Tuesday, September 12, 2017


After some reflection, and feeling listless, at wit's end, and unfulfilled, I decided to write a biography.

I would write about one of the Dollar Princesses, those wealthy American heiresses who married (mostly) British aristocrats, whether by their own choice, or when forced by social-climbing mamas eager to pry their way into Mrs. John Jacob Astor's 400.

The New Money of the Vanderbilts and the Goulds couldn't buy their entry to the social elite of Gilded Age New York City, so they bought their way in via a roundabout route: marry their daughter to an impoverished Duke or Earl with a large estate and an ancient lineage, and pay the Duke or Earl for the privilege. An impeccable European pedigree guaranteed entry to Mrs. Astor's 400, so the newly minted Duchess or Countess provided her mother with a foot in the door, as well.

There were a few Dollar Princesses who weren't nouveau riche, of course, and it was one of these women that I wished to write about. I spent a great deal of time gathering information from online journals, ordered a few obscure books that would be nigh on impossible to acquire from a library, and finally, after finishing a couple of weighty books - I didn't want them to distract me - I set about my research.

And then, I made a terrible discovery.

No, not that there were already rafts of biographies about the woman. I'd researched that aplenty.

No, there wasn't a court injunction banning anyone from writing about her.

Yes, there seemed to be plenty of information available, on the surface of things - though another author mentioned on an obscure interior design and real estate blog that her modern family was less than helpful when asked if they would contribute information about their illustrious ancestor.

The terrible discovery was this: she was boring.

Now, I'm sure she was a lovely person. Indeed, all sources seemed to point to her being a lovely woman: excellent manners; a streak of charity - but not one outlandish or particularly noteworthy; wisdom beyond her years when selecting a mate for herself, which she was able to do because she was in possession of her own estate, by the time she wed. She was a lovely, lovely, lovely woman.


Her marriage was a success, too! No scandalous affairs, no marital separations. No law suits about dowry, or yearly allowances, or economic strife due to her losing millions during a stock market bust, and thus engendering feelings of resentment on the part of her husband.

Nope. Everything was smooth sailing.

Nobody wants to read about smooth sailing.


Readers want a bit of drama , and "Sorry honey, I have to sit in the House of Lords: I'll be gone for a month"/ "Oh, darling, I'll miss you. Don't forget your umbrella" doesn't cut it for drama.

Sure, her husband went to war. And he came back. And all was well, again. Onward and upward.

I was bored just reading about her life, which seemed too perfect. It out-fairytaled most fairytales, which usually involve some form of conflict, even if there aren't any actual fairies. Everything was ideal: no mean stepmothers, dark fairies suffering from #FOMO, or even impractical footwear to trip her up!

Pun totally intended, BTW.

So I scrapped the idea of writing a biography. And now I'm slowly circling the idea of taking up a novel, again. I have five pages written, and a few pages of notes, and that's about it.

Hopefully, something will click, soon, whether it's another idea for a biography, or this novel.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Homeowners Once More

Dear Husband and I close on a house this Thursday.

I haven't been this stressed in a looooooooong time.

Add to the stress the fact that I've been terrible at eating Paleo - too much indulging in cheese via gluten-free pizza - and I'm having almost daily migraines. It's... rough.

And it's my own damned fault.

Once we've moved into the new house, however, I fully intend to get back to the super-Paleo lifestyle Dear Husband and I led when we first met and began dating. I'm not particularly looking forward to it - cheese is SO delicious! - but my body and my skin will thank me for it.

Particularly as the forehead of 13-year-old Ms. Strainedconsciousness is back in all it's unhappy, oily, bumpy glory.


I've been busy, lately, making purchases for the new house - because those wood floors aren't going to sprout rugs on their own (and I now have a new phobia that will probably haunt my dreams); lining up contractors to tune-up our current house's HVAC system, and doing the same at the new house; arranging for an appliance repairman to come look at our range in the new house (because it doesn't work); scheduling our new roof installation, fence demolition, and fence reconstruction; etcetera.

I feel like all I've done the last two weeks is make phone calls and take the dogs to the vet (Ginger's been a bit gimpy).

After 4 weeks - or possibly more - without a manicure or pedicure, and my feet still wearing the nail polish from that last appointment, I finally was able to do a little self-care, today, in the form of a mani/pedi. Because my doctor cancelled my appointment. Apparently, she was still in surgery, and couldn't leave her unconscious patient for a few minutes to come take care of me. Pshaw.

I'm joking, naturally.

It was fortunate, though, because as I told her scheduler, "This makes my day much less stressful." Despite the fact that I was already in the doctors' office parking lot when she called.

It meant I had time to shoehorn a little foot time into my day. Rescheduling for a month down the road was totally worth it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"And God said...

... Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed..." Genesis 1:29.

Dear Husband and I are currently in the "Option Period" for buying a new house. Here's hoping everything turns out okay (and that the sellers are willing to work with us on some repairs that need to be made!).

Since all of this is happening - so so quickly! - we're in the process of getting our current shack ready to put on the market. Housekeepers came yesterday (and the photographer for the HAR.com website. He was a week early, though), and today a gentleman came by to give me an estimate on the cost to clean up our flower beds and yards, and then to do weekly maintenance.

I hadn't seen his email from last night, so I didn't realize he'd be here at 10:00 am. It wasn't until he knocked - and freaked out the dogs - that I got out of bed, threw on some clothes, and really started the day. Because I had a migraine, this morning.


I apologized for making him wait, explained that I had a migraine, and then we got down to talking about our flower beds and the (patchy) state of our grass.

After I'd told him he was hired, he asked me how often I had migraines, which I thought was odd. I told him it varied, but sometimes it was daily.

He nodded his head and said, "I always know when someone contacts me through Angie's List that it's because they have a need."

He didn't mean a need for a nicer yard, either.

He asked if he could pray for me, and when I said, "Yes," he held my hand, and it was all I could do to keep from crying as this complete stranger prayed for me and my health.

I'm not a particularly religious person, Dear Readers, but I appreciate when others who are religious pray for me, and what it means for them. And so, Mr. Baptiste prayed for me, and said he will pray for me at church, like he does his other Angie's List clients who "have a need."

I hope his other clients appreciate it as much as I do.

Friday, January 27, 2017

You Can't Win 'Em All

We put in an offer on the house we loved after I dragged Darling Husband to see it.

We didn't get it.

But it's okay! Really!

Actually, yeah, it's okay, because on our last showing, we realized that part of the upstairs was a bit...off.

And by "off", I mean that the cantilevered hallway joining the upstairs bedrooms was sagging. Because it might not have been built properly.

The potentially catastrophic cantilever is the reason we made them an offer - ahem - $39,000 below their asking price. That cantilever fix could have been a $16,000 issue.

We honestly didn't think the owners would go for it, and they didn't. We found out 1/26, and I've already bounced back from the quasi-disappointment.

Our poor realtor has a list of 5 houses we'd like to see, and there are three open houses we might visit, as well.

So I guess getting all those tile samples was a bit premature. I'm still keeping my Design Boards, though. Would you like to see them?

How silly of me! Of course you want to see them! Your life revolves around my blog, right? RIGHT?

And before you ask: YES, Darling Husband gave me permission to paint the walls pink! When I first asked if he'd be okay with it, well, his expression spoke for itself.

It said, "No."

But then I showed him the lovely design above, and he saw that the pink walls would be in contrast to the more masculine feel of the bed (deep olive velvet & navy coverlet, but note the "feminine" sheets), and the imaginary bedside tables that are bigger than the ones in the picture, but have the same "campaign"/"captain" look to them. And the lamp bases (I have two) are antique ceramic insulators from a power transfer station.

Because I'm an amazing shopper. And Darling Husband - who knew I'd been stalking them at the antique store, which was having a sale - was kind enough to agree that I should get them. It helped that the lamps were on sale.

Purchases are more fun when they're on sale, no?

The only downsides to my ceramic insulators are that: 1) I have to pay someone to make them into lamps; 2) they have old power transfer station grease inside them that I have to clean out.

So cleaning is the plan for Saturday afternoon/evening, depending on how exhausted I am after lunching with a friend and then flitting to open houses.

Like a greasy social butterfly.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Times, They Are A Changin'

A brief recap since August of last year, when I last wrote:

1. Still married! Darling Husband and I adopted a female dog, née Sara, who we renamed Ginger. She and Fred are inseparable. When she wants to play but Fred is ignoring her, she sits on his head until he gets so annoyed he stands up, and then she goes in for the kill. She's a mischievous little thing.

2. I started a website - Curated Houston - and just as quickly shut it down when I realized the workload required wasn't congruent with the migraines I have. In theory, it would have featured profiles of Houston (and surrounding) interiors shops, educational articles ('What to Look For When Buying A Farm Table', for instance. Real hard-hitting gritty realism stuff), and musings/adventures in interior design.  Even at one article per week, I was struggling, and I realized I couldn't keep up with it. So I have written a "farewell message" and posted it on the website, but the posts are still available if you want to read them (www.curatedhouston.com).

3. Darling Husband and I are searching for a house, and I believe we've found one. It's farther from downtown, so his commutes will be longer, but he's planning to drive out that way, Tuesday morning, SUPER DUPER early to see just how long the commute will be. If it isn't a Donner Party situation - trapped on Interstate 10, eating his own shoes and car upholstery for sustenance as the days pass - we will most likely put in an offer on the house. 

And here's the best part: I dragged him to the house. He didn't want to go AT ALL, but I slipped it onto the list of houses anyways. We both walked in and thought "This feels like a home," and to be honest, even the kitchen - which hasn't been updated since the early 1990s - feels homey and perfect, for now. Eventually, we'll renovate, but for now, it's adorable. I have a lifetime of "I told you so" to deliver, in other words.

4. I might get to go to New York City for the first time in my life. Darling Husband has to attend an awards dinner thingy, and he would be flying back on Friday except I subtly suggested I go with him and we make it a weekend. I AM SO EXCITED. Hopefully no wrenches will find their way into the works to prevent me from going (unless that wrench is us moving into our house, in which case, bring on the wrenches!!!).

5. I've begun "bullet journaling", and it's everything an OCDesigner could want: neatly organized lists and schedules, the opportunity to color and decorate the lists and schedules, etc. It takes a little time, but that time is fairly meditative, so I have no problems with that.

6. Oh, and I'm officially considered 'Disabled' by the US Government and the State of Texas, now. It's one of those 'Good News/Bad News' deals: The Good News is, I receive a disability check every month to help defray the costs of healthcare. The Bad News is, I receive a disability check every month because I'm incapable of working.

I'm trying to decide what to do to give my days more structure, something like researching and writing a biography, etc. I like to set my sights low, as you well know, Dear Reader. In the meantime, I do house-wifey things (on days I'm able): buy groceries, drop off/pick up dry cleaning, pay bills, take the dogs to vet appointments, do laundry and iron clothes, etc...

And crossword puzzles. I work a lot of Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles.

That's it, so far. I'm excited by and still obsessive about design in all its forms, possibly more so than before, now that I have the chance to realize my obsessions in physical form. And, oh, Dear Reader! I hope the dream designs turn out to be as wonderful in person as they are in my mind!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

You'll Never Guess Where You Can Get a Migraine

A few weeks ago, I went to an Ear/Nose/Throat doctor on the advice of one of the other members of my Stable O' Docs. The ENT seemed a bit confused when I told him why I was there - minor sinus discomfort in my left sinuses and chronic migraines - because he'd never had someone come in to see him for migraines.

So he looked at my sinuses, and informed me that the inside of my sinuses was completely clear*, but they looked dry. So, no infection (which I'd suspected, because: no drainage). He sat and looked at me with his head cocked to one side, but instead of smiling (and resembling a dog expecting a treat) he frowned.

"Chronic migraines? Hm. I think you're having a migraine in your sinuses."

Wait, I'm what?!?!?!

Apparently, the trigeminal nerve (which is often incriminated in migraines) splits and runs down your face alongside your sinuses and into your jaw: thus the reason a lot of migraineurs have TMJ. But it can ALSO cause pain in your sinuses, and is, in fact, part of your migraine. Or, if it's a "mini migraine" day, it can be the whole migraine.

So you now know something else about migraines, which I apparently experience in my nose, now.

As a way of helping me, the ENT told me to go buy a product called Ayr, which is a gel made specifically for use in and around the nose. So I did, and now I clean my nose in the morning with a Q-Tip, then use another Q-Tip to apply a coating of Ayr inside my nostrils.

The first time I did so, I didn't really check to make sure I applied it carefully - it was more of a dab and dash kind of thing.

The second time, however, I checked before I left the house, and then before I went to run errands post-breakfast.

I had something gray-ish blue on my face. I wiped it off, and it was sticky and kind of... gel-y.

Apparently, the Ayr doesn't stay exactly where you want it, but will migrate around, a bit, leaving you with the appearance of someone who stuck blueberries up her nose and is reaping what she sowed (or stowed or shoved).

So that's a new thing to be aware of.


*I also have a seriously deviated septum, which explains why I assumed my right nostril was constantly stopped up, and will probably require surgery in the near future, and may be contributing to the pain in my left nostril/sinus because of the increased volume of air flow passing through that one nostril.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's One of THOSE Days

Today has turned out to be one of "those" days.

One of "those" days when nothing quite seems to go right, yet it isn't so horrible that I can justify sitting down in the middle of the living room in a huff and crying.

It's tempting, but not justifiable.


I had an appointment this morning at 10:30 with one of my legions of doctors, and since I typically show up in gym clothes (intending to proceed there immediately after my appointment), I decided I would dress nicely today: J. Crew blue-&-white striped shirt, skinny jeans, sandals, jewelry.

Casual, but nice.

My hair disagreed with my planned outfit, however.

I didn't wash it last night, and I didn't plan to wash it this morning, because if I wash it more frequently than every other day, my scalp mutinies, and I have to appease it with lots of Benadryl.

I hoped I'd be able to spray it with a little dry shampoo and get it to obey my will.


By the time I realized my hair was a lost cause, it was too late to wash it and blow dry it and style it if I wanted to be able to eat breakfast before my appointment. I tried on a baseball cap with my planned outfit, but it just didn't work.

So the cute J. Crew shirt was jettisoned in favor of a chambray maxi dress, hoping I could pull it off with the baseball cap.

Chambray maxi dress had stains all down the front, that I apparently missed during the last laundry blitz, despite the fact that I specifically checked the dress for stains.

Finally, I tossed on one of my husband's cast-off T-shirts (which I've claimed, and wear more frequently than formerly due to my, um, well, my little belly. And love handles. Yay).

So now my doctor probably thinks I just run around in super-casual clothes all the time, rather than wearing more civilized, ladylike garb.


I ran a few errands, post-appointment, and came home. I took off my baseball cap.

My hair looked perfect.


Time to do laundry, bake, monitor the crock-pot, pay off the rest of the taxes the IRS claims we owe them, but that Turbo Tax said we didn't, and work on my Mystery Blog (with perfect hair).

Several items in the laundry needed stain treatment, so I applied Shout spray like a mad woman, and made sure to add OxyClean to the load, as well.

The load of lights finished washing, and I pulled out the clothes to toss them in the dryer, being sure to check each and every garment that was spot-treated before tossing it into the dryer.

All of the garments looked great, except - of course! - my favorite shirt, a white J. Crew button-down identical to today's intended blue-&-white shirt, which is the inspiration for my house-wife "uniform".

Of course, the spot on my favorite shirt - iced tea, a little tiny amount - was darker. And bigger.

What. THE. HELL?!?!?!?!?!?!

Lots of angry fuming, cursing, and stomping around the laundry room ensued (it's a huge laundry room, relative to the size of our house). I tried spraying more Shout on it and rubbing it with a white cloth.

No dice.

I rinsed out the Shout, and poured liquid OxyClean on it, waited 15 minutes, and then rubbed it with a white cloth.


I poured a leeeeeeeeeeeeettle bit of full-strength bleach onto it and let it sit a few minutes, then rubbed it gently with a white cloth.


So it's now sitting in a bucket filled with water and bleach, while I pray that my fairly expensive shirt isn't ruined forever.

I started working on my Mystery Blog, and was experimenting with different layouts/visual themes for the site. Unlike this personal blog, I want my Mystery Blog to be immaculately laid out and designed, because I intend to try to make money off of it, damn it.

I had one scheme I kind of liked, but wanted to look at another, so I wrote down what I thought was all the pertinent info, design-wise, and began monkeying with the font, text size, background color, etc.

At which point I realized I hadn't exactly written down all the pertinent info. Fortunately, I had taken a screen shot of the first design, so I was able to MacGuyver the information I needed, using PhotoShop and Apple Preview, but it was a tense few minutes, there, before I found the HTML color code converter I needed.


I also used a bit of Barkeeper's Friend to clean some rust of the washing machine interior (it's now going through its Clean Tub cycle to remove any residue), and I happened to get a tiny bit of the liquid cleanser on my thumb. No big deal. I rinsed it within 30 seconds.

But my skin doesn't care. My skin is angry. It is livid. Specifically, it is a livid shade of red, and it itches, because it's a primadonna.

And I haven't eaten lunch, yet.

So I'm going to go throw myself onto my sofa, now, with a slice of coconut-flour pound cake and a handful of cashews - which I'm calling "lunch" - and I'm going to watch Parks and Rec on Hulu while I finish my niece's Christmas stocking.

Because I'm obviously not meant to succeed at being a housewife today.

Unless that housewifeliness involves sabotaging my diet, because the pound cake turned out perfectly.