The Cool House: blogging
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Shelter for Haiti

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

It's 4:30 AM, pouring with rain and the dog (Polly) refuses to leave the shelter of the big conifer to come inside. I'm about to lose my patience when Laura reminds me that millions in Haiti are still homeless. I feel ashamed.
Go visit Laura who is actually doing something to help in the way of another fabulous bag-of-goodies auction while I try and entice the dog indoors with a snack...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

House Art

We are celebrating 2010 with some new art. The Homes for the Holidays show at Ripe Art Gallery finished so these two pieces, House in Flight and Anthill we had purchased by artist and author Nadine Bouler came home to The Cool House just before the work week started.

And with them these two images of The Cool House. I asked Nadine to paint one, and got a bonus picture full of surreal imagery to display with it.

At the moment they are leaning gracefully against the walls in the great room and the dining room but hopefully Nadine will stop by in a week or so and we can decide on a permanent place to display all four as a group. They are very detailed works and the two Cool House paintings are full of wit and symbolism specifically about the house, The Guy and me - they need to be viewed close up. But even in their less than ideal locations you can see what drew me to Nadine's work. Click to embiggen and enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

By Land or By Sea*... with the help of a glass of Pinot Noir

A couple of creative bloggers and their significant others joined The Guy and me on an international voyage with an American twist at CREW Kitchen* in Huntington Harbor (Halesite) last night. An evening of hilarity and great food with a glass or two of wine (and beer) ensued, followed by a quick trip to Holland and the Scottish Isles back at The Cool House. I didn't take my camera with me (bad, bad blogger) so you'll have to rely on the photo essays of the Fabulous Graphic Designer and the Amazing Artist and Author for the fully illustrated version. Did we have a good time? Today I'm making restorative Chicken Soup while my liver has a chance to recover, so yes I think it was simply splendid evening...
*Five course tasting menu - choice of all meat or all fish, or do what the renegades do and mix and match; there's also a wine flight pairing. As always, the staff are super-accommodating - and the crab balls come highly recommended!
*Decor at CREW by the Awesome Designer, Julie Napoleon Brown

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So with The Great Interview Experiment comes the payback - the bit where someone interviews me. That sorry task fell to the very thoughtful and amusing Ozma whose blog title sums it all up: Hah!. You should check out her blog - you never know who you'll run into in the comments section...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Q&A: The Great Interview Experiment

Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month is celebrating bloggers by challenging his readers to interview one another. I was interested to take part because I figured it would be a great way to find blogs on topics other than houses and design - and I scored lucky. Meet Nat (and her brain) from Ottowa, an "urban working mom" who runs, writes and quotes lyrics. I asked her seven questions to find out why she communes with the interwebs and what makes her tick. I hope she excuses the final question, I didn't ask it just because she is Canadian...

What made you first want to write a blog?
Honestly, I haven't a clue. Well, the first blog was on LiveJournal. A friend of mine sent me an invite. I don't think I stuck with it for very long -- it was mainly to keep up with my other friends online. I was going through some dark times, I suppose it was an out. A quiet spot to make sense of it.
Now, I blog because I write silly corporate stuff all days and there are editors and people who say "Yes, but we think we want to say this instead... " and did I mention the editors? Blogging me allows me to say what I need to say. (Within limits naturally -- thou shall not get Dooced.)
I write because I don't think I'm all that creative yet part of me needs to create. I don't know how to write music. I can't draw. But once in a blue moon, the words flow. (Waspageddon is an example of not much thought -- just flow.) I just throw words together on a page. Part of me needs to create... so this allows me to do that. And get feedback... god I love the comments.
And where else can I was poetic about Cohen or go on ad nauseum about how much Pearl Jam rocks or that I found this terrific little band called Great Lake Swimmers (maybe they aren't so small anymore). And every one shares their passions and loves... and there is a bit of a dialogue created.

Do you have a specific audience (or person) in mind when you write?
I am completely self-conscious about the blog. I am self-conscious about my writing (less so the corporate stuff.) As a result, I try not to think about readers. If I think about the readers too much I get freaked out. And I try to please. The blog is not so much about my readers, it's about me. (Selfish eh?) It's about me and the words. Maybe it would be a better blog if I thought about it.
That being said, I love love love the comments and the feedback.. and the friends I've mad through blogging. Amazing group...
I have met many bloggers of late, mostly from Ottawa. It forced me to reconcile the blog voice with the real voice. If you'd asked me there weren't much different. But I suppose... in real life I don't have a delete key. And my loud obnoxious voice doesn't come through...
I did Blog Out Loud Ottawa, this summer and found that people were open and receptive. (Although I must admit three of my good friends showed up and I just about died.) I would in fact do it again. Even though it scary and out there. I love bloggers I really do. (Not normally this sappy.) Such is the life on extroverted introvert. It opened up a new world of things I'd like to do...

You're obviously a really busy person. Do you try to set aside a particular time of day to blog? Do you micro-blog?
I actually don't think I'm all that busy. When I think busy I think, for instance, Barrack Obama is busy. Me, I'm just trying to find a bit of work/life balance. (And failing miserably at it this week.) I would be less busy if I had more time. Right now I'm off kilter. I know how to make it better. But it involves starvation which the other members of this household might have an issue with. I want to live the life I've imagine... unfortunately, it will involve a tonne of hard work, and yes, a lot of time. I read somewhere about an author writing her first book between 4 and 6 a.m. because it was the only time she had. That's busy.
All this being said. I don't want the blog to feel like something I have to do. Often it's just a sentence or something happened. Or a song that I adore. A great night with a friend or time with The Boy. I write when I feel like it. The goal is to write three times a week. (Embrace the contradiction.) Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less. But if I have things happening I can't blog about going on (like work for instance), I find it hard to write anything at all. (Hence the drop in frequency.)
I do micro-blog: @natsbrain on Twitter -- micro or macro I tend not to do much of either with regularity.
I am however a total Facebook junkie.

When you read blogs do you look for those written by people with similar experiences to your own or are you looking to escape your world?
Wow. Good question. A little of column A and a bit of column B. I don't think I read blogs to escape, it's like reading I read the blogs to catch up. Hilly moved to Florida or Allison has squirel issues. I get vested in their lives. Then again, some blogs I read just to read.
This spring I ran a 200 mile relay with a group of runners. The head organizers were from the heart of McCain country in Arizona. I'm a bleeding heart liberal (small l) from Ottawa. In their books, I'm sure I nearing the communist end of the spectrum. Running and blogs brought us together. Suprisingly it worked and we had a really great time. I'm not sure where else I'd meet people like that. So you don't have to think like I do but common goals and activities make it easier to understand where people are coming from...Maybe that's why I love the running blog. (I used to have a running blog but it's been on ice while I heal my heel.) Blogging has allowed me to meet people I would never every meet otherwise.
My favourites are usually really good creative writers. The writers I'd like to be. As it turns out, Mayberry Magpie (on my must reads) work in the same field and both run. There is Stella who has a boy too. Then there are any number of people I read for various reasons... they make me laugh, they inspire, even if, in real life, we'd have nothing in common. I love the great story tellers.

What three things make your day better?
I suppose The Boy, The Man don't count eh?
So things:
-- Great big velcro hugs from The Boy. I want to carry that feeling in a pill, I could take whenever it all gets too much.
-- iPhone, people and music in one. Stupid how much I love that thing.
-- Coffee. Really. I love coffee.

Are you running to or away from something?
Depends on the run. Sometimes I run to run. Sometimes it's an excuse to listen music really loud on my earphones.

Big Leonard Cohen fan or huge Leonard Cohen fan?
Does a size 14 make me big or huge. ;) I'd say big. Odd fact, Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man is the only CD I have in common with my grandfather. We both related to him on a very different levels. Let's sit in that thought...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homes for the Holidays

I couldn't leave the whiney, moaning post up front any longer - on to brighter, more positive topics. The wonderfully creative author and painter Nadine Bouler of Bouler Design Group dropped in to The Cool House yesterday bringing an invitation to the opening of her latest show Homes for the Holidays at The Ripe Gallery on December 5th.

Her last show explored houses as emotions and the new works are also house-themed. The paintings are intricate, atmospheric, whimsical in a good way, with just a hint of danger. Almost as soon as I saw the butterfly landing the aqua villa I said "I should ask you to paint this house", and as simply as that a project was born. I can't wait to see what Nadine has in mind for this house - which angle she'll choose to portray, if it will be a night painting and which animal or insect will find it's way into the frame. Whatever she decides I know we'll be able to see in it far more than just a house... which is, perhaps, just a little disconcerting.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Competing with Martha

Once upon a time I had a subscription (paid with unusable airmiles) to a popular home decorating magazine. That magazine - let's call it Domino - used to delight, disappoint and drive me crazy in about equal proportions but I was glad to see it arrive in the mail every month.
Then the magazine suffered the fate of so much of the print media over the past year and folded. The publishers promised to send me another home decor magazine of equal value, which is how I came to have a subscription to Martha Stewart Living - not something I would normally pick up, even if it was free.
The problem is the adverse affect this has had on this blog. Every time I think about posting a recipe, on gazpacho for example, Martha's been there, done that with mouth-watering photographs, and with FOUR DIFFERENT VARIATIONS. I wanted to write about the horn soap dish in the guest bath but there's no point because Martha, or her minions, beat me to it. Not just a soap dish mind you, but vases and ornaments, everything made of horn was pictured in the magazine except perhaps an antelope and a rhino. There's no way I can post a photo of a dish with a bar of Savon de Marseille after that - It would look as if I were copying Martha Stewart, even if it's just a coincidence of timing. It's like being back at school and competing with the brainiac, cheerleader and prom queen all at the same time. It stifles my creativity; I don't want to go one better (I wouldn't know how), I just want to hide under the bed clothes with a pillow over my head.
I feel the same about some portal websites - Apartment Therapy, I'm looking at you. Seventy paid bloggers on staff means the press release has barely tripped off the server before they have a post up about modern housing, green building, cooking, design... You get the point? It's soul-destroying. Right now I'm in a state of flux regarding the blog. Do I continue? Who cares whether or not it's updated, anyway?
I'm off to Palm Springs today for a restorative trip to the heart of California Modernism where I hope to find something to interest the interwebs that hasn't already been covered by Martha during her recent "immersion" in the desert city...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Blogina Posse

They came on a humid August day to The Cool House. From the North, the West and the South-East; the Blogina Posse*

Bearing gifts of sweet and delectable desserts and wine.

To celebrate their creativity and love of their art (or craft);

their passion for houses and furniture finds; families, friends and pets... and food.

To tell stories of their real lives, true loves and the common thread of sharing with thousands of complete strangers their unique perspective on the world; the challenges of finding balance and focus in a universe of whirling social networks.

They chatted and discovered common acquaintances, new avenues to explore and displayed a surprising knowledge of 80s porn stars

and before one more Long Island thunderstorm could spoil the day, they left - only the leftover cheese, crack and cake (and one extremely exhausted puppy dog) remained as witness to the memory of lunch with the Blogina Posse.

*The Blogina Posse - Today's members, in order of arrival:
pve design
The Kitchen Designer
Bouler Design Group
Renovation Therapy
faboolosity (who named the group)

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Maybe tomorrow we'll see Connecticut but today we just have to believe it's there.

Monday, July 06, 2009

If You liked KC You're Gonna Love Kansas

So by now you have realised that I was in Kansas City for a couple of days. The raison d'etre for the midwest excursion was a little business and a visit to the renowned Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art but I grabbed the chance to take a side trip into Kansas to meet with home builder and food blogger Marilyn of Simmer Till Done in the "coolest college town in the US".
I've been following Marilyn since her house blogger days, admiring her design aesthetic and vicariously enjoying the thrill of the chase as she tracked down plumbing fittings, vintage hardware and decorative items on ebay. What kept me reading was her writing; her turn of phrase and wry humor that permeated every post. Towards the end of construction she began to post the recipes and mouth-watering photographs of food that eventually became Simmer Till Done.
Let me tell you that in real life she doesn't disappoint. Meeting Marilyn was like catching up with an old friend; so many stories to share, experiences to expand upon, blogs we love and bloggers we know. We talked as we toured the town, I learned the history and fun facts (the town grid is made up of numbered streets crossed with states in the order they joined the union); we chatted as I explored her beautiful house and met her lovely family including the famous Cleo and wandered back into town for coffee. Five hours later we were still talking. Here's just a taste:

Perfect bites of happiness: She baked Rugelach and sent me home with a doggy bag full.

She's a bit of an alchemist, turning simple ingredients into homemade Limoncello and other flavored liqueurs - smooth and sweet with an unexpected kick at the finish

She showed me this breadboard in real life

and took me to a bank to eat artisanal antipasti and salad. A side note: Do you know how difficult it is to eat when you just can't stop talking?
Another fun fact to finish? Her town has some 90,000 residents. Marilyn seems to know each and everyone personally - either that or it is also the friendliest town in the midwest!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reading about blogs and more pink..

A while ago I challenged six bloggers to write about Six Uninteresting Things That Made Them Happy. Let's check in and see what they are up to.
From ThirteenEleven: I learned something today about Pink. Like who is responsible for those pink 50s bathrooms? Mamie Eisenhower, that's who... Who knew?
Over at the House on Red Hill S has been catching up on her blog reading but hasn't yet throught of 6 things that make her happy...
Just Off the Taconic did post her list and some pretty photos to go with it
Nadine at Bouler Design Group got her 6 things in early and is now having literary thoughts
Heidi at faboolosity is having an existential moment
Kathleen is beautifying the yard over at House Things I Like
What are you up to today?