brow.
Cross out thy books malevolent looks,
Both beauty and youth's decay,
And wholly consort with mirth and with sport
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer,
And neighbours together do meet,
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire,
Each other in love to greet.
Old grudges forgot are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay;
The old and the young doth carol this song,
To drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas's tide comes in like a bride,
WIth holly and ivy clad,
Twelve days in the year much mirth and good cheer
In every household is had.
The country guise is then to devise
Some gambols of Christmas play,
Whereat the young men do best that they can
To drive the cold winter away.

Kids coif and shirt pattern

Does anyone know of a good free pattern (I saw a Simplicity pattern) for making a child's fabric "chain mail" coif and shirt? Or a community where people might know? (eyes corsetra )

I've had this "mail" fabric for years, and I think I might make a shirt and coif for my nephew's Christmas present.

Another "Help Me" Fashion Post

So...my winter coat is about done for.  I'm not sure it'll last another winter.  So I'm searching for a new coat.  But the rough thing is...it seems like coats are either a) fashionable or b) warm.  The fashionable coats are all too lightweight, and the warm coats are all shapeless parka type things. 

Does anyone know of a place that sells cute stylish fashionable coats that are WARM?  My old coat is entirely lined in faux fur, and it's super warm for even the coldest winter months.

Off to D*C!

....or so many people on my friends list are saying today.

Me, I'll be at home, still kicking myself for being stupid enough not to plan to go this year, for absolutely no good reason.

Please everyone, have a drink for me, and post lots and lots of awesome pictures!   I'm sure I'll be checking Facebook, LJ, and Flickr (under keywords D*C related) constantly over the next week or so.  ;)  But please let me know if there's anything I HAVE to see that I might have missed.

And best of luck to all my friends in the Dawn Contest!!! 

Loveday's Red Gown Arrived!!!

The Secret of Moonacre gown came today in the mail, and mom dropped it off at the library, where we promptly dug into the parcel, pulled out the dress, and tried it on.  AND IT FIT ME.  The bust squeezes my boobies up some, but I don't mind, and I CAN WEAR IT AS-IS!!

A few observations for the fellow costume-obsessed on my list.

When I first pulled the gown out, I  noticed two things: #1, it was heavy!!  It's made out of a rather stiff, almost scratchy cut velvet material, and hoo boy is that train LONG.  So there's a lot of fabric weight.  I definitely see why I was charged what I was to ship this.  #2, It smells like fish???  Mom went to a fashion design high school, and she said that it smells just like the fur room did at her school, so we think it might be from the collar fur (which, btw, was identified as faux, but I really don't think so...either that, or it's the most real feeling faux fur I've ever felt in my life).  The smell wasn't bad once I put the dress on, and hopefully will air out, but it intrigued me.  Why does it smell like fish???  Even Tom noticed it when I got home and had him sniff it.

The belled sleeves are actually completely separate cuffs that slide onto the fitted sleeves.  This totally explains now why Loveday has them on in some pictures and not in others.  I was starting to think she had two different gowns.  The stringy bits are mottled green and red ribbons, and are stiffer than I expected them to be, but not too stiff.  The costume designer tied bits of twigs in with the hanging string to make it look even more organic.  The "L" on the left sleeve isn't there, but I did notice a few pulled threads on the left wrist, so perhaps the patch was taken off the gown for some strange reason after filming??

The seams on the bodice are all unfinished, also adding to the "decayed royalty" look of the gown.  We're still trying to figure out all the details of the dress (for instance, after we took these pictures, I noticed that we didn't tie the underbust ribbon in the back, and we still aren't sure how to get the spikey collar to be more upraised, plus mom and I agree that we'll need a sturdier ribbon to lace the back), but I was just thrilled to fit in it at all.  Part of the reason for it fitting is the fact that although the auction made it look like the gown laced down to about bra strap length, the slit in the back actually goes down to the waist, although it only has laces to bra strap length.  A modesty panel is built in to ensure nothing shows al the way down.

These are way way way basic pictures...I felt like poo at work that day, makeup was mostly worn off, hair could use a washing, so I'll definitely be taking better pictures (in an outdoor locale, with better hair) later.  But I couldn't resist trying it on right away.

When you wear the gown and walk in it, the train drags so beautifully (and far!!) behind you, and since Natascha McElhone is a little taller than me, I had to lift the skirt a little at the hips to walk.  Everything about it translates into a gloriously organically decayed royal gown.  I've never worn such a transformative, or just plain amazing, gown in my life.  I love it so much.  I truly feel when I'm wearing it like I belong in a Warwick Goble book illustration, or an Arthur Rackham watercolor.

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Family Calendar

So...for Christmas this year, I'm making my family calendars with all the family birthdays, etc.  This has been done before by other members of the family, so I wanted mine to be unique.  I decided to do movie posters, and put family members in using Photoshop.  So like...my mom as Mary Poppins, etc.

The hardest person to figure out has been my grandma.  But I finally  have two choices.

Me & Grandma

A: Using an old picture of grandma when she was younger, colorized:

B: Using a more recent picture of grandma (great series btw)

What would you pick?

Which poster?

Queen from Outer Space
Queen Elizabeth